Sheryl Sandberg needs no introduction. As one of only 18 self-made women billionaires in America, she has become an icon for female entrepreneurs. The Facebook COO and Lean In author virtually joined the [email protected] “Closing the Tech Gap” event at MIT Sunday to answer the questions of female founders of growing companies.
From Marcela Sapone, Cofounder & CEO of Hello Alfred: Studies show a top reasons start-ups fail is because they lose focus. How do you keep your company and team focused?
It’s something we work on every day but one of the things we think about is starting with the mission and repeating it often. Even if everyone already knows what your mission is by heart, actually saying it at the beginning of meetings, reminding yourself and others why you’re working on what you’re working on, is so important. And if your team really believes in the mission of your company, it enables you to guide through all of the hard decisions you want to make.
From Emily Weiss, Founder & CEO of Glossier: What do you think is the most important management skill necessary to lead during periods of high growth?
I think the most important thing to understand about fast growth is that where you’re going is going to happen faster than you think. When I was first at Google, running the online sales teams my team was four people and I told everyone we were growing really quickly. And I told everyone,“Okay don’t worry, you’re all going to get to interview everyone we hire.” And then two weeks later we were twelve people and it really wasn’t reasonable to have everyone do twelve interviews. So just a few weeks later I had to say, “Oh, actually not everyone can interview. I’m really sorry about that.”
Now it sounds logical, but the people that weren’t getting to interview anymore were really upset. And so it would have been better if I had realized that a team of four was going to expand quickly and everyone wasn’t going to be able to interview and never said that. Even things that feel good in the moment, if you’re growing quickly, you have to see where that growth is going and be able to predict it and try to get there faster.
From Ann Wang, Cofounder & CEO of Enrou: How as a leader do you balance being strong and empowered with being authentic and showing vulnerability?
The best advice I have is don’t think about this at all. One of my least favorite questions is when anyone asks “How do you think about your brand?” or “How should I think about my brand?” My answer is always: You don’t have a brand. Colgate has a brand. Crest has a brand. People don’t have brands, people have voice. And I think planning out too perfectly how you’re going to show up that at work is the wrong way to think about it.
The way to think about it is much more of the Brené Brown ‘be authentic.’ Just be yourself. I mean, there are times in my life where I’ve been able to be at work and be very all business because I have a lot to do. And there are times in my life, like after my husband died, when the personal was so overwhelming that there was nothing I could do to leave that at home.
I think: Be yourself, share who you are, care where other people are in their lives, and make sure you’re a good teammate. Make sure you are helping other people not just bring their whole selves to work, but meet your group goals.
For more words of wisdom from the speakers at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, follow along here.