Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks leadership lessons with Reid Hoffman on the Masters of Scale podcast. Photo by Jacqui Ipp.
Leading a high-growth company and scaling it into a tech empire involves working through countless challenges: You need to constantly innovate, adapt with the economy, navigate relationships with executives, evolve your team, and more. Sheryl Sandberg knows this experience intimately, from her time as Google’s VP of global online sales and operations — during which she scaled the company’s online sales team from four to 4,000, driving two-thirds of the company’s revenue — through her past nine years as Facebook’s chief operating officer.
To get to where she — and Facebook — is today, Sandberg has learned hard leadership lessons about growing a team and a company.
This piece has been adapted from Talent Economy. Read General Assembly and Whiteboard Advisors’ full white paper, Investing in Talent, here (PDF).
Amid complex external and economic pressures, companies must face the reality that the nature of business is changing. The pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and in an era in which the shelf life of skills is less than five years, it is critical for employers to prepare their workers to adapt to the shifting demands of work in the digital age.
The good news for employers is that current federal policy provides tax-advantaged opportunities for companies to support employees’ educational aspirations. Rooted in sections 117, 127, and 132 of the tax code, educational tax benefits are somewhat unique in that they provide a double benefit: They are both deductible for the employer, and tax free to the employee.
In this digital age, employee roles and responsibilities are changing as quickly as industries are evolving. Most jobs available today don’t have higher education programs, standardized exams, or textbooks that definitively tell people which skills they need in order to land them. Without this industry standardization, employers also struggle; they don’t have clear boxes to tick when evaluating job seeker’s qualifications. How can companies get a better sense of which skills job candidates and employees need? How can job seekers become more savvy about developing and communicating their qualifications?
At General Assembly, we work every day to answer these two questions. We provide job seekers with the competencies they need to be successful in today’s workforce. We also help employers understand how to evolve with their industry and connect with skills and talent that will enable them to grow. But in order to provide guidance to employers and job seekers most effectively, we must have a clear definition of each field ourselves. As the job landscape changes and General Assembly grows, we constantly refine our offerings and frameworks to better unite our product and message.
Let’s look at the field of digital marketing, which has seen exponential change in the last few years.
All aboard! It’s never been a better time to embark on your digital marketing journey.
We all seek experience. Personally and professionally, experience captures what we’ve done and what we have the potential to do. In hiring, prior experience is used as a shortcut to qualify job-seekers for interviews, job offers, and higher compensation. This shortcut works well in steady fields where the practices of the industry rarely change. If someone has done it before, they can probably do it again.
But does this shortcut work in a field that is dramatically changing? Marketing is an occupation undergoing rapid change. Adults now spend six hours a day with digital media, compared to three hours a day in 2009. As consumers move social, professional, and personal interactions online, advertising has followed. 2016 was the first year that digital media overtook TV as the largest channel for ad spending. Successful digital campaigns now require proficiencies across a host of new platforms, and the question for veterans and aspiring marketers is: Does general experience in marketing still matter?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, like introducing yourself to someone — in person — on a whim.
I still remember the early days of networking, before LinkedIn existed to help organize your professional life. When you’re fresh out of college, networking typically means going to happy hours, checking in with former classmates, and keeping in touch with mentors from your summer internships. But it’s the people who decide to go above and beyond college or corporate happy hours — with creative approaches to introductions — who can really stand out.
After you’ve been in the workforce for 15-plus years like I have, your networking strategy needs to evolve to place you in front of the right senior executives at innovative, cutting-edge companies. Remember that you are your own best publicist and it’s OK to be forward, ambitious, and scrappy to open the right doors. Don’t be afraid to take risks like introducing yourself to someone — in person — on a whim. Don’t hide behind LinkedIn connections online. Instead, create real, long-lasting relationships that will connect you with the biggest opportunities of your life.
Author and tech-industry veteran John Rossman, whose new book takes a deep dive into the Internet of Things.
When it comes to enhancing customer experiences and improving business operations, the future lies in the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is the ability to take an analog or physical capability and create a digital version of that experience. For example, the Nest thermostat helps lower energy costs by using sensors and your phone’s location to adjust the temperature when you leave the house. Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerator allows you to order groceries from FreshDirect right from its door.
From a business standpoint, IoT technology allows for smarter, data-driven models that enable higher efficiency and better outcomes. From a consumer standpoint, it can transform the way we think about some of our most routine daily actions. IoT technology requires elements of data science and analytics, product management, and user experience — and because of this, it’s a cross-functional industry with tons of opportunity for growth.
Michael Dermer, founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur.
There’s a crushing, isolating pressure that engulfs many entrepreneurs as they try to transform a passion into a profession. Long days extend into exhausting late nights as they wrangle talent, negotiate funds, and wonder just how far away success (or failure) lies.
In the world of business, anything can happen and nothing is promised. No one knows this better than Michael Dermer, a lawyer, author, and life and career coach, who painstakingly built a company over 10 years only to see it collapse in 10 days during the financial crisis. Undaunted, Dermer turned the hard lessons he learned into an opportunity, launching a platform to help people start businesses with the support and knowledge they need.
The Lonely Entrepreneur — a book, website, and global community — is Dermer’s salve for the heartaches of entrepreneurship. Packed with learning modules, community connections, and expert advice, The Lonely Entrepreneur helps budding businesspeople get on their feet and take strides toward success.
Finance-industry experts from BlackRock, Blockchain, HSBC, BNY Mellon, and Coindesk spoke at our Future of Finance panel on December 7. Photo by Kait Ebinger.
The world of financial technology, also known as FinTech, is pushing the boundaries of how people exchange money — impacting everyone from mammoth banking institutions to individual consumers. On December 7, four finance luminaries joined us at General Assembly’s NYC headquarters for The Future of Finance, an intimate panel discussion exploring innovations in the financial sector.
The universal takeaway: Companies and leaders who aren’t paying attention to FinTech’s breakthroughs will be left in the wake of a revolution that is transforming a traditionally rigid industry into an agile economy driven by technological advances and open collaboration.
Nearly every company in the world is being shaped by new waves of technology, communication, and interaction with customers. Digital forces in particular are a huge concern for every one of the companies we work with at General Assembly. Leaders know they need to boost their digital readiness. But there remains the question of how to actually transform their organization, and what that can mean for their customers, employees, and shareholders.
During my 30-year career, I led Procter & Gamble’s Baby, Beauty, and Asia businesses, culminating with running P&G e-business — everything from helping to architect the digital transformation, to the incorporation of virtual tools, to develop breakthrough products and supply systems to digital marketing and eCommerce. I’ve harnessed my insights from three decades in the field to help companies answer that question of “How?” One clear way to make it happen is by improving leadership skills and creating digital leaders.
3M has so much more to offer than just Post-it notes.
At General Assembly, we partner with the world’s greatest companies to assess and train their employees in today’s most in-demand skills. While building in-person and online training programs for a fifth of the Fortune 500, we have conducted consultative working sessions and stakeholder interviews with hundreds of teams in a variety of industries. These sessions provide incredible insights into the hurdles that incumbents face as consumer behavior changes.