I’ve been lucky to have some awesome jobs in my life, including CEO (4 times), VP of Sales, Director of Business Development, Senior Editor and Assistant (Gopher) a couple of times.
At each business I’ve been at I’ve learned that I run into awesome qualities (ones I’d like to have at every job I ever hold); as well as qualities that are missing (ones that I swear I’ll make sure to get next time around).
I also look over my shoulder at other companies and are inspired by their qualities.
I like lists so I keep a running tally of these items (in a Google Doc) called “Must-Haves For My Next Job.” so I don’t forget them when it’s time for a new job.
I recommend you try this for your own job. Here’s a sampling from my list in case you’re interested (I’m not going to throw any of my old employers under the bus).
Focus on making just one thing & making it really awesome.
I’m inspired by Google for nailing search; Netflix for letting me easily list movies in a queue; Amazon for ordering just about anything and iTunes for letting me effortlessly download a song.
These are giant companies, but it applies to small companies too.
The Double Your Dating brand at my last gig was super-good at acquiring email newsletter subscribers and marketing e-books and audio/video programs to them. They’ve had a 10-year run and many millions of dollars in profitable sales.
Less is more.
The great businesses leave plenty out of their products. Google’s home page for search and Apple’s iPhone and iPad are the best examples.
The great brands own a word or phrase in your brain.
Facebook owns the word “friends” in most our brains; Google owns “search” and Apple owns something like “perfect design.”
Positive people are key.
I focus on keeping positive/optimistic people around me in business. Devils Advocates are okay but steer clear of negative folks — they are a buzz-kill and rarely make it in business.
One clear manager and make them organized.
I’ve made the mistake of setting up teams so that one person reports to two different managers. Big mistake. Keep it simple.
Each and every employee should have one manager. And that manager needs to be organized.
A clear set of values (in action, not on a coffee cup).
At the end of the day, a business’s values can make or break a company. H-P was once great (due to its founders’ strong values) and now it’s flailing. It wasn’t due to a fundamental shift it the markets it pursued — it was due to change in the values of its leadership.
And don’t spend too much time printing your values on a coffee cup — your actions will dictate your real values.
Performance evaluation needs to be provided all the time.
If you’re at a company that provides performance feedback once a year, that company is a dinosaur. A good manager should be providing feedback on a regular basis such as in the moment or at the end of the month or quarter.
What a CEO/leadership should work on in the early phases of a business.
If I start a business from scratch, I have been reminded from past experience that it is super-effective to work on every department (Product, Acquisition, Customer Service, Analytics, etc.) I can in the early days of the business. As a leader, you need to know as much of the details of each function of a business as possible.
This will help you a great deal as the business grows (for instance, you can call bull-shit on another worker if they try to sandbag you on some work).
Every successful business either solves a problem or creates an opportunity.
Google solves the problem of search. Twitter creates the opportunity of easily expressing yourself. If your’e not solving a problem or creating an opportunity, you’re in trouble.
Access to all data.
You need to be able to get your hands on as much data as possible. If some section of your business is a “black box,” then you can be screwed.
A quantity & quality metric is needed for every part of your business.
All business comes down to quantity and quality metrics. Sales is quantity. Profit is quality. 1,000 orders is quantity; building a product that people adore is quality.
Understand how much cash to have in the bank.
Depending on your business, it’s a good idea to have 6 to 12 months of expenses in the bank (Bill Gates favors 12 months).
A/B split tests are important.
You are constantly going to run into a new idea to consider in your business. To easily evaluate such ideas, it really helps to have an A/B Split Test process.
Take Google,for example: if they want to test out adding a mention of Google+ on one of its pages, it’s only going to be shown to X% of its audience…so Google can measure the impact the change has on the rest of its services).
Teach each other during meetings.
Every meeting you have should be an opportunity to teach your teammates something.
This will help the teacher learn too – “The best way to learn is to teach,” as they say.
So that’s my samplig of must-haves I want for every job I hold.
What are yours?