The following post is from James Lancelot, a 2017 MBA candidate.
Over the past 15 years I have been lucky enough to work at some great companies, and advise for some incredible startups. I have noticed some traits that I think will help those looking to get ahead in their Search for their next opportunity. I tried to use an acronym that I thought would be memorable for students and founders alike, and also embody the entrepreneurial hunt we are all on. Whether you are doing a Job Search, searching for a product market fit or a revenue model, these concepts should all apply.
Learn software platforms early, once you know a few, the rest come easy. Gsuite: Is rapidly becoming the defacto system for Startups for collateral creation and internal communication, make great presentations, you probably will be doing a lot of them. Know how to do complex analysis with Google Sheets or Excel, we all need to decipher data to drive insights for our businesses or not for profits.
Gmail: Become a Power User, yet only use when impactful. IE don’t start the day with Gmail, start day with scheduling what’s important for the week and creating content/output.
Slack: Learn how to use Slack, all startups use it, it’s great, I just can’t explain why exactly yet.
Customer Acquisition/Marketing: Learn advertising and marketing platforms even if you don’t want to go into marketing. Especially if you want to be a founder: AdWords and Facebook Ads gets you search, social, display and video ads with global scale. Email Marketing: Mailchimp/Constant Contact and other email platforms allow you to cultivate customers.
Google Analytics (GA) gets you access to powerful free analytics platforms to gain deep insights into your customer base. GA is now the first step in the deployment work I do for companies. For brand new startups and fortune 500 companies alike, it allows you to get a single view of how users are engaging with your Website or App or both. GA can be deployed on your app or site often through integrations with your site managment platform or CMS, (Deploying GA for WordPress) or directly into the code of your site or app with Google Tag Manager or another tag management product.
Once you have GA deployed you will quickly be able to understand where your potential customers are coming from or where your current customers are being re-engaged (or Remarketed to), and tie that back to which efforts are paying off in terms of site traffic. Are your social posts through Hootsuite getting traction? Do users from search advertising drive users to actually convert more on your site than Facebook Ads? (Analyze Conversion Paths) Do you need to optimize the content on your wordpress site to be more friendly to search engines? (SEO for WordPress)
Descriptions of how to best take advantage of Google Analytics could take up a whole blog post, so will save best practices for deployment for another day, but the Google Analytics Academy is an amazing resource in the interim.
Free education is abundant, prioritize learning over busy work. Get trained (often for free) on these products before you apply for Jobs. Use Udacity, YouTube, Lynda.com and other online EDU platforms or learn directly with company help sites. Make continuous education a priority. Get certified across platforms proactively and place certificates on LinkedIn Profiles and resumes.
You know what they say about assumptions 🙂 Always be testing your assumptions. Whether you are a founder or new to the workforce, assumptions can be dangerous. Seek out quality advice from those who have been down your path before. Look for mentors and advisors through school, work colleagues, friends and family.
We learn a lot about building companies at Babson based on customer needs through design thinking. The idea of designing products or services in a vacuum is long gone. Customer involvement through earlyvangelists greatly increases your chances of success. Companies fear giving away their brilliant ideas, that risk however is mitigated by the fact that most ideas struggle to find an interested customer base. In addition, even if you find a customer base you still have to execute. Build something customers ask for, and they are a lot more likely to buy it!
Learn how to relate to others and learn the skill of Empathy early. For all of the advanced software platforms I have discussed to this point, this skill will likely offer equal or greater value. Whether you are trying to understand a customer need, understand an employee’s point of view, or influence a partner, empathy will help everyone involved be more successful.
LinkedIn: Make a great profile, use it to cultivate relationships, not aggregate a link count. Meet with those connections regularly. Meet someone new every week. Determine how you can help them first before asking for their assistance. Understand your networks and leverage them. School, family, work, and social. Think with the end in mind, what are the goals you want to accomplish and who could help you achieve those goals. Start networking in those circles.
Take any opportunity to practice presenting. Those who present are more likely to lead. Volunteer to present in your classes, team events, at conferences or for news stories. Many companies offer classes on quality presenting. The key is practice. Record yourself on your phone and try to get feedback from others. Most people are afraid to be in front of crowds because they have not done it before. The key is just to get out there and get started.
Learn the mechanisms for communicating at scale early. Content creation and distribution is the easiest and cheapest way to demonstrate your individual or company value to new stakeholders. Whether that is potential companies, investors or partners. Get a Medium account, or create a wordpress website and blog.
Focus on work life balance, happiness and healthiness early and often. Exercise and quality sleep make you more energetic, creative and happier. Schedule time for wellness. Leverage mindfulness applications like Headspace to get a deeper understanding of yourself. This will help you be more effective and prioritize what is important to you in a career.
About James Lancelot
James Lancelot is a veteran of the Marketing Technology space. James has earned degrees from University of Florida in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and a Master’s of International business. James is currently completing his Executive MBA at Babson. James has had the pleasure of working at Right Media (Acquired by Yahoo), Turn (Acquired by Singtel) and Invite Media (Acquired by Google). James now heads up the Strategic Engagement Group at Google. This group helps the world’s most advanced marketers build differentiated marketing and analytics practices. He is an advisor and investor in the Green Tech Space. He is currently helping companies in the AgTech (Wexusapp.com) and Solar (PickMySolar.Com) spaces. James lives with his cherished family in San Francisco. James is also a live kidney donor.