Category Archives: What We’re Reading

From news articles to books, we’ll use this page to keep you in the know about ideas and policies new and old that are meant to help you!

A new CEO in town

Marissa Mayer is a 37 year old mom-to-be.

Oh and she was also just named the new President & CEO of Yahoo!.

This article by Anne-Marie Slaughter has sparked quite the debate about a woman’s ability to truly “have it all” in the 21st century, and if such a thing exists in the first place. In light of this on going discussion and the recent announcement made my Yahoo!, we thought we’d provide a quick round up of some food for thought:

On the book How to Be a Woman: Emma Brockes, writer for The Guardian, provides a review of British author Caitlin Moran’s biting, witty diatribe against the misconceptions and misrepresentations of the all too loaded word, feminism. Brockes’ assessment? Even if the language used is a bit excessive, this book is a fresh look at a topic that has long been overdue for a public perception makeover.

On strong career moves: Even though Yahoo! may be struggling to win popularity contests these days, new CEO Marissa Mayer doesn’t appear to be in the same boat, though she is now tasked with turning things around for the media titan.

On a new kind of network: Marissa Mayer’s appointment isn’t just an opportunity for Yahoo! to grow–but an opportunity for a successful woman to support and focus on other women–at least that’s what David McClure suggests in his open letter to the new CEO. Besides the social implications, McClure argues that this makes sense from an economic perspective. Imagine what Yahoo! could do if it became the premier women-focused company in the industry–that’s 50% of the consumer population.

On advice: apparently there’s a new guide in town–or at least an updated one. If you want a mix of the practical, the useless, and the utterly hilarious, check out Glamour Magazine’s updated version of “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30,” a list that first hit newsstands in 1997.

And finally, a fresh perspectiveCheck out this response to the “having it all” debate by Julie Zeilinger, an undergrad at Barnard College. “The recent debate over “having it all” underscores the pressure women put themselves under to perfectly excel in all conceivable areas of our lives.” The gist of Zeilinger’s argument is that women can’t be expected to aspire to leadership when society makes it seem unattainable. On the one hand, I agree with her. Yes, there is a double standard between men and women, but on the other, is there anything wrong with having high standards? If we want to be successful, we need to aim high.

I think Forbes Contributor Kristi Hedges sums it up best when she says:

personally, I stand in awe of a 37-year old, 6-month pregnant woman who becomes the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Not because she’s the first this, or the youngest that. But because her vision of her own potential is big, bold, and rocks convention.

Mayer’s appointment has us talking, and more importantly, questioning what’s possible.

Just some food for thought to start up your week–Happy Monday!

The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman

Lately I’ve been reading The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman in small spurts during my downtime here in Tanzania. It’s a really insightful book with tips that will not only help you think about your career, but also give you a better way of looking at opportunities in general. Overall, the book’s main message is that all of us–whether we are students, seasoned professionals, or just looking to make a change–are in “permanent beta.”

In other words, we are perpetually changing products with no shelf-life.

From Reid Hoffman’s point of view, this is something to be celebrated because it means that we should never turn “off” our radar for that new opportunity or career change that might drastically improve the quality of our personal and professional lives and leave us feeling more fulfilled. If you get a chance, I would definitely pick up a copy!

If you don’t feel so inclined or just want a preview, here is the reader’s digest version of some of the LinkedIn CEO’s top tips here:

1) Invest in your network and stay connected. Like a potted plant, your network needs to be nurtured and cared for. Don’t forget the people whom you care about–those you work with, go to for advice, or whose opinion you value. Its not difficult to email a contact an interesting article or drop by the office with a small gift. This “drip, drip, drip” of small communications over time can really work wonders, but don’t forget  that one in-person meeting is worth about a dozen emails.

2) The value of reciprocity. If you want to maintain a relationship or spark a new one, one of the best ways to do so is to give or offer something to the other person. Remember to think about how you add value to the relationship.

3) The “Interesting People Fund.” This is one tip that I found particularly interesting. Reid Hoffman tells the story of Steve Garrity and how at one point in his career he decided to leave California and travel to Seattle to take a job at Microsoft. But he didn’t want to lose his friends or network in Silicon Valley because he knew that he would go back one day to start a business there. So, he set aside $7,000 for flight money and other expenses for traveling back to CA. Over the next few months, whenever a friend called and invited him for dinner or set up a meeting, he just booked a flight and went. His plan worked because he made a commitment and acted on it.

4) Some relationships will naturally fade, and that’s okay. Unlike romantic relationships, the connections that you have with friends and coworkers are usually not difficult to rekindle should you want to later.

5) Be competitive and good at what you do, but build friendships with both those who are above and below you on the “status totem pole.” This will help ensure that you don’t step on any toes or burn bridges that might otherwise have been valuable partnerships.

We all have relationships in our lives, but it is the give and take between people that keeps them alive. You never know when that high school classmate or previous employer will have valuable advice or an opportunity that could make a difference in your career. And hopefully you will do the same and pass on similar gifts to  those around you.