In case you missed this amazing advice

Marissa Mayer, new CEO of Yahoo. Photo Credit: Fortune Mag & CNN Money

I am so slow with getting this post written because of my lack of internet access at home…oh…and being lost in boxes and cans of paint. You know it’s insane when it’s been days since I’ve last blogged. Unfortunately my guess is that my chance to write will be spotty for the next few weeks so please…bear with me!  With that aside, you might have missed what I thought was the best article in the Sunday papers. In a rare moment, I found myself buried deep in the Sunday Wash Post business section (a far cry from my usual Sunday NYT Style section obsession, c’est vrai). Way back in the Technology & Innovation page was a piece on who else – Marissa Mayer. It was not about her pregnancy. And let’s talk about that for a minute. To me, her pregnancy is relevant because a Fortune 500 Company Board hired a her as CEO despite being pregnant. This strikes moi as a huge step forward. The news is not about how LONG she will take her maternity leave for. Her maternity leave is her maternity leave, not mine or yours or all woman kind’s maternity leave. Not to mention, to be a Fortune 500 CEO at the age of 37 means you aren’t just ‘Superhuman’ as Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote about wildly successful professional woman. It means you are addicted to working. How could it mean otherwise? Your drive and ambition is unlike most others hence being a CEO. So OF COURSE her maternity leave will be brief and she will work the entire time. This shouldn’t be a point of discussion, in my view, instead we should just hope that other companies take note that women can and should be hired while pregnant. Is anyone else with me here?

Now to the point. Farhad Manjoo’s piece in the Post, which after an annoyingly long Google search, I realized first appeared in Slate, was about Mayer professionally. Majoo describes how Mayer interviewed with Google as she was finishing graduate school, back when Google only had a few employees, how she was offered a few different jobs and as she weighed her options, she explained how she made a decision. It was how she approached making a difficult decision that really stopped me dead in my tracks. Here’s what she says:

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“I had to think really hard about how to choose between job offers,” she said. Mayer approached the choice analytically. Over spring break, she studied the most successful choices in her life to figure out what they had in common. “I looked across very diverse decisions—everything from deciding where to go to school, what to major in, how to spend your summers—and I realized that there were two things that were true about all of them,” she said. “One was, in each case, I’d chosen the scenario where I got to work with the smartest people I could find. … And the other thing was I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. In each of those cases, I felt a little overwhelmed by the option. I’d gotten myself in a little over my head.”

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I thought her advice was remarkable. Admittedly, it’s never once occurred to me to study the most successful choices in my life to look for what they have in common. Has this occurred to you? And while working with the smartest people isn’t the most revealing advice, it’s part two of her advice that I think is good for everyone to hear – this idea of taking a chance, putting yourself in a position where you are maybe not quite ready, out of your comfort zone – and on some level – probably being willing to open yourself up to failure by taking that risk. I think this is really common advice from very successful people all the time but personally I find it easy to lose sight of that because we are hearing from them only when they are already successful – not in the middle of their failure.

Anyhow – pack to unpacking…but if you’ve ever studied all your past choices to look for commonalities – I’d love to know. What an analytical and smart, non-emotional way, to approach a decision. Quite un-Wired Momma like…..heh heh.

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4 Responses to In case you missed this amazing advice
  1. Jen
    July 26, 2012 | 12:25 pm

    So interesting – I had the same comment as I had the rare chance to read WaPo, NYT and WSJ on Sunday while visiting my parents. While there was no shortage of articles on Mayer, it was this WaPo that I found most interesting because it WASN ‘T about her being preggo. Love her analytical approach to decision making and self-awareness and trust, even at an early age. I’ll bet she takes yahoo to great places!

  2. tricia
    July 26, 2012 | 12:46 pm

    On many levels, this is a step forward for women. And, I thought it was actually a step backward for many women that so many were judging her decision to work through maternity leave. Personally, I experienced a strong change once my first child came but only AFTER my child was born, and I called my boss and said, “There is just no way that I can be back immediately and go on a trip for the organization. It’s too soon. By the way, I DO want to take my FMLA authorization of 3 months…” :) Maybe she will experience a similar change, and maybe she won’t. The real step forward is that, as women, we can choose what is right for US and OUR FAMILIES and our WORK. I hadn’t seen the article but it makes sense that someone so young and climbing would have an analytical approach to life and problems. She has probably weighed this decision- and, if she changes her mind, and wants more time with her child when her child comes, well- she chose to work with the smartest people and she’s THE boss. I’m sure it will all work out. Let her work her own life out. When we make it to the top, we can be free to do the same.

  3. aimee @ smilingmama
    July 26, 2012 | 1:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! Love it!!

  4. Micaela
    July 26, 2012 | 5:17 pm

    This article came at “the right” time for me. I left my career a few years ago to stay home with my children, but over the past year, I have found myself involved in too many projects, some volunteer and some paid positions. I need to re-evaluate which projects are the most beneficial to my family and speak to my passions. I can’t say whether or not my choices will lead me on the “most successful” paths, but I do think that, in general, woman over-commit, and evaluating choices is good advice for anyone.

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