Marissa Mayer: Work with Smart People | Summary and Q&A

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May 23, 2011
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Stanford eCorner
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Marissa Mayer: Work with Smart People

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the power of working with smart people and the benefits it brings to personal growth and learning. Drawing from personal experiences and examples, the speaker emphasizes the importance of surrounding oneself with intellectually stimulating individuals. Additionally, the speaker highlights the positive impact of working in an environment that promotes empowerment and minimizes bureaucracy.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker come across the philosophy of being surrounded by smart people?

The speaker came across this philosophy when they saw a flier in one of the dotcoms at Gates. The flier had the slogan, "You're brilliant, we're hiring," which intrigued the speaker. They later adopted this slogan for a job ad, which resulted in the highest click-through rate among all the ads they put up. This experience highlighted how flattery can be effective in attracting talented individuals.

Q: What did the speaker find wonderful about working with smart people?

According to the speaker, working with smart people is wonderful because it challenges individuals to think and work on a different level. It prompts individuals to step out of their comfort zone, pushing them to reach their full potential. The speaker compares this experience to their own life, recalling how having a piano teacher who was ahead in skill level inspired them to strive for excellence.

Q: Can the speaker provide an example to illustrate the benefits of working with better players?

Yes, the speaker shared the story of Laura, a junior in high school who had the opportunity to choose between playing on the JV team and starting every game or being on the varsity team and benched the entire season. Laura opted for the latter, wanting to play with the better players. Surprisingly, she made the varsity team the following year and became a starter. In contrast, those who chose to start on the JV team ended up on the bench in their senior year. This example demonstrates how exposure to more skilled individuals can lead to personal growth and improved performance.

Q: How does working with smart people on an intellectual level benefit individuals?

Working with smart people on an intellectual level challenges individuals to think and work at a higher capacity than they ever thought possible. Interacting with individuals who have different perspectives and engaging in intellectual discussions expands one's way of thinking and enhances problem-solving abilities. This exposure to various viewpoints transforms the way individuals approach tasks and opens up new avenues for innovation.

Q: Besides personal growth, what other advantages are there to working with smart people?

In addition to personal growth, working with smart people also has other benefits. One significant advantage is that it allows for more empowerment within the organization. When surrounded by smart individuals, one can trust their expertise and delegate responsibilities without the need for excessive management or bureaucracy. This frees up time and resources, creating a more efficient and effective work environment.

Q: How does the speaker feel about working at Google?

The speaker considers themselves fortunate to work at Google, where there is a wealth of intelligent people to learn from. The presence of such intellectually stimulating individuals challenges the speaker to think and work at a higher level than they initially thought possible. This exposure to different perspectives and intellectual arguments provides a new way of thinking about things and broadens their horizons.

Q: How can working with smart people contribute to personal growth and learning?

Working with smart people exposes individuals to new ideas, approaches, and methods. It pushes them outside of their comfort zones, encouraging them to seek continuous improvement. Through observation, collaboration, and interaction with intellectually stimulating individuals, one can expand their knowledge, skills, and capabilities, fostering personal growth and lifelong learning.

Q: Can the speaker elaborate on the connection between empowerment and working with smart people?

When working with smart people, there is a level of trust and confidence in their abilities. This allows for greater empowerment within the organization as individuals can be given autonomy and authority to make decisions and take on responsibilities. With smart individuals, there is less need for micromanagement or excessive supervision, leading to a more efficient and streamlined work environment.

Q: How does the speaker perceive the impact of working with smart people on the overall dynamics of an organization?

According to the speaker, working with smart people creates a positive and dynamic working environment. The presence of intelligent individuals fosters a culture of innovation, open-mindedness, and intellectual curiosity. This, in turn, leads to a more progressive and productive organization that can adapt quickly to challenges and thrive in a fast-paced and competitive landscape.

Q: In summary, what are the key takeaways from this discussion?

The main takeaways from this video are that working with smart people can significantly impact personal growth and learning. Exposure to intellectually stimulating individuals challenges individuals to think and work on a higher level, opening up new perspectives and expanding their capabilities. Additionally, working with smart people promotes empowerment within the organization and reduces the need for excessive management and bureaucracy. Overall, surrounding oneself with smart individuals cultivates a culture of innovation and fosters a more dynamic and efficient working environment.

Takeaways

Working with smart people has a profound impact on personal growth, learning, and the overall dynamics of an organization. It challenges individuals to think and work at a higher level and exposes them to new ideas and perspectives. The presence of intellectually stimulating individuals promotes empowerment and reduces the need for excessive management and bureaucracy. Embracing the philosophy of surrounding oneself with smart people creates an environment that fosters innovation, open-mindedness, and continuous improvement.

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