Four things Marissa Mayer taught me about business & life


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marissa_new4Marc Benioff and the team behind’s annual Dreamforce conference pick some great keynote speakers, in part because their content and words often transcend purely business lessons. Every year I’ve attended, I walk away with significant business and life lessons from people who are leading and innovating in both.

This year was no different. It was my first opportunity to hear Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speak at length, and I was impressed with the depth, confidence and balance she brought on stage.

Below are four specific things she talked about that have particularly stuck with me.

Useable vs useful
Mayer talked extensively about the value & importance of design, and as part of that discussion brought up the difference between something being useable and useful. It’s one thing to make your product easy to use. But does it solve a problem? Is it indispensable? Those of course are different things.

Is it more important to be useful than useable? Maybe. I’d argue that most people will work harder to figure something out if they know what output it will generate for them. But too often companies focus on good design and usability at the expense of understanding and delivering deep customer value.

Your job as an executive is to clear obstacles and help your team run faster
I’ve had managers in the past tell me their job is to be my executive snowplow. Not that they’ll agree with all of my ideas, or blindly evangelize everything I want.

But Mayer told the Dreamforce crowd last week that her job was to hire incredibly smart people around her, and to work hard at helping them work as efficiently as possible. That’s a smart management philosophy, as it both empowers your team and helps the organization get far more done.

Eliminate PB&J: Process, bureaucracy & jams
I love this idea. Mayer instituted a process by which any employee could submit something they thought was dumb and got in the way of progress. They call this the PB&J initiative internally, and to date have eliminated hundreds of things big and small that simply add to costs, reduce margin and slow things down.

Whether or not you create an initiative like this, it’s still a great idea to regularly review and/or audit what you’re doing and why, and whether it’s really helping you achieve your goals.

Celebrate that you never get to the bottom of your to-do list
As a proud productivity geek, I loved this quote from Mayer for many reasons. First, it’s validation that none of us really finish that damn to-do list (and that this is OK). But the reason it’s OK, according to Mayer, is that those things are at the bottom of your list for a reason.

Don’t just make the list, stack-rank the list and focus on the top. Get the first couple things done every day, consistently, and you’ll make a ton of progress. On the other hand, if you do finish your to-do list regularly, it probably means there are other things in your business or life that should have had your attention instead.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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