Advice and words of wisdom to help guide your career.

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VentureFizz 2023 Annual Summer Reading List: Book Recommendations from Successful Tech Entrepreneurs & Investors banner image

VentureFizz 2023 Annual Summer Reading List: Book Recommendations from Successful Tech Entrepreneurs & Investors

It's here! Our 2023 Summer Reading List!!! For The VentureFizz Podcast, I always ask the guest for a book or podcast recommendation. Since I get so many great suggestions, we always like to pull together a reading list each summer.

These books span various genres from business to fiction and even history.

Check out the list below and tune into each guest's podcast episode to learn more!

InterVIEWS: Creative & Unique Interview Questions that You Need to be Prepared to Answer  banner image

InterVIEWS: Creative & Unique Interview Questions that You Need to be Prepared to Answer

"What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?..."

There are lots of standard interview questions that people use, but we thought it would helpful for job seekers to be prepared for interview questions that are more creative, unique, or insightful.

We asked talent acquisition professionals and others across the tech industry to share their favorite, go-to interview questions they use during interviews.  Here is what they shared:

Steven Amrhein Panorama EducationKelly Finn

Director, Talent Acquisition at HealthEdge

"What frustrates you at work?"

This is my favorite question because it tells me a lot about how someone may or may not fit into our culture. For example, if someone tells me they are frustrated by bureaucracy, red tape, and a lack of innovation, I know they just might be a great fit for my company. If some is frustrated by a lack of process and having to “work in the gray”, that’s a non-starter for me.

David Scott Post Acute AnalyticsDavid Scott

Talent Acquisition Manager at Post Acute Analytics

"When it comes to your current search, what factors are most important to you in your decision-making process?"

This open-ended question helps to identify candidate motivators and provides an opportunity to set expectations, align on candidate journey, and explore impact of the role on the business. 

Erin Russell BondlinkErin Russell

Human Resources Director at BondLink

"What do you need from your manager in order to be successful in this role?"

I love this question because it tells you about what type of management style works best for them (that fit is important!) and it also tells about the candidate's level of skill/experience in their position. Do they need micromanaging or do they need room to soar?

DarShayla Price WorkStepDarShayla Price

Sr. Manager, Talent Acquisition at WorkStep

"Why data / software engineering / sales / marketing? What made you jump in a career in this field?"

I really like to understand why a candidate is in the field that they are in. It is easy to ask why they are in the job market or what made them apply for the role that we have open, but what makes you want to continue a career in sales, marketing, or technology? What made you jump into the career path that you are in. It is in those questions that you find someone's true passion, their drive for what they do on a daily basis, and you can often hear the excitement (or lack thereof) to continue in this particular space. As a member of the TA team, I want to ensure that I am presenting candidates to my hiring managers that are going to log in each day excited to make a difference.

Mary Paris PERSUIT Mary Paris

Director of Talent Acquisition at PERSUIT

"Tell me about a professional mistake you've made in the past. What happened, and what did you learn from it?"

I like behavior-based questions, as they give the candidate an opportunity to highlight a specific example of the situation, how they navigated through it, and what the result/outcome was. Interviewing can sometimes be quite theoretical so I love questions that highlight real-life examples, and this question tests for self-awareness, a learning mindset, and vulnerability. Ever ask a candidate to describe their weaknesses and hear the typical answers? Try this one out instead!

Danielle Farina Lakeside Danielle Farina

Recruiter at Lakeside Software

“What’s motivating your job search and what are you hoping to do next?”

I love this question because it gets the candidate talking about themselves with a professional focus and opens up so many doors for the initial interview conversation! You learn so much from this question, from what is specifically motivating them, to whether what they’re looking for is a match for the company’s needs, to their communication style, to exactly how to sell a role so that they see just how strong a match there is between your opportunity and their interests. It also sheds light on the flip side – when what a candidate is seeking isn’t a fit for the company’s needs and that, of course, is a really important thing to know for both parties early on in the interview process.

Danielle Lareau CybereasonDanielle Lareau

Talent Acquisition Partner at Cybereason

"What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?"

This is a great question to get an indication of project-based accomplishments, or more detailed stories around the candidate's work and what they are passionate about. It's a way to make people feel comfortable bragging a little bit, and helps to facilitate a natural conversation in the interview that steps away from what you can read on a resume - from their answer, you can ask many follow up questions to understand how they work with others, take initiative, etc.

Jeff Moore ToastJeff Moore

VP of Talent Acquisition at Toast

I have two questions I like to use.

"Tell me about a time you took a risk and it failed. Looking back on it, what would you have done differently?"

I love that one because while everyone loves to talk about their successes during interviews, I really like to learn about when things go wrong and they need to pivot. I like to see how people learn from those moments.

"Imagine you've just been hired on a new Talent Acquisition team. It's your first week and the CEO has asked Talent Acquisition to build a presentation recommending a new location to hire in by the end of the week. The rest of the team is at max capacity, so you need to take this project on. What do you do?"

This one's specific for Talent Acquisition interviews. I have a million follow up questions/hints for this one, but this really shows me how people think.

Kathleen Mauriot AquaKathleen Mauriot

Talent Acquisition Manager at Aqua Security

"Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume?"

It usually results in a candidate revealing something fun & interesting about themselves outside of their skills and work experience that normally they would not have shared. It shows their personality, makes them think quick on their feet, and provides insight into who they are outside of work, what interests them, and how they will fit into the team and company culture.

Kayla Steinhauser Centaur LabsKayla Steinhauser

People Operations Manager at Centaur Labs

"In what ways were you most underutilized in your last role/job?"

We love this question because it gives the candidate a chance to confidently share what they're good at, what they like doing, and what they want to be doing -- which is ultimately a huge factor in the decision process on both sides.

Katie Moriarty SEVENROOMSKatie Moriarty

Director, Talent Acquisition at SevenRooms

"What is most important to you in terms of company & role as you evaluate your next career move?"

I love asking it because it always tells me more about a candidate's motivations. By learning that, I can better highlight our company and opportunities for that candidate!

Jaclyn Jussif Paperless PartsJaclyn Jussif

VP of Talent Acquisition at Paperless Parts

"What do you think your past manager would say your strengths are? What would they say your growth areas are? Do you agree, and if not, why not?"

This question helps to assess a few areas: processing feedback, self-reflection, and managing up. So much of how we show up at work depends on our own ability to accept feedback, self-reflect, and act on that synthesized info. It's important to remember when assessing answers to this question that not all feedback needs to be accepted or acted on - rather you're looking for the person's ability to process the feedback, own their growth areas, and maintain a meaningful relationship with their manager. (Yes, this is from Who!)

Bill Desmarais OutComes4MeBill Desmarais

Vice President Of Engineering at Outcomes4Me

"Tell me about a time recently when you had to learn something new in order to get the job done. It could be purely technical, a process, or even just a framework for thinking about something (eg: REST, RACI)."

I love this question as it gets me to where a person is in their career, developmentally, without being a "quiz" or having a "right answer." In addition, there's almost always plenty of room to dig in on what the project architecture was, what new feature was being added, etc.

A good answer can often end up being a 20-minute conversation that establishes their background, how they approach their work, and often to what extent they have a "growth mindset."

Brian Duke Bamboo HealthBrian Duke

Talent Partner at Bamboo Health

"When is the last time that you learned something totally new? What do you want to learn next?"

Learning something new is a choice people can make at any stage in life. In childhood, the lust for knowledge is constant and necessary. As adults, we’re able to choose to learn something new and it takes energy and commitment. We may learn a new skill to advance our career, a new language before traveling internationally, or a new sport so that we can coach our kids in an activity we never participated in. Regardless of what we’ve last learned or look forward to learning next, being a life-long learner is a trait that allows new employees to thrive in their new environment.

Liz Wren PluralsightLiz Wren

Director, Talent Acquisition - Tech & Product at Pluralsight

"What are you looking for in your next job that your current (or most recent) role doesn’t (or didn’t) offer?"

This is what I call role differential. With a single, outcome-focused question, I am hoping to glean:

Why a candidate is looking for a new role.

What is most important in their next role.

What detracted them from their current role.

And, bonus points if the candidate is able to weave in how Pluralsight factors in!

And, if more information is needed, a good ol’ follow-up question such as: How does this role meet those needs? Or how do you see Pluralsight providing that challenge in this new role?"

Liz Raymond NexthinkLiz Raymond

Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Nexthink

"What is the most important/critical feedback you have received from a manager or colleague? What did you do with this feedback?"

I like this question because it helps me understand a bit more about someone's level of self-awareness, perspective, and their ability to handle feedback. It also can bring out stories to learn how adaptable, flexible, and willing to do the work to grow and develop.

Tamra Cooper NexthinkTamra Cooper

Emerging Talent & Diversity Programs Specialist at Nexthink

"Have you ever had a project or task where you made a mistake or didn’t go as planned? How did you redeem / fix the situation?"

I think this question shows everyone’s human side, and that we all go through ups and downs on the job. It gives the candidate a time to shine and show how they resolved the situation and what they learned from it, and how they held themselves accountable. I think it shows how they cope with adversity, and how they work through challenges individually or as a team.

Jeff Chan connectRNJeff Chan

Director, Talent Acquisition at connectRN

"Would love to hear of a before and after."

This is a very open ended question but also gives me the opportunity to see which direction they go. The reason I like this is because it gives me the opportunity to see how they have influenced someone or a group of people, and what their approach was. Being in Talent Acquisition, our goal is to influence and guide hiring leaders and candidates and do what is best for the company.

Elizabeth Irvine MarketMuseElizabeth Irvine

VP, Marketing at MarketMuse

"Tell me about a recent conflict with a colleague and the steps you took to resolve it."

I like situational questions like this because they give me an idea of how they approach tough situations, work/collaborate with colleagues, and identify lessons learned.

Summer Reading List - 10 Book Recommendations From Guests of The VentureFizz Podcast banner image

Summer Reading List - 10 Book Recommendations From Guests of The VentureFizz Podcast

It's summertime, which means vacations and lazy days!

To help you build out your summer reading list, we've pulled together a bunch of books that have been suggested by some of the guests we've had on The VentureFizz Podcast this year.

You'll find lots of great books to help out with your business and books focused on personal improvement, plus some fiction! We've also included a link to each guest's podcast interview.

Event: Path to President & COO featuring Kelly Merryman, Aura banner image

Event: Path to President & COO featuring Kelly Merryman, Aura

Join VentureFizz on March 23rd at 12pm ET for the next event in our Path series!

We will be showcasing the career path to President & COO with a 1:1 conversation with Kelly Merryman, President & COO at Aura.

Kelly leads Aura's product and go-to-market strategy, delivering on its mission to make the internet safer through simple, proactive digital safety for its customers. Prior to joining Aura, Kelly served as VP of Content Partnerships at YouTube. She led a team of 300 employees around the world, focused on YouTube's global partnership strategy and management of YouTube's largest partners across the Americas.

Beyond YouTube, Merryman previously served as Vice President of Content Acquisition for Netflix and as Executive Director of Digital Services and Distribution for Sony. She also spent time at Bain & Company and Audax Group. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from The University of Texas and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Aura is a leading provider of all-in-one, intelligent digital safety solutions for consumers. Last October, the company announced a $200M Series F round of funding at a $2.5B valuation.

During this event, we’ll discuss:

  • Kelly's career trajectory
  • Obstacles along the way and key “aha! moments”
  • Advice to help you with your own career path
  • Interactive Q&A with the audience

This is a conversation that you won’t want to miss!

Click here to register!

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Next Role banner image

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Your Next Role

There’s a high likelihood you’ve experienced imposter syndrome at some point. It’s the feeling that you aren’t qualified for a job or a role you’re taking on, even when evidence says otherwise. The sense that others will see you as an imposter and questioning, “Who am I to be doing (fill in the blank)?”

Imposter Syndrome frequently creeps in when we’re rising into a new role at our company, or when we switch companies and step into a bigger role. You may even feel it interviewing for that next step up - say you’re coming from a Director role, applying for the VP position. Which is all to say, it happens most often when we’re in a growth position. Taking the leap with new responsibilities, a new title, or even a new industry. 

Growth requires change and a degree of uncertainty. Think about it. If we keep doing the same thing for years, we’re not going to improve too much, or learn many new skills. Growth requires taking a leap into the unknown. So yes, there’s likely a portion of the new role that we haven’t experienced before. And, the only way to learn it is to take the leap and immerse ourselves. 

The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is twofold. First, it’s maintaining the confidence that you bring so much to the table - not just your professional experience and skills, also, the personal attributes that make you, well, you. Those are a gift, they’re completely unique, and you’ve got to trust yourself. Believe in your worthiness - not necessarily that you have been there before, but that you have what it takes to own it and grow into the role. 

When I’m working with clients, depending on the lens they’re currently seeing themselves through, we’ll do some inventory of their experience, values, and traits, and maybe also some journaling too, to get to the root of what’s holding them back. It’s amazing what comes up and how working through some limiting beliefs helps them to realize their power that was hidden behind those (false) beliefs. 

The second key piece is about moving into new spaces with a curiosity and beginners mind that is often referenced in mindfulness practices. Being open to new experiences, and trusting ourselves to learn and be guided is key. Since imposter syndrome often stems from perfectionism, letting go of the notion that we have to be perfect or have all the answers. I like to remind clients to surround themselves with smart people, and to remember that people actually appreciate a leader that asks questions and empowers the people on their teams to make decisions. Showing a willingness to be open and learn is so valuable! And, it’s so much easier to work with this type of person than someone who feels they have to feign answers and solutions. 

Three things that work well to help you stop feeling like an imposter: 

  1. Create a practice of writing “I am” statements each morning. Write down future traits and realities you want for yourself so you’re clear on who you want your future self to be. It’s powerful when repeated daily. Our thoughts become our reality. 

  2. You can always go back to writing down a list of experiences, skills, awards, compliments, and traits about yourself that are positive. This also reinforces focus on the positive and helps unearth things about yourself you might have forgotten, and some that wouldn’t typically show up on your resume or LinkedIn profile. 

  3. Practice daily meditation. The benefits are more than I can list here, and I mention this here primarily because being able to be still with ourselves helps us to see things clearly and create space between stimulus and response. 

Have questions about overcoming imposter syndrome or are curious about coaching? Feel free to send me an email christine (at) or head over to my site and set up a free discovery session with me.

Christine Fiske is a mindful leadership coach to startup leaders and entrepreneurs. Her VIP methodology starts with Vision Casting and includes Inner Alignment and taking Purposeful Action. Prior to launching her coaching business, she ran her marketing consultancy working with startups and VC firms, and served as a startup executive at several Boston-based startups.

3 Tips for Creating a Vision for your Next Job banner image

3 Tips for Creating a Vision for your Next Job

Is it time to change things up? 

Maybe you’re up for a new challenge. Or, your current organization has pivoted, and it’s not feeling like a match with your goals or the direction you want to take your career. Perhaps you have an informal invitation to join a new team, but the role hasn’t yet been defined, and you get to help shape it. 

Whatever the reason for re-considering your next move, the best way to make a decision in your best interest in your career is to cast a clear vision of what you want it to look, feel, and be like. 

Casting a clear vision requires a certain degree of reflection. It involves asking yourself questions like…what would I really enjoy doing, and when am I in a flow state where time flies by so quickly I forget to eat lunch or got completely immersed in my work?  What are my core values, and what type of organization or team would feel welcoming and aligned with my own personal values? 

I can remember early in my career a common interview question would be about where I saw myself in 5 or even 10 years. The reality is today, technology and our culture change so quickly, it’s often really hard to know what we want that far out. When I work with leaders and career switchers, we often focus more on the upcoming 1-3 years, with mere ideas for what would feel great in 5 or 10 years. 

It’s really easy to get caught up in what we should do in our careers. I can’t tell you how many people I know in their 40s who are doing something much different than what their careers started as, because they felt they should follow a certain path out of college, put in the time, and only then have freedom to do what they want. This may be true to a degree, though I would encourage you to be inspired to follow your gut on this one, and gather information by having conversations with as many people who have ‘interesting careers’ in your mind as you can. Today in tech, there are so many interesting things happening, so note which news and companies in VentureFizz and other publications you gravitate to read first.

If you’re feeling stuck, as many often do, about what type of role or organization would be a great fit, here are 3 tips for discovering what really lights you up: 

  1. Get out there and get curious. Talk to as many people within and outside of your current organization about their roles. Ask what they enjoy and what the biggest challenges with their jobs are. Understand what the company does and what challenges its solving. Do you want to be part of that mission? Can you get on board with their leader? The majority of people will be glad you asked for their input!

  2. Conduct an honest skills assessment. What are you really good at, and do without much effort. And remember, what’s easy for you is often perceived as being tough for others. And it might be something you overlook because it comes so naturally. For me, coaching was like this - I was naturally coaching friends all the time without even realizing it, so making the switch from marketing into coaching was a natural transition, but not one I considered right away.

  3. Consider that when we’re creating a vision of our future, it’s very natural to hold ourselves back from big dreams and visions. I know this may sound a little crazy, so hear me out. We may think we’re not ready for an elevated position or the next level when we start job hunting. Or maybe feel we couldn’t possibly take our skills from a customer success position and walk into a marketing role. If this is the case, it’s time to evaluate your limiting beliefs and determine if your mindset is keeping you from realizing your bigger desires.

It’s tempting to take a leap, especially when we’re recruited for a bigger role, or when the calls come in from the new shiny unicorn company. And, stepping back and getting clear on your vision for your future and your career is so valuable to ensure this next step is in alignment with what you as a unique individual really crave for yourself. Nobody is going to manage your career like you will, so take the reins, ask for help if you need it, and godspeed! 

I recently published a 2022 Vision Guide geared towards considering your career and the vision you want to create for yourself in the year ahead. It’s free, and downloadable here. I hope you’ll take advantage of it and grab your copy today, and feel free to reach out with any questions related to creating the vision for your next job. 

Christine Fiske is a mindful leadership coach to startup leaders and entrepreneurs. Her VIP methodology starts with Vision Casting and includes Inner Alignment and taking Purposeful Action. Prior to launching her coaching business, she ran her marketing consultancy working with startups and VC firms, and served as a startup executive at several Boston-based startups.

Why You Must View Your Own Career as a Startup banner image

Why You Must View Your Own Career as a Startup

There are few things more synonymous with fast growth and problem solving than startups. If their goal is to grow fast and solve problems in today’s career landscape, a young professional really has to view themselves as a startup. “Startup” has become an elusive term, but I think most of all it represents a way of thinking. Thinking about yourself more like a startup provides a mental model for viewing your career through a lens of the problems and solutions that will propel you to success. It offers a modern approach to engineering a career that allow you to do what you truly love in today's crazy career landscape. 

Here are a few startup principles to apply as you navigate your own career:

Embrace change. At a fast growth startup, it can feel like a completely different company month over month. Change is the only constant because growth is change. The nature of work has changed exponentially and continues to evolve still. Entirely new job titles appear seemingly every year. Career success cannot come with an aversion to change, so the modern young professional must learn how to lean into change and leverage the opportunity that comes from it.

Take risks. "Playing it safe" is a reliable strategy for stagnation. Proven solutions are easy to replicate, but that means they are easy for everyone to replicate. This is why startups tend to buck best practices and do things their own way. They think outside of the box. You can’t do it better than the competition if your plan is to copy what they’re doing. The same is true for an individual. All too often we look for "career paths" in terms of following the steps that are already laid out for us. Early career success comes to those who question best practices and stick their neck out when they believe they can find a better way.  The modern young professional surges ahead of their peers when they see their career as something to be discovered rather than tracing along the lines everyone else can see.

Make data driven decisions. Data has become humanity’s sixth sense. It is the best tool to understand problems and identify opportunities. The successful young professional is either moderately data literate, or taking steps to get there. No matter what their field, the ability to support their ideas at work and show their value with meaningful data insights is a super power. They also constantly research salary data for their field to inform their salary negotiations and audit their current salary against the market.

Learn from failure. Taking risks isn’t only valuable when they pan out. Sometimes the most valuable lessons leading to success for a startup come from past failures. The successful young professional asks for feedback after failed interviews, and reviews notes to improve for the next one. They see rejection and failure as an education.

Adapt. Every startup knows things don’t go as planned. A good plan is quite useful to get started, but it is not actually useful for its end point. It must remain an evolving blueprint. The successful young professional has an end goal, but is constantly adjusting their understanding of how to get there as they learn new information. They are even open to changing their end goal as they grow and gain a deeper understanding of the options in front of them. They dream big, and pivot often as opportunity presents itself.

Maintain a sense of purpose. Always draw a connection to the big picture with everything you do.  Not surprisingly, a common point of study around startup success is purpose. The engagement and passion for the mission at hand that inspires long hours and intense focus from employees, all who are focused on the end goal. The successful young professional falls in love with the pursuit of their end goal. They find motivation and passion in the vision they carry, but don’t expect to reach it overnight. They enjoy the challenge and struggle of each step toward it and they know how to celebrate small wins along the way.

Push through ambiguity. The right answer isn't always clear. Often progress is a matter of seeking the best answer, not the right answer. The more we understand about our environment, the more we are required to see things through multiple lenses at once. What is true through the microscope may not also be true through your reading glasses or through the telescope. Technology simplifies, but it also complicates our lives. The pace of change around us is exponential. The young professional has to learn to embrace ambiguity and look through the lens that best suits their question. They must be able to navigate scenarios that are both true and false, both positive and negative simultaneously.

Solve problems. People pay for solutions to their problems. They seek the company or the individual who adds value. As an individual, a problem is only as big as you are small. When a problem feels too big, it's just a trigger for you to grow bigger. Get creative. The one who avoids problems may be comfortable, but the one who pursues tough problems is growing. The one who solves problems is adding value, not just to their own lives but to the lives of those around them.

Be customer obsessed. As you're starting your career remember, solutions don't follow money - money follows solutions. A sales driven organization has its limits. The startups that rise above are more often than not the product-led teams who are obsessed with the problem they are solving and the customers they are serving. Once value is created for the customer, money follows. The same is true for you. Your boss, your peers, your cross-functional partners, they are all your customers. The company interviewing you for your next job and offering a 40% pay increase is another customer competing for the value you create. 

Build a brand. If financial growth is important to you it might feel absurd to accept a job that pays less now just because it's more interesting work. The truth is, taking the more interesting job now could lead to far greater rewards down the road. You are a startup, and your brand is far more likely to shine when you're excited to talk about your work with others. When your brand shines, opportunity will always present itself. Find the job in a field that you think about with excitement in your off-hours. Find the ladder you will enjoy climbing. Fall in love with the PURSUIT of your end goals and let that passion and joy be your brand. Use it to build meaningful relationships. Share with others as you learn and grow and let yourself be known and heard for the contributions you make to your field. 

Lastly and most importantly, dream big. Form a huge vision, and let that vision evolve as you grow and pivot. Netflix started with DVD rentals, and since then they’ve created an entire new category for consuming content (streaming) and they’ve become an Oscar winning production studio. Like Netflix, your career end point might bear little resemblance to your founding vision, but great things lie ahead if you dream big, and think like a startup.

This article was written by Taylor Roa, Director of Talent at Wistia.

The 3 Factors to Help You Navigate the Changing Career Landscape banner image

The 3 Factors to Help You Navigate the Changing Career Landscape

The talent market has changed dramatically in the last few decades, but career advice has not changed along with it. Today you can wake up in New York, brew some coffee, and login to work with a team in San Francisco without even leaving your kitchen. There are far more opportunities available to candidates than ever before and the career landscape has become much more liquid. Talent has become a vast, digitally connected, and highly competitive market. To better understand how to navigate your career in this landscape, we have to examine how work has changed and why common advice hasn’t changed with it. There are three words in particular that I think sum it up well.

The first word is SECURITY.

Finding a good job out of college used to mean securing your entire future. Job security was central to how people thought of their career and it shaped the language and culture of work for a century. “A fulfilling career with a great organization” is a sentence that somehow still sounds ordinary today, yet it should feel very foreign to a modern professional because today a fulfilling career spans multiple organizations, not just one.

Today, everything is moving. Very few people accept a job offer expecting to be with the same company ten years later, especially in the tech industry. Yet young professionals are still often told they don’t want to seem “jumpy” and they should prioritize consistency in their career. This is the language of an outdated mental model for career building. 

The old concept of career building was centered around longevity with one organization. The reality today is that movement early in your career can be incredibly beneficial. In a landscape that is constantly moving, it is far better to start a career with diverse experience in multiple environments. When you reach your growth ceiling at one place, take the experience you’ve earned somewhere else that can give you a higher ceiling to reach for and repeat. Eventually, when you are ready for management or specialization as an IC, your diverse experience will add far more value to your next employer. In the past, security meant tenure and pension. Today, security means having options and the modern young professional should be leveraging their options and diversifying their experience early on. 

The second word is GROWTH.

Not too long ago, growth, like security, was anchored to tenure. Pay increases were awarded in small doses and were spaced across large gaps of time. Promotions came after a set amount of time rather than achievement. The market was not as liquid back then and changing companies often meant stepping backward in your career, not forward, yet another reason people stayed in place. Slow internal growth is largely still the reality at most organizations. It is another lingering artifact of outdated workforce psychology. Employers still have a hard time justifying sizable raises to current employees despite the tremendous costs of recruiting outside talent but since the meaning of security has changed, it has pushed employees to embrace their options on the market. Individual growth has become catalyzed by career movement and the rewards of loyalty pale in comparison.

At-will employment today is a mutually insecure relationship to enter into. When an employee can be terminated at any moment for reasons as elusive as “we’re taking a new direction”, it would be foolish to put loyalty over their own growth and needs. From Forbes to Fast Company, the data show that those who change jobs every two years early on in their career end up earning over 50% more in the long run compared to those who stay put to grow internally. In a world where everything is moving, movement is the key to fast growth. Especially early on in a career.

The third word is STRUCTURE.

In an attempt to better innovate at scale, many tech and other rapid-growth organizations try to shed the hierarchical scaffolding of the premodern workplace and flat work structures are filling the void. A flat work structure is one in which titles are less meaningful and theoretically anyone is empowered to contribute ideas or solve problems. This is a gold mine for growth if you’re curious and driven. In the right environment, a flat work structure gives you closer proximity to leaders, more of a voice on any team, and more opportunity to reach out and solve problems - meaning more opportunity to add lucrative experience to your resume. When I worked at Flywire, Mike Massaro used to say “working in a rapid growth company is better than any master’s degree” and he was absolutely right. Seek the right environments that offer autonomy and a flat work culture and the growth you can achieve will be exponential. 

This fundamental change to the meaning of security, growth, and structure in a career has transformed the talent market into what it is today. It is liquid like any other market and as long as a young professional is adding value and solving problems in each role they take on, they should embrace movement early in their career. Bigger problems take more time to solve, so longer tenure in each role will naturally occur later on in a career at the manager or director level and beyond. You won’t be “jumpy” for long.

This article was written by Taylor Roa, Director of Talent at Wistia.

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How to Read People & Connect Meaningfully in Virtual Meetings

“I cannot build relationships as well when we are working remotely.”

“It is hard to read people as well in a virtual meeting as I can do in-person.”

My clients and their team members have been repeating these mantras to me since the pandemic started, as they suddenly had to conduct all their business via technology rather than meeting with colleagues in person. 

What I say to these mantras is: HOGWASH. It is imminently possible to read people and build relationships virtually. And if you want to “win” in this new world of virtual management and leadership, you are going to have to buck up, figure it out, and excel at it. 

I meet with local clients in person when possible. Yet I have always worked with clients in other parts of the world (Switzerland, France, India, Hong Kong, Australia, the UK, Canada) as well as in all states across the US. Thus, I have seasoned “reading people” and “relationship-building” skills for both the phone and video. Senior leaders of global organizations also have these skills because they, too, work with colleagues all over the world, meeting in-person for only a tiny fraction of their total interactions. 

Human beings are constantly communicating through their bodies, providing observable cues to others that indicate what they are thinking and how they feel. One simply has to tune in to this level of communication. You are already doing this unconsciously, to some degree. So, none of this will be a surprise. But you will greatly enhance your virtual relationship capabilities by paying much closer attention to the subtle ways human beings reveal their thoughts and feelings – not through what they say, but how they say it. 

  • Tone of voice: Our mood is expressed in the sound of our voice. When one is stressed and tense, the body contracts, tightening muscles around the throat and jaw. One can hear this in the voice. What is the tone of your colleague’s voice? If you know him/her well, you already know the range of tones s/he has. If you do not know him/her well, listen. Over a short period of time, you will come to know. The voice is an instrument and has many notes and tones. Pay attention to them. They convey emotion.

  • Volume of voice: Our energy level is expressed in our voice through its volume. When I am relaxed, my voice is softer, quieter. When I am charged up or angry, I am louder. “Charged up” and “angry” even have different volumes. Happy and excited feelings also express as a louder voice. Disengagement or disappointment are shown in a lower volume. Much can be read about a person through the combination of their vocal tone and volume. A tight constricted tone and loud voice can indicate stress or upset, even slightly.

  • Speed of speech: Different people have different speech speeds. Some people are fast talkers, some are slow talkers. Everyone has their own range. Noticing your colleagues’ typical speech speed helps you gauge where they are in the moment within their range. Faster speech can indicate excitement, optimism, conviction, or anxiety. Noticing your colleague’s speed of speech in combination with her/his volume and tone will indicate which emotion it is.

  • Rhythm of breathing: One can notice a colleague’s breathing both over the phone and on a video. One can hear people taking breaths between sentences. They can take a quick breath, or a long slow breath. They can take frequent or infrequent breaths. They can sigh. On video you can notice the rise and fall of a colleague’s shoulders or torso when they breathe. These aspects of breathing indicate how relaxed or stressed someone is, how excited they are, or if they are constricting their breathing or holding their breath. The latter occurs at times when one disagrees or feels uncomfortable and stressed, as in a conflict. A sigh is a cue for the release of stress. It could be that the person is experiencing stress, or has just stopped experiencing stress, relieving it through a sigh. 

  • Pauses: When someone pauses in their speech, some thought or feeling is being dealt with inside. It is an opportunity to learn about that person’s thought process, the relationship between their thinking and their verbal expression. Alternatively, if someone is dealing with an emotion, they may pause in their speech to feel it or conceal it. One can ask about that pause, saying “what was going through your mind when you paused there?” This question, if delivered with genuine curiosity and openness, can also build rapport and trust.

  • Self-interrupted phrases and sentences: Sometimes I start a sentence before my thought is completely formed, and as I am speaking, I further develop my thought or the series of thoughts I want to express. So, I interrupt myself. I start a sentence, then I interrupt it by restarting another sentence, and then I can do it again until I get it right. This reveals to a close listener how I think, as well as how focused or scattered I may be in a given moment. And being focused or scattered – or even flustered – is an indication of my relationship with a topic or maybe a person. It says a lot about me, or anyone who interrupts their own sentences. It is also an indication of trust and intimacy, if I am willing to edit myself in another’s presence like that.

Specifically for video:

  • Body posture and movements: Is your colleague leaning towards the screen, or leaning back? Is she resting on elbows, sitting tall, or slumping? Leaning on an elbow, resting a head on the hand? Does he move his hands and arms, gesture, or change position when making a point? Is he perfectly still? All of these details indicate a mood, a level of engagement, conviction, comfort, discomfort, intimacy or distancing, and stress or relaxation. Arms folded or crossed over the rib cage can be a self-protective gesture, indicating someone is not feeling safe or not wanting to share or reveal something. We speak with our bodies. And as our bodies move, our breathing, tone and volume of voice, and rhythm of speech are all affected. It’s all connected. 

  • Facial expression: This is an obvious one. People’s faces change a lot as they are feeling emotions and having thoughts, even when they try to hide it. A very small number of people are expert at hiding their feelings and holding a completely neutral face. But even that tells us something. 

  • Visual focus: This is a tricky one on video because often people will look at the other person’s picture rather than directly into the camera, so “eye contact” can be a bit funky in this medium. People also become distracted by their own image in a video meeting. That said, sometimes people will shift their gaze completely away from the screen as they consider an abstract thought, or a new piece of information or perspective. This can tell you a lot about what they know or don’t know, how deeply they are taking what you say into account (or not), and whether they are open to having their mind changed. This can also highlight if they are trying to remember something or engage deeply with your comments. It can obviously also indicate that they are doing emails or checking their phone, which we all do from time to time. 

Deepening trust and relationships virtually is a natural extension of making these sensitive observations of another by:

  • Listening without interrupting (count to “2” after they have finished their last sentence, creating a tiny bit of silence before you start speaking)

  • Frequently nodding or saying “mmm” or “mmm-hmm” or “I hear you” or “that makes sense” 

  • Asking questions using the exact words the speaker used – repeating some portion of what they said verbatim

  • As noted above, asking questions about a sigh or a pause or an expression (in a way that does not make them feel embarrassed or self-conscious about their body language)

For the black-belt virtual communicator and relationship-builder, understanding cultural differences within the regions of the US and across different countries of the world is key. All of the above-noted body language indicators vary by region. The key is to pay close attention and to learn over time – even a short period of time – and make note of cultural differences. 

Your priority is to consciously focus on observing the other person – or people – and their physical cues. Businesspeople are often so completely focused on the topic at hand, on the content of their meetings and the points they want to make, that they forget to notice, observe, listen, and take note of other people’s cues. Give a significant amount of headspace to the form of the interaction as well as the content in your virtual meetings, and you will become the best relationship builder and person/politics-reader in the company. This will certainly give you an advantage!

Deb Hordon Ph.D. is an independent leadership coach, supporting great technologists to become great business leaders. She also coaches people at the C level - and those who aspire to it - across North America, Europe, and India.
The Great Resignation? It Might be Time for Reinvention - Tips to Consider Before Changing Jobs banner image

The Great Resignation? It Might be Time for Reinvention - Tips to Consider Before Changing Jobs

At this point into the pandemic, most of us have heard reference to the “The Great Resignation” dynamic happening in the working world.  Essentially, a large number of workers across a variety of industries are beginning to prioritize themselves and their own well-being over their place of employment. As we powered through the darkest days of the pandemic, people began to contemplate their futures, and an estimated 25% of workers have left or considered leaving their roles. Primarily reasons for making this decision include a compensation increase, more flexible work schedule, and better working conditions. For others, it is a simple matter of prioritizing their own well-being and mental health first.  

This is leaving a variety of people scrambling to find a green pasture. I get it. After so many months of quarantining, and facing a whole series of challenges in both life and work (we’ve all experienced it differently, but everyone has faced something!!) It could feel incredibly revitalizing to reinvent your life by going somewhere new, especially if a company is coming after you with a big pay increase, a new title, and perhaps the ability to work however you see fit. However, before you pick up a recruiter’s call a couple of things to consider:


Let’s own it; even if your compensation isn’t the primary factor to consider in taking a new job, it plays a pretty significant role. It’s safe to assume most people want to see a steady trajectory in their earning power over time. If your current company isn’t offering you a competitive income, or hasn’t provided you with an increase in the form of consistent raises, perhaps it is time to explore a new role.   

The Fine Print: The “war for talent” is real, and there are some companies willing to throw big numbers out to lure you in. Don’t just look at the base salary.  Consider healthcare contributions and other pre-tax benefits.  Ask about what percentage of the bonus was paid out of the last few years. Ask about the cadence of future increases.  And if you are receiving additional compensation, such as equity, and if you are unfamiliar with how it works, ask someone who knows. I can reference so many examples of people who have gone to “the hottest unicorn company out there! We will go public in the next three months and I’m going to be rich!!” That’s the dream for many, but not always the reality. It’s critical to understand the whole package and how it will realistically be paid out before you get mesmerized with big numbers. 


While we all might get a bit of wanderlust at work sometimes, consider if you are contemplating changing jobs because you are running away from something, or running towards something. No role is perfect, but consider the reasons you are leaving (think toxic culture, going back to school, career advancement you can’t get otherwise) vs. why you might stay (healthy culture, you are fairly rewarded for the impact you make, fantastic collaboration with team and co-workers). If you can lay it all out, the right answer should become fairly clear. 

The Fine Print: Changing jobs, even one you are excited about, can cause tremendous stress. You have to reinvent your reputation with a new team of people who don’t know you. You have to prove yourself. You have to manage within a new culture and set of expectations. Sometimes, we just need a change in life. However, really understanding what you are walking into, and how it will differ from your current role just may cause you to pause and consider if the change is worth it.  


In today’s world, every company will tout its fantastic culture. The question is, how do you truly get to understand what it’s really like to work there far beyond the hype. Maybe you are excited about their Future of Work strategy (e.g. remote first, work from anywhere!)  but make sure to probe on how that model will work to support your career desires. In this particular example, perhaps you are excited about the thought of no commute and massive flexibility. However, be sure to inquire about how you will be able to meet and engage with people outside of your team to build cross-functional relationships. Or perhaps what the career development path looks like in this model.  

The Fine Print:  Ask the tough questions. Probe on their core values, and ask for examples of how it is truly embodied. Ask about the attrition. There are some incredible companies out there, but do your diligence and make sure the environment and culture that are important to you is shared with the company you are considering. 


While no one expects to stay in one company for decades in this day and age, I suspect no one wants to switch jobs every year or so either. Most employees leave when they no longer feel inspired or challenged by their work. Before you jump ship, explore taking on new responsibilities and challenges with your manager. If that is met with dissatisfaction, explore other roles within the company. If you are a great employee, your company would much rather find a new role or explore expanding your current one than risk losing you.  

The Fine Print: You have to take some accountability to make this happen; especially in today’s world. With many people still operating behind screens and becoming a little more transactional in their interactions with each other, don’t expect your manager to be a mind reader. Share your goals and aspirations. Ask for a new challenge.  Communicate and give them a chance to partner with you before you leave and assume the only option for growth is to go elsewhere. 

No company is perfect, but if you are one of the 25% who is actively thinking about moving on to your next gig, I’d advise you to really think through taking a new job hastily. When we are eager for a change in our lives (seriously, who hasn't after the last eighteen months) switching jobs can seem like an obvious choice - especially if we see big dollar signs or titles dangled in front of us. Before you jump, however, contemplate if you’ve truly maxed out your current job. If your company has treated you well (rewarded you fairly, provided opportunities to learn and grow, you work with people you like and trust, etc.) then be honest and have a conversation. No company wants to lose good people; but we all need to speak up to make sure our wants and needs are understood.  

Christina Luconi is Chief People Officer for Rapid7. Follow her on Twitter: @peopleinnovator.