Julia Austin on Working at Big Companies vs. Startups | The One Thing By Seeking Wisdom


this is one I get all the time and I
think one that I even talked to you about at one point in my career which
was okay I’ve been a p.m. for a while I have an opportunity to go and have
VP title / director title whatever at a start-up or a smaller company or I have
this other opportunity to be maybe a group PM or senior PM or something at a
bigger company and how do you help what’s the way to evaluate those choices
yes so there’s no right or wrong answer in terms of which one you should do
first I’ll start there big companies small company each gives you
an advantage mm-hmm big company you would get a lot of exposure to mentors
and see best practice or sometimes you see all the wrong things to do I’d tell
people there’s nothing wrong with going to work for a bad boss or or a company
that’s not delivering because you can see what that looks like right but
oftentimes if you’re going a big successful company you’re gonna get
exposure to things you might have a narrower scope a smaller impact maybe
not get to do all the things right maybe have a lower title but you’ll get to see
how the Machine runs and you’ll get to see what great looks like so that if you
do go to a startup you know what you’re trying to strive towards yeah right yeah
I know what it will look like when we’re good when we have product market fit
hmm whatever yeah going to startup I think you have to accept if you do took
if you took a VP product role at a startup and you’re right out of school
or you don’t have a lot of experience and you have to accept it’s inflated and
that wouldn’t translate you’re not gonna become a VP of product at a big company
from there so put the title aside who cares it’s really what you’re doing
right yeah so if you’re an early stage company you are doing all the things and
you have to be comfortable with that right there’s there’s no team to do
these things sometimes you’re the product market or the product manager you might
be the designer yep you might be support right you have to be okay with that even
if you have a fancy title you might not have mentors and best practice in the
business that you join a lot depends on who the founders are here at Drift you
have very senior experienced serial entrepreneurs running the company so that’s
awesome when you can get exposure like that at an early
stage company that’s unique it’s really unique yes most early-stage companies
are first-time founders and so you have to be prepared to get mentors find
people to advise you outside the business mm-hmm so I recommend to
anybody who’s taking a PM job for the first time in a startup
go get your network squared away figure out who you’re gonna call upon I do that
a lot with my students or in those jobs where we do coffees once a month and
just talk about what we’re challenging we’ve done this yes so what’s challenging
what’s hard how you’re learning where you’re getting access to resources
mm-hmm whatever it is it’s critical I think yeah just being able to talk to
someone who’s in the same type of role that you’re in at a different company is
amazing yeah because all of a sudden you know is this normal? Is this not normal
how are you handling this problem or they have a problem you never even heard of
before right that’s been a and that’s really important right if you’re a
first-time PM at a start-up for the first time you don’t know what normal is
right right yeah it’s really fun for me when I’ve been at startups where
sometimes I hear things and I looked whoever the role is yeah and just
feeling like you know this is normal right like this is how it works here
until you get to this stage that’s just the way it’s gonna be yeah versus uh
what do you mean you’re doing that like that should not be happening here what
functions going on or where’s the person who does this so we
don’t have that person oh yeah I figured that out right so I think you’re right I
think finding that cohort of whether its peers mentors whatever I think is really
important and I think that ability to use a couple things one is if you’re
going to an early stage company it’s both the the thrill of we get to just do
a bunch of crazy things and it’s like blue sky yeah I don’t know and that can
be really crazy and who knows what the products gonna look like in a year that
can be fun or that can be scary and daunting again get us back to who you
are as a person and what gets you excited if you go to a big company could
be very structured we know exactly where we’re going we have a roadmap we know we
need to deliver by the end of the year could feel secure and really nice oh
good I don’t have to worry about that stress within the year we may make a few
changes or shifts but overall I know where we’re going and what we’re trying
to do it could that could be great and very
and gives you the ability to hone your skills without the stress yeah but you
could also you can feel very slow it could feel very process heavy depends
again on who you are

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