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Could Parenting Skills Be Transferrable To A CEO?

Penny Herscher

Penny Herscher is the Chief Executive of FirstRain, a business analytics firm based out of San Mateo, California. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Herscher drew some interesting parallels between her approach to managing children as a parent and managing a company as a chief executive. Here are some of the key points from the interview:

  • Don’t hog the spotlight: “You need to let other people blossom and thrive” otherwise you’ll find yourself with employees that don’t want to work for you.
  • Having kids can change the way you manage: “The things you learn raising a child are great skills for nurturing a team and bringing a project to life. You take obstacles out of the way, encourage them and set goals that are tough but can be achieved.”
  • You need somebody who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth: “Many leaders with strong personalities never hear the truth because their people are afraid to tell them. The people who will tell you the truth are the most valuable people in your life.”
  • As a CEO you can’t blame anyone else: You can look to a board of executives or shareholders for advice, but not permission. As a CEO “You are it! You have to make the decisions. You can collect advice, but nobody is going to make a decision for you, so just get on with it and make the decisions. If they’re right you’ll be fine, and if they’re wrong you’ll be fired.”
  • When hiring, look for “I.Q, integrity and energy, because you can’t teach those.”
  • Ask questions in interviews that tell you MORE about the candidate: “What makes you really special,” “how do you grow your employees” and “what’s your natural strength” are great examples.

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

“Is it the cards, or how you play them?”

Singh

Narinder Singh is the president of “Topcoder,” a company that administers computer-programming competitions. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Singh spoke about his early management experiences, leadership lessons, and hiring processes.

Here are some points we took away from the interview:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of stereotypes: Try to understand when you could use stereotypes and when it’s important to break and challenge them. “I started looking hard at the assumptions I was making about people, and what assumptions they were making about me.”
  • Ask “Was it the hand, or how you played it?”: If you stumble because of the cards you’re dealt, “you should get better cards… But if you played them badly, you need to think about how to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
  • Admire leaders that aren’t afraid to be challenged: People have to feel that the best idea wins. “If I have somebody working for me who’s really good, I should lose 80% of the arguments I have with them because they should know their area better than I do.”
  • Ask how a candidate travels: “Are you a get-there-early-for-the-flight person, or a barely-make-it-in-time person?” Then find out WHY! You want to understand how a candidate looks at the world.
  • Everyone has a unique perspective: “When you meet somebody, pull every piece of insight you can out of them.” You never know what you’ll learn!

Click here to view the full article in The New York Times.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are YOU?”

Are Traasdahl, the chief executive of the advertising firm "Tapad."

Are Traasdahl, the chief executive of the advertising firm “Tapad.”

When it comes to conducting job interviews, we’re all familiar with the typical questioning dialogue. A recent article in the New York Times, however, alerted me to a very creative approach to questioning prospective employees. Are Traasdahl, Chief Executive of the advertising firm Tapad, likes to ask how lucky a candidate feels they’ve been in life on a scale from one to ten.

Traasdahl argues that: “[s]even is the right answer. If you say 10, you’ve just been the golden child. Everything in your life has just been fabulous, and everything breaks in your direction. You are not able to read the situation around you at that point, I think. If the answer is 2, then you are in a misunderstood-genius category.” Click here to view the article in full.

What creative interview questions do you ask your prospective employees?