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If you don’t know the answer, just say so!

Qualcomm Gansl

Steven Mollenkopf is the C.E.O. of Qualcomm, a mobile-phone technology company based out of San Diego. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Mollenkopf opened up about his approach to leadership, hiring process and pet peeves in the workplace. Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • “You should make mistakes by throwing the ball away, not by holding the ball.” In the context of work this means “making mistakes by action, not thinking about something or being timid.” You should encourage yourself to take risks. If you make a mistake trying to do something, you can fix it later.
  • Workplace “perfection” is like a mathematical limit. “You need to make sure that you’re moving toward perfection, but you’re never going to get there.”
  • “Jerks don’t get promoted.” As with many aspects of life , you have to be able to get along with people. “Companies run on smart people who can also get other smart people to move generally in the same direction.”
  • “If you don’t know, just say so.” The more senior you get, the less concerned you are with saying, “I don’t know the answer here.” You realize you’re not supposed to now ALL the answers. As a boss, your job is to surround yourself with people who can help you find the answers.
  • 100% effort is key: “People who don’t work hard are a problem.”
  • “Treat people well.” Happy staff are more productive and efficient than unhappy staff.
  • When you leave college: “Don’t have a plan, because you can underestimate what your abilities are, and you might limit yourself in some cases.”

Click here to view the full interview in the New York Times.