Unlocking Insights From Jeff Bezos, Marissa Mayer, and Eric Schmidt With Ann Hiatt

Hello, welcome to another episode of Unlocked, I'm Skot. Today, we've got an awesome, awesome fun interview with none other than Ann Hiatt. She just finished her first book Bet on Yourself. And in that book, she talks about some of her unique insights and experiences she's had with three powerhouse people that I'm sure you know: number one, Jeff Bezos, number two, Marissa Mayer, number three, Eric Schmidt. And we talk about her experiences working closely side-by-side with these individuals and how those things she learned apply to us as entrepreneurs. The things and the principles that she took from those experiences. And how did they shape who she is? And how can they shape who we are and what we want to be and do?

So you're going to hear some really cool things about her experiences with those three individuals, and how we can apply those to our lives, right now, as entrepreneurs. So I'm really, really stoked for this interview. It was a lot of fun. You're going to love it. Here we go.

Ann Hiatt it is awesome having you on the show. We've been talking now for probably 30, no, 20 minutes or so.

Ann Hiatt:

Yeah.

Skot Waldron:

Promising we're going to do this interview. So how are you doing?

ANN HIATT:

I'm having a great time. It's good to be here, Skot.

SKOT WALDRON:

Are you?

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Well, I hope it continues to be great, because it was fun talking to you beforehand. So let's do this thing.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Let's inspire, educate, empower the people out there. Your new book, Bet on Yourself, is right there behind you.

ANN HIATT:

Yes, product placement.

SKOT WALDRON:

Well done, well done. Give us the idea behind the book. So this your first book.

ANN HIATT:

Yes.

SKOT WALDRON:

You have a ton of experience in this space. I want to hear why did you write this book? What sparked the idea and then why we're you like I'm doing this?

ANN HIATT:

So I was a bit of an unwilling author, I have to say, in the beginning. A lot of people have this as a bucket list item for their life. It was not on mine. But I started public speaking very unintentionally. I got invited by someone who saw me, my profile, on LinkedIn, and I got on my first stage for the first time. And that's... I told my story for the very first time, in 2013, on this random stage in New York. From then, I started honing and realizing how unique my career has been. The people that I work for, what an amazing privilege that has been to have my personal business school be an apprentice to Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, and Marissa Mayer. And so I started to have this appreciation for this incredible irreplicable experience and knowledge that sat in my head. And then when I would speak, people would come up to me afterwards and say, "Oh my gosh, please tell me you're writing a book," and I just thought that was a nice thing that you say to speakers.

It honestly did not occur to me, for about five years, that they were serious about that. But then as fate would have it, I ended up meeting the person who is now my book agent at a 4th of July party. And I told him my story and he emailed me the next day and was like, "No, seriously, you have to write this." But really what convinced me to do it was that realizing that I had experienced a moment in time that will never happen again. I sat next to Jeff Bezos for 18 hours a day for three years, as he invented, not only eCommerce, but the gold standard of eCommerce. I saw the birth of the internet. I was at Google when they finally converted into becoming the dominant search engine they are today. And it's a really elite education that I think belongs into as many minds as possible.

So this book is my attempt at translating all of these best practices of these super performers I've worked for, for the rest of us normal people, so that we can create lives and careers full of ambition, and joy, and centered around what is most valuable to us. So I use my career as a case study in the book. So there's some really fun stories in there from the foundation of the internet to pull you along. But I also, at the end of each chapter, created what I call ROI Sprint Challenges, where the reader can then translate some of these crazy stories that I share into challenges for themselves to hit their biggest goals and milestones in their life.

SKOT WALDRON:

That is fascinating. So I have a question for you. Between Jeff, Eric, and Marissa, which one would win the arm wrestling championship between the three of them?

ANN HIATT:

Definitely Jeff Bezos.,

SKOT WALDRON:

Really?

ANN HIATT:

But no one has ever asked me that question before. So when I first started working with Jeff, he was like the nerd 1.0 version of Jeff. He was not wearing aviators and leather jackets. He was not jacked like he is now. He was just starting to have this morning routine that involved physical exercise when I first started working with him, because he realized for his mind to perform at the level it needed to everyday he had to take equally good care of his health. So he is in insanely good shape now. That promise to himself he has definitely lived on. He would for sure win arm wrestling. However, I would not... I don't know how I would bet between Marissa and Eric. They're also very strong-willed people. I think the mental commitment to that arm wrestling contest would be probably more interesting than just the physical feat honestly.

SKOT WALDRON:

I could see that. And that's why I asked, because I'm not going to downplay just because Marissa's female, her strength.

ANN HIATT:

No.

SKOT WALDRON:

I mean, she is a powerful woman.

ANN HIATT:

Very.

SKOT WALDRON:

So in that experience, tell us a little bit of the things that you gathered. The ideas you gathered from working with these individuals that you digest for us and layout for us in the book. Give us one of the big principles that you learned.

ANN HIATT:

There's a couple common denominators. While each of them have very distinct personalities, and management styles, and communication styles that differentiate them, they do have some commonalities. That I've seen, not only in these CEOs that I've worked for, but also in the cast of characters that was around us. And the first one, honestly, I think surprises people the most, but it comes in the form of humility. Now, when you think of these people now, Jeff, Eric and Marissa are so powerful among, literally, the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet. Humility might not be the first word that comes to mind, but I sat next to them and watched them build humility into their learning style, their leadership style, and the way they motivate their teams.

So one great example that I highlight in the book is how Jeff, even way back in 2002, when I started working for him, he knew he was a pretty intimidating character. Not only is he supremely intelligent, but he knows exactly what he wants, and if you disappoint him, you're going to hear about it. But what he did was knowing that he can be an intimidating force in a room, he built in some checks and balances around that, so that he would never become complacent. There's something in Silicon Valley we called the Hippo Effect. And the Hippo Effect is the highest individually paid person's opinion. And once the hippo has spoken, everyone else stop, innovation stops, creativity stops. And so Jeff wanted to combat this Hippo Effect and he created a role called The Shadow. Now The Shadow has been in the news a little bit recently in October, because the very first shadow, Andy Jassy, has just been named Jeff's successor as CEO of Amazon.

But when Andy was this young executive 19 years ago and assumed this role of shadow, he had two jobs. One was to literally be at Jeff's side, reading every email, in every meeting, on every flight, literally his shadow, because that was the only way that he could have the full context that Jeff had. All the other SVPs had their individual deliverables and needed to be heads down and inventing the future as fast as possible. But Andy's job was to be that counterbalance. And then once he had that context, the second part of his job, which was most important came into play, which us to poke holes in all of Jeff's favorite ideas. To challenge him, help him see around blind corners, make sure that they were gathering all the right data, and that they never got complacent. Jeff called that avoiding the dreaded day two. When you're a startup, and you're on day one, and you're fighting for your life, and everyone's under betting you, that's the enthusiasm, the energy and the creativity he wanted to hold onto.

When you're in day two, you get complacent, and then you think all your jokes are funny and all your ideas are good. And so he created the role for the shadow to make sure that never happened. I think that takes a lot of humility. And you have to be very brave to be the shadow, I have to say. But I watched that play out and it really shaped the way that I interacted with him as well, because it gave me permission to challenge some things as the junior most person at the entire company.

SKOT WALDRON:

And that is what we call psychological safety, right?

ANN HIATT:

Yes.

SKOT WALDRON:

Is that ability to bring challenge, to speak up, to say things without the fear of being bombarded, discredited, stomped on, blown apart, right?

ANN HIATT:

Absolutely.

SKOT WALDRON:

And that is probably what you would, I would assume, says helps contribute to the growth of Amazon. Is the fact that that openness to innovate is a culture that is going to thrive.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah. It absolutely was. Not only was that thought leadership tolerated, it was demanded. The way he ran his meetings. He has those famous six page memos where you had to really present your argument like you were arguing in front of the Supreme Court, or you were going for a peer review with academic peers. You really had to present all the data, the arguments, analyze all the premises upon which you were making those decisions, and everything was fully documented. Then that allows the executives in the meeting to spend 100% of that time debating. Those meetings were not weather reports. This isn't just like, "Here's how stuff's going." We have dashboards for that.

But when you have a culture that is primed for debate, and analysis, and holds you to that account, that is, exactly what you said, that plus that psychological safety is what makes the magic happen. That's how they invented the future in the way that they did. I also want to preface everything I'm saying by saying, I don't want this to be interpreted as hero worship. I am very aware, as well as I know their incredible strengths, I am very aware of their flaws as well, so I just want to add that asterisk in here. But there's so much that they got right.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah. And I think that's... We're a culture of drama in some way, shape or form. We love the meaty stuff, and so we try to go there sometimes, because it's entertaining. But we cannot discredit the brilliance and the things that were there.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

I mean, talk about in other Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, and the things that he did. But there's a lot of things that people are like, "I burned some bridges."

ANN HIATT:

He was a complex character, yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

So there was some interesting things happening there. And you're right, we all have those things. I would like to... Let me ask you, so we talked a little bit about brand. We were talking about your brand a little bit before this call.

ANN HIATT:

Yes.

SKOT WALDRON:

Three words you would use to describe Jeff, go.

ANN HIATT:

Curious, ambitious, and I'm trying to remember, it's a very particular word that he used all the time that's flying out of my brain.

SKOT WALDRON:

No, no. Think about your word for him.

ANN HIATT:

No, the reason why I want it, it is my word.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay, all right.

ANN HIATT:

Is because when he created Amazon, he literally bought this word as a domain, relentless. Relentless is the word I would use.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay.

ANN HIATT:

If you go to relentless.com, it redirects to amazon.com. That's a little Easter egg secret for you.

SKOT WALDRON:

Really?

ANN HIATT:

That is the perfect word to describe Jeff, because he's relentless in the pursuit. He will go a hundred questions deeper than any other normal human would into something that he doesn't know, or he thinks is worthy of debate or exploration. Relentless is the perfect word for him, because it's the curiosity. It's the passion. It's the vision. It's the enthusiasm. There's a reason why the average tenure of his SVPs is 19 years. 19 years in an environment that is that intense. You have to be getting a lot in return for that. I think that's the greatest credit I can give him as a leader. That, right there, is proof in the pudding, but he is relentless. He will go way farther than any normal person would.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay, fair enough. Sounds good. So let's do the same exercise with Marissa. What are three words you'd use to describe Marissa?

ANN HIATT:

Marissa is data driven, creative and inspirational.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay.

ANN HIATT:

She's a very interesting mix of two sides. Seemingly disjointed talents combined in this beautiful single mind. I've never seen anyone else with that mix of skill sets.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. So then, let's dive into that. Her influence and what she brought to the table and your experience in working with her. What's an aspect, from the book, that you emphasize, that was something that you took away from your time with her.

ANN HIATT:

I learned so much from her. I started working for Marissa the first three years I was at Google, so this is 2006 through 2009. She, at the time, was vice president of search products and user experience, which is a very long fancy title adjustment. We made really cool stuff. Other people had to figure out how to monetize it. We just made really cool stuff. We weren't yet the dominant search engine. Marissa was in charge of the homepage. She was in charge of maps, Gmail, calendar, all the stuff that is ingrained in our daily habits and lives right now, she invented it. She made all of that. The reason she was able to do that at such a pace, at such a critical moment for the company, was the way in which she hired her teams. I would say the thing I learned most from her was the way that she empowered and got out of their way.

In fact, at the time, a good friend of mine, when I joined Google, we were working easy 100 hour weeks, if not more. And a friend of mine is like, "I am concerned about you. You are there all hours of the day and night. You go in every weekend." And she's like, "I'm really worried you're going to burn out." And I was sincerely surprised. I was like, "What are you talking about? I'm there not because anyone asked me to be, I don't want to miss it. I don't want to miss the moment when they figure out that bug. I don't want to miss it when they invent this next thing that's going to be the future of our lives." That's the enthusiasm that she hired, designed and cultivated on that team. You just didn't want to miss it. You wanted to be part of it.

And in the book, I tell a fun story about, she calls it, finding your rhythm. She had this engineer named Johanna. And Johanna was very important to Marissa. We could not lose her. She was very talented. She has expertise that were rare in the world. Literally, there weren't people like her in the world with her expertise. Johanna was in charge of our expansion into India. And she had two young children, a newborn baby, and a very young child. And Marisa said, "I can't lose you. I can't burn you out. What do we do here?" And Johanna's like, "Don't take me off of India. I love that I'm a mom, but I love that I can run something so strategically important to the growth of this company. Don't take me off." And so Marissa was like, "What do we do?" She said, "You know what? I don't mind having conference calls every morning at 3:00 AM, but I do mind missing dinner time and bath the time with my kids." And Marissa's like, "That's it?"

And she would protect that time, tooth and nail, no matter what Johanna was home for those, and that was her rhythm. That might not be a perfect rhythm for other people. Another engineer on her team... She then had conversations with all her direct reports, and one did not want to miss his Friday night football game with his university friends. For each person their rhythm was a little bit different. But this is more of... I don't think there is such a thing as work-life balance in companies like that, but it is that proper work-life integration. When you find your particular rhythm, that's how you remain really enthusiastic, because your job is getting back to you as much as you're getting to it. And you have what you value most in your life and you don't resent your job, if you have a manager that's protecting that for you.

SKOT WALDRON:

Work-life integration is really smart, because there is no real work-life balance.

ANN HIATT:

No.

SKOT WALDRON:

I think that's a myth and not really there. It's like, "How do you integrate both?" Because they both exist in a healthy way, right?

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

And we call it being productive and present. How do we remain productive and present at the right times, with the right people in our lives, and make sure that we're all... That the people that we're there for know that we're there for them.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

We're not distracted and pulled away at certain times. There's something called the five gears that I teach, and the gear two is the present gear. I'm here with you. I'm not looking at my phone. We're having a conversation. So if I'm... I teach this to my kids. It's so easy. We'll be watching with movie, if I pick up my phone to check something, my daughter goes, "Dad." She's 11, she's like, "Gear two, dad, gear two." And I'm like, "Got it." Calling me up to be who I wanted to be, and I think that's super powerful. The other principle I got from what you just said is that is creating a culture of empowerment and opportunity. That, right there, is saying, "I'm going to lead you the way you need to be led."

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Not the way I think you need to be led, but the way you need to be led, and also you, and you, and you, and you. And it takes a lot of effort, because it's not a one size fits all for everybody. So that's really powerful too, that I got out of you. And the one last thing that you said was brilliant is I don't want to miss this. How many people can go to work right now, or come home from work right now and say, "Man, I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. I don't want to miss this." That is so interesting. I don't know how many people could say that right now.

ANN HIATT:

I realized that is a privileged position that I have. Okay, every single day did it feel like that? No, there were days I did expense reports, and I did the non-sexy stuff. But in general, we were so purpose driven, we knew where we were going. And even though we very much sprinting a marathon at the time, she helped us have these race tapes to break. She created these milestones that we could celebrate. And you didn't want to miss when the race tape finally got broken. It was just very exciting. And I think that's why I was so surprised. I never experienced burnout. I worked for 15 years without taking a holiday or a weekend off, or ever putting my phone down. I would literally take it in the shower with me. But I didn't burn out, because I didn't want to miss it. I was so value aligned with what we were trying to do, that it felt like that. Again, not every single moment of every single day, but overall it made those boring non-sexy expense reports still have purpose behind it, I guess.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah, right. It's like you don't mind doing the boring work, because the other work is so purpose driven.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

I tell people that too. I don't care if somebody's working on an assembly line, putting arms on dolls for eight hours a day, if they feel they're part of a bigger purpose, and they feel excited about what's going to happen to this, and they're part of a growth opportunity.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

They're going to be excited about that thing.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

And so, I think that's really impactful. Let's move to Mr. Eric Schmidt then. What are the three words you'd use to describe Eric?

ANN HIATT:

I mean, that's hard. I worked for him for nine and a half years, so by far my most experience with him. I would say he is curious, humble. It's so hard to only choose three.

SKOT WALDRON:

I usually let people choose five, but for the sake of the interview, I just...

ANN HIATT:

I like it. And complex. Eric has way more layers than most people would ever expect. That would be my last word, yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Interesting. Okay. Key takeaway from Eric that you wanted to add to the book, that you want everybody to feel inspired by or to know that they can do?

ANN HIATT:

One of my favorite stories of Eric, and it is in the book. I share that he had this plaque on his desk at Google that said, "If at all possible, say yes." If at all possible say yes is not about not delegating, or saying yes to too many things, or not being clear on your purpose or individual zone of genius. In fact, it's the opposite of that. If at all possible say yes, means lean into stuff that scares you a little bit. Say yes to going to a concert where you don't know that music. Say yes to going to something that... Being invited into a room that will make you uncomfortable, because you feel like the dumbest person in the table. He not only said yes to those things, he sought them out.

Here's just one fun example. He realized Google was his third company being CEO. He'd been CEO at Novell and Sun before that. He realized, as a professional CEO, most of his life was going to be living on an airplane. And so, he decided if he was going to be living on an airplane, he wanted to do the fun part, which was fly it. So Eric became certified on five plus jets. He did, as a hobby, what people do for a full-time living. And when I was staffing him, when I was his chief of staff, we would go from a very intense negotiation. We would get to the plane, he would turn left, sit down and fly us. I would turn right and prepare the briefing documents for our next meeting. And then he would come back in, because he liked to do the takeoff in the landings, which are the technical hard parts. And I just think that's such a... Obviously, that's a funny little anecdote, but the perfect little nutshell of how he leans into life.

He wants to do the fun part, which is always the hardest, most challenging. It keeps him on his toes. It keeps his brain young and plastic. And that is why he's so complex, because he knows everything about everything, because he is curious and isn't afraid of doing things that might make him look dumb. Honestly, when you're Eric Schmidt, and you're the CEO of Google, and you went to Princeton, you have one of the first computer science engineering degrees, his PhD's from Berkeley. Everyone assumes you're always going to be the smartest person in the room, and he just rejects that. He seeks out rooms where he knows nothing about the expertise of the people around him and leans into those conversations. And that makes him so multifaceted.

SKOT WALDRON:

That's cool. Somebody told me yesterday, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

ANN HIATT:

Truth. And when you're Eric Schmidt that's a challenge.

SKOT WALDRON:

Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine. How do we apply that to us, as entrepreneurs, as people going out with startup mentality, or we want to break out and do something. How do we apply that?

ANN HIATT:

First, you have to get comfortable with the idea that contributing to a conversation, and moving a project, or a team, or a company forward isn't arriving with all the answers. A lot of times I did this, especially early in my career, when I had no idea what we were doing. In fact, in the beginning, I didn't even understand the vocabulary. There's all these acronyms in technology, and it's just this whole foreign language. And so a lot of times what I added to these tables, or these rooms of geniuses, was I would just learn the value of asking the right question. I helped the experts in the room to hone the data, to make sure that they had looked at it from different angles. For most of my career, I was the only woman in the room. So just the fact... I just think differently. I perceive the world differently. I interact with it in a different way.

So I had to realize that I could add the most value, not by being quiet and being a wallflower and being afraid of looking stupid in front of people whose opinions I really cared about, but often what I could really value is asking the right question. So as I progressed in my career, first, it was I did my homework. So at my desk on Amazon, I had this notebook. I wish I still had it today. Oh my gosh, I would love to see what... But I kept a list of all the people I didn't know, the terms I didn't understand, and I just did my homework every single day of just understand the context of what we're trying to do. And then I would go to my manager and make sure I had translated everything correctly.

Then that gave me the confidence to start asking those questions in the room, even if maybe it revealed some of my novice lack of understanding. Then once that started going really well, I could proactively poke holes in things or say like, "But remember when we talked about this last month, you brought up this point, maybe that applies here as well." And then you have the confidence to anticipate, and that's when my job got really fun. That's why I could be chief of staff at Google was because I'd honed my instincts enough to be in rooms with literally like Nobel Prize winning scientists, and the greatest experts in the world, and anticipate where they needed to use their thought leadership next in ways that they hadn't yet seen. So that was the progression. No matter where you're at in your career, you can always up level just a bit. But I guess the underlying lesson there is you do have to do your homework.

SKOT WALDRON:

Okay. Valid. Yeah. I would think so. I think that would be important. Well, good for you. I mean, did you ever feel afraid to speak up for fear feeling stupid or feeling intimidated?

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

How did you transition into not being that way?

ANN HIATT:

It's so hard. Honestly, my nature is very timid. I'm a perfectionist in all the negative connotations of that word. I self-inhibit and hold myself back out of fear of looking stupid or failing. Thankfully, the universe... That's my nature, the universe, and giving me this insane career I had not planned on nurtured that out of me. And the truth is I just got worn down by it. That couldn't exist in these environments I found myself in, so it was sink or swim. It was like jump into the deep end or get out of the pool. Those were the two choices. And so I didn't want to miss it, so I was like, "Okay, I guess I'm going to look stupid sometimes."

But people often ask me what is my biggest regret or what's the biggest mistake I ever made in my career. And I can assure you that list is long. When you're moving that fast and inventing things and doing things that, not only I'd never done before, but no one had ever done before, you make a lot of mistakes. But the truth is the stuff that haunts me now is really at the heart of your question, which is the times I didn't raise my hand, or I didn't volunteer to be on a project when I could have learned something, or I could have contributed something amazing. And so it's more those times of omission than commission that really I think about now decades later. I don't honestly remember those sins of commission that made me cry way back then. I don't even remember what they were, but the things I didn't volunteer for and didn't try I do still think about those I all the time.

SKOT WALDRON:

Powerful. Cool. And what about the... Let's talk briefly, because it's so timely right now, about this great resignation that's happening. You're in Spain right now.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

And same experience in Spain that we're having here in the States with that?

ANN HIATT:

Do you know it's really interesting. Something magical is happening here in Spain, or in Europe in general. So yes there's a great resignation, which is a lot of people are leaving jobs that were honestly kind of crappy, that weren't valuing them as humans, that didn't take into account families and balance and all those things. Yes, that's happening. But what I hear people talking about the most is the opportunities that this pandemic has given the economies here in particular. Because what used to happen pre-pandemic is all these ambitious, very talented, especially technologically attracted people, we had massive brain drain. People would leave Europe thinking the only way to have an impact was to go to the States. And because of the pandemic, they were forced to stay here and then they found each other. And they were like, "Whoa, while we're stuck here and we can't travel, let's get a jumpstart on this, or let's contribute in a different way, or let's do remote working for that company I got hired for, but can't go to yet."

And it's created this incredible momentum around European grown talent, and I think that's in the best interest of the entire world. The more diversity we have in entrepreneurialism, in companies and perspectives in success, the better we're all going to be for that. So yes, there's a great resignation, but I think there's this special, incredible silver lining here in Europe, which also applies to the States. But I think it's accelerated them catching up to the States by five, maybe, 10 years. Makes me happy.

SKOT WALDRON:

That's fascinating. And as you think about the opportunities that came because of the pandemic... I mean, the pandemic was a giant forced experiment on air pollution.

ANN HIATT:

Yeah.

SKOT WALDRON:

Looking at that, when that's happening they grounded all the planes and you're like, "That was fascinating."

ANN HIATT:

That's crazy.

SKOT WALDRON:

Because that would've never happened ever again, right?

ANN HIATT:

No.

SKOT WALDRON:

Unless we had a global pandemic that shut down air travel. So you think about the opportunities that came out of this, and the way you look at that. All the people that came out of their jobs, that were either laid off or quit, because they realized that they didn't have to dwell in that space anymore. That said, "You know what?" I'm going to use your book title. "I'm going to bet on myself. I'm going to use this time and opportunity," and I'm going to just put it out there. "Maybe some government stimulus money to help cushion me and help me feel a little bit more comfortable to do something that I wouldn't have normally done, because of fear of not having healthcare, or fear of not being able to do the thing that I wanted to do because I'm... Whatever it was, pandemic created a lot of interesting opportunities. Are you seeing the same thing?

ANN HIATT:

I definitely am. In fact, I just published... I'm very excited. My nerd self is very excited. I just published my very first article in Harvard Business Review about exactly that. And what I'm seeing is people re-centering in purpose about what is it that they don't want to miss? What gets them out of bed that they're like, "I know that this is a slog, and this is hard, and this is risky, but I don't want to miss this opportunity." And then second is the people. A lot of companies and entrepreneurs focus so much of their time thinking about the what and the how of their business plan, and not enough time on the who. And in my experience in tech, and in general, is the quality of people that you assemble around yourself is a much bigger indicator of future success and impact than the what or the how.

And so having that high quality of people, and let's say, you're not the founder of a company, so you can't necessarily be choosy about every single person you surround yourself with. I'm talking about even being thoughtful about whose influence are you watching on Instagram? Do they make you feel good, and enthusiastic, and proud of yourself, or does it make you feel less than? Really curate the people you have around yourself. And there's that saying that we are the average of the five people we spend the most of our time with, so I think we should take that very, very seriously. If you can't choose your co-worker or your or boss, be choosy about who you hang out with in your community and online.

The second part of that is this clarity around who you want to serve. There's a cause. There's a demographic. There's a moment out there that deserves your time, talent, and energy, so be very clear, make sure you've got the right team around you and then be laser focused on who is that avatar person that you uniquely want to serve with a single precious life that we have. And when those things come into focus, that's when you get that enthusiasm of, "Oh my gosh, I don't want to miss this."

SKOT WALDRON:

You're a rockstar. That's awesome. I appreciate that. That's so good. And I know I've had that. I felt that in my journey into entrepreneurship, and to what am going to do. And there's so many doubts that come into your head, and then so many triumphs. It's a roller coaster for sure. I know everybody says that, but the journey always is. And it's what you glean from the good and the bad that helps make you who you are. And I want... That's why I always tell people the bad stuff, embrace it because that shaped who you are today. And that's shaping what you're doing at this very moment. And there's a lot of power in that of self-worth and self-awareness, that's really going to propel you forward. Super cool. Bet on Yourself, it's out now. Yes?

ANN HIATT:

It is, yes. Everywhere you like to buy books. Yep.

SKOT WALDRON:

I assume Amazon?

ANN HIATT:

It is. That was one of the greatest, full circle moments of my life, the day it listed on amazon.com. I thought, what would my 20 year old self think sitting at that desk 19 years ago? What would you think? Yeah, so it's available there.

SKOT WALDRON:

That's awesome.

ANN HIATT:

And if you like audio books, if you consume stuff like this while you're on your morning walk or something, I myself read the book, so you can have me in your ear, yet again.

SKOT WALDRON:

Nice. Very cool. Awesome. Very cool. Did you read it with a Spanish accent?

ANN HIATT:

I had a COVID accent, actually. I got COVID in the middle of recording it.

SKOT WALDRON:

No.

ANN HIATT:

There's a couple chapters where you feel my voice go, because I didn't know it at the time, but the next day I got a positive test. Yeah, that's a little behind the scenes, FYI.

SKOT WALDRON:

Well, there you go. There you go. You will not get COVID though from listening to the book.

ANN HIATT:

No.

SKOT WALDRON:

So that's good to know. Okay. You are awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show.

ANN HIATT:

Thank you.

SKOT WALDRON:

Good luck with all you're doing and I appreciate you educating us today.

ANN HIATT:

Thank you, Skot. This was super fun.

SKOT WALDRON:

I don't want to miss this. How many of you, right now, can create cultures and environments where your team members, your leaders, your people, the people you're leading are saying when they go home, I love being at work, because I don't want to miss out on something. I don't want to miss this. I'm going to be there. That energy and that atmosphere is what, I'm sure, a lot of us want to create. That creates engagement. That creates excitement. That creates people wanting to invest in us in what we're doing. And as she talked about the experiences she's had with Jeff, Marissa and Eric, and these things was just really powerful. The principles and these tools has enabled, and, to number one, write this book for all of us, that we can take these experiences with us. But it's also allowed her to be who she was designed to be.

She was put into all these positions, I'm not saying she didn't earn them, she did, but the universe also put her in this place in her life, in Silicon Valley to get these opportunities. How many of you embrace your opportunities the way Ann has embraced these? Now we talked afterwards that the regrets sometimes of the times when she didn't raise her hand, she didn't volunteer to be on that team. She didn't do the things that maybe would've given her just that much more experience. That perfectionist tendency that she has in her to want to be better, but sometimes it held her back. How many of you are being held back from opportunity that the universe is creating for you, because of your own tendencies? Each one of us just like Jeff, Eric, Marissa, we all have tendencies, and they're going to lead us in different paths and inspire and do different things.

And I really encourage you to hold onto the thing that you do well. Seek inspiration from others, they can influence you for the good and the bad. Take the good, filter out the bad, and really learn to embrace those things and use them in your own journey.

Thank you Ann for being on the call. Everybody else, go out, get that book, Bet on Yourself, and learn about some of those other insights that she has to add. There's some great stories in there that we didn't share on the show that are really, really fun. If you want to find out more about me, go to skotwaldron.com. I've got other information about me there. All these videos are housed there, my blog. If you want to like, subscribe, comment on my YouTube channel, super cool, please do so. I would love for you to engage there. There's a lot of free little tools that I add that can help you on your leadership journey. And connect with me on LinkedIn, I'm active there and would love to generate some conversations there, as well. So thanks everybody. I hope you have an awesome day. Be awesome.

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