When I joined LinkedIn, I called up one of my interviewers. He had left LinkedIn just as I joined so that he could start a startup.
I had asked him for some advice on how to make the most of my time at LinkedIn.
After all, he had a few big operational wins under his belt. Notably, he single-handedly built the the operating forecasts for the company. He then recruited and trained a team to use those forecasts to influence product strategy.
He shared two ideas that have shaped my thinking since.
1. Always work backwards
Have you ever had a boss hand you a project and you don’t know where to start?
Happened to me a lot at the beginning of my career.
But I knew I learned best from examples. By looking at a good memo looked like or a great strategy deck, I could deconstruct what worked. Then, I could create the solution I needed from those building blocks.
If you take a step back, this is simply knowing where you want to end up at.
If you know the final destination or where you want to go, you can work backwards and figure out which building blocks you need.
And, on the flip side of the coin, you know which building blocks you don’t need. This leads to point #2.
2. Figure out which big rocks will make the difference
Once you know what building blocks you need (versus which ones are nice to haves or aren’t needed), you simplify your life.
You can start to say “no” a lot more. Not to say that saying “no” is easy, because it’s not. That’s it’s own entire blog post.
But with a clear roadmap of where you want to go, you can quickly check to see if something is helpful or a distraction.
So why does this matter to our team?
Because focus is the great multiplier. Focus of your time and energy.
On teams, focus also allows me as a leader to share the direction we’re headed in. This generates better outcomes due to coordinated effort than a scattershot approach.
And then when we celebrate a win, everyone shares in that outcome because we’ve all been focused on the same end destination.