When I was first at Facebook, a woman named Lori Goler, a 1997 graduate of HBS, was working in marketing at eBay and I knew her kind of socially.
She called me and said, "I want to think about you know talk with you about coming to work with you at Facebook.
So I thought about calling you and telling you all the things I'm good at and all the things I like to do. But I figured that everyone is doing that.
So instead I want to know what's your biggest problem and how can I solve it?"
My jaw hit the floor.
I'd hired thousands of people up to that point in my career, but no one had ever said anything like that. I had never said anything like that.
Job searches are always about the job searcher, but not in Lori's case.
I said, "You're hired. My biggest problem is recruiting and you can solve it."
So Lori changed fields into something she never thought she'd do, went down a level to start in a new field.
She has since been promoted and runs all of People Operations at Facebook and is doing an extraordinary job, having an amazing impact.
Lori has a great metaphor for careers. She says they're not a ladder, they're a jungle gym.
As you start your post-HBS career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission.
Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume.
Evaluate what you can do, not the title they're going to give you. Do real work.
Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job. Don't plan too much, and don't expect a direct climb.
If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.
You are entering a different business world than I entered.
Mine was just starting to get connected. Yours is hyper-connected.
Mine was competitive. Yours is way more competitive.
Mine moved quickly, yours moves even more quickly.
As traditional structures are breaking down, leadership has to evolve as well -from hierarchy to shared responsibility, from command and control to listening and guiding.
You've been trained by this great institution not just to be part of these trends, but to lead.
As you lead in this new world, you will not be able to rely on who you are or the degree you hold. You'll have to rely on what you know.
Your strength will not come from your place on some org chart, your strength will come from building trust and earning respect.
You're going to need talent, skill, and imagination and vision.
But more than anything else, you're going to need the ability to communicate authentically, to speak so that you inspire the people around you and to listen so that you continue to learn each and every day on the job.