Corner Office: Jess Lee from Polyvore, about the value of simplicity



Q. you were in leadership roles as a child?
?. ??. I was very shy, but my mom was a businessman and ran a translation company from our home in Hong Kong. She would always tell me it is better to be your own boss. He was very proud of it, so that was probably an early influence. I always knew that I wanted to do my own thing? I just don't know what it was.

Q. what about after college?
A. I studied it, and I thought my path would be to become an engineer. But I got a call from a recruiter at Google, who said, "you need to come interview for the program Association Product Manager." I didn't know what product Director was, so I went, even though I already had another offer, I was planning to take. I ended up meeting Marissa Mayer. I said to her: ' I don't know if I want to work here. I have another offer. I think it's going to be an engineer. "
He told me: "the best advice I can give you is that when I had to make a choice between two paths, always chose the most difficult one, and this has always been the right decision. So you should think. "that's how I ended up on Google.

Q. what leadership lessons you learned?
A. one was that we should get respect from engineers. There's a reason Google recruits computer science majors to be product managers, because then you really know what they are talking about engineers. When I prioritize what work needs to be done, I can do the mental calculus of how long it will take.

Q. how did you end up at Polyvore?
A. I always knew that I wanted to do something different to my own. One of my friends showed me Polyvore, and I just fell in love with the product. I wrote a note to the founders — I didn't know them — and just said: ' Hey, this is amazing. I have some complaints and suggestions. "I wrote a long list of complaints, and then wrote back and said:" Hey, why don't you fix these things yourself? Why don't you join us? "we met for coffee and pressed. In the beginning, I was writing code, selling ads, washing dishes, what needed to get done. After a few years the founders came to me and said, "we would like to start to recognize you as a co-founder going forward." I didn't have to do that, but the company has a culture of rewarding people who make the difference. A few years later they said, ' we've decided to make you Ceo»

Q. have you heard any feedback since you were Ceo who has done to customize your leadership style a bit?
A. one of the things that I'm really good at coping is unclear — when something is constantly changing, or if the next seven steps are not clear. What resulted was the lack of process and structure that was affecting people in the team, because they did not know what had to happen next. So I started working more in establishing systems for communicating and creating a clearer road map.

Q. tell me about the culture of Polyvore.
A. we have always had a very different culture, but one of the first things I did was to write. We have three values. The first is "delight the user." others are "doing a few things well" and "make an impact."

Q. tell me more about "doing a few things well."
A. we believe that we need to keep things as simple as possible, edit out the things that are unnecessary or any exogenous and focus on polishing the details. This concerns us user experience, as well as the company's processes. A pretty extreme example of this is that we did a month "simplification" in January. Once we asked everyone in the company to make a list of everything, identify the things that are important, and for the rest of the list, simplify, streamline or delete it so we can get the company to the simplest possible situation. It's really important to take the time to clean all the entropy that would otherwise occur.

Q. what else about your culture?
A. one thing that's fun is that we have a worker award-of-the-month. You can get $ 500 to spend in the company. People have picked a foosball table, or hired a food truck for the whole team to eat for lunch, or buy a huge Chair. Also, we had a Scotch-tasting party.

Q. how do you hire?
A. , I try to understand three things. One is their motivation. I wanted to ask, "What is the most rewarding thing I've ever worked on, that you're most proud of?" you can learn a lot about what the person cares about, what these priority, and if they say "I" or "we". Then just drill down a little bit more to understand what actually did the work.
Also, try to figure out if they have the ability to break a big, hairy, complicated problem into smaller pieces, because it shows the ability to solve. You will always be asked to do something which seems impossible or difficult, and should be able to break it down to move. For product managers, will ask a question strange, open-ended design for a unrelated field so the answer is not hyper-obvious, so you need to ask for clarification and to cleave to a simpler problem and then solve the separate parts. I want to understand the process of resolving them, because some people immediately jump to compiling a solution on the Board and some are trying to truly understand the problem first.
I'm looking for people who are going to be Admins, for self-awareness and emotional intelligence. So I would ask questions such as, what is the biggest misconception that people have you? Because that really forces you to think about who you are as a person, and how people understand.

Q: and how do you answer this question?
A. I come across as a pretty nice, but I'm tougher than I look. Really care about things I care about. I will fight for them. I stand up for these things. You can't guess that when you meet my initials.

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