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Marissa Mayer: Make Fewer Decisions and Empathize With Your Employees

The Yahoo CEO talked frankly to an eager audience at the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco.
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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer fielded some pretty tough questions from the famously blunt Michael Arrington at the final day of TechCrunch Disrupt. From the company's new logo to long-term goals, Mayer spoke on a variety of topics, but perhaps the most compelling parts were when she talked about her own leadership. 

When asked what she "sucked at the most" as a CEO, Mayer responded with a story about some advice she was given by a "top tech CEO" friend. 

"He told me that I would be shocked by how few decisions I actually had to make--but that the ones I did have to make would have to be perfect," she explained. "So I would say if I view myself in that lens--I should be making fewer decisions." She added that she needs to remember not "to get pulled into the fray of the day to day."

She also revealed how she feels that all CEOs--from start-ups to big companies--are in a sort of community, supporting each other.

Later in the talk, the two discussed the super powers--or top skills--of two other tech big-wigs, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page. (Mayer said Zuck's was his insight into people and Page's was questioning the status quo). But when Arrington asked Mayer what her super power is, she paused for a few seconds. 

"I don't think I have one," she said, but then quickly told a story about coming to Yahoo a little over a year ago. 

"I think maybe it's my ability to empathize. When I came on, the company had been through such turbulence. I had to understand the state of the company, get there with the team, to find a path for growth. I t couldn't happen if I didn't understand them," she explained.

Yahoo has seen modest growth under Mayer's direction. The company has recently been on an acquisition spree, buying start-ups including blogging platform Tumblr (for a staggering $1 billion) and mobile gaming company Loki Studios, and adding young talent to its ranks.

IMAGE: jdlasica/Flickr
Last updated: Sep 11, 2013

NICOLE CARTER | Staff Writer | San Francisco Bureau Chief

Nicole Carter is Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief. She was previously an editor at New York Daily News, and her work has also appeared in Consumer Reports magazine.




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