Not everyone is a fan of business schools, especially for would-be entrepreneurs, but there are few out there who doubt the value of an MBA from one of the nation's most elite institutions. Whether measured in post-graduation salary, unemployment rate, alumni prestige, or any other way you care to look at it, a biz degree from the likes of Harvard and Stanford is pretty much career gold.
But of course, very few of us have the time, money, or stellar resume to study at these institutions. Thankfully, those who do are sometimes willing to share what they learned. Recently, on question-and-answer site Quora, for example, Uber executive Matt Wyndowe (who previously spent many years in biz dev at Facebook) took the time to outline the key takeaways from his years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
"This advice is from my favorite teachers and lecturers, including Andy Rachleff, Mark Leslie, Irv Grousbeck, Joel Peterson, Eric Schmidt, and many others. Admittedly, a lot of this is focused on technology industry, but much is generally applicable," he writes before sharing nuggets of business wisdom, including the following.
1. Successful people listen.
"You have two ears and one mouth," Wyndowe writes. "Use them in that ratio. You learn more when you listen than when you talk."
2. Heed the 80/20 rule.
Aka the Pareto principle, it states that "80 percent of the value is delivered by 20 percent of the product/service," explains Wyndowe. "Focus on that 20 percent."
3. Be likable.
4. You can make your own luck.
Nope, luck isn't something bestowed upon some by the mysteries of the universe. To a great extent, it's under your control. "People who are lucky make their own luck," Wyndowe insists. "And you only make your own luck by staying in the game." (Tips abound here as well.)
5. Put on "the cloak" of leadership.
"A large part of your role is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence," Wyndowe says. "If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don't want the pilot to say, 'I am exploring a number of options and hope that... .' You want him to say, 'I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.'"
6. Pay attention to change.
The status quo rarely creates golden opportunities. "When considering a business opportunity, look for change," Wyndowe urges. "What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity."
7. Just keep selling.
"When in doubt, just keep selling," he asserts. "Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team."
8. Know your weaknesses.
No one is perfect. The truly great simply find clever ways to compensate for their weaknesses. "Understand what you don't do well," instructs Wyndowe. "Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well."
9. Authenticity pays.
"Be yourself," he says. "In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking--not necessarily what the group wants to hear."
10. Learn to relax.
Chilling out might not sound like a skill to be mastered at first glance, but for many high flyers, it's something that requires concerted practice. "Often overachievers are passionate about many things," Wyndowe says. "Yet it's important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren't that important."
11. Trust first.
"You've got to give trust to get trust," Wyndowe suggests. "Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That's fine. Don't do business with them again."
12. Be disciplined and get stuff done.
This sounds simple, but it's where so many of us struggle. "Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals," Wyndowe suggests. "Life passes quickly--days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. 'Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable,'" he warns, quoting the journalist Sydney J. Harris. His assertion about regrets is backed by science, so take heed.