Alex Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew are the founders of TheMuse.com, and co-authors of The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career. In their new book, which came out last month, the co-founders give a modern guide to how to succeed in a constantly changing work environment. I interviewed them on key advice and what makes them tick.

TheMuse Co-Founders Alex Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew.

Q: Who are you?

Cavoulacos & Minshew: Hi there -- we're Alex Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, co-founders of TheMuse.com. We started The Muse in 2011, and since have helped over 50 million people find and succeed at their dream jobs. In addition, we've built a team of 130 people and raised over $28M in funding.

We met when we worked together as management consultants at McKinsey. While a great company, our experiences were wildly different. Alex loved it; Kathryn, somewhat less so. We were struck by how people were motivated (or weren't) in different work environments, and wanted to build an online resource where people could find a career path and job that aligned with their strengths, passions, values, and goals. A few years later, The Muse was born, with a goal of helping people to do just that.

Q: How have the rules of work changed?

C & M: In pretty much every way, work looks different than it did 20 years ago. In many cases, it looks different than it did five years ago. A lot of this has to do with technology--the number and types of jobs that are available to the average knowledge worker, and the skills that are required for those jobs, are beyond what most of us could have ever imagined.

What's more, our lives are more visible to others than they've ever been before (see: social media, digital transparency), and we're constantly tethered to work via smartphones, which means finding work that's fulfilling and that feels in sync with our values is not only important, but crucial to our happiness.

Similarly, employers hiring knowledge workers aren't just looking for worker bees anymore; they're looking for motivated, creative individuals who are excited to be part of the team and who thrive in their culture. The rules of getting hired now aren't just having the right skills and submitting a resume -- in addition, they're also about showing that you're the right fit every step of the way. It's really changing the game.

Q: How do you take your own advice here?

C & M: At The Muse, we're constantly thinking about this for our own team. We absolutely look for people who believe in what we're building and who live and work by The Muse's ethos--in fact, we've developed an interview process that assesses candidates on our core values.

We also actively encourage our team members to shape their careers in a way that's fulfilling to them and, wherever possible, we look for ways to help them do that, whether that's getting public speaking opportunities, participating on a diversity committee, or pitching themselves for new roles that the company needs but hasn't hired for yet. We've already had a number of Musers transition to new roles within the team to pursue a new skill set or opportunity, which has been amazing to see.

Q: What is your favorite part or piece of advice in the book?

Cavoulacos: I love the chapter on The New Rules of Productivity, and the 1-3-5 To-Do list is one of my favorite exercises in the book.

The idea is, you prioritize your daily to-dos by focusing on one big thing, three medium things, and five small things.

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you have a million things to do, but this method is a great reminder that you can't get everything done, so you should focus on what's most important.

Minshew: There's a tool in Chapter 2 called "The Muse Method," which helps people narrow down the seemingly infinite number of career options into just a few, and then evaluate each possibility based on their individual career values. It makes the overwhelming process of career exploration so much more manageable, and it's a tool I would have loved to have when I left McKinsey and was trying to figure out what to do with my life.

Q: How has writing a book differed from running The Muse?

C & M: Writing a book is a huge effort that took a lot of time and came with plenty of challenges, but comparing it to running a company is like a sprint versus a marathon. Coming up with the idea for the book, then writing, editing, proofing, and promoting it will probably be a three-year process end to end. That might seem long, but The Muse, at five years old, is still in its infancy. There's so much more to go - we hope people are still asking us, "What's next for The Muse?" in a decade.

Q: Biggest work pet peeve?

C & M: Wasting time. We both actively look for ways to make meetings or processes more efficient so that every day is as awesome and productive as it can be.

Q: Best quality you look for in hiring someone yourselves at The Muse?

A big one is ownership: Is the person comfortable taking initiative? Will they jump in and own something when no one else is? That get-your-hands-dirty entrepreneurial mindset is really important to a company of The Muse's size.

Come check us out on TheMuse.com or The New Rules of Work, and let us know what you think.

Published on: Jun 8, 2017