Let Google’s Marissa Mayer Learn You Some Trite Business and Life Lessons

Illustration for article titled Let Google’s Marissa Mayer Learn You Some Trite Business and Life Lessons

No big deal or anything, but Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Google's Local, Maps, and Location services, fielded 14 job offers when she graduated Stanford in 1999 before accepting an offer from Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to become the company's first female engineer and only its 20th employee. So, if you're looking for some guidance in life and business (but probably especially business), who better to take your cue from than Mayer, who shared the mystical secrets to her success with Forbes' Juliet Barbara.

Mayer's advice sounds a lot like the willingly disseminated advice of other super successful people, which is to say that it's really unspecific and makes achieving lofty goals seem merely like a matter of creating a nifty personal betterment list, like Jay Gatsby or Ben Franklin did. Still, it's refreshing to hear some words of wisdom from a woman who became successful in what is — and was even more so when Mayer joined Google — a male-dominated tech industry. Mayer told Barbara things like how, after analyzing the best decisions in her life, she noticed they all had two common threads — she worked with the smartest people and she always did something she wasn't entirely prepared for. Boom, that's how you make good decisions, people, sober data analysis. On the dangers of "burning out," Mayer said, "I don't believe in burnout," which is fine for someone who tries to emulate the boundless energy and enthusiasm of Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, but maybe not so much for someone who has a nasty case of the Mooondays.

Though Mayer can serve as a role model for business women trying to advance their careers, she disappointingly offered precious little insight into the role gender has played during her rise through Google's ranks, describing herself as "gender blind." When asked why it's so difficult to get more women into the computer sciences field, she explained that "just asking the question" could serve as a "handicap," meaning that the best thing (and probably the only thing, at least on an individual basis) that tech women can do is focus on the work itself, and not get caught up in all the gender nonsense, even though gender disparity in the workplace is still a real thing, with men holding advanced business degrees making nearly $1,400 a month more than their female counterparts.


What about "making it," though? Doesn't Mayer have some unique understanding on even the small bit of chance that led her to Google in 1999, a time when the fledgling search engine could have either turned into the internet juggernaut it is now or another Ask Jeeves? Probably, but she emphasized "hard work," because there probably was a lot of that going on in the early days of Google. It's all about those bootstraps.

Learning from a Google Veteran: Personal and Business Advice from Marissa Mayer [Forbes]

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"With respect to the question of why we can’t get more women in computer science, she said that "just asking the question" may act as a "handicap." 'If I had been more self-conscious about being a woman, it would have stifled me.'"

That's because many courageous women in the 20th century had the guts to ask the question for you.