I am 35 years old. After starting my career in large groups, I spent the last 8 years in startups: my young colleagues today call me… the dinosaur. When I started my career, I only found books written by CEOs and so it’s not really advice to help a beginner like me understand the startup world and how to succeed in it. That’s why I decided to write a book called “You don’t have to be a CEO” (because you don’t have to be the CEO of a startup to have a good career there and have great job satisfaction). As a result of the discussion with other “dinosaurs”, here are some ideas that may have helped me in my beginnings and that I allow myself to share with you, and that I hope will clarify those who are tempted by the startup adventure.
1. Find the right shoe for you: choose your boot carefully
This is the key to having fun! Would you prefer an early stage startup with few employees where you will have to be ultra-versatile, or rather a scale-up of 300+ people where you will have to be more specialized? Do the mission and values speak to you? Getting there is essential. Working there with passion becomes easier if you love your mission.
2. Know Yourself: The Key to Lasting
We all have motivators. Some drivers are extrinsic, which take the form of a stick or a carrot: the notice at school or bonus goals when you’re older, recognition from the boss… Other drivers are intrinsic. This is the personal satisfaction of fulfilling a mission. A startup is constantly changing (discontinuing a product, restructuring teams, fundraising, etc.). Lastly, the key is to trust what motivates you, focusing on the intrinsic motivators. Carrying out this work of reflection and introspection is therefore not a waste of time.
3. Put yourself in a learner posture
Did you just graduate? Did you think it’s over? Great, but this is just the beginning.
Find colleagues, identify and learn from the “stars”. Just as it is important to choose your training well… choose your boss well! As Jack Ma, co-founder and CEO of giant Alibaba, puts it: “ When you are 20-30 years old, you must follow a good boss “. It’s really critical to have a supermodel early on in your career to develop you, inspire you, share the tricks of the trade with you. This is the school of life! Learning requires a good deal of humility. Accept and ask for feedback. , which will help you improve… Without exaggerating, otherwise you run the risk of looking too insecure.
It’s also a key time to build a network outside of your startup. It will accompany you when you are alone in your company facing a new problem: it is your backup.
Oh, and it’s no longer because you dropped out of the school’s ranks that you have to stop reading: Radical Sincerity by Kim Scott WHEN by Daniel Pink… read books!
4. Be sincere
There are many different positions. To last, you need to be in the right place… Be honest and explicit about what your strengths are and the things you don’t know (or don’t want to) do. Only by having the courage to be honest can you find a position that suits you. And so shine with a thousand lights.
5. Become an Organization Jedi
Set your priorities. Instead of opening slack and your email in the morning, write down the 3 tasks you absolutely need to do during the day. You have to be in control of your schedule instead of being cannibalized by it. How to get out? By positioning meetings with yourself on your schedule to keep time off.
6. Dare to say no
Being ambitious and wanting to say yes to everything all the time, including your manager, can be dangerous to the very quality of your work. Dare to say no. A piece of advice, you can ask yourself the following questions about a requested task: What is the impact of not doing it now or doing it later? To do differently? To do it faster? Does performing this task mean prioritizing it over what else? By training yourself to answer these questions, you will naturally be able to design what your priorities should be. Of course, this advice is only valid if you continue to be a diplomat 😉
7. Get ready for the roller coaster
It will shake. And maybe even one hell of a bid. In the startup world, the environment can be changing… even chaotic: massive fundraising, multiple strategy changes, turnover within teams… You can also find yourself in an apparent failure situation. You don’t have to take everything seriously and know how to keep your distance from events. Accept change as your new normal and learn to appreciate uncertainty. Very quickly, you will know how to face adversity with confidence and wisdom.
8. Extreme proactivity!
It is a universe that combines responsibility and creativity. Of course, you have to assume your responsibilities, do the work with the idea that no one is going to come after you to correct your mistakes. But, you have to know, the startup world offers an exciting environment for juniors: you can dare to propose, make mistakes, reiterate. That’s what makes this environment so attractive and unique for beginners.
You don’t have to be a CEO to be proactive. Dare!
*The author: Tristan VIE started his career at large companies such as Decathlon and Nestlé before joining JobTeaser in 2014. Between 2014 and 2022 he held various positions: Head of Partnerships, Director of Partnerships, Country Launcher and VP Sales. During this period, JobTeaser grew from 18 to 330 employees, had three fundraisers and was selected among the best FrenchTech start-ups (twice Next40, once FT120).