In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shares one of the best pieces of career advice she’s ever received.

When debating her next career move, Sandberg made a spreadsheet comparing the roles and responsibilities that would come with each position and company she was considering. Google was on her list (a relatively unknown company in 2001), and ranked lower than all of the other options in categories like security, salary and responsibilities, but when Sandberg presented her dilemma to Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO at the time, he managed to change her mind with this simple piece of advice:

“[Eric] covered my spreadsheet with his hand and told me not to be an idiot (also a great piece of advice). Then he explained that only one criterion mattered when picking a job—fast growth. When companies grow quickly, there are more things to do than there are people to do them. When companies grow more slowly or stop growing, there is less to do and too many people to be doing them. Politics and stagnation set in, and everyone falters. He told me, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.”

Sandberg made up her mind that instant and joined Google, which as we all know was one of the fastest flying rocket ships ever created.

  • Peter Gunawan

    Fast growth company needs to have the right people who understand its vision, have passion and competency.

  • LynetteB

    Typical advice for the 1% wannabes, who with their advisors remain oblivious to the fact that you can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. It’s a totally irresponsible perspective in these times, which makes them not part of the solution, but part of the problem. Thanks, but no thanks.

    • Michael Grant

      Malthus called. He said he wants his argument back. I could hear Tertullian in the background screaming, “Hey! I had it first!”

  • 1stManOnMars

    rockets also have a tendency to unexpectedly explode catastrophically.(Enron)

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