Learn From Marissa Mayer

Yahoo Marissa MayerThere's no doubt that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO and former Google employee, is a huge name in the tech industry. She was there in Google's early days, helping it become the powerhouse it is today, and now she's hard at work trying to breathe new life into a familiar Internet brand to increase profits.

There is a lot to learn from Mayer regarding your own business practices. What did it take for her to get to the top, and how can you turn your strategy around to become more successful?

1. Marissa Mayer: Burnout Is A Myth.

In a recent Businessweek article, Mayer points out something most people wouldn't even consider. She says that resentment is the real cause of burnout.

You are stuck at work, slave to a deadline. One of your cheap hosting clients has hired you to create this amazing website in a short amount of time. You know you can do it, but it's going to mean long hours at work.

But it isn't the long hours staring at a computer screen that lead to burnout. It's really the important things you're missing in your personal life making you resentful, which changes your mindset about the project completely.

If missing out on your son's baseball game is a huge deal to you, go to the game! You'll return to your desk afterwards, feeling refreshed and ready to forge ahead on the project.

2. Marissa Mayer: Anyone Can Come Up With The Next Big Idea

Marissa graduated from Stanford, and while employed as Vice President of Search Products and User Experience for Google, she spoke to students in their Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Speaker Series. One talk is called “Ideas Come From Everywhere,” available on Stanford's E-corner website, and in it, Mayer stresses the importance of being open to ideas from any source.

Whether it's a low-level employee, a focus group, or a user, you just never know when the next big idea is going to come along. You can't just restrict yourself to listening to the research and development team or the Board of Directors.

3. Marissa Mayer: Customer Satisfaction And Innovation Are Key.

Yes, the feedback of your customers is most important. If they aren't happy, you don't have customers! However, you can't rely exclusively on your customers for ideas, especially in the tech industry. Things are changing at warp speed.

Look at computers, for example. If you'd have told me ten years ago that there would be a touchscreen device I could slide into my pocket that could do everything my clunky desktop could do from just about anywhere I could connect to wi-fi, I would have laughed. Now, the Microsoft Surface has hit the market, and I see that it isn't something out of The Jetsons.

The tech industry demonstrates a concept hard to understand: you can't base your product development decisions off of what customers want, because they don't even know what's in the works or what's actually possible (in Mayer's case, think Google Glasses.)

4. Marissa Mayer: Don't Focus On Revenue.

Instead, you should be focusing your clients. This will in turn lead to profits. Try offering users a free experience, and eventually introduce advertising. Yes, users might not like it, but they already love the product so although they might complain, they aren't going to jump ship.

Could your business stand to take Mayer's advice?

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