Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, shares her advice for success.
(piano music) - [Daniel] Would you talk to me about what I'm sure you get this a lot where they are people come, you give a speech somewhere or your talking to the school, and someone comes up to you and says I want to be like you. You know I want to be the next Meg Whitman. How do I do it? What kind of advice do you give to someone who is earlier in their career about how to reach the top? - [Meg] Well the first thing I say is go to the best school that you can get into. So, for college or graduate school, if you have the opportunity and it fits your career plans, go to the best school you can go to, and sometimes you just have to figure out how to pay for it later.
So, I'd say that's super important, and then second is what discipline do you actually love? What do you love when you think back over your last, you know number of years in college or high school, what did you love doing? And I would say go do what you really enjoy, as opposed to trying to hold your nose, and make yourself do something that you don't really like. So, you know for me, I was an economics major, but I loved marketing and communications, so I went to P&G, which was sort of the academy company to learn those skills.
If you're an entrepreneur, today you can start up your company in ways that you couldn't when I came out of college, so you got to follow your passion. That's first and foremost, and then you have to work with people that you really like, and really respect, and then the last thing I'd say is at the sniff of wrong doing, or the sniff of boy that company's kind of operating in the gray, I think you got to get out of there. - [Daniel] Interesting. Why do you think it tars you? - I think it tars you. I think you don't want to be associated with someone who's not on the right side of right. The only thing you actually really have at the end of the day is your reputation, and if you lose your reputation, it's almost impossible to get it back, and so it's so important to be with an ethical company that is trying to do the right thing, and company's will make mistakes so it's not that you have to find a company that's lily-white, but you can't find that it's core isn't about trying to do the right thing.
- [Daniel] What about you? You really worked your way up. You had so many different experiences. You were a consultant. You got to see a lot of different companies work. You had been in many different industries. - [Meg] Yes. - Do you think, you talk about the entrepreneurial culture, is it better if you have an idea, should you start it right away? - Yeah - Should you learn from a big company first? What do you think? - So it's hard to know right? There's so many incredible entrepreneurs who started companies. You look at Bill Gates, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page. You look at Pierre Omidyar. So, it's hard to know.
I think there are very gifted entrepreneurs who know exactly what they want to do. They've an incredible idea, and they should go do it. I think, for a large majority of people, getting some skills in a company is super important, how to tackle problems, how to do market segmentation, how to do business communications, how to do financial analysis, like there are tools of the trade that are pretty important, and you don't have to work for Hewlett-Packard or Procter and Gamble to get those skills. You could probably work at Linkedin today, but the fact of the matter is, it's probably not, it will never hurt you I don't think to get some basics, but I got to say if you've got a great idea, you can raise the money today.
That's for sure, and why not? What's the worst thing that can happen? It fails. I don't know. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go get another job.