Category Archives: Career

Elitism –> Wealth

Source: Psychology Today, Aug 2019

we discovered that from 2002-2016, the billionaires who earned their money in the technology—and especially the finance and investments—sectors have increasingly attended elite schools.

In 2002, 62 percent of the finance and investments sector were elite educated, whereas in 2016, a full 73.5 percent were elite educated. For technology, the numbers were 50 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

the economist Greg Mankiw stated, “changes in technology have allowed a small number of highly educated and exceptionally talented individuals to command superstar incomes in ways that were not possible a generation ago.”


Skillshare: Employee Equity/Stock Options for Startups

Source:  Skillshare/Medium, Aug 2019

To determine the target value of the grant, there is a multiplier applied to the salary for every role/level in the company. Here are the multipliers that we use at Skillshare as of today:

  • Exec team/C-level: 2.45
  • VP: 1.86
  • Director: 0.54
  • Specialist/key contributor IC: 0.43
  • Sr. Engineer: 0.40
  • Engineer: 0.26
  • Individual contributor/most staff: 0.23

take the new hire compensation and factor in the multiplier above. For example, the target grant value for an individual contributor making $80,000 a year would be ($80,000 x 0.23) = $18,400.

To determine the value per option, you need to first estimate the true market value per share. We take our current monthly revenue, multiply by 12 to annualize it, and then apply a 5x revenue multiple. You might say that 5x is too low, and it likely is for a competitive finance or M&A process, but it is a comfortable multiple for the purposes of the option grant process. I would rather the multiplier for stock option grants be a little too low than a little too high. For any growth funds out there reading this, I expect more than 5x in our next round so don’t lock in on that number 🙂

You then take your estimated market value per share and subtract out the current strike price. Some companies skip this subtraction and just use the market value, but in later-stage companies, the strike does start to become meaningful so at Skillshare we take it out. In the generic example below, we get to a $13 value per option. This is the $15 estimated market value per share less the $2 strike price.

The final step: you then divide the target grant value ($18,400) by the notional value per option ($13) to get to an initial new hire grant of 1,400 options (rounded to nearest 50).

or Companies and Managers: How we handle refresh grants

Once you are an employee, there are 3 ways to get additional stock options.

1) Biannual refresh. Every 2 years, we grant you 25% of what a new hire would receive in your role at that time. So if new hires at your level/function are getting 4,000 options as of your 2 year anniversary, you would get a refresh grant of 1,000 options.

2) Merit grants. If you’re doing a great job, we give you additional grants. I think of your cash comp as reflective of the value you are bringing day-to-day and your equity grants as a reflection of how you will impact the value of the business over the long-term. If you are doing amazing work that will drive long-term value for the business, we may give a merit grant as part of our standard review cycle.

3) Promotions. When you get promoted, we run your comp and level through the options calculator for that role. We then grant you stock options to get you to the same level as a new hire in that same position. In the event that you already have more options than that level (due to being a very early employee, or getting merit grants in the past) we treat it like a biannual refresh and give you 25% of what a new hire would get.

For employees: Calculating the value of your stock options

Wedge & Knife

Source: Scott Young’s blog, May 2019

There’s two main ways to think about becoming really good at something.

The first I call the knife model. This is where you get better and better at a very narrow range of skills, movements and patterns. Olympic sprinters, archers and many artisans master like a knife—getting extremely good at one thing.

The second I call the wedge model. This is where getting better requires learning an increasingly broad array of subskills. Programmers, composers and entrepreneurs master like a wedge—getting better overall, by having a huge library of patterns and skills.

I’d like to argue that the wedge model matters more for most of us. To get better at our work, we need to pick up more and and more adjacent skills to flesh out and support the work that we do.

What to Learn to Improve Your Career

I like the wedge model because it says that the way to improve your professional skills is through looking at neglected adjacent skills and improving them. It also says that, as you get better, you’ll need more and more to continue to go upward.

Confidence –> Perceived Competence

Source: HBR, Mar 2019

people are simply not great at assessing competence — a crucial trait for succeeding at work — and perceptions of competence are just as important for success as actual competence.

Observers evaluated those who made optimistic predictions as much more competent than their modest contemporaries — no matter how accurate those predictions were and how well they actually performed.

Even with an optimistic forecast and a horrible result, they were still rated as almost twice as competent as those who accurately forecasted their poor performance. This seems to suggest that if someone asks how you expect to perform, you should give a positive, confident response. A negative forecast may lead you to be perceived as distinctly less competent — no matter how well you actually perform.

projecting confidence does lead to positive effects, but only when it is non-comparative. In other words: praising your competence seems to be fine as long as you do not claim that others are incompetent.

why do people view confident others as more competent, even when their performance suggests otherwise? One explanation is that we have a tendency to believe what we are told, and to confirm our beliefs by selecting information that supports them. The term for this is confirmation bias.

So if you project confidence, others tend to believe you know what you’re talking about, and they will then filter ambiguous information (like how much luck may have helped or hurt you) to fit their initial impression.

To feel more authentic demonstrating confidence, you may first have to convince yourself. Ask yourself:

  • What am I good at?
  • What was my greatest success so far?
  • Why should others be led by me?
  • What do I know that they don’t?

If you have a hard time answering these questions, you have a problem — how should you convince others of your expertise if you aren’t convinced yourself?

“Praise yourself daringly,” the philosopher Francis Bacon said, because, as he continued, “something always sticks.”

If you want to ensure that your achievements are recognized, think about how your manager and colleagues see you and your abilities. Do you think they have a good sense of your competence and expertise? If not, could you be demonstrating more confidence in your tasks?

This doesn’t necessarily mean praising yourself at every opportunity; rather it means projecting an optimistic attitude. By displaying more confidence in your abilities, you set yourself up to be recognized for your competence and your contributions.

e-Mail Templates for Tough Work Tasks

Source: Forbes, Nov 2014
<See the Forbes article for the templates>

A 2012 survey by McKinsey found that highly skilled desk workers spent an average of 28% of their work weeks dealing with email


  1. You Need Your Network’s Help Finding A Job
  2. You Need A Referral At Your Dream Company
  3. You Want To Write The Perfect Cover Letter To Strut Your Skills
  4. You Need To Write A Thank You Note For An Interview
  5. You Want To Send A Thank You Note That Really Goes Above And Beyond
  6. You Applied To A Job A Week Or Two Ago—And Want To Check In
  7. You Need To Turn Down A Job Offer

In the Office

  1. You Don’t Really Know What The Sender Is Asking For
  2. You Need To Say “No” To Something
  3. You Need To Say “No” To Someone You Really Want To Help
  4. You Receive A Complicated Laundry List Of Thoughts, Ideas, And Tasks
  5. You Need More Information To Answer
  6. Your Colleague Is Making A Project Too Difficult
  7. You’ve Got A Workplace Conflict—And You Need To Tell Your Boss
  8. You Need To Turn Down A Project
  9. You’re Quitting Your Job


  1. You’re Inviting a Candidate In For An Interview
  2. You’re Offering A Candidate A Job
  3. You’re Turning A Candidate Down
  4. You Messed Up—And Need To Tell Your Customers
  5. You Need To Write A LinkedIn Recommendation—Fast


  1. You Need An Introduction
  2. You’ve Been Asked To Make An Introduction
  3. You’re Actually Making The Introduction
  4. You Need To Explain What You Do
  5. You Want A Client To Recommend You To Others
  6. You Have Way Too Many People Asking To “Pick Your Brain”

Following up after Conferences

Source: HBR, Dec 2018

 … go through the program booklet listing conference attendees and circling the names of those I had conversations with. I hadn’t exchanged contact information with most of them, but they were still connections worth maintaining … 

Second, for each person you’ve written down, take a moment to identify your goal for that relationship. You can’t invest in all connections equally, of course — so where should you prioritize your time?

  1. most new relationships will fall into three categories. Specifically, those are: “miscellaneous interesting people,” with whom there’s not an obvious point of connection;
  2. people with whom you have a specific reason to follow up; and
  3. people you’d like to build a deeper relationship with.

Miscellaneous interesting people

apply an “ambient awareness” strategy and send a friend request on LinkedIn, so that we can stay in touch through that channel and she may periodically be exposed to my posts in her news feed, and vice versa.

A specific reason to follow up.

For other conference attendees, my mission is clearer: they mentioned specific business opportunities (an invitation to speak at a university, give a talk for a large company, etc.). I make a point of emailing them them in a timely fashion — within a week is ideal — to remind them of their suggestion and request a follow-up call.

Building a deeper relationship.

Finally, you’ll meet some people with whom you’d like to build a long-term connection. Their work may be extremely salient to yours (they’re a VC and you’re an executive coach that works with startups), or you may just have great personal rapport. Either way, you want to develop a strategy to turn a one-time encounter into something more meaningful,

It’s essential to listen to their stated needs, not make assumptions about what might be useful and risk turning yourself into a burden in the process.

Almost every professional attends at least a few conferences per year. By following these strategies, you can make sure the time, effort, and money you spend on them actually turns into true relationships, not just one-time conversations that are quickly forgotten.

Women Surpassing Men in STEM

Source: Medium, Dec 2018

Despite the mainstream belief that women are underrepresented in Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) degrees, a new report out of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) shatters this myth.

Mark Perry, a University of Michigan-Flint professor, appears to be the first to discover that the “STEM gender gap” doesn’t exactly exist after all. According to his recent AEI report, women now earn 50.6 percent of all STEM bachelor’s degrees, and are also overrepresented in graduate school.

“Men disproportionately respond to economic incentives, so they are more likely to respond favorably to reports of high salaries for tech workers. Women tend, on average, to be more risk averse, and are more likely to respond strongly to negative stories,” said Reges, who has taught computer science since the 1980s.

Fifty-fifty gender parities in higher education are completely unrealistic and unachievable. Students naturally gravitate to the fields that most interest them, and we see that in the overrepresentation of women in biology.