Kathryn Minshew

Kathryn Minshew

Founder & CEO, The Muse

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 07, 2015

Discussion

Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
Hi - I'm Kathryn Minshew, cofounder & CEO of The Muse. We've helped over 50 million people advance in their careers, and work with 500 of the best companies in the world - from Facebook and Uber to HBO, The Gap, Adidas and Allstate - on their hiring and employer branding. In addition, I've built a team of 60 and think a lot about company culture and creating a great place to work. I'm excited to be here - ask me anything!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Thanks so much for joining us today! During your career to date, what is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Flip side - what's the worst?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@ems_hodge Hi Emily, great question! The best piece of advice I ever received was that "No" is often just the starting point, and most careers worth having involve a fair amount of determination, grit, and just general "try try again"-ing. That's been true 10 times over at The Muse, and I'm so glad I learned it early! In terms of the worst career advice... probably all of the people who told me not to start The Muse, or to give up early.
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@kmin @ems_hodge Also, early on when I was about to take the job at McKinsey, someone I respected very much told me not to take it because I'd get "too used to the lifestyle" and never be able to do anything risky or non-traditional afterwards. With all due respect, I disagree - I think getting "used" to anything is a choice you make, not something inevitable. I'm really glad I worked in consulting for two years -- but also so glad that I didn't let myself get "used" to the lifestyle, and was totally comfortable jumping into something completely different afterwards (startups, working in East Africa).
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@kmin is there any one company you look at right now as a standout example of somewhere that has really nailed their company culture? What is that particular company doing to make it stand out? - What could others learn from it?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@ems_hodge Hi Emily, it's so exciting to me that companies are really waking up and getting better at onboarding, since it's a really important part of making sure your employees are passionate about your mission and all on the same page. One example of someone who's doing it well right now is HBO - they do a great job of immersing new hires in different teams and projects so they can learn a lot about the business, and they match every new person up with a Buddy (like we do at The Muse with the Muse buddy program)!
Cali Pitchel
Cali Pitchel@calipitchel · Creative Director | Belief Agency
Hi Kathryn, I'm hopeful for the day we no longer have to ask this kind of question, but... What have been some of the greatest challenges you've overcome as a women in startups and tech?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@calipitchel Hi Cali, you and me both - I hope this question will soon be no longer relevant, because there will be so many smart, driven, totally badass women in tech that the idea of people discriminating against them would be shocking. Someday :) That said, I've definitely dealt with some un-fun stuff. Interestingly, the instances I've encountered of totally overt and awful sexism (someone making wildly inappropriate and repeated physical advances at a work meeting, people who told me The Muse couldn't build an audience of career-focused women because "won't your users all turn 30, have babies and stop caring about their careers?", etc) somehow weren't as frustrating/demoralizing as the little things - people always assuming I'm nontechnical, asking "Who are you here with?" and thinking I'm somebody's assistant at an event for CEOs, musing out loud if I'm "too nice" or "not tough enough" to be successful (...really?!), the tons of little unintentional pats on the head. I could write a book about it. But for now, I've found my best response to be 1) understanding it happens to a lot of people and it's about them, not about me; 2) talking about it with all the fantastic men I know, who are often surprised this happens; 3) having a cohort of badass women around me to vent about the worst stuff -- and then move on. Kicking ass is ultimately the best revenge, though it doesn't mean I won't talk about what needs to change along the way.
Cali Pitchel
Cali Pitchel@calipitchel · Creative Director | Belief Agency
@kmin @calipitchel Thanks for sharing, Kim! I think every woman, regardless of industry, should be surrounded by a cohort of badass women. Great advice. :)
Ross Simmonds
Ross Simmonds@thecoolestcool · Entrepreneur | Giving 💯
Hi Kathryn - Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Two questions: 1) The Muse has become a great example of content marketing done right. What's the biggest lesson you've learned in growing your team of writers and content marketing? 2) I'm stealing this one from Peter Thiel -- What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Allie Hunt
Allie Hunt@alliehunt_ · Social Media Manager
@kmin Can you tell me a bit more about the new career coaching services The Muse now offers?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@alliehunt_ Yes! I'm ridiculously excited about this. You know how sometimes in a startup's early days, you have a vision of what you'll do eventually, but you can only execute on a small part of that vision? Coach Connect (themuse.com/coaching) is like that for The Muse
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@alliehunt_ Since the early days, we've known we wanted to roll out professional development / 1-to-1 support alongside everything else we offer on The Muse (free advice, resources, company "behind the scenes" profiles and job search). But it wasn't until this fall that we were ready. What we did was find the absolutely best career professionals in our network - people who specialize in helping you figure out where to go, and making sure you get there - and build a platform to allow people to book them on The Muse. So far, the average review on the site is 4.89 out of 5 -- so I'd say we're doing a pretty good job! If anyone wants to learn more about how we conceived / built / rolled out this platform, happy to answer more questions about it :)
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@kmin what is one of the biggest mistakes you've made and what did you learn from it?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@corleyh Hi Corley, oof, so many. Building a startup is basically an exercise in mistakes: learning from them, avoiding the really bad ones, and forgiving yourself for the little ones you're bound to make. One of the biggest mistakes I made pre-Muse was ignoring my gut about some people I was working with. I knew better - something told me that these people were not good partners - but I overruled myself because I couldn't point to anything specific, and I wanted the access and connections they were promising. It turned out pretty badly, but I learned so much from it. Now, I trust myself implicitly on people, especially when it comes to values/ethics questions.
brandon tsang
brandon tsang@brantsang
@kmin Hi Kathryn! Who inspires you, personally & professionally?? Who are people that you follow for advice/inspiration??
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@brantsang Hi Brandon - so many! I have a number of startup founders like Katia and Hayley from Birchbox or Payal from Classpass that I both get to chat with about scaling questions at The Muse, AND that I look to for inspiration. Also business execs like Arianna Huffington, Cathie Black, and more. For reading, I love First Round Review (great content) as well as Mark Suster's blog. Will add more great ideas here later on--
brandon tsang
brandon tsang@brantsang
@kmin @brantsang Awesome!! First Round Review is great!! thanks!!
Theoharis Dimarhos
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
@kmin Thanks for doing this! What are the most impressive ways you've seen that someone has gone about to get a job at one of your clients? (the extra effort beyond sending a resume.)
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@theo_dimarhos Great question. One person applied to a small startup and created a video introducing himself and sharing his passion for the company. Someone else included a work sample of some really impressive planning they'd done for a previous job. At The Muse, one of the most impressive applications we've seen was a candidate who organized her resume *into a lookalike Muse profile*. It totally blew us away - and we ended up hiring her.
Alex M Payne
Alex M Payne@alexmpayne · Insights & Paid Media, Sunshine Sachs
How did you decide launch Coach Connect and what which track do you wish you had access to when you started your career?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@alexmpayne Great question - I talked a bit about why we decided to launch Coach Connect above (this is really just the beginning in terms of offering 1-to-1 advice, on-demand career help, and other resources to our community), but the specific process of conceptualizing and launching it was fairly detailed. We started talking about the concept internally in February/March of this year, as we realized that Muse users took our recommendations really seriously and were often desperate to find 1:1 help that went beyond what we could offer in an article or video. Some were first time managers, others needed to make a huge career switch, and still others just had a quick but important question that they didn't have anyone they could ask. So we decided to start with a selection of our absolute best coaches and career experts from The Muse, in a mini beta test this June. The results were phenomenal, including someone who got 5 interviews and a job offer within weeks of using our resume revamp service. It became clear that we were finally ready as an org to launch it. Once we made the decision, we spent the rest of June-August designing themuse.com/coaching, making sure it accounted for all possible use cases, and then building it and recruiting coaches through the late summer and early fall. We pushed it live to 1000 early users the day before to make sure there were no crazy bugs - and then we went live! Everyone in the Muse office celebrated when the first booking came through :)
Michael Gracias
Michael Gracias@mgracias13
Hi Kathryn! How do you spend your downtime when you're not working on The Muse?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@mgracias13 Ah downtime... I used to know thee well :) Actually, I still take Saturdays and most of Sundays totally off, though the rest of the week is pretty much All Muse All the Time. When I'm off, I love to travel (I try and take at least one trip every year during the winter holidays), explore new restaurants, and read really awesome fiction books. Recent favorites have involved Shantaram and Station Eleven (books), Supper and Chop Shop (NYC restaurants), and Oman, France, Turkey and Cuba (travel).
Ravi Vadrevu
Ravi Vadrevu@raviformative · Autonomous Hiring Intelligence
What's the vision for The Muse?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@raviformative Hi Ravi, this is a tough question to answer quickly but the short answer is - I want to build the most beloved, trusted destination for your career. There are so many transactional sites that greet you with a text-only, rectangular page straight out of 1995, featuring a large box that says, "Enter the job title and zip code here." I think people deserve so much more. We want The Muse to be personalized, highly interactive, and deeply community-first. We want people who come to The Muse to have their problems solved, their career questions answered, and feel like they have their own personal career genie - or BFF with razor-sharp advice - in their corner, helping them find the tools, skills and advice they need to get where they want to go. In short.... I want every single person in the US (and eventually beyond) to know The Muse is where you go to advance in your career. Check back in with us in 2018 ;)
Ravi Vadrevu
Ravi Vadrevu@raviformative · Autonomous Hiring Intelligence
@kmin @raviformative - Thanks for answering, we are in the same space. See you down the line!
Koji Kanao
Koji Kanao@twelvejapan · Web/iPhoneApp dev/legal tech startup
@kmin Hi Kathryn, what kind of elements will cause to decline in companies and what will the first signal of that? Thanks!
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@twelvejapan Hi Koji, losing track of a company's culture - either because you were never deliberate about it in the beginning, or because you got distracted by other things - is one of the surest ways to run a good company into the ground. Your best people start leaving, toxic behaviors can sometimes take over, and only the very best companies can reverse the spiral at that point. On the flipside, though, I think there's a lot a founder can to do manage culture proactively.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hi @kmin I am a fellow Dukie as well. Great to meet you here. What motivated you to build The Muse. What was the value proposition you put forward for onboarding early users and companies.
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@neeeharika Hi Neeharika, I was motivated by the experiences in my own life of trying to find the right career for me, and being intensely frustrated by how poorly built most online sites were for that purpose. There are a lot of places you can go if you know exactly what you want to do and just want a list of available/open jobs; there are very few that help you navigate and understand the different companies and opportunities. I wanted it to exist and it didn't, so I built it.
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@kmin @neeeharika Also! For early users, we used career content as our value prop, and initially we didn't require anyone to register. Only once we'd built up an audience of 100,000 monthly active users did we roll out company profiles, and our first companies paid very little as we built up both sides of the marketplace. Once it took off and we were providing a lot more value to both sides, we were able to encourage users to register (still free) and companies to pay.
Arpit Gupta
Arpit Gupta@arpitgupta · Product Manager
@kmin What's one thing you wish working professionals stop doing to harm their career and the companies where they work?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@arpitgupta Hi Arpit, oof, so many things. I always hate to hear when someone doesn't get a job because of something in their social media profiles (anything from racism/sexism and inappropriate photos to poor grammar, depending on how hardcore the employer is. See more here-- https://www.themuse.com/advice/6...) On top of that, I think a lot of career advancement is about common courtesy. Treat people as you'd want to be treated; be respectful of their time; express interest in what they're doing and ask smart questions, but don't be overbearing or creepy. I could go on and on - will try to come back and write more here later if we have time!
Tom Limongello
Tom Limongello@tomlimongello · CEO of Truffle
What was your approach to user acquisition? I imagine having content from companies is what drives value, but how did people get to know about you first, and then most reliably?
brandon tsang
brandon tsang@brantsang
@kmin top performers have their morning routines to the tee. What is your morning routine? reading/journaling/meditation/coffee/workout??
Phyo Arkar Lwin
Phyo Arkar Lwin@v3ss0n · Founder of http://Esobo.co
@kmin Hi there , What is the main Revenue stream for Dailymuse ? Coaching or Listing from the profiled companies?
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@v3ss0n Hi Phyo, the recruiting side of the business is by far our biggest revenue stream (we're really good at helping companies hire mid-level and entry-level employees in engineering, sales, marketing, operations, customer support, design, product, finance, etc, and they're more than willing to pay for it). Coaching is a very new revenue stream for us, but I think it has massive potential. No one's really doing it well - think about if you were interested in talking to a presentation skills coach before a big presentation, speaking with a management coach when you got promoted, or having your resume redone by an expert when you're looking to move careers. You could ask your friends for recommendations, or try... google? After the 100th person asked us to recommend someone to them on The Muse, we felt like it was a pretty interesting opportunity to pursue :)
Phyo Arkar Lwin
Phyo Arkar Lwin@v3ss0n · Founder of http://Esobo.co
@kmin Thanks Kathryn , thats really cool. I also believe coaching is going to be big. It will be really big when you can get successful Startup founders to Coach new startup like us. And thanks a million for your answers.
Mike Williams
Mike Williams@mikewsyd
@kmin Congrats on your successes to date, been a huge fan of TheMuse as well as your/Alex's continual hustle despite 148 investor No's. 1. Is your team's focus on customer acquisition and Coach Connect for the next couple of years or can we expect new initiatives (i.e. international expansion)? 2. If you weren't growing TheMuse, what problem would you be trying to solve? 3. Have you implemented any of Will.i.am's strategic suggestions? I'm not sure where he was going with them :)
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
@mikewsyd hahahaha ok firstly, your #3 cracked me up. Thank you :) To your questions: 1, one of the hard things about startups is you have to focus.... but you also have to focus on like 18 things at once (or sometimes it feels that way). We're definitely going to be working hard to expand our userbase (customer acquisition, mostly organic / word of mouth) and growing Coach Connect, but that doesn't mean new initiatives are off the table. We get a lot of inbound requests for The Muse in other countries, and I'm definitely keeping an eye on the right timing there. Plus, we're not anywhere near done with improvements to the core product :) 2. What would I be doing if I weren't doing The Muse? Honestly, I have no idea. I feel like I found what I'm meant to build, and anything else just seems a little hollow in comparison. I think there are so many critically important problems out there to be solved (education, sustainability, employment in developing countries, energy, healthcare...I could go on) and I'd do whatever I could to help people working to solve those. But sometimes a problem reaches out and just grabs you - and becomes YOUR problem. This is MY problem and I'm hellbent on tackling it.
Kathryn Minshew
Kathryn Minshew@kmin · Founder & CEO, The Muse
Thanks all! Now I gotta get back to work :) Tweet me @KMin with questions and check out themuse.com. Thanks again for the great questions!