Stuart Lessons

Career Lessons

Lessons from my Career Journey – Stuart Meyer


FAFCO – I hit the job market after college, during the previous Great Recession of 1981. I used the familiar ‘shot gun’ approach – applying to job postings in the newspaper, sending out dozens of resumes and cover letters every week. For months. No offers. Then I learned my first lesson: your network is your greatest tool. A friend mentioned that she was about to hire an Accounting Clerk, and did I want to apply? My resume went to the top of the stack of candidates, and I got the job.


Genentech – My next stop was Genentech, to lead my first team of 10 accountants. No management training, no coaching, no mentoring. You can imagine how well that turned out. The lesson here: managing and leading doesn’t always come naturally, it takes professional development.


Xiox – After a battering experience at Genentech, it was great to be in a supportive environment at Xiox. I’d been in accounting for 5 years, and though I was good at it, I didn’t really enjoy it. I figured out what I enjoyed, moved into Marketing, and realized my next lesson: find the intersection of what you’re good at and what you enjoy, and you’ll be far more successful. 18 months later, I was selected Employee of the Year.


Palm-Pilot – During my MBA program, I landed a summer internship at Palm Computing. They were competing with Apple to launch the first successful PDA. Apple was the Goliath in the market, and Palm was all of 23 employees at the time. Who was going to win this war – Palm, a barely-funded start-up, or Apple, which had tens of millions to invest? After graduating, I accepted a job at Apple. When PDA sales struggled, Apple let the Newton die, while Palm kept fighting, and grew to become the dominant market leader within a few years. Lesson learned: always bet on the David who’s survival is at stake, than the Goliath who barely notices if their ancillary initiative doesn’t succeed.


Apple – So, again using my network, I got an interview with the Apple’s Corporate Development group. Only problem was – my background was with PCs, not Macs, I came from the software world, not the hardware world, and I came from the tech industry, not consulting, like everyone else in the group. So I learned my next lesson: turn your weaknesses into strengths. I positioned myself as bringing a different perspective to their team. It worked, and I got the job.


Right-Management – After three years at Apple, I realized what I really enjoyed was helping people be successful in their careers. The field of executive coaching was starting to grow, and I identified my target company, Right Management Consulting. I contacted them, even though there wasn’t a job posting. After several meetings, they created a position for me. Lesson learned: go after your target organizations, and find or create a job opportunity.