Despite his associations with Netscape and Mozilla, Lloyd Tabb—Puget Sound parent, and technology entrepreneur from Silicon Valley—insists that his career is based on doing unglamorous work. He avoids trendy, overly-saturated areas and hones in on projects that need to be done, but which others may not find attractive.
Using this approach, Lloyd has successfully launched numerous start-ups (and invested in even more), including one that led to his appointment as principal architect at Netscape, and becoming a co-founder of Mozilla.org.
Build a trail
“If [an employer] is interviewing two candidates, and one has a portfolio demonstrating what he has produced or made, and the other does not, which of the two do you think will get hired?”
Lloyd pressed the importance of building a ‘trail’—a portfolio of your work and productions…
“It really doesn’t matter what you are making. Write a book, paint art, make a video game, or write software and get it up on the web where it can be found.” Make it accessible and available and start building a trail to show who you are and the skills you possess, especially “rare skills.”
“We’re all leaving a trail. The more impressive that presence, the more likely you are to be hired. Don’t just say something—make something.”
Data: know it, love it, live it
Lloyd’s career is focused on all things data (analysis, visualization, and mining to name a few). He encouraged Puget Sound students to become comfortable working with data, and develop the ability to manage and analyze it.
“Companies in Silicon Valley are always looking for folks who can analyze and interpret data.” Companies are overwhelmed (too much data, not enough knowledge on how to interpret it) and if you know how to work with data—identify trends and patterns, manage it in a database, etc.—you will be in high demand.
Find your tribe
Even as a lifetime entrepreneur, Lloyd’s career started at a large corporation, where many of the days’ IT thought leaders were working. He met individuals who he admired and trusted, built out his network and created a ‘tribe.’
Lloyd describes a tribe as a group of individuals with whom you can launch a business or share entrepreneurial ideas. A tribe—comprised of individuals possessing unique skills and interests—can produce a better product or service than any one member of the tribe could do alone.
Now, 25 years later, when Lloyd is launching a new business, he knows who to approach because he has a tribe to cover areas beyond his realm of knowledge or expertise.
Lloyd was also very encouraging of the idea of working at a big company early in your career, even if you know you want to start your own business. Big companies provide an opportunity to learn about the industry while considering your own approach. If you take this path, pay close attention to what you are gaining from the experience. Then, when you’re ready, set out with your newly-developed tribe.
…It’s not about you
Lloyd emphasized that it is extremely important to remember (whether you are working for a big company, or for yourself) that it is never about you. Your focus should always be on the company and its success. When the organization you work for (or own) looks good, so do you.
Lloyd’s List of Rare Skills
Lloyd provided a list of what he considers to be rare skills in today’s work world. If you possess one of these skills or attributes, you are going to be in high demand. It’s worth focusing on and developing them:
- Technical skills
- Negotiation skills
- Ability to see patterns in data
- Coding fast, and coding deep
- Starting internet memes
- Writing skills
- Sales skills
- Interpretation skills
- Money – you have it
- Money – you can talk to those with it
- Inspire confidence
- Management – people look up to you and trust you
If you’re interested in learning more about what Lloyd had to say and how his advice this might apply to your job search, schedule a time to meet with a CES Career Advisor. All of our advisors spent time with Lloyd and are happy to share additional insights from his time on campus.
Curious about what’s involved with launching a tech start-up in Silicon Valley? Take a look at Lloyd’s presentation.
© 2012 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound