5 things I have learned from Marissa Mayer

Following in the footsteps of giants, you’re made their king. For years, the giants have been in decline and so they ask you, a normal sized person, to take over. They’ve thrown out their old king and are desperate for change. The surrounding rival kingdoms grow daily and encroach on the territory of the giants. They expect big changes, and they want to succeed. You restructure the entire kingdom. You get rid of several of the chief advisers and put new people in their place. You turn the economy from mining and lumber to commerce led by mobility and accessibility. You re-brand the giants as friendly creatures, rather than the monstrous giants of fairy tales. The kingdom begins its transformation and the world beyond waits to see what this means.

Marissa Mayer is the president and CEO of Yahoo. At only 37 years old, she left Google to take over a failing Yahoo whose market value was decreasing more and more every quarter. Under her leadership, Yahoo is on the road to recovery. She’s pushing the company in new directions and this may lead to Yahoo reclaiming its once very prominent place in the industry. She’s planning on acquiring related companies and has made a huge push into mobile opportunities for Yahoo. She’s turning Yahoo around, which is no easy task, especially considering how it was falling, and how difficult it is to re-brand a failing company and rebuild trust. Here are some of the most useful tips to learn from Marissa Mayer.

1. Be fearless.

Success isn’t a goal found through making safe and easy choices. You need to have a vision, and then trust that vision. Trust that vision and work to get there. Take chances and make logical risks. You may fail, but in failing you may discover the answer. Even a thousand small failures disappear with one big success. Be decisive and boldly go forward, even if it’s into new terrain. Success doesn’t happen by accident, so work hard and remain motivated. Keep pushing through mistakes and hardships, because even if you fail, at least you know you gave it everything you had.

2. Don’t be afraid to restructure.

Mayer made some huge changes when she stepped into Yahoo, including replacing the CMO and CFO. Keep an innovative culture based around building morale, and reward success, hard work, and innovation. If something’s not working, don’t be afraid to switch it up. Replace people, switch focus, make hard transitions when necessary for the company to succeed.

3. Focus.

Don’t try to be the best at every single aspect of an industry. Pick a focus and stick with it. Since helming Yahoo, Mayer’s turned 50% of her staff to mobile, shifting the focus of the entire company. With 90% of the western world owning Smart Phones, her narrowing Yahoo’s focus will yield big results. In addition, she’s cutting off places that aren’t working or aren’t working well enough. Yahoo is becoming a more focused company, which will be a key component of their success. And it’s a lesson to be learned by everyone. Being the best at one thing is better than being good at everything.

4. Have a long term strategy.

Yahoo’s new focus on mobile technology creates an overall strategy for the company. Laptop and desktop based components will become less and less essential, not only for Yahoo but for all companies. Yahoo is taking a huge leap and this long term strategy will either lead to their ultimate success or failure.

5. Grow momentum.

Improve morale and make your employees believe that success is down the road. By building momentum, you’ll also build enthusiasm that will push your employees and colleagues to work harder and do better work. Keep an innovative atmosphere and reward success and you’ll find the overall company improving as one to achieve a common goal.

Marissa Mayer has an enormous task before her and it’s too soon to tell if it will succeed, but it won’t be for lack of trying or from lack of good ideas. Even if Yahoo fails, this advice is still relevant for anyone running a company at any stage of success.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.