If you have read any of our Woman Crush profiles, you know we have a heart for women killing it at work (whatever their work may be). But what do you do if you don’t have any passion for your work? Turn to The Muse, a resource for people looking to take the next step toward a career they love. Here, founder Kathryn Minshew talks about what to do if you’ve ever been stuck in a job you hate, the worst interview she’s ever had, and why everything is figureoutable.
Name + occupation: Kathryn Minshew, Founder & CEO, TheMuse.com
Tell us about The Muse: The Muse is the ultimate career destination for anyone looking for that next step in their career. We help over 50 million people a year find actionable career advice, personalized coaching, insight about amazing companies, and job opportunities—all in one place.
The idea came from my own experience working at a job I didn’t love and not really knowing what I wanted to do instead. There were a lot of possible options but little transparency into what other companies, roles or career paths were actually like. We built The Muse to create a better alternative: to combine top-notch resources and career advice with an inside look “behind the scenes” of companies and career paths using stories from employees, high res photos and tons of video. Now, hundreds of the world’s best companies are featured on the site, including HBO, Marriott, Facebook, Dropbox and more.
Best piece of career advice: There’s a talk that Marie Forleo gives called “Everything is figureoutable,” and I think that describes my philosophy as well. Pretty much everything IS figureoutable – but it’s definitely not always easy to figure it out. That’s why I’m a big believer in experimentation, gathering data where possible, and when necessary – trusting your gut.
Worst job interview you’ve ever had: I’ve had some terrible job interviews in my day, but for some reason all I can think of are terrible investor pitches (maybe because they’re not that different?). In those, I’ve been laughed at, patted on the head, told my idea for The Muse was stupid and poorly executed, and more. You’ve got to just brush it off (and maybe rant to that one friend who can be appropriately horrified) and then keep going. Success is the best revenge.
Advice for women just starting their careers: I’m a big believer in the adage that it’s helpful to know the rules before you break them. Meaning, I’m all about being creative and doing things your own way—but it’s useful to know what norms, standards or expectations are in place, even if you plan to disregard them. That’s why we do our best to present the inside track on everything you need to know in the workplace on The Muse.
For example, what constitutes appropriate email communication in your office? Do people use exclamation points and emojis, and if so, when? Are concise lists of bullet points and highly structured summaries the norm? Learn as much as you can early on about what people expect and what signifies authoritative communication, and then if you want to deviate, do so strategically (to stand out, to make a point, to establish relationships) and in a way that doesn’t compromise your professional reputation.
Advice for how to move ahead in your career: It’s your responsibility to chart the course you want in your career; no one else is going to do it for you. It’s often up to you to understand what skills you need to progress (both by asking for feedback directly and observing those who get promoted or are several levels ahead of you), and then learn those skills—via observation, apprenticeship, online courses or other means. And you have to be your own biggest advocate (there are some great articles on The Muse that advise on how to do just that).
For more tips, I also love this piece one of our experts wrote on “4 Factors that Advance Your Career (That Have Nothing to Do With You).”
Three things you’re most passionate about: (1) Building The Muse into an organization that has an impact for the next decade; (2) Creating a work environment where our team can look back and say, “The Muse was one of the best places that I ever worked”; and (3) Spending awesome, quality, 100%-focused-in-the-present time with my closest family and friends on a regular basis.
Best habit – beauty or otherwise: I see everything as a learning experience. When something fails, or is messed up, I have a habit of immediately jumping to, “Well, what did I/we learn from this?”
Worst habit – beauty or otherwise: Staying up way too late every night.
First thing you do when you wake up: Think, “Can’t I just sleep a little bit more?”
What’s your typical hair/beauty routine? I’m pretty low-key. I wash my hair every other day and pretty much am happy if it’s brushed. I don’t wear makeup often, but when I do, it’s a half-semicircle of brown, black or grey eyeliner under each eye, some under-eye concealer, and a touch of blush/mascara. Pretty simple.
How often do you wash your hair? Every other day. More than that and it doesn’t feel great (plus, who’s got time for that??)
Biggest hair regret: I always wanted curly hair when I was younger, or at least hair that could curl – mine barely holds a shape without intense product. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with my hair, and now I have fun with it.
One thing you would never do to your hair: Freshman year of high school I was dumped by my first crush, and I chopped off all but 2-3″ of my hair as part of feeling devastated. It was not a good look.
What about your Woman Crush? Definitely Sydney Bristow from Alias. I spent years dreaming of learning multiple foreign languages, becoming an ace in martial arts, and joining the CIA because of her.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Persistence is behind just about every seeming “overnight success”.
How do you act confident (even when you don’t feel confident)? Body language is your friend here. Make sure your posture, arms and eye contact convey openness and approachability (for example, stand up straight, uncross your arms, make eye contact, and smile). If you can, power pose before important meetings—this means finding a private place where no one will see you (a bathroom stall can work well), and posing like Superwoman with feet apart and hands on your hips. It sounds crazy, but just assuming a confident posture can help with your emotions.
Apart from that, speak slowly and deliberately, and don’t overdo it with too many words. If you can make your point in one sentence, why ramble on for 2 or 3?
For specific situations such as confidence in networking, interviewing, or (gulp), asking for a raise, check out these tips here.
Most life-changing innovation: I wouldn’t call it life changing, but I love the apps Pocket (for saving articles I’d like to read midday so I can get them off my browser and read them later, on my phone) and 1 Second Everyday, which I’m using to create a fun montage of little day-to-day moments in my life.
On a larger scale, I used to work in healthcare in Rwanda and Malawi, so I’d say that vaccines are pretty awesome and life-changing!
Favorite inventor/gamechanger (living or dead): I’d have to go with Lin-Manuel Miranda here. If you haven’t listened to Hamilton, stop reading this interview and go do that now.
What do you wish someone would invent next? Teleportation! I love travel, so having the ability to do that faster would be incredible. I’d even settle for bullet trains or less awful air travel—I’m not picky!
More #womancrush profiles: