Evan Spiegel, 26, is one of the youngest Silicon Valley success stories. He runs Snap, the company that brings us messaging app Snapchat, which claims 150 million users and went public in an IPO back in March of this year. Paresh Dave wrote about Spiegel in the Los Angeles Times, calling him “one of the youngest entrepreneurs in history to a take a company public and perhaps the youngest-ever to lead a $30-billion enterprise.”
How does a person achieve something like that? Daniel Newman, a USC student who started a geofilter company — and later ended it, based on Spiegel’s feedback— wondered the same. Newman dialed Spiegel up after the young mogul spoke to one of his classes, according to a story Business Insider noticed.
Here’s some of the advice Spiegel gave Newman, since it can work for almost everyone.
Make sure you have the skills — and that people know you have them
In his first tip, Spiegel told Newman that you have to have the goods. Speaking about his knack for graphic design at Stanford, and later product design, Spiegel told Newman to get really good at something.
It’s not enough to be good, however; a lot of people are really good at what they do but don’t get the opportunities they should. Every one of us needs a bit of advertising. In his second tip to the student, Spiegel made it clear that you have to make others aware of your talent in this area.
Make sure you’re not totally reliant on someone else for your success
Newman asked Spiegel for feedback on his geofilter company, which the CEO reportedly “disliked,” and here’s where the third tip came in: Spiegel said not to start a business that fully depends on another one.
So the student ended his business, became an expert on “the LA college startup scene,” and embarked on a different extracurricular path, which helped him score a summer internship at an Israeli venture capital firm.
How Spiegel’s advice applies to people who don’t have their own businesses: remember that you do better in your career when you manage it yourself. Holding things up waiting for other people to help you, approve of you, or manage things for you won’t work. Be a self-starter and independent so you can keep going even if someone else lets you down.
Put yourself out there
Too often, we think that well-known people in our fields would never give us a moment’s attention. But if you reach out at the right time, many leaders are happy to provide a little perspective.
At the end of the article, Newman told Business Insider more about what he gleaned from the conversation.
“Evan showed me the value of taking initiative. Of all people in the world, I would’ve never expected the Evan Spiegel to respond to one of my emails, but he did. It’s almost as if when you least expect a response is when you actually get one,” Newman told the publication.
The key, however: go into those conversations thinking about more than yourself. Don’t ask to “pick someone’s brain.” Instead, follow these four tips about how to write a good networking email.
Remember to trust yourself
When we bemoan the fact that “nobody” trusts us or listens to us, we’re really reacting to the fact that we don’t trust or listen to ourselves. Confidence in our own ideas is often the hardest part of getting things done.
Spiegel gave new grads that excellent career advice during a 2015 commencement address at USC.
“You already have inside of you all of the amazing things you need to follow the dreams that you have. And if you get stuck along the way there is a ton of free information available on the Internet. Have faith in yourself and the person you are going to become. Know that you are capable of all of the growth that will be expected of you and that you expect from yourself. You will tackle every challenge headed your way – and if you don’t – it won’t be for lack of trying…” Spiegel said.
Remember what you have to offer, and that will keep you from taking second place when you want to be in first.