97. Dan Shapero: Stepping Back to Grow

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Dan Shapero’s team was a rocket ship. When he stepped in as leader of LinkedIn’s recruiting business, annual revenue was around $40 million. By 2014, it was a billion and a half dollars.

So it came somewhat as a surprise when the CEO of LinkedIn told him that he was probably in the wrong job.

“I started off feeling kind of angry about it, to be honest. Almost unappreciated. And…[he said] “Great tech companies are built on either great technology or great product. And if you want to lead a great tech company someday, then you need to understand how great products or great technology are built.” And as I thought about it (and it took me probably two months to sort of process that conversation), I realized I agreed with him.”

It was a hard truth for Dan to hear, but maintaining the status quo was no longer possible: Dan knew that he needed to transform, yet again, into something new. With support from an amazing supervisor/mentor, Dan was able to craft an exit plan that would allow him to transition from leading a 1,500 person organization on the sales team to becoming an individual contributor in product development.

Now, four years later, Dan has been tapped to return to the sales organizations at LinkedIn, and he acknowledges that his time in product development has made him a better leader than he was before. Equally as important, Dan recognizes that the team that surrounded him amplified his efforts, leading to success.

“The number one skill of a leader in many regards is self-awareness…leaders can’t be superhuman. They can’t be great at everything, and so there are a bunch of areas where I deliberately surround myself by people that are great at the things that I am not great at. And those people, in some regard are…some of the most valuable people on the team because we really come together and do the best collectively.”

Join us as we discuss the importance of teams, transformations, and the time that Dan told his boss he was the wrong guy for a promotion.  Listen using the player below, or download the episode on iTunes. If you like what you hear please consider leaving a review or sending me a message.

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Takeaways from this episode:

  • “There’s a real premium placed on taking something complicated and making it simple.” Look for ways to create clarity in your job.
  • Dan sold his startup while in college, but within only a few years the job market was dismal and he feared how he would pay his rent. Life is full of tough moments, especially at the beginning of your learning curve. Have patience and persevere.
  • It took Dan two months to recognize the truth behind his CEO’s assessment that he was in the wrong job. Dan then took nine months to transition from the sales team to product development. Transformation takes time!
  • “[Be] impatient for learning but patient for a new title.”

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