- On July 10, 2020
I loved this recent LinkedIn video interview with Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. She gives her top career advice, including a special tip for lawyers:
- Don’t fixate on being CEO [or CLO]. Then you get focused on your next job and the job after that. Your focus should be on your current job. She says you should do your current job “so f*ng well that people say ‘no one else can do it as well as [you]!'” (It’s worth watching the 2 minute 15 second interview just to hear her swear elegantly.)
- Have a hip pocket skill, some competence no one else has. You want people to think of you as the only person who does that (e.g., solve X problem, launch Y product, etc.). Her own hip pocket skill is to demystify complex issues and close them out.
- Indra’s special tip for lawyers: Don’t speak in legalese! When she was CFO and President of PepsiCo, her CEO asked her to take over the FTC process for PepsiCo’s acquisition of Quaker Oats. The lawyers were already on it, but the CEO didn’t understand their legalese and assigned Indra to be his guide. He didn’t question what the lawyers were doing but how they were explaining it. She learned how to speak with the FTC commissioner, how to make an economic case for the transaction, and how to explain the process in simple terms to the CEO. Her ability to synthesize complex matters was her hip pocket skill, but if the lawyers were able to communicate simply, they could have been the heroes!
- Show courage. If you feel strongly about something, have the courage to stand up and defend it in front of others. Be aware of politics, but you don’t have to play politics. (My two cents: stand up for your diverse or first generation employees, especially when they get cut off, deserve amplification, or need backup. We all needs supporters in our lives. Be one for someone else!)