GB Ep 78: Should You Take a Job that Seems Like a Downgrade?

Today I’m talking about what it’s like to go into a bad situation professionally and take a job that seems like a downgrade, speaking from my own experience.

  • I came from a position in a company that had a great product but their only problem was growth. All I had to do was make a plan, my team helped me execute, and things got done. [01:13]
  • But taking over a company like Single Grain when Google was fundamentally shifting its business model and a lot of employees were no longer a fit… that was when I had to ask myself if this move was really worth it. [01:40]
    • The situation was worse than what I came from, and could have potentially gotten a lot worse than it was.
  • You don’t get many opportunities to go into a company where you’re expected to “save it.” But I decided to take the opportunity and go into it with the mindset that I would be able to learn a lot. [02:10]
  • Single Grain today is fundamentally different than it was in the past.  [02:37]
    • Making tough decisions and taking huge gambles was part of what I had to learn to deal with.
  • Going into a position that requires a ton of work from your end provides an incredible growth opportunity. It was a gamble I was willing to take.  [02:57]
  • When you go into a new company, the culture’s already been established and it’s difficult to change it. [03:28]
    • It won’t be easy to turn the tide – even with the executive team that you’ll work closely with.
  • Chances are you’ll piss a lot of people off and a number of them will choose to opt out. [04:16]
  • Ask yourself exactly what the growth opportunity is for you and whether or not it’s a culture you want to work in – and whether or not you’ll be able to turn the tide. [04:21]
  • It takes a lot to fundamentally shift a company from what it was into a completely new business, so you have to give yourself plenty of time. [04:42]
    • One year probably isn’t enough, and two years may not even be enough.
  • Most people will want to play it safe, but if you want to go down the entrepreneurial path, it can be worth it to take the gamble. [05:03]
[spoiler title=’Transcript’ collapse_link=’true’]

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Growth Bites.

Today we are going to be talking about what it’s like to go into a bad situation.

So, this is just really speaking from my experience and some of you may already know that when I came to the startup world, I came from a more stable situation where we have a good product, we have a fantastic team and the only issue was growth. The growth was stagnant for the last two years and so, and all it took was, all I had to do was really come in and pull a few growth levels and work with my team and they help me execute. So, resources were there. Everything was there too. Just to make things happen and that was great. So, growing a company, the experience was there already. But going into a different situation where the taking over a company like Single Grain, where Google is fundamentally shifting its business model and some people were just no longer a fit. That’s when you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it when you come from a good situation already, where things are going momentously, swinging the right way? Do you really want to go into a situation that’s worse and can potentially be a lot, a lot worse than it already is? That’s something you have to ask yourself.

You’re not going to get many opportunities like, to go into a company where they expect you to “save it”. Fortunately, that was offered to me and I went into a situation where my thinking was that I would be able to learn a lot on the operations side. I just figure out how to turn a company around and fundamentally even change the company completely and that’s pretty much what we did. You look at the company on how it is today, it’s not the same as how it was in the past, where we strictly focus on SEO. So, it’s changed quite a bit. But having them make really tough decisions, you’re going to have to live with that and it might set your back – you’re taking a massive gamble and that’s really what happens. But on the flipside, going into a situation that requires a lot of work that‘s going to pop on your plate, that’s going to be a big growth opportunity. At least, that’s how I saw it. I was willing to take the gamble because I’m more of a gambling guy and I saw the growth opportunity in there. It wasn’t money or anything like that. It was, can you get to the next level and can you prove to yourself that you can “do it?” And that’s what we did. So, that’s what you needed to think about and it’s really, when you go into a company, the culture has been established already and it’s different, it’s difficult to change the tide. We have had situations when I came in where people didn’t like the change. We had anonymous surveys go out and people were, after I came in, people were just like, ‘I don’t have to learn all of these new stuff, why do we have to learn new things, blah, blah, blah. It used to be just all about fun’ and that’s not the way, at least from my perspective, that’s not the way how to run the company. So, just keep in mind, you are going to have your own thoughts, whoever else is on your executive team, whoever else who manage you have a close relationship with. It’s not going to be easy to turn the tide. So, you have to figure out first of all how you are going to position that without really pissing people off. And chances are, you probably are going to piss a lot of people off and people are going to like select themselves out.

Ask yourself what a growth opportunity is and ask yourself if this is the culture you want to be in. And ask yourself, do you think realistically you’ll be able to turn the tide? And sometimes, you are going to set very specific goals as to when do you think you are able to turn the tide and sometimes, you are going to be way off. It takes a lot to fundamentally shift a company from what it was as a business before into a completely new business. So, you have to give yourself time. One year is probably not enough time. Two years might not even be enough. It might take a couple of years to do it and that’s a big time investment and you just have to ask yourself, is the juice worth the squeeze. So, that’s what you should think about.

Most people are going to have to play it safe but if you’re going down on the entrepreneurial route, sometimes it’s worth to take the gamble. But you are going to have to make some gut calls on your side and also, if you can tide some projections as well using numbers like financial statements, that will be helpful too. So, just keep that in mind, whenever opportunities like this pop up, and they will pop up every now and then if you’re kind of up and coming and then people see the merits of what you’re doing.

So, hope that helps.


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