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Advice to Invent Your Career from a Shark Tank Winner

Valerie Nadi

April 05, 2021

Paul Pedrazzi, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Product for Small and Medium Business (SMB), may look familiar to you. As seen on TV, Paul and his wife Cyndi co-founded the personalized and washable lunchbox company yubo which secured a Shark Tank deal in 2013But wait — there’s more! Paul brings significant product, design, and strategy experience from the tech industry.

 

Before joining Salesforce, Paul took time off to write a customer relationship management (CRM) application for small business. “It was a space that was ripe for some innovative thinking. I started doing interviews with various small businesses, working on product, and writing code. Then I connected with Salesforce and learned what they were doing with Essentials. I couldn’t pass up the chance to build a product like this with a great team. There’s no better place to build a CRM product for small business than here at Salesforce.”

 

In chatting with Paul, it’s clear that he finds genuine joy in his role. He shared the following advice to invent a fulfilling career.

Always focus on the customer

Paul wants to build products that make people's lives better. And that requires curiosity, empathy, and deep listening skills — all of which prioritize the customer. “The best products are built by teams who spend the most time with customers,” he reflected. “If you're not spending enough time with users you'll find yourself guessing on what really matters. Product development requires deep customer intuition in order to address the problems they face today, and take them where they want to go in the future.”

 

“Don’t go into a customer meeting with an agenda,” Paul advised. “When you have an agenda, you’re looking for confirmation of your hypothesis and you may unintentionally lead the witness.” Instead, Paul suggests going into customer meetings with an open mind so you can truly understand what customers are trying to do and help them accomplish it with new technologies.

 
 

Follow what interests you

“When I considered my career, I never thought about getting to a certain role or title. I found the best luck with following the things that interested me.” Self-awareness is a critical component to understanding where to go next. "Pay attention during your day — what meetings do you like, and why? If you don’t like something, try to identify the reason it wasn’t for you." Really take time to be introspective about your day-to-day. Do you like individual projects where you can be heads-down and fully immersed in a task? Or do you prefer the collaboration and energy from team meetings? Once you understand what you love, figure out how you can do more of it.

 

Get in a fast-paced environment

“Early in my career, I underestimated the importance of the environment I put myself in,” Paul commented. “Put yourself in a fast-paced setting where you can gain experience beyond your comfort zone and learn quickly. A company like Salesforce will enable you to build your skills and network.”

 

 

Model the behavior you want to see

Whether you’re a leader or individual contributor, start with yourself and model the behavior that’s important to you. When something goes wrong, it can be tempting to point to an external factor. But Paul advocates for personal ownership, “I don’t always get it right, but it’s a healthy perspective to look at issues and assume it’s something you can influence and address. Own it, and take accountability.”Paul has been particularly inspired by the author of Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink. In his book, Jocko writes, “Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.”

 

Align with your personal energy

Introspection is a common theme for Paul. He shared the importance of understanding when you feel most focused and productive. “For me, an hour in the morning for me is probably worth three in the afternoon in terms of creating quality work. With that in mind, I try to put the important things in life early in the day so I get them done and done well.” For Paul, that means starting his day with a workout, then tackling creating projects like writing or coding.

 

Consume inspiring content

Paul is continuously feeding his brain interesting information. Here are some of his top picks to get your wheels turning:

  • Waking Up with Sam Harris App➚Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author. This app focuses on meditation, which Paul shares “is one of the things that I’m continually trying to be better about. This is a great app for those who are trying to build the meditation habit.”
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari➚: This book entertains topics that could shape the future — from overcoming death to creating artificial life.
  • Making Sense Podcast: Another resource by Sam Harris, this time exploring important questions about the human mind, society, and current events.
  • Peter Attia Drive Podcast➚Weekly episodes focus on maximizing health, longevity, and critical thinking.
  • The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast: ➚This resource deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas and extracts the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.
  • Y Combinator Podcast“The Essentials team operates a lot like a startup. This podcast has relevant information to help us build a better business,” comments Paul.  

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