Brainstorm Tech Spotlight: Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social
Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference (July 22-24 in Aspen, Colo.) regularly brings together the best and brightest minds in tech innovation. Each week, Fortune will turn the spotlight on a different conference attendee to offer his or her own personal insight into business, tech, and entrepreneurship. This week, we asked Hearsay Social founder and CEO Clara Shih to answer 10 questions about life outside of work, the company she admires most, and industry advice for young entrepreneurs. Her responses follow:
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received is from my mentor Craig Weatherup, who says “head, heart, and hands” are the keys to leadership, referring to the importance of all three: analyzing objective data and facts, leading with passion and purpose, and rolling up your sleeves and being in the trenches with your people.
What would you say to a group of young people looking to enter the tough job market?
Be fearless, scrappy, and opportunistic. Don’t let ego or entitlement prevent you from starting at the bottom, working your way up, and carving your own path. Above all, find people who inspire you and who you can learn from, then work like crazy to not let them (or yourself!) down.
What would you do if you weren’t working at your current job?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
What was your biggest missed opportunity?
There is someone my co-founder Steve [Garrity] and I very nearly hired when Hearsay Social was just a few months old, but in the eleventh hour both sides got cold feet. I have always regretted that this didn’t work out and hope to work with him someday.
What is one startup you would have wanted to found?
Rent the Runway — such a cool company! They rent designer dresses — from big names like Kate Spade New York to Vera Wang — that normally retail for hundreds of dollars at a more affordable price, allowing more women to wear a beautiful, unique dress to very special events.
How do you get your news?
Like a lot of people, I get my news from what friends, colleagues, and people I “follow” share to LinkedIn (LNKD), Facebook (FB), and Twitter.
What do you do for fun?
Yoga, tennis, cardmaking, and letterpress. Downton Abbey marathons. Working at Hearsay Social is pretty fun too!
What has been your biggest failure?
I used to think that if I really put my mind to it and worked really hard, I could do everything better than most people and be totally self-reliant. That’s a flawed mindset, as I quickly discovered the first time I was promoted to manage other people and fully internalized once we started Hearsay Social. True success — every way you define it — is about serving and empowering others, and learning to depend on others.
What business or technology person do you admire most? Why?
My friend and mentor Sheryl Sandberg for what she does every day to lead, help, and inspire others. We still have a long way to go, but the world is a better place, and I am a better person because of her courage and generosity.
What other companies do you admire? Why?
I deeply admire what Aneel Bhusri and Dave Duffield have built at Workday (WDAY) balancing an open and humble culture with incredible drive and business results.