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Powered by the leader in note-taking and productivity, Taking Note dives into the realms of personal and professional achievement, entrepreneurship, and creative thinking. We interview experts and visionaries, uncovering great ideas and best practices to help you organize your work and declutter your life.

Aug 22, 2017

Jess Lee is currently a Partner at Sequoia Capital, and was the Co-Founder & CEO of Polyvore until 2016. Jess first began her career as a project manager at Google where she learned some important lessons about company culture.
Jess made use of those lessons at Polyvore, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2015. Although she was inexperienced as a CEO at the time, she took the challenge in stride and surrounded herself with amazing talent to help grow the company.
In this episode, Jess discusses what she learned at Google, how it helped her career at Polyvore, why some companies are unable to cultivate good company culture, and why women in the tech industry are still struggling to get ahead. She also shares her methods for staying grounded and organized throughout her day.
  • [1:20] What does Jess’s work week typically look like?
  • [2:00] What motivates Jess?
  • [2:30] How did Jess end up working for Google?
  • [4:00] What is Polyvore?
  • [6:10] What skills from her time at Google did Jess bring to Polyvore?
  • [6:50] When Jess first joined Polyvore, there were only 4 people on the team. Over time, they grew to 125 people.
  • [7:20] What kind of important leadership lessons did Jess learn as Polyvore was growing?
  • [8:00] It took Jess a while to figure out what her leadership style was and how to lead authentically.
  • [9:35] If you’re not an experienced CEO, surround yourself with awesome and inspiring people, to help you fill in the gaps.
  • [10:20] As an introvert, how does Jess survive in an extrovert-dominated environment?
  • [11:55] What is Jess most proud of from her time at Polyvore?
  • [12:55] Jess is now in venture capital, why the shift?
  • [14:20] How does Jess help entrepreneurs save time?
  • [14:55] What areas of innovation have Jess’s attention right now?
  • [16:55] What are some of the biggest roadblocks to companies trying to innovate?
  • [18:30] How can companies welcome innovation when they start to get larger than life?
  • [20:00] When does an entrepreneur know they have a ‘good’ idea?
  • [20:40] About to start your first company? Build something useful, and delightful! Also remember, good companies take a while to grow. Polyvore was an 8.5 year journey.
  • [22:25] Why is it still difficult for women to get ahead in the tech industry?
  • [24:55] How can we fix toxic culture?
  • [26:45] How does culture impact innovation and creativity?
  • [28:45] From a VC standpoint, what does Jess look for in a company?
  • [30:25] Empathy is important in business. You need to be able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.
  • [33:50] What is Jess’s daily routine?
  • [36:10] How does Jess manage information overload?
  • [36:40] Fun fact: Jess is a huge fan of comics and anime!
  • [38:25] What’s next for Jess?