Jan. 17 2019
You have big career goals, and whether they involve climbing the corporate ladder, making a drastic career change, or starting your own business, there are certain skills that can help you get there faster. LinkedIn Learning provides easy-to-follow video courses that teach you the skills you need to reach your professional goals and stand out to potential employers, sans having to do hours of research (hello, Google rabbit hole). Thinking of turning your passion for photography into a side hustle? There’s a class for that. Looking to jump into writing, but want to fine-tune your skills before making the leap? There’s a class for that too. And hey, your newfound talents may even impress your boss enough to get you that raise you deserve. Since here at The Newsette we believe that the right skillset can help your resume stand out from the crowd, this month we’re partnering with LinkedIn Learning to bring you four inspiring women who have used skills taught on the platform to land the jobs of their dreams.
Today, Stephanie Mark, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the cult-favorite luxury fashion site Coveteur, is using her experience in starting a successful company to answer our pressing questions about what makes an effective team member. Because whether you run your own startup or want to become the shining star of your company, increasing your self-awareness and becoming a reliable, collaborative member of the team is vital to getting ahead. Steph has used these skills to lead a team of creatives that, since 2011, has showcased the closets of and interviewed incredibly influential women like Karlie Kloss, Meghan Markle, Bobbi Brown, and Oprah (yes, Oprah). Below, this trailblazer breaks down the traits she looks for when hiring, the resources she relied on when starting the company, and why collaboration is key to Coveteur’s success. Bonus: This month, LinkedIn Learning is unlocking this course on becoming an effective team member so you can learn for free.
Since it’s still rare for someone so young to scale a company, it can be difficult to find resources about how to do so–which is what makes LinkedIn Learning’s courses so valuable to startup founders. When you were scaling Coveteur, what resources did you rely on to navigate the process?
Since Coveteur was my first business, I relied on a combination of things to navigate scaling up the business. The first was gut instinct- If you feel like a certain hire or going in a certain direction is the right move, it usually is.The second thing that I relied on was looking at what areas of the company needed attention the most at that time. For us, getting someone into a sales position early on to generate more revenue was critical. The revenue would not only allow us to keep our doors open, but would let us hire in other areas that needed scaling as well. The last thing that I relied on was the advice of other founders. Leaning on people in similar positions or who have been in similar circumstances is really valuable. You will also be very surprised at how willing other founders are at giving their time and advice. Coveteur was lucky enough to have some great advice from the owners of businesses such as Refinery29 and WhoWhatWear early on as well as the ability to talk to other people who were newer in the space at the time just like we were.
Have you ever had a case where a team member who didn’t have as much experience as others ended up being one of the most valuable collaborators at Coveteur? If so, do you think having certain professional traits (such as self-awareness, reliability, etc.) can outweigh experience?
One of the main reasons I started my own business is because I was extremely frustrated when my ideas and opinions would not being taken seriously at companies I had previously worked at because I was junior. That experience taught me that good ideas and the ability to be a good collaborator doesn’t only come from age and experience but from being innovative, a team player, reliable and dedicated to the company you work for. At Coveteur we rely heavily on young talent to come up with new and exciting ideas and to have a really strong ear to the ground.
In LinkedIn’s class “Being an Effective Team Member,” you can learn the qualities that make a person invaluable on a team. In your opinion, what three traits make someone an outstanding team member at Coveteur?
In my opinion, three traits that make someone an outstanding team member at Coveteur are having strong execution and reliability, being a team player, and having a good attitude.
As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest keys to success is having an all-star team. In your opinion, is having someone who is a good team player or someone who likes to take control more useful to you as a business owner?
Taking control and being a team player have to go hand-in-hand to be an all-star. As an entrepreneur there is nothing that brings me more joy or alleviates anxiety like having someone come in and really run with an area of the business. To the same end, nothing makes me more anxious or upset when that person doesn’t communicate their ideas and lean on other members of the team for execution. By not being a team player you end up negating all of your hard work and ideas because people end up becoming frustrated at your lack of communication and don’t focus on all the good you are doing.
When you started to grow your team, how did your day-to-day duties change? Did your schedule become more streamlined?
As our team grows I always move onto what area needs attention. When we moved to New York we scaled up our sales team but that meant me spending a ton of time with them immersing them in the brand and also being available for any help they needed. My focus day-to-day changes based on the needs of the business. And while my schedule never really streamlines and is always hectic, I try to schedule set time in the office and set times for being out and taking meetings to cut my running around town to a minimum.
In any company, it’s crucial to hire great employees. Do you have any specific questions you ask during interviews that help you discern what kind of team member they will be?
I always like to find out what types of group projects the candidate has worked on in the past. If they are just out of school that could be anything from working at the paper to being an RA- I am just looking for things that show that they can work collaboratively and well with others.
In the beginning, founders typically wear several professional hats. Was it a huge relief when you began to hire others to take some of those roles off of your plate? Or was it hard to trust team members with jobs you originally did yourself?
Before we hired people to take on some of our initial roles all I wished for was not to do everything myself. Fast forward when our company grew and I was freaking out because I wasn’t doing everything myself! It was definitely a huge adjustment for me. I had to find new purpose and ares to focus on since everything wasn’t dependent on getting my sign off. That being said, we have a flawless team who has proven they are more than capable. That has lead me to now being very confident that whatever I pass over to them they will execute flawlessly- sometimes better than I could!
Nowadays, team members often collaborate on several projects that might go beyond their job description. At Coveteur, do you encourage workplace collaboration between departments?
YES! Collaboration between departments is KEY to the success of Coveteur. Our editorial and sales teams work very closely since it is the sellers that sell to our clients but our editors are the ones actually writing the content for the clients. Sales and editorial also share resources like production and design so it is crucial everyone is always communicating and making sure resources are allocated fairly. We all sit in one big room and it is always a big open dialogue.
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