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Julie Zhuo: “How to be Strategic”
The NFX Team ·@NFX
Aug 2020

This essay is part of The Founder List by NFX, audible essays from the most prolific leaders in technology, selected by the Founder community.

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Text Version

So you might have heard that the more you progress in your career, the more “strategic” you should aim to be. WTF does that mean?

Here is what I used to think “being strategic” meant:

  • Setting metric goals.
  • “Thinking outside the box” to come up with new ideas.
  • Working harder and motivating others to work harder.
  • Writing long docs.
  • Creating frameworks.
  • Drawing graphs on a whiteboard

As a result, I tried to do as many of the above as I could. I brainstormed! I wrote epic, sweeping docs! I familiarized myself with the language of KPIs and measurements. *check, check, check* went the boxes. See how well I was strategizing?

Unfortunately, as it turns out, I was doing the equivalent of strumming a guitar and assuming I was making music. The core problem was that I didn’t really understand what strategy was. Nobody had ever explained it to me. I figured “being strategic” was just engaging in high-level product discussions.

If you find yourself in the same boat, this note is for you.

You can read the full essay here.

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