Julie Zhuo: “How to be Strategic”

By Julie Zhuo (@joulee), co-founder at Inspirit, author of The Making of a Manager, & former VP of Product Design at Facebook.

Julie Zhuo NFX


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


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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