C-suite career advice: Jeff Ready, Scale Computing

What tips would the c-suite give to the next generation?

We ask industry leading C-suite professionals for their expert career advice...

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Name: Jeff Ready

Company: Scale Computing

Job Title: CEO and Co-Founder

Location: Indianapolis, US


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received?
I really value the works of Peter Drucker and Professor Jeff Timmons, both of whom are visionaries in entrepreneurship. There is one quote that I always remember and stand by, “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” This is advice I would pass on to any entrepreneur.  I also really value the advice I’ve received from one of my own past professors, Dr Tom Mason. He was big on understanding the difference between “radical innovation” and “incremental innovation.” The world of the startup is where radical innovation happens, and that’s where I’m happiest.  

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received?
A major investor at one of my past companies advised that we should focus on what was working today, and not worry about the future vision. Following that line of thinking, even for just a short period, nearly killed the company.  

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?
My advice to anyone starting out in the technology industry would be to throw yourself into every new opportunity you can. I like to say “You won’t learn to shoot a basketball by reading books,” and what I mean is that the way to learn is to get out there and do it. I’ve seen great people from all kinds of “non tech” backgrounds succeed in tech, once they dove in.  And when in doubt, ask for help.  There are lots of people out there who have been in the same position before.  

You should also look for a company, product, and role you are passionate about. It can be tempting to jump into the first job opportunity which presents itself, but if you are motivated and inspired by the company you work for, this will go a long way in helping you to build your career.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position?
I started my own company which is a route you can take if you are aiming for a c-level position. However, being an entrepreneur is a life style change, so make you sure are prepared for and are passionate about it. 

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored?
I have always had a desire to create and build new businesses and since leaving University I have tried to pass this on to others. Whether this is speaking to new college students or my colleagues.   The number one thing I suggest is to just get started. Call some potential customers, even if you don’t have a product to sell yet.  Tell the world about what you are doing or are going to do. Stop thinking about it, and start doing.

This may seem counterproductive, encouraging employees to start their own companies, and sometimes they do. When that happens, or when someone who saw me speak on entrepreneurship tells me later that they did start a company, I take a lot of pride in that. Entrepreneurship and innovation makes the world a better place and drives us forward.  I’m happy anytime I get play a small part in furthering that cause.