Human Resources

C-suite career advice: David Setzer, Mailprotector

David Setzer

  Company: Mailprotector

  Job Title:  CEO and Founder

  Location: Greenville, South Carolina


What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? 

At 16 years of age I thought it would be a great idea to get my ear pierced. On returning from a business trip, my father graciously told me the way to express myself in the business world was not with an ear piercing, and that, like it or not, I would be quickly judged on my appearance. While this may be a little less true today, and there are always the Mark Zuckerbergs that can wear hoodies, for the most part first impressions are very important. Don’t handicap yourself if you don’t have to.

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? 

Buy property while you still can (that was back in in 2007).

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the tech industry?

Listen before you speak, and I mean listen carefully, closely, and for a long time. Understand before seeking to be understood. Today’s newly minted candidates have grown up in a world of plentiful platforms to broadcast their opinions, valuable or not. Humble yourself first to listen and learn. Please, pay attention to the details – they really do matter. Work hard. Don’t give up until the job’s done – sometimes your best just isn’t good enough so keep working until it is. 

Oh, and don’t be a tech groupie. It may have been cool in college but not here. Tech is a tool, a tool to make people’s lives better. Keep that fundamental principle in focus at all times. Don’t get enamored of technology for technology's sake. Also remember that what works for you may not for someone else, which doesn’t make one application, platform, protocol, and so on right or wrong. Windows/Mac, iOS/Android, Cloud, it all works in some way.  

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? 

Don't look for someone to feed you the right questions, the right direction, or the right framework. Figure out how to figure things out. Figuring out the right questions to ask is the hardest part of solving a problem. You have to know what’s important, what’s not, and also know what you don’t know.

Are you particularly proud of any career advice that you’ve given or the career route/development of anyone you’ve mentored? 

No. Pride can be a dangerous thing. I look to synthesise the wisdom from others and from my own mistakes and help specifically apply that to those I mentor.


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