Kathryn Minshew and the New Rules of Work

By Barry Eitel

“What do I want to do with my life?” might be the quintessential question for the millennial generation. Whether this is a positive or negative position is a subject commentators having been spilling pixels about for years now and a semi-manufactured “controversy” that may never be resolved.

For those fighting for the future, though, the question is essential. It is a guiding principal for Kathryn Minshew, the founder and chief executive of The Muse. The Muse is a “career discovery platform” that has helped more than 15 million people answer that sticky question “What do I want to do with my life?”

By finding the ultimate disruption for the school guidance counselor industry, Minshew has developed quite a following. She has appeared on Fast Company, CNN and PBS and has been named to INC’s 15 Women to Watch in Tech and Forbes’ 30 under 30 in Media. As a speaker, she has given addresses at MIT and Harvard, the Y Combinator Female Founders Conference and the Lean Startup Conference.

Her latest book, “The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career,” with The Muse co-founder Alexandra Cavoulacos, instructs readers on how to rule over the evolving workforce.

At DMA’s Email Evolution Conference this May in New Orleans, Minshew will reveal plenty of pearls of wisdom. Across the industry, people look to her for productivity and communication advice.

In an interview with LifeHacker, she listed a whole series of productivity hacks she uses to stay on top of everything. According to Minshew, the best advice she ever received was about persistence.

“Someone once told me, ‘No doesn’t mean no; it means wait and try again,’” she said. “I think a perspective like that is critical in entrepreneurship because you hear ‘no’ hundreds of times per day in the beginning. But ultimately, that can be your biggest opportunity: Many of our most passionate backers at The Muse are people who told us no, in various ways, in the early days, and then came around.”

Another fixation of 21st-century life is the idea of “having at all” – a concept that Minshew isn’t sold on, according to an interview last year in New York Magazine.

“I kind of hate the phrase ‘having it all,’ but I think you can have … You can have a lot,” she mused. “Not everything. But a lot. And so part of being able to do that is making the choices upfront about which of the pieces of the pie are the most important to you right now. There are other times in my life when it’ll be very important to me to work a lot less and to find a way to do that. But right now my husband is also an entrepreneur who is also scaling an early-stage business and so we are able to make it work.”

“A good friend of mine in the industry once said that if you aren’t a little bit nervous, then you aren’t pushing hard enough,” she continued on the subject of having it all. “I think that that may not actually be true for, say, the family side of the equation, but I think on the professional side, if you aren’t a little bit stressed or a little bit nervous, are you challenging yourself to the extent that you should be?”

Minshew is giving her keynote address at Email Evolution at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 2.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Email Evolution Conference, May 1-3, 2017, in New Orleans.