Monday, September 20, 2010

PBWC: Lunch Session with Safra Catz

One of the coolest things about this year's Professional Business Women of California conference was getting to hear Safra Catz, co-president of Oracle, give the luncheon keynote. As a recent Oracle employee, it was great to hear one of our fearless leaders speak so candidly to business women.

Catz didn't shy away from making comments about the Sun acquisition from the get go, when she introduced Oracle as a "30 year old software, well, now hardware, company". She went on to note, when it came to acquisitions, "I feel like Larry Ellison's personal shopper and I'm exhausted" and that she was very happy that Oracle was able to get Sun before anyone else did.

Catz shared her top ten list of things she wished someone had told her about earlier in her career:
  1. You can never be #1 by chasing #1. What is #2? The first loser. Aim to be best and be willing to work outside of the box to achieve it.
  2. Scale matters - the more customers you have the more you can spread your cost, but scale is different than size.
  3. Focus on what your real business is. Bigger is not better and you shouldn't expand and acquire things just for the sake of "growth" - target only areas that make sense for your business.
  4. If it doesn't make sense... it doesn't make sense! She prefers an acronym free zone and people that speak plainly and question things that don't make sense.
  5. Don't stand still. Making a few mistakes is better than making no decisions at all.
  6. Don't stand still, but don't chase fashion. Stick to your core.
  7. If you don't ask, you don't get. The only way to be certain that the answer will be "no" is to not ask at all.
  8. Just because everything can be put online doesn't mean it should be.
  9. Integrity is a perishable asset. You can recover from being stupid, but not from lying.
  10. The difference between having long term success or not is knowing you didn't do it alone.
Hearing Catz speak gave me a great insight into my new corporate home, and I'll try to keep her lessons in mind. Is there anything you'd add to this list? Things you wish people had told you sooner? (or, things people had told you but you really wished you'd listened to them?)

Something I continue to remind myself: try not to hold a person's past mistakes against them, and certainly don't hold your bad mood against them, either! What else?