Startup Advice From A Google Exec

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David Kirschner

David Kirschner

David Kirschner was the Head of Analytical Leads for Americas West at Google and VP of Data and Analytics at Zoosk - now a Principal at his own analytics solutions company focusing on MarTech and AdTech.

Tinystartups is a new brand that helps ex-FAANG employees build their startups from zero to one. The aim is to help people that left Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon and others in the same Fortune category. Sometimes questions are asked to me on what are the mental mindsets needed to make the change from corporate to your own brand, so I reached out to David that made that transition.


What made you want to start something of your own?


I always had an entrepreneurial streak, but needed some financial stability before embarking on my own consulting firm. Largely, it grew out of a rebellion against the ‘small talk’ culture that goes on in all large companies. I could never post on LinkedIn that “I’m so excited to announce the new software release of <whatever>” because I’m not. That isn’t what excites me. I like to solve problems, help clients and mentor other businesspeople, not hype something in which I’m not emotionally invested. One Googler told me “You’re too honest to work for Google” which is one of the highest compliments I’ve been paid. 


What was the biggest challenge transitioning from the office to your own brand?


Two things – self-discipline and self-confidence. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re a sole proprietor and at first, I allowed that to happen. Over time, I settled into a tenable home/life balance, which is challenging when your entire life is at home. Self-confidence came later – Google talks alot about the “imposter syndrome” where you feel inadequate to your peers, and that carried over when I was launching my business. But with success comes confidence and success can take many forms – feedback, funding, press, etc. Being able to parlay that into a narrative about your brand and its ability to assist potential customers is an important part of demonstrating your self-confidence to the outside world. 


What was the biggest advantage you would say you had?


Without a doubt it was the training in EI (Emotional Intelligence) that began at Adobe and continued at Google. I’ve always been an able but unwilling leader and that’s an odd dichotomy that required a much higher EI quotient than I possessed. That type of training allowed me to step back and look at my actions and how they impacted others. It made me more aware of the differences between personality archetypes and how those differences manifest at the office. And, it proved what I always had believed: that an empathetic manager who pushes their staff to over-achieve is often beloved by their staff without trying to be loved at all. 


What would you say to the other tech employees in FAANG who want to build their own brand but are too scared?


I’ve been lucky to have some incredible mentors, one of whom gave me the best bit of advice which is: When faced with a challenge ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” It’s so simple but true. We throw obstacles up in the forms of doubt and fear that are completely counterproductive to accomplishing goals. Once those barriers crumble, it’s so much easier to focus on the task at-hand and move forward with confidence. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much weight your affiliation with one of the FAANG companies carries and how that can be monetized and lead to greater opportunities than those without half-trillion-dollar market cap former employers. 


To the FAANG employees wanting to build their own startups, would you recommend me to help in their startups?


Totally — Erick provides a broad array of skills helpful to small businesses. He made some excellent suggestions about how to position my business. He is passionate about helping others and building a compelling vision for startups. Erick has a unique perspective; some of his feedback challenged my held beliefs and caused me to reconsider design and copy choices for which I am grateful. 

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Startup Advice From A Google Exec

Tinystartups is a new brand that helps ex-FAANG employees build their startups from zero to one. The aim is to help people that left Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon and others in the same Fortune category.

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