Clair Byrd: Never Lose the Desire to Grow, for You, and Your Future

04/01/2015 04:06 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

This is part of the #CareerAdvice series - featuring successful professionals who share their advice to people who would want to take their career to the next level.

In a study by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) of more than 100 teams at 21 companies, they've found out that teams with equal numbers of women and men were more likely (than teams of any other composition) to experiment, be creative, share knowledge and fulfill tasks.

Additional research shows that companies with the highest representation of women in their senior management teams had a 35 percent higher return on equity and a 34 percent higher return to shareholders.

In today's #CareerAdvice, I've had a chance to interview, Clair Byrd,Director of Content Marketing at InVisionApp Inc.

She's one of a kind woman in tech and a remarkable marketing professional who advocates establishing and following smart processes to become successful in your career. She also encourages us to become aware of our personal capabilities and make use of the gaps as a way to learn, as opposed to being hindered by them.


Clair Byrd, Director of Content Marketing at InVisionApp Inc

Can you tell us a bit about how you started your career? What are some of your best moments in your professional life?

I started my career in the kitchen of a restaurant at an upscale bar and grille. It was there I learned the value of consistent, repeatable processes to make people happy and want to come back to you. No one likes a cold, floppy steak when they just had a perfect, juicy one the week before -- so how can I make certain that all my steaks are perfect, and all my customers come back?


Specifically -- well-considered, optimized and repeatable ones. Creating strategic, smart processes has 100 percent contributed to my success and growth as a professional.

Creating repeatable processes is all about asking the right questions and constantly trying to improve your own work. You can't improve if you don't understand your baseline, as well as where you want to go.

Ask yourself questions: "Is this the best way to do this task?

If not, what things might make it the best way, and then, how can ensure I do more of those things?" Use the answers to these questions to build the foundational elements of your own work processes.

My best moments in my career thus far have not been when I helped a brand grow to its first 500k users, or when my company went cash flow positive (though those were nice, too).

The best moments for me were when I made a significant impact on the community of people I was serving -- when I was able to meet a previously unmet need in my user base.

Not only does it feel nice to have made someone happy; the users which I've served through those actions became lifelong activists on my (and my company's) behalf.

If you could advise your 20-year-old-self today, what would tell her?

Be more confident, sooner. So many of my ideas were pushed by the wayside when I was younger due to my "inexperience" or "youth." Eff that.

"If the idea is good, the idea is good, whether it is coming from an intern or the CEO."

But, with that in mind, learn to make compelling arguments for those ideas, sooner. Find the right data to prove your point and present you idea and supporting proof in a respectful, open manner. Refine and defend your ideas, but be open to being proved wrong.

Managing or overcoming opposition confidently and gracefully is one of the most valuable skills a young professional can have in their toolkit.

Grace is an often undervalued professional skill -- but keeping your head when under pressure will help you to make better arguments. It also shows maturity and implicit respect for your colleagues, which helps you maintain strong interpersonal relationships when disagreements do happen.

What has been the most valuable advice you've ever gotten when you were facing challenges in your career?

I am immediately reminded of this video.

We are not good at everything.

Sometimes, we just need to accept that we are shitty at certain parts of professional life -- and there is no shame in that admission.

By accepting this fact sooner, you are free to work on the things you are actually good at... and let's be real here. Pretty much no one actually likes doing stuff they are bad at in their job. It makes you feel uncomfortable in your role and makes you question your ability as a professional.

The best career advice I've ever gotten was to truthfully (and with much pain and suffering) accept my own skill set. I am admittedly terrible at setting (and remembering) appointment details.

I'm bad at public speaking. I am spectacularly bad at being functional during early morning conference calls. But, even though I've accepted that I'm spectacularly bad at certain things, that doesn't mean I've accepted that I will always be bad at them.

I've used process to force myself into making sure I don't stand people up for meetings. I've learned to be a passable public speaker after having hosted a monthly speaker series. I'm still working on the early mornings, but my point is that understanding your own gaps allows you to grow as a professional, not be hindered by them.

This quote by David Wong sums it up pretty well.

"But I'm not good at anything!"

Well, I have good news -- throw enough hours of repetition at it and you can get sort of good at anything.

I was the world's shittiest writer when I was an infant. I was only slightly better at 25. But while I was failing miserably at my career, I wrote in my spare time for eight straight years, an article a week, before I ever made real money off it. It took 13 years for me to get good enough to make the New York Times best-seller list.

It took me probably 20,000 hours of practice to sand the edges off my sucking.

Never lose the desire to grow yourself, for you and for your future.

What would you advise the millennial just starting with their career or aiming to take their careers to the next level?

Reach high. Don't think you quite match the requirements in a job description? Apply.

Have too few years experience? Apply.

Aren't 100 percent certain you can hack it at that role? Apply anyway!

This kind of moxy shows ambition and a desire to learn. It shows me, as a hiring manager, that you are willing to go out on a limb, be bold, take risks and try. I look for these qualities in every hire I make, before what college you graduated from or where you had your first internship.

There are obvious qualifiers to this, as it's very rare for a fresh college grad or greenwood employee to end up a VP as their first job.

You will have to be able to prove your skill for any claim you make to get hired, which goes along with that "honesty about your own skill set" thing. And there are, of course, foundational business skills you will need to learn to be marketable.

But, you are capable of great things! The very culture in which you grew up has shaped you in a way that no other generation intrinsically understands -- and guess what? Millennials are the biggest growing buying power in the world. Your knowledge of this, alone, is incredibly valuable, and that knowledge is important to the companies which will be serving this demographic in the very near future.

If I had to sum up my entire work philosophy into one sentence, it would read simply "be honest about yourself, with yourself (and others)."

Keep integrity high on your list of personal values. Never lie about your abilities and achievements, but also don't shortchange your own talent needlessly.

Learn more from Clair by connecting with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Enjoyed this? Watch out for the next #CareerAdvice series or share your own. If you know any inspiring woman in tech that needs to be featured, connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.