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Deep Dive with Carolyn Everson

April 18, 2024

There’s so much to learn from successful executives like Carolyn Everson, which is why we dive into their career journeys each Friday on The Daily Bolster.

In this episode, Carolyn, a longtime media and sales executive, shared her story, from her early career and the decision to attend business school, to her time at Facebook and experience as a board director at companies like Disney and Coca-Cola. It's a fantastic episode, full of personal and professional growth tips. 

In case you missed it, today we’re sharing some of our key takeaways.

Expect your career to be unpredictable

In retrospect, it can be easy to see the progression of a career, but Carolyn emphasized that hers wasn’t all planned out. Facebook didn’t even exist at the start of her career—working there wasn’t something she set out to do. She put in the effort to grow professionally, but you can’t plan for what you don’t know. The most you can do is take the next right step. 

Looking back, there were times when she moved too quickly. Now, she recommends taking your time before making a major career shift. Do your due diligence to discover exactly what a company is looking for before taking a role—even if it’s a great company and a great role, it may not be right for you. 

Understand when an MBA is beneficial 

Carolyn tries to avoid the expectation that leaders should have an MBA, but there are times when it can be a good idea. 

Business school can be an excellent course of action if you want to dramatically alter your career trajectory. It gives you a two-year deep dive into a variety of industries and can help move you in the right direction, especially if you’re transitioning from something completely different. 

Business school can also help you build a phenomenal network. “It's everything from happy birthday… to people who are looking to raise money for their businesses. They're looking for hiring recommendations. Someone needs help on a health situation. It's just a network that will show up for you, I think, day in and day out.” Carolyn says her network still shows up for her, and it’s one of the things she appreciates most about the experience. 

If you’re on a career track that you love, getting an MBA may not be the right move. There’s so much to learn on the job, and there are plenty of other educational experiences to take advantage of without going back to school.

Hire people who are better than you

Carolyn attributes this lesson to her time at Facebook. Over a limited period of time, there’s only so much you can do to scale yourself as a leader, “but if you surround yourself with people that are better than you and have different expertise, things can start flying,” she says, “especially if you get people aligned around a purpose and a mission.” 

Surround yourself with a personal board of directors

It’s so valuable to have a group of leaders around you who you can turn to for support. These people can provide encouragement, resources, and advice to help you scale as a leader. 

Carolyn credits her informal personal board of directors with bolstering her confidence, pushing her to grow, and advocating for her throughout her career. Leadership doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and having others by your side to build you up is key to long-term success. 

The wisdom Carolyn shared in this episode is a reflection of her successful and storied career journey, and she offered valuable advice for leaders navigating any stage of their career. Listen to the entire episode to hear the rest of the conversation.