When you need some sage career advice, there are few better to turn to than Jennifer Fleiss, CEO and co-founder of Jetblack, the members-only personal shopping and concierge service that combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant.
Fleiss is the co-founder of Rent the Runway, the business that has transformed the retail industry by making designer clothing rentals a convenient and accessible luxury experience for millions of women. She’s also co-founder of the RTR Foundation; a proud advisor to several female-founded startups; serves on the advisory board of the HBS Startup Studio; and is a guest lecturer at Yale, Princeton, New York University, Columbia and Harvard Business School.
Given her retail rockstar status, we asked Fleiss to share some of her best advice with you. Here are her thoughts; try not to be inspired!
Best advice: Go for it! Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, and surround yourself with people who make you better.
Best advice for people with a very busy schedule: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Keep things in perspective when things get stressful. I’ve also found the importance of establishing a shared partnership in both childcare and work with my spouse from early on.
Actionable advice on how women can get going on a goal: Set a timeline and hold yourself accountable. Having a partner (co-founder or investor) is also a great motivator. I always recommend finding a way to test out a concept as soon as possible as it’s a great way to ensure both that consumers will find value in your business and also that you enjoy working on it.
Best advice for turning an idea into a major force: Let the customer lead the way. Confidence is king. Don’t be intimidated by the tasks ahead, plow forward with gusto. No doesn’t mean no, it means not right now. Stay determined and optimistic despite the bumpy road of entrepreneurship.
Worst advice Jenny’s never taken: Build a resume. I think if you just do your career based on building your resume then you don’t actually get into roles that you’re passionate about. I was told to go into consulting and banking solely to build my resume instead of pursuing entrepreneurship. I don’t think careers work that way anymore. They’re like a jungle gyms these days — you can go from one place to the next, you can try one industry and then flip to another. I personally look for experience across industries and roles when recruiting prospective employees. It makes people dynamic and able to innovate in different industries. That’s how I think I’ve been able to add value entering new industries — it’s my perspective coming from different industries in the first place.