Don’t hire a copycat of yourself

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After leaving the relative security of fourteen years with Microsoft, Diane Janknegt took a leap into the unknown with the help of her favorite caffeinated beverage. “I drank a lot of coffee with a lot of people,” she said in her opening keynote at the Society of Women Engineers WE Europe Conference in Amsterdam.

WizeNoze founder Diane Janknegt delivers her keynote speech at the Society of Women Engineers WE Europe Conference.
WizeNoze founder Diane Janknegt delivers her keynote speech at the Society of Women Engineers WE Europe Conference.

Janknegt reached out to people she admired and invited them for coffee, asking questions like “What inspires you?” and “What do you like about your work?” It was through these conversations that she discovered her own passion for entrepreneurship. She went on to found WizeNoze, a search engine that makes the internet better for children by helping them access age-appropriate content.

So what is Janknegt’s advice for aspiring leaders?

“Don’t be afraid to hire people who are much, much smarter than you are,” she says. And make sure to find people whose skills complement your own. “Don’t hire a copycat of yourself. Look for people whose skills are the opposite of yours.”

It’s not enough just to focus on your strengths, either. “Dare to emphasize your weaknesses,” was Janknegt’s advice to her audience.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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