Let’s start with Yahoo! Developed in 1994 by two electrical engineering PhD candidates at Stanford (David Filo and Jerry Yang), it was originally called “David’s and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Not very catchy, so they came up with “Yahoo!” – easily remembered and, more importantly, they identified with the definition of a yahoo: “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth” (for data junkies like me, also the name of repulsive beings created by Jonathan Swift for his book Gulliver’s Travels).
The Yahoo name became an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle,” eventually acquiring the interpretation “You Always Have Other Options” as well. To quote former Yahoo! employee Ellen Simonoff, “People worked hard and ran fast because they realized they always had to stay ahead of the competition, … In those days, you couldn’t get your clothes on fast enough to get to work. And you couldn’t find a spot in the employee parking lot on Saturdays.”
Now, on to the Pareto Principle – also known as the 80–20 rule. Simply stated, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Once again, to satisfy the incurably curious among us (OK, me!), this rule came from business management consultant Joseph M. Juran, naming it after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Pareto developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.
Now, to put these two diverse topics together. In their excellent book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, authors Citrin and Smith invoke what they call the “20/80 Principle of Performance.” In order to distinguish yourself, move beyond your assigned tasks (80%) to impact the organization at extraordinary levels (20%). Invest time going beyond your job description to grow as an individual and an employee.
When you do so, you continue to add value to your organization, enhance your professional development and create situations where you are able to contribute in new and significant ways.
And, if for any reason you and your organization decide to part ways in the future, “You Always Have Other Options.”
Well, DO you?!
The article, “Yahoo!, The Pareto Principle and the Careerist,” by Barry L. Davis, originally appeared in MCDA’s newsletter, Wellspring, at http://www.MDCareers.org. Copyright © March, 2013.