Slava Rubin on How to Have a Better Career Advice Conversation

In Chapter 8 of 15 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, Indiegogo CEO Slava Rubin answers "How Have You Learned to Give Better Advice When People Ask You For Help?" Rubin shares how as he has gotten older, he is less prescriptive in giving advice and more investigative. By helping those he coaches and mentors work through key issues and questions, Rubin creates ownership and accountability they can then use to follow through. Slava Rubin is CEO and co-founder of Indiegogo, the world's largest crowdfunding platform. Indiegogo empowers anyone, anywhere, anytime to raise funds for any idea—creative, cause-related or entrepreneurial. Prior to Indiegogo, Rubin worked as a management consultant. He earned his BSE degree from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


Erik Michielsen: How have you learned to give better advice when people ask you for help?

Slava Rubin: I think when I was younger, my advice would usually be about giving a specific answer and telling them what they should do because they weren’t clear on what they should do and they just needed somebody to tell them.

Which I think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned from some of my mentors that good advice is not telling somebody what to do but is asking all the right questions and providing the experiences, so you can help guide their expectations as to where the decision might take them. So these days I really wanna pull out the facts where they get to understand the situation, help them understand themselves, and help them, guide them to their own answer as opposed to telling them the right answer or the wrong answer.

Erik Michielsen: Can you tell me a bit more about how one of the mentorship experiences taught you that? An example?

Slava Rubin: Yeah, I mean even with Indiegogo in the early days, sometimes I would ask for one of my mentors, sometimes even looking for the answer for him to tell me but he was like, you know, “This is not my company to run. It’s your company to run. So I’m just gonna help guide you with some of my experiences and thoughts, and then you gotta make the decision and feel accountable to it.”

Erik Michielsen: How are your mentoring relationships changing as you gain experience and have new responsibilities?

Slava Rubin: I mean it’s great. As CEO of Indiegogo, I’m definitely getting more people I get to mentor people that wanna be entrepreneurs, I try to mentor them, whether it’s officially or just a one-off conversation or email, but the mentors that I have are super valuable because I’m constantly getting myself into a situation that I’ve never been in before and I wanna have some people’s feedback as to what they think about it. It’s never about “Are you older than me, or younger than me, or smarter than me?” Rather, “Do you have experience that I can learn from?” So that’s really what I look for.