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You’ve invested in your education and building a career – finding the right company and negotiating the right offer to capitalize on this investment can be a challenge, but foundational in building a healthy financial future. Learn how to maximize the return on your most important investment, you.

Physician, Heal Thy Balance Sheet

So it turns out there’s a good reason your mother wanted you to be a doctor. As a group, no other profession generates higher average annual income than physicians. In fact, U.S. government data shows that various medical specialties account for the nine highest-paying occupations in the country – anesthesiologists and surgeon rank #1 and #2, respectively, with oral surgeons close behind. (CEOs, by the way, rank #10.) Just five job categories in the government survey sport annual salaries north of $200,000 a year – and all of them require medical degrees. See, mother knows best. The catch, of course, is that it takes a long time for doctors to reach six-figure annual earnings power. Four years of college, four […]

How Do You Recognize a Sinking Ship?

Kenny Rogers probably didn’t realize his now famous lyrics “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.” was also outstanding career advice. All too often people stay too long on a sinking ship, a company headed toward failure, which can have a huge opportunity cost. Few hiring managers you subsequently encounter will give you credit for staying until the end; rather you’ll likely be viewed as having bad judgment for having done so. You need to understand the early warning signs of failure so you can move on to a new company before it is too late. By the way, the high failure rate of startups is one of the reasons I recommend that people […]

How New College Grads Should Approach Stock Compensation

Over the past two years we have written numerous posts to help you evaluate job offers that include stock options or Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). We assumed in all our posts that job seekers were evaluating offers from companies at a similar level of maturity. For many new graduates, however, the comparison gets more complex if you aren’t sure whether you want to join a very mature company like Google or an earlier stage company like one of our recommended mid-sized companies with momentum. The purpose of this post is to help make that task much simpler. The Mechanics of Stock Options Let’s start with the basics of stock compensation. A stock option gives you the right to buy common […]

Optimizing Your MBA Financial Plan

In our recent post, “Should You Get an MBA,” we reviewed the main funding sources available to pay for a degree. With this post we present some ideas for you to optimize your finances after you have made the decision to get an MBA. There is no question that getting your MBA is an expensive proposition. You may have to forgo two years of salary, write large tuition checks, take on student loans, and incur significant expenses for job hunting and extracurricular activities. Fortunately there are some things you can do while in school (and just after) that can significantly reduce the overall cost of your MBA. The primary way to lower the cost of your MBA is to consider […]

Steve Blank on “Should I Get an MBA?”

Editor’s Note: I came across this post by Silicon Valley veteran entrepreneur, noted author and lecturer Steve Blank while updating last week’s post on the same subject. It offers perspectives that will resonate with many among our readership who might be considering an MBA. This post originally appeared on The Wall Street Journal’s Accelerators blog on April 1, 2013 where Steve has been a regular contributor; the post has been published here with the permission of the author. -Davis   I usually hear the “Should I get my MBA?” question at least once a month. If you’re an entrepreneur, the glib answer is “no.” It’s also the wrong answer. A while back I had coffee with a former engineering student […]

Should You Get an MBA?

If you’re considering an MBA, you face two separate but related questions: ‘Is the degree worth it?’ And, ‘How will I actually pay for it?’ They are important questions because so many people consider pursuing an MBA to advance their careers. But an MBA isn’t an automatic ticket to success, and it carries a high price. This post, the first of a two-part series, is an update of one we published two years ago. It covers some of the basics for those considering the pursuit of an MBA, including how to decide whether the degree is worthwhile given your personal situation, the range of costs you’ll likely incur and the resources available to pay for a degree. In our upcoming […]

106 Career-Launching Technology Companies

Each year we publish a list of rapidly growing mid-sized private technology companies. In our opinion, these companies are the ideal places for young people to start their careers. Our logic: Nothing early in your career is more important than achieving success — and nothing signals success more than working for a successful company (for a complete explanation of this logic please see  48 Hot Tech Companies To Build A Career). To qualify for our career-launching list a company must have revenues between $20 million and $300 million and be on a trajectory to grow at a rate in excess of 50% over at least the next three years. We built our list by surveying the partners of the following […]

How to Trade Salary for Equity

These days it’s more important than ever to maximize the financial value you extract from your job. In You Need Equity To Live In Silicon Valley we made the case that it’s very hard for a Silicon Valley based couple who earns $250,000 per year to afford to buy a home and put their kids through college without generating wealth from an equity stake in a private company. We have written numerous posts to help you identify the kind of employer that is most likely to help you achieve your goals (peruse the Careers section of our blog to see them). This post focuses on how you might think about trading off some salary for additional equity, something we are […]

Why Employee Stock Options are More Valuable than Exchange-Traded Stock Options

A few years ago, as I was delivering a job offer to a candidate at my previous employer (LinkedIn), I received a question that surprised me. The candidate, smart and financially savvy, had come through the interview process convinced that LinkedIn had tremendous upside as a company, but he still wasn’t sure my offer was appropriate. He had already asked the key questions necessary to evaluate his offer — including those previously covered in the 14 Crucial Questions About Stock Options — but now he had one I had not encountered before: “By coming to LinkedIn and taking these stock options, I’m betting a lot of my compensation on the stock going up. Why can’t I just buy LinkedIn options […]

The Impact of Dilution

Most people don’t realize that the percentage of the company they are initially awarded when they start a new job is not  what they will ultimately own. That’s because private companies tend to raise additional capital as they mature and the ownership associated with the additional capital dilutes your ownership. Your ultimate ownership depends greatly on the maturity of your employer at the time of your offer and the rate at which it grows. Before I show the impact of future financings on your ownership I need to explain how a successful company trades ownership for financing. Dilution from Financing These days a very successful company may need four or five rounds of financing before it has the opportunity to […]