3 Lessons that Skullcandy’s CEO Taught Me about Starting Your Career Strong

As the leader of a global brand, “at the intersection of sport, music, youth culture, art, film and fashion,” Skullcandy competes against big players like Apple, Bose, Sony, and many more. The audio marketplace is tough and it is heavily dependent on trends and emerging technologies. These can change overnight. This level of competition teaches you a great deal about what it takes to survive and thrive.

A few months ago, I conducted podcast interview with Skullcandy’s President and CEO Jason Hodell, Jason provided his thoughts on everything from choosing your first job to running a global business in a highly competitive industry.

I’ve picked three important takeaways from his podcast visit to share with you. Each is designed to help you to start your career strong.

1. There is a lot of genius in starting at a big company

Jason recommends that, whenever possible, you should start your career at a large company.


Larger organizations offer many paths to grow and develop. They often have structured programs in place to groom leaders. Plus, cutting your teeth at a large company gives you the experience of working in a multi-faceted business that makes you work hard. If you pick the right large business, it will opens infinite doors for the rest of your career.

He counters this argument with the challenge of starting in a small business or start-up. Of course, large organizations can fail, but the reality is that a larger percentage of small businesses don’t work out. Starting in a failed business can makes it hard to recover as you often scramble to find your next job and may make a decision out of desperation.

2. You can be micro-data wrong as long as you are macro correct

Jason explains that engaged executives and leaders get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business. They spend time examining micro-data about the business and the marketplace. They use micro-data about customers and competitors to make bets and determine next moves. Fortunately, when it comes to micro-data errors, you can recover. Get pricing wrong and you can make an adjustment. Invest in a marketing campaign that struggles and you can change tactics on the fly. Most micro-data mistakes can be corrected.

However, it’s much harder to overcome a macro-data mistake. So, think hard about macro decisions like your career. Invest in studying industries and looking for the tectonic shifts in the market. Don’t bet your career on something that could be a short-term trend and don’t try to implement lesson number one (above) by joining a big company in a dying industry.

3. Connect with great people and maintain those relationships

Jason didn’t come out and say this one, but it is certainly implied.

I first met him over 20 years ago when we served together in the U.S. Army. We went to both infantry and ranger schools together. I knew from the moment we first connected that he would do amazing things with his life and career.

The lesson here is that you shouldn’t wait to start building your network. Start today. More importantly, build your network with people you truly admire, those you can stay connected with over the long-run, and individuals that can benefit from your help as much as you can benefit from their assistance. Good networking isn’t a one-way street.

I wish you all the best as you put these three career lessons to work in your life.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash