Interview // Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew, co-founders of The Muse and co-authors of The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career

You’ve been running The Muse for more than five years now. Did you always know that entrepreneurship would be your career path?

Definitely not. We both went through a lot of career exploration before landing our first jobs at McKinsey, where we met. And afterward, when Kathryn realized that consulting wasn’t the right career path for her, she spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do next.

Both of those experiences—realizing that certain workplaces can be a great fit for one person and less than ideal for others, and Kathryn combing through job boards that weren’t helpful to her search at all—are what led us to start The Muse. We became entrepreneurs to solve those problems and to help others explore career paths and companies where they could find meaningful, fulfilling work.

With that said, while we never anticipated that our lives would look like this, now we can’t imagine doing anything else!

What inspired you to write The New Rules of Work?

Our goal in founding The Muse was to give people the resources they need to discover, land, and succeed at their dream jobs. So much of this advice lives on our website, TheMuse.com, but we wanted to create a single, beginning-to-end resource that would help people every step of the way. The New Rules is that resource! We’re particularly excited about all the worksheets and exercises in the book, which break the overwhelming concepts of discovering your career values, researching potential jobs, and even preparing for an interview into doable, actionable steps. Basically, we created the guide we wish existed when we were exploring career paths.

Who should read The New Rules of Work?

Anyone who wants a more fulfilling, successful career (and isn’t that all of us?!).

Joking aside, the first part of the book is all about defining your work values and using them to plot a career path you love. So it’s great for new grads or career changers, but it can really be used by anyone who’s a little unsatisfied at work and seeking a change.

The second part of the book is an A-Z guide for how to get your dream job once you’ve identified it, which makes this part perfect for anyone who’s looking for a job or will be soon. And finally, the third part of the book is about succeeding on the job—that’s everything from putting together a killer presentation to dealing with a tough boss to being more productive—so there’s definitely something in there for everyone.

What’s one piece of advice in the book that you wish you’d known when you were first starting out?

Kathryn: Everything in the chapter about negotiation. I was scared to death to negotiate the first time I wanted to ask for a raise, and I wish I had had a resource that encouraged me, gave me actionable tips for the conversation, and reminded me I wasn’t alone in my fear.

Alex: Chapter 10 is all about communicating in the workplace—email, public speaking, chatting with the higher-ups, navigating a conference call, you name it. There are so many nuances and unwritten rules in each of these types of communications, and it would have saved me a ton of time to have been handed the playbook at the beginning of my career.

What’s one takeaway you want readers to leave with?

We truly believe that you can (and should!) love your job. That’s the underlying belief of the book and our work at The Muse. There are an unlimited number of options out there in terms of fields, roles, and companies, and if you’re unfulfilled in your current situation, it’s always worth making a change. It’s not always easy—in fact, in most cases it requires a lot of self-evaluation, research, and hard work—but it’s always, always worth it.