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Stephanie Zhan
Stephanie Zhan

My life philosophy? Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge you to do better every day.

I’m a big believer in the saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Choose your partners wisely.

Innovation always comes down to tackling fundamental needs of the human species. It simply evolves the ways in which we fulfill them - in creative, unimaginable ways.

I love meeting people who have a clear vision for what they hope to create, and an unbreakable determination to make it reality.

I don’t believe in complacency. Winning is a journey that never ends.

Part of that philosophy comes from growing up as a competitive swimmer. When your main competition is the clock, you can always do better. It’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one.

I grew up in Beijing and Hong Kong, where I watched technology facilitate a period of the most rapid economic development in history. I wanted to be at the center of this technological revolution, so I came out to Silicon Valley.

I didn’t know what the path ahead would look like. I simply absorbed all I could.

As they say, luck favors the prepared mind.

At Stanford, I studied Computer Science. Above all, I learned that building technology alone is insufficient. Convincing people to adopt it is a whole other challenge. Always remember that humans are irrational beings. Design accordingly. Experiment endlessly.

I applied this philosophy at Google Maps and Nest. Technology alone can only build a product. Insight into your user’s (often unspoken) desires is what ultimately builds a business.

What’s your trade secret? Leverage it.

In the past decade, we’ve grown accustomed to information at our fingertips, powerful outlets to communicate and interact with others, and rapid consumption of physical and virtual goods around us. As a result, while we satisfy the same core desires that define human existence, every generation grows up with a different set of expectations and behaviors.

How will new innovation redefine what we know of today?

Build something magnificent. Surprise us.