#20: Nick DeWilde – Program Director at Tradecraft focusing on Biz dev, Product Design and Growth

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A San Francisco-native, Nick deWilde was so certain he wanted to make movies but he ended up taking on a different path that impacts people’s lives. Nick is now the Program Director at Tradecraft, an immersive program that helps people break into tech into business development, designer, or growth roles. His journey wasn’t easy. He took the plunge, worked as a waiter, went back to live at his parents house, and did customer support at a bank until he finally found his voice in the tech space. Nick is a rockstar who continues to help people pursue their real passion and craft their stories so they too can become rockstars in whichever field they choose.


Years in Tech 2
Grew Up San Francisco, CA
Current Job Program Manager
Date Recorded 6/25/2016

Key Points:

  • If you want people to hire you, think about how you can add value to that company. Tell your story in a way that’s compelling and in a way that delivers value to other people.
  • You want the hiring manager to become a champion for you so make sure to convey how you can add real value
  • Be a rocket ship. Don’t worry much about your title but worry about what you’re learning and what you do everyday. Skills are important but having the right attitude is just as important.
  • Don’t apply on the website. There are other ways to get in touch with hiring managers by emailing with a compelling pitch or figure out how you can get a warm intro with them.

Show Notes (focus on the Stepping Stones):

[01:46] Born in San Francisco, Nick grew up with the dream to make movies, be in movies, and write movies. He went to Stanford for college to study psychology and decided he was going to be screenwriter so he moved to LA and went from internship to waiting tables.

[02:53] His break was his client at First Republic Bank who was a CEO of Zumper who gave him a shot at helping grow his business

[03:48] A humbling experience: Going back from LA to San Francisco, crashing at his parent’s place (specifically his childhood bedroom).

[05:15] Nick’s transition from writing to banking: Nick’s role being a Tech Outreach Associate to help meet young founders

[06:10] His experience as a waiter in LA: Serving burgers to celebrities David Duchovny, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ted Danson, and Sayid from Lost (but he got fired later on)

[07:11] His role at Zumper: Building relationships, learning about startups, and picking up different skill sets (supply & demand, PR, marketing growth). He picked up growth skills through leveraging channels he was already good at (ex. writing content and press) and went through a couple of SkillShare courses (real, live classes at that time which are now more of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs)

[09:39] Things he learned in business school: Nick applied to business school because he wanted to gain confidence he needed for not having the hard skills.

[11:37] Seeing the difference between business schools (with teachers coming from pipeline businesses) versus startups having zero distribution costs, he tried to look at where these people are teaching skills from and Nick ended up spending his summer internship at Dev Bootcamp in New York and then eventually came to Tradecraft.

[13:00] The program/curriculum at Tradecraft: Being

the “perfect mentor” that exposes you to the skills, network, and opportunities you may need for the rest of your career

[14:51] The verticals at Tradecraft:

  1. Growth: Growth marketers are in charge of users’ flow in and out of a product. Growth is the engine at at the core of the company. This role could lead to product management.
  2. Sales: Navigate sales organizations at startups and big enterprises
  3. Product Design: Starts with the user interview all the way through the high-fidelity prototypes, wireframing, and understanding psychology
[17:46] Levers you can use to move the metrics to the right direction:

Growth: Paid advertising for acquisition

Product design: Visual design and feature ideas for activation or retention

[18:56] How Tradecraft can make you competitive in the market Skills + Messaging of your story + Networking + Real world projects in real startups

[20:16] How you can get into Tradecraft:

  • Visit www.tradecrafted.com and click on Apply.
  • The application process consists of a couple of interviews
  • Ways they look at candidates: Get and give value + thinking from a hiring manager’s point of view because it’s not cheap (it costs $14,000) so they want to make sure candidates are going to be successful.)
[21:57] The attitude they are looking for: Instead of thinking about what you want and what you can get from this, think about what the hiring manager wants and how can you make give value to others.

[22:54] Tradecraft offers financing: They are flexible and creative. They will help people figure it out.

[24:02] Nick shares a story about Chia Lin (breaking into startups guest), a pastry chef at a Michelin-star restaurant who got a product design role at a small startup in the real estate space. She wrote a Medium post, 5 Things I Learned about Design in a Michelin Star Kitchen which got several likes and an editor’s bump

[26:22] Understanding a hiring manager’s perspective: Turn the hiring manager into a champion and be able to deliver on that promise.

[28:39] Don’t apply on the website! There are other ways to get in touch with the decision makers by emailing with a compelling pitch or find someone to make a warm intro.

[30:20] The goal of Tradecraft’s project work: Building relationships with people you want to get hired by or those with similar businesses

[31:42] Be the rocketship: Don’t worry much about your title but worry about what you’re learning and what you do everyday.

[32:05] Great things Nick found in tech: Scale of impact + Helping people make the transition into tech

[32:57] Nick’s tips for listeners while building their relationships:

  • Find people who match your affinity group.
  • Flip the script and add value to people.
[36:24] Quote Nick got from his mentor: “When you’re looking at people who are way ahead of you in your career, you think you’re looking at a bright star but you’re actually looking at old light.”

[37:27] The Lightning Round:

Imagine you’re in a brand new city and you only had $100 and you’re trying to start all over again, what would you do and how would you spend it?

  • Nick would sit in a cafe and start stalking people on LinkedIn. He’d create a list of people he would want to meet and come up with a kickass cold email template. He’d target 2-3 people to win over and get them to help him open their networks and think about how he can add value to them and use this strengths.

Take us back to when you were a writer and going through the struggles, is there any song or movie that you watched that helped you feel like a warrior, restart, and do the next move?

  • Nick gets inspiration from all the work of Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter, producer and playwright (The West Wing, A Few Good Men, American President, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) MasterClass has just released the screenwriting class there.
  • [40:34] MasterClass is a great platform that offer high quality classes with people who wouldn’t normally teach.

What is the one piece of advice that you would want our listeners to know who are thinking about breaking into tech?

  • Do it for the right reasons. When you’re taking advice, don’t just take it from people who are successful but also understand that it can cause people to make poor decisions. Come in with realistic expectations and listen to people who had great experience, those who failed, and struggled their way up the ladder and got to a place in the middle and come out with a reasonable view on what could happen.

What is one thing that you fundamentally believed in that you changed your mind on after you finished this experience?

  • Nick came into Tradecraft wanting to focus on customer service but realized that his goal is to not always be nice to everyone but to help them accomplish what they want. Become a great mentor to his students by imploring radical candor coming where it’s coming from a place of love but giving the truth and honest feedback even if it’s harsh.

Articles Mentioned & Resources:

Learning Resources

Dev Bootcamp
General Assembly
MasterClass of Aaron Sorkin

Books Mentioned:

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
Robert Greene books:
The 48 Laws of Power
The Art of Seduction
Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward Burger and Michael Starbird
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Antifragile by Nassim Taleb

Contact Information:

Nick deWilde
Twitter: @ndewilde
Medium: @ndewilde medium
Email Address: nick@tradecrafted.com

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