James Coyle: Listening to Lead [Built in Seattle Ep. #35]
2 min read

James Coyle: Listening to Lead [Built in Seattle Ep. #35]

RealSelf CEO, James Coyle, talks about taking risks, mentors, transitioning from Amazon to startups, and learning to listen.

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"Don't be an asshole"

๐Ÿ‘†That was James Coyle's advice to his 20-year-old self.

He also schooled me on listening to understand (instead of listening to speak). And how leaders often forget the weight of their words.

James went from Amazon to startup executive and now CEO at RealSelf. RealSelf is a growing team of 170 people that's raised $42M.

He's made unconventional career choices that got him leadership roles all over the world, access to great mentors, and accelerated his learning.

James shares his lessons on this episode of The Built in Seattle Podcast

Episode Highlights

  • How he made the transition from Amazon to startup executive.
  • The unconventional career choices that have paid off.
  • Lessons from watching great leaders at Amazon.
  • How he creates frameworks for self-improvement.
  • Why and how he does hiking meetings.
  • How he learned to be a better listener.
  • How great mentors changed the way he thinks.
  • Finding the balance between results and kindness
  • Lessons from Amazon's leadership principles.
  • Why he moved his family to a different country multiple times.
  • The key thing that most managers skip when interviewing employees.
  • How Amazon 6-pagers really work.
  • Why he doesn't need to be the smartest person in the room.

James Coyle Bio

James Coyle is CEO and a Board Member at RealSelf, the world's largest online community helping consumers connect with doctors providing plastic surgery and cosmetic treatments.

James was previously Chief Customer Officer at Varsity Tutors, where he nearly tripled the size of the business during his tenure and hired over 500 people in <3 years. Prior to that, James held executive roles at Amazon and Sears Holdings with $B plus revenue responsibility, led teams as large as 7,000 people.

James loves to learn, he has made a number of career moves where he has joined new industries, he has thrived in all of them bringing a strong work ethic, solid frameworks and an outsider's perspective on things. James has lived and worked around the world, from Manila, Luxembourg, Munich, Seattle to Chicago.

James was a bar raiser at Amazon, he has been able to attract and retain talent everywhere he has been. He uses various methods for talent acquisition from the opportunity, to humor, to work life balance, he is a passionate proponent of his teams taking a week off every quarter off to ensure they are living their best life while also driving results.

He was, at the time, the youngest to make Director in Amazonโ€™s history. Jamesโ€™ leadership and career progression was recently highlighted in GeekWire as he was promoted to CEO one day before his 40th birthday, which was a lifelong goal for him. James holds a bachelor's degree from Indiana University.