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The Uncommon Executive

Breakthrough to the C-suite as a Minority

Touches on a lot of topics you don't hear about in most business and career books. Feels like I have a secret handbook for insiders.

Easy to read, enjoyable. I highly recommend this book to folks who are looking to craft their path to executive positions.

PM at $100M CPG company

VP Product, Healthcare

It's so difficult to find great advice for this step of the career journey.

This book helped me validate my current thinking and observations for my career.

It also allowed me to better strategize for the next few years and position myself to grow faster at my current company. .

Product lead, Consumer Tech

As an Indian American woman rising in corporate America, Yue Zhao’s new book “The Uncommon Executive: Breakthrough to the C-suite as a Minority” is both personal and critical for me and meaningful for my community and next generation.

This book brought so many aha moments and so many reflections of my own experience and things I wish I had learned earlier in my career.

SVP, Digital Health

This was a great read, filled with specific examples and actionable advice about how to position yourself for an executive role. I really appreciated the emphasis on building relationships, shifting your mindset, and exploring some of the common tracks to senior leadership roles. I recommend this for readers who want to get to the next level but feel stuck and don't know how to move forward. This would also be relevant to those who are early in their careers and learning how to navigate the corporate world. The Uncommon Executive is like having a great mentor on your bookshelf!

Head of Legal, Cryto company

Recommend! This is a very approachable book written from a place of practical empathy. Yue is able to draw from her experience as a coach and c-suite exec to provide not just personal anecdotes, but also easily digestible frameworks that can be translated into action. The book is structured in a way that encourages continuous reflection and growth, with each chapter offering practical strategies and thought exercises.

VP Product at a Venture-backed Marketplace

About the book

I’ve had hundreds of career growth conversations with my team, coachees, and mentees. One of the most challenging, emotional, and time-consuming topics that come up in career conversations is how to break through from middle management into executive levels –VP or C-Suite.

“I feel stuck. I’ve been in this job for years without getting promoted. What am I doing wrong?”

“The women I see at the top have abrasive, aggressive styles, and I don’t want to be like them. I can’t find any role models at the VP or C-suite levels in my job.”

“I’m swamped and nearing burnout right now in middle management. How can I even think about the C-suite?” 

“Do I have to keep playing the aggressive, sports-focused, white male game? That’s just not me.”

“I don’t know how you did it. How do I balance family and getting into leadership? It feels just impossible for me where I am.”

This provides a path through that doubt and confusion and be a guide for aspiring executives to follow in their journey to the top.

It shines a light on what being an executive truly entails, what hiring committees look for, and what skills are truly critical for success. It then offers off-the-beaten-path (e.g. not white-male-centric) examples and tactics on landing stretch assignments, overcoming biases and stereotypes, finding your superpower, and finding role models in less obvious places. And lastly, it talks about the systemic challenges minorities face on the path to executive, and how companies and governments can actively help remove barriers and create a more diverse executive team


About the Author

Yue Zhao is a product executive, coach, and venture investor. She was the Chief Product and Technology Officer at Fuzzy Pet Health, Product Management lead at Instagram and Meta, and Head of Product, Professionals at Thumbtack.

Yue is passionate about coaching aspiring product leaders, supporting more minorities in the VP and C-suite, and partnering with companies to increase diversity in senior leadership.

She is from the Bay Area and China and enjoys pottery, wine, and travel. 

Read a Sample

Download a sample of The Uncommon Executive.

Get your next promotion

Whether you're a senior manager looking to get promoted, an executive looking for resources for your mentors, or a company looking to increase diversity at the top, this book what you're looking for.

Table of Contents


PART I The Executive Role

Chapter 1: Why Diversity is So Difficult 

The Trifecta of Affinity, Confirmation, and Negativity Biases.

Bias Shows Up in Actions Not Taken.

Small Biases Compound.

Chapter 2: The Executive Mindset

Put the Company First.

There Are No Fixed Constraints.

It’s All About Relationships.

Chapter 3: The Executive Tool Kit.

How Vision, Strategy, and Goals Work Together.

Build Teams Like You Build Products.

Delegate When You Don’t Know the Answer.

Effective Communication at Scale.

Stay Calm During Crises.

PART II: Momentum Toward Executive.

Chapter 4: Be a Visible Rising Star.

Deliver Consistent Outperformance.

See Me and Notice Me.

Celebrate Delivering as Expected.

Win Performance Reviews.

Call Out Implicit Bias.

Time Box Different Types of Work.

Chapter 5: Finding and Landing Stretch Assignments.

Volunteer and Take a Risk.

Improve Communications.

Learn the Work of Other Functions.

Handle a Crisis or Take a General Manager Role.

Challenges of Getting Stretch Assignments. 

Chapter 6: Building Trust & Relationships.

Use Transparency to Scale Your Reputation.

Borrow Credibility.

Find Professional Commonalities.

Combat Cultural Stereotypes.

Influencing Peers.

Managing the Board of Directors.

PART III: Self-Confidence & Superpowers

Chapter 7: Build Self-Confidence, Avoid Self-Sabotage.

Imposter Syndrome Is a Distraction.

Don’t Count Yourself Out First.

Avoid Over-Thinking and False Comparisons.

Shed Cultural Values That No Longer Serve You.

Dress for Confidence.

Chapter 8: Find Role Models.

Look in the Right Places.

A Mosaic of Influences.

A Sense of Belonging.

Chapter 9: Grow Your Superpower.

Find Your Superpower.

Voice Your Superpower.

Tailor Your Executive Style.

PART IV: Landing Your Opportunity.

Chapter 10: Finding the Right Company Culture.

Diversity Targets, Diverse Slates, and Flexible Work.

Parental Leave for Both Parents.

Find the Best Culture Fit.

A Performance-Focused Culture.

Chapter 11: Timing Within the Company.

Business Need.

Organizational Structure.

People Dynamics.

Chapter 12: Opportunity & Luck.

Family Growth vs. Career Growth.

Get Sponsorship.

Build a Funnel for Executive Opportunities.

Don’t Get Stuck.

Know What Path You’re On.


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