VP of Operations & Marketing at Reserve
Where are you from?
Originally: Berkeley, CA. Now: New York, NY.
What are your hobbies?
Listening to podcasts, yoga, writing. Does Instagram count? How about eating brunch?
ANNEKE, ON WORK
What does your daily routine consist of?
Up at 6:30 to shower and feed my cat. I’m usually in the office pretty early so I can get a start on the day before everyone else gets in. I manage a large team spread across many cities, so I spend a lot of time on Google Hangouts. I have a desk but I’m rarely at it. You often have to hunt for me around the office — sometimes I’m huddled at someone else’s desk building a forecasting model, or in a conference room brainstorming new product features. You could find me sitting on a sofa, wearing headphones, writing detailed protocol for a new operational process, or I might be in the stairwell planning the negotiating points for a marketing deal. Often, I’m in the kitchen making another coffee. One of the perks of my job is that I get to eat dinner at some of my city’s best restaurants, and I’ll sometimes go out with my coworkers or friends. But I also love coming home to make dinner and sit on my roof deck, enjoying the city lights.
Tell us about your career trajectory. Have you had to make any drastic changes in your career to chase certain opportunities?
I started my career in management consulting — a solid corporate job. The hours were long and the travel was grueling, but I learned a lot about business basics. The first step in shifting my career way from the corporate world and into running small startups came when I decided to launch another company on the side with some friends. I surrendered the very little free time I had at night and on weekends and dedicated it to building a team and strategy, overseeing the company’s growth across multiple cities. That first foray into entrepreneurship eventually paved my path to where I am today.
Tell us about some specific moments you believe were game changers in your career.
I am a big believer in the need for all of us to do more authentic storytelling about our career trajectories and the catalytic moments that boosted us to new levels. Mine came in 2009 when I was asked to speak on the main stage at a TED conference. It was a pivotal moment in my life in lots of ways I couldn’t have anticipated. I spoke to an audience in Las Vegas in 2013 and shared the full story.
What’s been your biggest challenge in building your career?
It’s a good problem to have, but I’ve at times struggled with the paradox of too much choice. It seems that I could pursue many different paths and there’s tremendous pressure to pick the “right” one. I have to just keep reminding myself to take things a year at a time.
What qualities have you developed that have been essential to your success?
I always say, “Pass the props, not the buck.” If you find yourself in a management or leadership position, you will naturally reap the praise for anything good that happens. So when your team achieves something great, don’t hoard the recognition. Be sure to shout out the team members who contributed to the success. On the flip side, when something bad happens, take responsibility. It’s easy to throw a direct report under the bus, but you are the leader — take responsibility and let your team know that you have their back even through the challenging times.
Can you give our customers some career tips?
Speak up. You’d be surprised how much your coworkers will evaluate your competence, confidence, and capabilities based on how you speak. Don’t be afraid to use a powerful voice and raise your hand when you have something to say. If speaking up at work makes you nervous, make it a goal to practice, and find a mentor/coach who can help keep you accountable for making yourself heard.
Anything else to add?
There’s a stat (via HBR.com)that says women only apply for jobs when they think they’re 100% qualified for the role, but men apply even if they’re only 60% qualified. I think about that often when I think about my career, and I try to remind myself, “You’re strong and tenacious, and you can do this. Even if you think you can’t.”
ANNEKE, ON LIFE
There are only 24 hours in a day. How do you balance your life?
When I think about life balance, I don’t think about it at a specific point in time, but over a period of time. At any given point in my life or career, I may be more or less focused on different things — furthering my education, growing within my current role, growing into a new role, spending time with friends and family, dedicating time to a significant other, improving my physical health, building my personal brand, etc. It’s almost impossible to be nailing all of those things all at once, but every 3-6 months I reassess where I’m at and rebalance my time and attention to ensure I’m happy and not neglecting anything that’s important to me.
Who do you look to for motivation?
My mom. She worked all through my childhood, and sacrificed a lot of herself to ensure my sister and I knew we were a priority. She’s ambitious and curious, always seeking bigger challenges in an effort to do meaningful work. She’s also just really smart because she embraces the mindset of being a lifelong learner. Basically, she’s a total badass, and I want to be more like her every day.
What are some motivational words you live by?
I often think of the great Postal Service lyric, “Everything looks perfect from far away.” It’s a good reminder to cut yourself some slack when making comparisons to other people because everyone has their struggles. It also helps motivate me to share my vulnerabilities, when appropriate — it can help me to connect with others in a more authentic way.
Any life advice you would now give to your younger self?
Listen to NPR even more. It’s going to make you a more intelligent, more interesting person.
I can’t go a week without reading New York Magazine
My must-have app is Reserve, obviously J
When I am exhausted, my favorite way to unwind is Netflix
Pour me a glass of pizza? Can my answer be pizza?
You’ll never hear me say, “Math is hard”
ANNEKE, ON AELLA
When you get home after a long day, what’s the first thing you do?
I kick off my shoes. Second thing, change into pajama pants. Wearing comfortable pants is really important and if you wear something that’s constricting all day you want to get those off ASAP. It’s so nice to have an option that’s comfortable and don’t have to take off the first change you get.
What do you look for when you are shopping for clothing?
I definitely look for things that I can mix and match and definitely things that I can wash easily. It doesn’t make sense to me to spend just as much on getting things cleaned as on the clothing itself.
What came to mind when you first put on AELLA pants?
These are so comfortable!
How would you describe AELLA to someone who has never heard of us?
They’re so nice and lightweight. Nice, clean lines. Something I could wear from early in the morning to late at night- casual and more professional situations.
I work at a start-up, so it’s pretty casual in my office, but when I have to meet with investors or potential partners, I want to look polished. AELLA is perfect for that transition.