When it comes to women we admire, there is no shortage of incredibly talented #girlboss heroes who are basking in the (well-deserved) spotlight. But for those of us who are slogging through our Monday morning commutes, refilling our coffee mugs for a second (or third) time and still trying to figure out our lives, we want some mentors who are closer to home. Introducing #IAmaBoss: Brit + Co’s new series that profiles women who are kicking butt at their jobs, nailing their goals and, most importantly, doling out tips, advice and more to us. Scroll on to meet this week’s amazing bosses, dominating the tech world.
Meet the Bosses
Kim Bryden: Kim is the Founder of Cure[ate], which works with up-and-coming food + beverage businesses on their growth and scaling strategies, and with brands looking to connect with their target audiences through local food and drink. Previously, Kim was a Marketing + Community Development Team Leader for Whole Foods Market and spearheaded national partnerships and events at Brooklyn-based startup Kitchensurfing, an online marketplace to hire local chefs to cook in your home.
Shay Davis: Shay is a part of Dropbox’s corporate engineering team, where she navigates onboarding processes, helps create new systems and manages all accounts for new hires. Prior to Dropbox, she worked for Airbnb on the IT team, streamlining company technology systems and security. She got her start at Apple, working in both the retail store at the Genius Bar and at the Apple corporate HQ. Shay holds a business and management degree from Clark Atlanta University and a degree in cinematography from the University of California, Riverside.
Sarah Smith: Sarah Smith is the VP of HR, Recruiting and User Operations at Quora, where she’s helped grow the company from 40 people to 125 over the last three years. Prior to Quora, she was Director of Online Operations, leading and building a number of sales and operations team, including the Facebook Austin office. She has her MBA from Stanford University and a degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sarah is also a partner with Graph Ventures, an angel investing team, and enjoys helping friends with their start-ups.
What’s Your Morning Routine?
1 – 2 minutes: Wake up and stretch.
2 – 5 minutes: Teeth brushing regimen, including herbal COq10 rinse.
5 – 13 minutes: Shower with Aquanotes pencil in hand, jotting down ideas for the day. The best brainstorms happen in a steamy shower.
13 – 15 minutes: Brew a cup of my go-to mango chili yerba mate.
Each morning I wake up at 6:30am and take a shower, then do my hair. From 6:50am to 7am, I’ll sit down and drink some water (a good way to get hydrated for the day!). Then once I’m ready, I’ll begin my morning commute on BART from Piedmont and arrive at Dropbox around 8am. I plan to arrive each morning before most other Dropboxers get to the office so I can eat breakfast in the Tuck Shop, the restaurant inside Dropbox, before all of the hustle and bustle of the day begins. My goal in the morning is to do whatever requires the least amount of stress.
7:45am: Wake up, usually naturally, and drink a bunch of water.
7:46am: Quick check on my phone of work and personal email, then news via Facebook and GoogleNow.
7:55am: Up to have coffee with Kyle, my boyfriend. He makes it using our beloved Chemex (usually Sightglass, Blue Bottle, Ritual or Chromatic) and poured in our favorite Heath mugs.
8:00am: Lounge on the couch with Kyle, maybe answer a few emails, look over calendar for the day, read some articles, check Quora and eat breakfast. Some days we do 20-30 minutes of yoga via YouTube.
9:00am: Shower, and if I’m feeling “fancy,” do my hair and makeup at home (vs. in the car or at work).
9:30am: Do a few final emails before heading to work, pour remaining coffee in my travel mug.
9:50am: Kyle and I both leave for work (traffic is much better to Mountain View at this time).
10:10am: Arrive at work, grab breakfast if I didn’t eat at home and create a to-do list for the rest of the day.
10:30am: First meeting.
I can’t start my day without ___________.
Kim: A strong cup of tea and a bowl of acai (or sheep’s milk yogurt) with Michele’s granola. #madeinBaltimore.
Shay: Taking a shower — it’s what wakes me up in the morning.
Sarah: Drinking a cup of coffee.
What are your productivity tips?
Kim: I work with five to ten different client projects at any given moment. Building out organic community, smart partnership connections and marketing and growth strategy for a variety of different companies under the food + drink umbrella requires top-notch time management skills and organization. Toggl is my go-to time tracker for projects. I also use Airmail to streamline my various inboxes and Boomerang for Gmail to archive and send back to me at a later date.
Shay: I really don’t like swimming in emails, so I usually utilize the app Mailbox to prioritize the amount of email I receive daily. Mailbox helps me make sure that I am focusing on the most important, time-sensitive task at any given moment.
- Seeing “white space” as a good thing on a calendar. In my twenties, I used to feel like I was being productive if I had something booked or planned for every minute of the day… perhaps it was FOMO (fear of missing out) or just hangover from the school-checklist mentality. Now I see that I’m less productive and less likely to see new opportunities if I’m too booked up, so I aim to have at least one to two days a week that aren’t super packed. It also means I can better absorb emergencies or unexpected events at work, which means less canceling or rearranging of evening plans, keeping relationships stronger.
- GTD. I don’t follow it religiously, but I do like the “Getting Things Done” methodology of having every thought recorded somewhere in order to free up real estate in one’s mind. The method also pushes you to do things like only check email when you have time to process quick ones that require one to two minutes.
- Trash all email from PTO. I learned this from Al Baxter, a colleague at Facebook. When going on vacation, in my OOO message says, “I will not be processing emails upon return. If what you just sent is really important, please reply with IMPORTANT in the subject line.” It really works and is such a pleasant way to reenter after vacation. Most emails are irrelevant after a day or two anyway, and anything you miss, people will find you.
Tell us about one maker who you admire!
Kim: I really admire the work happening at La Cocina. Taking a complex problem like growing and scaling food businesses, especially in the lower income, minority and immigrant communities, is a tough challenge to solve. I particularly appreciate their multi-step process for working with the companies they incubate. Providing services and mentorship on top of physical space and location is key when starting out a business, and I believe a lot of companies, no matter what vertical, often miss out on providing the intangible of taking the time to sit, listen, reflect and analyze team members’ experiences.
Shay: Elon Musk
Sarah: Holly Gressley. She used to work at Dwell Magazine (which is the magazine I most look forward to getting in the mail every month) and now she works at Quora. She’s a master at communications design and makes the most interesting and delightful creations for the company. Similarly, I love Ben Barry’s work. He was a communications designer at Facebook, and he exposed lithograph and screen printing to a huge number of people. He’s still producing interesting and beautiful stuff from all over the world. (Photo via Astrid Stawiarz/Getty)
What is one home-related or general life “hack” you keep in your toolkit?
Kim: I entertain a lot, so keeping my fridge and cocktail cart stocked may seem like an obvious life hack, but really food and drinks are the way into people’s hearts. Friends, or friends of friends, will stop by my home and instantly feel comfortable because of the conversations created around unique ingredients.
Shay: One general life hack I keep in my toolbox is a handy IFTTT recipe to keep track of new music I find on Soundcloud. Whenever I like a song on Soundcloud, a link to it is automatically shared in a Dropbox folder, so my friends and co-workers can access it. Music is something that is a central part of my life, so this IFTTT recipe gives me the ability to share my passion for music with those I care about most.
Sarah: Buy multiples of things you use often, so you save time looking for that one lipstick/house key/phone charger or packing and transporting a curling iron from home to workout. It really makes things much simpler to have a full set of toiletries at work (or in the car if you get ready at a gym) and another set at home. The same goes for makeup. I love not having to rifle through a purse and repack every morning. Saving minutes every day (and stress!) really helps. Similarly, my boyfriend has helped me get used to leaving my work badge and keys by the front door. I used to run around in the morning trying to remember where I left my badge the night before, and this habit is super calming and means I’m less likely to be late to a morning meeting. (Photo via @kimbryden)
I wish someone had told me ___________ when I graduated from college…
Kim: I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to fail. That it’s okay to have a two-year plan because everything is changing so drastically all the time. Take each job, each relationship as a valuable learning experience and soak in all that you can from every moment. Don’t see your accomplishments as the “end all, be all,” because you and the world are continuously evolving. The way you stay ahead is by keeping your curiosity and ability to learn agile and alive.
Shay: I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing yet, just for peace of mind. I wish someone would have said, “It’s okay that you’re figuring your life out at 22.”
Sarah: I took some big risks when I graduated, like moving to California for a boyfriend and not working in my major field of study (music education). I have no regrets, but it would have been great for someone to really push me to think really big in terms of the impact I could make on the world. In business school, I saw friends who had attended Ivy League schools for undergrad assume they’d have that impact. I didn’t assume it until around five years after graduating from college. Simply pushing someone to think bigger with their plans can give them confidence to stretch their potential impact to a larger scale.
Does their advice resonate with you? Know a #girlboss we should interview? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could appear in the next column!