One of the best experiences of my advertising career was being employee #8 in a start-up agency with audacious ambitions and convincing big advertisers that our merry band of creatives could transform a big global brand without breaking it. I quickly grew into the strategy role because I could pick up a clean sheet of paper and a Sharpie and, working with the same source material as everyone else, come up with completely different insights. Ultimately, we won major accounts with American Express, Disney, Intel, Hershey’s, Marriott, and many other well-known brands.
Along the way, I learned that successful company formation is like being in a jazz group. Everyone has to be able to play tightly together and also improvise completely new riffs on cue. There’s no conductor – everyone in the group is a player. So when General Catalyst asked me to join the firm as CMO, it felt more like joining a new band than switching industries. That combination of creativity and collaboration has been in the firm’s DNA from the beginning.
Another draw is the ‘maker mentality’ that pervades everything we do at General Catalyst. This is so liberating for a marketer because the companies we support are doing such creative, out-of-the-box work already. If anything, the challenge is telling those stories in a way that’s just as creative and unexpected as the companies themselves. My vision is that our brand and those of our portfolio companies will become a powerful, valuable asset and a point of pride for customers, investors, and employees.
Away from work, my great loves are words, language, and the outdoors. To keep my problem-solving mind sharp, I complete the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. Once I’m outside hiking, biking, or skiing, the language of nature takes over. And whenever I can, I take the time to mentor other women and give back the wisdom I have received from so many others.