Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Danae Ringelmann, founder Indiegogo

By Kitty Knowles 9 March 2017

These leaders are changing our world for the better. We find out how they get the job done.

There are a handful of business leaders and industry figures in Britain who are changing the world. From Tom Blomfield to Anil Stocker and Eileen Burbidge, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time.

This morning we’re talking to Danae Ringelmann, founder and Chief Development Officer of Indiegogo, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

Danae Ringelmann found success at firms like JP Morgan and Cowen & Co, but left finance “to change finance”.

Having made it her mission to democratise fundraising, she founded Indiegogo in San Francisco in 2008 – it’s now the world’s largest crowdfunding platform.

Today, the entrepreneur leads Indiegogo’s industry development efforts, and ensures its culture and values remain solid.

In addition to winning armfuls of awards, last year Ringelmann was listed as a Young Global Leader in 2016 by the World Economic Forum, and she’s made lists including Fortune‘s 40 under 40, ELLE‘s Woman in Tech Power List and Fast Company‘s Top 50 Women Innovators in Technology in 2011.

When she’s not ‘at work’, she’s speaking at conferences around the world, including Web Summit, The Next Web, TEDx, SXSW and CeBIT.

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked Ringelmann how she gets it all done.

What time do you get up, and what part of your morning routine sets you up for the day?

6:30 am.

My 1.5 year old son is a remarkably consistent alarm clock.

Every morning, a 15-minute hike through nature which takes me from our front door to civilisation (and where we park our car) readies me for the day ahead.

My partner, son and I live in a remote area outside the city, and the fresh air, quiet, and beauty help me to start the day clear-headed and calm.

What smartphone do you have?

iPhone 6 Plus.  64 GB.

What apps do you use to be more productive?

I learned about mind-mapping a few years ago. It changed my life.

My father once told me that I was a non-linear thinker. My reaction, at first, was concern.

“Is that code for ‘not focused’ or ‘distracted’?’” I worried.

“No, you see connections between things many people can’t. Your challenge is in organising your thoughts so the dots you’ve connected – which seem obvious and logical to you – can be seen and understood by others — that is, the linear thinkers of the world.  A great team needs both types,” my father replied.

Now, everywhere I go, I carry multi-coloured markers and a spiral-bound drawing notepad with blank white sheets. When inspiration hits or when I need to work through a problem and share my thoughts, a quick mind-map session helps me capture, organise and deliver.

For productivity tools that help me get stuff done, I keep it simple: I use todoist for capturing non-urgent, but easily-forgettable tasks. To plan my day, I use good old fashioned pen and paper. I’m still looking for a project management tool that is simple and light-weight.

How many people, outside of family, do you meet in a day?

This definitely depends on the day and where I am.

When in San Francisco at the Indiegogo headquarters, meeting with members of our leadership team take priority.

If I’m speaking at an event, customers, partners, attendees and reporters are my focus.

When working remotely, Google Hangouts keep me connected.

What book have you read, either recently or in the past, that has inspired you?

Built on Values, by Ann Rhoades. Ann is a visionary leader who has built several values-driven businesses.

I used her book and approach to guide me in leading a collaborative effort to create Indiegogo’s Values Blueprint – our own internal guide on which attitudes and behaviours help our team achieve individual results, collaborate productively, and stay motivated and engaged.

If you’re a business leader that cares about winning, clear strategies and goals are important. But just as important are the values your team embodies to enable them to execute those strategies and goals.

Humans aren’t robots.

We are complicated emotional beings that when unified by a common mission and aligned by a common set of values can achieve whatever strategy or goals are needed to win.

What advice would you give for people who are eager to get into your industry?

First, ask yourself why you’re interested in entrepreneurship.

If it’s related to solving some kind of really important problem that matters to you, jump in. Trust you’ll figure out what to do along the way. The world needs you and millions of others to tackle problems one by one.

If your answer is related to being known for something, my recommendation would be to take a pause. Clarify for yourself what need you intend to serve, and ask yourself why it matters to you to serve it? Entrepreneurship can be a long, rocky but incredibly meaningful road – a strong and deep “reason for being” helps you weather those troughs and makes the peaks all the more special.

If the problem you’re trying to solve doesn’t bother you at your core, it will be much more difficult to keep going when it seems you’re facing one obstacle after another.

When do you work until? Are you still sending emails in the night? Or do you have a wind down routine?

The answer also depends on the day and where I am. When on the road, I do maximise time working. In my mind, any time away from my family must be fully utilised to justify the separation.

When home, which is now a majority of my days as I’ve cut down travel, I keep the evenings for my family. After my son goes down, I do wrap up anything I didn’t finish during the day.

I also catch up on news and figure out logistics with my partner for the next day. He is also an entrepreneur, so getting our schedules to match up takes planning.

If you could ask your idol one question, who would it be, and what would you ask?

I was recently listening to an episode of Hidden Brain on NPR in the States, and the guest speaker brought up the fact that the Women’s Movement of the 70’s had two goals:

1) to afford women the same opportunities as men, and in turn allow them to embody stereotypical masculine traits and interests, and 2) convince the world that the stereotypical traits and interests of women were valuable too.

For the most part, we’re still living in a world where masculine behaviour by both men and women is seen as strong, and feminine behaviour by both men and women is seen as weak.

For example, we now encourage girls to play with legos (as ‘building’ is a masculine interest), yet we still don’t encourage boys to play with dolls (‘caring for others’ being a feminine interest).

One individual who has helped millions of folks (including me) begin to recognise the value of certain feminine qualities – like empathy and connection – is Brene Brown.

Her TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” catapulted her to the public limelight for a reason. Deep vulnerability is hard, but healthy and the root of real meaning in one’s life, which is ultimately what all of us (men, women and other) seek.

So my question to Brene Brown would be: how do we as business leaders help scale vulnerability, empathy, connection and other feminine attributes?

How do we help finish the work the women’s movement started nearly 40 years ago and in turn create a world where everyone values both their masculine and feminine interests?

Achieving this would also mean achieving a world where meaning is just as widespread as achievement, itself.

A more meaningful world, per se.

Come back next Thursday for our next #BossItLike interview, and get in touch if you know a leader who’s also a productivity guru for us to talk to.