Boss It Like

How To Boss It Like… Anjali Ramachandran, co-founder of Ada’s List

By Kitty Knowles 5 October 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 Decoded’s Kathryn Parsons to Tide’s George Bevis, these smart people seem to get an incredible amount done, in an impossibly short space of time – each Thursday we get one great leader to share their secrets.

This morning we’re talking to Anjali Ramachandran, co-founder at Ada’s List, who is undoubtedly a productivity guru.

Meet Anjali Ramachandran

Anjali Ramachandran is the co-founder of Ada’s List, an email community for those who identify as women in tech.

Launched in London on Ada Lovelace Day in 2013, Ada’s List now has 5,000 members globally.

Read more: Dr Sue Black OBE: Why we ALL need to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

But that’s not all. Ramachandran is also Editor at Storythings, and an advisor to Angel Academe (a pro-women angel investment group, and a mentor to startup).

When she’s not at the office, she’s also hosting panels and speaking at events (we even met her at a TableCrowd dinner held in her honour).

What’s more, the businesswoman has been particularly busy lately gearing up for the second annual Ada’s List Conf in London, celebrating not only the birth of Ada’s List, but the contribution of Ada Lovelace to the internet and science. (More info & tickets here).

A busy woman, with big ideas, The Memo asked Ramachandran, 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?

I get up around 6.30am, but with an 8-month-old invariably I’ve been up at least once in the night already.

I check Twitter, Slack and my email, where the Quartz Daily Brief gives me a good summary of the top news headlines to pay attention to in addition to anything that’s bubbling up on Twitter.

What smartphone do you have?

I have a white iPhone 6, 16 GB, which has a very fun phone cover by Skinny Dip.

What apps or methods do you use to be more productive?

Right now, it’s really all about Slack for me.

At Storythings, we’re a distributed team so we really count on it to stay in touch as a team and reduce the number of emails.

We also use Trello and Google Docs a lot to collaborate. I don’t have too many documents that are not in the cloud – it makes me feel better that if my laptop conks off, I can still access all the things I need in the cloud.

I also use Slack to keep in touch with the Ada’s List team. For my personal use, I use the Notes app on my iPhone – simple and always to hand.

I try and do some quick stretches in the morning before I start the day.

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

It really depends on the day, as I work from home: I don’t work in a typical 9am-6pm setting like I used to before, and it’s been a refreshing change.

We have beginning and end-of-week Slack check-in calls, and occasionally I attend meetings in London with one or two of the team.

We might be in client or team workshops – like we are this week.

I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues from Sweden and the US after a while.

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

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer gives some really interesting tips and tricks to improve your memory.

He spent time with ‘mental athletes’ to learn their skills – people like chess champions, for example – and practised those himself.

These days, with the internet, I often feel overwhelmed by information, so going back to this book is a good way for me to try different ways of actually retaining some of that information versus letting it all just evaporate.

I also find it useful while preparing for talks I give at conferences or events.

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

Be curious and interested. Ask questions – you’ll be surprised at the number of people who will be willing to explain things to you.

Things change so fast in the world of technology that chances are that even if you don’t know something that others do, you probably know things they don’t. All the bits of knowledge add up over time.

In a related vein – be nice and help people when they ask for your help as well.

Try little experiments. The worst thing is to be paralysed with the fear of not doing the perfect action; if you don’t experiment you won’t learn, and then you won’t grow.

This is as true of product development as it is of personal development. There’s a quote that says you have a 0% chance of succeeding if you don’t try at all.

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

I don’t have a specific time I work until, but it’s not very late, and it changes depending on the day.

As I work from home, it’s all about work-life blend for me.

I try and make it work so that I’m able to take care of my little one as much I need to, and still be able to finish the things that need doing during the workday.

This may mean I pick up a few emails or work on some projects a bit late occasionally. It’s not a problem for me – it’s just a way of shuffling my time around to fit everything in.

My wind-down routine is to listen to some relaxing music on Spotify as I drift off to sleep.

What was your favourite childhood toy?

Books, actually! I know books aren’t toys but I remember reading a lot.

I moved around a lot as a kid so didn’t really have a favourite toy I took with me everywhere, funnily enough.

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

I’d ask Hedy Lamarr what it was like being a female technologist in the 1940’s, especially as what she is really known for is her acting skill.

So many women in tech aren’t seen as credible technologists when they are – especially female founders pitching for investment – so I’d like to know if anything’s really changed since then.

Sign up to Ada’s List, and learn more about Ada’s List Conf

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.