What does the career path and day in the life look like for a Growth Manager at LeafLink?
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work? What was your very first job (before any internships)?
I guess I’ll have to out myself as a Long Islander on the first question! I grew up in Long Beach, New York. Now, I (thankfully) live in Brooklyn. My dad was a commercial lobster fisherman (he’s been shipwrecked twice), then, in a total 180, became an accountant. My mom worked in advertising, which is where I get my love of marketing. My first job was as a first hire at a seaside cafe in Long Beach called Paninis and Bikinis. I have been a first hire at five or six startups now and I love to joke that it started in high school. I worked the register, but it was so new and busy that sometimes, I even had to run into the kitchen and make the paninis myself.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school? After studying Environmental Science at Cornell University, you turned your professional career towards marketing. What event or idea sparked your interest in building a career in marketing and growth?
I majored in Environmental Science and minored in Business at Cornell University. As part of the business requirement, I took a seminar during my senior year in entrepreneurship. Every week, a different entrepreneur would speak about how they built their startup and made it a success. It was amazing. That class changed my life because I immediately knew I just had to work in startups - the hustle and the idea of building something completely new hooked me. Nothing had ever felt so right.
Right after college, I landed an internship working for Tory Johnson, an entrepreneur who has launched a few successful businesses, including Spark & Hustle, a consultancy for female founders. It was a great fit because I was interested specifically in startups and entrepreneurship. I mostly spent my time on marketing - I worked on Tory’s TV segments and conferences - and that’s how I launched my career in the field. After that, I worked as a first hire doing marketing (and a variety of other things, as a first hire typically does) for a series of sustainability startups. In 2016, I started at LeafLink - which is still green, but in a different kind of way!
You have a lot of marketing experience in different roles. Can you share the details on how the different roles have led you down the path of where you are today?
I’ve been a first hire six times in various capacities, most recently at LeafLink, where I’ve now been for 2.5 years. We now have 40 employees (and counting), so we’ve grown 10x since I started. We’ve built an amazing culture of smart, passionate people and have a ton of fun together.
I’ve worked in marketing at all of these roles, and I’ve learned that adaptability is key. Even though you always carry your prior experience to the next job, I like to walk in the door on my first day as if I know absolutely nothing. I learn the industry, the product, everything for the first time, and then think about the best way to grow that company, even if it’s outside my current skill set. Most of the time, that means learning a completely new type of marketing. It would be remiss to rest on what I know, because the answer is often in what I don’t know yet. For me, that’s what’s most exciting. I’m bored by being an expert in one thing - I would rather be an expert in the company’s challenges, and constantly learn what I need to know to solve them.
That’s why I’m now a Growth Manager, because the core of the role is understanding LeafLink’s goals, our clients, and our data, and finding opportunities to grow - even if they’re outside of what we’re already doing.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Growth Manager at LeafLink?
As Growth Manager, I report on high-level company KPIs to our team. I then use that data to find opportunities for growth - whether it’s customer acquisition, activation, retention, or upsell - and build cross-team initiatives around those opportunities. As an example, earlier this year I reviewed our data and found that most cannabis dispensaries stock up for 4/20 starting a full month prior. So, I worked with our Product & Marketing teams to create our own “Cyber Monday” for cannabis, where brands post their best 4/20 deals on LeafLink starting on March 20th. The products featured in “3.20 Deals” saw a 33% increase in sales over products not included in the promotion.
Any tips for someone considering a career in marketing and growth?
Data is king. If you want to be in marketing or growth, you have to love analyzing data. Now, virtually everything is measurable.
Also, while it’s likely helpful to study marketing or business, I actually find that my lack of formal schooling has made me a better marketer, and now, Growth Manager. I was never taught the rules or a “way of doing things”, so I find it easier to think outside the box - because it’s the only way I know how. It also keeps me hungry for knowledge, so I’m constantly learning. The good news is that we’re surrounded by great marketing to learn from. On the subway to work, I’ll read every ad in the subway to understand why and how the messaging works (or doesn’t). I read my email subject lines to see which ones I open and which I don’t, and think about why. I look at the brands that remarket to me on Facebook and Instagram, and think about how I would optimize that campaign, or optimize the marketing experience itself (I really wish Instagram opened ad click-throughs in a browser on my phone, rather than in-app, so that I could finish shopping later, for example).
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
I drink iced coffee every morning (even in winter), and I’m known for my caffeine consumption in the office. I am a true believer that Red Bull gives you wings.
What time do you get into the office?
I’m always early - usually by 8:45, but sometimes earlier.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
In the morning, I get to the office before 9 and create my to-do list for the day. Typically, I spend a couple of hours in meetings with coworkers, coordinating or assisting with cross-team initiatives. The rest of the day is split between data analysis and helping execute on the growth projects I’ve started. And I always make sure to leave time to rehash last night’s Bachelorette. I even started a bracket!
What is your go-to office snack?
I’m actually in charge of office snacks! I love surprise snacks. Whenever we’re all working hard and quiet in the office, I like to surprise the everyone with a box of doughnuts. I recently hired a Task Rabbit to drive to Queens to get my coworker’s favorite pizza for his one year anniversary. One time I planned a Sopranos snack break with gabagool and mutz.
What time do you head out of the office? Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I usually “leave” at 6 pm, but I often work once I get home, and I also work most Sundays. I love what we’re doing at LeafLink and we’re growing very quickly - so I work a lot. I make it a rule to unplug from Friday night and Saturday, because it’s important to disconnect, rest, and prevent burnout. I delete Slack from my phone on Saturdays (Slack-free Saturdays!) as a personal rule.
Any productivity hacks?
I love to self-gamify by rewarding myself for my work. I’ll tell myself “I can’t go to lunch until I finish this project” or “if I send this report by 9 pm, then I can listen to my favorite podcast”. Then I make sure to really spend the time enjoying the “reward”, no matter how small. That way, I’m able to take breaks and recover while also pushing myself to deliver on a high volume of quality work.
I have an old school to-do list system where I list all of my tasks in my notebook for the day, then draw a checkbox next to each. I have a rainbow of highlighters that I use to color code each checkbox in the order they need to be done. It’s caught on, and now a few other coworkers use my system.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
- AstrologyZone (I love horoscopes! I’m an Aries.)
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
I’m proudest of starting LeafLink’s referral program, which was one of my first initiatives back in early 2016. It’s been responsible for 60% of our dispensary signups, and we have over 75% market penetration in all of our markets, so it’s really moved the needle for us in a big way.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
We have an amazing group of investors, including Lerer Hippeau, who provide great advice. Jacob Goodman and Josh Arbit at Fresh Prints have been especially helpful for marketing and growth - I call them whenever I need a jolt of creativity. Ian Loizeaux, the founding partner at Nosara Capital, is also great at inspiring me to think about our data in new ways.
It’s a bit cliche, but I look a lot to Sheryl Sandberg for inspiration as a female professional. I read quotes from her before heading into work most mornings. I also have the quote “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else” from Eric Ries on my desk - it reminds me to stay hungry.