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Mental Stamina of a Great Business Mind: An Interview With Carly Steinbam on How to Stay Mentally Strong When Starting Your Own Business

I had the pleasure of talking to Carly Steinbaum, the founder of De Novo, a mobile recruiting platform that helps attorneys find jobs that are a better fit for their skills, interests, experience, and personalities. After practicing law for a major, international firm and subsequently serving as a legal recruiter for one of the largest […]

I had the pleasure of talking to Carly Steinbaum, the founder of De Novo, a mobile recruiting platform that helps attorneys find jobs that are a better fit for their skills, interests, experience, and personalities. After practicing law for a major, international firm and subsequently serving as a legal recruiter for one of the largest legal recruiting companies, Carly founded De Novo. The startup uses advanced artificial intelligence and trained search professionals to provide attorneys with smart job recommendations and key information about employers and positions, in order to reduce expensive, high levels of attrition in law and speed up hiring times. Carly oversees a team of trained search professionals, developers, and a data scientist, who are all dedicated to the mission of being able to use data and modern tools of technology to improve the way people get jobs and get hired.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get to be where you are right now?

After receiving her undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, Carly attended law school at the University of Southern California. Following graduation, Carly joined the international law firm Sidley Austin and later was recruited to a boutique litigation firm. After leaving the practice of law, Carly became a Director of Legal Recruiting for a large legal recruiting firm and saw how recruiting works from the other side. She became passionate about using data and modern tools of technology to help people like her find a job that would be the right fit for them, having seen first-hand how difficult the job hunting and hiring processes can be. De Novo is the realization of that vision, and an early version has already received positive feedback from lawyers and law firm customers.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How did this quality help you overcome obstacles on the path of becoming an influential and inspiring leader? 

I’m an extrovert. I think it’s interesting that the actual definition of introvert/extrovert is not about whether you are a shy or outgoing person; it has much more to do with whether being around people drains you or gives you energy. I definitely gain energy by being around people. Being an extrovert has helped me overcome obstacles of starting my own business because I enjoy communicating with people, and I do that every day at De Novo. Sometimes they are lawyers who want new jobs, my teammates, or other business partners. Additionally, instead of working from home, I joined a co-working space to be around other entrepreneurs, and doing so has been critical to my success.

What does it mean to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business or an organization?

To me, what it means to be mentally-strong in the hyper-competitive world of running a business is to be able to move forward, no matter what. There are days when it is difficult to get out of bed, and people who are mentally strong know that you have to do that and get something done. People with mental strength know that bad news cannot cripple you, and good news shouldn’t stop your momentum either. Mental strength means being able to have perspective on the bigger picture and not lose yourself.

A lot of people in the business would feel as if talking about mental health makes them appear weak. How do you feel about showing mental strength and setting an example of what it takes to have strong mental stamina to succeed?

People who think that speaking about mental health makes them look weak are, in my mind, very misguided. Indeed, leaders who successfully manage departments and run some of the largest companies know that prioritizing mental health is important because hiring a person means investing in that whole individual. Wise managers know that people go through ups and downs and have their own struggles. Business leaders can set an example by recognizing and admitting how difficult it can be to stay mentally strong and prioritizing their own mental well-being, by doing things like meditation, yoga, or just spending quality family time.

Is there a particular person, a book, or place of wisdom that has inspired you to become a successful and mentally-strong leader?

My grandfather inspired me to be the founder of my own company and a mentally strong leader. My grandfather was a successful entrepreneur, who had a lot of ups and downs in his day. He took risks, and he certainly experienced his share of failures, but he never stopped pushing forward. By the end of his life, he could look back on the company he started (currently run, at least in part, by 3 of his 4 children), the successful investments he made, and the family he had, and he could be very proud of what he accomplished.

Can you give us 5 tips on maintaining strong mental health stamina to succeed in the modern business world? Tell us a little about why each point matters. 

  1. Dress respectably. You certainly don’t need to wear business casual every day (jeans can be totally fine), but you should look at least reasonably put together. If you dress like you care about your appearance, you will be taken more seriously. Going to work in something that looks like pajamas just gives off the impression that you don’t care that much about your work or the company.
  2. Make your bed every day. This might be something you do anyway, most people do. (But I realize many people don’t because they’re of the opinion that they’ll just get back into it later.) If you make your bed, you begin your day with something you have already accomplished. That is a small gesture, but it can set the tone for the rest of the day.
  3. Eat (healthy). Mental and physical stamina are related, and a lot of people get so focused on what they are doing, that they forget to eat (or they run out of time). The brain needs nourishment in order to stay focused and healthy. Accordingly, it is important to consume nutrients (not just junk food) in order to allow your mind to keep operating on a high level. Even if the company lounge is filled with tantalizing snacks, the risk of an afternoon carb coma is not worth the fleeting joy of a vending machine lunch, at least on most days.
  4. Talk to at least one person a day about something besides your work. Sometimes, when we get buried in our work, we forget to socialize with other people about other things that are happening in our lives or the world. If people just talk about work with work-related people every single day (or stare at a computer screen and speak to no one), they have a much better chance of getting burned out. Meaningful human contact is important to everyone’s well-being.
  5. Appreciate your friends and family. When work gets tough, we often take the people who mean most to us for granted. If we can recognize how much those people mean to us, and we can tell them how much they mean to us, we can step back from work – at least for a second – and realize there is more to life than our jobs or our companies.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Being able to unwind and put work down is also important to mental strength and stamina. Whether it’s reading, watching a movie, exercising, or pursuing a hobby, it is important to step back from work at times and allow yourself to do something else. Not only will you feel better because you’ve given your mind a break, you are also making yourself a more interesting, well-rounded person. Besides my guilty pleasure of reality television, I try to go on a hike every weekend, and my favorite activity is exploring the restaurants of Los Angeles.

If the readers of this interview series would like to read more about you, how can they reach out? 

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/denovoapp/
  • Instagram: @denovoapp
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeNovoApp
  • Website: www.denovoapp.com
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/de-novo-app


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