Be compassionate — This is a really tough time and everyone is impacted. Avoid the online hate and try to stay positive when you can — people are all trying the best they can.
Asa part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mada Seghete, co–founder and head of strategy at Branch, a leading deep linking and mobile attribution platform.
Mada leads market development and culture initiatives and is a co-founder of Branch, the mobile growth platform for today’s top companies — powering mobile linking and growth for over 40,000 apps and 2 billion monthly users around the world. Born and raised in Romania, Mada came to the US to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and then earned her Masters of Engineering and MBA from Stanford. Mada enjoys playing the latest viral mobile game, binge-watching the hottest sci-fi show, and photographing Branch events. Mada regularly speaks about mobile growth at top tech events like Web Summit and SaaStr, and was included in Linkedin’s Next Wave: 150 top professionals in 15 industries all under 35.
Mada co-founded Branch in 2014, masterminding the community-driven marketing strategy behind the company’s early, explosive success. Today, Branch is the mobile growth platform of choice for over 50,000 apps and 2 billion monthly users around the world, and one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing Unicorns. Mada currently leads strategic market development for Branch, and she remains deeply involved in the company’s global culture initiatives, which have led to several industry awards. Born and raised in Romania, Mada came to the US to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University and then earned her Masters of Engineering and MBA from Stanford. Mada enjoys playing the latest viral mobile games, binge-watching the hottest sci-fi shows, and photographing Branch events. Mada regularly speaks about mobile growth at top global tech events, including Web Summit and SaaStr, and she was featured in Linkedin’s Next Wave: 150 top professionals in 15 industries all under 35.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Sure. Growing up in communist Romania, I never met anyone who owned his or her own business — and I never imagined I would start my own. That all changed when I started a Master’s program at Stanford. I began taking classes at Stanford’s d.school — while also doing some consulting with startups — and found myself contemplating whether I could start a company myself. I shared my thoughts (especially my doubts) with my professor Michael Dearing (who is also a respected VC) and his answer was: “If you don’t do it, whom do you think will?” He reassured me that I had all the possible advantages — good schools, collaboration skills, etc. That was the moment I decided one day I would indeed start my own company.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There are so many, but here are a few:
- The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek really shaped how I think about Branch during this period. The world has different kinds of games: finite games with set rules and players and infinite ones where there’s no winning — just staying in and continuing to go after your mission. In these trying times having an infinite mindset, thinking long-term and figuring out how your business can survive is key.
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown helped me realize many of the mistakes I made as a manager and pushed me to grow in that area.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck helped me develop a growth mindset that was unlike the mindset I grew up with in Romania.
Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective, can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel” by sharing your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- In you have a business, make sure your business survives. I know that might sound harsh (especially if you have to do layoffs or pay cuts), but in the long term, what’s most helpful for people is to have businesses survive and hire them back to keep their jobs during this period.
- Be compassionate — This is a really tough time and everyone is impacted. Avoid the online hate and try to stay positive when you can — people are all trying the best they can. For example, I have noticed people online criticizing sales reps for not being compassionate now. I would ask the world to show compassion to those sales reps too — they are worried about their jobs and are just trying their best — like all of us!
- Give back — Think of ways you can give back to your community. Maybe it’s giving away masks, maybe it’s delivering food to seniors, maybe it’s mentoring people who lost their job, maybe it’s supporting your local businesses. Find ways to give back to your family, community and team as only by helping each other will we be able to survive this.
- Be realistic — I was on a call with the leadership of management consulting firm recently where they referenced research that explored how we tend to be too positive when things are bad, and don’t react fast enough/are too negative when things are good — it’s just human nature. The predictions on what this will mean to the economy are pretty grim — help your friends/family/business stay realistic (e.g., conserve resources, etc.) and it will help everyone later.
- Be hopeful — While this is bad, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and like after every other depression/recession we will see a period of great economic growth when this is over. Stay hopeful, conserve your resources and help others around you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Check in — This is a weird and lonely time. Just check in with people, make sure they are doing ok, make them feel cared for and loved.
- Listen — The best way to get over anxiety is usually to talk about it. Simply listening to those in your life who are having a hard time can do wonders.
- Stay in touch — This weekend is my birthday and I have a few Zoom parties planned with different groups of friends. I am sad I can’t see them in person, but I can’t wait to see them on Zoom.
- Send a gift — While there’s no way to meet in person, you can still send your friend/family/team something small to help remind them that you care.
- Offer hope — There is no better way to get over anxiety than actually offering hope and something to look forward to when this is all over.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Sleep — especially REM sleep — is so important during stressful times. However, getting a good night’s sleep during this period can be incredibly hard — we stay up later, maybe wake up earlier, work out less and are very stressed. One resource that has worked for me is tracking my sleep via a program like the Oura ring. It helps me ensure I am getting enough REM sleep, which for many (including myself) can act as a therapist and help lessen anxiety.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
This is a quote by Teddy Roosevelt called “Man in the Arena”. I changed it slightly and made it about the man or woman in the arena and it’s hanging in our office.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the woman or man who points out how the strong one stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I think it’s easy to criticize and many stay on the sidelines, now online, and offer criticism from an anonymous place. This quote also helps me pick myself back up again after any kind of setback and just get back into the arena.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to start a community around startup monsters — sharing and rallying against the monster that comes with sharing and growing a business. Being a business founder or leader can be hard and lonely at times. I want to help people share those monsters, give them a face and overcome them.