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Balancing the Grind with Carol Meyers, Venture Partner at Glasswing Ventures

Carol Meyers is a Venture Partner at Glasswing Ventures, a Boston-based venture firm investing in the future of AI (artificial intelligence) and frontier tech.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am a venture partner at Glasswing Ventures, a Boston-based venture firm investing in the future of AI (artificial intelligence) and frontier tech.  It’s exciting because as pre-seed and seed stage investors, we meet and invest in entrepreneurs who will be leading the next wave in tech. 

In addition to this part-time role (I work one day per week with Glasswing), I am a board member and go-to-market strategy advisor to several public and private companies.

As a little girl, I never imagined being a venture investor.  When I entered the work world with a degree in finance, I imagined that I would work at a large, established company. I joined GE’s prestigious financial management program and became an auditor.

I quickly realized, though, that working at a large conglomerate was not my calling. I was recruited by some friends to join a fast-growing software company, Lotus Development. At the time, it was one of the most exciting tech companies around.

At Lotus, I found my true passion. I loved the tech startup world. I loved the fast pace and high energy. I relished being in a smaller ($1B revenue) organization where I was free to make things happen.

It was at Lotus that I was exposed to the go-to-market side of business and I ultimately made the transition from finance to sales and marketing. The new connections and friends that I met at Lotus also led me deeper into the world of startups.

I have had an amazing opportunity to try new roles, work in a variety of sectors within the technology industry, and market everything from $1M enterprise software solutions to $328 annual subscriptions. 

I was a VP of Sales and Chief Marketing Officer for more than 20 years and I had the privilege of growing four companies from early-stage ventures through to an initial public offering (IPO).

While working full-time in my operating roles, I added a few board and advisory roles, just to make sure I was ultra-busy!  In 2018, I became tired of the CMO role. I longed to do something new. 

So last year, I left my full-time role to devote myself 100% to board roles, advisory work, and consulting with high-growth companies.  I am incredibly happy with my choice.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Sure! Most mornings I wake up to check my email, Slack and social media accounts to see if anything important came up since I put my phone away the night before.  I have a cup of tea and catch up on the news. Then, I work-out.  After that, it’s straight to my spare bedroom/office to get my work day started.  

Every day is different.  That’s what I love about my new career.  For example, this morning I had a meeting with an exciting, fast growing company in the Edtech space. Then, I bantered about ideas and shared experiences with the CEO of a cybersecurity scale-up. 

After that, I was in the middle of a podcast interview when the emergency alarm went off in my building and we had to end the recording.  This afternoon, I will be working on a pitch deck for a company that is using AI and robot process automation to dramatically improve and reduce the costs of customer engagement. 

Later, I will be consulting with an advisor about audit committees; helping one of my companies fill an executive role; and talking with a recent college grad seeking career advice. Finally, I’ll finish my day with a couple hours of strategy work for two different companies; a cybersecurity company and another blazing trails in customer experience.

I have to admit my days aren’t as crazy as they used to be when I was a CMO.  In those days, I rose every morning at 5am, exercised, and then raced to the office with an hour-long commute. 

Today, I am still working full-time but I get to exercise my brain more fully – I think about different industries and tackle a variety of challenges.  I work with companies generating revenue of $400M and others generating less than $10M.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

It does.  As a self-employed investor, advisor and board member, I no longer have an external office. I work from my home every day.  It took some getting used to. 

I find it’s important to create boundaries between work time and home time.  I make sure that I choose a time to end my day, and I close the door to my office.  If I think of something I forgot to do, I write myself a note, and then leave it.  I can do it tomorrow.

My day is flexible.  I might take 60 to 90 minutes in the middle of the day to go for a walk. Or I might steal 30 minutes here and there to work on a puzzle.  Sometimes, I finish work at 4 pm and sometimes 7 pm. My clients are all around the world, so I need to span several time zones. I need to be flexible about when my day starts and ends.  

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think work-life balance is a misleading concept.  Balance connotes equality, equilibrium, 50/50.  To me, it’s more about being clear about your goals and priorities and making sure you are allocating your time and energy against those priorities. 

It’s a personal thing.  There is no singular or universal concept of “work-life balance.” Some people “live to work,” others “work to live,” and many people live somewhere between those two places.  What’s important is to know what matters to you. What you want.

Then, construct your life and time around your goals and preferences in a way that satisfies you, both personally and professionally. Sometimes, it’s about the order of things. For example, you might put some of your career goals “on the back burner” in order to concentrate on personal goals – or vice versa – for a period of time.

In another year, you might reverse those priorities. Your work and personal life may be completely intertwined or completely separate. There isn’t one right answer – there is only YOUR answer.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

About 14 years ago, I started a work-out habit. I created an environment at home that enabled me to get a mix of strength and cardio exercise. I woke up at 5 am, headed to my basement, and exercised.

This was critical to me being at my best. My energy improved tremendously, and early morning exercise helped reduce stress. The pandemic upended this habit because I no longer have a gym in my house. I moved into a condo in the city and the gym in our complex has been closed. As a result, I had to adjust my routine but I still commit to solid exercise every day.

In the last year, the biggest change I made was to step away from a full-time executive role. I am now self-employed.  While I loved my past career, it no longer worked for me. I had to make a change.  I love what I am doing today. Every day is a new adventure.  

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend? 

I rarely call anything a favourite as my tastes change all the time.  What I recommend now are:

The New Book: No Rules, Rules by Reed Hastings

The Classic Books: Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers and Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Podcasts:

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Calendly has been game changing for me in my new self-employment. I am constantly booking meetings with people and I have two different calendars (one for Glasswing and one personal). Calendly makes it easy to schedule – no more back and forth emails. People I have shared my Calendly with love the simplicity.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

This is tough for me to answer since I don’t fully believe in the concept.  What I would LOVE to know is how high-powered, multi-faceted people like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos prioritize and allocate their time. It sounds like that’s exactly what Daily Routines will tell me so I need to read your book!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Get clear about what matters most to you. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to learn? What gives you energy and what saps your energy? Construct your life around your priorities and desires, not someone else’s.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.