Innovation Junkies Podcast

Anastasia Leng, Product Iteration Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

The Jeffs talk with Anastasia Leng, CEO of CreativeX & founder of Hatch. They discuss many must-know topics of innovation, including: what data-driven creative can do for brands, the links between innovation strategy & leadership, & strategy from a standpoint of customer acquisition.

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkies Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies to generate sustained results for your organization. You’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour we’re going to be sharing specific strategies, tactics, and tips that you can use to grow your business. No matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business, and we’ll dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goals. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkie. To learn more about our GrowthDX, go to innovationjunkie.com/growthDX. Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey everybody. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast. My name is Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, this is Jeff Amerine. Glad to be back for another episode.

Jeff Standridge: Great to see you again, partner.

Jeff Amerine: Well, it’s good to be here. Any day above the ground is a good day at this point.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. Somebody asked me the other day how I was doing, and I said, “I’m able to sit up and take nourishment.”

Jeff Amerine: That’s always a good start, right?

Jeff Standridge: Always a good start. Hey, we’ve got a great guest today, Jeff. We’ve got Anastasia Leng. She is the founder and CEO of CreativeX. She worked with Fortune 500 brands like Unilever, Nestle, Facebook, and others. So, she spent about five, a little more than five years at Google working all over the world, I believe predominantly in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. She co-founded Hatch, one of Time magazine’s top 10 startups to watch in New York. She’s joining us today from New Jersey. Anastasia, great to have you with us today.

Anastasia Leng: Hi, I’m trying to find something better than thanks for having me, but I’m drawing a blank, so great to be here.

Jeff Standridge: That’s all right. It is great to have you and appreciate you joining us at this early hour to start this podcast episode.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, before we get into the serious and fun stuff, we want to talk about something critically important to the rest of the podcast. And that is what is your favorite morning drink? Anastasia, why don’t you lead us off?

Anastasia Leng: Yeah, so I am one of the few people that I know who does not drink coffee, not because I have any sort of beef against coffee. My taste buds are not mature enough. So green tea is my morning drink of choice. I hear it’s got all sorts of antioxidants that make you a better person. That’s not why I drink it. I just kind of like the taste, but yeah, green tea all the way.

Jeff Amerine: Very good. What about you, Jeff?

Jeff Standridge: Well, I only drink coffee when I’m by myself or with somebody. And so I say coffee makes you young, and actually I think it does. I’m actually 85. And so, but no coffee is my morning drink. It’s usually the first thing. Usually just regular coffee with a little bit of half and half or full cream. Now, if I’m out and about I might go buy me one of those expensive coffees, a mocha latte or something like that, but that’s pretty much it. Regular coffee or a mocha.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. So, for me, and I wasn’t going to bring in a visual prop, and this is probably totally inappropriate, but that’s actually not… It’s really bad that that’s within arm’s reach of my podcast set up, but no, that’s not a typical morning drink. But on the afternoon, maybe. So, instead it’s coffee with a little bit of chocolate milk in a Razorback cup.

Jeff Standridge: Go hogs.

Jeff Amerine: That’s sort of the typical morning drink for me and decaf, now because I’m old. So, I’m going to drink decaf.

Anastasia Leng: How did you decide to mix the two together?

Jeff Amerine: I got a D in college chemistry, and I think there’s probably something to that. I just thought it would be good. It’s a little bit like making your own mocha. And I really like chocolate milk. And chocolate milk and coffee together covers up the fact that coffee is really an acquired taste that no one really likes. And so you put chocolate milk in it, it’s pretty good.

Jeff Standridge: I’m wondering why somebody hasn’t invented heavy chocolate whipping cream versus just heavy half and half,or chocolate half and half.

Jeff Amerine: It seems like a good product idea.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah. That’s a really good idea. I think we are done here.

Jeff Standridge: That’s right. Thank you. Anastasia, great having you. Well, Anastasia, let’s talk about you. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and we’ve talked about your years at Google and your being a co-founder of Hatch. And now you’re founder and CEO of CreativeX. And we’ll talk about what CreativeX does in a few minutes in a few minutes, but let’s talk a little bit about you and how you got to where you are, your journey, if you will.

Anastasia Leng: Yes. So my journey is a series of serendipitous accidents. I started at Google. I started my career there. I did a combination of different things, starting from product marketing and then moved into a team called new business development or new initiatives. And really the entire purpose of that team was to launch new things that had never been done before and build new products. And Google was an amazing place to work, but eventually you do anything for long enough, and you find yourself wanting a change or wanting to push yourself, and put yourself in a place of sort discomfort and unfamiliarity. And so I left Google to start a company called Hatch, which was an e-commerce company, despite all the lovely accolades that business never really took off, no matter how hard we tried to make it work.

But the silver lining was that in the process of trying to save that business, we stumbled onto an idea that ended up becoming the phoenix rising from the ashes of Hatch and became CreativeX. And so in this case, innovation really did live in failure in some ways. And so I’ve been running CreativeX for the last six years now. Arguably, we’ve been a lot more successful than my first company, but that first experience of having a company that didn’t work and failing at sort of everything we tried was I think really pivotal and fundamental to having a company that is showing a lot more signs of success now. So I think that the biggest thing that I found in my career is I’ve always gravitated towards the unknown. I’ve always gravitated towards things where I wasn’t sure if I could make it work. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be successful at it, but that is what sort of drives me and what excites me.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. Woman after my own heart there in terms of kind of being that utility player that just jumps into things that, hey, go figure. You may not remember. There used to be a Life cereal commercial, where they would say, “Give it to Mikey, he’ll eat anything.” I was kind of the Mikey in my career. Give it to Standridge, he’ll eat anything, right?

Jeff Amerine: Mikey is 75 years old now. He’s older than we are.

Jeff Standridge: He drinks a lot of coffee, and so he looks younger.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah, he does.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah, no, absolutely.

Jeff Standridge: Well, tell us a little bit about what you learned from your Hatch, you say that company never really took off and how CreativeX was a phoenix rising from the ashes. Talk a little bit about your key learnings from the Hatch experience. I believe we learn as much from our failures or temporary setbacks as we do from our successes. So talk a little bit about that.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah. So I think that the first… I think in some ways Hatch was doomed to fail from the start. And the reason for that was when I left Google to start Hatch. I left because I wanted out, right? And Google’s a great place to work. It was nothing to do with that, more just about the fact that I wanted a change. And I interviewed at a bunch of other places, got a bunch of other job offers, but ultimately nothing felt right. And I thought I wanted to sort of strike out on my own, but I didn’t spend the time, or do the legwork to figure out is Hatch a good business? What are the unit economics? I still remember an investor, one of the first investors I talked to when I was fundraising for Hatch, and he asked me, “Why are you doing this? Why are you building this company?”

And I said I’m really passionate about this space. And I really think this is the kind of product that should exist and all of that. And he started laughing and I said, “Well, what’s so funny. Why are you laughing?” And he said, “Every first-time entrepreneur always answers that question from a place of passion. Every second-time entrepreneur says to me, “Here are the economics, here’s the profitability margin, here’s the market.” Right? And so basically I think that long story short here is we just never did the legwork to figure out is Hatch a good business. And as a result of that, spent the next four years trying to make micro improvements to get that business to work versus we were sort of doomed to fail in some ways, but that said, a lot of other than prepare up front and really make sure you understand the business that you’re getting into, which sounds really obvious.

But I think especially in technology, there’s so much glorifying of the founder and this idea of that having a startup that’s not succeeding is somehow part of the journey of ultimate success that I think sometimes it actually clouds the fact that startups that aren’t succeeding may not be succeeding for a reason. That’s said, when we were building Hatch, we probably hit every milestone that we could under the sun. We had a hard time raising money. I had a co-founder who left midway through, because he realized the startup hustle wasn’t for him. And so one of the other big lessons that we learned was really in making sure that you have people who are as motivated as you to get to whatever that ultimate destination is. And ultimately the journey and are here along for the ride of the journey.

I think one of the biggest setbacks that we had is my co-founder at the time realized that his heart wasn’t actually in technology startups, and he wanted to go be a lawyer. But as a company with two founders, when one leaves, it’s a very big and emotional setback for the team. So, I think, for me, one of the key learnings now is as I’ve been building the founding team for this, and even the management team, to some extent, actually learning how to work with someone in depth and having that work experience then before you jump in, has been really important for me, because it allows you to have enough trust that you will get through the setbacks together.

Jeff Standridge: So, you mentioned you never did the legwork to ensure that the business, that it was the right business or the business was successful. Talk a little bit about some of that legwork that you’ve now, you went back to the drawing board, so to speak, with CreativeX, and talk about the legwork you’ve done with CreativeX that you feel like you didn’t do with Hatch.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah, absolutely. So, with Hatch, one of the big issues that we had is we couldn’t get… Hatch was an e-commerce site, right? We couldn’t get people to come to our site and buy our products, which is a really important part of being an ecommerce business. And so we started trying to think about how do we understand consumer preferences so we can get more people on. And we started seeing that the imagery, and video we were using was really fundamental to the conversion path that our users were taking. But again, as Hatch was failing, we were trying to figure out this product for ourselves to save our own business. And as we started seeing relationships between what was in the imagery and video we were putting and how our consumers reacted to it, we started making decisions based on that, and performance went up, and the company started doing a lot better. Long story short, even though we couldn’t save Hatch, as a business, we saw that we had built the foundation of something that had gotten Hatch’s revenue and trajectory to have a massive change.

And actually I wish I could say we saw this, and we were like, “Yes, this is brilliant. This is what we should be doing.” But actually it took someone else pointing it out to us for us to realize that in this process we’d stumbled upon something else. And in this case, it was an investor who was actually taking a deeper look at Hatch as a business and said, “Well where’s this growth curve coming from and what are you doing?” And we’d explain the process that we had been going through in order to try and stabilize the business. And he pointed out that every company was going through the same thing right now. Every company was moving from a place where the way they were communicating was inherently visual. And so as a result, they needed more analytics to help them make better Creative decisions.

And he actually offered us some money, which was amazing, because that thing wasn’t a product. That was some experiment we were running internally. And I remember at that time, because it was a very emotional time, to be frank. We had this business that wasn’t working. I had a team of about 10 people that I could barely afford to pay. And we were lucky enough to get a couple of acquisition offers, again, mostly of the sort of acqui-hire variety. No one was going to retire off of this. And then we got this term sheet out of the blue from an investor who said, “I see something here. I think you and your team should go build this instead.” And before we took the term sheet, what I said is, I said “I’m going to go talk to a bunch of people that I think are the likely buyers of whatever the nugget of this technology is and see how they respond.”

And the response was incredible. Right? We went out there, we had no PowerPoint deck. We had no product demo. We had nothing to show them. We just said hey we told them the story, right? We said this was the Hatch problem. Here’s some things we did. Here’s what we saw, is this interesting? Do you have a use case for this technology? And what we heard with a resounding sort of thud was everyone we talked to basically leaned in and said, “Can we sign up for your beta?” And we’re like, “We don’t have a beta.” And one of the biggest signs, there was a customer, one of the largest brands in the world. We were lucky enough where again, we somehow I basically trolled through every connection I had to try and talk to as many CMOs and senior-level people in marketing organizations.

And one of the folks that we had gotten in touch with, was someone at Unilever, again, one of the biggest brands in the world, second largest advertiser in the world. And we talked to them about this, and they said we desperately need something like this. And it told us we were onto something and it gave us confidence. And the reality is when you compare the Hatch journey versus the CreativeX journey, I’m not saying CreativeX is easy. It’s not, but everything had Hatched felt like you’re wading through mud. It was always an uphill battle. And with CreativeX, while things have been difficult, you feel like there’s kind of a nice wind behind you that also is pushing you forward, which is the market forces and the fact that there’s real consumer demand for the things that we’re building.

Jeff Amerine: Hey, folks. We’ll be right back with the episode. But first we want to tell you about a limited opportunity to take advantage of our GrowthDX. For a limited time, we’re offering a free strategy call to see whether our unique diagnostic tool is right for you. Go to innovationjunkie.com/growthDX to learn more.

Jeff Standridge: You just said something that another podcast guest a few weeks ago said as well. He said, “When they’re looking at an innovation, they’re looking to innovate into a space where there is a tailwind versus a space where there is a headwind.” And I just heard you describe the same thing with Hatch. You were constantly fighting against a headwind, and you found the nugget that had a tailwind behind it, and that was the genesis of CreativeX.

Anastasia Leng: That’s right. That’s right.

Jeff Amerine: You’ve gone through this process of iteration, and you had this, in a way, this kind of accidental finding that launched CreativeX based on what you were doing in Hatch. How does your strategy work today within CreativeX? Strategy from a standpoint of customer acquisition and all that goes into that? Talk a little bit about the strategy and how you bring that together and maybe some guidance for others that are in a similar place.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah. I wish I had some soundbite that was going to magically unlock doors for everyone. But the reality for us is it’s a lot of experiment and learn. One of our values at the company is called thinking curiously, operating analytically. And what that means and how it sort of manifests itself is my general rule of thumb is I’ll say yes to anything once. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s not illegal. You want to try something crazy. Here’s a little bit of budget go play, right? But the view is that you come back after that experiment, and I don’t care if you failed or succeeded, because that’s still learning. And you tell me what you saw, what you learned, what the data says, and what we’re going to do as a result of this learning that we had.

So, fundamentally, I think right now, and again where we are now and were before when we started is a little bit different. Before we stumbled, even though we had this kernel of what became CreativeX, it actually took us, I believe, 12 different product iterations until we found the one where rubber finally met the road. And we saw customers start to adopt this in mass. So I think that process never stops. When you’re kind of at the place where you have product market fit and it’s growing, you start to experiment a little bit more within that product on a micro scale, right? So, rather than thinking about, hey, what is this big thing that I could build that will change the way people do work in the space? Hopefully that’s what product market fit gets you. And you start thinking about what are the other jobs to be done around this?

What are the complementary and parallel elements that I could bring onto the product to continue driving value. But there’s also, especially in the B2B space, a huge, huge element of strategy, frankly, if it can be described this way is just listening to your customers. And I think there is a big distinction between listening to your customers and doing what they tell you versus listening to your customers and truly understanding what is the pain point they have and what is the problem they’re trying to solve. So I’m a bit on sort of repeat with this quote, because I say this to my team all the time, but whenever the team comes to me and says, “Hey, here’s what the client wants. They want to put a button here so we should put a button here.”

I love to talk to them about the fact that what Henry Ford said, which is if I’d asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster course. And that’s kind of how we think about product strategy and innovating within the company is understanding the need but also being able to then put that need in that pinpoint on our creative steroids and imagining something that still helps the problem, but in a way that we think is more global and more macro.

Jeff Standridge: So, let’s talk about CreativeX specifically in terms of the concept of data-driven creative. Talk about what data-driven creative is and the nature of your business in that regard.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah, absolutely. So data-driven creative as a concept gets mixed reviews. And so I think it’s useful to take a step back and think about sort of the landscape we’re in, which is that we’re creating more and more visual content. The way we communicate, not only with brands or with consumers, but with each other is inherently a lot more through imagery and video. And given that imagery and video now make up the bulk of the content and communication that we make, we see there needs to be a sort of a shared level of understanding around not only are we all marching to the beat of the same drum as a brand where we’re making all this content. Are we utilizing best practices? Are we being consistent with our brand values? Are we being representative of our audience? Are we emphasizing the work we’re doing on social good? Essentially, there’s a lot of onus that’s put on the creative to do all the work of communicating your brand values.

What you stand for. Make yourself attractive to customers and consistently show improved performance. And before this wasn’t such a problem, because we would have a hundred creatives, and we’d sort of put them all in one place. And we were able to analyze that using the human eye. But when we have a hundred thousand creatives, 500,000 creatives, which is not uncommon for brands, by the way to make in one year, you need to have a level of data and analysis that weaves all of these together. So you can continue to get shared learnings around not only how you’re communicating but also what’s working and what’s not. I’ll give you an example that brings us all to life. So, we’re working with a high street bank a few years ago who prided themselves on being the most diverse bank, the most diverse sort of lender and bank out there, and diversity and representation was really important to their core brand values.

And so we used our technologies to analyze their content for them. And what we found was that in the course of the last year, not a single image or video had featured a person of color. Now I use this example because obviously that is an anecdote and that anecdote is very extreme, but it’s real, right? So, you have this brand who claims to be very diverse and yet not a single creative asset features a person who’s not white. And why is that? Is that because they don’t believe in their value? Not at all. It’s because they have to create so much content, that process is decentralized. People are thinking about the day-to-day of like, hey, if this is a content, a piece of content where I need someone to open a bank account, or sign up for a credit card or sign up for a newsletter, you’re not thinking about all those other things that that piece of content has to communicate wait, right?

Which is in this case, their commitment to diversity and representation and fair lending practices and all of that. So one of their entire brand values was never emphasized in all of their content, which is where this idea of data-driven creative comes from. It doesn’t mean you need to let the data tell you what to do. It means a data is actually not only a foundation on top of what you can learn, but an accelerant that helps you take stock as to whether or not you’re making the right decisions for your brand and course correct quickly and accordingly before you do really long sustaining damage to your overall brand values.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. That’s crazy.

Jeff Amerine: We like to think about innovation strategy and leadership as being linked in many respects. Talk a little bit about your leadership style and how that’s informed the culture and how all that works for you at CreativeX.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah. It’s a loaded question mostly, because it is something that is changing for me. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection, because five years ago we started, again, sort of a five, 10-person company. We were the same 10-person company for about three and a half of those five years. We then started growing very quickly when we hit on our product number 12 and went from 10 to about 30 people in the last 18 months. And I think we’re going to go up from about 30 people to 70 people this year. Right? So, again, the numbers still are relatively small, but it’s been a lot of change for us. And I think, if I’m being honest, what is required as a leader, changes dramatically with each of those milestones.

And the process I’m going through now is figuring out what are the things I need to shed? What are the things I need to learn and what does being a good leader at this next stage really look like? And I’ll be honest. I don’t really have the answer yet. Certainly in the early stages, my leadership style and I don’t even think of it that way. I think I do what feels sort of authentic and natural to me, I’ve always been sort of one with the team. I don’t consider myself above anything or too good for anything. I would never ask the team to do something that I, myself wouldn’t roll up my sleeves and do. I’m very much sort of into-the-trenches type of founder and type of CEO.

I practice radical candor, so never BS. Right? I think the way that I see to motivate people is you treat them like adults. And when we’ve struggled, I’ve never hidden it. I’ve never sugar-coated it. We practice, again, sort of radical transparency of the company where everyone in the company can see down to how much money’s in our bank account. The only thing that people have opted not to see is each other’s salaries, but everything else, our board packs, everything is visible to everyone on the team. I think my leadership style up until now has been to lead by doing, and this is the part where I’m questioning whether or not that is what is required and necessitated for a company CEO when you start to get to a 100-person team. Because the reality is there are people who can do the things much better than I can.

And I have to really think about what is the unique value I bring to the company, and how do I kind of clear my time to focus on that? And a lot of what the teams are asking me to do now is think about how do I weave all these different places in the company together? How do I make sure that everyone is aligned on what the priorities are, what we’re marching towards, et cetera, and sort of set a strong vision for the company, and make sure that we have all the resources to execute on that vision, which I’ll be honest, is sometimes a little bit difficult for me, because I take a lot of intrinsic value and sort of self-accomplishment through doing.

And sometimes doing things like setting a vision, which doesn’t result in like a PowerPoint deck or like kind of a tangible deliverable you can give someone, and be like, “Hey, I did this.” That’s a little scary for someone, especially when your whole career right up until a certain point is you differentiate yourself by doing that’s where we all start. We all start by being doers. And then eventually we become sort of strategist and all this other stuff. But I think that that shedding process, is a process I’m going through and it’s an uncomfortable process, but I think it’s a necessary process to be a good leader at the next stage.

Jeff Standridge: You just described many of the tenants of what Jim Collins would call level-five leadership. So if you’ve not read Good to Great, I encourage you to look at that. Yeah. So, he talks about level five leadership, someone who’s leading from behind, so to speak, in many instances, and leading alongside. One of the things that I have entrepreneurs and business leaders do is to have them take a look at the projected annual revenue for the company and divide it by 2,000. 2,000 is approximately the number of full-time working hours, whatever “full-time” is, right?

If you were to take a salary position at Google, for instance, they’re actually going to put into the payroll system 2080 hours, but take it to 2000 because it makes the math easier. And so the CEO of a million-dollar company, their time is worth about $500 an hour to the company, their leadership time. And so we like to talk about operating at the top of your license, and how much time are you spending doing things that are way less value than the $500 an hour tasks that other people could perform just as well, if not better. So, it’s really good that you’re making that observation as well.

Anastasia Leng: Yes. And one of the things that my, I recently got a CEO coach who’s been very helpful as I’ve been making this journey. And one of the things that he helped me recontextualize as I was struggling with this, with this transition, is giving things away sometimes. I have the tendency, especially in the early days, to take on things that were the kind of the least glamorous things in the company, the least sexy, et cetera, because I wanted my team to have a really good learning experience here. So I tried my best to seek the good stuff for them. And one of the, but again, from my point of view, am I spending my time on the things that are most valuable, obviously that’s a problem.

And so one of the things my coach helped me recontextualize was this idea that giving things, the ins and outs of what it’s really like to build a startup, those non-glamorous sometimes non-sexy project is actually a gift, especially to people who may want to go out and do this for themselves, because they’re getting a real behind the scenes look of what it is like to get a machine running and off the ground. And it’s not always about the glamorous work that’s written about in the newspapers. A lot of it is really difficult, kind of roll-your-sleeves-up kind of get into their work. And by holding that back from them, I actually wasn’t giving them part of that foundation experience, which is why a lot of people go to startups, right? So they can learn faster. They can get kind of real visibility and transparency to how businesses work, and seeing this from that point of view, that this is a gift for someone else, really helped me start to shed and let go of some of the things I was holding onto.

Jeff Amerine: Do you think through that process you can still figure out those things that give you energy? Will there be enough there left for you as you make this transition, as you’re introspective that there’s still activities that give you energy and make you excited about doing it every day?

Anastasia Leng: Yeah, it’s a great question, because it’s very rare to think about that, right? So I was asked recently, to your point, “What are the things that give you energy? And the things that make you happy?” And I cannot tell you last time I thought about that question, and it’s because you’re just in survival mode for so long. So it’s like, my happiness never mattered. You’re just like, just do. Do, survive, make this thing work. My happiness is like I’m an adult, my work happiness is not that important now. And then when I’ve been thinking about this a lot more, because my belief is happy people do better work, right? And I think the short answer is yes. I think there’s a lot of stuff for me to do that will give me a lot of happiness because fundamentally I like creating a culture and a place for people to thrive in.

And I like doing things that haven’t been done before. And the way I did them at the beginning was by kind of instituting new processes or building a new product. But now if I actually, I can turn my sites onto something a little bit bigger, which is how do I build a fundamentally different kind of company? That’s really exciting to me. Like one of the things we’ve just done, which is, in some ways, terrifying for a company that relies on investor backing, but I think it’s fundamentally the right thing to do is we start experimenting with a four-day workweek at CreativeX, meaning that Friday is a day that we still pay people as though they’re five day. So, we’re salary, full-time team members, but we give them Friday to do what they want. We call it an elevate Friday.

And the idea is that you can use that time to do anything. Train for a marathon, read a book, you can catch up on work if you want to. But it’s your day. And fundamentally, the reason for that is because I think the way that the best companies in the world differentiated themselves even now like free dry cleaning, free lunches, dah, dah, dah, dah, all that stuff is not going to be what people want from the best companies five to 10 years from now. I think that the relationship we have with work is fundamentally changing. Whereas work is one asset of our lives or one facet of our lives rather. And we want our employers to respect the fact that we are multidimensional individuals who do more than just work for a living.

Jeff Standridge: That’s great, Anastasia. As we start to wind this conversation down, by the way, we’re with Anastasia Leng co-founder and CEO of CreativeX. Final question, give us three attributes of CreativeX that you would like to see over the next, say three to five years. If you were to go out three to five years and describe three attributes of the company that don’t exist today, what might those attributes be?

Anastasia Leng: Self-sufficient. They can’t be at all true today.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You certainly want to continue doing as well.

Anastasia Leng: Okay. So, self-sufficient, meritocratic, and people-first.

Jeff Standridge: Very good. Meritocracy. I love a meritocracy. It’s my favorite word. And it’s my favorite kind of leadership culture. So, well, it has been great having you with us today, Anastasia, very excited to see where your company goes and the great things that you do. Jeff, any final words?

Jeff Amerine: No, I mean, we all take a bit of inspiration from hearing this story, and Jeff and I have both been through similar paths in our lives with things that work, things that didn’t work and that reinforcement to just figure out how to pull the good out of something that didn’t work exactly right, and build on it, it’s always inspiring. So best of luck to you.

Anastasia Leng: Yeah. No, thank you. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. And I think, if this gives people who maybe dealing with their own failures, even an ounce of kind of light at the end of the tunnel, to know that from failure, something much better can stem, like don’t be afraid of failure. Just repurpose it in a different way. Then my job here is done.

Jeff Standridge: Fantastic. Thank you again for being with us. This has been another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. See you next time.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies Podcast, please do us a huge favor. Click the subscribe button right now, and please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

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