In our weekly interview, a co-founder of AchieveMint talks about the usefulness of terror and why Brave New World is essential reading for technologists.
By Lauren Kim (Events Coordinator, Women 2.0)
Watch the video above to hear Christine Lemke, co-founder and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of AcheiveMint, discuss the virtue of uncertainty for entrepreneurs. For our weekly Lightning Lessons Q&A, Christine dishes on the time she asked her mentor, “Is it okay to be terrified?,” tells us why she loves Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and opines on the proliferation of quantified self in the year 2020. Enjoy!
What is the one thing you wish you knew at the start of your entrepreneurial journey?
Accept that you won’t have the right answer at the beginning of your journey. Instead, seek out the answer by moving decisively in almost any direction. If you’re tinkering, listening, reflecting and learning, the market will guide you to the right thing. You will die if you stay still.
What do you love most about your job?
Building tools to help people live higher quality lives and ideating with brilliant, dedicated colleagues.
What is your favorite or most inspiring book that you would recommend to founders and why?
I’ll be provocative and recommend a favorite — Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. He paints a picture of a future that is both marvelous to me as a technologist but disturbing to me as a human. It pushes us to question the very technologies we are building and better understand the double-edged swords our inventions can become. The same advances we proudly create can chip away at our collective humanity.
Something slightly more instructive and less dark I can recommend is Influence: The Science of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. He writes authoritatively on persuasion, a skill that’s helped me be a better entrepreneur.
Where is the one place you go to relax and get away from the pressures of startup life?
There’s a picnic table in San Francisco’s South Park right next to a playground and under the canopy of a giant tree. It’s easily accessible during the day and divine to sit quietly and listen to a favorite soundtrack. If lucky, you’ll catch a couple stealing a sweet moment or a family playing happily together and you’ll remember why you do what you do.
Who is your greatest role model and what would you ask them if you could meet her or him for coffee?
I have and I asked: “Is it ok to be terrified?” The reply: “If you weren’t scared about your startup, you’d forget to nurture it. You have the ability to manifest an important idea and because of that, you have to share it. When you understand it like that, you’ll see there is no way to fail.”
What do you envision the future will look like in the year 2020?
In 2020, our social interactions will be remarkably different. The proliferation of sensors and generation of data from these devices are starting to lend voice to the silent signals only the deep recesses of our minds could perceive and process. Today we are quantifying steps, but this will spread to the quantification and conscious perception of our in-moment moods and emotions, too. When we see how many steps we’ve walked or calories we’ve ingested, we fall prey to the Hawthorne Effect and walk a little further and perhaps skip dessert. What happens when we can also “see” our moods and emotions unfold in real-time? How about when we can see others’?
Want to hear Christine explain why “Entrepreneurs Must Embrace Uncertainty”? Watch the video above!
What Is Lightning Lessons?
Lightning Lessons is a weekly live broadcast on Wednesday mornings where Women 2.0 sits down with a tech innovator to learn about the game-changing stories of their startup journey and the hard lessons they learned along the way. Take a quick ten minutes out of your day to learn from the mistakes and feats of your predecessors. Innovators jump in a Google Hangout On Air moderated by a Women 2.0 team member for a bit of story-time and the entire session is broadcast on Google+ for your viewing pleasure. See the full lineup of past and upcoming speakers, and catch up on last week’s session with Elaine Wherry (Co-founder & COO, Meebo – acquired by Google).
Read on to learn a little more about our upcoming Lightning Lessons #11 speaker.
Christine Lemke (Co-Founder & COO, AchieveMint)
Christine is co-founder of AchieveMint, an online patient engagement system that leverages data analytics to deliver personalized health behavior change recommendations. Previously, she co-founded Sense Networks, named BusinessWeek Top 25 Most Intriguing Startups, with machine learning professors from MIT and Columbia. She also co-founded ChannelIQ, a product analytics company, and held roles at Microsoft XBOX and 3iGroup in Paris. In the past, she has mentored startups through NYC Techstars and Entrepreneurs Roundtable.
Lauren Kim (@LaurenJisoo) currently serves as the events coordinator at Women 2.0. Lauren holds a BA in Development Studies from U.C. Berkeley and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and women’s issues. In her spare time, she competes in hackathons and snowboards.