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Meet Michelle Broderick, Cozy's new board director

Adventurer at heart, Broderick shares about her work, her relaxation, and the balance - in both.

Entrepreneur interview by Anna Vodopyanova
October 13, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4a56

Michelle Broderick joined Cozy, the online property management service for landlords and renters, last week as independent board director to serve alongside Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.

Portland-based Cozy, which raised $18.4 million in VC financing, is a growth-stage startup managing more than 16,000 zip codes in all 50 states. Gino Zahnd, co-founder and CEO, says the company has been looking to fill the second independent member seat since it raised its Series B fund this time last year and has spoken with many candidates.

“Michelle was particularly interesting, other than just being a particularly good human being,” Zahnd said in an interview with me. “Her background is interesting, for her time as marketing director for Yelp and Uber, running a lot of city-by-city roll-outs. Similarly, as CMO at Simple, – there is a lot of her experience that we think will be able to leverage as an advisor, as we continue our charge on a national scale. Our goal is to make Cozy a household name and have Cozy in every rental home in America, and she has quite the track record of doing that sort of thing.”

VatorNews recently sat down with Broderick, who is presently CMO at online bank Simple

VatorNews: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Michelle Broderick: An adventurer. I love going out in the unknown, trying something new, and sharing it with the rest of the world. When I worked at large Fortune 500 companies, I was always a part of the group of internal entrepreneurs who helped push into new digital ways of doing business. When I worked at small startups that turned into household names, I did this with my whole body and soul as we had no idea if we would fail or succeed. I'm always asking: "How could this be better?" The answer rarely lives inside your comfort zone. 

VN: What are your goals at Cozy?

MB: To take the stress out of renting a home. For the renter, it's stressful deciding where one will live in the coming years. For the landlord, it's stressful deciding on an investment so valuable. Cozy helps connect the two people in the process and smooth out the rough edges. 

VN: What about Cozy excites you the most?

MB: Humanity. The team really connects with its users. This connection shows in the way that Cozy has designed and built a product that truly helps alleviate a pain point that we all experience. You hear the users of Cozy say there is no way they'd go back to the traditional methods of renting a home. That testimony is the true test of any company's worth. 

VN: What will your industry look like in five years?

MB: Shinier. With the ability to research people, products, and places in just a few minutes, the industry has to truly dig in and put its best foot forward. You can't fake it with the public anymore if you want to build a long-term business. You are going to see a lot more companies getting bolder with who they are, what they stand for, and present that unvarnished view for consumers to decide whether they want to opt-in for that offering. 

VN: Describe one particular experience from your career that made a big impact on you.

MB: I've been fortunate to work for giant multinational companies like Continental Airlines, and Gap Inc. I've also been fortunate enough to work for rocket ship startups like Yelp, Uber and Simple. Through these positions I've picked up so many experiences, but none have shaped my career as much as the restaurants I worked in to put myself through school. It was at restaurants that I learned to put customers before self. That a job well-done is a job in service and anticipation to others. There is no place where you are going to learn a rock solid work ethic like in the restaurant industry

VN: When you think of innovation, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

MB: If it doesn't help someone then you've confused innovation with novelty. 

VN: In your opinion, what is a leader's most important quality, and why? 

MB: Balance. It's the ability to balance listening to others and making the tough decisions when the time comes. It's the ability to balance setting a high-level strategy and knowing when to get into the weeds of execution. It's balancing giving someone the space to make mistakes with understanding when one needs help to perform a task. It's balancing the audacious goals of business with carving out time to recharge. It's balancing every single decision that comes your way ever day.  

VN: Describe your typical weekday

MB: Mornings are spent heads down on creative pursuits. That's when my brain feels the most alive. Coffee helps with the writing process or solving complex problems. Afternoons are for collaboration. This is when I take most of my meetings and partner with people to review what I've been working on in the mornings and gain inspiration from what they are working on. I've found that these afternoon meetings are also a brilliant accountability mechanism. If I've told someone I will talk to them about something at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, then I'm less likely to procrastinate, as I hate letting anyone down. By the end of the day, I generally reach my limit for creative and collaborative work, so I wrap up with administrative tasks that I can do most mindfully before the clock tells me it's time to go to yoga class. The evenings are spent eating a healthy meal that my husband cooked (please note that I am very spoiled) and reading novels, so I can recharge and get back to the creativity that fuels my mornings. 

VN: What is your favorite way to relax?

MB: Yoga. I try not to talk about it too much for fear of being one of those people who always says, "Yoga changed my life," but hey, yoga did change my life. It's the best way for me to clear my head and relax. 

VN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

MB: I'm currently zeroing in on ways that I can uniquely give back to the communities that have helped me succeed. This goes beyond the obvious goal of starting a charity as there are so many wonderful charitable organizations out there already. Instead, I want to focus on bringing disparate and fractured resources together. This would create a web of support for the organizations and those who might need them. It's still a work in progress, but hey, I have 10 years to make it a reality! 

Image source: Geekwire.com


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