As I write this, it “feels like” it’s -16 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That kind of temperature will make even the most diehard Minnesotan shiver. For Casey Shultz, however, it might actually conjure some nostalgic warmth. After all, she did grow up in Alaska. But her journey from freezing cold to sun-soaked warmth to, well, more freezing cold has led to her latest undertaking in the startup world.
And also backyard chickens.
This is A Workday With Casey Shultz, executive director of BETA.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in Alaska instilled in me a sense of adventure, which I think has served me well as I’ve tackled the startup scene. When I was 22, I left my safe job as a stockbroker with a big wealth management team and packed up my car and moved to the Bay Area to join this crazy startup called CouchSurfing. I learned that the beauty of working with startups is that you can jump into a role with very little experience and as long as you have hustle, drive, and can ask the right questions you can learn almost anything. While at CouchSurfing, I lived on six different continents and met some of the most amazing people.
My experience at CouchSurfing sparked my love of startups and entrepreneurship because it showed me that if you have a truly great idea you can rally people around you to make it a reality. It’s a lot of fun to build things from scratch.
After that, there were a few more stops around the Bay Area like getting my MBA in sustainable management at Presidio Graduate School, joining the Citrix Startup Accelerator and helping expand that program internationally, and, most recently, Head of Business Operations at Serverless where I helped the company raise $13M.
My husband and I decided to move to the Twin Cities after our daughter was born and living in the Bay Area became untenable. I’m really lucky that the Twin Cities is such a collaborative helpful community because I moved here and was immediately connected to BETA when they happened to be hiring a director of Twin Cities Startup Week. It really felt like the stars aligned on that one.
After spending the last year getting plugged into the community and working closely with BETA cofounder Reed Robinson, I’m now stepping into the role of Executive Director, which is super exciting.
What time do you rise and shine?
Well, today it was 4:30 a.m. because my daughter decided it was time to wake up. But usually I try to get up around 5:45 a.m. and get a ride in on my Peloton. If I’m lucky, that happens three times a week.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
On weekdays, it’s usually instant oatmeal at the office. On weekends, my husband and I try to eat as many eggs as possible. We have five backyard chickens and did not anticipate getting five eggs a day!
What’s the first work-related task you tackle each morning?
I try to avoid email and tackle a project first thing in the morning when my energy and concentration are at their highest.
What is your workspace setup?
My workspace can change every hour. My desk at WeWork Uptown has my monitor, but I’m often bouncing between meetings around town or working in common areas at WeWork. So, my workspace really exists in my Fjällräven backpack which I schlep around everywhere.
What’s the most interesting/fun/meaningful thing on your desk?
A picture of my daughter and me in Yosemite right after a snow storm. It was the first time she played in snow, and she loved it.
What’s one piece of tech you can’t live without?
Definitely my iPhone. My entire life exists on it.
What do you need to get done before lunch to feel like you had a productive morning?
If I can close several sponsorship deals before lunch, then I’m feeling like my day is on the right track.
What are you listening to these days?
What is your current TV obsession?
Finally getting around to watching the final season of “Elementary.”
What’s the last movie you saw and what would you rate it (out of five stars)?
“Knives Out.” 4.5 out of 5.
What book would we find on your nightstand?
“Assassin’s Apprentice.” Ryan Broshar recommended.
Cats or dogs?
Shultz’s very good doggo, Bumper.
What are you currently rockin’ as your phone background?
My daughter channeling Elton John during mealtime. She’s definitely got a Burning Man sense of fashion.
The best part about living in Minnesota is…
Getting to hang out with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. We have so much fun together.
How do you fend off the post-lunch lull?
I don’t. My productivity plummets, and that’s when I tackle things, like email.
What do you use to stay organized during a hectic day?
My calendar is my life. I try to schedule things in a way that I can have chunks of time to work on projects and then cluster my meetings together. I rely heavily on Hubspot and Asana to make sure that I’m not letting things fall through the cracks.
What’s a recent work-related challenge you had to conquer? Walk us through your process.
We’re in the middle of a big hiring push at BETA and something that’s really important to me is that we’re removing as many biases out of our hiring process as possible. I worked with Matt Raskin at Bootstrappers to design our job descriptions to make them inclusive to a wide range of people and created an interview process that relies on objective feedback systems. It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve gotten some amazing candidates for our Entrepreneur in Residence and Operations Lead roles.
What’s one thing everyone could do to be more productive?
Create time blocks to work on different projects.
What’s the last work-related thing you do every day?
Try to respond to as many emails as possible.
How do you decompress at the end of a long workday?
Decompress? What’s that? I’m usually wrangling my daughter into bed, and then maybe watching a TV show after some evening chores. I’m looking forward to life slowing down a bit and allowing some time for decompression.
What time do you usually hit the hay?
I try to be in bed by 9 p.m. so I can read a little before bed.
If you’re an early-stage company with at least a minimal viable product able to be showcased, applications are currently being accepted for the BETA Spring 2020 Cohort.
Photos courtesy of Casey Shultz.
If there’s a community thought leader or founder who you’d like to see featured in our “A Workday With…” series, contact us on Twitter @TECHdotMN or email email@example.com with the subject line “A Workday With… Submission.”
Have you checked out the other founders featured in the series?