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Simple CMO Michelle Broderick.
Simple CMO Michelle Broderick.

As Chief Marketing Officer of Simple, Michelle Broderick’s job is to convince customers that the online banking service offers something completely different than the financial institutions they’re used to.

“My team practices the fine arts of branding, communications, growth, design, and product marketing,” she said. “This means that on any given day I’m switching back and forth between learning about federally mandated messaging for financial institutions, celebrating that we got permission to use Star Wars Fan Art, and taking steps to promote inclusivity in banking and technology.”

Before Simple, Broderick led major marketing campaigns for tech titans like Yelp, Uber, and RealNetworks. She’s frequently on-the-go, splitting time between Simple’s Portland headquarters and her home base in Seattle. Broderick avoids working at a desk when possible and prefers to measure her productivity in output, not effort.

We caught up with Broderick for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

Current Location: Seattle is home. Portland is Simple’s home base. I spend a lot of time on I-5.

Computer types: MacBook Air. I love it even if it sometimes gets lost under a pile of junk mail.

Mobile devices: The biggest iPhone available.

Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Socially: Anything with infinite scroll — put down the Instagram.

Work: Anything with collaboration — thanks Google Docs.

Practically: Anything that allows me to look up facts — Tides, Weatherline, Wikipedia.

Lately: Anything that helps me track things — Clue, Fitbit, Simple.

Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? An Everlane reverse denim backpack. I’ve always hated working from a desk so this allows me to pack up my things and move to any couch, conference room, or spot of floor that suits my current mood and responsibilities.


Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Get clear on what fills you up and what drags you down. Shockingly, these things don’t neatly fall into the false dichotomy of work and life. Strike a balance between “ooooh I get to do that” and “ugh, better get that done” on a daily basis and watch everything in your life get a lot easier.

Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? If I’m stuck on something, I’ll throw out the question on Twitter or Facebook and get a ton of great feedback. Through the years I’ve been very fortunate to meet some of the most interesting and inspirational people in our field. The willingness to help via these channels is like asynchronous mini-mentorship.

Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? This should not be a badge of honor. Delete it, delegate it, or honor a 24 hour SLA on getting back to people who need you.

Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 25.

How do you run meetings? Like it’s my job. Meetings get a bad reputation because few people see it as a way to practice the craft of leadership. When you put time into creating an agenda, defining a clear purpose, and committing to outcomes you can get an amazing amount of work done in a meeting. If you add on a sense of ritual, and an opportunity for the group to practice some form of gratitude, it becomes a gathering that the whole team looks forward to.

Everyday work uniform? When I go into the office it’s either something that makes me feel fashionable and confident, or a full embrace of the athleisure movement. The middle ground of business casual is a trap for the uninspired. On work-from-home days, basically whatever I slept in.

How do you make time for family? About once a quarter, my partner Andrew and I sync travel schedules. It would be too easy to become ships passing in the night if we didn’t put in the effort to prioritize each other, even if it means living out of a suitcase.

Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Balance. I used to run myself into the ground over and over and over, thinking that was the only way to be productive. It was the opposite of productive. It deadened my ideas, dulled my instincts, and made me a less than inspiring leader. When I flipped my thinking from putting in effort to actually measuring output everything changed. With output as the number-one goal, I actually unplug a lot less, get a lot more done, and have a lot more fun with everyone around me.

What are you listening to? Taylor Swift or Planet Money.

Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? This question eludes me personally and professionally. I end up anywhere from the New York Times to Refinery29 on a daily basis. But I get there through infinite scroll, not through a commitment to readership.

Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Novels. Novels as far as they eye can see.

Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? I do my best solo work in the morning so I wake up early for that, I move into social mode in the afternoon, and after that I am only able to perform basic administrative tasks. I used to be a night owl, but relentless prioritization has turned me into someone who jumps out of bed to work on my projects.

Where do you get your best ideas? Depends on your definition of best. If it’s forward-thinking strategy, the shower. If it’s tactical breakthroughs, while driving. If it’s how to practice leadership it’s lying still after a Vinyasa class.

Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Shonda Rhimes. That woman lays track.

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