Sarah Jones Simmer calls on her years of experience as an advisor, investor, and top-level executive to offer a series of crucial career tips, and discuss how work helped rehabilitate her following a frightening cancer diagnosis. Simmer goes deep on scaling a business, making the right hire for your company, female-led companies, fundraising, setting boundaries, and how she learned to re-focus on the big deals in life.
Simmer is the CEO of Found, a company focused on making evidence-based, sustainable weight care for all. She joined the company in September 2021 after serving as the Chief Strategy Officer at Bumble, Inc., the parent company of the wildly popular relationship app. During her time with Bumble she was responsible for core strategy, international growth, marketing initiatives, business operations, and expanding Bumble’s rapidly growing team. She also led the investment strategy for the Bumble Fund, the company’s early-stage investing vehicle.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
I spent a lot of time listening, understanding the business, building real trust with the people who had gotten the business that far. And I think that’s a lesson that I’ve taken to every project, every role since then, is build the foundation of trust, otherwise you can’t go back and re-engineer that right? You get one shot at the beginning of really getting people to trust you and how you’re going to layer in your vision to the growth of the company.
I think really, that’s the energy of high growth that’s intoxicating. It’s like you’re building something that has such purpose, that’s changing people’s lives. You’re figuring out the infrastructure as you go, but you really feel like you’re a part of something than yourself.
I felt like I had to work. I did not want to be a full-time patient. I love work. I get so much joy from it. If that was also have taken away from me, in addition to what surgery was going to take away, what chemo was going to take away, I did not want to lose my ability to lean in intellectually and build something that we were continued to be so proud of at Bumble.
I think that’s why the research on board diversity and executive team diversity bears out that businesses generate higher returns when they have more diverse voices at the table. It’s not about women versus men, it’s about how do we bring the best of everyone’s lived experience together to drive the best outcomes for this business?
00:00 – Intro
00:48 – What Sarah’s obsessed with right now
01:39 – On Scaling Bumble
07:06 – Leverage points while scaling
08:39 – On hiring
11:23 – Sarah’s life-changing battle
20:23 – On life-change after surgery
24:41 – Lessons learned from a Series B
31:03 – On working with women v. working with men
33:19 – What do Sarah looks for when she hires
40:29 – Kindness vs. Niceness
41:32 – Psychological safety
44:16 – Establishing v continued trust
45:37 – Norms for remote work communication
50:12 – How Sarah makes decisions
52:30 – Information gathering process for decisions
54:38 – Why Sarah has a coach
57:34 – Thinking aloud
59:20 – What is success for Sarah