As a forward-thinking business luminary armed with a Juris Doctorate and an MBA, Andrea Zechmann brings legal and business expertise to the table. With a background of distinctive leadership and passion for uncharted territory, Zechmann assists businesses as they launch, expand and enter into new markets.
Andrea earned her Juris Doctorate at the Hamline School of Law and obtained her MBA in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
While working as an attorney, Andrea became intrigued by the opportunities for creativity, innovation, and collaboration in the business world. Landing a position with one of the world’s fastest-growing companies, Tesla, Andrea restructured the project management office and helped launch thirteen new markets across Europe and the Middle East.
Andrea served as Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Global Expansion at another leading automotive company, Rivian, where she and her team oversaw the company’s commercial fleet partnerships and global expansion efforts. Andrea consistently advocated for women in any industry and achieved 75% women representation on her team.
Andrea is an avid reader, a lifelong learner, and an active participant in the local startup community. She volunteers with animal rescue organizations in her free time and enjoys exploring nature.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
After waking up, my top priority is to read, as I am an avid reader. This helps me start my day on an inspired note and sets the tone for the rest of my day. Following my reading session, I like to walk outside to give myself time to think and clear my mind and usually, I take this opportunity to listen to a podcast. Once I’m back from my walk, I organize my day and week by prioritizing tasks into categories such as work, startups, or community involvement. This approach ensures that I stay on track and accomplish what I need throughout the week. By focusing on my top priorities first thing in the morning, I am able to remain motivated and productive throughout the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My approach to working on projects is to break them down into manageable phases. I start by categorizing and sub-categorizing different aspects of the project so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. This allows me to focus on one part of the idea at a time and move on to the next phase once the previous one is complete. By tackling one part of the project at a time, I can give each phase the attention it deserves and ensure that the final result is comprehensive and well-executed. This method allows me to stay organized and on track while working towards my goals.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am very interested in AI and Machine Learning, even though we are still in the early stages of its development. While AI has a lot of promise and potential, there are concerns about how it may be used, particularly by bad actors. I have been following the work of thought leaders at companies such as Google and Microsoft to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in AI. Recently, I read a New York Times article about the godfather of AI who recently left Google, highlighting the concerns surrounding AI’s ethical use.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
As I mentioned earlier, reading is a crucial habit that helps me remain productive. I read with the goal of achieving success in all aspects of my life. Over the past year, I have been focusing on improving my understanding of personal finance and finance in general. My aim has been to learn how to grow my income and effectively manage and grow my wealth over time. Additionally, I have been reading books that are geared toward improving my productivity and overall work habits. I have been exploring a diverse range of nonfiction subjects that have helped me develop my skills and abilities in these areas. By investing time in reading and self-education, I believe I am setting myself up for long-term success.
What advice would you give your younger self?
In retrospect, I regret not having a better understanding of the fundamentals of finance and personal finance earlier in my life. It’s important to understand the different elements of finance – such as earning, saving, and investing – and how they are interconnected. While financial advice can be complex and overwhelming, having a grasp of the basic principles is crucial for success. By learning finance fundamentals, you can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed financial decisions and ultimately grow your wealth over time. While it can take some effort to fully comprehend personal finance’s intricacies, it’s a worthwhile investment in your financial future.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
Entrepreneurship is a vital skill set that everyone should learn, regardless of whether or not they plan on becoming an entrepreneur. An entrepreneurial mindset involves thinking for yourself, being creative, and figuring out how to solve problems independently. It is a valuable trait to possess as it enables individuals to be self-sufficient and adaptable rather than being limited by a set path or career trajectory. Unlike our parents and grandparents, who may have had a more linear career path, the modern job market is constantly evolving and requires individuals to be versatile and innovative.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
I value curiosity and a passion for lifelong learning. I am an inherently curious person, and I find great fulfillment in continually expanding my knowledge and understanding of the world around me. While I have received a formal education, I recognize that learning is not limited to a classroom or academic setting. I believe that the act of reading, whether it be books, articles, or other resources, is a valuable way to stay informed and continuously broaden my perspectives and I believe it can benefit everybody.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
I find that moving by myself, whether it’s walking outside, driving, or even being on a train or plane, is really beneficial for me. When I’m alone and listening to music, I’m able to clear my head and become much more productive. It’s a great way for me to recharge and focus on my thoughts without any distractions.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
One strategy that has helped me professionally is pausing and pivoting when necessary. In fact, two major pauses in my career have led to significant pivots that have brought me greater fulfillment and success. I think that many individuals are hesitant to slow down, but I view it as an opportunity to reevaluate and realign with my passions and values. It is crucial to periodically check in with oneself and assess what truly gives you energy and brings you happiness. I have found that slowing down or changing paths can be a positive step toward greater growth and fulfillment. It is okay to take a break or deviate from a certain trajectory as long as it is done intentionally and with purpose.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Although I am not in the laundry industry, I have an idea that could potentially improve the laundry experience. My idea involves creating a washer-dryer unit with the washer on top and the dryer on the bottom. Once the washing cycle is complete, a floor between the washer and dryer would open, and the laundry would automatically drop down to the dryer, which would then start the drying cycle. This small innovation would remove the inconvenience of having to manually transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer, thus making the process more seamless and efficient.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I am an analog girl when it comes to productivity. I have a weekly and daily calendar. I like to plan out my week and sometimes my days in advance, and I find that physically writing down my tasks and goals helps me stay focused and organized. However, I also use Google Calendar to keep track of my schedule and appointments. As soon as I know I have a commitment or task, I put it in my digital calendar to ensure that I don’t forget about it. I do an analog-digital hybrid model, which helps me be intentional throughout my week.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
My favorite podcast is The Prof G Markets Podcast; it’s helped me learn how trends, macro and microeconomics affect businesses on a week-to-week basis.
The best book I’ve read recently is The Codebreaker by Walter Isaacson. This book explores the fascinating world of CRISPR and how scientists are beginning to manipulate our genetic code, allowing us to detect illnesses early and potentially cure them. The book delves into how researchers are using CRISPR to replicate the natural defense mechanisms of bacteria to fight viruses and how this technology is revolutionizing the field of medicine. The implications of what we can now do to human DNA are vast, and it’s exciting to think about the ways in which it will transform our lives in the future.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
Watching Chernobyl was a difficult but necessary experience for me. I felt compelled to understand how one of human history’s worst disasters unfolded and learn from the mistakes made. The series provided a gripping and sobering account of the events leading up to the nuclear accident, as well as the aftermath and the efforts to contain the damage. It was a reminder of the devastating consequences of human error, negligence, and the lack of transparency and accountability. I believe that understanding the root causes of such tragedies can help us prevent similar ones in the future.
- Reading and learning new things is crucial to personal and professional growth. An entrepreneurial mindset and self-sufficiency can take you far, regardless of your career path.
- It’s important not to be scared of pivoting and taking a pause in your career, as it can lead to major breakthroughs and allow you to check back in with yourself to determine what truly makes you happy and gives you energy.
- Being intentional with your time and using a hybrid analog and digital tools model can help with productivity and staying organized.
- Understanding the basic fundamentals of finance and personal finance early on is crucial to achieving success in managing and growing wealth.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.