Larissa D’Andrea

Founder of Art into Activism

Larissa D’Andrea is the Founder of Hard Knock Productions LLC (HKP) and Art into Activism (501c3). With a passion for art and entertainment, she founded the social impact organization in 2020 with a focus on investing in art that inspires activism to create a positive, inclusive, and innovative environment; and the non-profit in 2021 to advocate for and support marginalized communities through partnerships with other non-profit organizations. Specifically, HKP develops unique stories to increase the visibility of LGBTQIA+, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and People with Disabilities. Through our work with artists, musicians, and filmmakers, we focus on environmental sustainability in artistic mediums, strive to create positive and inclusive work environments, and educate ourselves on the history of original landowners of the land on which we operate and identify opportunities to support those communities. Art into Activism, a 501c3 organization, was created to partner with other non-profit organizations and marginalized communities to support their work and advocate alongside them on issues that matter to them most.

Larissa is also the Vice President of Government Affairs and Market Access at ResMed, a global leader in digital health and connected medical devices. She has been with the company since January 2013. Throughout Larissa’s career she has held a variety of leadership positions to enable research, development, market approval and commercialization of medical and digital technology. Her team partners with patient, clinical and industry advocacy organizations to ensure patient access to medical technology that improves health outcomes, decreases healthcare ecosystem costs, and improves quality of life. She is also on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee for an American Association for Homecare, an advocacy group representing the interests of healthcare providers and manufacturers in the U.S. homecare community. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from University of California, San Diego and a Master of Science in Legal Studies from University of San Diego Law School. Outside of her work, Larissa chases her toddler and spends time with family.

Where did the idea for Art into Activism come from?

I saw my first musical, Annie, as a child and left that theater dancing and singing. From that age on, I was passionate about writing poetry and plays. In 6th grade I wrote and produced my first play on keeping kids off drugs. As I grew, I refocused my energy on the sciences but never really left behind my passion for the arts. I began a minor in theater during my time at UCSD and realized that I was not a fan of acting after a bit part in a graduate student play that showed at the La Jolla Playhouse. The name social impact production company originates from those early childhood experiences.

I’ve continued my writing through the years, often focusing on historical female leaders with the hopes of putting more women in front of and behind the camera. Just prior to the pandemic I had an opportunity to invest in an arthouse feature film that touched on social issues in underrepresented communities and decided this was the right moment to expand my energy beyond medical technology. I learned a lot over the last two years and reframed the company core objectives to focus more broadly on marginalized communities. As a result of this work, I’m in the process of creating a non-profit, Art into Activism, that works with other non-profits and communities to provide resources and support based on their needs.

I am incredibly lucky that I have found a way to bring my passions together advocating for access to medical technology and advocating for positive social impact through various entertainment mediums. The company I work for, ResMed, has been a supporter of the arts since its inception just over 30 years ago. With unique insights in the entertainment space, we’ve identified innovative ways to amplify patient, clinician, and caregiver voices to produce artistic content with a call to action to enable access to care.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It’s always important to understand at a macro level where you should be spending your time and energy to achieve your objectives. Once you have a clear vision of how you spend your time, organization is key in ensuring that becomes a reality. I start my week setting an intention specific to that week, reorganizing my calendar as needed, and creating the list of the critical few that must happen. I am a stickler for blocking my time and color coding those blocks to help me visualize if I’m putting my time and energy in the wrong places. These time blocks include working with other leaders, mentoring, and doing work. Whether it’s during the week or over the weekend, I block time specifically to tackle the creative and operational activities to support the non-profit and social impact production work. Managing multiple time zones and roles in life is challenging – organization and planning is key.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I love whiteboarding and researching. When I get an idea I research to find as much information as I can about a topic. This includes independent internet research and finding experts to talk to – sometimes these are people I know within my network and other times I reach out to folks I don’t know to make a connection and learn from them. I tend to like to whiteboard all my ideas in some form – electronic or with markers or with sticky notes. I write my ideas down somewhere and they begin to take shape as I add other ideas. Then I work to reorganize to really bring something to life that can be implemented or executed on. I’m a big fan of talking these out with others – whether that’s family, friends, or co-workers. Exploring and pressure testing concepts with others is important and helps evolve and mature your ideas over time.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Social impact or socially conscious companies, programs and initiatives are becoming more mainstream. We are seeing industries, people and organizations intersect in new ways. There is a growing trend of harnessing entertainment and art in healthcare to effect positive changes. It’s energizing to think about ways we can use art and entertainment to improve quality of life and decrease health inequities.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Organization and planning are important but taking space and time away from the day to day is equally important. Creativity often sparks when you are not focused on a particular task or problem.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Spend time really understanding what drives you, what you are naturally good at, where you tend to struggle, and identify what you don’t like or don’t want to do. Understand what authentic means to you.

I spent a lot of time doing things because I thought that it was expected or to help others or because I wasn’t confident enough in myself to say no. I’ve learned that I have a voice and what authentic really means to me.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I do take time and space away to refresh. Another way to say this is my version of rest is actual rest regardless of how anyone else sees it. I love to ideate and create in different ways wherever I am or whatever I’m doing.\

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Understand your personal brand, mission, goals deeply and connect with people and organizations that both align with your mission and that you can learn from. Oh, and do whatever works for you to manage your time and tasks on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis that will enable you to meet your goals.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Networking to engage with like-minded individuals and organizations and learning from them, not just pitching to them is important for growth. Every conversation is getting to know someone and an opportunity to learn from their experiences. There may be a great connection or alignment that evolves naturally into other opportunities, and sometimes it’s just a one-off conversation that gave you insight. Treating people with respect, kindness and being genuinely interested in their life experience creates a real foundation and not just a superficial connection.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Failing to really understand the risk dynamics of a project, meaning not fully understanding different skillsets and experience of people on a project. This means I didn’t mitigate risks and balance those skills and experience which ultimately results in a lot of frustration, angst and wasted time. Going forward I have a process to understand roles, responsibilities, skills, and experience so that we can communicate effectively and mitigate risks. This goes a long way to improving the experience of others, providing an opportunity for growth, and creating a more positive environment.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Development of animated entertainment content for parents and children that incorporates safety in a digital world. The internet rapidly evolves and what younger generations understand and can do digitally outgrows generations so quickly. I haven’t found really good content that both captures parents and kids in a fun educational way AND keeps pace with technology and evolving risks.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Good food – I’m not the best cook and don’t always have lots of time. Getting great, healthy food delivered is easy.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Any proper calendar management tool is essential! I live and die by daily time organization. Outside of that, I’ve always been digital, but the pandemic has driven that further. I really like to use Slack, Trello, and Miro. Slack is a great communicator tool that integrates with several other solutions. I love that we can take conversations out of text and email, keep them in a more organized fashion and can edit shared materials together within the app. Trello and Miro are for brainstorming or whiteboarding digitally that allows input without being in person. Trello is a version of my sticky note creative process where Miro is a bit more like my whiteboard process. Both have other unique functions that can help ideate and develop strategy.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman It’s such an interesting read and was introduced to me after a 360 review when one of the key things for me to work on for improvement was to bring people along my journey. The book discusses the dichotomy of instinctual and emotional as compared with deliberative thought processing. I often think about this in the context of whether I’m in a reactive state of mind or more resourceful. This concept really resonates with me to help me both understand how I am responding to a situation and if I need to shift my approach in thinking.

What is your favorite quote?

“I do not have a monopoly on the truth.” There are a number of variations of this quote, but I first understood the concept in my mid-20’s when I read Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson. It stuck with me and I use it all the time both to remind myself and others that even when you have strong opinions or beliefs about something, each of us is not the sole source of truth.

Key Learnings:

  • Authenticity is important to guide you through the good and the bad
  • Effective time and goal management provides a framework to tackle the critical few
  • People are important – invest time and energy to build relationships, understand different points of view, and be willing to learn together