Marisa Elizundia

Creator of the Emotional Salary Barometer

Marisa is the creator of the Emotional Salary Barometer, which is an online tool that measures all the non-financial benefits that each individual gets from working.

Through her tool each person working as an employee or as a freelancer has the opportunity to be aware of all these benefits and gets a personal and individual action plan with specific steps and real-life examples that everyone can implement straight away.

She believes that the awareness of all these benefits can change the perception of work, be a source of intrinsic motivation, and allow the transformation of attitudes to strengthen personal and professional development.

She wants to change the way people think about work.

Marisa has worked in various multinationals such as Levi Strauss, World Bank and Montblanc International. She has worked and lived in 7 cities in 4 countries and in every city she has lived in, she has always managed to see the good in it, no matter how different they were from one another. And this example really describes how she is, she basically sees the good in every situation and in any person. An asset and a resource that has proved to be of enormous help in her personal life and in her professional life. Not to mention in her life now as an entrepreneur.

Where did the idea for Emotional Salary Barometer come from?

I am an entrepreneur and as an entrepreneur you go through different phases. You have no financial security; you discover that the competition is brutal, that you are on your own, that sometimes the world seems to be too large for you and you are constantly filled with doubts.

Doubts about your decision, your future, your skills, resources, and so on. So there I was on one Thursday evening lying in my bed with all those thoughts running through my head without being able to sleep. And suddenly I asked myself: Why am I doing this? Really, why am I allowing this to happen to myself? Why do I work?

So I stood up, took my journal and started writing my answer. And as I started writing, more things came to my mind, more and more thoughts started running. So much that I just couldn’t keep pace with my writing.

And what started just being an exercise to have a peace of mind turned out to be a revelation. After that exercise, I felt happy, relaxed, with a feeling of fulfilment and gratitude. The funny thing about it is that I didn’t write only fun or good things. I wrote things like “my work allows me to fall down, fail and continue”, which I can tell you is no fun at all. And most importantly, I felt that this was the place where I needed to be.

I felt responsible and with a sense of ownership about my future and about my life. That night I slept like a baby. And the next day the feeling continued. Something about my attitude towards work had changed. Something had shifted.
Every time I felt challenged, instead of complaining I said to myself, “this is part of it.” Or every time I felt I was missing something I started to seek things that I cherished, like talking to someone. Or as I felt that I was alone in my work I started visiting coworking spaces and going to more and more to networking events.

I started to tell people that according to my “Emotional Salary” I was a millionaire. And as I saw people’s reactions I thought, “Why not create a tool that measures the Emotional Salary of each individual and provide an individual report?” This was the beginning of my journey.

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

I have three kids. So my day starts really early (around 6:30 am). After they leave for school I try to go jogging and then I start working. No matter where I work at home or at the co working space where my team and I meet, I always have a plan of what I want to achieve in that day. Through the day I try to cross as many items I have in my list as possible.

My best ideas come from when I walk or I am outside so I always make a point throughout my day to have regular breaks that allow me to walk and think. These are the moments when I get my best ideas.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Having and idea is the easy part. The most difficult part (for me) is to bring these to life. One of my mottos is “every idea needs an action plan”. So I make sure to write all the ideas that come to my mind (it doesn’t matter where I write it, either in my phone or on a piece of paper, ideas need to be written or I’ll forget them) and then once a month my team and I decide which idea we’ll bring to life. We do this firstly because not all ideas are great and also in terms resource allocation you need to decide which idea is best for the business.
Once we have an idea we want to bring to life, we do a very detailed plan of how we want to do it. All members of the team need to be in that meeting so that all perspectives and opinions are considered and to make the least mistakes as possible. Then we decide who does what and from that point every week we meet again and make the necessary changes or modifications.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The future of work. Work as we know it is changing and it will change even more. There are various theories about what will happen some are apocalyptic and some other are full of hope and possibilities. I am more inclined to the latter. I think we live in uncertain but exciting times.

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

One habit I swear upon is to make an action plan and to stick to it. I also normally have an accountability partner to whom I constantly report. She’s very critical, something I need.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust the journey. Everything happens for a reason and it is the way it is supposed to be. Even some of the stuff seems too much you will discover that at the end it turned out to be for the better.

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

Democracy as we know it is not working or not working as it should. We need to change it, we need to reshape it. The way it is now and how we are allowing politicians to blatantly lie needs to change.

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

Rethink, reshape, revamp your initial idea and never stop trying. Some ideas may sound weird or too risky but if you don’t try them you will regret it.

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

Trust your idea and go for it with all your heart. And even if it’s your idea, allow your idea to become bigger and greater by trusting your team and putting your ego aside. I work closely with my team and many times they disagree with me and honestly say so. They explain their reasons and many times I have to accept that they are right. Now this is very difficult for the ego, because your ego always wants others to say that your ideas are great and that it is exactly what the world needs. Having a team that is engaged with the project and does not think that you’re better than anyone else is a gift.

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

I had way too big expectations. It is what I call the hope trap. When you start you think that you will have an amazing impact very quick and that your product will be ready really fast.
But then reality hits you. And when you realize that you are way behind your plans and you get really demotivated and feel short of energy. When you fall into this trap you cannot celebrate what you’ve actually achieved (which is a lot). Celebrating all the small steps into the right direction is a must. By realising all the small successes that we’d achieved was key to keep on getting the necessary fuel to continue.

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

A tinder-like app for the elderly. So that they relate more with one another, have company, go out and start having fun, laugh again. Sometimes I see elderly people that are unnecessarily lonely. It can be because their children live in other countries or for any other reason. It just breaks my heart when I read stories in the newspaper about this problem.

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

A present for my husband. His family has the theory that no one in his family can be good at singing. I however, think that my husband has the most beautiful tenor voice ever. So, I gave him 3 singing lessons with a private teacher. He was thrilled when he received the present!

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

Toggl- A great app that keeps track of the time I spend doing what. This makes me to focus more in the tasks I am working in. It is very easy for me to stay out of track, there are always too many distractions and too many fun things to do (which keeps me from doing the things I truly need to do!).

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

The power of bad.: And how to overcome it. From John Tierney y Roy F. Baumeister
This book explains why bad (news, impressions, experiences and so on) will always be more powerful than all the good stuff that happens to us and why we react more to bad than we do over good. If we are aware of this it explains lots of our reactions and behaviours that are affecting the way we view the world and thus our overall wellbeing. This book explains how we can change this and use some strategies for positive results.

What is your favorite quote?

Ohh! I have way too many. But this one always, always motivates me to be the best possible version of myself. I know it’s a classic, but I love it.
”You have brains in your head,
You have feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose” – Dr. Seuss

Key Learnings:

  • Ideas need to be written. Anywhere. If you write them, you know they are there and it will give you more time to mature the idea until it’s ready to present.
  • Trust your team to make your idea bigger and greater and don’t forget to put your ego aside.
  • You never know, which of your ideaa will be THE idea, unless you constantly try. So keep trying and do not give up. And every time you try you are one step in the right direction.