Marissa Andrada is a renowned Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst who has dedicated over two decades to revolutionizing company cultures by prioritizing people. Partnering with major brands and companies, including Chipotle, Kate Spade, Starbucks and GameStop, she creates spaces where individuals can thrive, pursue their passions, and develop into lifelong leaders.
Marissa’s approach to transforming cultures centers around collaborating with leaders who share her commitment to fostering environments that prioritize the well-being and growth of their employees. She recognizes the immense value of cultivating workplaces that nurture the talents and aspirations of individuals, ultimately leading to greater organizational success.
As a Culture Master and Kindness Catalyst, Marissa embodies a commitment to prioritizing people. She believes kindness is infectious, and it is the foundation for success. Her passion for creating transformative workplaces, coupled with her deep understanding of human dynamics, allows her to guide leaders in realizing their vision of a people-centric organization.
Marissa’s belief in the power of culture to shape the destiny of companies has earned her a stellar reputation as a thought leader. She consistently emphasizes the importance of authenticity, empathy, diversity, and kindness in building exceptional work environments. And inspires the broader business community with her thought leadership and speaking engagements.
She remains dedicated to championing the human element in business and inspiring leaders to create cultures that empower and uplift every individual. Through her unwavering commitment to putting people first, Marissa Andrada reshapes the landscape of corporate cultures and sets new standards for success in the modern workplace.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
There really is no typical day, and I’m grateful for that. However, I do set an intention for every day in the morning, which is to be in the space of creating, making connections, and impact.
There is also a cadence to my week, which helps me to be productive:
Mondays – Avoid scheduling meetings so that I can work on outcomes I have committed to and research and connect with people to create content.
Tuesdays & Thursdays – Conduct my live CultureCasts on either or both days at 11 a.m (PT) and take meetings in the afternoon.
Wednesdays – AM space to create and PM for meetings.
Fridays – In the morning, I have standing meetings with my team and with
companies/CEOs that I am advising. In the afternoon I run my personal errands.
Everyday, Mid-day – Take a 20-minute walk outside, ideally with my dog. It’s good to take a break and get some sunny Vitamin D to refresh the soul and clear my thinking.
Of course, the week might be adapted for travel, board meetings, or speaking engagements, and I work around that and try to stick to my cadence.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I jot down ideas and themes all the time — often in Notes on my iPhone or MacBook. When I begin connecting ideas into themes in my thinking, I always want to synthesize out loud and call or video up my trusted creatives/thought partners in my circle, and that’s when I unlock bigger ideas based on their diverse experiences, which turn into a plan to activate. As I mentioned in my cadence, I like to block out dedicated, creation/ideation time on my calendar.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Am I the last to jump on to Generative AI? It seems like by the week there are new breakthroughs that will facilitate/automate the way we approach content creation. I think that AI is going to require all of us to be even more human. It’s fun that tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney will create content based on variables that we as humans provide. The output is generated quickly, but it’s based on retrospective data. I think that the final product will require human judgment, emotion, and perspective to make it relevant and actionable.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
I dedicate the first two hours of every day to my physical and mental wellness. If I make sure the battery is fully charged, then I can best be of value to others.
I am most productive when I have and stick my morning routine — the first two and a half hours of my day looks like this:
50 minutes – All cardio or cardio 30 minutes and weights 15 minutes plus stretching at the end; I use this time to get focused on the day ahead and often new ideas pop up when I am doing my cardio.
30 minutes – Walk Akira, our husky dog, and feed/play with Jake and JMoney, the cats. Our pets bring immediate joy to me when I can spend time with them.
45-60 minutes – Get ready for my day. What can I say? Washing and blow-drying my hair easily takes 30 minutes and the rest is to either dress down or glam up according to my meetings for the day and then grabbing a diet Mt. Dew and a snack on my way to my first meeting.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Who you are is what makes you special. Don’t try and hide it to be the ‘professional’ at work. Allow your full self into your work and you naturally gravitate to people and companies where your values are aligned.
Also, control the controllables and appreciate the steps of the journey in front of you. Not only will everything be “okay,” it just might exceed your wildest expectations.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.
There IS value in reality TV shows! It’s good practice to watch and predict human behavior in the safe space of watching it. And, it’s so fun when other people admit to watching the same shows. It’s a funny connection point.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Define the problem to solve before diving into solutioning.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Clear my head, maybe get some fresh air, and evaluate the resources around me that can help me get a different perspective. Sometimes it’s the perspective of a team member or advice from a mentor that becomes the mantra that helps me push through with renewed focus.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
While it’s important to always keep up technical proficiency, I would maintain that it’s equally important to level up and dedicate time to building your relationships. At work, this means interacting with colleagues up and down the organization; in life, follow-up with people who you have been introduced to or who you have recently met; at home, spend time with your loved ones.
In this relationship building, an approach that I like to maintain is to ask how I can be helpful to them and then do what I can to deliver.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
Early on when I was a Chief People Officer at a publicly traded company, my CEO shared some very critical feedback that a board member gave him on my communication during a committee meeting. That board member didn’t think that I showed up as ready or knowledgable on some very technical details. While my CEO agreed that it was not reasonable to have this level of detail ‘off the top of my head,’ that board member’s experience with me was negative. I was inwardly devastated by that feedback, as this was my third company presenting to a board as the head of Human Resources. I thanked my CEO for the immediate coaching and within the day I sat with my direct report team and shared with them that my CEO had given me this feedback and that I needed their help with my development.
I had shared with them that while it was my personal/professional development at stake, I feared that if I didn’t course correct immediately, then the CEO’s perception of me would cast his perception onto the entire function. My team rallied around working together and with me to over-prepare for the next board meeting. Over a year, that board member became my ally and champion and when his term ended, he sent a note of gratitude for my leadership and contribution to the company’s turnaround. To this day, I hear from him occasionally when he directs other CHROs to network with me.
The lessons learned is that there is strength in diverse perspectives — in clarifying the problem to solve and identifying the solutions to help solve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, because people who care about you will always want to help you. And, tackle the hardest situations head-on.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Embrace leadership vulnerability. Your team will appreciate it and will likely rally to support you.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
With my core team I like to use Trello. In our weekly synch meetings we review what has been completed, needs feedback, in progress, and identify new actions/commitments. Everything is documented and it is easy to retrieve information (what and where it is, addresses and passwords) on each completed task because it is documented in Trello.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
My husband and I love going out to dinner. We had an AMAZING omakase sushi experience at Shinn East in East Village NYC back in January. In an hour, Chef Mike (the youngest sushi chef in the city) served up 12 creative and tasty nigiri sushi pieces plus one hand roll, for $69 per person. You can level up and add an extra piece of a favorite from the tasting for about $7 and then with hot tea, tax, and tip, it costs about $100 per person. We have gone to other omakase sushi experiences around the city, but you just can’t beat the quality, creativity, and price!
Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?
I LOVE SmartLess, the podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. I don’t personally know them but feel like I do. Their approach to each podcast is for one to surprise the other two with a celebrity guest and it’s the witty banter, friendly jabs, authentic conversation, and in-the-moment reaction to each other that cracks me up. This podcast started at the beginning of the pandemic and reflects what people were craving at the time and now — authentic, human connection. It reminds me of the feeling of joy that I have when I am hanging with ‘my people’ that truly do hear me and see me.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
OMG. SmartLess On the Road, which was a mini docuseries of six episodes on the podcast on MAX. The trio took their podcast to the next level by bringing it to six different cities. While I got a glimpse of their surprise guests in each city, what I enjoyed was the in-between. How they relate or not to each other on the road, in their hotel rooms, eating meals. I cried laughing at the scene where they were walking on a frozen lake in Wisconsin and at the end of their walk someone played out loud ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ by C + C Music Factory, and they each impromptu danced to their own beat. Perhaps it is a reminder that there is beauty in humanity.
- Connection is key. Finding connection with people, ideas, and yourself will help you feel your best in every aspect of life.
- Be yourself. Your true, authentic self is what makes you special and will help you find the people and places where your values are aligned.
- Embrace lifelong learning. Whether you lean into reality television or the people you surround yourself with to do so, you can continue to grow and improve as you move through life.
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.