Originally from the United States, Navit has a B.A. from Hampshire College with a triple major in ecology, photography, and ethnomusicology. She has 6 years of experience in scientific research and data analysis, particularly related to climate change.
A wanderer ever since she picked up her first National Geographic at the age of 5, she’s spent most of her life traveling or living a nomadic lifestyle, having visited 41 of the 50 United States, 30 countries and lived in 3. After 3 successful careers before the age of 30, Navit co-founded Wanda Maps in 2018, which synergizes a love of maps, meaningful and sustainable travel, and the power of data for the greater good.
Where did the idea for Wanda Maps come from?
My experiences as a long term traveler and wildlife biologist. I experienced firsthand how time consuming it was to plan adventures that were specific to my interests. I came up with a system to annotate maps that worked really well for my own travels and other travelers I met loved, but I didn’t have an easy way to share them.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No day is typical! I spend a lot of time jumping between events, meetings and time zones and work on the go constantly. When I’m at one of my home bases I tend to work from 10:30 to 22:00, with a 1 hour break for exercise. Taking mental and physical breaks throughout the day is essential, as is a quiet workspace and muting notifications to dive deep into bigger projects.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Visualize. The product and its big picture goal. Over and over again. Keep that goal in sight always so you know what smaller decisions to make day to day.
Talk it out. Hashing out ideas with fantastically smart people reveals holes you’ve missed. Share your best ideas with people who should connect with them the most. If they don’t then you know something’s missing – either in your communication or the idea itself. Then it’s just a matter of figuring out which.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Inclusivity. I was an analog nut for a long time (and still am when it comes to photography and music!), but the thing I adore about technology is its ability to transcend borders. I really see a big shift from my childhood to now in terms of what is possible for people today – young, old, green, purple, no matter where you’re from – and it’s incredibly inspiring.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Accumulative focus. I’m constantly scanning my community, industry, location, etc. for useful information and opportunities that may affect my business. This is a habit I’ve always had, but as a startup founder it really pays off because the landscape is rapidly evolving. This is coupled with pretty brutal prioritization, though, because you certainly can’t chase every lead. Which goes back to having the long term goal always in view.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry about which step to take so much, just do them. It’s fine if things aren’t perfect, it’s more important to try and learn and move forward than to think every step through before starting.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Social networks are better off niching down. Facebook will survive through its acquisitions (WhatsApp, Instagram), but its best days are dead and gone.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Who needs what I am creating? Why and how much?
If you don’t have answers you feel very strongly about for each of those questions, you’re not going to build something great nor last in the long haul it takes to create anything new.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Passion. It’s not a strategy, it’s genuine, but it’s helped me more than anything else. It’s what’s given me the fuel to work as hard as I have, make the necessary risks, and inspire other people enough to invest in my company and come work with me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’m pretty sure I have failures every day. So many rejections or meetings that don’t go as you plan! Only way to overcome them is to learn all that you can from the experience (always ask for feedback when you get a rejection!) and keep plugging away. Or if it’s repeat failures, gut check whether you’re on the right track with the right vision and course correct if needed.
One failure in particular was an important meeting with an early partner. The meeting went well until I misspoke on an important detail about our company that turned them off of the partnership completely. In retrospect I made the mistake because I didn’t feel fully prepared for the meeting, was tired and juggling too many things. So I learned that saying less can be more, to over prepare on all essentials and sometimes it’s okay to say no to or postpone opportunities. I overcame the flub by building other partnerships through using the lessons learned from this one meeting.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app to track diet, exercise and your environment that correlates with health issues. This would give your doctor a lot of necessary information about your daily routines they don’t currently have access to, hopefully resulting in better diagnosis and fewer prescriptions. Could be monetized as a subscription to users (patients) or health insurance companies or hospitals.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Great question! I got it a year ago, but my Roost laptop stand is still one of my all time favorite purchases. It lifts up my screen, taking all sorts of pain out of my neck and back. And it’s super lightweight and compact so it goes with me everywhere.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
This one is so simple, but I’m grateful for it every day: a password manager. I’ve only ever used 1Password, but it gets the job done! Makes my passwords more secure by generating them based on specifications, reminds me if I use duplicates and I can securely access them from anywhere on the go. Nothing interrupts a workflow like not remembering login credentials. I’ve seen a noticeable difference since I started using one, though it’s not generally thought of as a productivity tool.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s a bit dated but somehow still so pertinent. Marketing has fundamentally changed and we’re still catching up in so many ways to all the channels and strategies we have available today. Fundamentally if you don’t have know what that something is that makes you exceptional, you’re gonna struggle as a business. Things are too saturated not to be.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It’s on too many t-shirts, but that doesn’t stop it from being really true.
- Have a clear long term vision for where you want to take your life and business. Then gut check regularly to make sure you’re on track.
- Take care of your mind and body. Being more productive sometimes means saying no. Work smarter, not more.
- Just start doing. Don’t try to control every aspect of your brand and business (because you can’t). Try things out and learn from every step (whether it’s a success or failure).
- Always keep learning about what you do. The industry you’re in and how to run businesses of your type. Keep an open mind to how that can evolve and new opportunities to move forward.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.