In 2007, Susannah found herself living and working LA. As most 20-something-year-old's do when living in a new city, she turned to the internet to find answers to the important things in life: like where to get a haircut and which yoga studio to try.
She found herself cross-referencing different websites trying to validate the user-generated ratings and reviews. Out of frustration at the inefficiency of such a process, she decided to curate the best businesses in the city as a one-stop shop to optimise her life, and thus idea for The Urban List was hatched.
We spoke with Susannah about how goal-setting got The Urban List to where it is now and how much she values her team.
Tell us a bit about what you do and your journey to get there.
It took me three years to build up the courage to move home to Australia and give The Urban List a go. Twelve months later, The Urban List launched from the front room of my house, with the help of two interns. After piloting the site in Brisbane, we then expanded into Sydney and Melbourne in 2013, before bringing The Urban List to Perth and Auckland in 2015.
It's been a challenging and unbelievably rewarding ride: from 0 to 2.4 million visitors a month turning to us for recommendations on dining, bars, shopping, design, travel, beauty and health. The most rewarding thing, though, has been the team we've built along the way: 36 rock stars who absolutely love what they do.
How do you set goals? Do you follow a specific process?
In business, I start with the vision of what I ultimately see The Urban List being – this is something that's really important to me, and that I talk about often within the company. From there, it becomes relatively easy to set a suite of goals that will help us achieve that vision – both annual targets, and quarterly milestones – to ensure we're on the way.
I'm a pretty disciplined person in general, so I don't have too many problems being consistent with health and wellness. That said, we had a little boy this year so my priorities have shifted a bit. I'm very keen to spend a bit more time focusing on what we’d like to achieve as a family. At times, it has felt like we're sprinting on a wheel, without recognising the progress we’ve made as a couple. And we're definitely guilty of neglecting to balance our work with our life. (We're both in the business, so The Urban List has a tendency to be all-consuming!)
You've just given me a great reminder to make sure we spend some holiday time talking about our goals for 2017 and beyond!
What do you do when you hit a roadblock or things aren’t going right?
- Identify the root cause – often it’s distinct to the symptoms.
- Go for a really long walk. Sometimes several. The clearer my mind and the more endorphins, the better the quality and speed of my decisions.
- Make a plan. And work out how to communicate that plan to others.
- Share it. Ask for feedback. And get buy in.
What’s one habit you credit with getting you to where you are now?
Making lists. If it's written down, I don't need to remember it anymore and my brain is freer to focus on getting things done/finding a solution.
What keeps you awake at night?
What should I be doing /have done better? (Usually with regard to leadership.)
Who or what inspires you the most?
Entrepreneurs who have built their businesses from nothing, with little financial support and nothing but an idea and determination to get them over the line.
What is your favourite quote or saying?
"A leader is one who inspires others to lead."
I'm not sure who said it, but it's been on a post-it note on my desk for more than 5 years.
What tool, tech or app are you loving right now?
We use Slack internally and it's been revolutionary for culture. We have a very decentralised team so it's a bit challenge to ensure everyone feels connected – particularly when they’re often focused on their local city and may never have met face-to-face. Slack has been amazing in keeping things fast, funny and fun.
Describe one big goal you have set for 2017.
To be among the Top 50 Great Places To Work. We are nothing without our people and I want to ensure that The Urban List's culture is world class – an environment that supports unbelievable outcomes invests in building incredible talent, and is, above all, fun!