Tableau Software Former CMO: Elissa Fink


You'll want to listen in to this to hear how a girl who grew up in a household with 5 older brothers in Southern California went from not knowing what she was going to be when she grew up, to volunteering to work at a company that had a terribly negative culture, to writing a very convincing letter to the CEO of then a small company called Tableau Software, to scaling Tableau from being a $5 million company to a $1 billion company as the Chief Marketing Officer.

Podcast Transcript

Note:  There may be errors to this transcript (some funny, some confusing - we used an automated transcription software!)

Ash Faraj  00:03

Hey, it's ash, now you want to be sure to stick around today to hear how a girl who grew up in a household with five older brothers in Southern California went from not knowing what she was going to be when she grew up to volunteering to work at a company that had a terribly negative culture, to writing a very convincing letter to the CEO of then a small company called Tableau software to scaling Tableau software for being a $5 million company to a $1 billion plus company is the chief marketing officer. She is a b2b marketing professor at the University of Washington serves on the board of directors for Talend Qumulo Pantheon and Intellimize Uberflip Converisca, I said this alright. She is the former Chief Marketing Officer of Tableau software, which was acquired by Salesforce last year for $15.7 billion. I did that hopefully all in one breath. Welcome to the show.

Elissa Fink  01:03

Thank you. Ash, it's so great to be here with you.

Ash Faraj  01:05

I'm so I'm in a classroom with you in high school. Elissa, who who is Elissa?

Elissa Fink  01:10

Oh, my God, a dork no, I guess sort of a like a like a social dork. You know, like not in the popular crew. But you know, in leadership and I was editor of yearbook, you know, that kind of stuff. I remember one time, my friends and I were out after a football game at this place called Bob's Big Boy. If you're from Southern California, you know what I'm talking about? It's like a burger joint. He kind of plays in these. We were goofing around having fun. And these, these, these older people were like, are you kids high?, are you on drugs? You're on pills, aren't you? And my friends and I just looked at each other and laughed because we were always goofy laughing. We were not high or on drugs or on pills. But we might have acted like we were because we just liked having fun. So that's why I was in high school.

Ash Faraj  01:57

I imagine that you had you know, one or two role models that kind of like shaped your life principles today?

Elissa Fink  02:00

Well, for sure. My mom. My mom was amazing woman. You know, it was she's, she knows she was six kids. My dad had his own business. He was a plumber. And she raised us six kids, five boys and me. And he was for a long time, the only you know, he was a sole plumber. And she used to somehow raise us and answer the phone and arrange all his meeting, you know, all his appointments and stuff. I don't even know how she did that. He would be at his office where he kept his supplies, and turn a switch when he left to go on a call. And that would cause the phone to ring in our house. And so she would take appointments while there were six kids screaming in the background. Don't know how she did that. But not just that. She also was very civic minded. She was high school educated, but she was members of League of Women Voters. And then she became president of the local chapter of League of Women Voters. And she was very creative. She invented this idea where the newsletter instead of just going out mailed, she would put a wrapper around it and sell ads on the wrapper. And so they could have funding. And so I remember helping put together those newsletters when I was eight or nine years old. They were spread across the table stapling sorting them, stapling you know mimeograph in them, you know, all that stuff.

Ash Faraj  03:14

After college, Elissa saw an ad in a newspaper to volunteer at the Wall Street Journal selling classified ads for free, which eventually turned into a paying job. And she admits that even though she struggled quite a bit at the Wall Street Journal because of toxic culture. She learned a lot about how not to treat people. You kick started your career at the Wall Street Journal.

Elissa Fink  03:35

That's right.

Ash Faraj  03:36

I guess the first question I have is, how do you remember getting that opportunity at the Wall Street Journal?

Elissa Fink  03:41

Oh, yeah. Well, you know, I came out of school, I went into school not wanting to I didn't know what I wanted to major. And I knew I wasn't going to be English. And then sure enough, I majored in English, which basically trains you to do nothing. But it does train you to think and write. So when I got out of school, I was definitely like, I don't know what I want to do. And so it was good old fashioned, you know, classified ads, literally in a newspaper. And I just happened to see this one for a sales voluntary sales rep. I was like voluntary sales, or what have you do it for free. turned out I have handled my first job there was to handle the incoming ads, the inbound and the day, in today's parlance. And I thought, well, this I think I could do that. I had done a little bit of like, like I said, yearbook, editing, and newspaper editing in high school, and thought, I know what it's like to get ads. And then my mom had sold ads, if you recall, so I thought maybe I could get this job. And yeah, got it. And it was great. I had a wonderful leader. Sherry Heaton was her name. She had been the department secretary. And the head of this department got really sick for about a year and a half didn't come back and they realized, well, I guess a woman can run this department because it was a pretty male dominated culture at the Wall Street Journal in those days and she was an amazing leader was an amazing team. And I really enjoyed it and then into it a couple of years after it I thought I should try to get a promotion and I decided to go for a job in the display advertising departments, which is a different department and also kind of known for being a really hard place to work like difficult management sexist. And I thought, I'm just gonna do it, it'll be good for me to learn how to survive and a hard, difficult job. And I'll tell you, that was a dumb mistake, that was a hard job for no good reason I struggled to be mediocre, in a culture and an environment that just was not very healthy. But I learned I learned early like culture matters, Environment Matters, go to places where you can be strong and be who you are, and be natural and look for great, great people to work with. And then after that, I feel like that really launched me into what my chosen or chose or my natural field, which was, which was analytics, data, marketing Information and Technology.

Ash Faraj  05:48

When you say, you know, it was like a hard culture or it was the experience was kind of like he was really rough. Like, what specific memory comes to mind? Is there any memories that come to mind?

Elissa Fink  06:00

Just that was a pretty snobby environment. Um, they're the leader of the department, the manager of the department was pretty, pretty backbiting or backstabbing, and he was we had a good relationship, but he could also be incredibly moody and incredibly toxic. I don't think he meant to be, but I think he just grown up around it for so many years. And it was very, I was in the LA Bureau, Los Angeles Bureau. And it was a really new york be New York east coast. company. And I remember someone there once said, I feel like la the LA Bureau was where we picked up the whole country, tipped it on its side and shook it loose, and all the nuts went and fell into LA. I was like, Man, that's kind of nasty. But anyway, so it was just, it was just not a positive people weren't rooting for each other. It was and that's okay. I mean, it's okay to be competitive. But it just, it just, just people just were not kind to each other at all. I mean, just so many instances of just, you know, I heard this person say that about you a lot of you know, backtalk.

Ash Faraj  07:09

So I imagine that at some point, like you had gotten to a point where it's like, Okay, it's time to move on. I have had to I've had an idea...

Elissa Fink  07:16

yea, I realized that and I was like, Okay, I got to train myself because it's hard. If you're in sales, it's kind of hard to get out of sales. People kind of route you as a salesperson. And especially I had to, you know, in those days in the advertising agency business to work for the Wall Street Journal was pretty prestigious. And so I knew I had to do some education to get out of it.

Ash Faraj  07:35

So while she was working, Lisa decided to take some extension classes at UCLA. And she learned about this company called Claritas was one of the first marketing technology companies ever. And she did everything she could to demonstrate her enthusiasm and desire to work there. So she left the Wall Street Journal, and eventually joined Claritas. How did the opportunity at Claritas? What did you do your MBA before Claritas?

Elissa Fink  08:01

No, no, during I started it while I was at the Wall Street Journal. And how the opportunity came up was I was taking, as I said, some education classes an extension class at UCLA. And I learned about the company and what they did. And they were basically one of the very, very first companies doing marketing plus technology. I mean, if you look, if you think about in the world of marketing, there's this thing called the marketing landscape, Chief martec, puts it together, and there's like seven or 8000 different like technology solutions, I would venture to guess back then there were probably three. And this company had one of them. And I learned about it there. And then I happened to see an ad A few weeks later in the newspaper for a client service representative. And I thought, Okay, I'm gonna go for it. And I just busted my ass to try to get an interview. In fact, I remember. I remember interviewing the regional manager who was about to be promoted out of the East western region to go beast. And so I interviewed with him, and he just come in off a red eye. And he was falling asleep during my interview, and I'm pretty energetic person. And I was like, Well, hey, yeah, let me tell you about myself. I was trying to keep him awake. Anyway, I thought, no way that I get this job. But fortunately, I had a great interview with the incoming Western Regional Manager. And he took a chance on me and hired me. And I remember after all of the years, I spent 10 years at that company. I remember both of them telling me the story that the eastern regional manager, the outgoing Western Regional Manager said to me, you know, he said to the Western Regional now, the new guy, Ira, he said, Ira, if you want to hire her is your funeral. She didn't know anything. He didn't know anything. He didn't know anything. And he just said, the new guy IRA said, Well, I think she's gonna work hard because she seems smart. I think she's gonna work hard. So, and I did I busted my ass man, and I learned so much I learned so much.

Ash Faraj  09:50

What do you think they took you?

Elissa Fink  09:52

You know, I wrote it a really, you know, convincing letter because I had done this education and I have, you know, done all these classes and told you know, Clearly I had, I had said, You know, I, the guy that was the outgoing Eastern regional manager, Eddie pickle, who later became a future boss and actually was a great guy. You know, I had taken the class he had come to guest speak at the class I was taking. So I just like wrote a great letter, you know, made a phone call in and they just decided to take a chance and interview me

Ash Faraj  10:19

kind of had this question, but I kind of feel like it's obvious. Now. I was gonna ask, you know, what was Claritas for so long? and What kept you here?

Elissa Fink  10:26

Well, actually, what can be there was I got to do lots of different things. And the company was scaling. And I often say, that comp, that wasn't one job for 10 years, it was like, four or five different companies, four or five different major strategy, growth strategies, doing different things. So it just felt really natural and intuitive and easy to just keep working hard doing great stuff for our customers. So it was pretty easy to stay there for 10 years, because it was interesting. It was marketing technology, when marketers were like, you know, we, we, you, you know, when I worked in the field, we, my customers would call me and say, oh, guess what our PC is arriving for your software? It's our first PC in the department, you know, or, or they call me and say, Elissa, I'm sitting at the CRT, you know, cathode ray tube, basically monitor and and it says c colon, carrot, you know, backslash carrot on the side, what do I do? You know, so they'd see this blank monitor, not even windows? No, Mac, no, no. I mean, it was a different world. So to be in marketing technology at that point was pretty exciting. Because every year was just more sophistication, deeper use of data, more people using analytics, counting their customers having custom. In fact, they didn't even call them customer databases. They call them CIF's, or MCIFs marketing customers information file, you know, this is I'm so old. This is so old. But it was such an exciting time ash because it marketing and marketing technology and marketing data and analytics were just changing every day. And it was just like, exponentially interesting. The things you could find out about your customers and learn and get customer insights. It was such one, it was a wonderful time.

Ash Faraj  12:08

So what I'm hearing is that you kind of base your career decisions on whether to stay or leave usually based on you know, of course, the culture, but how much you're learning. Is that right?

Elissa Fink  12:16

Yeah, yeah, learning is super important. Yeah. And, and if that learning is interesting and fun to you, you know? Yeah. I mean, I that's another reason why I stayed so long at Tableau state almost 11 and a half years. Yeah. 11 Yeah. 11 Plus, but then I decided, you know, hey, I had other things to learn, and I wasn't so hot. I'm like, okay, you know, a billion dollars in revenue, you know, big corporate machine, I'm in more meetings, talking about internal issues than external issues, wasn't so much about marketing as much, you know, and I thought there's somebody better who can do this job better than I can with greater passion and interest in, you know, yeah, it's, you know, company's continued to do great. It's just you just find a time where you say to yourself, I'm not learning the things I interested in as much. And I want to do different things. And I just missed the growth and the scale of the new ideas. So yeah, I always pursued like learning, learning growth. That always was interesting to me. lean into your strengths. A lot of times people tell you to fix your weaknesses, but lean into your strengths, because that's where you're going to differentiate yourself. Of course, you don't want to be so weak in some things that you're just like, you know, a disaster or walk in disaster. But still lean into your strengths. And I think that's what I tried to do in those years was just sort of lean into, like, what can I do here? And how can I help? And how does this like, how do my strengths play here? And do I learn anything? And is this interesting to me? And so I think, by doing that, I always kind of pursued passion and interest. So yeah, you got it. Exactly. Right.

Ash Faraj  13:48

So when did you realize I mean, I'm just kind of curious, when did you realize what your real strength was? Or your strength?

Elissa Fink  13:53

You know, um, it took a while, but I realized I was pretty good. With technology and data. I was pretty good with tech. And and I always had a marketer's sort of curious sense of curiosity. Because I think as a marketer, you're curious about why people do the things they do. Why do they buy? Why do they respond to things? What What problem? are we solving them? What jobs do they need solved? You know, how, how can we help them? How can we serve them? So I've always been curious about how people behave, which I think is a good trait for a marketer. And then I don't know why but always technology always was interesting to me. I never had computers growing up. But even in college, I took a Pascal programming class one one quarter, and I loved it, I actually loved it. And then I just realized I just I loved technology, so and data and so that just kind of bed my interest fed my passions, and I looking back, I see the thread, but during it I didn't always see the thread of how jobs connected. You know, I really didn't always see it, but but it has always been around marketing and data.

Ash Faraj  14:55

So there was a point in her career when Elissa came across the software called Tableau software and she fell in love with the technology. In fact, she wrote a letter to the CEO at the time expressing her enthusiasm and passion for the technology and not only email it to him, she had to guess his email. By the way, she also sent a physical copy. And in her letter, she also expressed her eagerness to contribute to tableaus mission, which was essentially to help people organize and understand marketing data for marketers, Tableau CEO at the time, Christian Chabot was so impressed by her letter that not only did he hire her, but he made a company wide announcement of her letter and showed it to everyone as an example of how powerful a letter can be. At the time it was 2007, right before the 2008 recession hit and Tableau had just raised $5 million to under her leadership, Elissa helped grow the company from $5 million in revenue to over $1 billion dollars in revenue. And in 2019, Tableau software was acquired by Salesforce for $15.7 billion. You know what's interesting, you know, you say that English or your you know, your degree, doesn't really matter. But I would actually strongly disagree, because, yeah, that's true. Like your letters and your communication, it seems like true. It strikes a chord with people, so I don't know.

Elissa Fink  16:18

Yeah, no, that's a great point. It really did help me there. And believe it or not, when I applied to tableau, that's when I applied to Tableau years later, you know, almost 20 years later, not quite 20 years later. So I wrote a letter and the letter really moved Christian, the CEO, co founder, I think he I remember him telling me, he thought the letter was one of the best letters he ever received. In fact, when I started, when he sent the announcement around about who I was, and all this stuff, he said, This letter is so good that she wrote introducing herself to us. He he used he included the letter in my, my, my introductory email to the company. So I thought, but you're right. I never thought about it that way. But yeah, it did teach me how to write, you know, and think for me, I didn't know anyone at Clara toss that job I took from going from Wall Street Journal to there but but I used every angle I could I took the class, I referenced the class I took I showed them my knowledge. And then even for tableau, same thing, it was like, I didn't know anybody there. And Tableau was big on hiring referrals. But you know, I really concentrated on that letter, I really did my homework, I showed my interest, you know, and not only did I send it to them via email, replied, I FedEx did, I mailed it, I guess to email, his private email address, you know, I just, I did all kinds of things, you just, you know, you want it you just find the angles. And so it just wasn't just send a letter, you know, click here and reply, apply. You know, it was like, I want this job, I'm going to prove my I'm worth it. And so, you know, you can't do that with every job you apply for. But the ones you really like have a magical connection with, you should go above and beyond to find a way to make an impression, because it's hard. It's really hard to get out there. You know, my understand, the thing I think I do recall is I was really conscientious about being aware of what they wanted, and what they needed. Instead of me worrying about Look, they look at all the things I can do whether you need them or not. I was definitely like, look what I can do for you. You know, so I think that that's actually just a good principle. I think for marketers, and salespeople in general, you're trying to solve their problems. So when you're selling yourself into a company, be thinking about how you're solving their problems, how your skills and what you do, and how you do it. solve their problems. Yeah, I think that was a big part of it. That letter is was very focused on them on tableau, and, and my passion for it, too. I just had an incredible like, wow, I believe I believe in this mission. I believe in your product. It's amazing. Like, you know, just like it when I used it the first time my eyes were just like, this is how I've been wanting to work with data my entire career. So I think there was also an authentic passion and belief in the company, which can carry you a lot through the hard times.

Ash Faraj  18:54

Yeah. And I imagine you probably shared a story somewhere in that letter to you know.

Elissa Fink  18:58

Yeah, yes. Yes, I'm sure I did. And it was a great, you know, it was just a great experience. I was very lucky.

Ash Faraj  19:05

One year later. 2008 happens.

Elissa Fink  19:07


Ash Faraj  19:08

What was that like?

Elissa Fink  19:09

That was pretty rough, actually, because we had chest we had they had raised $5 million to start the company never spent it and then they we decided let's raise 10 because we're going to explode. We're going to go international. We're gonna do all these things. We raised 10 million right before the crisis. And then the crisis hit and it was like holy Toledo man that just put the brakes on everything. We went through a layoff which sucked we hated doing the layoff, but we had to do it. You know, we didn't we decided to take that money that we were going to spend on all these amazing things we were going to do. Nope, keep it in the bank. You never know what's going to happen, how long it's going to take through this crisis. It was really wise fiscal management.

Ash Faraj  19:50

What memory comes to mind when I say painful moment at Tableau? Is there any

Elissa Fink  19:54

Oh yeah, a couple for sure. Um, you know, The first not the first, but a, an early painful memory was actually had to do with Wikileaks where I just made a bad call. I made a bad decision. The Wikileaks had your that was a big, like a big dump of a bunch of documents, Julian Assange and all that. And overnight, somebody had taken the data from those documents and produced a tableau public visualization of those documents. And first, we were like, Oh, cool. And then we're like, oh, sheesh, there. It was, it was big. And we decided to take it down. And oh, my gosh, we just got roasted for that. And looking back, we realized that was a mistake, I realized, you know, now we realized, and we, we came up with some policies and procedures to to not have make such a such a judgment in the face of difficult circumstances. Because a lot of times in these hard times, like think about these capital riots, I mean, these companies pulling down, these are hard decisions to make, they're really hard decisions to make. And we did pull it down. And then we did get roasted and realized it was wrong. And so but I had to live with that. And people. Our blog used to get like, we had like two or three blog, but we'd get like two or three comments on a blog post. So the blog post that I wrote about, like, why we did what we did, and then why we were correcting and what we knew we're going to do going forward. Oh, my God. I mean, we got like 600 posts or 600, comments, things like, No wonder your name is fake euro, rad, thank you, you know, I'm never gonna buy your product. Well, you won't find my name and your database, because I'm not buying it directly. But I'll never buy your product. I'm buying it for the consultant. I've cancelled it, you know, crazy stuff. 600 comments, and it was it was a rough couple of weeks. I remember. I know, our developers were pretty disappointed. Because a lot of developers believe in freedom of speech and believed in that. And so and they they attributed it to me, I think, but I just you know, okay, made a mistake. That was a tough one. And then just I can go on and on.

Ash Faraj  21:58


Elissa Fink  22:00

But yeah, you've learned you learned the thing is you learn you work with people who like they're mad, you get mad, you get mad yourself, you get mad at each other, but not in a in an unproductive way, in a productive way. How are we going to get through this? What are you going to do to correct this? How are you going to make sure this never happens again. So the first thing is acknowledging the problem solving the short term issues of the problem trying to recover from it. And then of course, recovering and then making sure that you systematize your learnings. I'd rather people make a mistake, tell me early, I think I made a goof. Here's my idea to fix it. Tell me that early than waiting and hoping it gets better. And then just don't repeat it. You know, just do your best not to repeat it. Learn from it. That's the that's really important as the learning Yeah.

Ash Faraj  22:40

Okay, so I guess on a more positive note, what was your sweetest moment at Tableau?

Elissa Fink  22:45

Oh, God, there were just so many great moments. I mean, I can remember one moment I remember just is when we were when we went public at the New York Stock Exchange, standing on that balcony and and thinking to myself, is this the dream or is this a memory? You know, what I mean? Is this a dream or memory in making? I look back and I think of that moment, and honest, sometimes I do honestly go It felt like a dream. But it's also but it was a memory, you know, but it feels like a dream. Because it's such a, it's such an iconic moment. You know, that was such an iconic moment. That was very exciting. other little things like I'll never forget the first time we showed up on the Gartner Magic Quadrant. You know, everybody kind of underestimated us, they thought we were just this cute little tool, his personal productivity application, you know, and I was a big fan of like, we got to get on the Gartner Magic Quadrant early, you know, as early as we can get on there. And I never forget, being at the office late, it was like eight o'clock at night at getting the preview copy of it, and waiting for the document to open and seeing the Magic Quadrant sort of like stream in slowly. You know, that's how slow the internet was in those days. And I remember going from the top and seeing all the leaders and finally seeing our name as a as a challenger and you know as not even a niche player. That was a pretty sweet moment. That was like Okay, finally, this thought leader or influencer Gartner is acknowledging that we're like, somebody that really knows what it's doing is challenging the market. And that's what we did. And that was a great feeling.

Ash Faraj  24:12

I have a couple questions about hiring because we do want to kind of get the mind of an executive and somebody who's gone through hiring mistakes. What do you look for personally beyond the basics, like if you have, you know, an applicant? Yes, five, six applicants for the same job. What do you look for personally to differentiate?

Elissa Fink  24:30

Well, I'm definitely looking for someone who can work hard and work smart then today's world of technology and the you know, our kind of roles, marketing and sales. There's some evergreen skills, but there's a lot of skills that you just kind of learn like what people do in marketing, you know, even five years ago or not that similar to what they do today. So I'm looking for people who can learn you know, and take from that learning and take from a lot of different experiences. And then of course, attitude, love, you know, someone who's just going to get in there and authentically and with open Eyes, look at the situation, diagnose it and move positively toward a solution. I'm not saying you have to be rosy eyed or optimistic. I'm saying you have to be positive in terms of, you know, Hey, how are we going to achieve what we need to achieve? Let's be realistic. And then let's do the things we need to do to make progress. So I look for a lot of attitude.

Ash Faraj  25:18

That makes a lot of sense. Okay. So I'm hearing you know, obviously, attitude and enthusiasm. I'm hearing a willingness to learn. Yeah, what questions do you ask to look for that?

Elissa Fink  25:32

You know, I like to get example, you know, to like to hear stories about like, what, how did you work? Tell me about a situation like this? Or what was the hardest thing you ever done? Or what do people say about you? You know, what, you know, so I like people to tell me stories from their backgrounds. Because I think how you choose a story, how you frame that story tells me a lot about who you are, and what you do. I want to hear that the good, bad and the ugly. So I really value people who tell me things that maybe didn't go great, or weren't perfect, or where they really leaned on their team for some insight, or for a part of the experience that shows that they know how to bring people together or be part of a team and know when to lean into someone else's strength versus their strengths. So I don't look for like the perfect polished stories I look for, like, that feels true, that feels authentic, you know, and it shows me who you are. So I do I do. I do look for that kind of stuff. Yeah,

Ash Faraj  26:29

you you value, like people who are open to vulnerability being vulnerable.

Elissa Fink  26:33

Yes, yes. Because you don't need to be frustrated that at age, you know, 32, you're going to be head of whatever the heck, you know, whatever, you know what I mean, it's gonna happen. It's, you know, just if you work hard, do the right things, and you're smart, and you look out for opportunity. And you surround yourself with, you know, around great people and great ideas, it's going to happen. So I think that, you know, don't be frustrated by time, don't be overly impatient, be impatient, short, push, try hard, you know, be demanding of yourself and others. But don't don't don't think that because oh my god, I'm 32 one, I'm only a manager, I'm only a blah, that it's not over for you, he got a lot of years left and a lot of opportunity left. So So don't give up on on yourself or give up on time. Sometimes it just takes time. And I guess related to that is like look, nothing in life is a straight line, even like, you know, growth in our economy, growth rates in general, their that straight perfect lines. So don't expect a linear journey. It's this just not linear journeys anymore. And I think most people know that. But sometimes it feels frustrating. And so don't get frustrated.

Ash Faraj  27:46

There's one thing that you mentioned, you said that it's never too late for a career change. Yeah, that's really interesting. Like, what do you? What do you mean by that?

Elissa Fink  27:56

Well, I mean, like, if you want to do something different that well, for number one, it's life, it's your life, man, you should spend your time doing what you want to do, or what you love to do, don't don't give up on yourself or on time, or your life, because you think it's too late, you know, it's not now there might be some trade offs to that, like, for example, if you're a very successful salesperson making, you know, a big load of cash, because you're a great salesperson, or even a fine salesperson. If you want to change your career, become a software developer all of a sudden, or, or you're gonna have to start from scratch. You know, you might, you're gonna find joy in it, because what you want to do, maybe, or you should explore it, for sure to make sure it is, but you're probably going to make some trade offs in terms of your financial picture, right? But that's okay. I mean, time is all we have, you know what I mean? time at the end of the day, is all we have. So I'm a big believer in like, you know, it's it's one life we live, do what you love, yeah, find joy in your work, find joy in your days. And so, you know, it's easy for me to say that because I've been very lucky that way. But I do think that it's it's worth it. I think one of the reasons that people's nowadays sometimes require so much compensation is because there's just like, I'm paying such a high price to do this because I don't really love it, or I work with a bunch of jerks or I hate what I do. I need a high I need high money to feel like it was worth it. I think sometimes I like for example, when I worked at the Wall Street Journal, I was unhappy, I made decent income. But you know, I made a good income. But it was never enough. When I went to go work for Claire toss, I took a pay cut a, not an insignificant pay cut. But the day I walked in there, I felt richer because I was doing what I knew I was born to do or wanted to do wanted to grow. And of course, it led me to an incredibly lucky career at Tableau where I don't worry about those kinds of things anymore. So that's why that's what I mean about like, the sooner you get to what you love, so you can really enjoy your days and enjoy your time and know you're contributing in ways to the world. That that that you're meant to contribute.

Ash Faraj  30:03

Something I look for when I decide to partner with someone or hire someone is...

Elissa Fink  30:08

chemistry, I look for someone that I like that I can learn from that has kept that we have chemistry, it might not be someone I'm used to or familiar with, or they come from a very different background, I value that even more, but someone who's authentically wanting to connect and and and work together. And so to me, that's chemistry,

Ash Faraj  30:26

the most important quality in a leader is...

Elissa Fink  30:30

my natural reaction is to say empathy, I think understanding. And, and but also the service, I guess the other word that comes to mind is probably most important quality is to have a servant, servant mindset, how can I help you be your best and bring your best to your job and this company, I really believe that that's what a leader supposed to do is help people bring their best to the company,

Ash Faraj  30:51

the most important life skill is...

Elissa Fink  30:53

having a good relate having good relationships, learning how to communicate your needs, but listen to others for their needs, and to connect them helping each other be together. So building a good relationship, good relationships,

Ash Faraj  31:07

something I've struggled with, as a leader has been...

Elissa Fink  31:09

saying, No, I really, I am a person of possibilities. And so people come to me with ideas. And I'm like, I see the possibilities. Let's do it. But do we have the resources at the time? So yeah, saying no, for me is a really hard one.

Ash Faraj  31:24

I was actually meaning to remove this question. But I'm gonna ask it anyways. When I start to feel the urge to be lazy I...

Elissa Fink  31:33

I, indulge Actually, yeah, I just do it. I get lazy, I get my lazy out of the way, you know what I mean? I, I get my lazy out of the way. So I just I give into it for I set myself sort of like, okay, I'll give myself a half hour or an hour or whatever amount of time it is and just accept and then say, okay, in 15 minutes, I'll move on.

Ash Faraj  31:53

If I could go back and talk to the 25 year old at least I would tell her...

Elissa Fink  31:57

I would tell her the patient. Trust yourself. You know, stand up for yourself when you need to, you know, but be patient and trust yourself. You can do this, it's going to happen for you believe. Yeah, oh, tell her that I you know, you have a lot of insecurities. And you're in a hurry, and you don't know what you're going to do. And you don't know how life is going to turn out and you get all frazzled. And I would say Don't worry, calm down. You got this.

Ash Faraj  32:26

One setback or failure in my early 20s, I will never forget is...

Elissa Fink  32:31

oh my goodness Well, just that decision to take go from working in one department at the wall street journal to another because I thought I knew it was going to be hard. I thought it would be good for me. I thought suffering would be good for me. And there was good that came out of it for sure. But it was very not worth it. I probably you know what I mean? So I would I would take that.

Ash Faraj  32:57

The sweetest moment I felt in my entire career was when....

Elissa Fink  33:00

Oh, boy, the sweetest moment might have been that. That time when we were in New York going public with with with tableau, I would say as I mentioned, it was, like I said, somewhere between a memory and a dream. It just was so iconic. And the other sweetest moment, I'll never forget this too, if I can indulge myself here a little bit, was my mother had been very ill. And when we went public, she had a very bad case of dementia. She didn't understand it at all. And it was kind of heartbreaking for me because she'd set such a great example for me. Well, so she was on different kinds of medications. And they decided to put her on this antidepressant because she had been a little obsessively scratching a bumper or something. And all of a sudden, she sort of came back to us, she came back to us. And she was cogent again. And she understood and I'll never forget telling her mom, you know, my company went public look at look at theirs. That's me on the news on TV on this new york stock exchange. Look, mom. And I'll just never forget the look of pride and her joy and smile at me and the comments she made because she did come back to us for about three or four months was about it. And then after that the antidepressant stopped working and she went into full scale dementia. But I just I'll never forget that moment. That was just, I knew she was proud of me. I was proud of myself. And I knew she she connected. We connected it with something. I think that just really it just meant a lot to me that she saw her daughter doing something I think that she would have could have should have done herself, but just for the times and where she put her energy and I was just really proud of that moment. It was a beautiful moment.

Ash Faraj  34:45

Obviously, I still have a long career ahead of me. But if I could be remembered for just one thing it would be...

Elissa Fink  34:51

being a leader who cared about people who wanted people to get satisfaction from the work that they did. And were In jobs where they could create that satisfaction for themselves and for the companies that they work for, I think, yeah, if I could be remembered as that as a leader who cared and got the best out of people and people felt their best that data would consider successful.

Ash Faraj  35:15

And then the final one, I would like to end off on a positive note. If I were stranded on an island and I had access to one meal, it would be...

Elissa Fink  35:23

God. You say the hardest. That's a hard one.

Ash Faraj  35:31

I still owe you that Mediterranean dish so

Elissa Fink  35:34

Oh, Thanksgiving, Mediterranean, I'm Italian. So Italian, anything Italian? Oh, see, you're gonna have to just let me say everything I have to admit. Almost anything would be satisfying me.

Ash Faraj  35:54

Thank you so so much for listening to this episode. Now. If you enjoyed this episode, please please please, please leave us a quick quick rating and review on Apple podcasts. It can be super quick. Every rating and review helps so we can help reach more people and help more new professionals navigate their career. We hope to see you again next week. Take care

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