Gloria is co-founder and MD of Temedica, a digital health company focused on building personal health products. As of writing, she manages economic, financial, and legal functions at the company and employs a team of 70+ from Munich, Germany.
On the best learning from a family member.
In my first startup years, I would often fear something would happen that would irremediably break things. My friends and family were the ones that kept things in perspective. My father taught me to be aware of my own imagination. To focus on the hard facts instead of overinterpreting them. Things don’t break so quickly, and challenges are mainly a question of how we measure them.
On social pressure and getting started.
I joined McKinsey immediately after my studies. A clear career path: a few consulting years, an MBA. Then the McKinsey partner track, perhaps joining a client. Instead, I left after 4 years. For lots of people, I was one of those that don’t survive the consulting mill. That I was not good enough for it. That I would not move forward. Leaving on purpose was non-comprehensible to them. The first months as a founder were extremely hard: I felt I had to justify myself at every point. I could make consulting slides and calculate in Excel but lacked most other skills. Digital Health wasn’t an industry in Germany in 2015, and my co-founder and I didn’t know how to fundraise. Our pre-seed came from friends and family and it was just a couple of ten-thousands Euro.
On learning from the hard things.
That first year, we could only afford a shabby 15 sqm room in a co-working space from the 70s. The carpeting was old and every crumb had eaten its way in it. It looked so miserable that we used Temedica’s 6-month anniversary to wish for a vacuum cleaner. Our friends were astonished but helped us.
Our financial situation was similar to the carpet: At one point, we had a couple of weeks of runaway left. Insolvency was 99% assured. But we somehow found a bridge investor who gave us another few months, just as we navigated as founders further crises that followed. Things never ended up as badly as I would expect them to be. It changed my perspective. There are highs and lows, and always a solution. Sometimes it's just a vacuum cleaner that takes you a step further.
On coaching and work-life balance.
Since Temedica’s first day, my role has kept changing. Balancing culture, financial growth and strategy is exhausting. I can rarely switch off for multiple days, so I take single days where I stay completely offline. In my everyday challenges at the company, I used to seek the opinion of friends and family. Over time, this was burdening my private life. So I got a business coach. We meet regularly once a month, weekly if there’s an acute topic to be addressed. Discussing what has happened helps me to organize my thoughts tremendously. The coach’s third-party view pushes me to pull myself out and re-frame a problem. It brings me to the point where I can put a problem into digestible pieces and address each of them separately and more objectively.
On decision making.
When I started my career, I was very focused on an objective evaluation and a quantitative perspective on things. I’d see challenges in figures and numbers at all costs. But in the end, the best decisions came from my gut. Trusting your feeling is often better than following the data. I’ve learned to build more self-confidence to trust my instincts and balance them with objective facts. Focusing only on the measurable was definitely a mistake in my early years.
On hiring and personal growth.
About a year ago, I started living the mantra “hire for the attitude, not for the skills". I had always kept the assumption it took a certain path, degree or skill set to be suitable for a certain role. Be it as a colleague, mentor, or more personally, a good friend. I was missing out. Professionally, it meant that our hiring would focus more on technical competence, less on attitude. It led us to profiles that made the greatest professional impression during the interview process and did not fit at all once hired. Now we focus more on how a candidate deals with challenges. Not every employee comes from McKinsey or Rocket, or investment bank X. But they share our values, which is far more important.
On Temedica’s recruitment process.
We focus a lot on values and attitude. One essential aspect in our hiring process is that every candidate meets people from teams other than those they have applied for. The final decision depends largely on whether the applicant fits into our culture from the perspective of all interviewers. This is the only way we can ensure that even in times of remote hypergrowth (we grew +300% in 2020) we can still keep our focus on the binding element - our culture. Ahead of this growth, I brought in leaders whose people management experience would provide the team, not just efficiency, but stability and comfort.
On her productivity setup and a book everyone should read:
Some time ago, I stumbled across Matt Mochary’s book The Great CEO Within, where he describes how to self-manage goals, priorities, and tasks. I have adopted a large part of his approach, to manage myself in the most efficient way. Over the day, I categorize all my inboxes: email, slack, etc. When a todo takes less than 5 minutes to complete, I do it immediately. If not, I sort it in one of my lists: “next tasks”, “waiting for”, “maybe someday”, “to be discussed with person XYZ”, and “projects”. Every evening, I review my “next tasks” and “waiting for” list and once a week I review “to be discussed with person XYZ” and “projects”. For this, I only use my email system and an app called Todoist. It’s a book full of “ready to use” advice with very practical tips. You can read it in a couple of hours and start implementing it right away.
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