Client Conversation: Lindsey Volckmann Irvine

First Republic Bank

Lindsey Volckmann Irvine
Client since '03
Vice President of Business Development and Sales, Keas

How did you start down your career path?

I graduated from Vanderbilt University with the original intent to pursue a career in advertising and PR as I had a passion for telling a story and getting a message out. However, I realized quickly that I was more interested, for both personal and professional reasons, in doing something I found more personally and professionally meaningful. I spoke with a few mentors and they directed me to a fellowship program that the National Institutes of Health had created. I applied for the fellowship, received the award and was given a position within the National Cancer Institute (NCI). I worked in the Health Communication and Informatics Research Group (HCIRB) within the NCI whose mission is to fund translational research and technology program development across the cancer continuum.

As part of HCIRB, my job was to work with technology vendors and researchers to identify funding opportunities for new translational research grants, and ultimately to fund new technology programs that could bridge the gap between information discovery, and dissemination and application of that information into the private and public sectors. It was fortuitous timing as Google, Microsoft and Intel were all starting their first foray into health care, and I figured if any tech company could help transform the way we as consumers receive and engage with information/research, it would be one of the big guys. As such, I decided to initiate a partnership between publicly funded behavioral research (NCI) and privately funded information technology companies (Google, Intel, Microsoft). That was the start of my career. Through that public/private health initiative, I realized that the intersection between technology and health, or rather technology and behavior change, was exactly where I wanted to focus my career.

It was at this time that I also met, Adam Bosworth, who was then head of Google Health, and later became my boss at Keas.

Who was your mentor growing up? Is it the same person today that is was when you first started out? 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had various mentors over the course of my life and career thus far. Growing up in the Bay Area, we’re surrounded by entrepreneurs… people who know how to grow something out of nothing. My father is such an entrepreneur, and was (and is to this day) a key mentor of mine. Another mentor is a former senior executive at Openwave, and current partner at Accel ventures. He taught me that 70% of success is understanding and engaging people; 30% is what you know, and your ability to execute it. And the Founders of my current company, Keas, have certainly served as mentors in the past few years. They’ve taught me how to build a company from the ground up.

What did your mentors teach you?

Be direct.
Keep it simple.
Look beyond the obvious to find the underlying cause of a problem, or the seed of an opportunity.
Trust your instinct.
Take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail.

How do you think social media and online gaming can change the health and wellness industry? 

How long do we have? The short version: I think social media and online gaming will change the way we as consumers engage in our own health and wellness. Social media and online games teach us a lot about human behavior, and how to change it. For example: people like real time feedback, rewards, status, virtual goods, and recognition amongst their peers. We can use these tools to motivate behavior change - to motivate people to do the hard stuff in health (i.e. change lifestyles and build healthy habits). And with these tools, we can tap into the psychology of every generation and demographic – because EVERYONE is online using social tools or playing social games. The average age of the social gamer today is a 43 year old female.

Companies like Keas are borrowing principals from the likes of Facebook and Farmville to create fun, social games for health that truly change the way people get and stay healthy. It’s a great time to be at the intersection between technology, social gaming and health.

As a director of business development and sales, what do you do on a daily basis? 

At any startup you wear many hats. Two years ago I literally did a little bit of everything. Now, two years later and following Series-B preferred funding, my day-to-day consists of two things—(i) building out a team of direct sales managers who are selling our employee wellness solution directly to employers and (ii) growing our business development and partnership team.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? 

Think about everything that I have to do in the coming day.

Last thing you do before bed? 

Kiss my husband goodnight and read my book.

What does your day consist of? How many hours are you "in the office"? 

The day is anywhere from 10 -14 hours. Earlier on, it was longer. You get craftier as you learn and know more, and you also realize you can do more with less. The first part of my day is working with the sales team to make sure they have what they need and are progressing through their pipeline, working new leads and managing existing relationships.

The other part of my day is spent in sales meetings or working on business development relationships/deals. Beyond that I live the classic start up activities: putting out fires, brainstorming with the various teams at Keas, thinking of new ways to grow the company, etc.

What is your source of inspiration? 

We live in an area where you have people like Steve Jobs that have literally created things that have completely transformed our world. We have Zynga around the corner, Facebook down the street, and a slew of start-ups on the same block. We are surrounded by innovation and that’s my source of inspiration – interacting with others that thrive on creating something big out of what started as an idea.

If you could write a letter to the person you were 10 years ago, what advcie would you give yourself? 

My first recommendation is don’t get on the track until you’re ready to run. Take time off. Once you’re in your career, it’s hard to get out.

My second recommendation is to take risks and try various things until you find one you love. Life is too short not to love what you do, and if you love your work the other stuff will follow.

Is there a mistake that you've made, that you learned a lesson from? 

Don’t be afraid of admitting what you don’t know.
If someone says something you don’t understand, call it out and figure it out.

How do you spend your down time? What helps you relax? 

I love to exercise. I run, do yoga, ski, hike… whatever I can fit into my free time.

Where is your favorite vacation or destination spot?

Florence, Italy and Bora Bora.

If you weren't in business development at Keas, what yould you be doing? 

Starting my own company or running BD & Sales for a really cool, social gaming/health company. I’m fascinated by the intersection between technology, social gaming and health.

What is your pet peeve? 

When people aren’t direct. Don’t beat around the bush. People spend too much time in meetings not saying what they’re thinking; It’s a waste of time.

What are you most proud of? 

I’ve been able and willing to take risks and really believe in myself in a way that’s gotten me to where I am today without compromising who I am. One of the lessons I learned really early on is that you don’t have to step on people to get to the top. I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been able to run really far really fast without compromising my integrity.

What is your favorite book, newspaper, magazine, or business journal you absolutely have to read either personally or professionally? 

Flip Board – It’s an app that pulls news from any source and creates a really cool homepage of all your favorite articles, by source and category.

I love the Steve Jobs book because it’s so true to where we live and incredibly inspirational.

What do you keep in your purse, pocket, or briefcase that you can't live without? 

My iPhone and chap-stick.

The views of the authors of these articles do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.