Neha Kumar is the co-founder of New Money Ventures, a venture capital firm and brand studio on a mission to fund and build the next generation of game-changing consumer brand companies.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I went to University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for undergrad and then I went to graduate school at the University of Southern California (USC) to get my MBA.
From there I went to the finance world and worked in banking, before I made the pivot to the startup space. I spent a few years scaling startups like DTC wine brand, Drinks.com, and then served as the COO & CFO of Create & Cultivate, which sold a majority stake to Corridor Capital in 2020.
For the past nine years I’ve been back at my alma mater, teaching tech management and entrepreneurship classes at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
I also recently started an investment fund, New Money Ventures, where we focus on funding and building the next generation of game-changing consumer brand companies
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I wear multiple hats in my professional life, and I have two kids under the age of three – so structure is everything right now.
Monday and Wednesdays, I listen to pitch calls, due diligence on companies and industries and I have calls with existing portfolio companies.
Tuesday and Thursday I’m on campus at UCLA and then I do in-person meetings in the evenings.
My Fridays are flexible and I spend about half the day having 1:1 time with one of my kids.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
For the fund, my hours are more flexible and I can be fully remote. However in the investment world, the hours are around the clock so you have to create your own parameters. The important things about creating parameters if you need to let the others in your life know what those are.
Every coin has two sides. I love doing this work and it is really hard to do this type of work. It’s challenging because my kids don’t understand that I’m working (especially if I’m in the same house as them, they still don’t get the work remote concept yet) but it’s great because if I need to have a teacher conference, I’m close to my kids school already and can do it when needed.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I think of work-life balance more as a balance of what your priorities are. The definition of balancing is finding an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
So I relate that definition to “priority balancing”, which is more about ranking out priorities and putting your priorities in. When I think about balancing my priorities, I always think of the story of the professor who stood at the front of the class with a jar and filled it with rocks, then with pebbles, then with water.
Every time it looked full, more fit it because of the order he filled it. I try to use that tactic of “force ranking” and from there put a structure into place.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
- I got on a calendaring system (calendly). It changed my life. I noticed I was spending so much time going back and forth setting up meetings. Now, not only does it save me time, I have a system and the mental switching cost is lower.
Online interior design
- I moved into a new house, and I used Modsy for interior design. Their CS is amazing. It changed my life , especially with all the design changes due to supply chain issues. My house is looking gorgeous now if I do say so myself.
- This is a game changer. I have a 1 and 3 year old, so we buy a lot of items on repeat. Utilising a “recently purchased” section as a reminder for what groceries I need to buy has been everything.
Target pick up
- Note again the 1 year old and 3 year old. With this, I can place an order on Target’s app and go do a pick up where they put everything in my car. Not having to go up and down the aisles of Target with two toddlers gives us a lot of time back.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Book: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hills. I have read and reread this book over and over again.
Podcast: On Purpose by Jay Shetty. I listen to this while driving to class at UCLA. I leave my house around 6AM and its perfect timing. It’s beautiful in the morning in LA and this podcast helps me get out of the zone of thinking about “me” and get in the zone to be there for my students that day.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
- Gua Sha Facial stone (very calming)
- Crown Affair deep conditioner. hair product. Makes my hair feel so healthy I just feel better.
- Dry Shampoo – Ouai (I love the smell!)
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Michelle Obama. She handles family, life and the media all with grace.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Balance your priorities. Identify what your priorities are (family/friends, career, networking, dating, mental health/self-care etc) and focus on that. Then force rank what is important to you and tackle the things in that order.
Second, get in the zone and enjoy what you are doing. School can be fun. Work can be fun. You need to balance your life amongst your priorities.
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