Out Of Office With Founder Of Skillcrush Adda Birnir

Where can you find the founder and CEO of Skillcrush off the grid?

Before heading out for the weekend, we chat with industry leaders for a glimpse of their lives outside of the office—and what got them where they are today.

After the media company Adda Birnir worked for cut dozens of editorial jobs in 2008—including hers—she noticed something peculiar: The company's tech team was left standing. She decided then to learn the skills that made those jobs secure, and help others do the same.

Adda taught herself to code, and started empowering others to do the same. She founded Skillcrush on this community mindset: To help others demystify the modern digital frameworks they rely on, and take control of their careers.

When she's not helping women unlock new potential in the digital world, here's what Adda's up to after hours.

FC: What does your ideal vacation look like?

AB: Vacation? Who takes vacation?

In all seriousness, I have two ideal vacations in my head: the one I imagine would be ideal and the one that actually is ideal.

The one I imagine is ideal is some sort of balmy oceanfront getaway where I lay on the beach all day drinking tropical smoothies. My guess is that I would last about three hours doing that before I had to run in circles to get my nervous energy out.

The vacation I think is actually ideal for me is a backpacking trip. Backpacking, when you do it in a beautiful place, is incredible because it forces you off the grid (literally), keeps you occupied, wears your body out (in the best way possible), and provides you with ample opportunity to both commune with nature and also come to appreciate how good you have it the rest of the year.

My favorite backpacking trip was four days I spent walking Laugavegurinn in Iceland.

When you’re stuck in a rut, what shakes you out of it?

Gossiping with my friends on Gchat. Rabidly consuming business podcasts. Taking showers. Laying on the couch and waiting for the rut to pass. Sometimes, I have learned, you must surrender and trust that you won’t feel so uninspired forever.

What’s one low-tech item you could never live without?

Pen and paper! I have so many ideas! Must write them all down!

I have literally not been without a notebook to write in since I was maybe, 10 or 11? I carry them with me everywhere. My own apotropaic ward against boredom.

Birnir on her ideal vacation: Backpacking.

What would 12-year-old you think if she saw you now?

Wait: you’re not an astronaut or lawyer?!

I think 12-year-old me would be surprised that I’ve mellowed quite a bit, but would be glad to see that I have not lost my enthusiasm for all things silly and expressive and adventurous.

How do you wind down after a long day?

With my boyfriend, nay husband! I just got married so I am still getting used to calling him that. His name is David and he is a high school math teacher. I am very lucky to have a partner who is far far more calm than I am. He has quite the therapeutic effect on me!

If David is not available, then I like listen to music and do something mindless like put things back in place or organize a to-do list or wash the dishes.

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[Photo: Flickr user Mark Bray]

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