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Out Of Office With Founder Of WHISK Maggie Spicer

A passion for playfulness, ravenous curiosity, and the “audacity to wonder” drive her.

Out Of Office With Founder Of WHISK Maggie Spicer
[Photo: Flickr user Germán Poo-Caamaño]

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.

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Maggie Spicer didn’t want to just hop on the startup bandwagon rolling through Silicon Valley. She wanted to touch how all of those shiny new companies operated. “I found myself amidst the swirling of up-starts, the launch mania of new products, the collective economy growth spurt–this is a time in which we’re living smarter, connecting in new ways, and discovery is everywhere,” she says. To have companies with colorful, ambitious goals and drab, lifeless culture isn’t acceptable to her.

Founding company culture consulting firm WHISK in 2012, the vision for her clients starts small–with an intimately close residency program and working with their leadership abilities and motivations–and spreads to the city outside of each startup.

What’s your “hidden talent?”

Curiosity. What I’ve discovered [is that] an innate, perpetual sense of wonder gets me to open doors that are otherwise locked. It gets me to ask a question out loud in a room of founders. I’ve learned it takes audacity to wonder.

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

Whether an emotional or psychic rut, I find that incorporating a sense of play in my day can save me from spiraling downward. As easy as it sounds, most adults have forgotten how to. Play is about improv (find a new route to work), adventure (take a last minute flight out of the country, yes!), and fun (dare you to skip down the street–it’s practically impossible to do so and not smile). It’s in creating space for the unexpected in life that we allow for the ripest opportunities to realign and change the trajectory of our perceptions.

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

My iron skillet. I first learned to cook [eggs] at the age of four. Being able to nourish myself and be self-sufficient is essential to me. In learning to balance heat, intuition, and timing, I’ve honed the art of creating community by gathering people around a table to share a meal.

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

She’d probably love and expect that I was my own boss.

And not only that, after she discovers that I created a company/service based on a need I saw firsthand, she would probably dig that.

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She’d probably want to know how my parents reacted to my entrepreneurial endeavors and I’d be happy to assure her that while they were supportive, fundamentally following the guidance of that inner nudging toward doing what makes you come alive trumps approval.

And she would love that I named it WHISK.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

I feel like I’m currently making a life of doing everything I want to do that I am not sure there’s anything left. What I know for sure–it would be something equally precocious while addressing some kind of problem, i.e.: Why do many San Francisco restaurateurs not pay attention to their bathroom as a brand touchpoint or expression? It could be the best, most forward-thinking gastronomical food ever and the bathroom is a 1988 monochromatic health hazard. That disconnect bugs me. And of course I’d want to solve it.

About the author

Former Tweets, words, and editorial support for Fast Company Leadership. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.

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