Jotting reminders to oneself may seem to be a basic, universal habit. But Amy Gu knows that many savvy U.S. tech companies have stumbled in China, failing to grasp customers’ needs, complexities, and quirks. The China-born, U.S.-educated Gu vowed not to merely translate Evernote’s service into Chinese but to become “a close-to-the-ground, practical company,” she says. Her team introduced features that let customers select Wi-Fi–only synching (and thereby save on mobile data costs), archive WeChat conversations, manipulate multiple photos at once, and interact with customer service reps through social media channels such as Weibo. In just three years, Evernote China has won more than 12 million customers, making it one of the company’s biggest markets. Some of the features that were developed in China have proven so popular, they’re being adopted for Evernote users around the globe.
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
Experiencing new things is how I seek out ideas. Going to a new city, hanging about in a museum, or meeting a new friend can always stimulate my creativity to conjure genius ideas.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Jogging. I run a lot these days, not only to exercise, but also to refresh my mind.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
I really hate being called ‘Boss Gu,’ which is common in Chinese business culture. I prefer everyone to call me Amy. So I always correct people when we first meet.
What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?
GoPro’s Instagram account is the best. It’s full of energy. I feel inspired every time I look at it.
How do you keep track of everything you have to do?
I have two notebooks in my Evernote, one is called ‘Life To Do’ and the other is ‘Work To Do.’ The first one usually has things I would like to do for my personal life, such as restaurants to try or movies to watch or things I really like. The second is about the work I need to get done.
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
Make a change immediately. I am rarely in a rut since I always push myself to try new things.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
Charlie Munger. His wisdom and openness towards different areas intrigues me a lot. I wish one day I can be called ‘a walking library’ by my grandchildren.