Inspiring Women: Thumbtack's VP of Marketing Talks Motherhood and Making It in Tech
Nikki Pechet tells us how she juggles her thriving career and family life.
Do you need your house painted? Private swim lessons for your kids? A photo booth for an event? A dog trainer? How about a massage? Everyone needs a massage. And if you need virtually any other service, you can probably find a pro to do it for you on Thumbtack. Here's how it works: You decide what kind of pro you need, request quotes for said service, hire the person who best suits your needs, then consider it done. The service is designed to get that looming item off of your to-do list once and for all or help with some of those other super random things — like finding a flame-thrower for your birthday bash. It's basically a mom's best friend.
The company was started by three friends back in 2009 and now it's generated more than $1 billion in annual revenue for its pros. Impressive, right? One of the strong women now behind the brand is the VP of Marketing, Nikki Pechet. She's been with the company three years (her impressive background includes a stint at Bain & Company and an MBA from Harvard Business School) and she's an inspiring example of an accomplished mom who juggles a thriving career and home life as well — with the help of Thumbtack, no doubt.
We tapped Nikki to ask her about how she got to where she is today, how she balances home and work life, and what living beautifully means to her.
Tell us about your role at Thumbtack and why you love it.
I lead Marketing at Thumbtack, which is a team that I have gotten to build over the past couple years. This sounds so cliche, but the thing I love most about Thumbtack is truly the people. When I took my first role at Thumbtack almost 3 years ago, it was lower titled and lower paid than anything else that I was looking at. But I LOVED the founders and other leaders of the company, and just couldn't say no to working with them. I thought, "even if this company completely fails and I have to go crawling back to my old job, it will still be worth it because I will have fun every day and learn so much from working with these people."
Almost 3 years later, that has turned out to be absolutely true, and I still feel lucky every day to work with such a brilliant, bold, and kind group of people.
How does Thumbtack help you as a mom and tech exec in the SF Bay Area?
I have a really old house where things are constantly breaking, and no free time to figure out how to fix them.
Thumbtack makes it possible for me to do the things I need to do (fixing the washing machine when it breaks...again), the things I want to do (hiring an interior decorator to help reclaim my living room for adults and move toys to a separate playroom), and even inspires me to start projects I wouldn't have considered without it (new kitchen countertops?).
What do you wish you had known about balancing a career + motherhood before you actually had kids?
1) It's really hard. But really, really worth it.
2) There are 24 hours in each day, and that is simply not enough for all of the things you want to do. So some of those things are not going to get done. (I truly did not understand this until I had two kids and was so exhausted from trying to do everything that I kept crashing our car into the garage when I pulled in. I needed sleep.)
3) Balance, for me, isn't something that I measure every day. Sure, some days are well balanced with quality time with my kids, a solid workday in the office, and a little time for myself (yeah, right!), but most of the time, I'm going back and forth between really intense periods of work where I don't get nearly enough time with my kids, followed by family-focused time where we are really reconnecting. I try to measure "balance" over the course of months, and not be too hard on myself if I'm leaning too far in one direction or another. When I feel off-balance, I just course-correct in whatever way feels right... Sometimes taking an impromptu day off to go on an adventure with my boys, or heading into the office on a Sunday to get work back on track.
What is your favorite part of your day?
Walking into my boys' room right when they wake up. They are both still in cribs, and they jump up and down and cheer when I walk in, which is almost certainly the most enthusiastic reception I will get in my lifetime and feels pretty great. Every single day.
What are three things that got you to where you are today?
1) Luck. I grew up in Minnesota with an absolutely brilliant mom who wanted to teach me everything about the world, a dad who still wows me with his work ethic and ability to make absolutely anything happen, and a sister who could beat me at just about everything and constantly pushed me to be better.
2) Willingness to ask for help. My mom grew up really poor, and always worried that she didn't get access to things that other people got to learn as a result. So she has spent the rest of her life asking questions of anyone who knows more than she does on a given subject (fossil hunting, bee keeping... you name it). This willingness to admit you don't know something, and ask experts to teach you was deeply ingrained in me, and is who I have learned almost everything I need to know in my job today.
3) Willingness to put in the hours. I love finding things that are worth working on, and then giving them everything you've got. Before kids, it was much easier to work until midnight most days (and I honestly loved that). It's more complicated now, but I still like to put in a lot of hours at work, so I adjust my schedule around my kids' bedtime - often going back into the office or working from home once they are asleep.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10?
5 years: Hopefully still at Thumbtack, where we are helping hundreds of millions of people get things done every year globally.
10 years: Maybe "retired" from Thumbtack, but actively advising/investing in other growth stage companies, sitting on a few public boards, and dedicating a significant amount of time to philanthropy (I'm currently most focused on issues related to the future of work/job retraining and also early childhood education/exposure).
At Livingly, our motto is "live life beautifully." What does living beautifully mean to you?
I think authenticity is beautiful. Being exactly who you are. For me, that means chasing little boys around in mis-matched pajamas in the mornings, leading a big team all day (in 4 inch heels), listening to non-fiction audiobooks on 2.5X speed anytime I'm in the car, and doing home projects with power tools every weekend. My life is chaotic and crazy, but to me, this is living life beautifully.