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Armadillo Asks: Ann Hiatt

We want to introduce you to the people who make Armadillo tick. So grab a coffee, settle back and say hello to Ann…

Name: Ann Hiatt
Job Title: Non-Executive Director
Joined Armadillo: September 2018

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

I think the most unforgettable thing I’ve ever done is a gorilla trek in Rwanda where we hiked for hours into the jungle and then sat for hours only feet away from several gorilla families and a very intimidating silverback. I have never felt at the mercy of nature so intensely in all my life.

What’s your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement to date has been working side-by-side with three of the most powerful and tireless CEOs of our time at Amazon and Google and not only surviving (which wasn’t a given!) but thriving. It was like the most intense business school you can imagine while applying lessons learned in real time with high stakes.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by ordinary people doing incredible things with limited resources that shape and benefit the community around them. I am fascinated with the formula for success and impact regardless of personal resources, status or dis/advantages.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

I would start a tech incubator for communities underrepresented in business and online. The world could benefit from new ideas from diverse people and places.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which book, film and album would you take?

I’m going to cheat and say Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which I think checks all three of these boxes in one. It’s an amazing book (with deeply flawed and endearing characters that we can all relate to) and a beautiful film (with my favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn), and a hauntingly simple score, Moon River (which the studio had cut until the very last edit).

What is your favourite word in the English language, and why?

Yes!

Eric Schmidt taught me to love the word ‘Yes’ and the adventures and opportunities that follow when saying it liberally. He has a plaque on his desk at Google that says, “If at all possible, say yes.” Following that advice has changed my life and given me unexpected adventures (some spectacular, some painful) that have shaped me in many ways and made me stronger.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us

I am the oldest of seven children and a first-generation non-farmer. (Not exactly the most likely person to work in tech companies that changed the world!)

In another life, I’m pretty sure I was…

…an athlete.
I have always been fascinated by sports although I have no extraordinary talent to speak of. I’d like to think I was a Greek marathon runner at the dawn of the Olympics or a Russian ballerina in my past life.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I would love to be able to fly. My father’s first career was as an Air Force fighter pilot. I’ve been fascinated with flight my entire life.

The best piece of advice Ann’s ever been given

Approach life as if everything is conspiring for your good (rather than against you).

What did you want to be when you were a child?

An Olympian, a ballerina or a Broadway star

Do you have a side hustle you’d like to share?

I have recently left my “day job” (after 12 years at Google!) and am focusing entirely on my side hustle.

I started consulting for start-ups’ CEOs while I was still at Google as favours to friends. I now focus on consulting and keynote speaking full time. I love being able to spend my time sharing what I’ve learned from Amazon and Google with entrepreneurs all over the world.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?

Efficiency. I can do more with less, faster than anyone else I know… but it’s boring to watch most of the time.

What songs have you completely memorized?

I have a freakishly good memory for music. I was in choirs and performed in musicals my entire life through university so my repertoire is vast and diverse. Anything from Broadway, to rap, to arias are on the tip of my tongue. I always have a song stuck in my head. These days my only outlet is karaoke and the shower.

What are some small things that make your day better?

Relaxed mornings. I spent 15 years in the constant rush of Silicon Valley and always woke up with something needing immediate attention. I moved to Spain a year ago and left Google 6 months ago. My mornings now start with green tea and yoga next to the beach followed by reading and writing before I get to my emails. This new routine has completely changed my wellbeing.

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?

The responsibility of tech in modern democracy. Heavy, I know.

What stat for your life would you most like to see?

Miles travelled.
Exploring new countries and cultures is one of my greatest joys, and I have travelled to over 35 countries for work and pleasure. I’m curious how that all stacks up.

What could you give a 20-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

How to maximize your impact regardless or your role or seniority.
Or, how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable when trying new things.
Also, how to bake the perfect pie for Thanksgiving.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t gotten around to?

I would love to try salsa dancing – like really try. I’ve loved dancing since I was small, but ballet comes more naturally to me than Latin styles (although I’m better built for the latter, I think).

Describe what you do in 10 words or less

I consult on strategy, growth and leadership for maximum impact.

What do you like most about your job?

Being able to apply my expertise in a completely new industry and learning from the amazing team around me.

How would you describe what Armadillo does?

Armadillo merges creativity and technology to connect brands with their consumers in an authentic and engaging way.

What advice would you give a candidate who wants to join Armadillo?

Come to Armadillo for an environment that will reward your creative thinking and give you an open outlet for trying new things and maximizing your talents.

What’s the most inspiring part of your job?

Seeing the way in which each board member and leader deeply cares about the company and each employee individually.

The three best things about working at Armadillo, according to Ann…

Creative environment, willingness to take risks, dedicated teammates

What and where is Bristol’s hidden gem?

I love the parks and waterways. Bristol is so beautiful. I love to go for a morning run to take it all in before I start my morning meetings.

If someone only had one day to spend in Bristol, what should they do?

Get outside. Explore the parks and small shops. There are surprises around every corner!

What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Bristol?

I love the Downtown Taquería on Colston Street. As a displaced Californian I’m always on the lookout for authentic tacos and these do not disappoint!

Originally published on Armadillo

Interviews

CATEGORY

3/13/2020

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Armadillo Asks: Ann Hiatt

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