Learning from Each Job to Creating Your Dream Job with Lori Eich
This transcript was created using AI. Please forgive any discrepencies.
[Intro] Welcome to Easy Style with Sami. I’m your host Sami Bedell-Mulhern. Each episode, I invite a friend, family member or colleague or just someone I’ve met on this journey called life to come and share their personal style and approach to business, parenting, life and everything in between. You’ll hear motivational and inspirational stories that will help you refine and build your own personal style. Remember, style is easy when it comes from within.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of easy style with Sami. My guest today is Lori Eich, Lori, thanks for being here.
[Lori Eich] Thanks for having me. I feel so honored.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, we have known each other I think since birth. Yeah. And we’ve been around each other our entire lives off and on. And I have always seen you as somebody who has always just carved their own path have their own kind of energy and style and approach and you just kind of done stuff. And I’ve always been impressed with kind of your confidence and just ability to try new things and kind of see what happens.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, that that sums up kind of how I’ve approached my life so far, I think,
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] working out okay, yeah, I’ve
[Lori Eich] never really been the same as everyone else. And as much as I want to fit in, and I want to be a normal person, I’m just not. And so I just didn’t in that part of becoming an adult is sort of embracing that and owning it. And then just just like showing up as your true authentic self. That’s kind of how I’ve, I’ve carved out my path.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that, well, why don’t you maybe just share a brief and I know we’re gonna talk a lot about kind of your work history, your path, kind of like how you’ve evolved and changed and gone through all these different stages of your career and activities, which we’ll touch on. But why don’t you just share a little bit about who you are? Great.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I’m Lori. I grew up as a nerd, a nerd and an athlete kind of together. And so you know, embracing those two sides of my self, I kind of carved my way through life here. I, you know, went to went to school and, and elementary and junior high in high school with Sammy and then eventually went off to boarding school, because
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] they often do in the Midwest, the Midwest has a strong boarding school culture.
[Lori Eich] I ran out of math classes. And they were going to be able to offer me some more math classes. And then they gave me a scholarship. And I was like, Okay, sounds good. So it was just, you know, to say yes, and, you know, went to MIT for college and for grad school as well. I studied geology, and I got my master’s in geophysics, was able to be a geologist for a couple years after that, which was fun. And, you know, when I was a geologist, it was really fun. I was a geologist in California, it was super fun, because like rocks are really fun in California. I, when I moved to Chicago, the rocks are way less fun here. And being outside in the winter is way less fun here. I, for many reasons, the job was not what I needed it to be. So I found an opportunity with a trading firm, Chicago is does have a large financial industry. And, you know, it was like if I’m not going to do geology, what else can I do? Like? Well, I’m good at math. All right, let’s try this. So. So yeah, I spent a little bit of time as a Eurodollar futures trader, that that company did not survive. So that was an interesting pivot point in my career, where I was like, Well, what do I do next? My resume is short. And I’m not sure what I can do. But I’m like, I’m really good at learning. And I’m a nerd. And so and I was also playing Ultimate Frisbee at the time. And my Frisbee coach, had a was the leader of a software engineering team. And he was like, You know what? He’s like, I can I can teach anyone how to write code. I can’t teach you how to think so you hired me, because he knew I was coachable. And you knew I’d be able to learn. So basically, they hired me as an apprentice more or less, it was an apprenticeship program. It’s not what we called it, he kind of made this up. But he hired me to essentially like intern rates. And then but you know, as long as over the over the course of the first year, I got a quarterly review. And he’s like, if you’re progressing well, you know, we’ll give you a little bit pay raise and like, like, learn how to be a software engineer. So I spent a year in a software engineering apprenticeship program, and by the end, I was getting paid like an entry level person coming out of college. So that was nice. You know, like, that was, it was a really great opportunity. And I feel really lucky that that he took a chance on me. So yeah, software engineer for a while that company got bought. And I decided I didn’t want to write code anymore, but I really liked product. I really liked product management and I really kind of like To the idea of connecting the software that’s being built to the people who are using it, and making sure that you’re building the right thing that fits the business model. And so you know, what the company that bought us had a really, really, really robust and solid product management program. So I was able to, within the acquisition, you know, step over into the product management team, and, you know, learn from them. And that was that was really beneficial for me so, and that kind of started my whole career as a product manager, leader. And so, yeah, and from there, it’s basically just men product management across a bunch of startups in Chicago, mostly in the AI space. And I’ve really like understanding how to build software and technology for data scientists used by data scientists that has AI in it. And and now I’m pivoting once again. And I’m I basically started listening to a lot of podcasts about climate change, watch some David Attenborough movies, and your documentaries. And and now I’m terrified about what’s happening to the planet, and I want to go and use my powers for good. So now pivoting again, and looking to do something in the climate space.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] What I love about this trajectory is that like you, as a college student, at MIT, studying geology probably could have never pictured you now in the path that you’re about to go down. Like, I just love that you kind of have trusted the process. And that like, I’m gonna make the next best step for me right now, as opposed to it always having to be this like, grandiose, like, maybe you were having those conversations in your head and with your husband and whatnot. But like, it seems like you were making the right decision for what you needed right now trusting that it was going to take you where it needed to go.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, every every move I’ve made never decisions I’ve made has really been for like, thinking just thinking about, like, what’s gonna make me happy right now. And, you know, how can I help? I’m when I when I’m looking at a new company and looking for for a new opportunity. I’m just like, Does my skill set fit in here? Does my skill set, solve a problem for them? And can I actually get in and hit the ground running and help? And I help them solve the problem they’re up solve? Is it a problem I want to solve? Like, that’s also? Yeah, that’s becoming more and more important for me is making sure we’re solving that I’m solving problems that matter to me.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and you and JJ both went from like more corporate jobs to kind of the more startup space. So like, what was that like for both of you to be working for smaller companies and startups? Like was that nerve racking? Is it exciting? Like, do you two have just similar workstyles? And that entrepreneurial spirit were like, That’s what just lights you up and excites you? Because for most couples to have two people in the tech startup space could be terrifying.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I don’t know. It’s funny, I realized that throughout my career, I’ve just worked for smaller and smaller and smaller companies regressed. Yeah, and honestly, I’m like, Oh, actually, I just want to start my own thing. Now. I don’t really ever see startups, I’ve never really seen startups as a risk. And, and honestly, once you’re in, once that startup is bigger than like, 50 or so people, if they’re hiring it all, it’s because they’re growing, and they haven’t need that they aren’t currently filling. And that’s like that is a strategic move, they’re going to have a lot of people who care about money paying attention to that. And so like getting hired by a startup is actually like, if they’re super tiny, that’s a risk. I mean, it’s a risk that I won’t survive. But honestly, the only the only company, I worked for all the startups, right, and the only one that didn’t survive was the trading firm. As an early career person, that was really hard for me, when you’re when your resume isn’t very long, the risk is real. Yeah, it’s just harder to carve out, it’s harder to find something else in your space, when you’ve got like, when you’ve got a few things under your belt, you’ve you’ve kind of been around the block a little bit. Like the startup itself isn’t the risk, there’s probably something else out there that you can do. You’ve got enough skills built up and you’ve got enough connections that yeah, you know, if you need to go find your next thing, it’ll be there. But like, and that’s where I’m thinking, like, starting with these bigger companies, and then going smaller and smaller. That’s kind of like, that seems safe to me. And, I mean, with JJ with with my partner, JJ. I mean, Google’s not really a startup anymore. Well, no. He did, he did back in time there. And that what was great about that is that, you know, people who have worked at Google, often go and do something else. And so he, you know, he, the connections and the friends he made there, you know, have really helped the rest of his career as well. You know, he’s, you know, he’s been able to stay in contact with them and continue to work with them. And
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Well, and I think too, and it just is increasing your ability like because I’ve done the same thing like gone to lesser small smaller teams or smaller companies, but it allows Due to increase your impact, which is what I have always loved. And I think the other thing that cracks me up is I have often had people say to me, Well, your title now is less or like your title is more like, Are you like, and that to me, like the title doesn’t matter, because I’m like you like, what am I doing? Who am I supporting? And how am I? How am I showing up in the world, I think is more critical. And I think you do the same thing. And I love that. I want to go back to something you said at the very beginning, which was that you are a nerd and an athlete. And so I know that for you. Like the two things are not like you are not more entrepreneurial, or more athletic. Like, I feel like you always have those two things running in tandem all the time, like so. Do you feel the need? Like if you didn’t have an athletic release all the time, like then you just wouldn’t be Laurie?
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I am. I am my most human and my most normal self when I’ve gone to the gym in the morning. I noticed this way back when I was going to the office. A couple jobs ago is like I showed up one day and I was like kind of just addicted and I’m sorry, I’m such a jerk. And then I was like, I didn’t go to the gym this morning. And then once I get that like once I once I check myself on that is like oh, like reset your brain Laura. You just didn’t you don’t have you didn’t work out today. And that’s like they recognize you that about myself is like I have to I have to work out or I’m gonna go crazy. I can’t sleep if I don’t go to the gym like it’s a I have I have energy to spend. It must be
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] well and you started Ultimate Frisbee in college, or did you start that in high school?
[Lori Eich] That was in college. I wanted to high school but I was too awkward to even go approach the people who were throwing frisbees on the lawn. Like I was like, I’m not cool enough to make friends with the people throwing Frisbee.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Deal. But yeah, but you but Ultimate Frisbee has taken you all over the
[Lori Eich] world. Yeah, sure has. It’s been fun. And that was just one where I was like, I didn’t realize when I started playing in college that I was going to get a keep playing after college. I didn’t know the whole like club scene as an adult. And so I I, during grad school, I think I ended up I started playing with a team in Boston, a co Ed team in Boston. And then we we qualified for nationals. And we’re like, oh, this is fun. And I had a lot of fun there and I’m fine with that team. And then when I moved to the Bay, I just tried out for another team. And then like, oh, we qualify for nationals. And then we won. It was a cool fun. Like, I was like, Oh, this is great. I liked this sport, we win things. But it was more than I really liked the people that I found with the sport. And yeah, I’ve had some great opportunities. I’ve just feel really lucky. I’ve been in the right place the right time. And, you know, been able to, like, play with Team USA and play with, you know, just be able to play all around the world. And I’ve made some of the greatest friends. I could ever make it with this sport, because these are all people who chose a weird sport. And but they’re like, you know, athletes, but they’re kind of nerdy too. And I find a lot of like minded people there.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I think it’s a good testament to to like we all make excuses like, well, I can’t do this. I can’t do that because I don’t have enough time or my job is too demanding. And you have always found a way. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but a way to balance like Well, no, my job is a non negotiable because I love what I’m doing. But frisbee is a non negotiable. Because I love that. It’s like you figure out a way to make it work if it’s something that matters to you. We all have the same amount of time in the day.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, that’s exactly like time is the risk at any given moment. The risk is not like job stability, the risk is not it’s just time and where you’re going to put your time matters. And who you’re gonna spend it with matters.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So speaking of taking a risk and doing something different, you’re doing did you know I should have checked on this but you have some crazy thing happening in Brazil. Yeah, so
[Lori Eich] I’m old now. And ultimate frisbee is really really hard when you’re not like 20 anymore. So I am playing less Frisbee. If you ask JJ my husband, he will say I’m not playing less frisbee, but I am wear less frisbee and I am. I’m just doing other things. And so I found this sport called adventure racing. What happened was during the pandemic I’ve been I’ve watched some shows one of them was world’s toughest race with Bear Grylls and I was like, this is cool. So they’re in Fiji they’re doing the eco challenge and it’s like they’re just out in the woods. They just had the backpack on their back and they they had to go and like tell Moran across the bay, they got to go hike up this mountain, like ride a donkey. I don’t know, there’s all this stuff. And I was like, This looks so fun. How do I do this? And so I started looking into adventure racing. I signed up for for race in Indiana. This is where yeah, you just show up, they hand you a map. And they say, Okay, this parts on foot, this parts on mountain bike, you’ll have canoes over here, have at it get back in for hours, or you lose points. And so you’re going in, you’re trying to hit all these checkpoints. So this has now grown and grown and grown in my brain where I got a phone call. I got a phone call about a year ago from a friend. He was like, Hey, there’s this race in Brazil next year. Yeah, it’s 500 Kilometer five day race. Are you in is like, Yeah. That sounds good. Actually, I didn’t say Yes, right away. I thought about it for about 30 seconds. And then I asked him, Are you sure I can do this? He’s like, I wouldn’t have asked you. If if I didn’t think you could do this. I was like, all right. If you think I can do this, I think I’d probably do this
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] gives you the confidence to like, just like you just jump into things like, wholeheartedly. It’s just like, You know what? Yeah, this sounds great. I’m gonna do it. Like, are there ever things like this? Or like opportunities that come your way that you’re like? No, like, most people are scared to do new things? Like what do you think it is about your thought process and how you approach things, it just allows you to jump in? Because that’s it that’s like the amazing race on steroids. Yeah.
[Lori Eich] I, something about me that I’ve realized is that, I assume I can do something up until the moment that I really cool, it’s very clear that I can’t I always just go into something be like, this will probably work out. And a lot of is just like it’s taking the skills I have and applying them to something new. And I, one of the skills I do have is, you know, pattern recognition. And like, like seeing something over here and finding an analog over here. So, you know, if I’m from like, I don’t know, I feel like it works physically as well as mentally. That’s with you know, with a lot of the pivots I’ve made across my career, it’s still all the same. Like, I’ve worked with a bunch of different types of product companies, but it’s product management, everywhere. And when I’m thinking about, you know, building my own company, now, I’m like, it’s just a big product, it’s the same thing. You still do the same like market discovery, customer discovery, you do you do all of that the same thing you would have done in this small product within a company. Now it’s just the whole company. I don’t know. So, but it’s funny. Like, I think that confidence itself, like all of my confidence, I’m like, oozing with confidence, right? It’s to a fault. But I think it really stems from success. And the thing with me is that I’m I’m, I’m an I’m ridiculously optimistic, and I find small successes in everything I do. And so things that other people might perceive as a loss, I’m still gonna see it as a win somehow. And, and that’s, that’s really where, like, if I didn’t learn from something, that’s that’s the real loss. But as long as whatever I did, taught me something about myself taught me something about the world. Like, everybody wins. Overall, if you learn you win.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that’s huge. What you’re saying because I think it’s like the I can’t remember what her name is, but the founder of Spanx, like she said, when she was a kid, she would go to dinner, and every day at dinner, her dad would say, What did you fail at today? And like really normalizing failure, just like what you’re saying, like, we can’t think about these things as failure. But I also love that you said, I celebrate the small successes, because I think you’re 100% Correct, that we get so in the mundane of the day to day that we don’t think about the little things that we accomplished that are awesome. And if we didn’t do that thing, then the big thing would never come to fruition. So like those little things make a change. So I think even if you’re like, I’m not going to become a super optimistic person, like Laurie, start with just celebrating the small successes and see what happens.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I had a co worker of wants to wear every day, I would ask him if he wanted the gym that morning, because I knew that he worked out in the morning to like, did you win? Because I was like, I don’t know, I do CrossFit. So sometimes I win. Sometimes I know. I don’t want to. But my mom was like, did you win today? And he’s like I showed up so yes, like, yeah. So we get a high five every day, like because we won by showing up?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I think it’s a little mindset tweaks that like build on top of each other and make a huge impact. Right? Yeah, totally. Yeah. Well, and I mean, I know your whole family, and they’re all pretty positive people also. So something that was probably drilled into you as a little child. Well, um, I love all of this. I love the opportunity to catch up with you because we don’t get to talk as often as I would like. But well, let’s wrap this up with kind of the last five questions that we ask everybody that’s on this podcast. So where do you go for personal development or to learn and kind of do some self growth?
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I mean, I’m a nerd, right. So it used to. It used to be edX or Coursera. I would like sign up for. And then like, like, maybe really commit to like one or two of them, and dive deep. And that was like, when I when I switched into being a software engineer, I was like, Well, I better learn some more of this. So even though I was writing in, like, you know, dotnet, I was I went and learned Python, through MIT’s intro, Intro to Python class, and I like dove deep in that. And I was like, great. Now I also know Python fun, more, but I could learn. So but yeah, lately, it’s less that and more, especially diving into the climate space. It’s podcasts. Now. Yeah, there are some really, really good podcasts out there that are exactly what I need right now. And when you’re dealing with, like, climate change stuff, it’s all like, everything is sort of new tech startups. And so the Myclimate Journey podcast is my favorite right now. And then, you know, how I built this is what I listened to for learning about, you know, other entrepreneurs and just under hearing more founder stories, and then plant planet money, if I want to keep a finger on the pulse of you know, global economics.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We’ll link those up in the show notes, too. If anybody else is interested in listening to any of those, that’s awesome. Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
[Lori Eich] I consider myself an awkward extrovert. I love people. I love the energy of large events. I’m just really, really awkward, especially when I’m talking to more than one person. So like, I just need like one on one conversations, but like amongst a lot of people.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Got it. I love it. That’s a new one. We haven’t heard that one yet. What is one thing that’s on your goal list for this year, either personal or professional?
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I think from a career standpoint, I just want to know really know what my next thing is by the end of the year and really have that honed in. But like, from a personal standpoint, like I’m on the climate space now. So I’m like, How do I find a way to reduce the waste generated in the household that I live in on a day to day basis, so I want to like, you know, bike and walk more in the summer, you know, grow more of our own food, and I kind of want to find a way to upgrade the house to just be less reliant on gas for energy and cooking.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That’s a great goal. Um, what is a piece of advice you’ve gotten from someone that has stuck with you?
[Lori Eich] So Sami, this one actually came from you? Yeah, a couple of years ago, I was talking about some ideas that I had for my own business. And, and we were talking about this, and I said something like, Well, I’m not really an expert in that. So maybe I shouldn’t do it. And I think you said your response was something like, you don’t have to be an expert, you can still build it, you just need to find your people. And like, as I’ve been tinkering, or tinkering around with these, like startup ideas, it keeps coming back to that where, you know, I as long as I surround my people surround myself with people who are like differently T shaped. That might mean that they’re like depth of knowledge in one thing and like breadth of knowledge and a bunch of stuff. But as long as that depth of knowledge is something different for everybody, then we’re all bringing something different to the table, and we are covering each other’s weaknesses. And that’s where that’s how I’m trying to build my next team.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, oddly enough, I agree with that advice. That’s, that’s, that’s amazing. And I think that’s critical, especially when you can find people that can leave their ego at the door for the common good of what you’re trying to achieve. I think that’s where the magic happens. Totally. Yeah, that’s exciting. Okay, last one, what is a non negotiable for you in your life?
[Lori Eich] Yeah, I was thinking about this when I was like, I don’t know, everything’s pretty negotiable. When I realized it’s the like, it’s it’s having that opportunity in the summer to be you know, it back at the hometown lake. And, and spending time where we grew up and and you know, being in and around the really, you know, beautiful natural space that, you know, was part of my childhood and that I want to be there forever.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] And do you find Yeah, so I was gonna say do you find now that like, because I feel like water is really energizing, calming creates peace, like when I’m around water, it’s just like a different energy right? Whether it’s the ocean or the lake. So do you find that it kind of does two things for you one it provides kind of that peace net calm and that kind of reminiscing, but then also is inspiring and kind of creating more energy and flow and focus for you on this project that you’re working on. Yeah,
[Lori Eich] it’s it’s the it’s funny I it’s a little terrifying, like water scary, you can die. It might kill you, but also like, it’s, it’s, it’s so obviously important for life. And, you know, there’s an entire, like an entire ecosystem underneath the water that we just don’t get to see very often. And kind of understanding the interplay of how what we do above the water affects what’s going on below the water. That whole circle of life then becomes very apparent and in your face when you’re when you’re so close to it.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. I love that. Well, Laurie, so many good tidbits great inspiration. As always, if people want to connect with you in like keep track of the project you’re working on, learn more about you or even maybe just get resources for them to do better in their own personal reading journey. How can they do that?
[Lori Eich] I think I’m the most discoverable on LinkedIn. And that’s a pretty easy place to find me. I’m fairly respondent as a human being within this digital platform.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it. Well, we’ll link all of that up in the show notes so that you can easily find Lori and connect with her there. Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today.
[Lori Eich] Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s fun.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So do you love Laurie as much as I do, I feel blessed to have her as a childhood friend and still a friend in my adult life, somebody that I can always go to to bounce ideas off of. And now that I live closer to home, we get to see each other a whole lot more, which I feel blessed to do as well.
If you want to check out all the podcasts, you mentioned the resources. You can go to https://easystywithsami.com/15. You can check us out on YouTube, or wherever you streaming podcasts. And while you’re there, make sure you subscribe or leave us a review so that we can show up for more people that need to hear these kinds of inspiring stories. Remember, if you don’t take anything else from this episode, take her positivity and her stance on celebrating the small wins and remembering that everything counts. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and all the other episodes of the easy style with sami podcast. I appreciate you so much and we’ll see you in the next one.
When it comes to building her best life, Lori Eich trusted her gut and extreme optimism to guide her. Each job was a new learning experience and she took those experiences head on taking in as much as she could. Now, she’s taking what she learned from all those experiences to build something that fills her passion in helping the environment with her technical and scientific background.
Lori says her positivity has helped her trust in the process and that things will work out like they’re supposed to. It also led her to her career in ultimate frisbee that allowed her to travel the world and meet incredible people!
In this episode we discuss
- How Lori makes personal and career decisions.
- The importance of staying busy and active on Lori’s mental health.
- The beauty in the wins and always learning.
Want to skip ahead?
[6:47] How Lori made decisions around her work.
[10:51] Understanding what makes Lori, Lori!
[14:17] Finding adventure and joy in your life.
[16:32] Seeing the wins in everything you do.
[20:07] Where does Lori go for personal growth and development
[21:20] Is Lori an introvert or extrovert?
[21:46] One goal for the upcoming year.
[22:20] Piece of advice that has stuck with Lori.
[23:33] What’s a non-negotiable?