Rocket Science: Priya Malani
Priya is an entrepreneur and founder of Stash Wealth, a financial planning and investing firm for millennials.
What’s your favorite outdoor space?
There was one in Tampa that I just went to that was so cool. It was at this restored mixed-use building called Armature Works, and the bar was called M.Bird. Great design, a breezy tropical feel, and nice views of the water and skyline.
What’s the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
I learned a lot about being a leader from some of my jerk bosses because you learn what not to do. I think I learned how I want to lead and how I would want to be perceived. There aren’t many female bosses in financial services, so it’s a steep curve. I’ll bet that’s a classic answer, but it’s true.
Also … and this is something I started to think about a lot after observing all kinds of management styles … embracing the realization that life is finite. Not in a doom and gloom way, but rather to not sweat the small stuff and enjoy the moment. Be comfortable taking risks. At the end of the day, nothing is impossible to undo, it really isn’t, so don’t stress about it. I think it really helps, as an entrepreneur, to think that way.
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Who’s your favorite Game of Thrones character?
Does everyone just say Jon Snow?
Actually, there’s a surprising variety of answers.
You know what? I’m gonna switch this up. Dany. Daenerys Targaryen, because she’s such a rock star badass. She’s had a really interesting journey of power. It seems almost like a little bit of a CEO-type journey.
She started off in this very different place, and then had to learn these hard lessons of leadership … very hard … along the way. I like her humility and her subtlety in the way she leads. And her confidence. Sometimes she doesn’t realize it’s there until she’s utilizing that skill. She has everything, and she trusts herself.
Favorite midday snack.
Peanut butter. Plain. Right out of the tub. There was a time when Stash went viral and I didn’t have time for meals, so I would just keep a tub of peanut butter at my desk and just eat it throughout the day. It was probably a solid three-month period. I just love peanut butter. The little kid in me, I guess. Sometimes I have green tea, but that’s not nearly as interesting.
What’s been your biggest learning curve as a founder?
Hiring. By far leaps and bounds ahead of anything else. When you’re building a brand that everyone’s excited about, you want to hire everybody. But you can’t, and not everyone who’s super-excited about your brand makes a great employee.
You have to get into the nuts and bolts of someone. Who are they and how do they get motivated? Do they live up to expectations? Are they easily overwhelmed? Finding gems during the hiring process is much harder than you would think.
I’ve had to really understand how to filter all that. I grew up on Wall Street, where everyone has to be a rockstar. I was surrounded by all these amazing people, and I thought it would be easy to find those sets of people, but it’s not.
Give us a wine or cocktail recommendation.
Hmmm. This should come easier to me. I like scotch, but whiskey is a little too sweet for me. I like margaritas, of course. I love a good tequila shot and I want people to enjoy it with me.
Also, I think I’m going to have to give a shout out to Dave Matthews. He has a vineyard called Dreaming Tree, and his wine is actually very good. I’d recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon.
What’s a business book you’d recommend?
Right now I’m reading Catching Lightning in a Bottle. It’s about the founders of Merrill Lynch, and how Merrill Lynch changed Wall Street and our collective understanding of the financial world. It’s amazing.
Also, Ramit Sethi’s book I Will Teach You To Be Rich is really good. He has such a clear voice and breaks down ideas so well. I have a lot of respect for Ramit.
What are you listening to right now?
Right now, it’s Love Someone by Lukas Graham. But this morning at the gym, I played Madonna and other 80s power pop.
I’m very eclectic, so I can run on the treadmill to Dido or Eminem or Paul Oakenfold or Air. I can listen to literally anything when I’m working out. My sisters think I’m the weirdest. I can put on lounge music and bang out and rock.
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