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Nov 07

Profile: Anna Lui, Integrated Marketing Manager

Anna develops and manages our content marketing campaigns. She brings over a decade’s worth of experience as an editor, copywriter,and strategic partnership builder in media and sustainability fields. She holds her MBA in Management and MA in International Environmental Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.


Tell me about the path that led you to Comfy.

After college I worked for many years in all types of media: magazines, books, name it. The bulk of that time was with an independent book publishing company as the director of international licensing and distribution, working with editors, designers, publicists, sales teams—every stage of bringing a book to market. In many ways it really was like every English major’s dream job. I was basically getting paid to travel the world and talk with really interesting people about books. I had the opportunity to represent a variety of amazing authors and historians, like Kurt Vonnegut, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Alice Walker and with organizations like Human Rights Watch and Project Censored.

To say those years politicized would be a bit of an understatement. It all came to a head when I became the editor for book called, Crude, that explored the history of oil—from the science of how it is created, to how it has shaped social history and geopolitics. This was at a time when An Inconvenient Truth had just rocked everyone's understanding of climate change and I was also taking evening classes at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and volunteering with a couple environmental non-profits…so all those forces really catalyzed my decision to shift industries and go back to school.

Specifically, I wanted to explore how for-profit companies could disrupt the status quo and be a real force behind the societal changes that were, and continue to be, necessary to combat climate change. So I decided to get MBA while simultaneously earning an MA in international environmental policy. After school I went to work for a media company called Sustainable Brands that organizes events and creates content geared towards corporate social responsibility professionals. That was a great opportunity to combine my communications background with everything I’d learned about sustainability. I also worked for a software-enabled clean energy company called Carbon Lighthouse, which was my first introduction to the commercial real estate space and got me really jazzed about the mechanics of buildings, things like HVAC, cooling towers, etc. When I heard about Comfy, and how it engages directly with people while using machine-learning to make workplaces better, I was completely blown away.

It’s kind of funny because if you told me ten years ago that I would be marketing for a tech startup, I would have said, "No way!" But looking back, I guess the path here makes a lot of sense! I'm still using a lot of the same skills to unpack complex ideas, develop messaging, shift expectations, and start a movement.


Is there something you do regularly to get better at your job?

Have you ever read the book Bird By Bird? The author recounts some advice her father gave her brother when he was struggling to finish a school report on, you guessed it, birds. The boy is just totally panicked, thinking there’s no way he’ll be able to get everything done in time. And his dad tells him, “Bird by bird buddy, just take it bird by bird.” That’s something I come back to a lot. I think especially in a high-growth startup, where we're building a lot from scratch, the sheer amount of work to do can be immobilizing. At any given moment there are probably 20+ different things I could and should be doing. So I’ll often just say, OK, how do I break down this complex initiative into smaller parts, what do I need to do first, what comes next, and what can wait. Knock things off my list bird by bird.

Also, Asana is basically where I live. It helps me keep track of the the different projects I’m managing and contributing to, and is where our team communicates to make sure everything is moving forward as it should be. Asana and Google Calendar are what keep me afloat, otherwise, my day would just melt away.

"You know, there are so many brands out there with truly brilliant marketing, but in my humble opinion, if the product or service doesn't deliver, it's basically just putting lipstick on a pig…"


If you weren’t at Comfy, what would you be doing?

You know, there are so many brands out there with truly brilliant marketing, but in my humble opinion, if the product or service doesn't deliver, it's basically just putting lipstick on a pig...and I'm not interested in putting lipstick on a pig.

I joined Comfy because I was truly won over by Andrew, SDH, Lindsay, and Beau and their vision of people-centered workplaces. The application is clean and simple by design, but all of the technical aspects—integrating with the building, deploying machine-learning, and optimizing for people—are really ground-breaking. And that's what gets me excited, telling that bigger story behind the three simple buttons.

So I think if I weren’t here, I would have to be working on another product or mission that I feel just as strongly about. That would probably mean doing communications for an environmental non-profit, but who knows! Maybe I would start my own business, or perhaps even writing a book myself. I actually really enjoy writing fiction. According to my Netflix queue I enjoy "post-apocalyptic/sci-fi with a strong female lead"...I mean I’ve probably read every book and watched every movie that’s out there. In a strange way, I think those stories really get to the core of human nature by removing the constraints of society, as we know it. It makes you wonder, when you take a way all the laws and systems and social constructs that define a lot of what we do and who we act, then who are we really? It’s like we’re seeing now with Westworld (my current obsession) what would you do if there were no rules? and what really defines humanity? I mean I could go on and on on this subject!


What is your ideal day off?

I’m kind of obsessed with the Yuba River. It is this absolutely gorgeous spot a few hours north with incredible swimming holes. My husband and I went camping there a lot last summer and I would probably spend all my free time there if I could. My ideal day would be waking up in a tent surrounded by woods, maybe start with a little journal writing and breakfast outside, then spend the day swimming and hiking, maybe grill up a fish for dinner. Basically just live in a bathing suit and flip flops...the more time I can spend not wearing shoes, the better!

My husband and I try to make sure we go camping at least once a month...otherwise we actually get kind of grumpy, ha! (No joke: research says nature is good for the brain and spirit. Hence the current emphasis on biophilia and wellness in buildings.) Both of us work for these fast moving companies where we have a lot of responsibilities, which is great, but it also means we're on our laptops and phones a lot. So we’ve been working towards implementing more digital detoxing on the weekends, times when we’ve purposely decided not to use our phones. So far, we’ve only only been successful doing that while camping—and I guess that’s by default—but hey, it's a start!


Something you can geek out on for hours?

Oh jeez, a better question is what do I not geek out about?! I think between being an English major, getting my MA in Policy and working publishing in the middle, I’ve basically spent most of my adult life having to read and digest a lot of information very quickly. That, plus a slightly obsessive personality has me spending hours reading up on topics that I think very few people besides me actually care about.

I love just learning about how things and people work, so I find myself totally nerding out on just about everything and anything. In college I was also a Psychology minor so I spent a lot of time reading about old-school psychological experiments and how to measure things that seem unquantifiable, like love or happiness. When I was in publishing it was all about world politics and history and then in grad school, it was all about... composting. I worked in the community garden and got really fixated on creating the ideal compost pile...the science behind it is so cool! If you do it the right way they actually emit heat (like as much as 140 °F). I could easily talk your ear off about zero waste and cradle-to-cradle design. These days, I relish the parts of my job that require a highlighter and digging into research papers on thermal comfort, wellness in buildings, and workplace productivity...I think that’s about as nerdy as it gets.

Want to work with Anna? Well, we're hiring! Check out all open positions and apply here.

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