Inspirational Female Leaders Series #7~ Aditi Shekar, Founder at Zeta

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Aditi Shekar is the CEO and founder of Zeta, a platform on a mission to help couples master their money.

Their goal is to be an honest, relatable and timely source of advice for young couples everywhere. They offer 1:1 advising to couples - helping them make more informed decisions on how to achieve their long-term goals together.

She lives for imposter syndrome. “I think if you don’t feel like you’re an imposter, you’re not challenging yourself hard enough!”

Her #1 piece of advice is to “Make your own magic. If you want something, make a plan for how you’ll get it.”

WHAT KIND OF PROBLEM IS Zeta SOLVING?

Our generation is struggling with money. We have large debts, stagnating salaries, and an uncertain retirement. We still struggle with the very basics of savings, budgeting and planning. The crazy thing is that the picture gets bleaker for millennial couples. While many apps target individuals, few are designed for couples. As a result, couples cobble together financial plans based on confusing or conflicting advice from friends, family and online bloggers. That means that many of their critical financial decisions, like buying a house or starting a family, are made will little guidance but huge ramifications on their future.

Zeta’s mission to help couples master their money. Our goal is to be an honest, relatable and timely source of advice for young couples everywhere. On Zeta, couples can connect their financial accounts and control how much they share with each other. We then track their money - helping them build a joint budget and see a breakdown of their spending across personal and shared expenses. Lastly, we offer 1:1 advising to our couples - helping them make more informed decisions on how to achieve their long-term goals together.

WHAT DID THOSE FIRST STEPS LOOK/FEEL LIKE? (FOR EXAMPLE: THE FIRST 6 MONTHS)

Because I have a product background, I really focused on making sure I understood the problem I was trying to solve. I spent a decent amount of time doing user research and testing demand for the product in the market. Those first few months were all about user interviews, landing page tests and many, many advising conversations with couples across the US.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CONTRIBUTION TO YOUR CAREER SUCCESS?

I always try to pick the hardest job possible. I’m a huge believer that the single best thing you can do for your career is to challenge yourself. Do the hard stuff, the stuff no one else wants to do, the things that make your nervous. If I’m not nervous about what I’m doing, it means I’m in the wrong job.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE FAILURE? WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN?

I recently heard Arianna Huffington speak at Project Entrepreneur and really resonated with something her mother taught her - “Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to it.” It was such an awesome reminder that our failures are a constructive part of our work.

 One of my failures actually comes from early in my career. I hired someone I wasn’t 100% fully bought into and let others glowing opinions of this person cloud my own. This person later went on to create havoc in our org and ended up leaving with a mess for our team to clean up. That lesson really resonated with me because it taught me a few things: 1) trust my instincts and 2) hire before you’re under huge pressure to hire and 3) the wrong person can do more damage than you think.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP? OR, WHAT DOES BEING A LEADER MEAN TO YOU?

I think leadership is about providing vision and inspiration while staying humble and authentic to who you are. My favorite leaders have always been those who could balance being humble with high-levels of competency and authenticity.

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACQUIRING ONE?

I never formally looked for a mentor but rather I ended up finding them within my workspaces. In my mind, there are many different kinds of mentors - some who help you with your day-to-day, some who help you think long-term and others who just call your bullshit. Having this ecosystem of mentors has helped me get different perspectives while still giving me the room to make my own decisions.

HAVE YOU EVER FELT IMPOSTER SYNDROME, AND HOW DID YOU COMBAT IT?

I live for imposter syndrome. I think if you don’t feel like you’re an imposter, you’re not challenging yourself hard enough!

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING "OVERWHELMED"?

I make a to-do list and hug my dog. Usually, one or the other thing addresses that feeling.

WHAT IS ONE QUOTE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?

“I hate mediocrity.”

IF YOU HAD ONE TIP OR LIFE ADVICE, OR MANTRA TO SHARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? 

Make your own magic. If you want something, make a plan for how you’ll get it. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. I’m shocked at how few people do this.

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