How a former advertising exec built a $110 million business by dealing with what people really want to do

Stephanie Nadee Olsen was burned. She loved her job in advertising but the situation after 10 years was breaking her spirit. She was working 60-hour weeks, flying to New York and Silicon Valley for work, while her young daughters were at home in Atlanta. One was still breastfeeding.

“It’s just not sustainable! Especially when you’re a caregiver for your kids or your parents or whoever,” Olsen told Inc.’s What I Know podcast. “I felt left out by the way work happened.”

She felt privileged to be able to leave her seven-figure job. Having done so, however, she can’t shake the idea that the demands of the traditional workplace don’t work for the majority of society – for a variety of reasons. They may have experienced discrimination or trauma. Perhaps they had medical needs or a caregiving role that made it difficult to travel. In the year In 2018, Olsen had an idea: She would create a platform for telecommuting in marketing — and pair in-house marketing professionals with jobs for advertising and marketing executives at the biggest companies in her Rolodex.

She invested $10,000 from her family savings and gave the idea a six-month lead time. She named it We Are Rosie after her youngest daughter, Margot Rosie, in honor of her own and her family’s legacy.

“There’s an element of my desire to honor those who came before me, but also to leave a legacy for my children, because I never want my daughters to be trapped or trapped in a job where they’re abused. They have to sacrifice themselves or their family to participate in the workforce,” Olsen says.

It worked. In less than five years to grow the company, Ware Rosie was valued at $110 million and a three-year growth rate of 2,267 percent ranked 232 on the list of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. 5000 in it.

We Rosie’s platform and community includes about 17,000 marketing contractors, which the company places at organizations for project-based work, up to 40 hours per week. The company itself has 60 employees, all of whom are remote and enjoy family-friendly benefits, including mandatory vacation time. It’s a benefit Olson set up to combat burnout during the pandemic, inspired by the advice a mentor gave her: “People do what you pay them to do.”

“I thought: How can I pay people not to burn?” She linked it to quarterly bonuses: To get their full bonus, an employee must take at least five vacation days every three months.

Click on the player above to listen to my full interview, or find what I know on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you find your voice.

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