Welcome to the next installment of our Why I Qwill series, brought to you via our charming chatbot, Q. If you’re new here, these posts aim to introduce the team behind the company, diving into what really sets us apart from the rest – our people and their passions. This week’s interview focuses on our growth marketer, Lauren Baideme. For past interviews, check out the full series here.
Please state your name and describe your occupation for the court. JK! For me.
I’m Lauren Baideme, Director of Marketing at Qwill. Every day is different, but my main role is helping to grow our business through user acquisition and engagement. At a startup of our size, it also means I get to do all the fun things, like content mapping, event planning, and social media posting (aka pulling your strings, Q).
Nice one, Lauren – but I don’t have any strings. Let’s get right to it – why do you ‘Qwill’?
Good question – I got lucky! I’m living the life, working alongside incredibly talented people that I really love while helping to build a product, marketing strategy, and company from the ground up. I work remotely in a different state from the rest of the team, and yet somehow we still seem to operate as a cohesive unit. It’s really special.
I love the product, too. I’m a millennial (without shame), and thus think everything should be as easy as a screen swipe or an Alexa command. I remember learning how to balance a checkbook in grade school, and thankfully that’s not still a thing (is it?). I viewed estate planning as one of those archaic, yawn-inducing, difficult tasks that I would probably never get around to. It’s a pocket of life that’s majorly behind the times, and we’re working to change that in a way that feels genuinely fun and super productive.
Greg didn’t tell me working from home was an option…
Moving on then. What was your first job? Mine was a calculator.
I could have used your help! My first job was working cashier at a candy store at the county fair. We had one of those old registers that didn’t calculate the change for you, so the only question my boss asked me during my interview was a complicated math problem. It was an educational summer.
I’m glad you made it through. What career advice do you have for youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?
Well, I’m not sure how sage this advice is, but it’s worked for me: Stop making plans. I spent a lot of time in high school and college exploring various interests trying to find that one thing that would just “click” – writing, filmmaking, psycho analysis, lawyering, etc. Marketing was never on the list. It took me several degrees and jobs to realize that there won’t ever be just one thing for me. I started saying yes to opportunities that interested me, and things started to fall into place. The psychology labs, elementary school classrooms, homeownership offices, libraries, and startups I’ve passed through have all provided invaluable experiences that continue to help me in my role today.
No plans… except for estate plans, right?
My bad. Good catch.
Forgiven! Who inspires you, or who do you really admire? Robots count.
My parents, for sure. They both worked for decades as state workers in jobs they tolerated but never loved in order to provide a great life for my brother and me. After retirement, rather than settling into their well-deserved downtime, they decided to try to realize their own dream – opening a restaurant in a tough neighborhood in Albany as part of a revitalization project. Like most new restaurants it didn’t quite work out, but that doesn’t mean their effort wasn’t a huge success. I can’t think of two better role models.
Speaking of family, what’s your favorite tradition or childhood memory?
Our annual family reunions on my dad’s side were always super fun. Three family lines would gather at Ottoway Park on Lake Erie in Westfield, NY for a couple days of Italian feasting, bocce ball tournaments, and tales from “back in the day”. My brother and I would sneak off with a group of cousins to explore the lake coast, which in that particular spot was a cliffside obstacle course of decrepit staircases and weeded paths leading down to dried-up creek beds and the best lake-skipping rocks you’ll ever find. At night we’d head over to the family vineyard and farmhouse to bottle that year’s “Baideme Reunion” wine, each kid taking turns with the floor corker as Uncle Dick took sips off the top.
Sounds fun! Do you collect anything? I love a good oil can.
I have a pretty serious collection of magnets. My grandmother collected magnets as souvenirs from her travels and I loved playing with them on her fridge. My mom kept up the tradition throughout my childhood, so almost every trip I’ve ever been on has included shopping for new magnets. When my grandma passed, she left her magnet collection to my mom, who then gifted me a really nice shadow box with my favorite retro pieces on display. I cherish it even more than my own collection!
On the flip side, what’s one thing you’ve lost that you wish you still had?
When I was real young, my grandfather sent me several letters about his childhood and his time serving in WWII, along with a couple of books about the The Great Depression and the war. Like many vets he would never talk about his experience fighting, but he told me lots of stories about adventures with his buddies in Africa, lurking outside Teatro Massimo in Sicily to listen to the operas, and trying to woo any and all ladies. I still have the books he gave me, but somewhere along the way I lost the letters.
You’ve talked a lot about past generations. What’s one thing you hope the next generation gets right? Assuming they’re still human.
Tolerance. Acceptance. It’s pretty simple… I just want everyone, humans and robots alike, to get along and take care of one another (and the planet we share!). If this were a beauty pageant my answer would be “world peace.” Cue the Kumbaya sing-along.
Oh I love a sing-along! There’s gotta be an app for that. What’s your favorite phone app at the moment? Hint hint.
Well, of course I think Qwill is brilliant. I really enjoy Quartz and find myself breezing through their stories first thing in the morning. I also spend a lot of time on Smartly – I’m currently enrolled in their free MBA program and am super jazzed about how they’re flipping the education model on its head.
Okay, last question. Where’s your favorite place in the world?
Home! I love to travel, but New York has it all. There’s nothing I love more than the mountains and foliage in the Fall — the picture above was taken at one of the exhibits in Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re feeling whimsical.
Greg has been a sea-kayaking guide in Alaska, a Via-Ferrata guide in the Italian Dolomites, a night-shift assembly line worker at soap-packaging factories in Vermont, and a recording engineer in Boston. More recently, Greg held leadership roles at Bizo and LinkedIn, and is now CEO/Co-Founder of Qwill. He spends most of his time trying to get his 2-year-old son to eat something.