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A Day in the Life: Hatch co-founder Natalie Ferguson

A Day in the Life: Hatch co-founder Natalie Ferguson

Natalie Ferguson is the co-founder of Wellington-based digital investment platform Hatch and is also in charge of product, marketing and customers for the company.  Here's how she gets through the day, how she organises her time and what's unique about the way she approaches her work

What time do you wake up?

6.20am. I still have faith that one day I’ll start a pre-work exercise/meditation/smoothie regime. I’m an optimist.

What kind of work do you do?

I head up product, marketing and customers for Hatch – an online investing platform that gives Kiwis easy and affordable access to the US share markets.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

Walking along the beautiful Wellington waterfront with a great podcast.

Do you have any morning rituals?

I’ve heard that success in life depends 100 percent on writing a journal every morning over a mug of hot water and lemon. Unfortunately, success is not on the cards for me, I can’t bring myself to keep up any sort of ritual in any part of my life.

How soon do you begin doing work-related things each morning, such as checking phone or emails?

About five minutes into my walk to work, I realise I have no idea what’s going on in the podcast I’m ‘listening to’ because my brain is totally occupied by Hatch. So I usually call Kristen (our GM) and we talk at each other at a million miles an hour while we make our respective journeys into the office. If you’ve ever seen us together, you’ll know that’s how we roll.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like – which podcasts, radio, videos, books, magazines, and new sites do you read or listen to?

I’m a podcast addict and apparently get far too excited about whatever I’m listening to - there’s a collective sigh whenever I start a new one. Life tip: talking about the podcast you’re listening to is about as exciting as deconstructing your latest dream.

But since you asked – murder podcasts! My sister is a real-life detective and I love to give her my expert couch detective insights. She doesn’t love it. My other favourites are: How I Built This, Business Wars, Dear Sugars, Making Oprah, Making Obama, The Everyday Investor, The Happy Saver, Business is Boring, Cooking the Books... the list is endless.

I have banned myself from books because I can’t put them down until they’re done. It really gets in the way of life.

I just finished watching The Diagnosis on Netflix. Crowdsourcing is fascinating, it’s also one reason I love murder podcasts - I could talk forever about The Teacher’s Pet and crowdsourced justice!

What do you think is unique about the way you approach your work?

I’m not sure it’s unique but I think it’s important to get inspiration from everywhere. A Taylor Swift concert taught me about community, my sister’s court cases teach me about making assumptions, watching my 2 year old niece on an iPhone teaches me that people learn a lot quicker if they have no fear of doing it wrong!

What responsibility do you have in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?

Things change dramatically from one day to the next. It‘s a big mental shift moving from a team of 5 where I was 90% a doer, to a team of 12, where my job is to enable other people to do. I’ve always been a delivery person and am working hard on changing my view on success from stuff I’ve delivered to stuff other people have.

Where do your best ideas come from?

Running with my friend Claire. She’s inspirational and is trying to change the way Kiwis think about transport, from road design to employer schemes for electric bikes. Our jobs actually have a lot in common - it’s all about meeting people where they are, and finding win-win opportunities. As a side note, neither of us can let a good idea go, the last thing I heard from her is ‘It’s going to happen, I’ve just got to change a rule.’

I’m not sure it’s unique but I think it’s important to get inspiration from everywhere. A Taylor Swift concert taught me about community, my sister’s court cases teach me about making assumptions, watching my 2 year old niece on an iPhone teaches me that people learn a lot quicker if they have no fear of doing it wrong!

What does resilience look like to you?

I’ve somehow wound up taking a road less travelled in life. I’m a single, child-free lady in my mid 30’s, I’ve always worked for myself and I take a lot of holidays. There’s so much privilege in that last sentence, but there’s also a bit of not giving in to fear. I suppose to me, resilience is actively choosing the way you want to live, and being comfortable with the decisions you make.

What has been the most transformational business practice you’ve implemented at your work?

Curiosity? Building an investment app is not as easy as it sounds. One of the reasons we’ve been so successful is that our team is really curious about the problems we’re trying to solve, and the people we’re solving them for. We try to get to the bottom of the barriers people face and what’s driving their behaviour. We go deep and as a result, our customers have been an instrumental part in building Hatch to what it is today.

What social or environmental issues inform the work you do, as well as what you’re aiming to do with your company’s overall vision?

Being able to invest your money into things you value, and shape the world you want to see in 20 years is a game changer, and Hatch enables you to do it. If you care about gender equality in the workplace, you can invest in a fund that’s 100% made up of companies fostering female leadership. If you care about climate change, you can invest in clean energy and plant-based protein companies, or funds that invest in a range of them. Biotech and healthcare are other growing industries. We enable everyday investors to put their money in companies that may actually cure cancer. It’s really, really cool.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

These questions are making me worry about my lack of routine. Honestly, it’s probably when I get on the bus and realise I do have enough money on my Snapper card after all. I live in fear of the bus walk of shame.

What about the least enjoyable?

Exercise. No, thinking about exercise.

Do you have any side hustles you’re juggling alongside being an entrepreneur?

I’ve always had side hustles and thought I always would. I really, really struggled to give them up and focus on one thing, but it panned out pretty great... and having no backup plan is a strong motivator!

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

Never have, never will, I don’t like wasting brain space worrying about stuff I know I have to do. Exercise is the one obvious exception. I water blasted my entire deck today to avoid a run.

What’s your best productivity hack?

I’m a ruthless prioritiser. I’ve also mastered the art of concentration, and if I’m in mid-flow, you can have a party right beside me and I wouldn’t notice. There are always distractions in these open plan times, focus feels like an important skill to nail.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

At Hatch, our success metrics drive everything we do. We are definitely outcome, not output focused. My life, life? I measure nothing. You know how words can suddenly hit home? I think the ‘you only have one life’ cliche really got to me a while ago, so I just try to do things that I’ll look back on be stoked about.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/friend?

Yes. If I ever do a 60 hour work week, you can be sure it’s a short term thing. There’s a bunch of research about productivity after x amount of hours, but largely, for me, it’s the being stoked about the life I’ve led thing.

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

My sister is a cop. It’s very hard to convince myself that my life is stressful when I know what her day looks like.

I’m also a worst case scenario thinker. If I’m worried about something, I figure out what the absolute worst outcome could be. If that still feels scary, I ask myself if I’ll still remember it in 5 years. Very little makes it past that test.

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

I spent years feeling guilty about watching TV until I read something about how important it is to do nothing. It’s weird to feel guilty about relaxing, so I just stopped feeling it.

What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?

That’s not a question I’d ever ask myself! I love food and wine, I drink a lot of water.

What time do you go to sleep? How many hours sleep do you try to get each night? Any special techniques for a good night’s rest?

People hate me because I am a very good sleeper, I’m an eight-to-nine-hour-a-night girl. My best/worst party trick is falling asleep before a plane even takes off. I’m jealous of people who can’t sleep because I know it’s associated with higher intelligence, but I suppose you can either be smart or well rested.

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