Who’s Who in the Guru Crew? Introducing Anna VanHorn

November 7, 2019 / no comments

Guru is a collaborative crew of experienced big ad agency expats, impact, purpose and brand strategists, design and systems thinkers, connection-creators, artists, writers and designers with an insatiable appetite for constant learning, growth and innovation.

“Who’s Who in the Guru Crew?” is a series that introduces you to the beautiful humans who comprise the “Guru Crew,” as we call ourselves.

We’re continuing this series with Copywriter AnnaVanHorn. Anna’s kind and generous heart informs everything she does, including her volunteer work with Seeds that Feed (remember them, here?). Anna hails from the northwest corner of the beautiful state of Arkansas, but has much in common with our Northeast Crew, as she spent some time in Vermont during college. Her brilliant writing touches every one of Guru’s clients, and we are lucky to count her among the creative rockstars working tirelessly to increase joy and reduce suffering on our planet by advocating for our clients.

 

CALLING

Guru: How did you find yourself in the field of marketing/advertising/communications/design?

Anna: After a brief stint as a sociology/vocal performance major (what a combo!), I earned my degree in Music Journalism and Communications, with the goal of working in music publicity. I did promo work for several independent bands and record labels, with a focus on social media. When it became clear that the music biz was more of a hobby than a profession, my social media experience led me to my first agency job as a social media copywriter for a major national retailer. I was so nervous before I started, because my client had 3.2 million Facebook followers, and knowing that number of people had access to what I’d be writing was quite intimidating. On my first day, I realized that I’d misread the number and they really had 32 million followers – no decimal point! I learned a lot about marketing from that experience, and have gone on to work in social media, shopper marketing, public relations and journalism under the advertising and marketing umbrella.

Guru: What drew you to your role at Guru?

Anna: I truly love the marketing and advertising industry and find great satisfaction and creative fulfillment working in copywriting and content creation. However, I was ready for a change from what I’d been doing for the past several years. I live in an area with limited opportunities in this field, so I began looking for remote agency positions. Once I read about Guru’s passion, commitments and service in the job description, I was intrigued. When I talked to the people who would soon be my new colleagues, I was hooked!

Guru: What inspires you most about the work that we do?

Anna: There is a genuine desire from each individual at Guru to do what is best for people and our planet. From our recent B-Corp certification, to just good ol’ fashioned support and encouragement of each other, I see something every day that reinforces my belief that not only are we an exceptionally talented group, but we’re an exceptionally caring, passionate and “committed-to-what’s-right” group.

 

EXTRACURRICULARS

Guru: It’s Saturday morning. Where will we find you?

Anna: We are a family of night owls rather than early birds, so Saturday morning is likely pretty quiet around our house till about 9:30 or 10. After we’ve all had a chance to rest and recharge, my 12-year old “bonus daughter” loves to make her famous pancakes with blueberry syrup on the weekends. We also frequently visit our local farmer’s market for local produce, live music and fresh flowers (I can never choose just one bouquet). Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the farmer’s market’s green tomatoes and trying to perfect my recipe for the classic southern staple –  fried green tomatoes.

Guru: What fills your human tank with inspiration?

Anna: I find so much joy from the people in my life. Whether it’s simply lying on the couch watching a movie and snuggling with my family, a day spent in nature on the lake, or a night out seeing a live band with friends – I often try to mentally take myself out of the situation to briefly revel in the moment and be grateful for it. The combo of love, laughter and gratitude is the best fuel!

Guru: What is your go-to activity when you are tired or stressed?  

Anna: Hot bath + Music + Dimmed lights + Glass of wine = Bliss

 

PATH

Guru: What is one stop along the path (planned or unplanned) or one decision you made that helped shape the person you are today?

Anna: The decision to transfer to Goddard College is one of the top 3 most important decisions of my life. Although I had a ton of fun (sometimes too much) at my big, state school – the University of Arkansas, I never really found my groove or was inspired academically.

Goddard is a teeny-tiny liberal arts college in teeny-tiny Plainfield, Vermont. I attended the low-residency, individualized bachelor’s of arts degree program. It’s filled with the most passionate and brilliant professors I’ve ever met and the most diverse, wonderfully weird and compassionate students one could ever hope to study alongside. It was there that I discovered how much I really truly loved learning and education. The switch from 300-person lecture classes to one-on-one stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with my professors made all the difference in my academic and, ultimately, professional career. I truly treasure my time at Goddard and look back at it as one of the most liberating and exciting times of my life.

Guru: What is the best vacation you ever took, and why?

Anna: My partner, Brad, and I went to Akumal, Mexico in the spring of 2018. It was the perfect, relaxing getaway. The area is known for its snorkeling and the beautiful reefs and sea turtles. We didn’t see any turtles, but we saw a stingray that was at least 5-feet wide. And we met a couple from London, England that we’ve kept in touch with and who have become really close friends of ours. They visited us in the states this spring, and we’re planning a visit to see them this winter!

Guru: Where in the world do you feel most at home, and what does “home” mean to you?

Anna: Even though I wouldn’t count cooking as one of my hobbies, I’d say that the time and place where I feel the most “at home” is in our kitchen preparing a meal for my family (and sometimes friends!). I’m a nurturer, so there’s a serene contentment that comes with taking care of those that I love in such a simple way. And our family dinners are a highlight of my day that I really cherish.

 

CURRENTLY LOVING

Guru: What is the one book that you will never take off your shelf? Why?

Anna: In high school, I randomly picked out a book called, “She’s Come Undone,” by Wally Lamb. (Knowing what I know now, the book probably wasn’t totally appropriate for me at 17-years old, but I’ve always been an old soul. And honestly, it was probably the Oprah’s Book Club sticker that really caught my eye.) The novel follows the main character, Dolores, as a young girl in the late 1950’s throughout her life into her 40s. The story is both tragic and hilarious, as well as exceptionally well-written. I’ve read it probably 10+ times over the past decade and a half and it continues to entertain me and take on new meaning as I age.

Guru: What is your go-to cocktail?

Anna: In the summer, Ketel One cucumber and mint infused vodka with a splash of limeade and topped off with club soda. It’s so refreshing! And in the fall, I always love mixing a pumpkin beer with a hard apple cider.

Guru: What is the cultural reference you turn to for inspiration?

Anna: It really depends on my mood! But music has always and will always be my go-to for inspiration. I have an ever-evolving playlist that I coordinate to my current mood or for anytime I’d like to change my mindset. Current favorites (they change often) are: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit,  The Highwomen, John Fullbright, The Avett Brothers, Brandi Carlile, and -of course- my all-time favorites Paul Simon and Sir Elton John.

 

We love it! Thank you, Anna!

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a member of our Crew a little better (we certainly did!). Stay tuned for the next guru featured in the series.

Who’s Who in the Guru Crew? Introducing Jennifer Meyer

August 19, 2019 / no comments

Guru is a collaborative crew of experienced big ad agency expats, impact, purpose and brand strategists, design and systems thinkers, connection-creators, artists, writers and designers with an insatiable appetite for constant learning, growth and innovation.

“Who’s Who in the Guru Crew?” is a series that introduces you to the beautiful humans who comprise the “Guru Crew,” as we call ourselves.

We’re continuing this series with our Director of Finance and Operations Jennifer Meyer. In addition to being a truly kind, compassionate, thoughtful and caring human, Jennifer is the glue that holds the Guru operation together. In her role, Jennifer is able to initiate and facilitate support and resources for every member of the Guru Crew that ensure that our remote culture functions productively and above expectations. In her role with our clients, Jennifer’s professionalism ensures that she is always prioritizing everyone’s best interests and making sound, ethical decisions that allow both our crew and our clients to function at our best.

CALLING

Guru: How did you find yourself in the field of marketing/advertising/communications/design?

Jennifer: A newspaper ad! It was that long ago. I was working at a large company in the accounting department and was quite bored. I love accounting, but it can be dry. It was amazing to find a job that I could work in the accounting field but in a fun, exciting environment with incredibly smart, creative co-workers.

Guru: What drew you to your role at Guru?

Jennifer: I have worked for a large and several small non-profits over my career. I have always found my work in accounting and finance to be incredibly meaningful, specifically when it was working towards a mission. The fact that Guru is a for-profit company with a socially conscious way of doing business was the biggest draw. I also was super excited to work with team members from a prior agency that I had a great deal of love and respect for.

Guru: What inspires you most about the work that we do?

Jennifer: Our clients are doing important, cause driven work in this world. Many times they are for profit companies that have chosen to dedicate their business (and profits) to the greater good. It inspires me and gives me a great deal of hope that socially conscious leaders (our clients) are leading the way to a more sustainable economic landscape.

EXTRACURRICULARS

Guru: It’s Saturday morning. Where will we find you?

Jennifer: Coffee. Always coffee, first things first! Wrangling my two boys and catching up on my favorite local, weekly newspaper, Seven Days. Still attached to reading the actual paper!

Guru: What fills your human tank with inspiration?

Jennifer: Spending time outside in the mountains or on water with my husband and boys. Experiencing the activities through their young eyes has added a whole new dimension to my life. They are so excited about everything: “Look, it’s a rock! Look it’s a chairlift! A FISH!!!!!” Their unique observations and constant commentary keeps me laughing and happy well beyond the end of the day.  

Guru: What is your go-to activity when you are tired or stressed?  

Jennifer: Yoga and feeling grounded with my practice of more than 15 years now. Lately, also Spin Class! Another Guru Crew member introduced me to a great Spin Studio and I’m hooked. The music, positive energy and super welcoming community has been an amazing outlet.

PATH

Guru: Life is full of detours. What is one detour that changed the trajectory of your life?

Jennifer: After college, my plan was to move to California with a friend from high school. My parents had moved from my hometown and I was searching for my own path in life. About two months before graduating, I met an amazing individual who asked me to go on a 6-week cross country road trip that summer. I said yes and it changed my life forever. That trip opened my eyes to the vast, majestic American West and I was hooked. I would later move to Utah to complete my MBA program at the University of Utah and live there for 8 years. I also ended up married to my road trip partner. That first road trip was epic and was the first of many! We have traveled all over this beautiful country, and I have such a deep appreciation for the landscape of our nation. I look forward to sharing this love of the west with my boys!

Guru: What is one stop along the path (planned or unplanned) or one decision you made that helped shape the person you are today?

Jennifer: When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working full-time for a large non-profit in Utah.  I was at a job I really loved, working for an amazing organization doing really important work raising money for children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. I worked so hard during two years of MBA school, working at a Big 4 accounting firm and studying, and then going through the rigorous testing for the CPA exam. This was the job that all of that hard work led up to. Now I was preparing for maternity leave and I honestly could have never predicted what happened after my son was born. I had always been incredibly driven and defined by my career goals and achievements. Priorities shifted and my perspective was flipped upside down. I felt like a different person and the things that mattered before were not so important anymore. I did return to my job after maternity leave, but when my son turned 6 months old, I decided it was not sustainable. I took some time and enjoyed (sometimes just survived) the precious first year of his life. When he turned a year, I found contract work. It was amazing!  Now my boys are older and I feel like I’m back on track with my career and being fulfilled professionally. I feel so fortunate to have been able to take the time off with both of my children when they were little. I value different things in a workplace now. My career will always be more of a balancing act than a one way street. My own personal experience has made me a better mother, partner, and leader.

Guru: Describe an experience where you felt most free, alive, inspired and full of purpose?

Jennifer: When I found out that I passed the final section of the CPA exam, it was a sense of freedom second to none. Studying, testing, and surviving the CPA exams (there are 4 sections) was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I decided to do them in a six-month timeline, which was super intensive, but I was determined. When I found out I passed the last exam it was a relief and sense of accomplishment that was unbelievable. I not only passed all of the exams in six months, I also passed each one on the first try. I honestly never thought that was possible and I surpassed ALL of my own expectations. I was ready to take on the world after that accomplishment!

CURRENTLY LOVING

Guru: What is the one book that you will never take off your shelf? Why?

Jennifer: Outlander Series. I know, I know. Time traveler, historical fiction, family saga AND romance novel all rolled into one.  I read all of the books many years ago (WAY before the TV show came out, not a fan) and I still revisit from time to time.

Guru: What is your top movie or show recommendation?

Jennifer: I LOVE BBC shows.  My favorite one of all time is MI5. I also love Call the Midwives on PBS. And, of course, the Office. That is my comfort show, always a guaranteed laugh. I think I must have watched all nine seasons in its entirety at least three times over the years.  

Guru: Who is the person or influencer you would follow to the ends of the earth? Why?

Jennifer: My Nana. I am so fortunate to still have my 94 year old Nana in my life. She has been such a mainstay in my world my entire life. Here is a picture of us two weeks ago during a visit. At 94, she is still looking beautiful, getting dressed up everyday and so interested in my life. I have a great deal of female longevity in my family, my two great grandmothers lived to 99 years old and I have a great aunt who is 101 years old!

Impressive! Thank you, Jennifer!

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a member of our Crew a little better (we certainly did!). Stay tuned for the next guru featured in the series.

 

 

 

 

Who’s Who in the Guru Crew? Introducing Amanda Kauffman

June 4, 2019 / no comments

Guru is a collaborative crew of experienced big ad agency expats, impact, purpose and brand strategists, design and systems thinkers, connection-creators, artists, writers and designers with an insatiable appetite for constant learning, growth and innovation.

“Who’s Who in the Guru Crew?” is a new series that will introduce you to the beautiful humans who comprise the “Guru Crew,” as we call ourselves.

We’re kicking off this series with Project Manager Amanda Kauffman. Amanda works closely with our heroes at REBBL, Clover Sonoma, The Love Serve Remember (Ram Dass’) Foundation, MAHA Global and Wee Yogis. She’s an extraordinarily talented woman who manages curveballs with grace and inspires teams to achieve more.

We are so grateful for the positive, can-do, joyful attitude that Amanda brings to every situation. And — spoiler alert! — we are very excited for what the fall will bring for her family this year.

You may have met Amanda here. But read on to learn more about this super woman.

CALLING

Guru: What drew you to your role at Guru?

Amanda: I love that Guru is more than your typical ad agency. It’s a collective of individuals authentically trying to do good in the world. Our core mission of spreading joy so closely aligns with my personal life mantra that I’ve felt at home here since day one.

Guru: What inspires you most about the work that we do?

Amanda: I am truly inspired by the people that surround me at work everyday, including Guru employees, partners and our clients. Their unique talents, creative thinking and strategic output all come secondary to the fact that every person I work with is a wonderful human being. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who genuinely care for one another, others and a sense of greater good in this world.

Guru: The role of a guru is to be in service of others, and help them move from darkness toward light. What does this mean to you?

Amanda: I find personal purpose in bringing light into the lives of others and have always been inspired by the gurus in my life who have led from a place of servitude. (We are) Guru takes a unique approach to the world of business by bringing these values into the everyday workplace practice. This creates an environment where I feel deeply rooted in the work we conduct for our clients, which is always grounded in spreading light in the world.

EXTRACURRICULARS

Guru: What fills your human tank with inspiration?

Amanda: Exercise (there is nothing that gives me greater clarity or peace of mind than a long run), being outdoors, being with family… and desserts!

Guru: What is the most unusual extracurricular activity that others wouldn’t expect that you participate in?

Amanda: Every October I visit Salem, Massachusetts with my mom – home of the famous Salem Witch Trials. We walk the trails of witches past, go to group spell castings, get an annual psychic reading, and shop for crystals! It’s a tradition I look forward to every fall and makes me feel connected and grounded to the magical spirit of the world around us.

Guru: What is the one activity that is woven into the fabric of your identity?

Amanda: Surely smiling has been woven into the fabric of my identity since birth. I try to always maintain a positive attitude and uplift those around me.

PATH

Guru: What is one stop along your path (planned or unplanned) that helped shape the person you are today?

Amanda: The one stop along this life journey that I believe was woven into the destiny of my being to shape the person I am today stemmed from my life detour (three consecutive ACL tears as a high school athlete that changed my college soccer plans and led me to attend Franklin Pierce University), which is where I met my husband, Cody. He is the yin to my yang – and my greatest complement. We vowed to push each other to pursue personal goals and in our nearly eight years of marriage, that hasn’t faltered. He makes me better and I couldn’t be happier for our family to be expanding this fall when our baby girl arrives.

Guru: We are so excited for you! Describe an experience where you felt most free, alive, inspired and full of purpose?

Amanda: I find incredible inspiration walking along the beach in Naples, Florida in the early morning or mid-afternoon after a thunderstorm. It’s a full sensory experience and that sensation bridges this world and beyond for me. The setting in Naples allows me to disconnect from the usual everyday to-do list and feel a greater sense of belonging by focusing on the meaningful relationships in my life.

Guru: What is the best vacation you ever took, and why?

Amanda: When I was six years old my parents woke my brother and I early one morning and told us to come downstairs. When we got to the living room, it was full of suitcases and they said, “We’re going to Disney World!” We screamed for joy, laughed and probably even cried. When we arrived in Florida, the second surprise was that Nana and Papa were there to explore Disney with us! That vacation remains my favorite for two reasons: (1) The moment my parents told us about the trip was full of the magic that Disney represents for a young child – a spark of pure joy; and (2) I was able to share this “life-changing” experience with my loving family.

CURRENTLY LOVING

Guru: What is your number one, top movie or show recommendation?

Amanda: My all-time favorite show is Grey’s Anatomy. Although, my husband can’t understand why I love a show that constantly leaves me in tears, I seem to connect so deeply with the characters that I can’t help myself! Shonda Rhimes is just brilliant.

Guru: It’s summer time! What cocktail will you be rocking for the next few months?

Amanda: All mocktails for me this summer, which means a classic margarita with salt on the rocks … hold the Patron.

Guru: What is the one book that you will never take off your shelf? Why?

Amanda: NIV version of the Holy Bible. I love keeping my Bible on my nightstand because it reminds me that regardless of what chaos the world has shown each day, I can take comfort in the closeness of God.

Thank you, Amanda! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a member of our Crew a little better (we certainly did!). Stay tuned for the next guru featured in the series.