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.
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.
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
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.
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.