Lauren Maffeo: [00:00:00] The main thing I've done is to understand which time of day is I am most productive. And, basically, what that translates into is making note of when I have the most energy to do very specific tasks.

Andy Molinsky: [00:00:18] Welcome to From the Dorm Room to the Board Room, a podcast where we provide insights, tips, and inspiration for college students and young professionals, so they can make a really successful transition from college life to the professional world and beyond.

Andy Molinsky: [00:00:36] My name is Andy Molinsky, and I'm your host. I am also a Professor of Organizational Behavior and International Management at Brandeis University's International Business School, where we record and produce this podcast.

Andy Molinsky: [00:00:55] Okay. So, today's guest is Lauren Maffeo, who has reported on and worked within the global technology sector. She started her career as a freelance journalist covering tech trends for the Guardian and The Next Web from London. And today, Lauren works as an Associate Principal Analyst at GetApp, where she covers the impact of emerging tech like AI and blockchain on small and mid-sized business owners.

Andy Molinsky: [00:01:25] Lauren has a bunch of accolades. She was named The Drum's 50 Under 30 List of Women Worth Watching in Digital. DCA Live included her in its 2018 List of the New Power Women in Tech. And Lauren holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and a Certificate in Artificial Intelligence from MIT Sloan. I'm really looking forward to speaking with Lauren. And I'm so happy you're here today with us.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:01:54] Hi, Andy. Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Andy Molinsky: [00:01:57] Great. So, tell us a bit about what you do now. And then, I want to go back to college because I think you have an interesting story about how you got into what you're doing now. But why don't you tell us what you do now?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:02:09] Sure. So, like you said, I'm an Associate Principal Analyst at GetApp. And as one of my friends said when I told her my title, she just looked at me and said, "What is that? I don't know what you do." And so, basically, I research and write about emerging technologies and how business owners use them.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:02:30] So, GetApp is, basically, TripAdvisor for B2B software, which is business-to-business software. The idea behind GetApp is that if you're a small or mid-sized business owner, and you need any type of software for your business, whether it's HR, or marketing, or sales, the idea is that you would go to, read links and verified reviews of thousands of software tools. You would filter for the features that you need from that software. And then, you would, ultimately, choose the best tool for your business.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:03:00] And what the analysts do is cover different software markets to write editorial content about those software markets and the products within them. So, I spent my first two years at GetApp covering project management and accounting software. I just recently started covering cloud business intelligence software, which is an umbrella term covering things like data analytics and data mining. But I also research emerging technologies like AI and blockchain, and how they are implemented into small and mid-sized businesses.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:03:33] So. I've written articles about how construction managers will use robotics for bricklaying and net job loss versus growth in manufacturing due to AI. I wrote about use the blockchain in international supply chain management for SMBs. And so, I write about those technologies at a more high level, along with covering cloud software.

Andy Molinsky: [00:03:57] Wow. Really cool. Really interesting. So, let's rewind. Where did you go to college? What did you major in? And I guess, most importantly, how did you get into this area?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:04:07] I definitely didn't expect to get into this area. I went to college at the Catholic University of America, which is a Liberal Arts college based in Washington DC, where I still live. I grew up in Boston, not far from Brandeis. But when I was 18, I moved to DC to go to college at the UA. 

Lauren Maffeo: [00:04:25] And part of the reason I chose UA was because I knew that I wanted to go to school in a city. So, Brandeis is in Waltham. And I knew that I didn't want to go to school in a suburb. I wanted to go to a city ideally on the East Coast where I would be exposed to a lot of internships in a more urban environment. And one of the things that I really liked about the UA was that it is a small, intimate liberal arts school, but it is in this enormous city in the capital of the US, about 15 minutes from the White House on a train. And so, I got the best of both worlds there.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:05:01] And when I went into college, I wanted to be a journalist. That's another reason why I wanted to work in a big city because I wanted exposure to internships where I could get hands-on experience. And so, I was a Media Studies major. I went in as a freshman in the Media Studies Department and never wavered in that. And I really oriented all of my classes at college around Liberal Arts Studies and things of that nature. So, I didn't have any doubt about what I wanted to do.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:05:31] But I was in college at a pretty difficult time because I was a sophomore when the recession hit. And then, when I graduated in 2011, the economy was still recovering. And more to the point, that was also the time when the ad spend was shifting from news websites to tech websites like Google and Facebook. And today, I think, those two websites alone own something like 80% of all online ad revenue. And so, it really was a signal that finding jobs in journalism, it was never easy before, but it was certainly going to be really difficult moving forward.

Andy Molinsky: [00:06:12] So, did you find those internships you were looking for in college?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:06:17] I did. And what I decided to do, instead of going with big brands like NBC and CNN, was to get the hands-on experience that was available to me. So, I did take my freshman year to just focus on academics and extracurriculars. And then, from the time I was a sophomore on, I always made sure that I had an internship alongside my classwork. And because I was going to school in a big city, I was able to do that.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:06:45] One of my favorite internships was working at a radio station that was based in East Adams Morgan neighborhood, and I got to do live, on-air news reading for their afternoon broadcasts a few times a week. And that was really exciting because I got to be live on the air. And that particular radio station is a Pacifica Radio Station that has been involved in DC politics for a long time. So, that was one of my most exciting opportunities.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:07:14] Another favorite internship of mine was that the summers in between software engineer years, I lived in New York City, and I took summer classes at Wharton's Lincoln Center campus, but I also did an internship at New York 1, which is New York City's local TV station based in Chelsea Market. And that was also really exciting.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:07:32] So, I do think still that had the economy been different, I probably would have got into journalism full time. I did go into it on a freelance basis after graduating, but, as you know, my career took a different turn by going into tech.

Andy Molinsky: [00:07:49] Yeah, I know. It's interesting. And I want to hear what came next in a second, but I just want to pause for a moment on college because, as you know, I'm a professor, and I see a lot of college students come my way. And you could see that some students kind of don't quite know what they want to do, and they're almost passive recipients of the college experience, in a sense. And then, there are other more active/proactive students who really know what they want to do and kind of use all the tools at their disposal in college to kind of fashion a future for themselves. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you the second one. Would we say that that's right?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:08:34] I think that's fair to say. But I, also, was very surprised at how that did not translate into immediate success when I graduated. So, I went right from college into graduate school actually. And that's its own story. I have reasons why I made that decision.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:08:51] But I graduated from college in May of 2011. And then, that fall, I moved to London to start a one-year MSP program at the London School of Economics. And I also chose to focus my academic studies on Media and Communications, which is what I had done in undergrad, and I still wanted to go into journalism when I graduated from LSE.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:09:15] What happened was the summer that I was writing my dissertation, I ended up going to a networking event at General Assembly's London campus, which had just launched. General Assembly is kind of alternative education or education for 21st century jobs. So, they're very oriented on things like front-end web development, web design, user experience, things like that. So, definitely not your traditional liberal arts academic experience. And I went to a networking event at their campus and made a connection there that translated into a contracted internship once I graduated from LSC.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:09:52] And, basically, that's a long-winded way of saying that one networking opportunity led to the next. And I ended up doing freelance work both on a per-project basis for London-based startups but, also, on a per-story basis for new sites like the Next Web and the Guardian, as you mentioned in the intro.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:10:13] And the reality is that even though I got a fair amount of freelance work, it took me a year and a half after getting my master's degree to get a full-time job with benefits. And so, I would have thought that as someone who did everything "right" during college in terms of being focused, and always working, and balancing school alongside internships, I thought that I would have the world is my oyster when I finally got my degrees. And that was definitely not the case. I wish I had been more prepared to struggle like that when I graduated.

Andy Molinsky: [00:10:48] And so, tell us how you got into tech.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:10:51] So, I started my career as a freelance tech reporter purely because of connections I made, but started at the General Assembly event I mentioned. So, I didn't have any intention of going into technology, even as a reporter, but I did know that as a reporter, it would help me find work if I had to beat the cover. And it really turned out to be the best intro into the technology sector because when you're a journalist, your job is not to be the expert. Your job is to find the experts, and learn from them, and ask the right questions.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:11:28] So, I was able to learn about topics like self-driving cars, and who owns your data after you pass away, things that I really was not very informed about, but I was able to find experts on those subjects and interview them for articles. And I was also able to interview a lot of founders largely based in London at a time when the London tech sector was small. It's still growing really rapidly.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:11:56] So, I was able to learn a lot about the tech sector in a very short period of time. And that knowledge really has benefited my career as an analyst, especially because I spend a lot of time in my career now talking about topics like machine bias with software developers and product management teams. And because I started my career in tech as a journalist, I think I have more of a focus on not only the user experience but the wider implications of these projects, rather than getting stuck in the code and going over more minute details that seem big in the moment but don't necessarily impact the end user as much. So, that's how I fell in to tech was really as a reporter before I transitioned into working in the sector myself.

Andy Molinsky: [00:12:44] So, didn't take a lot of computer science courses in college?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:12:47] No. In fact, I only took one computer science course. It was because I had to. And I've heard women, in particular, say that they were in computer science courses where the professors flat out said that women weren't cut out for computer scientists. That didn't happen to me. My professor was equally horrible to the guys in the girls, but it was really probably the worst class I've ever taken.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:13:15] This teacher did not have any business being with students. I remember he used to yell at students if they got the code wrong and really didn't know how to guide people in a meaningful way. And any software developer will tell you that getting the code wrong is part of the job. It happens all the time. And so, if you're not willing to make mistakes, you truly cannot do the work.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:13:43] And so, if I had entered that class with zero interest in computer science, I had negative interest in computer science when I left the class. So, it was not an inspiring experience whatsoever. I don't have this redemptive story of taking Intro to Computer Science and falling in love with it. So, that just solidified my conviction, really, that I was not cut out for it, and that I should continue on the media studies path that I have carved out fruit.

Andy Molinsky: [00:14:10] Interestingly, things came full circle though, right?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:14:13] They did. It's very strange, but if you had asked me in college -- if you had told me in college what I would be doing now, I would just be confused because I didn't really know what software development was, I didn't know what artificial intelligence was. And so, I wouldn't have even known to say that I wanted to do what I'm doing now because it wasn't even something I could envision for myself at the time.

Andy Molinsky: [00:14:42] So, that's actually a really good segue to what I wanted to talk about next. So, if you could kind of go back to your you know 20-year-old self, 19-year-old self, whatever it would be, and give yourself advice knowing what you know now for yourself back then about what you've learned, what would you say? And I guess by extension, what would you say to other college students?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:15:07] I would reassure myself that I would have a career that is very fulfilling and, in many ways, exceeds what I thought I could accomplish at 19 and 20 years old. But I would also say that the career is going to look a lot different than I think at 19 or 20 it's going to, and to be okay with that because in tech, in particular, your skills are always more transferable than you think they will be.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:15:36] One of my good friends is a software developer working in JavaScript, and she has ADHD, but she taught herself how to code without even going to a boot camp, let alone a class or a master's program. And she was a PR major in college. And she'd be the first person to say that her background in communications is a huge asset for her as a software developer because she was able to teach herself the coding skills after graduating from the University of Maryland, but she has a lot of skills as a communicator and, specifically, in PR that do benefit her on her dev team.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:16:18] And so, I would say that for students looking to get advice about what to do after college, if you're still in a position to be picking classes, pick as diverse a range of classes as you possibly can. I don't regret being a Media Studies major, but I do wish that I had taken more business courses, especially marketing and product management.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:16:41] And if you're a Computer Science major, I think it's really essential to be taking courses on Ethics, and Philosophy, and Rhetoric to understand the bigger picture of what you're building, and understanding the impact of your products on end users, which is something that tends to really get lost on technical teams if they're too far away from their customers.

Andy Molinsky: [00:17:04] So, it's interesting. As you were talking, I was just thinking about if I were a college student - I was a long time ago - but I do remember how focused, to be honest, I was on the syllabus, on the assignments for that week, on the test, on getting an A, and getting good grades, and so on. I wasn't thinking about how my philosophy class might ultimately impact my career or how the PR skills might be transferable and so on.

Andy Molinsky: [00:17:36] I guess my question would be, what was useful from college for you? And was there anything that was sort of unexpectedly useful about your college experience?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:17:50] For sure, I couldn't foresee at the time how valuable my Media Studies education would be, both in my career and also in this weird cultural moment we're in. And what I mean by that is I studied media literacy as part of my master's and bachelor's degree programs. And this was only a few years ago really, but, at the time, I could not have imagined how media literacy, at large, would evolve the way it has into what it is today where we have this real explosion of literal fake news where even someone who is highly literate can't necessarily tell the factual accuracy of what they're reading. And there is this war over existential truth.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:18:38] I mean, it does seem like we're in this very unique moment where the value of being able to dissect arguments and rhetoric for what they are and critique things at face value is a more essential skill than ever. And I would argue, as someone in tech, it's only going to get more essential because the reality of the future job market is that any rules-based, repetitive task is going to be automated and done by machines. And that means everything from driving a car to writing documents.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:19:13] So, students in college might be thinking, "Well, I wasn't going to be a truck driver anyway, or I was going to work on a conveyor belt so my future jobs aren't at risk." The reality is that automation is going to touch almost every job, including mine. And so, the people that are going to ultimately succeed are the ones who can learn how to use these technologies and work alongside them, so that you're outsourcing parts of the work to these machines, but you're doing the things that humans excel at.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:19:44] For the time being and foreseeable future, that is going to be high-level thinking, business strategy, being able to dissect arguments and understand nuance. All of those skills are things that a strong Media Studies education will teach you. Those are benefits that I didn't foresee when I was the student. And they have benefited me immensely, especially because my job is to be a researcher, and at the end of the day, to research and write content. And I see a lot of parallels between my academic work and the job that I have now.

Andy Molinsky: [00:20:23] That's really interesting. Those are very insightful comments. And I guess, the follow-up question is that -- and I know this is putting you on the spot, but, heck, you're here. I'll put you on the spot. If you had the power to dictate how college was run, how professors and how administrators put together opportunities and degrees for students, how students took advantage of what they had, is there anything that you'd tweak or change about requirements, about majors, about forcing people to learn some of these sort of future-oriented skills? Just a question.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:20:59] There are a few things I would change. One is that I would require interdisciplinary education, which a lot of universities already do. But as an example, I was listening to a podcast interview with Dr. Sophia Noble, who is a professor at the University of Southern California, and she was saying that because a lot of the Computer Science students at USC took AP courses on Philosophy and other Liberal Arts subjects in high school, that means that they are not required to take them in college.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:21:30] And she said in this podcast interview that when she asked a bunch of Computer Science students once if they ever thought about the impact of what they were building on their end users, she said most of the students just stared at her because they they genuinely hadn't thought of that before. She was positing something to them that had never crossed their mind.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:21:52] And if you think about that in a business setting, if these are engineers building products for end users not thinking about the myriad of ways they could be used for both good and bad, that's very problematic. And part of the problem, she said, was that a lot of the Computer Science students were not taking their coding courses alongside Philosophy and so on. So, that's one thing I would require.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:22:15] And the other thing is that I would emphasize the benefits of project-based work, especially if someone is taking more technical subjects because if you talk to any software developer, even if they are a CS major, they most likely are going to tell you about a project they're working on, and that really is a better way for anybody to learn. You're always going to get more exposure and more knowledge from doing something hands-on versus just memorizing information.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:22:46] And I mean, that's a big reason why anybody majoring in Spanish or French is going to want to study abroad because they're going to get fluent in a much shorter period of time if they're exposed to those languages, rather than if they're just memorizing information. So, I think a hands-on nature of academics is very important. And I still think something that academia needs to do better is drawing parallels between your education and how you'll use it in the real world because I think it often misses the mark.

Andy Molinsky: [00:23:19] Interesting. Good thoughts. Off to pass those along. Let's conclude with one of my favorite topics, which is productivity tip. You've got a lot on your plate, you've got a lot going on, and you've accomplished a lot. And I imagine you've got some sort of tips or insights to be on an everyday basis even. What are your productivity hacks that that help you do what you do?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:23:43] The main thing I've done is to understand which time of day I am most productive. And, basically, what that translates into is making note of when I have the most energy to do very specific tasks. So, as an example, I am not a morning person. I'm not sure if I ever will be. I have friends who wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, and they seemingly do this naturally.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:24:10] I'm unconscious still for several hours after that, and I use the mornings to do things like check my inbox, check Slack where I talk to my team. I work with a almost fully remote team. And so, I'm always checking in with them on Slack. And I do find that talking to people wakes me up. So, actually, the morning is a good time to have meetings because that helps me get alert.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:24:34] It is not however a productive time for me to be writing. And so, I'll often not get very productive with a writing task until the late afternoon or even early evening. And as long as I get to sleep in in the morning, I don't mind working later than everybody else. I have gone to half the hours before, and then come back. And if I was on a deadline, I've worked from 8:30 to 11:30 p.m. And it doesn't really bother me because I'm still pretty alert. I am much more alert than I would be writing that same document at 8:30 in the morning.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:25:08] And so, not everybody has that autonomy over their schedule, and there are many careers where you just have to take it as you go because you don't have that ability to manage your time according to your energy, but if you are in a position to do that, I have found it hugely valuable.

Andy Molinsky: [00:25:27] Great tips. It's funny. I was almost assuming you were going to tell us about some awesome app you use.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:25:34] No. You know whats funny is that I do — so, I have — I'm constantly thinking of lists in my head, but I don't actually use Wanderlist or any of those those apps. And I think that kind of is emblematic of me, in general. Like I write about technology, I write about the internet of things, but I don't have an Alexa device in my house. I have an e-reader, but I don't have an iPad. So, I love technology, and I'm very interested in it, and I use it, but I actually try to minimize it where I can. But don't get me wrong, I'm as addicted to my phone as everybody else.

Andy Molinsky: [00:26:09] You engage on your own terms.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:26:11] I try.

Andy Molinsky: [00:26:13] All right. Well, thanks so much. This is really, really insightful and an interesting interview. If people want to learn more about you or your work, where can they go?

Lauren Maffeo: [00:26:21] They can go to, my name. And people can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn under my name. So, if people want to connect on those platforms, I check them multiple times a day. So, those are both great. And I'm on Instagram under my name as well. And that's more of a personal account, but if people want to connect there, I'm happy to do that as well.

Andy Molinsky: [00:26:47] Sounds great. We'll put those in the show notes as well. So, thank you again, Lauren, for being with us. Really appreciate it.

Lauren Maffeo: [00:26:53] Thanks so much for having me. Have a good day.

Andy Molinsky: [00:26:56] Thank you for listening to From the Dorm Room to the Board Room. If you're interested in learning more about the work that I do in helping people step outside their comfort zones and transition successfully into the professional world, please visit my website, That's A-N-D-Y-M-O-L-I-N-S-K-Y dot com. And, also, feel free to email me directly at with any feedback or ideas for guests for future podcasts.

Andy Molinsky: [00:27:25] This podcast is brought to you by Brandeis University's International Business School. By teaching rigorous business, finance, and economics, connecting students to best practices and immersing them in international experiences, Brandeis International Business School prepares exceptional individuals from around the globe to become principled professionals in companies and public institutions worldwide. Thank you so much for listening.