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Creators of Waterloo | Amandah Wood of Ways We Work

Amandah Wood is the creator of WaysWeWork.io, an online publication that spotlights individuals and the meaningful work that they do. The interview series is published every Wednesday and is meant to show the different ways people from diverse industries tackle challenges and projects. Read on to find out more about Amandah’s journey, her background, and her productivity secrets.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?

I’m the Founder of WaysWeWork.io, an online publication that tells stories and first-hand accounts of how people do meaningful work.

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

It changed all the time but usually it was always something in the creative field. I wanted to be a writer for a while and still have bins of journals and poetry I wrote through my teenage years. I also wanted to be a hairstylist, or a film director. I just loved creating things and still do.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

I don’t think I can say I’ve had a big failure, at least not yet. I am learning all the time though. It’s something about the field I’m in or maybe just creating something that I’ve never done before, but I feel like everyday I learn a better way to do something. My biggest lesson recently though has been to talk to people who have done similar things. I had this fear for a while that people wouldn’t want to talk to someone working on a similar project to theirs but it’s quite the opposite. You can avoid making a lot of little mistakes or moving too slowly by having mentors.

Do you have any formal education? What was your favourite class?

In high school I was in the Integrated Arts Program at Eastwood Collegiate here in town. I was a Drama and Visual Arts major but quickly moved into Graphic Design classes. As for post-secondary, I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media from Ryerson University in Toronto. We learned such a wide variety of skills in that program. We were taught fine arts theory & history, basic computer programming and some hardware here and there. Ironically enough I really miss the in-depth research we’d have to do when writing papers, lately I find myself trying to integrate that into what I’m doing with Ways We Work. Everything moves so fast now, there’s something refreshing about really getting to know a topic you’re interested in and having an educated opinion when writing about it.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur? What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?

Honestly, I keep it pretty simple. I use Todoist to both keep my inbox under control and organize everything I need to get done. Recently, I made the leap to doing Ways We Work full-time so I’m figuring out what my new routine and rituals are. I’d really like to read more and spend a lot more time writing. That’s a skill I’m realizing grows more important everyday. In terms of personal and professional growth, again the biggest thing is talking to others and learning from them.

What are you reading right now?

I’m just about to start Foodist by Darya Rose actually. I’ve read her blog for awhile now and I love her philosophy on taking a holistic and simple approach to how you eat. I notice a big difference in my ability to focus depending on what I’ve eaten that day, so I’m trying to be a bit more mindful. Let’s be honest, eating well is hard and I’m a big fan of beer and a good eggs Benedict. I’m looking forward to learning how to make eating better a habit, instead of something I’m always worrying about.

What technology, apps, websites do you use on a day to day basis?

Todoist – For managing email and my to-dos.

Gmail – I’ve tried a lot of email apps. This just works the best for me.

Sketch – I’ve almost entirely ditched the Adobe Suite now.

Statamic – The awesome CMS that runs Ways We Work.

Google Drive – For sharing files with clients and partners.

Who would you most like to have dinner with?

I’d actually love to have dinner with 5 or 6 other people who are doing similar projects to Ways We Work. Creating a successful publication with content that can push through the sea of content online is a lot of work and I’d love to share a meal with people who are in the same space.

What are you proudest of in your life?

The last two years of my life. To keep a long story short, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression about three years ago. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I’ve learned to manage it without medication now and honestly I’m really proud of everything I’ve done in the last year or so. Considering getting out of bed was the hardest part of my day three years ago, I can’t explain how amazing it feels to be surviving and then some.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?

All four of my parents have been huge influences on me. They’ve all supported me in whatever choices I’ve made and always pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone. My partner Ben has been a huge influence as well, I tend to overcomplicate things to death and he’s taught me to look at things more objectively and to just do it.

What’s your favorite quote?

My most recent favourite would have to be: “Hustle is the dark horse of creativity, the close cousin of Grit and Tenacity. Without the hustle, drive, and complete devotion to making things happen, you are average.” – Rebecca Rebouché

What’s your productivity secret?

I wish I had one. When you have a million different things that you could do in a day it can be hard to decide where to start. Logically it makes sense to do the ones that have the highest priority or closest due date, but realistically you know yourself best and you’ll waste a lot more time forcing yourself to do something you’re not in the mood the do. Know what time of day you’re most productive, know the spaces that make you most productive and learn how get your mind focused on your terms.

If you had fifteen extra minutes each day, what would you do with them?

Read a good magazine. I’ve become a huge magazine junkie lately. I love that they’re making a comeback.

What advice would you give to the new entrepreneurs and future students?

Do not stress about not fitting into a certain box or category. They have a word for that in the tech and design industry now – unicorn. If you’re someone with a random set of skills and aren’t sure where you fit, just keep working on the things you enjoy doing and take opportunities as they come.

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