Skimm'd from the Couch: Amanda Hesser

3 min read|Jan 29, 2020|fbtwitteremail

Stressed about an upcoming negotiation you have at work? We get it. And our Skimm’d from the Couch guest for this week, Amanda Hesser, knows what it’s like to get nervous about the specifics. As the co-founder and CEO of Food52, Amanda has had her share of negotiations - including an 83 million dollar deal. Here’s how she remembers to breathe, even when things get tense. 

“My best piece of negotiation advice is to have a sense of humor during the process and don’t forget the humanity element... negotiation is really about a relationship and being honest and working through something with compromise. I think bringing a little levity to the situation can help put everyone at ease, and also I think once everyone is at ease, you think more clearly and more nimbly.” 

We’ve skimm’d a few moments from our conversation with Amanda Hesser. 

On Dealing with Corporate Red Tape 

Carly: You’ve written after leaving the Times that it was hard for you at times to navigate being there and being a really instinct driven person who had clear direction and then also being just part of a big corporate company … talk to us a little bit about how you were able to and where you struggled to balance your natural personality and instincts within a corporate environment. 

Amanda: The part that worked well was just being a reporter and features writer. You know, being willing to… work really hard and kind of do new things and write a lot and not be afraid to ask questions. That serves you well… and so on the one hand my sort of natural inclinations were sort of a perfect fit for the Times

...But it wasn’t a good fit for me. Corporate culture, there’s a lot of politics. This was new to me. I came definitely from a straight talking family. And so I was getting myself into trouble I think by just being very straightforward and candid and not careful. 

On The Initial Idea for Food52

Danielle: What was the initial idea? What was the whitespace that you saw? 

Amanda: ...we felt like there was an opportunity to create a very different kind of company that served people who cared about food in a much more comprehensive way. Another thing that was happening in media that I think we were probably strongly affected by was the fact that media was moving from being a broadcast-at-its-audience relationship to a much more kind of interactive relationship with the audience. And we felt like there was an opportunity in food, where things are inherently social, to really bring this community into a company that was creating content. 

On Partnerships: 

Carly: I’m just curious from your perspective how important is it to find somebody with complimentary skills, a different skill set? How do you give people advice around that? 

Amanda: I think when you know push comes to shove in the sort of day to day of running your company and growing your company, and I’m guessing you guys are gonna agree, those tough situations - the skillset doesn’t matter. It’s the trust in the relationship.