Fara is a Marketer & Runner
Fara Rosenweig talks about how she discovered her passion for running, developing relationships in the office through running, barriers to overcome when sharing hobbies, and much more!
• Getting into running
• Favorite marathons
• Bonding with co-workers over running
• Why it is up to both the organization and the individual to encourage sharing hobbies at work
• Breaking barriers to sharing hobbies at work
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Welcome to Episode 485 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. And each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby, or a passion, or an interest outside of work. And to put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. And if you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audiobooks. It goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. And I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it, and listening to it, and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the workplace cultures where they are because of it.
And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this week is no different with my guest, Fara Rosenweig. She’s the head of content marketing at WorkRamp in the San Francisco Bay Area. And now, she’s with me here today. Farah, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Fara: Thank you, John. I’m so excited to be here and chat with you on What’s Your “And”?
John: No. This is gonna be awesome. And you have an awesome “and.” But before we get into it, I have some rapid-fire questions here to get to know Fara right out of the gate. So, maybe an easy one. Favorite color.
Fara: Ooh, pink.
John: Pink? Okay. Okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: Maroon! Nice! Okay.
Fara: That was a tricky one.
John: That’s not a color you hear. Yeah. You don’t hear it super often. And I am with you on that. It’s a little too dark.
John: Yeah. It doesn’t lift my spirits.
Fara: Right. Right.
John: How about a TV show that you would binge watch?
Fara: Oh, Sex in the City.
John: Ah, yeah. And they’re back now. Right?
Fara: And just like that, yes, they’re back and I’ve binged watched all of those.
John: Right. Well, ‘cause wasn’t it something where like they were releasing on like normal shows back in the day where it was like one a week?
Fara: Yeah. And that’s what they did too and it was very frustrating. So, I had to wait a few weeks so I could binge a few shows.
John: How did we make it through the `90s? How did we do it?
John: That’s so funny. There you go. How about puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw puzzle?
Fara: Oh, crossword.
John: Crossword, okay. There you go. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Fara: Actor Paul Rudd.
John: Oh, yeah. He’s great.
Fara: Yeah. Actress Julia Roberts.
John: Oh, nice. Yeah.
John: Classics. There you go. And very funny both of them.
John: Very funny. Would you say more shower or bath?
John: Shower, there you go. Just get in and out. Let’s do this. I’m similar. I’m like if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t like why am I near. Like let’s just do this. That’s awesome. Ooh, here’s a fun one. Maybe a least favorite vegetable.
Fara: Oh, mushrooms.
John: Mushrooms, okay.
John: Yeah. They’re kinda weird. Right?
Fara: I think it’s the consistency. I don’t know. I’ll eat it if I have to. But if I have to choose, I’ll forego.
John: When I was on a recruiting visit with PricewaterhouseCoopers, I was in college, and I just wanted the job. And we went to dinner, and the guy that was recruiting me ordered like what’s the big one that’s like—
Fara: Oh, Portobello?
John: Yeah. And I was like “Oh, no.” ‘Cause those are meanie.
Fara: Yeah. And you got to eat it, right, because you’re like recruiting.
John: You couldn’t like with a drink pour it in a plant.
Fara: Yeah. No. You gotta eat it.
John: I was like “Oh, my gosh.” Like I’m still having repercussions from that, but here we go. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Fara: Oh, Star Wars.
John: There you go. On May 4th. Of course, it is Star Wars. There you go.
Fara: And your birthday week. Happy Birthday! I forgot to mention that at the top. That’s so awesome. So awesome. There you go. How about a favorite season? Summer, winter, spring, or fall? Oh, probably fall.
John: Fall? Yeah, me too.
Fara: Yeah. It’s boot season.
John: Yeah. Right. Right. How about your computer, more PC or Mac?
Fara: Mac. Apple products all the way.
John: Oh, there you go. There you go. Yeah. You are a marketer. That makes sense.
Fara: Yeah. I’m a walking advertisement for Apple stuff.
John: You’re all in.
Fara: Except the iWatch. I don’t have the iWatch. I’m Garmin all the way.
John: Oh, okay. Okay.
Fara: Yeah. That’s like the only switch right there.
John: Yeah. Well, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until they buy Garmin and then it’s mine. Make Fara’s dreams come true. How about a favorite Disney character?
Fara: Oh, my goodness. It’s gonna be one of the princesses. Let’s go with Belle from— Yeah, Belle. Beauty and the Beast Belle.
John: Okay. Beauty and the Beast. Okay. There you go. Yeah. Totally good one. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Fara: Early bird.
John: Early bird. Okay. Yeah. Most runners I guess tend to be like that.
John: We got four more. Would you say more print or digital marketing?
Fara: I am digital marketing like I live and breathe digital marketing.
John: You prefer digital. Yeah. Yeah.
Fara: Yeah. But I prefer actually like reading print marketing. Like I like those postcards. I like everything paper, but I’m in the digital world. So, I have to go digital.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah. You don’t wanna get kicked out.
Fara: And I want a job.
John: There you go. There you go. There you go. How about a favorite number?
John: 7. Yeah. Is there a reason?
Fara: I have no. Ever since I was little, I just kept on saying 7 was my lucky number.
John: No. No. It’s a very popular one. I was just curious. Yeah. No. That’s just as good of a reason as any. And maybe I know the answer to this one based on your last answer, but books. Audio version, e-Book, or a real book?
Fara: Oh, real book all the way.
John: That’s what I was guessing.
Fara: I bought a Kindle in 2020.
John: Oh, wow.
Fara: I mean, it was great. I can’t believe I waited this long. Actually, no. It was 2019. Excuse me. Right before the pandemic, but I still prefer the real deal.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Fara: My dog.
John: Oh, yeah. What kind of dog?
Fara: I have a Golden Doodle.
John: Oh, nice!
Fara: He is a puppy.
John: Oh, there you go. There you go. What’s his name?
Fara: His name is Doug.
John: Doug, yes. I love that. I love that. That’s so good.
Fara: Yeah. I got him in the middle of the pandemic. I’m a dog person. I got him in the pandemic. And I am so grateful for his companionship. He is just a bundle of joy.
John: That’s so great. And his name is Doug. So, it’s even better.
Fara: Yeah. Exactly.
John: So, it’s like “Doug, don’t poop on that.” And it’s like “What? Who are you talking to?”
Fara: It’s great. At the dog park, people are like “Is his name Doug or Dog?” And I’m like “No. Doug like Douglas.”
John: Right? Like are you yelling at some random guy across the—
John: Nope. My dog. That’s so good. I love it. That’s so awesome. That’s so awesome. Well, let’s talk running and running Ragnars and marathons.
Fara: Let’s do it. All of that.
John: Like Forrest Gump running. How did you get started running? Were you always into this when you were a kid?
Fara: No. Believe it or not, I hated running. I hated it. I remember in middle I had a knee injury and I had my doctor write a note saying I can’t run the mile like I absolutely hated it and then I actually danced a lot. Like I did ballet and tap, jazz all my childhood, and in high school, and even in college. But in middle school, I think it was like 7th or 8th grade, because I was doing so much outside of school activity 3 to 4 hours after school, I was able to get out of gym completely.
John: Oh, my goodness.
Fara: So, in middle school, I didn’t have to run. I didn’t have to participate in PE. It was amazing. And then in high school, because I was part of the dance team and the cheer team, I didn’t have to do PE. Instead, I was practicing with my cheer team or dance team. So, I never had to run.
John: Oh, yeah. It makes sense. It wasn’t until college— I wanna say it was my junior year of college. I wasn’t 21 yet, so 19 or 20. My girlfriend, she was a runner. She was a soccer player, started running. And she was in great shape. And at that point, I had a couple injuries. So, I wasn’t dancing as much. I was really working out a lot. I loved the gym and that’s like my playground. And I was like “Well, she can do it. Like she’s in great shape. She can do it. Well, why not? I’ll do it.” And so, I ran a 5K. And I was like “Oh, that was easy.” And then I signed up for a marathon, but I was petrified everyone’s gonna laugh. I was petrified to run outside. I had no idea.
This was before Strava even came around. Like there were no apps. I was either using a Discman to listen to music or like the very first iPods. I can’t remember. It was very clunky. And I was petrified to run outside because I didn’t know how to navigate roads or anything like that. So, I literally trained on a treadmill at the gym. I plopped myself in front of the TV because the college I went to had these great TVs and you can plug your headphones into the treadmill and listen. So, I was either watching the news or whatever rom-com they had on. And I would just run aimlessly on the treadmill and that’s how I trained for my first race.
John: And that’s also how you came to love Paul Rudd and Julia Roberts because they’re in all the rom-coms.
Fara: Yeah. The best time if anyone’s like how could you do it, I tell you the best times to run on a treadmill was like during a sporting event if it was like football or basketball March madness because you get like that adrenaline and you’re like “Go!” Yeah. I trained on a treadmill for my very first—
John: That’s impressive.
John: Well, you probably would have run a marathon from getting lost. So, I mean, it’s good that you didn’t go outside because you would have been like I just did two marathons just trying to get home. Like I don’t even know. Yeah. That’s so awesome. And so, you just got started there. And then ever since, you’ve just been signing up and going?
Fara: Yeah. I think part of it is like I’m a very competitive person and a part of it is the only competition is myself. So, whatever I set mentally, I was like “okay, this is what I’m gonna do” and I’m gonna achieve it. I’m not competing with anyone else. So, I think that was part of it. And then also, at that time, running wasn’t very popular. Even fitness was not the industry than what it is now. And so, I was like “Look at what I’m doing and look at what all you are doing. I’m way better.” It sounds terrible, but so many of my friends were achieving all these other things in whatever career they were doing.
John: In life.
Fara: Yeah. They’re getting married or having kids and like look what I’m doing. I’m doing these things that a lot of people can’t set out to do. That was also my motivation.
John: We’re each in our own lanes, you know, and doing our own thing. That’s great, you know, ‘cause I mean so many people feel like “Well, I have to do this certain thing or I have to be this certain way at work or in life.” And you don’t. You don’t at all. Like none of those things.
John: I would even venture to say that a good percentage of those people aren’t doing it because that’s who they are. They’re doing it because of those reasons of they feel like they have to, or be this thing, or whatever. And it’s like be you. That’s so cool. So, do you have a favorite race or some fond memories that you have from some of those?
Fara: I do. I have a few favorites. I have to say they’re half marathons, but the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, they’re both full marathons and halves. but the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem races are epic. I did them— Oh, what years were they? 2016 and 2018 or 2019. I can’t remember when the Tel Aviv was. I mean, you are running through history. How epic is that? And it’s just being international. You see just a complete different culture of people running, the types of attire. I was just fascinated by how people train in different climates and stuff. So, it was just amazing. And it’s honestly the best way to see a city, is by running. So, so I prefer the half marathon distance because it’s less training than a full marathon, but you still tackle such grounds to see epic scenery. It’s a toss-up between those two.
John: Those are both awesome though.
Fara: Yeah. They’re great.
John: Yeah. And you’re right. I mean, instead of doing a walking tour, well, why don’t we just run this and I get a T-shirt? And like everything’s good.
Fara: And a medal.
John: Right. And a medal.
Fara: And a banana at the end.
John: A banana. Right. I did one half marathon in my life. And yeah, it was like “Give me the banana. Let’s go. I’m out. I’m retiring. This is enough.” You find out the guy from Kenya did it in like 10 minutes and I’m like out there for 2 hours. I mean, I broke 2 hours, so I was pretty impressed with that.
Fara: That’s great.
John: But then I was like “You know what? That’s good and I’m done so like we’re out.”
John: And so, that’s awesome all over the world. And the pictures that you have at What’s Your “And”? on the show page are really cool too.
Fara: Oh, yeah. Every race has a great memory to it.
Fara: Yeah. I just love it. Yeah.
John: It’s so cool. And is this something that you talk about with coworkers or clients? Does it come up?
Fara: It does come up. When I find out someone’s a runner or some sort of a weekend warrior, we usually end up geeking out a little bit about “oh, what are you trading for” or “what gym do you go to….” So, it’s a great conversation starter. It’s a great way to meet people. Whenever I travel, especially if I’m in a new city or if I move anywhere, I go find a gym, or a running club, or something and that’s the best way for me to connect with people, and meet people, and just build those different types of relationships.
John: Yeah. Even at work, it’s connecting on a human level as opposed to what work do you do. It’s like “Well, we’ll get to that in a minute like who are you?” That’s awesome.
And so, do you feel like the relationships with the people that are weekend warriors are maybe just a little bit different than everyone else in the office?
Fara: Yeah. I think we just have a different bond I guess.
John: Totally. Of course.
Fara: (A) You build a different relationship. So, I find it’s easier to work with people when you build that relationship. And then also, they set a goal and they try to achieve it. I don’t care how long it’s gonna take them. I don’t care if it takes them 16 weeks versus 8 weeks to train for something. I don’t care if they’re in shape or overweight. They set a goal. They’re trying to do it. And so, in a work environment, when you connect with people like that, they have that same mentality. I would say 95% of this type of person, they have that mentality. I’m gonna have a goal. I’m gonna do it. There might be multiple ways to get there, but I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get to my goal. So, it’s a great environment to work in because everyone wants to perform well at work. I shouldn’t say everyone. Most people want to.
John: Right. I mean, I’m sure there’s one.
Fara: Yeah. There’s always that one, but yeah. It helps working with people with like mindsets because at the end of the day, we wanna help each other succeed and we’re each other’s biggest cheerleader. So, it’s like “Okay, this is what you wanna achieve. Let’s figure out how we’re gonna tackle it together. What’s gonna be our training plan?” And we all know it’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon. So, we have to just chisel away each step of the way to get to that overall goal.
John: Yeah. No, I love it. And you’re right. I mean, you can’t ask someone to not bring that mindset to work because what am I supposed to come to work with? Like one arm tied behind my back? Like why would I do that? Like I have these other skills that are above and beyond my college degree, and my certifications, and my trainings that there’s a skillset that’s from your “and” and that mentality and that mindset certainly plays out at work. And you can’t turn it off.
John: And it’s cool that you are proactive in wanting to find out about people. And even if they’re not weekend warriors, there’s something else, but it’s like, well, you have a different mindset, a different skillset than I do. So, when we need that, I’m definitely coming to you.
Fara: Oh, totally. Yeah. And you know, it’s kind of my philosophy— Some people agree with it. Some people don’t. But there’s more than one way to get somewhere. The same thing in a work environment. There’s more than one way and I bring a lot of strength to the table. I also don’t have a lot of strength, but that person might bring those other strengths. And then together, we can just create world domination.
John: There it is. There it is. That’s it. World domination, I love it. And the people think that there’s only one way or definitely not doing the best way. They’re just doing a way and they think it’s good enough and then they’re like okay, but then we’re just gonna do this. And it’s like not really.
John: You know, there’s other ways, but I love that so much. And I guess how much is it on an organization to be able to create that space to allow people to share or encourage people sharing their “ands” versus how much is it on the individual? Like in your case, it sounds like just finding out like just ask.
Fara: I think it’s a combination of both. It depends on the person. Some people might be very shy and closed, so they don’t want to share. And then that’s where I come in. I can kind of read people and, weird, I like to talk. I like to connect with people. So, I’m gonna be that person that’s gonna ask those questions anyway. But on the flipside, it’s great if people can come out and say “Oh, this weekend, I did X, Y, Z.” And so, that’s kind of the icebreaker and then you can start domino effect. “What’s your weekend hobby?” “Oh, running.” “Oh, what trail did you do?” Or this, that, and you kind of go down that rabbit hole and then it’s a great way to connect with people.
John: Yeah. I wonder how many rabbit holes you go down that are work related versus running related. I’m guessing not very many.
John: I mean, human nature, it’s just— You know, we think that the work-related conversation is what we have to do. Work gets done and you have to be good at your job. And you certainly have to get that done. It’s just it’s very rare that you’re running down these rabbit holes that are work related where you’re like “What? No way. What?” but when it’s something “and” related, then, man, we’re gone. I don’t even know what we did this afternoon. I just ordered a new pair of shoes. You got a new running watch. Like we’re all good. You know, we signed up for races in Jerusalem and what’s up? But that’s so cool to hear that that happens and that you’ve experienced that for sure. And I guess what would be some barriers to people not wanting to share? Maybe, like you said, they’re maybe a little shy.
Fara: I guess the barriers are they might not feel safe in that environment yet and it might take them some time to break it down, which is completely okay.
No one’s forcing you to talk about your personal life. So, I suggest waiting until you feel comfortable. Or if you overhear someone talking about it in a meeting, that’s when you can kinda chime in. Slack these days, they have different channels for different sports, different hobbies, or your different “ands.” So, that’s when you can join in those slack channels and kind of oversee and then slowly start that conversation. So, I used to be like that like not really wanting to talk about some of my personal stuff. I felt judged. I wasn’t sure. Now, over the years, I’m like whatever. If you don’t want to share, you don’t have to share, but then you’re also missing out on some sort of personable relationship that can help you in some way, shape, or form in the work environment. That’s kind of how I look at it.
One of my CMOs told me get to know a CFO quickly because they’re the ones that’s gonna give you the budget. A CFO that I used to work with, I think I saw a photo of him hiking or something. So, I just immediately like went there. I was like “Oh, I notice you hike.” Ask him the 20 questions and that was an icebreaker. We probably for like a month or two did not talk about work. I didn’t talk to him about teach me your CFO ways, like I wanna understand your lingo or anything. I just built that relationship first and asked him questions and then I was able to build a solid relationship. And you know what? I got almost every budget I wanted approved after that.
John: What do you know, right? I mean, it’s amazing how connecting as humans even though it’s in business, it’s still human to human transactions.
Fara: Right. Exactly.
John: And I love too how you were like I was afraid of being judged. I think most of that judgment is happening in our own minds.
Fara: Oh, totally.
John: Because once you started to share that you’re running, it’s like no one’s judging that. They were like “This is awesome. Like what? Like when’s your next one?”
Fara: Yeah. In 2 weeks actually.
John: Right. There you go. There you go. Yeah. And so, it’s just cool to hear how much of it is just in our own heads. And when you do share, and when you do get out, and when you do try to connect especially cross department like that, oh man, it’s magic and just what lights you up. Here’s what lights me up. And we’re humans and like let’s talk about it because it brings some emotion to work sort of a thing. To wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone that maybe they like to run or they have another “and” that they feel like no one cares about or has nothing to do with their job?
Fara: If you feel like you’re the only one doing that, you’re not alone. There’s everyone out there doing some sort of “and” and maybe you’re not a runner, maybe you enjoy hiking, maybe you enjoy rollerblading, maybe it’s book club. I have a lot of friends who are faster runners than me or they’re more regimen about their eating habits. They have like a very strict diet especially race weekend, all this stuff. But at the foundation, we all have this thing like we enjoy doing something. We set this goal and we’re gonna achieve it. And I think that’s the thing that brings us together. So, don’t think you’re alone. There’s someone out there. I love actually connecting with newbies because I remember what it’s like as a newbie. It’s intimidating. I get so excited when people are like I’m doing my first 5K, 10K, whatever distance it is. I’m like I’m gonna be your biggest cheerleader. I text them in the morning, like race morning, good luck.
John: That’s awesome.
Fara: Because I remember what it was like. Almost every race I’ve gone myself, I’ve ran— it’s probably like 2 or 3 races I ran with people. So, I remember what that’s like and I didn’t have the support. And so, I just wanna provide that to people who might have those race day jitters and it builds a sense of community. And then also, I think another thing that I just love is that how people feel after. I just did that. I can’t believe I did that. And so, what an accomplishment to celebrate, so yeah.
John: Right. That’s super cool. Yeah. It’s just being alive and just sharing it. Like you said, slack channels are an easy way for you to just kind of creep around and you don’t even have to contribute. You just gotta look and you’re like “Oh, other people are doing this too.” And then eventually, you just share a little bit at a time and then what do you know. Before you know it, cool things and the CFO’s approving all your budget and like all that sort of goodness. That’s so awesome, Fara. Well, I feel like before we wrap this up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables because I so rudely asked you so many questions. We turn this into the Fara Rosenweig podcast and I’m your guest.
So, I’m all yours, whatever you wanna ask. Fire away.
Fara: First and foremost, I need to know what’s your “and.”
John: Okay. “And’s” college football, ice cream, concerts, play the piano a little bit, so yeah. I think those are good starts. So, definitely not running. Yeah. I retired after that half marathon.
Fara: But you know what? There’s a conversation there like “Oh, what half marathon did you do? You see what just happened?”
John: Yeah. Right.
Fara: Now, we’re connected.
John: In Indianapolis.
John: And part of it was around the Indianapolis race track like the speedway.
Fara: So, that’s so cool.
]Fara: That’s so cool.
John: It was wild. 1And you don’t realize how banked that track is until you’re like running on it and you’re like “Woah, this is pretty slick. This is deep.”
Fara: So, you would never have even been able to experience that if you didn’t say “Hey, I wanna try running.” Now, you know you don’t wanna run, but you have this epic story when you ran on this track that no one’s ever been on.
John: Exactly right. Exactly right.
Fara: It’s so cool.
John: And my mantra the whole time was I didn’t wanna train as much as I guess you’re supposed to.
Fara: Yeah. That’s okay.
John: But my mantra was peak on race day. I was like I don’t wanna use up all my good stuff on training. I wanna use it all on race day. And luckily, I did all right.
John: Yeah. It’s all good. It’s all good.
Fara: You did it. That’s all that matters. You got to the finish line. You accomplished something. That’s epic.
John: Exactly. Exactly. There you go. Awesome. So, no, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? And yeah, it’s just so great to have you be a part of this. So, thanks, Fara.
Fara: Oh, thank you. This was a pleasure John. I really appreciate it. Thank you.
John: So fun. And everyone, if you wanna see some pictures of Fara from some of her races or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All that stuff is there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button. Do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book.
So, thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.