We met Marla Beck on a rainy day in downtown Seattle. As Founder and President of Andelcare, one of the Seattle region’s most recognized and award-winning home care agencies, Marla is one busy woman. However, when we sat down to chat with her about why she started Andelcare, how she learned the ins and outs of business, and advice she has for youth, she was generous with her time and wisdom. Marla is passionate about helping others, caring for loved ones, and traveling the world. Read on to learn about how Marla seizes her youth, the greatest lessons she’s learned from running her own business, and the greatest moment of her career so far…
Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?
Marla Beck: Doing things that bring me passion and that I enjoy. I’m pretty spontaneous. Even if it’s just watching a bug crawl across the patio – just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you can’t do things you enjoyed doing as a kid. I try to enjoy the moment.
CJ: What school did you attend for undergrad and how did you determine what to study?
MB: I went to the University of Washington (UW) because I almost go into the Naval Academy and wanted to major in International Relations, but the economy was really bad. I didn’t get an eyesight waiver, so I couldn’t go. I went to the UW because it was close. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was highly motivated not to live at home. I noticed that people getting jobs were the business and accounting majors, so I became an accounting major. Accounting is a great skill to have and it’s very practical.
CJ: You started your career as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). What was your first job out of undergrad?
MB: Auditing for Arthur Anderson. At the time it was a big accounting firm. It was not very exciting and you look at spreadsheets all day. I made sure that things added up on the spreadsheets. I only did that for a year, and then I moved onto tax.
CJ: You are the Founder and President of Andelcare, a premium home care agency providing companionship, homemaking, personal care, nursing services, hospice care, nurse advocacy, and care management. What motivated you to start Andelcare?
MB: I started Andelcare because I was at a point in my life where I wanted to try something different. My business acquaintance also wanted to start a company so we looked into senior care, which was just starting out. I think I got to where I’m at now because I learned to delegate things that I’m not good at. I couldn’t have grown without my team. Starting my company was a gamble and a little out of character, but I just needed to do something different.
CJ: How did you learn the business skills you needed to run your company?
MB: I went to classes. I joined an organization where you pay to get trained. I learned more about business framework, business plans, and procedures manuals, and I went to every seminar and webinar. I basically learned as I went. I had the business side down with the accounting background, but there was still a lot to learn.
I also belong to the Women’s President’s Organization, and I asked a lot of questions. I was working seven days a week with no time off. The main thing was that if I provided the best possible care for senior citizens, that’s the goal. Remember that and work backwards.
CJ: What does your role as President entail?
MB: I delegate as much as possible because I don’t want it to be all about me. In case something happens to me the company can keep going. I still deal with the high level finances, and other smaller tasks, such as renewing the liability insurance. A job for a leader is to be more of the visionary and the cheerleader. I make sure my staff knows that I appreciate them, and I also want them to grow in their jobs. I do marketing and finance, but a lot of it is making sure the ship is on a path.
CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from running your own company?
MB: Ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. When you run your own company, you have to do some soul searching and realize your strengths and weaknesses. I have more perspective about things and try not to take things so personally.
It was also really important for me to find a support group. Find your posse that you can exchange ideas with. I found that with the Women’s President’s Organization.
I’ve also learned to be grateful for what I have. If I’m having a bad day, then I try to remember that in an hour it’ll be better. Focus on the positive.
CJ: What are some ways young people can become better leaders?
MB: Watching who the leaders are in your life and deciding what’s working and what makes you feel good and bad about them being the leader – those are important things to note. Read leadership books and attend seminars. Leadership is also human nature. People like to work for people that they like and trust.
As a leader, you still have to get your job done, but if you let your people know that you trust them and are letting them make their own decisions, that’s great. Set clear goals and provide the freedom for people to find the best way to do their job. Let people know that if they need help, they will have support.
CJ: How do you stay organized?
MB: I multitask a lot. I wish I could say I wrote everything down, but a lot of it is in my mind. I’m better organized because I delegate everything. To guard your time, you have to be laser focused and determine what’s important and what isn’t. My Outlook calendar keeps me the most organized, and it syncs to my phone which is convenient.
CJ: You are also the former President of the Fred Hutch Magnolia Guild, which benefits Fred Hutch’s mission to eliminate cancer and related diseases as causes of human suffering and death. Can you tell us more about that?
MB: We help raise money for Fred Hutch cancer research. We bring treats to the cancer patients and help with the Chef’s Dinner event that is put on every year. We’ve raised almost a million dollars for research.
CJ: What should a teenager or young adult who wants to run their own company do now to set themselves up for success?
MB: Work for as many companies as you can. You’ll learn a lot working for someone else. Try to do everything in the company and ask a lot of questions. Work in the industry that you’re interested in.
CJ: What does a day in your life look like?
MB: The first thing I start my day with is coffee. Some days I’ll workout in the morning. Then I’m in front of my computer checking my emails and calendar. Sometimes I’ll have speaking engagements, meetings, or office work. It really varies and my days are a lot freer than they used to be.
CJ: What is the best moment of your career so far?
MB: Getting recognized for being a woman business owner and having my mom there. I was named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Washington State Business Person of the Year in 2012. My mom is supportive and the hard work paid off. As a woman business owner, I can still do it my way and still be successful and be recognized for it. Having my mom, friends, and staff there was so exciting.
CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
MB: Try to enjoy the ride a little more and don’t be so self-critical. A lot of stuff that seems important in your twenties really isn’t. I also would’ve started asking more questions at a younger age. It would’ve been nice to have an older person or mentor to show me the ropes.
Image: Carpe Juvenis