Steph Kumar

Cues and Views

Research and strategy leader Steph Kumar, in brief.

Steph Kumar

Home: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.  Age: Older than I have ever been.  Birthplace: Barstow, CA.  Profession: Research (marketing, sales and product).  Organization: Two Cents Insights.  Title: Founder.  Significant other: Abhijit Kumar (partner).  Alma mater: University of Southern California (Master of Public Policy; University of Redlands, California (B.A., Economics and Government); Executive education programs at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Business School Online and Stanford University.  Languages spoken: English; enough Hindi and Spanish to navigate a country without Google Translate. 

Current project: Growing my own business.  I was in tech for over a decade and dreamt of the day when I’d branch out on my own.  Now loving every moment.  Recent recognition: Supporting someone’s growth who eventually broke into the field of their dreams (User Experience Research/UXR).  Recent professional development: The inner workings of running a small business, including drafting contracts and financial forecasting.  Latest accomplishment: Previously, at Twitter, leading the Monetization Experience Research function, we grew a highly diverse team with top talent and maintained a collaborative, supportive, fun team culture along the way.  Latest contribution to others: Being a mentor to the Women in Tech community.  What’s been your big (or biggest leap)? Starting my own business this year.  I consider 2023 to be the year of “Big Unfiltered Dreams.”  Hobbies: Traveling the world (at least one new country a year), reading books, visiting vineyards.  Recent travel or adventure: Lucca, in the Tuscan region of Italy, known for the preserved Renaissance walls that surround it.  Last book read: Spare, by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.  Recently viewed and recommended: Physical: 100.  Recent unique acquisition: Access to ChatGPT - OpenAI.  One of the most powerful tools I’ve ever accessed.

Personality profile: INTJ.  Though introverted, most people think I’m an extrovert.  What one word would your closest friend use to describe you? Logical.  Moral compass: Are we doing right by the person/consumer/customer/business?  How do you define a perfect friendship? One that is innately perfect.  Find someone who’ll call you out, hold you accountable and love you for who you are.  How do you define an ideal business relationship? Honest, direct, efficient, impact-driven.  What is your greatest joy? My daughter’s smile.  What is your greatest fear? Not having enough of an impact on the world before I depart it.  What is your guilty pleasure? TV and movies that are so bad, they’re good.  What word or phrase do you use far too often? Amazing.  What natural talent have you neglected? My ability to fix and assemble almost anything in a house.  Yes, I have a toolbox, though I stop at electricity.  What occupation, other than your own, do you most admire? Air traffic controllers as well as nonprofit leaders with boots on the ground, helping the communities they serve.

What three emojis best describe you? 🥰📚🍷.

What is your favorite place (or way) to spend money? On new experiences, usually outside of the U.S.  What is at the top of your bucket list? Abu Dhabi, to watch the final Formula 1 race this season.   How do you relieve stress? Simply walking outside.  What is your go-to workout? Yoga.  What ingredient is essential to your perfect vacation? Zen vibes.

What was your first paying job? Scooping ice cream at a local shop.  What was your favorite college course? Mathematical Economics.  What was your favorite childhood toy or game? Dr. Mario, by Nintendo.  What book have you repeatedly read? The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, by Michael Watkins.  What movie have you repeatedly watched? The Wizard of Oz.  What’s prominently featured on your home or office wall? A pop art version of Thums Up bottles (if you know, you know).  Besides your parents, who has had the greatest influence on your life? My grandfather.  What’s the best advice you received growing up? A dream can become your reality.  What’s the best advice you received in your career? Start saying no.  What modern technology innovation do you most appreciate? Cloud based services and platforms.  What is your favorite app? Rocket Money.  What is your go-to source of news and information? Google News.  What is your go-to source of creative inspiration? Modern art museums.  What company or organization do you most admire? Patagonia.  What world event has had the greatest influence on your life? The 2008 financial crisis.  What personal circumstance has had the greatest influence on your life? Losing a parent at a young age.

What is your big idea? To create a researchers’ community of varying levels and backgrounds, including academic and applied business.  Often, these groups operate in silos and rarely capture the goodness that each produces.  Bringing them closer together would benefit the profession at-large.  What change are you working on to effect in your profession or field? To get research closer to business impact. What change would you like to see in the world? More kindness, less divisiveness.  What message do you want to send out into the world? Unapologetically be you.  What widely held belief do you reject? The idea of hustle culture.  It shouldn’t be necessary to work tons of hours and head toward burnout in order to progress in one’s career.  Workers who are happy, healthy, balanced individuals can change the world.  What mega-trend most excites you? Artificial intelligence.  What mega-trend most concerns you? Addictive short-form videos with unlimited scrolling.

What title would you choose for the movie about your life? It’s the Simple Things.  What actor would you choose to play you in the movie about your life? Natalie Portman.  Who would you like to spend an evening with, in heaven? Susan B. Anthony.  As a kid, what did you first want to be when you grew up? A fashion designer.  After your loved ones, what object would you first save from your burning home? Family pictures.  How would you choose to spend tomorrow, if you knew it was your last day on earth? With my family, in a sunny, small Italian village, eating good food and reflecting on fun moments we’ve shared over the years.  What advice would you give your younger self? You’re greater than any one moment you experience.  What day in your life would you choose to re-live? The day my daughter was born.  What period in your life would you do differently, if you could? My early twenties.

Personal mission: To leave this place better than I found it.  Personal motto: Carpe Diem.  Favorite quote: “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Keep knocking down walls until someone says ‘yes’” (Chelsea Handler). Desired epitaph: Pertransit benefaciendo.


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