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By Sasha Mills
ippa Lamb is an angel investor and partner at Sweet Capital, in 2021 she was named one of the top 12 most powerful female VCs in UK Tech. Having previously worked in private equity and in the Foreign Office, Pippa is passionate about creating more diversity in venture capital and tech.
We spoke to Pippa about her morning routine, how she fits in time to unwind with a hectic schedule, and going outside the industry to find guidance.
Want to get advice from Pippa about fundraising, pitching, or your business model? Stack World members can get exclusive opportunities to pose their questions to Pippa or just listen to her expertise at our Ask an Investor event on Thursday the 5th of August.
“I find it’s less about bookending each day to unwind and more about carving out periods of time where I can reflect or totally take my mind off work.”
I’m not naturally an early bird, but I’ve often had to get up early.
People who know me well will laugh at this because traditionally I am a terrible morning person. Despite that, I’ve spent a lot of my life having to do very structured things at very early times in the morning (I spent a lot of my 20s having to get to the office at 7am before the financial markets opened, and had a phase where I worked out religiously in a park every morning at 6am...).
My mornings are much less structured now and vary enormously on my schedule for the week. I’m often up late on calls with the West Coast of the US, so flexibility is key.
I spend a little bit of time on wellness each morning rather than cramming it in.
As soon as I wake up I do a short series of yoga stretches, some breathing exercises and a short meditation. The key is to keep it really short and manageable - literally 5 to 10 minutes, but every day - something I learnt from listening to a talk by Dr Rangan Chatterjee at the start of lockdown. He stressed that short, regular wellness practices are better than building a deficit and trying to cram it all in at the weekend - a bit like brushing your teeth. After that, I’ll make myself some warm water with lemon and catch some of The Today Programme.
I sleep with my phone on airplane mode (a tip from my friend Serena Guen that I’ve used for years) and avoid switching it back online until all that’s done and I’m ready to be distracted by everything that pops up. Setting boundaries around technology is a gamechanger: you have to wrestle back control of your own time.
I recently bought a copper tongue scraper from Deja Life and it’s transformed my entire morning routine. You use it to remove the build up of bacteria and toxins that accumulate overnight. It’s an age-old ayurvedic ritual and I’m addicted.
The line between work and life is blurred, but I’m passionate about what I do.
For me, working in venture capital has created a huge blur between my work and personal life. That’s not to say that I don’t need proper time off, nor to carve out time when I’m actively trying not to think about anything to do with technology or investing. However I genuinely enjoy what I do and so many of the people I work with have become close friends - be it fellow investors or entrepreneurs.
Growing up, my aim was always to try and build a career that I was so passionate about that it didn’t feel like work, which remains my goal today. Although I do get pretty tired! I’m trying to get better at resting.
I reset when I hit the afternoon slump.
I love to get out of wherever I’m working and go to grab a coffee or a tea and have a walk around. I try to take my mind off things and reset. I do Zoom workouts during my lunch breaks on Mondays and Wednesdays.
I work with the team but also solo.
Venture capital requires you to do both. At the earliest stages of sourcing or diligencing a new investment it’s common for you to work solo as you develop your thesis, or with one other team member. Once a deal goes to the Investment Committee (where a decision is made at a fund level) more of the team become involved, and subsequently at the portfolio management stage when we all actively help entrepreneurs, divide up board seats, or run product workshops, etc.
Whilst teamwork is essential, I generally find people working in VC need to be comfortable working solo and being self-starters: I’ve gone to countless industry events or conferences alone, though you’re expected to meet new people all the time. In terms of URL vs IRL: even before the pandemic our team was almost entirely remote, and now we almost all live in different countries.
I like moving outside of the industry for advice and guidance.
I have a small group of peers and confidantes who I ask for guidance and support, both within the industry and outside of it. I love getting perspectives from people who are entirely disconnected from the world of tech and VC since I find most things can be distilled down to first level principles. It is even easier to do that when you’re far away from the tree and outside of the forest.
I’m not in a traditional office set-up.
At the moment I’m working from everywhere and anywhere, as long as there’s decent wifi! Typically I do like to have a go-to work station, but the pandemic tore all of that up.
Supporting diverse founders comes naturally to me.
Being a minority myself (only 13% of VC partners in the UK are female and even fewer are mixed race) it’s just something that I’m acutely aware of, all of the time. I’ve personally never found it hard to support a diverse range of founders and continue to be perplexed by those that do.
On a practical basis, I always speak up if I find myself in a situation where I feel there’s something that needs to be said, or an awkward question that needs to be asked.
I like to carve out time to totally disconnect.
Given how unpredictable my schedule is I find it’s less about bookending each day to unwind and more about carving out periods of time where I can reflect or totally take my mind off work, like going for a walk, listening to a podcast or taking an exercise class.
If I don’t have evening meetings I do enjoy cooking and find that a great way to disconnect. I’m obsessed with traditional Chinese reflexology but rarely find the time to book regular sessions.
I tend to work late rather than winding down.
I’m guilty of often staying up very late and staring at my screen(s)! I’m working on designing myself a better wind-down routine and getting to bed earlier - it’s just tough on the days you’re working US hours or get wired on a deal that’s time sensitive. I’ve historically been bad at prioritising sleep! And yes I have read that book, and no, it didn’t help. I love the rare early nights I do get - so I am working on it.
When I need to reset, I like to immerse myself in culture.
Go for a long walk, visit a gallery, or exercise. Earlier this year I discovered history podcasts: I find getting that out of my own head and transporting myself to a period so entirely different to the one we live in now helps jolt things back into perspective.
PIPPA’S CULTURE PICKS
My favourite restaurant for a special occasion is Evelyn's Table - a tiny spot in Soho with only 10 seats at a counter that overlooks the kitchen. The food is mindblowing and it’s all locally sourced. The chefs are three half-British half-Filipino brothers: Luke, Nat and Theo Selby - they are magical. The restaurant is usually very booked up but it’s worth the wait.
I’m obsessed with singer songwriter Griff (continuing the half Asian theme: she’s half Chinese and half Jamaican!). She’s insanely talented and her career is just getting started.
I’m biased, but my little sister Nicola Lamb is a mesmerising pastry chef who gained a cult following during lockdown and now writes an incredible weekly newsletter called Kitchen Projects, which includes new recipes to try each Sunday. Reading it has become part of my weekend ritual. Even if you don’t bake it’s worth it for the pictures alone.
Lastly, if you haven’t already discovered Have You Heard George’s Podcast by the Peabody Award Winning George the Poet and Ben Brick, I implore you to check it out immediately. It’s art for the ears, mind and soul. His recent episode “Episode 20 - Young”, which traces the life of Jay-Z, left me with chills; I’ve listened to it three times.
Pippa Lamb takes us through how she makes time for wellness practices around a demanding schedule.
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