It’s worth mentioning the elephant in the room when it comes to life insurance: it’s not a subject too many people get fired up about. That’s why when Madison Cyr (aka Madie) first met the founders of Ethos, she was taken aback by their enthusiasm and was inspired to learn more. “When I first spoke with Peter and Lingke, they placed a lot of emphasis on finding great talent to help them build something that would have a direct impact,” Madie says. “They were also so excited by what is presumed to be a ‘boring’ topic: insurance. Their energy was contagious, and it made me excited to be part of the team.” A few other things that get Madie excited? The spirit of strong women (hi, Michelle Obama), outdoor adventuring, and her legendary pup, Lola the Destroyer. Learn more about this marketing maven in our Q&A below.
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in marketing?
I've always been interested in advertising. I used to say I wanted to make Skittles commercials when I grew up (I know life insurance isn't quite like marketing candy, but I love it). When I was in college, I was a psychology major and my favorite classes were the ones about motivation and memory — what makes someone do something or remember something. After graduation, when I was looking at jobs, it occurred to me that I could use a lot of what I learned about motivation and memory to market products.
What, in your eyes, makes Ethos special and unique?
Ethos doesn’t operate like a traditional insurance provider at all. We have a huge bias for action and leadership really places a lot of emphasis on that which gives each employee the opportunity to be really creative in their role. It also gives them ownership over what they are doing.
You’ve previously said that you’re passionate about "the process of establishing a strong brand presence" — how does it feel to get to live out that passion in your position at Ethos?
I get to live it out every day! When I joined Ethos, the team was so small and the company was young. There was a lot of room for growth and change, and our leadership team was ready and excited for that change. They've instilled a lot of trust in the brand and design team to steer the brand in the right direction. One of the first places I got to make a mark was on our rebrand. Believe it or not, when I joined Ethos we were a millennial focused brand with two very violating brand colors. The way we spoke, our purpose, our personality, and extra value adds hadn't been discovered or put into place yet. I was lucky enough to work with our Head of Design and a few other key team members to get to the crux of what Ethos is and what we provide for our customers. Now, I am a steward of that brand and get to continue building and expanding our presence everyday.
Where are you from originally and what was the biggest lifestyle/day-to-day adjustment you had to make when you moved to San Francisco?
I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I went to college at UCSB in Santa Barbara. I was pretty much living full time in Santa Barbara when I made the move up here in 2013 for my first job. The biggest adjustment was the weather, no joke! I remember driving up on the first day of November in shorts and a tank top and getting out of my car at the friends house where I was staying. I was immediately met with a frigid breeze and a loud laugh. "You're going to need to buy some pants,” she said. Also, communal living was another adjustment — Southern California and Utah are all about space. I hadn't really lived in such close quarters before with neighbors that close, and having them be able to hear everything.
Who is your biggest personal or professional role model and what do you admire about them?
This is super cheesy, I know, but it's my mom for both. She's a CMO herself, and worked really hard to get there. She actually started out as a loan processor and worked her way up. She's really good at focusing on the right details while also thinking of the big picture. It always amazes me to see how many projects, campaigns, and flows she has running, and how she is always so on top of it all. Beyond that, she's proven to be a fantastic manager to her people. I see it all the time. People are constantly going to her for help and advice because she is such a great listener and has so much experience that she is happy to share.
What do you feel is the most unique part of the Ethos work culture that sets it apart from the other places you've worked?
I've never worked at a place that is as collaborative as this before. It's really awesome! Our teams here have a deep respect for each other's past experiences and skill sets and I've seen that lead to amazing cross-functional pods. These pods allow you to work closely with people from other disciplines, e.g. engineering and recruiting, that I would have never had the opportunity to work with or learn from before.
I am beyond thankful for all the people I've met and have gotten to work alongside. They are all so smart, passionate, and good at their jobs, and they encourage me to work harder and be better every day.
How would you describe Ethos in a few words?
Fast paced, collaborative, and amazing ingenuity.
What excites you most about your work?
It’s always different, and there are so many changes.
If you could trade places with anyone else for a day, who would it be and why?
I would want to switch places with Michelle Obama. She has lived such a remarkable life. She is so brilliant, and she has been through so much – both positive and negative. In general, I think she is a really strong role model for any person, especially young girls and women. Also, she is married to Barack Obama, whom I also adore!
What’s the funniest moment you’ve had on the job at Ethos so far?
One of my favorite funny memories was when we celebrated reaching 100 employees. I had just purchased chambongs for Addie for Christmas and they were at her desk. We grabbed them and made Peter, Lingke, and many more team members shoot champagne. It was hilarious!
Let's pretend you've been given a month-long sabbatical (woohoo!). Where would you go and what would you do in those four weeks?
Oh my gosh, dreamy! I think if I were given a full month sabbatical, I would finally do the National Parks road trip, or I guess, the first half of it. My husband, dog and I love taking road trips and camping, and it would be fun to see some national parks outside of Utah and California!
Anything else about yourself you'd love to share that really illustrates your personality?
I think everyone should know and love Lola, my dog. She is the biggest sweetheart and when we were in the office, she loved to come in and hang out with my coworkers. She is especially fond of checking everyone's desk trash cans right after lunch. ;)