When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Erica Anderson: I drink a tall glass of water – it amazes me how much I need it
TG: What gives you energy?
EA: Exercise (I love Bikram yoga, SoulCycle, Rumble), good people and work that excites me. They all give me the energy I need. It’s helpful to have all three!
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
EA: I can’t tell you! If I do it’s no longer secret. 🙂
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
EA: There have been lots of books that have changed the way I think or given me a new perspective. The Secret History by Donna Tart made me fall in love with fiction again. This Day in June, a children’s book by Gayle Pitman, inspired me to know kids today will read positive books about LGBTQ culture.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
EA: It is next to my bed, but after meeting Arianna I know I need to change that! Maybe tonight…
TG: How do you deal with email?
EA: I answer email in bulks, twice a day. Periodically on my mobile phone when I’m commuting. For anything that is important and requires a back and forth, I jump on the phone. I let go of all the rest –– it’s an avalanche in there.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
EA: Go outside for a breath of fresh air and drink a tall glass of water.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
EA: When I was coming up on four years at Twitter. I loved my teammates and the company, but I was exhausted and had given all I could give. I ended up taking time off, before I started at Google. It was the best decision I could have made. Totally restored me.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
EA: Every day there are small wins and small failures. I try to keep them in perspective, to be gentle on myself and keep moving ahead. If it’s something big, I call up a mentor and ask for feedback.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace
EA: “ To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that’s political, in its most profound way.” June Jordan, American hero / poet
Erica Anderson is an entrepreneur at the intersection of journalism and technology. Her career has been based on the pursuit of building new structures for journalism in the digital age. She has sharp instinct, the ability to cross generational and gender divides to bring people together to work on solutions to critical problems.
Erica currently works for the Google News Lab in New York City. An advisor and collaborator, Erica looks for ways Google can tackle big news industry challenges by experimenting at the intersection of technology and storytelling. A few initiatives she led include building a global network of immersive journalists in Journalism 360, training hundreds of editors to fly drones via Poynter’s Drone Journalism Camps and leading conversations on topics including AI in the newsroom and trust in media.
Prior to Google, Erica worked at Twitter Inc., where she began the company’s nascent journalism efforts, hired under Chloe Sladden to support her vision for Twitter and Media. The first news industry hire, Erica created such projects at Twitter for Newsrooms, satellite long codes (so journalists could tweet from war zones) and identified the Dataminr for News initiative.
Prior to Twitter, Erica had the opportunity to work for Katie Couric at CBS Evening News, supporting Katie’s instincts that social “would be big” and providing her with support to lean into the new medium – integrating Twitter on the broadcast, utilizing blogs for interview research and much more.
Erica covered the 2008 Presidential election for MTV News as part of the network’s Choose or Lose Street Team ‘08. She has a B.A. from Indiana University’s School of Journalism. She is an advisor to Lesbians who Tech.