Luciana Lixandru: The Secret to Success Isn’t on a Spreadsheet

May 27 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Compensation is Self-care

A stay-at-home-mom friend of mine shared that her neighbor asked if she’d watch her child for her for half an hour every morning. My response surprised her: “She’s paying you, right?” You see, we don’t really talk about money much. (Who does?) But we, as women, often give an inch away for free, and end up getting a mile stolen from us.

My friend responded gratefully, admitting that this kind of thing happens to her often; she wants to be helpful but then gets taken advantage of. Here’s the thing: Time is precious. Time is the one resource that you can’t buy more of. So, as I told my friend, your time is valuable. Asking to be compensated isn’t tacky, it’s respectful. It’s self-care in practice.


My dream is to have mailbox money. You know, the kind of money that just comes in without much of a care in the world on my part. It’s something I learned from a little educational program called Southern Charm. Right now, my mailbox has only seen junk mail. It’s tough to learn how to be smart about money when you don’t have much of it. Give me a million and I’ll make some smart choices. No wonder, then, that women - who make less than men - only invest 5.4 percent of their income, while men invest 6.6 percent of their income.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Luciana Lixandru, Partner at Accel

Luciana Lixandru hails from Romania, but now calls the United Kingdom home. She was recently named partner at Accel, a biz that helps founders achieve their dreams through investments. Luciana focuses on the software and consumer side of things.

Investments can be an arduous process, both for the founder and the investor. Luciana says that among the fine details, one thing stands out: Do customers love the product? While we’re inundated with more products and services than ever, we typically stick with something we love. Loyalty equals success in Luciana’s book.

Luciana has helped startups achieve success and she, herself, has seen success throughout the years. Before Accel, she worked for Morgan Stanley and Summit Partners.

If you’re failing to grow or scale your company, look at the details that might go unnoticed. The details are not in your spreadsheets; they’re in your DMs: What are customers or clients saying? Are they saying anything at all? According to Luciana, customer indifference can be the death of a company.

One of Luciana’s recent investments was for a virtual canvas that helps organize a company’s or team’s workflow. She says she liked the product and the founder, but there was one thing that stopped her in her tracks: Users called themselves “fans.”

Another key element to setting up your company for success, Luciana says, is building a board and using it to its fullest. She suggests that instead of relying only on traditional board meetings—you know, those things that happen once a year—you ought to have an ongoing conversation. It’s up to the board to ask the tough questions, and the entrepreneur to make tough decisions.

There is no one or right way of starting or growing a business. The same goes for investing $5 a month in your retirement plan or $5 million in the next big thing. Luciana’s story explains that genuine ideas and products can go places, as long as you pick up a few fans along the way.


Sonia Sotomayor said:

"I do know one thing about me: I don't measure myself by others' expectations or let others define my worth."

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