The 28-year-old founder and CEO of financial-aid platform Frank doesn’t believe in work-life balance and being patient. Here are 3 leadership tactics she lives by.

Charlie Javice

Charlie Javice, 28, is the founder and CEO of Frank, a financial-wellness platform dedicated to helping students find a smarter way to pay for college. 

Launched in 2017, the company has raised $20 million from investors like Chegg and Marc Rowan, cofounder and CEO of Apollo Global Management. It now serves more than 5 million households, Javice told Insider, and expects that number to reach eight to 10 million by year end, having added over 1.5 million households in the past year alone.

Javice divides her time between Miami and New York and starts her day with a run on the boardwalk and pilates class and often ends with sunset yoga and a swim.

"While I do my best to include some kind of exercise every day, as the founder of a venture-backed company, I’ve found it’s important to maintain a flexible mindset so that sometimes the workout — important as it is — has to be put off until the next day in order to meet a pressing deadline or meeting," Javice said.

Mid-afternoon, she’ll often take a screen break to "go out into the wild" to ask random people about their student loans — could be a barista, a retail cashier, or someone she sits next to on the boardwalk — remembering they’re the "raison d’etre" of her business.

"I was once in an Uber to the airport while interviewing a potential Frank employee on the phone," Javice said. "The driver overheard some of my conversation about student loans and started to cry. When I finished, I asked him what was wrong and he explained that he had to drop out of community college because he was buried in payday loans to pay for it."

The driver told Javice that his advisor said his ride-share income wouldn’t qualify him for aid. "After we stopped the car, we went online together and within 10 minutes we were able to get him financial aid. You never know what conversations can change someone’s life — so it’s important to always be an active listener."

As the founder goes about her work week, she’s guided by the following three leadership tactics:

Focus on prioritizing not balance

"There is no such thing as work-life balance," Javice said. "I would never hire anyone who asks me that about our company."

"Balance suggests that there is a precise formula — which there isn’t," she added. "Instead, I look to maximize my time and be clear on prioritization."

To do this successfully, she suggested scheduling an "hour of yourself" a day.

"Commit to a meeting with yourself," she said. "But be flexible because your work takes priority at the end of the day. Sometimes you need to reschedule with yourself."

Meet your customers

Javice stressed the importance of meeting her customers where they are.

"Sometimes if you wait for data, it gives you the picture too late," she said. "Take every opportunity to interview, call, and chat about problems related to your product."

Javice recalled chatting with a former intern whose school hadn’t paid out COVID-19 funds to her or her friends three months into the pandemic, but had still taken her room and dorm fees for the semester.

"If we counted on industry data that at the time suggested 96% of COVID-19 funds had been disbursed and waited for audit data to emerge, it would’ve been too late for maximum impact," she said. "Instead, we took matters into our own hands."

Be a little impatient

One of Javice’s biggest tips is to be aggressive and keep pushing.

"Take for example a sales cycle — don’t stick to the cadence and wait 18 to 36 months," she said. "Don’t wait for the time to move up the ranks in the traditional sense. If you see an opportunity, don’t be afraid to jump. If you see a great applicant and you need to push them through, make the decision to push them through quickly."

She believes this principle was crucial to her entrepreneurial success.

"I built a business and raised funds out of college, turning down a finance job, even though I was told I would fail because I didn’t have business experience," she said. "My impatience to achieve my goals helped me see past that ‘conventional wisdom’ to take a risk that landed me where I am today."

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Robin Madell July 8, 2021 at 04:36PM

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