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Magda Marcu, Co-Founder of Sailo, on Her Love for Books & Women in Business

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Magda Marcu is the co-founder and COO of Sailo, the boat rental marketplace that uses technology to make renting boats really easy.

Launched in 2014, Sailo is considered to be the Airbnb for boats. The company connects boat owners, skippers and renters on one platform that’s easy to use and accessible, no matter how experienced you are with the domain. Sailo lets you view, compare and book yachts and licensed captains in minutes, and also get a trip insurance, without having to spend a great deal of time, money or effort.

Magda has a background in the technology space, with a focus on operations, processes, project management and budgets. She has worked with companies of all sizes – from startups to Fortune 100 corporations. Her experience spans across various industries, such as internet, retail, software, semiconductors, hospitality, and digital brand management.

She holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, California, and a Law Degree taken in Romania (her home country).

Magda’s also resonates with TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading – she discovered the talks a few years ago and, since then, translated over 100 in Romanian.

Find out more about the books that had an impact on her, what she learned from them, but also the ones she’d recommend to young people interesting in becoming entrepreneurs.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 7 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

I am an avid reader, and there are many books that I found useful at various stages in my career. I especially recommend several books that I read during and after business school that helped me build up my business fundamentals:

Communicating in the business world: “Talking from 5 to 9: Women and Men at Work
Leadership: anything by John C Maxwell or John P Kotter
Marketing: “Positioning: The battle for your mind

For non-business books, I really enjoyed the book about Vincent Van Gogh’s life “Lust for life”. I also have a soft spot for Jose Saramago, specifically “All the names” and “Death with Interruptions”.

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Absolutely. I used to listen to the audio book “Talking from 5 to 9: Women and Men at Work” while driving to work in the morning. The book is about the differences between how women and men communicate at work, such as the words they use, tone of voice, structure of phrase and the impact it has in the way we are perceived differently in a work environment. Some of these differences are quite obvious, others are more subtle. I’ve applied learnings from this book in all my meetings, by adapting my vocabulary, using a more decisive tone, and making sure every woman’s voice and opinion were equally heard as any man’s.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

I can’t say there was one specific book that had a dramatic impact on my path and decisions, but I rather think that overall, reading constantly, the majority of the books I read contributed to my knowledge, formation and who I am today. One of the most eye opening for me was “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” as it offered a different perspective on leadership, and how empathy can make you a more successful leader. Every person has some degree of empathy and through this book you understand how to apply it more intently.

Several years back, I discovered TED talks and there was a time when watching a TED talk was part of my daily schedule. I strongly believe they are ideas worth spreading, so I became a translator and I translated over 100 talks in Romanian. I know there are many people in Romania who watch TED talks and I hope some of them enjoyed some of the talks I translated.
Some of the TED talks that impressed me the most:

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

My career path took many turns over the years, and in the end I think that my core prevailed. As an entrepreneur, one must be a dreamer, a risk-taker, an agent of change and not be afraid of barriers. For young people interested in that, I recommend a few great books recommended to me by the Techstars incubator when my company Sailo went through their program:

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I used to devour books and spent all of my free time reading. I never owned a tv, so all evenings and weekends, if I didn’t go out or had guests, were dedicated to reading. Since I started Sailo three years ago, free time is very scarce. As a reminiscent habit I try to light read a few minutes every evening when I go to bed, just to clear my mind before falling asleep. I am old fashion, I prefer paper books, the way they feel and smell is an integral part of the reading experience for me.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

Taking notes is one of the most useful skills I’ve ever learned. I consider taking notes is the best way to capture the essence of important information I come across everyday. I’ve learned that during business school and I have applied it consistently ever since.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m currently reading “The Kite Runner”. I never have expectations from books, I let them surprise me as I get into the story. Learning about characteristics of different cultures, in this case the Afghan one, it’s one aspect I am interested in.

Links where you can follow Magda Marcu or find out more about her projects:

All books mentioned by Magda Marcu in this interview:

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