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Humans of Lob: Stephanie Haarhaus
Lob Culture
June 27, 2023

Humans of Lob: Stephanie Haarhaus

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Dolly Slinker

Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. We sat down with Stephanie Haarhaus, our Senior Customer Success Manager.

Let's start with your childhood. Tell us a little bit about your upbringing and your family.

I grew up in Riverside, California, the oldest of three kids (I have two younger brothers). Both of my parents are originally from Mexico. As a kid, my main focus was keeping up with my energetic siblings. Sports were a big part of my life, and I dabbled in everything from basketball and soccer to swimming and water polo. I think that helped cement my competitive streak early on.

I called Riverside home until I left for college at UC Santa Cruz. The first time I set foot on that campus, I was completely blown away by how beautiful it was. In college, I did a double major in history, with a focus on the Holocaust and the political complexities behind genocide. I also majored in Latin American & Latino studies, focusing on human rights abuses in El Salvador and Guatemala.

I took a gap year to study abroad in Spain. My time there allowed me to explore different parts of Europe, which opened my eyes to an array of new experiences. During my time in Spain, I was drawn to visit the places deeply intertwined with what I was studying, particularly World War II and the Holocaust. During our spring break, I took it upon myself to plan a self-guided tour that took me to Poland, Germany, and the Netherlands, where I immersed myself in the poignant historical sites related to those tumultuous times. These trips had a major impact on me.

Tell us a little bit about your career story.

I would describe myself as someone who is driven by both career growth and meaningful connections; in other words, a career driven by connection. My career path has been far from linear, which is quite the opposite of my own personality.

One of the experiences that stands out to me is my first job out of college. I worked at a company where about 95% of the leadership positions were held by women. The CEO always encouraged female leaders to voice their opinions and to make their presence felt. This environment taught me valuable lessons, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by passionate individuals who were truly dedicated to their work. It was an inspiring experience, particularly because it was in the nonprofit sector and I had the opportunity to help farmers.

After spending around six years in that space, a friend approached me about a customer success role. I realized that I wanted to expand my skill set in account management, and that opportunity allowed me to pivot into the tech industry. I have worked at a few startups since then and have naturally grown and developed within the field.

I was consistently impressed by the people I interacted with during the Lob interview process, and despite my limited knowledge about APIs or direct mail, those individuals and their genuine passion drew me to the company. Joining Lob has proven to be a fantastic decision, and I’m grateful for the connections I have made here.

What does downtime and self-care look like to you?

I would say the main two ways I unwind are immersing myself in nature and indulging in the art of baking.

I love being on the water, amongst the trees, or camping. Finding those little pockets where I'm able to connect feeds me and I feel so re-energized afterward. I credit my time in Santa Cruz after college for helping me learn that about myself. Sometimes it can be hard to do that in LA but I’ve been able to find moments of incorporating nature into my life down here.

My husband and I are fortunate in that we have a sailboat. The first time I ever sailed, I was instantly hooked and thought, “I need to find a way to keep doing this.” Being on the water and feeling the connection to the wind really allows you to attune yourself to where the wind is blowing and to trim your sails accordingly.

Camping is another way I love to experience self-care. We try to make an annual trip to the Yuba river and spend time swimming and relaxing. If you can’t tell, water is a very big part of my life, and it’s a very central part of how I unwind.

I also care for myself through my love of baking. When I was young, I would go into the kitchen during summer breaks and look at ingredients and flavors and wonder what I could make with them. I love visualizing and thinking about flavors and textures and the profiles of food so much. I always say I’m gluten-free by force not by choice, and that has made me lean into developing a lot of gluten-free baked goods. I’ve developed my own flour blends to account for moisture levels depending on the baked goods that I’ll be making.

I have virtual baking dates with a good friend. They started during the pandemic and have continued to be a routine for both of us. I love the creativity that I get to express when we bake together. We’ll choose a standard recipe, but she’ll adapt it with different types of wheat flours and I’ll adapt it to be gluten-free. We then talk about the texture and the crumb, along with what we learned worked and didn’t work. I always feel so full of passion and energy every time I try something new with baking. If it's exceptional I file it away in my ever-growing recipe box.

Is there something about yourself you think somebody new would be surprised to learn about you?

I would have to say it’s when people learn that I am Mexican and speak fluent Spanish. In general, when people see my name on paper or meet me in person, they don’t think that I’m first generation or that I learned English in school. I moved to LA two years ago and love that living here allows me the ability to be able to speak Spanish much more often.

My parents are both from Mexico and met here in the US. My mom is originally from Monterrey, MX, and my dad is from Durango, MX. It’s funny because whenever I meet people they typically ask which parent is Mexican, and I always get a surprise when I respond with both. I grew up in a pretty Latino-centric community, which in a lot of ways I took for granted.

When I went to college, I signed up for a “Spanish for Spanish Speakers” class that was for people who had grown up speaking Spanish at home but had never studied it formally. I remember the professor pulled me aside on day one, asked me if I should really be in that class, and didn’t believe me when I said I hadn’t taken any Spanish classes before. It made me reflect on the importance of embracing my cultural heritage and the unique experience of growing up as a first-generation individual in the United States, with a rich cultural background. I genuinely love and value my culture, and it has shaped my identity in profound ways.

What is your favorite time of the year or season? And why?

Although my allergies might beg to differ, springtime is my favorite. I absolutely love coming out of the hibernation mode of winter (of course I say this having lived in California my whole life) and seeing everything in full bloom. The energy is also amazing during this time. Springtime is when parties and events start to get back into full swing. I love to host and for the last 10 years or so, I’ve held my annual blind wine-tasting party during the spring. I’ve even developed a rating scale over the years to help people who are learning to taste wine describe what they like and don't like, and why. Wine is such a passion of mine, so a tasting party is a great way to break out of winter hibernation while sharing my love of wine with others! It’s great to enjoy wine in a low-stress environment and enjoy the new sunny weather.

If you had to make your own time capsule, what would be in it?

There would definitely be a few of my favorite recipes I’ve developed over the years. I’d probably include my wine notebook with my ongoing list of all my favorite wines. A lot of pictures of my adorable Frenchton, Nutmeg. I can’t get enough pictures of him. Maybe I’d also include a phone with all my photos that I’ve taken over the years, as well as my penny collection that I started in high school. I love to collect a penny from each year and think about all the events that occurred in the time when that penny was in production.

What is a lesson you're learning or a mindset you're practicing?

I would say trust in the timing and be present.

I am someone that is very driven by structure and organization as well as having a clearly defined path. Life of course has a way of presenting unexpected twists and turns, and I’ve learned that it’s important to be open to new possibilities and willing to adapt course when necessary (very much like in sailing). It’s taken several years to learn to trust in the timing and be patient. It will all work out maybe not the way you intended but it does. Embracing a balance between structure and flexibility has allowed me to navigate challenges with resilience and discover unanticipated opportunities along the way. There’s been a lot of joy in finding my own unique journey for both my personal and professional life.

I’ve found that cherishing the connections I’ve made and truly experiencing all that life has to offer. I’ve seen the benefit of it as I’ve gotten older. During the new year I don’t like to make resolutions but rather pick a word for the year. My word this year has been ‘present’ and it’s been a nice reminder that it is important to do that in day-to-day life.

Humans of Lob: Stephanie Haarhaus image 2
Stephanie, her husband, and their dog, Nutmeg, enjoying sailing together

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