Humans of Lob is a project dedicated to getting to know our Lobsters on an individual level. We sat down with our Stephen Vais, a Strategic Account Executive at Lob.
Tell me about yourself and your background.
I'm local to the Bay Area, I was born and raised over in Alameda. Northern California has always been home. I had a stint up in Seattle for high school but came back down to attend the University of San Francisco. That's where I met my wife. I was a hospitality major and I thought I was going to work in restaurants. I had an incredible time serving and bartending throughout college, I then spent a year in Australia working in restaurants.
My wife and I had a year off of work traveling through Southeast Asia and South America, but quickly came back here, and this is where we're putting down roots. That’s when I got my first job in the tech world which got me into sales. Obviously very different from the hospitality industry, that’s something I’m certainly still very passionate about. I started at Lob in January of 2017, which is the longest I’ve stayed at a company. I feel like I grew up at Lob. I got married in my first year, and since then we’ve had two kids and moved into a house. It’s been a wild ride!
What do you do here at Lob?
When I joined, I was an Enterprise Account Executive, and then about two years ago I was promoted and be Lob’s first Strategic Account Executive. I've been lucky enough to co-sell the Verizon deal with Leore and Ryan. I was the main point of contact for Capital One in that relationship, there’s also Wayfair and Share Local Media, some of our other customers I've been able to work with. My largest deal coming to Lob when I joined was maybe 100,000. Now I’ve been able to reach some seven-figure opportunities, it's another level. It's opened a lot of doors and it's progressed my sales career immensely!
You have your own late-night talk show, who would you invite your first guest? And what are you going to ask them?
David Chang, he's a chef of the Momofuku group. He has a young son and he makes a lot of jokes, he's a pretty funny guy. He always jokes about how his kid just wants to eat mac and cheese all day, and this is one of the most well-known chefs in the world! That's what I struggle with every day, I do all the cooking in the house. I love cooking. It's my outlet at the end of the night to reset my mind. There's nothing more frustrating than making homemade gnocchi for a two year old and having him throw it on the ground demanding box mac and cheese.
What's your go-to meal right now?
Since it’s summer I like to use my smoker. When I have some time I smoke meat. Work from home allowed for much more smoking of meats, for better or for worse. But I really am based on my cravings for whatever it is I want this week.
What is your favorite item you've bought this year?
I got a new golf driver. I got properly fit, and spent more on it than my wife would have liked me too, but I played really well this last weekend. Right now we’re on really good terms, so that's the top of the list, I can have a really bad round of golf with it and then I'd have to think of something else! But for now, we’re on good terms.
What project are you most proud of working on at Lob?
For sales it is usually the opportunities with customer that you've worked with. I have to point to Capital One. I learned a lot working with Ryan Ferrier and Leore on Verizon, but with Capitol One I felt like I took ownership of that opportunity and partnership. If you'd asked me if I'd be running those types of deals when I started at Lob, I'd say that's great, but I don't think so. Now to see that come to fruition has been amazing. This was really the start of the Strategic motion here at Lob. Thinking of those early deals and how much has changed to now partnering with Larry, the other Strategic AE here at Lob, it has been really rewarding seeing that aspect of the business grow.
Do you have a favorite tradition?
We do a seafood dinner every Christmas Eve. When I grew up in Seattle we would go to Pike Place Market and get seafood super early in the morning and come back and cook it together. Christmas and holidays were always very focused on food in our family. That's where I got my love of cooking. I'd say that's one I always look forward to more so than Thanksgiving. Last Thanksgiving I deep-fried a Turkey, that might be the new tradition actually. But I've only done it once!
If you could travel anywhere, you know, where would you go right now?
My wife and I are going to Barcelona later this year. My wife’s sister lives in Istanbul so we’ll be visiting her as well. I would love to go back to Southeast Asia. We backpacked through it, so it was a very different experience, so it'd be nice to go back now and stay at some better hotels than the hostel situations we had before. Overall though, I just love the energy and the food of Southeast Asia, whether it was like Bali or Thailand there's just so much to explore there.
What is something you wish you knew earlier on in your career?
I wish somebody would have told me "you don't have to do it all yourself and you don't need to figure it out on your own." I was historically stubborn in that way. I didn’t want to connect with people as resources, I thought I could do it on my own, like I needed to prove myself. I think I had that mentality through my first couple of positions. Then I think I matured as a sales professional and realized I didn't need to reinvent the wheel. I could utilize the resources that are at my disposal. There's going to be people smarter than you, make sure that you utilize their expertise and ask for help when you need it. That has been something that I wish I could go back and tell my 22-year-old self. Now I always try to make myself available to others, without soliciting advice that's unwarranted.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
I love my kids, but a golf round without the kids just my me time. Good dinner with me and my wife, get a babysitter. We've just now started getting babysitters after two and a half years of being in the pandemic we're starting to build up people that like we can rely on which is awesome to have a night out without them. Also, something with the kids. We were in the pool last weekend and they're just now getting comfortable in their swim vest floaties. It’s a mix of 50/50 kid time and then the other 50 is date night with my wife, or getting some golf in.
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