We had the good fortune of connecting with Suzanne Borders and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Suzanne, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Everyone is always looking for a shortcut to success; risk is that shortcut. However, risk has to be utilized properly. Risk, in and of, itself doesn’t yield rewards. It has to be used thoughtfully, within a highly-planned framework. This was the biggest lesson I learned in my 20s and early 30s. The evolution of my life has roughly followed this path: – take careless risks with no plan, completely unprepared – take careless risks with a plan, completely unprepared – take somewhat calculated risks, somewhat prepared – take fully calculated risks, completely prepared As a risk junkie, it’s been an eye-opening experience to truly understand how much having a plan and being smart and calculated about the risks I take affects their reward and outcome. It’s not risk alone that yields; it’s risk + planning + preparation, in addition to factors (such as timing) that are outside of our control. I’ve always been the first person to jump at an opportunity and to upend my whole life trying to risk everything in the pursuit of some dream or another. Things really only started to work out and make sense when I began to understand that not all risks are equal. Risk by itself as a factor isn’t worth much of anything. However, the right risk at the right time, with the right people and preparation – it’s magic. Risk is that magic ingredient that can move you 100 steps ahead in a fraction of the time. It is the shortcut to success if used properly. And this knowledge, learned by doing, learned at great expense and great failure, has really made all the difference in my life, in helping me achieve what I’ve always wished to achieve.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am the CEO & founder of BadVR, the world’s first immersive data analytics platform. I previously led product and UX design at 2D analytics companies including Remine, CREXi, and Osurv. I’m a recipient of Magic Leap’s Independent Creator’s Program grant and SBIR Phase I & II grants from the National Science Foundation and NOAA, and I thrive at the intersection of product design, immersive technology and data. In my spare time, I travel for inspiration (having visited 78 countries and counting), and am proud to be a published poet and former punk. What sets me apart from others is my dedication to bringing together both the analytical and creative mindset, delivering a fusion of both technical talent and creativity to all the products I design and deploy. I am most proud and excited about my work with BadVR, as being a entrepreneur has been my life-long dream. My path to this particular place has not been easy, especially given that I am a woman in tech, which is not always an easy space to inhabit. Most challenges I have faced have been overcome by sheer will-power and dedication, along with the professional and personal support from friends and colleagues. Mentorship from key individuals across multiple industries has also greatly shaped my success, both as a founder and a human being. The biggest lesson learned along the way was simply to always be true to myself; that authenticity as a currency will never be devalued. The world does indeed want, and even need, to hear what I have to say, and my biggest successes in life have come when I’ve remained true to my own being, when I stopped second-guessing myself or forcing myself to fit into any life-path other than my own. I want the world to know – of me, my brand, my story – is that I have succeeded because of my originality, not in spite of it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I honestly don’t get out much anymore. COVID has pretty much kept me inside my home or confined to my neighborhood for walks. That being said, I am a fan of the great views from the Hollywood Hills, I enjoy driving up there are night and gazing down over the city, with the lights glistening like diamonds in the inky darkness of night. I enjoy going to Tommy’s for chiliburgers, I enjoy the photobooth at the Short Stop, or hanging out at night by the beach in the South Bay, walking to the end of the Manhattan Beach pier and looking out into the pitch black of the ocean, or gazing up and down the twinkling coastline. I love the wild rocky coastline of Palos Verdes, and the cute, quaint winding streets of Echo Park. Most of all, I love Los Angeles at night, especially on foggy or rainy nights. I enjoy opening my bedroom window before I fall asleep to catch the marine layer as it rolls in. I’m not really a person who enjoys people, or large gatherings of people, so most of my favorite LA activities are solitary; reading books or sitting listening to music while gazing out over the natural beauty of this city. The LA experience is, in my opinion, inherently solitary, at least in comparison to cities such as Chicago or New York. We are a city of automotive commuters; we don’t have shared public transport and most of the homes here do not even have many shared, common walls. Our commutes, our lives, are touched by more solitude than other places, so I think part of the quintessential “LA experience” would involve some of these solitary things – a day spent alone by the ocean, hiking in the canyons, listening to music loudly at 3AM in the Hills, knowing no one could hear you. That is LA to me. The LA that I enjoy, the LA that matters.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to thank my co-founder, Jad Meouchy for being a great CTO and business partner, my family and in particular my mother and father for always believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and the city of Los Angeles for providing such rich and varied entrepreneurial risks and opportunities.