Wisdom from Women Entrepreneurs–Anne Wager

Meet Anne Wager. First, her biography:

“Anne founded Benchmark Associates, LLC in 1984. Prior to counseling college applicants, her firm implemented mapping and demographic solutions for businesses. She worked for engineering consulting firms in Boston and San Francisco before opening her business in Seattle.

Anne received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Stanford University. She’s a professional member of theIndependent Educational Consultants Association (IECA)and a member of theNational Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), theHigher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and thePacific Northwest Association for College Admissions Counseling (PNACAC). Anne has been a member of Achievement Rewards for College Scientists for over 25 years and served on the visiting committee of the University of Washington Geography Department. She has visited more than 225 colleges worldwide over the last thirteen years and regularly hosts college representatives at her office in Seattle.

She developed College Choice 101, a set of cards used by hundreds of counselors to help students explore various aspects of colleges and focus on a student’s deeper preferences to find the right college fit. She has also developed online maps of colleges using ESRI software and Google mapping applications that help students sort potential schools by critical criteria.”

What Anne’s bio doesn’t say:
There’s so much more to Anne than her biography. She graduated with two degrees in Anthropology from Stanford. In addition to doing research at Jane Goodall’s Outdoor Primate Facility, Gombe West, Anne also studied land surveying and programming while at Stanford. She spent her early career in engineering firms on teams that managed coal-fired projects and managed hydro-electric projects.

Anne is a serial entrepreneur. She founded a land surveying company. Then she discovered a passion, and for the past 13 years, her business has provided counseling services.

I met Anne late last year when she reached out to me about representing her latest start-up, Corsava. At first glance, Anne seems like a mild mannered Seattleite, small-statured, with a quick smile. You’ll realize, however, within minutes of meeting her, that she is a force of nature. Anne is a lifelong runner. Her thinking is quick and logical. Like all the other successful women I have come to admire, she is down to earth, kind to others, and knows when to listen and when to instruct. In short, she’s a leader.

I asked Anne about her days studying STEM subjects when girls just didn’t do that. We shared stories about being one of a few—or even the only—women in our STEM courses. Anne shared with me the story of her calculus professor asking her out on a date. (Ugh.)

I asked about her role models—who encouraged her to compete with men? Anne grew up in Silicon Valley. Her mentor was her father, a Ph.D. physicist for a well-known technology company. She spent time hanging out on Saturdays with her father at the electronics hub, Zack Electronics in Palo Alto and around tech. “I never knew I couldn’t compete with the boys.”

Now, Anne is a college counselor who has advised more than 1500 students on how to choose the best-fit university or college. Which brings us to her latest venture Corsava. Corsava is an App that will allow high school students, parents, and counselors learn and communicate about universities and colleges in an entirely new way.

Kernels of wisdom I gleaned from Anne:

Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone.

One piece of advice that Anne gives her students is “to do something outside of your comfort zone”. “Learn how to be uncomfortable.” “Success doesn’t happen when you’re comfortable.”

Study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. (STEM)

“People put scientists in a box thinking they can’t communicate. However, it’s really the other way around.” By this, she meant that those who study STEM generally have the skills to communicate with the world around them in a language that other scientists and laypersons understand. Those who don’t study STEM often don’t have the language skills or the knowledge to discuss STEM. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, you should be able to speak both languages.”


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