Liz Shader, Director of Product Management at Compell'd

Meet Liz Shader as she shares her “multi-passionate” approach to life and career.

This NYC-born, dog-loving, knish-making foodie who operated (in a former life) as a credentialed actuary embodies the spirit of living fully. Her multi-passionate approach to life and career has exposed her to a wide array of experiences and the best part about Liz Shader (other than her infectious smile and positive energy) is how much she loves connecting with others over recommendations and shared experiences. Get to know a bit more about Liz…

You’re an actual NYC kid. What was growing up in NYC like and how did it shape you?

I’ve thought about this a lot... I think the easiest way to describe it is that at the time, it felt normal! 

At 14, I had already been eating at restaurants with my friends without grownups for years, taking subways alone, had performed with my middle school band at Carnegie Hall (!) - the list goes on and on, but in the moment, I simply took all of this for granted. To give you a beautiful example of a little slice of the city, I took Irish step dancing lessons at the Hungarian church on my block after school, and my dad used to say, “A Jewish girl, taking Irish step dancing, at a Hungarian church. Only in New York!” I think that sums it up quite nicely.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized how extraordinary it was to call NYC home. I got to do a bit of traveling after college, and fully expected to find a city that I loved as much as, or more than, New York--but I realized that what I was seeking was actually New York all along. New York takes some of the best parts of the rest of the world and crams them into one magnificent little package. When you have that much at your fingertips, when you’re able to do so much and see so much and meet so many different people etc etc: you’re enveloped by inspiration and you have no choice but to dream big. Everywhere you look, there are people bringing incredible innovation and creativity and ingenuity to what they do. The ceiling is so high in NYC, and you want to challenge yourself to reach as high as you can, too.

"Growing up in NYC, you’re enveloped by inspiration and you have no choice but to dream big. Everywhere you look, there are people bringing incredible innovation and creativity and ingenuity to what they do."

How does a math major from the University of Michigan become an actuary and then pivot to become the Director of Product Management at Compell’d?

I’m definitely what you would call a “multi-passionate” person and it’s taken me my entire life (and counting) to figure out what that means for myself and for my career. I think it was important for me to learn that it’s okay to change your mind. When you choose a major, you’re what, like 17 or 18? How are you supposed to know what to choose?! (For the record, I would choose math again and again :). I think you have to do the best you can with what you’ve got. Recognizing that you’re drawn to something for a reason is important, but it’s equally as important to recognize when a prior decision is no longer serving you, and when to figure out what’s next.

"I think it was important for me to learn that it’s okay to change your mind."

You’re a serious foodie and started your own knish business in Atlanta. What? How? Details!!

Right around the time I realized that I needed to make a change in my actuarial career, I got an intense, visceral craving for knishes. I grew up eating these unbelievably delicious, SQUARE knishes (the square is VERY important) with spicy deli mustard at a little shop a few blocks from my apartment with my dad. It had been probably 15 years since I had eaten one and out of nowhere I was like I NEED ONE RIGHT NOW. 

I was living in Atlanta at the time and had an absolute beast of a commute, so I would tear through podcasts. I had just listened to these two podcast episodes that changed my life, which I credit in giving me some of the spark to start Oy Veg Kitchen. I became fanatical about recipe testing--I tried every knish recipe I could get my hands on and made countless variations--until I had two varieties I loved. The local food community in Atlanta is incredible, and once I took the first step, they were so supportive and welcoming of my brain child (my first farmers market accepted me when I had just a few samples to taste and a logo). It was tough, it was gritty, but it was so amazing to make something out of nothing and bring it to the beautiful people of Atlanta. It definitely helped me get ready for my next pivot to joining Team Compell’d.

Your love for dogs is famous across our team and your “Pet Friendly” lists are enjoyed by many. Tell us more about being a dog whisperer…

Oh my, yes, I am absolutely obsessed with dogs (all animals, really, but come on, dogs are the best)! I have two rescue pups whom I couldn’t possibly love any more, and am extremely passionate about the #adoptdontshop mission. In my dreams, I would literally save every dog who needs a home. It’s all I want!!!

Getting to explore a city or do fun things with your dog is such a blast, and I love chronicling my favorites in my Dog Friendly list. Even though we can’t explore much right now during quarantine, walking the dogs is such a welcome break from all of the screentime and indoor time we have the other 23 hours a day. My mom says it’s her sanity right now. Being with a dog forces you to live in the present moment - they don’t know any other way. It’s a beautiful, constant reminder of how to live.

I’m pretty sure you’re in the Top 3 for highest number of Compell’d lists.  What are some things on your “Want to try next” list?  

Ha! I do have so many lists. Hmm… I would have to say smitten kitchen’s baklava babka has been on my “Want to Try” list forever. This would be a great quarantine project. 

I’ve also been slowly “researching” all of the black and white cookies in NYC to find my favorite (tracking them here, of course) because a few years ago, someone asked me what my favorite black and white cookie was in NYC and I was shocked at myself that I didn’t already have an answer! Naturally, I’m itching to continue my very scientific research on that :) Lastly, I've been rewatching Master of None and noting all of the amazing spots he goes to in the show - I’d love to try some of these once NYC is back after all of this craziness <3 

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Liz!  We find inspiration in all of your amazing lists, especially your Dog Friendly list!

April 6, 2020

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