I am convinced that meeting Annemarie was no accident. I was browsing around Zaarly when I came across her company The 8Count and I was instantly fascinated and inspired and reached out to her via email to say congratulations.
A week later, I’m sitting at Starbucks and as I glance at the laptop screen of the woman sitting next to me, I see that it is Annemarie working on her website. Feeling like a stalker, I said, “Are you Annemarie that owns The 8Count??” Sure enough it was her and lucky for me, our serendipitous friendship began.
Here is her story:
What do you do for work?
I have a company called The 8Count and I work with self-described “non-dancers” to help them feel more confident dancing in social settings. I’ve had a blast developing a curriculum of fun survival moves that translate to forums like bars, weddings, and company parties. My goal is to help clients feel more comfortable in their own skin and more confident navigating the social dynamics of a dance floor.
What type of work were you doing prior to what you are doing now?
After I finished my Master’s program, I worked in college admissions for Stanford traveling as a representative for the university and reviewing undergraduate applications.
What kinds of frustrations did you have with your previous job(s)?
I loved the substance of my work in admissions, but there were limited options for me to continuing growing professionally in that position. I wanted a next role in which I’d really be challenged in a novel way, pushed to learn new skill sets, and still able to make a positive social impact.
How did you come to discover this was what you were meant to do?
It was pretty organic, actually! I’ve been choreographing and performing most of my life, and I worked as a dance instructor starting in high school. But as much as I loved dance, I’d never focused on making it my long-term career.
Now, fast forward to January 2012! Some guy friends from college randomly emailed to ask if I’d teach them dance moves so they’d feel less awkward and meet more women when they went out to bars. (One of the best emails I’ve ever received, hands down.)
For a few months, the crew of 8 guys and I would practice in a living room and go out to bars for “applied learning” sessions. It was such a high to see them improving and living it up on the dance floor! Plus, they reported that they were having way more fun going out, meeting more girls, and needing to drink less before dancing. All major perks.
The guys nudged me to expand our idea: “we’re not the only awkward dancers in San Francisco,” was the gist of their logic. I then had one of those 4 a.m. epiphany wake-ups during which I realized that, as crazy as the concept was, there would never be a better time in my life to give this a shot.
What fears did you have to overcome to take the leap?
Putting one foot in front of the other to get started was a major struggle, as I had little experience in the business world. There’s a massive amount of uncertainty and self-doubt involved in planning the big picture and the day-to-day goals. You’re not sure precisely what you’re working towards or how to efficiently get there.
To keep my head on straight, I had tons of meetings with other business owners, did independent reading and research, and had daily pep talks with my amazing parents and trusted advisors. I credit all of this with keeping the ball rolling during a very anxious time!
What do you love most about what you do?
I feel fortunate to perform work that is very near to my heart, challenging, and engaging. It’s so rewarding to watch people light up with fresh confidence and have a blast on the dance floor. I get so stoked for them!
The process of building this business has also changed my outlook on life in a pretty dramatic way: instead of clinging to a concrete image of what the future “should” look like, I’m far more open to the possibilities being presented in the here and now. I think this stems from the necessity of having to test and iterate upon new ideas constantly, often with surprising results. Life is far more fun when you’re attending to the present and willing to take little leaps of faith.
What have been the most influential books for you?
1. Little Bets, by Peter Sims: It helped me formalize a new perspective of risking “affordable losses” and finding success in the unexpected.
2. The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD: This is a touchstone to remind me that feeling happy and fulfilled in life is an active practice.
3. Not a book, but I love reading the news digest from the Greater Good Science Center to get my Positive Psychology research fix!
If you were to give advice to people thinking about changing careers, what would it be?
Be a Curious George.
Say yes to every introduction and opportunity to learn someone’s story and what makes them tick, and to share yours.
Approaching networking and job searching this way feels both rewarding and authentic and keeps you inspired.
More often than not, these conversations snowball and lead you to some of your greatest gigs, educational moments, and trusted advisors and friends.
Many of my closest friends and supporters of The 8Count have resulted from random encounters and conversations in coffee shops, the gym, airplanes, etc.
I’m forever grateful to have these people be a part of the adventure!
Head over the The 8Count as she also offers services for Corporate Events & Weddings!