What’s On My Desk: Nextdoor Co-Founder Sarah Leary

Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary
Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary

Photo Credit: Courtesy Nextdoor

Everyone deserves a motto and the acronym for Sarah Leary’s is GSD, which is what she does as co-founder and Vice President of Marketing and Operations of Nextdoor Inc., a 3+-year-old, San Francisco-based website that is making being neighborly en vogue and growing at the Hong Kong rate of speed of 72.49 Mbps.

Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods is where neighbors can create private websites for their neighborhoods, allowing them to ask questions, get to know one another and exchange local advice and recommendations. In October 2011, Leary and co-founder/CEO Nirav Tolia launched the site to all neighborhoods in the U.S. It’s since spread to 44,000 neighborhoods and shows no signs of slowing down.

As Leary pointed out, she noticed that people used Facebook to stay connected to friends and family, Twitter to get their message out to others and LinkedIn for professional connections. The one thing missing was local community. Now there’s a vehicle.

Speaking of vehicle, Leary keeps a set of keys to hers on her desk. Read on to find out, in her own words, what she drives and what else is on her desk.

Nextdoor.SarahLeary3Photo Credit: Courtesy Nextdoor

I bought a t-shirt that has (Get S*?@ Done) on it a while ago after I saw it on fab.com or something. I wore it in the office one day when we were launching our iOS app. I walked around and everyone loved it in the office. Someone took a picture and posted it on Facebook. There were a lot of “likes,” which I expected from my peers. But then my 73-year-old aunt, who is a devout Catholic, responded, “I love that shirt. I want one.”

Someone sent me this mug because they knew it was something that was near and dear to my heart. It’s a positive endorsement of this quality I have about myself.

To me it’s really about a call to action. It’s not just something that I have on my desk. If you follow me on on Twitter, there’s a reference to GSD. I had it on my business cards when I was at Epinions. There are some people who are about action. It’s who I am as a person. I like to attract people who like to take action and aren’t afraid of making a mistake.


SarahLeary.Nextdoor8Photo Credit: Courtesy Nextdoor

The paperback Bowling Alone is one of the seminal books that inspired the idea behind Nextdoor. Robert D. Putnam wrote it and he became the dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. It’s a very academic book where he goes chapter by chapter, explaining the decline of community in America. Americans are still bowling in many cases but not in leagues. They’re going to bowling alleys but bowling alone. It’s something I read many years ago and was reminded of it when we were starting Nextdoor. It’s something the vast majority of the employees have read at least parts of, if not all of it.

Nextdoor.SarahLeary1Photo Credit: Courtesy Nextdoor

The keys are to my Vespa. I think it’s the only way to get around the city. It’s a much more efficient way to get to downtown. It’s fun and it makes me feel like I’m in Italy every morning for 10  to 15 minutes when I drive.

I keep (my passport in the orange holder) with me in part because sometimes it serves as my ID. Plus, I’m always waiting on a call. Earlier this year I did a week-long trip to Italy with my nephew, who is 10. It was his birthday and that’s how we celebrated. It was his first trip outside of the U.S. It was an educational trip for him. He’s a great kid and we had an awesome trip. The photos in the frame are of family members and were taken during that trip.

The young kids in the office definitely think it’s cool that I have this Herschel backpack. If I need to go to dinner after work, I can carry it with me and not feel like I have a real backpack on my back. And it kind of matches the color of my Vespa. It’s got red and white stripes on the inside. Also inside my backpack is a nice Gucci purse I got from Italy.


Nextdoor.SarahLeary5Photo Credit: Courtesy Nextdoor

I’m so proud of that Neighborhood Emergency Response Team certificate. I’ve been parading around the office, showing it off. About two months ago I signed up to join the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team, an organization based in San Francisco run by the San Francisco Fire Department. It’s a six-week, 20-hour course and teaches you how to be helpful to the fire department in the event of an emergency— anything from an earthquake to a terrorist attack. They’ve trained about 25,000 people.

As a resident of San Francisco, I think everyone should go through one day of training to learn how to take care of themselves so there is less of a burden on the system when there is an emergency. It was a great way to meet people who live in my community who share an interest in helping in time of need.




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