Annemarie Penny

Annemarie Penny is the Founder of Dreamore, a recruiting/advisory firm for startups & growing companies.  

She tells us that, “We were previously called Apex Direct Search, #53 on Forbes’ America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms. Founded in 1997 at the beginning of the dot-com boom.

I started my career as a financial analyst at KPMG Peat Marwick with an MBA in marketing.   I’m a Joyful Human who values authentic relationships, an active community builder and event host for founders, women, creatives, and business leaders throughout the world (mostly in California).”

Tell us about your life before the venture/ leading up to your venture?

I grew up in a small town in Arkansas, surrounded by trees and wildlife.  I was the first person in my family to get a college degree.  I lived in Israel as a teenager, where I learned the importance of diversity, resilience, and a sense of humor.  I had dreamed of California since I was very young, so I headed to Los Angeles only five days after graduation.  $200 and a brown car – that’s what I started with!   

A temp job turned into a financial analyst career. 

I changed careers when a recruiter helped me find another job, and followed up, and demonstrated the value of authentic relationships.   My first business venture was with the mentor who’d trained me in recruiting.  We left our bigger firm together, locked in a big client on the very first day we launched, and the rest is history. 

Tell us something about your organization. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?

We are a small and collaborative team, recruiting for startups and growing companies that need a dedicated, partnership approach to hiring.  We are not selling widgets – it’s people on all sides of the equation.  People have feelings, families, goals, and dreams. So where we really shine is in the way we can open up conversation and trust, making sure that the needs of the individual are addressed and not just the company.   When everyone communicates openly and can properly align their goals – it’s better business.

What has been the response of the consumers towards your venture? 

My prior firm Apex Direct Search was #53 on Forbes’ America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms.  I was nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal for a Lifetime Achievement Award along with other accolades, including Best Technical Recruiting Partner.  I was interviewed by Brian Williams on MSNBC as an industry thought leader.  Featured in BusinessWeek (now Bloomberg) and LA Weekly as a noteworthy community leader.   What is particularly motivating, though less public, are the countless DMs and emails telling me how much my content and actions inspire them, how certain things I’ve said or done impacted their lives forever.      You can’t always monetize that feeling – it’s priceless.

How has your life changed because of your venture?

Most of my close personal friends are because of my venture.  It helps that the nature of my role in running a recruiting/advisory firm is that “it’s people in all directions”.   We have never been transactional in our approach, because it’s important to treat everyone like a human being – AND it makes for better business.       

I was also a very shy, introverted person when I was younger. More of a book reader than a social type. Now I am a “locally famous” community leader and event host, and I can fearlessly walk into a room and talk to anyone. It was a goal when I began this career to overcome my fear.  I am grateful.

What are you working on right now?

Dreamore is a new name for my prior firm, which we had shut down after the 2018 Woolsey fire burned my home to the ground – affecting not only me but 1000’s who worked and enjoyed the community and events there.  

I took time to heal and landed a couple of C-suite roles until I was ready to be a founder again.   

We are working diligently to scale the business as it was before, informed by our personal journey as well as everyone else’s, in these recent times of global or economic challenge.

We are all about relationships! those we had before and all the new ones we are purposefully building now.     

We help startups and mid-sized companies, looking to hire and grow sustainably.

Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.

Don’t Give Up – and don’t be so hard on yourself, either. It’s so easy to read about other people’s success and think you’re not enough.  You ARE enough.  You are perfect.   

Authentic relationships are the most important thing in your life and career. Create and nurture them – they are your true currency.

Simplifying the complexity of life:  wake up each day, be grateful, breathe, forgive yourself, forgive others, shut off your devices and go outside no matter what the weather looks like, go to sleep, and do it all over again tomorrow. As you get older, you’ll realize it’s no more complicated than that.