Maayan Ziv, Founder, AccessNow

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Maayan has? Here’s how she did it

Maayan Ziv headshot

Maayan Ziv; Toronto; 


Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I’m the founder of AccessNow, a grassroots, community-driven online platform that crowdsources accessibility information about places worldwide.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I’m a two-time Ryerson grad. I studied radio and television in my undergrad and went back for my masters in digital media.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

My first paying gig was a headshot session I did for a friend in high school. He insisted on paying so I think I charged him like $20 as a gesture. [In addition to AccessNow, Ziv also works as a photographer.]

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

There are still days when things can be really tough. But usually those are the same days I will get an email from someone who uses AccessNow, sharing a personal story about how the work we do is changing their life. These are the moments I live for, and they remind me that what I am doing really matters and is creating an impact. To me, that is success.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

Sometimes I have so many ideas that I am excited about it can be challenging to narrow my focus. I’ve gotten a lot better at writing everything down. Making lists has helped me hold on to all the big ideas, and prioritize which ones I put my energy towards.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Be true to yourself and stay honest with others. People gravitate towards people who are authentic. If you can feel confident in your own skin, it can actually do wonders for how you go about your work.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

Being an entrepreneur, I am constantly my worst critic. I always want to be moving faster and working harder. Not recognizing the wins when they land can be a shortcoming. It’s really important to step back sometimes and realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s about the journey, not just the destination, and often I need to remind myself of this in order to bounce back and keep going.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

I’ve gotten all kinds of different opinions from people about what they believe I need to be doing. I do my best to only absorb the advice that I find useful and constructive. The rest of it doesn’t really matter so I don’t pay any attention.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

Honestly I’ve dealt with a lot more barriers because I have a disability. There is still a lot of preconceived ideas and assumptions about what people with disabilities are capable of. I think it’s just “fear of the unknown.” I had to break down tons of walls to prove that I had what it takes to run my own business.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

For the first two years of AccessNow I wasn’t paying myself at all. All the funds we would get were being put towards company development. The last six months have actually been the first time when I’ve felt it has been OK to begin paying myself.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That we are lazy and don’t want to work. But being being surround by entrepreneurs in the same age group. I can tell you that is anything but true. Pass by the DMZ [] at any time of day or night, any day of the week, and I promise you will find startup founders hustling hard. When we are passionate about something, we give it our all—we want our work to mean something.

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