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I’ve Interviewed 300+ Successful Women. Here’s What I’ve Learned About Creating a Career You Love

Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of successful women. They have every type of journey you could dream of: There are women who have reached the C-suite in Fortune 500 companies and well-funded startups, women who have started and run their own ventures, and women who have made dramatic career turnarounds.

They’re all extraordinarily unique, of course, but there’s one thing they have in common: They’ve charted the path to work that they love.

That doesn’t just mean big jobs with important tiles and sizable paychecks (though in some cases, that’s true). Instead, these women have thoughtfully built careers around their innate strengths, their personal passions, and the type of work that brings them meaning and purpose.

Yes, creating a career like this may seem like a lofty goal. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from these interviews over the years, it’s this: Every single one of us has the power to find work we love. It’s just a matter of confidently taking steps to get there. As Katie Fogarty, founder of The Reboot Group, shared on my Facebook Watch show, Work It: “Do not wait for people to give you permission. Seize your permission. Seize control of your career.”

Ready to get started? Straight from some of the most successful women in the world, here are five crucial lessons about taking the reins and crafting the professional life of your dreams.

Today In: Leadership

1. Expand Your Idea Of A Dream Job

Often, we have a pretty narrow view of our ultimate goals. We envision achieving a specific job title or working for a particular company. But what happens when we achieve that singular goal, and it doesn’t live up to expectations? That’s all too common—and so the most successful women I’ve interviewed have made it clear that it’s key to widen your perspective.

For example, Kristin Lemkau, Chief Marketing Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., emphasizes that it’s critical to be flexible when thinking about your dream job. If you’re only focused on getting your current boss’ job, for example, you may miss other options—inside or outside of your company. “By staying flexible and open,” she explains, “you might encounter an opportunity that you had never before considered.”

Lindsey Knowles, VP of Marketing at Winc Wines, echoes this sentiment. “Be open. And try different things. There’s so much you can’t know until you do it,” she shares. “Until you’ve been in a few different types of workplaces, you can’t know what your preferred working style is or the types of problems you like to solve.”

2. Pursue What Matters To You—Not To Anyone Else

Similarly, we’re conditioned to believe that the traditional markers of success, like money or a C-level title, will make us happy, too. But for most people, that’s not the full story. Instead, it’s key to dig deep and understand the very personal factors that drive meaning for you—whether that’s constantly learning new skills or being involved in radical social change—and pursue jobs that incorporate those elements.

According to Aditi Javeri Gokhale, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Northwestern Mutual, a good place to start is thinking about the people you want to work with and the issues you’re passionate about. “I have always identified with jobs where I have a good connection with my leaders, with the mission of the company, and with the team that surrounds me.” When you have that connection, it’s easier to excel at—and enjoy—a job, no matter what your title is.

3. Be Intentional About What You Say Yes To

Cathleen Trigg-Jones, journalist and founder of CatScape Productions, once explained to me her strategy for evaluating opportunities. She would yes to the things that would move her closer to her dreams, and she would say no to the things that didn’t serve her. (Even if they looked like good opportunities on paper!)

This simple rule can move you toward a career you love in two important ways. First, it pretty much guarantees that you get to do more of the work you’re excited about. Second, you get to incrementally step further away from the tasks you don’t enjoy and that don’t help you get where you want to go—even if there are certain aspects of them that may be tempting. Keep following this formula, and you will organically move in the right direction.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks

If you want a meaningful professional life, you have to be willing to take risks. Why? “If you don’t do things because you’re scared to fail, you’re not really getting the best out of yourself,” Sabrina Macias, Senior Director of Global Communications at DraftKings, once told me. “Risk is healthy; it makes you more creative.”

A risky move, of course, doesn’t necessarily spending your life savings to start a company—maybe it’s accepting a position you’re not sure you’re qualified for, asking for more responsibility, or volunteering to head a bigger project than anything you’ve ever tackled.

Maybe it’s simply giving yourself permission to try something wildly different. Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn, explains the concept this way: “Stop and ask yourself what would make you happy, and design that.” That might be advocating for a new offering at your company or working on that creative side project you’ve been thinking about. “Just start doing it,” she said. “You’ll be amazed at how many people will be drawn to somebody who is doing things differently—and enabling other people to do things differently.” But that’s the key: You have to first be willing to do things differently.

5. Know That Change Is Inevitable

Finally, know this about career paths: What you want and what works for you is likely going to change over time. As Carol Lovell, founder and CEO of STOW put it: “The meaning of success for me has altered throughout my life. What you think it means at 25 is very different to what you know it means at 50.” The lesson? Don’t be afraid to adjust course when you realize that you’ve changed.

On a smaller scale, even if you have a specific goal you’re working toward, you’ll undoubtedly encounter new information, opportunities, and roadblocks that make you rethink your course. And that’s OK. “It’s not a matter of creating this rigid plan of like, do this step, do this step, no matter what,” explains former CEO and board director Shellye Archambeau. “And things will happen! There will be roadblocks, things will happen that’ll cause you to change and that’s okay. You have to be open to that.”

The road to a career you love isn’t easy. It requires saying no, taking risks, and sticking to your guns. But as a result, you’ll be doing the work you’re passionate about and building a life that works for you. Take it from hundreds of women: It’s worth it.

Carrie Kerpen is CEO and co-founder of Likeable Media, an award-winning digital agency that achieved Crain’s 6th “Best Place To Work in NYC.” She is the author of WORK IT: Secrets For Success From The Boldest Women In Business and the host of the popular podcast All the Social Ladies. Follow her on Twitter @carriekerpen or visit her at carriekerpen.com.

Source: I’ve Interviewed 300+ Successful Women. Here’s What I’ve Learned About Creating a Career You Love.

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After running through what to wear for a job interview with a friend, I thought it might be fun to run through some options depending on the kind of workplace you’re interviewing for. If you’ve got your own tips on what to wear to a job interview or if you have a go-to piece, I’d love to see it or know what it is! Hope you’re wonderful! X Jodie

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A New Study Reveals Hiring Effective Female Leaders May Be the Best Thing for Your Company’s Success

Do you believe in your company — its mission, purpose, and what it stands for? Belief in a company is one of the main factors behind why employees work and what they do.

The belief that the company is moving in the right direction, has room for personal and professional growth, and that the employee plays an active part in the strategy are all crucial to keeping employees engaged.

For leaders guiding the way, belief in a company is something that is earned and must come naturally for employees. And according to a new study, attracting and promoting more females into leadership roles is the way forward.

Employees respond better to women-led companies

A recent Peakon study found that employees of women-led companies, meaning those with more than 50% female leaders, feel a stronger connection to the company and their products.

When over 60,000 employees were asked the question of “how likely is it that you would recommend [Company Name] products or services to friends and family,” those at women-led companies answered 0.6 points higher than employees at male-led companies.

Women-led companies also answered higher in terms of satisfaction in the company, an important part of being an active, efficient employee.

Female leadership could be a major enabler in driving the company culture, and female-led companies are proven to be better in communicating mission and strategy, and managing more engaged employees.

Why belief in a company and its products is so important

Belief in the company is also strongly tied to the company strategy. When employees believe in the company — the origin, mission, and value the company offers to consumers and clients — they will subsequently have stronger belief in the strategy as well.

According to Roger Dooley, an experience marketer and author, believing in your company and its product makes you more persuasive. Employees with a strong belief in their product will be more able to effectively sell products or services the company offers, and will have a stronger connection to the company itself.

Belief in a company and its values is also critical to employees’ commitment and persistence. Employees with stronger belief in their company tend to be more willing to continue in their hard work when they trust the path the company is moving on.

According to the Harvard Business Review, belief in a company and its goals will enforce motivation throughout all of the employees — both to get work done when needed, and to keep up the same work ethic when it gets harder.

Belief in a company also helps leaders. When your company supports the same goals, it becomes easier to manage and communicate.

In Authentic Happiness, psychologist Marty Seligman writes that employees become their “happiest” selves when they are doing work they find worthwhile. Leaders who are able to motivate others to work towards a communicated, shared goal — and a shared belief in the goal — are able to maintain morale and engagement throughout the employee lifecycle.

Moreover, belief in a company and its goals also creates a feeling of solidarity among employees and their leaders. If at any point there is a disconnect between employees and leaders, it can be mended quickly and easily when there is a strong belief that the company is going in the right direction.

Ari Weinzweig, a founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, points out that belief in a business is one of the most productive foundations that employees and leaders can both share. It creates a shared purpose that may otherwise not be found, as most beliefs are formed before a person is even old enough to be in the job force.

Forming a community where there is a belief in a business allows for clearer actions towards the shared belief, and helps everyone’s job within a larger company make sense.

Clearly the research proves that you must care about the belief in your company strategy and its product. But we must not ignore the key component. As Peakon’s study revealed, investing in female leaders will help you bring deeper conviction about the company and its services, and therefore empower your business to grow in a sustainable way.

By:By Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core @MarcelSchwantes

 

Source: A New Study Reveals Hiring Effective Female Leaders May Be the Best Thing for Your Company’s Success | Inc.com

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Why are there so few women leaders? Weaving together scientific research and personal narrative, Alexis Kanda-Olmstead explains why women may be reluctant to take on leadership roles and what we – women and men – can do to disrupt the powerful internal forces that undermine women’s leadership aspirations and confidence. 1. Alexis Kanda-Olmstead leads talent and diversity initiatives at Colorado State University for the Division of University Advancement. Throughout her twenty-year career in higher education, Alexis has worked to help students, faculty, and staff actualize their potential as leaders through self-knowledge, personal empowerment, and service. As a student and practitioner of women’s development, social justice, and organizational psychology, Alexis believes that with grace and humor we can create positive change that benefits everyone. Alexis is a blogger on women’s issues and the founder of AKO Collective, a women’s leadership development company based in Northern Colorado. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

 

The True Value of an 80-Hour Work Week

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I recently shared with you the concept of the “time and effort chains,” which are the factors that trap us within a business and force us to work longer and harder, with little to no additional value or payoff.

Today I wanted to share with you the final chains that hold us back and keep us from reaching our goals. These, coupled with an understanding of the time-value matrix and a new way to look at control within your business, will play a huge part in your success or failure as a business leader.

A lack of clear priorities and objectives.

If every member on your staff doesn’t understand your priorities and objectives, efforts get scattered and poor decisions get made. This leads to underperformance, which pushes you to chase after more control to set things back on the right path. This further robs the business of depth because you’re not prioritizing time to develop your team so that they can take on more responsibilities. It’s a negative reinforcement loop.

This also impacts your team as a whole. The lack of strategic structure for how priorities get established, goals set, and plans made causes your team to flounder and struggle. Of course, you’re always there to pick up the pieces and take back more control, but by this point you understand where that leads.

A lack of strategic depth.

When you have a team that lacks the experience or talent to accomplish the goals you’ve set, you often find yourself pulled back into more closely managing the functions of your department, division, or business.

It becomes a chicken and egg scenario: if you had the right people on the team, you could let go of more.

But because you have to handle so much of the work, you don’t have time to hire or develop the people who could take on much of the load currently on your shoulders.

Round and round you go.

Outdated time habits.

The world today is fundamentally different than the world we evolved in. Our time sense was developed in a business world where time and effort were what we were paid for.

But that has shifted. In fact, with the transformation of modern communication and technology, work no longer has to take place in an office or factory; you literally can work from anywhere.

Yet the geographical freedom we now experience, which our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, has a dark side.

More and more of us feel compelled to always be on, checking our devices, responding to messages. The changing, 24/7, interconnected world has completely altered the way we live and work, and many of us simply haven’t updated our time habits to design the structures and systems we need to effectively and sustainably produce.

If you see yourself in any of what I’ve shared, it’s time to take action and start moving toward a reality in which your time and value chains no longer hold you back from moving yourself forward as a leader.

By: David Finkel

Source: https://www.inc.com/

Dr. Kelso discusses what many people feel is the most frightening part about pursuing a career in the medical field…the crazy work hours. He dispels the myth that it is impossible to enjoy yourself and work the hours of a physician!

Investing In India’s Women Can Unlock The Country’s Economic Potential

India has the world’s fastest-growing major economy and a well-educated workforce that’s expected to soon pass China’s in size. Still, I can’t shake the notion that in the race for global economic leadership, India is running with just one shoe.

India has the world’s fastest-growing major economy and a well-educated workforce that’s expected to soon pass China’s in size. Still, I can’t shake the notion that in the race for global economic leadership, India is running with just one shoe.

I say that because nearly half of the country’s working-age population is being left behind. According to the World Bank’s May 2017 India Development Update, India has among the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world, well below what would be expected for its level of income and what is observed in neighbors such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Despite college graduation rates of around 42 percent, the percentage of women in the workforce has been dropping since 2005. What’s more, India is home to the highest number of illiterate women in the world. There are more than 3 million eligible, yet out-of-school girls throughout India. And almost 40 percent of girls aged 15 to 18 years drop out of school and college.

The World Bank suggests India’s GDP growth could surge more than a point if India closed just half of the labor force participation rate gap it has with Nepal. It makes one wonder how powerful India could be if its women’s workforce participation was on par with its men’s. The impact would be unquestionably huge.

For India to compete effectively on the global stage and realize her full potential, businesses need to help and invest in high-impact solutions now—solutions that enable girls and young women to access quality education and develop the skills needed to succeed.

Mumbai city, India

Deloitte recently committed to do just that. Through financial support, pro bono work and engaging with NGO partners, we intend to help drive transformational change and positively impact 10 million women and girls by 2030. This investment is aligned with WorldClass, Deloitte’s organization wide ambition to help 50 million people succeed in the new economy by enabling access to education, skills development and job opportunities.

Through WorldClass in India, we’ll collaborate with organizations that share Deloitte’s vision and can help us put our talent and experience to work. The first two of those organizations are Katha and Pratham, which are improving the learning outcomes of millions of women and girls in schools and communities across India. By pursuing collaborations with nonprofits such as these—as well as government and other businesses—we are better positioned to help bridge the gap between the abilities people have and the skills employers need.

That’s critical in a world on the brink of a seismic shift with the emergence of Industry 4.0. To thrive in it, concerned and capable entities must work together so that all the world’s people have opportunities to achieve their full human potential. This will allow more people to access opportunities and improve the communities where they live and work.

And when we educate women and girls, especially in places like India, we can positively impact entire families. We also know when women are empowered to participate in social, economic and political decision-making, they are more likely than men to invest in their children, families and communities. That can be a catalyst for long-term, sustainable change and have a positive impact on the next generation of talent.

We have a tremendous opportunity to make a meaningful impact in India by creating pathways for women of all ages to fulfill their aspirations. When that day comes, India will be able to race ahead at full speed, without impediments. The prospect of that happening is promising not just for those who’ll benefit directly, but also for India and the world.

Deloitte Global CEO

Punit is in his 31st year with the Deloitte organization and became CEO of Deloitte Global in June 2015. Deloitte operates in 150 countries, with more than 244,000 professionals. Punit is also a member of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. Punit most recently served as Chairman, Deloitte LLP (US member firm) from 2011-2015. As chairman, Punit led the board in providing governance and oversight on priority matters such as firm strategy, operations, risk mitigation, and talent development.

 

Source: Investing In India’s Women Can Unlock The Country’s Economic Potential

 

A Missing Factor In Women’s Leadership: Leave The Mean Girl Behind

I recently launched an intimate dinner series called The Whisper Network covering taboo topics facing women’s advancement in the workforce. Many of these topics aren’t addressed because women don’t feel comfortable raising them or might be nervous about repercussions if they are openly talked about in larger forums. As women we tend to have a stronger reliance on one-on-one bonds and smaller, more intimate networks vs. men in order to discuss more controversial subjects such as how much money we might make or not make, how we were passed over for a promotion by a male peer or worse, “the mean girl.”

As we sat around the table, everyone had a story about a mean girl they dealt with in their careers. Certainly, in more male dominated industries, the mean girl, sometimes referred to as the “queen bee” is not just a theory, but a reality. Further, this isn’t just about the women at the top, but also encompasses female peers. With all the focus and momentum on raising each other up as women and building support networks, it should have surprised me that the mean girl continues to present as such a big issue but it didn’t. I hear quite often that while there are so many women walking the walk, there are still many that just talk the talk.

Jennifer DaSilva, President of Berlin Cameron and Founder of Girl Brands Do It Better, wrote an article earlier this year talking about women and the power of community and stated “Among all the women I talk to, the overall sentiment is that the energy of women helping other women is at an all-time high. We’re in a moment where women are less competitive and more willing to help each other succeed. We’re all starting to understand that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you put yourself down.” While I completely agree and as someone who launched a business focused on developing women, I think we need to add to that sentiment: that lifting each other up doesn’t mean you have to put yourself or others down.

Competition is healthy until it’s not. DaSilva also stated in the article that “while women are still supporting each other, [in a recent study] 55% of respondents still feel there’s work to be done. This can especially be said in the corporate world, where a lack of female representation can lead to competition and a lack of camaraderie.” How do we continue to advance and support each other with a little healthy competition in our networks, if we continue to face or be the mean girl at the table?

As a woman, there is heavy competition with men but there seems to be even more competition with some women, mainly because there are fewer of us. This competition is not just at the senior levels of organizations. We live in a culture that perpetuates women’s feelings of insecurity. It’s one the reasons we are banding together to support one another and creating real change. We are also human and filled with insecurities around career advancement, success, financial wealth and power. Company cultures often mirror grade-school school culture, dividing their employees into different groups: top talent, high performers, needs improvement, etc. This can further fuel unhealthy competition, meanness and exclusive behavior.

How we do leave the mean girl at the door but also work with her? It’s hard to escape the mean girl at the office, out with new clients, at women’s events and in other professional environments. “Mean girls exist in business networking events too,” shared Cindy Ashton, CEO of Minerva Enterprises. “They stand in their circle, staring at the other women, making comments on what they are wearing and criticizing what they do. It lowers our self-esteem and confidence. We need to catch ourselves when we get ‘catty’ and reframe – ‘what would it take for me to truly get to know this other woman and collaborate?’” Roll out the welcome mat instead of pulling it out from underneath their feet.

After much deliberation in our dinner, we unanimously decided to call out the mean girl and make them aware of their behavior. At a time when we are calling out certain men for their lack of support, why don’t we call out the women who don’t have our backs and perpetuate the culture we are fighting so hard against? I’m not advocating for confrontation, but I am talking about communication. If we don’t bring awareness to this challenge, those cracks in our networks get larger and success for all vs. just for one decreases.

Focusing on positive reinforcement and how we can work together is just as important as building community with like-minded women and male allies. Share in our successes and in our struggles. We need to team up to help move forward by sharing what we know, how we can support and empower each other, and how we build real community. As women we need to lend our voice and support at the table for other women, become their true advocates for new opportunities, be open and make connections as well as follow through. Walk the walk.

To circle back to DaSilva’s article, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network states “a community is a group of people who are active participants in your success.” Supportive communities celebrate each other and their wins, large and small. This definition of community leaves no room for the mean girl and it’s time to leave her behind. Leading by example is critical and we need to exemplify the qualities we wish to see in others. When we think of the next generation of female CEOs, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs and more, what do we want those women to see when they look up? We don’t want to embrace a future with negativity and bullying. Creating an even playing field that is collaborative and supportive is something I am striving for.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I am the Founder and CEO of Luminary in NYC, the premier collaboration space for women who are passionate about professional development and expanding their networks. Luminary is the ultimate career advocate providing our membership community with unparalleled programming and access to industry leaders and pioneering entrepreneurs. A long-time advocate for empowering women and girls, I serve on the National Board for Girls Inc. I have over twenty years of leadership experience in financial services. Previously, I was the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Multinational Corporate Banking for HSBC managing roughly $2 billion in revenue and teams in 55 countries. Prior to that, I was a Managing Director and Head of Multinational Corporate Banking at J.P. Morgan in EMEA. I’m committed to leveraging my corporate experience to support and encourage women and push for gender parity in the workplace.

Source: A Missing Factor In Women’s Leadership: Leave The Mean Girl Behind

Inside Serena Williams’ Plan To Ace Venture Investing

 

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n Serena Williams’ calendar—which is to calendars what Jackson Pollock paintings are to art—Saturdays are designated family time. The Saturday I’m with her in Rome (she was in New York earlier in the week and will be in Paris the following one) carries extra significance. Exactly four years ago, in exactly that Eternal City, she met her husband, Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of online community Reddit.

The two celebrate, in part, with the kind of outing anyone who’s not the most famous woman athlete in the world takes for granted: a stroll in a hotel garden with their joint venture, 22-month-old Olympia, in tow. It’s more romantic than it sounds: The Rome Cavalieri goes so far as to call its 15-acre garden a “private park,” littered with marble and bronze, lions and unicorns.

The regal surroundings befit a historic figure of American sport, who has 23 Grand Slam titles and has blown away any number of barriers and stereotypes. And the unicorns? Between Reddit and his $500 million fund, Initialized Capital, Ohanian does his part. But it turns out that Williams has quietly been playing that game, too. She’s now the first athlete ever to hit Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Richest Self-Made Women, with an estimated fortune of $225 million, the vast majority of it having come via her brain and brand rather than her backhand. And over the past five years, she’s been quietly dropping money into 34 startups. In April, Williams formally announced that Serena Ventures is open for business, to fund others and launch companies herself.

Athletes are richer than ever, thanks to the explosion in TV rights fees for live sporting events, which trickle down to players. The 50 highest-paid athletes in the world made $2.6 billion last year, versus $1 billion 15 years ago. And Williams is hardly the first to put newfound disposable income to active work—in the NBA alone, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant have all launched media companies, and Durant, Andre Iguodala and Carmelo Anthony are active venture capital investors. But she is one of the few specifically gearing investments around a single north star: herself.

“I want to be a part of it,” she says, sitting at the hotel. “I want to be in the infrastructure. I want to be the brand, instead of just being the face.” Given her longtime background in style and design, that means overweighting on fashion lines, jewelry and beauty products. Yes, she’ll keep competing at tennis—her resilient comeback last year after giving birth burnished her as a cultural icon who transcends sports. And sure, she’ll happily continue to rake in easy endorsement money from the likes of Nike and JPMorgan Chase—her $29 million total income over the past 12 months is the highest of her career.

But like a ground stroke with torque, Williams bets she can eventually dwarf those figures by leveraging some of her own cash with her name and fame.

The story of how sisters Serena and Venus Williams reached the top of the tennis world is the stuff of Hollywood legend: a black father with limited tennis experience homeschools his two daughters and teaches them on the streets of Compton, California, to penetrate and then dominate a lily-white sport. “You’d see different people walking down the street with AK-47s and think, Time to get in the house,” she remembers of those early years. “When you hear gunshots, you get low.”

Their father’s insistence that his precocious daughters avoid the private tennis academy machine and well-oiled junior tournament circuit left a mark on the younger one, especially after she won her first Grand Slam title at age 17. “It really shaped me for the rest of my career both on and off the court in terms of taking a chance and how to be different and how to stand out,” Williams says of his strategy. When everyone zigs, she zags.

So at Serena Ventures, she focuses on companies founded by women and minorities. Yes, there’s a social purpose to that decision. But as with her tennis upbringing, she’s also finding opportunity by avoiding the herd. Just 2.3% of the total venture capital invested last year in the U.S. went to women-led startups—and even when including firms with both a male and female founder, you’re just at 10%. The numbers are worse for black and Hispanic founders. Yet some 60% of Williams’ investments so far have gone to companies led by women or people of color. “What better way to preach that message?” asks Williams.

The only way to find enough of those companies right now is to nurture them early, something that Williams got hooked on after investing and losing (eventually) $250,000 in a startup in the years before Serena Ventures. “I learned you can’t overspend, but I also learned that I love seed investing,” she says. Of the 34 companies she’s backed through Serena Ventures, more than three quarters are early-stage.

“It’s fun to get in there. I don’t gamble. I don’t jump off buildings,” says Williams. “I’m the most non-taking-a-chance kind of a person, but I felt like seed was where we wanted to be.”

Given the exponential riskiness involved in pre- and early-revenue companies, Williams has built a team of Silicon Valley mentors around her, much as Patrick Mouratoglou has guided Williams on the court and WME’s Jill Smoller has handled her endorsements—almost a quarter-billion worth—for nearly two decades. There’s Chris Lyons, from Andreessen Horowitz, who is an informal advisor and friend. “She is more passionate than 99% of the people in this space,” says Lyons. “She’s reaching out to me regularly asking what we think of companies.”

There’s Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, a longtime friend, with whom she serves on the board of SurveyMonkey. “I always ask her advice in a lot of different areas,” Williams says. (The tennis star is also on the board of the social shopping platform Poshmark.)

But one mentor stands above the rest—the one she married. “I’ve been really leaning on Alexis,” she says. Williams had never heard of Reddit when the pair met in 2015 and Ohanian knew little about tennis. But they bonded over ambition. “She is determined to be great at everything she does,” says Ohanian, who Forbes estimates is worth $70 million on his own.

What Serena Williams Wants To Hear In Pitch Meetings| 32:11

His venture firm’s targets are traditionally more tech-focused—big scores include Instacart and Patreon. But in living through Ohanian’s deals, Williams has learned. Initialized and Serena Ventures have even co-invested on a few, including Gobble, which does weekly dinner-kit deliveries, and Wave, which offers no-fee transfers on money sent to Africa by phone. “I’d like to call us a more modern business family,” says Williams.

The rate of Williams’ investments has ramped up in lockstep with the onboarding of a portfolio manager. Alison Rapaport, 29, was fresh out of Harvard Business School with an M.B.A. after a five-year stint in JPMorgan’s asset management group, when she got connected with Williams through Andreessen’s Lyons. Williams told Rapaport to come to the interview with three investment ideas, along with the numbers and rationale behind them. Rapaport did her homework on the investment ideas—and diligence on her potential new boss, who earlier in the week posted on Instagram how much she liked Taco Sunday. Rapaport arrived at Williams’ home outside San Francisco for a Sunday meeting at noon armed with investment ideas and two bags of takeout, make-your-own tacos, and she handled Ohanian’s rapid-fire follow-up emails with aplomb. “I knew this was our girl,” Williams says.

Serena Williams slides around the red clay of the Tennis Club Parioli in Rome a few days ahead of the Italian Open, practicing to an eclectic mix of musical genres whose only commonality is that they’re sung by powerful women, from Rihanna to Adele to Pink. As word spreads around the club that the world’s most famous tennis player is hitting balls in their midst, a crowd predictably gathers, the youngest among them squealing “Serena!”, the oldest snapping and sharing pictures.

Williams is by far the most famous female athlete in the U.S.—and only Tom Brady and Tiger Woods finish a tick ahead among all athletes in terms of awareness. And that fame carries almost no brand downside—her appeal rates above average across all demographics, from Millennials to blue collar to high income, says Henry Schafer, who tracks Q Scores, which measure the likeability of a celebrity.

After 20 years in the spotlight, Williams knows how to handle the star power. At the end of the two-hour session, she gracefully obliges several with autographs and selfies. But more important: She has figured out at Serena Ventures how to harness it.

The past decade has given rise to the celebrity VC investor, spurred by the success of people like the actor Ashton Kutcher and the musician Nas, who both have their own funds. The recent IPOs for Uber and Lyft included scores of musicians and Hollywood A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jay-Z and Olivia Munn, who got in early and cashed in big. Overall, Ohanian is skeptical of the trend. “The advice I generally give to founders is don’t take money from celebrities,” he says. “The only exception is when they are really going to add value. Because in most cases, they are not really familiar with this world and if you are doing it to feed your ego, it’s a bad idea.”

So Williams tries to put money in deals where her fame and brand and platform grow the pie. As one of the better product endorsers of this century, it’s something she’s honed in ways that most musicians and actors (who turn up their noses at most product deals) have not. She counts nearly 30 million followers across social media—her posts of herself wearing Nike’s swoosh generated more than $2 million in promotional value for the brand over the past 12 months, according to Hookit, which tracks celebrity influence on social media. “Serena is a once-in-a-generation voice, reaching a global audience that extends well beyond tennis,” says Hookit CEO Scott Tilton.

And that voice is amplified exponentially when dealing with an early-stage brand, rather than one like Nike. She shared a pair of videos in an Instagram story of her entourage eating Daily Harvest meals ahead of her hosting duties for the Met Gala. She collaborated with Neighborhood Goods, which brings a pop-up approach to retailing, for her clothing line. “Using her platform to talk about our mission was the biggest support we’ve had besides her capital,” says Georgina Gooley, cofounder of Billie, which makes razors priced to eliminate the “pink tax” that makes female-targeted products cost more than similar versions for men.

The dating and networking app Bumble added Williams as an endorser for 2019, including a Super Bowl ad. The pair also partnered in a pitch competition in which two winners with female founders were chosen for funding from Serena and Bumble. Three executives of companies in the Serena Ventures portfolio—Daily Harvest, the woman-centric co-working space The Wing, and Lola, a natural tampon brand —networked at the first-ever Bumble Fund Summit in April. “She is facilitating a place for people to connect with one another,” says Jordana Kier, Lola’s founder.

That kind of investor-as-rainmaker power translates into another benefit: deal flow. For more mature deals, traditional venture firms need to take large ownership stakes to hit return targets. Williams, though, is happy to ride along. “Firms know Serena is a hugely valuable strategic investor,” says Ohanian. “I think it is the best of all opportunities, and she can essentially cherry-pick from the top VC firms on deals that are interesting that come her way and at the same time she still has her own deal flow from folks who want her to invest.”

nother benefit of early-stage investing: Even with 34 checks written, she has still sunk only an estimated $6 million into these companies. As venture investing goes, given her net worth, it’s still low-risk stuff. And the returns so far seem promising; Serena Ventures says they currently value the portfolio at more than $10 million and double the initial investment. Nearly half of the companies have had follow-up rounds of venture investment since Williams invested, and Serena Ventures even seems poised to score its first exit after Unilever announced plans to buy supplement firm Olly Nutrition in April. Five of her investments are up at least fivefold. Top performers include Billie, Daily Harvest, MasterClass and The Wing.

But Serena Williams wouldn’t be one of the all-time great competitors without also needing to invest more in herself. While she’s known as a fashion icon, she has cashed in only via others’ platforms, whether endorsements or partnerships. Now that’s changing. Smoller, her longtime endorsement agent, recalls a recent meeting at Nike. “I was talking, and Serena interrupted me and started asking all these questions about their distribution channels, KPIs and growth strategies,” he says. “I looked around and saw their faces. . . . She’s at a level where she wants to understand the process and methods, which I think a lot of people don’t expect.” In May last year, Serena Ventures launched a self-funded, direct-to-consumer clothing line, S by Serena. She kept waiting for someone to fund a company for her to design clothing, she says, but “I was thinking of this the wrong way. I had to invest in myself.”

The line includes dresses, jackets, tops, denim and more mostly priced under $200. She’s excited about an S by Serena show for New York Fashion Week in September. The line got a boost in October when Williams’ close friend Meghan Markle was spotted wearing the collection’s “Boss” blazer, which quickly sold out on the website. Williams returned the favor when she hosted a baby shower for the Duchess of Sussex in February. Williams plans to launch an S by Serena jewelry line this year and one of beauty products in 2020.

With all this commerce, Williams says she’ll continue to abbreviate her on-the-court schedule, prioritizing the Grand Slam events that burnish her brand. While a dinosaur in the tennis world at 37, she still figures she has two or maybe even three years left. “I am in no rush to get out of this sport,” she says. But in Serena Ventures, she’s laid the foundation to keep playing the game her entire life. “I want to create a brand that has longevity, kind of like my career,” she says. “It’s not fancy, it’s not here, it’s not out, it’s not trendy, it’s a staple, like my tennis game.”

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Read all of my Forbes stories here.

I am a senior editor at Forbes and focus mainly on the business of sports and our annual franchise valuations. I also spend a lot of my time digging into what athletes earn on and off the field of play. I’ve profiled a bunch of athletes that go by one name: LeBron, Shaq, Danica and others. I also head up our biennial B-School rankings and our annual features on the Best Places for Business (metros, states and countries).

Source: Inside Serena Williams’ Plan To Ace Venture Investing

How Four Female VCs Triumphed In Male-Dominated Silicon Valley

The reputation of Silicon Valley as a bastion of testosterone is by now well-established, and award-winning journalist Julian Guthrie decided it was time to tell a new story—one with a little more estrogen. In her new book, Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took On Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime, Guthrie explores the complicated lives of female VCs through the eyes of four resilient characters. She traces their trajectories—how they’ve dealt with victories and defeats, the ways they’ve juggled work and family, how they’ve coped with sexist attitudes—to get where they are today. They were among the first investors and founding board members of startups that would go on to become the giants of Silicon Valley.

The book takes us through the achievements of Magdalena Yeşil, who helped Marc Benioff grow Salesforce; Mary Jane Elmore, one of the first women to make partner at a U.S. venture firm; Theresia Gouw, who helped build major companies like Facebook and Trulia; and Sonja Perkins, one of the first female partners at Menlo Ventures, where she invested in such companies as McAfee and Hotmail.

Samantha Todd: What gave you the idea for Alpha Girls?

Julian Guthrie: I was on tour for my last book, How to Make a Spaceship, spending a lot of time with entrepreneurs and engineers. I began to ask myself: Where are all the women in these really important and dynamic industries? Although I’d worked at the San Francisco Chronicle for 20 years, I didn’t know there was such a disparity as there is today. I started to look into tech for some kind of hidden figures, some really dynamic women who had great narratives and whose stories hadn’t been told.

I came across this figure that 94% of all check-writing VCs are men. But who is the remaining 6%, who are the women? I wanted to know what the world looks like for them, what it’s like being pretty much the only woman in the room, the only woman chasing after certain deals.

Todd: And what about today? Do you think things have changed in Silicon Valley at all?

Guthrie: With the #MeToo movement, there were all these bad guys who were outed in all these different industries, including tech, and there was a great spotlight that was shined on equity. Now you see these really strong groups like All Raise and Broadway Angels and these all-women investing platforms and political advocacy groups. I see these really promising pockets across the country where women who had climbed their way up that VC ladder and had gotten to partner, to general partner. Many are now starting their own firms.

Todd: But it’s not all good news everywhere, is it?

Guthrie: You look across industries, whether it’s home building or architecture or law or medicine or advertising, and women in the top ranks only represent between 5% and 20%. The progress across these industries has really stalled—it’s hard to imagine that we’re at this place in time and there’s still so much underrepresentation.

Todd: Tell me about the term “alpha girl.” What does that mean exactly?

Guthrie: An alpha girl is someone who goes from navigating to pioneering in whatever field, somebody who seizes an opportunity that’s difficult and persists and finds a way to thrive.

Todd: How did you arrive at the book’s title?

Guthrie: At first I had the Alpha Girls Club. I like the word “girls” because even as women, we can be girls. I think the girl should embody boldness and strength and compassion. Strength combined with girls—I love that equation. Alpha Girls is being adapted for a TV series, and a lot will be changed, with the story fictionalized, but Alpha Girls will remain as the title.

Todd: In the book you talk about how your reporting was already under way when the #MeToo movement began, but that it affected your reporting. Can you discuss that?

Guthrie: These women have to work with the guys, and they have to network. More men have honestly gotten behind this movement, this need, this call to action. #MeToo had a good effect, but there’s a flip side as well. It’s something like 60% of men who were recently surveyed in Silicon Valley in tech said that they won’t have a one-on-one meeting with a woman. They won’t mentor a woman, they won’t have closed-door meetings one-on-one, they won’t do offsite things. And that’s terrible.

Todd: If readers take away one idea from your book, what would you like it to be?

Guthrie: I would say that tech and venture capital are amazing careers for women and more women need to be in this industry that is shaping our future. An alpha girl shows how it can be done, but it’s a dynamic industry, and women should be getting into it in stronger numbers and playing a big role in shaping the future.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

I serve as an assistant editor on the Leadership team at Forbes. Previously, I interned with the Echoes-Sentinel and The Bernardsville News where I covered local news and events. I was editor-in-chief of The Setonian, Seton Hall University’s student-run and award-winning newspaper.

Source: How Four Female VCs Triumphed In Male-Dominated Silicon Valley

How Two Millennial Women Made Over $130,000 While Traveling the World Full-Time

 

Last year, I left my corporate life in New York City behind in a vow to give myself one year to design my dream job. Shortly thereafter, I took off on a 9-month-long social experiment, in which I would circumnavigate the globe by couch-surfing exclusively through my social network. Seventeen countries, four continents, and over a hundred encounters later, I have learned that I am not alone in my quest to earn a living while traveling the world: there are so many people out there right now who are making it work.

Source: How Two Millennial Women Made Over $130,000 While Traveling the World Full-Time

Older Workers Need Further Labor Market Improvements

Older workers in particular need the labor market to continue its growth streak. Employers added 312,000 new jobs in December 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is welcome news, but the labor market needs to continue improving, so that older workers will see real economic security. Additional job gains could make it easier for unemployed older workers to find a new job. And continued job market growth could further shrink inequalities in job market outcomes for older workers, for instance, by race and ethnicity…..

Source: Older Workers Need Further Labor Market Improvements

Women in Communication Earn Less, Experience Negative Company Cultures & Still Face a Glass Ceiling – Jennifer Lacayo

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FIU’s Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center released the results of a national survey that found that women are more likely to be in middle management or junior level positions in the communication industries, while men dominate top management positions.

In addition, the survey found that the culture of the company most often prevents women from being promoted and keeps them from advancing in their careers and that women are more likely to spend fewer years in the communications professions than men, lacking longevity in their current positions.

“This survey has given us critical results to help us understand the current role and status of women working in those industries,” said Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, executive director of the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication. “Interestingly, workplace culture came to the forefront as inhibiting advancement for women, a factor that companies need to have more awareness of in order to provide equity for all employees.”

Women dominate lower salary level positions in all communications professions. However, those working in public relations, advertising and market communications do slightly better than those in the journalism. Women also said they had been passed over for advancement into a management position because of a “men only” culture in their companies.

The survey, which was distributed to 22 national professional organizations across the U.S., used nearly 900 responses to come up with its findings.

The first survey was conducted by the Kopenhaver Center in 2016, and comparisons to 2018 responses show little progress in all areas except salaries, where there were some advancements.

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