Good morning, Broadsheet readers. A new report finds that we may have hit a breakthrough in recruiting female talent to corporate boards. Read on to learn more about Tory Burch’s new business partner, and to meet a woman who went from receptionist to CEO of a major advertising firm. Also, in honor of #FF (Forward Friday), I’m calling on all of you to tweet at me, @CFair1, with your favorite women on Twitter. Have a great weekend!
• Meet the woman who walked 10,000 miles. Sarah Marquis’s obsession with travel began with a simple question: Could she survive by herself in nature? So she set out on a three-year trek across Asia and Australia to find out. “One day you walk 12 hours, and you don’t feel pain,” Marquis said. “There is no before or after. The intellect doesn’t drive you anymore. It doesn’t exist anymore. You become what nature needs you to be: this wild thing.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Boardroom breakthrough? The percentage of women nominated for boards at large U.S. companies has doubled since 2008, according to a new report. In 2014, almost 30% of new board nominees for S&P 500 companies have been women, suggesting that investor calls for greater gender diversity finally may be having an impact.
• Condi Rice talks friends and music. The former Secretary of State spoke with Fortune about her strong friendship with Denise Young Smith, Apple’s head of HR. The duo even has played music together, with Rice on the piano and Young Smith singing. “She’s not afraid to take risk,” Rice said on Smith. “When you are going up the corporate ladder or the government ladder you have to take some risk. She could have remained in a position she knows and was wildly successful in, but she didn’t.”
• Syrian women fight U.S. strikes. A group of female activists sent a negative message to top American officials yesterday, claiming that the U.S.-led airstrikes are making things worse on the ground. “America is bombing us by night, and the regime is bombing us by day,” one activist told Bloomberg.
• Tory Burch’s new co-CEO. Roger Farah, a retail legend who helped build Ralph Lauren’s luxury empire, is now co-CEO of Burch’s namesake company. “We have grown significantly over the last 10 years and Roger is uniquely qualified to help us continue to build and scale the business,” said Burch.
• Silicon Valley’s would-be Martha Stewart. Brit Morin, founder of style site Brit + Co, is “rewriting the rules” on fashion and decor while trying to make a name for herself in the process. “This generation [of women] is just so different from that of our mothers’ and grandmothers’,” she explains. “Women are really interested in tech. They grew up with it for the most part.” Her site now has 859,000 visitors every month.
• MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Dana Anderson, former senior vice president of marketing communication and strategy for Kraft, is now CMO of snack food giant Mondelez International.
How Karen Kaplan went from receptionist to CEO
Karen Kaplan didn’t even want to work in advertising when she applied to be a receptionist at the Boston-based ad firm Hill Holliday. At the age of 22, Kaplan was looking for a low-commitment job that would help pay the bills while she saved money for law school and studied for the LSAT. Some 32 years later, Kaplan is still at Hill Holliday. Only, now, she’s the CEO.
Kaplan spoke with me about her unpredictable career path, what it was like to work in advertising in the 1980’s, and the best advice she ever got.
CF: Did you take your receptionist job seriously?
KK: One of the things the then-CEO said to me changed my life and my career ambitions. When I got the job, he looked at me and said, “Congratulations, you are now the face and the voice of Hill Holliday.” The face and the voice of the company should be the CEO, so I remember thinking in that moment that I was going to be the CEO of the reception desk. I was going to be the best damned receptionist in history and that’s how I approached the job. I took it really seriously. I didn’t just bide my time out there. It was the perfect perch to study people and get to know everybody and figure things out.
CF: What was it like working in advertising in the 1980s?
KK: The world in the 1980’s for working women, particularly in advertising, was not far evolved from what you see in Mad Men, which was set in the 1960’s. I always say we made a lot more progress in the last 20 or 30 years. When my kids were babies in the 1990’s, women in the workplace kind of hid their kids. If you had kids, people would assume you couldn’t travel, without having any idea what your partner situation was. A woman with kids could be considered an excuse for not being given a job, promotion of assignment. Now, there is this transparency and celebration of women that I’ve never seen before. Women are in the social consciousness and are front and center now.
CF: What type of leader are you?
KK: Great leaders are more impressed with what they don’t know than what they know. I think a lot of leaders are know-it-alls. The moment you think you know everything, you are dead. I am very curious. I can always do better and get better and I embrace change and I feel like everyone brings a different perspective and everyone sees the world differently. If you are not open to that, you might as well call it a day. Because I basically had every job at Hill Holliday, I respect that great ideas can come from everywhere and anyone.
Click over to Fortune.com to read my full interview with Kaplan.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Scandal producer talks internship from hell. Before Judy Smith became the co-executive producer of Scandal, she clerked for a judge in Washington, D.C. It was the worst summer of her life, but she says suffering through the job was integral to her future success. “I demand the most of myself and no matter how tired I am or how much the odds seem against me—I push. And when I have a weak moment I just think back to that summer and realize that anything less than excellence feels unacceptable,” she writes.
• The pay cliff for women in Hollywood. Male movie stars steadily see their earnings rise until they turn 51. For women, the peak comes 17 years earlier and is followed by a dramatic drop. The problem is related to a shortage of prominent roles for older women in film. “As long as stereotypes regarding older women prevail in society, I doubt moviemakers will increase the number of movies with older women in the lead role,” says an expert.
ON MY RADAR
|I've had moments where I am having a disagreement with one of my co-founders and I am super frustrated. But, diversity is disagreement. That is what I should expect from my team. I should accept that we are disagreeing. I should be glad we are disagreeing. Then there is an opportunity to find the middle ground.|
|-- Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of crowdfunding website Indiegogo, talks about the importance of having a diverse team.|