Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The former Weight Watchers makes an intriguing partnership with Kohl’s, Louise Linton tries to reinvent herself at Sundance, and a CEO asks: If you can’t see it, can you be it? Have a terrific Thursday.
• Seeing yourself as a chief executive. At a World Economic Forum panel on women in leadership in Davos last week, Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaitė and former Chile President Michelle Bachelet were asked to describe the moment they knew they’d be leaders of their respective countries. The truth is, they both said, that moment came late in the process, if it came at all. They didn’t necessarily picture themselves in the role beforehand.
For Grybauskaitė, “the feeling of responsibility” to her country at a moment of “crisis” prompted her to seek the presidency.
For Bachelet, it wasn’t until she was photographed in a military tank as defense minister that her name started circulating as a presidential contender. “So all my friends were saying to me, ‘Can you lend me your tank?'” she joked onstage.
Following Grybauskaitė and Bachelet, fellow panelist Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, interjected: “It’s interesting how… [you’re] saying, ‘I never wanted the job I ended up with.’ And I wonder if that’s partly because we’re women, and women are not supposed to be too ambitious.”
“Having said that,” she continued, “I have the exact same feeling.”
Yesterday, I met another leader who didn’t always see herself in the job she has now. Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of gig labor platform TaskRabbit, grew up wanting to be an accountant. It wasn’t that she wasn’t ambitious, Brown-Philpot says. Rather, it was hard to visualize herself in a role that she hadn’t seen someone like her hold before. “How do imagine something’s that not there?” she asks.
Brown-Philpot, who is African American, recalls clearly when Ursula Burns became CEO of Xerox in 2009. It was only then that Brown-Philpot had a “mental” model—a prominent black woman CEO—to look to. And at that point, Brown-Philpot was well into her career running a team in India for Google.
Fast forward a decade and, beyond Brown-Philpot herself, there are still few black women CEOs; in fact, the Fortune 500 has none following Burns’ retirement. Is it still just as hard for women, especially women of color, to see themselves as chief executives? Brown-Philpot cites some areas of progress, albeit outside of business; her own daughter, for instance, has witnessed an African American U.S. president. But the onus is still on employers to build “ramps to success” so women can scale the corporate ladder, she says. That translates to, at a minimum, taking time to identify diverse candidates even if it means enduring the “really painful” process of leaving a critical position open longer than you’d like.
At the same time, Brown-Philpot earned a CEO role despite not seeing herself represented in most C-suites. Her advice for those in that position now? Focus on what you really like to do, seek out mentors, and take risks. “It’s about daring to do something different,” she says.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Campaign coffers? After stepping down as UN ambassador, Nikki Haley is raking in $200,000 per speaking engagement. Fortune‘s Chris Morris speculates: Could she be building a campaign war chest?
• WW + Kohl’s. Kohl’s, led by Michelle Gass, has teamed up with WW, formerly Weight Watchers, led by Mindy Grossman. Is it a match made in heaven? Per Fortune‘s Phil Wahba, the retailer and the recently-rebranded wellness company will partner on a “WW Studio” at a Kohl’s location in greater Chicago with workshops on health and wellness. Plus, Kohl’s will start selling WW kitchenware.
• Flying solo. As Lunar New Year approaches, single women in China are preparing for complicated family dynamics during the big holiday—and even facing pressure from their employers. Some companies are offering extra time off or “dating leave” to single women over 30. If they get married before the end of the year, they get double their annual bonus.
• Second act at Sundance. After catching up on Hope Hicks earlier this week, we might as well check in on Louise Linton. The actress married to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—and known for ostentatious social media posts and a problematic gap-year memoir—is popping up at Sundance, where she’s now pursuing a career as a producer.
The Hollywood Reporter
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Out for delivery. If you follow tech startups, you might have seen last week that the food delivery service Munchery went bust. Fortune‘s Polina Marinova takes a closer look at who was affected by that: the small business owners—many of whom are women—who are owed money for deliveries they made.
• Lorena’s side of the story. Seen the trailer for the upcoming Amazon docuseries reexamining the case of Lorena Bobbitt? Before the show premieres, Amy Chozick profiles its subject, who now goes by Lorena Gallo. “They always just focused on it…” she says, and not on the abuse she faced.
New York Times
• The trial of El Chapo. As the trial of drug lord El Chapo continues, the many women connected to him are front and center. His wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, has avoided charges of her own and stands by her husband, who she married as a teenager. Last week, his mistress Lucero Guadalupe Sánchez López testified; she faces life in prison.
New York Times
• Brand ambassadors. Have you noticed that presidential campaign logos look a little different this time around? The four women so far running for president are eschewing the usual red, white, and blue in favor of unique color palates. Kirsten Gillibrand has “pussy hat” pink, Kamala Harris pays homage to Shirley Chisholm with yellow, and Tulsi Gabbard reminds us of Hawaii with orange. The men who’ve announced for 2020, meanwhile, are more traditional, with years of precedent to harken back to.