Skip to Content

The Broadsheet: November 4th

Good morning, Broadsheet readers. The midterm elections are underway, and women have a shot at more Congressional seats than ever before. Read on to learn why the most senior female exec at Chipotle was initially convinced that the restaurant concept would fail. Have a great Tuesday!

EVERYONE’S VOTING (HOPEFULLY)

Will we get to 20% in Congress? There are 15 women–10 Democrats and five Republicans–running for the Senate. There are 161 women–108 Democrats and 53 Republicans–in races for House seats. Experts are predicting that this finally could be the year that we reach an unprecedented 1:5 female/male ratio in Congress. Today, only 18.9% of Congress is female. For those keeping score at home, women do indeed still make up over half the American population.  Time

• The important women’s vote. Women are increasingly voting at higher rates than men, giving candidates with pro-women platforms like reproductive rights and equal pay a leg up. “The women’s vote, as we’ve seen in this election all over the country, is hotly contested,” a source told the Wall Street Journal. “The Democrats need it, the Republicans want it.”  WSJ

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

Nurse who treated Ebola patients reaches settlement. Kaci Hickox, who defied a state-ordered quarantine, reached an agreement that will allow her to move around in public so long as she continues to monitor her health and alerts public officials if she begins to show symptoms. WSJ

Taylor Swift’s new war. The pop star has decided to remove her music from Spotify, where around 16 million users had listened to Taylor Swift songs over the past month. “We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone,” Spotify said in a statement.  Time

Angela Ahrendts speaks. Well, sort of. Apple’s senior vice president of retail and online stores, who has stayed  quiet since assuming the role earlier this year, was quoted in a leaked video transcript as saying that the Apple Watch is slated for a spring 2015 launch. Time

• Jill Abramson stands by longform. The former New York Times executive editor says her new media startup will advance writers around $100,000 for articles that will be longer than traditional magazine articles, but shorter that books.  Poynter

BROADVIEW

From general manager to Chipotle’s top female executive

In 1995, Gretchen Selfridge almost turned down the opportunity to manage the country’s second Chipotle. Now, she runs around 850 of them.

As Chipotle’s restaurant support officer, Selfridge’s role is similar to that of a co-COO. She is responsible for half of America’s Chipotle stores while another exec, Mike Duffy, manages the rest. Nearly 20 years ago while waiting on tables at the now-closed restaurant that she worked at in Aurora, Colo., one of her regular customers — who was then Chipotle’s head of operations — asked her if she wanted to join the new venture. She demurred. There was no chance a concept like Chipotle’s could survive, she thought.

“Back in 1990s, there wasn’t this category of restaurants. You had fast food and you had full service,” Selfridge said in an interview with Fortune. “I was working at a full-service restaurant. I didn’t want to go work at something like a Taco Bell. I sort of turned my nose down on the opportunity.”

Eventually, Selfridge took a meeting with Steve Ells, Chipotle’s founder and co-CEO, to learn more. It didn’t take long for her to get hooked. Calling Ells a “visionary,” Selfridge said she didn’t care what kind of restaurant he was running; she just wanted to work for him. The next year, she became the general manager of the company’s second store, based in Denver.

At age 31, Selfridge realized quickly that Chipotle wasn’t like any other restaurant. In her previous industry experience, the only time a customer asked to see a restaurant manager was to complain about the food or the experience. But at Chipotle, she had customer after customer asking her how they could buy a franchise and when they planned on opening up a location closer to their home.

Loyal patrons weren’t the only ones who wanted to get a piece of Chipotle’s Mexican-style pie. At the end of 1997 with only a handful of restaurants spread across Colorado, the company got a call from an unexpected source: McDonald’s. The fast-food giant known for its golden arches and greasy French fries wanted to invest. Once McDonald’s agreed to stay out of Chipotle’s business and simply act as a lender, Ells and his team agreed to take them on as a financial partner.

Chipotle eventually dissolved the partnership in 2006, but McDonald’s initial investment allowed the small burrito joint to set its sights on larger growth. When Selfridge came in to run the second Chipotle, Ells and his team thought they could eventually grow to a total of four restaurants. By 1998, the company was opening 13 every year. Last year, Chipotle opened up 185 new restaurants bringing the total to 1,700 stores and raking in $3.21 billion in revenue.

“I remember thinking, ‘McDonald’s is a huge company. What do they see in our just 13 stores?’ That’s when I realized that this could be really big,” she said.

Click over to Fortune.com to read my full story.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

• Walmart’s Gisel Ruiz: The best mistake I ever made. The retail giant’s chief operating officer began her career as an employee at one of the company’s stores. When her first opportunity for a corporate position came up, Ruiz blew the interview because she didn’t want to relocate. It made her realize that she “needed to open my mind to other possibilities; to stretch myself in the spirit of learning and growing; to consider less traditional paths.” Fortune

A fitness entrepreneur nabs $14 million. Payal Kadakia, CEO of ClassPass, isn’t trying to get Americans hooked on the next exercise craze. Instead, her company charges subscribers $99 a month to take classes at dozens of different fitness studios in a given city.  Fortune

• SheKnows buys BlogHer. The digital media company SheKnows, dedicated to publishing articles and videos geared at women, bought the blogging network BlogHer for a reported $30 to $40 million. The deal makes the media company the No. 1 women’s lifestyle media brand with 75.3 million unduplicated unique visitors per month.  AdAge

ON MY RADAR

Fortune’s Most Powerful Women share the best mom advice   Fortune

Female breadwinners are on the rise Fortune

What six-year-olds can teach us about getting promoted  LinkedIn

More women on boards does not mean more diversity  WSJ

Pakistan Cricket Board names women’s tournament after Malala Yousafzai  ESPN

QUOTE

For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost; for want of a horseshoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the battle was lost; for want of a battle, the war was lost... Due to the absence of just a few votes, each of us can count the differences in our lives, our nation, and our world.

Gloria Steinem in Cosmopolitan.