Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Shaun White is (finally) facing questions about his treatment of women, going to conferences might actually help you get ahead at work, and female founders share their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. We’re sending love and strength to the people of Parkland, Fla. this Thursday.
• 5 tips from female founders. Between being a minority at pretty much every industry event, having to convince (mostly male) venture capitalists to invest in your company, and having those investors constantly question your judgment, being a female founder can be an isolating experience. Luckily, there are women who have gone through that experience and didn’t just make it out alive, but created wildly successful consumer brands. Some of those women spoke at BBG Ventures Reset 2018 on Wednesday in New York City. Val breaks down their top five tips for fellow female entrepreneurs:
1. Don’t just listen to your customers, act on what they tell you.
“Your customers are your roadmap,” says Shanna Tellerman, CEO of Modsy, a startup that creates three-dimensional renderings to help users design their homes. Because her product can be tricky to explain, the founder uses customer feedback to inform communication about the company. Jenn Hyman, CEO of clothing rental service Rent the Runway, says customer feedback actually drove her expansion strategy. In addition to evening wear, RTR now allows women to rent work attire, maternity clothes, accessories, “because we heard from the customer that she wanted to use us more than a few times a year.”
2. Just because you fill a void in the market, doesn’t mean others can’t, too.
Kristen Jones Miller, co-founder of Mented Cosmetics, which makes makeup for women of color, says that once Rihanna launched her beauty brand Fenty, which serves the same demographic, she heard the question: “Can we really have more than one beauty brand focused on diversity?” The answer, of course, is yes. “It’s like asking if Lancome and Estee Lauder can both exist simultaneously.” In fact, Miller says, the Fenty launch has boosted Mented’s sales.
3. Admit when you need help—and get it.
Amy Chang, CEO of Accompany, an intelligent, adaptive virtual chief of staff product, says one of her biggest learnings from founding a company was how much she still had to learn. And anyone who doesn’t admit that “is hurting their company,” she says. In addition to having a team and an advisory board that makes up for her skill gaps, Chang employs creative ways to soak up knowledge—like asking companies she admires or customers she serves to shadow them. “You’ll be surprised what people will say yes to.”
4. Live and breathe your brand.
Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, co-CEOs of theSkimm, a daily newsletter-turned-media platform, are “obsessed” with their brand voice. “It isn’t just how you position the company externally but also the experience every single day,” Zakin says. In addition to creating a brand document that everyone in the company knows inside out, the co-founders have made a point to brand all of their touchpoints—from fictional holiday Skimm Day to their brand ambassadors (Skimm’bassadors). It’s not just about turning everything into a pun, but about being intentional about everything you do, says Weisberg.
5. Don’t underestimate your customer’s intelligence.
Marah Lidey, co-founder of Shine, a service sends you free daily text messages with motivational quotes, says one of the biggest mistakes she sees startups make—particularly when trying to monetize—is trying to “trick” their customers. “Don’t do that. Customers are smart.” Rent the Runway’s Hyman points out that her biggest piece of feedback from her customer was a sophisticated one: “They asked for shorter turnaround time. That’s the language businesswomen use!” Fortune
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• No gold medal pass. Shaun White, who won his third gold medal in men’s halfpipe Wednesday night, first attempted to brush off the sexual harassment allegations against him as “gossip” in a post-win press conference (in which no female reporter was called upon to ask a question), then went appeared on the Today show to apologize for his “poor choice of words.” You would think that White, NBC, and U.S. Ski and Snowboard would understand that we are no longer living in a world where any athlete—including legendary Olympians—is immune from facing tough questions about his treatment of women. Fortune
• Going Green. Term Sheet‘s Polina Marinova (sign up here) talks to Kirsten Green about what the superstar early stage investor (whose portfolio companies include Birchbox, Bonobos, Glossier, Hotel Tonight, Warby Parker, and Outdoor Voices) thinks about the evolution of commerce, the process of developing cult-like brand loyalty, and Amazon’s effect on the retail industry. Fortune
• Problems at home. In this essay from another exceptional Fortune newsletter—Ellen McGirt’s RaceAhead—Ellen looks at a new report from UN Women that shows that women around the world remain underpaid, under-supported, and likely to be victims of violence. Among other things, the data reveals that when it comes to their physical and economic safety, many women in the U.S. are struggling in ways that are comparable to women in developing nations. Fortune
• File under “too little, too late.” One week after Rob Porter resigned amid accusations of spousal abuse, President Trump yesterday said he was “totally opposed to domestic violence.” As the NYT notes, this is his first condemnation of Porter’s alleged conduct. The statement, “which members of both parties had said was long overdue,” comes as the chief of staff John Kelly faces serious questions about his handling of the situation. New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: USA Today announced that Nicole Carroll will become editor in chief, effective March 2018. Previously, she served as VP of news and editor of the Arizona Republic. Tina Hsiao has been named COO of WePay. Wildcat Venture Partners has hired Jennifer (JT) Trzepacz as a new operating partner and chief people officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The post-conference bump? Can attending a women’s conference actually help your career? According to new research from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, the answer is yes. He looked a group that had attended the Conference for Women compared to another group that had signed up for, but had not yet attended the event. Among his discoveries: The women who went were more than twice as likely to have received a promotion and three times as likely to have gotten a pay bump of at least 10%. Harvard Business Review
• Davis’s new home. The Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study announced that it has acquired the personal archive of iconic activist Angela Davis, complete with, “more than 150 boxes of papers, photographs, pamphlets and other material that spans her entire life.” New York Times
• Senator Mom. In this podcast, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL-D) talks about Democratic prospects in the midterms, her history-making pregnancy and why she “can’t technically take maternity leave.” Politico
• Hired and fired. Slate breaks down the story behind the NYT’s (very brief) dalliance with Quinn Norton, the tech writer the paper earlier this week hired as an editorial board member—then fired about six hours later. Slate
ON MY RADAR
Leslie Jones is the de facto fashion critic (again) New York Times
Why more Japanese women are opting out of Valentine’s Day Fortune
In exile, Steven Bannon sounds the alarm on #MeToo Bloomberg
Lena Dunham on her decision to have a hysterectomy at 31 Vogue