33voices | Startups & Venture Capital | Women Entrepreneurs | Management & Leadership | Mindset | Hiring & Culture | Branding & Marketing | Life Design
Summary: Moe and Jenna Abdou interview a highly influential roster of founders, venture capitalists, CEO’s, master thinkers, bestselling authors, academic minds, and creatives to deconstruct the hidden insights that only those who are building breakthrough ventures can reveal. For ten years now, 33voices has engaged closely with founders, senior executives and company builders to identify interesting & pressing challenges that give rise to thoughtful dialogue with contributors who not only think differently, but who represent the frontiers of knowledge in business, culture and lifestyle.
Semil Shah and Jenna chat about his first investments at Haystack in companies like Hired and Instacart and reflect on a few big bets taken by portfolio companies like Wag and Managed by Q. We discuss the realities of being a VC such as creating space to let your mind rest so your subconscious can kick in evaluating investments, the challenge of saying ‘No’ to founders you admire, as well as developing a willingness to concentrate risk to have outsized returns. We also walk through key insights from Semil’s blog including: whether you need to be paranoid to succeed, the difference between stubbornness and resilience and how to cultivate the latter, in the moment tips to take a step back to make decisions from a place of clarity not adrenaline, and always choosing the opportunity where you can learn the most.
Carolyn Witte, Felicity Yost, and Jenna discuss how Tia aims to be women’s translator to understand their healthcare and their latest feature The Vagina Benefits, specifically designed to decode women’s unique health insurance needs and rights. Carolyn and Felicity share Tia’s efforts changing the conversation around women’s health and how they’re finding the right voice, balancing the education of your OBGYN with the comfort and trust of chatting with your best friend. We also walk through their goal to help women shift from reactive healthcare to preventative healthcare by developing a long-term relationship with them and harnessing their data to coach and remind them to actively manage their health.
Acclaimed management thinker, Morten Hansen joins Moe Abdou to explore the modern framework for individual greatness at work.
Peter Rahal and Jenna discuss how the nature of RXBAR's product influences their culture — the constraints are a mindset — and why every team member makes bars. We chat about your values as your constitution and how to turn them from principles into practice. Peter walks us through the company’s founding days from making bars in his parents’ kitchen to running the business from his cell phone for 18 months and feeling miserably uncomfortable clawing for growth as a CPG brand. We also dive deep into EQ, including understanding your team’s leadership and communication styles, what motivates them, and making gratitude a cornerstone of your internal and external culture with a “Gratitude Dashboard.”
Alexa Buckley, Sarah Pierson, and Jenna discuss how Margaux is creating staple shoes for every part of a woman’s life. The founders share their decision to take the leap after hearing Sheryl Sandberg ask: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? and the challenges of founding the company right after college, especially partnering with a manufacturer; Their best tips are not to acknowledge perceived differences, keep persisting, and have a credible advocate - whether it’s an advisor, investor, or team member - to champion your mission. We chat about working in millimeters, both in designing shoes and building startups, how to respond to the investable question “What’s next?” and why the work no one sees is your competitive advantage. We also cover insights from Margaux’s #OnTheGaux series, including “True control comes from doing nothing," and how it helps the founders disconnect and recharge.
Leila Janah and Jenna discuss the Give Work philosophy of shifting the view of people in poverty as those who need aid to equal producers and participants in the global economy. Leila shares how the future of work will require everyone to be an entrepreneur and how Samasource is training people to be competitive in the digital world. We discuss launching and building her skincare company LXMI with a Give Work mentality, incorporating as a B Corporation, the power of supply chain, and why we need to shift from the idea of shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism. Leila also dives into her personal journey, including her experience with a group of Fortune 100 CEOs and Pope Francis at The Vatican, lessons like ‘Embrace what is, not what you thought should be,’ and seeking inspiration and solace in nature — To gain insight, feel small compared to something bigger. Most importantly, she shares a reminder that we have an obligation to make a difference for others.
Kevin Thau and Jenna discuss how he tries to manufacture serendipity as a VC at Spark Capital. Kevin shares key lessons on how to explain your product with teaching moments when you’re pioneering a new market, the importance and challenge of being disciplined with your product roadmap, and why “more”- money, products, or people - doesn’t solve problems. We also chat about how to resist the reflex to react to a current situation like a past one, why there is no one-size-fits-all model to successfully lead a company, and Kevin’s belief in organized chaos being the best way to get your team in the right place, at the right time, working on the right problem.
Valerie Macaulay, Meredith Melling, Molly Howard and Jenna discuss La Ligne’s mission to empower women to look, feel, and be confident in themselves. The founders chat about building a next generation fashion brand, emphasize the importance of rooting La Ligne in community and inclusivity, and touch on their collaborations with brands like Cuyana, Rockets of Awesome, and Jennifer Fisher Jewelry. We dive into lessons learned from their interview series La Bande including, coming to work with a full heart every day, why everything (including you!) is always 99% done, and Sophia Bush’s line to live by: "You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously."
Raegan Moya-Jones and Jenna discuss aden+anais' founding story and how Raegan got the business to $1 million in revenue while working full time at The Economist and building the business after putting her daughters to bed between 8:30 p.m. to 3 a.m.. We chat about the realities of launching a business, including surviving the exhaustion, how startups influence personal relationships and the way Raegan accepted and approached this. Raegan opens up about co-founder partnerships, shares an exercise to truly stress test your relationship before partnering and what to establish legally, as well as how she ran the business on her own after her co-founder departed, while also raising the funds to save the company. We walk through Raegan’s journey as a self-taught CEO, how to help your team recover from mistakes quickly, and balancing being democratic and collaborative while also being decisive: “It’s the people who make the organization not where they sit in the organization.”
Manish Chandra and Jenna discuss Poshmark’s newest product Poshmark Stylist Match: the first ever voice-enabled social styling engine. We chat about the journey from personally recruiting their first 800 customers to working closely with a community of 3 million seller stylists who spend an average of 25 minutes a day on Poshmark. Manish walks us through the state of social commerce and how the team views Poshmark “as a new kind of social mall that brings communities of people across the country together” and their plans “to grow together as a highly distributed but connected entity.” We unpack how Poshmark’s values lead with love, love is longevity, and embrace your weirdness help everyone on their team and platform turn what they are afraid of into their greatest growth opportunity, as well as why it is essential that the only way to succeed on Poshmark is to lift others up — The symbiotic cycle fuels the community. Manish also shares two moving stories about Poshmark in real life about a woman who used her earnings to transition her family from being homeless to being able to afford a home and another seller stylist who used Poshmark to help her child and her escape from an abusive relationship.
Bianca Gates, Marisa Sharkey, and Jenna chat about the text that kicked off Birdies and how they launched their first collection by the holidays (including storing their first set of inventory at Marisa's house!). Bianca and Marisa explain how they got in touch with their first manufacturer and what production partners are looking for before working with a startup. Bianca shares a helpful tactic to get to know your network in order to leverage it: Every day between work and home stop and have a conversation with someone in your network purely about business. Next time you need advice you’ll know exactly who has the right expertise. We talk about the future of digitally led brands and how Bianca’s time leading global marketing solutions at Facebook influences Birdies' goal to be a friend to their community, not a brand trying to sell them a product. We also chat about a yearly goal setting practice: At the start of the year, write a letter to yourself detailing all of the milestones you want to hit by this time next year, the challenges you’ll have faced and overcome to reach them, and the experiences you want to have; "Everything you do becomes deliberate because it’s already been planned."
Susan Tynan and Jenna discuss how Framebridge is making framing as simple and cost-effective as it’s ever been and the team’s goal to give everyone who sees something beautiful the opportunity to relive the moment. Susan discusses the scaling challenges of distinguishing what you will never change and what you have to change in order to grow. At Framebridge one value always reigns: “Each one is the only one — because for our customers it is.” We chat about how Framebridge navigated blowing past an early Father’s Day promotion and dug out of going from a 48-hour turn around to a 15-day turn around. Susan also shares how she utilizes the military OODA loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, Act — to make decisions quickly, why she always asks everyone for their opinion, and tips to context switch from high-level strategy discussions to granular details.
Tammy Sun and Jenna discuss how companies are currently offering fertility care benefits and the ways Carrot is helping them customize programs to offer their employees. Tammy emphasizes that fertility care is a fundamental part of human healthcare not solely women’s healthcare and shares Carrot’s hope that fertility benefits become synonymous to other healthcare benefits, like vision and dental. We walk through tactics for companies to approach and implement fertility benefits at their companies and how to discuss them with your team. We also chat about Tammy’s career starting at The White House and transitioning to tech, lessons she’s learned about breaking down challenges and relentlessly executing on your deliverables, and the importance of recognizing that change is happening — “Lesson 1: Just Start. Lesson 2: Once you start, keep going. If you give up you are automatically out. There are a lot of things that can destroy your company. But there’s one thing that you have control over: You will not die because you gave up.”
Josh Grau and Jenna discuss how Wealthfront is utilizing storytelling and design thinking to infuse humor, empowerment, and reliability into our relationship with our personal finances. Josh rewinds to some pivotal moments from his six years at Twitter including building and launching Moments, The Arab Spring, learning that the Turkish Prime Minister restricted access to Twitter (while they were toasting the launch in Turkey!) and how it revealed and amplified their duty to champion free speech. We chat about Josh’s time at YouTube during the dawn of creator driven content with now superstars like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber and the role it played shaping the media industry. Josh also shares stories from his time coaching women’s volleyball at University of Texas and Northwestern University, where he learned how to recruit top talent when you’re the underdog, and also shares his experiences as a sports broadcaster.
Ashley Fieglein Johnson and Jenna discuss how Wealthfront is like a GPS for our financial lives and the team’s mission to ensure that everyone has access to sophisticated financial advice — It shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy. We discuss Ashley’s work advocating for women to invest, the importance of developing an ‘escape hatch’ to create financial freedom and set yourself up to capitalize on opportunities to create wealth, as well as the financial advice she wishes she would have received early in her career. Ashley shares how Women at Wealthfront is actively working to help women build lasting careers, the team’s commitment to changing the face of wealth management firms by prioritizing diversity, and why we need more women in leadership to not only break glass ceilings but glass doors. We also chat about Ashley’s career including, rising up in careers where you don’t have role models and how mentors can help, the three best pieces of advice she’s received from her mentors, as well as her rapid ascent at ServiceSource where she held five senior leadership roles in five years.