Women…note to self, get more press

images-1Years ago when I sat down for breakfast with Nancy Hechinger, my co-founder of WeFestival she commented that there are not enough women entrepreneurs.  I didn’t agree.  I was seeing women founders daily.  The issue is that women network differently.  Women don’t care about going to that dinner where there might be people to meet.  They don’t care about going to events.  They focus on their business and their family and friends.  After that they do the business things which means mostly never.  That means it is not a priority to network.  Their heads are down in their business.

I have been talking to people about WeFestival 2016.  One of the women I talked to was Maxine Clark.  An impressive take no prisoners get shit done woman.  You might ask yourself, who is Maxine Clark?  Maxine Clark is the founder of Build-A-Bear.  She founded the company in 1997, brought it public and continued overseeing the company for eleven years after that.  In 2013 they did $380m in revenues.

One of the things I want to do at WeFestival this year is have a panel of women who have now raised significant capital who I believe will be the next generation of women who have broken the ceiling.  Maxine said that I should talk to her friend who started Gymboree.  A woman started Gymboree?  Yep.  In 1976 Gymboree was founded by Joan Barnes.  In 2014 Gymboree did $375m in gross sales.

There is always a keynote at WeFestival and that keynote is usually a woman entrepreneur that people know.  When I start thinking about it every year I find the list not as big as I’d like to see.  Many of the women who have been as successful as Maxine and Joan most people have never heard of.   Why is that?  I believe it goes right back to the fact that women network differently.  They don’t care if their name is on the front page of the WSJ but here is the thing…they should.

The importance of the next generation of founders that are starting to hit the high notes is one that should be noted in the press and noted often.  The ones that we can start to feel quite confident about that they will have positive exits be it an IPO or a sale of the company in the hundreds of millions need to get into the limelight.  They need to be in the media so that the next generation of women, those girls who are in elementary school, junior high school, high school or college read about them and say to themselves “I want to be like that”.  It could be a top scientist, a leader in the banking industry, a top media executive, a female founder but in order for the next generation to know about the many successful women out there they need to know about them.  All these women are entrepreneurs.  You don’t get to the top of the ladder without having an entrepreneurial spirit.

So all you women out there who are killing it…do yourself a favor and be the role model we want you to be and get into the press so others will know and see that there are plenty of women entrepreneurs out there.

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures


  2. awaldstein

    More unsung powerhouse women who basically no one knows.Soulcycle is one amongst very many.I was lucky.Two of my earliest partners then friends at the beginning of my career were Heidi Roizen and Ann Wimblad.I learned early what this was about.

  3. Jen Anderson

    I wonder if it’s because we women have a tendency to care so much about what others think of us. What happens if you do land in the press and it’s bad press? Are you secure enough in your sense of self that you won’t let the haters get to you?

    1. Gotham Gal

      Perhaps but we should get over it. Business is separate from personal

    2. JamesHRH

      GG is right – its business, do your job.

  4. Sofia Papastamelos

    This is so true. The press is not necessarily about bragging and ego, it’s about sharing your story. Out of sight, out of mind.

  5. BillMcNeely

    This post helped me understand why our ( PICKUP’s ) Brenda Stoner does not do events. Thanks for sharing.

    1. JamesHRH

      Maybe she is an introvert. Or thinks that events are a waste of effort.Take a more multi-focal approach Bill.

      1. BillMcNeely

        Well actually she has told me just that. I am always seeking understanding so I can better with folks.

        1. JamesHRH

          I think that single-lens-itis is the greatest plague of the internet era.People shut down and just choose one angle at a time, due to the deluge of content.Figured you were mentally tougher than that!

          1. Gotham Gal

            ?. I’m pretty tough

          2. JamesHRH

            I know we’ve never met….but, uh, successful garment career, 3 kids up out & on the rails, haven’t strangled Fred yet……I had that sussed out already 😉

          3. BillMcNeely

            I am fully chastened

          4. JamesHRH

            No no no, like, I know enough form AVC that I ….. ah jeez.Argh. Sigh.;-)

          5. BillMcNeely

            no worries 🙂

  6. Erin

    Cool. I attended a workshop with a VP of build a bear, and I interviewed him for my website. I need to find that.

  7. JamesHRH

    The goal is really simple: you judge people on their actions.People’s actions are based on their beliefs, their personality and their capabilities. Capabilities is the big one: its where emotional, intellectual and physical performance reside.Gender may inform one of those categories, but it isn’t a category unto itself.As for business and personal intersections, that comes down to your beliefs and personality. Your post yesterday was 100% on point for me – Gayle King should have been upbraided for taking the conversation off course.I can only assume that her female guests hold beliefs that kept them from tuning Gayle on that issue. And , the same goes for the men…they could have asked “how come you never ask about work life balance? do you assume I am an absentee husband & father?”Stereotypes exist for a reason, because they are accurate about 80% of the time. You’ve just painted every woman in business a certain way in today’s post and your characterization of women in business is probably correct…..about 80% of the time.So, sweeping statements need to be put into specific context or bracketed with the 80% rule. That advice would have helped Ben Carson out (can someone who communicates that poorly really think they can become Preesident? Amazing.)However, the flighty, no family, workhaloic, narcissistic interior decorator we fired this spring doesn’t fit that bill. She’s a superficial, non-operational, no follow through, networking machine…….reminds me of Carly Fiorina to use a topical reference

    1. Gotham Gal

      Stereotypes definitely and perhaps unfortunately exist

      1. JamesHRH

        Stereotypes are a natural tool – human beings would not be on the top of the food chain without our ability to pattern match.The problem with tools is how they are used, not what they do……..

  8. anne weiler

    Totally agree. I’m part of Springboard, a program for women entrepreneurs, and the mentors are all crazily accomplished women I’ve never heard of. I’m guilty myself of not doing enough press but wanted to wait until we had a consistent drumbeat of stories.

  9. Brandon Burns

    I’m a guy, but I’m not your prototypical startup guy. I think the main difference is that I have a problem similar to one you’ve ascribed to women — I am terrible at hyping myself up.Seeking press, building hype, this is something that a lot of men who are successful in the startup world do well. I had coffee with the CEO of a well known startup recently, and the spin that he put on the most (to me) mundane details was somewhat impressive. Personally, I hate to “bullshit people” as my father would say. But unlike us, most people respond to someone who’s hyping themselves up — even if its over something little, it’ll be seen as a big deal. They feel an energy from it, and they translate that into smarts, leadership ability, etc.I still see it as bullshit, and I’m sure a lot of women do, too. But when everyone else is zigging, it doesn’t always help to zag. Building hype, press, and all that stuff matters.But when that’s not innate to you, it’s hard to do. It’s easy to say “go get press.” It’s a lot harder to be that person who’s good enough at bullshitting… or hype, whatever… to get the reporter jazzed enough to write a story, or get an investor to write a check.What I’d rather see recommended is for the press and the investment community to stop looking to this one personality archetype as the example, and to realize that there are quiet leaders who can inspire armies, straight talkers who lead by example — the dude who’s good at hype is not the only person who can be successful.

    1. Gotham Gal

      If the press took time to find those people it would be a blessing.

      1. Brandon Burns

        Too bad the press is only looking for empty clickbait instead of substance. Sigh.

    2. awaldstein

      Need to say that the idea that publicity at its core is bullshit is well, just bullshit.Just not the truth.

      1. Brandon Burns

        You’re right. Publicity is not bullshit, nor did I assert that it is. I actually specifically said that building hype and press matters.But people get press by being good bullshitters; that’s the problem, especially for people who are not good at hyping themselves up but are doing press worthy things.

        1. awaldstein

          You are a smart guy. If you want attention you can learn how to get it and you will if it is important to you.We all have core strengths. We all learn to do what we must till we have resources to hire to our own weaknesses.That’s the truth of marketing pre later stage funding.

  10. Pranay Srinivasan

    The ability to get your message out there at the right time to the right people, whether in the trade by networking (B2B) or using an agency to get quoted / written about in the mainstream press (B2C) is just as important as sales, biz dev, product and fundraising.it just looks self-aggrandizing so people shy away from it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I totally agree

  11. laurie kalmanson

    related: the gap between competence and confidence https://hbr.org/2013/08/why…quote: In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.

  12. ehmking

    This speaks to me. I’m a woman lawyer at a boutique law firm in RTP that works primarily with early stage life science, biotechnology and technology companies. With two small kids at home, I work an 80% schedule. My practice grows organically and I’m trucking right along through my career at a pace I can handle, but I have accepted that I won’t have time for traditional marketing and therefore, I won’t be the golden girl of my profession, that prize will be handed to the golden boy. Then this year I was named for an award based on my practice and my first thought was “Oh no, I’ll have to go to the event, what will I miss at home?” My friend from one of my kid’s schools wanted to name me in a magazine she works for and my response? Thanks, but I have all I can handle. You’ve talked before about seasons of life and figuring out what you can handle and right now I just can’t handle the thought of making small talk at events instead of reading stories to my kids. You are right. As women, we go straight to thinking about the needs of family and friends and think about what publicity or networking could do for our careers second.