1) Describe what you are working on?
Right now I am consulting for a few companies in the Bay Area. Because I have a strong legal and business background, and my last position included marketing and branding work, I am able to leverage my expertise to help startups and established companies solve a broad variety of problems. My consulting work is featured at anicajohn.com. I also have a personal project I am interested in developing further, and it involves how we make decisions. You can follow that at happkick.org.
2) Tell me about your idea.
I’ve had a lot of life events take place in the last year. I got married, and we found out we are expecting a baby boy. I changed my career plans, and we are moving our home next month. During this process, I have had to make a lot of decisions, both alone and with my husband. We spent a lot of time understanding each other's needs and coming to a consensus on what would make sense for us both. This process prompted me to research decision-making more generally, and I came away with two salient points. First, humans are not wired to make optimal decisions in our modern environment. Second, there is a lot of helpful scientific research on this topic that is not presented to the average consumer in a way that we can easily apply it to our daily lives. My idea is to create tools to help us understand how we make decisions, and to help us make better decisions.
3) What was your background prior to this company
I have a very versatile background. I have done development work in Africa, and did nonprofit work which led to the deployment of solar technology in India. I was a federal tax litigator for a few years. I also ran corporate development for a venture backed clean energy company in the Bay Area. Along the way I founded two companies. One had a successful exit, and the other one is doing quite well. Most recently, I was a COO of a wearables company.
4) Describe particular challenges you faced as a female founder/co-founder of a company
I think that the bar is always just a bit higher for women. People question you more than men. If they perceive a mistake, they are less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ve learned to overcome these types of biases by being very prepared. Whether you are meeting with an investor or a customer, always come with a solid understanding of your business and be able to convey that effectively.
5) How do you achieve work life balance
I don’t know that we have a lot of work life balance in my household. My husband and I are often typing on our laptops late at night. But we do prioritize our relationship, our family, and our community. We go out, just the two of us, at least once a week. We also try not to miss friends’ birthdays or other important celebrations.
6) For all of the other female entrepreneurs’ out there, provide some words of advice
I think it is just different being an entrepreneur who happens to be female. Generally, we have different strengths and weaknesses than men do, and there are fewer role models for success. I would say that you have to find what works for you and stick with it, because we are still in the pioneering stages of women leading technology companies. Hopefully, someday you can be a role model for other young women. Also, when you choose a life partner, make sure it is someone supportive of your dreams. My husband and I actually wrote this into our wedding vows, and so far we are keeping them!
7) Describe your thoughts on the “glass ceiling” and the recent suit against KPCB.
I don’t know enough about the details of the KPCB case, so I can’t comment on it. However, I do know that men and women are often judged differently for the exact same behaviors. An action can be seen as leadership when carried out by a man, but as aggressive and overreaching when carried out by a woman. My general sense is that this is just indicative of our particular time in history. A friend of mine has a great way of putting this. He said “We’ve had dual income households before, but this is the first generation where we have dual career households.” It’s absolutely true. We are in the nascent stages of seeing substantial numbers of women who want to build companies and hold top positions in government. We are still figuring out how to handle that as a society, but I am positive we will reach a tipping point. At some point soon, the words “female CEO” or “female President” will be perceived as a quaint and unhelpful anachronism. I really look forward to that!
8) Describe your beauty routine
It’s pretty simple. I have a cleanser I use to remove makeup at night and a moisturizing serum that I apply after. That’s it.
9) What are your thoughts on a company like StyleInGo – which enables busy women to look their best and thus feel their best at both work and home
I think it’s great! Women are judged much more harshly on how they look, both in the workplace and in their personal lives. If you are too put together, you are not taken seriously. If you are not put together at all, that can hurt you as well. Having a service that can cost effectively make you look presentable before important speaking engagements or recorded events is well worth it.