You have to make mistakes all the time. You just try to have to make right-sized mistakes and experiment in a way that when mistakes happen they aren’t likely to ruin everything.”
Georgene Huang is obsessed with improving the workplace for women. She’s the CEO and Co-founder of Fairygodboss, a marketplace where professional women looking for jobs, career advice and the inside scoop on companies meet employers who believe in gender equality. Previously she ran the enterprise business at Dow Jones and was a Managing Director at Bloomberg Ventures. She is a graduate of Cornell and Stanford Universities.
Where did the idea for Fairygodboss come from?
The idea for Fairygodboss came from my own personal experience when I lost my job as part of a larger management shake-up. It came very suddenly, and I found myself two months pregnant and out of work. I hadn’t even told my immediate family yet — let alone my employer. I was starting to go on interviews (while hiding my pregnancy) and research companies. I found it hard to find information about the hard-to-ask questions like: What is your maternity policy? How much is facetime valued? Are there other women in senior leadership with children? These questions can be incredibly stigmatizing if asked in an interview and you can be perceived as less committed to your career. So, like any good millennial, I turned to the internet, but just wasn’t finding the answers I needed. Now, two years later, Fairygodboss engages with more than 1,000,000 women via our website and social media channels, and we’ve been able to provide answers to some those questions through our invaluable resources like our maternity leave resource center.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I typically start my day pretty early, and it helps make it much more productive. I find that I do my best work in the morning when there are little distractions of calls, meetings and emails. My mind is fresh first thing in the morning, and the fact of the matter is, that energy and mental energy in particular are a limited resource that I think is depleted for me by the end of the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I try to keep things simple and find analogies that everyone can relate to when describing new ideas. Some of the best leaders I’ve seen are able to really motivate a group by simply communicating ideas very, very well.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am really excited by the potential to marry advances in data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to be more rigorous about the job seeker experience. Everything from identifying positions, jobs and companies that you might not have otherwise considered to improving the employee experience can be enhanced with better data and better analysis and application of that data.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try to ruthlessly prioritize and start each day with as much a clean slate as possible. For longer term projects, I try to start each week cleanly so that nothing gets left behind accidentally.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t worry so much. A lot of things will work out better than you expect and for those things that don’t, you’ll learn that you’ll get over disappointments, setbacks and failures much more easily than you think.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Being authentic is over-rated. What I mean by this specifically is that while some people have absolutely created amazing lives and success from being themselves, there are a plenty of other people for whom this strategy will never work and I hear a mantra about authenticity as if it’s gospel and will work for all. I just don’t think there’s evidence at all that this is true.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You have to make mistakes all the time. It doesn’t feel good most of the time but if you don’t do it, you’ll never know what could have been. You just try to have to make right-sized mistakes and experiment in a way that when mistakes happen they aren’t likely to ruin everything.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think our biggest win in helping grow our business in hiring a good team. It’s so important because almost everything in a business’ success or failure is largely a reflection of the amalgamation of the collective efforts of a team.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think I could have in the past delegated better and I also think I can continue to delegate more now. I don’t know I’ve overcome this issue, in other words, but I tend to hang on to doing small things for too long because I can be a tad too perfectionist.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there’s potentially a lot more money to be made in helping niche groups of people connect better. As social networks have expanded, I think they have also grown more impersonal and flooded with not very-useful information. I think there’s a lot more business opportunity to be made in business communities than people realize.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Educational toys and activities for my young children. It keeps them busy, happy, engaged and gives me some breathing room on the weekends.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack is a great tool. We have a flexible office and a few full-time remote employees, so slack really helps in terms of communication. I can also set reminders and to-do lists in my own personal slack channel.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really enjoyed Harvard Professor Iris Bohnet’s book ‘Equality By Design’ which is all about how to achieve systemic gender equality through design and first organizational principles rather than relying on individuals to change. I think systemic defaults end up impacting a lot of our supposedly free choices and behavior and she really brings a lot of data and analysis to a very complex social topic and moves it forward in a productive way.
What is your favorite quote?
My quote for helping to motivate me is by Amelia Earhart. She said “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
- Entrepreneurs need to systematically set up small experiments in which they will often fail.
- There is money to be made out of harnessing niche professional communities.
- Artificial intelligence is (and is going to to continue to) change the job seeker and recruiting landscape.
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