Larraine Segil

I live by the idea that tomorrow is too late – today requires immediate action. There is no procrastination allowed. Do it now.


Larraine Segil is a South African-born entrepreneur, attorney, advisor, lecturer, author, board member and urban farmer. She is Chairman of the Board of digital concierge company Kandela and CEO of The Little Farm Company. Segil has been a commentator for CNN and CNBC and has been featured in Fast Company Magazine and Bloomberg Business. She has written five books on strategic alliances and taught the subject at the California Institute of Technology for 24 years. She is also a Professor at Southwestern Law School and at Pepperdine University.

Segil is the past chair of the C200 Foundation, the premier global group of Women CEOs. She was also a board member of Frontier Communications and on the advisory board of Edgecast. In 2009, Segil was appointed to the board of the World Health Organization Tropical Diseases Group in Geneva, Switzerland.

Segil is a renaissance woman. Her passion is to enable, empower and inspire women leaders through their education and careers. She is using her extensive network, expertise in partnerships and global reach to help each of the outstanding women scholars and foster the continued mentorship of future generations of aspiring women leaders. Her unique approach to philanthropy is hands-on and generates a level of growth rarely seen in any mentoring program.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

Since I sold my last business 11 years ago, I have been mentoring mid-career, high-potential women through endowments at my alma maters. There are now 22 of them with two more additions into the program every year. I use a proprietary mentoring process that is driven by metrics. It has been very successful with these women so I decided that I wanted to open this opportunity up to women from organizations globally in order to reduce the gender gap.

I set up the Exceptional Women Awardees (EWA) to give these women the tools they need to move up in management to the C-Level. All women in my program support each other through a significant network of mentors. Career success is not attained alone. Each of us had people along the way to guide, advise and inspire us. This program gives women the opportunity to be surrounded by other women who will support them throughout their career and beyond.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I work on all of the various projects in my life! I am chairman of a private digital concierge company, I serve as Chair and CEO of the EWA Foundation which means my day is spent evaluating new applicants, speaking with current and potential funders and I work with the board on all of the work it takes to run a non-profit. I am also an adjunct professor at two law schools, Southwestern and Pepperdine and teach hundreds of law and business students there. I act as a supervising mentor to all EWAs and meet with each of them in person or by Skype monthly. I also meet with the mentors monthly to review their activities too. I also serve on the board of a law school and am Board Emerita of the UCLA Anderson School of Management. In my spare time, I mentor women who are not part of the EWA program in Mexico, Israel, Brazil and the U.S.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I make a plan and develop action items. Then, I reach out to my network to effectuate and implement, marking short milestones for success along the way.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The digitalization of the world.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I live by the idea that tomorrow is too late – today requires immediate action. There is no procrastination allowed. Do it now.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Have faith in yourself. This is so important, especially for young women and one of the main reasons I started the Exceptional Women Awardees Foundation. This mentorship is about seeing the potential in women, helping them see potential within themselves and then guiding them to make the most of it. That is so powerful.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

This is a tough one. I have no idea!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Prepare, be positive, learn fast, adapt faster and don’t hesitate or doubt yourself.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Partnering with others who have value to contribute, and to whom I can add value in return.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I, like most entrepreneurs, have had many failures. One was not understanding the market and taking too long to come up to speed. We lost momentum and had to readjust to continue to grow.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think it would be a great idea to start an Uber specifically for the elderly and the impaired. Vehicles could be equipped with lifts for wheelchairs. I think people who are blind or hearing impaired, as well as those with physical limitations, would really benefit from a service like this.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I had a massage when I was really worn out.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Mr. Number. It blocks all of the spam calls on my phone.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. I really recommend the audiobook read by Humphrey Bower. It’s a truly transformational story about South Africa.

What is your favorite quote?

Rising tides lift all ships – collaborate with others to improve the lot of all.

Key learnings:

  • Being a part of something bigger allows women to start thinking bigger.
  • The ladder of success moves in both directions. Women reaching up and reaching down to learn from, inspire and challenge each other to see the world, and their place in it, differently.
  • There are few things as special as the gift of an education. The only thing greater is the gift to pass that education along to someone else.


Twitter: @ExceptionalEwa
Facebook: @ExceptionalEWA