EPISODE 376
Julia Boorstin
Female Founder Secrets

Mark speaks with Julia Boorstin, CNBC’s Senior Media and Tech Correspondent and creator of CNBC Disruptor 50. Throughout her on-air career, Julia became fascinated with entrepreneurship and closing the equality gaps in our business leadership circles, leading her to author her book, When Women Lead, out October 11th.

Julia Boorstin
Listen Now
Show Notes

Today, Commander Divine speaks with Julia Boorstin, CNBC’s Senior Media and Tech Correspondent and newly published author of When Women Lead. In this episode, Julia shares her experience of interviewing over 60 passionate female CEO’s in the startup space and what we can all learn from their leadership.

Key Takeaways:

  • Women lead more profitable startups. Female founded VC-backed companies yield higher and faster returns than their male founded counterparts. However, every year 10’s of Billions of dollars go into venture capital, and women only draw about 3% of all VC funding. Julia’s working to change that.
  • Communal leadership is the future, and it’s female-driven. Of the 60+ female CEO’s she interviewed, Julia found that almost all of them approached decisions from a communal perspective. Meaning, they involve those at the ground floor and gain as many perspectives as possible before taking committed action. This, she believes, is a concept many men find difficult to embody.
  • People can smell inauthenticity a mile away. Julia and Mark converge on the topic of men and women’s leadership styles, agreeing it’s not about men or women being better leaders… but about different leadership styles. And our future is dependent on more men softening their walls and more women making it into positions of leadership. Authenticity, as Julia describes, is a hallmark of female founder leadership. 
  • Gratitude isn’t a guy thing. As studies have shown, women are more likely to feel comfortable with feelings of gratitude, and in turn they think more long-term when they plan and execute their businesses. Gratitude is deeply linked to long-term planning and bigger picture thinking – something that can often get lost in targeting quarterly earnings performance.  

Quotes:

“So I was a contributor to CNN Headline News. And I embarrass myself tons of times. But there’s something about getting in those reps that you just become more confident and comfortable. And also you realize that you may mess up one day, you can try again the next day.” Julia Boorstin

“And also, he changed the way they run meetings. He wanted to make sure that everyone’s voice around the table was getting heard. So he would have people take a vote before they started the discussion. Because otherwise people started a discussion and someone disagreed with the guy who’s loudest in the room, they say, I’m not even gonna bother voicing my opinion, or sharing my opinion, because I’ve already lost, I’ve been steamrolled by the loudest guy in the room. So he created systems to really try to equalize the conversation, and make sure that everyone gets a voice, which by the way, helps introverted men as well as women who may feel less comfortable speaking up. And he found it has been incredibly effective for their business.” Julia Boorstin 

“But there are all these studies showing that women are more likely to be able to guess what someone is feeling or thinking. If you apply that to leadership, it’s hugely valuable. And a big part of that, that I noticed in my reporting and interviewing women is, a lot of it is taking in all the context. And also thinking about solving the big picture problem.” Julia Boorstin

“I do think that, for instance, like humility and empathy, the feeling of gratitude, there’s some really interesting studies about gratitude, women are a lot more comfortable feeling gratitude. The feeling of gratitude is something women are trained to feel good about. For men, it’s more likely to make them feel maybe a little bit uncomfortable, you don’t want to feel like you owe someone something. But there is some fascinating data about how if you feel gratitude, you’re more likely to be able to plan for the long term.” Julia Boorstin

“It’s just mind boggling. It’s so amazing how gratitude can shift your mind. In some of the women I interviewed in this book, they really led with gratitude. And they were dealing with big picture problems. And they said, I’m just so grateful that I get to solve this problem, I want to make a 100 year solution for global warming, I’m looking for the 80 year plan here. And it doesn’t matter if we’re struggling right now, because I’m thinking for the long, long term, because I’m so grateful I have an opportunity to do this.” Julia Boorstin

Mark Divine 1:05
Coming up on the Mark Divine Show

Julie Boorstin
I feel very optimistic about all this data. I mean, look, there’s crazy numbers, crazy statistics about how hard it is for women and people of color and anyone who’s not part of the dominant majority to succeed, especially in this powerful world of startups. But ultimately, the data shows that diversity is valuable. And if people care about making money, they’re going to understand that and they’ll see the opportunity and bring in all these ideas and how much it can help the whole time.

Mark Divine 1:38
Hi, I’m Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show. On the show I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most courageous, compassionate and inspirational leaders. I talk to people from all walks of life, including Stoic philosophers, psychedelic researchers, startup entrepreneurs, and journalists and TV experts, such as today’s guest. Julia Boorstin, whose new book When Women Lead is out from Simon and Schuster. Julia is CNBC’s Senior Media and Tech Correspondent, has been an on air reporter since 2006. She played a central role on CNBC’s bicoastal tech focus program TechCheck, delivering reporting, analysis and CEO interviews with a focus on social media and the intersection of media and technology. In 2013, Boorstin created the CNBC Disruptor 50, an annual list she oversees highlighting private companies transforming the economy, and challenging companies in established industries. She also helped launch the network’s Closing the Gap initiative, covering people in companies closing gender and diversity gap. She’s a graduate of Princeton, been a reporter at Fortune Magazine, as well as a contributor to CNN and CNN Headline News. Julia, thanks for joining me today.

Mark Divine 2:51
Julia super stoked to have you on the Mark Divine Show. Thank you very much for your time today. I know you’re super busy, but…

Julia Boorstin
I’m so happy to be here. Big fan.

Mark Divine
Oh, that’s cool. And you were talking about box breathing? Did you learn that from me? Or just? Where did that come from?

Julia Boorstin
You know, I learned it at a conference. And I think it was one of the speaker’s was talking about, I think was Brene Brown, who was talking about it. And she I think referenced for me.

Mark Divine
Yeah, she got it from me.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, I think you’re pals or she referenced you. And then when I left that conference, I thought about all those times that I was about to go on stage and do a live interview, my heart would start pounding. So I went down the rabbit hole and discovered your work. And I’m a big fan of box breathing. It is essential to the intense job of interviewing CEO’s.

Mark Divine
I love it, maybe the one enduring contribution that I’ve made is basically free for everybody.

Julia Boorstin
It’s amazing. It’s so valuable. I think everyone needs to know about it.

Mark Divine
I know we’ll talk about that, too. Maybe, you know. We’re going to talk about female executives and in leadership, maintaining composure, and just being calm and collected and, like the Navy SEAL who’s like the calm one in the center of the firefight. That’s something that women generally do pretty well.

Julia Boorstin
Well, it’s something that women have had to be, they’ve had to do well, if they want to succeed, especially in environments where they are in a tiny minority.

Mark Divine
Right. That’s true. Right? I understand that. But I’m curious, besides just being more emotionally aware, you know, wired that way than men. Do you think that women are more naturally inclined to be drawn to like, breath awareness practices, meditation, whereas men like, kind of struggle with that. There’s a lot of people now who are really into, like, Wim Hof and whatnot, but guys are so action oriented, and wired to like, Do do do and go go go, that it’s hard for them to kind of sit down and just do the breathing practices and meditation.

Julia Boorstin
Well, you know, I think I’m wired to do do do and go, go go. And so I think that’s one reason why understanding how actually being more aware of my body would make me more efficient, and that I couldn’t just like, overcome the need for sleep, or whatever it was, or count on adrenaline to push me through when I had to wake up at three in the morning and report all day. So I don’t know, I think I’m sort of wired in that way. But I actually think being aware of my breath and all of those things has made me more effective as a professional.

But I don’t know. I mean, look, I’m no expert in female or male biology, but I do, I have studied sort of the way women have been socialized to lead and the ways in which people expect women to lead differently. And my whole thesis is that some of the ways women lead which have nothing to do with the archetype of leadership, which is male and top down and authoritative and confident. The ways that women actually do lead are incredibly effective. And those techniques and those approaches would be valuable if adopted by anyone male or female.

Mark Divine
That’s true. I’m excited to talk more about that. But before we talk about that, how did you get into doing what you do, which, by the way, I think would be incredibly stressful and, you know, to be on TV every day, all day long. I’d rather go back to BUDS than do that.

Julia Boorstin 6:00
If you do it every day, it’s not so stressful anymore. So I am CNBC, Senior Media and Tech Reporter and I’ve been at CNBC for over 16 years. And before that, I was a reporter for Fortune Magazine. So I’ve only actually had two jobs since I graduated college.

Mark Divine
Which is crazy considering how much consolidation and change are in that industry.

Julia Boorstin
Yes, it means that I’ve been very lucky and have had great jobs and great bosses. But it is very unusual. I started at Fortune Magazine, straight out of college, I graduated in 2000, I was very lucky, I got the last job before the economy crashed. I got the job, the market plummeted. And then I started a couple of weeks later. And when I was at Fortune, I started appearing on CNN, which at this time was owned by the same company as Fortune. And I remember the first time I went on CNN, I was gobsmacked by the fact that they wanted to hear from me I was 21 years old, I’d written an article and they would often have people come on and talk about articles they had written, and I thought it was hilarious that they wanted me to come on TV. And so I had a kind of a goofy smile on my face the whole time. And they thought that meant that I was relaxed. But I just thought the whole thing was crazy. And so they thought I was relaxed and competent. So they had me come back on. And it became a regular thing.

So I was a contributor to CNN Headline News. And I embarrass myself tons of times. But there’s something about getting in those reps that you just become more confident and comfortable. And also you realize that you may mess up one day, you can try again the next day. And then that segued to a job offer from CNBC back in 2006. And I’ve been there ever since.

Mark Divine
That’s cool. I’m sure people listening, you know, we don’t get a chance to talk to like, folks in your industry very often. What are some of the biggest challenges and lessons that you think are directly related to you doing what you do, as opposed to, you know, some other job or career?

Julia Boorstin
Oh, well, the thing about being a TV reporter, and I like a lot of things about it. But one of the things that I liked, it’s the opposite of writing a book. In TV, you just get up every day, and you try and maybe you pitch a story and you fail and you try again. But it’s this constant cycle. So in a way, it lowers the stakes. And it makes me more willing to take risks with the stories or take risks with the ideas that I’m putting out there. And it gets, it makes you totally used to rejection, whether it’s by your boss saying that’s not a good idea, go back and try again. And it’s just this constant trying and iterating. And it pushes you to be totally okay with having someone say no, go back and try again. Because you have the sense that you can try again another day. And there are plenty of times I’ve messed up on TV, and know that you know, it’s not the end of the world. I may have fumbled a word or two, but I’ll be back at it tomorrow and do better next time. So I think it feeds into my natural instinct to push myself to improve. Because there’s always a tomorrow where another story, you can try a new angle, and just so much room in a way to be entrepreneurial with the storytelling and the types of things you’re going after.

Mark Divine
Are you doing like journalistic reporting, where you have to like research and be an expert on something? Or is it scripted?

Julia Boorstin
I write the scripts. So this is scripted, but I write the scripts. So my work is in combination of interviews with CEOs and founders. And those are live and I’ll prepare for those, and then reporting out stories and then delivering them on television. So I’ll write the script and then effectively read it on television. Though hopefully, it doesn’t look too much like I’m reading. And then I’ll also do these things called crosstalks where there might be breaking news, and I’ll deliver it instantaneously without a script, or there’ll be a topic and then the anchors will have me on to converse about that topic and ask questions. And then another part of it is co-anchoring and in sort of being part of a group, asking a guest questions, so a lot of different muscles you get to exercise all the time.

Mark Divine
No, that’s cool. I’ll help you write the script when you interview me.

Julia Boorstin
Okay. That would be cheating. (laughing)

Mark Divine 9:54
So biggest challenges or like, screw ups that you’ve had that maybe led to doing things a little bit different?

Julia Boorstin
Well, challenges and screw ups are different things. I think screw ups can be okay. Like I always think back, you know, early in my career when I would appear on TV there were a couple times I said goofy things like this a “thank you for being with us.” And I would say thank YOU for being with us. Things that are embarrassing, but I think that screw ups in a way are not goofy. And I think my biggest challenge is learning how to take risks. I’ve been so lucky and so many different ways in my career. I feel like I started in an amazing time. I’ve had phenomenal mentors. But I think knowing when the right time is to take a risk and pushing myself, it has been my challenge because it’s so easy just to stick with the status quo. And it was a big challenge to decide to take on the project of writing this book, and to know when to push myself out of my comfort zone and now I really love getting outside of my comfort zone when I was a young reporter at Fortune magazine was much, much harder.

Mark Divine 11:00
So when do you first start to develop this interest in women leadership or women leaders?

Julia Boorstin
So in my decades long career doing business news, I’ve always loved learning about leadership, hearing people’s approach to leadership. But particularly when it comes to entrepreneurs, there’s something about entrepreneurs, the willingness to take a risk, to try something totally different to invent a new way of doing things. I’ve always been so drawn to them and curious about how they approach the world and why they wanted to try to do things differently than everyone else and create a new business. So that’s why I created the Disruptor 50 list at CNBC. And this is a list we do every year, we’ve been doing it for a decade now, where every year we track and we rank the fastest growing private companies. So these are companies like SpaceX, and Uber and Airbnb, and Moderna, which developed a vaccine for COVID. So they’re looking at all the different ways technology is disrupting different industries. And I love this project, because I get to interview the most amazing, fascinating leaders.

Separately, I was also working on a project that we created called Closing The Gap, looking at the individuals and companies that are working to close gender and diversity gaps. And on one hand, when I was doing Disruptor, 50, I was meeting amazing CEOs and a small percentage of them were women, because women are, as we well know, a tiny percent of the CEOs. I mean, they’re 8% of the CEOs of Fortune 500. And that’s an all time high. But I was struck by the fact that the women I was interviewing were really, really impressive, just really felt like they were thinking about problem solving differently. And they were looking at long term and short term problems. And they were just describing their approach to the world a little differently than the men were. At the same time, in my closing the gap work, I was coming across all of this data about how women were in the teeny tiny minority in the world of startups. Women draw about 3% of all venture capital funding, that’s 3% of all venture capital dollars. Tens of billions of dollars go into venture capital every year. Last year, it declined to 2%. But on average, over the past 10 years, it’s been about 3%. So I was looking at these numbers, and I was thinking about these women I was interviewing who are creating these disruptors. And I thought, of course these women are amazing, they are by definition, exceptional. They are exceptions to the rule. And I thought if we could figure out how these women, this small group of women who had succeeded in the startup space, had defied those odds that we would be able to learn so much from them. So I wanted to learn their stories and tell the stories of these women who had been able to defy the craziest odds, you know, a smaller percentage than the women who were running Fortune 500 CEOs and understand how they had done it, then I thought we would find leadership characteristics that would be incredibly valuable. So I started off trying to tell their stories. And then I sort of got drawn into all this research and data about leadership and how these leadership styles that these women were using tend to be more effective. And in fact, there’s plenty of data showing that the old fashion image and archetype and the stereotype of a male leader is not the thing that necessarily works best.

Mark Divine 14:12
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine Show, to hear a short message from one of our partners.

Mark Divine 14:19
And now back to the show.

Mark Divine 14:27
You wouldn’t have noticed that I’m immersed in my PhD in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine right now.

Julia Boorstin
Awesome.

Mark Divine
We’ve just had incessant conversations about this very topic. And it is fascinating. And I’m curious, why are there only 2% of women entrepreneurs right now? Because it seems like the opportunity would be equal.

Julia Boorstin
Totally. And by the way, there’s plenty of data showing that when VCs invest in female founded companies, they yield higher returns and also returns faster. And yes, sometimes VCs want to be playing the long game and have a few crazy upside wins. But for solid returns, those female founders are more likely to yield returns faster. So it’s interesting, because you know, it’s about 3% of dollars and 6% of deals, which means women are getting 6% of deals, but their average check size is smaller if they’re only getting 3% of dollars. So I was really curious about this, because look, investors like money, right? They want to make returns. So it’s very confusing that they would be giving up on this opportunity. But then digging deep into the VC community in the way venture capital firms work, it really comes down to pattern matching. And the fact that investors have these VC firms, they can only make a handful of bets every year. And the natural… and this is not a malicious thing to exclude women, the natural instinct is to go with types of people who have worked

Mark Divine
They have confirmation bias, right? They’ve got to go with what makes them

Julia Boorstin
Yeah. And it’s like how do they want to match a pattern they want to look for the next Mark Zuckerberg and they haven’t seen a lot of female CEOs who have been successful, there isn’t the same natural path that they want to invest in someone who has an engineering degree from Stanford and worked at Microsoft and sold his first company, to Google, that type is more likely to be a guy.

Mark Divine
Sounds like a great opportunity for us to start a VC fund focusing on women.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, there’s a great opportunity there. And that’s what’s so interesting. There’s a great VC out of Philadelphia. His name is Josh Kopelman, and he has a fund called First Round Capital. So about 10 years into his fund, he said, you know, we should review all this data. We do early stage investing, early stage investing tends to be a bit more on the founder than on the idea because these ideas aren’t fully fleshed out yet. And he said, let’s go back and study what really worked for us for the first 10 years. So they did all this data. And they found out that not only were the female founded companies, more successful, the better outcomes, but in their top 10 companies of the top 10 outcomes, women had led more than than the overall representation of women they had invested in. So Josh was like, this is crazy, we need to take this data and do something about it. He realized one reason they weren’t investing in more female led companies is because the partners they hired were all people they had invested in. If they invest in more male companies, then they’re more likely to hire those guys. So he said, Wait, we need to: A) hire some of the women we’ve invested. So he hired some female partners, and he noticed they were getting totally different kinds of deals, women founders are more likely to go to the women funders, and then women are more likely to invest in female led companies than men are. So he said, let’s change the way we hire our VC investors.

And also, he changed the way they run meetings. He wanted to make sure that everyone’s voice around the table was getting heard. So he would have people take a vote before they started the discussion. Because otherwise people started a discussion and someone disagreed with the guy who’s loudest in the room, they say, I’m not even gonna bother voicing my opinion, or sharing my opinion, because I’ve already lost, I’ve been steamrolled by the loudest guy in the room. So he created systems to really try to equalize the conversation, and make sure that everyone gets a voice, which by the way, helps introverted men as well as women who may feel less comfortable speaking up. And he found it has been incredibly effective for their business. So that’s why I’m so optimistic about this. Once people look at the data, they’re gonna see the power of investing in a diverse group of people.

Mark Divine
So based upon your research, why do, and we can get into leadership qualities as well, but why are the returns higher for female lead, entrepreneurial endeavor?

Julia Boorstin
There are so many reasons that come into play in the startup space. One thing that’s really interesting is women are more likely to describe their companies like when they’re pitching, describe their companies as they are now they’re giving a very practical data driven description of what’s happening in their company, men are more likely to describe their companies as they see them in a year. So a little bit more bluster. So you may get more exactly what you’re investing in, if you’re investing in female led companies, as opposed to the projection. There’s also data that in times of crisis, women are more likely to make decisions based on data rather than ego, and are more likely to pull in ideas from around the room or from around their organization and be more communal in their leadership. So they’re not saying, “This is my plan, I think we should do this, everyone follow my lead.” They’re saying, let’s try to figure out the best scenario, everyone, share your ideas. And let me gather information from the group and pick and choose the best pieces from everyone. So that more communal leadership can be incredibly valuable. But especially in times of crisis or uncertainty, when things are changing quickly. It’s really valuable to be able to go down to someone on the ground and say, “Hey, what are you seeing here?” And go all to every different corner of the organization to gather your data.

Mark Divine
So is that a leadership style you’re describing there? Or is this just a skill that they have?

Julia Boorstin
I think that’s a leadership style, this idea of communal leadership and communal, which is sort of inclusive leadership. And that’s something that both men and women can do. It’s something that women are more likely to do, but I hope, then more men see the value in leading that way.

Mark Divine
Yeah, I’ve definitely heard the term inclusive leadership and it’s generally used in the context of diversity, and also everyone’s voice being heard. And you just describe a particular strategy. What are some other strategies that you’ve seen that lead to inclusive leadership?

Julia Boorstin
Well, and yeah, and I would say this one, this strategy in particular, I would call communal leadership and this idea that you want the community to participate. Inclusivity is part of that. But I think this idea of bringing in the community is really key. I think there’s a lot of data about the value of leading with empathy. Women are found to have, be more skilled when it comes to empathy. There’s a really fun test that I don’t know if you’ve ever tried out the Reading The Mind With The Eyes test, and I tested myself against my husband on this and I totally beat him. But you do this test and it shows you pictures, a black and white photo, just of someone’s eyes, just the space, you have to guess what their feelings are. And so I scored really high. And my husband was like, okay.

But there are all these studies showing that women are more likely to be able to guess what someone is feeling or thinking. If you apply that to leadership, it’s hugely valuable. And a big part of that, that I noticed in my reporting and interviewing women is, a lot of it is taking in all the context. And also thinking about solving the big picture problem. There were a number of women in my book, who talked about how they didn’t want to just drive for, like, near-term results, they really wanted to solve for the big picture. And there was an amazing woman I interviewed. She’s the CEO of a company called City Block Health. And what she’s trying to do is really treat the whole patient. And the medical system, she was at Boston Medical, and there were these patients who would come in every week, and then they would get discharged. Because they were coming to the emergency room. A lot of them are homeless or low income, they’d come in, they’d get treated, they were given a sandwich, and they would leave and they would come in, you know, a couple of weeks later. She said, “this is not helping people, right?” This is not solving the problem. So she created a company called City Block that aims to help people with social services and help people become healthier overall, and get whatever it is that they need. So they’re not ending up in the emergency room once a month, and creating this massive cost for the system, and not really helping anyone get healthier. So it’s interesting because her sort of big picture solution for medical treatment and for the American healthcare system. It originated when she was in Africa and she was working at a pediatric hospital in Sierra Leone, and the CEO of this company, she had come from London to try to help this pediatric hospital. And everyone was talking about all the problems, but she realized the hospital did not have water. And she was like, we can’t help any of these people until we fix the water supply. And so she talks about taking a step back, figuring out what the real underlying issue is. And people are coming to the hospital because they don’t have housing. And that’s really the reason they’re not able to become healthy and stay out of the emergency room. She’s like, let’s fix the water supply. So she had to fix the water supply in Sierra Leone before she could help that pediatric hospital. And she now she thinks of helping patients as getting to the underlying issue, thinking about the big picture problem, as opposed to putting a BandAid on a solution.

Mark Divine
Right. It’s a great story. I love that. Back to this idea of community leadership. I think a lot of male leaders would be thinking, Well, that sounds great. But how do we avoid death by committee, right? Because at some point, someone needs to make a decision. Now the Bucs got to stop somewhere.

Julia Boorstin
Well, actually, there’s a great anecdote in the book about this idea of confidence, right, and how there’s a sort of idea that people are supposed to be confident all the time. But in fact, maybe it’s better if when you’re making a decision, you turn down your confidence, to gather information from everywhere, and use your sort of information gathering period as a time of gathering data. That’s when you gather all the information from your committee and you have a big committee, but then you take the information separate from the group, make your decision based on the data, not on some decision you made a year ago things change to it based on the data. And then when it comes time to execute your idea, don’t worry about the committee, you turn up your competence and you execute. So this idea that confidence can and should be on a dial and you turn it down when you need to bring in as many diverse ideas as possible. And then you turn it up when you’re ready to go out and execute your plan. To me, that’s a very powerful image of explaining how we can all bring in outside ideas when it’s appropriate.

Mark Divine
Yeah, that sounds like to me is just confidence balanced with humility.

Julia Boorstin
Exactly.

Mark Divine
Know when you have to be the one that says okay, you know, I’ve assimilated and here’s the direction, we’re gonna go like the SEAL commander saying, Okay, this is this is what we’re going to do. And everyone falls in line. But that same SEAL commander is most effective, with that humility to get everyone’s input, regardless of rank, and how long they’ve been on the team. And that’s really ingrained in us SEAL leaders. And it’s very effective, because not everyone does it well of course, because the humility piece, right, is the operative main thing. That brings me back to females like, do you think that it’s more natural for females to have humility than male leaders?

Julia Boorstin
Well, I’ll go back to what I said is I’m no biologist, but I am a journalist. And I’ve read hundreds of similar but hundreds of academic studies, where I would say a lot of these things are just socialized. For instance, like when it comes to warmth, and empathy, and generosity, women are simply expected to be more warm and more empathetic. And sometimes they are, but they’re also held to a higher standard. So there’s an interesting study about philanthropy. And it’s not only are women more philanthropic, but they are held to a much higher standard. They’re expected to be even more philanthropic than they are. So I think these things are socialized. I think they are very much socialized. I do think that, for instance, like humility and empathy, the feeling of gratitude, there’s some really interesting studies about gratitude, women are a lot more comfortable feeling gratitude.

The feeling of gratitude is something women are trained to feel good about. For men, it’s more likely to make them feel maybe a little bit uncomfortable, you don’t want to feel like you owe someone something. But there is some fascinating data about how if you feel gratitude, you’re more likely to be able to plan for the long term.

Mark Divine
You’re gonna be more optimistic.

Julia Boorstin
Much more optimistic, but also plan for the long term. And there’s this crazy study I read about how if you make someone reflect on something that they’re grateful for, and then you offer them either $50 now, or $84 later, they will pick the $84 later. But if you just have someone walk into a room and say, hey, $50 now $84 later, and you make them write about something they like, or something that makes them happy, they will pick the $50 now, but when you make them think about something they’re grateful for, they’ll go for the long term payout. It’s just mind boggling. It’s so amazing how gratitude can shift your mind. In some of the women I interviewed in this book, they really led with gratitude. And they were dealing with big picture problems. And they said, I’m just so grateful that I get to solve this problem, I want to make a 100 year solution for global warming, I’m looking for the 80 year plan here. And it doesn’t matter if we’re struggling right now, because I’m thinking for the long, long term, because I’m so grateful I have an opportunity to do this.

So I didn’t even realize the thing about gratitude until I started hearing in the interviews and I was doing 120 interviews, I kept on hearing grateful and blessed and these words just kept on coming up. And I was like, wow, this is a common theme of people feeling so grateful that they want to pay that forward, not just for now, not for short term returns, but over the long run.

Mark Divine
And that’s such a huge issue in leadership at all levels, especially in our country. It seems like we’ve lost any type of ability to see beyond tomorrow. And I know corporations are a little bit, but at least we have a quarter you know, for public companies.

Julia Boorstin
But think about that. Companies talk a lot about how hard it is if you have quarterly results and your investors push you to focus on the quarterly results. And a lot of CEOs talk about how they want to be planning for three or five years out, not just push for the quarterly numbers. And now they don’t want to be managing for quarterly numbers. And this is something I know a lot of CEOs talk about. And obviously now with so much uncertainty, whether it’s about the economy or all these global factors, it is hard to plan for the long term.

Mark Divine 28:24
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine Show, to hear a short message from one of our partners.

Mark Divine 28:31
And now back to the show.

Mark Divine 28:39
Look at Jeff Bezos and Amazon. I mean, the he credits that he basically told the shareholders don’t focus on the quarter don’t expect me to focus on the quarter. We’re in this for the long haul. Wow. Results speak for itself.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, absolutely. And think about how much that company has changed the world. And now he’s building rocket ships.

Mark Divine 28:55
Alright, so anyone listening who’s in politics, think about that, too. Right? We need to get back to long term thinking, having a strategic aligned vision, right for this country. And I think we need a female president like ASAP?

Julia Boorstin
Well, I would love to see that. But I don’t see that in the near term horizon. Long term, I agree on the long term vision. And actually, to your point about a female president, it was really interesting looking at the data about how female leaders managed in those first days of the pandemic. And there are some fascinating studies in my book that you’ll have to read about how and my book is largely about business. But the data about female leaders of countries and states during the pandemic is just mind boggling. I couldn’t leave it out. It was, it’s relevant to business leadership as well.

But one of the studies just here in the US that I thought was really interesting is that they looked at governors, male and female governors who delivered messages in the early days of the pandemic about what people were supposed to do. Female governors and male governors. They went back and analyzed all the data about what words they said they can, you know, analyze all these speeches, they found that even the governors, the male and female governors who are delivering the same message, the women were more effective at getting people in minimizing deaths effectively. And they found it was because the way women explained the rules, and it was with a humility, and it was a confidence in the plan, but in a humility in that they were grateful to all the other people who helped make them create this plan, and also an empathy to the challenges of being in these crazy times. And communicating in that way was incredibly effective and so effective that there was a marked difference between the outcomes for male and female led states.

And then for the countries, the data is just fascinating that female lead countries were more focused on the long term health benefits for the country and were willing to take an economic hit up front, because they knew that it would minimize deaths over the long term, whereas the male and countries were more concerned about preserving the economy near term and weren’t planning as much for long term health outcomes. Fascinating stuff, and the fact that the outcomes of those studies for the countries and the states were so similar really, really says something there. Right?

Mark Divine
That’s fascinating. Want to come back to… You mentioned Brene Brown when we were chatting before we started, you know, her work on vulnerability and shame. And you know, if you look at like, I’ve never been to a seminar, but you were, but I’m willing to bet that most of the people in the audience were female.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, she was, I actually, I met her at a conference. And I was just telling you, she taught me the box breathing that’s been so effective for me. But her work on vulnerability, I quote in the book as well, because there’s a lot of data about how vulnerability is an incredibly valuable way for leaders. And that goes back to the humility.

Mark Divine
Yeah but most men have a little bit difficulty going there. Right? Yeah, they might just not and they get it rationally, but they’re just like, I don’t want to be vulnerable. You know, and I talked about that, in the context of our training, I said, Listen, we just changed the word, we’ll call it authentic, you know, because Navy SEALs don’t like to feel vulnerable. So guys, you know, this is really important work, but just considered like authentic, you want people to think you’re real and authentic. And in order to do that, you’ve got to get in touch with the underlying traumas and things that are creating disruption with your workforce, because they can feel it. And they know that, you know. You end up being the limiting factor. Because you’re not leading with an open heart and not leading with that vulnerability. So just change the context if it makes you feel better.

Julia Boorstin
People can smell inauthenticity a mile away.

Mark Divine
A mile away, yeah. So I think one of the interesting points is like you’re making this point too… it doesn’t mean that women are better leaders, men or men are worse leaders, women, they’re both valid, but different. What we’re seeing is, you know, we have a lopsided issue here in our country, because we have such male dominated

Julia Boorstin
Absolutely.

Mark Divine
And even a lot of these successful CEOs and corporate fortune 500 have to kind of like act like their male counterparts. Yes, bias is confirmation bias. That’s what you’re pointing out. So it’s not either, or it’s like, how do we bring the best of both? How do we soften the male, bring that open heartedness? How do we give the females the skills and bring more of them into the workforce, and then entrepreneurship and change what it means to be a good leader, right.

Julia Boorstin
You don’t have to be an uber-confident, never wavering man to be a good leader. You could just be more vulnerable, and by the way it’s not just male or female. I just think that these leadership traits that have enabled those women to defy the odds are so valuable for anyone to learn about and embrace. And I think that there’s just, we should just broaden the lens of what it means to be a good leader, broaden the images. And you know, there are so few images of strong female CEOs out there. I mean, I live in Los Angeles, and everywhere you drive around, you see these big billboards of the TV shows about Elizabeth Holmes. I mean, look, I love those TV shows. I’ve watched all of them.

Mark Divine
We’re glorifying the worst, right?

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, but it’s not, it’s a bummer. I’ll put it this way. It’s a bummer to have that be the dominant representation of a female CEO right now, because she really has nothing to do with the amazing women who are out there creating game changing companies and innovating. So I do think you’re absolutely right. No, there’s no good or bad leadership. And I don’t think women have been denied opportunities for any out of any malice. There are just these structures in place that typically perpetuate themselves. And the more opportunities there are to introduce new ways to lead, new ideas about what it means to be a successful leader, then I think it’s gonna help everyone.

Mark Divine
I’m curious, like, one or two stories of the most stunning people in interviews that you met for this book.

Julia Boorstin
Oh, so many, I interviewed probably 120 people for the book. And of course, they’ve been interviewing people my whole career. So and then they’re about 65 stories in this book. So many good ones I told you about Toyin Ajayi, who runs City Block Health. They’re an amazing career trajectory. And another story I think about a lot is this woman named Irma Olguin. And she’s based in Fresno, California, just up the coast from us. And she created a company called Bitwise. And what they do is they, have you heard about, so there are a couple of bitwise as well as like a crypto play, but this is bitwise industries.

Mark Divine
Oh, different.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, maybe different. What they do is they create like a tech ecosystem in a city that’s not doing well financially. So Fresno is an agricultural city. It’s not known to be affluent, and they don’t have a lot of high tech businesses there. But Irma, she said, we have all these smart people here. We need to help transition people out of low wage agriculture jobs, and help them learn about high tech jobs. When she grew up her whole family were farmworkers and she grew up picking grapes to turn into raisins like working in the fields. And she did great in school and she happened to get a full scholarship to the University of Toledo and Ohio. This is what her parents had always wanted for her. This is why they wanted… they would work so hard to help so she didn’t have to work during the school day. And they said they couldn’t afford the $78 bus ticket to get her to Ohio and she wasn’t able to go. So they collected cans and bottles from the fields to turn in for cash to buy her the bus ticket and her whole family chipped in. They got her to Ohio. She said she wanted to major in engineering because that was the shiny glass building that the university just built, and it looked cool. And she did it, she graduated and had such a phenomenal experience that she went back home to Fresno. And she wanted to help more people make that transition into this high tech economy that we’re in. And so now the business trains people about technology and helps them learn coding and different tech jobs, and then create this ecosystem where they create apps and companies can hire them, and hire their students effectively, to create apps. So it’s much cheaper to hire workers in Fresno than it is in high priced San Francisco and to create this new tech ecosystem. And now they’re expanding across the country. So they basically train students. And then they use those students to create technology. And when the students graduate, they can get jobs at the companies that have been hiring them and working with them as students. And then they also rent real estate to companies who want to start up in that area. So it started in Fresno. And now they actually have one in Toledo there’s one of these little ecosystems in Toledo.

But she’s amazing, and what I think a lot about with her is this idea that a lot of her investors, including this, this amazing VC in Northern California, they talked about looking at her distance traveled, the distance that she traveled from being a kid picking grapes in the in the field outside Fresno to starting a startup. The investors thought, if she can do that, and she can employ 1000s of people and train 1000s of people and go from $15,000 a year to $60,000 a year in these jobs that she’s giving to people. This is someone who can do anything. And the investors looked at her and the metric that was most important was her distance traveled. And I think that that introduces his other way of thinking about who should be invested in who has opportunity. And who has potential, you know, there’s this whole idea of resumes are an outdated way of looking at people’s potential because it’s just their experiences, not their potential. So I think about Irma a lot, and how there’s so many people out there like her who have so much potential, and she’s trying to give them that opportunity to grow the way she did. And there are just so many women who have changed the way we live.

I mean, if you think about the retail industry, there are three women who created companies that have just transformed the way we think about commerce. One is Rent the Runway, and that’s about renting clothes, instead of buying them sometimes that’s subscription, the other is Stitch Fix, which makes the expensive experience of having a stylist very accessible. And the other is the Real Real, which is all about the circular economy, anyone can afford super fancy designer clothes if they’re used. And then you can always sell them back into that ecosystem. And so it’s interesting looking at the ways women have transformed these different industries, in particular.

Mark Divine
That’s fascinating. I can’t wait to read the book myself, I’ve been wanting to interview more female entrepreneurs.

Julia Boorstin
Well you’ll get lots of ideas from the book.

Mark Divine
I will and I’ll have to reach out and maybe get some contact information from me to help because you know, we definitely need to get their story out and to share, you know, what’s making them successful. And the ideas that you talk about so I appreciate that. I am optimistic, because I see so many more entrepreneurs leading with a Social Impact mission that has to be front and center. And their mission has to be something, it’s got to be, be good, do good. And I think you’ve probably obviously, you’re seeing that because you’ve just described some great examples of that. And it’s not just female entrepreneurs, but I think this whole young generation.

Julia Boorstin
Female entrepreneurs are more likely to found purpose driven companies.

Mark Divine
Is that statistically speaking, are you just from your research?

Julia Boorstin
You’ll find the data, you’ll find the books. So female entrepreneurs are more likely to found purpose driven companies, particularly in the area of like environmental purpose. And there’s other data. And there, this data is sort of hard to parse, because there’s a lot of it, but showing that purpose-driven companies perform better. There’s data showing that purpose driven companies do better with consumers, it’s easier for them to retain employees, and sometimes they just, they perform better in terms of returns. One thing that’s interesting is I remember asking some of these women I interviewed who had purpose driven companies. Why was it so important? Like you could have done this as a nonprofit? I mean, you’re doing micro loans in India, why were you doing this as a company, like why not just get donations and do this as a nonprofit. And they said they didn’t want to be beholden to philanthropic decisions, they knew they would have a bigger impact as a business than as a nonprofit. They could scale faster, they could help more people, they knew they would have a much bigger impact. And another woman told me, she said having a purpose makes it so much easier to push through when you’re at the end of your rope. Being an entrepreneur, it’s hard. If you didn’t know that you were helping people the end of the day, it would be so much easier to give up. But anytime I feel like this is impossible. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just think of my purpose, and it helps drive.

Mark Divine
It all starts with why right Simon Sinek says

Julia Boorstin
I think that’s true for everything in life isn’t it, your why, got to know your why.

Mark Divine
And I’ve also seen that trend where an individual will start at business that could easily be a 501-C3, there’s a No, I’m just gonna make an LLC. And I’ve had that conversation too. And it was similar. They said, I don’t want to the complexity of dealing with the government as a nonprofit number one. And number two, I want to make decisions. I want this to be a viable organization. Yes, for profit companies so that we actually have the impact of direct impact, as opposed to thinking that, Oh, we gotta go raise money to be able to do our mission.

Julia Boorstin
Yeah, think about it. VCs, they want to see fast growth. Sometimes that’s a bad thing. But if you’re dealing with scaling, so you can help more people, that’s a good thing. And you know, this woman I just mentioned, Shivani Siroya, she’s CEO of a company called Tala, they do micro loans. There are plenty of nonprofits that do micro loans. But for her, she said, this validates that these people in India who want to raise money for their little jewelry shop or their little vegetable shop, they are viable business owners, and it validates them and their ability to yield returns.

And it says these are entrepreneurs also, and we need to invest them equally. So it’s really interesting. And the power of applying capitalism to some of the world’s biggest problems, is it really inspiring to me, makes me hopeful.

Mark Divine
Me too. And I think it’s these individuals who are going to change the world, not any government or particular politician, that’s going to be entrepreneurship and working together to change the narrative and to bring opportunity like through micro loans, and you know, green energy, and whatever it is, there’s 100 million ways this will play out. But it makes me really positive and optimistic about the future, in spite of what you’re reporting on in the news cycle, or your peers are right when they’re doing network news type stuff.

Mark Divine
Yeah, I feel very optimistic. All this data. I mean, look, there’s crazy numbers, crazy statistics about how hard it is for women and people of color, and anyone who’s not part of the dominant majority to succeed, especially in this powerful world of startups. But ultimately, the data shows that diversity is valuable. And if people care about making money, they’re going to understand that and they’ll see the opportunity and bring in all these ideas and how much it can help the whole economy. And you’d like folks to go find out about you at that website for the book, or do you have another place?

Julia Boorstin
You can go to JuliaBoorstin.com. Or you can google my name or When Women Lead and it’ll lead you to more info about me plus that test I told you where you can test how good your empathy is, I have it on my website.

Mark Divine
I probably should go do that one. Awesome. I can’t wait to see what that is and how that unfolds. And we’re here to support you.

Julia Boorstin
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Mark Divine
Yeah, it’s been a blast. Hooyah. Thank you.

Mark Divine 43:29
That was a fascinating conversation with Julia and discussing her book when women lead and all the interesting leadership qualities that women bring to the workforce and entrepreneurship and, and the optimism that it really are an optimistic view of the future that she you know, since women are really purpose driven, and tend to lead with their why. Show notes and transcripts are up at Mark devine.com video the episode at our YouTube channel, MarkDivine.com/YouTube. You can find me at Twitter @MarkDivine and RealMarkDivine on Instagram and Facebook or you can hit me up on LinkedIn. What an interesting and really fun conversation with Julia. I really enjoyed talking about her book when women lead and learning about all the interesting leadership principles that women bring to the discussion and leadership, something near and dear to me. Show Notes and transcripts are up at MarkDivine.com. And you can find the video up on our YouTube channel MarkDivine.com/YouTube could plug for the new newsletter divine inspiration, which comes out every Tuesday, where I bring you my weekly blog, as well as a synopsis of the podcasts of the week. And I bring you other interesting things across my desk, inspirational people, habits, products, and really cool stuff that could be inspiration and valuable to you. So go to MarkDivine.com to subscribe if you haven’t done that already. A special shout out to my amazing team, Geoff Haskell and Jason Sanderson and Q. Williams and Jeff Torres, who helped bring the Mark Divine Show with incredible guests like Julia to you every week. Really appreciate reviews and ratings. It helps other people find the show, helps keep us on track to get 5,000 5 star reviews by the end of this year. So please continue to share and rate us and they give us the marks you think we deserve and share it with your friends. Thanks so much for listening to Mark Divine Show, for being part of the change you want to see in the world. So be optimistic, be abundant, the world will be getting much better, but we’ve got to start with ourselves and then pay it forward. Our families and communities and other female entrepreneurs. So Hooyah. Till next time, stay focused. Be Unbeatable. This is Mark Divine.

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