S2 E7. Woman and Change: Business Leaders with Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, Co-Founders of theSkimm

[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction

[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.

[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.

[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.

[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction

[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello and welcome back. I am super excited to bring you today's conversation with two [00:01:00] entrepreneurs that have disrupted the male dominated media landscape and defined a new category altogether after they identified that women, as smart and savvy as they are, are just a little busy with all of their work and family and house responsibilities. So might benefit from some other way of absorbing all the important news they need to stay informed about the world and make informed decisions about their own lives and futures.

[00:01:31] Anna Stoecklein: I'm speaking today with Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm. Which as it turns out, is exactly how I got myself started into the world of politics about a decade ago. You'll hear me talk about that more in our conversation today, but I feel like this podcast is in part thanks to that process that they helped to kickstart all of those years ago.

[00:01:58] Anna Stoecklein: Two former [00:02:00] news producers, Carly and Danielle, launched theSkimm from their couch and have since built a brand that continues to be a trusted source to more than 12 million people. Their first book, How to Skim Your Life, was released in June 2019 and debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.

[00:02:19] Anna Stoecklein: Carly and Danielle have been featured on Forbes 30 under 30 in Media, Vanity Fair's The Next Establishment, Fortunes 40 under 40, Adweek's Young Influentials, Times Most Influential People, Marie Claire's New Guard, and they were named One of the Most 100 Intriguing Entrepreneurs by the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit.

[00:02:40] Anna Stoecklein: So they're both crushing it, and I could not recommend more highly that everyone sign up to theSkimm's daily newsletter. It's not only uber informative and distilling down these complex topics and issues [00:03:00] of today into a way that's accessible and easy to absorb in our busy lives, but it's also written in a language that's actually enjoyable to read. Um, there's lots of puns and play on words and pop culture references, and as you'll hear us talk about, it's not just focused on the news, but everything else that you need to know about money and family planning, health and politics, just everything you need to know about life really. But probably weren't taught about in school and might just be a little busy to keep on top of. This is exactly who they created theSkimm for.

[00:03:41] Anna Stoecklein: All right. Keeping on theme, I have tried to skim this introduction, but longtime listeners of the podcast will know that's not exactly my strong suit. There's just always so much I want to say about these incredible women. But I think I've managed it today. So that's it for now. Please [00:04:00] enjoy my conversation with Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg.

[00:04:05] Section: Episode

[00:04:05] Anna Stoecklein: Hi, Carly and Danielle, welcome. Thank you so much for being here with me today.

[00:04:11] Carly Zakin: Thank you so much for having us.

[00:04:13] Danielle Weisberg: Thanks so much for having us. We're excited to talk to you.

[00:04:16] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, I am too. I have been reading theSkimm daily newsletter religiously for about a decade now, so I am quite excited to have you in front of me and really excited to get to hear your story and everything that you're bringing to the world with theSkimm.

[00:04:34] Danielle Weisberg: Oh, we appreciate that.

[00:04:36] Anna Stoecklein: So let's just get right into it first, starting with what theSkimm is. So theSkimm is a nonpartisan digital media company that you both started just over a decade ago, but it isn't just any kind of digital media company. theSkimm completely disrupted the media landscape and defined a new category altogether. So I'd love to just start by having you tell us about [00:05:00] what theSkimm is and what exactly did it disrupt? How is it different than traditional media?

[00:05:05] Danielle Weisberg: First of all, thank you for that intro. I'm like, I'll take it. Carly and I started theSkimm from our living room couch 10 and a half years ago. It's been crazy to see how the company has grown from the two of us being the entire company to now an amazing team.

[00:05:22] Danielle Weisberg: And what we started with was really seeing that our audience that we were part of, busy women on the go balancing a ton of different things, needed information that they could trust. And at the time, our background, we were news producers and we saw that not everyone got paid to read the news all day long and live in this world of being immersed professionally, and yet there was a real need to know what was going on in the world outside of you. And not just to be informed on its own, but really with the confidence and empowerment that comes with being able [00:06:00] to participate in conversations that you normally wouldn't necessarily like be the first to jump in on.

[00:06:05] Danielle Weisberg: And I think we saw that as millennial women really grew in power, becoming this generation of an economic powerhouse, graduating at higher rates than male peers, being the breadwinners. Being also, on the flip side, the ones that are taking care of their kids and their parents at the same time, there was a real necessity to make sure that this generation of women have the information that they need to make the right decisions for themselves.

[00:06:33] Danielle Weisberg: And so in that, we make it easier to live smarter. What that means for us is not telling people what to do or what to think, but telling them what to consider. Doing that in a way that gives you both the facts and also gives you the information like you would actually hear it and experience it. And I think a lot of that sounds like it's coming from a friend. Sounds like it's coming from someone that you know, it's colloquial, there's a [00:07:00] voice.

[00:07:00] Danielle Weisberg: And finally, as we've expanded, we have doubled down on one of the first things that I think really differentiated us, which is we're meeting her where she is. And that means how she speaks, what she needs to know, whether that's what's going on in the world, what's going on in her career, her family, her health, all of these things have become bigger and bigger concerns as we've grown up with this audience.

[00:07:24] Danielle Weisberg: And finally on the platforms that she's in. So we started with newsletters. It's obviously been a big key to our strategy, but we've been able to expand to really what are the platforms that she touches during her day-to-day. And I think over the past 10 and a half years, those things have expanded. So it's what social platform actually makes sense for trusted information? There are very few. So I think it's about staying true to our brand, making sure we respect her, and understanding what her routine is like and trying to fit in [00:08:00] where we're able to take up just a short amount of her time and provide the maximum amount of impact.

[00:08:05] Anna Stoecklein: I really like that, not telling her what she needs to do, what to consider. Carly, anything that you would add to that story about what you all identified as the problem that led to this in the first place, or even a bit of what were the first steps that you then took when you started to recognize this?

[00:08:22] Carly Zakin: Yeah. No, I think, I think Danielle did a good job skimming, but I think that what I would also sort of hit on is, is a little bit about this audience and this generation of women. We are a part of this generation and our friends are a part of this generation. And at the time, which, you know, it seems like almost laughably quaint, at the time 10 and a half years ago, we thought we were living in the heyday of noise in the news cycle. Like little did we know. We were like, wow, it can never get noisier than like this Twitter feed and this cable news show.

[00:08:56] Carly Zakin: And it is really funny to think about it that way. But at the time [00:09:00] we knew that our friends who were really highly educated and super smart were overwhelmed by how much information was out there, and either because of time or their respective industry that they were in, weren't getting information in a way that gave it to them in a well-rounded way.

[00:09:18] Carly Zakin: And so, I remember, you know, we would go to different family dinners or a wedding or social event or a networking event and see who dropped out of conversation when. And a lot of times, you know, I hate to say it, it really did fall along gender lines where, because Danielle and I had this weird gift of like being paid to read wires all day, we were always asked and kind of included in conversation about any topic. We would notice when our male friends would turn their backs on our female friends and ask us about something about in the sports or you know, a financial news. And it was really like irritating to see that gender divide come [00:10:00] through.

[00:10:00] Carly Zakin: And at the time, again, this is all very laughable now, the word millennial was like not used the way it is now. Like we barely knew that that was what our generation was called. So when we literally Googled, like describing our generation and we're like, huh, millennial women here, here are the stats about them.

[00:10:17] Carly Zakin: I mean, that was really not a part of the zeitgeist or the culture norms of how we talk today, but it was very apparent seeing that we are such a large generation. We are the key voting block, financial decision power is resting on our shoulders, and we're out earning our male counterparts in both paychecks and in degrees, yet we see where she is getting left out, where systems haven't been created to support her and where, honestly, information and media wasn't being created to talk to her in an authentic way. And so we knew we could solve it.

[00:10:53] Carly Zakin: I think there was a really like beautiful mix of naivete because we were so young in our careers, [00:11:00] sometimes best to not know what you don't know, and then know how hard something will be to get off the ground, because there really was no talking us out of this, but we knew that we could solve it. And so I think there was some sort of karma, kismet, whatever you wanna call it in the air. Like Danielle's promotion was delayed. The show I was working on was switched. It was all like at the same time. We were like, let's do this now. And it was an election year and you know, in media they hire a lot of freelance in election years to kind of staff up.

[00:11:31] Carly Zakin: And so we were like, if this doesn't work, we know we could at least get hired freelance for the next few months through the election and that will buy us some time. And so that was the grand master plan of how to make this work. And the rest was just, let's send out an email because that's the first thing that we all look at every day.

[00:11:49] Carly Zakin: It's not hyperbole to say this, it took off immediately.

[00:11:53] Anna Stoecklein: And has not stopped ever since, which we'll get into everything that it has grown into [00:12:00] in a minute. But yeah, I just wanna add how much that story of why you found it resonates with me as well and why I came to theSkimm because I remember acutely finding it.

[00:12:10] Anna Stoecklein: It was 2013, I was living in New York, and I remember around that time I just moved to New York from Missouri. I was in my early twenties and I was becoming really aware of how much I didn't know about the world. I could consciously feel it. But I didn't know what to do about it. I still remember who it was that forwarded me her Skimm, and I signed up immediately and have been reading it ever since.

[00:12:34] Anna Stoecklein: And you're exactly right, the tone and the way that it delivers information in a concise and fun way with wordplay and puns and pop culture references. But also providing lots of context, that was what really stuck out to me it was like, I know these headlines of things that are going on, but I don't know the background, and you always provide in short, skimmed blurbs the context and everything [00:13:00] that you really need to understand these deeper issues.

[00:13:02] Danielle Weisberg: Well, thank you to that friend. We'll take it, shout out. But I think going back to that, what we've always really felt about our audience is that two things are very true at the same time. Our audience is smart and savvy, and so you come from it at a place of recognizing that you have a desire or a necessity to know more about the world, and at the same time, balancing that with everyone has such little time, and especially as the demands on this audience grew, right? So you went from being a 20 something feeling like you're discovering, you need to know, you want to know more about this world that you're entering, to feeling like your responsibilities have increased and the amount of time you have to deal with them has not grown in the same way, right? You don't get more time, you just have more responsibilities.

[00:13:54] Danielle Weisberg: And so the idea that you need that information becomes stronger. And [00:14:00] I think that's what a lot of people don't necessarily realize about this audience, that they're so powerful, they're balancing so much, and the amount of time that they have has not grown. It sounds basic, but I feel like that's a fundamental misunderstanding that a lot of people have about this group of women.

[00:14:17] Anna Stoecklein: And just to clarify for our listeners, can you tell us exactly who this audience is?

[00:14:21] Danielle Weisberg: Yes. So we predominantly, focus on women, millennial women. That being said, we love everyone and I think theSkimm is truly for anyone who is busy and on the go and wants trusted information and wants it delivered in a way that they can use.

[00:14:38] Anna Stoecklein: Any generation and men as well, presumably. And what about international listeners? You know, I'm in London and we've got listeners all over the globe.

[00:14:48] Danielle Weisberg: About 10% of our audience is international in over a hundred countries. We only do English language today, but we've seen that we actually have really, you know, just organically taken off with expat communities.

[00:14:59] Danielle Weisberg: And [00:15:00] you know, it was interesting, like anecdotally, I was at an event abroad recently and multiple women, I had somebody from Kuwait, Israel, India, and Lebanon, each come up to me and they're like, I wake up with theSkimm every day. I was like, oh my God. Like, and we're like, and I think that speaks to obviously the service that theSkimm provides is kind of universal.

[00:15:22] Danielle Weisberg: And I think, you know, societal structures might be different in different countries. We hope to one day be able to expand much more in an in-depth way internationally.

[00:15:32] Anna Stoecklein: I have no doubt that you will, this is what you've done in 10 years. What's gonna happen in the next 10? So let's talk about what you've done in these past 10 years. Can you tell us about what does theSkimm ecosystem consist of today and how big is the audience?

[00:15:48] Danielle Weisberg: So we now have 12 million skimmers across our platforms. Obviously you referenced what we started with is still our biggest product, which is the Daily Skimm Newsletter gives you [00:16:00] everything you need to know to start off your day.

[00:16:02] Danielle Weisberg: We've used that idea of giving quick hits of information that you can trust to move into other areas that we call necessity driven areas of your life. So that means your money, your health, and what aspects of your career you're focused. So we've grown into Skimm money, Skimm Your Life. We have a whole commerce part of the business as well.

[00:16:25] Danielle Weisberg: Our podcast Nine to Five Ish with theSkimm, where we interview interesting women who have been there, meaning gone through the kind of ups and downs of a career. We have our subscription app, and we have Skm Lab, which is actually our newest part of our ecosystem that we're really excited about, which is our in-house creative agency.

[00:16:47] Anna Stoecklein: Tell us a little bit about the life necessity categories, you mentioned those. So obviously within this ecosystem, you know you have a newsletter, an app, the in-house creative agency, the podcast, there's a book [00:17:00] as well, and then within each of these you have these kind of different categories that you focus on. I'd love to hear about those a little bit more.

[00:17:06] Carly Zakin: Yeah, so I think what you're, you're talking about is our different verticals and how we really decided early on to expand in our offerings was what are the most cumbersome categories that we face as an adult? Where how many times do we each have that moment of like, why didn't nobody teach me this? Like why did I learn so-and-so subject to the school, but like I don't know how to file my taxes.

[00:17:28] Carly Zakin: And I think we all have those moments of where did everybody else learn this, and when? We all know, obviously, as we've all experienced, or it's been well reported, where women fall behind especially in personal finance, where women face challenges especially getting heard in in the health industry and especially women of color and where the grave impacts that that has today for her, in particularly with mortality in childbirth and fertility and infertility.

[00:17:56] Carly Zakin: And how can we help her navigate [00:18:00] these areas in the same way that we help her navigate when it's time to vote, in the same way we help her navigate how to talk about what's happening with Trump's indictment or what's happening with Ukraine. That same recipe we've applied now to these other necessity categories of her life. And so that for us is personal finance, it's health and wellness, it is her career, it is her family, it's also her big purchasing decisions.

[00:18:27] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, there's so much there. I mean, honestly, just preparing for this interview took so long cuz I kept getting sucked into everything.

[00:18:34] Carly Zakin: O no.

[00:18:35] Anna Stoecklein: In a good way because you can absorb things so quickly and then you feel yourself getting smarter and it's kind of a paradox because it's like news and what you need to know about your life, but it's energizing instead of draining.

[00:18:47] Danielle Weisberg: Thank you.

[00:18:48] Anna Stoecklein: Which is kind of unheard of.

[00:18:50] Danielle Weisberg: Also, we're big believers in like, there's not one size fits all for information. And I think for a long time that was the raining idea and our [00:19:00] view has always been, we wanna get more people up to speed about what's going on. That's good for everyone. It's good for society, and as long as it's trusted, factual information, give it to them and let them decide. So I think for us, that has been a big part of the journey.

[00:19:14] Anna Stoecklein: So going back a little bit to your origin story and starting it up, you are two young women in a male dominated landscape. What were some of your biggest challenges as female entrepreneurs and as disruptors in this space?

[00:19:30] Carly Zakin: I think that what we experienced is what has certainly been well documented, especially coming from the venture world. You know, less than 2% of funding goes to female founded companies. That has actually gotten worse in the last year rather than better and even less than that to women of color.

[00:19:45] Carly Zakin: And so at the time, I think what the ecosystem looked like, and I should say it has dramatically changed where today if you are a founder, there are such amazing funding options in places like New York or Austin or Boston or other [00:20:00] parts of the country.

[00:20:01] Carly Zakin: At the time, Silicon Valley, that was it. If you were starting a company, that is where you went. And so that is where we went. And it was really not a pleasant experience until we ended up finding our first backers, which took a very long time. And so I think the themes that we encountered were because there is a lack, or especially then, was a lack of female partners in the room that has changed and is continuing to change, we would walk in and be the only women in the room, be much younger than everybody, and be dismissed. Well, I think my wife might like this, or I'll ask my wife, who's not an investor, what she thinks if we should invest. And how do you respond to that?

[00:20:43] Carly Zakin: It was very frustrating. We would get asked all the time, why are you focusing on such a niche audience?

[00:20:49] Anna Stoecklein: Oh, niche.

[00:20:50] Carly Zakin: Which is just, I mean, like you..

[00:20:51] Anna Stoecklein: Classic.

[00:20:52] Carly Zakin: You can laugh saying that it's like over half the population, it doesn't even make sense. But that's what we heard that time and time again. [00:21:00] We got pushed back all the time that we didn't have a technical co-founder. Our absolute favorite, which I'll, I'll tell the story to the day die, is that the amount of times we would get emailed rejection from venture capitalist saying email is dead, therefore they can't invest in what we're doing, but would email us to inform us that email was dead was classic.

[00:21:24] Carly Zakin: All of that to say that it is really hard for any founder to raise capital. It is really hard when it is your first time and the environment has never made it easy for women and it's definitely never made it easy for women of color.

[00:21:39] Carly Zakin: So in that respect, you know, I think we felt very fortunate that we had it easier than others, but eventually, you know, it really took over a year of us trying to raise money before we found our first backers who were really lucky. They believed in us, they got us, and they invested really not in the company, they invested in the two of us. That means more than you can possibly say.

[00:21:59] Anna Stoecklein: [00:22:00] Yeah. And this is in the landscape of it taking off right away as well. You know, you have proof of concepts.

[00:22:05] Carly Zakin: Before we even had a business, we had a brand. We launched theSkimm on a Tuesday morning. By the following Tuesday, we had already been mentioned on the Today Show, and it had had like an internet debate about us and multiple press outlets.

[00:22:20] Carly Zakin: So we had thousands of readers across the country. We had brands coming to us to advertise, and we were like, we don't even know how to accept advertising, so we're gonna just say we're not taking advertisers yet. We had all of this traction and we had thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands of women across the country.

[00:22:41] Carly Zakin: And so it was very hard to hear we don't see the opportunity here, or you're focusing on a niche audience, when we're like, look at this, this audience, this so-called niche audience, is telling you this is what they want and that they're responding to it. And if we could have a team [00:23:00] and afford to expand and market further, this is going to be a game changer.

[00:23:06] Carly Zakin: And so I think we were really lucky that actually had those proof points and it was still so hard to get investors to rally behind. I don't think we would've raise money if we didn't have those proof points.

[00:23:16] Anna Stoecklein: No kidding. And how have the challenges evolved over time? I'm curious if you still face this same type of rhetoric even a decade on.

[00:23:24] Danielle Weisberg: I think people always say stupid things is the truth. It's improved dramatically. I still think that there's a lot of room for improvement. And I think what has changed is that we've done it, right? So over the past 10 and a half years, we now can point to a track record and say, that might be your opinion, but there's really nothing to back it up.

[00:23:47] Danielle Weisberg: And I think that confidence comes with experience. I also think at the same time, and I think about this a lot, for our employees and also for young women who are thinking about starting their own thing, which is it's really [00:24:00] hard to be what you can't see. And I think obviously that phrase is used in so many ways and what it means to us is that we need to have all different types of entrepreneurs, be able to start and have their company funded.

[00:24:13] Danielle Weisberg: And I think that for us, when we started, it was like there was only a handful of women who were starting business getting funding at scale. So that's who we reached out to, and we were very, very lucky to have and develop mentors, and I'm so honored by that today. And I think that support is in a big way what kept us going.

[00:24:36] Danielle Weisberg: I also think on the flip side, today there are more and more women's starting companies at all different levels of their career and journey, and I think that is fantastic. A lot of the things that we do as executives, as co-founders, having a podcast, telling their stories, putting our day-to-day on social media, which are often very much not glamorous, it's the [00:25:00] truth.

[00:25:00] Danielle Weisberg: I think that all of that is really important to show what this journey looks like. My hope is that we continue to see more of that for women and people of color. I think that's really, really important because we've been able to benefit and experience seeing ourselves in this environment, seeing more of us come in, and I really wanna make sure that, I think one of the things that's changed is that there are more women, and now we need to make sure that there are a lot more people of color who are getting funded and starting their own businesses and finding support.

[00:25:38] Anna Stoecklein: Definitely. You guys are doing so much on this front to help the rest of us.

[00:25:43] Anna Stoecklein: So we've talked about theSkimm, theSkimm ecosystem, the massive gap in the market that you stepped in to fill, that took a little bit of convincing for some people. But you also have these incredible campaigns that you run. You mentioned at the very beginning, Skimm your Ballot and Show Us Your [00:26:00] Leave, I wanna really talk about your newest campaign that you just launched, The State of Women, but perhaps first we could get a little overview of the Skimm your Ballot and Show Us Your Leave, these campaigns that you've previously done, and then we can talk about your newest one.

[00:26:13] Carly Zakin: Going back to what Danielle was describing in the beginning, we want to give her, our audience, enough information to consider so that she can make the most informed choices for her. So Skimm Your Ballot really represents what we've done in civic engagement and voter registration. As a company that has a very politically diverse audience across the country, we've never told her who to vote for or how to vote.

[00:26:36] Carly Zakin: What we have done though is to make sure that she is one registered, and two, that she shows up in votes, and whether that's early voting or in person, whatever it needs to look like for her. Obviously the last few years has changed. To date, we've had over 2 million of her take voter related actions because of theSkimm, and I think that is just one of the things that we are personally just proudest about, where nearly [00:27:00] every major presidential candidate has come to speak with theSkimm because they know they need to reach this audience. Most recently, we interviewed President Biden and it's a reflection of the power of this voting block and that she interacts with this product every day, and so the powers that be that we know that they wanna reach her, they need to come to theSkimm.

[00:27:19] Carly Zakin: We have seen that that has taken off from a grassroots angle and has really been in the fabric of how we started. In the earliest days, we literally used to road trip across the country and like host debate watching parties in random bars to meet our audience in real life and get them excited to vote. So this is something that's been very much part of the foundation of the company.

[00:27:41] Carly Zakin: And so kind of related to that, in terms of activating our audience, paid family leave is something, as you mentioned, Show Us Your leave is a campaign that launched last year and it came about really organically. The lack of paid family leave on a national level and a federal level is a failure of both parties. It is [00:28:00] not us endorsing one party or another.

[00:28:02] Carly Zakin: The side that theSkimm is on is hers is yours. It's a disgrace that, and a national disgrace, that this country does not support what is the largest population and the population that is influencing three and a half trillion dollars in spending and is putting over $2 trillion into our GDP. And so, when we saw Build Back Better bill Fail, it was clear that paid family leave was not gonna be a part of it in a significant way.

[00:28:30] Carly Zakin: Over a year ago, Danielle and I were texting, as we we always do, she had her toddler on the floor next to her while she's trying to finish up work and he was taking everything out of the kitchen cabinets and she was trying to deal with that and finishing work and talking to me. And she just sent me a picture and we just said post it.

[00:28:47] Carly Zakin: And we're like, show us your leave. Show us what leave looked like for you. What we were expecting was people to share their stories about what not having leave felt like. What we got was something that was beyond our [00:29:00] wildest expectations in a really sad way, where the stories people were sharing, it's like as women in this country, like of this generation, We knew it was bad. I think seeing the pictures with it made it just that much worse.

[00:29:14] Carly Zakin: We had one woman, I'll just never forget, she sent a picture of herself in the hospital in active labor, hooked up to the contraction monitor with her laptop on the monitor. She had to get her emails in by midnight in order to qualify for paid leave. So she was working while in active labor.

[00:29:31] Carly Zakin: We had another woman write in that she was a NICU nurse. Her child was born. She only got 10 days of paid leave, 10 days, then she had to go back and care for other people's kids when she couldn't even be at home just to recover for herself, let alone be with her own child.

[00:29:47] Carly Zakin: So that movement and what evolved from people in our community sharing these stories that you can't like look away from, to actually a call for transparency from companies where we [00:30:00] were like, you know what, the government isn't doing what it should be doing, so we're actually gonna go to the private sector. And it was a call for companies to publish their benefits and leave policies on a database that we created on our website, skimm.com/showusyourleave.

[00:30:15] Carly Zakin: And nearly 700 companies did, and in many cases actually changed their policies. Because of what they saw their peers doing. And so, you know, this continues and we have resources and templates of how you can go to your company and give them data that will hopefully encourage them to make changes if change is needed.

[00:30:33] Carly Zakin: And I think all of this speaks to, we are a company about informing her and then leading her to action. And in many cases, this action is whether showing up to vote, or showing up to create change that benefits her. And all of that is culminated into what we've most recently done. As you alluded to, State of Women, and Dan, I'll let you describe that.

[00:30:51] Danielle Weisberg: The headline around this state of women right now is that it's not good. And I think we've known that, right, anecdotally, I think [00:31:00] we feel it, we see it in how we're all posting on social media. I think what is different is how theSkimm has taken it on. So theSkimm State of Women campaign is a data-driven, action-oriented initiative.

[00:31:15] Danielle Weisberg: So we teamed up with Harris and we really looked at this two ways. We did a study that looked at what is the state of women across these real change points in their lives. So whether that is health, money, family, politics, we looked at all of that. And for the first time in a decade, we were able to combine what we were hearing and feeling from our audience with the data, and I think that's really powerful.

[00:31:48] Danielle Weisberg: We don't like to deal with things, right? Like as a society, it's like we'd rather ignore things and maybe they'll get fixed, maybe not. But until we have to deal with it, we're probably not going to. And so I feel like having more of [00:32:00] the qualitative data for years we weren't getting anywhere. And a lot of the polls or surveys that we saw was really about comparing this audience to others, like how are we doing to men, how are we doing internationally?

[00:32:14] Danielle Weisberg: And this was really about just how are women doing? Women that are bearing the brunt of this women who were really set back decades during the pandemic that had been working and studying and climbing their whole lives with this promise of being able to build off of the decades of progress that came before us and now a lot of that has been set back, so it's not a surprise, right, that it's not doing well.

[00:32:47] Danielle Weisberg: I think that instead of being disheartened by it, our hope is that we're able to actually shed light on it and to kind of say like, this is what you can't hide. This [00:33:00] is what we need to support, because if we don't support it we're gonna have a huge problem with our workforce, which we're already seeing and it's only gonna get worse. If you don't support women and working women, you're gonna have a huge problem with your birth rate, and that's gonna have huge effects for society. We're gonna have huge problems taking care of things like social security or retirement, and I feel like there is always this kind of what women really want, and it's like, it's really not that hard, right?

[00:33:29] Danielle Weisberg: We want nice things. To be able to have kids be able, to take off and repair yourself mentally and physically, get some support, have support in the workforce, and be able to just not have it be this hard. This moment feels too hard, unnecessarily so. And so The State of Women is really about using that data to shed light. And not just for women, for men, for our partners, for our peers to say I [00:34:00] see it, I see you and I got this.

[00:34:03] Danielle Weisberg: And that is, I would say to us in some ways, the biggest part of this campaign, because I feel like if you're a woman living in this moment, you know how it feels, right? It may surprise you that like, oh, other people feel like it's this bad, but it's not gonna surprise you that you feel this way, and other people feel this way. I think what we want to do is to make it so visible so that no one can say they're surprised.

[00:34:27] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, it definitely was not too surprising when I read it, but to see it all on paper in one place, exactly as you say with the quantitative data, it's really, really powerful. I highly recommend everybody check it out. I'll put a link in the show notes.

[00:34:43] Danielle Weisberg: Thank you for that. And one of the things that really stands out to us, and there were two stats in it. The first is we're all about getting women into C-suite positions. If that's where you wanna be, we like love it. And ironically, what we saw in this was that [00:35:00] 71% of millennial women said it's their job to be the Chief Worry Officer.

[00:35:05] Danielle Weisberg: And I will say personally, it's kind of funny, when I saw that I like rolled my eyes and I was like, that's such like a cute anecdote for something that's so serious. And I was like, honestly, that is such our generation and I feel like that's such a mark sometimes of being a woman, which is like, you take it on cuz you know you can get it done.

[00:35:22] Danielle Weisberg: And so we wear this badge and we wear it proudly and taking a step back, it's like, you know what, no one should wear that. This should all be dispersed out. There should not be one person that has to wear that title. And then if you look at that, it's not surprising that we see women saying that they are completely overwhelmed with the demands of being a parent.

[00:35:45] Danielle Weisberg: And you're seeing that with 20% of women saying, I don't know if this is for me. And that may be a choice that you make. And if so, we totally support you. But it shouldn't have to be a choice because things are just too heavy.

[00:35:58] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah, that's [00:36:00] exactly it. Two more things I wanna point out about the report that I really liked, because it would've been so easy to just be doom and gloom, because that is kind of the point to highlight how dire things are.

[00:36:11] Anna Stoecklein: But I really liked these two reframing that you had, one was that women are absolutely tired and fed up, but they're not resigned. They're taking matters into their own hands. So the subtitle of the report is: how women across the US are creating their own momentum and rewriting rules to meet their needs and fuel their ambitions.

[00:36:32] Anna Stoecklein: So I absolutely love that reframing. And then the other one was just exactly as you're saying, like the opportunity that this presents. The opportunity that this presents for politicians and for businesses and for partners. And not just an opportunity, but if they don't get on board, they're gonna be left behind. This was, again, reading from your report: women are taking action and if you aren't part of the change, it's increasingly likely that they [00:37:00] are leaving you behind. So this was two things that made me very happy to see in.

[00:37:05] Anna Stoecklein: But as we get to the end of our time together, I would love to hear some of your wisdom and advice, you know, if there's any female entrepreneur out there who's just starting or maybe just wants to make a change, take a risk, or maybe they're already running something, any overarching wisdom or advice you might share?

[00:37:25] Danielle Weisberg: I have one that I actually typed to a friend who was having a tough time yesterday starting her own company. And I said, it feels hard cuz it is hard. And I think that's one thing that we say to ourselves a lot. It's hard, that's a fact. It's hard to do this. The stats, the data around funding, around successful businesses, it suggests that and you feel it. That doesn't mean that you should stop. It means that you recognize it and you kind of think like, at least this is how I feel. if it was easy, everyone would do it. If you are gonna do this, you gotta keep that in mind and find it motivating. [00:38:00]

[00:38:00] Anna Stoecklein: Carly, anything from you?

[00:38:01] Carly Zakin: I think that one of the things is that is sort of an art form, that you have to learn in being an entrepreneur, and even just you know a person in leadership, is how to take advice. It's really important to get advice, to develop what is your council of mentors that should evolve over time, you need different councils at different moments. But it's also really important to know when to filter it out. Otherwise you could up a full-time taking advice and taking notes.

[00:38:28] Carly Zakin: And I think one of the things that I've always repeated to myself and to our team is like nobody has built theSkimm before. If there was a handbook or a template of how to build theSkimm, one, a lot of people would do it and like it would've made our job a lot easier. For you, nobody has built The Story of Woman before. You can have lots of advice, but like at the end of the day, like you're gonna know in your gut, like, what do you wanna do with your endeavor?

[00:38:52] Carly Zakin: And any regrets that we've ever had or mistakes we have made has always gone back to when we didn't listen to our gut and didn't listen to ourselves and listened [00:39:00] too much to advice. And so I would really urge people to take advice with a grain of salt.

[00:39:05] Anna Stoecklein: I love that, and I think that transcends your career to just personal life. I always say that about personal life as well. Everybody wants to give you their 2 cents, but they've never lived your life before, so it's really hard for them to fully know. You're the only one who knows. So I think that's excellent.

[00:39:22] Anna Stoecklein: So final question. If people take one thing away from this conversation with you today, what would you want it to be?

[00:39:30] Danielle Weisberg: Go to theskimm.com and check out all the ways so we can help you live smarter.

[00:39:35] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. Lovely.

[00:39:37] Carly Zakin: The undertone of what we've been talking about is the state of women isn't working, it hasn't been working, and because of that, a company like ours, like we are able to impact change and affect change, and we feel it is our responsibility to do that.

[00:39:52] Carly Zakin: But I think actually like a lot of what we're saying and sort of implying, and so maybe I'll say it more directly, is it actually isn't just up to [00:40:00] us as women to create that change. We need our male counterparts, our male bosses, our male colleagues, our male partners, our male family members, whatever it is, to also be making these changes, to also be rallying around how do we fund more of her? How do I create a more equitable work environment for her? How do I also take parental leave to set the example, and how do I make sure that what I'm voting on is supporting what she is saying she cares about?

[00:40:29] Carly Zakin: I hope that for those listening, this isn't just about women telling women about more things that should be a part of their Chief Worry Officer resume. This is about how do we get actually our counterparts to pay attention to.

[00:40:42] Anna Stoecklein: Love it. The state of women is not working. We need everyone involved. So go to theskimm.com and get started.

[00:40:49] Carly Zakin: Love it.

[00:40:49] Anna Stoecklein: Love it. Danielle, Carly, thank you so much for your time today and for everything that you are doing to disrupt the media landscape and [00:41:00] help people live smarter and feel more confident about the decisions they're making in their lives.

[00:41:05] Carly Zakin: Anna, thank you so much.

[00:41:07] Overdub: Thanks for listening. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, and think we need more of women’s stories in the world, be sure to share with a friend! And subscribe, rate and review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to help us beat those pesky algorithms.

[00:41:25] Overdub: Follow us on socials for more content from the episodes and a look behind the scenes.

[00:41:32] Overdub: And for access to bonus content and ad-free listening, consider becoming a Patron of the podcast. This is the best way to help me continue to put out more and better episodes. You can also buy me a metaphorical coffee. All of this goes directly into production costs.

[00:41:51] Overdub: And in exchange, you’ll receive my eternal gratitude and good nights sleep knowing you are helping to finally change the story [00:42:00] of mankind to the story of humankind.

[00:42:02] Overdub: This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.

[00:42:06] Overdub: It was edited by Maddy Searle. With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.

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