Akemi Sue Fisher
Feb 13 · 6 min read

I had the pleasure to interview Catherine Connors, the co- author of The Feminine Revolution.

Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

Once upon a time, I was an academic, with a scholarly interest in girls and women and their place in public life. I had always been interested in how the stories of girls and women were told — who told them, how those stories translated into cultural conversations — but it was when I was on maternity leave with my daughter that I became personally very interested and invested in women’s digital communities. I left academia to develop a digital business, which led to my role as Editor In Chief at Babble Media, which led to becoming head of content for the women and family portfolio at Disney Interactive. While at Disney, I became deeply invested to finding opportunities for the company to support girls, especially pre-adolescent and adolescent girls confronting the so-called ‘confidence gap’ — I reframed it as ‘the dream gap,’ because I wanted to figure out how to do more to close the gap between what girls dream and what they believe they really can do. I ended up leaving Disney to find the answer — and co-founded my former company, Maverick, as a result. So much of that journey informed my book with Amy Stanton, The Feminine Revolution — my previous academic work, of course, but also the move from academia to motherhood to corporate and then start-up life.

Why did you found your company?

Because my co-founder and I believed that there was both a need and an opportunity to bring girls together in a network that invited them to collaborate, take risks, and be themselves. Our hypothesis was that if we give girls the opportunity to do those things while they’re learning how to define who they are, they’ll start to develop muscle memory around using their power. They’ll get comfortable with innovating, risk-taking and networking and with their ability to really pursue their dreams, collectively or independently — and in that way, really have a shot at avoiding the dream gap.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

One thing is that we’re trying to nudge digital social behavior in a more positive, constructive direction — because we need to, if we’re to maintain a space for girls and young women to take risks and be themselves, but also because it’s just good for all of us. There’s so much anxiety in our always-on, digital world — so much FOMO and comparison (to say nothing of bullying and toxic behavior) — and part of what we’re doing is taking that on. Another thing is that we’re really tackling the contradictions of feminine stereotypes — cultivating an environment in which girls can really embrace all of their complexity and feel free to be both nice and competitive, sensitive and daring, kind and ambitious.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

My Maverick co-founder, Brooke — she was my boss at Disney and a real model for what it looks like for a female leader to be fierce, smart and sensitive. My friend and advisor Michael Streefland, who was my guide through the terrifying process of deciding to leave Disney and strike out on my own — and do even more scary things, like writing a book! (You could call him my ‘fear coach.’)

How are you going to shake things up next?

With my book with Amy Stanton, The Feminine Revolution! We’re tackling the bigger cultural conversation about what it means to lean into our feminine power — so that girls and women (and men and boys!) can have a different lens onto power itself. We believe that opening up the idea of power to include things that have been historically seen as not just feminine, but weak — like kindness and sensitivity — can potentially change the world.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“The days are long but the years are short.” This was said to me, many times, when I was a new mom and I’ve found that it applies not just to motherhood but to any endeavor that requires the investment of your heart and soul (like a start-up, or a book!) It all feels hard and sometimes even unmoveable in any given moment — or even any given hour. But it all does move — and it moves fast, in the bigger scheme. If you appreciate that time isn’t the measure of how you’re doing, and every moment passes (for better or for worse: it can be something you can withstand, or it can be something that will pass too fast), then you can get through anything, and appreciate the process more.

“Take the leap but build the net.” Life is short. Living life fully means taking risks, trying things that might fail. But that doesn’t mean taking wild fliers off of high cliffs — you can and should build your nets and check your equipment. Not because of the expectation of failure, but because it’s *smart* — it forces you to think through the risks you want to take. It forces you to value and appreciate and make the most of the leap.

“What would you want your daughter to do?” When I was deciding whether to leave Disney to follow my own lights, a dear friend and colleague posed this as the crux question: would I want my daughter to play it safe? Or would I want her to chase her dream? The answer wasn’t as simple as it might seem — chasing a dream is a great ambition, but I also want security for my children. That said, when I asked myself, do I want her to pursue a safe life, or a rich one, the answer became clear. The rest is history.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

Meeting at the Crossroads, by Carol Gilligan and Lyn Mikel Brown. It fully shaped my thinking on not just why we need to take girls’ moral and social development seriously, but how. (So much that Lyn was one of the first people I wanted as an advisor for Maverick — my co-founder and I actually flew to Cambridge, MA, to talk her into it!)

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this.

Shonda Rhimes, because she has redefined television and entertainment and *owned* it. She’s a powerhouse of the first order and I would love to talk to her about the intersection of creativity and business and what it means for a woman to absolutely crush a industry.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@herbadmother on Twitter and @herbadmother on IG. www.herbadmother — personal website

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Akemi Sue Fisher

Written by

The "Amazon Queen", Amazon millionaire, Akemi Sue Fisher, has helped thousands of Amazon sellers collectively earn over $1 Billion in sales. LoveandLaunch.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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