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Female Founders: Dr Andrea Simon of Simon Associates Management Consultants On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Andrea ‘Andi’ Simon.

Andrea ‘Andi’ Simon Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), is an international leader in the growing field of corporate anthropology, author of the Axiom bronze Best Business Book of 2017 On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy® and in-demand speaker. Dr. Simon’s latest book, Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, released in 2021, reflects her deep interest in helping women break through the cultural barriers and gender bias society has created to hold them back. A culture change expert and a curious explorer at heart, Dr. Simon is also the architect of a global thought leadership platform that blends academic perspectives, business experience, new media expertise and proven success in changing organizations and the people within them who are the keys to their success. Learn more about Dr. Simon at www.simonassociates.net.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up outside of New York City in a family deeply involved in a multi-generational family retail business located in Manhattan. As a child, I vividly remember learning the business from my grandmother, my mother, and my father. Gender stereotypes were being lived right in front of me, not preached, but I would watch my grandmother manage the cash at the end of the day. Our dinner conversations were as much about business issues as about the news, the weather, or challenges in school.

As I was growing up, I learned a great deal about what men and women did, and could do, and even what children and adults did. Fond memories. Yet, when it came time to return from college to expand my responsibilities in the business, I announced that I had discovered anthropology and was going to pursue a doctorate and an academic career. While my family supported my choice, they were dumbfounded. They also realized that the next generation — me — was not going to take over the business as they had planned.

Never did I realize the impact my announcement had on their plans, on what they had been expecting, or on how they would move forward with their business without me. In retrospect, I had become a catalytic moment for them, without ever realizing the impact my decisions had on others. On the other hand, I was beginning to recognize who I was. I was an anthropologist, not a retailer, and I have never looked back. This life-long training, however, prepared me for a career as I moved from academia to being a financial consultant to an executive, first in banking and then in healthcare organizations, all of which needed to change.

I did become an academic anthropologist as a professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Ramapo College in New Jersey. As I worked my way through my early years as an academic anthropologist, I was proud of my position, my work, and my tenure, until I realized that I was a woman who thrived on change. How would I endure a lifetime in a setting where each year was a repeat of the prior one? I did a Master Lecture series, two CBS television series, and completed my post-doctorate grants, filling my academic career with a variety of new experiences. But I was still wondering if this was all there was.

One fortuitous evening, I joined my husband at a cocktail party for Citibank executives. He was an executive and I was “the spouse.” As I met and socialized with the others, someone asked me if I would come join the Citibank team as a consultant to help them adapt to the new deregulating environment. I thought to myself, why not? I took a leave of absence from the college and tasted the world of financial services.

My serendipitous moment led to a 14-year career as a bank executive at four banks, then seven years as an executive in healthcare institutions that were coping with managed care. All those years were ones where I was honing my skills as a change maker. While the industries were different, the challenges were very similar.

Inside each of these organizations, I held executive management positions during periods of major industry transformations, whether it was the deregulation of the financial services industry or the rise of managed care in healthcare. My position was always as the change agent, the change maker, the change “guru.” It wasn’t my title, but it was my role. While people were not clear what anthropologists did or how we saw the world, the leadership teams knew they needed a fresh perspective on their business strategies and executions or they would quickly be left behind by the fast-changing world around them. I was their futurist. They just didn’t know it.

Two decades in those corporate cultures and up those proverbial ladders, I knew I was ready for another adventure. The entrepreneur in me was waiting to bust out. After 9/11, I launched my business, Simon Associates Management Consultants, specifically to bring the methods and tools of anthropology to help businesses and the people within them change. Little did I know I was launching my entrepreneurial career to fill a gap in the market where change was still painful and most companies fled, feared, or appeased the changes being urged upon them. I used to preach that if you want to change, have a crisis, or create one. As we think about this pandemic, I now preach, “Never waste a crisis.” It is a time to embrace change.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

“Interesting” is an interesting word when describing how a woman starts and grows an idea into a successful business venture. There have been three catalytic moments that helped me take my business from start-up to success.

The first was how I learned early on those potential clients were not at all interested in how I was going to help them solve their problems. Rather, they knew they had a pain point, be it a business that had stalled or a university that needed more students, or a healthcare institution that wanted to reduce errors and improve the quality of care. Exactly how I was going to address their needs became almost a sidebar to the hope that I could solve it. I learned that in crafting my story, I needed to focus on how the client was going to feel as we approached solutions differently together, and most of all, how I would help them implement the needed changes, and quickly.

The second “aha” moment came when I was in an elevator at the Harvard Club, headed to a presentation by Renée Mauborgne, author of “Blue Ocean Strategy.” By chance, or luck, she was in the elevator with me. I said, “I love your book, it is so anthropological.” She replied, after a bit of casual conversation, “You should become a Blue Ocean Strategist.” I asked her what that was, and she said: “I have no idea, let’s make it up.” And so, we did. In the years since, I have completely embraced the methods, tools and thinking behind Blue Ocean Strategic Thinking and have conducted almost 500 workshops since that serendipitous meeting. I truly believe in “showing up” and then life takes you in great places.

My third interesting story is how I had spent four years writing a book and was not sure what to do with it. While I was speaking at a Vistage International meeting, Tanya Hall was in the audience, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group in Austin. She asked me about the book, and I mentioned that I thought I was ready for a publisher. She suggested I send along a copy to Greenleaf, but that they only take 5% of submissions. I sent her my manuscript and within a few days, she called. She loved the book, but alas, I had to rewrite it. Greenleaf had a fantastic editor who guided me in a far better direction and helped me turn out an award-winning book, On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights.

Are these “interesting?” What has been a recurring theme for me is that you never really know how you are going to go from A to B on your life’s trajectory. I have become a true believer in just showing up, being yourself and trying to help others solve their needs, learning along the way how to change and grow yourself and your business comes along on the journey.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Funny mistakes are long lasting in our minds. I laugh about it now, but I really was never sure what I was going to do when I decided to leave my corporate job and launch my own business. If I had been advising someone else, I probably would have told them to create a buyer persona of their ideal customer, map out demand and clarify how they would be funding their venture.

Instead, and this was almost 20 years ago, I had a wonderful PR agency that I hired as I launched my business. The CEO of that agency, John Rosica, had done wonderful work for the healthcare organization where I was previously an executive. As I left the corporate world to enter my own business, I went over to John’s office and said, I need a way to pull together all the things I can do into a clear vision for my business. What do I bring to the market? How do I answer the “why” question — “Why should someone choose to use my organization, and me?”

As he listened to me wander through my many careers as an academic, a corporate agent of change and an investor in non-profits, he stopped the conversation. He leaned over and said ever so quietly: “Andi, you are a corporate anthropologist who helps companies, and their people change.” I can feel that sense of awe even today. I said “Wow! That is exactly who I am and what I want my company to do: help people adapt to change, embrace change and learn how to turn the results of those changes from pain to gain.”

John had the brilliance to capture the essence of my story and turn it into a single statement that I could turn into a new business. And I had the wisdom to stay the course and remain true to who I am and what I and my organization can help companies do, particularly in today’s world where tomorrow looks little like the past and the future is unsure and unclear.

My funny mistake, however, was trying to launch a business without any clarity of what I was going to do. How silly of me. And how wise of John Rosica. How lucky that I listened, focused, and repeated the same elevator speech again and again until I built a successful corporate anthropology consulting business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

We are often surprised when we find that someone sees something in us that we are unaware of. They lend a hand and encourage us to grow and try new ideas in unorthodox ways. My husband, Andrew (Andy) Simon, was my inspiration, as well as my support through all the perspiration. It did not matter if I was struggling to get my Ph.D. dissertation completed, or get my university tenure, or find a consulting position in the business world, or sustain my growth and career in new industries, or finally launch my business. Andy was always there for me, as a guide, a supporter, an idea person, and a safe haven to mull over tough decisions with and even cry at times. He has been a very successful serial entrepreneur, but each of his ventures had their own challenges as he grew them. We have always been able to speak our mind to each other, think out loud, and test ideas. As we raised our two daughters into amazing young women, we were a team that somehow allowed each of us to grow successfully as business owners and as individuals. I know I could not have grown the business without his support. But I also know that both of our lives are richer for the way we have been able to share, communicate, laugh, applaud, critique, and even knock some sense into each other. When he sold his business in 2017 and joined mine, I couldn’t have been more excited to be able to share his wisdom with our clients.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

There are two parts to this question. The first is what is holding women back from founding companies. The second is why only 20% of funded companies have women founders.

The reason I separate the two is because today, women own 40% of the businesses in the US, which amounts to 12 million businesses. Of those, about 10 million are solopreneurs and of those, about one-half are not earning more than $10,000 a year. Many of these businesses are necessity businesses or side-hustles that women have started to help them provide additional income or test an idea before leaving another type of job.

Part of the challenge women face as they start and grow their companies is that scaling the business is difficult, whether they are adding employees, expanding their products and services, or growing their markets. Increasing women’s access to capital is very slow and the percentage of women who do receive venture capital is very small. Today, only 2.3% of the venture capital funding goes to women-owned companies.

There is another perspective, however. Many entrepreneurial women I have interviewed are proud of the fact that they have grown their businesses without the use of venture capital or other external sources of funding. Perhaps they got a bank loan, or, as is often the case, they got favorable rates for a line of credit on their credit card. While we often talk about friends and family helping fund a startup, many women have few friends or family with the capital to help them. Instead, they manage the growth of their businesses carefully so that revenues can underwrite expenses. For them, timing of cash flow is critically important to their sustainability.

Remember that Sarah Blakely grew SPANX without any outside capital. SPANX was just profitable from the beginning. Not every woman’s company is as fortunate. Consequently, the bigger question is: why are only 20% of these women founders funded?

In our work at SAMC with men and women entrepreneurs, we have found that a recurring challenge for both is how to pitch venture capitalists to gain the funding needed to sustain the growth of their businesses. We watch as men get funded, and women don’t. We see from the data that men are far more likely to gain the funding they need at an extraordinary level. In 2019 in the U.S., 2.8% of funding went to women-led startups. In 2020, that fell to 2.3%, as Crunchbase figures show. This comes after years of increases. The 2019 2.8% figure, while paltry, was an all-time high.

Women entrepreneurs are often critiqued because their concepts or businesses are not appropriate for VC funding, or because their pitch is not as good as a man’s. Or because women do not have the technical expertise that VCs are looking for. Research suggests that investors are more likely to give money to people who look like them, and 90% of the VC decision makers are male. Men entrepreneurs are preferred by male investors, and those investors often penalize women entrepreneurs if they display stereotypical feminine behavior.

One would think that this inaccessibility of VC funding would negatively impact the rate at which women are founding companies, but ironically, the opposite is true. Women, particularly women of color, Asian women and Latina women are all forming companies at record levels.

Therefore, the challenge for women founders is understanding how to build a business that will provide products and services for a market that needs them, capture a share of that market, and craft a business model that will allow them to scale, expand and sustain themselves with a margin that matters — and then find the capital to grow.

Time to change. Yes! Women have been forming companies to help other women get the capital they need. Venture Capital funds such as Golden Seeds, Merian Ventures, JumpStart Focus Fund, and Female Founders Fund are focused specifically on funding women-owned businesses. Golden Seeds, for example, runs three venture funds and has invested more than $100 million since 2005. This year, Female Founders raised their second fund, for $27 million, with investors including Melinda Gates, Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake, and Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss. They have invested in Zola, Maven Clinic, and Tala.

I love to see the fast-moving trends where women are coming together and bringing the resources to help other women scale and succeed. There is real momentum here, and hope.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

What could or should be done to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs to obtain funding from banks, angel investors or venture capital financing? Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. The pitching process is the best place to start. Can we make the pitch process gender blind? And should we? Or are men and women different enough that investors need to be able to evaluate the person too, not just the business concept?

2. Should women be given funding based on different expectations than men? And when women receive that funding, does it come with additional support to help ensure it serves the desired purpose?

3. Are women-owned companies inherently different from men’s and therefore women founders need to find specific VCs for their business concepts? There are several women-led companies that are combining their financial resources to create lending streams for women-owned business. Should they only support women, or should they be gender neutral and only financially focused when finding companies in which to invest?

4. Do we have to re-train men to listen differently to women entrepreneurs and overcome the male bias? This is a big opportunity on many levels. We know there is nothing inherently predictable about how a company might succeed. Pitches are full of hope, assumptions and data that have been crafted to present the concept in the best light. Of course, women must pitch with the same types of data and insights that a man would use to have their business concept seen as a desirable investment. Is it their style or their concepts that need men to see them through a fresh lens?

Other ways to overcome these obstacles are coming from organizations such as WBENC, Golden Seeds and Astia. They are part of an expanding number of organizations trying to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. Each has developed a different approach to overcome the obstacles women entrepreneurs face. Whether facilitating certifications that enable women to access government contracts, raising capital to expand funding options, or providing access to financial networks, organizations are helping women take their ideas and turn them into successful business ventures. There is more to come and more that is needed.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Not long ago I met several women at a certain gathering. Several of them were successful in their fields: law, wealth management, banking. The recurring theme in our introductory remarks was how unhappy they were in their careers. The woman attorney had survived COVID but was burned out. The woman in wealth management wanted to know how to find purpose in her life and in her career. She was at the top of her firm and there was no more room for her to grow. Another in the financial services sector was tired of bumping up against the proverbial glass ceiling. As with so many of my coaching clients, I was saddened by their remarks. The trajectory for their success was not the problem. It was clear that the achievement of financial or professional “success” was nice, was necessary, but was hardly sufficient to give them a meaningful life.

What could these women do to change their emotional distress? As with many women whom I am coaching, the idea of having their own business was gnawing at them. They asked me what it was like to be in a firm of their own. Each had a unique idea that might catapult them into a successful business opportunity early in its development. Few wanted simply to do more of the same.

These women were like others that have come to us for help. Some had left their jobs or were thinking about doing so. They each wanted to find another way to be productive, purposeful, and to find passion in what their lives were all about. Their careers or their businesses were just a part of rethinking those lives.

Women who are wondering if there is more for their professional lives, and often for their personal lives as well, might be ready to become a business founder. It is a place where you can craft what you want to create, grow, and work hard to build. The women Andy and I have worked with at our Simon Initiative for Entrepreneurship at Washington University have spoken often about their dreams, their big ideas, their new ways to solve big problems, all of which fed into their desire to be founders of a company they were aspiring to create. They also did not want to be the CEO of a large company. They wanted their own company, for “better or worse.” They wanted to emulate Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear-Workshop, not Sheryl Sandberg.

And no wonder. The corporate culture in many companies is not conducive for women to stay in their jobs and grow their careers. It is often discouraging for women, propelling them to launch their own businesses.

Finally, and often most importantly, women founders are particularly good at seeing something that needs to be solved which others are ignoring. (Female intuition?) They see it from their own perspective — female-specific problems that need better solutions, often those that only a woman founder can recognize.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

What’s a myth anyway? Simply, it is a widely held but false belief or idea. As humans, we have these unique minds that create stories that become our realities. We live those stories as if they are real. Once we have that story ingrained in our mind, we think it is a truth. The myth becomes the basis of our reality, and we believe it to be what should be. Consequently, the myths around female founders and their abilities to succeed create a profoundly durable framework for why and how women launch new companies and the lack of support they often receive once they do.

The myths that haunt me the most about women founders are those that come from the old ideas brought over by the British (men) when they colonized America. Under British rule, women could not own property, and when they married, they “belonged” to their husbands. They could not carry debt and could not get credit without their husband’s or father’s signature until 1974.

The belief behind this mythological idea is that women are not able to own property or run a business. This myth has stuck around and is still, at times, expressed when a woman wants to create her own business. Banks shun them. Investors are uncomfortable funding them. Customers are even unsure if a woman-owned company is credible. In short, men and even some women are sure that women cannot be entrepreneurs. Women, as the thinking goes, cannot have imaginative ideas nor take them to market and succeed. Maybe they can have a side-hustle out of their kitchen, baking cupcakes or doing party invitations. But they cannot manage a complex business nor effectively lead others. These aren’t “truths”…they are “myths.”

In fact, the reality is just the opposite. Women may not be growing hi-tech companies or creating enterprising corporations to the same degree as their male counterparts, but they are very capable of starting and growing successful companies.

Consider these women and what they have created: Janice Bryant Howroyd is the founder of ActOne Group, the first African American female-led company to earn more than $1 billion in annual revenue. There is Sarah Blakely and SPANX, Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake, and Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss. And consider Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, and Sachiko Kuno, who has co-founded two drug companies.

Of course, there is Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Arianna Huffington, Mary Kay Ash, JK Rowling, Estée Lauder, Lilly Pulitzer, Tory Burch…I could keep going.

In my book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, there is a chapter about this very topic. Stephanie Breedlove wanted to create a company to solve the “nanny tax” needs of families who were paying their childcare workers but did not know how to process the correct paperwork. While still working her day job, Stephanie began to grow her concept in her basement. It did not take long before she and her husband were ready to grow this startup full-time. When she told her family that she was going to become an entrepreneur and start her own woman-owned business, they were appalled, convinced that women could not grow any business. Well, she did, growing Breedlove & Associates to $9 million and selling it to www.care.com for $58 million. So much for the myth.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Business founders need to be self-starters and able to operate without someone else structuring their days or their projects. They need to be willing to assume the uncertainties and risks that come with starting a new venture. It is helpful if they are complex problem-solvers as well as great communicators. They need to understand the entire dimensions of a business, particularly the financials, as well as other data points. They also must see the bigger picture of the business environment they are going to be operating in, as well as the trends.

There is also something important for a founder — the big picture vision and purpose of what they see for the business. This does not mean they are imagining their unicorn billion-dollar business. It does mean they have to want to solve a big problem in an innovative way. You will hear it in the story they tell you and the pain others are experiencing that they want to address.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. WHAT’S YOUR STORY? The first thing I wish someone had told me is the importance of my story. While I had an idea about its importance, I really did not appreciate the fact that buyers of my services were buying my story. Crafted correctly for the right audience, sales flow smoothly. Poorly articulated or inappropriately expressed and the buyer walks away. You can talk about branding, marketing, influencers and all the various tactical options available today, but at the end of the day, people are buying your story and how it meshes with their own.

2. PEOPLE BUY WHAT THEY NEED, NOT WHAT I DO. It didn’t take long to realize that being a corporate anthropologist is almost irrelevant to my potential clients. The fact that I can help them change is what matters to them. My credentials are nice. My methods are interesting. What really matters, however, is: can I help them reignite their growth.

3. WHAT’S YOUR PURPOSE? Third is the need to have a purpose beyond the tactical and practical sides of the business. We might think that I wish someone had told me about how to build a business plan or compete in the market space. No. I intuitively knew that I had to solve a big problem in an innovative way. My purpose was to help people do something they did not know how to do and that they hated to do: change. My entire career was built on perfecting ways to help others do what they don’t want to do. The purpose is essential to sustain my own momentum. It is equally important to create a fan club of folks who embrace what you do, bring you others who need you, and encourage you to sustain your growth.

4. BE A FUTURIST! CREATE DON’T COMPETE. See those signals that are all around you. More of the same cheaper is not a good business strategy. I became a futurist and was always an explorer, but I wish someone had told me that as I launched my business. It would have helped me understand how to be fast and agile, and how to try new ways of solving old problems. You might start out in one direction but quickly you learn that you must integrate new approaches, methods, and tools into your approach. I never stop learning, trying new things, and hoping to stay true to the core business as an anthropologist. This is one of the enduring challenges of the entrepreneur: namely, how to balance the new ideas with a structure for delivering desired results to clients. Entrepreneurs are not just thinking outside the box. They are creating new sandboxes.

5. HAVE FUN! I have always had fun since the day I started Simon Associates. No one ever talks about the fun. They warn you about the hard work, the 24/7 commitment, the uncertainties, the risk, the difficulties of finding and retaining clients, the challenges of scaling for growth, and finding the funding to sustain the business. They should also tell you about how to enjoy the entire journey. I do love what I do, how I do it, and how my clients enjoy our time together. You can do the same. Just imagine your glass is overflowing and you can see the joy in what you are building. I do remember, nonetheless, that there are endless hurdles. Only those who can leap over them are ultimately successful. Just smile along the way!

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I love to watch people who are attending a workshop or working with us on their business. Listen softly and watch their eyes and their faces. You can feel the changes they are going through, seeing things through a fresh lens. When they have that “aha” moment and their mind shifts, I quietly celebrate the gift we are giving each other.

Whether it is as a coach, one person at a time or as consultant for a billion-dollar organization that needs to rethink its business model and its strategy, I am always trying to help others become the best that they can be. It really is never about “me.” It is always about them. Their worlds are at times fractured or stagnant or stalling out. The need to rebuild the plane, not just jump out with or without a parachute. They come in pain, personal and professional.

My book “On the Brink: A fresh lens to take your business to new heights” was about eight of our clients who had come to us when they were stuck or stalled. Each of the stories, and so many others, reflects the gift I love to give so they could step back, see the possibilities, and march forward with a fresh view of life — theirs and that of their own worlds. It has been humbling and gratifying to lend a hand.

Now, with my new book, “Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business,” and my program, Rethink Your Journey with Andi Simon, I am working to help women rethink their own lives and find better ways to grow and achieve purpose and pleasure.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I remain convinced that this is a time for people to take care of themselves without feeling guilt about self-care. Far too many people are feeling burned out, depressed, saddened by their lives during this pandemic. Many women I have been coaching bemoan the fact that they are so busy with others that there is little time for themselves. Isn’t time for each of us to take care of ourselves.

What might that mean? What if we took a quiet walk and celebrated the time for me? Could you spend more time with your family, or simply sit still and have a cup of coffee on the porch? But when you do, recognize it, applaud, and refresh your own self-worth.

We launched an application in 2021. This application is designed to help people relax and enjoy self-care moments. Called the Time to Take Care of You 30-Day Challenge, it taught us a great deal about the joy of self-care. And it teaches those who take the challenge that it is indeed ok to care for themselves, even if it is 10-minutes a day.

As our beta testers went through the 30 days, we learned together about how important self-care is, how great it made them feel, and how hard it was to know what to do for themselves that made them feel appreciated. One of the hardest lessons to learn was that it was OK to take care of you. If you were going to care for others you had to allow yourself to take care of you. You could get past the guilt and enjoy the journey. Our hope is that it inspires a movement and spreads across the world.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I am a big fan of Sarah Blakely, founder of Spanx. What she did to celebrate the sale of her business to give each of her employees a first-class roundtrip ticket to anywhere and a $10,000 check for themselves. Building Spanx from a pain point, an observation, to a unicorn business was amazing by itself. But how she thinks of life is even more important — being authentic, kind, and doing for women with women. Hers is a story I love to share, and a woman I would be honored to meet.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.