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Female Founders: Rebecca Cafiero of The Pitch Club On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

The highs and lows can and will happen daily!! There are days that I feel like I’m on top of the world and SO in the flow of creativity and possibility. And then something unexpected happens that throws you for an emotional loop. Once you accept that you’re going to have lows, it’s not about avoiding them, it’s about managing how long you stay in them.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Cafiero.

Rebecca Cafiero is a business and visibility strategist, TEDx Speaker, podcast host, 2x bestselling author and mother of two. As the Founder + CEO of the Pitch Club — a for women, by women company — she has worked with hundreds of female entrepreneurs to increase their credibility, visibility and profitability in business.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, she spent 13 years in Corporate America leading sales and marketing teams and co-founded a tech startup that taught her valuable lessons about entrepreneurship and grit in a male dominated industry.

She is a frequent speaker on online business strategy, creating credibility + visibility, productivity and personal optimization. She’s passionate about helping female entrepreneurs be seen, heard and valued as an expert in their field.

Since launching the Pitch Club 11 months ago, Rebecca has helped more than 75 women launch, grow and scale their businesses, several which have scaled to multiple six and seven figures. In addition to supporting business growth, Rebecca has helped create more than 16 New + Noteworthy podcast hosts + 19 female bestselling authors.

She believes women should be seen, heard + valued for their unique expertise.

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 never wanted to be an entrepreneur. My parents owned their own business, both in blue collar occupations where their hours and bottom line were dictated by the seasons and regulatory agencies. It seemed physically and mentally grueling and the idea of being in a career was so appealing!

After studying journalism and working at a daily paper, I found my way into real estate, first selling and then managing sales and marketing for several public companies. I loved communication, marketing, people development and providing the lifeblood for any company, sales, that allowed all of the other departments to operate and flourish.

I always found myself looking for process improvements and sometimes, was frustrated when I didn’t have the ability to do what was aligned with my values, instead, carrying out the direction of something I didn’t necessarily agree with. Most of all, the idea of capping compensation when exceptional effort created incredible results and profits.

While I loved the teamwork and collaboration when we were working together cohesively, I began to really yearn to create something of my own, where I’d be able to develop products and processes that would feel both profit and purpose focused.

At the height of my career, with enormous growth potential, I left a VP job to work for myself. People thought I was crazy, but perhaps, they are right. Sometimes, you’ve got to think differently, to want different things, in order to make a difference in your lives and in the lives of those you are meant to serve.

Early on, I struggled with the balance of knowing I created an incredible transformation for my clients, but having no idea on how to communicate it! When I had left the prestige of my former professional career to forge my own way, I quickly looked at how I could create visibility and credibility for myself (and ultimately, more profitability). I didn’t have the budget for traditional PR, but I realized that I could take my experience marketing, selling and managing more than a billion in real estate sales and apply the same principles and strategies to myself, just refined for a solopreneur trying to scale, instead of for a huge company.

Part of that was PR, but I didn’t have an extra $5k to hire a PR firm to grow my brand. I got resourceful, did a lot of research and used what I knew as a former journalist and figured out how to do it on my own. After more than 20 features and mentions in publications the first year, without paying for PR, I realized that I could utilize these same principes to gain larger exposure for my business coaching clients.

It took five years working for myself, trying different pivots within the business strategy and coaching space, before I got an idea that pulled at me. It was taking a small part of what I did (and taught) around personal PR and diving in deep on it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I followed that.

On faith, I paused my other business and gave myself permission to work on ONE thing, without income, for several months. That was just weeks before the pandemic began, and it would have been easy to talk myself out of taking a risk in uncertain times. Instead, I realized that during uncertain times, when many are looking for certainty to get into action, I could lean into the uncertainty by focusing on what I could create and control, my focus, my time and my efforts.

Most of all, I realized that there are so many of us out there looking for our unique place and the path to get there. Once we find it, it’s our privilege and responsibility to guide others down it, with fewer bumps and bruises than we experienced paving the way.

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

Early on, I was pursuing EVERY opportunity possible to make something of my business. And as I stepped more into my zone of genius and got my clarity on who I’m meant to serve, it’s incredible the opportunities that came to me!

One of those…….10 years ago, I was leading sales for a home building company in Southern California. I developed a great relationship with my national sales trainer, who went on to become the national VP of sales. We stayed in touch even after I left corporate to start my own business and she was one of my very first clients as she built her personal brand within the industry she worked in.

Every time I launched something new, she’d be one of my first clients. She believed in me and always gave me valuable feedback, got into action and created incredible results. And one day, she came to me with an idea for a partnership that uniquely brought both of our talents + strengths together. I was not only honored that she has continued to believe in me, but wanted to bring her idea to life with me by her side!

The relationship from mentor to mentee, employer to boss, client to coach, then to business partners, is a windy long journey I couldn’t be more grateful for.

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?

Not a mistake, but an example of not taking yourself too seriously and having fun even when working hard….. I was attending a female creative conference in early March of 2020 and there was a call for “models” for a fashion show. Figuring I had nothing to lose (even as a 40 year old, 5’4 breastfeeding mom), I ended up being selected!! I was dressed in an incredible hot pink gown with feathers that was a mix of Disney Dreams and runway couture and I embraced being a real woman, with a real body.

By being my full out self, I connected with the designer, an incredible creative + content creator, who later became one of the first women in all women mastermind I launched. She was a privilege to work with and I’m fortunate to now call her a friend! It would have never happened had I not been willing to go for something I had no “business” in pursuing.

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?

I have never ending gratitude for my best friend, Pierrette. She was my boss for years in my corporate career and when I was ready to make the leap to entrepreneurship, I was so worried about letting her down after years of working together. Even though my leaving was going to make her professional life more difficult, she personally and professionally supported me following what made me happy. Over the years, even though our careers are no longer linked, she’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders and role models of what supporting women in business looks like.

My husband, Igino, who is a tech startup founder, continues to be a role model for me. Watching him start a successful robotics company from nothing (literally, from our garage) and the unbelievable time, energy, belief and heart he’s poured into it are humbling. He’s the definition of unreasonably committed and his belief and encouragement of me is only matched by mine in him.

He says to me often “Do anything to be happy because when you’re happy, you can do anything.”

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?

Lack of confidence still is still something occurring in women across the globe in far greater numbers than reported in men. We are failing our young women if we don’t help them co-create the belief that they can do everything (and more) of the opposite sex.

There’s a lack of accessible role models in the generations before us. While we can buy books or listen to podcasts featuring unicorn success stories from female entrepreneurs like Sarah Blakely, there is a shortage of successful female entrepreneurs at the “local” level that have a megaphone to their message.

Juggling work and family continues to be a huge limiter for women. Women already spend on average 2 more hours per day taking care of family and the household than their male partners. When the pandemic hit, I saw many of my colleagues and clients, all driven females, who suddenly picked up the responsibilities of home schooling and more housework. While stress increased for everyone, the workload outside of work increased unfairly and disproportionately on women.

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?

As individuals, if every successful woman focused on mentoring one other female entrepreneur a year, the impact would ripple.

As a society, not only telling but SHOWING our young women (with our dollars, education and politics) that they are just as capable in business and in life.

We need more like minded communities for female entrepreneurs with collaboration, not competition, resources + opportunity shares. Both online and off, women need and deserve safe spaces where they can connect with other women who want to work for themselves, but not by themselves. Outside of larger cities where female co-work spaces are beginning to gain traction, the online world is beginning to make this more accessible.

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?

Women historically focus more on collaboration and connection in the workplace!

We are more flexible and attentive, better listeners, problem solvers + multitaskers.

Women also score higher than men in most leadership skills, something I definitely found to be true when working for female bosses in the public sector!

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

First, that it’s all about hard work and long hours. While that is often true, the mental work is FAR harder because there are no boxes to be checked or projects to be finished. Having the long term vision in mind while focusing on today, balancing family, carving out time for yourself, being invested in your relationship is not easy. Having a therapist or life coach is as important as having a business coach.

Realize you’re going to drop balls. Just don’t drop the glass ones.

That you should invest your time or money ONCE you’ve got proof of concept or success. You can’t expect what you won’t invest. You’ve got to invest your time, energy, passion (and often, personal money) in order to create something that will give more time and money later on.

That you had a brilliant idea and it took off (with hard work). In reality, you pivoted constantly + continued to refine until you had a product that worked. You have to have long term vision, short term focus + quick adaptability.

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?

Most people are not cut out to be a founder. Who isn’t? Someone that doesn’t want to take radical responsibility for their results, someone that is very sensitive to feedback or criticism or someone that wants results fast, or someone who thinks they know everything….need not apply.

Resourcefulness!! It’s not about the resources, it’s about the resourcefulness! Successful founders know when to ask for help but also, how to find what they need in their entrepreneurial journey. And if they don’t know the answer, they go find it. They ask HOW, not why.

Grit! I love the TED talk on grit by Angela Lee Duckworth. She defines grit as passion and sustained persistence towards a long term achievement that could take months, years or decades of resilience, ambition and self-control to achieve.

Permission to promote ! After working with hundreds of female business owners, it became clear to me that the reasons that most people don’t believe they’re successful aren’t true. It’s not about strategy, time, resources, though all of those are helpful. It’s about a founder’s internal permission to promote themselves and their business at the core. If they give themselves that permission and realize that their business success is both their responsibility and their privilege, we can use promoting and advocating for our business to gain the strategy, resources and support needed to be successful.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Entrepreneurship is LONELY. Most people won’t understand what it takes to get a business off the ground!! ! It’s rare I meet another woman who understands the commitment required (and why you’d want to!) and that can feel alienating.

People mistakenly think founders have so much flexibility or time because we work for myself. While I may be able to do the 9am walk to school, no one sees waking up at 5am to get in an hour before they wake up, or the late nights in my office instead of netflix. Every minute I spend either goes to my business, my children or my own development (well, at least most of the minutes)! There are times that I feel out of touch with what’s happening on awards shows, the newest summer read (as I’m reading business books like Traction) or why I’d invest my “free time” in conferences or personal growth events. But to get unreasonable results, you have to be unreasonably committed.

And that is why it’s my mission to provide community to other women who are entrepreneurs and founders. It’s why I created the Pitch Club, to create a work “family” for women who want to work for themselves, but not by themselves.

2. That you’ll be the worst paid employee (and the last paid), for a while! When I had my first $100,000 month in sales, almost all of it went back to consultants, overhead and the remainder, to future growth and scaling. I paid myself less that month than my employees! Business success was when I had enough consistent income that I could pay myself a salary in addition to investing in the growth of the company.

3. There is no such thing as overnight success. Our culture often celebrates “overnight successes”, without accurately depicting the work that it took to get here. In an interview about starting my current business during the pandemic and during our first product launch, it came out that we had a $100,000 week the first week we launched. But that tells SO little of the story…..how I’d been working on the concept full time for 6 months and had invested more than $50k in systems, processes and people to build the foundation of it.

As Tony Robbins says “people are celebrated in public for what they do for years in private”. We need to change that narrative, so people don’t quit when they don’t have wins right away.

4. The highs and lows can and will happen daily!! There are days that I feel like I’m on top of the world and SO in the flow of creativity and possibility. And then something unexpected happens that throws you for an emotional loop. Once you accept that you’re going to have lows, it’s not about avoiding them, it’s about managing how long you stay in them.

5. The importance of your why (and also, tapping into your impact when things get tough). Being a female business owner or founder can often be REALLY lonely. And the more we put ourselves out there, the more feedback (and yes, criticism) we open ourselves up to. Following your dreams without a specific road map is already scary enough, and challenges, failure or getting less than gentle feedback can STING! In those moments, it is SO important to have a GO TO reminder of why we are doing what we do + who we help.

I’m a BIG believer in creating a WHY scrapbook or folder . Whether you save a photo folder on your phone or get crafty with a scrapbook, save those client testimonials, heartfelt texts and success stories of yourself and your clients.

I had a day that I received feedback that devastated me and felt completely deflated and questioned myself and what I was even doing. Going to my WHY folder and seeing messages from women whose business, income and lives have been changed by us at the Pitch Club reminds me that I don’t need to be everyone’s cup of tea.

When you feel down, frustrated or less than confident, go back and remember how you are uniquely meant to create your vision + the impact that will come from it! I am helping women be seen, heard and valued. The testimonials and success stories from our clients + customers regularly makes me emotional.

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

While I love to be able to write a check with my heart, instead of my head, money alone doesn’t change problems. Instead, investing in education and actually being part of the solution does!

Each quarter, we give away a complete scholarship to our 12 month business growth accelerator. We select a female founder with incredible purpose + passion who has overcome adversity. Not only does this give them the tools and opportunities to launch and scale their own business, but it helps more women in need create financial independence.

And I reverse engineer everything I’ve done + optimize it, then teach others how to do it. Learn, do, show. I want to demystify what it takes to be successful in business in a way that also supports the human being that’s breathing life into that business.

And most importantly, as we create more success, we always look for more ways to give back, both in time + money.

Each time my mastermind writes a collaborative book, we donate proceeds from Amazon to a non-profit called Dress For Success, whose mission is to support women through professional attire and development tools to thrive in work and life.

In addition, we offer free business masterclasses several times a year that provide a week of business training for free. We’ve had thousands of women join in, from all over the globe. Many of them live in countries with significantly different economic realities that wouldn’t be able to participate in our programs, so it gives them an opportunity to learn the same strategies that our clients are using to create six and seven figure businesses. And most importantly, we breathe life and belief in them. We tell them they’ll finish the masterclass with an MBA — massive belief and action. And they do! We’ve seen businesses launched, press earned and most importantly, excuses disappear.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be?

I would create a movement focused on increasing confidence and the feeling of value in women. While strategy, and resources are important to success, it won’t happen without belief in self and the confidence to go out there and get started. And when women are successful, they give more time and money to efforts that better the world.

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?

Oprah! She’s a beautiful example of building an empire around heart, impact and authenticity.

When I published my first book and it went bestseller, I had people say “that’s so incredible that it was successful! How long did it take to write”? My answer is 40 years to live the experience, but about two to actually write. However, it was less than a month of actually writing, and 23 months of mentally getting past myself in order to put my story out there!

Being a startup founder is like becoming a mother. The beginning is exciting and you just see total opportunity. Then you birth your business and it’s 10x the work and stress you ever imagined (but also, 10x the reward). Every stage is hard and every stage is different, until eventually it’s gotten to the point it can do much more without as much from you!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

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

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