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Women Of The C-Suite: “As your team grows, you’re going to face immense pressure to make everyone happy, especially as a woman” with Carley Childress and Chaya Weiner

Do not rely on consensus. As your team grows, you’re going to face immense pressure to make everyone happy, especially as a woman. We’re ingrained with this idea that we’re responsible for keeping other people happy. A: This is impossible. B: It’s the wrong way to approach problems. No one else in the company understands the full picture like you do. It’s not fair to put your decisions on others because you are worried people might be unhappy with your judgement. Be decisive, take action, and carefully explain your reasoning.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carley Childress, CEO of Macorva. Carley comes to Macorva from an engineering background focused in medical device product development and marketing management. Having worked for companies with thousands of employees and for companies with less than five employees, she is passionate about bringing startup levels of engagement to established companies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I got my dream job at 25 years old, working for the market leader in my industry, and within 6 months I was miserable. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t connect with the company and I was heartbroken that this amazing opportunity had turned sour so quickly.

Around this time, my partner and I noticed how much time and effort this company was investing in “employee engagement,” and we started doing our own research. We saw that this company genuinely wanted to help its employees, but there wasn’t a tool out there designed to collect the interpersonal experiences that would have indicated who was struggling as a manager, who was being overlooked, or who was causing problems. We realized that if a company with resources and motivation couldn’t access the right tools to help their employees, then other companies had to be experiencing the same problems. That was what drove us to reinvent the employee feedback paradigm with Macorva.

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?

I co-founded Macorva with my partner in business and life, Nathan Childress. We were still full-time at our previous company while building up Macorva on the side, and we were wondering how to manage everything once Macorva launched. We were on a weekend getaway when I realized I wanted to leave my job and run Macorva full-time. I told Nathan I wanted to be the CEO. He paused for a bit, then said, “Well, I can see bringing you on as VP of Sales.” That made for an awkward walk back to the hotel room. I eventually said, “I am employee #1! How can I be a vice-anything?!” My own husband hit me with the glass ceiling!

While I love telling that story to poke fun at Nathan, this was a genuine mistake on my part if you consider the context he was working with at the time: I had always avoided managing people, and I talked often about not wanting to manage people. That all changed with Macorva. This was our company. I knew that our best chance of getting Macorva to the highest number of people involved me building the team, since I knew our products better than anyone else, and knew I could inspire leaders to believe in it.

However, I hadn’t explained any of this to Nathan. I just told him, “I want to be CEO.” This was a good CEO lesson #1: other people aren’t there to blindly validate your decisions. You have to explain your reasoning. Once I did this, Nathan was immediately supportive of me as CEO, and he continues to support me every day.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our engagement survey software empowers employees to anonymously rate and qualify their experiences with anyone in the company: their peers, their managers, even the CEO. We give employees a voice to share the meaningful experiences they have at work, and we give those same employees (and their managers) the opportunity to learn and grow from the experiences of others.

Our best story is common across all clients that we work with, and it’s that of the “Silent Superstar.” We’ve all known someone at work who was amazing — went above and beyond to get things done, always helped others, and was just a sincere asset to the company. But if you put that person’s picture in front of upper management, they’d ask, “Who is this person?” Engagement surveys will ask you “do you have the resources to get the job done?” but they won’t empower you to say who helps you get the job done, so these people get overlooked time and time again.

There are exceptional employees hidden away at every company. Maybe they’re out in the field, so management can’t see their impact. Maybe they work remotely, or they defer credit to the team instead of taking it for themselves. Macorva helps companies discover these Silent Superstars, who

are absolutely critical to the success of any company, and we find them in every company that we work with.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Our most exciting effort at the moment is getting Macorva in front of as many companies as possible. We are passionate about this for two reasons:

1: We are helping people enjoy their jobs and connect in the workplace.

2: We are helping companies operate better. This isn’t just about employees being happy at work, although that’s a pretty compelling mission on its own. We make sure companies have the right people engaged at work so they can make breakthroughs faster. Our society can benefit from the ingenuity and innovation that’s currently stifled in two-thirds of our workforce.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Do not withhold the critical feedback your people need to learn and grow. One of the most selfish things you can do as a leader is avoid criticism because you’re afraid of coming off as harsh. If you notice weak points in someone on your team, you have a responsibility to tell that person what those weak points are. Do not lie to yourself and believe you’re sparing that person’s feelings by avoiding or softening the message. You’re sparing your own feelings, and in the process, you’re depriving someone else of an opportunity to advance their career. Look at every person on your team and think of what you’d say if they asked for a raise or promotion. If they aren’t aware of every single reason you can think of for saying “no,” you are failing them as a leader.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Do not rely on consensus. As your team grows, you’re going to face immense pressure to make everyone happy, especially as a woman. We’re ingrained with this idea that we’re responsible for keeping other people happy. A: This is impossible. B: It’s the wrong way to approach problems. No one else in the company understands the full picture like you do. It’s not fair to put your decisions on others because you are worried people might be unhappy with your judgement. Be decisive, take action, and carefully explain your reasoning.

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?

No one has done more to get me to where I am now than my husband, Nathan. Nathan founded Mobius Medical Systems in 2010, creating automated software used today in 1,000+ cancer clinics in 40+ countries to ensure safe, effective radiation treatments. We had some of the best people in the world working at Mobius Medical Systems, and they were all there because they wanted to work for him. He had incredible victories as a CEO, and there’s no one I trust or believe in more than him. This is why he comes in handy now that I’m the CEO of Macorva. He gives me both the guidance I need to navigate uncharted waters and the support to get through fear and self-doubt. I joke that I can bootstrap confidence because if I believe in Nathan, who believes in me, then I have to believe in myself.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to leverage all my success into more momentum for Macorva because I believe it’s my greatest opportunity to change the world for the better. Plenty of us will spend more time at work than with our families, and we deserve to find fulfillment in the work that takes us away from loved ones. Research overwhelmingly indicates that when people have that fulfillment, they do their best work, which means when we invest in that fulfillment we have a better chance of curing illness, fighting climate change, educating others, and making the world a better place.

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

  1. “Always interview multiple candidates.” I had someone email me the “perfect resume,” and I loved what I saw so much that I created a position for them and didn’t interview anyone else. I had to let that person go within 2 weeks of their start date because they’d misrepresented their experience, which I could have easily determined had I taken the time to interview other candidates.
  2. “Everything is the CEO’s fault.” When you’re not the CEO, you can always make excuses for why something didn’t work out, like “oh, the dominos just didn’t fall right this time.” When you are the CEO, you set up the dominos. It’s your fault if they don’t fall right.
  3. “Bootstrap every area of your business.” Don’t pump a stupid amount of money into something (or someone) that isn’t proven. Wait until something is working and then reward success with greater investment.
  4. Having said that (#3)….“Investment and return are not directly proportional.” There’s truth in the joke, “What one programmer can get done in one month, two programmers can get done in two months.”
  5. “You’re going to re-do all of your marketing and messaging post-launch.” We did in fact re-do all of our marketing and messaging post-launch, and I’m haunted by all the time I wasted quibbling over semantics pre-launch.

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

I’d want to start a movement that elevates the voices of experts on important issues. We live in a time where anyone can add their voice to a discussion, which is great, but not necessarily productive. If we want to solve the big problems we’re dealing with today, we need to pass the mic to people who’ve dedicated their lives to those issues and amplify their voices.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“We’re here for a good time, not a long time.”

I like this because it’s an upbeat reminder not to overthink and miss out on life. I almost talked myself out of every great decision I ever made. Even today, I can always think of 1,000 reasons why something is a bad idea: “You’ll look weird, you’ll be embarrassed, you’ll be heartbroken, you’ll fail, etc.” But thus far, my fear of missing out on happiness has narrowly overcome my fear of everything else.

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 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 :-)

Ben Horowitz, because after reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things I trust him to tell me everything that I’m doing wrong as CEO in 30 minutes or less.

Thank you for all of these great insights!




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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