161 From Corner Office Corporate to ‘Startuplandia’: Lucy Danziger on Reinvention from Glossy Magazine Editor to Technology Entrepreneur
Melinda Wittstock: Welcome to Wings, Lucy.
Lucy Danziger: Thanks for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: It is great to have you here in the studio in New York, and I share an affinity with you, because I’m also a media person turned serial entrepreneur.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Tell me about that journey and what was the moment when you said, “Oh, that’s it. That’s enough. Enough of the board meeting; I want a boardroom! I want to go out on my own.”
Lucy Danziger: I’ve always had this inclination that I wanted to own and run a company. And Hintd is basically a publishing platform, because we publish wish lists by influencers or editors and users. We don’t actually do the transaction, so if you put on your list, you know I want to buy this bathing suit and I want to do SoulCycle, all those transactions happen where you pull the item from. So what we’ve built is this uploader tool that lets you assemble all the pieces of this future life that you’re building on a list.
So, as a publisher, which is what we are, even though we look like a shopping site, we’re a publisher, it’s really a great tradition of women publishers who have published, I would think cutting edge sites. Like I’ve always admired people like Katharine Graham, I’ve always admired any woman who can stand out front and say, “I want to create the future and I have a vision for it and I want to help other people create their future.”
So, for me, what that meant was coming out of Self magazine, where by the way I got fired and I’m walking out of the building thinking, “I’ve had a great run. I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve been Conde Nast for 18 years.” I worked for amazing people. I worked at amazing magazines, but the only way to really control your destiny is to own it. You don’t fire yourself, so I realized that I’d been sitting there for two years thinking I was going to get fired.
Shortly thereafter, I got the opportunity to be on a stage with Mika Brzezinski and Arianna Huffington, some other women who said, “Will you talk about this?” I said, “Yes.” I think women who sit in the audience today and ask themselves, “Am I going to get fired?” need to ask themselves a different question, which is, “Is this the best use of my time? Am I in the right assignment? Does the job I’m doing play to my strengths or do I have a skill set that I should take somewhere else?”
And so, honestly, I loved Self Magazine and I loved the dialogue with women and I loved talking to seven million women every month about how to improve their life and their wellbeing or health. But I thought, “There are other ways to do this.” You can bring this dialogue online. You can have it digitally and you can ask them, “What is it you want? How can I help you get the life you want?”
So, to me, it starts with shopping and that sounds very superficial, but I am not a superficial human being. But if I see a running shoe, it makes me go running. I am that physically driven, right?
Melinda Wittstock: So, you’re making it actionable instead of Pinterest where you can kind of pin away to oblivion. You can actually go and directly purchase the item that you’ve decided that you-
Lucy Danziger: That’s right.
Melinda Wittstock: … Really, really want and can you share this with all your friends and?
Lucy Danziger: Yes, we’ve made it social and fun. You can keep it private if you want to, but most people finish their list and they want to publish it, because they love their taste. Yeah, on Pinterest we were the most pinned magazine at Conde Nast for many years. When I would get these plaintiff emails from people saying, “I love the top that girl’s wearing on the beach. That yoga move it’s so cool, where can I get that?” I would have to write back and say, “I’m so sorry we shot that two years ago on a trip to St Lucia. We brought tons of clothes and they’re not in the market now.”
Really, what had happened was, somebody pinned the yoga move and her friend comes along and says, “Well, I want the top.” So at Hintd, we made sure that everything that pulls, pulls in the original stem that leads back to the link to buy.
Whether you are pinning or hinting for me I’ll say, “On my birthday, I want to go to the Standard Grill and have drinks with my friends.” I will put that on my birthday list and I’ll say like, “Don’t buy me a gift, don’t buy me anything, but just come to drinks.” This all really started, because I used to take gifts of orchids and I would say, “Put a Tory Burch top on our cover,” and it was so lovely. Tory would send us orchids and say, “Thanks for the top on the cover.”
I was like, “Wow! That’s so nice.” Four days later, orchids are dead, and I kept killing orchids and I said, “Am I the orchid killer of all time? How do you guys keep orchids alive?” And so, I’d have all these little stems around my office, and I’d say, “I wish people would just know, like $50 for my charity.” I love Challenged Athletes, which gets prosthesis for kids who’ve lost a limb and need very expensive running limbs that aren’t paid for by insurance or Back on My Feet. Like all these really physical charities that I love that help people be active.
I was like, “I need a list, everyone needs a list.” It shouldn’t just be brides, I mean we should all have like a life registry of just things we love and maybe somebody could go to their house and they’re pregnant. You bring them a bottle of wine and they go, “I can’t drink.” I’m like, “Shoot. I wish I could have brought you like bubble bath or something that you want.”
Melinda Wittstock: Something that you really cared about.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: You know what’s interesting, so I’m a big believer in visualization, that when you see where you’re going next, is often what you get. There’s something about that so inspiring about what you’re doing that I could, I would probably use it that way as well in terms of my bucket list or that or imagining myself doing already the things that I want to do. I’m not like setting up a desire to want something, but that I have this. I have this around me.
Lucy Danziger: Exactly, and so many people say, “Well, you know Millenials like experiences and not stuff.” I have two answers to that. One is you’re right. We’re not about acquisitiveness, but we are about envisioning ourselves wearing that thing in our social feed or however we would want to present ourselves to the world.
It’s really not about an acquisition. It’s really about almost blueprinting and architecting your life.
Melinda Wittstock: Empowering your own life. I mean there was something really interesting about what you were saying, you know when you were at Self Magazine empowering all these women and then taking that step to empower yourself.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah, that was a big leap. I mean look, I got a severance, which was helpful and I put it right back into the first iteration of this business. I hired a woman who had been in our beauty department and she’d gone back to work to learn coding. That was two years before. She wept in my office and said, “I’m a nerd, I’m not a beauty editor.” I was like, “Okay, do you. I mean, stay in touch, I love ya.” She had worked for me since she was an intern.
Then when I got fired and I had a big party and everybody who’d ever worked for me for 13 years came back to the party. Even people who I had fired, they were like, “No hard feelings whatever, I’ve found my happy place teaching writing, whatever.” It was really lovely and I was like, “Hey, well nobody is bulletproof.” You can be on top one day and on the bottom the next, and you have to feel your own inner worth and understand that your skill set walks out the door with you. You can apply that to your next assignment.
Melinda Wittstock: This is the journey of entrepreneurship, because on any given day, you can have an incredible highs, incredible lows, just multiple times within an hour. So many things beyond your control, there are so many things, and then the only thing you can really do is show up your best self in each one of those moments. I joke to people, if you want a therapist, become an entrepreneur, because that’s where you end up growing so much-
Lucy Danziger: That’s interesting.
Melinda Wittstock: … As a human being.
Lucy Danziger: I always say, “Don’t believe the hype,” meaning, you’re not as good as somebody who might say on your best day. You’re not as awful as somebody who might say on your worst day, and you just have to try to do the best you can for the right reasons, every single day. Because really personality is destiny and if you go to work every day and you try to do the right thing, and you are kind and patient … I’m not always patient, I’m a task master, but if you instruct people and help them reach success, other people will help you reach success.
Where you have to set people up for success, that’s the one thing that one of my bosses said to me. He said, “My job is to set you up for success and hope that you step through that door,” but I knew every day of my entire career that I could get fired. You know that when you go to work in a company like Conde Nast where it’s an autonomous model. No one guides you and they do try to help you, but if you can’t get the job done, they have to find somebody who can.
The only sadness for me was Self folding after I left, and everyone says, well, doesn’t that vindicate you? I said, “You know you work in this thing for 13 years. You put your heart and soul into and you believe in that brand.” And, sadly, the print format did not serve its audience anymore. Now online, you can get all the digital content, but maybe it should have been a digital publication at that point, because you can get a blogger or images of how to eat or how to workout or affirmation pretty much anywhere.
When Self folded, I did a Facebook post that basically said, “Maybe we got the message out and the next generation learned and understands that this is what they need to do to be healthy and they need to move and exercise and eat right.” We can get that information other places now but the only vindication is that you want to say to people, you know I worked really hard and I tried to make it look easy but it was never easy. So in a way running a magazine in a time where it’s a struggle is perfect training for being an entrepreneur … You know, there’s nothing easy about it. You show up every day and do the best you can.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah I just recall … What, I mean … So people often ask me so, Melinda, how does a journalist, because I was on the London Times, the BBC and all these … How does a journalist become a tech entrepreneur and I mean obviously [inaudible 00:10:25] there are a number of different reinventions all the way along that path but if I think of the days … You know, in my early 20s, I was always inquisitive and curious. Every day was different. I embraced change. I was just continually wanting to do better and it was constant reinvention much like the entrepreneurial lifestyle in a lot of ways.
Lucy Danziger: I think that’s right and I used to say the nice thing about a magazine, it’s not like a movie where you put it in the can and it’s done. You get to remake it every month and so everyone says like, “What’s your favorite issue?” And I would always say the next one because I get to do it again and try to make it even better. And obviously some issues are fatter so I get more pages to play with but for the most part you’re an optimist. You always think I can even do that better. I can even get that right and I had a uniquely interactive website where we’d say to our users, what do you want for our readers and they’d say, “Now I know breakfast is important and I think I have my act together at dinner but lunch, I screw up. I eat the bread basket …”
So we did a lunch story about how … Is your lunch making you fat? And it was, like, the most e-mailed story of all time and what I realized is if you listen to people they tell you what they want and you just have to build that. So, that’s been my training.
It’s like we started as a gifting site, you know put in 22 things that you want … One trip, seven expensive, seven medium, seven cheap and you get to define them. And our users were like, “No offense but I’m not waiting for an occasion. I just really want to keep track of what I want.” So last February we iterated. We turned on ten lists per person. You can still only have 22 items because I think what you leave out is as important as what you put on. And that’s the difference between Pinterest, like, it’s endless on Pinterest. And on Hintd it’s finite. You have to make choices and [inaudible 00:12:13]. And it has to be something where you can take action. You can put on your favorite charity … Somebody can donate to your favorite charity but there’s a link to the charity right there.
And then we, we said what else do you want? We want to be able to find and follow our friends so we’re, like, okay, we turned that on. So now, you can following influencers or your friends or bloggers who … You know wanting is also recommending. If I love and want something I’m basically endorsing it and evangelizing for it so our sponsors want to get in on that because they want to be part of peer-to-peer marketing and I would say if I see a movie like Dunkirk and I say to you, “It’s really good, you should see it”, you don’t know that I first saw the ad. You’re just hearing Lucy you say, “I like this movie”, so now it’s me who’s evangelizing.
And so the same thing is true on Hintd, like we can get a sponsor who will sponsor a list but then when that partner label drops off when it goes on somebody else’s and then each time it gets re-Hintd to a new list, it’s just the person talking, like, I think this is the greatest … I love this Glossier product. Or I love this Exuviance product. Or, you know, these boots are super-comfy to run around the city in.
And so people as they add things, they’re not just wanting. They’re … They’re recommending. So it’s sort of both. It’s kind of interesting because honestly I … I say to people, we used to say why you want it and now we say why does it make your list. So you could do a list, like, all the things you love and I would check it because you’re a smart woman.
Melinda Wittstock: Well thank you.
Lucy Danziger: Of course. You have taste.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you know it’s … it’s interesting when you take the time to think about what it is you actually want in your life, not what you think you want. I see so many women, and men, living lives of the kind of should’s. Like, ‘I should do this. I should do that. I should, should, should, should, should’, and it keeps them away from being in alignment with their really true mission and so, as an entrepreneur, do you feel that it’s absolutely critical to be very, very clear or like know yourself enough to pick a start-up idea that really has a mission more than just making a business successful.
Lucy Danziger: So interesting that you say that because when I left Self, I had an idea for a fitness related start-up and the more that I got involved with it, the less exciting it seemed. It seemed sort of narrow to me. And I thought, you know, why not make a place, which was Hintd, where women can tell you what’s important to them rather than try to dictate. You know, you should do this, you should do that. You know, I don’t want to be told I should. And I don’t want to tell other people they should. I want to say what do you want and how can I help you?
Melinda Wittstock: You see because it’s interesting because it turns media like almost full circle 360. And that’s so fascinating I, I’m really interested listening to you because my journey was that way too. When I got really enamored With things like crowdsourcing in the early 2000s. And social conversations and how news and media could be much more of a conversation but content, really, is connection between people and when we talk about change and that often the only thing we can take for granted, I think, is change.
And when you’re in a huge media organization or a big company … You know, women who are working for large corporate enterprises we try and disrupt from within and we can’t, because we can’t move it fast enough so it kind of hit the glass ceiling there and I’ve noticed that so many women of our age go into entrepreneurship a little bit later in life.
Lucy Danziger: My lawyer said to me when I started my business. I said, “Am I crazy? I’m the moms age for most of the people starting companies.” He said, “No, no, no, there are two times in your life when you start a company. When you have nothing to lose … That’s when you’re right out of college.”
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, like in your 20s or whatever, right?
Lucy Danziger: And then when you have nothing to prove. Because you’ve already had a career and you’ve done it.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. And you’ve done … You’ve had your kids … Mind you, I do all kinds of weird things. I launched a business when my daughter was only like six weeks old. I don’t know what I was …
Lucy Danziger: That’s impressive.
Melinda Wittstock: … Thinking. Yeah it was crazy. It was a news business, it was Capitol News Connection and I remember one day running around the Capitol … In the first year, we only had a staff of three and then we scaled it to twenty people and grew it. But it started that first year and I was running around … I’d, like, do payroll and then I would sign a new client and then I would do a story and I had my little reporting kit, which was in a little black bag but then I also had my breast pump, which is also in a little black bag and I remember at the end of the day, I pulled out what I thought was my microphone to interview a senator and it wasn’t. It was actually, like, the funnel.
Lucy Danziger: Probably he didn’t even know what it was, right?
Melinda Wittstock: No, it was Senator Patty Murray of Washington State and I have never seen anyone laugh so hard. She was laughing at … I don’t even know why, I was so tired, I didn’t even know why she was laughing.
Lucy Danziger: That’s really funny.
Melinda Wittstock: It took me awhile to figure this out. So, this is why I share these stories because really it’s about work life integration and like no day as an entrepreneur is going to be perfect … We’re all making it up as we’re going along.
Lucy Danziger: Right. I mean the thing about being an entrepreneur and this is something that is near and dear to my heart is … I don’t think it is smart to quit your job if you’re not able to have a runway. You need a runway and you should stock away some money or you raise money in advance. One of the things I know women do and I’m guilty of this is I raised a small round of friends and family and then when that ran out I was just bootstrapping it and I didn’t go to raise money until I felt I could prove out the concept and since we were pivoting in and iterating from gifting to shopping, we didn’t do it.
Melinda Wittstock: We make the mistake, often, I find that’s my … I’m guilty of this too, like, making things … A perfect enemy of the good and in the start up world, just moving and doing and it being imperfect is almost better. But then it means that you have to kind of let go and that can be quite hard, right? Because you have this vision and want it to be perfect, oh man, but conditions change so quickly.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah and I think women are loath to go around and raise a million and a half dollars before they have a product whereas a guy will do that no problem.
Melinda Wittstock: And they’ll ask for, like, three times what they need.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah, a guy will say, “It’s going to be awesome, trust me.” And I’m enough of a journalist that I want to fact check every statement. I don’t know if it’s going to be awesome, I don’t know if it’s going to work and so I need to prove that.
Melinda Wittstock: What happens, I think, is we’re more honest about our numbers and then the VCs assume that … Like because if guys go in there with a big hockey stick, the VCs automatically discount that. We go in with numbers that are more realistic and they automatically reduce that.
Lucy Danziger: Say, well, if you’ve shown a hockey stick it must be more flat. Right? Less of a hockey stick.
Melinda Wittstock: They reduce whatever numbers that you put out there so I think often women don’t ask for an offer sometimes we just … Even in the sale, you know, for the coaches out there that listen to this show and all the folks like … Often we undervalue ourselves, we don’t ask for our true worth and we certainly, in raising money for VC or angel money, friends, family, whatever … I know that often I haven’t asked for enough. I’m like, “Oh, I can make it work with less.” I’m like, “Wait a minute, why am I doing that?” I want to make it work with more. I want to go seize a market. I need fuel to actually go succeed. So why is that? Why do we ask for less than we need, often?
Lucy Danziger: I think, unfortunately, and it sounds so sexist to say this but I think it really is ingrained in either how we’re raised or what we have found to work in the past. If a woman walks in the room and she’s all full of bluster, it’s a turnoff and I don’t say that because I don’t have luster. I got bluster. I can bluster with the best of ’em. [crosstalk 00:20:09] But I’ve learned to temper it. And funnily enough, I’ll show more bluster among females because I’m very comfortable with powerful women. I loves surrounding myself With alpha females because we can all say, “Hey we’re going to get this done and we’re going to kick ass. You can’t say that to a guy. He’ll be like, “Wait, what? Why are you being so full of it?”
Melinda Wittstock: So, there’s something about our culture where somehow there’s some unspoken thing where maybe its unseemly for women to ask for money or … I don’t know what that is or where that comes from because we’re good at managing money.
Lucy Danziger: Yes and supposedly the statistics show that women are better with VC money. We make it last longer. We get more down with it. We are very productive with every piece of fundraising we do and so I would think from a VC standpoint that you’d want to invest women because we get so much done. Now we don’t mess around and especially moms. I remember days I’d come to work and say like, “Let’s meet, let’s do this.” And then I’d turn around and say, “Wait, how was your weekend? I’m sorry. I didn’t even say how was your weekend? Like how is everybody?” Whoops … Because a busy mom wants to get it done and get home to her kids and we are super productive. We’re not going to mess around at the office because that just takes time away from getting home earlier.
So, you know, I know a lot of very, very powerful women who’ve made a huge success while raising kids and it’s because we are so efficient and driven and focused on the task. And I still am that way. Now I work a lot of hours and it’s, to my mind, it’s almost a fault because I know the guys would [inaudible 00:21:53] and go to the bar, you know, buddy buddy with the boss and women, I say, are the work horses. And guys are the show horses. Because, women almost think that their merits will win out. You know, look I just did all this great work and I won us new clients and I’m so productive and I made the company all this money.
Meanwhile, somebody who sits two desks over, they were out golfing with the boss.
Melinda Wittstock: They were out developing the relationship.
Lucy Danziger: Yes and that is, at the end of the day, what’s going to save them when the cuts come. Unfortunately and it’s so brutal but the people who get cut are not the most productive or most successful ones. The people get saved are usually the ones who have the relationships so women need to learn how to have those relationships. That’s the one thing. And I think the best news is that we can now have it with other women.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah so this is interesting too. I remember going way, way back so London Times there were so few women on the paper and there was one woman above me and maybe, yeah maybe two, but I remember that there was this sense of scarcity, like you couldn’t help a younger woman up because she was somehow threatening.
Yeah and women didn’t really help each other so much.
Lucy Danziger: There was a sense that there was only room for [inaudible 00:23:12] women and so they were … I think that was true in the 70s and 80s. I hope that today that’s less true.
Melinda Wittstock: I think it’s less true. I mean it’s the reason why I do this podcast. It’s the reason I’m writing the book I’m writing because I just thought, ‘Wait there are all these women doing these amazing things … They need to be affirmed and acclaimed in public so we can change the stereotypical image of a startup founder in the hoodie and the running shoes and the drop out … Like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, right?’ Because that’s not the reality and so women are doing these amazing things. The affirmation and the acclimation … And actually in my case, I just thought right, OK, all these men talk about moonshots but I want to have a moonshot. I want to invest in 100 women’s businesses in the next 10 years.
Lucy Danziger: Right, and to that end, I mean one of the things that I look at when I look at our upside is that Hintd’s upside, is huge if we get some of the 80 million millennial shoppers out there shopping, we make affiliate sales, we make sponsorship sales and we have the position to be a B2B enterprise software for sales associates who want to tell their best clients [crosstalk 00:24:23]
Melinda Wittstock: You know what’s interesting about women … just I’m sorry to interrupt there …But we always think of multiple ways to make money right? There’s … It’s more of a systems [inaudible 00:24:31] and then the guys say, “We need more focus.”… “Wait, wait, I am focused.” These are all these ways to make money.
Lucy Danziger: Focusing is important but I think you can do it in a serial, you know, chapter-by-chapter so our first stream [inaudible 00:24:44] is affiliate sales. Where I look at with women’s companies, the good news is we still have problems in our own life, right? It’s intercity, things like that, where I need somebody who can watch my kids, so she creates that. But the other piece of it, which I fail to sound P.C. when I say this is sometimes I don’t think we think big enough and I want women to think really universally, like, there’s no reason a woman couldn’t have created Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook. The reason that I say this is because I feel like I want women to not just say, “Well I’m going to solve a moms’ problem.” I want women to say, “I’m going to solve a universal problem”.
Like there’s no reason women couldn’t have created Uber or couldn’t be running companies like that. So, I feel like I’m an old soul and I can sit here and say to you younger listeners out there, “Swing for the fences. Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t think, oh just because I’m a woman, I need to create a woman’s company.” Like why couldn’t a woman create Jet or Amazon. We’re consumers, we are the number one consumers on the planet right? Women control … I don’t know … 30 trillion dollars of money every year. So we should create companies that speak to that universal huge upside. Don’t just mitigate a problem. Have I would say an open field in front of you so that you can run for it because you know I am here to tell you if you don’t do it, somebody else is going to.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, and anything’s possible if you think it’s possible. The minute you start putting up a wall or some sort of barrier in your own minds then you never get past that. So, so much of this is mindset. So when you approach your day what’s your, I guess, routine? Do you do anything to pamper yourself, take a break, give yourself that white space?
Lucy Danziger: Such a good question. So I’m very anxious and I don’t sleep at night so when I wake up in the morning it’s a relief. I’m allowed to get up and go exercise because I’m generally lying in bed waiting for the alarm to go off so when I can get up early and go out for a run and bike or swim, it calms me down. And I know that that sort of biological for a lot of people; it’s not endorphins. There’s a different thing that happens in your body where if you stress your body in exercise, you create anti-stress hormones to dampen down the pain of that exertion.
So this morning I’m running hills in Central Park with my colleagues, who are all runners and we are running these hills and it’s extremely painful but then afterwards I felt totally calm. So after a sleepless night, I go run a bunch of cat hill repeats and now I’m calm. And it turns out that anti-stress hormone sticks around in most people’s body, about 12 hours, which is absolutely true for me because then about six at night, which is about 12 hours after my run, I’m looking for a glass of wine. I mean I could go swimming again but it’s not going to happen. So instead what do I do, I dampen down the stress hormones with a glass of wine.
So that seems to work for me, that weird little balance of like a tough workout in the morning keeps me calm all day. And if I don’t work out in the morning, I’m a bear. Even my kids would say, “Mom, go running.”
Melinda Wittstock: How old are your kids?
Lucy Danziger: Now, they’re in their early 20s. But when this used to happen they would be teenagers and I would be like, “Wait, I just cleaned that and now you’re messing it up again.” And what I say to women is, take those 45 minutes to yourself … Whatever it is. For me, it’s my run or my bike ride but for them it could be anything because you’re cleaning your kids TV watching area wherever that may be and, you think, okay everything is clean. Now I can go to the gym. They start to mess it up again and so I would get mad at them, like, “I just spent 45 minutes cleaning that instead of going for a run” and they were, like, “Nobody asked you to do that. Go for your run.” So now I realize you go for the run and you come back, it’s still a mess but it’s always going to be a mess but at least you got your run in.
So I always say we take better care of our couch than our bodies. We have to put our own self-maintenance first, whatever that is, it doesn’t have to be exercise but, for me, it’s exercise.
Melinda Wittstock: I have my best ideas when I’m either walking my golden retriever, doing yoga, having a massage. Or lifting weights, which is the other thing I do. I get to about like one or two in the afternoon and I still do my yoga in the morning and then I go and I lift weight and ever since I began that, I just feel so much more level. I can just do so much more. I mean, I only had like a daily podcast, but run a business, or with kids or the dog, all of that stuff. And it’s insane, like I look at my life and how do I do all this? And most of the time is when I’m stressed and I feel like I have to do the most work is when I have to stop actually.
Lucy Danziger: When your stress is so high that you’re not being productive. So there’s a study that says something like 85% of CEOs work out every morning.
Melinda Wittstock: You have to.[crosstalk 00:30:00]
Lucy Danziger: That is a success trick. If you can get up and have that time and really think and obviously oxygenating your blood means that that goes to your brain too. It’s not just your muscles that benefit from the oxygen, your red blood cells. So, you’re actually, I call it a shower for your mind, because you’re actually circulating all this oxygen and energy to your brain and it sparks a lot of good thoughts. I sometimes come back from my run or my bike ride and I have to just sit down and type everything into my computer that I just thought about on the ride and now, thank goodness for phones.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, you just dictate it into your phone.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah you can literally pull over and put your three ideas in your phone and then keep going.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s really great, I remember talking to Sara Blakely from Spanx and she was saying that she gets a lot of her best ideas when she’s driving but she always has to write them, you just write them down because you think you’ll remember them but you won’t and … And you’ll have all kinds of inspirations that may be your next business, maybe your next business after that.
Lucy Danziger: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: So as we wrap up, I know you’ve given a lot of amazing advice already but are there three particular pieces of advice you would give to women, say, in their 30s, 40s, 50s, who are …Who have gone the corporate route and are thinking now, just beginning of thinking of, ‘Oh you know what, I really want to put on my wings and I really want to fly and fly on my own but I’m a little afraid to do that.’ What would be your advice for those women?
Lucy Danziger: There’s one that’s sort of spiritual and one that’s practical that I think about. What the spiritual side of it is, you have to be authentically you. You know, even at Self, now I got this job and I said to my husband [inaudible 00:31:36] who’s very aesthetic, he’s in the art world. I said, “What am I going to wear to Conde Nast?” Like, I’m just not that super Chanel kind of girl. And this is back actually when I was like women’s sports and fitness. And he said, “You should be able to walk into that building in athletic looking clothes whether it’s a ski sweater or riding pants or whatever. You should be authentically you. Because if you try to be the Vogue brand or the Glamour brand or somebody else’s brand, you’re not the right leader for your brand.”
So that is true in everything we do. You have to be authentically you. Because people can tell when you’re trying to be somebody else and it’s very unappealing so when you’re looking at what business really speaks to you, for me, it’s about this community of women and talking to them about what they care about. Right, so I’m authentic because I really want to help women and all through my Self days, and even back when I was an undergraduate and I wanted to be a doctor. That didn’t happen but I like to try to figure out how I can help people get the life they want.
So that, I had to start there. But the practical piece of it is you need a l ittle bit of buy in from those who support you and love you.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh you do. You need people around you who really do have your back.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah, and my kids and my husband, both, all of them said, “Mom, you’ve worked really hard for 25 years. You get your turn now and we’ll spend a little less money and go on less fancy vacations and pull back.” And I say to them, now, three years later, “Like I had no idea it was going to take me this long to launch and raise money.” We’re still basically in start up mode and I’m still not spending any money at all.
Melinda Wittstock: Start up mode goes on for a lot longer than people think.
Lucy Danziger: Yeah, but my kids are so cute. They’re like, “Well Mom I want to try and help make money.” Like, my daughter’s babysitting and waitressing. And my son’s trying to save money and they’re all so on board. And I said the one thing I want them to see personally from me is my big paycheck went away. And now I don’t pay myself and I’m just like, really, like, bootstrapping it, trying to figure out how to launch this company with very little sort of assets right? But I said to them, that I don’t want you to see that my mood is tied to my bank balance because I don’t think somebody is a better person because they’re richer.
I don’t think you should be a happier person when you’re richer. Obviously, you want to be a successful person and a productive member society and give back and support your family and all those good things but I said to them, “I don’t want to have you guys think that I am only happy when I’m flush.” Because my mom was this artist and she was always happy and she was never flush. And my dad always had means, and he was never that happy so I said I really want people to know that they’re not allowed to tie their happiness or how they act in their family to do with their paycheck. They have to have value in what they’re building. They have to believe in what they’re building and they have to have value in the process and the learning.
And even if they two to three years later, their company doesn’t make it, they have to look back and say, “I’m glad I did that and I’m glad I made the sacrifices I made because it brought me to this new reality and this new place.” And maybe it’s a new job or a new career but you need your family to support the journey because if they don’t, there’s going to be friction and that’s where things start to really wear on a founder. Say, I say to my kids, I really need your support. You can be honest but I also really need your support.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, surround yourself with positive supportive people. Lucy, thank you so much.
Lucy Danziger: Well, thanks for having me. I love being here. I think a podcast is the new modern cool way to reach your audience.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah and you’re thinking of doing one too?
Lucy Danziger: Yeah, I kind of think podcasts are the new magazine. You can really have a great audience and hopefully interact with that audience through that.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. No, it’s great. So, so inspiring. Lucy Danziger, of Hintd, thank you so much for putting on your wings, your super-shero wings and flying with us today.
Lucy Danziger: Well thanks for having me and I would love everybody to download the Hintd app. H-I-N-T-D … There’s no ‘E’ in that word and make your wish list and get the life you want.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m going to go do that. This show is recorded in the Mouth Media Network Studios in New York City powered by Sennheiser, the future of audio. Visit www.sennheiser.com.