theSkimm’s Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg: Empowerment Through Knowledge - Jen Hatmaker

theSkimm’s Carly Zakin & Danielle Weisberg: Empowerment Through Knowledge

Episode 02

We all know knowledge is power. But the power doesn’t just come from what you know—it comes from acting on that knowledge. And for theSkimm’s Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, their mission is to give that power to millennial women and beyond, to arm them with the tools and confidence to take charge of their lives and conquer the world, and they’re doing it all through the media company they founded called theSkimm. When they left their jobs at NBC News in 2012, Carly and Danielle started a daily online newsletter from their couch. Since then, their office has grown from 2 employees to more than 100, and their handful of subscribers has ballooned to a whopping 7 million (!). Why? Because they tell hard news in a way that people can not only understand but actually want to read, and they’re making a difference. In fact, theSkimm helped register more than 200,000 new voters in the 2018 midterms, and they’ve already set their sights on the 2020 elections. Jen sat down with Carly and Danielle to talk about their rise as female CEOs running a female-led company, and the best career advice they’ve received from powerful women in their lives. And speaking of advice, theSkimm team assembled of their best nuggets of wisdom, from how to invest to how to pack jewelry for a trip, in their just-released New York Times bestselling book, How to Skimm Your Life.

Episode Transcript

Narrator:  Hi everybody, my name is Remy. Welcome to the For the Love Podcast, with your host Jen Hatmaker, my mom. She writes books and speaks to crowds. But she mostly loves talking to amazing people every week on this podcast. Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoy the show.

Jen:  Hey, guys. Jen Hatmaker here. I am your very happy host of the For the Love Podcast. Welcome to the show.

Glad you’re here this week. You will be too, because right now we’re in a series called For the Love of Powerhouse Women, and it’s no mystery why I wanted to do a series like this. I am so constantly inspired and in awe of the women in our generation and what they’re dreaming up and what they are pulling off and what they are leading and creating. There’s just no end of it. This could be the only thing we ever do. The whole entire podcast could be this.

But for today, you know how much I love hearing from kind of fresh, creative voices—pioneers, even. So the two women we have on today have taken something that generally makes our blood pressure shoot through the roof, and they have managed to make it not just informative but also fun. It’s like a miracle.

So hopefully you are reading theSkimm. I know tons of you are, obviously. They have millions of subscribers. And so if you’re not, you are going to want to check this out and you are going to love this podcast.

So theSkimm, it’s a daily online newsletter that breaks down the most critical news in a really short, digestible way. And so it comes right to your inbox every morning. Just a matter of minutes, short and sweet, you kind of get this high-level overview of the day’s biggest news. But here’s the kicker, here’s what’s so great about it: it reads like a smarter Regina George from Mean Girls is telling you the news. It’s kind of the best. So this is news you actually want to read and it is brought to you by the two women I have on the show today. Brilliant, brilliant CEOs named Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg.

So Carly and Danielle worked together at NBC, and in 2012 they decided to go rogue—and we’ll talk about this—to fill in a void that they saw in the news industry. Their friends from college, who were smart people, were asking questions that could have been answered by short, digestible news bits that they could have read in a pinch, rather than longform 1-hour news show or reading a paper cover to cover. And that’s where theSkimm was born.

So Carly and Danielle had, well, a few hundred subscribers when they launched theSkimm. And that number has exploded to a whopping seven million plus. Now they also have a weekday podcast called Skimm This, which is also 10 minutes, short and sweet, where they break down the breaking news of the day. And if that weren’t enough, they just wrote a book called How to Skimm Your Life. It is delightful. It’s a book of life hacks, honestly, that break down the most boring parts of adulting into their signature Skimm style that, again, you actually want to read—things like what’s the difference between an ETF and a mutual fund? But also, how do I choose wine at dinner? I mean, it’s it’s all across the board, like all these adult things that we have to figure out that maybe somebody ever taught us but maybe they didn’t.

So this is a fabulous conversation. Carly and Danielle are interesting and vibrant, and they’re fun to talk to, and they’re exciting, and their work is really, really fantastic. So we’re going to talk about how they built their business, what they had to overcome, what their goals are for the future, what they see for the upcoming 2020 election. It’s all in here, you guys. You’re going to love this conversation.

And so I’m pleased to share it with you and introduce to you, if you’ve not met them live, the very smart and talented co-founders of theSkimm, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg.

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Jen: Okay, so Carly and Danielle, welcome to the For the Love Podcast, girls. I am so happy to have you on today.

Danielle: Thanks so much, Jen. We’re really excited to be here and appreciate you having us on.

Jen: You guys are just seriously no joke. I can’t wait for my listeners to kind of hear you talk about what it is you do, where you’ve sort of come from and how you’ve risen through the ranks, because I like absolutely love your story.

So I’ve told them just a little bit about who you are, all the very impressive things that you do at theSkimm, but if you don’t mind for just a minute, if you’ll indulge me, I love hearing about meet-cutes, of course, whether it’s like romantic or like best friend potential. And so could you just tell us for a minute how the two of you met? What you were doing with your lives at the time? And just kind of say this is me, and this is my name, so everybody can pick up which voice is which.

Danielle: Sure, this is Danielle. So we, Carly and I like to say in startup world, everything is really competitive and that we win the best founder-meet story.

Carly and I met when we were studying abroad in Rome when we were in college. So we went to different schools and were lucky enough to be able to spend an amazing semester in Rome. We met because of our love of fried artichokes.

Jen: I believe in this.

Danielle: Yeah, we kind of heard there was like another girl who was also looking for the best fried artichokes, and so we met up over that, and the fried artichokes were good. They did not disappoint.

Also reconnected after school when we were both working for NBC News. We became friends. We then became roommates in New York, still working in the news business, and had really the same quarter-life crisis of loving what we were doing, worked really hard to get the jobs that we had, took a step back and realized that we wanted to do more, and we didn’t want to wait in line for an opportunity to open up that could be 10 years later.

And at the same time, really really loved working in news. Loved telling stories. Loved recording what was going on each day, and we served that function for our friends who were really busy leading in so many different ways and not paid to read the wires all day long like we were.

And took a step back and we thought about this demographic that our friends represented of millennial women who were leading in so many different ways, and have a unique set of challenges, and they deserve a source of information that they can trust and that fit in with their routines.

So we started the company from our couch, just the two of us working all night and all day on an email newsletter.

Jen: Oh my gosh.

Danielle: And today we’ve grown into a full-fledged membership company that have products, that has products that all revolve around the idea of living smarter. And we now run a company that has over 100 employees.

Jen: That’s bananas, you guys. So when you are on the couch and you’re just beginning to piece this together in its earliest stage, did you still have your other jobs?

Carly: This is Carly. No, we had quit and we launched just really a few days later. So we never tried to do it kind of half and half. And honestly, there were a few reasons why. One was that we had such different schedules. Danielle was often working night shifts, and I worked on a more 9-to-6 job, a divide. So that was one.

I think the other reason is that you know when we started getting advice from people and they said, “If you’re going to raise money, you can’t ask somebody to believe in you 100% if you’re not showing the ultimate [sign of believing in idea,] which is quitting.”

So we made our very personal decision to go into credit card debt to do this. That is not something that like we’re like, “This is how you do it!” You know, you’ve got to judge your own situation. That was ours. We had no choice but to kind of go into credit card debt, because we had about $4,000 saved between the two of us. But yeah, we went full, we dove fully right in.

Jen: I actually love that. I am not super risk-averse. And so I recognize there’s sometimes just a moment where you know you’re onto something. You definitely see like a void in the marketplace, which there definitely was at the time that you guys sort of lifted this off the ground. And you just kind of jump off the edge of a cliff. I really like admire it. I admire that you kind of bet on yourselves.

Obviously theSkimm has just grown, and grown, and grown and has developed all new layers. And, you know, new types of resources. I mean you guys are, you went from two to 100. It’s a big deal. But at the very beginning, what were you thinking? You thought, This is our idea, this is what’s it’s going to look like, this will probably be the main path that we sort of tread here. So how did you begin?

Carly: You know, it’s funny. We were actually talking about this the other day in a way, and we, I think we always dreamed very big. We knew day one this is not an email newsletter business. We knew day one this is not a media business, and we knew day one that we were going to build a product strategy that fit into routines, and that was going to likely have subscription as a part of it. So we always could see that this was big, and we always could feel the traction that it was happening. Could never visualize the people that it was going to take that’ll help us get there.

So no, we had no idea how many people it was going to take. We never could have been like, “And this is what our office is going to be, and this is the funding we’ll have.” That, we had no idea. But I think we always, we knew we were just sitting on something really big, and so it wasn’t Step One to get to Step Two. It was more like how do we kind of get on to use the really overly used cliché, like how do you get on the rocket ship and get going?

So we definitely felt that momentum early on. And really step one was how do we get this in front of people? And all we cared about was how many people signed up for the Daily Skimm and how do we get more of them?

Jen: So now that you guys are CEOs, I’m kind of comparing this career to the careers that you left. Like, how have your specific and individual roles changed since you were at NBC? Like, what does your day to day look like at this point, and are you, are each of you sort of putting into rotation the skill set that you were using previously? Or are you flexing a lot of new muscles?

Danielle: I think with the skill set we had when we started the company was that we knew how to ask questions and our jobs demanded it. You have to question people. You have to look for the why behind things, and I think you have to let go of a fear in order to be successful at doing that.

So we knew how to network, we knew how to talk to people, and we knew how to ask questions. And I think that is a theme that has carried us through to today, because every day we learn something new, which means every day there’s something we’re faced with that we have no idea how we are going to get through it. But we know how to ask people for help, and I think that is something that has made a huge difference for us.

Jen: Totally.

Danielle: Our day to days are the same only in that every day is totally different. And that was the case when there were two of us on a couch, and it’s definitely the case now that we’re running a much bigger company.

And I think that we’re still hugely involved with every aspect of the company, and that role has really grown alongside theSkimm and the rest of our product team. I love how much that we have expanded recently. We launched a daily podcast and now the book. And it’s amazing to be able to have a team that can do that.

Jen: So I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. You’ve obviously always worked in news. But how have you seen your business transform since the beginning? Like specifically, in your opinion, what is the difference now? Because everything just feels like rapid acceleration. What’s the difference in the news cycle today than when you first started?

Carly: Gosh, well we started seven years ago, and I think everything is different in that there is just, I think if it’s possible, there is more noise today than there was when we started seven years ago. And we were starting 10 years ago as a response to too much noise.

That how that’s affected our business strategy, it’s sort of in two ways. One is that we really, really kind of hunkered down and doubled down on our focus as having time well spent, which is know that there’s a lot of noise. We know that everyone’s busy, and so how do we make sure that our products show up where you are, where our consumer is, and that when you experience or interact with theSkimm product that you can say that it was time well spent? So that has kind of fueled our strategy.

And I think the second part is that we are very much in a unique position that we have true political diversity and geographic diversity amongst our audience, and there are very few places that obviously can say that right now. And so we’re in a really unique position that we’ve been able to activate our audience to get out, not only and register, but to actually show up and vote, just most recently getting 200,000 people to show up for the 2018 midterms.

Jen: Yeah, that was so amazing, you guys. I mean, honestly, well done on that.

So I’m thinking now about your subscribers, your audience. At this point you’ve grown to over 7 million subscribers, which is amazing. I mean really, that is rare air. So I can only imagine at this point, seven years in, how many stories you have now heard from your subscribers about just simply how being better informed has improved or changed their lives.

So from your perspective, what do women‚—young women especially, that’s kind of your target crew—what do they gain when they are better informed? And I’m wondering if you also even have a story, maybe from a subscriber who has been deeply affected by your work, or she went on to affect change because of your work.

Danielle: Yeah, well I think the biggest commonality that we see is that when people are better informed there’s more confidence. I think you, and that goes two ways, one is I think you are more likely to ask a question if you feel like you have a background of information to be able to ask someone else what they think about something. You’re more likely to start a conversation, and then you’re more likely to speak up and I think that confidence is something that we see as a common theme for women who are at all different points of their lives and are looking for all different types of information. And that’s something that we’re every proud to help foster as a company.

Jen: Yeah, that’s so true. I mean, even as you’re saying that I’m going through my mental rolodex of conversations I initiate, and they’re almost entirely based out of some sort of topic I have an opinion, or I’m informed, or I’ve been reading about it, or I’ve been listening to it. And I don’t think anybody would disagree that we need more women’s voices in the world right now, kind of in every sector, frankly. And so I think your work is going to have incredible ripple effects that you will probably actually never see, but that will deeply sort of affect this culture of women.

Jen:  So as your subscriber base continues to grow, and obviously your team is growing with it, you’ve got 100 employees. That is crazy, by the way. Does that feel overwhelming? Do you ever just like have to take a deep breath? Like, “Good Lord, 100 people, this is their job.”

Danielle: Every day it feels overwhelming, and we have that pinch-me moment when we walk into the office and we realize that we have an office that isn’t in our apartment, and that like there are a lot of people who work here. And I think it is a responsibility that we think about all the time, and it’s also a privilege to be a source of information for millions of people throughout the country, and a couple of those things are beyond what we ever could have imagined when we started the company.

Jen: I am sure. I’m curious like what’s the breakdown of your team in terms of gender? What are you noticing about the women who are on your team?

Carly: Yeah, I mean our office is definitely a majority of women, but certainly all are welcome and we definitely have representation across genders. But you know, I think in terms of things that we notice really it varies. As female CEOs, it’s incredibly important to Danielle and I that we create the office that we would want to work for, and so then create a policy that we would look for in an employer. So whether that’s a family leave policy, whether that’s what health benefits look like, including fertility coverage, whether that’s having, being able to have a family and to be able to have a flexible work environment, that’s so important to us. And so we’re very excited and truly honored to see so many of our employees go through different life stages with us. We’ve already started seeing that in a lot of new parents happening right now.

Jen: Oh my gosh, right? That’s true. That’s your crew. It’s just going to rain babies, probably, in your work environment for a really long time. All these sort of young moms.

I’m thrilled to hear that you are prioritizing morale and work environment and benefits, and thinking specifically about how those sometimes disproportionally affect women in the workplace, and so that is exciting to hear you say that.

Do you have mentors, because you know, you came into this basically ideating. You’re creating, you’re sort of vision casting and now you are CEOs. And so now it’s so much management and team development. Where do you look to mentorship in terms of leadership?

Carly: If anyone wants to be a mentor to us, we’ll take them. I think that we, we’ve been very blessed to have built an incredible network of women who truly I can’t say enough have been our 911 calls. Jenny Fleiss, Susan Mine. They just really have been there for us through thick and thin and they’ve done this before. And you know, didn’t work with theSkimm before, but they’ve built teams before. They’ve had management challenges before. They’ve hired before, they’ve fired before. They’ve raised money before. They’ve done all the things that we have been doing for the very first time. And we’ve just been really lucky to have built a network of people that we can be very honest with of like, “Hey, [we’re] going through this. This is really hard.”

Jen: I like hearing you say that. I hope everybody is picking up on that, because there’s this really inflated idea out there that autonomy is something to be either applauded or that’s the end game or the goal, where frankly I find a culture of collaboration incredibly fruitful. That’s all the leaders I respect the most collaborate.

Danielle: That’s also what inspired the book, which is we’ve all been through this before. We all have to go through these things. Whether it’s in choosing your healthcare plan or negotiate your salary. Like we are all trying to figure it out, and you know, we wanted to create a reference book that you have enough information to then make educated choices and decisions.

Jen: The book is really fun, you guys. And I love your approach to it, which is very Skimmish. You know, you just sort of took this Skimm approach to writing a book, which is fabulous. I’ve been holding my, just crossing my fingers of longform content from you guys for some time. And so you really delivered here, and I enjoy it so much.

I wonder if you could just talk a little bit more. I mean you just touched on it, but talk a little bit more about the book and about the process.

Like okay, so everybody listening, it touches down, like quickly. These are not super deep dives, but they are kind of this incredible encyclopedia of quick information for things you want to know. One of your titles is “Things That Make You Feel Fancy.” Love it. That made me laugh. “Things That Save Money.” “Things That Are Tedious.” You talk about taxes a little bit. It’s just, it’s kind of this very broad sense of kind of how to be an adult. And I love it.

Can you talk a little bit about the writing process, and what that was like for you, and what you’re hoping your readers take away from it?

Danielle: That was exactly it. It is meant to be a compilation, a compilation of all the questions that we had that go into being an adult that no one really tells you, and unfortunately there’s no class. We spent a lot of time wondering why there isn’t a class and where you go for this advice? And a lot of this advice are things that we are going through together as a generation. And so we wanted to pull all of these tips together, pull the great advice that we’ve been so lucky to get into one reference book that you can return to and have it guide you through different moments in your life.

One of my favorite sections is “Things That Are Confusing.” Going through things like health insurance. I mean, those are things that we didn’t learn until we were trying to look at plans for our employees. There are so many things that people don’t talk about, that you don’t have time in your day to go through. And our hope is that you go through this, you learn something new, and then you act on it. Jump into a conversation that you might not have had before. Make a decision that you’ve been putting off. Take some sort of action that makes you feel like you’re taking a step forward at the end of the day.

Jen: Yeah, and you nailed it. And I think one thing that I really commend you on is that not only did you sort of tackle this wide array of adult issues that people in their 20s and 30s are going to encounter, in many cases, for the first time, but it’s fun. And it’s cute, and it’s funny, and it’s clever. Like. thank you so much for making it entertaining, because sometimes reading great counsel on budgeting or investing, or interviewing skills can just be so dry, and so clinical, and boring. And you made it fun, and entertaining, and accessible. And I just felt like because I was flipping through like, Oh, that sounded, that made that sound easy. Like, I think I could do that, I could tackle that based on this advice. 

And I have to know, do you have like a best life hack that you learned while putting this book together? One that you maybe even still use?

Danielle: Yes. I spend way too much time packing, and the thing that I’m learning is that when you spend three weeks on the road you should not spend that same amount of time like packing for it. So one of the things that was so helpful for me was we lay out what you basically need for every trip, and it saved me a ton of time.

Carly: There’s also a fun tip in there about how to pack your jewelry, but I think my favorite is something called The Pomodoro Method. I think I just really like the name, to be honest.

Jen: Sure, it’s beautiful.

Carly: It’s very cute, but it’s really about how to kind of do sprints of hard, focused work and then take a break. You know, our whole section, there’s a whole section kind of about wellness and stress management, and I think we’re all sort of as we’re all glued to our phones, we all kind of have an attention problem, and we talk about you know how is time well spent? I often find myself trying to kind of focus on something, getting distracted or thinking something will take too long and not starting it, and The Pomodoro Method is like the perfect recipe to make sure that you can do really intense, productive work and then take a break.

Jen: I love that. That works for me too. That’s exactly how I operate. Rather than just like dripping it out over the course of a day and then feeling like I got nothing done.

Jen: I’m going to go back just for a minute, because it seems like to me at least, that 2016 was a bit of a watershed year for you, in terms of content—well, really, that was just true in the world. And I felt like that year, it just felt like I saw theSkimm absolutely everywhere. I mean, whether you were interviewing presidential candidates, which is super exciting, or as you mentioned earlier, registering people to vote. Really, I mean, that’s something you should be probably proud of forever.

So what do you have planned? And of course, you’ve just, you’ve crossed the midterms recently, I know, but what do you have planned for the 2020 election? You’ve got to already be thinking about it. I’d love to hear what you are working on in terms of that election, and I’d also just love to hear your predictions. I mean, what do you think that we will see from the news cycle this go around?

Danielle: Ah, I’m so excited about this question, and actually we are thinking about No Excuses 2020, but you’re the first person to ask us about it. But I think that one, we’re so excited to see the different types of candidates that we’ve seen running. People of color, women, it’s exciting to see the diversity in this group and in this field. And I think that no matter what your political beliefs are, that’s something that’s exciting just for our democratic process.

The other thing that we’re really excited about, that we’ve been thinking about a lot is creating this identity of voters out there and having people really identify as a voter first. Not the party, but that every time an election comes around you’re not thinking, I’m a Republican, or, I’m a Democrat. You’re thinking that you’re a voter and the expectation is that at the end of the cycle you are going to cast an opinion. And I think that should be something that you feel strong about and that you feel informed.

You know, it’s going to be a big election and it’s really important that this group of millennial women who hold so much power and have power to change things show up and make sure that they make their voices heard.

Jen: Yeah, I know. You know, we’re all just sort of looking ahead with a bit of trepidation. The last election cycle was just, well, I don’t know if it’s dramatic to say, it felt kind of traumatizing on the nation a little bit. And then, of course, we are now in this very strange time where it’s easier than ever, as we have seen, to manipulate social media. It’s easier than ever to put out doctored videos. It’s easier than ever to have just spin and fake news go viral. And so that feels a little scary.

And so as the two of you who are responsible for putting news content in front of citizens, in front of voters, I would just love to hear you talk a little bit about media literacy and how you protect your own company from these darker influences. And I would just love to hear your opinion on how you think, as a culture, we will be able to overcome some of these really insidious forces that frankly can threaten our democracy.

Carly: It’s a great question. I think first and foremost, how we started was from a journalistic background, where journalistic integrity is the core of what we do. And yes, we have a team of about 100 people now, but we actually have a very lean editorial team. And everyone that we’ve hired, we make sure that they’ve gone through a hard news background or they’ve gone through a really strong editorial bootcamp at theSkimm.

And for us, we’ve from day one sort of took the mantra of “we don’t have to be first, we have to be right.” And that’s actually, first of all, we never tried to really go into breaking news. And because we come from a place where we know what it takes to have the resources, and especially in today’s world, to truly fact check and to truly be in the moment, and right now we’re in this just kind of adrenaline 24/7 news rush that nobody, the people can’t keep up with themselves. And so given the way that our products work, we have the privilege and the ability to take a second, to digest it, to understand where are these sources coming from? What are these? Are these actually facts? To be able to appropriately fact check. To then be able to digress it, and put it in front of our audience in a way that gives them enough information so that when they have the ultimate choice of going into a voting booth, that they feel like they are making an informed choice.

And so I think, you know, we’ve always kept our head down and focused on that, and focused on that mission. And we’ve been very careful about how we think about partnerships, and we’ve been very careful about how we thought about building on other platforms, and actually filming in other platforms. And so for that reason I think we’ve been able to sort of in many ways be The Little Engine That Could on our own.

Jen: Well, what’s telling too, is that your consumers are across the spectrum. Right? That you are, that you draw people from all walks of life and different political parties, and different ideologies, and different geographical areas. I mean, that alone is very compelling that people feel like they can trust you for unbiased news content, and that is literally exactly what you deliver.

I’d love to hear what, what’s your favorite thing that you’ve pulled off? Like, is that a weird question? Like you’ve now branched into so many cool areas, what is something that both of you . . . I’d love to hear both your answers, kind of look back and go, “That was awesome”? Like that was unexpected or that went further than we thought it was going to go or just however you really want to answer it.

Carly: I won’t speak for Danielle, but I do kind of think we have the same answer, which is I think it’s for both of us what we’ve done with the election.

Danielle: Yeah.

Carly: I can’t, you know, I think honestly like people when we started theSkimm were like, “Do you miss being at your old jobs?” And we’re like, “No, the only time we ever would miss it is like on an election night, or on the night of like a big breaking news thing.” And why you miss that is the camaraderie like in a newsroom. Like that’s just a great thing to be a part of.

And we finally got to have a team, and it wasn’t just us staring at each other, like we all of the sudden were like we can build our own camaraderie and not only that, like we can create true action that we can measure.

And I think when we started having, you know, kind of a vision of what No Excuses and that platform could be for us, and you know started talking to either companies or other platforms that encourage voting, we saw just how partisan they were, how they were really tied to a specific agenda. And to your point, our audience is really politically diverse. They live all over. They don’t all vote the same way. They don’t all have the same families, and they don’t all have . . . They don’t all think the same way. No one’s generalizing everybody. And so we were able to create a truly grassroots campaign effort that built not just from 2016 but into 2018, truly led and spearheaded by our community who we met and who went home and took their learnings from our Skimm Bootcamp here back home with them.

And to then say we got over 200,000 people to vote and show up for midterm is crazy. And when you think about it and look at the geographic diversity of our audience, and know that they were showing up in some of the most closely contested races, we know that we made an impact, and we know we made a difference.

And so to me I think it is like how do we pull it off? Because we . . . it was truly through like vision, grit, hustle, and an amazing team.

Jen: That is outstanding, I mean really, sincerely outstanding, and I love that you have the ear of millennials because you know, just as the trends have tended to show, it’s harder to get younger voters into the booth, just in general. This isn’t just this generation, it’s kind of every. And so the fact that you are working on higher engagement with younger voters is exciting. And it’s good, and I think it’s good for our democracy and it sets a really great example.

And I just find that exciting, like you’re catching lightning in a bottle right now with a generation that is so much more active and politically progressive minded, in general, and just engaged. And it’s just exciting. I think your work has endless potential.

What do you want to do next? Like what are your, when you’re just sitting around and you’re sort of dream boarding for the next five years, what do you see? What are you hoping for?

Danielle: There’s so much more we want to do. I think that this book tour is so exciting for us, because it’s a chance to get in front of our Skimmers where they are, and so we’re really interested in seeing what we can do across the country, whether it’s taking our No Excuses effort in a bigger way and this is the first time we’ll be doing a ticketed event, which we’re so excited about. The opportunity to get on a stage and have real conversations. And we launched Skimm This, our daily podcast, this year, so podcasting is an area that we love and are really excited to grow into.

Jen: Yeah, that was awesome. How are you structuring the book tour? Is it just the two of you on a stage? Do you have a special guest? Are you fielding questions from the audience?

Carly: They’re, we’re going to 10 different cities. And we’re going to have a moderator in each city. So we’re so excited to have women like Ashley Graham, Hannah Bronfman, Carla Hall, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sarah Blakely. It’s going to be an amazing group. We are so excited for that, and we’re going to have conversations about what’s in the book, and all of the stuff that we didn’t know as we’ve navigated growing this company and growing up.

Jen: That’s awesome.

What’s something that you’ve really learned? Like where would you say, “This is a spot we either, we got it wrong and had to make it right or we didn’t anticipate it, and had to sort of adjust for it”? Or, “We went down this one path and realized it was the wrong one and had to course correct”? Like where would you say these have been a couple of our biggest lessons, either just in reporting, or in managing, or whatever sort of level of your career?

Carly: I think for me, it’s definitely on the management side. I think that’s been the hardest thing, and at times the most rewarding, and at times the most humbling, and really learning what it means to be a strong communicator. What it means to set expectations and to explain what accountability is, and how I would be involved or not be involved as a manager and then of course hiring. And so many of the women I mentioned before as kind of our mentors have been like our right hands in helpings figure that out.

Jen: Absolutely, I appreciate your humility in that, that you are willing to talk about that openly and make adjustments when your work calls for it. I love that you kind of learned on the fly, and that you’ve still ended up building such a beautiful company that you can be so proud of.

And so before we sort of wrap this up, I’m thinking about you as just two very young and ambitious successful women. We have so much to learn from you, and from your example, and so if I’ve got a listener right now who’s thinking about starting her own venture in whatever field she loves, what piece of advice would you would the both of you give her sort of at the starting blocks?

Danielle: I think that one of the biggest pieces of advice is to get comfortable with the word “no,” because you’re going to hear it more times than you think possible if you’re doing something new or if you’re doing something interesting. So you have to learn how to take it as an invitation to take a different path and not to take it as a knock against you.

Jen: Great point. Women in general struggle with what feels like rejection, but yeah. If we all threw in the towel after our first five nos we would have no careers, none of us. That’s a great one. Did you have another one?

Carly: Yeah, I think that don’t dance around what it is you’re trying to ask for. I think if you are asking for something, whether it is a raise or a promotion, a job, fundraising, ask for it. I think something we were really guilty of early on was like flirting with the ask, and hoping someone was a mind reader.

Jen: Sure, I think that’s very gendered. You know, men don’t have a problem with direct communication by and large, and so thus they tend to get what they want more often and where women have this strange notion of either being overly polite, or this strange idea of diplomacy, or even just that they don’t have a right to ask. And so I appreciate that you’re pushing back on some of those antiquated notions.

In fact, it’s interesting too, when I read sort of the data on workplace relationships, direct communication in men primarily is appreciated by both men and women. So it’s not a trait that people disdain. They actually prefer direct communication. So for some reason, we have this sense sometimes as women that it’s too forward, where in fact it’s actually useful and welcomed. So thank you for saying that specifically.

Jen: Okay, let’s wrap it up. This is obviously we’re in a series on powerhouse women, and so you just nestle in perfectly in here. So we’re asking every woman in this series these three questions and just sort of top of your head, whatever comes first. Here’s the first one, and I’d love to hear both of your answers if you don’t mind. What’s something a woman you admire has taught you that you’ve never forgotten?

Carly: My mom always taught me no one’s going to fight for you more than you. So that you are your own care team, you are your advocate. And any time that I’ve ever felt like tired or you know, kind of defeated at work, like that’s what kind of gets me going again, because I’m like, Well, no one else is going to fight for this except me, and maybe Danielle. But I think that’s, that sticks with me a lot.

Danielle: My advice is from my mom as well, and it was make your own money.

Jen: Ah, nice.

Carly: Something that always sticks with me, and that you know was the case when I was 18 and interning and trying to find odd jobs on the side that made money. And it’s the case today.

Jen: That’s awesome. How about this? What is your greatest hope for the generation of women coming behind us?

Danielle: Help each other. I think that there is so much opportunity for all of us, and there is more than enough to go around, so be advocates for each other.

Jen: Yeah, I don’t believe in scarcity either.

Carly: Yeah, I’ll add to that. Give each other the helpful feedback. Like when you see someone falling into one of the traps of not communicating, not clearly asking for what you want, not fighting for themselves, like pull them aside in a respectful, professional way, and say like, “I want to just like take my work hat off for a second.” Like how you present that, “This is how this kind of repeats itself,” so to help break the cycle.

Jen: That’s great advice. One of the most powerful days of my life was I was in a room one time with just a small handful of women who do the same sort of work as I do. And we just sort of went okay everybody, gloves off. Like on the table we talked with one another about what we were getting paid, what we were asking to get paid, what our contracts look like. I mean, the stuff that you just usually tuck away and you have no idea.

It was so empowering to be in that room and to share that information with one another with the notion that a rising tide is going to lift every boat in the harbor. And that really changed my idea of what it meant to share with other women. To share information, to share knowledge, to share hacks.

I really appreciate both your answers on that. I think a community of powerful women is such a great hope for the future.

Here’s the last question. We actually ask every guest in every series this question to wrap it up. And just know that you can answer it however you want. It can be . . . you can have a really like very tender or serious answer, or it could be 100% absurd. So you pick. But here’s the question, what is saving your life right now?

Danielle: As we prepare to go on a three-week book tour, we’re a little stressed. And one of the things that makes me happiest, and keeps me calm, is coming home and playing with my dog, who is an adorable mini golden doodle. I just instantly it makes me feel better.

Carly: I will say I don’t have a dog. I’m also experiencing the same stress and anxiety. Honestly, like, our team. If it was just the two of us I think I would be like, This is too stressful. But we’ve got to put on a game face to do it. So much work has gone into this and we’re, us doing this tour is sort of the cherry on top, but like a lot of people have been building everything else. So right now I think that is literally keeping us running and also our inspiration.

Jen: That’s great you guys. I will also add I’ve been on lots of tours also. And there is something very, very valuable—and do not forgot this piece of advice—to as quickly as you can get back to your hotel room that night just take off your pants. Like that is step number one. As quick as you can.

Carly: That’s the best.

Jen: I’m sometimes unbuttoning my pants in the elevator. So just keep that in mind.

All right, will you just tell my listeners where they can find you? Where they can find all the things, including your tour schedule?

Carly: All right, I’m going to start with the tour schedule. Listeners, go to You can get your book, you can get your tour tickets. And then if you go to, you can get, you can sign up for the Daily Skimm to make sure you’ve got us in your inbox every morning. You can also follow us @theSkimm on Instagram. And don’t forget to check us out wherever you get podcasts to listen to Skimm This, which is our daily afternoon or early evening community podcast.

Jen: That’s it. You guys are killing it out there. You’re just slaying giants. It’s exciting to watch, and it’s so good for this culture of women. It’s so great for this generation. This is really important and meaningful work, and you should you absolutely proud of it.

And it’s exciting to cheer you on. I really can’t wait to see what you continue to do and how your work continues to grow. I’m thrilled to put it in front of my community, absolutely, and any way that I can ever come alongside of you or support your work I want you to let me know because I really, really believe in what you’re doing.

So thanks for coming on the show today, and I am thinking about you on your book tour, like pants off. Okay, just I want to make sure that you received my information. It’s going to be amazing. Have the greatest time on your tour.

Carly: Thank you.

Danielle: Thank you.

Jen: There you have it. So great, you guys. Honestly, go to and just sign up for their daily sort of news bit. But that that will be your front door into every awesome thing that these girls are putting out to the world. It’s good to be current. It’s good to be involved. It’s good to be knowledgeable. These girls are trustworthy, and I just thought they were so fascinating, and I’m really excited to watch where they go.

And so check out their website. Everything that they mentioned, by the way, we’ll have linked over at under the Podcast tab. So that’ll be their tour schedule, links to their book, links to sign up for the for theSkimm into your inbox, all of it. We’ll have everything over there for you.

So thanks, you guys, for joining us. This is a fabulous series. We have just more like this, like, amazing, smart, creative, innovative, courageous women who are building incredible things. And so it’s inspiring. It’s encouraging. It’s hopeful. It’s this, these are our peers, right? This is our generation. It’s something to be really, really proud of. So come back next week.

Thanks for being a great listening community. Thank you for subscribing. If you haven’t already, just hit your Subscribe button. It’ll take you eight seconds, and our podcast will just show up in your phone.

So on behalf of Amanda and Laura and our entire podcast team, we’re so delighted to bring this podcast to you a week in and week out. You guys, thanks for being awesome listeners. See you next week.

Narrator: That’s it for today’s show. Hope you enjoyed this chat. Be sure to subscribe to my mom’s podcast and give it a “thumbs up” rating if you like it. From the whole Hatmaker family, hope you have a great week and see you next time!

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