Kathryn Minshew is Changing How We Lead Our Professional Lives
We can all use a little help when it comes to our career, which is why I was excited to chat with Kathryn Minshew, co-founder and CEO of The Daily Muse. The Daily Muse is a hybrid career platform and job discovery tool serving hundreds of thousands of professional women and men worldwide. It's been featured on CNN, Forbes, INC, Fast Company, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, and PBS.
I spoke with Kathryn (great name) recently about the surprise challenges of the business world, the joys and pitfalls of navigating a startup, and the rapid evolution of her brainchild.
What is The Daily Muse?
The Daily Muse is a job search and career decision-making platform for professionals. We’re in the middle of almost expanding what it is that we do -– we’re keeping daily news focused on professional women, but building out other services that women are going to like and find very, very useful.
With your background in management and strategic planning, founding a site that helps women be more strategic in managing their careers and lives seems logical. But there’s always a defining moment -– what was it for you in starting The Daily Muse?
It was less one specific moment and more my entire life to date. From a really young age, I was very consumed with what I was going to do with my life. I was raised to believe you should do work you are passionate about, and I had no idea what that was. I knew that I wasn’t really passionate about what I was doing, [but my experiences] opened my eyes to basically the business world; specifically, that there's a code of conduct and a set of expected behaviors in the business world that nobody had taught me in my life to date. It’s how you walk into a meeting and convey authority or give out credibility; it’s how you give constructive feedback, how do you negotiate a raise, how are you taken seriously as a leader.
And so I was lucky enough to have some really fantastic mentors who took some time to help me feel comfortable. But when I started to try to share that advice and answer those questions for friends of mine, I couldn’t find a resource that dealt with what I was dealing with in an actionable, relevant way, and so I decided to create one.
In building a new venture and a new service, there are always challenges. The Daily Muse is actually your second company. What did you learn from your first company that has helped you with this one?
Before The Daily Muse, I ran another startup based out of New York. I could write a book on the mistakes I made as a first-time founder. One of the most important things is making sure you’re learning from every mistake that you make.
People tend to ignore red flags in their first company. People are brought up with this idea that if you're positive, if you’re flexible, if you’re accommodating, you can make relationships and partnerships work. And I think in business, you often have to come to the painful realization that sometimes that’s not possible, especially if everyone’s not committed to making it work in the same way.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that nothing is ever as daunting as it appears. People underestimate how much they’ve learned, how much they’ve grown, and how much they can carry with them. I don’t think I could have done it without my co-founders, without the three of us being there. One of us was always optimistic and encouraging when another of us was at her lowest point. The lessons we learned and relationships we made -- those things let you start over in a way that’s even more powerful, and can be a really powerful motivator.
A resource like The Daily Muse is about changing the lives of other women. Tell us how The Daily Muse has changed your life.
It’s changed nearly everything about my life. On a personal level, it has made me more assertive, more fearless. I’ve gotten really good at sales out of sheer desperation, and I’ve discovered that I love it. I think it’s unlocked things in me that I’m good at and enjoy, things I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn't had to push myself to those limits.
In my broader life, it’s brought me closer to my best friends and co-founders than I could have thought possible, and I’m really grateful for those relationships. On a social level, it's made me much more cognizant of what’s at stake. I'm tremendously more ambitious in terms of what I think is at stake and what I think we can do about it.
For more thoughts on women, technology and business, please follow Kathryn on Twitter at @KathrynFinney.