Women in Business Q&A: Randi Zuckerberg New York Times Bestselling Author and Founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media

05/03/2017 07:34 am ET

Randi Zuckerberg is a New York Times bestselling author; the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media; host of “Dot Complicated” on SiriusXM, and Editor-in- Chief of DotComplicated.co, an online community helping us navigate and "untangle" our wired, wonderful lives. Randi also served as mentor on Oxygen’s show “Quit Your Day Job,” as well as executive producer of “Dot.,” based on Randi’s recent children’s book, which premiered on CBC and Sprout Fall 2016.

Randi appears regularly on NBC the TODAY show and CNBC, and has also been seen on CNN, Good Morning America, Fox Business, Bloomberg News, and ABC's World News. She is a Tony Voter and was also a correspondent for the 2016 Tony Awards and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Randi was recently appointed as a Young Global Leader for the World Economic Forum and is part of the Tech Committee for the American Theatre Wing.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Being the only woman in the room for so many years in Silicon Valley opened my eyes to issues around diversity, gender equality, and the value of bringing different viewpoints to the table. Now in my own business, being a champion for gender and ethnic diversity is hugely important to me and impacts everything from how I hire to who we partner with. 

How has your previous employment experience aided your decision to launch Zuckerberg Media and get involved in promoting tech education?

There is a huge tech skills gap in this country. It boggled my mind how we could be having so many conversations around unemployment in this country…meanwhile, tech companies are sitting with hundreds of THOUSANDS of open jobs that they can’t fill quickly enough because applicants don't have the right skills. There is no reason for one industry to have so many open jobs when there are so many educated, ambitious, people who could easily fill these jobs, given the right training.

That’s why promoting tech skills and education is at the heart of everything we do at Zuckerberg Media, whether we’re speaking to adults, preschoolers, or everyone in between! Because of my passion for this cause, I also recently collaborated with DeVry University to help generate more awareness around the tech skills gap at the higher ed level and start a conversation to come up with solutions.

One solution we discussed is encouraging more collaboration between employers and educators. Employers need to partner more closely with colleges and universities to ensure the curriculum meets the technology skills employers need for the incoming workforce.  And employers need to look to educators to help with upskilling their current workforce – through skills gap training, bootcamps, and other credentials. While we have a lot of work cut out for us, starting a dialogue is the first step.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your career as an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur definitely isn't for the faint of heart. In fact, there’s really no good reason on paper for anyone to WANT to be an entrepreneur! But if it’s in your blood, then you know that even your worst day working for yourself is better than your best day working for someone else. It’s a wonderful feeling to launch projects that are yours! It can also be challenging though when the buck stops with you and you alone on difficult decisions.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

Being one of the few women in the room, it will be difficult to find that one shining star mentor to guide you through – instead of searching far and wide for one person, you’ll find that your best mentors are your peers right around you. These are women that are going through similar situations, have time to give you advice, and will all rise together. Join a group that already exists of women in your industry…or create your own!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

You’re never as good as they say you are, and you’re never as bad as they say you are. Don't let good press and hype go to your head and don't let rejection and negativity go to your heart.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Every day I wake up with the same mantra:

Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick 3.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Ladies, we need to get better at promoting ourselves and screaming about our successes. That’s another reason I love being part of a peer mentoring group – if you’re too shy to brag about yourself, you have a group of cheerleaders who will do it for you!!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Peer mentorship is everything. I wasted a lot of years searching for that one pie in the sky mentor that would be my career Sherpa! But every time I would find someone like that, I would realize that a) they didn't have any time for me and b) the types of jobs I am doing didn't even EXIST when they were in my shoes. Once I realized that the best mentors were right around me, I felt like, “wait! Why didn't someone tell me this sooner!”

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I truly admire female leaders who have survived, thrived, and made themselves heard in a male-dominated world. I recently sat next to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at an event and was so star struck, I was almost speechless. Suze Orman is a huge role model for pioneering the voice of female Finance. Katherine Farley who serves as chairman of the board of Lincoln Center, where I am involved, is a huge role model to me as she shepherds the board for one of the largest arts organizations in the world. And Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, is a huge role model on how to run a great business while being deeply philanthropic.

What do you want to accomplish in the next year?

This election showed all of us that we need to be more open to hearing and engaging with voices and opinions that are different from our own. This year, I’m traveling and speaking in areas of the country that I never would have thought to travel to. It’s really powerful what happens when you go beyond your comfort zone – I’ve realized that even when I disagree with people politically, we can often find common ground around technology, children, and finding balance. Once you can connect with people on that human level, it opens up a whole world of dialogue. In the past few months alone, I’ve traveled everywhere from Kuwait to Chattanooga. Getting out of my own urban bubble and meeting entrepreneurs around the world has inspired me in so many ways and made me a much better entrepreneur, creator, and leader.

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