Fran Hauser is an author, keynote speaker and startup investor at the intersection of women’s empowerment, career fulfillment, and collective wellbeing. As a long-time media executive, Fran has always championed the power of content in shaping culture, educating the public, and driving awareness of important issues. She is passionate about helping women build fulfilling careers and successful businesses and has invested in over 25 female-founded companies across CPG, media & publishing, and wellness. Her writing, speaking and investing is informed by 15 years spent in media, where she rose through the ranks at Time Inc. to President of Digital. She is the best-selling author of The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate which has been translated into six languages and was named “Best Business Book of the Year, 2018” by Audible. Fran regularly speaks at conferences and organizations to pioneer the notion that one does not have to choose between kindness and strength, and that the most effective leaders lead with both. Her second title, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career, will be released in March 2022. Below, she shares how scratching the entrepreneurial itch can led to a whole new chapter of success.
About 8 years ago you left corporate America to become an entrepreneur. What was the “aha moment” that led you to take that leap? Once you decided to jump in where did you start?
I had been at Time Inc. for 8 years when I started getting an itch to do something different. I realized that the thing I loved most about my role as President of Digital was partnering with startup founders. Through these partnerships, I got to know the founders and I became a sounding board for them. I was also able to make invaluable introductions, like connecting Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss of Rent the Runway to Highland Capital who ended up being a critical investor in their first (and subsequent rounds).
My aha moment came during a coffee with Soraya Darabi who was the co-founder of Foodspotting (and later went on to launch her own VC fund). Soraya told me that she had many female friends in NYC who wanted to launch businesses but when they looked up they didn’t see any female investors or advisors to support them. Soraya encouraged me to go for it. And I did. I started investing and advising as a side hustle at Time. I did that for two years and then went out on my own. I’ve invested in over 30 female-founded companies and I truly love what I do.
What are some pros and cons you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur vs working in a corporate position?
As an entrepreneur, I love being able to choose the projects and people that I want to work with. It’s such a gift. I can also decide when I want to throttle up and when I need to pull back because other things in my life need more of my attention. I love that I see my kids before school and when they get home. I love that I get to spend quality time with them. In terms of cons, I do miss the resources that were available to me working in corporate – both financial and human resources. And there is something pretty powerful about being attached to brands like PEOPLE and TIME. When you pick up the phone, you always get a call back! Do you have any advice about managing up and securing advocates that you utilized while you were still in corporate America?
In terms of managing up, I think my best advice would be to put yourself in your manager’s shoes. What’s important to them? What results are they looking to drive for the company at large – what are their bigger goals? How can you be helpful and align your priorities with what’s important to them?
What experiences led you to write your first book The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate?
Early on in my career, I was told that I was too nice to get ahead. And over the course of my career, many younger women would ask me, “How can you be so nice and still be successful?” I wanted to write a book that encourages women to be themselves and to show that there is so much power in kindness, compassion, and empathy. I also wanted to share my own experiences in leading with kindness and strength. I truly believe the most successful leaders lead with both traits – they are not mutually exclusive.
I truly believe the most successful leaders lead with both kindness and strength – they are not mutually exclusive.
You have a new book coming out in March Embrace the Work, Love Your Career. Can you tell us the inspiration behind it and what our readers can hope to glean from it?
The idea came to me last year when I noticed that so many of my friends and colleagues were struggling. They were questioning their purpose, their career path, and, on a more tactical level, their day-to-day work. I wanted to do something to help. I love to write, and I realized that through all of the mentoring and talks I had done over the years, I had accumulated so much content – everything from strategies to checklists and creative pro