Corner Office Q&A: Kathryn Minshew, Founder & CEO of The Daily Muse
8:30 am, January 19th | by Amy Tennery
While we spend a lot of time writing about powerful women, we also like to hear from those women, in their own words. Today we talked with Kathryn Minshew, a world-traveling entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of The Daily Muse, a career website for professional women.
Put simply, what exactly do you do and how’d you end up there?
I’m currently the founder & CEO of The Daily Muse, a career platform focused on professional women, and I got there via a very circuitous route. Growing up I always wanted to work in foreign service, even spending time as a U.S. State Department intern in Cyprus and a UN intern in Switzerland. I took a job as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in order to learn more about business, and it was an incredibly rich – and incredibly tough – learning experience.
After I left, I founded my first company, PYP. We grew a successful audience around professional women’s content but couldn’t figure out monetization. I started over with The Daily Muse. With my cofounders Alex Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery, I set out to build a global brand that is serious about women’s careers.
Before noon, you’ve already…
Answered 50-60 emails, had a conference call, and tried to take over the world.
What would you tell a young woman who wants your job someday?
Prioritize action over inaction; leave a job you don’t love as soon as you stop learning; and don’t be afraid of the unknown. Most of the best times of my life have happened after a period of great uncertainty.
What do you wear to work?
I work from home most days, so I usually (confession) wear pajamas until at least lunchtime. Then I’ll throw on something more professional for afternoon meetings — usually a sheath dress in New York or a company t-shirt & jeans in San Francisco.
Women shouldn’t underestimate the value of _________
A personal network. There’s an oft-quoted phrase that people do business with those they “know, like and trust.” I’ve pitched companies unsuccessfully ten times, only to have an eleventh request enthusiastically approved because it came through a warm introduction.
What was the first thing you splurged on after making it big?
I haven’t made a salary in fifteen months, so I definitely haven’t splurged in a while! Still waiting for that :) When I do splurge, the first thing will be a trip somewhere: India, Ethiopia or Argentina are at the top of my list. I’m a backpacker so it’s more about the adventure and the experience than anything else.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine being anywhere else but this career right now. I guess if I had to choose, I could see a more low-key version of me leading crazy unique cultural tours around the developing world, or a more disciplined version of me getting a PhD in international relations.
When was the last time you were “reminded” you’re a woman in the business world?
It happens pretty frequently, whether it’s someone calling my target market (all women) an “interesting niche,” or asking me, in all seriousness, if “very many women really want to read about their careers?” Since my company is debunking gender stereotypes, I may see more explicit reminders than many women, but I’m not sure.
The other funny thing is what I like to call the “two cool women” intro. It’s when a man you know introduces you to another woman, with whom you share nothing in common (and no ability to help each other) besides the fact that you both have two X-chromosomes. It’s intended to be helpful, and I’ve met many lovely women that way, but sometimes I just want to turn right around and say, “Why, thank you so much! I have this wonderful guy I think you should meet. There’s no possible connection, but you both have *******, so I’m sure you’ll enjoy talking!”
This interview has been edited and condensed.