With millions of women around the world feeling inspired to action via the Women’s March on Washington, we’ve been scoping out various women’s networks that connect individuals across various backgrounds and ethnicities. Mogul, a worldwide platform of information sharing and social interaction, is currently at the top of our list. Reaching 18 million women per week, across 196 countries, this media platform is a force we’re excited to learn more about.
Founder Tiffany Pham (who’s only 30 by the way, *and* taught herself to code via late night sessions at her kitchen table) recently sat down to give us the whole story behind Mogul and what it means to be a female entrepreneur in the world of start-up tech. Her best advice for building community? “Be kind. Be authentic. Be generous.” We couldn’t agree more. Skip below for more tips and thoughts from Tiffany on what it is to be a true leader.
What inspired you start Mogul? .... tell us a bit about your business.
Tiffany Pham: The inspiration behind Mogul harks back to my family and history. My family had been in media for generations, and early on, I made a promise that I would dedicate my life toward our family legacy of providing information access to the world. I also initially learned the English language through media, as a young girl. Reflecting back on that experience, I discovered what a powerful tool media could be for learning, for change. Thus, after graduating from Yale and Harvard Business School, I went on to hold multiple roles within media simultaneously: at CBS, within TV and radio; with the Beijing government, collaborating with the vice mayor on a new venture bridging cultural gaps between the U.S. and China; and producing feature films and documentaries highlighting social issues that needed more global awareness.
Young women around the world would read about my three roles, and as time went on, I would receive hundreds of letters per day, asking for advice. "What articles are you reading every day?" they would ask. "What videos are you watching?" I realized then that we needed a platform whereby millions of us could exchange our insights from the ground level, where we could share our careers, our lives, our journeys. And from that exchange of information, we could gain access to knowledge from one another and become that much stronger, that much better. Every day, I would, therefore, work on my three jobs, and then at night, at 3 a.m., I would sit down at the kitchen table and just teach myself how to code Ruby on Rails. Ultimately, I built the first iteration of Mogul, a worldwide platform that now reaches more than 18 million women across 196 countries, enabling them to connect, share information, and access knowledge from one another.
How have other females helped you along the way?
Tiffany: My grandmother and my mother, who taught me to be a kind and generous woman. I also have 15 close girlfriends, and we contact each other throughout the day and week. It's those friendships that help me anchor my life and career into something that's much deeper. What really motivates me, though, is the women on our platform. The women who, all around the world, use Mogul to share their struggles, obstacles, challenges, and insights. From that, I learn and give back as much as possible to them as well.
What's your best piece of advice for other women who want to start a business?
Tiffany: In terms of technology: Establish your vision of what you would like to accomplish in 10 years, then backwards from 5 years to now. Whatever it is you would like to create, rapidly prototype this idea. Then, listen to others. Incorporate their feedback so long as it is not fully misaligned with your ongoing vision. Over time, iterate towards perfection. Don't be held up by the need to be perfect now.
In terms of talent: Collaborate for access. Find industry leaders with whom your interests might resonate, and obtain warm introductions through mutual connections. Learn what opportunities might enable you to collaborate with them in order to learn from them. Whatever task you're given, whatever partnership you agree to, ensure that you over-deliver for them. Earn their trust, and build a now genuine friendship.
In terms of community: Be kind. Be authentic. Be generous. Stay in touch with "why" you wanted to start this company in the first place, why it's important for the world.
Biggest obstacles as a female founder?
Tiffany: I think the biggest obstacle for a female founder is what is likely the biggest obstacle for any founder: a fear of failure. But me, I believe in failing forward. It's a philosophy my father ingrained in me from a young age. So long as you're learning, you are not so much failing as you are moving forward. I've heard so many no's—and in the end I just move past them. I realize that many of the no's were actually more not-right-nows. There have been many doubters and many people who didn't think we could accomplish something, and said no. But then, all of a sudden, we'll overcome the obstacle and get to that yes, with all of those naysayers chasing after us.
How do you support fellow female entrepreneurs today?
We are currently spearheading the #ThisIsLove campaign to enable fellow female entrepreneurs to highlight their current passions and social impact through their work. We are also leading the #ReadMyLips campaign to enable them to speak up on what they want from the White House for women's health and women's rights. Beyond that, I advise fellow female entrepreneurs daily through the Mogul platform:
Early on, you must identify what type of leader you would like to be, in what industry, and figure out where your weak spots are. Before taking the entrepreneurial leap, hone your skill sets in those areas through collaborations or side projects, if your present role within an organization doesn’t seem to enable you to do so. For example, if you need more management experience, but are presently an Associate at a company whereby managing a team is not currently possible, contact nonprofits around the city within your industry and offer your expertise for any special projects for which they need volunteers; if the opportunity is available, manage the team of volunteers for this project. But remember to also ask for such opportunities at work. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What are some of your favorite destinations for a girls weekend or weekend getaway? Where are you off to next? Top 5 bucket list places you want to travel to?
Paris, France. Having grown up there, it brings a sense of comfort and home whenever I am back. I am off to Germany next, then Austria, then potentially Slovenia. My top 5 bucket list places are Hungary, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, and Iceland.
Can you give us one inspiring quote that you turn to, when times get stressful or tough?
Always be resilient. You will hear no’s — but know that they are “not right now’s.” Keep going until you hear a yes.
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