Episode OverviewIn this episode, Deborah Benton, former COO of Nasty Gal and current partner at Willow Growth, shares how success was defined for her during her childhood and how it led her to a “prestigious” job that got her physically sick. This wake-up call serves as a catalyst for Deborah to re-define success for herself and do things her own way. We also discuss her opinions on our education system and the beliefs that limit our thinking.
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Deborah BentonDeborah Benton is the founding Partner of Willow Growth Partners, an early-stage consumer fund. Prior to investing, Deborah served as President and Chief Operating Officer for Nasty Gal, the preeminent online women’s fashion retailer for the millennial set. In 2012, Nasty Gal was named one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country. Prior to Nasty Gal, Deborah was the Chief Operating Officer of ShoeDazzle, an innovative online women’s fashion footwear company whose revenue grew from launch to almost $100M in just a few years.
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Shireen Jaffer 0:00
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the evolution podcast where we question what makes our life truly ours. I’m Shireen Jaffer. And I’m very excited to introduce you to some incredible people with fascinating stories. I’ve got Deborah Benton here with me who I’ve had the pleasure of talking to just a couple of times. But every time we’ve talked ever, we’ve just been able to go deep and have some really meaningful conversations. So good to have you. Thank
Deborah Benton 0:28
you so much. It is so good to be here. And I know, we have only met somewhat recently. But truth be told, I feel like I’ve known you a lot longer.
Shireen Jaffer 0:39
The feeling is mutual, part of which is because, you know, again, we’ve been able to just dig deep and a lot of and a lot of questions that we’re both passionate about one of them you know, what, what does it mean to live a quote unquote successful life in our society? And, you know, how do we defend ourselves? And what are the influences we have from an early age that frame a lot of our own definitions. So I would love to just talk a little bit about your childhood. And you know how you grew up?
How We Define Success For Ourselves 1:16
I love it. And yes, these are. Yeah, I’m really eager to get into this because I think that those paradigms that we grow up with, set us up for life for good or bad. To You know, how we define success and more importantly, what I think mistakenly how success is defined for us, this delta between what society and others expectations of us are and what we really feel they should be for ourselves. And I think it’s until we get to that point throughout life. We don’t really start I think achieving and I use that word achieving in a broad sense what Whatever is really important to us, but I’m kind of getting ahead of myself. So let me, let me take a step back. I was actually born in Africa in a country called Malawi. My parents were both British, and at the time, they were both teachers. in Malawi, we weren’t there for very long because there was a lot of political unrest that was going on. And so when I was very young, we moved to Canada. Canada is where I grew up for all of my childhood, and went to undergrad and grad school and didn’t leave Canada until I was in my mid 20s, after business school, and I came to the States after that. But you know, I would say when I look back on how, you know, how it kind of set up my relationship of how, how I define success, or really how it was how it was defined for me. I came from both my parents who are British came from very, very poor. working class families who really never had enough down to not even enough food. And so my parents definition of success, a lot of it was stability, stability, stability, stability. And they both ended up being teachers and then school principals, and then eventually, administrators in the education system, but very much defined around stability. And so I didn’t really know the business world, which is what I’m in right now. until much later. And, you know, with stability, by the way comes with things like not questioning and doing the safe thing, and certainly the prospect of ever getting fired was mortifying, you know, that could definitely never happen. So then, you know, so right from the very beginning, you’re very much set into play the game and play the rules, and you’re essentially gamifying that the situation from early on But I did an undergrad I was going to be a doctor and I hated organic chemistry. So that kind of went out the window and second year, third year, I ended up graduating with a health degree and went almost immediately into business. I became a controller for a large restaurant franchise restaurant organization. And I really liked business. Who knew I hadn’t really no idea, but I had always been very good at numbers really liked. I just really liked all aspects of business. It made sense to me it was actually quite rational. So I went back to business school and did an MBA. And as soon as I finished my MBA, I went to Toronto and worked for a few months, but quickly realized that I actually had a lot more appetite for risk than I had earlier anticipated, and probably much to my parents chagrin, and I left I left after a few months and simply drove to San Francisco. I don’t even know why I think it’s be I had this I Well, first of all, I should say, I went with my boyfriend of many years at the time he was a coder. And so it was, you know, oh, I think that there’s jobs out there. Like I think there’s, I think this place called Silicon Valley. Actually, I don’t even know if we knew at the time that Silicon Valley was right there. I think we found that kind of on our journey over.
But yeah, that was a pivotal moment because I actually quit a very, very soon as I came out of business school, I received a you know, what would have been definitely determined to be a very successful job with a wonderful paycheck and a great firm. And 12 weeks later, when I literally was getting physically sick because I hated it so much. And I had to tell my dad that I was going to quit this incredible job. That was a really pivotal moment for me in my life. I’m not really quite sure where I got the courage to do it. Probably desperation You know, desperation is often kind of the mother of innovation. So maybe that’s what it was. But that was, um, that taught me a lot. At that point, I didn’t know it at the time. But literally quit that job and pack the car and rented out my house. And we drove to San Francisco living off my credit card with no job. Frankly, we weren’t even legally here. But it was, it was the late 90s. And it was an incredible, incredible time of opportunity. And so we both within a couple of weeks found actually extraordinary jobs, really amazing opportunities for both of us. And that’s, that’s how I got to California, and that was 22 years ago. So why wait a while it’s been a run.
Shireen Jaffer 6:52
I know. Thank you for sharing that story. I think it is so interesting, because you mentioned stability. Multiple times how, you know, we have we have been taught to chase the sense of stability. And I, as I see, you know, essentially what we’re chasing to get to that stability, you know, the stable job this nine to five, this lack of asking questions and doing things as they’ve always been done, because if it’s worked before it can work again, right? That’s really and so why why reinvent the wheel, let’s just keep doing things that have seemed to work out for other people. And it really comes usually to a point of some sort of health concern, some sort of mental health concerns, some sort of major life event where you realize you’re in a place now that if you continue to, if you continue to keep going in that same way, it’s not going to add up. Well, yeah. And that’s the step. ability is no longer there, even though you are doing exactly what you were told to do, but somehow it’s not working for you, and your unique situation. And I think oftentimes people that I talk to now that are in that, at that point, they believe it’s a it’s a personal problem. They believe it’s not working as them issue and not anything else. So I would love to know, when you did come to that realization, sort of what that transition was like for you. What was that process? like for you?
Deborah Benton 8:29
Yeah, I mean, the, I mean, this is just a great conversation. And I, I think the sooner everybody has this even with themselves, the better that it is, I think what’s happening you’re absolutely right. When people are experiencing and they may experience it in different ways. You know, in various times in my life, it has gotten so bad for me, that in has manifested itself in in, you know, a cold that wouldn’t go away for three months. That’s what happened. I think when we, when we deny, you know what we know ourselves what we authentically know ourselves and we try to live the life that is otherwise dictated to us or otherwise determined that that’s the life we should be living. When you don’t, when you’re when you’re not leading this, you know, as authentic life as you can. That’s when I think you get into trouble. And it’s and it’s, it’s this cognitive dissonance because we don’t give ourselves enough credit for actually having this sense of intuition or this understanding of ourselves. And we try to out think ourselves, and when we do that, you know, we use our brain and we don’t use these other senses that we have.
Shireen Jaffer 9:39
it’s interesting. Yeah, I could not agree more because it’s so funny. I was talking to someone else about this and other guests about how we put such an emphasis on just thinking logically and looking at the facts and, you know, for example, even the concept of manifestation, the concept of gut instinct, and all these complex you know, are a lot of people say well If it’s not backed by science, it must not exist. And I’m reading this fascinating book right now that actually discusses science and where and how research is actually done and the origins of knowledge. And it’s called the cosmic serpent by Jeremy Norby. And he’s an anthropologist and just kind of looks into the indigenous cultures and traditions and how they get their knowledge, despite not having access to science and research in the same type of processes that we have here in the Western world. And he talks a lot about in his in his very scientific approach, he goes deeper into questioning, well, where did we come up with a lot of the theories that we have today, theories, we consider factual. You know, why have they become so largely accepted when they don’t actually have any sort of Like convincing evidence to show that they’re more than just, you know, theories. And it goes back to kind of this mindset we have with ourselves now where we, we do undermine our own thing, constantly questioning ourselves, but we’re not questioning the opinions of external knowledge, which is so interesting to
Our Education System and What it Rewards 11:25
think about it think about how we’re indoctrinated at a very, very young age, to be submissive to to authority, right? So we go to school. And this is that’s a whole other podcast that at some point we should have around education and, you know, my thinking of the failures of the current educational system, but we go to school at a very, very young age, even preschool at this point, and we are told to behave, and we’re told that a certain set of behaviors is acceptable, and we’ll boarded. And we’re told how to think we really are told how to think. And what’s even worse is you were told how to think. And in fact, I would, in a very cynical way, argue that we are told not to think. And we are rewarded not to think we are rewarded for regurgitation, we’re rewarded. I have two boys. And you know, boys just tend to be a little more kinetic. And, you know, I’m getting feedback from my 12 year olds teacher all the time how chatty he is, and he wants to talk and he wants to discuss and I’m like, I don’t know where the problem is there. So it’s, you know,
Shireen Jaffer 12:42
it’s, I love that you said that because one of the things that I’ve been talking a lot about with friends that and I can’t wait until you and I talk about this further, but you know, friends that are just that have been in education or have just been very passionate about looking at our education system and thinking what’s working, what’s not working? And one of the things we talk about a lot is this classroom model of, you know, having 20 to 40 kids in a class with one teacher crammed you have, you have to just teach right and, and I used to similar to your son, my teachers would always say either Shireen will finish her work and then distract over. Yeah. And, you know, there’s too many questions. And, and, you know, my mom fortunately, love her. She has a psychiatry background, she’s a nurse, and, you know, she, from a young age, kind of just put this in my head of, you can never have too many questions as long as you’re willing to find the answers. And that to me was so important in hindsight, because it taught me the opposite of that. It was so much of, you know, there are good questions and bad questions. is how you ask the questions and this is how you frame your hypothesis and My friends and I was talking about, you know, if if a teacher or if the classroom is not working, how could you blame one kid and not in the underlying, you know, way of how we put people in a classroom that have very different learning styles and very different starting, you know, places and very different home and my mom was encouraging my questions. So of course, I’m going to continue being in that class doing that. Versus there were kids mother costs, I had different styles of parenting not nothing is, you know, nothing is as simple as right or wrong, but just different.
Deborah Benton 14:39
No, it’s it’s so true that, you know, I come from a family of teachers. I have the utmost respect for teachers. I think it’s a really challenging, really challenging career and one that’s incredibly important. But if you think about what what, what are we asking especially now with a lot of overcrowding in Kids schools, your poured putting 30 or 40 kids, that as you just explained on so many variables are so different, the best that they can do is try to teach to either the average, or to the lower common denominator, right? Because they’re trying to they’re trying to manage a class, they’re trying to keep 30 to 40 children, you know, under control. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, but you can’t have utter chaos, right? They’re, you know, they’re trying to keep these kids safe and provide some sort of productive time for them. And so we are, I think, the whole way that we think about structuring classroom and even who we put together to learn together. It’s so crazy. We put everybody together just because of the same age. Who cares, you know, I mean, there’s so many other ways, you know, what is your primary or preferred way to learn Is it you know, kinetic and interacting and doing or is it auditory? Or is it reading? Or is it computer? Or is it whatever it might be? You know? So we’re asking an awful lot of teachers and I think often we’re really setting them up to fail, which is terrible, which is really terrible.
Shireen Jaffer 16:18
I agree. I also think there’s so much pressure put on teachers to know all of the answers. When really the, you know, the magic happens. Some of the best teachers I remember, are the ones that made learning so fun, a learning, interactive and gave us the environment the to just play and to question
Deborah Benton 16:41
what is learning about being curious? And I think, just like just what you experienced, I think because curiosity requires energy to respond to properly and often these teachers either don’t have the time or energy they shut the kids down. If that’s not The beginning of the end of you know, teaching a kid that they should be rewarded for this that they should question question question question like, that’s it’s iterative, right? That’s how we learn. That’s how we all learn. That’s still how I learned today. But we are we are undermining kids right from the very beginning, right from very beginning and teaching them just not to think. And I think what happens and what subsequently happened to me was, I played the game very well. I did very well in school, I knew how to test take, you know, I was I had it pretty easy, and I figured out that game pretty early on. And then by the time but what I didn’t really build in many ways was confidence in my ability to problem solve. I had confidence in my ability to regurgitate I had confidence in my ability to get good grades because I kind of figured out what the patterns were and what I needed to do but in a real life situation, I undermined myself I had no confidence. And so in many ways that that certainly propelled me to continue living this life that I was getting externally validated for, you know, this good job this this amount of money, you know, this many holidays, like whatever the criteria was, which was and so that itself provided a fair bit of dissonance because, on the one hand, I was really quite unhappy and that this was my job right out right out of after business school, I was super, super unhappy, and it was not rewarding, and I didn’t respect the people that I was with, and I didn’t like what I was doing. And yet, I had society telling me, wow, you know, you’re so successful, like you’re, you’re in your mid 20s. And you know, you’ve got this degree and you’re now you’re working at this consulting firm, and, you know, and so, it all of a sudden, you’re like, why am I feeling this way? Because everybody else is telling me how great it is. There must be something wrong with me. And I think that that was the first time. Up until that point. Think about it. We’re as children, we always have the next milestone, next milestone, next milestone. So you’re always, you know, I knew I was going to go and do an undergrad, I even knew I was going to do some graduate degree. So it was always forward, like, what’s the next thing? And then all of a sudden, you’re in real life and you’re like, I don’t know, you know, is this it? I think that would go back to your earlier question. That was probably my first point of like, Oh my goodness, I’ve been working my whole life doing the right thing. And this is it. Are you kidding me?
Answering: “What Else Is Out There? “What Should I be Doing” 19:35
Right. I thought that question of is, Is this it? What else is out there? Am I even am I even enjoying what people are telling me I should be doing? And, you know, of course, you’re not alone. In feeling this way. We know that. I was just speaking to a female founder just a couple months ago and she is I believe she’s probably Her late 30s, early 40s. She has a couple kids. And on paper, she just tells me she says screen on paper, you look at my LinkedIn. I went to this, you know, great quote unquote top college, I joined Wealth Management right after that I was a consultant at one of the, you know, top consulting companies that I went and worked at Wells Fargo and American Express, and I have all these brand names. And then I even started working at startups that went on to raise a ton of funding and, you know, got to work directly with our VCs. And so again, on paper, she looks great. And then she looks at me and she says, and I don’t know how I got here. And I want for the first time and realizing I did everything to look great on down. And I thought I was enjoying it. But I can genuinely sit here right now and tell you that I feel like I was sleeping for the past 15 years and what’s waking me up is having my first kid go into it was her her kid who’s three years old, just started school. And and she’s hearing feedback from the teachers and it’s making her reflect on what she’s teaching, right? And realize that there’s so much dissonance between what she’s being told to teach her kid versus what she thinks the kids should know. And she’s realizing, wow, her dissonance comes from her own misalignment with how she shows her life versus how she wants.
Deborah Benton 21:32
I think, my guess is we all to some extent experienced this. I probably have a personal theory that there’s some gender differences there as well. But I can say for me, it was, it was a huge struggle. And by the way, you know, I hate to always paint these these paradigms as kind of like the before and after pictures. This is a this is a struggle everyday for me. And it continues to be a struggle every single day. This is an evolution, right? There’s no start or finish there is. It’s a, it’s constantly changed. And I find myself I think the difference, though, today is I have at least a little bit of awareness that I can call myself on it, that I can finally start to say, Oh, you might be feeling this way because oh, it’s really not your path or you really don’t believe in it. And you’re only seeing or doing this because you think that there’s some sort of weird external validation that you’re going to receive. But don’t you remember how you know unrewarding, that fundamentally is and how it’s kind of meaningless. But it’s, it’s I struggle with this every day. I still do and it’s not just around the professional realm. It’s also the personal realm. It’s also the personal realm.
Shireen Jaffer 22:56
Yeah, how we think how we react I mean, I am I, every single day, I encounter something that I used to believe with such deep conviction. And now I read it or I hear someone else say it, or I just encountered into the encounter in some capacity. And I realized, I don’t believe that an hour. And I think back to all the conversations I’ve had in the past where I’ve argued with people and said, you know, no, they’re wrong. This is right. And now I feel bad. And I also you know, that brought up something so important to me is recognizing our in in our world today, I think we’ve kind of reduced discussions to just being mutually exclusive. There’s a right and a wrong way when often not the case. And again, there’s so many perspectives, different things work for different people, you can believe things but as long as you’re open hundred percent. That belief Yeah, I thought is really where magic happens. I
Deborah Benton 24:00
could not agree with you more. In fact, I would say that what has been most disappointing to me is, I would say over the last three or four years with the political situation, what has been most disappointing is how shut down people have been on either side of the spectrum. I think everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. I really do. And I will listen to anybody. I’ll have my own opinions. And I’ll probably put up a really good argument and what have you, but it has but we grow through experiencing other people’s discussion and points of view and perspectives, you know that it is iterative, even if it’s to the point even if it really just points out what you really don’t believe in. That’s okay too. But completely closing down and not listening to each other and not having respect for an individual’s right to have whatever opinion that they have doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, that’s fine. But that has been really disappointing for me. I think, in many ways, and I’m, you know, I come from Canada, I’m, I probably am heavily influenced from the fact that I come from Canada, what have you. But I am I hope we get over that I hope we go back to because I think discourse and conflict, by the way can be very healthy. And can can help all sides. If you kind of frame it, reframe it in a way of, you know, why do you have a different perspective? And how do I think about my opinion in context of that perspective? We don’t have, we just don’t have that now, and that is, I think that’s hurting us.
The Importance of Lifelong Learning 25:45
Right? I think it hurts this notion of lifelong learning. We hear that a thrown around all the time, but the way our education system is set up and then the way we talk about education as a society, we reduce it down to Graduation degrees, right is and then we’ll go through, again, K through 12. Right. That’s this like mandated requirement, and then some will go to college and then they have what, four to five more years? And then what? Yeah, then it comes down well on the job you learn, but that doesn’t make any sense. Because if let’s say you’re part of, you know, the unfortunate amount of layoffs that are happening logic, I mean, does your learning stop? Absolutely not? Yeah. So it is, you know, being part of discussions and being open minded and being open to expanding your beliefs and iterating on them that goes back to really creating an environment for yourself where you can be a lifelong learner. And I actually just pulled up this my Angela quote that I had come across a few days ago, and she essentially says something along the lines of, you know, do the best or she’s, you know, she said tips out those do the best you can until you know better than when you know better do better. Yeah, anyone that doesn’t believe or subscribe to the importance of lifelong learning how wherever you go about it, it just again, going back to the basics of the world is changing all the time, which means your knowledge at any given point is becoming even more out Fisher. So how can you do better and be better and feel better however you define that for yourself, if you’re not constantly learning, and honestly, even more importantly, on the learning, a lot of we’re told were true, but after having practice them, they seem to not be working out for you. That is such an important trigger of just realizing, oh, this just doesn’t work. It might be true for other people, that’s okay. But it doesn’t work for me. So let me unlearn and relearn. Yes,
Deborah Benton 27:54
it’s hard though. It’s hard. Like I would say, you know, those those The strength of which were indoctrinated at a very, very young age. And that’s why, you know, when you ask the question, you know, when did this occur to you? It I literally every day try to go through, I have to question myself because those, those, that narrative is very, very powerful and it’s deeply set in. And you also have to get to a point, I think, where you have the confidence, to allow yourself to question it, and to come away from it. And that does take confidence and sometimes that you know, I think it can come around in times of desperation or trauma or really bad experience. It doesn’t have to, I think, just this this constant feeling of unsettled within yourself can can drive it over a period of time. But one of my fears with and this goes back to the education system, and kind of this very powerful narrative that we do, you know, project onto our kids is, you know, We are told we are told what the right things are. We are told we almost live in fear. I lived in fear of making a wrong decision. That’s how powerful it was. I would I grappled with making decisions, you know, sometimes for days, weeks months, simply because I was so scared to fail. When did that happen? Right? Like, why? Why is it Why is it so bad to fail? My best lessons in life my best growth, personal professional growth has absolutely come out of failure. No questions asked, like no questions. I’ve done some right things. I’ve done some, you know, things that have been successful, wonderful. My best lessons, my best growth has come out of failure. So why are we Why don’t we teach our kids that it’s so bad to fail and that fear of failure, fear of failure is just going to make them not take chances. And that was me for them for much of my life, much of my life.
Shireen Jaffer 29:53
Right and it goes back to how we’re graded right? All throughout only one totally, literally pass or fail. The most basic, you know, levels are crazy.
Deborah Benton 30:04
Like, it’s so crazy when you really think about it, what are we really telling our kids? Right, what we’re rewarding them for, you know, simply responding in a way that we’ve trained them to say that this is a good way to respond, rather than really thinking some things through and really questioning and thinking for themselves. And what is wrong or right. You know, I look, I’m not completely complete idealogue. I know that there’s, there’s certain toolkits that we want to provide people, whether it’s, you know, learning how to structure a sentence or, you know, basic mathematical equations, you know, there’s there are certain
Shireen Jaffer 30:42
three R’s, right, that education talks about reading, writing, and arithmetic. And if you have those things, you kind of have that foundational layer of being able to communicate or being able to understand and being able to do basic math and calculate
Deborah Benton 30:56
yes, yeah, exactly. And then But beyond that, I’m Look, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in elementary school, but I certainly was not taught how to problem solve creatively. I absolutely was not. And that took a long, long time. And I’m still, Oh, I wish I was a lot better. And I and I’m able to be better, I would have to be super comfortable at questioning established paradigms. And I struggled with that, you know, I still go back to Oh, well, this is how it’s been successful before. And this is what we’ve seen before rather than thinking about, we’re living in a very rapidly evolving environment and community and world and, and we should be evolving our thinking around that. Not that you can’t use the past as a data point and as a as a reference point. But just getting comfort and confidence around questioning establishment. We’re not super good at that. And we don’t teach our kids to be good at that.
Shireen Jaffer 31:58
Right and going back to you know, All of this obviously this transition this process of questioning and unlearning it is it is very difficult. And, you know, part of the intention of this podcast was to bring people like yourself in life that have gone through the journeys are constantly going through the journeys, and hopefully create a community that recognizes you’re not doing it alone. I mean, millions of people are going through this journey, ever every day, however, because it unfortunately, is still not the norm. It’s seen as, you know, the rebellion somewhere with it, it’s not well shared. But I think that’s been changed now with these casual learning approaches through podcasts. And you know, other than
Deborah Benton 32:44
Yeah, look, I think you usually have to follow the like, Who’s going to benefit? Where’s the money? Who’s going to get more power from these paradigms? You can usually trace it back to those few question. right if you know sometimes when you when you see something’s happening, you know, my first reaction again a little bit cynical is who’s making money here because then that will help me understand what why this is happening.
Learning to Ask “Why?” 33:15
I was going to say we actually just riffing off of that we actually broke down, for example, the food pyramid, which impacts every single person’s life, because one it was taught in the school and a lot of nutrition programs, at least the traditional ones referred to it, but if you follow the money, and the way you just said Deborah, because I couldn’t agree more with it, you realize, well, the the food pyramid was released in 1992. But the people that were pulled into creating it, the agriculture and the food industries, there they are incentivized by people eating more grains. They are incentivized by people eating more of the foods that they emphasize towards the bottom, the larger portion of things you should know. And the research. It was cool, really cool. But also unfortunate to see that nutritionists and health experts were pulled in. And they actually made recommendations that, for example, you know, don’t quote me on this. But if you look into the research or go to Ed, post Twitter, we put out an entire infographic on this and you you realize, you know, let’s say, the health expert said you need three to four cups of x, but then the food permit said, Actually, it could be you know, four to nine, right? We want we don’t want people to stop their spending. So yeah, it’s it’s, it’s fascinating how much you can learn by simply digging deeper, which Yes, it takes more time. And it does take a level of investment on an individual basis that a lot of us aren’t making the time to do because of the ways you know,
Deborah Benton 34:56
we’re not rewarded for it. Yeah, right. But we’re really We’re not rewarded for being intellectually curious. We’re not, we’re told, like starting very young exactly how you experienced it, you know, like, oh, Sharon’s talking so much, or she’s chatty or she’s disturbing people. Well, perhaps because you’re bored. Right? Because perhaps because you’re not being challenged, right? Perhaps if you just had been left, you know, loose to go and figure out what you wanted to learn, you probably would have done a very good job keeping yourself busy. So we are, you know, we as a society, we are not taught to challenge authority, we’re not rewarded for that, and not even challenge in a bad way. Just question just put just question question, why why like, why why why why why
Shireen Jaffer 35:43
And back to I think also the role of, you know, teachers and educators, all different types of educators. One of the roles is facilitating that culture, like we talked about that environment. So, you know, when someone does ask, why does it exist, you shouldn’t feel the pressure to know the exactly Simply what I don’t know. So let’s figure it out together or frankly, Here are ways you can figure it
Deborah Benton 36:06
and come back and tell us you know, like, come back and share with the class what you find out.
Shireen Jaffer 36:12
Right? And if obviously teachers have so much responsibility right now and you know they’re they’re definitely poorly compensated for it. So if they aren’t able to do it again just encouraging that line up exploration Yeah, I agree with all of us is so is priceless. Yeah. Because that possibility repeated multiple times towards any concept that you’re watching.
Deborah Benton 36:36
Yeah, I think there’s also you know, I’m This is making me reflect so much on my own kind of early education. I think there’s also just like we, we downplay and, in fact, punish kids for ostensibly failing, however, we define that we do the same, if they’re wrong if they answer a wrong question. Which is so crazy when you really question that, right? Like when you really think about it, like, we’re we’re trying to encourage discussion and exploration and discovery and self sufficiency in our, our learning process, right, like, you know, encouraging self direction, I think is really a healthy way to think about it. And yet, when we ask questions, and kids put up their hands, whatever that you know, whatever the behavior is, these days, and they’re wrong, there’s a negative experience with that, which Why are we reframing that? Why is that a negative? Why do we Why are we telling kids that that’s negative or bad?
Shireen Jaffer 37:39
Well we’re back to the underlying intentions, right? You said self discovery and self learning if that’s what we want to do, but the reality is that it’s not what the education system wants,
Deborah Benton 37:50
oh, no, I know.
What School Doesn’t Teach Us 37:52
Some apps and you know, that’s the education system absolutely wants you to learn what they deemed as important for us to thrive as a nation. And even though an overwhelming amount of data shows that we are not actually graduating people with the skills and the knowledge they need to thrive, so many, you know, kids are graduating today without even a basic understanding of technology, right? I was there my past company skill if I believe I shared this story with you, but I, you know, I was working at high schools in Oakland and school if I would go into these schools, and we would implement curriculum that would help kids explore their interests, learn how to network, meet mentors, do internships, so that they can explore and validate their interest before graduating. However, in order to do that, they obviously needed to be able to use email so they can get in touch with mentors, they needed to be able to do Google searches. So they can, you know, research the different career paths that they’re considering they needed to have those basic technology skills. Now I’m going into these high schools in Oakland and the schools are, what? 30 minutes away from San Francisco, the capital of tech. And these kids look at me and they asked me things like, well, what’s the URL? And how do I literally if I were I gave I remember this moment. So clearly, I gave them a website to go to. And instead of knowing to perfect URL into their browser, they all did a Google search. And they put in the website link, and it didn’t pop up. And they were confused, because they didn’t know the difference between using Google or the fact that they were even defaulting to using Google. But he didn’t know they were default.
Deborah Benton 39:41
Shireen Jaffer 39:43
Yeah, that’s insane. And yet, these kids are expected to be in classes like AP Biology and AP Computer Science and will come it would be different because it would teach them things but AP Biology and AP English and AP US history where they learn how to You know, think through concepts and articulate, articulate them and these essays, however, they don’t have basic technology.
Deborah Benton 40:08
It’s so crazy. It’s so crazy I’m involved with. So my older son is at his at a liberal arts college in New York. It’s a college called Colgate. And he is an I was thrilled that he made the decision to go to this a I really like the smaller class sizes. But also it’s not nearly as prescriptive, I would say in you know, you have to take this you have to take this and, you know, he’s taking me through the courses that he’s taking this year, and honestly, I’m super jealous, I wish I was taking them, you know, his courses like challenges of modernity, you know, legacies of the ancient world things that I think are actually quite fascinating and I certainly never, never had access to. But you know, even even, you know, this is this is one One way you can go for an education but even there, you know, he’s going to come out with, you know, I hope in ways he’ll grow and develop as, as a as a, you know, a person much more than just academically, I’d argue that the academics are almost a byproduct and in many ways, but, you know, he’s gonna have to learn all of his technical skills and real data analysis skills outside of this education, you know, he because he will not have access to learn that there. And they have, I’m very much involved as you guys are with the early stage world. And I keep thinking, Well, why are we not better preparing folks coming out of whatever whatever they choose to do? It could be a trade school, it could be University, it could be, you know, a variety of different things, but why are we not training them with more practical level skills, you know, just just arming them. With the toolbox to be able to go into today’s work environment, whatever work means to them, however it means to them better prepared, and we’re not. I mean, we’re definitely not they’re expected to get all of this kind of on the job training, which seems to be kind of crazy to me.
Shireen Jaffer 42:17
Right, right. And it’s non existent in many, many places. And then, you know, people are unfortunately, blamed as, as not being educated enough or not being ready enough for those roles or being under qualified, right? Which makes no sense because there’s a huge gap between you know, they were told you go to school, you learn what you need to do. And then as long as you put in the effort, and you apply those skills, you’ll get a job right. Right framework doesn’t even work. yet we’re still blaming, you know, the, the people, the adults, the kids, whoever, as not being smart enough and not working hard enough. And that just as No, no,
Deborah Benton 42:56
it’s crazy. And I think with with my Kids what I’m what I got to the point because I did everything the old school way that honestly did not work. It was it was the wrong way. And you know, and I don’t want my kids to go through that. If there’s anything that I really want to instill in them, it’s that the responsibility for their continuous learning lies with themselves. It’s not anybody else’s responsibility, right? Like we can we as parents will support it. And I’m, I’m a, you know, encourage them as much as I possible, like, figure out what your passion is what you love, you know, just keep learning questioning what, what, whatever it might be. But ultimately, even as your parent, it’s not my responsibility, you know, it really is up to you. And so figure it out, like go out there and figure it out. If you need to go and figure out the best online courses or local community courses that are going to give you you know, the actual tactical and practical skills that you need, then you need to do that. Because it’s nobody else’s responsibility.
Shireen Jaffer 44:04
I was I was gonna say, I also think it’s so much more than learning about topics, right? I think that’s the other problem that we have with our or just another problem that we have with our education system is it’s the reliance on topics, you master this topic. You get deep into it, you’re done, you move on to the next one. And so you see people going into online courses, for example, that care deeply about lifelong learning. But then they’re like, Okay, well, what can I learn today, right, and they focus on the time three, but lacking is your basic cognitive toolkit, your basic ability to think your basic ability to learn. So one, one thing that I recommend for everyone is just just doing a reflection on you know, what are the different ways that you choose to make decisions? What are your approaches? What are your what I call mental models? This isn’t obviously music term mental models have been talked about for years, we talked about first principles thinking, we’ve talked about probabilistic thinking. We’ve talked about thought experiments. But I think they’ve been taught and talked to people. And I’ve said this before, in such a sophisticated, convoluted way, that it’s scary. And for most people, it’s intimidating. It’s almost like Well, I’m just not smart enough to be able to think in this way. Because I don’t have all this context on physics and math. Now, the reality is you don’t necessarily need all that context. And we’ve just over complicated just ways of thinking. And that’s, that’s a beautiful place for most people to start. And that’s really where I get excited about introducing people to mental models in an assessable way. And hopefully in the next couple months we’ll have we’ll have a really fun way to experience those things. But that that I think should be emphasized is in addition to Yes, exploring topics and exploring categories. We must also explore the underlying mechanisms of learning and of thinking and of how we make decisions.
Confronting Our Biases and Societal Expectations 46:06
Yeah, I love it. I love it. I just, I’m part of a program for fund managers in New York. And obviously, since we can’t be there, in person, we’re having a lot of these zoom sessions. And we just had a zoom session on biases, and how our own personal biases play into how we think about things and how we frame things and ultimately make decisions and how other people’s biases most of them are unconscious, to be perfectly honest, I think most most biases are not people are not even aware of them, but how to recognize them in others, and how to maneuver around them. And it’s, you know, it was it was it was it was very interesting because we don’t usually question ourselves, right? We take probably for them Most part what we believe as inherently correct? We just don’t because that’s who we are right? You know, if we didn’t think it was correct, and
Shireen Jaffer 47:08
I want to point something out, because it’s so funny, we just contradicted ourselves. And it’s a beautiful contradiction, because we started our episode with, you know, we we constantly question ourselves. And we don’t have an external source. And then the second part of it, which is also true. The beauty of everything we’re talking about, is oftentimes where we don’t question ourselves, and we just know what we know to be true.
Deborah Benton 47:34
Yeah. Yeah, it’s Yeah, it’s interesting. I think it is. Look, again, I think this is part of our all of our personal journeys, right? I think the more we, the more we be, the more we’re comfortable, confident, aware, sufficiently aware enough to question ourselves, the more we question ourselves, right. And so I think we start and this this,
Shireen Jaffer 47:56
I think the intention of that questioning changes right in In the first example, the questioning of ourselves came from this lack of confidence, this lack of self, this, this presence of self doubt, versus a question we’re talking about that we hope everyone develops is coming from a greater self awareness. Greater. Hey, everything I think is right or, hey, I believe this is right. And why just that coming from a different intention. So it serves you in your thought process is very different.
Deborah Benton 48:27
Yeah, I think I think it’s a very, I think that’s a very astute point. I would say there’s one other area that I think is tied into this that, at least for me, personally was was kind of very influential in me getting much more comfortable about living a life that was self directed rather than kind of externally directed and validated. And that was I had to get to a point. And again, let me tell you this, this is an ongoing struggle. I stopped caring what other people thought. And that sounds a little bit trite and it sounds kind of childish. But I can tell you unequivocally that I struggle with it still, to this day and significantly less than I did before. But I think it’s tied in. I think it’s tied into a lot of things that we’ve been talking about. I grew up wanting to make my parents happy and what seemed to make them happy is what the world was telling me. I should do and what would be defined as successful like that would bring them happiness and then and I really did generally want them to be happy. And I think that that’s paralyzing. I think that that concern about other what other people are thinking and I think it can absolutely be be paralyzing because it It undermines your ability to think for yourself and to prioritize thinking for yourself and I don’t think that that’s a selfish thing. I think that that That ends up being quite healthy for everybody around you not to not think about other people but to prioritize your kind of your authentic self and, and to have the confidence to believe in yourself.
Shireen Jaffer 50:19
I like to think of it as if I can be my best self, then I can be the best self for others. Right?
Deborah Benton 50:27
Yes, completely. And and I believe that to be true. I unequivocally. I believe that to be true. But it was a fairly recent for me, like I would say within the last 10 years, that all of a sudden it occurred to me. Wow, I am really, really in an unhealthy way directed towards making certain decisions about my life pretty important decisions about my life and my family’s life. Based on how what I think other people will Well think, and the irony Shireen of all of this is nobody was thinking about me. Nobody was ever like assessing my life or the decisions that I were making, like why I thought that I was so important that I cared so much what other people think the truth of the matter is the vast, vast majority of people that people are worrying about what they think I’m not for a moment thinking about you. So get over it.
Shireen Jaffer 51:25
I agree, and I also think that stems from how we are educated because for the longest time, it’s your teachers watching you, your colleges. Watching you you’re, you know, everyone’s watching your presentation, you must be present and you know, show any vulnerability or any any notion of doubt. And that doubt, which by the way can be so good, right, doubt skepticism. But you must not show that and you’re absolutely right. Yeah, it’s I mean, again, it’s no It’s no coincidence that you know, we’re spending. The first exposure we have to the world is when it comes to learning, right is in the education system, it starts so early now. I have friends who are early parents, and you know, they’ve got one to two year olds. And those two girls are in school. There is Yeah, they go home. And so, you know, school is definitely a big influence in our lives for a very long time. And there’s no coincidence that as adults, we look back and we realized so much of our habits, and so much of the ways we do things are influenced by how we were taught, and how we, what environments we were around during our childhood
Deborah Benton 52:42
yeah, it’s, it’s a lot of this is around this social compliance. And, you know, again, I would say, in whose benefit to whose benefit is it when we all kind of socially comply and play by the rules. There’s a few people that really, really benefit from that in In many ways, and I understand from, you know, the perspective of social control, and it’s easier to control the masses. And by the way, it’s not like I’m advocating utter chaos. And let’s just go out and do whatever we want. Know that there is a basic framework that to successfully live in communities and organizations or companies or you know that there’s a basic framework that we need to all kind of agree that is, it is best. But you know, the healthiest organizations that I’ve worked in, have been ones where conflict is encouraged. And it doesn’t matter what level you are no one, no one should care what level you are, you know, questioning status quo or questioning. Anybody is not seen as a negative thing at all. In fact, it’s it is encouraged, and that is reframing that from the beginning right now. If I go into a lot of conversations, and I question somebody, I’m seeing as being aggressive or argumentative or controversial, you know, all of these things that have negative connotations to them, when in fact, it’s, it’s actually should be quite comp, complimentary because I’m really interested and I really want to understand I
Shireen Jaffer 54:15
learned. Yeah, exactly. I cared enough to dig deep to ask do to expand to learn together
Deborah Benton 54:22
I’m actually genuinely interested if I dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. And yet again, I would say for the most part, society does not favor that we really don’t look that that highly upon. Bosses don’t want to be questioned. They think that you know, people under them that are questioning them or disrespectful or insulin or whatever it might be, when in fact, you know, healthy leaders would encourage that and should encourage that because they’re going to get better themselves.
Shireen Jaffer 54:52
Right. I it was interesting, when we were fundraising for Avvo. I caught myself in a trap of memorization versus, like, critical thought. And it came in manifested itself in when we were preparing for pitches. And this was this was like very early days of edco we, you know, there’s a lot of self doubt. And when we were fundraising I was memorizing Well, these are the common questions that VCs ask and this is how you respond to them. And having been an Inca, you know, investor myself, I know exactly what those questions are and what intentions they come from. But even then, I got caught in the q&a. And then I realized I hated it. I was feeling like shit, I hated those conversations, I would read those, but then took them in a bag and I took a step back and I said, Wait a minute, if I am talking to people who, you know, may or may not genuinely have an interest in the problem we’re solving. So let’s have a conversation. Let’s dig deeper. If the questions they ask, have to do with that, I already know all the information. I know the answers. I don’t need to memorize template day. If I treat this as a very welcome discussion and not just a obligation, exactly a pitch an obligation of just getting some specific amount of information across for some random purpose and not anything outside of, hey, let’s have a genuine discussion and see if this is how we can collaborate.
Deborah Benton 56:26
exactly. And hopefully, you know, the investors that are kind of worth their salt, and let’s face it, they’re not all in that category would welcome that. Right. Because, yeah, they’re equally as interested in, you know, kind of exploring this rather than anything being truly prescriptive and saying, Okay, well, you know, what’s your addressable market and what problem you’re solving, you know, I mean, all like the ratcheted kind of typical questions. Yeah, it’s, it’s, um, it is interesting, and I think, you know, I mean, We should actually talk about kind of a lot of the stuff that we’ve we’ve been discussing in context of kind of this current crisis that we’re going through. Because I think that there are, I’ve thought about you a lot I was telling you earlier, you know, the area that you’re in, and I think it is, you know, a lot of factors have come into play to bring this whole idea of our relationship with work and our relationship with education, you know, into question given where we are now, because we’re not only, we’re not only physically changing our day to day of how we complete work, whatever that might be, or how we educate ourselves. I’ve got two kids that are both in online education right now. You know, so we have kind of the physical component of it. But I think that and maybe that’s driving the psychological or mental component of it as well. But I think this gives us all an opportunity to really fundamentally question this paradigm of work and how we’ve done it in the past? And what are those relationships and that structure, which is pretty archaic, right? If you think about the structure of, Oh, you know, I punch the clock at nine, and I punch the clock at five, and I’m done. And I put in my hours and I have these breaks here and these breaks here, and I’ve got my lunch hour. It’s so crazy on so many levels, and that’s probably another podcast. But I do think right now is super interesting. And, you know, I’d love to hear like you’re the expert at this. I would love to hear just your perspective on on. How How do we how has this affected in this past six weeks has really affected all of us and how do we emerge and what’s different? What’s the same?
Rethinking How We Work 58:45
I think one of the it’s this is such an important topic, and you’re right, it’s such a long discussion, but one of the biggest things that I see people questioning for the first time in a long time, and I believe this is cyclical I believe past generations have done this as they’ve gone through their own set of crises. And people are questioning as they’re experiencing layoffs themselves or they’re experiencing it within, you know, close friends and family members. It is almost impossible to not know at least one person that has been impacted by workforce reduction, right. And they’re recognizing, well, hey, my livelihood is tied to my income in our current society. A lot of people are realizing, whoa, my livelihood I have tied to my, to my title to my company, my identity is, you know, let’s say I’ve worked at I don’t know, Neutrogena for, you know, 1015 years and that’s my identity and a lot of people are realizing, wow, at the end of the day, every job in the current way that it’s set out this employer employee relationship, every job is temporary. It’s Either you’re going to choose to leave it or your company will choose to apologize, right? Well, everything is temporary, then why would you tie your identity of your livelihood? title or one source of income? And I see a lot of people questioning and if they’re not questioning, you know, I proposed this question of what what is your livelihood mean to you? And how can you create an environment for yourself a reality for yourself that doesn’t give control to one specific company where overnight, your livelihood can be taken away from set yourself up to let’s say, you know, in the context of just, you know, working, let’s say, in the employer employee relationship, how can you set yourself up to have multiple sources of income where, you know, we talked about freelancing, we talked about contracting, but all of those things have connotations to them that aren’t serving the majority. How can you rethink those relationships for yourself and navigate your lifestyle towards something that allows you to take control of your livelihood to tap have multiple things up in the air, let’s say, you know, one of my podcast, guests said this beautifully. you’re juggling and so if you’re juggling, let’s say, projects with four different companies and one company says, Sorry, we don’t need you. No problem. You’v got another opportunity. In your in your hands.
Deborah Benton 1:01:27
Yeah, I completely agree. I mean, look, I think we’re moving towards we have been moving towards this paradigm. And you and I are somewhat more exposed to this just because I think the sector that we work in, but I I completely agree. I think this whole idea of tying your identity and tying your livelihood to this to a job is crazy, and it’s a vestige of a time long past, right like when I hear have, you know somebody that’s been working at a company for oh my goodness, anywhere longer than three years, probably at this point, not that it’s a bad thing at all, if it’s mutually beneficial, and it’s working out, and it’s still great, fantastic. But it’s somewhat rare. And again, you know, we’re kind of in this early stage world where we see we, we tend to see a, you know, more fractional or contract or shorter term, because the stages of the company can can change so much, but I think we have to get out of this mindset of, you know, oh, well, anything, anything less than 12 months is, you know, kind of dinged on your resume. That’s nonsense, right? That’s just nonsense. Somebody can, you know, I can work with somebody intensely for three months on an extraordinary initiative that’s perfect for them and they’re the best. You know, they they’re the ones that are going to bring the best value and after that, That initiative is done or it’s executed or it becomes implemented. And you know, that person’s no longer interested. Why is that a negative thing? I would think that that’s incredibly efficient for both sides. So I think the whole way in and it’s it’s, it’s it’s both sides, it’s it’s both the employees as well as employers, whether they’re people or organizations rethinking about how do we, I think there’s two things, how do we rethink this, this paradigm? And I think there’s a variety of answers. It’s not 1111 shot, that’s all kind of thing. How do we think about optimizing this for what we’re trying to achieve? And then on the other side, I do think that if we can figure out how to create what we define as work productivity, that that is that suits people’s individual Differences in their lives. Like why are we not doing that? For one thing like, that seems to me the most crazy of so we somewhere along the line probably back because in the farming days when people had to get up at the crack of dawn and what have you, we define the work day as I don’t know, eight to five or whatever, however we define it, you know, with these with these dictated kind of breaks, doesn’t it?
Shireen Jaffer 1:04:27
It goes back to identifying the intention, right, identifying the intention behind why these paradigms were introduced and going. Also following the money it’s, it’s the thought process is the same, we’re just follow it to where it came from right all the way to the end, all the way to the source. And you’ll again learn so much along the way
Deborah Benton 1:04:48
I know and it’s, by the way, it’s not that it was necessarily bad when it was created when a lot of these were created. They were probably super smart and appropriate for the time being but but my goodness They feel antiquated at this point. I mean, I, we don’t all we’re not all productive, equally productive at the same times of the day, we all need different levels of activity versus Sit down. We might be mentally more on the game at five in the morning and not at 11 at night and vice versa for certain people, right? Like, we’re just all very different. And so I think that I think the whole paradigm of work is is really quite outdated. Now, look, it’s easy to be an armchair critic, I can sit here and say, yes, you know, this could be better. This could be better. What is the answer? I’m not sure but I’m certainly open to figuring it out. Right. And, you know, whether that’s on a one on one basis or supporting companies that are rethinking this, this whole relationship because I do think you know, going back to it at the gender side of things, I do not think we have done a good job. of figuring out how to keep women doing what they want to do and being productive while still expecting them to if they have kids be the primary caregivers and they still are expected to be the primary caregivers. So I think overall figuring out how work, you know, works for both sides, but also on an individual level for people’s individual differences in in, in, in what they deem important in their life. And who am I who am I to judge what people deem important I don’t care.
Shireen Jaffer 1:06:36
I’m not in I’m not interested in telling anyone what to do, but I am super interested in helping you question and figure it out for yourself when I’m i think that’s that’s what it comes down to going back to you know, not having answers to the questions we’re proposing. It’s because they’re these are complex questions with complex and many different answers that are not one size fits all. And it’s it’s, you know, I’ve taken the pressure off of myself of knowing the answers I used to similar to you feel a lot of pressure of knowing what I’m saying, especially as a female CEO, especially as an early stage founder, I felt this immense responsibility of constantly giving my team the exact direction to go in, where I was stifling my own growth and my own carry off. And so now I’ve said, Look, I will take full accountability over learning and growing and surrounding myself with a variety of perspectives so that I can directionally be accurate or at least just be open to experiment and testing. But I will longer say I have all the answers and we’re going to figure them out right on a podcast but what we will do is allow for conversation to exist and allow for perspectives to be shared and engage in a discussion that’s coming from, you know, in the right intentions and that intention being again just focused on learning and developing our perspectives and taking actions whenever appropriate for sure we do need to not think about just think and talk right, we have to do as well. But it starts with bringing more people into the conversation and collaborating and experimenting and figuring out what sticks and what not.
Deborah Benton 1:08:21
yeah, I think I think your point about bringing different people to the conversation, I mean, we definitely live in a society where very, very, very, very, very few set the rules, generally, maybe you look at almost all aspects of our life. That’s a problem. You know, that’s, that’s a problem. As you know, Amanda, and I, you know, we’ve launched this fund, and so we’ve gone through the last eight weeks, we’ve gone through a very interesting fundraising session. And you know, the more I learned about it 98% 90 8% of the world’s global assets are allocated by white men. Now, if you believe as I do that capital is power and not not necessarily power in a bad way. And you could you could call it influence, but it capital directs, where resources are going to be available. It directs where RND is going to happen and directs where innovation is going to happen and directs where production is going to happen. So, you know, it’s hard to argue that capitalist power and if we have 98% of the global assets being allocated, controlled, whatever you want to call it, by white men, we have built a world essentially, that reflects a very, very small portion of the whip the people in this world. that’s a that’s a problem, right like that.
Shireen Jaffer 1:09:49
Yes. capital is money capital is also the common language, right? Let’s go to bringing people to discuss if counsel Is that common language? You’re, you know, if you’ve got it, you’re participating in more discussions. You’re incentivizing, frankly, more discussions as well. And I am tired of there are so many rooms, I’m not in all from within. But I know I remember walking into one of our portfolio companies that we invested in. And Deborah, I and I know you’ve experienced this so many times, but I walk in, it’s one of the, you know, top sexiest companies, blah, blah, blah, in LA, we walk into their office and into their boardroom. And I say, I’m out the door, and someone’s like, Oh, can I help you? And me and Sue, and they’re like, oh, by the way, you must be here for blah, blah, blah, please, we’ll go to the boardroom. Still talking to me, like, What are you here for, like, thinking I could be here for the day, and we walk into the mall, and lo and behold, I’m the youngest person there. And I’m the only woman and I don’t have a seat. And third out, of course, my partner, you know, Ray like he was there and he obviously, you know, hyper observant and the best ally ever. You know, he has to go introduce me and help me claim that they
And since you know me and you’ve met me I have no problem. Wow. And I am you know, I have been blessed with quite a quite a voice in that room, I remember feeling so small. Yeah. And it is. That’s, that is just wrong. And it also does not allow you to have the conversations that you like I naturally would as a woman as a person of color, when I am in a room full of people that don’t Even the arguments familiar with those that might be open to talking about them, but they all are ugly.
Deborah Benton 1:12:07
And by the way, it’s it’s never forget that it’s to somebody’s benefit that you feel small. It is. It is to probably everybody else, you know, I mean, there’s this always this jacking, we’re jacking off power when you enter into those rooms. And it seems to me that everybody thinks of it as kind of like this net zero sum game where I need to I need to remove credibility or power or visibility or you know, or any of the many of these variables to make somebody feel less than because then I’ll feel I go up in the spectrum of things. Again, antiquated, outdated paradigm that is not functional or healthy at all.
Shireen Jaffer 1:12:53
Completely undermining the value of like voice amplification is truly happening. Something that can get people excited your job should be okay. Let’s get people excited and let’s have a conversation around it not let’s stifle their voice. So our voice is the only one heard. Man, if you really have something frickin beautiful people will join you. And if people join you that voice, that voice increases, you’ve empowered another voice. You’ve empowered yourself. There’s so much beauty, so much beauty and that aggressive collaboration.
Deborah Benton 1:13:27
Yeah. Oh my goodness, my friend, we could talk about this forever. topic.
Shireen Jaffer 1:13:36
I am so glad that you were here. I’m so glad we got to do this. Deborah, tell our listeners how they can follow your journey, what you’re up to and where they can reach you.
Unknown Speaker 1:13:47
Yes, definitely. So as I alluded to earlier, I have a partner Amanda, Amanda and I launched professionally we launched a an early stage consumer Growth Fund where we Invest at the earliest institutional stage in companies primarily around I would say personal care health and wellness. All aspects of health and wellness, beauty, skincare, sustainable apparel and accessories that those are areas that we really really like. So I’ve been investing for the past six years as has Amanda we’ve come together to do this now. So we have our website Willow growth calm, you can hop on to my LinkedIn, Deborah Benton is probably the best way to follow me from a professional perspective. And you know, please feel free to reach out through my email Deborah at Willow Growth calm.
Shireen Jaffer 1:14:47
Thank you so much, Deborah. It’s been awesome
Deborah Benton 1:14:49
having Oh, thank you, my friend. It’s been an honor and I could discuss this stuff every day. It’s, it’s really very interesting and I love the work that you’re doing. I think it’s is going to be a very interesting kind of inflection point at this point to see how things evolve. And I’m the ultimate optimist. I think we’re headed in the right direction.
Shireen Jaffer 1:15:09
I do too. I do too. And we’ll definitely have you back and we’ll have more of these conversations, even obviously off this podcast. Thank you.
Deborah Benton 1:15:17
Also, our CEO, Shireen Jaffer, hosts weekly virtual hangouts to bring people together. If you want to know when the next one is happening or get the curated email update,
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