Skip to main content

Why It’s Important to Lead With Your Values: A Conversation with Craig Newmark of Craigslist

Why It’s Important to Lead With Your Values: A Conversation with Craig Newmark of Craigslist

#MobilizeWomen is a movement propelled by change makers in business to commit to taking action against gender inequality. Ellevate Network hosted some amazing speakers in NYC on June 21st, 2017. This is a recap of part of the event, with the most relevant concepts you can use to take action in your everyday life. Download the Mobilize Women Action Guide here.

At #MobilizeWomen, we had the opportunity to hear from some seriously inspirational advocates of women in business, and take away some of their hard-learned lessons for ourselves. Enter Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist, philathropist, self-professed nerd, and Internet entrepreneur - interviewed by AppNexus’s Nythia Das, SVP, General Counsel. They chatted about the importance of treating other people the way you want to be treated, using your influence, supporting other people’s good work, and Lisa Simpson.

Treat Other People How You Want To Be Treated

As a self-professed nerd, Craig tries to remember Nerd Value #1 on the daily: Treat other people like you want to be treated.

As the “primary cause of action of most of what I do,” Craig likes to remember that, “if you manage to do well, send the elevator back down.” This means using your influence to support causes that you believe in, and giving opportunities to people that you see doing great work.

Some of the major causes Craig supports Include:

Trustworthy journalism: Asking newspapers to report in good faith; report in an accurate way and when they don’t, correct it. Trustworthy press is the immune system of a democracy.

Supporting veterans and showing them gratitude: “We tend to forget as a country how much we owe veterans and their families,” said Craig. Something new Craig is working on is called She Who Borne the Battle, a program designed to support women veterans and recognize and improve services for them. The way he sees it, “If someone is willing to sacrifice a lot, including taking a bullet to protect me, I should try to give back.” He is also involved in the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which helps create healthy, positive futures for service members, veterans, and their families.

Women in tech: Having largely delegated this project to Allyson Kapin of Women Who Tech, Craig claims that she knows what she’s doing better than he would, and spares him the burden of mansplaining anything to anyone (wink). Craig is also a new board member of Ellevate member Reshma Saujani’s Girls Who Code, which seeks to close the gender gap in technology by preparing girls for the future of work.

On Not Leading Craigslist and Doing Customer Service Instead

“I knew that when I changed Craigslist from a hobby to a business, billions of dollars ruin lives, it doesn’t make people happy.”

Realizing that being a manager wasn’t his strength, Craig decided to delegate managing the company to other people and take on a customer service role.

How to Make a Difference If You Don’t Have Much Money or Influence

“Bottom up efforts, if you can make them happen - is the key to sustain change,” Craig said.

You don’t have to be rich or famous to make a difference, everyone standing up for what they believe in, big and small, matters. Craig believes that standing up for what you believe in and supporting people whose work is meaningful to you will ultimately make a difference. So if you see something on social media that’s a cause worth sharing, do not hesitate to share it. Show your support because it does make a difference.

Craig’s Advice to Young Women [and Women in General]

“Never do anything to dumb yourself down,” said Craig.

As a self-proclaimed “Nerd First,” he’s seen girls at the top of their class dumb themselves down in order to please men. Just don’t do it, he said. To Craig, Lisa Simpson is a great #FemaleRoleModel, and she does not dumb herself down.


Want more words of wisdom from Craig and other advocates for women in business? Join the community that is committed to your success, and has your back no matter what. We’ll see you at an upcoming event!


{{playbook.title}}

Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook.: