Killing It with Sally Hubbard
Episode 49: Killing It with Sally Hubbard
Sally Hubbard has had a winding career path. She went to law school with the idea of being a women’s rights lawyer, worked at the New York District Attorney’s office under personalities like Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo; as a journalist covering mergers and acquisitions, and is also an entrepreneur and podcast host. Oh, and not to mention a feminist. In this episode, Sally shares insights from her podcast “Women Killing It,” her winding career path and how switching jobs is strength, not a weakness and what the definition of feminism means to her.
00:13 Kristy Wallace: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. This is Kristy Wallace and I'm here with Maricella Herrera, and we are so excited for today's guest.
00:22 Maricella Herrera: Hi Kristy, how's it going? How's life?
00:24 KW: Life is good. I'm heading to Atlanta tomorrow. No, not tomorrow, on Thursday.
00:29 MH: You were already there.
00:31 KW: Heading to Atlanta to meet with the Ellevate Atlanta Chapter, so I'm excited about that. And my little four year old, Morgan, is joining me on the trip because my sister lives down there. So we're gonna get some fun girl time in.
00:44 MH: Oh my God, that's so great.
00:46 KW: Yes. Although Morgan's utterly confused about the whole thing, 'cause she doesn't understand why her sister Zoey isn't coming, or Benjamin, or my husband. And I keep telling her we're going on vacation, she doesn't... She's like... Can't understand mommy-daughter bonding time, but she's four. I'll give her a pass.
01:04 MH: She's four and she's quite the little feisty one.
01:07 KW: Yes. Yeah. Yes. And our last trip was somewhere warm, and she got heat stroke and puked the whole time. So I think she deserves a little, [chuckle] a redo of that one. As do I deserve a redo of that one. So we're gonna try for number two.
01:28 MH: That sounds like an amazing vacation. [chuckle]
01:31 KW: I have this way of adding glamour and fun to all things, don't I?
01:37 MH: No, but you get to see your sister, you get to travel and have some me time with Morgan, so that's great. And you get to see the Chapter.
01:44 KW: Yeah. Ellevate Network women in Atlanta, here I come; I'm coming. But yeah, so I'm excited about that and I'm excited about this podcast, because another member of the Ellevate network, Sally Hubbard, who's been a member for quite some time. She is the Senior Editor at The Capitol Forum. She's the creator and host of the Women Killing It Podcast of which, side note, I am a guest on her podcast this week.
02:08 MH: Oh, this week?
02:09 KW: Yes, I am. It just came out. Sally is on our podcast today and you can listen to both, the Women Killing It Podcast and the Ellevate Podcast, because our conversations are completely different. Completely different.
02:25 MH: Really? I have to listen to that one.
02:26 KW: Sally and I get very feminist today.
02:28 MH: I know.
02:29 KW: Talk about some really important things, particularly, in light of Women's History Month. Which, in my mind, is every month.
02:36 MH: It should be.
02:37 KW: But, we talk a lot about feminism and the impact her mom had on her, and her career along those lines. So it was a great conversation. I'm excited for all of our guests, and I'm excited for all of our listeners to hear it.
02:55 MH: It's actually really timely. It is Women's History Month and we are doing a big campaign around taking back feminism. So if you haven't checked it out, check it out. We have it on all of our Twitter, #takebackfeminism. It's on our site. And what we're doing is we are taking the bad rep out of the word feminist, and we are owning it and we are working together with all different voices to work towards equality. So we're taking it back.
03:27 KW: Because feminism means equality.
03:30 MH: It means equality.
03:31 KW: Which means we're all equal. So we're excited about that. Also this month, another big thing that's happening for those of you who are regular listeners of the Ellevate Podcast, Maricella's going to be hosting her first podcast interview, dun, dun, dun, of me! So Maricella's interviewing me next week for podcast Number 50. So hopefully... Well, I like to overshare, as many of you know, and have lots of embarrassing stories, so Maricella will make sure you get all the goods next week. So please, if you haven't already, subscribe to the Ellevate Podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher. Tell your friends. Please rate and review it. I know the process of creating a Apple handle and or iTunes handle, and reviewing podcasts can be tough. We've gotten that feedback. But I can't tell you how much it means to us to have you rate and review the podcast and give us your feedback. We love hearing from you. It really does mean a lot. And so thanks for that. Please listen in next week to hear all about me and Maricella, and our journey together. And now, we are gonna get to some interesting facts and stats from the Ellevate community before we get to the interview with Sally.
05:02 MH: Yeah, I am very excited about that. I get to ask Kristy questions; although I do that pretty much every day. But I have the upper hand.
05:11 KW: Are we drinking wine during this?
05:13 MH: Of course we are.
05:13 KW: Okay.
05:16 MH: I feel like I have the upper hand 'cause I know all the dirty secrets.
05:19 KW: Oh, cool.
05:20 MH: But it's also my first time so don't judge. Anyway, we're talking about feminism so we have asked our community, and actually, this is a poll we did in 2014 and then we just redid it last week. So the data's fresh. It's actually, probably, a little bit preliminary data. And we asked our community if they consider themselves feminists.
05:42 KW: Okay.
05:44 MH: In the last poll this year, so a week ago, 63% percent of our community said, "Yes, absolutely." 25%, to a quarter said, "Yes, but I don't really wave that flag." 10% said, "No, but I do believe in gender equality," which just so you know, that is being a feminist. And 1% said, "No way. I don't like that word." Which is interesting because the percentages have actually moved more towards the acceptance of being a feminist than they had in 2014. In 2014, 3% said, "No way, I don't like that word" and 20%... Almost 20% said, "No. But I do believe in gender equality," so those two have gone down quite a bit.
06:30 KW: Interesting. Yeah, it's just... I keep having the conversation, we need to keep talking about this.
06:35 MH: Absolutely. So that's what we're doing and that's what we'll be doing a lot of throughout the month. I know Kristy talks about it in her interview with Sally this time. We'll be talking about it in our interview when Kristy and I chat for awhile on the next episode, and we'll also be talking about it in the coming ones, which are really great. We've already taped a few of them and they're great.
06:55 KW: Excellent.
06:56 MH: One last thing before we go, I do wanna... We are reaching... So, as Kristy said, next week is our 50th episode and we are reaching close to our anniversary of the one year of the podcast. So would love to hear from you, rate/review but also ask us anything. We'll start answering your questions on the air.
07:19 KW: Oh fun. Fun, fun.
07:19 MH: Just send them in. You can send them on twitter using the #ellevatepod and tagging Ellevate Network, that's Ellevate N-T-W-K or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll receive your questions and we'll be happy to respond.
07:37 KW: Thanks so much and enjoy the episode.
07:49 KW: Sally, I am so excited to have you with us on the Ellevate Podcast, so thanks so much for joining us today.
07:56 Sally Hubbard: Thank you for having me, I'm very excited to be here myself.
07:58 KW: I don't have a cool opening line like you do. For those those that are listening today, Sally Hubbard has a podcast "Women Killing It," and she always opens up the podcast with, "You're killing it!"
08:13 KW: And I love it.
08:15 SH: We're not told that enough.
08:17 KW: Hey, agree. You can tell me that all day long. Say it again, say it again.
08:21 SH: And how many times do I have to say it until you believe it. Kristy you are killing it.
08:25 KW: Thanks, I believe it. No, I'm so happy you're here today. You've been a member of the Ellevate community for a while, love meeting you and spending time with you. And so it's great that we get to actually do this officially via the podcast. We always start off asking about your career. I love sharing stories of how we all got to where we are today, 'cause I think that that journey is important.
08:52 SH: Definitely. My career has been windy, which I think is very common. And I think we all need to start being comfortable with the fact that careers are windy. And when I look back on it, I feel like I did get off my track a little bit. I went to law school, NYU Law School, with the goal of being a women's rights lawyer, that's why I went to law school. And the next thing I know I have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt. And funny enough, it's harder to get a job as a women's rights lawyer than it is at a big firm. So I was struggling to get a job despite being committed to these women's issues my whole life and top of my class at NYU. It was just... There's not many jobs, there's not much funding for those jobs, and there's hundreds of thousands of law firm jobs. And so I went into a law firm mostly with the goal of paying off my student loans, which I said I'm gonna do it for a year, is what I told... I always... One of my favorite stories... I told my grandfather this, and he was someone who impacted me a lot 'cause he really valued enjoying your life. And I told him "Grandpa, I don't think I'm gonna like it, but I'm 20, low 20's." I'm like "I'm gonna make over $100,000 in first year, but I'm only gonna do it for a year. Just one year." And my grandfather looked at me and said, "It's gonna be a long damn year."
10:25 KW: And I'm sure it was.
10:26 SH: It was. One year and one day I lasted. One year and one day, literally. I sold everything I owned; I sold my car; I sold everything to try to get my student loans down to a manageable level. But I jumped around, I had six jobs, six jobs in my first five years out of law school. And I was like "Don't like this one, don't like that one." Big firm, small firm. I worked at the DC Circuit which was an interesting job. I actually worked with Judge Roberts who's now Chief Justice of Supreme Court; I got to work with him there a bit. And I taught legal writing at New York Law School. I was a contract attorney for awhile, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And I landed in the New York Attorney Generals Office, and that was a great job. I was hired by Elliot Spencer. It was kind of the hay day of him being Time Man of the year and it was exciting time. And I was hired to work in the anti-trust bureau, so I was there for seven years. Those were the years that, Samantha Ettus, calls the maintenance years. I had my two kids. I had my two babies that... While I was working there. And then on my second maternity leave, of course you put an "A type" woman on maternity leave, and I'm like "I wanna start a web start-up." [laughter]
11:46 KW: Yeah. You're like "I've got some time, down time. Let's just add another project."
11:54 SH: Yeah, so I started a web start-up, it was called the Parent Maze. It was supposed to be a recommendation engine for parents. I was trying, and I think this is my mission that I've finally really put my finger on it; I was trying to make it easier for women to juggle parenthood and jobs by taking those tasks off your plate that take an unnecessary amount of time. Searching for that...
12:19 KW: Perfect stroller.
12:20 SH: Yeah.
12:22 KW: Summer camp program or...
12:24 SH: Yeah.
12:26 KW: I don't know. I, last night actually, was doing Math homework with my son, and I had to look up YouTube videos to explain common core because it's completely new to me. I know how to add and subtract, but the way that he had to do it was not something I could help him with. And so literally, we were watching YouTube videos. I'm like, "I cannot believe that I'm doing this." And it's second grade Math but...
12:52 SH: Yeah.
12:52 KW: But yeah, you gotta figure it out.
12:53 SH: No, I can't help my kids with their homework either because it's a different way of being taught. And the way that I look at it is, my parents didn't help me with my homework, so... [laughter] I figured it out.
13:05 KW: Sink or swim buddy, sink or swim.
13:07 SH: Back to the career path, after my start up, I ran out of time and money as many start-ups do. And decided I really needed a paycheck, found this new amazing job that had never existed before, a start-up company that was only six months old when I joined. And I was only their second hire, where I'm using my expertise, as an anti-trust lawyer and anti-trust enforcer, to write about competition issues. So I used to be writing about mergers and acquisitions. Currently, I'm writing all about tech giants, so Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and competition, and what is going on with them and competition. And the risks that they're facing in terms of anti-trust enforcers starting to take action against some of the conduct that they've been doing, or some of the consolidation of power there. So it's been a windy path, it's been a windy path.
14:03 SH: But I will say that I'm at this point in my career where I feel like it's all coming together. It didn't feel like it made sense at the time, but it's just all coming full circle. I've interviewed some women... So I started the Women Killing It Podcast on the side. And I've interviewed some women on the podcast who were starting up companies back when I was starting up the Parent Maze, that I met at start-up events, and that have been... Now they've gone on to have very successful start-up businesses like Lynn Perkins from... The CEO of UrbanSitter. So it was really cool to me to be like, "Wait, all those women that I met back when I was starting... "
14:46 KW: They're killing it.
14:47 SH: Yeah, they're killing it. And everything, it just... All the skills that I have acquired at all these different jobs that seem so different from one another. They've all kind of coalesced and just... It all makes sense to me now. All the investigations that I did at the New York AGs office has helped me be an investigative journalist now, has helped me do my questioning on the podcasts.
15:12 KW: Well, that's a big part of the... Of thinking about career journeys and what we do as professionals, because sure if maybe you're going to be an accountant, and you're focusing on a specific type of accounting and you do that. You said you had six jobs in five years. And I applaud you because switching jobs is scary. Many people hesitate to do that, but then they end up unhappy because they're not fulfilled by what they're doing. And they know that either the company's not right, or their role's not right, or something's not working for them. But we tend to stay in those roles, it's like we're self defeating. We tend to stay there because the alternative is scary or it's too much work. And we have to listen to ourselves. I mean how do you, everyday, listen to your gut and your instincts, and take action on that?
16:14 SH: For me actually, I don't think I really had a choice. When I was unhappy at jobs, I couldn't take it. It wasn't even... I don't understand how people take it. For me it was, "I can't be unhappy on a daily basis. I just don't have a tolerance for it." So for me, it's way more scary to stay somewhere where I'm unhappy, or not being challenged than it is to go and try something new. I think I also just really am uncomfortable at the steep part of learning curve. That's something that... It's funny; I always kinda saw that as a weakness of mine, I get bored too quickly. Once I master something, I'm bored with it. And I've been questioning, "How am I gonna ever establish myself in something if, as soon as I get bored, I want to switch?"
17:04 KW: Sure.
17:04 SH: But now, I think it's a strength. I've come around to thinking it's a strength as long as I just continue to challenge myself in different ways; I'm just constantly growing. But for me, I don't really have a choice. It's not really an option for me to sit around and suffer. [chuckle]
17:23 KW: And you started out wanting to be a women's rights attorney, and that's not what ended up happening, not due to your lack of interest but just the lack of opportunity. So do you feel disappointed by that, or have you fulfilled that need in other ways?
17:49 SH: I think for a long time, I was disappointed in that. Particularly, when I was going between all those other jobs and figuring out... Trying to find my place in the world. Now I feel like I've found my place, so I'm much less disappointed. And then I think the podcast, the Women Killing It Podcast, for me is filling that need in some ways. I also have struggled a lot with this question of the importance of being in an area that is primarily male. I put value on the fact that I'm one of the few people out there that's a woman writing about, "Okay, here's the anti-competitive thing that Google has done, and this is why it's likely to see an anti-trust case against it by the government." There are a lot of women in anti-trust law, but there's not a lot of women out there speaking about these things, or writing about these things in a public way. I value that I have been able to be a woman in a predominantly male area.
18:55 KW: There's such a shift in mind set which has escalated, for me personally, over the past few months, there's just deeper discussions having, there's more voices involved in these discussions and perspectives. And I am just like, "I'm loving it." I'm loving, just for myself, different perspectives and renewed perspectives, and awareness, awakening. I feel like I went from talking to my friends about a TV show, to now we're talking about policy and politics. And it gets me excited that these conversations are happening, because it makes us... So we talk about traits of strong business leaders, awareness and understanding, and the ability to ask those questions and want to hear the answers. That's something that we're gonna need to help get us through to the next year and years and beyond, and to really change the world.
20:04 SH: Definitely. I do think that it's a great time right now. Politically, there's been challenges that have led to more of an awakening. And I do think, even before the election, I was sensing that this was the next wave of feminism seemed to be coming. There's just so much more feminist stuff out there and things like Lenny Letter or Broadsheet. I was just starting to see so much more conversations around women and work and power, even before the election. And the election just put it all on to full throttle. And I don't know if it's just because I'm speaking to amazing women every single week on my podcast, but I'm personally really, really fired up.
20:56 SH: And I'm taking the lessons that I'm learning from them every week, and I'm implementing them in my own life, and I'm trying to encourage my listeners to do the same thing. And I'm seeing results. I only started this podcast last April. My career is in a completely different place than it was back then. Implementing all these lessons that we're hearing, I think is just gonna take everybody to the next level. And I know most of us are determined to get our power back, not to leave power on the table, as I talked to Sally about, to get to really bring our own selves up to our full potential. So that we can have the maximum power, maximum impact.
21:37 KW: You mentioned earlier, when we were talking before we started taping, about your mom and her being a feminist and inspiration for you. How has that influenced your perspective, your journey, your life? And then, do you consider yourself a feminist?
21:54 SH: Oh yeah. I'm definitely a feminist. [chuckle] My mother definitely had a huge influence on that. I'm pretty sure she had a onesie for me when I was a baby that said, "Miss?"
22:11 SH: So that was the 70s and the title "Miss" was a feminist notion of not being labeled based on whether you're married or not, 'cause men are not. I definitely was raised a feminist. Went to NOW meetings my mother when I was eight years old, marched on Washington. I just marched with her and my daughter at the women's march, and my mother had all her vintage pins and her vintage historical signs. And so she's been a huge influence for sure. She's an activist on a bunch of issues, animal rights. So it's not just about feminism, but it's about believing that you have a role to play in making the world a better place. And you don't just sit back and think, "This is just the way it is, so I'm just gonna accept that."
23:02 KW: Sure.
23:02 SH: And she also was an entrepreneur. She had her own daycare centers back in the 80s when women were just getting back to work. And the interesting story about that idea, actually was hatched at a NOW meeting with my grandmother. So I've got... I think we're going on four generations of feminists if you count in my daughter now." [chuckle] My grandmother was a feminist also, and my grandmother and my mother were at a NOW meeting in the late 70s. And they were talking, or early 80s, and they were talking about women re-entering the workforce in larger numbers, and that that was about to happen. And my grandmother leaned over to my mother and mouthed to her, "Child care." So she saw the business need, and my mother started Mother Hubbard Child Care Centers, my name Hubbard. And so she was an entrepreneur. She had five daycare centers, she was the primary breadwinner in my family. So definitely the entrepreneurial spirit, and standing up against inequality is something that she instilled in me from a very young age.
24:10 KW: I love that. Why do you think feminism has gotten a bad rep?
24:18 SH: Well, a couple of reasons. Anything that's gonna take away power, it's in the interest of those with power, to stigmatize it and turn it into a dirty word. When people like Rush Limbaugh are calling them feminazis, it's 'cause they don't want women to have power, so make it a dirty word. Make people think that Hillary Clinton is evil. The more scary or dangerous a movement is, the more people want to make the word itself a bad word. Then there's of course the problem of inclusion and the 70s, most of the waves of feminism have been primarily white women, and the interests of white middle class women are not necessarily the same interests of women of color, women of other classes, women of other gender identities, and sexual orientation. So that's been a huge problem, is the inclusiveness. That's something that I've always struggled with as a feminist, because I can't speak for anybody else's experience but my own.
25:31 SH: And I do think that you're a better advocate for causes that you really truly understand, and as much as you can try to understand someone else's experience, you're not gonna understand it as well as if you've experienced it yourself. Obviously, going forward, there needs to be more voices at the table. And I think that's one of the reasons why people... And that's an ongoing problem. Even at the women's march, it was primarily white that I saw, at least. And I remember as I went into the subway someone had put a big post-it on the sign that said, "What are you going to do for black women?" It's an ongoing problem with feminism. And then, I guess my last point about this is, it has a lot of different meanings. Being a feminist can be one thing for one woman, and another thing for another woman. And so, that is also a problem that there are people who are more radical feminist, there are people who just want to get equal pay for equal work. Defining it, making everybody's different variations be all included is another challenge, obviously.
26:47 KW: And you... We were talking about the qualities women bring to the workforce. Do you think those same qualities are what's going to help us really drive this feminism movement which is, collaboration and awareness and being more considerate of other view points, and open mindedness?
27:13 SH: Definitely. And I also think that the days of the "Mommy Wars" or wars between women, I just think it's going away. I mean this whole idea that women are against one another, first of all, I feel like has always been this non-truth. But to the extent that there has been any validity in terms of women not looking out for each other; I think that's going away. I think women are realizing that the stakes are high and we have to work together. And I think progress helps in terms of there being more seats at the table. When you know that there's only one seat at the table for women and you have it, that's how you get some of those not pulling other women up problems. But now, I think as we move towards... We can have a lot of the seats at the table, or as RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?" And she said "When there are nine."
28:18 KW: Yeah.
28:19 SH: So when you get to a view of it's not just the one token woman, but there's a lot of seats at the table.
28:24 KW: Yeah.
28:25 SH: Then I think, women are more comfortable helping each other out. But I think everyone's helping each other out. I think it's happening.
28:32 KW: I know you came up with your "7 Steps to Killing It! Action Plan," based on these conversations you've been having. Can you share some of those with us?
28:39 SH: Sure. The very first step is something very basic, and I've done some challenges also that I've posted on the podcast to try to get people implementing some of these things in their life. The very first step is, "Find your joy." I've been thinking about what I want, what I desire, what brings me joy, and this is it. And I'm gonna go for it. And so I think, just women reconnecting with themselves and their joy and happiness. And I actually did the challenge myself for a month.
29:13 KW: Okay.
29:13 SH: The month of December. I said everyday, "I'm gonna have some sort of joy." My marriage got better because I was in a better mood; I was a better mother; I was less snappy with the children; I was a better employee; I was more focused; I was more able to identify the priorities of what needed to get done instead of just racing into reacting to whatever was being thrown at me. So there're so many reasons why I think step one, "Find your joy" is the place to start.
29:44 KW: Okay, alright. "Find your joy," I'm all for it. We have Patrice Tanaka, is a member of the network and a friend of mine to the Girl Scouts. And she talks a lot about finding your joy and it's... I don't do it enough, I will fully admit that. But I'm gonna start now, you've inspired me.
30:07 SH: Awesome. The other... One other stuff that I'd like to talk about, 'cause I think it's so important, is focusing on what your ideal life looks it. 'Cause I feel like my own self and so many people I know, spend our days running, running, running, rushing in the hamster wheel. And where you're going is not where you're meant to be going, it's all a waste of time. We tell ourselves, we don't have any time, but what's more of a definition of wasting time than killing yourself to get somewhere you don't want to go. So finding your ideal life and in... Figuring out every... Writing it out, every aspect of what your ideal life would look like. Your career, how much flexibility you want, everything you want in your life. But then also in doing that, not limiting yourself to what you think is possible. And I think that is a huge obstacle for women in particular. And I know I've done this to myself my whole life; I'm trying to stop doing it. We underestimate ourselves, underestimate what we can achieve and then we let our view of what's possible limit ourselves. Not what's possible, just what you want. And I had a life coach, Jill Richburg, who was amazing and she would put me through a bunch of exercises before I got my job at The Capitol Forum, my current job, to really identify what I wanted.
31:42 SH: And it was her that first instilled me into believing, "Just don't think about what's possible." And then it's been all these women that I've spoken to on the podcast who said, "I didn't think it was possible for a woman to be a scientist, because I didn't know any women who were scientists. But now I'm a preeminent scientist." This woman Liz Alter, who named her own fish after the Obamas. And she found a fish in Congo, she discovered one. She has her own science lab, she's really a preeminent scientist. But she didn't think it was possible to be a scientist growing up because she didn't know any women scientists. So we have this idea of what's possible that just limits where we can be and what we can achieve, and I know I've done that myself. Didn't apply to Harvard Law School, didn't think I could get in. I applied to NYU Law as my reach school and that the first acceptance letter I got. So maybe we need to all... That whole thing you do in college when you're trying to apply for your reach school, constantly go first, you'll reach something. The thing that you think you're not gonna get but you're gonna try for it.
32:51 KW: We can't be what we can't see and so we tend to just think that it's... "I don't know anyone like that, that's not possible," and we need to change that. We can be whatever we want.
33:02 SH: For sure.
33:03 KW: Well, thanks so much for joining us today.
33:04 SH: Thanks for having me, this has been so much fun.