Coco Brown
Founder, CEO & Board Member The Athena Alliance Follow

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Coco from Athena Alliance about the psychology behind imposter syndrome and why women don’t apply to board seats as often as they should.

Some Conversation Highlights:

With imposter syndrome, you have the extremes, you have her and then you have just super stars depending on how you feel about different kinds of other women, of which we can name like 10. So you have 10 great women and 10 horrible women that you’re constantly sort holding out the few women, even if you can come up with a hundred but there’s this sort of fantastical level that I think women see themselves having to be. And again, underrepresented people even more so sort held up against. If I don’t meet that standard, then I’m not going to succeed. And so your sense of being imposter in that sense is even greater because then it takes on beyond the fact that you’re an imposter from a role perspective until you’ve not landed it.

You also have this sort almost like superhuman imposter syndrome, unless I’m super human or super evil or whatever, just completely devoid sociopath or whatever, unless I have no care about what the world thinks of me or I am just worshiped by the world I won’t succeed. And that I think is one issue, the other issue is that then that creates this of sense of feeling lucky when you achieve it. If I get this, there was a disproportionate amount of luck involved. Whereas people who have the privilege of being able to be average or seeing so much of themselves in the world have the benefit of being able to believe that it was their own qualifications and whatnot, that landed it. So there’s less of a sense of imposter syndrome.

Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 37 minutes

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Announcer: 00:00 This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Makes sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today, we have Coco on from the Athena Alliance and our topic is fantastic. I’ve been waiting for this all day. The psychology behind imposter syndrome, which I can’t wait to talk about that, and why women don’t apply to board seats as often as they should. So, long title, lots of good stuff, let’s get into it. Coco, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and the Athena Alliance?

Coco Brown: 01:07 Sure. Yeah. I am the founder and CEO of Athena. I have been in Silicon Valley for just about 30 years now, came out here from the east coast and have been in the tech world ever since. So I’ve spent my first years in human resources, having been a psychology major in college, parlayed that into professional services and one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was running a professional services company in the deep IT infrastructure space that has subsequently been purchased by IBM. And I’m now on my third sort of journey, my third act, and I started Athena Alliance, which is a digital platform for community and learning for executive women. And it’s focused both on advancing women into the C-suite and into powerful roles of leadership broadly. So from the C-suite to the CEO’s office to investing to entrepreneurship, and then all the way to the boardroom as well, we’ve helped over 400 women join boards.

William Tincup: 02:25 Oh, that’s fantastic. So a number of things, first of all, you being out in the valley for 30 years, you know where some of the bodies are buried and God only knows what you’ve seen and some of the poor behavior you think. It’s interesting last week I had this discussion with someone around Me Too and at the beginning, very beginning of Me Too, I was shocked that people were shocked.

Coco Brown: 02:52 Yeah, me too.

William Tincup: 02:56 I just assumed that everyone knew that this was what was going on. You’re in Hollywood, yeah of course this happens. But not to the degree, I don’t think mine as the onion started to get peeled, I didn’t know that it went that deep and it was that bad, but again, in the valley itself.

Coco Brown: 03:18 Yeah.

William Tincup: 03:19 Oh my God. I just assumed like, oh yeah, you go to a VC site and yeah, it’s a bunch of white guys. Duh.

Coco Brown: 03:28 Right.

William Tincup: 03:29 There is no diversity is the diversity of what Ivy league school do they graduate from?

Coco Brown: 03:36 Yeah, I mean, I think for me though, actually growing my early career, my twenties in Silicon Valley, I actually didn’t really notice it so much, even though I was in technology and my role in HR to begin with was working with engineering teams and manufacturing teams and so pretty much all of it was men. And then once I went into professional services with Taos, it was pretty much all men in terms of systems administrators, network engineers, database designers, all of them were men. And even when we were about 700 employees, you could count less than 20 women who were out in the field, in the technical assignment roles. And yet in my twenties, I didn’t feel really, I guess I wore my hair in a severe bun when I was in my early twenties and always wore glasses.

William Tincup: 04:47 I’ve actually heard this from someone else, a good friend of mine in San Francisco proper, and she’s a lawyer. And again, this is more kind of a 90s, a maybe late 80s, early 90s, and odds thing, but she would reflect. I remember her telling me this whole story about she’d wear slacks. I mean, she’d wear a suit and I’m like to have to go through and change alter what you would wear, it’s just crazy. First of all, it’s true, and it’s something if we don’t talk about, we’re just going to keep doing the same stuff, so bring it out of the dark and let some light on it. But it breaks my heart to hear it, but at the same time I know I have to hear it. You know what I mean?

Coco Brown: 05:40 Well, and it’s always been there. This isn’t the 90s or the 2000s.

William Tincup: 05:45 That’s right. That’s right. No, of course not.

Coco Brown: 05:46 It just doesn’t make it right and it’s gotten to a place of intolerability, I think is where we are.

William Tincup: 05:52 Well, and I figure you’re absolutely right. I remember my mom fighting for workplace flexibility in the 70s and so, okay. This isn’t a new, there aren’t new things, but I think all of us have gotten to a point of, we’re just tired of it. And it’s not just in this case, women in the workplace, there’s a bunch of guys that are also just tired of it. Okay. Enough of this. Stop. And I’m assuming there’s probably a fair number of men that would rather things continue on the way they have. But I think there’s a growing number of men and other people that are just tired of it and are more vocal, which I think was always the fears, if I’m vocal then I’ll be on the outs. I’ll be on the outside looking at.

Coco Brown: 06:50 Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think, you get to a pressure point and then there’s no turning back. The Me Too movement, George Floyd, there’s all sorts of things, now Roe v. Wade, there’s these pressure points that explode and then people have power that didn’t be in the past and finally are recognized for the issue that has always been there and are given the right voice and the right backing behind them to make change happen. You see it all over the place with women’s sports too.

William Tincup: 07:24 I don’t know about yourself, but I didn’t think that I would in my lifetime see Roe v. Wade reversed.

Coco Brown: 07:31 Yeah.

William Tincup: 07:33 I talked to people about Brexit in London or in England and especially right around the time and I talked to people in London, in Manchester and they’re like, we’re not leaving the EU, that’s crazy.

Coco Brown: 07:44 Yeah.

William Tincup: 07:47 And then they wake up on Tuesdays like, oh yeah, we’re leaving the EU. And similar, but different with Roe v. Wade, I think there’s a whole host of people they’re like, what? This is a basic right. I’m just shocked. And I’m still in a state of shock about it to some degree.

Coco Brown: 08:06 Yeah. Well, and the issue in the workplace and the issue for real listeners too is that, it’s not spoken enough so it’s sort of shocking to hear that one in four women have an abortion and the predominant impact is on women who can’t afford. And so largely it’s underrepresented women, it’s women of color, it’s women of different economic standing, because even the women who can’t, because the women who can afford an abortion can still find a way to get one. Right.

William Tincup: 08:41 Right.

Coco Brown: 08:45 So, that’s where it becomes a business issue because now employers are having to look at all of their initiatives around diversity and moving women forward and diverse people forward and those are impacted by this, regardless of which side you sit on the decision, even if you were for the decision. It’s now become this business problem that has to be talked about and figured out.

William Tincup: 09:11 Oh, a hundred percent. Though we talked about adverse impact all the time in hiring and it’s like, okay, well, let’s talk a little bit about it here, but let’s do imposter syndrome first, because I know the audience has obviously heard of it. There are a lot of great books and blogs and shows and things like that about it. But your take on imposter syndrome, when you explain it to people at a cocktail party, how do you explain imposter syndrome?

Coco Brown: 09:39 Well, I mean, first of all, I think everyone has imposter syndrome.

William Tincup: 09:44 A hundred percent. Thank you.

Coco Brown: 09:46 I remember when my stepdad would come back, he was running all of facilities and basically everything other than the nurses and the doctors at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. And so he had a very big powerful job and I remember him just sort of agonizing and ringing his hands over things and just displaying imposter syndrome as he’s getting promotion after promotion. And this was young me, in my late teens and early 20 years old or so, watching this and thinking, wow, how can he doubt himself for a second? But we all do. And the fact is that imposter syndrome is real because it’s real. It’s actually not an imposter syndrome, it’s actually imposter reality until you’ve mastered your job. I think we sort of think of it as a negative when in fact actually it’s a signal that you are taking things on that you’re willing to rise to a challenge, even though it scares you.

10:53 So I think it needs to be flipped on its head and just embraced with like, okay, I’m an imposter right now because I’m doing something I’ve never done before and I’m got the title for it, I somehow am being given the credibility that I know what I’m doing when I don’t. So you’re an imposter until you’re not.

William Tincup: 11:16 I love the way that you phrase this because you get ahead of your skis, everyone, if you’re not getting ahead of your skis, you’re not pushing yourself. Again, I think the word imposter has so much baggages associated to it that people just automatically assume that’s evil, bad people do it over here, fraud, whatever and it’s like, no, no, I think the way that you’ve kind of framed it up, it’s like, no, it’s actually all of us as human beings. If we’re pushing and we do the new things, then yes, we’re going to learn a bunch of new things as we do something new and so you know what, will we get better over time? Yeah, sure. If we believe Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hours or whatever the bid is, then great.

Coco Brown: 12:07 Well, and do you know David Bowie, I’m always surprised when young people…

William Tincup: 12:10 Oh yeah, of course.

Coco Brown: 12:11 Oh yeah. Ziggy Stardust, so maybe some of your listeners don’t know who David Bowie is, but then I say, you better go figure it out.

William Tincup: 12:21 Oh yeah.

Coco Brown: 12:21 He has this fabulous quote where he says, if you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in, go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting. To me, that’s doing things you don’t know how to do and therefore, but you’re doing them with a level of confidence and authority that you, particularly in the business world, you’d be given the title, the authority the et cetera, so of course, so that’s what creates the sensation of being an imposter because you have to pretend.

William Tincup: 13:09 Right. It’s funny, my son asked me this weekend about speaking. I do a lot of public speaking and he said, “Do you ever get nervous?” And I flipped it on him and I said, “Listen, if there’s a point in which I don’t get nervous to start, then I’m going to stop because then it’s something is wrong. There’s always going to be a level of anxiety right before I go on stage. Once I’m on stage, I’m fine once I get on stage.” But yeah, that’s always going to have that, that explaining that to my son. I always have that. That’s just a part of it.

Coco Brown: 13:47 It’s a part of it and actually it’s funny because every time I would get nervous doing something big. There was a conversation I was facilitating between some very high powered CEOs, Netflix and Wells Fargo and various others, it was like 15 around a table and I’m sitting at the head of the table and I’m the one deciding what we talk about and of facilitating it. And that was terrifying for me, of course, right. And I remember talking about it with my husband beforehand and he said, “You’re not terrified, you’re excited.”

William Tincup: 14:24 That’s a good point, wow. And that’s one of those forced and trees things. You were too close to it, then see that it took someone else to then be able to say, eh, here’s what it is. Let’s talk about the second part of what we’re talking about and why women don’t apply to board seats as often as they should. Let’s take the audience down this trail.

Coco Brown: 14:45 Well, I think on one hand, what we see for women over and over and over again is, and we’re seeing it in movies now, the hidden figures is the perfect title for it, that our contributions have been hidden. And so when you think about a bell curve, if I’m a man, particularly a white man, I can look in all sorts of directions and see a bell curve of completely average people at the top. And even in some cases, people I’d say that person’s a complete buffoon, if they can be in that role, surely I can too. But if you are a woman or a person of color, then if you don’t have a bell curve, you have extremes, you have the Theranos lady on the one end, who’s just evil and mack your belly and how could she take us? I don’t know if you’ve read the book, the book…

William Tincup: 15:49 Oh yeah.

Coco Brown: 15:49 Bad blood. You have the extremes, you have her and then you have just super stars depending on how you feel about different kinds of other women, of which we can name like 10. So you have 10 great women and 10 horrible women that you’re constantly sort holding out the few women, even if you can come up with a hundred but there’s this sort of fantastical level that I think women see themselves having to be. And again, underrepresented people even more so sort held up against. If I don’t meet that standard, then I’m not going to succeed. And so your sense of being imposter in that sense is even greater because then it takes on beyond the fact that you’re an imposter from a role perspective until you’ve not landed it.

16:49 You also have this sort almost like superhuman imposter, unless I’m super human or super evil or whatever, just completely devoid sociopath or whatever, unless I have no care about what the world thinks of me or I am just worshiped by the world I won’t succeed. And that I think is one issue, the other issue is that then that creates this of sense of feeling lucky when you achieve it. If I get this, there was a disproportionate amount of luck involved. Whereas people who have the privilege of being able to be average or seeing so much of themselves in the world have the benefit of being able to believe that it was their own qualifications and whatnot, that landed it. So there’s less of a sense of imposter syndrome.

William Tincup: 17:54 Which is crazy just at it on its own because we talked about the, I can’t remember, the woman that ran Thanos for every one of…

Coco Brown: 18:04 That’s Theranos.

William Tincup: 18:04 Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. For every one of her, there’s at least 10,000 men doing the exact same thing and that’s a big number, but let’s just say there’s a number and it’s not a small factor, there’s a huge factor. And it’s like, okay, well we can pick on her and she was, of course she was running a con and it was evil but you know what? How many men had doing the exact same thing? Probably in the exact same time, in the exact same buildings, that we don’t know their name, we don’t talk about it.

Coco Brown: 18:43 And also that not to get off track onto her, but she didn’t do anything that most anybody who’s building a software company doesn’t also do the problem was that she was building a healthcare company.

William Tincup: 18:55 Right. Right.

Coco Brown: 18:55 And that was what made it sort of particularly evil.

William Tincup: 19:00 Yeah, because people had pinned their hopes to it, but I’ve told people this about startup, about startup founders in particular, it’s a bit psychotic because you have to, especially with tech, you have to think in the past present and future simultaneously. So when someone asks you about a feature and they say, “Hey, does it do this?” Well, if you know that next week on the release, it’s coming out, you know that you’re going to say yes, which is technically a lie.

Coco Brown: 19:33 Right.

William Tincup: 19:33 Not technically. It’s actually a lie.

Coco Brown: 19:35 And you’ll make your demo show, what’s going to happen next week. Yeah.

William Tincup: 19:39 Right. But it’s coming to grips with that being a bit psychotic. But I think it’s something I think a lot of tech entrepreneurs struggle with is like, okay, what’s the line? How far can I go with this? Or how far should I go with this? I know that you’ve probably read this study, it’s been years, but it was on salary negotiations, women and men. And I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have it in front of me. But what I remember about it was that men are disconnected from reality, so it’s going to sound funny, but I’ll find it, I’ll find it for the audience because it’s just a funny bit, it was a Harvard Business review deal. And basically when negotiating salary, so you and I are up for the same job, whatever, and someone’s ask us, what’s your salary expectations? Well, I’m going to throw out a number that’s way outside of anything that I should be getting paid.

Coco Brown: 20:51 Right.

William Tincup: 20:51 Because I’m disconnected from reality. And this is what the research was coming back and saying.

Coco Brown: 21:00 Yeah, yeah.

William Tincup: 21:00 And it was basically women, by large, are pragmatic, not to stereotype and women are pragmatic, men disconnected from around. So it’s like when you especially getting into the nitty gritty parts of the negotiation of not just base, but the other stuff, men would ask for, I need access to the corporate jet, I need a country club membership to this, I need 50,000 expense account, like oh crazy. I’m just going to give you a laundry list of all kinds of crazy stuff just to see what you’re willing to throw down.

Coco Brown: 21:31 Yeah.

William Tincup: 21:32 Whereas women were like, this will date it a little bit, but women would wireless access and…

Coco Brown: 21:41 Practical.

William Tincup: 21:42 Very practical things which again, again, we’re generalizing, but it shows just how far… I think it’s where at 79 cents to the dollar.

Coco Brown: 21:59 That’s right.

William Tincup: 22:01 But some of that, what they were arguing is that men crazy just asking for numbers way above what they should, women more in line with asking for what they believe is true. What they believe they’re worth.

Coco Brown: 22:19 Right.

William Tincup: 22:19 Men just throwing numbers out. Okay. Yeah. 350. Like what?

Coco Brown: 22:24 Right. Well, yeah.

William Tincup: 22:28 That’s what it is. Go ahead, I interrupted you.

Coco Brown: 22:31 No, no, no. I mean think that it has a lot to do with history. So you’re the sense on the dollar quote you just made, but we’ve had to be okay with small wins all along the way in the 70s jobs until the mid 70s, like 73 or something, jobs could be posted as by gender, so we can’t even apply to this job. And then in the 80s, it was we can still fire you so that we save money on healthcare. And so then it became the 90s and we can make the work environment untenable for you by sexual harassment and unfriendliness things like that. And then it wasn’t even until 2009 that the equal pay act came into place. And at this point I was born in 1970 and I thought women burned their bras, so I wouldn’t have to be dealing with this.

William Tincup: 23:39 No, no.

Coco Brown: 23:40 So many, 39 years into my life. So I think for women, we just have a very different institutionalized sense of reality in the world that we’ve grown up in and been associated with. Whereas men, I have a 21 year old boy and a 17 year old girl and they live in two different worlds and I can see it, even though they’re under the same house, in terms of the way they see opportunity and themselves in the world. So I think it is, actually it’s funny because when I was laughing because when you were talking about it, I was thinking about a guy and it was like 2003 or something and I remember it was his performance review and back then we built performance and salary review.

William Tincup: 24:31 Oh yeah.

Coco Brown: 24:33 And I remember him writing down a number on a piece of paper and of folding it up and then pushing it across the desk to me, I was thinking, “what are you doing?”

William Tincup: 24:44 This is my number right here.

Coco Brown: 24:45 I opened it and there’s the number and I was like, “what is this?” “This is the number I expect for my salary to be it is.” Is there a microphone here or something?

William Tincup: 24:56 It might be in punk.

Coco Brown: 24:57 Yeah.

William Tincup: 24:59 You are being punked. That’s, especially based on a research, that’s most men, but again that’s and we’re laughing about it there’s nothing funny about it. We’re laughing.

Coco Brown: 25:12 No, there’s nothing funny about it, but I will tell you another actually a more positive story. When I was made vice president of professional services for the company, we were about a hundred million in revenue and growing very rapidly. It was the late 90s, dot com boom, and it was almost by accident because we had hired a VP of professional services and he flamed out in the first two weeks and so the CEO asked me to take his place at an executive offsite and represent the team. And I only had a tiny slice of that team at the time, but I did a good job at the offsite. And he said, you know what? You want to run this team? And I said, sure. And he said, okay, think about it, come back and we’ll go over your plan next week.

25:54 And I came back and I showed him an org chart and at the top it said Coco Brown, vice president of professional services. And he sort of gulped like, I didn’t think we were taking you that high. I was like, what’s the problem? You told me to run the team. But the salary piece of it was he gave me a nice bump. It was like a 50% increase in my comp, but I kind of thought, I bet that’s not what the other guy was making.

William Tincup: 26:21 A hundred percent. I was going to ask you the exact same thing. And it mirrors my wife is now up for a job at her work and the person that was doing it before mail, I asked her, I said, “Hey, ask him what he makes. He’s leaving, he’s already put in his resignation, so he won’t care. Just ask him what he makes.”

Coco Brown: 26:44 Yeah.

William Tincup: 26:44 And she did and he told her, and then after the interview, of course, what are your salary expectations? That’s the number. She had some Intel, which was fantastic. And because she asked me, she was like, what do you think I should? And even my wife who has a master’s degree working on another master’s degree, even she, well he has a degree in theology, I don’t have a degree in theology. I don’t give a…

Coco Brown: 27:18 Yeah. It’s a job.

William Tincup: 27:22 It’s a job. What was he making? Yeah.

Coco Brown: 27:24 Well the other thing is also, two things there. One, what you were just saying, men are much more accustomed to telling each other these things and I think women are a little bit more like that’s inappropriate, that will be rude.

William Tincup: 27:34 Oh great point.

Coco Brown: 27:35 Don’t ask those things. And also we don’t have enough of a cohort of other women around us to say, so what do you make and what is somebody else making this? But guys have been, we’re trying to socialize women to do that more. Tell each other what you make and it’s okay.

William Tincup: 27:48 A hundred percent. Oh it’s not only if I think it’s not necessarily a matter of life and death, but I think that’s one of the things I love about Athena is that it’s a group of people that where you can share not just best practices, but you can share some of these things and talk openly like, “Hey listen, this is actually what this is.” And then we want to talk about board positions. One of the things I wanted to ask you about why women don’t go after board positions more often, is it the workload? Is it or the perception of the workload? Is it they’re not invited? What I mean, it’s probably multi-prong but what is it that barriers to not having more women represent what, 52% of the population?

Coco Brown: 28:43 Yeah.

William Tincup: 28:43 So if we did that with boards, shouldn’t boards of directors, shouldn’t that be 52% at least, at least half.

Coco Brown: 28:54 Right, yeah.

William Tincup: 28:55 Which I’m not sure we’re even remotely close to, but.

Coco Brown: 28:58 No we’re not even remotely close to, we’re in the 15%-10% or less. And when you look at the full landscape of the companies that are private, like venture backed and private equity backed. And so it depends on the ecosystem, but even in public companies, it’s less than 25% and it’s growing, it’s getting better in the Russell 3000, 26% or something. But the reason, there’s a number of reasons. One is that if women aren’t putting themselves forward, there is the workload, there can be the workload perception, but that’s not actually the that’s sort of reason number 15 or something. The first reasons would be really around access and knowledge. It’s a closed system, it’s a system that is built off of referrals. And so if you’re not on the golf club, the golf course, and you’re not the person who has been being groomed to take over when I retire from the board, kind of thing, that’s how the boards used to be structured at least.

30:14 This is very much of, this is the chance to sail into sunset, my last rah and I’ll pass that baton to my next favorite person when I leave the board. So it’s been very, and also historically it’s been very much of the person on the board, the people on the board have to be ex-CEOs or current CEOs or they have to be CFOs or auditors. And so there’s a very, very narrow view of what an appropriate board member would, should be. And in today’s world, actually that’s the biggest failing is that boards need to have a lot different and broader skill sets on the board than they ever did in the past. They need people who really understand human capital, as an example.

31:03 If we think about the world of recruiting, we’ve got four generations working together and you’ve got Zers, millennials, Xers, and boomers. What other, that hasn’t happened before. It was usually one generation passing to the next generation. And then you’ve also got global economies and gig economies and the complexity of all sorts of social issues that are becoming business issues and these are things boards have to deal with. And so, you need people who understand market, they understand society, they understand the workforce and organizational structure and all these things that boards haven’t made as part of the board DNA in the past are becoming essential and giving women an opportunity. But the biggest barrier to that opportunity is really access and so that’s one of the barriers we’re trying to break down.

William Tincup: 31:55 I think for me, I think I look at the chair and I think it should be a part of the chair’s responsibility to diversify the board. That there should be more of a proactive stance, not just in public, but all boards, even privates. It should be because you nailed it with not just the skills and experience and all that stuff, but who you serve and your company serves something, somebody, somewhere. And if it’s myopic at the board level, you’re going to miss, at one point you will miss the audience.

Coco Brown: 32:33 Right.

William Tincup: 32:33 And so if for no other reason, if for no other reason, then you just want to make sure that you gain market share or keep your employees, et cetera. I believe that the board, the chair person, I think it’s a part of, in my opinion, it’s a part of their job, should be a part of their job to then say, okay, how do we diversify this both as you said, with skills and experience, but also in the ways of looking at belonging and inclusion and diversity, et cetera. I wanted to ask you about teaching just real quickly, I know we’re running long on time, but on the Athena side, how are you? Because I’ve actually been through board training, so odd but true. So I’ve done four different certificates in board training, so once you do it, it actually is kind of comical how easy it is.

33:35 But I remember the first time that I went through training thinking how difficult this is going to be with all the fiduciary duty to the rules and all this other stuff. And it’s like, once yeah, again, I’ve done it four times, but once I did it’s like, yeah this isn’t that difficult. So what are you doing to bring women into that to go, okay, let’s lower, first of all, let’s give you the skillset and that you need, give you the knowledge that you need and then to get you set up for success and maybe even get you some opportunities so that you can get out there because once you do it, I think most people find it’s a lot easier. I mean, everybody has a different experience, but in my experience it’s a lot easier than it sounds on TV.

Coco Brown: 34:27 Yeah. I mean, so there’re couple things. One is, there’s this saying, if you’ve seen one board you’ve seen one board, which is true and it’s particularly true in private companies.

William Tincup: 34:39 Oh, it’s so great.

Coco Brown: 34:40 Because they can basically operate however they want.

William Tincup: 34:44 Oh yeah.

Coco Brown: 34:45 Public companies and nonprofits tend to operate much more the same where they have just dedicated committees and things. But the other thing, so the primary thing that we use as a baseline is the realization we had that 90% of board seats are held by funders or founders. In other words, if you take the 10,000 private equity backed or the 10,000 VC backed 8000 private equity backed 6000 ESOPs, I’m on the board of an ESOP, employees stock owned. And then also half of public companies, which are only 4000-6000 companies now are actually small cap and micro caps so they look more like private companies and their boards are still held very tightly and are mostly funders and founders. And the thing about funders and founders is they understand the business of running the business. So it’s not about board training, which is relatively easy, what these committees do and what’s DNO insurance and why do I care? And how does the succession for the CEO work and what filings do we need to understand? And how do you read the financial statements?

35:57 I mean, there’s the bootcamp approach, which is fine and we definitely provide all of the baseline training for all of that. But the more important thing is actually understanding the business of the business. So how does a business get capitalized? What are the different ways to capitalize a business? How do you read the cap structure? How does equity play out? How does M&A work, which is a big piece of acquiring market share. How does that work by side acquirer side? What do you need to know about the financial structure in terms of compensation philosophy and how it gets set? And there’s so much more to understanding what goes on in the boardroom. That’s a lot more, and it’s the same thing with being in the C-suite these days, you have to be a strong business leader. So a lot of what we’re doing is just the ongoing considered an evergreen MBA, just anytime on demand, just like Netflix, but it’s for business. That’s a lot of what we’re doing.

William Tincup: 37:01 A, I love what you’re doing, B, I could talk to you forever. So we’re going to have to schedule another time to then delve into something else, but thank you so much for your time and your wisdom and I love what you’re doing and what you’re building. And if I can help in any way, just let me know.

Coco Brown: 37:17 Thank you so much. This was fun.

William Tincup: 37:19 Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast until next time.

Announcer: 37:24 You’ve been listening to the Recruiting Live podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles, and news at…

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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