What does your current job entail, and is there such a thing as a typical day?
Claudia Chan: As the founder of a company and the creator of something, having a clear vision and envisioning what the brand and business are is a large part of the job. This is the third company that I’ve founded or co-founded in my journey, so I know from those experiences that the vision is a huge piece of it. S.H.E. Globl Media is a purposeful women’s media education company, and we create content, conferences, and curricula that empower women in their careers and their lives, so that’s where the vision comes into practice.
Overall, if I had to break down what I do, it’s envisioning clearly and extremely well the problems that I’m solving and why this brand matters. Another piece is just really empowering my team and being very clear with them about their purposes in this organization. I need to make sure that their work is aligned with their skills and their passions too, so that what they end up achieving just blows everybody’s minds away. So there’s a lot of “culture building” in that way.
The third thing that I do is act as the facilitator, especially because I have my hands in everything. I’m just making sure that everything is orchestrated and moving forward in a beautiful, successful way. There is an overall “project” [for the founder], and it’s overseeing the company. You have to have an operational mind.
The other part I work on is business development and networking. You really have to love relationship-building and being the brand ambassador. You have to love explaining to people what the brand is all about and why it matters. I’m constantly finding synergies and creating room to grow.
What’s the best part of your job?
CC: I think it’s really just the good that we’re creating; I know that we’re creating consciousness. I mean, we’re helping women through the stories we’re telling, and that’s also important because [these stories] can help them progress through their lives with more ease and confidence. But the huge [things] that I’m proud of [are] the consciousness and helping women see that a core value needs to be elevating other women.
If you look at where we are, with only 4.8 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs [being women], women still making less than men and the things happening to women and girls across the world, there’s so far to go. And if women aren’t going to fight for women, then we’re going to continue to progress at the slow pace we’re at now. I think that the idea of women helping women has modernized and needs to become more relevant, and everything we do [at S.H.E. Globl Media] plants the seeds into women about empowerment.
To me, the more women we empower, the more I’m making a dent in the universe.
Was there any one event that inspired you to start S.H.E. Globl Media, or was it a series of events?
CC: It was sort of the culmination of a bunch of things! I ran a company called Shecky’s[a woman’s lifestyle company] for nine years when the culture was so obsessed with chick flicks and fashion and the shop ‘til you drop phenomenon. And while it was very successful, I felt like I lacked purpose even though I’d achieved material success. There was no greater meaning to what I was doing, and I wanted to feel fulfilled.
That’s when I started getting more involved with women’s organizations, because I realized I’d really gotten disconnected from feminism and women empowerment. I think a lot of that comes from media; we get out of school and we’re told what we’re supposed to want, what we’re supposed to get and what we’re supposed to acquire through our 20s and into our 30s.
Overall, I’d just lost touch with the feminist in me. It just sort of hit me when I was 34 years old and the Shecky’s journey was ending. I was just sort of like, “Oh gosh, is this really where the women are in the world and I didn’t think about it?” That made me believe that media really needs to change. So I really wanted to create a modern media platform with events and content that would change that. I also wanted something accessible and inclusive out there, since so many the feminist events I attended at the time were VIP only or very exclusive.
The S.H.E. Summit is coming up this week! What’s your favorite part of the event every year?
CC: My favorite part is that the content is so beyond ridiculously amazing. [laughs] I just get to bring together these amazing leaders to share their incredible stories that bring tears to your eyes. That’s what makes me love what I do. It’s more modern Oprah than a Fortune Most Powerful Women [Summit]. If we have powerful women on stage, they’re not talking about politics; we’re having a very female conversation. It’s just more like therapy, and I’m so excited about their year’s agenda. There’s just a mix of everything.
After content, my other favorite piece of the conference is the networking that happens, since you’re amongst women who share similar values. I’ve heard success stories from our networking component, like when a woman found her book agent that changed her life. Another person got six speaking opportunities from networking at the conference and that helped her career. So I do think that the networking is so powerful, especially in an environment like this.
What’s one obstacle you had to overcome during the planning of this conference?
CC: There were countless obstacles when planning this conference, just as there are countless obstacles when pursuing any dream in life. That’s one message I think is so important: Don’t get brought down by the obstacles; celebrate the imperfections.
With the conference, I think the obstacle is that there are just so many aspects that have to come together. And when the crescendo happens, you want everything to be perfect. There’s just so much behind-the-scenes logistical planning that has to happen. It’s a lot of different things, and no matter how much you can plan and control and foresee, there are unpredictable things that are going to happen. And I think realizing that it’s going to be okay is the big thing. The universe is going to make things happen a certain way for a reason. But this massive undertaking is the biggest obstacle.
What advice do you have for 20-somethings just coming into the workforce?
CC: Overall, I think you have to believe in [the] best thing that is possible for your life. You have to believe in the greatest thing that is possible for yourself. You deserve the best. Just have that confidence in yourself!