Leadership, Stylish. Interview with Kate Duff

Our Leadership, Stylish interview series celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence. — Tell us what you think in the comments.

Today’s stylish leader is Kate Duff. She’s a beauty entrepreneur whose startup got funding — for that reason alone we applaud her. Startups run by women are always poked and prodded with just a little more scrutiny so you know that Kate has her act together and can present and promote her vision flawlessly. What we love about her is that she’s an avid connector of dots. She will listen closely and then tell you exactly the three people you should meet and the five articles you should read. — Read below to find out what kind of corporate culture she’s trying to create, why excitement is the key, and that she has a pair of lucky faux leather pants.

Kate_Duff_portrait

Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career!

My name is Kate Duff and I am the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of 3FLOZ, an automated retailer selling travel-sized beauty, grooming, wellness products, and accessories.

Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?

I have always been inspired by my parents. They have their own company and have always taught me the important of hard work. I am also very inspired by Marie Forleo and Gabby Bernstein, they teach the importance of being authentic, living in the moment (that is all we have), and above all else of bringing love to every single thing we do.

What are typical situations in which you get to show off your leadership qualities?

My business partner Alexi Mintz and I have a team of five that we work with daily. Office culture and work ethic comes from the top. Alexi and I have always felt that it was very important to create an environment where people are excited to come to work — even on Mondays. Hopefully, we have created that at 3FLOZ. One example is that we include team members in meetings as they relate to the growth of 3FLOZ so that everyone feels like they are a part of something bigger. We also buy lunch and treats and make it a work hard & play hard kind of environment.

Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?

I believe in meditation so I always take a couple minutes to center myself, to set my intention for the meeting, and to get out my nerves. If I’m going to be on TV or talking to a group I remind myself to speak like I am speaking with my friends, and that all is well.

If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you? Can you share some tricks?

Be excited! If you are looking for others to be excited you have to be excited. Excitement is contagious.

If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?

Fair, open and if I do say so myself: FUNNY!!

What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?

My go-to styles for important meetings are my lucky black faux leather Club Monaco pants with a blazer and a fitted v-neck dress with heels; both are sexy, dressy, and command attention.

For an amazing blow out before a big meeting I go see Gregory Patterson at Roman K Salon in New York City and I use Up The Amp lipstick from MAC.

I feel that in business, women often try to button everything up. Not my style! We are lucky enough to be women so as long as it is tasteful, wear what makes you feel your best. When you feel good you will look good and when you look good you will feel good.

Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?

I think Kelly Ripa, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, and Eva Longoria are always flawless. They wear what looks good on them and they rock it.

If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?

I would say find a work-life balance. At the end of days, you will never regret that you didn’t stay later at work that one night but you will regret life experiences you missed for work. I’m not saying don’t work hard, because you have to and you will; but find a balance. And as the saying goes: when you are doing something you love, you won’t feel like it is work, it is a passion project that makes you money.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Kate.

Check out the other interviews in the Leadership, Stylish series. And be sure to share it if you found it inspiring.

Leadership, Stylish. Interview with Darshana Zaveri

Our Leadership, Stylish interview series celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence. — Share it with your friends and colleagues if you find yourself inspired by it.

Today’s stylish leader is Darshana Zaveri. We love her for being one of those strong ladies who are expanding the spectrum of possible career paths for women. As a venture capitalist who is both a woman and from India, she is about as rare as a unicorn. Just recently she spoke to a roomful of Future Entrepreneurs, all high school girls from New York, who can now add “Venture Capitalist” to their list of viable career options. — Read below to find out about the working women of Mumbai and why a pair of jeans with a shirt can be your best bet when you want to come across as approachable.

darshana_Zaveri

Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career!

Darshana Zaveri: I am a General Partner at Catalyst Health Ventures, a healthcare-focused venture capital firm financing start-up companies. As a venture capitalist, I raise funds, find promising medical technology companies to invest those funds in, and then actively manage those investments through Board participation and guidance. For example, one of the most exciting companies in my portfolio will help to diagnose ovarian cancer early in women who are at high risk of developing the disease.

I was born and brought up in Mumbai, India, although I’ve lived in Boston for 20 years and met my husband here during graduate school. We have two young, very active daughters who keep us busy outside of our work lives.

Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?

Without a doubt, my biggest role model is my mother for so graciously achieving that elusive “work – life” balance. I remember, when we (my brother and I) were growing up, she would wake up early every single morning, cook breakfast and lunch, get us ready for school and then was impeccably dressed for work by 7am. Like most Indian working women of her generation, she completed so many household tasks, even before her professional work day began. Yet she was flawlessly attired and not a hair was out of place. The local trains and buses in Mumbai were — and still are — full of such women. Today there is so much discussion about whether women can have it all — and that is the right dialogue to be having. But there is something about her stoic simplicity, work ethic, and uncomplaining attitude which has taught me so much about self-reliance and just getting things done.

I also greatly admire Chandrika Tandon. She became the first Indian woman partner at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. But, being an amateur musician myself, what I find fascinating about her is that she gave up a very successful career as a management consultant, followed her passion for music despite having been away from it for a long time, and is now a Grammy nominated singer.

What are typical situations in which you get to show off your leadership qualities?

I face a variety of situations on a daily basis where I have to use a great deal of influence and collaborative effort to effect a particular outcome. Whether it is convincing my partners to vote in favor of financing a new deal or influencing organizational and strategic changes within my portfolio companies or managing investor expectations — every day presents new leadership challenges. And, since I serve on several boards at once — to be really effective, I have to constantly adapt to the unique dynamic of each company and leadership team.

Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?

I spend a lot of time developing the concept for my presentations as my audience can be so varied (entrepreneurs, investors, general public who know very little about venture capital) and their interests are often very different. My most effective tool is a good sounding board. For important meetings, I use my husband and close friends and take their feedback on everything — my talk, my outfit, even my expressions when I am presenting. There is no substitute for that kind of upfront preparation and practice.

If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you?

For me, motivating people comes from being passionate about my work and a single-minded focus on end goals. As an investor in early stage, very risky companies, I deal with a lot of uncertainty and constantly shifting business realities. Being personally committed to the final outcome — which is not just financial return but also saving lives with the products we fund — is absolutely key to energizing others. We just raised a new fund and getting investors excited about investing in “idea stage” healthcare companies — at a time when investors are very cautious about venture capital in general – was extremely challenging. But the passion we (my VC partners and I) share for bringing to market important solutions to big clinical problems was a major factor in helping us get to our goal.

If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?

Decisive, Unafraid, Independent Thinker

What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?

I love Ellie Tahari – a well-cut dress or a skirt and jacket are my favorites for a formal presentation or investor conference. On a day-to-day basis though, I try to keep things very simple and prefer jeans and shirts. In my job, it is important to look pleasant and approachable. Entrepreneurs, particularly scientific founders of companies want to work with people they can relate to.

If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?

  • Take risks – there is no time like the present
  • Know your business inside and out
  • Listen carefully to everyone around you but do only what you think is right
  • Most importantly, be nice to everyone regardless of position and stature – there is no upside in rudeness and you never know who could be of help in the future

2014-08-09 David & Arati Galles Reception

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Darshana.

Check out the other interviews in the Leadership, Stylish series. And share it if you found it inspiring.

Leadership, stylish. Interview with Kristin Luck

Our Leadership, Stylish interview series celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence.

Today’s stylish leader is Kristin Luck. She’s a leading voice in the market research industry, a successful businesswoman, and above all the kind of person who makes you feel instantly at ease around her. We love her dedication to promoting women in business — a dedication that actually won her an award. She founded WiRE, an organization that connects and promotes women in research. In short: She’s a gorgeous woman after our own heart. You’ll see when you read the interview below.

Kristin_Luck

Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career!

Kristin Luck: I’m Kristin Luck. I’m a sales/marketing/branding pro, a research tech and trends expert. I’m currently a partner at and President and CMO of market research firm Decipher. I’ve been in the research game for a little over 15 years.

Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?

I have a lot of respect for women who can, so gracefully, balance their work and personal obligations- particularly my friends with children like Su Midghall (a partner at Davis, Hibbits & Midghall) and Jen Barth (Executive Director of Schoolhouse Supplies), both based in Portland, Oregon, who are such amazing mothers and business leaders. Su, in particular, has taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time for myself — which can be so challenging to prioritize when you’re running a business.

What are typical situations in which you get to show off your leadership qualities?

I’m fortunate to be focused on driving our sales and marketing so when I’m not in one-on-one client meetings, I spend a lot of time at industry events serving as Decipher’s resident brand evangelist. I’m naturally a bit introverted so I’ve worked very hard to cultivate my own leadership and presentation style and I’ve figured out what’s within my comfort zone as well as what motivates both prospective clients and my internal team. This fall I’ll spend a lot of time on stage, speaking at industry events across the US, as well as in Germany, France, and the UK.

Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?

There was a fascinating Ted talk by Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, about how your body language really shapes who you are and how you feel in certain situations. I really try to pull out the “Wonder Woman” pose right before I’m “on” in business.

I also feel it’s important to embrace your own unique personal style so that you’re comfortable with your physical appearance. I personally hate traditional business suits, I find them incredibly uncomfortable, and so I’ve put great effort into curating a wardrobe that is work appropriate but not necessarily traditional. Comfort = confidence.

If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you?

Know your audience. Find a connection and use that to unify your audience. Use humor and personalize your subject matter. Be human. Share.

If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?

Inclusive, collaborative, warm, direct.

What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?

My go-to outfits are dresses. I’m a total road warrior and I never check a bag so dresses are key — they take up very little space. Dresses also involve literally no thought when I’m rushed and stressed before a big meeting or presentation. I’m a big fan of light leather jackets and simple neutral colored separates that are easy to throw together (think black, white, navy and gray — easy to mix and match).

I have super curly hair so if I can’t manage to squeeze in a blow dry before a big meeting, I generally rock a pony tail – simple, professional and generally humidity proof. I never wear perfume — I feel it’s far too easy to lay it on too thick and scent is such an individual thing. What I love may be something my clients or colleagues hate. I keep makeup to a minimum.

Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?

Kelley Peters (VP of Insights at Post Foods) is pretty much my business fashion idol. She wears a lot of vintage and always looks so stylish and unique, yet totally professional. I also really admire Eileen Campbell, CMO of IMAX and Jackie Wilgar, SVP of Marketing at LiveNation – they both have amazing style and are always dressed impeccably.

If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?

Spend time figuring out what suits you. Experiment. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What sort of life do you want to live?  How do you want to spend your day? And cut the negative self-talk. You’re smart, you’re driven and you’re capable of much more than you think you are.

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Kristin Luck with her colleague and “business fashion idol” Kelley Peters at a gala event.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Kristin.

Check out the other Leadership, Stylish interviews. Enjoy!

Leadership, stylish. Interview with Lubna Abu-Osba

Our Leadership, Stylish interview series celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence. — Tell us what you think in the comments.

Today’s stylish leader is Lubna Abu-Osba. She’s an art director and a self-described “intensely curious omnivorous aesthete.” When you meet her you’ll be drawn in by her big laugh that makes you secretly hope she’s laughing with you, not at you. She likes to wear slightly uncomfortable shoes for important meetings and presentations as that keeps her alert and on her toes. She thinks about these things and talks about them in such a refreshing manner. You’ll see when you read on.

Lubna_Abu-Osba

Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career.

Lubna Abu-Osba: After 20 years of working as a creative at the top ad and branding agencies in NYC, I felt it was time to start my own studio. I created Influence Bureau with a mission to help marketers speak to women in a new way. I want to shatter the female stereotypes: housewives happily cleaning the kitchen, models retouched to impossible perfection, and products that are Pepto-Bismal pink.

Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?

My parents have always been my primary role models. They are Palestinian and grew up in refugee camps in the West Bank. They lost all their property but held their culture close. This is what allowed my parents to become leading intellectuals in their fields. They taught me that it’s possible to create what you want in this world, with a disciplined work ethic powered by your intelligence and creativity.  That is the culture I was raised in, and I’m grateful to them for that.  I also have a collection of “fairy godmothers” who inspire me: Audrey Hepburn, Diane von Fürstenburg, Diana Vreeland, Coco Chanel, Kate Spade, and Oprah (Yes, Oprah).  They’re all self-made women who brought beauty into the world.

What are typical situations in which you get to show off your leadership qualities?

Whether I’m influencing clients to embark on a new brand direction or motivating creative teams, I want everyone to feel that we are working towards a common goal. When clients or teams see that I’m all in, they are too. It’s an exciting moment as a leader when individuals coalesce into a team.

Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?

“Clear, Bright, Beautiful” is both my personal mantra and my company mantra; it’s my guiding principle. I meditate before every important client or team meeting and visualize the outcome I’m hoping for. I then align my talking points to my three power words: Clear, Bright and Beautiful.  Rehearsing what I’m going to say out load makes me feel prepared. If it’s an important presentation, I get my hair done.  I have found that it is soothing and empowering all at once.  When we look good, we feel good!

If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you?

An audience can focus on what you’re saying if they are being lead through a story versus a series of data points or bullets. I try to speak in short vivid sentences, and I enunciate my words and speak slightly slower than my talking voice. I deliberately say things that are provocative and even controversial to keep the group thinking, engaged and reactive. It brings out passion, opinions and other points of view – the magic of collaborative work.

If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?

I hope they would say I’m a passionate, transparent and collaborative leader. I have a direct and open style that encourages others to share their opinions and ideas yet I can make decision and inspire the group to work towards the goal.

What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?

I want my appearance to compliment what I’m saying rather than distract from it. I have really wild curly hair so I either have my hair blown-out straight or I slick it back into a chignon if I’m seeing clients.

My favorite designers for a tailored but feminine look are Nanette Lepore, Diego Binetti, Milly, Prada, Theory, Alexander McQueen, BCBG, J. Crew, Burberry and Catherine Malandrino. I also like to mix in vintage pieces from the 50, 60’s and 70’s.

For shoes, I love Prada, Miu Miu, Sigerson Morrison and J.Crew. Christian Louboutin’s Simple Pump with 4” heel works with everything.

I like my makeup polished yet natural. I often have meetings that can last all day. I found that Blinc Mascara, Yves St. Laurent under-eye concealer, Nars blush, Covergirl lip stain, Tom Ford or Elizabeth Arden lipstick have the required endurance.

Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?

Dermatologist Dr. Lisa Airan always looks impeccable. Her style is professional but never boring. Interior designer Kelly Wearstler, has a cool-girl vibe that’s fun and pulled-together. I love her look. Visionaire Co-Founder Cecilia Dean is avant-garde and classic — not an easy combination to pull-off. If I woke up with any one of these women’s wardrobes I would be very happy indeed!

If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be? 

If I were writing a letter to my younger self I would say this: be more respectful and less rebellious towards mentors, listen more and speak less, don’t let your ego stand in the way of learning from others, and that criticism might hurt, but it is valuable.  Believe in yourself and what you have to offer. Stay open-minded, hone your talents and then offer them to the world. This is the truest measure of success.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Lubna.

Check out the other Leadership, Stylish interviews. Enjoy!

Leadership, stylish. Interview with Sam Hurren

We’re thrilled about our new interview series that celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence. — Tell us what you think in the comments.

Today’s stylish leader is Sam Hurren. She’s English so we’ll keep the praise to a minimum as she will roll her eyes at any gushing. But this London lady is a force to be reckoned with and someone you’d be happy to have in your corner. She keeps close friendships, is fiercely independent, actively champions the success of those around her, and you can equally talk as well as party through the night with her. Enough said. Let’s go:

Sam_Hurren

Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career.

I’m a Brit, living in New York. A Finance Director for a Global Communications Agency by day. Record label owner at Enclaves, script reader, writer and producer as hobbies.

Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career? 

I always wanted to be Kate Adie. She’s a journalist and author. A one time war reporter and BBC Chief News Correspondent. Her influence over me as a role model has been her determination, independence, and fearlessness. She’s a class act.

A fictional character I always identified with was Melanie Griffith in the film Working Girl. I still see myself as that girl from a working class family in London having no business dreaming of one time being an exec in Manhattan but there I am donning my sneakers everyday to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I just hope I have slightly better hair and style.

(Check out a light-hearted list of the Working Girl quotes and how they apply to today’s women in business in this Forbes article. -ed.)

Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?

Mostly old school stuff. Preparation, know your stuff. What also goes a long way is a good night’s sleep and breakfast.

If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you? 

I’m pretty passionate and I think it is important to be around those you lead. People will see that passion and feed off it. That can be pretty exciting for them. Really believe in what you are doing and others will believe in it too.

If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?

Teamwork will come up. My goal is always to build a strong team. Hire the people who know more than you. I’m focussed on solutions and have a pretty firm rule: Don’t make your problem, my problem! And I’m sure someone would bring up directness. It’s key to be clear about what your are asking. ‘I think” doesn’t work for me. “I know” is much better.

What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?

I think first it’s important to play to your audience. I wouldn’t wear the same clothes to an investment meeting as I would meeting a band for my label. Its important to be comfortable and covered – I want them focusing on what I am saying and not what I am wearing or showing! I also have a rule – no toes or armpits – that should steer you in the right direction. I believe it is an instruction from the Queen of England when invited to the palace.

I never wear my hair down. I find it distracting & I feel vulnerable. It’s usually in a pony tale, a bun or a braid. I wear minimal make-up. I’m not a fan of masks & like to see people’s faces clearly. I am distracted by lots of make up on others so therefore wear little to none myself. For meetings, I like the classic & androgynous look with feminine & on trend accessories & shoes. I like good tailored classic clothes that fit well. A tailored black pair of loose fitting trousers with fashionable high heels, a shirt rolled to the elbow in a pin stripe or fine polka dot, perhaps a peter pan collar. I like blacks, whites & greys and am a fan of colour blocking for meetings.

Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?

I can only think of one who is well known – Jenna Lyons, President of J Crew.

If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?

  • Find a good mentor
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Work hard, think smarter
  • Make sure everybody knows your name & for the right reasons
  • Have faith in nothing & nobody but yourself
  • Be well rounded – travel, learn a language, have hobbies. Be interesting & people will be interested.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Sam.

Check out the other Leadership, Stylish interviews. Enjoy!