The Role Models Podcast

The Role Models Podcast


The Role Models Podcast is a series of interviews that captures and shares the stories of inspiring women. These are far-reaching conversations with female leaders we look up to. We discuss how they got to where they are – including the lessons they’ve learned, the decisions they’ve made, and the challenges they’ve tackled.


#16 – Kara Swisher, how did you become so fearless?  

Kara Swisher is the co-founder and Executive Editor of technology news website Recode, host of the Recode Decode podcast, and Co-Executive Producer of the Code Conference. In her career as a technology journalist that spans over more than 20 years, Kara has become one of the most respected and prominent journalists who cover the business of Silicon Valley and is known for her insightful reporting, hard work, and straight-shooting style. She has interviewed thousands of people – most notably Steve Jobs and Bill Gates together on stage, a now-legendary appearance of the two tech industry giants. In this episode, Kara shares her favorite interviewing tips, how she became so fearless, what she learned from having a stroke. We cover topics like innovation in tech, sexism in Silicon Valley, and what leaders in the industry must do to change and improve the culture. Follow Kara on Twitter: Subscribe to Kara’s Recode Decode Podcast on iTunes:

#15 – How Megan Quinn went from building products to investing in companies that build products  

Megan Quinn is a General Partner at Spark Capital, a venture capital firm that has invested in companies like Twitter, Postmates, Tumblr, and Slack. Megan grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by 4 sisters and first didn’t intend to enter the technology sector. After moving up north to graduate from Stanford, she took a job at Google and helped the then-small company go public. As an avid collector of historical maps, she found her perfect dream job in Google’s Maps division where she has held several leadership positions in marketing, product, and business development during her tenure at Google.  After 8 years at Google, she joined the next rocket ship as the Director of Product for payment processing company Square before switching sides and becoming an investor at Silicon Valley venture capital institution Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers where she led a number of the firm’s early-stage and growth consumer investments.  As the first female partner at Spark Capital, today she invests in companies like Medium, Slack, and Grammarly.  In this episode, you’ll learn from Megan: – What skill she recommends everybody should master, regardless of role or company. – How she says “Yes” to an opportunity first, and deals with the fear later. – How she transitioned from one role to the next. – How former Google exec and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer helped her manage a tricky situation. – How she assesses investment opportunities.  – How she approaches working with mentors. … and much more. Follow Megan on Twitter and Medium:

#14 – How film producer Debra Martin Chase launched Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively’s careers  

Debra Martin Chase is a television and movie producer and known for having produced movies like ’The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’, ‘The Preacher’s Wife’, and ‘The Princess Diaries’, amongst many others. Debra graduated from Harvard as a lawyer and practiced law before eventually moving into the movie business to pursue her passion for film and television and fulfill her dream to entertain. She says: “Movie and television need to entertain but if along the way you can be given messages or values can be reinforced, or your eyes can be opened to something you might not have thought about in that way, that, to me, makes great entertainment.” Debra was the first African-American female producer to have a deal at a major studio. Her company, Debra Martin Chase Productions, was affiliated with The Walt Disney Company for more than 15 years and is now affiliated with Universal Television. Her movies have grossed $300 million combined. An eye for talent, Debra launched the careers of A-listers like Anne Hathaway and Blake Lively. If you want to learn from Debra how to enter an industry that you’re not a part of, how to process big transitions in your life, or how listening to your little voice in your head can lead to work with movie stars like Denzel Washington or Whitney Houston, then this episode is for you.

#13 – What is life and work like as a ballerina, Kathryn Boren?  

Kathryn Boren is a professional ballet dancer and member of the corps de ballet at the America Ballet Theatre in New York City. Kathryn started dancing at the age of 3 and decided that ballet was her thing at the age of 5 and for the next 20 years she never lost the drive to push forward to master and perfection the art form. Kathryn spent a few years in Berlin, then moved to New York at the age of 15 for a scholarship at the American Ballet Theatre Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School where years alter she now performs as part of the company. Kathryn’s story is a story of hard work, determination, and about playing the long game. It’s a story of loyalty to an art form that demands everything from those who practice it. Follow Kathryn on Instagram: The Ballerina Project: Artwork photo by Dane Shitagi

#12 – Cindy Gallop on why female role models are just as critical for men as they are for women  

Cindy Gallop is a former advertising executive turned startup entrepreneur, consultant, and public speaker. With a background in brand building, marketing, and advertising, Cindy founded the co-action software company IfIRanThe World and is currently focused on building and funding MakeLoveNotPorn, a venture in the emerging #sextech category, a category in tech that she says is ready for disruption. Before starting her own companies and growing her consulting and public speaking business, Cindy was an advertising executive and spent almost two decades with leading advertising agency BBH (Bartle Bogle Hegarty) where she first opened the Asia-Pacific, then the North American offices. Cindy is a believer that diversity drives innovation, Cindy has also been a champion and advocate for gender equality and diversity and she uses every opportunity to challenge the status quo with pragmatic and actionable insights on how to make any industry more diverse and not only in the aspects of gender but also in race, sexuality, disability, and age. Follow Cindy on Twitter: Cindy’s favorite talk from the most recent TED Conference: Shah Rukh Khan Cindy's tips on public speaking: “The day I met Cindy Gallop” Cindy Gallop – Closing Keynote – 3 Percent Conference 2016 Cindy Gallop on how to get a raise For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#11 – Elisa Goodkind & Lily Mandelbaum of StyleLikeU and The What's Underneath Project  

Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum are the co-founders of StyleLikeU, a company that creates the documentary-style video series “What’s Underneath” that explores how style is not about trends, money, or presenting a facade of photoshopped perfection. Rather, true style is the result of radical self-acceptance. In this episode, Elisa and Lily — who are mother and daughter — share how and why they started StyleLikeU in 2009, and how it has evolved from an idea to a video series that has been viewed over 35 million times, and from a book to a movement. Today, Elisa and Lily have interviewed hundreds of people about their unique perspectives on style and identity — a perspective that is quite different from the one portrayed by today’s fashion industry and the media. You can watch the video series on YouTube, buy the book ‘True Style is What’s Underneath — The Self-Acceptance Revolution’, and follow the project on Instagram. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#10 – Dakota Weiss is the Executive Chef of Estrella and Sweetfin Poké in Los Angeles  

Dakota Weiss is the Executive Chef at Estrella, a modern American restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. She’s also the Executive Chef of Sweetfin, a series of California-style poke restaurants. Having learned the first basic cooking skills from her mother and grandmother, Dakota found her way into cooking instead of becoming an international business woman. She studied in culinary school in Arizona and worked all over the United States to learn from some of the best chefs in the industry. Picking up different skills from different chefs, she learned that becoming an excellent chef requires additional qualities like patience and understanding in addition to mastering the craft. In this episode, Dakota shares her story – from the humble beginnings to becoming the Executive Chef of some of the most-talked about restaurant and restaurant concepts in Los Angeles. Follow Dakota and her restaurants on Instagram: And the non-profit she supports – No Kid Hungry, a non-profit that supports ending child hunger. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#9 – Ana Guerrero – Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti  

Ana Guerrero is the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. Daughter of Mexican immigrants (her dad came to the United States as part of the guest worker program), Ana has devoted a large part of her career to community organizing and in helping people mobilize to create collective power. She has been working with Mayor Garcetti for 16 years, more than half of those as his Chief of Staff. In this episode, Ana talks about the role of Chief of Staff–what it entails and how to become effective and successful in it. She shares what she believes to be the most important communication skills anyone should master, and what she believes to be the best way anyone can advance their career. She firmly believes that government can be a force for good in people's lives and encourages anyone to get engaged in their neighborhoods, communities, and cities. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#8 – Kim Vandenberg – Competition Swimmer, Olympic Medalist, Swim Coach, and Mentor  

Kim Vandenberg is a competition swimmer and won an Olympic medal with the U.S. swimming team. Kim started swimming at a young age and always loved competing. The road to the Olympics is hard and long, and Kim shares the journey to two of the highlights of her career: a silver medal at the World Championship in 2007, and the bronze medal at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Kim's story is a story of persistence, determination, and hard work. It’s a story of transitions, overcoming self-doubt and failures, and how to create opportunities for yourself. Photo by Duke Loren Follow Kim on Twitter and Instagram: For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#7 – Samantha Barry – Head of Social Media and Emerging Media at CNN Worldwide  

Samantha Barry is the Head of Social Media at CNN Worldwide where she leads the social teams at all of the CNN bureaus and works closely with the CNN Digital leadership in their editorial strategy. Under Samantha’s leadership, CNN has become the most followed and fanned news organization in the world. Born near Cork in Ireland, Samantha has worked in over 25 countries, reporting and training other journalists in broadcasting, technology and social media. Her lifelong career in journalism and news media has taken her from Newstalk and RTE in Ireland to Papua New Guinea for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to BBC World News in London before joining CNN in New York City where she is currently based. Follow Samantha on Twitter and Instagram: For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#6 – Samin Nosrat - Cook and New York Times Bestselling Author of 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat'  

Samin Nosrat is a cook, teacher, and author. Equipped with a letter and the determination to work at Chez Panisse, the legendary French restaurant founded by Alice Waters, Samin chose the path of cooking instead of the path of poetry. 17 years later, she turned her many lessons learned into her first book ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’, a beautifully illustrated book by Wendy MacNaughton that empowers us to learn how to master the fundamentals of cooking. In this episode, Samin and I cover many different topics: her Iranian heritage and growing up in San Diego, the story about how she got to start working at Chez Panisse, the ups and downs of being a newby in a popular kitchen, the different cultures of kitchens, depression and therapy, and what makes a good teacher and a good student. Follow Samin on Instagram and Twitter and learn more about her book here: For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#5 – Cindy Holland – Netflix's Vice President of Original Content  

Cindy Holland is the Vice President of Orignal Content at Netflix where she's responsible for all creative development and business aspects of some of our favorite shows like House of Cards, Chef's Table, Orange Is The New Black, and many more original series, comedy, and documentary series. Cindy has held three different roles in her 15-year tenure at Netflix and we discuss her background, her passions for artists and their creative process, and lessons learned of growing from being a doer to leading a team of doers. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#4 – Liisa Pierce Fiedelholtz, former Senior Vice President at Ann Inc.  

Liisa Pierce Fiedelholtz is the former Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Sourcing for Ann Inc., a holding company of women's fashion retailers. In this episode, Liisa reflects on her work of three decades in the industry and shares a series of things she has learned: how to negotiate, how to sell, how to manage and lead, how to speak in public. As an avid surfer, Liisa also speaks about her work as the chair of the board of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of our oceans. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#3 – Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal Ventures  

Joanne Wilson aka Gotham Gal is an angel investor, blogger, and podcaster. After starting her career in women's fashion retail, Joanne transitioned into the web and tech industry to eventually become an angel investor. Joanne has invested in over 100 companies and more than 70% of companies in her portfolio are founded or led by women. Joanne and I talk about her journey and career, lessons learned along the way, and how it's been like to start her own podcast. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#2 – Kate Burson of Tesla Energy  

Kate Burson currently leads the North East market and business development for Tesla Energy. Prior to joining Tesla, Kate was the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of Energy and Finance under the Governor of the state of New York and drove the implementation of the state's energy policy. As an Assistant Attorney General, Kate worked to help solve the largest financial fraud case in the history of the United States and rather than pursuing a career as a professional tennis player, she helped rewrite the constitution of the Republic of Georgia. Kate and I discuss her story and learnings of a career in the public–and now–private sector. For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter:

#1 – Jillian Mercado of IMG Models  

Jillian Mercado is an American-Dominican fashion model and one of the few professionals in the industry who has a physical disability. As an activist, she advocates for more diversity in the fashion industry. In this first episode of The Role Models Podcast, Jillian describes her journey into the fashion industry – from collecting magazines as a young girl, to graduating from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, and eventually becoming a professional fashion model for campaigns like Diesel, Beyonce, Nordstrom and many more. Jillian is signed to IMG models and advocates for more diversity in the fashion industry. Follow Jillian on Instagram: Read her blog: For more, visit Sign up for news & updates about Role Models: Follow us on Twitter: Photo by Jamie Ellington.

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