See Why Real-Life Mogul Tiffany Pham Wants You To Know 'You Are a Mogul' Too
Tiffany Pham, founder and CEO of the online platform Mogul, which aims to change the lives of women worldwide, shares why her first solo book is just the inspiration young women need and how audiobooks helped make her who she is today.By Rachael XerriOct 24, 2018 10:00 AM
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It's not surprising to find out that someone who has been on as many 30-Under-30 lists as author Tiffany Pham has, is also very self-directed and focused. But would you have guessed that the CEO of Mogul, a social enterprise that reaches women across 196 countries and 34,470 cities, has also considered herself shy in spaces where she felt she had to prove her value?
Pham's new book You Are A Mogul offers specific, actionable advice on how to overcome the same self-doubt she's encountered, as well as how to pursue side-hustles and approach work and life in the most authentic way you can. She came to the U.S. as a child who didn't speak any English, and by the age of 27 had founded her award-winning platform which uses multiple channels to enable women through information access, economic opportunity, and education. With big-league mentors and a real seat at the table, Pham is shifting the conversation around female drive and empowerment by addressing it both economically and socially. Listen in on her insightful and open conversation with editor Rachael Xerri.
Note: Text has been edited and may not match audio exactly.
Tiffany Pham: Thanks so much for having me. I was so delighted to hear that.
RX: Well, I was delighted to actually listen to your book, having learned so much about you from your site and, you know, just the zeitgeist. So, this being Audible, we tend to home in on everything related to audio and listening and narrating. How did it feel to narrate your first solo book and how did the process differ from writing it?
TP: You know, I had such a wonderful time. I worked with a producer named Erica on the narration and overall production of the audiobook and we just had so much fun. Really connected. And it was actually an all-female team initially too. The sound engineer on the whole production as well and everyone kind of associated with it. So, it was a lot of fun and we were all kind of a marveling as well as just excited to be working together because they told me that it's very rare. In fact, they've never been on a production before with an all-female team and it was just kind of coincidental but so meant to be, as you can tell, with Mogul being what it is.
RX: Yeah. I love that. I'm really surprised to hear that they're not used to working with an all-female team. And I'm so glad you brought up onmogul.com. And so, for our listeners who may be unfamiliar with the site, can you explain in your own words what the platform's mission is and what led you to found the site?
TP: So sure. Mogul is a platform that enables women all around the world to connect, share information and access knowledge from each other. So, I'll explain what that means. At the very top or a platform that again is enabling women to connect, converse, share information, access knowledge from each other. One of the largest team of millennial platforms worldwide in this way. And then ultimately, we have a model whereby for every dollar Mogul earns, we provide free educational resources to women in need through international partners such as the United Nations. That's accomplishing the educational aspect of our mission. And how we then derive at UN partnership and a partnership with other organizations worldwide is by providing partners with software that enabled them to attract, retain and advance diverse talent. So that ultimately enables us to provide jobs and internships back to the Mogul platform. And this then enables our talent on the platform, the women that come on to onmogul.com, ultimately to gain access to opportunities they would not otherwise have had. So that is how we accomplish a very compact model that ultimately create social impact.
RX: Fantastic. And I absolutely love the mission of your company. I think it's so important even being, you know, myself, a fairly "young professional", I feel really supported by this community and by all of the work that you're doing. And I think a lot of that also came across in You Are a Mogul, specifically you had this one really great passage where you explained how it felt to be in your mid-twenties and in business school and dealing with some of the perceptions that some of your colleagues actually had about you. What are some challenges that you've had to perhaps deal with or overcome in professional spheres, and how do you hope that onmogul.com--and by extension your written works--will help combat those issues?
TP: Great question. I feel like every single time I entered a new phase, there was initially that first year where I was just so shy, introverted, and it was typically because I didn't feel like I fit in. When I was at Yale, for example, that first year I felt like everyone had come from private school. I went from public to Yale and I'd never even stepped foot on the campus because I had simply applied to Yale since I had seen it in a TV show. On Gilmore Girls. I thought only then could I potentially even try to attend. And so anyways, when I stepped foot on that campus, I just didn't fit in. I basically hid in my room, hidden in my room for the first year. It wasn't until the second year I finally pushed through and thought to myself, I don't want to look back on this moment and regret it.
It just became about believing in myself and realizing that I deserved a seat at the table just as much as anybody else...
So even though I didn't have quite the confidence or experience to overcome obstacles around me just yet, that obstacle of not feeling like I fit in, I just would push through initially because of that feeling that I didn't want to regret it. That actually carried me through as well during the first year at Harvard business school. During which time again I didn't fit in as one of the youngest students in the class, as one of the few women in the class as well. The majority of my classmates were men in their late twenties or early thirties. And here I was nearly just 23, one of the youngest and again, Asian female. So, I didn't really value my voice at the time. But again, without much more confidence, still would look at that moment and just say I cannot just let it go by, this moment. I needed to not look back on this moment and regret it.
So I would just push myself and keep practicing and practicing. And then with that came more and more experience, such that then I could actually speak. And speak fluently. Compared to the rest of my peers and at least make myself feel proud. So anyways, in the very first few phases, therefore, what I'm trying to hint at was that it was that decision to just push myself because I needed to be present in the moment and not regret it. That I enabled myself in those early years. Later on, though, it just became about believing in myself and realizing that I deserved a seat at the table just as much as anybody else and that even if I didn't have as much experience, I was building it up and I could continue to build it up by collaborating with the very best and learning from everyone around me.
I regard mentorship, which ultimately enabled me to gain all this experience to later build confidence, a little bit differently than everybody else. How I regard it is actually as feedback and guidance from everyone around me. I regard my direct reports as mentors, my peers as mentors, my fellow founders as mentors, supervisors, managers, of course. Role models. I turned to feedback from everybody else and how I reached out to them was something very key and something I'm sure will be many, many people's favorite part of the book, which is that I reveal kind of my step by step as how I reached out to all these incredible people that are respected across in the industry that I was entering in whereby initially I had no connections, and ultimately what I did was I reached out to them by finding their email addresses, sometimes through warm connection, but usually not and oftentimes therefore it was a cold connection, but I would craft an email that I thought would be so effective and sure enough it was. I would get 100 percent responses and ultimately enabled me to meet with incredible role models. My role models were the experts across every facet of the business that I hoped to build one day from product and technology to finance, to operations, sales, marketing, content creation and distribution. I met with the best of the very best and ultimately then brought them each on one by one onto Mogul as investors, advisors, mentors, of course, and friends, most importantly.
RX: Thank you. And that was a great, thorough answer. And I know also, throughout the book, you also featured strategies and insights from some powerful moguls that you know. Do you want to just briefly talk about some of the women you spoke with and what they had to contribute?
TP: Of course. was so excited to have the opportunity through You Are a Mogul to feature some of my very own great friends and top moguls in the world. Everyone from Katrina Lake who is one of the youngest women to IPO her company to Nina Garcia, who is the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine, was previously a judge on Project Runway, has enabled millions of women to share their voices as a result of the work that she does. And thus, she is the highlight of the 'value your voice' chapter, for example. And also feature women like Rebecca Minkoff who is incredible at her relationships. She works with her brother, as do I, and in fact has a romantic partner whom she was in a long-distance relationship with. And ultimately, she has incredible lessons to share from that. And so, she is a highlight of the relationships chapter, chapter six. Also, I'm sure people's favorite chapter in the book. And other incredible women include my own mentor and role model, Ann Sarnoff who is president of BBC Studios and who I worked with for quite some time before working on Mogul. To other incredible women such as Simone Delarue, who has created an incredible fitness chain of gyms that just transform women's lives in terms of fitness.It's actually where I exercise on a daily basis. And just incredible other women again, who have lessons to share anecdotes that are so revealing in terms of the mistakes they've made and I know will be equally as exciting to readers to read about.
I definitely spent years of my childhood--and up until now--listening to books. I'm so fond of Audible [and] what you do. It was actually how I learned English.
RX: And speaking of mentors, quite early on in You Are a Mogul, you spoke about having listened to Dale Carnegie in the car, which, you know, I loved that reference. I think, you know, many of our listeners have probably listened to him or listened to How to Win Friends & Influence People or the other one you mentioned, it was...
RX: And clearly, I need to download it. [Laughs] So I was wondering, how have your listening habits changed since then? Have you incorporated more female authors into your listening? And what are you listening to now?
TP: Great question. So, I definitely spent years of my childhood--and up until now--listening to books. I'm so fond of Audible [and] what you do. It was actually how I learned English. I actually talk about that in the book. About how I would travel around with my father and we would just listen to audio books, essentially Dale Carnegie's book, How To Stop Worrying And Start Living early on when I was a child, having moved from France to Plano, Texas and not knowing a word of English at the time. So very powerful way to learn. Not only because of me picking up a very formal way of speaking English, but also because he, Dale Carnegie, was so incredible in terms of the lessons that he shared and that included lessons that enabled me as a child to learn how to be very calm and never stressed out since I was 10.
Literally now, if you talk to anybody that is close to me or even colleagues, etc., they would tell you that one of the five words that they were used to describe me, one of them would be calm. And I credit Dale Carnegie for that. That was an early lesson from the books. Anyway, so years later I still listen to his books. I still find them and you know, on my iPhone, just listening on repeat and ultimately, I do listen to many more women's books as well. I love people like, of course, Sheryl Sandberg, whose Lean In was so transformational and impactful or women the U.S. To other women who I collaborate with, such as Fran Hauser. I know she has a great audio book out as well. The Myth of the Nice Girl and other friends of mine also have had books come out recently. Also, just incredible female entrepreneurs and leaders who have incredible things to share. Fran is a great example. And I've seen, you know, Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling also come up with incredible books as of late. So yeah, that's to promote all of them.
RX: Yeah. And I'm glad you mentioned Fran Hauser. She's another Audible favorite. I think I wrote about her book as well. And absolutely Sheryl Sandberg and Mindy Kaling and some of the other authors you mentioned. What do you like most about listening to business and self-development books?
TP: What I like most about listening to business books and personal development books is that then I feel like I was really efficient with my time. That I spent it continuing to become smarter. I spent it continuing to better myself in every way, so that ultimately, I could become the best version of myself. After all, that is ultimately what Mogul accomplishes for every single individual on a user by user basis. We enable each woman to come to the platform and participate with our organization such that she could leave feeling like she became her best self. And listening to a book makes me feel like I passed the time becoming my best self.
RX: I love that answer. I feel the same way. What advice do you have for women like me and others who might be facing some challenges in their career or in the workplace today? That's part one. And part two is what advice do you have for the men that they work with?
TP: So, I think the number one piece of advice that I would give to women who are in corporations that really love their job, but just don't know how to move up to the next level, the advice there would be to make sure to ask for what you want. I know so many people who love their job that start to look around because they really want a promotion or a raise and they never think to ask for it. They never realized that they could just simply talk to their manager and let them know that now is the time that they would really like to be considered and what can they do for the next six months so that they can make at that six months, that promotion and salary raise a reality. And so they start to look around. And they move on and they left what could have been an incredible opportunity behind.
So, ultimately my number one piece of advice for them, again, those women who are in roles in corporations where they love their job, but do not yet know when they will get a promotion or a salary increase, it's to ask for it. Don't leave it to chance. Be proactive about it. Ask how you can get it six months from now and make it happen. Be in charge of your own destiny in this way. For those who are in corporations now, second piece of advice, but do not necessarily enjoy their role. Think about what it is you want to do five years from now. What are the skill sets you need to develop to get there and then start to develop those skill sets by adopting side hustles at night? Bring on collaborations by contacting role models that enable you to learn from them through those collaborations and then as a result in the daytime role, you'll be able to supplement your learning while then accelerating herself at night with those side hustles. And as the side hustles continue, then you'll have the opportunity to now potentially explore new opportunities. You'll continue to look around at organizations that are aligned with ultimately your five-year goal, and opportunities and roles within those organizations. Make sure that they're aligned with your overall values as a culture, in the workplace. And then continue to reach out to those role models you're collaborating with at night to see if maybe if they could perhaps introduce you to people that might have opportunities for you for during the daytime part. So anyways, I think what I'm suggesting is ultimately too, if you're not happy, really think about what you want to do. Take on side hustles at night so as to supplement your learning. And then during the daytime you'll be able to find the right opportunity for yourself thereafter. The reason why I suggest those first side hustles even before looking for a new role for during the day, is because I'm so empathetic for when people just start to feel like they're being drained during the day and because they didn't find the right opportunity for them during the day.
And that can happen, especially during their junior years. When you're trying to kind of navigate your way through and you don't have as much say you think as when you're more and more senior to find the right roles for yourself. And so, I'm totally there. I totally understand it, that you might find, you know, the wrong role for yourself and land somewhere where he didn't want to be and therefore you're suffering during the day. That's why I suggest a side hustle because they're faster to get during the night and you'll start to feel more and more uplifted and more morale.
Now finally for men. I think one of the best things that they could do is to just continue to be fair and respectful and every single interaction with whoever it may be, women, men, altogether, the same. And actually, in that regard, you know, it will equal itself out.
And I think that's the best thing I could say to treat everyone the way that you would want to be treated. It's a value that we have at Mogul and that I think if it were to continue to spread across all industries, across all roles would create immense change. Of course, until then it's amazing for those who kind of take it even next level by specifically bringing on women under their wings and sponsoring them corporations or mentoring them, across startups and more. And I think those men that do that are just incredible role models themselves for doing so. And definitely accelerating change in this way.
RX: Thank you. So, what are you most excited for next?
TP: Part of the reason why I even wrote this book was because so many young women would tell me that having heard snippets of my story had changed their life. And so, I thought if I could share it all, share all the lessons I learned along the way as well as all the mistakes I made, especially, that we could hopefully change more lives in this way. I'm really excited about the release of this book and the audiobook. I can see it's been really well-received. That's just been so much fun to experience. And then secondly, I'm excited about our conference, Mogul X, also just happened this past week.
All of the reception and feedback we've been getting on that was just so amazing. It was basically the mogul platform in real life for all the attendees to experience. learning for a day learning from the best of the best in the world, and I'm just getting a chance to connect with one another. I think totally life changing according to so many letters I received over the weekend in the 24 hours since the conference. That was really incredible. And then finally, the last thing I'm excited about is the launch of our new mobile app. We have a Mogul app that is a patented. That is cutting edge technology in terms of driving conversations globally in a way that's never been done before. I'm so excited for everybody to check it out. It has been a technology that's been what we've been working on for the past two years and it's now available as of yesterday. So, definitely feel free to download the mogul app and let me know what you think.
RX: Thanks. I definitely will. Okay. So, last question, are there any topics that we didn't touch on that you want to be sure your listeners hear about today?
TP: I just hope that they listen to the audio book You're A Mogul and ultimately realize that every obstacle that they ever faced along the way is surmountable. With their hard work, their dedication, their passion, that everything that they've ever wanted to accomplish--the impossible--is totally within their fingertips. That anything they ever wanted to achieve with their friendships and their collaborations--which they'll achieve with, of course, I hope the help of You Are a Mogul--it's all possible.
RX: Thank you. I really appreciate that answer. And I think our listeners will too. Um, thank you so much Tiffany for dialing in. I really appreciated your time.
TP: Thank you so much and thanks so much for the great news that you've made this your editor's pick. That made my day, so thank you so much for you.
RX: Oh, you're welcome. It was my pleasure. Thank you.