Writer, interviewer, and founder Marianne Schnall has been doing meaningful work for women's equality since the beginning of her career. From founding Feminist.com in 1995 to writing several books on female leadership, she's dedicated her professional life to elevating other women. Her latest mission, What Will It Take Movements — a media, collaboration, learning, and social engagement platform that inspires, connects, educates and engages women everywhere to take action — takes her work to an even more personal level.
"Working collaboratively and supporting each other to bolster our collective power is more important now than ever," she said. "I am always looking for ways to bridge divides and cultivate greater understanding, positivity and community in the work and writing that I do."
Here's how Marianne has made empowering women her career, and how she uses self-care to fuel her fight for gender equality.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Marianne Schnall
Founder and CEO, What Will It Take Movements
Greater New York City Area
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I started out as a journalist interviewing well-known thought leaders, celebrities and activists (mostly women) about their causes and careers for a variety of online and offline media outlets. I also founded the women’s non-profit Feminist.com in the early days of the Internet back in 1995. I authored two books, "Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice" and "What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership & Power" (which Beyonce recently surprised me by recommending it in an interview!).
That book and its timely themes prompted me to launch What Will It Take Movements, a media, collaboration, learning, and social engagement platform that inspires, connects, educates and engages women everywhere to advance in all levels of leadership and take action. As What Will It Take’s first campaign, and in partnership with Intentional Media, I am launching Year of Women (inspired by my article for CNN, "2018 Will be the Year of Women"), a year-long integrated digital, media and event platform that will facilitate the critical conversations, connections, and actions needed to elevate women in business, politics, media and finance.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Raising my two incredible daughters, Lotus and Jazmin, who I learn from and who energize and inspire me every day.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
It is an ongoing challenge, but I am learning to balance my work responsibilities with taking care of myself. It is so tempting these days to be working every second, but I have to remember to take time to unplug and recharge or I can feel burned out and my health and productivity suffer. It is so important to nurture our inner world and spirit. So every morning, no matter what deadline I am on or what emails await, I try to meditate for 20 minutes. And throughout the day, I try to remember to breathe, stretch, go outside, connect with family and friends. It is an ongoing practice!
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Gloria Steinem. Not only has she been such an important supporter and personal mentor of mine, she continues to lead with such authenticity, integrity and humility. She is still using her voice to advocate for so many important causes, yet with her ear to the ground and always learning. Also, my friend Eve Ensler, who has been an ongoing source of guidance and support. I was there when Eve first had the idea to launch V-Day, which has since gone on to raise over $100 million for anti-violence programs around the world. She is a force of nature and reminds me that no vision is too big to aim for and achieve!!
What do you do when you're not working?
Spending time with my family, being in nature, reading, meditating, and watching something I can learn from or laugh at.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Susan B. Anthony. I think she would be fascinating and inspiring to talk to and learn from, especially at this pivotal moment in history where women are really rising up in record numbers to run for office, use their voices and demand their rightful seat at the table. I would love to give her an update on all that has happened since she helped earn women the right to vote, and thank her for all the courageous work she and the other suffragettes did to lay the foundation for all the transformative change we are seeing today.
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
“Money Can’t Buy It” by Annie Lennox.
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
I don’t have just one, but I really love and admire the important documentaries produced by my friend and colleague, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. These include Miss Representation, about how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America and The Mask You Live In, which explores how our culture's narrow definition of masculinity is harming our boys, men and society at large and unveils what we can do about it.
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
"The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
I would love to be able to support the causes and organizations that I feel passionate about in even more meaningful and impactful ways.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Follow your intuition and passions. And while you may try your best to chart your own course, be open to unexpected opportunities that may present themselves that can take you to new and exciting places! This has happened to me quite a few times in my career.
Also, ask for what you need. Reach out when you need support or guidance of any kind, and offer it to others in the same spirit. Working collaboratively and supporting each other to bolster our collective power is more important now than ever. I am always looking for ways to bridge divides and cultivate greater understanding, positivity and community in the work and writing that I do.
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