Most of us are all too familiar with the monotony of a daily work grind. That’s why Romy Newman, Co-Founder of Fairygodboss, is particularly obsessed with her job: as President of a rapidly growing startup, no two days are the same. “The content and focus of my work is constantly changing as the shape, size and priority of our company changes,” she explains. “One day I’m focused on revenue, the next on fundraising, the next on scaling our team. It’s been especially interesting to go in one year from being a team of four to a team of 24!”
She recently dished on her favorite career mistake (which involves stuffed puppy dogs), the career move she’s most proud of, and her go-to activity for managing anxiety and staying focused.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been working on Fairygodboss for 3 years already, and I can’t believe it. The time has flown! Previously, I was head of digital advertising sales at The Wall Street Journal.
What’s the first thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do is check my calendar! I’m in a revenue/client-facing role — so my time is really built around calls with clients and prospects. First thing every day, I’m checking to make sure I am prepared for all the conversations I’m going to have.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job or of Fairygodboss?
What I love most about building the company is the dynamic pace. No two days are the same, and the content and focus of my work is constantly changing as the shape, size and priority of our company changes. One day I’m focused on revenue, the next on fundraising, the next on scaling our team. It’s been especially interesting to go in one year from being a team of four to a team of 24! The work is really different when you are an individual contributor vs. when you are trying to conduct the symphony.
What’s something you think most people don’t know about Fairygodboss that you think they should?
What I love about Fairygodboss is that our team is really focused on changing the world by driving more workplace equality for women. The fact that there is a genuine social mission in our work binds us together, and makes every day feel that much more productive.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
I like to think I’m good at working really efficiently. I pick the things that will have the most impact and focus on them. I’m also pretty creative about how and when I do them — since it’s very important to me to be very present for my two young children. I often get up at 5 am to get work done (like email or writing). I try to do whatever I can do outside of the office so that when I get in, I do exactly what needs to be done there — and then I can get home and have dinner with my kids.
What about outside of work?
Outside of work, I’m pretty fanatical about yoga, and more recently also SoulCycle. I spent a lot of my younger years feeling anxious and crazed, and practicing yoga has taught me a lot about slowing down and focusing on what really matters. I’ve come to believe that it’s very important that we all practice gratitude every day.
What are you trying to improve on?
I am trying to judge less — myself and others. We’re all taught to make snap decisions and react. Instead, we should remember we never know what someone else’s experience is, and we have to be forgiving. When we stop judging everyone else, it frees us from our own merciless judgement.
What’s your favorite mistake?
Years ago, when I worked at Estee Lauder, I thought I had a brilliant plan to use stuffed puppy dogs (they were adorable!) as part of our Father’s Day marketing promotion. Turns out, they did not sell at all — and we ended up with nearly 10,000 stuffed puppies that my boss very forgivingly donated to a children’s hospital. I guess the takeaway was that it’s terribly difficult to predict what will work — especially when you’re trying to make an emotional plea to a consumer.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Unquestionably, it’s founding Fairygodboss, Though I think another would be that I transitioned into sales as a profession at age 35 — even though I had never done it before (outside my time at The Gap). What’s crazy is that it fit me like a glove! And I have pursued sales and revenue roles ever since.
I always say that everyone should do sales at some point in their life — preferably when they are young. Because everything is sales!! Whether it’s interviewing, negotiating
, dating, trying to get your kid into the right nursery school — sales skill will help you whatever you’re doing.
What do you love most about your job or your company?
I love our team! And I think it’s just incredible that I found the perfect co-founder for me. I love working with Georgene because she is smart and thoughtful and brave and ambitious. We have really similar values and opinions, but we are also good at really different things.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I am reading The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer and it is INSANELY good. I cannot recommend it highly enough. And of course, it’s highly topical!
And, anyone who knows me will know that I am completely obsessed with This American Life. Not only do I listen to every new episode, but I am not-so-slowly working my way through all 500+ episodes ever recorded. Ira Glass, if you’re reading this, when can we get coffee?
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
My number one piece of advice is FOLLOW UP. It’s a lost art. And never forget that one of the things the hiring manager is trying to gauge is how badly you want the job. Now is not the time to be timid.
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
Hands down, that has got to be my mother. She has had an incredible professional career, and she is a hard act to follow.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
Years ago, when I worked at Estee Lauder, our lead HR person told me I should be more aggressive about going outside the company to interview every year. I was shocked! I thought that it would be so frowned on. But her point was that it’s incredibly important for you to be keenly aware of your market value and of the opportunities out there for you. And, it’s also a really good way to build your network.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
The best boss I ever had gave me the runway to grow and evolve professionally, but still got my back when I really needed it. Like a great parent!