#BossWomen Interview: Holly Beilin
Throughout the month of March, we’re speaking with #BossWomen in our community - civic superstars, entrepreneurs, mothers, and leaders - to hear their stories and discuss their experiences in the work place.
We talked to Holly Beilin, the Editor in Chief at Hypepotamus, a source of startup technology news, events, and resources to generate awareness about the Southeast’s innovation community. Before taking her spot at the helm of Hypepotamus, Holly worked at Sharecare, one of the most-esteemed health tech companies. She’s taken both the creative aspects of writing and the analytical aspects of tech companies, and merged them into this editorial storytelling. Through her experience in heath care technology, privacy laws, and data security, Holly gained an awareness of the policy world as well. With a multi-lens professional background, she now brings a unique viewpoint on Atlanta’s thriving entrepreneurial scene to the table.
Thanks for joining us, Holly! Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I’m inspired by a team of different people in every single aspect of my job. At my work, there are a couple of members of the media: reporters, editors, hosts that really consider their jobs as a fourth pillar of the government. Especially in today’s time when everything is controversial and contentious, we need people in each sector holding leaders and others accountable. I’m not just referring to politics, I’m talking about Kara Swisher, who’s an amazing technology reporter that would go after Mark Zuckerberg. We need people who are acting as watchdogs, whose missions are to be objective and be fair.
Who inspires you?
My most immediate team member, my Hypepotamus managing editor, Murial Vega; she’s my rock. If one of us has a bad day, the other will support that person. She’s wonderful, and I cannot imagine my job without her. Also, there’s Charlton Cunningham, my very good friend and a fellow champion of the startup community in Atlanta. Former director of Startup Atlanta, he now leads a brand-focused accelerator place called Oust Labs. He is always there to support me with my weirdest ideas. Sometimes, he’s there to tell me if there’s anything not really worth doing—but also believe in me if I decide to do the thing that I want to do.
How do you define community? How has your community shaped your work?
Similarly with inspirations, I have many communities in different aspects of my life. I think community are the people that will support you and offer to help if you screw up or if others dismiss your big ambition. Then there are also the people that make you excited to go to work, as well as inspire you to do your work everyday. To me, the entire startup community in Atlanta is that kind of community.
Due to the nature of your position at Hypepotomus, you spend a lot of time around entrepreneurs! Have you observed challenges that female entrepreneurs face in your sector? If so, how is the community addressing them?
While there’s still so much to be done, enterprises and companies are beginning to have a good gender balance by addressing pay gaps and fair parental leave policies. As a female entrepreneur (in any sector), you also can’t say, “Oh I’m pregnant, I’m gonna take 9 months off.” Women have had a harder time in that sense and not many people have recognized that issue. There are more women entrepreneurs than ever before, but they are also giving up more in order to be an entrepreneur, like 401(k)s and retirement funds. To clarify, I’m a not an entrepreneur: I follow this industry very closely and help solve problems when I can. I love the entrepreneurs I work alongside; they are crazy, amazing, and the most inspiring people you will ever meet. I think my whole career will be about supporting and working with entrepreneurs. Helping female entrepreneurs is what I’m passionate about.
Can you speak to your experience as a woman working in a male-dominated industry?
Because of to the environment I grew up in, I don’t approach my career looking for those issues first. However, there have been countless times where I’m the only woman or one of the few women in the room. While that’s not necessarily an obstacle, it’s not welcoming and slightly uncomfortable to be a minority in the room. One thing I’ve seen—and I think is a good move—is that many tech CEOs and leaders have said that they would not speak on a panel or at an event where the gender representation of the fellow speakers is not 50:50. I think it’s admirable. A panel isn’t even the actual makeup of the tech industry, which is probably 70%-80% male. If you put something out to the public where people are watching and building their careers off of it, it should represent the ideal, and the ideal is that it’d be 50:50.
Have you seen any other ways of overcoming obstacles for women in the sector? Or it maybe you having overcome or supported other women who are experiencing it? How have you seen the
We talk to a lot of technical folks and one really big thing is hiring. You have to seek out diversity and representation as a company. The talent is there; you just have to go find it. I think it starts in education, as well. I didn’t realize that Georgia Tech graduates the most women engineers than any undergraduate school in the U.S.!
Another action in the tech industry, or any industry, that would benefit women is leaders paying more attention to parental leave benefits and wage gaps. Leaders also need to extend the parental leave policy to fathers. It will significantly improve the working trajectory of women. The additional time that fathers can spend with their babies will allow the mother to take on part time jobs or more time off work.
With being the Editor-in-Chief and leader of a team, no doubt you’re busy! How do you make sure you take care of yourself? What does self care mean to you and how do you practice it?
The first year and a half at Hypepotamus, I was overworking. With this job there was always something more to do. It wasn’t a 9-5; it was something that I could start doing when I woke up and finish doing right before I head to bed. It was really bad, unhealthy, and something i stopped doing. Now, self-care is physical activity. I used to run a lot, but now I’m really into yoga and I go there 3 mornings a week. I try to get some kind of physical activity everyday.
Also, just the other day my mom texted me: “I’m having a digital shabbat - I will not be on my phone for the day.” Last weekend, I took digital shabbat, and it was great! I didn’t even pick up my phone until the evening. I read somewhere that when we look at rest, we only think of physical rest, but there’s also emotional rest and rest for your senses. There’s all these different kinds of rests and we’re only thinking of it as 8 hours of sleep, which is not enough.
I heard this term of work life integration, and I like that a little bit more than ‘work-life balance’. I think self-care is different and personal for everybody, but I do put guard rails around my time. I think that females have a tendency to be more accommodating, so learning how to say no has been very important for me. I really had to coach myself through that. In the digital age, I want to be available and online, but there are ways to arrange things so that you are simultaneously accessible and self-respecting. I have to diligently make sure my time is well spent. It’s also about being okay with not being able to do everything or meet with everyone! I also limit the number of events I attend; two a week are plenty. I also don’t answer emails at all hours of the night!
What advice would you offer to social entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to sharpen their story telling skills?
Being able to turn a product or a company into a story is the coolest thing ever. One of the things you need to do is molding a story for a fit target audience. If you are talking to investors, you would do that differently than when you are talking to the constituents or potential clients. The second thing is to find a purpose. No one tells a story just to tell it. Even if you are telling a story to your friends, the purpose is to make them laugh or sad. So what’s your purpose? Is it to obtain funding or to share more about a problem or to educate people? Identifying your target audience and knowing your purpose will give you all the information you need to create a story.