Feminist Nation.

F unny story about where we are as a culture now.

I was playing “Heads Up” with a bunch of friends…not industry friends, not people especially defining themselves as being activists or feminist warriors. A group of women from all walks of life.

The category was movies and the clue that needed to be guessed was Alien v Predator. The “alien” part was easy. Someone yelled, “Sigourney Weaver!” and the person with my iPhone on her head yelled, “Alien!”

She couldn’t quite get which “Alien” though. Until someone yelled, “THAT CREEPY GUY IN YOUR YOGA CLASS!” Read more...

FIVE spots left for our September retreat!

If you’ve read my book, you know the story of me getting kidnapped five months pregnant in Nigeria. When we were in that long dark cell of offices where the mob was amassing we first tried locking ourselves in an office/jail cell of a Nollywood producer. It was hard for the six of us (seven counting Eli in utero) to fit amid piles and piles of DVDs.

The producer’s wife was amazing. She was a trained lawyer who handled all his business deals. She was literally lounging on a pile of DVDs…like she’d made an La-z-boy out of them somehow. Just chillin’ out. No big deal.

At some point things got more intense in the mob that was screaming at us and she jumped up like a cat and SPRUNG into action in a way I’ve never seen anyone do. She got right in the ring leaders face and was screaming back at him. She helped get us out of that cell…And into the vigilante court where we were “tried.”

If you’ve read the book, you know we bribed our way out and all was fine and it was a great introduction for Eli of what it’s like being a journalist’s son.

But I always think of that woman. This month, I AM THAT WOMAN. I have put off so much when it comes to planning every last detail of our first ever Chairman Mom retreat and now, with the countdown on, I’ve sprung into full-on action. We have new speakers coming, amazing workshops organized, and so many details to delight you all.

(As a result, if I owe you an email, I promise, it’s coming. I owe everyone an email right now.)

But here’s the thing: If you have thought about, window-shopped, dreamt about the retreat, you gotta buy a ticket now. There are five left. Because we are taking over a town, there’s no overflow or next hotel you can crash at once we’re full. When we’re full—we are full.

Yes you will be bunking with other people. Yes it will be rustic. Yes it will be a town of 100 badass women. Yes it will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

If you ARE attending, and want a space on the site to talk about what you are most excited about and introduce yourself in advance, @milo asked a question today that gives you that opportunity: Are you attending Chairman Mom Flee? (Let’s get to know each other!)

Here is our other question of the day: My male business partner is underperforming… what should I do?

(Amazing coach Marcy Swenson is leading a workshop in the career track of our events and it’s between “how to pick a good co-founder/business partner and why things go wrong” or “how you know if you’re ready to start a company or just dreaming”…thoughts? Email mom@chairmanmom.com. I can’t decide as I talked them through with Marcy yesterday, and they both sound great.)

…And in case you missed it, this is the thread our Slack Channel can’t stop talking about…I had no idea it would become so charged when I posted this question, but what I love is how much emotion is on both sides of the debate, and yet how the conversation has stayed respectful and empathetic. I know we all hope to hear from the anonymous asker soon!

I’m off to Seattle and then Denver for a few speaking gigs and events…I hope to see some of you! And will talk to you more from the road!

Sarah Lacy

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The Good News

Amanpour’s in the Building
September kicks off Christiane Amanpour’s new show Amanpour & Company, taking over the long-held time slot of Charlie Rose, who was accused of decades of sexual misconduct by numerous women last year. With Amanpour’s permanent show comes the promise of a more real-time, livelier, and bolder program. We’re here for it. Read On…

Give It Up for Miss Michigan
The jury’s still out on if Miss America is more “empowered” given all of the recent changes to the program, but one person who did make a splash was Miss Michigan Emily Sioma. During her introduction, Sioma started with, “From a state with 84% of the US fresh water but none for its residents to drink…” She was calling attention to the fact that residents in Flint, Michigan still don’t have clear water well over 1,400 days after the crisis began. Read On…
DID YOU KNOW: New research is showing just how many ineffective procedures and debunked “best practices” pediatricians are still recommending for children, even when they’ve been found thoroughly unhelpful and even harmful. For example, antidepressants are prescribed to children much more often than they’re needed.

The Bad News

Decades of Debt
Student debt has typically been described as a “young people’s issue,” but as many of our Mama Bears probably know far too well, loans from acquiring an education can stay with you for decades. Read On…

Who’s Educating Our Children?
Currently 77% of all teachers are female and 80% of all teachers are White, and the lack of diversity is leading to negative outcomes for many students, including boys, people of color, and low-income children. How does a teacher’s identity affect students? For one thing, teachers carry their own biases and may treat certain groups of students as self-fulfilling prophecies. On the flip side, teachers from diverse backgrounds are more likely to teach culturally relevant material and be seen as a role model to students. The effects accumulated over a K-12 education are lifelong. Read On…

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It may be a bro-invested town, but it’s my bro-infested town

For much of the last year I’ve been so over San Francisco. It’s the only part of California that is demographically getting whiter. In particular, it feels white bro-ier. A libertarian white bro infestation that looks at the city’s epic homeless problem and shrugs before hopping on an electric scooter and steering it recklessly down a sidewalk, disabled people and pedestrians be d*mned.

I’ve found myself daydreaming of moving to Scandinavia, and saying previously unimaginable things like, “I feel like we need to move to LA so we can be around fewer phony bros…” I’ve even gazed longingly at Oakland. It seems to have the best of San Francisco coffee shops and restaurants without so much ugh. Of course, a lot of people are doing that and that’s starting to make people in Oakland feel like I feel about San Francisco.

I knew, of course, that I wasn’t going to move because my kids are in an amazing school and that’s the kind of thing you don’t mess with. But I told myself and everyone around me that was the only reason.

Lately though, I’ve been going deeper into this thought experiment of moving. I don’t think it’d be negative for the company. And depending on where we would go, my ex-husband might move as well, so custody matters likely wouldn’t be an issue.

But I started to think about all the little things I’d miss. My yoga friends. My group of female CEOs I get together with every month. The other parents at school. The guy who runs the corner store down the street who has been an integral part of my life for more than 10 years and would probably take a bullet for me. My four (or so) favorite lunch places where I know everyone who works there. The boutique where I buy all my outrageously sized rings. Where else will I find a neighborhood with the perfect grocery store, an indoor mini-golf course, a bowling alley, a movie theatre, a large park that’s sunny most the year, and a half–dozen Michelin-starred restaurants all in short walking distance?

Over the 20 years I’ve lived in Silicon Valley, a lot has changed. A lot of it for the worse. But I’ve also cobbled together my comforts through those ups and downs—both mine and the city’s. As I thought about all the things I’d miss, I realized what a great life I’ve made for myself here, despite it all.

Home is where you’ve got a corner store guy.

Onto questions:

Sarah Lacy

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The Good News

A Complete Overhaul
As Sarah has mentioned time and time again, we’re living in an era where we need to completely re-examine all of the technologies that make our lives seemingly easier or better. One of the biggest conglomerates to keep an eye on? Amazon. And 29-year-old lawyer Lina Khan is doing just that: She bucked decades of antitrust consensus to publish an article in the Yale Law Journal last year detailing how the e-commerce giant shouldn’t be given a pass when it comes to federal intervention. Read On…

A Different Mammogram
Mammograms continue to be an incredibly unreliable test for women trying to prevent breast cancer. Roughly 20% of tests result in a false-negative, and more than half of women who get a mammogram every year for 10 years will deal with at least one false-positive. Now, however, researchers are working to create artificial intelligence that can better assess mammograms through machine-learning techniques. The technology is in its infancy, but it could make a huge difference for millions of women and save them the financial, physical, and emotional burdens of going through treatments they don’t need—or not getting treatments when they do. Read On…
DID YOU KNOW: Where’s the best place to retire in the U.S.? According to researchers, it’s time to head to the Midwest and check out Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Bad News

What People Don’t Get
The Cut has been running an excellent series talking to people with different mental illnesses that are entirely misunderstood by the public and often void of nuance. This week, Katie Heaney interviewed a woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder about how it’s affected her life up until this point. Read On…

Making More to Support the Job Than On the Job
Instagram-famous teachers are now using their income from social media (often from selling teacher supplies) to make up for the fact that they’re grossly underpaid in this country. In fact, some of the biggest teacher influencers make close to $200,000 online compared to just $40,000-50,000 in the classroom. Read On…

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Happy one-year anniversary to this newsletter!

Newsletter editor Lily here with a quick newsletter and some exciting news: September 7th marks the one-year anniversary of Chairman Mom’s Mama Bear newsletter!

While I don’t have an official count since we switched email providers in February, I calculated that I’ve written somewhere in the ballpark of 230 Mama Bear newsletters over the past year. I want to say a sincere thank you to all of you who’ve corresponded with me, sent me content to include, and given me your two cents on the issues we’ve covered during the last 365 days. Much like Chairman Mom itself, the newsletter wouldn’t be where it is today without all of the incredible people who respond to what we do. And as always, if you need to reach me for anything newsletter-wise, you can find me at lily(at)chairmanmom(dot)com. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!

And on a more recent personal note, thank you to all of you who sent such supportive messages about me teaching a college class—the first day was yesterday, and it went great. I’ll have some interesting anecdotes about how things have transpired in the future.

Onto questions:

 Lily Herman

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The Good News

Making Things Better
#MeToo isn’t going away anytime soon, and more employers are finally trying to take proactive steps to formally address sexual harassment as part of permanent workplace policy. Several legal experts weighed in on some of the potential solutions, but one thing’s for sure: There’s no panacea for this. Read On…

Getting the Last Laugh
Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell was snubbed in 1974 when the Nobel Prize committee gave her male supervisor and another researcher the award for work she did, erasing her contributions to pulsars in the process. Several decades and many other successes later later, Burnell was just awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, and it comes with a much bigger prize: $3 million for her work in the field. Burnell, however, has decided to use her funds for something important: She’s donating them to the Institute of Physics, a U.K. non-profit, to fund physics scholarships for people from under-represented backgrounds. Read On…
DID YOU KNOW: In our continued coverage of what marijuana culture looks like nowadays, studies now show that 9% of US adults between the ages of 50 and 64 have used marijuana at least once during the survey year, while 3% of those over 65 have done so.

The Bad News

Rent or Sitter?
Nowadays, parents are paying almost as much—and in many cases, more—in childcare as they are on rent or mortgages every month, creating a mounting crisis as costs on both fronts continue to skyrocket without any end or meaningful long-term assistance in sight. Read On…

Not an “Upset”
There’s good news and bad news: The good news is Ayanna Pressley handily won her congressional primary in Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district over a popular male incumbent, and with no Republican in the race, she’s almost guaranteed to win big in November. The bad news is the media keeps referring to her win as an “upset,” when in reality, Pressley’s a popular politician who’s served on the Boston City Council for almost a decade and is beloved by constituents. She also, quite frankly, ran a better race.

Writer Mattie Kahn says this is something we see often when women get ahead, and not just in politics; we hardly ever acknowledge the hard work it took a woman to get where she is, and instead explain away any success as a fluke, when that’s rarely ever the case. And when it comes to Ayanna Pressley, her win wasn’t a “surprise” to everyone—just those who weren’t paying attention. Read On…

The “Fatherhood Bonus” in Black and White

In case you don’t really get what the “Fatherhood Bonus” is, check out a recent New York Times article “How One Silicon Valley CEO Masters Work-Life Balance.”

Don’t get your hopes up: It’s not a story about, say, Katrina Lake. It’s a story about Chris O’Neill, of Evernote, who—the Times proclaims—“makes a list every night, stays fit, blocks out his workweek by theme and listens to his children.”

Wait, he listens to his own kids?? That does sound like a super dad! Tell me more, NYT! Read more...

Stand for something

I have talked to so many women over the last six or seven years who are far more senior, more respected, more wealthy and more powerful than I am. So many of them have said they are envious of how outspoken I am when it comes to exposing bad things and that they wish they could be that way. Some have even said, once they make just a little more money or attain a little more success, they plan to be.

My responses in order: “Thanks,” “you can, just open your mouth,” and “you will never get there if you haven’t already.” Read more...

You know what you can do with that guilt? Stitch it.

Over the next month, you’re going to get a lot of info in this space about our upcoming retreat in a female-only gold-mining town. I’ve already announced Shannon Downey of Badass Crossstitch fame as a speaker. But she’s gone the extra mile, making us several custom cross stitch patterns.

Not only that, but she stitched them up herself so that we could put them on pillows around the camp.


Not only that, but she’s agreed to lead several stitching workshops at the event. What is a stitching workshop? You’ll sit outside surrounded by the beauty of Northern California and the Feather River, sipping rosé with some of the world most powerful women stitching patterns like those above to decorate your own work space. Read more...

A better early puberty book

I was really excited to see Allison Pohle’s article on the American Girl book The Care and Keeping of You. For me, and for many women in my general age bracket (the book’s been around for 20 years), this was the book your read when you were starting puberty. I can’t even count how many of my friends had it when we were ages of nine to 12. And looking back, it was a pretty radical book at the time given its in-depth illustrations and the breadth of topics.

In my case, my aunt actually gifted me the book without telling my mom (I can feel her sighing at the memory) when I was 10, and it was the first time I’d ever learned about periods, so that was traumatizing. And while there were many aspects of the book that were invaluable, I proceeded to spend the next year and a half until I got my period freaked out that there’d be blood gushing out of me one day when I went to the bathroom. Read more...

A fight for women is a fight for gender fluid teddy bears

I don’t know how this is possible but somehow my children (MY! CHILDREN!) ask me once a month what a “feminist” is.

“I know what venomous is,” Eli said last night when it came up. “Is that the same?”

“Sometimes,” I said. “When necessary. A feminist is someone who believes women are equal. And sometimes you gotta scare people a little to get there…”

I think the reason this definition doesn’t stick is because both of them find the concept of gender inequality so strange. The reason it comes up every month is because every month they get a delivery from the Little Feminist Book Club, one of my new favorite startups. Read more...

I love chaos…But have I finally gone too far?

As many of you know, I’ve been having some issues adjusting to my new custody schedule.

Less time with my kids means my boyfriend and I have had to throw ourselves into immersive projects to keep from sobbing. Things like intensive make-your-own-spice-blends Indian cooking, advanced baking, pulling down all the art in the house and dramatically re-doing it, and, yunno, raising a Series A round as a woman. I’ve even gone from 10 books behind to four books ahead on my book a week goal for 2018.

After cleaning and reorganizing the entire house, we zeroed in on the kids’ room this week. Eli decided a year ago he wanted to sleep with his sister all the time, so he’s essentially moved into her room and his room kinda became storage. We decided to make it official with a re-do. Read more...