Mariam Naficy is the founder and CEO of Minted and an early pioneer in e-commerce and crowdsourcing. We were fortunate to sit down with Miriam at Changemaker Chats San Francisco, where we were generously hosted by Salesforce, and enjoyed dinner and drinks from Fuddhism.
“You have to get the right people on the bus before you decide where to drive it. You want the right people on your team because the first or second attempt might not work but with the right people you can decide to drive the bus anywhere else.” Mariam shared some incredible insights, and below are the key takeaways from the evening.
Be proactive. When Mariam was working at a management consulting firm, she proposed to do a new study to the client, and all eyes were on her since she was proactive enough to propose it. After the meeting, her manager took her aside and said she could have any project she wanted. Today, people who raise their hands and are not afraid of voicing an opinion are the ones that look like leaders to Mariam.
Use your advantage of being a woman. To Mariam, it is a real advantage to be a woman and come up with product marketing strategies since the majority of consumers are women. Her first consumer product: She wrote a book and used it to pay for her business school tuition. And then she built a cosmetics company with a friend.
Results speak for themselves. According to Mariam, competency and results really open the door. People who are hiring right now are eager for accomplished talent. Delivering results is the #1 gate opener.
You don’t need to go to business school to become an entrepreneur. Most of the things Mariam studied are available online today. However, she believes, if you’re looking to build your network and contacts, it’s a great place to meet everyone who is going to be making funding decisions. And if there are jobs you want to be hired for that traditionally take MBAs or you want more job security, it might be the right decision. It’s a tough and very personal decision.
On connections: Mentors can be both men and women. Mariam’s angel investor base was entirely male. You can find guys out there who want to push women forward. They exist, you just have to find them and seek them out.
Mariam’s wardrobe represents her persona shifts: She changes her outfit depending on whom she is meeting with. Sometimes she is in finance mode to raise money and tries to not call attention to herself in usually black cropped pants, a jacket and pumps. Sometimes she is in customer service mode in jeans and sneakers. When she is in NYC to work with the press or designers, she wears something more bohemian.
Mariam doesn’t think about being a woman in the workplace. When she created her own company, she didn’t have to think about being a female in the workplace. She goes to work and doesn’t have to think about gender or being a woman ever. Minted is an incredibly diverse company of mostly women across all areas.