Kathryn Finney is an investor, visionary entrepreneur, philanthropist, and startup champion. She is the Founder and Managing General Partner of Genius Guild and author of BUILD THE DAMN THING: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a Rich White Guy.
She is the chair of The Doonie Fund and founder and former CEO of digital undivided, a social enterprise focused on creating a world where Black women own their work.
She also founded The Budget Fashionista (TBF) and became one of the first Black women to have a successful seven-figure startup exit when she sold that business.
Interestingly, she is a Yale-trained Epidemiologist. Her work has been recognized by the Aspen Institute, Entrepreneur Magazine, Marie Claire, Ebony, Inc. Magazine, Black Enterprise, and in many other great publications.
Kathryn was really fun to talk with. We explored her journey as well as many of the obstacles that women and particularly women of color encounter as they build businesses.
Listen in here:Subscribe: Apple | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast | Spotify | Amazon
In this episode you’ll learn:
- What does Kathryn do to work for the world ?
- How Kathryn found purpose on his work.
- How Kathryn transitions from epidemiologist to venture capital.
- What vocation means.
- Kathryn’s writing process for her new book.
- What is a personal advisory board and why you should have one
- How to use the MVP concept in your life.
- How to process feedback
- How to become a “builder’
BUILD THE DAMN THING: How to Start a Successful Business If You’re Not a Rich White Guy
Software Generated Transcription:
Dan: Katherine. Thank you so much for joining me. Welcome to the mini movement podcast. I’m so excited to have you here with us.
Kathryn Finney: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Dan: The question I like to begin with is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do in the
Kathryn Finney: You know, I always start with that. I have the best job in the world. I get to invest in people who are like me, who look like me. I get to be a part of a creative process, not just for myself, but for others as well. And that is so gratifying. , um, it it’s so exciting. It’s nothing like seeing things being built and we’re at a time period in our world right now where things are not being built, right.
Things are kind of being destroyed a bit And so to be a part of a process and to everyday work and get paid to be a part of a process in which people are building things and not destroying things, it’s pretty exciting. It’s a pretty cool.
Dan: I love it. I love it. So just to kind of fill that out a little bit further, uh, I mean, I, I know a little bit, um, but for listeners, is that, does that mean that you’re venture, you know, in venture capital or like, what does it mean that you’re investing in, in, um, in companies and in people?
Kathryn Finney: you know, I often say my occupation is venture capital, but my vocation is entrepreneurship. And so I, I invest in amazing women of color founders, mostly, um, who are building high growth companies. Um, and there are companies that are doing. Interesting cool things like, um, one of my favorite companies that we invested in is called health and her hue.
It’s like WebMD for black women, which is like amazing. And it’s scaling and it’s growing really rapidly. Another one of our companies is a company called quirk chat, which is a sort OFAC for quirky people of color. Um, and so all of these communities, all these things that are being built. Exceptionally creative founders.
Like I get to fund them. I get to support them. I get to invest in them and then work with them
Dan: I love it. well, let me just rewind a little bit because I, I don’t, well, my, the bit I know about your story is that you, you didn’t take the conventional path
Kathryn Finney: to grow their companies. No,
Dan: venture venture capital. And so I’d love to hear some of some of that story, cuz you, you started your career as I believe that epi epidemic can’t even say the word.
Kathryn Finney: Epidemiologist. Yeah.
Dan: And, and so how did you, how did you go from there to here and just, just maybe fill in some of the yeah. Fill in some of those gaps.
Kathryn Finney: you know, I,
I really kind of fell into things. Um, I always believe in like going where the opportunities. Follow. And so in that feeling that I had to be in a rigid box. And so I had a sick parent. I was living abroad, working as an epidemiologist and had to come back to the states and I got married and I was spending so much money because I was this depressed.
So like shopping was like my, my therapy. Um, it was a very expensive therapy, but, um, and my husband at the time said, you know, Why don’t you start a blog instead of spitting all this money. Like, why don’t you just write about shopping and you can kind of pretend like you were doing it. And so I started this blog and it became a thing.
Um, and this was in 2003 and it was all about budget shopping. And that was before everyone had the budget shop. Um, if we remember this is before 2008, Things are really, really good. I think we’re kind of in a similar period now, before now, everything was really, really good. And then all of a sudden, everyone had to be on the budget and everyone sort of cared.
And so my, my website turned into a media company that I later sold. And then I went to go work for another woman led startup and that got bought. And while at that startup, I started an organization called digital UND divide. Um, which is an organization that works with black and Latinx women to help them scale and grow their companies.
Um, and it’s now a massive sort of institution. I started it ran it for eight years and it was during the pandemic, um, that I started to see really the challenges around sort of finance and equity and investment for women of color. For many years, digital divided had did a, um, we research project called project Diane, where we documented the lack of investment for black women and Latinx women.
Um, at one point. The percentage of investment black women had received was zero six of all percent of all venture capital. We’re about 7% of the us population. So you can imagine statistically, we, we had no investment, um, and that had a big impact on me. And so. And said. Okay. Um, and then during the pandemic, I had a front row seat to see how, uh, people of color women, um, basically anyone who didn’t have a personal banker, weren’t getting that first tranche of the PPP loans.
Um, and it was just devastating. And so I started a nonprofit called the do fund that gives micro investment. Um, and we gave out over 1500 micro invests in the six week time period during the pandemic. Um, and it changed my life doing that. Um, and each year we give out a, a, a certain amount of money. It’s my primary philanthropy.
But, um, it just fundamentally changed my life of this. Being able to do that and this whole thought of investing in women of color without a bunch of unnecessary restrictions that has nothing to do with their capability, but everything to do with, um, societal beliefs in terms of what this group of people could do.
Dan: Hmm. Hmm.
Kathryn Finney: And so that just had a huge impact on me. And while I was trying to think of what my next steps were gonna be postage or divided, George Floyd was murdered. Um, and I grew up in Minneapolis. I went to elementary school about six blocks away from where he was murdered. So. and I knew so many people who were involved.
Like I know the prosecutors is our family hairdressers, like husband, that sort of like connection right. Of these people who I grew up with, or I knew personally. And it just that coupled with the impact of the do fund just really led me to start genius skilled. It was a, a catalyst of, I can do this. I can invest in people like myself.
Um, we have ideas. We have. We’re building scalable companies, um, and that we can, we can do this and I can do.
Dan: I love it. I love it so much. Um, I mean, so much of your story, I feel like is, is. You seeing opportunity taking a step towards it and then maybe holding open hands to, you know, receive or to find what, what might come and, and accept, you know, the, the next step, the next journey, the next doorway that, that, that opens in front of you.
As you think back on, on all those transitions, like when you were an epidemiologist like that, I mean, that takes a lot of, a lot of schooling, a lot of education to, to get, to get there. Right. Um, And then to pivot from that, like, it just seems like I, I I’m just, I guess, so just taken aback by how much you’ve been able to reinvent yourself and continue to do so.
And now, you know, of course reinventing, you know, a whole, a whole industry right. Of, of, of venture capital. Um, but have, I don’t know, I, I’m not sure exactly what the question is here, except like yeah. Have you always felt like. Change in adapting to your environment? Is that like something that’s just as really natural to you?
Or, or is
Kathryn Finney: Yeah,
Dan: that you’ve learned along the way?
Kathryn Finney: I think, you know, I grew up with a family that took a big risk. My parents left Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where we knew everyone and moved to Minneapolis where we knew absolutely no one. And I saw them take that risk and I saw them win. As a result. I knew that I could also take that risk too. And growing up in Minneapolis, I was often like to say the only little chocolate drop in, um, a room full of people who were not like me.
And so if I wanted to have a date, um, during high school, I had to learn how to interact with other people who weren’t like me. Um, and that has served me quite well in my life. And so I could go to any situation and pretty much. To anyone. My friends call me the rose nylon from like golden girls, the Betty White character. I always have a story and I can pretty much go to like anywhere and talk to anyone. And I have done that.
Dan: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Yeah. Well, as you, um, I know you already used the word vocation, but I kind of wanna circle, circle back to that because I think it’s, um, it’s, it’s important, important word to me, it’s a word I often, you know, I’m trying to move the needle on that word, you know, in, in, in culture to get people thinking about like how, how they think about calling vocation in their lives, how would you articulate your, and you already have started started on that, but how do you think about that word?
How do you use that in. Vernacular.
Kathryn Finney: You know, I think a vocation of it’s who I am
Kathryn Finney: at the end of the day and occupation is what I do on a daily basis, but that’s not necessarily who I am. Um, and I think. You know, we’re not really giving language to talk like that of like, you know, I’m an accountant. Well, that now loving numbers is, is your vocation, right?
Maybe you’re a numbers person, a mathematician, maybe that’s your vocation and what you do, how you apply. It is as an accountant. As your occupation. And I think if you think of it in that way of your vocation, as who you are, and your occupation is how you apply who you are, um, it just helps keeps it very clear.
The difference between the two. Exactly.
Dan: Yeah, it is so, so well said. And I, I mean, very much in line with how I think about it like that a dream job at, at its best should be an outlet for your, for your vocation, for who you are, but it is not, you know, it is not your vocation. It’s, it’s a place, it’s a place to do that work, but it isn’t your work in and of itself.
Um, which, which I think you’ve, you’ve articulated. Yeah. So, so, so beautifully. So thank. Thank you for that. I wanna talk about this book,
build the damn thing. I don’t usually cuss, not know that that’s a mild word, so weird coming outta my mouth.
Kathryn Finney: I have a six year old and I gave him permission to say the title and now he like, says it over and over again because he never gets to say anything, but like
Dan: I love it. I love it. And you dedicated the book to him. I
Kathryn Finney: mm-hmm . Yeah.
Dan: which is just so sweet, so sweet. Um, how to start a successful business, even if you’re not a rich white guy, you’ve already started talking about where this book came from, but when did it become a book in your mind and what is your hope for the book?
Kathryn Finney: You know, it became a book just through the years of building things and reading all the business books, some of which are some of my favorite books. but they never addressed the challenges that I face as, as a mom. That’s a whole slew of challenges there of managing that. Um, as, as a woman, as a black woman, um, as someone who isn’t, you know, super wealthy, I, I do think I’m definitely privileged.
It, it just wasn’t written for people like me. Um, and wasn’t written for most of us actually. And so How do you handle that? How do you build a business when there’s so many strikes against you? How do you build a business when you’re playing on a different playing field, you’re playing a different game.
You’re playing on like a harder level, like expert level that you have to navigate. And how do you do that? Like, how do you actually do that when you don’t have the privileges that are automatically given when you are male white and of a certain class?
Kathryn Finney: And what was really, what’s been really interesting about this book is like the number of rich white men who actually liked the book.
Kathryn Finney: I think that, I think that’s so funny. I mean, one of our endorsers is, you know, Steve case. Who’s like one of the OG, like rich white guys. And, um, but the feedback that they’ve given me was This is similar to the advice that I give the companies I invest in, but I don’t have the cultural competency to say it to them.
And you said it in a way that people could actually hear, and me as a rich white guy, I say it and I mess it up and it doesn’t sound right. And it comes off as a certain way, but you say it and people could hear it. And I thought that was like one of the most interesting compliments from, from a rich white guy.
It wasn’t written for them, but I’m glad that they’re getting, um, value it’s written for everyone who gets value from it. But. But it was really this book of like, how do you build something when you don’t have privilege?
Kathryn Finney: How do you do it? Um, and it’s not just women, it’s not just, you know, women of color, but if you’re part of the L G B T I Q community, or if you didn’t come from money, um, and you’re poor, like how do you do this?
How do you build something that’s sustainable? And last, when you don’t have all those advantage,
Dan: Mm, I love it. And is it, I mean, I, I, I know cuz I’ve, um, I’ve read most of it. That’s as I said before, I started started, um, recording. there’s so many different ways to go about starting so. Um, which path is there a specific path that you have in mind for this, this book for people who are reading this book, as far as, you know, whether it’s bootstrapping something like building a blog, like you did to like, you know, then selling as a, as a media company too, like, you know, going to Silicon valley and, and raising raising funds, like what, what path did you write with this with, um, in mind?
Kathryn Finney: The path I wrote, it was really. First figuring out the path that’s right for you. I, so many books I read were like, so prescriptive of like, you do this, you do this, you do this. Um, and I start the book talking about what I call, get your mind, right. Which is basically get yourself in the position to be able to build, because entrepreneurship is really hard.
Um, it is a marathon, not a. and you have to build up endurance. You have to have this toolbox to be able to get through it because you’re gonna be challenged at every step of the way. Um, it’s just the nature of it, whether it be ethically, whether it be financially, whether it be even in your personal relationships, you’re going to be challenged as you start to do this.
And so it is in your best interest to spend time centering yourself and getting yourself together before you embark on this path. And this process, it is time well spent.
Dan: Yeah, I love that. Um, really, uh, just a, it’s such a different focus. I felt than books that are, you know, typically just like to just get, you know, get out there, put in the work, do the hustle, you know, grind it out, um, which start you start with a different place. And I think by starting at a different place, you, you end up with a more sustainable, um, a sustainable approach, um, which I, I thought was
Kathryn Finney: the day. we all wanna live a creative life in which we can control. And entrepreneurship is literally just a tool to do that. It’s, it’s not the end all to be all. And so, and there’s other tools that you can use as well. And I think if you think of entrepreneurship as a tool and not. The end, all the be all, it helps keep you sort of in that process.
Um, because again, it’s, it’s a hard journey. It is not easy. It’s, you know, people will often say entrepreneurs are maybe a little kooky because who would choose to do the hardest thing in the entire world. Um, but it’s so interesting. My, my ex-husband often says to me, you know, there’s this gene that tells you not to jump and he is like, you don’t have that gene.
I’m like, no, I don’t I don’t, I don’t have the non jumping gene, like, um, and I think, you know, that’s true for entrepreneurs. It’s like, we are doing the hardest thing in the world, but we’re doing it because now we have a creative life in which we can control, and that is worth it. That giving being able to control our lives and our destinies is worth giving up the, the stability and security of maybe working for someone else.
I mean, that’s why we do.
Dan: Yeah, I love that. And I, I love that the idea of entrepreneurship as a tool, that’s just a reframing that I’ve never, I’ve never heard before. I usually think of entrepreneurship as an identity as, as something of, of, of who you are, which I think is great in some ways, but then also can be really hard because there, there might be times when. You I’m, I’m speaking, speaking from my own story, uh, like I, you try to be, just try, try to start something and then it didn’t work out that well. And so then what does that say about me being an entrepreneur and am I actually an entrepreneur? And I really love that invitation to, to view it as a tool because it’s just, just like any tool you can learn how to use it and learn how.
How to, you know, you learn how to use a shovel to, to, to dig a hole or, you know, a, a hammer to build a fence. And like, in the same way, you can learn how to, how to do, how, how to use the tool of entrepreneurship. Um, And, and it’s just more, a more forgiving, um, I guess, metaphor. So thank you for that. That’s, uh, really, really fantastic.
What are the ideas that really, um, jumped out to me from the book that I felt like I really needed? I mean, there were so many in there. Um, I felt I did feel this like, um, I don’t know, like, as I was reading it, like, like you said about the, the rich white guys. I not rich, but I am a white guy. Um, that? I’m like, oh, is this, is this book for me?
Um, should I even be reading this? but felt like, you know, you, you are articulating, I think, pointing your finger at a problem. Um, the problem of, of representation, the problem that you’ve already mentioned about that 0.06% of funds going to, to, um, to black women, um, black. Companies founded by, by black women.
And so like, as I was reading it, I was like, at first I was like, okay, what’s this journey, what’s this journey about to that? I’m about to take, gonna be like, um, but quickly felt myself kind of settled into it and just, um, was just a really fantastic and was so fantastic read with so many takeaways of all the different steps of the process of building something.
But one of the ideas, just to circle back to it that, um, I just really spoke to me and I wanna really put into to action is, is the idea of a personal advisory board. Like I I’ve, I’ve often, you know, heard of, you know, boards of directors and, and advisory boards for companies. Uh, but wanna just kind of talk about that a little bit and what, what your, your vision for that is and how listeners can employ that in their own lives, whether or not they’re building something, because I think it’s a really important concept.
Kathryn Finney: Yeah, I think your personal advisory board is something you should do, whether you are building a company or not. Um, and it really is this idea of, you know, if you think of the advisory boards or board of directors, you create for a company, right. And they’re there to give advice, uh, many are very invested in the success of the company.
Um, and, and give you advice. Some, some leadership, some, some mapping for you. it’s similar for your personal advisory board. These are people who are invested in you, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have like an investor or your business, you know, your accountant or anyone like that. Um, it is the people for whom you winning is exciting for them.
It’s people who want to see you win. Um, and so there’s a whole bunch of components to the personal advisory. One is you want somebody who is your BS meter, basically the person who can tell you when you are kind of lying to yourself,
Kathryn Finney: when you’re maybe not being honest to yourself and they can tell you in a way where you can hear it.
Um, cuz not everyone we can hear it from, but there’s some people can like cut right? Through it and get to the bone and like really challenge you to make sure that you’re like being honest to yourself and who you are. Um, there’s also someone who’s really good at kind of being the blocker for you and like handling like difficult people, especially when you come from large families or large communities.
In my case is my mother who, um, Has a particular skill set that she’s honed over years to paraphrase a movie taken , but you know, she’s able to do it deal with kooky family members who, who come up. Um, you know, if you are in Forbes magazine, raising this. 20 million fund, you know, of course there’s family members who see that and think, oh my gosh, Catherine has 20 million.
Let me go ask her for money. And my mom is very good at saying no, and she’s a, you know, a 75 year old black grandma. No, one’s gonna go against her. Like,
Dan: Yes. Yes.
Kathryn Finney: I mean, she’s not especially tall, but like, you know, everyone’s afraid to like go against her so she can say no in the final, um, someone who makes you laugh. You know, I always say on your board of directors, a comedian, in my case, it’s my son. Who’s actually on my board of advisors. He is so funny. It’s very hard to be upset about, you know, what’s going on in the market. When you have a six year old singing, a song about people who live in the toilet, it’s just very, very difficult to be angry and it just puts it all in perspective.
And so. You know, you’re really, your advisory board are the people who want to see you win and who are really there for you. And, and, and it’s more of a personal thing, not so much about your business, but it impacts your business because these are the people for whom will give you the foundation, the people who will, who you can talk to, the people who will help guide you.
They don’t have to be family members. They can be close friends or close mentors. But these are the people who you can be fully yourself with because when you’re a CEO and you’re leading, sometimes you can’t be fully yourself. Um, there’s, there’s many reasons why you can’t, but with this advisory board you can, and they appreciate, and they uplift you.
And that’s so important.
Dan: I love that. Um, yeah, it it’s such a, such a good, yeah. I guess way to think about what your needs are, how to bring the people around around you. I’m curious. Do you, do you recommend like, is it formal? Like does, does your mom know she’s your blocker or
Kathryn Finney: She does now she read the book.
Dan: Yeah. But do you recommend people like, or is it just like you have in the back of your head?
Like, okay, if I need help in these different areas, I go to these people or do you like, you know, have a, have an intentional conversation like saying, Hey, I’m trying this thing, this personal advisory board, would you, would you have a seat on it? I don’t know how, how formal should it
Kathryn Finney: So, you know, for, in the case of my mother, I, you know, would say I have this thing coming out. There’s a form article about me raising this is what happened last year. And I just said, I just need you to like run inference for me.
Dan: Mm. Yeah,
Kathryn Finney: Um, and she, she got it immediately, what that meant. Um, and so it’s not like formal, like we have formal meetings once a quarter or anything like that.
Dan: we’re on a board room.
Kathryn Finney: in a boardroom. No, it’s more like, Hey, you know, I need you to run interference or, you know, let me stop working and like play with my son for a little bit and have him tell me some crazy story about toilet people or whomever, right. Or like his friends at school, which make no sense, but is like so hilarious or, you know, um, I was taken to one person and they were saying their dog is on their advisory report cuz it’s like, anytime they’re feeling super stressed and they have a decision to make their dog comes around and it’s just like instant happiness.
So it doesn’t have to be formal. Um, and, and it doesn’t even have to be, you know, a, a, a human being in the case of, but it’s something that helps centers. You it’s, it’s groups of people who help center you, who help remind you of your greatness, remind you of who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
um, so that you can then do the business. So you can then interact with your business board of directors, but it’s those, that sort of foundation. And it’s so important. I cannot tell you how valuable it’s been for me in my life.
Dan: Yeah. I love it so much. Um, yeah, it’s definitely something that I, um, it, it is related to a concept I’ve been thinking about, but I haven’t, I Haven. Really, uh, had the right structure for, so it’s definitely, you know, one of the takeaways that I personally will be, um, yeah, putting, putting into place.
Um, so thank you for that. You, you talk in the book about, um, you know, business models and, and creating a MVP. And, um, I was really love just the, the process that you, you take the reader through of like validating ideas in particular. and I think that this is something that. Is a really helpful process.
I mean, especially if you’re gonna be starting a business, you’re, you know, a product or a service that you’re you’re dreaming about. But I think even outside of that, even for people who are listening, who are thinking about, you know, making a change in the, in their, their lives or new career, like, I think there’s a lot of ways that like you could take, we could take the MVP concept and apply it to, to a lot of different areas of life.
Curious just to, to have you share just with, with listeners, some of your thoughts on how to MVP, how to start when you have a big idea to know if that big idea is worth, you know, the, the investment, um, of time and, and resources.
Kathryn Finney: Yeah. You know, it. Suggest starting with, as spending as little money as humanly possible. And what you wanna do is you wanna do what I call like a series of ugly baby tests. Um, and, and it comes
Dan: It’s so good.
Kathryn Finney: like, you know, we all think our baby’s super cute. Um, all our, we all think our kids are like the most amazing children.
In the world, they may not be cute to everyone. And it’s a similar thing with ideas. We think our ideas are like the best ideas that have ever existed in the history of ideas, but maybe not everyone else thinks. So, and in the case of business, you have to have other people think so, right. That’s how you are actually a business.
You have to have other people see value in what it is that you’re bring building. And it could be really hard to be out there like that, to talk about it. Like. um, to be really out front with that, because this fear that if I share this, people are going to be negative towards me. If I share this is going to be, I’m gonna get a response that’s maybe not great or that I wanna hear, but it’s really important so that you don’t waste your time and money going down this road.
Was an ugly baby. Um, and so one of the things I suggest in entrepreneurship is just doing some basic testing. Um, but you can also do this in terms of your career too, which is, um, you know, going on like Twitter, Twitter is the world’s customer service engine, um, and going on there, uh, taking the topic of either the company you, you wanna work for or work with.
or what you’re trying to build, the industry that you’re going into and just do a search and see what people are saying on Twitter about it. Is there a lot of conversations, are people complaining about the particular thing that your product is solving? You know, that helps you see that this, this is a pain point for people, people are out there and this is a problem.
And I’m creating something that people actually want. It doesn’t mean that they’re gonna buy what it is that you’re you’re building, but it does mean that there’s a market for it. And that’s what you wanna get to. You also can do things like just buying, creating a simple ad on Instagram or Twitter, or even Google, um, creating a very simple landing page spending no more than $10 on it.
And then running ads to see how many people click through that’s on your particular topic. And because most platforms publish their click through rate. You can then determine whether your click-through rates are below average or above average, if they’re above average, that means that there’s probably some interest in what you’re doing.
And so these are all little things you can do to sort of like test out your idea before you like tapped into your 401k, which I highly, highly, highly do not advise you do. Um, especially now where the markets are, do not do that. Please, please leave it alone. Um, to build your.
Dan: Yeah, I love it. I, oh, I just think it’s such a smart process. I think too often we have this great idea and I’m so guilty of this, you know, in business and in life where I’m like, I’ve got this great idea, I’m going all in on it. And then, you know, I’ll wake up down the road and realize, oh, that, that didn’t work.
And I could have gotten an answer on that. A lot faster if I’d, you know, um, validated it, um, ahead of time, how do you, uh, how do you recommend people process negative feedback? Cause I think sometimes we are really blinded by our, by our love for our ugly baby that we don’t see how ugly the baby actually is.
Uh, how do you, uh, how do you recommend people take that feedback and actually hear it?
Kathryn Finney: Well, one ask yourself, who’s saying. That that’s a very important distinction in terms of feedback. It’s one thing, if it’s an investor, like I invest, you know, in a company and I own a percentage equity in it, and I’m giving feedback, it’s a very, very different context than someone who’s just outside, who has no investment in the company.
And so for you as a founder, as entrepreneur, like ask yourself, What is this person’s motive? What interests do they have in me? Is it, if it’s my personal advisory board, those are people who want me to sort of win. So if they’re giving me feedback, maybe I need to listen a little bit versus some Brando on the internet because there’s so many people who have opinions now is that opinion really matter.
Is that opinion something I should really hold dear. Um, and so I think that’s really important to understand those two distinctions. And then also I think in terms of feedback, just use it as a data point. Um, and not an endpoint. The same thing I say about failure, use it as a data point and not an endpoint.
So what information can I gleam from this comment or feedback? And is it information that is relevant to what I’m doing? And can I take it in implement it? And if you can’t then leave it right where it’s at, like don’t even fret with it. But if it’s true feedback that you can use to help make your product better or make yourself better, then take that little nugget of wisdom and use it to move yourself forward and think of it as it’s helping you move forward.
Not that it’s a criticism of you personally.
Dan: Yes. I love that. That’s really helpful. And I think to approach it, maybe with the sci, you know, using the word data point, help me think about like approaching it like a scientist, right? Like it’s not about, it’s not about you, it’s not about your feelings, but to like, kind of remove yourself from, from the situation, look at it from the outside and view, view it like a, a scientist would studying something.
And what does this data point say about the, the, the direction and, um, It’s a really, yeah, really helpful metaphor there you encourage builders to, to, uh, the word you use is act, act entitled and embrace
Kathryn Finney: Yep. Mm-hmm
Dan: And I wanna just, just hear, hear you share a little bit about that, especially that the act entitled part I think is, is really important.
I think you have some. Some, I you’ve used that entitled word a bit throughout the book to share maybe the Genesis of some of that. And you know, what you’re kind of reacting and pushing against. And then also the invitation that you’re, you’re offering to
Kathryn Finney: Yeah, it’s interesting. And so in a 2016 election had a great friend call me, who’s a rich white dude of like all the networks, Stanford, like all the rich white ness. He’s like the height of rich white ness. And he was so upset, um, with the election and just kind of, you know, excuse my language, but like bitched a little bit.
And I was like, okay, get five minutes, like five minutes due. and I said to him when, after his five minutes is over, I said, you know, you have a birthright. people give you privilege and you don’t even ask for it and you can’t even give it. You walk into a store and people assume that you can afford to buy everything in there.
I walk into the store and many times they assume I can, that’s not your fault. People give, they put that on you. They give that to you. They give you your privilege readily. And so use it. I mean, you, you have it. You’re like prince Harry, you can never not be a Royal. You can never not have that privilege.
You can never give it back. So use it. Use your entitled ness. That is, that is your super. Is that you’re super entitled. So use it for others, figure out how you can bring other people around. And I think this whole idea of entitled is that again, you know, for rich white men, they are given privileges that they don’t even deserve.
Um, they’re given privileges whether they want it or not is given to them. Our society is constructed to give them that. And for that reason, they don’t have to really. About stuff. And it’s interesting. My friend said to me, you know, I had never thought about the 99% of people who were behind me. All I knew is I was in bill gates. I was an Elon Musk, but I’m like, dude, you’re like a, a healthy millionaire, like but in his mind he was like, I’m not them. And I was only looking forward and I only was looking at the fact that I wasn’t these like ultra ultra high net worth people. I wasn’t looking back and saying, oh my God, I’m richer than like almost everybody else. and so, you know, and that’s a very entitled way of thinking because the titles don’t have to look back. They don’t have to think about that. They don’t have to worry about whether or not they belong in a room because they belong everywhere. All rooms are constructed for their belonging. And that’s a big difference when you’re not that.
right. When you are a woman or you are a black woman and you show up into a room or you’re an immigrant and maybe English, isn’t your first language. And you show up into the room and you know, this room is not constructed for you. So you have to think about how to build relationships, how to build your presence.
And that’s where the idea of builders come from is that we’re always building, we’re always creating because we don’t have it created for. We don’t have the building already constructed. We have to construct the building. Um, and, and how do we think about building companies or our lives or our careers in that context of that?
We have to build it. It’s not constructed for us. Um, luckily for me and in subsequent generations, um, I’m a, like a late gen Xer, almost millennial. We had people who gave us blueprints at least. Um, but I think of my parents and definitely my grandparents did not have any blueprints whatsoever. It was just like, go build something and like build a skyscraper, have fun.
And you’re like, well, how do I build a skyscraper? I don’t know how to do that. Oh. And we’re also gonna tear down the skyscraper a couple of times in the middle of you building into so that you have to rebuild it. Um, and so luckily for. I’m starting to see changes in builders, particularly millennial and gen Z builders, where we have blueprints that have been made for us.
Um, and then we have a couple of blocks actually have been given to us to get started. And so we’re now starting to construct buildings that hopefully will last in the institutions and are gonna be models for other buildings to be built as builders. But, you know, I think it’s just challenging. I think being, you know, A builder, particularly in a time when things are not good economically, which is where we’re kind of heading towards.
Um, and so it’s gonna be interesting to see the interactions between the builders and entitles in the, in the upcoming years.
Dan: Yeah. Yeah. And so is your encouragement to, to builders to maybe, um, I dunno, fake it till you make it. You don’t use that word, but like when you walk into that room, like to act, act like you belong, um, you to, to like, what, what, I don’t know, maybe you can even speak to the people in the audience who are, who are you’re part of the, that demographic like that they’re go going into that, that meeting with whether it’s their boss or a VC and.
They feel like they don’t belong. Like, I don’t know if you have specific words you wanna just say to them right now, but I’d love to just yeah. Open that
Kathryn Finney: Yeah. A good friend of mine. Um, I remember we were talking and she said, you know, you realize you’re the coolest person they met that day. I was talking to her about meeting with some potential investors in our fund. She’s like, you’re the coolest person they met. Like I guarantee she said, I guarantee you’re the coolest person they met that day.
So show up as such.
Kathryn Finney: And, and so remember you, particularly when you are diverse, you are the coolest person they met that day. Um, especially if you’re in Silicon valley land of like, you know, Patagonia vest and like khakis and all bird shoes and you show up. You are the coolest person they’ve met that day
Um and so, and so present yourself as such show up into the rooms, understanding that and how lucky they are to meet you in this day, because man, their day would just be full of boring meetings with other Patagonia invests. But you show up and you are just like a light and you’re different and it’s exciting.
And so they should be excited to meet with you because you’re bringing a whole new perspective and a whole new way of thinking to them. And wow. Now their day just got more interesting and guarantee on their way home and their Tesla. They’re gonna be talking to whomever. They talk to their partner, their wife, their husbands, about I met this really cool black woman that day.
like, she’ll show up as such.
Dan: Yeah. That’s so great. What a fun reframing. I love it. It’s really?
Kathryn Finney: And if you don’t think you’re the coolest, fake, it, like, pretend like you are like, because they’re not going to know. And one of the fun things I do is I have a, a playlist on Spotify that I listen to. Um, and it’s called bad, you know, B I T CS, but it’s like, Megan is stallion. And, and I listen to it before I go into some of these meetings where I know I’m going to be the only person like me.
And it just gets me like, pumped up, like the confidence, you know, if you have Megan. Stalling in, in your head where you’re talking to a pitch and fund, like, you know, like, you just feel like bad and like, and it, and it, and it has an impacted how you show up with confidence and presence. So whoever your hype person is, you’re hype song.
That’s another way to get yourself hyped up before you go into some of these rooms.
Dan: I love it. It’s so it’s it’s I mean, both so practical, right? Like have a, have a playlist. And also I think just, I don’t know, aspirational of like, yeah, this is, this is possible. Like to know that. You can tell yourself a different story about the spaces that you’re in, that allow you to then show up in, in new ways.
So thank you for that. Um, any, you just, we move toward, towards wrapping up here. Best case scenario. If you have a, have a magic wand and all, all the, all your dreams come true for the people that read this book, like, what is, what does that look like? What’s the impact that this book would have?
Kathryn Finney: It’s that we’re all creating and we’re all building. And again, I think in a time where things are being destroyed, um, to have a community of people who are building and builders, It’s a truly
Dan: Yep. I love it. I love it. So well said, thank you for this. And I’m, I’m so excited with what you’re doing with the genius Guild. And, um, you know, I imagine a future where, where, like you were saying like that, that our kids get to grow up in a space where more is possible for all, all people. You know, regardless of, of the genetics cards that they’ve been, they’ve been dealt and, um, the culture cards that they’ve been dealt.
And so, um, thank you for the work that you’re doing to, to move the needle on that. So,
Kathryn Finney: Thank you so much.
Dan: yeah, for folks that wanna connect with you, follow along with what you’re doing, any, anything that you’d like to invite them to.
Kathryn Finney: Yeah. Please follow me on Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn. It’s Katherine Finney. And I just really hoped people enjoy the book. Um, we’re asking people, you know, buy the book for yourself, but also buy it for an entrepreneur in your life. Um, it’s a fun book. It’s it’s business, but it’s fun. Um, and so, and so, um, Give a book to one of the entrepreneurs in your life.
And then when you do buy it and read it, like take a picture with it because I always love to hear how people are using the book. How are they using lessons, maybe some things that you discovered that I didn’t even think of. And so, um, I look forward to seeing all the pictures and photos and interacting with you all.
Dan: I love it. Thank you so much for the book and thank you for sharing with us today. It’s been really great having you on the show.
Kathryn Finney: Thank you so much. I so appreciate it.