Fran Hauser, 46
Startup investor, Former President of Digital at Time Inc. and Author of the Forthcoming Book, The Myth of the Nice Girl
Startup investor, media executive and author, Fran Hauser, has a knack for building things. Instructed early on in her career to be tough in business in order to be successful, Hauser instead took on a leadership style that was both approachable and assertive. After a series of career milestones, including the acquisition of Moviefone by AOL, and helping to build people.com into one of the most profitable businesses at Time Inc., Hauser has proven that you can kill it in the business world by being both kind and strong, and her forthcoming book, The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate, explains exactly how.
1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?
I’ve worked across several industries, but have consistently gravitated toward roles that allow me to do what I love most: build things. At Time Inc., I was passionate about collaborating with startups and building digital extensions for iconic brands like People and InStyle. As an investor, I help smart entrepreneurs build successful businesses and introduce creative products and services into the marketplace. My greatest achievement has been my ability to reinvent myself throughout my career, most recently transitioning from digital media to investing. Leaping into the unknown can be scary, but it’s how I got to where I am today.
"I’ve learned over the years that the best female leaders are confident and authentic..."
2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?
I was told throughout my early career that I was “too nice” to succeed in the business world. I got the advice that I needed to behave like a man if I ever wanted a corner office of my own.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Mullowney
3. Do you find this is a common stereotype in the media industry, or in the business world at large?
A lot of women, including myself, face the same Catch 22: if you’re too nice, you’re labeled a pushover or ineffective. If you’re not nice enough, then you’re a bitch. These stereotypes are harmful and divisive. I’ve learned over the years that the best female leaders are confident and authentic – whether they’re tough, nice, or some combination of the two.
4. How did you #SWAAYthenarrative? What was the reaction by those who told you you “couldn’t” do it?
I swaayed the narrative by focusing on delivering results while staying true to myself. I played a central role in the acquisition of Moviefone by AOL, helped build people.com into one of the most profitable businesses at Time Inc., and developed a robust investment portfolio focused on female-led startups – all without sacrificing who I am. I showed the doubters that you can be kind and strong and still kill it in the business world.
"If it doesn't feel authentic to who you are, don't do it."
I was sick of feeling powerless and not honoring the tiger within me. But I was also afraid to write about my inner most feelings about sex, power dynamics, social status, money and all the issues I felt compelled to unravel. I was afraid to show my anger. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me anymore and that I'd shatter that passive, sweet girl image I had cloaked myself in. Well, I think I shattered that and thank God!
5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?
If it doesn’t feel authentic to who you are, don’t do it. Trying to be someone you’re not usually doesn’t end well, and it can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Being genuine and confident will lead you to opportunities that bring out your best self. You have the power to create your own reality.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Mullowney
Going through adolescence and puberty can take its toll. As we try and navigate the changes that are happening and settle into adulthood, it's easy to be unaware of something that might be a reason for concern, or we may rely on old traditional methods of support that aren't conducive to positive long-term health.
As a society, we have accepted popular over-the-counter medicines that are used for an isolated headache or migraine to be the only line of defense to treat period pain. We have allowed old treatments and information to remain stagnant and thus have failed to evolve with the times. In order for change to be possible, we need to modify our approach and take advantage of and source new information, products, and research while pushing the conversation forward to normalize discussions around menstruation to better support the health of people who menstruate.
As a society, we have accepted popular over-the-counter medicines that are used for an isolated headache or migraine to be the only line of defense to treat period pain.
Between growing up with three sisters and a dad who is a double-board certified OB/GYN and infertility specialist, vaginal wellness has always taken center stage in my house. Through this, I had a lens into a world that overtime became more obviously outdated and slow to establish new tools to help combat the unpleasantries that are associated with menstruation. In my own family, I was able to see how different getting your period could be, how diverse symptoms were, and the importance of quality female wellness.
One of my sisters had the unfortunate experience of dealing with an ulcer related to excessive use of over-the-counter medication. This medicine was the only available option to help ease the pain throughout her cycle, which is a direct example of just how damaging the lack of quality menstrual-pain products can be and the toll it takes on our bodies.
It was hard not to wonder why period companies weren't as equally diverse as its customers. Or perhaps another question is, where is the effort to even have open discussions about what more could be done? As you could imagine, growing up with a doctor in the family lends itself to immediate access to health information, but this is a luxury that most people do not have. So where are the resources to help educate women and other people with vaginas on their bodies or symptoms they should look out for to help maintain positive reproductive health?
Through these observations, it became apparent just how much more could be done to support, aid, and educate women or other people with vagins on reproductive wellness. As someone who took to the trend of CBD to help with my own menstrual cycle symptoms, it had dawned on me that I was already nurturing a solution. I had been sharing my experience with CBD for menstrual relief with my sisters and girlfriends, so why not the rest of our community?
Enter, Maxine + Morgan, the CBD based wellness brand dedicated to using natural ingredients to alleviate menstrual cycle symptoms that I created with my dad Dr. Allen Morgan. When my family and I learned that people who menstruate sacrifice approximately 23 days a year on average worth of productivity because of period-related symptoms, we knew our products could improve that. We created capsules that are GMO free, gluten free, and vegan; all of which are made up using only six ingredients. Turmeric, ginger, cramp bark, valerian root, and fennel coupled with the healing qualities of CBD make up our unique formula that has been scientifically shown to reduce PMS symptoms and cramping. In addition to our CBD-based products, we also have a wellness line of options that are CBD free, which are also undergoing a clinical study to determine overall effectiveness.
In my own family, I was able to see how different getting your period could be, how diverse symptoms were, and the importance of quality vaginal wellness.
We decided early on that we would focus on providing high-quality supplements that fostered an uninterrupted lifestyle while simultaneously investing time and resources to new research and information. Having only been established for a few years now, we have coordinated the first ever clinical study to compare the effectiveness of CBD to popular over-the-counter medicine. We have also created an initiative with the non-profit organization, Period.org to donate funds to help support their amazing cause.
As a program that prioritizes access to information, hygiene products, and resources, we couldn't think of a better group to join forces with to leverage change within the industry. Especially now in the pandemic era, there has been an influx of women who are facing the harsh reality of period poverty. This refers to women who need feminine hygiene products but cannot afford them, which often leads to using toilet paper, rags, socks, or not using anything at all. This is completely unacceptable. Maxine+Morgan is vowing to bring awareness to period poverty and sourcing solutions that help all women feel comfortable, healthy, and strong. Through strategic partnerships, influencing open conversations, and raising money for non-profit organizations we can create a new dynamic and standard.
Maxine+Morgan is vowing to bring awareness to period poverty and sourcing solutions that help all menstruating people feel comfortable, healthy, and strong.
We have set high standards for the quality and effectiveness of our products, but also for who we are as a company. We are dedicated to being allies to the female community in order to foster change, create support, and reinvent how we talk about period health. More times than not, we only discuss our experience around our period when we're forced to cancel plans because our cramps are too painful to leave the house. We have no problem talking about our new skincare routine but shy away from talking about our flow, or what's going on down there. Within the next five years, we're setting our sights on not only being readily available in all major retail platforms that carry your other female wellness products, but creating a new dialogue filled with updated information and dismantling the stigma behind open discussion on menstruation and painful period symptoms.
We're with you, we feel you, we are you.