This interview is published as part of Pledge 1%’s Women Who Lead series, which celebrates women in the Pledge 1% community who are creating change within their workplace and communities.
PLEDGE 1%: How did you get started in business? By accident, by design?
Kate Bradley Chernis: I’d spent a dozen years in radio, my last gig broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for XM — what a boys club; nothing could’ve prepared me better for venture capitalists! But the tough part was that I was constantly frustrated… my ideas weren’t taken seriously, I was told they were too “radical” and that folks felt threatened by me. And I felt bad about this! I was actually deeply ashamed because I thought I was disappointing my bosses. Therapy alert!
Then, after a whole lot of crying my eyeballs out, my dad, a lifelong entrepreneur himself, lovingly shook me by the shoulders and shouted, “You can’t work for other people! There’s no shame in that!” Okaaaaaaay.
So I read The Secret (I know, roll your eyes), which reminded of one key thing: whenever I’d hit a line drive in softball (I’d played softball), I wasn’t thinking, “I suck;” I was thinking, “I rule!” And needed to start thinking and being, “I rule.” So I stopped all the toxic work-bitching, which was so hard — I was totally addicted to it!
Next, my husband gave me Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start and I got like six or so pages in and it said, “Don’t waste time planning, just get started.” So I closed the book. A few days later, I met my first investors who gave me $50,000 to start my first company.
Pledge 1%: Anything you’d wish you’d done better or differently?
KBC: I totally wish I’d learned how to fire customers that aren’t a good fit sooner :-). And bought more expensive eye cream. Sleep is not something I do very well… I blame Lately entirely!
Pledge 1%: Any advice for other women building their careers?
KBC: Be shameless, be a little ruthless and be authentic. Because you have to be shameless if you’re selling. I’ll ask anyone for money again and again, all day long. I don’t care how many times they say no. You’ve also gotta be a little ruthless because this is a competition. I’m competing for money from my customers and I’m competing for money from my investors. So you have to be not just out to win the game — you have to be out to beat the machine.
And yes, being authentic is cliché. But it’s the thing that lit it up for me. Because myself is goofy and embarrassing and uncool and imperfect and I don’t know what I’m doing a decent chunk of the time. As soon as I not only embraced that that was okay but shoved it right out front and center, everything changed. Because I am who I am and the business is who I am. Lately was built around me and my experience — my team even calls me Kately. And, in the end, as amazing as my team and the product are, the customers are investing in me and the investors are investing in me.
About Kate Bradley Chernis
Kate Bradley Chernis is the Founder & CEO of Lately, the only complete marketing management software that organizes, simplifies and streamlines all your marketing in one place, with a step-by-step playbook. As a marketing agency owner, Kate initially created the idea for Lately out of spreadsheets for then-client, Walmart. Thanks to a 130% three year, year-over-year ROI with Walmart in her spreadsheet system, Kate found similar success with all of her clients, regardless of industry or company size. She created Lately to pull back the “black curtain” of marketing, so that for the first time, anyone – from CMOs to nonprofits to entrepreneurs – can stop feeling overwhelmed and instantly understand what’s working, what’s not and why. Lately is proud to be a Pledge 1% company.
Prior to founding Lately, Kate served 20 million listeners as Music Director and on-air host at Sirius/XM. She’s also an award-winning radio producer, engineer and voice talent with 25 years of national broadcast communications, brand-building, sales and marketing expertise.