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Helping women build million-dollar businesses: this week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk to Julia Pimsleur, founder of the Little Pim foreign language-learning series and author of Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big. They discuss her career trajectory, from documentary filmmaker to nonprofit fundraiser to entrepreneur, and talk about her experiences raising venture capital — and how the specific challenges for women in the VC world led her to start teaching other female entrepreneurs.


Paul Ford: Richard Ziade.

Rich Ziade: You say my full name. Paul Ford, yes?

Paul: Hi.

Rich: Hi.

Paul: Good to see ya.

Rich: Great to see you.

Paul: We’re back. This is Track Changes, the official podcast of Postlight, a product studio in New York City. Come to us with your needs for all your apps and websites and mobile and whatever and we’ll build the hell out of it for you.

Rich: Build you something beautiful.

Paul: Wait ’til you see what happens when you come and tell your problems to Rich. [laughter]

Rich: Whoa.

Paul: It’s pretty exciting. So! Rich.

Rich: Yes.

Paul: We have a guest today. It’s not just you and I talking nonsense.

Rich: Thank the lord.

Paul: Yeah, somebody who actually knows something. [laughter] It’s pretty great. Who’s in the studio with us today?

Rich: Julia Pimsleur.

Paul: Julia Pimsleur. You know, the first three letters of her name sound familiar, like the “pim” sound. What…[laughter]

Rich: Oh boy. Do I know Pim.

Paul: What —

Rich: We’ll get to that.

Paul: OK. OK.

Rich: We will get to that.

Paul: So there’s, like, a product, right? We’re gonna talk about a product?

Rich: Yes?

Paul: Who is Julia Pimsleur?

Rich: Julia Pimsleur is an entrepreneur.

Paul: OK.

Rich: And an author.

Paul: OK. Wait wait — what is she the author of?

Rich: She’s the author of…Million Dollar Women. Julia, I’m gonna let you give the two-sentence summary of Million Dollar Women.

Julia Pimsleur: I can do better than that. The publishers gave me a great one-sentence tagline. [laughter]

Rich: They’ve trained you up. [laughter] Go for it.

Julia: No, the tagline, or the subtitle is, “The essential guide for female entrepreneurs who want to go big.”

Rich: Cool.

Paul: And that’s out on Simon & Schuster, is your publisher?

Julia: Yes.

Paul: OK.

Rich: You love to say who the publisher is. It’s such a writer thing for you.

Paul: Yeah yeah yeah yeah. [laughter] I’m gonna say two more things about Julia, and then we’re gonna get into a conversation with her. You ready? She’s the founder of the Million Dollar Women Academy to help more women get to one million dollars in revenue, which is great.

Rich: Yes.

Paul: That’s a perfect number. And she’s the daughter of the linguist Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery and the Pimsleur Method, which means that you were born a brand! [laughter] Welcome.

Julia: Something like that.

Rich: People pay a lot of money to get there, Julia.

Julia: He wasn’t a brand when I was growing up. He was a simple academic. But it all came later.

Paul: So welcome, thank you for being on Track Changes.

Julia: It’s great to be here.

Rich: I’d love to set the backdrop here.

Paul: OK. OK.

Rich: By you telling us: you’re in school, let’s just start at school. Where have you decided to go?

Julia: Preschool? Which school?

Rich: No.

Julia: How far back are we going?

Rich: Let’s go to college.

Julia: OK.

Rich: Undergrad. And what are you thinking about, in terms of where you’re gonna go and what you wanna do? Or are you thinking — I shouldn’t make that assumption, too. You may just be thinking about…

Julia: Well funny enough, after a long, meandering road, I’ve come back to pretty much exactly what I was interested in in college.

Rich: OK.

Julia: Which is I was a film studies major, and a women studies minor.

Rich: OK.

Julia: So I was always very interested in media for social change.

Rich: OK.

Julia: That was a big focus of mine. And also feminism.

Rich: OK.

Julia: Surprise!

Rich: And as topics, did you know how that was going to translate into what you did on a day-to-day basis?

Julia: Not at all, no.

Rich: OK.

Julia: I fell in love with documentary filmmaking when I was in college. I made a documentary as my senior project. It was called, “Boola Boola . . . Yale Goes Coed.” I was at Yale at the time, and it was the twentieth anniversary of coeducation of women, and I got a little money from — I guess that was my first fundraising, come to think of it. Got a little money from the administration, and went and tracked down the first women who were ever admitted to Yale.

Rich: Interesting.

Julia: And their lives, and their jobs, and found these incredibly impressive women, had them tell their stories.

Paul: What had they gone on to do?

Julia: Really cool stuff. You know, heads of divisions at large corporations, prominent journalists, lawyers, like, really impressive women. But what jumped out at me, funny enough, is that almost all of them talked about these deep insecurities they had, and like, impostor syndrome.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: And that was my first heads-up, at age 20, whatever it was, that —

Rich: Interesting.

Julia: Even women who are highly successful can suffer from these, like, insecurities and impostor syndrome.

Paul: When did Yale go coed?

Julia: 1969.

Paul: Oh, OK. OK. So this —

Rich: That’s incredible.

Julia: They were one of the latest, one of the last ones to go coed.

Rich: That’s incredible — I cannot believe it’s that late.

Julia: You know, what was funny is when I went and dug up all this film footage, like, I looked at these films, like, “To Be A Man,” where Yale made these documentaries to try to convince everyone not to go coed. They really didn’t want to go coed. But they finally had to, because all the best male students were going to other colleges where they could get dates more easily.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So they really let in the women so that they could get the best men.

Rich: Unbelievable.

Julia: And have dates for them. Yeah. Kind of eye-opening.

Rich: If you dropped this on the timeline, I mean, this is post-Civil Rights.

Julia: It was right in the thick of everything, it was like the Black Panthers were on trial in New Haven, the Kent shootings had just happened.

Rich: That’s incredible.

Julia: It was a fascinating time.

Paul: It’s almost like sexism is an incredibly longstanding problem in our society. [laughter] It’s almost that way. But not in our industry!

Julia: Almost. Almost.

Paul: Not in technology!

Rich: If you would have told me, if someone told you, predict the year, what year would you have said Yale going coed?

Paul: I would have actually, because I know a little bit about it, said sixties. I would have thought, like, ’62. But my actual initial, like, ‘ah, I bet that was, like, in the thirties,’ that’s where my brain went?

Rich: That’s where my brain went.

Julia: That’s where it should have been, right?

Paul: Yeah.

Rich: Wow. Amazing.

Julia: But no matter, it gave me a great topic for my senior thesis. [laughter] And I got to make this documentary, and then I actually created a fund at Yale to fund future women filmmakers.

Rich: Oh, cool.

Julia: So therein lie the roots, I guess, of a lot of things that I’ve done professionally. I was very interested in making films that made people think about social issues, and also reinvesting capital so that it could go to work for people who didn’t have access.

Rich: Got it.

Paul: So you grew up in an academic household.

Julia: I did.

Paul: OK. Was — your father taught?

Julia: Yes. He was a teacher of romance languages, and he invested this method for teaching foreign languages called the Pimsleur Method.

Paul: And your mom, also an academic?

Julia: She also taught. Critical thinking, kind of like a writing class. So they were academic wonks, they were not businesspeople at all. It’s funny, I know a lot of people think, oh, you must have grown up in business.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: But in fact I’m really the first entrepreneur in my family, unless you count my great-grandmother Ada, who I referred to in Million Dollar Women, who ran a cigarette and candy shop on lower Broadway at the turn of the century.

Rich: Wow.

Paul: And you grew up in the city.

Julia: I did. Right here in New York.

Paul: This is the real story here, Rich.

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: This is like —

Rich: Every time we…I mean, it’s fine. My own insecurities. Talk about impostor syndrome, here we go.

Paul: Rich grew up in Bay Ridge, so he’s a little bit, like —

Rich: She doesn’t know where Bay Ridge is. Do you know where Bay Ridge is?

Julia: It’s on the N/R!

Rich: [laughter] Ouch! She threw out the train line!

Paul: Great Manhattan burn!

Rich: Oh man.

Paul: That’s an old world burn.

Rich: It is on the N/R. Strong. Strong.

Julia: I’m gonna go easy on you guys, because you’re men, and you know, I want to do some affirmative action here.

Paul: No, no, our delicate little feelings. [laughter]

Julia: Exactly.

Rich: Let’s keep going on the timeline. You start this fund, you make this movie, and do you eventually decide, OK, I’m going to go into my own commercial endeavors?

Julia: Yes, eventually. I did graduate from college with a whole lot of student debt, and kind of thought, all right, where am I going to go be poor.

Paul: This is the downside of academic parents.

Julia: Aha, totally, yeah. The business had not taken off yet at all. In fact, really Pimsleur did not become a big, successful business until maybe 15, 20 years ago, when Simon & Shuster took it over.

Paul: And we should actually hit pause: tell our listeners what the Pimsleur Method is.

Julia: Oh sure. So my father was the first one to disrupt the notion that to learn a foreign language, you had to go sit in a classroom for weeks and months and be bored out of your gourd and study grammar and that was the only way to do it. So he invented a method where you could get up and running in a second language in, like, four weeks.

Rich: Right.

Julia: So you’re going on a trip, or this was widely used by the Peace Corps. We actually went to Africa when I was a kid, so that the Peace Corps could learn Twi, which is the language of Ghana. And this was revolutionary at the time. Now there’s many, many businesses that do this, right? But Pimsleur was the first. They just had their fiftieth anniversary as a method a couple of years ago.

Paul: OK, so you want to, you’re on your way to Spain for your junior year abroad. This is the thing to do.

Julia: Absolutely.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Business trip, or anybody going to a foreign country who wants to kind of get conversational, quickly.

Paul: Gotcha. So you grew up in that, it hadn’t taken off at that moment, academic parents, you’ve got a lot of student loan debt.

Julia: Exactly.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Right. We’re at my graduation, friends going off to work in banks and consulting firms and whatnot, but I was determined to be a filmmaker, so that narrowed it down to, like, New York, LA, and then I had Paris as a possibility, because I grew up bilingual in French and English.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: And my dad being, you know, Paul Pimsleur, his kids were going to speak a second language, big Francophiles, and I was so lucky to grow up bilingual in French, that was just the best thing my parents ever did for me. And so I decided to try out Paris. I thought, well that’s a romantic place to be poor.

Paul: Sure.

Julia: And it turned out I was right. It’s a great place to be poor. You can, you know, sit in a café all day for what was five francs, now it’s probably ten euros. But wound up going to film school, stumbled on the French National Film School, which is a government-sponsored film school. You know, if you’re in America, you wanna go to film school, we’re talking about another $80–100,000 a year, plus financing your films.

Rich: Sure. Private education, yeah.

Julia: Yeah. In France, it was free. Blew my mind.

Rich: Even for non-citizens?

Julia: There, you had to go in through a different door, but yes.

Rich: Wow.

Julia: Very competitive process to get in, like a six-month exam to get in, so I figured if I get in, I’ll stay. I don’t, I’ll go home. And I got in and stayed another…several years. I was in France seven years in total after I graduated college.

Paul: Nice old state-funded arts, it’s a good thing for everybody.

Julia: Hear hear, you know?

Rich: In France.

Julia: Europe, Canada, they’ve got it figured out. [laughter]

Paul: So you, at this point now, you’ve got Paris under your belt, you’ve been in school for seven years, really?

Julia: Yeah, I got an MFA. MFA in film production.

Paul: OK. And then what happens?

Julia: So then I got hired by these two guys to work in their production company, and I loved this job. It was these two, like, really alternative guys who ran a documentary film company. I was, like, sending, you know, 16 mm film to Haiti to, like, film riots and stuff. I was totally into it.

Rich: Are you still in Paris?

Julia: I’m still in Paris.

Rich: OK.

Paul: What year are we in right now, too?

Julia: It was, like…I don’t know, 90…mid-nineties or so.

Paul: OK.

Julia: So I’m working this job, I’m there for several months, and I’m having a blast. And then one day about nine or ten months in, they take me out for coffee and they’re like, “So…we think you should run your own company.” And I was like, “No, no, I like running your company. I’m having a blast here. This is great!” And they’re like, “No…we actually…you need to run your own company.” And they basically fired me.

Paul: Sort of a sweet way to get you out the door, though. I mean it’s…

Julia: Well, you know, we sometimes say you need to release someone’s talent back into the universe, right? This was one of these, like, the talent got released back into the universe.

Rich: So this was genuine. This wasn’t just…

Julia: Oh no! I got totally fired. They fired my ass. It was —

Paul: How did that feel…

Julia: Really distressing.

Paul: Yeah. It was very distressing.

Julia: Yeah, I was like, you know, straight-A student, I’d never failed at anything, I was devastated. But best thing that ever happened to me, because right around that time, my best friend from film school, who was also American, we were like, the two Americans at this French film school, moved back to the US and had a documentary she wanted produced. And she asked me if I would come back and raise money to produce her documentary, and do it with her. So went back to the US, lived on friends’ couches in New York, called up my best friend from college and said, “Hey, how about we start a film production company together?” And shockingly, she said yes, so the two of us started Big Mouth Productions, which was all loud-mouth women, and we made five films over the next five years.

Rich: So you were focusing on a particular theme?

Julia: Yes. Social issue documentaries.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: That’s what I was most interested in. I had made a film while I was in film school in France about FGM, female genital mutilation, so it was like a huge human rights’ crisis…

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Happening to tons of girls in France, and that went on to win the French Human Rights Award, and got international distribution, and so I’d gotten a little taste of, like, oh this movie-making thing, this can actually make a difference.

Rich: Be impactful, yeah.

Julia: Yeah. So came back — but my job was to raise the money. I’m trying to, you know, build in a through-line here, for our podcast.

Rich: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So I had to raise, really, hundreds of thousands of dollars to make these documentaries. And, you know, if you think fundraising for nonprofits is hard, like, try fundraising for films, right? That was just like drawing money from stone.

Paul: That was sort of back in the moment, too, where it was the D-word, like, documentaries were sort of the great sort of cultural weird zone where nobody could get them funded, and I’m assuming getting, like, strong feminist documentaries funded was even more difficult.

Julia: Yeah, well these were — they didn’t tend to be women’s issues. We did social justice issues.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: But still really hard to get funded, so it was like…criminal justice issues, health issues.

Paul: And there’s no obvious distribution like there is now, with Netflix and all that stuff —

Rich: Was that even an aim? I mean, were you thinking, I want to get these funded so I can raise awareness about particular issues? Or were you thinking, I want to get these funded to possibly land distribution and make money?

Julia: It was much more the social mission.

Rich: Right.

Julia: It was like, how do we leverage film to help move the needle on some of these issues.

Rich: Right.

Julia: So we did, like, African Americans in the criminal justice system. We followed a young public defender and his work with kids. It was right around the time that statistic came out that one in three African American men is under criminal justice supervision, right?

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: Either in prison or just coming out of prison or on parole. So we wanted to get under that statistic.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: And, you know, follow real people. They were kind of cinéma vérité in style. We had a blast.

Paul: So I love that, Rich, you thought you were bringing a capitalist into this podcast…

Rich: Well, the story’s not finished yet. [laughter]

Paul: OK. Right now I’m just hearing —

Rich: We’ll get there.

Paul: I’m just hearing strong activism.

Rich: We’ll get to the profits in a minute.

Paul: All right. All right.

Rich: But effectively, once you’re funded, you win.

Julia: Well it’s funny you should say that —

Rich: Where you were sitting…

Julia: No no, here’s the funny thing about documentaries, is that the business model there was just so broken.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Like the business model was, you go into debt for two years, working your tail off, right? And then you sell the film, and you get back to zero.

Rich: Right.

Julia: You basically got back to zero each time.

Rich: Right, right.

Julia: And then start all over again.

Rich: But you’re hoping the thing gets out there, and raises awareness, and…

Julia: Absolutely. No, and we got some great distribution. You know, we were at Sundance, and we had films on HBO, and Cinemax Reel Life.

Rich: Huge.

Julia: Went to the Berlin Film Festival, it was a really exciting life. But the part I will share, because, you know, it’s real important, I think, for professional women to tell their stories, is that I woke up at age 33, you know, having been to Sundance and Berlin and all these films and like, really exciting professional life, but I was like, you know, I really want to have a family. That’s really important to me. And I looked at women kind of ten years ahead of where I was in the documentary filmmaking world, didn’t see a lot of moms, didn’t see a lot of intact marriages —

Rich: Interesting.

Julia: And I made this really big decision —

Rich: Are you married at this point?

Julia: I was not, no.

Rich: OK.

Julia: I was single, and decided to kind of get off the hamster wheel. I was like…

Rich: Wow.

Julia: You know what? I gotta try something different. This is not leading me to the full life that I want, with all the things I want.

Rich: Interesting. Interesting.

Julia: And the business model part was bugging me too.

Rich: Right.

Julia: The fact that —

Rich: It’s kind of busted.

Julia: Yeah. It was kind of busted.

Rich: So you took a break.

Julia: So got off that train and went on to career #2. Career #1 was filmmaking, career #2 was nonprofit fundraising. So I kind of left the film company knowing how to do everything from fix the photocopier to get a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation —

Rich: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: And realized I think the thing people are going to pay me for is getting the $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

Rich: Got it. Got it.

Julia: Went out and became a fundraiser. I raised about $20 million for a variety of social-justice nonprofits.

Rich: That’s amazing. Wow.

Julia: That was really fun. That was great. I’m one of these weird people who loves fundraising.

Paul: That’s a fantastic… [laughter] that’s so many lunches.

Rich: That’s the quote of the podcast right there.

Paul: That’s an unbelievable number of lunches, I can’t even imagine…

Rich: Gotta imagine, you’re complimenting shoes you don’t like a lot. [laughter]

Julia: You know, it’s all storytelling, that’s the thing. Documentary filmmaking was a great training ground for fundraising, actually.

Paul: That’s fascinating.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: Because, right, you were in film, you know how it is. It’s like, you talk about this film and really what do you have? You got three pieces of paper.

Paul: Oh, I —

Julia: You got three pieces of paper that describe this film, right?

Paul: I wasn’t in film. That’s for grown-ups. I’m a writer.

Julia: You said media, though. [laughter]

Paul: Yeah yeah, a little bit.

Julia: I got the wrong aspect of media.

Paul: It’s…similar motivations, in some way. I was at Harper’s magazine for a long time, and it’s a not-for-profit, and I was just like, this is never gonna work. And it’s terrible, you’re in almost a religion, you know, there’s people around you going like, I’m just gonna stay on this path —

Rich: There’s greater meaning to this.

Paul: I’m gonna —

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: Well then you get those, like, you get those sort of tokens like, from, you get the Cannes palms that go around the title of your film, or whatever, and suddenly you’re like, I’ve gotta get, gotta get another one of those, and then you’re like, wait a minute, I won’t get to be a dad if I keep —

Julia: Right. You’ve gotta know where your priorities are, right?

Paul: Yeah.

Julia: Yeah, and if that hadn’t been a priority, to have a family, maybe I would still be making documentaries today. And certainly people did stay in that world and have families, I’m not saying that’s impossible, but they were traveling a lot — you know, I really wanted to be there for my kids in their young life. And so, coincidentally or not, met my husband, got married within, like, a year of leaving the film world. [laughter]

Paul: Does seem that that sequence often occurs that way.

Julia: You know? Had a little more free time than usual. And within a year, you know, we had our first son, and then that’s when career #3 kicked in. So #1 was the filmmaking, #2 was the nonprofit fundraising. While I was on maternity leave —

Rich: Plus family.

Julia: Plus family, right. It was a couple things going on there. I had the idea for a language teaching program for young children.

Rich: OK.

Julia: Because I wanted my son to learn to learn French, having grown up bilingual in French and English, it was just a given to me that I was gonna teach my son French. But I was at work all day, in the nonprofit job, so he was at home, watching, you know, “Baby Einstein,” and I thought, well wait a minute, couldn’t he be using that time to learn French? Why is he watching this stuff that just —

Rich: Sure.

Julia: Eye candy, basically.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So for about three months I went around saying, you know, someone really needs to make a program for kids to learn a second language. Somebody who cares about media, somebody who cares about language. Someone who’s really into kids. And you know, took about three months to realize, yeah, that’s me. [laughter]

Paul: Well it’s also, you need to know that — you need to test that. I’ve been in a similar situations where you’re like, somebody needs to do blah blah blah — it’s the way you psych yourself up, too.

Julia: It’s true. Just having those conversations, right, and seeing how people respond, like, oh yeah, that’s actually a good idea.

Paul: And then you perceive suddenly there’s this vacuum, and now you can start to take risk around it, right? Like you can…

Julia: Yes, although how much risk is the question, and that was a big question for me, because my husband was not on Wall Street, he was in the nonprofit world, I had a good-paying job in the fundraising world which I actually liked, great colleagues doing meaningful work.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So the idea of starting a company, having all that risk — I had just gotten out of the other company, right? The Big Mouth Productions film producing company.

Paul: How long — wait, actually, how long was that, so now we’re like, two years, three years into…

Julia: Maybe three years in, yeah.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Yeah. About three years of not being an entrepreneur.

Paul: So that was actually not a tremendously long time. You’re actually kind of getting the hang of this career.

Julia: Right.

Paul: You’ve got the rhythm, you’ve got your kids, you’re all, and you’re like, let’s blow this up.

Julia: Then I got the calling, right? I really do believe with entrepreneurs, it has to be a calling, or like, don’t bother.

Paul: Yeah, no, you have to — everyone around you —

Rich: Oh yeah.

Paul: You have to kind of let everyone around you know that you and probably they will be kind of miserable if you can’t at least a try.

Rich: The shine comes off the idea within 60 days, and then it’s the work.

Paul: Yeah.

Rich: And then you’re working.

Julia: It’s relentless, brutal work.

Rich: Yeah. And the problems, and the challenges, and the edge cases, and all that stuff.

Julia: Well what was fun for me is that it started out very creative, in the sense that, you know, I had been a filmmaker, a creative person, and so a lot of what I spent the early days on was just what would the film look like? Because I really conceived of it as like a 210-minute movie….

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: That I would film and then dub into multiple languages, and cut up into videos, to teach kids —

Rich: Ahhh.

Julia: A second language. So that’s really what Little Pim is. It’s a 210-minute movie, shot in high-def, beautiful production quality, and then we have it dubbed into 12 different languages.

Rich: And then you break it up into the segments that represent different topics.

Julia: That’s right. And even though at the time, NTSC videos were still around, that was over, but I also knew that DVDs were gonna be short-lived, so I also filmed everything in five-minute episodes, with the idea that streaming —

Rich: Wow.

Julia: At one point, would take over, and funny enough, we’re converting to a streaming format right now.

Rich: So like a subscription base or something like that?

Julia: Yes.

Rich: Got it.

Paul: So Rich, describe what it’s like when your, your son looks at Little Pim.

Rich: He just freezes.

Paul: OK, so is it, is it —

Rich: I just turn to Anthony, and he says —

Paul: Is it online video — what is it?

Rich: We bought the DVDs. And then I…

Paul: OK, so these are DVDs.

Rich: No, actually, we bought some DVDs, but then we realized that we also —

Julia: You can get them as a digital download.

Rich: We got a digital download, because our DVD player doesn’t exist anymore, pretty much, so we got them as digital downloads.

Julia: And what language is he doing?

Rich: French, mostly.

Julia: Awesome, génial.

Rich: And Arabic.

Julia: And Arabic? Why Arabic.

Rich: I’m — we’re Lebanese.

Julia: So cool.

Rich: And we’re just trying to be somewhat mindful of our, you know, Arabic’s not strong in the house, it’s French and English. My wife speaks fluent French, but…

Julia: But even just the little exposure will help him later on —

Rich: Exactly.

Julia: With accent and recognizing the words.

Rich: Exactly. So when we visit Lebanon, he can actually have a conversation. He’s three and a half, and he can have a conversation.

Julia: I love it.

Rich: It’s great, yeah.

Paul: So this is, the product is, for what’s the age for the kids.

Julia: Zero to six.

Paul: OK, so zero to six, short segments, helping them with basic language learning.

Julia: That’s right.

Paul: In languages of their choice — what are, what are the big languages?

Julia: The idea is instead of having them watch whatever else they’d be watching on a screen, to watch Little Pim, and that way they’re learning a foreign language at the same time. So it’s kind of a win-win, right?

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Because as a parent, you know, I’m a mom, I felt guilty when my kids were watching the screen, but this way they’re actually learning something, and they don’t know the difference, because Little Pim is really fun and entertaining.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: And we didn’t make it clear, actually, Little Pim is a character as well.

Paul: Oh, OK.

Julia: It’s the name of series —

Rich: Little panda.

Julia: Yeah, he’s a little panda bear.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: And he has all kinds of adventures. I based him on kind of a combination of Curious George, Elmo, and, like, the Cheshire Cat.

Rich: If I can, I’ll share a just sort of bystander observation: the pace of it, my little girl, at 18 months, would just watch, and I think even like Baby Einstein, if you watch a minute or two of Baby Einstein, there are about 20 cuts, 15 cuts. They constantly cut to different animations and scenes and this and that. The pace of Little Pim is a lot more stretched out, and for, like, an 18-month-old, I think they can sort of take it in and process it. So she’s been, you know, from a very, very young age, it just sort of captivates her, because it’s not a bunch of stimuli coming at her. It’s sort of these, I don’t know, 30-second or one-minute segments that sort of cover a single thing, like putting on a jacket. And it just sort of slowly reveals itself, and she can process it, and I actually, there’s a TED talk, I forgot who gave it, but this psychologist, about how bad Baby Einstein is, because it actually has so many cuts that today, you know, with one-minute videos and 30-second videos, kids don’t have the patience to sit through anything.

Julia: Yeah, no, we intentionally paced it, you know, at the right speed for that age, and especially because they’re integrating the vocabulary, they’re actually learning things, right?

Paul: Right.

Julia: So we’re bringing back, you know, “une cuillère,” which means “a spoon” in French.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Right? They’ll learn it at 10 seconds, they’ll learn it again at a second, at a minute and a half.

Rich: That’s right.

Julia: We bring it back strategically.

Rich: That’s right.

Julia: The method is called the “entertainment immersion method.” That’s our trademarked method, at Little Pim.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: And so we lead with entertainment, because, you know, youv’e got toddlers, if they’re not entertained, they’re gone.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: You can’t make a toddler do anything.

Rich: Yeah yeah.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So the number one thing was, like, this better be fun.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: So it’s really fun, but then in the meanwhile, they’re hearing nothing but the target language, it’s total immersion. That’s the immersion part of entertainment immersion. And then they learn these…

Rich: Yeah there’s no —

Julia: 500 words and phrases.

Rich: There’s no translation.

Paul: Can we…

Rich: Translation or anything like that. It’s just the word, in that language.

Julia: Which wouldn’t work for adults, by the way. It only works for kids. We have subtitles that are optional, but they’re only for adults. The kids do not need it. They just watch and they figure it out.

Rich: Take it in.

Julia: Yup.

Paul: And right now, 20 or 30 seconds of Little Pim.

Julia: Learn how to say “banana”! [laughter]

[excerpt from French Little Pim]

Paul: All right, good.

Julia: I do have a lot of adults who say, “Can I use it?” And I’m always like, “Sure, but you’ll only be able to talk to kids who are four years old.” Because that’s the vocabulary that we’re teaching.

Paul: Spoon!

Julia: Exactly.

Rich: OK, so you start this business, and now you’ve got the creative, you have the idea.

Julia: Right.

Rich: You’ve got a really clear creative vision of how to make it happen.

Julia: I’m storyboarding while my kid’s sleeping, you know…

Paul: Are you, and you’re still out there raising funds.

Julia: I’m still in my full-time job.

Paul: Ah, so this is —

Julia: And not too keen on the idea of leaving it.

Rich: Ahhh.

Paul: Right, OK.

Rich: So this is overlapping.

Julia: This is major overlapping.

Rich: Got it. Got it.

Julia: Yeah, so about a year and a half of overlap.

Paul: What was the affect on your life, of doing professional, mom, entrepreneur, three separate things that you’re doing at once. What was that like?

Julia: Well I wrote about this in Million Dollar Women, that even when I was in it, it was insane. I mean, it was pre — for me, pre-iPhone, I remember I was on a BlackBerry, and I kind of looked at my BlackBerry as like, this is where I run my business. So like, before work and at lunch and after work I’d be on the BlackBerry, texting with my one employee. I hired one employee from early on, like one day a week, a young woman I found on Craigslist.

Rich: So self-funding, effectively.

Julia: Self-funding, yeah.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: Just, how do I spend as little as possible but get this thing up and running, and get proof-of-concept, mainly for myself, frankly, right? Like, seems like a good idea, but let’s make sure people are really gonna buy this.

Rich: Let’s validate it.

Julia: Absolutely.

Rich: OK.

Julia: So ran the business off the BlackBerry and was up at all crazy hours, and knew it was not sustainable, but also knew that if I got to a place where I had that, you know, comfort level that it could go somewhere, then I would leave the full-time job.

Rich: OK. Leave the job. Let’s jump to that. Do you decide: OK, this is the real deal. I want to go forward with this.

Julia: Well most big decisions in my life involve a spreadsheet. [laughter] So this was no different.

Rich: OK. Including marriage?

Julia: You know…don’t go there. [laughter]

Rich: I wanna see that spreadsheet!

Julia: Within the marriage, there were spreadsheets. Who does what, if it was equally divided.

Paul: I once met a couple who had a 20-page contract.

Julia: Oh wow.

Paul: Who would clean the bathroom floor…

Rich: No you didn’t.

Julia: Oh my God, hilarious.

Rich: Oh boy.

Julia: That’s pretty good.

Rich: That’s like, in humor.

Paul: No, no, no —

Julia: One-page spreadsheet —

Paul: They were gay and they didn’t, they couldn’t get married at that point, and they were like, we need something to bind us.

Rich: OK.

Paul: And they created this very serious contract. I asked to see it and they were like, “No.”

Julia: Oh my God, that is funny.

Paul: But yeah no, and my friend was just like, look, I don’t think my wife has cooked a dinner in two years, but I also haven’t cleaned the bathroom floor in two years.

Rich: So it works.

Paul: It works.

Julia: Right. They’ve each got a column. Those would be columns on my spreadsheet. [laughter]

Paul: Yeah.

Julia: So the spreadsheet at the time was how little money, or how much money do I have to give up in order to start this company. So I knew what I was making, as a non-profit fundraiser, which is like, a good salary, and it was great hours, 10–6. I had negotiated this terrific package.

Paul: And it’s kind of a fun life. I mean, it’s…

Julia: It was for me! If you like fundraising, right?

Paul: Yeah.

Julia: It’s a fun life! You’re meeting really interesting people doing work that matters, feeling like you’re making a difference in the world. Like, I had no real reason to get out of that.

Paul: So you’re not leaving some job where you’re like, I just am so unhappy.

Julia: No.

Paul: You’ve already made this objective decision where you’re like, I’m gonna do something that’s financially responsible, but I’m gonna enjoy it, and you get to kind of go out to great lunches, and meet smart rich people, so it’s pretty good.

Julia: And, like, move money in the right direction.

Paul: Right, right, right.

Julia: That felt pretty good.

Paul: Let’s take rich people’s money and give it to social justice causes that I believe in.

Julia: There are worse gigs.

Paul: I can do that over, like, a really pleasant lunch. That’s a great job.

Julia: I think it is! It was a great job.

Rich: You’re just getting, I mean, just talking to you, and kind of…

Julia: But that’s what I was saying — it has to be a calling, right? So the calling came and the calling was this program for kids needs to exist, and you’re the one who has to do it. And then after that, it’s like, what are you gonna do? You have to just figure it out.

Paul: So once you saw the gap, there was, like, no going back.

Julia: That’s right.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Yeah. And then also being the daughter of Paul Pimsleur, because the other piece of this story is that unfortunately, my father died very suddenly and tragically at a very young age.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: He died at 48.

Rich: Oh.

Julia: So, yeah, really, really young. So before this ever became a successful business, he basically created this revolutionary method for teaching a foreign language, but never lived to see it become a successful business.

Paul: Gotcha.

Julia: So I think there was a part of me that was like, I want to honor the Pimsleur legacy. Like, I’m a Pimsleur, you know?

Rich: Sure.

Julia: I’ve gotta do something with this.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: And I was always so proud of what he created, and I’d meet people at parties, “Oh my God, Pimsleur, I’ve done, like, six of those languages and it’s amazing…” So I felt like there was something there that I needed to do.

Paul: This is a way to sort of connect back to that. This is sort of, this is coming waaaay full circle.

Julia: Well, yes.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Back to, back to my childhood.

Paul: But also along the way, we’ve got filmmaking, we’ve got empowerment, there’s a lot of narratives that are coming together at once.

Julia: So decided that I would answer the calling, and created the company, and within about a year and a half, got to a place where we had sold enough Little Pim that I felt like, OK, there’s a viable business here.

Rich: So you haven’t raised any money yet, for Little Pim?

Julia: Not real money.

Rich: You’re self-funding.

Julia: We put in some money ourselves, and we raised a little bit of friends and family.

Rich: OK, nothing crazy.

Julia: Yeah.

Paul: How’d you get to the first sale?

Julia: The first sale. Um…threw up a website, you know? At the time, it was like, we made it in India, it cost $3,000, then we had to scrap the whole thing because it didn’t work, start over. But we didn’t spend a lot in the early days, it was like, minimum, minimum viable product.

Rich: Got it.

Paul: And people could buy online? Or how did that work?

Julia: Yes.

Paul: OK.

Julia: We had a warehouse and it was shipped directly from the warehouse.

Paul: So you had a physical product in the form of a DVD…

Julia: We had three languages. We had French, Spanish, and Chinese, discs 1–3. So when I say it’s a 210-minute movie, at the time it was, you know, still just half of that. We hadn’t done volume two yet, just volume one.

Rich: Got it.

Paul: Company in India gets you a website, it’s OK, people come, somebody puts in their credit card — there was one first customer, and they said, sure, send me that. That’s a good start.

Rich: And…? How was the response?

Julia: Great. I mean, parents were so excited that there was a way for them to be their kids’ first language tutor, because where this does all circle back to my social-justice leanings is that I really wanted to democratize foreign-language learning for kids. Because if you look at the history of language learning, for kids, the 1% has always taught their kids a second language. You look at any private school and those kids are learning Spanish, Chinese, French, now maybe Arabic, as of, like, age five.

Rich: Right.

Julia: But in the public school system, kids are starting in 8th grade, which is basically the worst time.

Rich: It doesn’t work.

Julia: Right? It doesn’t work —

Rich: It’s a train wreck.

Julia: Well neurologically doesn’t work. The research has shown that the best time to learn a language is up to the age of six, maybe up to the age of ten — after that, you’re toast.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: It’s really, really hard.

Rich: Really hard.

Julia: And also at that age, like, you don’t want to be embarrassed in front of your classmates trying to speak a foreign language.

Rich: It’s very frustrating, yeah.

Julia: It’s really silly. So I thought, well, let’s create a way for every parent to give their kid this incredible advantage. You know, instead of showing your kids Baby Einstein, they could be learning Spanish.

Paul: OK, so Little Pim is out in the world. At what point did you decide to write a book?

Julia: So when Little Pim first came out, I spent about the first three years, once I did quit my job and go full time, I ran it basically like a lifestyle business for about the first three years. And you know, we had growth, 30% a year maybe, things were going well, but it wasn’t like the hockey stick, you know, off-the-charts growth that I wanted. Because I always knew I wanted this to be, like, a million-dollar-plus international business.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: And so at a certain point, I had to totally change how I worked and also needed a lot more capital. And this is kind of the inflection point that led me to ultimately write Million Dollar Women. Because I found that when I started the business, there were a lot of resources out there, you know, you can go to the Small Business Administration, people will mentor you — like, if you’re starting a business, there’s a lot of help, right? But then you wake up, like, a year and a half into your business, and you’re like, oh my God, now I have this business, right?

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: How do I get to the next level? And there aren’t as many resources at that phase.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: So I was lucky enough to find…the Entrepreneurs Organization had a program called Accelerator, which is to accelerate you to a million in revenues. You have to have a million in revenues to join EO. So they created a program to help you get there. I joined that, and that was tremendously helpful.

Rich: So what is that? Is it classes? Like, what is the program?

Julia: Yeah, it’s like four learning days?

Rich: Oh, OK.

Julia: And then it’s being part of a community of entrepreneurs —

Rich: Got it.

Julia: Who are also scaling up their businesses. And for me, that was a game-changer, because, you know, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, as a businessperson. I wasn’t trained in business, I didn’t have a finance background, there were just a lot of gaps for me, and a lot of self-doubt and insecurity and, you know, can I really do this? Can I pull it off?

Rich: You never thought, OK, we got something here, let me go get a professional CEO? You never thought that, you never thought, OK, I created the thing, I’m the creative spirit behind this, let me go get a businessperson to run it. Why didn’t you…?

Julia: Well I did doubt myself as the CEO, but I always knew that I had the passion and dedication and background —

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: To really blow this out of the water. No one was gonna give it the love that I was gonna give it.

Paul: OK.

Rich: See, I’m surprised that you wanted to do the operational sort of spreadsheet part of it.

Julia: Yeah, I like that part, funny enough. I don’t know, I like that part.

Paul: We’re actually finding out that, like, she has planned her life — like, this is everything coming together. [laughter]

Julia: I like the spreadsheet!

Rich: We’re back to the spreadsheet.

Julia: No, and really, what is more creative than business?

Rich: Right.

Julia: You’re taking nothing and weaving it into an entire universe.

Rich: Right.

Julia: And I love working with the teams, I’ve had incredible people work with me at Little Pim, I’ve been so lucky to have really amazing people, and you know, I just knew that I needed, I needed help.

Rich: OK.

Julia: And that’s when I went out and found coaches and mentors and this entrepreneurs organization, and through that process, realized, OK, I need some serious capital to do this right.

Paul: Mmm hmmm.

Julia: And if we’re gonna transition everything to digital and go international and rebrand and do all the things we wanted to do —

Rich: Sure. That takes resources.

Julia: I’m gonna need money, yeah. So I went out and raised venture capital. And that was hands-down the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.

Rich: Wow.

Paul: So you make the roadshow, you get your deck together…

Rich: So seasoned fundraiser, now you’re in a different arena.

Julia: Well, and that is part of what inspired me to start helping other people learn to raise money. I said, you know what, wait a minute. I went to Yale, I raised $20 million in philanthropic funds, I actually like fundraising, and this is incredibly hard for me, and I also stumbled on this statistic while I was fundraising that only 4% of venture capital goes to women-run businesses.

Rich: Mmm hmmm.

Paul: Ooof.

Julia: And so, you know —

Paul: That’s 96% that doesn’t.

Julia: Right?

Paul: That’s brutal.

Julia: Yeah, it was a little discouraging.

Paul: That’s worse than most women-related statistics, which are already pretty bad.

Rich: That’s a rough —

Julia: I’ve got another one for you, I’ve got another for you, so only 3% of all women entrepreneurs ever get to a million in revenues.

Rich: Ouch.

Paul: OK. OK. So —

Julia: See, there’s work to be done here!

Paul: So women are out of this —

Rich: Dive into the experience. Tell us, give me, give me an anecdote from the fundraising experience, approaching VCs.

Julia: Well I’ll tell you what made me decide to raise money, because this is a moment, you know, I think a lot of people can relate to, where I actually did get to a place with the company where I was so exhausted and kind of burned out, after three or four years, that I considered even selling. Because I was just exhausted. And right around that time, my cousin, who was also an entrepreneur, sold his business for $400 million.

Paul: Oof. OK.

Julia: Yeah, that hurt. So I was —

Paul: Oooof.

Julia: I was like, wow.

Rich: What was that business, out of curiosity?

Julia: That was a business that was an online business, he sold it to a media conglomerate, I won’t go into the details, but…

Rich: OK.

Julia: You know, everyone in my family was like, well, call him up! And I was like, I haven’t talked to him in years, what am I gonna do, call him up. But I did, because I figured, hey, if I’m thinking of selling my business, I might as well have, like, a huge piece of humble pie before I do it. [laughter] So he came over, he was very gracious, came to my office, and asked me a lot of, you know, tough questions, like, well talk to me about the cost of goods, and your margins, and your distribution channels, and kind of like, peppering me with all these questions, not all of which I could answer, you know, my accountant wasn’t in that day, I didn’t know the answers to all his questions. But at the end of all that, he was like, you shouldn’t consider selling this business. You’ve built an incredible platform here.

Rich: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: Why don’t you go out and raise venture capital and scale it up?

Paul: Great! Easy! Go!

Julia: No problem, right!

Paul: Yeah.

Rich: High five!

Julia: And I tell you, when he said “venture capital,” I felt like a deer in headlights. I sort of froze. Like, not those guys. Please don’t make me talk to those guys.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Like the whole point of having my own business, right, was that I don’t have to go into rooms of men in suits and, like, prove myself.

Rich: Mmmm hmmm.

Paul: Oh, so you had this mental model of VCs as just excruciating.

Julia: Well, I had raised all these non-profit dollars, and guess who some of it came from, right?

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: So I’d had some experience with, you know, private equity guys, VCs, and you know, a lot of them are great guys, but there’s certainly a stereotype that came from somewhere, right?

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Of like, people are on their phones while you’re talking to them, incredibly hard-charging. I did not want to do it at all. And I also suspected I didn’t know how to do it, and that it was a whole different ballgame, and there I was absolutely right. And so I spent the next nine months researching how the heck do you raise venture capital.

Rich: Before you went out to a single VC?

Julia: Oh, I did not go to a single meeting. [laughter] Because once I saw that 4% statistic, I was like, if I have to be in the 4%, I’m gonna have to be twice as good.

Rich: Oh my God, so you holed up for nine months preparing.

Julia: I did.

Rich: Before you went out?

Julia: Yeah.

Rich: Wow.

Julia: So I talked to CEOs, I watched Shark Tank, I read every book.

Rich: [laughter] Watched Shark Tank.

Paul: This is awesome, though.

Rich: That’s amazing.

Julia: It was like Olympic training, basically.

Rich: That’s amazing.

Julia: You know, David Rose videos, how to pitch to a VC.

Rich: I’m gonna guess your parents never said, “How do we get Julia motivated?” [laughter] I’m gonna guess that phrase never really —

Julia: Why is she making a spreadsheet about all her favorite stuffed animals?

Paul: Yeah. [laughter] There’s a path. But I also love the level of preparation here, because it’s clear — like, you’re going, this is gonna be a pain in the ass.

Rich: yeah.

Paul: This is like, this is not set up for me.

Rich: She wasn’t going — she’s not going in to lose.

Julia: Yeah, this is not anything I’ve ever done before, and I was right, it was just as hard as everyone said, and everyone, you know, warned me. I’ll tell you, every guy friend I went out with and said, hey, tell me what it was like raising venture capital, almost all of them started with, do you want to see my war wounds?

Paul: Yeah.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: Like, literally, like they had been to battle, right?

Rich: Yeah, it’s a classic.

Julia: So…

Paul: Now Rich has done it, I’ve done a little of it with you. We’ve done the rounds. And it’s —

Rich: It’s hard.

Paul: It’s ridiculous.

Julia: You can’t have a fragile ego, right?

Rich: No.

Julia: You gotta just keep putting it out there. So in any case, I did ultimately raise $2.1 million for my company.

Paul: OK.

Julia: Which was amazing, excruciating, and wonderful, and found some really great partners, but when I got through the eye of that needle and looked back, I said, wow, that was so much harder than it needed to be.

Paul: Mmmm.

Julia: And how can I help make that easier for the women coming behind me. And so that’s when I started teaching this boot camp on weekends in my conference room, to help women learn how to raise angel and venture capital. And that evolved into the book Million Dollar Women.

Rich: Got it.

Julia: Because I just kept hearing the same stories over and over again, of the challenges we were all facing.

Rich: Were you seeing particular challenges because you were a woman?

Julia: Yes.

Rich: In the process.

Julia: Look, it’s hard for everyone to raise venture capital.

Rich: Right.

Julia: Let’s be clear, right? But then there are added layers for women that are specific to us, and so I would say 85% of what I teach in my boot camps and in my book Million Dollar Women applies to anyone trying to raise money, right?

Rich: That’s, that was really my next question. The challenges, a lot of them are universal —

Julia: A lot of them are universal.

Rich: But there are particular…

Julia: But that 15% is what I couldn’t find at the time.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: And I was really craving hearing from another woman.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: Well how did you do this? How did you navigate that?

Rich: Well the support, and the story, and the sort of model, to say hey, look, this is achievable, here are the challenges and here’s the way to get through it.

Julia: And here’s a bit of a roadmap.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: Also Lean In came out right around then, you know, Sheryl Sandberg’s book.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: And when I read that, I said OK, well that’s kind of a roadmap to the corner office, if you’re working in a big corporation. But where’s our roadmap?

Rich: Right.

Julia: Women entrepreneurs, how do we get to be multi-million-dollar CEOs, and why are so few of us getting there.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Rich: Right.

Julia: So I really wrote Million Dollar Women to give women kind of a GPS to growing big multi-million-dollar companies. I interviewed women across the country who’ve built multi-million-dollar businesses from scratch.

Rich: Yep.

Julia: And said, you know, how’d you do that?

Rich: Right.

Paul: What I love here, too, is that you had this money to focus on your company, and it sounds like things are going well, OK? But at the same time, you’re like, you know, I used to be a fundraiser and doing this company on the side, I should write a book now that I’ve got this whole company funded. [laughter] So that’s intense. That’s wild.

Rich: Multi-tasker.

Paul: Multi — yeah, I mean, is that actually, is that a common element with all of these women? Is that, you’re not…

Julia: Yeah, I think women are pretty good at multi-tasking, generally. I mean, you know, if you look at a mom, it just becomes so obvious, it’s like unbelievable —

Rich: Sure.

Julia: What women are able to do with, like, a baby on one hip.

Paul: Sure. What sort of community has arisen around the book? Like, it seems like you’re talking about doing events in the conference room, and so it sounds like people are really coming towards you now that you’ve written this.

Julia: Yeah, that’s where we started, was in my conference room. Then we wound up partnering with Morgan Stanley and started teaching the —

Paul: Nice young company. [laughter]

Julia: Exactly. You know, but they —

Rich: Warm.

Julia: They’ve been huge supporters, they’ve been amazing, and then AB Bernstein jumped on, that’s the big private wealth-management firm, and so now we hold these workshops much more frequently. We have women learning how to raise angel and venture capital. I’ve helped about 75 women raise a total of $15 million for their companies.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: So proud of them. They’re incredible. And then there’s a whole movement that’s risen up around Million Dollar Women. If you look at #milliondollarwomen on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere, there are women actually all over the world who are really inspired by this notion of building big, successful businesses.

Paul: Can I ask you a tricky question?

Julia: Yes.

Paul: How does this align with the traditional, like, you were a strong — were and are a strong feminist focused on social justice documentaries.

Julia: Yes.

Paul: And now we are deep into capitalism.

Julia: Oh, I am so glad you asked! Because you know, when I started teaching those boot camps, it was really this: it was me thinking, you know what? I am not going to solve world hunger.

Paul: Mmmm hmmm.

Julia: I’m not even gonna solve the homelessness problem in New York, right?

Rich: Right.

Julia: But here’s a place where I can move the needle. I’m one of these crazy people who likes fundraising. There are huge economic injustice issues with big, big gender divide, right, and you read about it every day, right, in Forbes and Inc. and The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: Women have less access to capital. We’re not growing big, multi-million-dollar businesses. And this is a place I thought I could help move the needle.

Paul: So this is a continuation of your activism.

Julia: Yes.

Rich: That’s, I think, what’s so interesting.

Paul: Well I don’t — I think that the worlds align.

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: I think you can be a little bit of each. I think we’re trying to do some of that.

Rich: Yeah, I think you’re right. I mean, I thought we were gonna go into the thriving capitalism, just sort of crushing other competitors phase of Julia’s life. [laughter] Instead —

Julia: I can do that, too. [laughter] You wanna go there?

Rich: I have no doubt! I have no doubt. But it is interesting how the recurring theme throughout is there, in —

Julia: Well there’s nothing more gratifying than helping to fix a problem that you’ve experienced, and I think that’s something so many entrepreneurs can relate to, right? So many entrepreneurs are solving problems they experienced themselves. So I think for me, helping other women have access to capital so that they can take their businesses to the next level, or just access to the right networks, the right skill set, the right mindset. You know, it was interesting when I interviewed these million dollar women across the country, women who’d built multi-million-dollar businesses, we all agreed that it’s not rocket science. You really just need three things to go big: you need the right mindset, the right skill set, and the right network. And basically everything you need falls under one of those buckets.

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: So I think for a lot of — and for men, too, by the way, but —

Rich: Yeah.

Julia: For a lot of people, there’s all this mystery around, you know, how could I possibly build a big successful business.

Rich: Sure.

Julia: And limiting beliefs, and reasons they think they can’t, and so we’re trying to just really simplify that with the Million Dollar Women movement.

Rich: Yeah, and demystify it.

Julia: That’s right. Demystify fundraising, demystify what it takes to go big, and just help a lot more women get there.

Rich: That’s awesome.

Paul: We need to wrap up, but let’s — first of all, let’s remind everyone that the book is called Million Dollar Women: The essential guide for female entrepreneurs who want to go big. It’s from Simon & Schuster. We’ve been listening to Julia Pimsleur. What if someone wants to get in touch with you — what do they do?

Julia: So at, which is J-U-L-I-A P-I-M-S-L-E-U-R dot com, we have a lot of free resources. I have a blog called “Million Dollar Monday,” every other week I have tips about scaling up your business —

Rich: Cool.

Julia: There’re free fundraising resources, there’s all kinds of information for people who want to, you know, scale up their businesses. Men and women — I have a lot of men who come to my site, and they are totally welcome.

Paul: Are you still teaching on a regular basis?

Julia: Yes, so I teach an online business school called Million Dollar Women Masterclass, and it’s to help women scale up their businesses more quickly.

Paul: And if I am interested in Little Pim, what do I do?

Julia: We have a wonderful new CEO. She’s rockin’ it. I am still founder, chair of the board, but love seeing her take Little Pim into the next iteration.

Paul: How did it work out with the VC? Overall, like, you, when did your funding come in?

Julia: Funding came in probably about four years ago, and the VC’s on the board. She’s fantastic. I have a great relationship with our VC, and for me it had a very happy ending.

Paul: So you’re on the plan. It’s working.

Julia: So far, so good.

Paul: All right, well thank you so for coming in and talking to us.

Julia: You guys are awesome. Thanks for having me in.

Paul: That’s nice to hear.

Rich: Julia, thank you. One of the most well-rounded human beings I’ve ever met.

Paul: Not really a human as much as a platform for idea distribution, I’m very impressed. [laughter]

Julia: I can make you guys a spreadsheet if you’re jealous. [laughter]

Paul: I’m a little jealous.

Rich: Oh no!

Paul: I need to go back to the office and get it together.

Rich: I know.

Paul: Is what I need to do now.

Rich: I’m — well. This isn’t about me. Thank you, Julia.

Julia: It was great being with you guys.

Rich: Thanks so much.

Julia: Thanks again. Have a great day.

Paul: Well Rich, um….

Rich: That was awesome.

Paul: I have a lot to learn. I’m gonna go check out Julia’s website.

Rich: Yeah.

Paul: This has been Track Changes, the official podcast of Postlight. We are a product design studio in New York City. I’m Paul Ford.

Rich: Rich Ziade.

Paul: If you need anything at all in the world, you just send an email to

Rich: Anything in the world.

Paul: Anything. We love our listeners. We like when you rate us well. We like when you send us frank and honest feedback to We’ll be back really soon with another podcast, probably in a seven-day period. We’ll talk to you soon. Rich, let’s get back to the office and get entrepreneurin’.

Rich: Let’s do it.

Paul: Bye!