Welcome to MyDomaine's Second Life podcast, a series spotlighting successful women who've made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief innovation officer at MyDomaine's parent company, Clique Brands, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields.
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Sophia Rossi's résumé is filled with accomplishments, but there's one achievement you won't find on there: graduate. The fiercely successful CEO of women's lifestyle website HelloGiggles skipped college to dive straight into full-time work after high school. "I wanted to just work right away. I knew I wanted to stay busy," she tells Hillary Kerr in Episode 11 of Second Life.
That ambition and confidence served her well. After working as a producer on cult TV shows like The Hills and Glee, Rossi met actress Zooey Deschanel and hatched the plan to create a new online "positive space" for women. HelloGiggles was born.
"The first two years was me just figuring out how to run a website," she admits in the candid chat with Kerr. "I made so many mistakes that it actually makes me laugh now!" One of the biggest lessons she learned was the importance of trademarks. "I didn't trademark it, so one day I got a Facebook message that said 'Hey, check out my HelloGiggles app,'" she recalls. Shocked, she opened the message to discover that someone had built a HelloGiggles app without their permission. The pain point? Without a trademark, it wasn't a clear-cut legal battle.
In 2015, HelloGiggles hit a major milestone: Time bought the company for a reported $20 million. Looking back at the company's growth and her changing role as a manager, Rossi says one piece of wisdom stands out. "Argue like you're right, and listen like you're wrong," she says of the advice from Option B co-author Adam Grant. "As a boss … I was used to talking, but I didn't listen enough. That's something I want to apply more to my life."
Download Episode 11 of Second Life to hear Sophia Rossi talk about working on The Hills, going out of her comfort zone, and learning from others.