Career / Kirsten Green

8 years ago by



For the longest time I have been totally intimidated by the finance world. Numbers were never my friend, I grew up with aspirations of being a writer, so when people started talking about accounting and money and business I just didn’t get it…

And then over the last almost five years that I’ve been working at the studio I’ve come to learn that I actually love business. Yeah, it was a huge surprise to me too, but all of a sudden as I saw the studio starting to really grow and expand I became fascinated with how companies work, and how they are funded. And when you work at a company based in digital it’s impossible to not become fixated on the whole start-up world that’s fueled by venture capitalists, angel investors and IPOs. And that’s how we met Kirsten.

One day I was reading Fast Company and I found an article on Kirsten Green, a venture capitalist who started her own company called Forerunner Ventures. Kirsten has invested in some of the retail brands that we all love, like Warby Parker and Glossier. And to top it all off, her firm is comprised of all women—something that’s pretty surprising in an industry that’s primarily made up of a lot of white, middle-aged men. I was so excited when Garance and I had a chance to meet Kirsten when we were in San Francisco (where she’s based) on the book tour. I find her to be a huge inspiration, and when we sat down she finally made a little more sense of how this whole VC thing works…


What did you want to do when you were young? What was your earliest ambition?

I think the first thing that I really liked when I was a kid was designing houses. I was in this program in school where we had to build floor plans. I think this was in fourth grade. We needed a budget and then we drew these floor plans and built cardboard houses around it. And every year in school there was a project like that. We started California Missions – and we had to make a little mission model.  I really like architecture and drawing and the technical aspects about it. And at times I still think it would be fun to be an architect!

Did you grow up in California? In the Bay Area?

Yeah, right outside of San Francisco.

What did your parents do?

My dad was a lawyer. Previously, he had been in the Air Force Academy then the Air Force. My parents got married and moved around a bunch. My mom is a first generation American. She grew up in a small town in Germany and tells a great story about how as early as she can remember she would find herself looking to the hills and thinking ‘what is on the other side?’ So the first chance she had she was out of there. She has lived in a lot of places, speaks a lot of languages, and got married to my father 48 years ago when she was in her mid-thirties, which was very late for that time. So she’s kind of the opposite. My dad the military, the lawyer, the very structured person. She’s the free spirit. I can’t believe this is where I ended up. She would always say to me ‘don’t you want to go somewhere? Don’t you want to go do something? I grew up in the Bay Area and met my husband in high school. My parents told me that I could go to any public college in California, and I wasn’t going to go to Berkeley, because it was too close, so I went to UCLA. I love to travel. I love other cultures. I probably would have moved to New York, but my husband was not going to move to New York. I got married right out of college, so I’ve been here. It’s very different from how my mother lived her life.

What did you study at UCLA?

Business Economics.

Was Business School ever something you thought about doing?

I absolutely thought I was going to go to Business School. That was the plan. But then I got into the working world and I’m kind of an all-in, head down, intense person. I found a way to keep myself challenged and engaged [in work] enough that the first time I looked up and thought ‘is this what I want to be doing?’, I was already 31. By that time I felt too old to be in Business School, that that ship had already sailed. I had really enjoyed what I had been doing for the last decade, and hadn’t spent a lot of time dreaming about what else I could do. So when I did have that moment of reflection, I thought it was a little too late. I was a Business Economics major and had already gotten my CP License [Common Public] and my CFA license [Chartered Financial Analyst]. I would have gone back to Business School for a network, but I don’t think I appreciated what that could have been at that time.

I absolutely thought I was going to go to Business School. That was the plan. But then I got into the working world and I’m kind of an all-in, head down, intense person.

So when you left school and came back to the Bay area what was your first job? What did you do for that decade of work?

I got out of college, it was the early nineties. It was a really bad job market in the US and there were barely any recruiters on campus.  I was under the impression that the only available jobs were at accounting firms. I mean, that’s how I ended up at an accounting firm. I was not an accounting major. I had only taken one accounting class! But they were hiring and offering a learning experience for me. So those firms start with a class of kids out of school: you start with 30 to 40 other kids out of college. They have a development program to put you through so you feel like you’re actually getting practical skills. I felt I can get a CPA [Certified Public Accountant] license out of this and if I’m going to do anything in investing, because I had worked at Merrill Lynch while I was in college, I would benefit from having it. So I was an auditor! I mean whoever aspires to be an auditor?

But when I was auditing I got what I thought were the fun clients. I got the retailers. So I got to audit Gymboree, or The Sharper Image, Safe Way. That was my first taste of retail companies. So if you have a degree in accounting you have to be there for two years, then you have to have a certain amount of practical experience to get checked off by your manager, then you take a test. If you don’t have an Accounting Degree you have to stay for three years and check off more hours and so on. So three years and two weeks I was out of there.

Then I went to Donaldson-Lufkin and Jenrette, which is an investment bank that is no more, it went through all the mergers. I think that was the start of my investment career. I basically spent a short time at Donaldson-Lufkin and Jenrette then went to Montgomery Securities and started to follow retail stocks. I did that for a few years then moved to a group at the same firm that was managing money. So I was managing for retail investments and product companies and service companies.

So what created that interest in business?

I think honestly part of it was just being practical.

What does your husband do?

He’s in real estate. I’ll digress and tell this story because it’s important to how I’ve developed as a person. While we met in high school, we only dated for a little bit then went to different colleges, so I actually did date a few other people. And I grew up in a pretty strict home, so it was tasking to manage people’s expectations. He grew up in a place that was very ‘be who you are. That’s fabulous! Do what you want.’ So he was very much like ‘I can do anything I want. What do I want to do? Maybe I’ll do nothing?

He worked for someone for six months and said ‘I can’t do this.’ Then he started his own business and that just made me so nervous. ‘You’re going to do what? You’re going to use a bunch of leverage to buy a building and borrow money from other people and the bank? And we don’t even have any money. You had a job and now you don’t have a job…’  All it did was make me more aggressive at my job.

Along the way he challenged conventional rules, hiring his friends. Now they’ve been working together for 18 years and built a really amazing business. They have top-tier investment returns, having never lost any money. In many ways its the opposite of what you might have thought a free spirited, entrepreneurial minded person would have created. By the time I took that moment of pause, ten years had passed. I had to ask myself: what do I really want to do with the next 10 years?

He had been a really good example of just allowing yourself to have a passion and diving into it and following it. It did not mean he was irresponsible. I think that it’s really ironic right now that he’s in apartment buildings – large, several hundred unit apartment buildings, the safest class of real estate – and I’m in venture capitalism, which is the riskiest thing ever. We totally flipped!

How would you explain what a venture capitalist does and how investing works in the most basic of terms?

There are public markets and private markets. Public markets are the companies that anyone has access to. They are usually at a certain level of maturity. Before those businesses are public they are private. Private companies are everything from the family-owned deli on the corner to Square that just went public. They have completely distinct missions. Not just the businesses they are in but completely different reasons for being. So the deli on the corner is providing a means to live for a family, versus Square which is trying to bring an enterprise solution to the world and the founder wants it to be big and own a market and do something different. That usually means it takes a lot of agility to grow and move and change with things. It takes a lot of people so you have to get a lot people on board with your vision.

Obviously if you’re doing a small mom and pop shop you are either going to put your own money into the company or you’re going to go to the bank. Those businesses are built for cash flow, usually to the owners. Sometimes family businesses do take in other investors and usually for that there’s a big class of companies you would do that with to get cash flow.

So then the next thing up is to build the business and there is a possibility to sell this business over time, but you still might have different paths of funding. You could have your own money, bank money, money from friends and family, you could have venture money. Let’s say that’s the menu of options. Venture is the most aggressive. Venture is for the person who wants to access as many things, as many people, as many resources as possible to try and do something out of the box, and different, and has big ambitions about it.

It kind of annoyed me at first, but we are always looking for something that can be a billion dollar business. ‘Billion’ has just been the word that people throw out there but the real meaning is a big business that warrants going public. Those are the kinds of businesses that the venture capital ecosystem are set-up to invest in and fund.

We are doing the early stage investing which is everything from meeting people with a business idea and ideating on it with them, maybe giving them a little bit of money to continue on with their thought process and start proving some of it out, to someone who already has a business up and running. Maybe they are doing a couple million dollars in sales and now they want to get some money because they want to hire a team, they want more inventory, they want to hire engineers to build a product. So that kind of the stage.

Then the next stage of that is a little more money to prove out another layer of the business model, the metrics, before you can say I have a foundation of a business and then you are getting expansion capital or growth capital. So those are the different ways of doing it.

It didn’t take long to figure out that I’m actually closer to the customer. The rise of the mall unlocked a whole new bracket of spending, largely with teens. Suddenly there was this place where parents could drop their kids off at the mall with 20 bucks. And if you think about a lot of teens at the mall with twenty bucks itching to spend it that’s a lot of money.

So what made you decide to go out on your own?

That decision happened over a period of time. I got started in Montgomery Securities covering retail stock when it was a couple of years into the cycle of malls really coming up across the country.

And did you continue on with retail because it was how you started when you were doing auditing?

No. So when I got to Montgomery Securities I got a job as an equity research analyst covering real estate. It was the only job that was available. This was 1997 before the market got crazy. There was no hiring, it was the only job available and I wanted to go there because it was the best place to work in town and I thought I could learn from good people. But the minute I got there I was like I don’t want to stay in real estate and I started looking around to see – where are my people?

So I got a job in the retail group. It was one of those moments where I had just got out of school. I was twenty, so I was younger than most people working and everyone’s got experience and I’m brand new at this. What could I do that would be contributory or different? It didn’t take long to figure out that I’m actually closer to the customer. The rise of the mall unlocked a whole new bracket of spending, largely with teens. Suddenly there was this place where parents could drop their kids off at the mall with 20 bucks. And if you think about a lot of teens at the mall with twenty bucks itching to spend it that’s a lot of money. So people started building concepts around teens.

I started going to the mall and coming back to my team and saying “the product looks terrible”  or “there was no one at the mall today.”  So I ended up getting coverage and control over those teen stocks and I really enjoyed it.  There was a time when there was a lot of activity happening so I got to meet entrepreneurs that were taking companies public and then I got pulled into a team to manage money in that firm because of the retail stocks I was covering. Then I was investing in retail companies.

There was a reason why I was head down. I was pretty entertained by what I was doing.  It was only until the cycle had gotten to a place where it was no longer about growth. The investment thesis really became about financial engineering and cost cutting. Then I was like ‘oh, this job is not fun anymore.’ That made me take the pause and really shone a light on the reality of what I enjoyed which was the trend part of the business. The people part of the business. So I kind of thought one cycle of retailing ended, there will be another one that’s just how the world works. If I want to be part of the next cycle then I need to figure out what it means to invest in a private company.  Because the next cycle will start with immature companies.

So this was when you started your fund?

I was working crazy hours – investment banking is 80 hour weeks. I thought if I stay here I will never figure this out, because I didn’t want to stay and not do as good of a job so I left without a job.

What ended up happening was I had someone who was very generous with their rolodex and introduced me to all these people in private equity.  I got people who started offering me project-based work and I took it.

This is going to sound irresponsible but after two years I looked up and realized that I had a consulting business. I have five or six people working with me on consulting projects and was learning a lot but I didn’t want to be a consultant. I wanted to be an investor. So I thought I’ve got to start proving that I can do this. I can make investments in private companies. So I just started looking for little companies and I found one. I said ‘have you ever taken any money?’ They hadn’t. ‘How about a million dollars? We can work on this together.’ So I made a bunch of investments.

I had no money myself so I went to every person I worked with at Montgomery and told them how I had a pregnancy skin care line and believed that we could take it from a specialty store business to an online business. I was really interested in the online thing, and this was before Facebook. I thought maybe I could figure out how to advertise the skin care line on websites relating to pregnancy. I went to every person I ever worked with. They were all surprised by the idea of a pregnancy skin care, but knew I worked hard. So I got $20,000 checks until I raised one million dollars. It was not glamorous.  That was actually what I did for seven investments, to the tune of 20 million dollars. I didn’t know any rich people so it was basically the craziest of crazy because I went to every person I knew asking for money. But I really wanted to do it or else I wouldn’t have done it.

But even after this you didn’t start Forerunner Ventures right away, right?

By 2008 I had a pretty good little portfolio. I didn’t want to do everything deal by deal. I needed to go raise a fund. Then Bear Stearns collapsed, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and I just thought I will look like an idiot if I try to raise money right now for a consumer thing when everyone is nervous about their finances. So I went to go to work at a private equity firm that I had consulted with before. I was pregnant and they offered me the best job. My job was to go out and meet people and decide if it was worth their time to talk to them. It was just networking – all business development, all deal development.

In the meantime, I was curious about people starting different businesses. Something new. I thought I would do specialty retail. I met the teams from Birchbox and Warby Parker while they were in business school. That was my first impetus to go and raise a small angel fund from one person I had known for twenty years who had always talked about me going to work for him. He owned a huge hedge fund.

So that was my first foray into that.  I got that money together in 2010 and then I thought: I have thesis; I have a flow; I have a point of view. I know there is a trend in front of us. I’m here at the start of it. So now I have to figure out how does this venture thing works. Because I really had spent all my time in private equity and didn’t know a lot about the venture ecosystem. So once I figured out that you have a someone who does a series A, series B, and a series C. If you’re going to do an early stage you need to know who is interested in that later stage. You kind of have to have a collaborative relationship. Once I figured out what role we could maybe play in that ecosystem then I had a pitch to go take to institutional investors.  At the beginning of 2012 I raised an institutional fund.  So we are just finishing up investing out of our second institutional fund and starting fundraise for a third.

I think every time we think about an investment we really think about how we are getting into business with this partner.  What are the prospects of having a great collaboration and working well together.

Can you explain what an institutional fund is?

An institutional fund is when you have taken money from third party money managers. Their job is to generate returns with their money. Our investors are university endowments, that was our lead investor.  Our fund is 75 million dollars and we will probably do more than that next time and we have four or five investors.

So when did you start to really become a company?

That was really organic thing too. When I first left Montgomery securities I didn’t know what I was going to do. I said ‘I need an office’ because you aren’t legitimate until you have an office. So I went and got an office downtown and thought I have to have a name. I want to invest in the next generation of retail so that’s where “Forerunner” came from. So forerunner was around long time before ‘Forerunner’ was really around because I needed something I couldn’t just be Kirsten. I had this office for two years and I thought ‘why do I have this office? No one is coming to see me? I’ve got to go hustle to see everyone else. I’m wasting money.’ So I ditched that office. I think that’s when I got the investor to give me money and the difference from the one off investment funds were impart driven by…I could market the underlying business not just myself. Basically someone is trusting you with investment decisions. Now I’ve got to professionalize this in some way.

So I did have an analyst early on. A lot of the people we collaborate with are multi-sector investors and we are really focused on commerce related companies. So then I had co-investors who were partnering with me telling me that I needed a team. But I didn’t have enough money to pay a team.  When I raised the first institutional fund then I had some management fees that’s how we get paid. So then I thought now we can start hiring a team. We just started to build this small team as we’ve been growing our business.

If you do this over time you do learn things and you’ve got to figure out how to share your experience and learnings without being a know it all and without having people feel like you are trying to control them.

So what do the people on your team do? What kind of people do you need to make up a VC business?

I think that there is a psychological level and then there is a skill background.  Because I came from the investor side I was pretty interested in somebody who understands retail businesses and compliments what I’m doing. And hopefully people who, not hard to do, were smarter than me. One of the things about starting this a little later in my life, it feels amazing to hire someone who is better than me at what we are doing. That’s a good compliment.

That’s kind of how I feel about my partner Eurie, she is a star. I wanted a partner to collaborate with for a long time and I looked around and I had conversations with people but I never found somebody who loved it as much as I did or brought the same level of energy to it. So then I just decided instead of finding a peer, I would hire people. So Eurie, she worked at Bain for a couple years and worked for Ebay and Nordstrom. She had been at a private equity firm before. She had been at Business School. She was part of an the entrepreneurship program at Wharton and she had started a company. So she had a lot of relevant skills and it was a good compliment to have somebody who had those skill sets.

What do you look for in people besides a certain type of experience?

You have to have someone who is curious and who is intellectually curious.  I would say that it is critical to be good with people.  It’s a people business. I think every time we think about an investment we really think about how we are getting into business with this partner.  What are the prospects of having a great collaboration and working well together. So putting a lot of emphasis on the people is really important.

I think you have to be diplomatic. If you do this over time you do learn things and you’ve got to figure out how to share your experience and learnings without being a know it all and without having people feel like you are trying to control them.

An entrepreneur is a very specific profile of person.  You have to think your ideas are better than most people’s.  You have to be overly optimistic. You know lots of things.  So I think that understanding the mentality of that kind of person and being able to figure out how do you have effective communication that’s interesting to me.  Those are some key things.  Because I’ve comfortable with numbers, I’ve always spent time understanding businesses through numbers.  There are varying degrees of that in venture capital.  That’s normally the biggest thing, the numbers part of it.

How did you gain that experience and advise people where it wasn’t just about the numbers but was sort of the human aspect about it?

I think I just like it.  I still have to try really hard and hopefully I have some degree of self awareness. I try really hard to always be learning.  I try and work with good people and learn from them, but I just enjoy what I do so a lot of it doesn’t even feel like work.

How many companies are in your portfolio now?

Not 40 but maybe 37.

Sometimes I wake up in the mornings and look at my schedule and think when am I going to go to the bathroom.

And how many boards are you on?

Too many. I’m going through this exercise right now because I’m on twelve now and we’ve got to raise another fund.  So another thing is having the discipline to understand what board should you take? What boards are better served with someone else on the board?  When do you roll off of a board.  I never necessarily wanted to be an early stage investor, I just wanted to invest in the best and the coolest commerce companies. So part of the experience I’m still looking for is staying with those companies as they scale through longevity.

So the 13 boards seats, Dollar Shave Club, Bonobos, Serena and Lily, those are all plus 100 million, 200 million dollar businesses.  They’re a much different situation than the one that you just start with just a team, two founders and an idea.  So you have to keep some discipline how many of each you take on.

What is an average day for you?

Sometimes I wake up in the mornings and look at my schedule and think when am I going to go to the bathroom. It’s a lot of meetings. So the only thing don’t like about my job is just one meeting after the next and I say no to a lot of things.  Being in my chair you are kind the hub of connections.  Some venture capitalists, their whole business is making connections and that is probably the most valuable thing you can do.  But being able to do that means that you are taking meetings all the time.  I have this push and pull on this topic because I love to meet new people.

But I’m actually an introvert. I actually recharge my battery by being quiet and I don’t have any of that during my day.  Then I come home and have a six year old.  I have a six year old boy in kindergarten and a 20 month baby girl. So when I get quiet time is like from 9:30 to midnight and it’s kind of hard.  I just recently tried to start working out and I try to do that in the morning.  Go work out, come back, get Rhys off to school, get to the office by 8:30. I mean, some days I have eight meetings, some days I have ten meetings, and some days I have six. Lots of meetings, lots of board meetings, lots of calls, lots of budget planning.

How do you stay focused?

It’s really hard.  I will tell you I have two speeds.  I’m either on or off.  If I’m on I can get through that whole day and be pretty good and actually feel pretty good.  But if I’m off I wish I could cancel some things  because I’m dumb today and I’m just not being smart.  And that happens at least one or two times a week.  It’s hard.  I have really really struggled with my schedule.  I never had an assistant until six months ago when it just became unbearable.  I mean it takes a lot to go back and forth to schedule a meeting, where are you going to have the meeting and everything, so Mary makes my life a whole lot better.  But we still haven’t figured it out.  Sometimes we say “let’s take all the meetings in the mornings so I have the afternoon to think and clear headspace.  Lets leave two afternoons free if stuff comes up.  It’s so hard.  I guess some days I just throw my hands up and say at least I enjoy what I do.  And you know what?  I still haven’t gotten comfortable with, and this is probably a flaw, is I can’t get back to everybody.  So sometimes you have to let something go and I feel bad.  That grates on me.

So how big is your team?

There’s only five of us. I have my assistant. Eurie my partner and then Melissa and Nicole.

I sometimes say: I’m a yes person I like to say yes.  If someone asks for me to do something I like to say yes.  But ironically I work in a No business. Because really we say no all the time.

Only women then?

Actually that is my hot topic right now that I do not know how to handle because we need to hire two more people.  I have not figured out my voice in the conversation around women in finance and business.  But I obviously think the topic is very worth while and I’m kind of working on a narrative that I feel comfortable with because I think you want to be positive and constructive but not pissed off because it’s not going to do any good.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

This sounds kind of cheesy, but it really is an honor to be part of people’s pursuits of their dreams.  It’s pretty fun and pretty cool. I had one founder call me up, I was on vacation over Thanksgiving holiday up at my remote fishing cabin for three days, and she’s likes tracking me down on all of these devices to tell me about what sales we did on Black Friday.  That’s pretty cool and pretty fun.  She was so excited and so happy.  And then alternately, you have the founder that calls you on a Friday night super upset about something, but if you can make it a little better by listening then that feels good too.  And it’s kind of exciting to be involved in things that are sparking. Dollar Shave Club, one company that is so exciting to be involved in, it’s been growing like crazy and all these people are attracted to it and we are getting to do all these new things and bringing in all these smart people.  That is just a really fun, amazing journey.  So I guess I would say I love the people aspect and the energy of it.

Do you feel like you have ever made a investment that you were not so sure about or struggled with?  Was it like a gut thing that you knew right away?  How did you deal with that?

You have to own your mistake for a good long time. You can’t tell someone: Oh I’m sorry. I made a mistake and don’t actually like you and don’t believe in your business. At some point though you have to be smart with your time and you have to recognize, I signed up to take other people’s money to make more money. That has to be the priority and I have to spend time on personal relationships and supporting entrepreneurs because it makes me a more desirable partner and that gets me access to better deals and better deals is going to return better money. That needs to be the flow of the thought. So none of this is benevolent.  Oh I like all these people. There is a link together because I’ve got to return money. Along that vein, you can’t spend all your time on a company where you really like the people, but they are really struggling and never going to return a meaningful amount.  I think that a good degree of success I’ve been able to navigate these situations by being honest.  Part of that starts with investing in the right people.  No one likes to hear that but people pretty much get it you know? Then we work with a few people to try and find something else for their business. I sometimes say: I’m a yes person I like to say yes.  If someone asks for me to do something I like to say yes. But ironically I work in a No business. Because really we say no all the time.

What would you say your biggest challenge is?

Time Management!  Its time management and the last topic we are talking about. The practical reality that requires you to kind of let go sometimes and be a realist and not just an optimist.

How involved are you with some of these businesses.

It’s totally all over the map. We are investors in Jet. They just raised 800 million dollars. Marc has built two companies already. He is totally capable and knows what he’s doing. He’s got a bunch of other investors so he doesn’t need anything from me. We’re just friends. So we poke around with ideas, but that’s not work for me.

We have one company that has just launched and has incredible product instinct, but hasn’t brought any operations to the business. So the real priority to back the investment was to get some operating expertise in here.  We have to put some financial systems in place.  So thats a project right away that requires attention, but that’s a building project. That’s like identifying what are the needs, helping to hire, helping to recruit those people, helping create priorities for them.  But if you do that right upfront, you get through six months or so then you’ve got something that’s working.

Then the other flavour is it’s not working.  Then you’ve kept enough pace on what’s going on that it’s not working before it’s too late and you are out of money. We’ve had two instances where we really had to roll up our sleeves and sat down in the office maybe half the week and figure out what is not working here, what leverage do we have to change things.  A lot of times it’s helping people understand their finances and that’s when you get to the financial part.  We have businesses where people don’t understand really what their cost of goods are and really what their gross margin should be and what they are spending. Its really putting those things in place.

Do you have a mentor?

I don’t have a mentor which is a bummer. That’s another thing… People have been introducing me to other people to be a mentor. But the more appropriate answer is that I’ve had so many people that I’ve learned from. I don’t have that person that I go to that’s been there done that and I feel like has my back in that regard. But I have a lot of really nice people that I’ve formed relationships and have respect for.

I think learning to allow things to unfold, let go a little bit. Being patient is really important, but it’s something I’ve had a hard time with.

Is there a best piece of advice from someone that use as a compass or that you go back to all the time?

I’ve gotten so much good advice. I really have. I wish there was one thing that was like law, but there isn’t. I wouldn’t necessarily say that there is one thing that trumps everything. Taking the long view. I can get really caught up and be like I have to get this done.  I can tell I’m finally maturing a little bit when I can sit back and say: you know what, I’m going to trust that it works out. I’m going to be an active part of the process but I can’t control the whole thing and it’s going to work out the way it works out. I think learning to allow things to unfold, let go a little bit. Being patient is really important, but it’s something I’ve had a hard time with.

What’s your dream for the future, for your business and for yourself?

One of the greatest things about where I am right now is that I really really like where I am right now. I don’t know if that’s a maturity thing or an awareness thing.

I’m at this moment where I’ve had a lot of the ingredients of my life set up but everything still has so much potential. That is the magical moment. What do I want for future? To tell you the honest truth: I want this state to continue for as long as it can because it’s pretty good.

How old are you?

I’m 44. I’ve been married 19 years. I had my baby after I was 42 and actually a few months ago I was like I kinda want another one, but then I said no. Actually that’s a good lesson too – appreciating where you are in the moment and always thinking about where you are in the moment. My kids taught me that! It sounds so cheesy and cliche, but the thing is when you have so many demands on your time, the only way to survive it with some level of enjoyment is to be focused and present when you are doing one thing or another and being all there. Try and put your cell phone away and really pay attention to your kids for that hour and a half because that’s not very much time!

Right now I have this amazing group of women on the team. I’ve got this still young portfolio so it’s still all about the future and the promise. I’ve had some lessons that I’ve learned and things have not worked. I’m still at the part where everything is a shiny new object. I’m at this moment where I’ve had a lot of the ingredients of my life set up but everything still has so much potential. That is the magical moment. What do I want for future? To tell you the honest truth: I want this state to continue for as long as it can because it’s pretty good.

Special Thanks to Zerzura at Plunge, Gansevoort Meatpacking


Add yours
  • amazing and refreshingly honest. I adore that she’s real about the challenges of her job, but also the rewards for pursuing your own dreams.

  • Finding the money is n-1 in building a company an in making alive great ideas ..the art of knowing how and where to find the money a form of art..great artist in this business can find money for any project…but if this idea or business will survive will flourish or will die depends on how good is the idea ..if the time is right for this idea..and how you go behind the idea to develop it….how much you say honest to yourself and to your first idea…
    From The World With Love
    Yael Guetta

  • This is wonderful. Having worked in business, I find too many women think they aren’t up to it, but guys never worry about not knowing enough or not being qualified, even when they are pitifully out of their leagues.

  • Cette interview est passionnante!

    Julie, Petite and so What?

  • Great interview! I really learned a great deal about a subject I usually avoid!

  • well, this makes me realize I am not a career-minded person whatsoever. I had no guidance from parents or goals for my work life. Was much more focused on living, and working just to support that. I feel I’m on a different planet from this woman!
    p.s. I think it’s funny that all businesses now are called start-ups, when before it was just… opening a business.

  • Very interesting reading!

    I think it’s important to know basic finance.

  • This is such an amazing article. Thanks for sharing all of this great info! xx

  • Passionnant …
    Moi, la reine auto-proclamée des quiches en math et en finances(8 en math au bac L, faut le faire quand même), je commence à m’y intéresser.

  • What a great interview!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Katherine March, 11 2016, 10:50 / Reply

    As a young woman who has worked in investment banking and venture capital since graduating from college and is now pursuing her MBA – THANK YOU! I genuinely love this blog but most of the career interviews make me feel like only cool, stylish women work in film or fashion or some other creative field. So this is incredibly inspiring and Kirsten is truly a rockstar in the VC world! Please interview more women in business!

  • Thank you so much. She’s so smart and seasoned (in the best possible meaning of this word) and a living proof that even a dream job is a job nonetheless, very hard, requiring a lot of discipline and skill. And of course it’s a tale about not giving up, and how a family has your back. You need to recharge and have other resources to lean on.

  • This is amazing and incredibly inspirational. Her comments on patience, and being an active part of the process while also knowing you can’t control everything and just needing to trust that things will work out – that really resonated with me. THAT might be the piece of advice that I’ll keep coming back to!

  • Nice post :)


  • Caroline March, 12 2016, 12:38 / Reply

    J’adore les interviews carrière, c’est long, détaillé, précis, très terre-à-terre et sans fioritures, bref on a l’impression d’avoir accès à la “vraie vie” des personnes interviewées!

  • Alexandra March, 12 2016, 1:39 / Reply

    Love the Career interviews.
    Will you interview someone who’s in the Fashion strategy consulting, or agent for some international designer brands?


  • I didn’t read the article : it looks so long !!! I need serious time to seat back and read it. By the way, is it me or it looks like career and job take suuuuuch a big place in Americans’ life? Bbecause without job they are lost (no social security, no money, no holidays, etc.)? Maybe the new mantra “Do what you like” comes from this reality : People in America need their job to live so much that nowadays companies make everything to make them stay longer there in the office to make it more pleasand and fun. I would never say for instance in Europe “I work hard/ I play hard” or “I’m so proud that I made it”. Made-it because of my work ??? Seriously no. To me, job is not everything : first know yourself, no need to work hard to play hard. Why just work, play and overall live?

  • This is a great piece – I too have felt a bit intimidated by the numbers side of things. But I think it’s because business courses and the like have always done such a good job of conveying the concepts in a sterile setting. Even “case studies” are looks at the minutiae of past companies, rather than actively getting experience on your own. I’m so happy to hear you discovered your love of business by being immersed in one!

  • Florence Lefèvre March, 13 2016, 7:56 / Reply

    Inspiring, informative, authentic – thank you

  • Amye Parker March, 14 2016, 11:52 / Reply

    This series is wonderful, I love the honest interviews that touch so many different careers and types of positions. Please keep more of these coming!

  • merci pour cette interview… Cette femme est une battante !

  • Great article Emily. Thanks :)

  • Best career interview ever! She sounds so real. Authenticity wins here!!

  • Nicky May, 4 2016, 4:52 / Reply

    Amazing and inspiring interview!

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