We are entering a moment for human capital management and the science behind HR. Now, more than ever, more and more companies are realizing the importance of talent to a business’ performance. Helping small and mid-sized businesses on that front and more, Jay Fulcher, the CEO and Chairman of Zenefits, joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to get us up to date with the latest on business growth and leadership, particularly on the importance is the enrollment process for companies, and where technology plays into that. He takes us deeper into HR and how Zenefits can help you gain access to opportunities that used to be available for big businesses only. Follow Jay’s wisdom as he helps you navigate this new business landscape where people, just as it should be, are at the forefront.
Many women worldwide are being kept from living the life they always wanted because they don’t have access to the opportunities that could otherwise lead them to live a successful and fulfilled life. On a mission to help and empower women, Wendy Diamond founded the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. In this episode, she sits down with Diane to talk about the ways she has been empowering, celebrating, and supporting women in business worldwide. She talks about her organization as well as her passion for animal rescue and how she puts two and two together to create a bigger social impact. Through it all, Wendy shows us the social importance of entrepreneurship and how great leaders bring their mission forward to benefit not only themselves but the world at large.
I’m glad you joined us because we have Jay Fulcher and Wendy Diamond here. Jay is the CEO and Chairman of Zenefits and Wendy is the CEO, Social Entrepreneur, and Founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. We’re going to talk about leadership, benefits and the social importance of entrepreneurship. It’s going to be a fascinating show.
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Improving Business Performance By Taking Care Of Talents With Jay Fulcher
I am here with Jay Fulcher, who leads Zenefits’ vision and strategy to level the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses by helping them manage growth, productivity, performance and compliance. He is the CEO and Chairman there. It’s nice to have you here, Jay.
Thanks, Diane. It’s good to be with you.
I was looking forward to this. I have a background in a lot of things. I teach a lot of HR courses where we talk about benefits, but I also worked in pharmaceutical sales, so health benefits and all this. I want to get a little background on you before we get started. Did you grow up thinking, “I want to be the CEO of a benefits company?” Tell me a little bit more about what your background is.
I am an accidental CEO in some ways. Many years ago, I’d had a series of both startups and companies that I had joined that were maybe a little bit slightly past the startup stage. The combination of those things got me more and more interested in what it takes to build a technology company. How do you solve big problems and how do you do that in a way that not only leverages technology but engages people in solving these problems with the use of technology? I sold the first startup that I was a part of to PeopleSoft. I had already been an executive at SAP and knew a little bit about PeopleSoft. I had not focused on the whole HR side of things.
In some ways, if I’m honest, I probably was a little dismissive about the HR space. Coming into PeopleSoft, which was such a great company, they had great leadership and a great board, I became immediately impressed with the people that were involved and the problems that the company was solving. Specifically, the culture that had been established in that business and that was the start for me because they were kind enough to look past my inexperience at my young age and they flipped me the keys to a big business there. That was the beginning of me being in bigger and bigger leadership roles pretty much for many years.
You have an impressive background and the companies for which you’ve worked. I love the dismissive of HR space because it happens a lot. Maybe Toby in The Office ruined it for everybody if you’re watching the TV show. I love teaching HR courses. I spoke at SHRM in 2019. There’s so much in that realm that can be interesting.
Diane, we’re entering a moment for human capital management and the science behind HR. Even the pandemic has put into the forefront in a way that is in some ways surprising that companies weren’t even more attuned to this already. People are the key. People drive everything. Your talent is an essential ingredient to your ability to drive business performance so you’ve got to have a plan and a strategy. You’ve got to have the technology. You’ve got to be thinking through how am I going to put my team in the best possible position to be successful.
This is such an important subject. I’m teaching a technology course. I do some live one-hour sessions, where we talk about a lot of how they’re going to set up their company. We haven’t gotten into the benefits part yet. We will touch on a lot of this. A lot of people come up with great ideas for their small business and leads to a mid-sized business and all that. I know you deal with a lot of that group of businesses. I worked for AstraZeneca for years and that was one of the largest chemical companies in the world and benefits were hard to expect from something like that. You get a company car and you get great benefits. For some of these smaller companies, it’s a harder thing for them. You help them deal with the enrollment. Tell me what you help them do.We’re entering a moment for human capital management and the science behind HR. Click To Tweet
First of all, it’s important for people to understand the dimensions that we’re talking about. There are 20,000 companies in the US that have more than 500 employees. There are more than six million that have fewer than 500 employees and that’s Zenefits’ market. That’s the market that my company focuses on. It’s those companies that have fewer than 500 employees. The additional fact that is a little shocking in this day and age is nearly half of that small or medium-sized business market, those six million companies don’t provide any level of employee benefits to their employees. If they do, it’s not comprehensive. It may be healthcare, but it may not include paid time off, commuter benefits, and some of the other basic things that a lot of people take for granted.
What Zenefits does is we provide an entire people operations software platform that includes HR technology, payroll technology and benefits administration capability. We can help to more or less level the playing field for these small businesses that have been for decades underserved in terms of the technology that’s available to them to be able to manage their workforce. Also, manage compliance, deal with all of the employee benefits issues, and the complexities associated with them. Lastly, to make sure that you can better the work you do, and the practice you have is all about this, but to better engage and drive the business performance from your employee groups. We provide a comprehensive platform of technology that attacks all of that. The sole focus of the company in terms of how it was started, originally, a few years ago was all about solving the employee benefits problem.
As you talk about that, it reminds me I sold payroll technology in 1985 on System/36 and System/38 It’s a bar for IBM. It’s been a while. Back then, they had their challenges with paying payroll and some of the stuff, but then when you add all the benefits and everything else. I’m trying to envision some of the experiences. I’ve worked for everything from the huge company AstraZeneca to where it was two other people and me in office situations. I know that a lot of times when there are certain legal issues and things if they have to give benefits, they might put people part-time. There are all these trying to get around giving benefits because they’re expensive. How much do you talk to people about the benefit of benefits?
That’s a huge part of what we do. I have a similar experience to yours, where I’ve worked for big Fortune 500 type of companies, but I’ve also started several businesses from scratch. For the small company, the companies that have fewer than 25 employees, or in some cases, maybe fewer than 100 employees. These are businesses that oftentimes are in situations where they’re trying to navigate what’s necessary in order to be able to hire people, pay them, develop and grow them. A lot of times these are fairly fast-growing businesses. They’re changing, morphing pretty quickly and they’re trying to figure all of that out.
They’re also trying to deal with how we competitively retain the talent that’s been attracted to our company, through not only fair compensation but through benefits programs that are going to be appropriate for the size of the company they have. Rising insurance rates and the expense here are one of the big culprits. We did a survey in the Fall of 2020. We have more than 10,000 customers across the US so we often are serving customers on a variety of things. One of the things that were interesting is there’s been an average 15% increase in insurance rates between 2016 and 2020 based on the survey that we did. Fewer small businesses are offering health coverage. It’s about a 20% decrease over the few three years for companies that have fewer than 50 employees and it’s almost a 15% decrease for companies that have 100 employees or fewer.
To our way of thinking, that’s a fairly major opportunity, but it’s also something that has to be addressed, given the fact that small and mid-sized businesses make up more than 99% of the US economy. They are the engine that propels our economy forward. We’re focused, at this point, on making it much easier for small businesses to be able to shop for options. It’s similar to the way that people have become used to using Amazon, Kayak or those kinds of platforms to find and compare the best solutions at the best price, all in one spot.
Zenefits is providing a similar platform where we can allow them to do a lot of this comparison shopping, plus use tools to manage and access those plans, some of the brokers and the key advisors that a lot of times, these small companies would love to have some access to who can help guide them with some of these decisions. The whole goal here is to make sure that small and mid-size businesses have access to the same kinds of capabilities and coverage that only up until now the large companies have been able to take advantage of.
I’ve had some of those great benefits from the large companies. I do miss my company car sometimes. People sometimes get stuck in those golden handcuffs. It’s interesting to see what each company offers and what the good balance of everything is. Looking at the company name, is there a play on Zen for benefits? What’s the Z?
There totally is. A big part of what we’re trying to do with the way that we’ve branded our company is all about trying to take the stress, the headache, and the complexity out of what up until now has been difficult and perplexing. Also, sometimes frustrating business processes for how you get people on board into your company, all of the information put into a system, having all that information be in all the places that it needs to be in a seamless way.
We’re in a new world now where 80% of the workforce is Millennial or Gen Z. These are generations of workers who have different expectations about the social contract that they have with their employer. They expect employers to provide them with good tools. They often need to be tools that work on their phone that are seamless, that don’t ask them to do stupid things, and that don’t require stupid things of them. These applications, all of them can talk to each other and they’re integrated. Zenefits has built a platform to do exactly that.
The other part of the Zenefits thing around our brand and why that name is we think that healthy people are critical for a healthy business. We’ve been focused on broadening our platform to include tools that are not just around benefits but are also issues around employee engagement, collaboration, time off and employee well-being. We’ve built capabilities across all of these areas because we know that in this day and age, you’ve got to be employing and taking care of the entire employee, physically, mentally and spiritually. They all are going to need access to these tools and applications in order to be able to live a balanced life, which is going to allow them to be the best contributor to your business.
Expectations have definitely changed. It’s interesting my work with curiosity is included in an app that was backed by Reid Hoffman, the creator of LinkedIn. We work with companies to give them a well-rounded experience in education, learning and different things like that. It’s like what you’re saying, you have bits and pieces. I found that the content that they need and they want it in a specific way. I found similar things in the work I did with Verizon.
I went back there for part of this video series that they did. They would make these little short videos that they included in their onboarding process about the value of curiosity, since that’s my thing. In addition to what I would talk about, they would showcase individuals within the company who have used curiosity to their advantage. I love the thought of little bits and pieces of content because nobody wants to watch anything that’s more than ten seconds long anymore. It’s got to be quick and to the point. Are you doing surveys?
Let me give you a couple of examples. On the one front, we are doing employee surveys and we’ve created what we call a hub, which allows for employees to come together as groups to talk about a variety of different topics, exchange ideas. In our world now, where remote work, maybe here with us to stay. I don’t think this is necessarily a temporary situation we’re experiencing. This is something that is going to change the workplace forever to some degree. You’ve got to create these virtual abilities for employees to be able to come together.
The other thing we’re doing is we’re working with a friend of mine over the course last several years, Arianna Huffington from Thrive Global. We’re creating exactly what you suggested, which is a set of applications that include these micro-steps that employees can use to better understand how they’re not only taking care of themselves, but how they’re being able to take advantage of the different kinds of applications, capabilities and consultative tools that are being made available to them. We’re helping our clients manage the visibility around, “Are your employees taking regular vacations?”
For an employee that’s about to have a baby, are we helping to provide her or him with all of the resources that are necessary to deal with that major life event and how that is going to affect their job, their career and all the rest of it? Other issues are around their health and well-being. How well are they sleeping? What tools and capabilities can we provide them to maybe assist them around other habits, whether it’s sleep, exercise, diet or whatever it might be? We’ve come a long way from slapping a Fitbit in the mail, sending it to employees and saying, “Good luck.” This is a lot more about reaching out to people with stuff that helps them develop a growth mindset for themselves in understanding and availing themselves of some of the tools that are available.Your talent is an essential ingredient to your ability to drive business performance, so you've got to have a plan and a strategy. Click To Tweet
I love that since I use Carol Dweck’s Mindset for my work with curiosity and that’s important. I serve on a board for this global mentor network that was set up by Keith Krach. I was on his board of advisors for DocuSign. It’s almost like this thing is the brainchild of masterclasses that’s for mentoring for individuals. It’s an important thing for small-medium businesses to get that mentoring benefit that maybe they don’t have the access to that level of leadership within their companies. Do you do anything with mentorship?
Yeah. We are doing some early-stage work around leadership development and some amount of learning and training programs around a variety of different things. We’re at the front end of that process. Our vision for that is interesting for these companies to have, in some ways, a single place to go where some of this can be both curated and made available to them so they can drive their employees to some of these resources in a way that’s fairly simple. As you say, in AstraZeneca, all of those programs, websites, initiatives and capabilities are all curated and pulled together for that workforce. What we’re trying to do is to democratize some of that and make that available to these companies that can afford to do that uniquely for themselves.
Do they do it with an a la carte fashion?
I’ve talked to people about education and how education is going to get more a la carte and a lot of industries are going to get that where you could pick and choose. You’re running this company and I know in some of the information you sent me, you have this philosophy about leadership and I’d like to get people’s outlook on leadership. We talked about Keith Krach. He’s talked on the show about his style and different things. I love that you say that you lead with empathy and radical transparency, which is important to me in my research in emotional intelligence that led to my doctorate. How do you develop that in the people who follow you? Empathy is such a huge part of emotional intelligence. I like to get your leadership style and a little background on that.
First of all, I believe in situational leadership. Leadership styles have to be adapted and adopted based on a little bit about the company that you’re in and what you’re dealing with. At Zenefits, one of the biggest advantages we have is we have such a noble purpose and mission. This notion of leveling the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses is such a big and important concept. It galvanizes our team. It motivates our team in ways that most companies would love to have some mission that has that effect on their workforce.
We have this major advantage. If you subscribe to the eight leadership styles, or whatever, the combination of what I’ve tried to bring to Zenefits is one of both transformations, but also one of coaching. Empathy ends up being a huge component of that, which is all about making sure that we’re walking the walk and talking to talk when it comes to transparency. As you know, transparency is an easy thing to do when everything’s going well and everything’s up into the right, but where it gets tested is when companies have been through some challenges. They’ve been through some moments that were difficult moments.
A few years ago, Zenefits had been through a number of things. For me, we needed to shift the culture. I took an aggressive approach to change the culture and took several steps that helped us to shift our orientation around what business we want to be? What’s our intent? How are we going to treat each other? How are we going to treat our customers? What are the expectations for working inside of our company? That leads to being able to provide the level of accountability, flexibility and open communication that I find most employees are anxious for. They want to understand what our goals are, what is our intent as a business, and what are the rules of the road for how we’re going to manage this. That’s how I’ve tried to go about it in Zenefits.
I can remember talking to Francesca Gino about her research that she posted in HBR about the value of different aspects of curiosity, but it broke down to what the culture was in the company. I found it interesting how many companies say they value curiosity or leaders say they value curiosity and yet if you ask the employees, it’s not the same response. They would say most of them felt that they had barriers to being curious. Walking the walk and talking the talk, and emulating what we would like to see is critical in leadership. What you’re saying is super important. I had a note that I meant to ask you when we were talking about the benefits thing because I’m curious what’s the most requested least offered benefit. Is there something that everybody wants that most companies don’t get? You said you do surveys and do a certain amount of research.
One that has come in 2020, which I find interesting given the fact of an election season is civic time off. It’s for employees to be able to decide how they want to show up in their community and to make sure that their employer is making it easy for them either to vote, volunteer to a polling place, assist at a charity function, or participate in their civic or local groups with their church and that thing. It’s interesting statistics that are starting to show up around people that are not only looking for that from their employers. Where employers are also starting to understand that providing not just paid time off, but being more specific about giving people time to show up in their communities is a pretty important topic. In some ways that may be borne out of the cycle that we happen to find ourselves in.
It brings to mind a show I watched about different benefits and different things of what was causing the disparity between men and women’s income level. You were brought up if they were having a baby, time off and different things. I can’t remember if it was Sweden or it was somewhere up there. There was a country where they changed it, where that paternity time off was forced and they found that the disparity was dramatically different in income because it wasn’t men versus women losing, the women that had babies were the problem because they would lose time being off with the babies. They lost out to promotions and different things and they never caught up. Are you seeing more men taking paternity leave?
For sure. More and more companies, first of all, are understanding that parenting is genderless. We all have responsibilities around parenting so that’s a big part. The other thing that’s interesting in 2020 is most studies suggest that small business employees took about 50% less time off than the previous year. You know that the pandemic and all of the issues related to what’s going on with the pandemic has had a huge impact way beyond the obvious in terms of infections, people that are ill, and the terrible amounts of people that have died thus far from the pandemic. It’s also bad for stress levels and for burnout.
Businesses are much in the middle of this discussion around encouraging people to take and use the time off of all types and that includes things from maternity and paternity leave. It’s also these things civic time off. It’s also making sure that we’re monitoring the balance that we have. Americans, in general, have known for a long time that we’ve been a bit out of balance with respect to the way in which we work, especially vis-à-vis the way people work around the world. If you’ve ever been lucky enough like I have to have lived and worked around the world, you know that we go about it differently here in the US than the rest of the world. That awareness is starting to show up in some of the policies that businesses are starting to adopt.
What I’ve been seeing is interesting on this unlimited PTO that I’ve seen companies give. I thought that a lot of the companies where I’ve seen whenever they offered that people are taking less time off if they give them unlimited time. What is that about?
That’s for sure the dynamic in Silicon Valley. You’ll see it amongst tech companies, not here, by the way, but any tech hub around the country. The companies, for the most part, have adopted that approach and ended up being in a situation where those employees are using even less time. They’re more heavily impacted by what I was saying before with stress, burnout, and other mental health issues, and that thing that comes from it. For sure, these policies have a lot to say about how we want to show up for our team. How do we want to show up for our organizations? Are we prepared to understand that there are trade-offs here in terms of these decisions are tied directly to business performance?
What you’re doing is great and that so many companies need this. My husband works as a physician. I see a lot of doctors that don’t have people for that thing and I see a lot of mid-sized businesses that need a lot of help. I thought this was going to be interesting and it was. I’m so glad you joined me on the show, Jay. A lot of people want to know how they can find out more, follow your work, or follow your company.The greatest gift is to be able to take yourself out of your world and see other worlds. Click To Tweet
Zenefits.com is a good place to start. We also have a great website with all kinds of content for small and mid-sized businesses called Workest.com. That’s a great place to start is to go there. Exactly what you’re describing with these small and mid-size businesses are exactly the kinds of customers that we’re interested in serving. Hopefully, people will come to check us out.
I hope so and this was fun. Thank you so much for being my guest, Jay.
Diane, it’s great. I love being with you. Stay well.
Thanks. You too.
Helping Women In Business Worldwide With Wendy Diamond
I am here with Wendy Diamond, who is the CEO, Founder, and Chief Pet Officer at LDP Ventures. She’s a renowned social entrepreneur, impact investor, humanitarian, and TV personality. She founded Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and authored ten widely celebrated books. She’s also garnered three Guinness World Records. I want to hear about all that. It’s so nice to have you here, Wendy.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.
I was looking forward to this. I know we’ve been introduced. I haven’t had a chance to learn more than what I found online. I was looking at a lot of your stuff and I was like, “I want to know more about that.” I was looking forward to this. Johnson introduced us and I know that he knows all the most interesting people. I want to learn a little about your backstory first because you’ve done so many things and a lot of people get to hear all the accomplishments, but they want to know where you came from originally and how this all came about.
I am a country bumpkin. I grew up in a town of 2,500 people outside of Cleveland, Ohio, in a town called Chagrin Falls. I came from an interesting background. My parents were such characters and everything, but some unfortunate things happened. When I was sixteen, I was much on my own. I had to work two jobs and go to high school, which I have to say, I thank my parents to this day. Rest in peace upstairs. They taught me at a young age perseverance and resilience.
As a kid, I was always a positive, happy person. It’s a mindset in life. What happened was graduating from high school, I didn’t do well because I had so many things that happened. I was looking for college and realized I couldn’t get into any college because I had the worst grades. My aunt from San Francisco said, “You have to go to college.” She was the one who gave me my start in life. I went to school in Boston. I went to an old finishing school turn four-year liberal arts school for women called Pine Manor College, which was sold to Boston College so I went to Boston College now. I went to school there and that then parlayed me into being in a whole new world.
Growing up in Ohio, I was sheltered. I am going to school in Boston. I ended up in my college and they had girls from all over the world like Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, so it opened up my eyes to the world. That’s where my whole story began and how I’ve been able to look at everything in life as positive, no matter what day, year, ten years, it might be that you realize that but to note that in your head so you can look at life in a positive way.
It’s so interesting for a few of those things. First of all, my husband grew up in Wickliffe. You guys are probably not too far. The fact that when you get out there and you get exposure, it’s the same thing that happened with my daughter. We took her on a cruise when she was fifteen and she got out. I’m in Arizona and it’s not super international here like it would be in some of those cities. She got on this cruise ship with all these people speaking all these different languages. She’s never been the same since. She speaks all these multiple languages. It’s interesting to see when you get exposure, how much it impacts you.
I say to people, “You’ve got to say yes.” The greatest gift is to be able to take yourself out of your world and see other worlds. You could call it lucky, but that’s been my way of thinking ever since I was lucky to be able to go to college in Boston. It made me realize that there’s a whole other world out there.
I was looking at some of the stuff you’ve done. I mentioned all your books. There’s a lot of Chicken Soup for the Soul things that you have been a part of and Understanding Women Through their Cats. I love that. What got you so interested in writing animal-focused books?
My whole life, when I graduated from college, for instance, I have 300 resumes. At that time, you don’t realize network, network, and network. No one ever hired me so I was always an entrepreneur. I always had to figure out my own way ever since I was sixteen. I ended up in New York and I started volunteering for the Coalition for the Homeless for six months. I fed 1,000 people a week, and I couldn’t get the grin off my face giving these people a ham sandwich, cold milk, and an apple, which I would never eat. I’m a vegetarian. It made me see the importance of giving back.
My first foray into publishing, let’s say was I did two cookbooks with all the celebrities like Madonna and everybody and raised $500,000 for the homeless. I appeared on Oprah, Howard Stern, and so forth. After that, I was lonely. I was in New York. I grew up with animals like bunnies, horses, dogs, cats and everything. I was like, “I’m living in New York alone. I want to go and adopt.” I went to the city shelter and I adopted a Russian Blue purebred cat, and I adopted a purebred Maltese. I started researching.
This is 1999. I was like, “How do you get them out? I don’t understand how all these animals are in shelters?” That’s when I decided that I was going to dedicate my life and create the first-ever premier lifestyle media brand called Animal Fair Fairness to Animals and bring celebrities and pop culture to the animal rescue world. In ‘99, there were twelve million animals euthanized a year. Nobody in the media. There were no dogs and commercials. Nobody was carrying a dog around in a bag. We had no celebrities and magazines with dogs.Everybody in the world wants to help. You’ve just got to make it easy for them. Click To Tweet
That’s when I created Animal Fair and created the first-ever premium lifestyle magazine to promote animal rescue, adoption and bring celebrities and pop culture to the animal rescue world. That was the first lifestyle pet magazine. We had Renée Zellweger on the cover. Vanity Fair and New York Times brought celebrities in pop culture to the animal rescue world. If people knew they could adopt any breed, any size, any age, I could change the mindset of people. Everybody in the world wants to help. You’ve got to make it easy for them.
I created the first-ever pet fashion show in history called Paws for Style. I created this term, Yappy Hour. Go to YappyHour.com. I did that. It’s a real word in the real world. Everything I did was to bring awareness towards animal rescue. At the pet fashion show, we raised money for our local animal rescue shelter. We got celebrities to walk rescue dogs down the runway and fashion designers designed to outfit. That’s when I started doing the Today Show and different shows on Animal Planet and so forth. That’s what led to creating ten books and writing How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs and How to Train Your Boss to Rollover. I was on a primetime show on CBS and we’re raising millions and millions of dollars for animal rescue. They created a wing at the Humane Society named after my dog. That was my foray into the animal world and how I started writing books and everything.
One of my partners in one of the businesses I work with is Dr. Gilda Carle. She’s famous from the talk show Circuit. She was talking about her time on the Howard Stern Show and some of the ones you’ve mentioned. She had a lot of fun. I’m curious how was that when you were on some of these big shows? In the beginning, you mentioned Oprah and Howard. Were those early on or were they later in your success that you were able to get into those major shows?
I never cared about money or power my whole life. It wasn’t like, “I’m dying to be on these shows at all.” I cared about bringing awareness towards animal rescue. Everything that I was on was never pitched or that thing. My whole life is integrity. I don’t get involved with something for anything but like, how is it going to make an impact in this world? It happened as part of what I was doing.
You’re doing a lot of things for women. I thought that was interesting to hear. Do you say we do when you shorten it on the women’s group? I want to hear more about that.
The true story of my life is I have a stalker and it came in around 2011 when I was on the Today’s show, once a month at a primetime show on CBS. I was raising millions of dollars for animal rescue and I was left with a creepy stalker. That was one of the most troubling times in my life because I spent many years out helping animals. If you look in history, I’m the reason Howard Stern is an investor in animal rescue. They had bought their dog and started coming to my animal rescue things where they decided they’re going to help animal rescue. I was a pioneer in that field and it was a genuine field at that time. I’ve got this kooky stalker.
At that time, you started seeing everyone. It was a little disingenuous about what animals were because I was never doing it to have dogs as accessories. It was about the impact that dogs have and pets have on our lives. The unconditional love, loyalty, the bond and how important they are to our health and their children. I’ve got this stalker and for the next two years, I had to separate myself from being public and from my whole life. That led me to Honduras on vacation, not realizing it was the murder capital of the world.
I’m a funny character. I feel that signs in life that come to you, you have to keep aware and open to what life has. I ended up in Honduras, the murder capital of the world, and I ended up volunteering for an organization that gives microloans to poor women. That was in 2013. I learned all the stats. At that time, 1% of venture dollars went towards women in businesses. These women who were getting these microloans for $100 were incredible. They weren’t making $1 a day. These people were making $0.50 a day. They would get this $100 microloan from this organization in Honduras called the Adelante and they’ve opened up a window in their little hut, which is a dirt floor hut.
There was one woman specifically that I’ll never forget who was 72 years old. She had three little kids. She was like, “My daughter died and the husband ran off.” She got the $100 microloan and was able to buy coats, toothpaste and open up a window in her hut. From that money she earned, she was able to pay $1 a month for those kids to go to school. I started doing research and realizing those women who get these microloans are paying them back at a 98% rate.
Is it similar to Cuba?
I’m about directly knowing who you’re supporting and giving umbrella takes from those and so forth. From there, you’re learning all about the stats. When women earn money, 90% of that money goes to educate their children and 5% for their families. When women are empowered in business, they have self-confidence and dignity, they don’t allow human rights violations. Give a hand up not a handout. That’s when I went back to New York and said, “Wow.” What I did in the animal world, I’m going to simplify the message. I knew that if we simplify the message, you could adopt any dog, any size, any age, and make it easy for everyone to understand.
I knew we could bring that number from 12 million down, which is now down to 2 million pets euthanized a year. Where did that come from? You can see the trail from when I started Animal Fair in ‘99 when nobody was talking about it, creating that, creating the movement and bringing awareness towards that. Media was the most important thing in the animal rescue world at the time. From there, I said, “I could do the same thing in the women’s world.” That’s when I knew I could create a day in the world. I’ve gotten Guinness World Records and all this stuff. I understand how to get things done. I’m an entrepreneur. I never worked for anybody. I didn’t know how to get things done. I wanted to help the world. Whatever it takes to help the world, I’ll do it.
That’s when I came back to New York. I went to New York State Governor Cuomo. I went to New York City Mayor de Blasio. I said, “Will you put a claim on this day? It’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, November 19th.” That’s when I decided that I would create a movement as I did in the animal world. I went around the world to everybody I knew around the world. People from college and people from all over and I said, “Who in your country or city is the greatest person to represent our movement?” That’s why I created Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization and we’re in 144 countries around the world as well as over 100 universities and colleges.
It’s #ChooseWOMEN for that.
I’m a glutton for punishment. I love helping the world to see no good deed goes unpunished. That same year, I thought, “If we could create the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, we’ve got Small Business Saturday, we’ve got Black Friday.” I said, “If we could take that Wednesday and they could choose Women Wednesday, that would be a great way to say, ‘Let’s inspire women in the world. Let’s show how amazing they are.’” #ChooseWOMEN Wednesday is December 2nd, 2020. We partnered with two incredible creative agencies Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which is owned by publicists, the Chairwoman there, Sarah she’s been a big supporter of this. We’ve partnered with an organization called Creativity for Kindness and that’s where we’re launching #ChooseWOMEN in 2020. We’re asking everyone in the world to choose what woman inspired them. Whether it’s a woman in politics, finance, music, business, or whatever that might be to bring and showcase to the world why we should empower, celebrate, and support women.
I’ve had so many amazing women on this show and as you’re saying that trying to pick one is so hard. I had Vernice Armour, FlyGirl, the first African-American female combat pilot on. She’s a former police officer and all the things that she’s done. I’m thinking in my mind how many amazing women there are so that’s great that you’re showcasing that and what you’ve done. It’s interesting to have people on the show. It wasn’t a woman but I was thinking that some of what you were talking about reminded me of Scott Harrison, who was on the show created Charity: Water and was able to make such an impact in the world because he saw something like you saw. These women weren’t getting the funding and the things that they needed. Sometimes it takes looking for some of this. You also mentioned your Guinness World Records and I alluded to them. I want to know what those are for and tell me a little bit about that.When women are empowered in business, they have self-confidence and dignity. They don't allow human rights violations. Click To Tweet
The Guinness World Record just happened. I was at a dinner party in New York and the woman from Guinness said, “Wendy, you should have a Guinness World Record.” I’m like, “For what?” She’s like, “Your dog has been with more celebrities than any other dog in history.” That was what happened with the first Guinness World Record. My dog, Lucky, inspired me to create Animal Fair. Before Paris Hilton and before all those people, I would carry my dog around with me, but I wasn’t showing it like, “See my dog.” My dog has separation anxiety so I would bring my dog with me. The dog bag would be close and you wouldn’t even know I have a dog.
It happened one day when I was at a dinner party. A friend of mine who I grew up with in Ohio invited me to one and it was one of the most surreal experiences. It was dinner with Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Valentino, the designer, and his partner, Nan Kempner, who at the time when she was alive was one of the most prominent New York socialites. It was before Facebook and social media. I would never take a picture with somebody I didn’t know before. At that dinner party, my friend, who I grew up with said, “Valentino, Wendy brought her dog.”
The next thing I know everybody wants to see my dog. I was at this dinner party and there’s Hugh Grant holding my dog. There’s Valentino, and started taking photos with them with my dog, not with me, but with my dog to remember the moments. I created a column in my magazine, Animal Fair called Who Got Lucky. It was the only sexy column in the magazine and promoted the charity events and all the great people doing amazing things and my dog would be there. It was a society/celebrity column in my magazine. We had over 700 pictures, everyone from Kim Kardashian to Kanye West to President Clinton to whoever. It was everybody. It was never paparazzi. It wasn’t to ask something. It just happened.
As you look at the picture on your website of this, your dog with you, you have these beautiful blue eyes. The dog’s eyes look blue. What is with that? Does your dog have blue eyes or is that something special?
It’s so weird. It’s the funniest thing. People are like, “How do you do that?”
I want to know how that happens. You’re sure it was blue.
It must have been from the flash, which then led to the dog’s eyes turning blue.
You guys have matching eyes. I’m like, “That’s cool.” I was wondering how you did that. Is this the same dog? You’ve had different dogs through the years but is this the same type of dog?
No. This is the first time I adopted a dog that was a puppy. The reason I did that is, my first dog Lucky and my second dog, Baby Hope were both senior pets when I adopted them. For me, it’s devastating as everybody knows when you lose a pet. My life is over. That’s when I decided that I was going to adopt a puppy. It took me sixteen months to find the dog I have now, Happy. They’re all different.
I’m thinking that I might have met you at one of Jeff Hayzlett’s events. Did you ever come to his Phoenix event? It must be a different event where somebody had a dog in one of the events. Do you always bring your dog to events that you go to?
I don’t always know anything, you never know. I more so before, I’m not as much now doing that because the dog I have now is not as needy as my other dog.
You sit on boards, The Humane Society of New York, The Grey Muzzle Foundation, and other boards that aren’t dog related. What do you bring to those boards? What are they looking for from your experience?
I’m different from most people because I’m active in whatever I do. When I go into boards, whether it’s a corporation, I only get involved with things that make a clear, measurable impact in the world. I bring in a new perspective and my amazing contacts throughout my life. That’s one thing that I’m strong about. It’s leaving every relationship, every conversation, and every person I encounter with a positive. That’s the key.
You are an investor as well because I was looking at some of the things you invest in. Do you have a particular area of focus? I was looking at everything from life science and health to blockchain technology. How do you determine what you’re going to invest in because these are all different companies and ideas? I was fascinated by that.
It’s about the founder, number one. It’s not about the technology. The most important thing to me is what impact is this going to have on the environment and the world? That’s pretty much my thing, because it’s all about, first of all, who’s driving that company? Who’s going to make this happen?
It’s a time where I’d like to see more women investors being showcased. I love that you’re doing all the things that you’re doing with that. I’ve written and talked to so many people about different kinds of Angel investing, venture capitalists, and different things about how we can get people funding their ideas. It sounds like you’re doing some great things in the world. I love that this #ChooseWOMEN Day is coming up for the Women Entrepreneurship. Is there something else that’s new? Are you going to write any more books? Ten is quite a bit.No matter your age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, you can never stop dreaming and learning. Click To Tweet
I love life and I believe that no matter your age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, you can never stop dreaming and learning. For me, I’m excited about life. I’ll never lose my inner child. I’ll always be interested, fascinated, and in wonderment of the world. I’ve had a lot of ideas and a lot of things are happening. You can follow me and see. It’s exciting.
This has been fun and a lot of people want to know how they could find out more, see what’s going on and learn more about #ChooseWOMEN and all those different sites. Is there someplace that they can go to? Is it best to go to your website or another one? I’m curious about how they can follow you.
If you wanted to find anything out about me, because of my stalker, I created one website. You can find out everything, you can look at my testimonials from all the people I work with. I’ll tell you how it’s normal, great like I am so my stalker can’t defame or try start to slander me. Go to WendyDiamond.com. You’ll see all the companies I’m involved with and you’ll find information out about Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and how to support women in business to alleviate poverty. You can see Animal Fair and how to adopt a dog and see what we’ve done in the animal rescue world and lifestyle worlds. You can see all the companies I’m involved with as well and you can find out more about #ChooseWOMEN.
Wendy, thank you so much. Many people are going to want to find out more and this was a lot of fun. I’m so glad Johnson introduced us.
Thank you, Diane. You’re great. I’m grateful.
I’d like to thank Jay and Wendy for being my guests. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can catch them at DrDianeHamilton.com. Check out all the different links because everything about the Curiosity Code Index, the Perception Power Index, all the books, all the speaking, and everything is all in one site. I hope you take some time to explore the site. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take the Lead Radio.
- Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
- Reid Hoffman
- Thrive Global
- Keith Krach – Previous Episode
- Francesca Gino – Previous Episode
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
- Understanding Women Through their Cats
- Animal Fair
- How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs
- How to Train Your Boss to Rollover
- Dr. Gilda Carle
- Bartle Bogle Hegarty
- Creativity for Kindness
- Vernice Armour – Previous Episode
- Scott Harrison – Previous Episode
- Charity: Water
- The Humane Society of New York
- The Grey Muzzle Foundation
- Curiosity Code Index
- Perception Power Index
About Jay Fulcher
JAY FULCHER’s successful track record as CEO includes leading both public and private technology companies.
Jay is Chairman & CEO at Zenefits, a leading cloud HCM, Payroll and Benefits platform serving more than 11,000 small and mid-sized (SMB) companies with up to 1,000 employees. Zenefits mission is to “…level the playing field…” for SMB’s by delivering a ‘people platform’ that helps them meet the challenges of the new world of work.
Previously, Jay was CEO of Ooyala, a groundbreaking online video company that helped usher in the personalized cloud TV market. During Jay’s tenure as CEO, Ooyala came to serve one of the largest online audiences anywhere with hundreds of customers in more than 30 countries including media and consumer heavyweights such as Bloomberg, Caracol, DirecTV, ESPN, FOXTEL, News Corp, Netflix, Sky, Univision, Pac-12 Network, RTL, Times of India, Vice Media, Vox Media, and Whole Foods. Ooyala was acquired by Telstra in 2014 for $440M.
Prior to Ooyala, Jay was CEO of Agile Software (Nasdaq: AGIL), a public enterprise software company that pioneered the product lifecycle management (PLM) category. Agile had a successful IPO in 1999 and subsequent secondary offering before ultimately being acquired by Oracle for $495M in 2007. At the time of its acquisition more than 11,000 customers globally used Agile as a catalyst technology enabling the distributed engineering and manufacturing era. Agile returned more than $2.5B on $24M in venture capital, and was in the top third of all transactions at the time it was acquired.
In addition to his CEO roles, Jay has held senior executive roles at PeopleSoft (President, EVP), Red Pepper Software (SVP) and SAP (VP) and has helped start and scale more than a dozen startups. Jay has an extensive and proven track record of delivering great returns for stakeholders and for leading high growth, high performance, high value businesses.
Jay currently serves on the boards of Zenefits (Chairman), Onclusive and Splice Machine (independent director). Jay is a member of the Global Leadership Council for the San Jose State University Lucas Graduate School and College of Business and is an advisor to several startups, VC/PE firms, and investment banks. Jay is a devoted outdoorsman, sports fan, avid reader and is perpetually curious. He has visited more than 60 countries and loves to travel the world.
About Wendy Diamond
Internationally Renowned Social Impact Entrepreneur, Impact Investor, Humanitarian, Best Selling Author – Wendy Diamond is CEO and Founder of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization.
Wendy was inspired to launch WED in 2013 after volunteering in Honduras with the Adelante Foundation, an organization that provides microcredit to locally impoverished women. Recognizing the fact that women perform 66% of the world’s work, yet only earn 10% of the world’s income and at the same time, women account for 85% of consumer purchases and control $20 trillion in worldwide spending, Diamond was inspired to create a simplified movement in the world to empower women in business to alleviate poverty.
She is an advisor/Investor in social impact disruptive technologies and women-led businesses in health sciences, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology and virtual reality. Wendy has authored 10 widely-celebrated books, garnered three Guinness World Records, and has appeared in media outlets including Oprah, NBC’s Today Show, The New York Times and Forbes. She has also been a featured keynote speaker at the United Nations, Harvard University, and Davos.
Wendy sits on the Advisory Boards of Ellis Island Honors Society, Global Women in Blockchain, Social Innovation Summit, Humane Society of New York and Grey Muzzle Foundation. Prior to WEDO, Wendy founded Animal Fair Media, Inc., the premier pet lifestyle media platform bridging celebrity, pop culture and animal rescue, to support animal rescue/welfare after learning 12 million animals were euthanized a year.
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