DANY LEVY, FOUNDER OF THE ONLINE GUIDE DAILYCANDY, DISCUSSES THE EVOLVING NATURE OF HER ROLE AS A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR
This article was excerpted from OPEN Book: Leadership. Find more information and resources including a podcast featuring Dany Levy at openforum.com/leadership.
While she was working as a magazine journalist, Dany Levy dreamt up the concept for the curated online guide DailyCandy, and set out on her own to produce a free daily e-mail: a New York City-based insider’s guide to what’s hot, new, and undiscovered – from fashion and restaurant news to gadgets and travel. Ten years later, with 3 million subscribers, she is guiding her vision on a global scale with a new owner, and reflects on how her role as a leader has changed and evolved over time.
No, not as such. I’ve been lucky to succeed. But as a woman your behavior is interpreted differently, you’re generalized. If you’re assertive or emotional they say things about you they would never say about a man. But there are huge opportunities too. I’ve been included in a large amount of press as a token female, something I have no hesitation in using fully. Female entrepreneurs shouldn’t think of themselves primarily as women; their identity as entrepreneurs is not attached to their gender. But we should always be mindful of both the setbacks and advantages it presents.
What are your thoughts on the work-life balance?
Now it’s pretty good, and it’s something all entrepreneurs should be mindful of. Of course, some work-life imbalance – in favor of work – is necessary to get things off the ground, but it’s important not to let it consume you for an extended period of time.
How do you go about hiring?
I use my reporter skills to get a sense of what the person is about, what their motivations are, and whether they will play nice with my other employees. I also try to gauge whether they have initiative. It’s important for new staff to figure out certain things on their own. You can’t spend your time micromanaging – it makes it impossible to grow a business. Delegation is really important. In the beginning I hired everyone, but my particular skill is in hiring editorial staff. Once I had hired senior management, I trusted them to hire their teams. You have to let people in senior positions own their territory. Identifying the true leaders among my staff has been instinctive; it’s based on trust, but also on a clear assessment of performance and strengths and weaknesses.
How many reports do you have?
Right now, none directly. There was a point where I had too many. By 2007 I promoted my deputy editor to editor in chief and allowed her to take my day-to-day role, and since then I’ve spent a lot of time managing up to my investors and to Comcast, our owners. I’ve learned that different people have different bandwidths in terms of the reports they can manage, and it’s important to realize yours. I was no good after about 15; I couldn’t give the attention I felt each one deserved. Being flexible is important too – releasing your reports when they’re ready and taking on new ones is a good thing.