Even Reese Witherspoon Has Impostor Syndrome

Kyle Buchanan at Vulture asks great questions of Oscar-winning, A-list, teacup-sized-person Reese Witherspoon and, because sometimes that works, gets great answers:

Cheryl had never been backpacking before she set off on this hike, and yet she did it anyway. As an actress, have you had similar moments where you felt like you were in over your own head, signing on to do something incredibly daunting and barely able to believe that you could make it work?

Oh yeah, a lot. Half the time on set, I feel like I’m hanging on by the seat of my pants and I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I basically have a new job every three months where I’m like, “Uh, am I qualified to do this?” And I find out during the process whether I am or I’m not. This film was really a gift, and it’s exciting to not know if you’re gonna make it, or if you’re gonna break down in the right place. Really interesting creative things come out of that process.

Maybe Polly Pocket is feigning modesty here, doing a ‘Stars: They’re Just Like Us!’ routine. But she seems sincere, perhaps because she also comes off as thoughtful, and that’s harder to fake. (“I’ve never seen a film like Wild where a woman ends up with no man, no money, no family, no opportunity, but she still has a happy ending.”) Starting a new job every three months sounds incredibly stressful, after all; you’d have to have the preternatural self-confidence of a Tracy Flick not to let it get to you.

Another high-profile victim of Impostor Syndrome: Hello Kitty.

The Woman Behind #GIRLBOSS

Nasty Gal’s LA headquarters is a dog-friendly office with a yoga room and estrogen galore: According to NYMag’s profile of CEO Sophia Amoruso on the Cut, “More than three-quarters of Nasty Gal’s 300 employees … are women.” Together, they are #LivingTheDream:

The space is an upgrade for Amoruso, whose online fashion retail business got its start in a rented pool house in 2006. Seven years later, Nasty Gal had picked up $49 million in funding from Index Ventures, a firm known for its e-commerce track record, and now the company is doing upwards of $100 million in annual sales and selling to customers in 150 countries. Within a year, it plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles and expand from clothing and shoes into home goods. And in early May, Amoruso herself began infiltrating bookshelves with #GIRLBOSS, a hybrid business bible and memoir. The hashtag is part of the title. It was Amoruso’s idea.

The profile describes Amoruso as an hipper, edgier, millennial answer to Sheryl Sandberg:

Whatever you think of Sandberg’s corporate feminism, the misstep [her ridiculed "Ban Bossy" campaign] scooped out a wide-open spot for someone different to come along—someone without a billion dollars, a bulletproof résumé, a perfect husband, and a roster of friends in high places. The cover of Lean In shows Sandberg relaxed and radiant in a white sweater, chin resting on palm. #GIRLBOSS has Amoruso in a tight black dress and spiky necklace, fists balled against her hips. One of her eyebrows is arched, villainess style. She looks like a person with intimidating sexual preferences.

At 30, she is opinionated (“I think it’s okay to call girls girls. And I think it’s okay to call girls bossy”), self-made, and savvy: when she started selling vintage clothes on eBay, “she recruited models off MySpace, paid them in hamburgers, and analyzed their conversion rates to see which ones were most effective.” Someday, she will be your daughter’s college commencement speaker. In the meantime, she has plenty of professional wisdom to impart:

Diversity Hiring and the Concept of ‘Fit’

In the newsroom diversity debate, some of the criticism has centered around this idea: that the reason why these new media ventures have such monochromatic, sausagey mastheads is that they are insulated from the wider culture, and therefore dependent on mostly white, mostly male, and mostly coastal networks for their hiring needs.

A Chat With a Woman Fielding Four Job Offers (Our Hero)

What's it like to get a bunch of job offers?

Link Round-Up: Index Funds; Women-Oriented Companies Run By Men Because #Patriarchy

+ Someone in a comment asked for an overview of Index Funds. Here’s a very good, straightforward, and simple one: Why Does Everyone Preach About Index Funds? What They Are And Why They’re Good – From The Very Beginning.

The natural state for a business is to increase in value, and thus for its stock to go up. Now, let’s say you have the money to invest in the stock of one company. A lot of people invest this way by choosing individual stocks to invest in. That one company might be a really good one and skyrocket. It might also just be an average company and just do average. It might also be another Enron and just completely fall apart. Obviously, you want that high-riser, but what you really want is to avoid that Enron. If the stock you happened to buy is another Enron, your money is gone. This is a very big risk with individual stock investing – if you buy a lemon, your money goes poof. …

An index fund is exactly what I described above: they define some rule or set of rules, then just buy the stocks that follow that rule. Because it’s so easy to do this, the companies that run index funds generally don’t charge very much in fees for doing this for you. It’s popular because it’s very easy and it works.

For further / deeper reading, there’s some interesting info here in Q&A form (“Will the popularity of index funds cause a pricing bubble in the stocks that make up an index?”) on Stack Exchange. 

+ Men might not buy tampons, but they sure will sell them.

Job of the Day: Female CEO

The Wall Street Journal puts a tepidly positive spin on the news that female CEOs still make less than male ones, despite better-than-average performance:

More women are running America’s top companies and, in terms of pay, they may be closing in a bit on the men. At 300 of the largest U.S.-traded public companies, chief executives earned a median of $11.4 million last year, according to a Wall Street Journal compensation survey conducted by consulting firm Hay Group. Fourteen of those companies had women in the corner office—eight of whom earned more than the median pay and six of whom earned less.

The women also performed a little better than the broader group, with eight achieving better than the median gain in corporate profit. The female CEOs delivered a median total shareholder return of 36%, versus 34% for the full survey. …

TJMaxx Cos. chief Carol Meyrowitz topped the highest-paid list among the women in the Journal survey, with a compensation package valued at $20.6 million. The company, which owns off-price chains T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods, paid her more than all but 26 other CEOs in the survey, but still less than half of what the top-paid men received.

At least the trend is positive:

Surveys that include CEOs of smaller companies, both publicly and private held, show women making strides in pay, though a gap persists. Female CEOs earned nearly 80% of their male counterparts’ compensation in 2013, according to a study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research based on Labor Department data. Two years ago, women who were CEOs earned 69% of what men who were CEOs were paid.

Even at the very top levels, five decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1963, inequality remains rampant. Incredible. Somewhere, Jill Abramson is lacing up her boxing gloves.

Movies Make $2 Billion in 2014 So Far Thanks in Part to Women and Children

Writing checks, it is still remarkably easy to slip up and write “2013.” Winter continues its gleefully brutal assault on much of the United States. The new year seems to have hardly begun — and yet, in these mewling kitten days of 2014, Hollywood has already collected $2 billion, Box Office Mojo reports:

As of Sunday, total domestic box office earnings have surpassed $2 billion in 2014. To date, the box office is up around eight percent from last year. If that pattern continues, 2014 would come close to being the first $12 billion year.

When speaking of billions, two is a lot, twice the number of cars in the entire world, and twelve is a-LOT-a-lot, the age of the oldest star clusters. What is behind this tremendous success? Well, a couple of Oscar-season carryovers from 2013, including “Frozen,” which won Best Animated Film and Best Original Song AND is officially the fastest-selling digital release ever; and “American Hustle,” which was all flirting and no followthrough, awards-wise, but still an entertaining entry.

Three 2014 originals of varying quality round out the top five earners of the year so far: “The Lego Movie” (with a score of 82 on Metacritic), “Lone Survivor” (60), and “Ride Along” (41). That is to say, Hollywood had made an ocean liner full of cash in just a few months, primarily from the following: two “prestige” pictures, one about women and one co-starring women; one highly regarded children’s film; one gritty war drama; and one urban buddy cop comedy. Not one is a sequel, or based on a comic book, or a board game, or a ride at Disneyland.

Does it really matter, you may ask. Even if original stories, taking seriously the experiences and points of view of children, women, African-Americans, soldiers, and toys, are making bank, will Hollywood ever change?

The Cost of Things: Freezing Your Eggs

Doree Shafrir has written a fascinating Buzzfeed confessional about deciding whether or not to freeze her eggs. One issue to consider: cost.

I told my therapist that I was considering freezing my eggs, and she said she thought it was a good idea if it would alleviate some of the anxiety I felt about dating, and I said it would but it would also cause me a different kind of anxiety because it was so expensive in New York City — thousands of dollars in tests, then thousands of dollars for the drugs to stimulate egg maturation, then thousands of dollars for the extraction of the eggs. All told I would be looking at close to $15,000 to buy myself a few years of reduced anxiety, plus $2,000 or so each year to keep them frozen. I told myself it could be amortized over, say, five years and then it didn’t seem so bad. Still, I needed to come up with the money, so I cashed in a couple of 401(k)s from short stints at other jobs that had a couple thousands dollars in them each, and put a freelance check in my savings account, and figured I would charge the rest.

How much is it worth to you to quell a real and debilitating anxiety? My mom always says, If you can solve a problem with money, it’s not a real problem. But if you have to cash in 401(K)s and run up credit card debt to give your fertility a fighting chance, you’re not solving a problem with money at all; you’re potentially impoverishing your future self to benefit your present, and trading one immediate anxiety for another eventual one.

Updates on the Week’s News, Which is Jill Abramson

Jill Abramson’s salary at the Times has been revealed and yes, it was lower than her male predecessor’s was.

Salary transparency can be tricky but is important for exactly this reason, argues Felix Salmon.

Here’s some (relatively recent) salary transparency, via NYMag. You’re welcome!

To Politico, the bottom line is clear: Abramson is NOT a feminist martyr.

The Washington Post politely suggests that she is. The Wire agrees, only with less politeness and more supernova-strength sarcasm:

Lesson: Don’t politely ask anyone anything. Stare at your male colleagues until you can see their last paycheck behind their eyes.

Lesson: Be confident, but definitely don’t ever argue with men in your office,especially if you’re their superior or they’re your superior.

Lesson: Before you Lean In, think about whether or not your male boss will be inconvenienced by that lean.

Politico, citing anonymous sources, calls the Washington Post and The Wire “pushy.”*

By the way, lest this fact get lost in the shuffle, Abramson was very good at her job:

Women are sometimes advised to keep a low profile and let their work “speak for itself.” But in Abramson’s case, eight Pulitzers did not speak loudly enough. Revenue growth did not speak loudly enough. Successful new digital products did not speak loudly enough.

Regardless, she has decided not to accept an honorary degree from Brandeis after all this spring, meaning poor Brandeis has now had two cancelations. Unless the students of Wake Forest object, though, she will be giving their commencement address as scheduled.

*Dramatization, may not have happened

In cheerier news, some nice college kids found $40,000 in a couch they had bought at a thrift store. As Upworthy would say, WHAT HAPPENED NEXT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU:

Five Women

After doing the quintessential work of babysitting and accompanying choir soloists at auditions, Cheryl is my first real boss at my first real job—obnoxious state taxes, name tag, and all. The first weeks I am deferential and easily spooked by weekend rushes, realizing that I will always be battling to show up on time in the mornings.