Episode 93 features Stephanie Nadi Olson, Founder of We Are Rosie, and 2020 Ad Age Visionary of the Year. Stephanie founded We Are Rosie to support extraordinary people while providing and promoting work culture that treats everyone with dignity, access to flexibility, and equal opportunity. Listen in as we chat with Stephanie about leveraging privilege for good, opening doors for others, and taking chances on people. We also discussed shedding imposter syndrome, drawing inspiration from different places, never forgetting where you come from, and a lot more.
A few Key Takeaways
A little bit about Stephanie's background and family dynamics
- "I am born and raised in Atlanta. And how I got here is pretty fascinating. So my father actually was raised in a refugee camp in Palestine and came to the States as a refugee in the 70s. He ran a red light and crashed into my mother's car. And that's how he met my mother. So my mom is a farm girl from Nebraska and just had this really fascinating upbringing. My parents are different religions, different races, born on different continents, speak different first languages, and have just, you know, had a hell of a time being raised in that family, and have stayed in Atlanta, most of my life going to Georgia Tech, and then entering the media industry."
Why Stephanie launched We Are Rosie
- "Yeah, so I started the company three years ago. And it is, this company is like the fullest representation of who I am as a person, both with my background and coming from a refugee family, and really always having my eyes and heart open to people who are overlooked and underestimated. And this incredible, 12 year career I had in the marketing and advertising space prior to starting the company. And I had done all the things that you do, as a first gen American where I was like, Okay, I got to create the change that, my family has given me all this opportunity. I'm going to college, I'm going to get the job, I'm going to get the bigger job and the bigger job. And I did all of that. And I had such incredible success. And it was a fun ride. And I really kind of reached the top at a young age and looked around and was like, Is this it? Like, is this what I was working so hard for and why I didn't see my family and wasn't, around when my daughters were babies, and I kind of had a little crisis and thought, What am I doing with all of this privilege that I have been given and all of this opportunity that my ancestors didn't have. And how can I do more with what I've been given to leave an impact on the world that will make me really proud and also create a better world for my daughters to live in. And I really did some soul searching I quit my job. I was unemployed for the first time ever in my life, probably since I was 14. It sounds really dorky. But I made a list of the things that mattered to me and the challenges that I was seeing in the advertising industry as a whole, and found the whitespace. And started, We Are Rosie. And really the business exists to capture all of the talent that has been kind of marginalized out of our industry, by the way that we insist work happens, which is in office nine to five in a major market most often in organizations that are not diverse. And I thought I want to create a home for all of these corporate refugees, as I was calling them at the time, and connect them to opportunity to have a career that's really meaningful for them, and fulfilling, but also treats them with the dignity and respect that I believe everybody deserves. And so I started We Are Rosie to facilitate that connection of talent to opportunity."
Personal experience of handling discrimination
- "Yeah, I wish I had a better answer for this because in reflection, I didn't handle it well. So my kind of adding this is comes from like this immigrants mentality I inherited from my father was just if I'm disrespected or underestimated, I will outwork everybody around me, so that people will leave me alone. And I talk about this a lot like my life pre We Are Rosie was just, I will outwork everybody in my vicinity, so that I will get left alone, that was like my entire objective, just leave me alone, like, I will make you so much money, I will, you know, go above and beyond on all of my goals, just so I can be left alone. And that was kind of I was an overachiever to kind of like ward off all of that. I think a lot of people fall into that trap to where you just like, constantly have to do the most to have a seat at the table and to be respected. It's exhausting. It's really exhausting. It takes a toll. I mean, there was a time in my career where I had ulcers from work, you know, this is before I had children even. And then there was a time where I encountered you know, really direct sexism at work. I mean, just super blatant, all the stuff that you hear about and kind of tech companies. And it was brutal. And it was the first time in my life, I started working with a coach, because my knee-jerk reaction was, I'll just work harder. And then if they respect me, they'll stop doing this, which of course, was not the case. But it was kind of the narrative that I had told myself, I can always outwork the system. And I did not work the system. I was depressed, I gained 50 pounds. I cried. Every Sunday before I had to go to work. My husband was begging me to quit my job for a year. And it really took a toll on me physically, emotionally, it impacted my children. It impacted how I showed up as a mom, as a friend as a family member."
Stephanie's Top 3 apps
- Follow Stephanie on LinkedIn
- We Are Rosie: a new era of marketing, powered by people