This International Women’s Month, we asked women in leadership who’ve inspired us to share their stories in a weekly spotlight.
International Women’s Month marks the celebration and recognition of all women’s achievements, inspiration, and impact across the globe. This week, we caught up with Madi Lieber, Strategic Operations at GORGIE [@getgorgie], a new health energy drink, and previously leadership at Google, Facebook, and COO of Crypto Chicks. We asked Madi to share what International Women’s Month means to her as a woman in leadership. Read on to get the full story:
Firstly, please introduce yourself:
I’m Madi Lieber / Los Angeles. I lead strat ops and special projects for GORGIE, a new healthy energy drink. Previously Google, Facebook, and COO of Crypto Chicks.
How do you combat gender bias in your role?
I love this question! It’s such a complicated and nuanced part of our day to day, and it’s actually become a pretty intentional aspect of how I build my life inside the businesses I’m a part of.
The first piece that is the foundational underpinning for me is to insulate yourself. Be intentional about career choices, make sure you’re joining teams with a composition of humans that you feel confident will be a healthy atmosphere, join organizations and communities that help to build up the internal strength, confidence, and psychological safety. Coming from a strong foundation gives you the space to feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. For me this meant finding managers, peers, and teams that put me amongst other successful women and supportive men.
The 2nd piece is to proactively hone and improve your skillsets related to recognizing behaviors that are ingrained (but damaging) and facilitating difficult conversations. I led and developed some of our internal programs on combatting subconscious bias in the workplace, worked on allyship trainings, and supported strategy on performance management programs to ensure bias doesn’t seep into tactical career progress. Being a part of this work, teaching skillsets like these, removes some of the friction around how to identify situations and manage difficult conversations, with an air of compassion and understanding critical to yielding true results.
The last piece is being diligent in my reactions to moments of bias. I try to nip even the smallest instances of bias in the bud quickly, calmly, and compassionately. The vast majority of people exhibiting gender bias aren’t malicious and gentle corrections can be helpful. I’ve found that simple questions of repeated “why” help get to the route of recognizing gender bias. Why can’t Jane be in charge of this new project? Why does her having kids come into play? Why are you worried about her ability to prioritize the project as a parent but not about Joel’s ability to do the same? Etc. This helps walk people through their thinking so that they can start to break down the really complex and deeply ingrained misconceptions that present as bias.
What does International Women’s Month mean to you?
It almost reminds me of springtime. All of a sudden, the patch of grass you’ve walked by every day is full of flowers. Women across companies and industries perk up, show up, and band together. It’s rejuvenating, and it’s a lasting reminder around the importance of supporting the women around you. For me, it’s this moment of collective resilience and a time to highlight our incredible peers.
Talk about a woman who inspired you.
I was lucky enough to work under Naomi Gleit during my time at Facebook / Meta, and she really embodies this complicated duality of operational excellence but leading with compassion. She is one of the most skilled operators I’ve come across in terms of truly motivating teams to get their projects across the goal line in as few steps as possible, no matter how complicated. Most people at this level of executive capacity are very cold and domineering. Yet, she’s mastered showing care to her teams without needing to be effusively warm and fuzzy, something we often see women being pigeonholed into. Her people love working with her and have followed her across her journey at the company, and her people are also some of the most efficient and impactful humans working at Meta. One of my favorite partners in the company, Sammi Krug, is a prime example of a mini-Naomi. She’s come up in her career working alongside Naomi, absorbing her approach. Sammi is authentically herself every day at work, motivates the people around her, and operates with a precision and efficacy that I’d bet is in the top 1%. She’s been an incredible partner to me and still inspires me in every interaction, even though we’re in very different spheres of the working world now!
Words of wisdom to impart?
I’ll actually borrow this from Naomi as well. One of the pieces of career advice she shares is, when you’re getting on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just get on.
This has been her mindset for her entire career! She applied to work at Facebook like 12 times or something ridiculous, and she ultimately ended up joining as somebody’s assistant. And now she has worked her way up through the company to be Head of Product and is credited as the second longest standing employee after only Mark himself.
I’ve carried this with me as a guiding star when making career decisions. Great company but not the ideal role? Work your butt off, prove yourself, raise your hand, and eventually it will become your ideal role. Be a good person, a good teammate. Identify opportunity and take advantage of it, even if the opportunity doesn’t 100% look exactly like what you were hoping for. That’s how you make the magic.