Everyone knows Rachel Sklar. A friend to all and adviser to many, she's a self identified "connector and amplifier of women." Which is a pretty great title, no? For the past seven years she's been running TheLi.st, a networking collective and braintrust for professional women. Whether members are in need of investors, jobs, new hires, advice - even just friends - Rachel's the queen of linking it all together.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by Alison Turkos, an activist and leader who has courageously gone public with her own story of being sexually assaulted to push for change in how police, media, corporations and national institutions (like, say, Congress, SCOTUS and the Oval Office) treat allegations of sexual assault seriously, and how seriously they take women and their stories. Honestly, I am in awe of her every day.
I'm so inspired by people who just keep going. That can be really, really hard. And daunting. And exhausting. Especially in 2019. I see you.
What do you hope to inspire in other women?
The ones I know - trust, loyalty, respect, hope, an appreciation of musical theatre. Okay fine, that will do for the ones I don't know too.
Is there an example you can share of how another woman has lifted you up?
As mentioned I run a professional networking community of women called TheLi.st. When I became pregnant as a single mom that community came together to support me in so many ways - with advice, support, love, joy, and generosity. I'll always appreciate it and I'll never forget it.
What is behind your desire to lift others?
Let's just say there were more than a handful of professional experiences that I look back on and wish wish wish I'd had TheLi.st. There were just so many information asymmetries. (We live in a golden age of articles about how to negotiate and what kind of equity is appropriate for what level of contribution and there are names for things like "office housework," but that is a fairly recent phenomenon.) Having a community that has your back, will share information and will advise from an experienced, outside perspective makes a huge difference and I've seen that in action again and again. So, there's that.
How has confidence played a role in your life?
Sometimes I look at my daughter and remember when I was that fearless and confident. Confidence has definitely played a role in my life - I love writing, spent my whole youth writing lyrics and songs and sketches and putting my friends in them, through school and camp and then the entirety of my college student council and all through law school. That actually helped a lot for developing a body of work and a muscle for making it, because when I started taking sketch comedy classes I got that "woman reads a joke and none of the men laugh" stuff and it really messed with me. Then when I started blogging at FishbowlNY I had so many posts per day to put out that there wasn't time to self-edit, I just had to write and write and my first impulses for jokes would have to do. And I didn't know what I didn't know (oh God, I really didn't know), which was great because I probably would have been paralyzed by fear. But instead I went and wrote about things as I saw them, and voiced my opinions, and made jokes, and that put me on the map in New York media and that was how I kind of found my niche.
And then ten more years later I heard about the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and applied (and applied and applied) and got in, and now I take songwriting classes with amazingly talented people and all I ever want to do is tell them how great they are. Especially the women.
What's the best part of your job?
It's pretty great when List members tell us how much TheLi.st has changed their lives. That's what amazing communities do. They come for you professionally and they stay with you personally. I went to a friend's wedding a year ago and there was a table of Listers, and a few Listers gave speeches, and I thought, wow, this is pretty cool.
Also as a function of our work I FaceTime with my co-founder, Glynnis MacNicol, just a ridiculous amount Our friendship actually began because of G-chat - we were light friends, but then we were both on G-chat early and started to connect that way and just became a constant green dot on each other's computer screen. Oh the transcripts. Now we've graduated to FaceTime and I never take screenshots, not ever.
What are you most proud of?
I'm a fucking MOM! I mean, I have a lot to be proud of but I am keeping it together by a freaking thread and my kid is happy and looked after and loves her life with me. She's four and a half and I'm getting all the five year reminders of my pregnancy now, and thinking back to all the things we've done and all the things that have changed and it has been a lot. The fact that this happened and is working and resulted in this happy glorious little kiddo is, yes, my biggest source of pride.
But I also put Grease 2 on stage with rollerblades and a ramp at summer camp when I was 22 and that's up there, too. (See our Women's March sign. Very on-brand.)
What has been the most useful advice you've received?
Document, document, document!! Get it all in writing!!
I mean, also know your value and always ask for things you want and don't *not* ask out of fear or nervousness. But just - please - for the sake of my dumbass younger self not doing this... get it in writing.
What is your motto or mantra?
My high school yearbook quotes were "Nothing is achieved without enthusiasm," and "Don't dream it, be it." I'm fairly solid on the first, working on the second.
What are you most excited for next?
Working on the second!
[Photo by Yumi Matsuo]