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Clara Shih is Breaking the Mold, One Solution at a Time

Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay, is a true leader. By starting a 200+ person company, she’s learned a thing or two—how to say no, raise difficult questions and hire smart people. And, with more than 150,000 customers in 22 countries, we’d say it’s working.

What was your “aha moment” with Hearsay? How did you know this was something you should devote yourself to?

Seven years ago, we deposited a check for $50 from Jimmy, an insurance agent in Columbus, Georgia. As one of our first financial services customers, Jimmy was so grateful to have access to our technology to compliantly manage his Facebook Page, and beyond excited about the business opportunities that social media opened for him. At that moment, with great pride and a great sense of responsibility, I knew that Hearsay needed to modernize 100,000 Jimmys. At a time of intense tech innovation and rapid change in consumer expectations, financial advisors and agents were being left behind, still relying on archaic sales and marketing practices and limited by complex regulations.

I’m proud that Hearsay now has 150,000+ customers in 22 countries, with multiple integrated Advisor Cloud solutions that allow advisors and agents to grow their business on social, mobile and digital.

What is the hardest part of running a company?

As a founder, it often feels like my company is my baby, and that I have a personal responsibility for the success and well-being of every person on the team. As the company grows (we’re now at nearly 200 employees around the world) so does that feeling of accountability, which isn’t always easy.

What’s your method for work-life balance?

Surrounding myself with smart, driven team members who I trust and empower to make important decisions and do things better than me.

“I’ve gotten really good at saying no.”

Besides running your business, what’s another way that you #BreakTheMold and stray away from the conventional?

Being okay with being different. I’ve observed in many women—myself included—a fear of saying the unpopular thing.

“To be a true leader, you need to raise the difficult questions, and often people don’t expect that to come from a woman.”

What's one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

I enjoy a good game of table tennis!

What piece of advice do you have for women just starting out in their career?

Be proactive about building relationships with women friends, managers, mentors, role models, and sponsors. You’ll be amazed by the support and sense of community out there, especially in the tech industry.

What quotation or saying inspires and motivates you to be yourself and #BreakTheMold?

From Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In: “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

What’s next for Hearsay?

We’re already doing it: creating a massive new Advisor Cloud category in financial services, making it easy and compliant for advisors to be on social, mobile, web, and email to engage with consumers, build stronger relationships, and grow their business.

Extra Credit

What is the most-used app on your phone—and why?

Mail, because I can’t go to sleep at night without achieving inbox zero.

What’s the first thing you do every morning?

Check my phone. (I’m trying to break this habit!)

What book could you re-read over and over?

These days, I read 'Where The Wild Things Are' almost every night because it's my son's favorite.

What is your go-to bra style?

I’m a big fan of ThirdLove’s 24/7 Lace T-Shirt Bra style.

Finish the sentence: I #BreakTheMold by _____.

I #BreakTheMold by challenging the status quo.

This post is part of our #BreakTheMold series, where we celebrate the lives and work of trailblazing women. Check out the rest of the series here.