Madeline Albright once said “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Well, Amanda Pouchot, Co-founder and CIO of Levo League, the first online destination designed to connect Gen Y women with career opportunities and ensure their success, should not be worried then. This young woman has already helped tons of women in their careers (including yours truly) and she is only 26!
After graduating from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a B.A. in Sociology, she moved to New York for her first job at McKinsey & Company. Her interest in Organizational Psychology and academic business research on women’s issues led to her pursuit of helping move more women into leadership roles or at least, be put on the leadership path.
She, along with Co-Founder and CEO Caroline Ghosn, decided to leverage her knowledge and technology skills to help build Levo League. Based in Manhattan, the goal of the company is to help guide women to top executive positions by removing barriers often faced in their careers. Women have access to information about job opportunities as well as personal advice from amazing mentors in the site’s live and interactive Office Hours video series. Tomorrow’s segment features the amazing Kate White (be sure to tune in at 3 pm!) Amanda is constantly traveling, networking and helping women as she takes her startup to the next level but somehow she managed to make time to talk to us.
What did you want to be as a little girl? Did you always picture yourself as an entrepreneur?
I wanted to be President of the United States or play basketball in the NBA. Entrepreneurship did not cross my mind until I embarked on this journey and now I absolutely cannot see myself doing anything else. What we are creating at Levo and the women who are coming together to support one another, well, there is simply nothing better to be a part of that I can imagine.
Can you tell us a bit about Levo League? What is your goal with this company? Why did you start it?
The goal of Levo (which is Latin for elevate) is to build a community of smart, talented, passionate young professionals who are coming together to learn from one another and to take action in their careers. The connections we make as young professionals will last a lifetime and Levo facilitates those real connections that are helping our community members advance personally and professionally. Caroline and I started this together because it was and is the community we longed for.
What is the hardest thing about launching a company? Do you sleep?
Hands down the hardest part is believing in yourself. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t doubt myself and my abilities. I fight through the fear every day and surround myself with incredibly smart and talented people including my Co-founder Caroline who I can always lean on. And like most 26 year old professional women I don’t get nearly the amount of sleep that I should!
How do you deal with the work/life balance strugggle? Or do you think balance isn’t really possible?
I prefer to call it integration. Today in our office hours (30 minute free live video chats with stellar women), Binta Niambi Brown said something that really stuck with me: “Everything is integrated” and “I say no to things I don’t want to do”. I need to get better at being able to do that, saying “No” to things is so so hard.
You are quite young yourself but what advice do you have for even younger women who are considering starting their own company?
Find a partner who you trust and who has strengths that are your weaknesses. And be open to feedback. I believe that what makes our team at Levo so strong is that we are able to listen, digest and implement the feedback we hear from our investors, advisors, community and those with subject matter expertise.
How do you create mentorship relationships?
I am very fortunate to have cultivated relationships with many of my role models who have become sponsors and mentors. I think what is important is that I take their feedback and implement it and then I follow up with them to let them know I listened and executed against their advice.
Why do you let people have dogs at your office? Do you think it helps the work environment?!
Puppies have a way of putting you at ease, that is when they aren’t eating your shoes. Sometimes you are having a rough day and then Bauer (Caroline’s puppy of whom I am the Godmother) comes running up to you and just plops down and asks for a belly rub and for some reason you just feel better. Startups are tough and anything you can do to ease the stress is warmly welcomed.