2023

Heather Hartnett

General Partner & CEO, Human Ventures

“Life is like surfing; you can’t control the ocean, but you can master the art of riding the waves.”

. In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

A “Power Woman” embodies several key qualities. She’s driven, resilient, and fearless in
pursuing her goals. She’s compassionate and empathetic, using her influence for positive
change. She’s a visionary, unafraid to challenge the status quo, and she’s a collaborator,
recognizing the strength in unity. A “Power Woman” is not defined by a single attribute but by
her ability to uplift others and make a meaningful impact.

What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward
empowering women and gender equality? (e.g. affirmative action)?

The foremost action for empowering women and advancing gender equality is to prioritize
financial literacy. This equips women with essential skills and knowledge to make informed
financial decisions, bridge wage gaps, and actively engage in economic opportunities, fostering
both personal and societal empowerment.

Do you think that asking previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to
the pay gap between women and men? NY State outlawed this practice, should it be
nationwide?

Yes, asking about previous salary history can perpetuate the gender pay gap. It locks women
into historical wage disparities and prevents them from negotiating based on their qualifications.
NY State’s decision to outlaw this practice is a step in the right direction. It should indeed be
considered nationwide to ensure fair and transparent salary negotiations. However, in parallel
we also need to equip women with more information around advocating on her own behalf,
understanding what drives value creation and when to leverage that for upward mobility.

What was the defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are
Today?

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I was surrounded by the creativity and high risk
environments of starting new things. At a young age my parents asked, not what job was I going
to get but rather what value was I going to create in the world. This set me on my path to seek
out working with entrepreneurs and eventually led me to meeting my partner Joe Marchese who
would later become my first backer and co-founder in Human Ventures.

Simone de Beauvoir once said, “Legislators, priests, philosophers, writers, and
scientists have striven to show that the subordinate position of woman is willed in
heaven and advantageous on earth.” Simone de Beauvoir. Is this still a major stumbling
block on the 21st century road to equality?

Absolutely, these historical biases persist in various forms today. The perception of women as
inherently subordinate or less capable still lingers in some minds. Overcoming these biases
requires continuous effort through education, advocacy, and positive role models to show that
gender equality benefits society as a whole.

What is your mantra? What phrase or parabel best describes your approach right
now?

As I embark on the exciting journey of becoming a mother with my first baby on the way, my
guiding mantra is that “Life is like surfing; you can’t control the ocean, but you can master the art
of riding the waves.”

Despite the unpredictability of the world around us, we have the power to control our responses
and learn how to adapt. I aspire to build resilience and the ability to navigate through life’s
uncertainties with grace and confidence.

How would you describe the changes in the political landscape for women over the
past five years?

Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed notable shifts in the political landscape concerning
women’s issues. There has been a growing emphasis on gender equality and the elevation of
women’s voices in political discourse.

Firstly, we’ve seen a significant increase in women’s representation in political offices and
leadership roles. More women are running for and winning political positions, breaking historical
barriers. This surge in female political participation has contributed to a broader range of
policies addressing women’s rights, economic empowerment, and healthcare.

Additionally, issues such as pay equity, family leave, and reproductive rights have gained
prominence on the political agenda. These discussions are no longer relegated to the sidelines
but are central to policy debates and decision-making processes.

Social movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have brought attention to gender-based
harassment and discrimination, leading to a reevaluation of societal norms and legal
frameworks.

However, it’s essential to recognize that lasting change also requires business solutions in
addition to political action. Corporations and entrepreneurs are increasingly focusing on gender diversity, women’s leadership, and addressing workplace inequities. This business-centric
approach is critical for creating change beyond the political realm.

Despite these positive changes, challenges persist, such as combating gender-based violence,
addressing the wage gap, and ensuring comprehensive healthcare access.

Women are often placed in binaries. Strong and emotionless or weak and sensitive.
How do you subvert these limitations and connect to all sides of womanhood?

Historically, women have been unfairly pigeonholed into these narrow categories, which
oversimplify the complex and diverse range of human qualities. By recognizing that intelligence
and emotional intelligence can coexist harmoniously, we can break free from these limiting
stereotypes.

In today’s world, success often depends on the ability to navigate not only the intellectual
challenges but also the emotional complexities of life and work. IQ alone is not enough; EQ,
which encompasses empathy, social skills, and self-awareness, is equally crucial. Embracing
both dimensions enables all genders to excel in various roles, whether it’s leadership,
entrepreneurship, or any other pursuit.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

If I could have someone else’s job for a day, I would want to step into the shoes of Warren
Buffett. Why? Because Mr. Buffett’s legendary financial acumen and investment expertise have
made him one of the most successful and respected investors of all time. A day in his role would
provide a unique opportunity to gain invaluable insights into his investment philosophy,
decision-making processes, and strategies for wealth accumulation. It would be a day of
learning from one of the greatest financial minds in history, an experience that could further
enrich my own understanding of finance and investment, and ultimately, benefit my mission of
empowering women through financial literacy.

What advice would you give to any aspiring Power Women?

My advice would be to believe in your unique abilities and the value you bring to the table. Don’t
shy away from taking risks, and surround yourself with a supportive network. Remember, your
journey may have challenges, but each obstacle is an opportunity for growth.

Surround yourself with people who are your champions, even when you’re not in the room.
Building a strong support network of mentors, allies, and advocates is crucial. These are the
individuals who believe in your potential, champion your cause, and offer guidance and support,
both personally and professionally. They can amplify your voice and help you overcome
obstacles. Remember, your network is not just about who you know; it’s about who believes in
you. Seek out those who share your vision for empowerment and equality, and together, you
can achieve remarkable things.

What steps do you take to obtain a healthy work/life balance?

To achieve a healthy work/life balance, I firmly believe in the mantra that you can have it all but
not all at once. Particularly when you’re younger, it’s crucial to hustle until you’ve built your
credibility, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and gained a deep understanding of your
unique value.

Outsourcing tasks you’re not proficient in is a game-changer. Recognizing what only you can do
versus what others can handle is key to efficient time management.

But perhaps most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself when you’re not achieving your
ideals of perfection in every area. Perfection is an elusive goal, and acknowledging that it’s okay
to have moments of imperfection is a sign of strength, not weakness.

In essence, work/life balance is about prioritizing what matters most in each moment,
understanding that life’s seasons change, and being adaptable in your pursuit of success and
happiness.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Doubt the doubt! We often have imposter syndrome, but don’t doubt yourself.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

Impossible to choose just one.

What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty, honesty and the ability to be vulnerable with me.

Which trait do you most deplore in yourself? In others?

Insecurity.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Overrated virtue in society in general? I think where you went to school is far too overrated.
Especially in business and how it manifests in future earning potential. Most outliers who do
truly extraordinary things haven’t gone to the most elite institutions. However, society continues
to reward this in a completely outsized way.

“Doubt the doubt! We often have imposter syndrome, but don’t doubt yourself.”

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