Cindy Gallop has a low tolerance for people who complain about things but never do anything to change them. A trait she certainly could never be accused of.
Oxford University alumni, ex-chairman of BBH, infamous TED-talker, Glass Lion Jury President and founder of two social change start-ups, Cindy comes across as a woman who has her s**t together. She speaks with eloquence, experience and substance. But she is keen to stress “everything in my life and career has been a complete accident”.
Somewhere in between her rapid-fire New York-Cannes-New York-Sydney-New York schedule we managed to catch the effervescent Brit to find out what we can look forward to hearing from her at Wired for Wonder this year.
Swapping corporate world for #startuplife
I turned 45 back in 2005 and I had my very own personal mid-life crisis. I’d always thought one’s 45th birthday is the moment when you should pause, take stock, reflect and review… where have I been, where am I going? So on February 1, 2005 I truly did that. Vast amounts of thought and angst ensued. And actually I [thought ], if I want to review every possible option open to me in what is effectively the second half of my life, maybe the best thing to do is put myself on the market very publicly and go, “Okay guys here I am, what have you got” and see what comes.
So I took a massive leap into the unknown. I resigned as chairman of BBH without a job to go to and it was the best bloody thing I ever did with my life. I am now reinventing myself completely in every possible way, including financially, but I could not be happier doing what I’m doing.
Why values should be at the heart of business ventures
My start-ups are manifestations of my own philosophies.
30 years of working in brand building, marketing and advertising have led me to believe the future of business is doing good and making money simultaneously. Not in the old world order way that most companies do, where they go: “We make money here, and then we do good by writing cheques to clear our conscience over here.” But the new world order way of we make money BECAUSE we do good. We find a way to integrate social responsibility into the way we do business on a day-to-day basis, which therefore makes it a key driver of growth and profitability.
So I believe the business model of the future is shared values + shared action = shared profit.
Age, women and wisdom
I tell people how old I am as often as possible because I consider myself a proudly visible member of the most invisible segment of our society, which is older women. So I want to help redefine – in the way that I live my life – the way society thinks an older woman should look, talk, be, dress and date.
I think that the single best moment of my life – and this wasn’t a moment, it was just a gradual realisation – was the day I realised I no longer give a damn what anybody thinks. That’s the best lesson of getting older. Fear of what other people will think is the single most paralysing dynamic in business and in life. You will never own the future if you care what other people think.
What it means to be an entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur really means being in control of your own destiny. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking a job is the safe option and it absolutely isn’t. When you are a job you are at the mercy of management changes, market downturns, industry disruptions. So what I say to people is, “Whose hands would you rather place your future in? Those of a big corporate entity – that at the end of the day does not give a s**t about you? Or somebody who will always have your best interests at heart – i.e. you!?”
Future plans and projects
I have now found my two passions in life. If We Ran The World is my attempt to redesign the future of business, Make Love Not Porn is my attempt to redesign the future of sex. Both of these are going to take a very, very long time – they’re lifelong operations as far as I’m concerned.
Cindy Gallop is speaking at Wired for Wonder 2015, running August 26-27 in Sydney and August 28 in Melbourne. Find out more and book tickets here.