Heroine: Women’s Creative Leadership, Confidence, Wisdom

Majo Molfino

Podcast Overview

Life journeys and down-to-earth conversations with women creative leaders and risk-takers – ordinary women who do extraordinary things because they embrace the unknown. Emphasis on women in innovative fields where science and art intersect, such as design, tech, and business.

Guests have landed in headlines at Forbes, TechCrunch, TED, Fast Company, GigaOm, The Wall Street Journal, O, The Oprah Magazine, Refinery29, CreativeMornings, and The Great Discontent.

Hosted by writer and women's leadership coach Majo Molfino (, the show hopes to debunk the myth of “overnight success” and support women listeners in their own creative leadership. Come figure it out with us, as we fumble our way through the dark…

Key themes we’ll explore: women, leadership, creativity, creative leadership, creative confidence, confidence, inspiration, motivation, wisdom, self help, and spirituality.

Other shows Heroine recommends: Girl Boss, She Does, Women of The Hour, The Lively Show, Re/code Decode, After The Jump, Magic Lessons, Being Boss, Insights at the Edge, The Good Life Project, and Happier with Gretchin Rubin.

Podcast Episodes

Gloria Steinem & Lateefah Simon in SF

A few months ago our host Majo attended a live conversation at the Women’s Building between SF-based activist Lateefah Simon and Gloria Steinem, who became nationally recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the feminist movement in the late 60s and early 70s. She’s been an inspiration to generations of women who want to live life on their own terms. This episode is a compilation of some of the most interesting moments from the historic conversation, with Majo weaving in and out to provide context and insights. As a woman who’s been around the block and long-engaged in social and political activism, Gloria has powerful wisdom to share on the topics of feminism, sex, race, our current political climate, and how we can have an impact. Show Notes: -Introducing Lateefah and Gloria, and the setting for this historic conversation. [0:00] -Defining feminism. [2:34] -Gloria weighs in on why white, married women voted for Trump, and talks about the ways in which our minds are colonized. [4:48] -“If we look up, we feel disempowered. Look at each other.” [9:39] -Using empathy to design solutions: A story about sex-trafficking in Zambia. [14:34] -Gloria’s advice for affecting change and making an impact. [18:57] References: The Women's Building – Gloria Steinem – Akonadi Foundation – 94.1 KPFA – Music by Lucia Lilikoi – Go to and give us your feedback on the show so we can continue to delight you with Heroine – Receive an audio training on the Inner Critic as a gift in return!

Quick Reminder

A quick reminder about our summer schedule & feedback survey. Go to and give us your feedback so we can continue to delight you with Heroine. We want to hear from you! In return, we'll send you an audio training on the inner critic — it's a win-win!

Inner Voice & Trust {Jenna Bott}

Today’s bonus episode features Jenna Bott, Art Director for the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, who worked on the visual identity for Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Option B. Amidst holding down full-time jobs and having three children, Jenna shares how she came to call herself a designer over a decade of freelance projects, working at a small agency, and landing clients like Lean In. She also talks about dealing with rejection and imposter syndrome, and what it means to be “paid to learn.” For anyone looking to bridge into what they really want to do, Jenna has fantastic insights and advice to offer. Show Notes: -Jenna growing up: A “visually particular” tomboy who didn’t identify as an artist. [2:32] -How she felt a strong pull to the arts in college, but went in a completely different direction, plus her one creative outlet and the job that sparked her love for design. [6:55] -Jenna shares the pivotal motivation and insights that came after a crushing rejection. [10:28] -On her decision to switch things up after becoming pregnant, and the internal challenges around embracing herself as a designer that she had to get over. [14:08] -Growing her freelance business while working full-time with three kids... how this hustle phase paid off when Jenna landed Lean In as a client. [19:59] Persevering through self-doubt by trusting her inner voice, plus great advice from one of Jenna’s mentors. [23:18] -On being in process and still figuring things out, and how she approached her work on Option B. [27:57] -Majo and Jenna discuss Sheryl and her new book: Her goal to normalize the conversation around grief, making it okay to talk about, and the importance of knowing how to comfort others. [31:51] -What Jenna has learned from her work on Option B, and her final words of wisdom. [34:40] References: Option B – Get the book – Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation – Music by Lucia Lilikoi – Go to and give us your feedback on the show so we can continue to delight you with Heroine – Receive an audio training on the Inner Critic as a gift in return!

Have Feedback?

Go to and give us your feedback so we can continue to delight you with Heroine. We want to hear from you! In return, you'll receive an audio training on the inner critic — it's a win-win!

New Schedule {Important!}

Today’s short ‘n’ sweet episode is a quick announcement about our new summer schedule – it’s going to be a LOT lighter! Deep breath. Because here’s the truth – we could all use a little break and the chance to slow down. Majo shares the aha moment she had before coming to this decision, plus drops some teasers on the bonus episodes you can expect to see over the next few months. She also shares about how far her dream has come over the last year to create a podcast that brings women’s voices together.

Leading Teams {Kristy Tillman}

Kristy Tillman was the Design Director at Society of Grownups and a designer at IDEO in Boston before making her way up to become the Head of Communication Design at Slack, a messaging tool for teams. This is a recent position for Kristy, who is real and honest about being “in process.” Her insights on building strong and diverse teams are powerful, especially if you’re considering becoming a manager. As a black woman in design, Kristy offers advice for those who feel like they don’t fit into the dominant culture of their company. She also talks about holding out for the right opportunities, the qualities that make strong managers and designers, and her unique formula for success. Show Notes: -Kristy growing up: From a precocious girl in a bike gang to a vulnerable teen who had to learn to become self-assured and independent. [3:20] -Figuring out what she wanted to do in her college years, internships at Nasa and elsewhere, and discovering her love for design. [10:21] -Some of Kristy’s bigger career transitions, and the unique approach she took with her application to IDEO that helped her get noticed. [17:40] -On her favorite projects at IDEO, building her own design teams, and the discomfort she’s occasionally felt as the only black woman in her work culture. [22:48] -On accepting uncomfortable situations, her love for building teams and bringing people together, and her advice for when you don’t feel like you fit into your company's work culture. [26:37] -Kristy shares insights from her first experience building and constructing teams and how she fell in love with it, plus her advice to anyone considering management work. [31:03] -How Kristy finally transitioned to Slack after the right role presented itself, and her unique recipe for success. [35:58] -On what the last six months at Slack has looked like and building the culture of a new team, plus what Kristy looks for in a designer. [40:42] -Kristy’s final thoughts, her 99U talk on “inviting yourself to the table”, and future goals. [49:12] References: Kristy’s blog – Her 99U talk: “Inviting Yourself to the Table” – Slack – Episode Sponsors: Lingo App – TuneIn – Music by Lucia Lilikoi –

New Rules of Work {Alex Cavoulacos}

The world of work has seen a lot of change in recent years, and it can be tough to keep up. What do these changes mean for your career and leadership? Alex Cavoulacos breaks it down and shares her career expertise in today’s episode. Named one of INC’s 15 women to watch in tech and Forbes 30 under 30, Alex is co-founder and COO of, a career platform and community helping millions of Millennials find inspiring careers. Alex talks about making the leap from her job as a consultant to starting this groundbreaking company, and dives into their book The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating your Career. Alex also shares her productivity hacks, her genius approach to to-do listing, and how to create your personal brand authentically. Show Notes: -On her strong, self-driven personality growing up, and the grit and rigor she learned from her schooling outside the U.S. [2:43] -Some of the lessons she learned in school, like dealing with pressure and separating efforts from results. [8:47] -Alex’s college years: throwing previous training out the window, exploring new fields, and getting a clearer sense for how she wanted to go about impacting the world. [15:00] -How Alex met Kathryn and what drove them to get started with The Muse. [20:25] -The pain points that came up in deciding between staying at her job and taking a chance with The Muse, and how she ultimately made the leap. [28:32] -Diving into their new book, The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career. [21:06] -The main difference Alex has noticed between men and women when it comes to career work, and how The Muse helps less-traditional workers be successful. [35:41] -On the importance of personal branding and how to create your brand authentically. [38:15] -Alex’s productivity hacks and insights, plus her genius approach to to-do listing. [43:48] -On saying no, the difference between an employee mindset and a leader mindset, and what Alex has reclaimed on her journey. [47:52] References:. – Get their book, The New Rules of Work, available now – Episode Sponsor: Lingo App – Music by Lucia Lilikoi –

Shifting Careers {Veronica Belmont}

Last year, Veronica Belmont hosted HBO’s Red Carpet Premiere for Game of Thrones. But after spending ten years as an online media personality, she decided to leave the world of video behind her and become a product manager. On today’s show, she shares about the ups and downs of being a freelancer, switching careers after ten years and embracing a new and unknown path, and how she’s becoming an expert in her new field. If you’re thinking about transitioning your role or industry and jumping over into something kind of but not really related, this is the episode for you. Show Notes: -Veronica growing up: A rough and tumble kind of girl who loved gadgets and tinkering with toys. [2:01] -Her fascination with computers and games, joining the punk rock scene in high school, and studying Audio Production at Emerson. [5:54] -Veronica’s first taste of feeling blocked because she was a woman, and how she ended up moving to San Francisco. [11:10] -The hustle phase: Using Craigslist for everything (even her mattress), facing lots of rejections, and landing an internship at CNET. [15:53] -Diving into her audio career, shifting from behind-the-scenes work to sharing her voice and co-hosting, and the leap to video. [23:45] -Going from a super high to a super low: Veronica’s huge opportunity to host the HBO premiere of GOT, and her mistake of reading all the nasty comments about it afterward. [31:36] -“It’s okay to know yourself well enough to know when you need a change.” Veronica shares about her decision to end all her contracts and stop video work. [34:39] -On freelancing, the podcasts she continues to work on and how they’ve evolved, and her transition into Product Management. [38:53] -The importance of becoming an expert in your domain, joining Bot Makers, and Veronica’s advice to people wanting to break into a new field. [42:32] -The tendency women have to disqualify themselves from new opportunities (while men seem to do the opposite), and Veronica’s words of encouragement. [47:55] -What Veronica has reclaimed for herself on her heroine’s journey. [50:45] References: Veronica’s personal website – Sword & Laser podcast – Growbot website – Music by Lucia Lilikoi –

Do You Own It? {Jaime Derringer}

Jaime Derringer started the blog Design Milk even though she wasn’t a designer – she was simply curating what she thought was beautiful. Today it’s one of the best-known design blogs out there dedicated to modern design – offering what’s new in art, architecture, fashion and technology, and more. In today’s episode, she and our host discuss the importance of having clarity on your hobbies versus your job, while still embracing all that you are as a creative renaissance woman. Jaime also talks about her depression and anxiety during her twenties, and shares the mindset shifts and energy management tips that helped her to leave it in the past. Show Notes: -Growing up: On being an independent girl who preferred the art store to the toy store, expressing herself with piercings and pink hair, and struggling to find herself. [1:52] -Why she chose to major in Asian Studies in college, even though it was a “useless” degree to her. [7:37] -On her depression and anxiety during her twenties, and the exercise that saved her. [10:22] -Moving around, becoming a mom, and how she got started with Design Milk. [12:55] -Jaime talks about how long it took to find a job where she felt comfortable, how she had to fake it ‘til she made it, and having the confidence to figure things out. [16:58] -On taking on new challenges, being multi-modal, and her hobbies for relaxation. [23:34] -Jaime and Majo talk about identity and wearing different hats, plus the big aha Jaime had that expanded her creative freedom. [27:03] -Some of the common pitfalls of working through big projects, plus tips on energy management. [32:09] -Jaime shares her final words of wisdom on increasing her capacity and what she’s reclaimed on her journey. [36:07] References: Design Milk – Jaime's personal website – Dog Milk – Adorn Milk – Find Jaime on Twitter: @designmilk @jaimederringer Music by Lucia Lilikoi –

Hardship & Creativity {Ashley C. Ford}

Ashley C. Ford is a writer, editor, and speaker who has written and guest-edited for publications like The Guardian, ELLE, BuzzFeed, Slate, and many more. But only a few years ago, she had a very different story. After getting fired from all her part-time jobs at once, she hit rock bottom, but was able to find the inspiration to move forward after reading a self-help book. Soon after, she became friends with Lena Dunham, started writing for BuzzFeed, and is now a senior writer at Refinery29 while also working on a personal memoir. As a survivor of sexual assault, Ashley talks about letting go of shame and the relationship between personal hardships and creativity. She also shares her perspective on Black Girl Magic and what she’s reclaimed on her heroine’s journey. Show Notes: -Ashley as a little girl: A precocious, early reader who asked a lot of questions and was highly skeptical of adult authority. [2:57] -On hitting puberty as a young woman – “It’s not about us, it’s about the way the world starts to react to us.” [10:11] -Ashley talks about her father, who was in prison for most of her life, and how their relationship was further complicated after learning what his crime had been. [17:46] -On personal experiences relating to creativity, why Ashley struggled so long to figure out what she wanted to do, and how she ended up becoming a writer. [21:04] -Diving into Ashley’s transition to becoming a writer – from surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to checking out all the self-help books at the library to getting a job at Buzzfeed. [26:57] -Some of the beliefs she had to let go of in order to lead, plus her beautiful perspective on "black girl magic". [32:05] -Ashley’s advice for making yourself more visible and vulnerable, her wisdom on shame, and what she’s in the process of reclaiming for herself. [38:25] References: Ashley's website – Episode Sponsor: UENO - Music by Lucia Lilikoi –

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