Today is unified Nation"s international Day that the Girl, a daydedicated to creating equality forthe 1.1 billion girls about the world. Debbie Sterling, the founder that GoldieBlox, has made it she mission to accumulate girls to love science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to contribute to closing the gender void in STEM fields.

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GoldieBloxisan award-winning children’s multimedia firm that creates toys, books, apps, videos and other products to "empower girl to build their confidence, dreams and also ultimately, their futures." If you recognize GoldieBlox it could be because you"ve watched it in toy stores, the app store, your Super key commercial or your float in the Macy"s Thanksgiving day Parade. GoldieBloxhas obtained accolades consisting of being named one the Fast Company"s many Innovative Companies and The Toy market Association"s Toy the the Year. Sterling has actually been inducted by previous President Obama as a Presidential Ambassador for worldwide Entrepreneurship and also honored by the national Retail foundation as among 25 people Shaping Retail’s Future and with the national Women’s background Museum"s Living heritage Award for she work motivating girls.


It"s clean GoldieBlox has actually made one impact. It has hadmore than 1 million application downloads andmore than 1 million toys marketed across an ext than 6,000 major retailers worldwide. Sterling and also her team have recently partnered with Girl Scouts to create badges for achievements in STEM fields. Sterling has actually turned her own love that STEM right into a fun and also educational method to accumulate the following generation.


Gross: What motivated you to start GoldieBlox? What was your career path?

Debbie Sterling: I i graduated from Stanford in 2005 v a degree in engineering and also product design. On mine graduation day, i was incredibly fortunate to be in the audience throughout Steve Jobs’ famous commencement speech, which brought tears to mine eyes. He told united state all to never settle till we discovered our passion.

From that day forward, I set out to discover my passion. The problem was, I had no idea where to start! I had actually chosen engineering as a major because ns was really motivated by the idea of designing products that could assist people and also make the people a better place.I had a pair job provides from Facebook and also Google, but I finished up moving to Seattle (admittedly, for a guy!) and also taking the just job I could find as an intern in ~ a branding and design firm called Hornall Anderson.

At the time, i wasn’t do much an ext than minimum wage, yet I was identified to prove myself. Mine engineering an abilities weren’t really appropriate at this new job, but what walk come in handy was my cultivate in design thinking and ethnographic research. Plus, ns was committed to functioning hard and also learning ~ above the job.


I read every publication I might get my hand on around branding, design and marketing. I was constantly the last human being at the office every night, putting in the extra effort on every project that come my way. In simply a couple of short months, I verified my worth and also got available a full time job. Justthree years later, i was the lead brand strategist on interesting projects prefer re-branding the brand-new York Knicks and also re-designing the an international packaging of Pedigree dog food.

Even though i loved working at a an innovative agency and I loved my co-workers, I started to feeling a sense of emptiness. I want to it is in contributing to the people in a more meaningful way, come give earlier and make a difference. I started researching volunteer programs prefer the peace Corps. And came across an organization referred to as VSO. I filled the end an online application, reasoning I more than likely would never ever hear back or if i did, it would take months.

Only a handful of work later, I discovered out I had made it previous the first round, and I had an in-person interview in Vancouver the following week! before I knew it, i was matched through a six-month volunteer location in countryside India. Ns quit my job, loaded up on vaccinations, moved out of mine apartment and also traveled alone because that the very first time in mine life. Ns was excited to do a 180-degree readjust in mine life and I felt favor this to be the shake-up I needed to truly uncover my passion.

Volunteering in India to be a life-changing endure in so plenty of ways. Come this day, i still reflect on all the points I learned and also how it fundamentally changed me together a person. However, when I reverted home, i was even an ext confused about what I must be doing than once I’d left!

From my endure in India, ns realized i didn’t really want to work-related in non-profit, therefore I began soul looking for something new. I came throughout a project opening top top LinkedIn for a marketing manager of a small, woman-owned jewelry company called Lori Bonn. Among my favorite activities in college to be jewelry making and also I believed to myself, “Maybe jewelry is mine passion,” so i applied and also I acquired the job.

Over the following three years, ns learned all around how to operation a tiny business. Also though I remained in my mid-twenties, I had actually a very senior function at the company, permitting me to discover all the ins and outs. I favor to to speak that functioning at Lori Bonn to be like gaining paid to walk to organization school. Ns learned what aprofit and loss statement is, exactly how to get things produced overseas, how to set up a tradeshow booth, just how to satisfy with major department save buyers and the perform goes on and also on. Even though i was learning a ton in ~ Lori Bonn, ns knew deep down that it wasn’t my true passion. Then one day, I found it.

I had started a club v my friends referred to as “Idea Brunch,” where when a month, we’d acquire together, chef a huge breakfast and each person would acquire up in front of the group and also share their latest idea. My friend, Christy, who had studied engineering with me in college, gained up and also started complaining around the absence of females in ours classes. She mentioned exactly how she supplied to play through her brother’s building toys once she to be young and also how that motivated her early on interest in engineering. She idea at “Idea Brunch” was engineering toys because that girls. It to be then the I lastly had mine “Eureka!” moment since I knew instantly that it to be my true passion… what I had actually been trying to find ever because Steve Jobs’ speech.

And somehow all of the disparate lessons from my circuitous career path – indigenous branding come volunteering to jewel marketing – were so incredibly helpful in preparing me through the skills and trust I required to go from that initial idea to actually structure a business. It’s now been 6 years since I stop my job to begin GoldieBlox, and I still wake up up every day very passionate about getting girls interested in engineering and also technology.

Gross: What has been the biggest an obstacle and, on the flip side, the biggest reward of starting GoldieBlox?

Sterling: I faced my fair share of obstacles when I an initial started out. I saved up as lot as I can to eventually quit mine job and also go full time on beginning the company. Ns really thought in my concept – STEM toys for girls – however the toy market wasn’t together receptive. I maintained hearing from market veterans the my idea to be a great cause, yet it would never sell. I knew that if I want to make GoldieBlox successful, it supposed I had actually to breakdown the outdated gender stereotypes that pester the industry. Come this day, this outdated stereotypes continue to it is in my best challenge.

When I released GoldieBlox ~ above Kickstarter, the campaign went famous overnight and also I finished up exceeding mine fundraising goal. It to be clear the there was an appetite because that GoldieBlox products and our better social mission. Currently I hear from parents and also young youngsters from all over the world around how happy they space to have GoldieBlox and also how funny STEM is. That really rewarding when I obtain a letter indigenous a kid that claims they want to be an engineer once they thrive up. I conserve every letter, every video, every drawing. They literally average the people to me and they store me going, also when times gain tough.

Gross: What advice do you have actually for other women who hope to begin their own businesses?

Sterling: an initial and foremost, make certain that your company idea is miscellaneous you room truly passionate about. You should be obsessed. Since if that is something you’re also slightly unsure that or lukewarm about, friend won’t have the inner fire and also conviction girlfriend will need to overcome the unavoidable rough patches and rejections you will face.

as soon as you have uncovered a service idea the is her true passion, you need to share that passion v everyone you possibly can. Whether it’s who you’re sitting alongside on one airplane, a waiter in ~ a restaurant, a Lyft driver it no matter. Share her passion with the world, due to the fact that as quickly as you do, human being will begin coming the end of the woodwork to help you. The waiter might have a daughter searching for an internship. The Lyft driver could be the nephew of her ideal service mentor. These types of things really take place once you placed yourself out there!

Gross: What is a workday as Debbie like? please walk me with a day!

Sterling: I understand people always say this, however there’s truly no common workday because that me. That true for every entrepreneurs! at some point I might be ~ above a6 amflight toLos Angeles or new York for a company trip and in earlier to earlier meetings. One more day I may be in our Oakland office proofing design concepts, top a company-wide brainstorm, interviewing potential new hires or meeting with brand-new partners. It always changes and I love the no 2 days space alike.

Gross: What space your obligations as founder and CEO that GoldieBlox?

Sterling: ns responsible for the in its entirety vision the the company, and for detect the ideal employees, investors and also partners in the people to assist us attain that vision. End the critical year, we have actually been evolving beyond toys to end up being a children multimedia brand. In the critical year alone, we’ve launched multiple YouTube series, released our an initial chapter book collection with Random home Children’s Books and also created STEM engineering badges because that the Girl Scouts. We’re much more than a toy firm and i’m constantly feather for brand-new ways come share GoldieBlox and STEM v kids. Last but not least, i make certain that GoldieBlox constantly remains true to its society mission that empowering girls by making STEM fun.

Gross: What are the most important features someone demands to have to be successful in your role?

Sterling: Grit. Charm. Passion. Decisiveness. Intuition. Creativity. Hazard tolerance.

Gross: What are three qualities you watch for when you’re hiring a new team member?

Sterling: I constantly look for human being who room genuinely passionate about our social mission. They need to have actually the skills to have the ability to do the job, or in ~ least demonstrate they are rapid learners. I look for human being who room self-starters that thrive in uncertainty. In businessman environments, it’s crucial to be able to solve difficulties on her own. I additionally look for world who seem choose they love to learn and also don’t act choose they currently know everything. Last but not least, ns constantly look for diversity and make sure we have actually a pool of very diverse candidates for every role.

Gross: What are the most important skills for doing her job and also how go you construct them?

Sterling: among the many important skills of a CEO is being an effective communicator – with employees, investors, partners and the media. You should be able to plainly communicate her vision, feedback, challenges, opportunities and expectations. It’s hard to know just how to interact when things aren’t going well. And also believe it or not, occasionally it’s also harder to connect when things space going well. Just how do you properly celebrate your company successes through your team? just how do you save your team focused and also keep top priorities in order once there room so plenty of exciting avenues in front of you? at an early stage on, I began working with an executive coach top top a monthly basis.We’ve now been working with each other forfour years and also he has actually really helped transform me right into the leader ns am today.

Gross: What"s the biggest lesson girlfriend learned at work and also how did you find out it?

Sterling: don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s impossible to understand everything, however there sometimes feels like there’s press to pretend like you recognize it all.

I actually first learned this when I was in college. I was taking some really complicated engineering classes and I didn’t follow along. Rather than ask because that help, I just didn’t speak anything and pretended I taken the material. I would have been much far better off elevating my hand, asking questions and going come office hours, yet I was too ashamed to recognize I didn’t acquire it.

At GoldieBlox, I’ve discovered much an ext success as a leader once I’m vulnerable and honest through my team about what i know and also don’t know. Quite than play-acting like the overly confident white masculine CEO stereotype of what a leader is supposed to be, ns have completed far much more success once I’m just comfortable gift honest and also being myself.

Gross: Congratulations ~ above the new Girl Scouts badges for accomplishments in STEM fields. You re welcome tell me much more about the initiative!

Sterling: give thanks to you! the something I"ve dreamed around for year at GoldieBlox, and now we space releasing new engineering badges for Daisies and Brownies. The goal is to acquire girls inventing and also learning what it method to be an engineer. By earning these badges, we are removing the intimidation factor and also building girls" confidence with STEM!

I was a Girl Scout when I to be young, therefore these brand-new badges have been a really proud moment for me and also something that will have actually such a positive impact on millions of girls.

All of these kits are designed come teach Girl Scouts something brand-new and make design fun.Not just do the tasks teach design principles that room applicable in the genuine world, yet they are a ton of funny for the girls and the troop leaders, that are regularly intimated by STEM themselves.By earning these badges, we room removing the intimidation factor and building girls" confidence through STEM!

Gross: how do friend think we deserve to encourage much more women to sign up with STEM fields?

Sterling:It starts v parents and teachers encouraging kids and getting them connected in STEM in ~ a young age. If us teach girls early that lock capable and also build your confidence, they won’t feel as intimidated through entering these male-dominated fields.

It’s also important for youngsters to learn about women in STEM to have function models that will certainly inspire them. We regularly hear about male scientists and also engineers, yet we hardly ever learn and also celebrate stories about women. It is why "Hidden Figures" to be so important. We ultimately got come hear around women who changed the people through science and give lock the credit transaction they deserved.

Gross: What is one point that you great you had known when you were starting out her career?

Sterling:Stop gift so fear to talk around money! exercise with her colleagues. Get advice from friends. Carry out the research. Know your value and also what she worth, store track of her successes at work-related and, if you feel favor you should be earning more, build your situation to your ceo ofwhythat is, and ask for it! The worst thing that can happen is they to speak no. And also in the case, ask them what you have the right to be act to gain to whereby you desire to be. Monitor the advice and in your following review, questioning again!

Gross: What is the best advice you"ve ever received?

Sterling: create your own luck. Rather than sitting around, wait for her lucky break, placed yourself the end there and also make the happen. Because that example, if yes someone who you really think would be a great mentor because that you, begin figuring the end a method to meet him or her. Perform you have any mutual relations on LinkedIn? room they act a talk or occasion near you anytime soon? ns guarantee if you ask enough people, do enough homework and shot hard enough, you will get that conference eventually. And it can turn right into your huge break.

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Gross: What is your business advice for other young expert women?

Sterling: If you’re thinking about starting your very own company, you need to give it a genuine chance. If that an idea you think in, you need to provide it your full time attention. It might seem daunting, yet save as much money as you possibly have the right to so friend have sufficient cash in the financial institution to last because that at least a year. Those the worst that can happen? in ~ the finish of the year, girlfriend can constantly look for one more job. Finest case scenario, you find you’re really onto something, you convince others that this as well, and before you recognize it, you’ve written yourself your very first paycheck.