Episode 21

#21 Carpe Diem: Janet Hanson on Recognizing Opportunity and Taking Risk

What does it take to become the first woman in the history of Goldman Sachs to be promoted into sales management? That accomplishment was just the beginning of Janet Hanson’s career. Kelly Hoey and Janet talk about how her early career at Goldman prompted her to strike out on her own as founder/CEO of Milestone Capital and 85 Broads, the global business women’s network now known as Ellevate.  Janet’s early support of female founders is legendary, and includes angel investments in companies such as LearnVest and AHA Life.


Daniel F. Crowley, 69, Ex-Publishing Official The New York Times

Anne Brown Farrell Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World by William D. Cohan

Sara Weinheimer Ellevate

MANAGEMENT: A Network of Their Own; From an Exclusive Address, a Group for Women Only by Reed Abelson, The New York Times

Northwestern Mutual acquires LearnVest, the financial planning startup by Leena Rao, Fortune

The Education of Warren Buffett’s protégé by Colleen Leahey, Fortune

Stacey Borden ChixRx

Meghan Muntean, How Bustle Cracked the Code to Reach Millennial Women by Magnify Team, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, iBooks

Sheryl Sandberg Forbes

Anne-Marie Slaughter on Raising Men Who Do Housework by Sarah Sophie Flicker, The Cut

How this investor is bridging the ‘bravado gap’ by Sara Ashley O’Brien, CNNMoney

How Hillary Clinton’s historic win changes the game for girls by Holly Yan, CNNPolitics

Additional Reading

“85 Broads” Invests In Women by Melissa McNamara

This Is What An Angel Investor Looks Like – Janet Hanson by Angie Chang, Women 2.0

Feeling lucky: How important is luck to career success? by David Winter, The Guardian

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women

Goldman Sachs Promotes Record Number of Women, and It’s Still Just 25 Percent by Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair

Krawcheck to Acquire 85 Broads From Ex-Goldman Executive by Laura Marcine, Bloomberg

Guest bios & transcripts are available on www.broadmic.com.


JANET HANSON - Widely respected as a leading entrepreneur and investor, Janet is recognized as a unique voice and champion for women globally. Janet is the Founder and former CEO of 85 Broads Unlimited, a global network of women whose founding members worked at 85 Broad Street, Goldman Sachs' former NYC headquarters.  By 2013, over 30,000 trailblazing women across a variety of professional career paths had joined the network worldwide. Sallie Krawcheck, a former Wall Street executive who held senior positions at Sanford Bernstein, Citibank, and Bank of America, acquired 85 Broads in 2013.  In 2014, Sallie changed the name of the network to Ellevate.

After graduating from Wheaton College and Columbia Business School, Janet joined Goldman Sachs as a 24-year-old associate in the firm's Fixed Income Sales & Trading Division. In 1986, she became the first woman in the firm’s history to be promoted to sales management. Following her 14-year career at Goldman Sachs, Janet founded Milestone Capital, an asset management firm that grew to over $2B in AUM. From 2004 to 2007, Janet joined Lehman Brothers as a Managing Director and Senior Advisor on Women, reporting directly to the President & COO. Her position gave her the opportunity to meet thousands of female undergraduate and graduate business school students, both in the U.S. and abroad, who were excited about pursuing careers on Wall Street.

Janet is a board member of The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. She is an Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale University and serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Talent Innovation. She is a member of the Kellogg Center for Executive Women’s Steering Committee and is a former member of the Forbes Executive Women’s Board. She has received numerous awards and honors, including an honorary degree from Middlebury College in 2007.

Janet’s two children are her greatest passion. Meredith (Wheaton College ’11) is an artist and entrepreneur on Nantucket. She is the founder of Mer’s Anchored Artists and is a member of the Artists Association of Nantucket. Chris (Dartmouth College ’13) is pursuing a career as a professional squash player, having played #1 on the Dartmouth men's team for 4 years.

In 2015, In 2012, Janet was named to Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and Forbes’ list of “Women Changing The World.” She is the author of More Than 85 Broads, which was published by McGraw-Hill in 2006.


Janet: All of my success over the years has been because whatever I attempted to do, or accomplished. I could quantify.

Kelly: I'm Kelly Hoey, host of BroadMic. I speak with the most accomplished entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders about the issues that matter in building a business. You will get the inspiration as well as the picks and shovels you need to become a better entrepreneur. Be inspired, take action, think broad.

I am in the studio this morning with the legendary Janet Hanson. Founder of 85 Broads. Right out of Columbia Business School. She was the first woman in Goldman's history to be promoted into sales management. She founded an institutional money management firm. She's been the face leading investment in women founded companies, including LearnVest. Janet, it is great to have you here on BroadMic.

Janet: Thank Kelly. I'm delighted.

Kelly: So you've done a whole lot of stuff. Wall Street, 85 Broads, Milestone Capital. What do you think you know in terms of your background, and your life story, enabled you to do all that?

Janet: I would say that luck probably played a huge role. And I think recognizing opportunity when it presents itself. I think I have always been really good at recognizing opportunity.

Kelly: I'm going to say that's a very unique skill. I think more of us wish we had that. And I you know I always want to think about when having you know the great pleasure of working with you. Just your desire to know more and that curiosity to find out more about other people, or what was I would say what's the latest and greatest thing that you know is happening that whether it should be adopted, or whether we should be taking it on.

Janet: I think you know I would start with you know just my earlier years because I think everything that happened to me when I was younger really was very formative in terms of how my life has turned out or played out. I am the middle child. My brother's a year older. my sister's a year younger, so I think I always you know was trying to figure out ways to stand out, to differentiate myself.

And I think I really viewed life through a very serendipitous lens. I wanted to play golf when I was growing up. Wasn't all that good, but managed to get a job running the pro shop at the St. Andrews Golf Club. The oldest men's golf club in Hastings on Hudson, my hometown. Met a lot of extraordinary folks through that platform.

And that was really the beginning of a really every successful, you know, adventure that I've had throughout my entire life. I met Dan Crowley, who was a member of the club. And he thought that I was way too smart to be running a pro shop at a golf club. And he just announced one day that it was time for me to go to Columbia Business School.

And I just graduated from Wheaton College, a small women's college in Massachusetts. And I said, "Well, that's not going to happen." I said, "Because you know I stopped taking math in the tenth grade. I have no quantitative ability that I'm aware of." And he didn't care. He said, "I like your attitude. I like your go get it...go get them kind of, you know, kind of love for life."

And so I applied at the age of 21 to Columbia Business School. And I managed to get in. I had the worst board scores they'd ever seen. And I matriculated when I was 22 old. I think I was probably the youngest person in my class. I knew absolutely nothing. But it was taking the chance, even though I thought to myself the likelihood that I am going to be...that I'm going to fail at this is close to 100%.

Kelly: This is like extraordinary. And I'm sitting here thinking, "Okay, for all the years I've known you, and the all the times we've chatted. I've never heard that story." And I think it's so important we...so often we take a job, or a task and we look at it what it, is just getting that job done, as opposed to what is the bigger opportunity within that. And the story with the pro shop is extraordinary. We hear so much now in the tech world of like, "Oh, there's no women." and a lot of women not wanting to be that first woman. You've been there. You've been that first woman. And any advice, or guidance, or tips, or what have you to encourage other women to say, "Hey, what the heck. Be the first."

Janet: Well, I was actually the second. Ann Brown was the first. so...and she got there in '73 after she graduated from the Wharton Graduate School of Business. And it was the most exciting thing I'd ever had the opportunity to do. One, because I joined fixed income sales and trading. And I was on a very big trading floor which is out in the open.

And so everybody can see you. And that plays particularly well I think to a female strengths. Again, very social atmosphere. Loved client interaction. Got along with all the traders. So it was an extraordinarily good career move for me, and I would highly recommend it that career path to other women. And it also, you know, its trial by fire. And you're only as good as your last trade. And you have to cultivate not only your colleagues but also your clients.

And the key to success I think in that particular job is everything you do is quantifiable, And so all of my success over the years has been because whatever I attempted to do, or accomplished, I could quantify. And I think for women that's incredibly important. And so in a very short order, I became one of the highest producing sales people in the division. And so at that point, it didn't matter if I was male or female. It was that I was really good at what I did.

Kelly: And maybe I love that story. And maybe it's one of those things instead of looking at the work environment in terms of its composition of men versus women or diversity, looking at it as the skills and the tasks to be done, and is this something that can quantify my contribution so I can be recognized as opposed to overlooked or passed over.

Janet: Right. And I think the, you know, it's not intuitively obvious that women would do exceptionally well in a trading atmosphere. And yet so many women, certainly all the women that I worked with, had extraordinary career runs at Goldman Sachs. And I think it gives you an opportunity to lead in a very public setting.

So you have this very large trading floor. There are no walls, and so people can see you taking on leadership roles. They see how you interact with colleagues, with, you know, people who are senior to you. And I think you know the thing that was exciting for me was as the firm was moving, you know, in a more diverse direction, and that would be throughout the '80's into the '90's, I saw opportunity to lead.

And you know, I wanted to be the head of sales. I wanted to be the manager in charge of our desk. And so I asked for the job on numerous occasions. And one of my funniest stories, I'm glad to think that it is. I think about it in a humorous way now. But I lived in Bronxville and, which is 30 minutes outside of the city at the time. And we actually had an earthquake, and the epicenter was in Ardsley [SP], which is about 20, 30 minutes away from my house. And it was a 7.0 on the Richter scale. And shook me out of my bed. I thought I'd had a gas main explosion. I got in my car in my pajamas. Drove down to the town of Bronxville where all these other people walking around.

I said, "Wow, that's weird. Not all these people could have had a gas main explosion." And so it suddenly dawned on me something else had happened. And sure enough, it was an earthquake. And it had been the tremor that had shaken my house. So I got to work that morning. And I rode up in the elevator with the partner in charge of fixed income sales. I said, "Hey, you're not going to believe this, but there was actually an earthquake. And I ran out of my house in my PJ's, you know at 5:00 in the morning, absolutely terrified."

So a couple of months later when I was being considered for the job of head of New York money market sales. I was told that I was going to be turned down, because I panicked during the earthquake, and had shown that I was not management material because I didn't remain calm during that earthquake. And so I think for lesser mortals they would have said, "Okay wait. That's like really bullshit." And I just said, "Okay, maybe not today. But I'm going to stick at it." And eventually, I was made the co-manager. They made me the co-manager with one of the guys of the of the of the sales desk.

So I think it was perseverance, and thinking that that was the dumbest thing that I'd ever heard. And not letting it stop or deter me from my quest to have play a really meaningful leadership role at Goldman Sachs.

Kelly: I want say part of me is just like laughing and trying to hold back my profanities. Okay, so perseverance. Don't let don't let anyone you know knock you off your end game and your goal, and you know don't share pajama stories in the elevator. I mean you know what else can you say? because anything else is just, it's just absolutely ridiculous.

Right, well let's talk 85 Broads. There's a couple of aspects of it I really want to get to because I think the thing is that either there's confusion or people don't know about it. So let's deal with the first one. For people who don't know. How did the name come about?

Janet: I was actually out walking my dogs one day in Bronxville. And I had been trying to figure out...I had the concept but I didn't have the name. And 85 Broads is just a humorous riff on Goldman's former headquarter address, which is 85 Broad Street. And the concept, this was in 1997 when 85 Broads was first launched, was very, very simple.

It was that I saw a huge need to connect women like me, who had had an extraordinary career run at Goldman, sort of it was...I was, in essence, an alum of the firm with young women who were coming up in their first couple of years at Goldman. And the reason was there really weren't enough female mentors at the firm to mentor all these fabulous young women, who were joining the firm as analysts and associates.

And I approached Goldman Sachs about my idea, approached them in the early '90's. I saw that there was a huge need for somebody to act as sort of a go-between or connector to women who had left the firm, with women who were at the firm. And they showed absolutely no interest whatsoever. They said, "Thanks but no thanks." And so I said, okay, you know I'm going to invite some of my best friends. You know, people that I had worked with at Goldman Sachs.

And I would be incredibly remiss not at this point to mention that the person who influenced me more than anyone in my career, and then post career, post-Goldman career, was Sara Weinheimer. And Sarah was one of the founding team of 85 Broads. And we had this wonderful dinner at the Water Club in 1997. And we thought this was such a great idea. And Sarah had been one of the greatest traders at Goldman Sachs. Just an extraordinary talent. And you know so we said, "Hey, let's do this. Let's form 85 Broads."

And it lasted about you know one night. And the problem was it was like going to a high school, or college reunion. Felt great when you were together, but there was no efficient way to stay together, or to stay connected. So it wasn't until the Internet really started to come into being that we figured that we could take 85 Broads, this sort of a alumni club of women from the fixed income division, and turn it into 85broads.com.

And Reed Abelson, who is one of the great writers for The New York Times, did a piece in The New York Times in October of 1999. It took up almost the entire front page of the business section of The Times. And I had gotten her...she had promised me that she would not write what I called The Bitter Babe Story. That women don't have wonderful careers on Wall Street or hated their jobs.

And I said, "If you write the bitter babe story I'll kill you." And so she didn't. She wrote a really, really great piece. And you know, 85broads.com from that day took off. And one of probably one of the greatest moments of my life was the management committee meeting that happened that day at Goldman Sachs. And Hank Paulson, who is the CEO, turned to his fellow management committee members and said, "Who gave Janet Hanson permission to do that?" And when that story got back to me through one of the guys who were on the management committee. I said, "That that just made my day."

We actually had a really great relationship with the firm, because we wanted to be this extraordinary...you know we wanted to compliment the firm. We wanted to be a great reflection on the firm that women could have extraordinary careers there. And it absolutely took off. And we were very, very young in terms of where...what was going on with the Internet back then.

I mean we were way ahead of the curve, and we just got lucky. And this whole concept of connecting women through what we called...I can't even bear to even say it to this day, but I will. We called it Our Cyber Clubhouse. The concept worked because we didn't have to go back into the physical plant. We didn't have to go back into 85 Broads. Where we hadn't been in or 85 Broad Street excuse me, where we hadn't been invited. We could create this amazing connection between women who had who had worked at the firm, and with women who were there. And it exploded.

Kelly: So let's talk about one of the other bits of 85 Broads that people may not realize. And this is the summer of 2005 when you had an extraordinary group of interns, and you had a project you called Market Clout. Do you want to talk about what that was, and who those interns were, and what they're up to now?

Janet: Sure. I started to get emails from women who said I'd like to come in and intern for you this summer. And this was a summer of 2005. And I thought, "Well, gee. We've got plenty of space here. That sounds great." And they were very interested in learning more about what Milestone Capital did. And so I got one request and I said, "Okay, you can come." And then I got another request, I said, "Okay, you can come." So it turned out that I had four gals who joined from Harvard. four from Princeton, two from Middlebury, and one gal who was between her first and second year at the Wharton Graduate School of Business.

I probably could have had 50 if I had allowed that many women to come. But at 11 I said, "Okay, that's it." So they all showed up and I said, "Okay, gals, you know this is a money market fund. We manage institutional liquidity for very large institutions. Not really thinking that this is something you're going to find all that interesting." I said, "So let's figure out you know what you are going to work on this summer. Let's come up with a really interesting project." So we went into the conference room and I said, "You know, what do you gals care about?"

And so they started talking about their course work and they were interested in learning more about investing. And I said, "Well, you know on that note." I said, "How come young women don't care? Why are they not interested in investing?" And so the immediate response was because it's boring. And I said, "Okay, well if that's the case then you guys have to figure out how to make it so that it's interesting to your cohort, to women who are in college. How can you turn it into something interesting?"

So we came up with this incredible business actually called Market Clout. And the tagline was invested in what you love. And so the concept was incredibly simple, which is if you own an iPod buy the stock. If you love your Apple products, buy the stock. If you have 10 pairs of designer jeans from Levis, buy the stock. And so we really you know did a deep dive on that whole concept.

And so when you queried these women about brands, they really knew their stuff, and they had enormous confidence in why one brand was better than another, and to an amazing degree. And so what Market Clout really was, was getting women interested in investing by getting them to talk about brands that they loved. And then making the jump to saying, "Okay, if I love the brand or I own the product. I'm going to buy the stock."

So we actually put $75,000 real dollars in a Fidelity account. And the women who all these young gals came up with two or three stock picks. And we actually created a portfolio, and it was incredibly exciting. One of the gals from Harvard was Alexa Von Tobol. And Alexa was absolutely blown away by the power of the story, of how important creating the storyline was, to getting other women, young women at Harvard to really embrace this whole concept of investing.

One of the interesting things that I had found was almost all of these gals had joined their investment clubs on their various campuses. They were heavily male dominated, and after one or two meetings dropped out. And so they were really interested in learning more but didn't know how to create sort of a community that worked for them. One of the other interns was Tracy Britt. Tracy was at Harvard. And she was in the process of launching smart women securities, which was a very similar concept. Again teaching young women about investing at Harvard, and then on other campuses.

Tracy Brit went on to graduate from Harvard, went straight to Harvard Business School, and from there jumped to working for Warren Buffett in Omaha. And she is now Tracy Britt Cool. She runs several of Warren's businesses. And I think she really got her you know the excitement around investing really started in the summer of 2005.

Meghan Muntean and Stacy Borden. Meghan from Princeton, Stacey from Harvard launched a company called ChickRx. At some point down the road that it was actually acquired. Meghan now has a very senior job at Bustle. So a number of these gals you know went on to do something very entrepreneurial. And I would have to say the person I am proudest of is certainly Alexa Von Tobol because you know she actually also went to Harvard Business School. Stayed for a semester. Dropped out, launched LearnVest.

And I was one of the first people that she approached to invest in LearnVest. And she also needed me to introduce her to other great women in my network who might be potential investors. I introduced her to Jackie Zeiner and Ann Kaplan, two former partners who I had worked with at Goldman Sachs, and both Ann and Jackie invested. And I would have to say the rest is history.

Kelly: When did you realize that 85 Broads was a source of deal flow?

Janet: As I met these really extraordinary women whether it was the summer of 2005 in creating Market Clout and what that led to, or other women who were joining 85 Broads, wanting to do something very entrepreneurial. And so a number of young women started to take the chance and say, "Hey, you know I think I've got what it takes. I'm really passionate about starting this business, or that business."

And I said, "Okay, I want to invest in you." And so I very much put my money where my big mouth was. And I invested in a number of startups. And they weren't all started by women who were in their early or mid-20s. Some were in their 30s or 40s. And the more I invested, the more I shared that information and that my excitement with everybody in the network. And we had you know, by 2013, we had over 30,000 women in the network worldwide. And what was incredibly exciting was this entrepreneurial fever was really, really happening globally. And so I got to invest in a yoga studio in Dubai, which was really one of the coolest investments I ever made.

And I really wanted to make sure that 85 Broads as a platform was viewed, not Just as a network where women could commune, or discuss job issues, or, you know, whatever their hopes or dreams were, that it was really a proper platform where they could leverage you know other women's intellectual capital and financial capital to create these fabulous businesses. And that really became the hallmark of 85 Broads.

Kelly: Yeah. It's just not enough just to get together and have a nice conversation. As I like to say, "You know, the pompoms are all great, but you know let's put them down and write some checks and really move women's businesses ahead." So all right, now we get to not that the rest of this wasn't fun. Now we get to really fun part. This are the pay it forward questions Jan. and I ask them of every guest. So top of mind, your fast answers. Here we go. What are your primary sources of information?

Janet: Right off the bat, I would say my two kids.

Kelly: And so I mean it's the same answer for the second question. How do you discover new information?

Janet: Well that actually, you know, aside from listening very carefully to my kids, and what they are listening to, you know, how they use their devices, you know, what's important to them, I'm actually a cable news junkie. So I have CNBC on from the beginning of the day. Morning Joe, I love so and particularly because we're in a very exciting political season. So very heavily you know I love listening to what's happening live on cable.

Kelly: What book are you reading?

Janet: The book that I have enjoyed more than any book in a very long time is Dan Brown's book, Boys in The Boat.

Kelly: What rituals or habits do you swear by?

Janet: Arianne Huffington's mantra about getting enough sleep.

Kelly: Getting enough sleep. Who is the three entrepreneurs or leaders you would admire?

Janet: I would have to say Sheryl Sandberg definitely at the top of the list. I admire her for her courage. Anne-Marie Slaughter, somebody who I think put herself out there. The Gotham Gal, Joanne Wilson. What Joanne has done in the last four or five years for women in the entrepreneurial space is nothing short of incredible.

Kelly: Yeah. Those three choices, phenomenal. What's the best advice you ever received?

Janet: One, the phrase that I am definitely if I have a tombstone, I will have on my tombstone. Remember to laugh out loud and make your own luck. Absolutely the best advice I ever got.

Kelly: I happened to laugh out loud because I absolutely love that. Any particular myths you would like to dispel for our listeners?

Kelly: Just to close out, yes. I think there is a lot of negativity around Wall Street. Certainly after the collapse of the housing market in '08, '09, I think that turned off a lot of young women, in particular, to perhaps pursuing a career on Wall Street. There is massive value in getting a rigorous education in how the Street works. I think it is an amazing jumping off place, particularly for young women.

And I think you know the myth is Wall Street is you know people are dishonest, or you know they're greedy, whatever. I think it is one of the smartest ways if you want to become an entrepreneur, go and cultivate your colleagues at any one of the Wall Street firms, who will then become probably your most significant backers down the road.

Kelly: What words of advice would you give to listeners about taking risks and closing the confidence gap?

Janet: Vote for Hillary, actually. I do think that we're going to see this groundswell movement of women really embracing their specialness, their intelligence. They're going to watch Hillary do it. And I think they're going to want to run that very same race. I think it's really important, and I think Hillary is a perfect example of the importance of quantifying, being able to quantify your results. And Hillary has a tremendous track record. And she's running on that track record.

And I think the more you can qualify your body of experience in a way that really resonates with you knows future investors is a really, really smart thing to do. That has stood me in good stead throughout my entire life.

Kelly: And what does think broad mean to you?

Janet: It means open your mind. It means think expansively. It means, you know, go for it. Take a chance.

Kelly: Thank you, Janet.

Janet: Thank you.

Kelly: Thank you for listening to BroadMic. We welcome your feedback. Find us on Facebook, where you will have show notes and additional references for a deeper dive into today's topic. Subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. Please review our podcast on iTunes which will help other listeners discover BroadMic and grow the BroadMic community. BroadMic is produced by Christy Mirabelle with editing by John Marshall Media. Our executive producer is Sara Weinheimer. Think broad.

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