A Conversations with Katie Jacobs Stanton, CMO of Color & Former Vice President of Global Media at Twitter
Q: Can you share with us your experience working at the White House and State Department?
KJS: Working in the Obama Administration was the honor of a lifetime. At the White House, I served as the Director of Citizen Participation, trying to make it easier for citizens to engage with the government using digital platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. At the State Department, I worked in the Office of Innovation, helping the government use 21st-century tools to address 21st-century challenges. For example, we organized Town Halls for the President in China where participants could Tweet and text questions (even when these tools were blocked in China).
Q: Of the 8 countries you’ve lived in, which was your favorite and why?
KJS: I’ve greatly appreciated all the countries I’ve been fortunate to spend time in, but I’ve always felt a strong personal connection with France. I like the way Thomas Jefferson put it; “a walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty and the point of life.”
Q: What was your experience like working as Vice President of Global Media at Twitter?
KJS: Twitter was one of the highlights of my career. When I joined, we didn’t have any employees, offices, revenues or partnerships outside of the U.S. My role was to help build our teams globally and then lead the Media team which was responsible for partnerships across government, news, sports, music, and TV. We brought the best content from each of our markets to the platform and tried to help build the most vibrant and safest digital town square. I worked with exceptional people at Twitter and I’m proud of how much we were able to achieve.
Q: You were an Angel Investor for Color Genomics … what made you decide to step in as Chief Marketing Officer?
KJS: There are 4 core values that help me decide on new roles:
1. Are the people smart and ethical?
2. Is this a product I would use?
3. Is this an opportunity I would be proud of?
4. Can I make an impact?
Color checked all of these boxes. Othman Laraki, our CEO and co-founder, is one of the smartest and most ethical people I’ve ever known. Cancer has hit my family, as it has so many others, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join a movement to help beat cancer and other hereditary conditions.
Q: Can you share with us some of the advancements and discoveries Color Genomics has made?
KJS: When you buy a car, a home or a phone, you get an owner’s manual. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with our bodies! Color is making it easier to unlock the DNA inside of us to make it easier to stay healthy. Specifically, Color has made access to medically actionable genetic testing easier and more affordable. We’re empowering people to learn their risk of hereditary conditions and use that early knowledge to take control of their healthcare and develop personalized plans to prevent illness or detect it early.
Q: What would you like to see Color Genomics accomplish in the next 5 years?
KJS: I would love to look back in 2023 to see that Color helped eliminate all hereditary conditions, including breast and ovarian cancers, caused by genetic mutations.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
KJS: My daughters, Ellie and Kiki. They’re passionate, fearless, strong, curious, and funny. Most importantly, they are focused on making a positive difference in the world!
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
KJS: One of the biggest challenges for women is economic power. It’s also one of our biggest opportunities. I’m thrilled that the Gates Foundation has committed $170 million towards improving economic leverage for women worldwide. According to Melinda Gates “when money flows into the hands of women who have the authority to use it, everything changes.”
Q: What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
1. Build your own personal Board of Directors. Cultivate relationships with people you admire, seek out their advice and collaborate with them on projects you’re passionate about. For example, I’m a founding partner of #Angels, which I started with 5 of my friends from Twitter. We share access to deals, networks and opportunities. I also lean on entrepreneurs and execs including Tina Sharkey, Dan Rosensweig, Dick Costolo and Elad Gil for career and industry advice.
2. Pay it forward - help women at all levels. I’m pretty sure I’m going to work for the women on my team at Color one day and am really excited about that!
3. Make sure women’s voices are heard and presences are felt. Work to ensure that they’re seated at the table and included in the conversation.
4. Have conviction in your beliefs and share them. Don’t be afraid to bring new ideas forward.
5. Be passionate about what you’re doing. Life is short.
6. Choose wisely. Look for a manager and team that help you be your best self.
7. Don’t worry about the job title - do your best work and the title and prominence will follow.
Q: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
KJS: My media team at Twitter had a great motto: Dream big, do big, act big. Follow these principles as a leader and you can’t go wrong.
Q: What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
KJS: There is still plenty of gender bias in our society and structural barriers that make it difficult for women to rise to the top: lack of access to paid leave, affordable childcare, and equal pay. We’re making progress, but not fast enough. We need to keep pushing and make it easier for women to stay in the workplace, advance quickly, and get paid fairly.
Q: Can you offer advice to parents with daughters graduating from high school?
KJS: Not yet! My older daughter graduates this year. Please send me advice on Twitter: @katies!
Q: Tell us about your hobbies outside of work?
KJS: I love Zumba with Ula Ghosheh. She’s the best instructor. I’m the worst in the class.
Q: Is there an interesting fact that most people wouldn’t know about you?
KJS: I wanted to be a pilot and was briefly in Air Force ROTC in college. Maybe one day I’ll finish getting my pilot’s license!
Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?
KJS: There’s no such thing as a balance - it’s more of a mashup. I try to prioritize the most important things and be present wherever I am.
Q: What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment thus far?
KJS: I can Tweet reasonably well. :)
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in the Bay Area?
KJS: The Bay Area is a magical place filled with smart, optimistic people who want to make the world a better place and have the skillset to have massive positive impact at scale.
Five Things About Katie Jacobs Stanton
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Past, I would love to meet Sojourner Truth and hear her story firsthand. And more importantly, thank her.
Present, I’m obsessed with Melinda Gates. Her work supporting women worldwide and the philanthropic impact she is making is awe-inspiring.
2. What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
The path to true happiness comes from pursuing meaning.
3. How do you deal with stress?
Walks with my dog, Taco. Wine helps, too.
4. Where’s your perfect vacation?
Somewhere new with my kids.
5. Can you share with us one of your passions in life?
Giving back to the community. One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King Jr: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”