Randi Reed called me out. She said that I didn’t do a great job looking for women “freaks” when I said that there weren’t many of them in my book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. She’s right. I didn’t work hard enough. To fix this, I wanted to give you Randi’s list. Some women freaks for you:
Women Who Became CEO Freaks, and What Made Them “Freaks”
Oprah Winfrey – Was told, “You’re black and you need to change your name to Suzy.” “You’re leaving your successful culture-changing show to start a new network based on New Age principles??? Are you nuts???”
Madam C.J. Walker — Founded her hair care company circa 1905, was successful before 1910, and by the time she died in 1919 had become the wealthiest self-made female in America (some sources say the first female self-made millionaire in America). Started in the haircare industry because she’d lost much of her hair. And she was black.
Coco Chanel – Naysayers said, “Skirts above the ankle??? No corset??? Shirts and skirts made of cotton jersey??? That’s underwear material!”
Jenny Craig – Was told “That’s insane. There’s already Weight Watchers.”
Estee Lauder – When she founded her company in 1946, naysayers said, “You’re a woman, and besides, there’s already a woman in the business (Helena Rubenstein), and she and Charles Revson of Revlon have the market.”
Helena Rubenstein – Was ahead of her time in business, was wonderfully eccentric, and was known for her acidic quips.
Bobbi Brown – Before her signature makeup looks caught on, naysayers said, “Brown lipstick???Why would anyone wear makeup you can’t see??”
Barbara Walters – Was a television pioneer in broadcasting. Naysayers and even some of her coworkers said, “A woman on the anchor desk?” When she was eventually forced to leave, she pioneered the concept of having celebrity interviews as part of a news program and began her own production company. Later, when she developed The View, naysayers said, “A panel of just women???”
Amelia Earhart – As a pioneer of early aviation, she flew planes when people still believed flying was physically harmful to women. Also had a fashion line, a luggage line, spoke out on behalf of women’s rights, and had a public speaking aspect to her brand. Worked to develop airline safety procedures and, along with Charles Lindberg, mapped airline routes that are still in use today. (Source: Purdue E-Archives. Here and here.)
Donna Karan – Was told of her clothing line, “This stuff will never sell. It’s too simple.”
Ellen Degeneres – Was told, at various times during her career, “You’re a woman and you want to do comedy???” “You have the number one show on TV. You can’t come out.” “You’re gay, you can’t do daytime.” “A gay woman who wears suit jackets doing a Covergirl makeup campaign???”
Whoopi Goldberg – Naysayers said, “A woman doing comedy?” “You’re not pretty enough.” “What’s a Whoopi?” “You want to turn Sister Act into a Broadway what???”
Kim Kardashian – Who else but a Freak CEO could parlay a sex tape into mainstream products and TV shows that Middle America would buy in droves? Some of Kim’s products include a fragrance line, cosmetics, and fashion.
Madonna – Speaks for herself. Very much a CEO, and very much a Freak.
If you want to read the rest of the book that Randi didn’t help me write, but should have, it’s here.