Your First Million with Amy Griffin – Transcript

This is a transcript for Your First Million #2 with Amy Griffin.

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Arlan Hamilton: I’m Arlan Hamilton. I’m a venture capitalist and this is Your First Million.
Arlan Hamilton: I recently met a woman named Amy Griffin, and the first thing I noticed about Amy was how collaborative and inclusive and open she was. She also is very curious. She’s a very curious person. She wants to know, authentically and organically, about who you are as a person. Whoever is in her orbit is fascinating to her, and I think that that made me more interested and more curious about her. So I met her a few weeks ago in California and I just had to talk to her more, I had to learn more about her story. So I went to New York City and met her at her office. She runs G9 Ventures in New York City, has a wonderful team and a beautiful office, and we sat in her office and had a nice chat.
Arlan Hamilton: I really like this interview because I think Amy’s one of those people who could be underestimated in a different way. When I usually talk about someone being underestimated, it’s usually because they are a woman, a person of color, LGBT, and other types of under representation, in different industries, and it’s because I’m saying they’re walking into a room, or they’re part of a project and people are not expecting the best of them, and what they can really offer.
Arlan Hamilton: In Amy’s case, Amy is kind of like that all-American girl, if you want to use the stereotype. She’s gorgeous, she’s a white woman, she is wealthy, and she has means, and she is someone that may, when she walks into a room, may seem like you’ve got her all figured out, and to me, that’s being underestimated because there’s so much more to Amy, and in talking with her, the reason I wanted her for this podcast, for Your First Million, where she can talk about how she attained her wealth and what she does with it, which is really important, from philanthropy to investing, and throughout her venture capital fund now, but I think she really is relatable to a lot of women especially, who don’t really have a voice. And what I mean by that is, if I’m being real with you, Amy’s rich. She’s what we call in the business, rich. She’s got a lot of money and she could have … Money affords you a lot of options, so she could have really gone a certain route where she wasn’t challenging herself, or she was very comfortable, and instead, she chose to get out of her comfort zone and start something new. It’s almost like it was a driving force within her, that she could not deny or ignore.
Arlan Hamilton: And I think so many people who have reached a certain level of success or maybe even started off with some success, started off at 2nd, 3rd base, I think they’re written off, oftentimes. And I really mean that sincerely. I think sometimes we write off people if they already have made it, if the narrative is not there. That’s why so many people like that rags to riches story, and will really hone in on that. I know that personally, that one of the things that people like to say about me most, impress, or when they’re introducing me, is that I used to be homeless, I used to be on food stamps. And I did both of those things, and I went on to raise millions of dollars for a venture fund, and invest in more than 100 companies. Not to drop a mic right now. I did all of that. But I think it’s really interesting that we sort of erase certain people because we just assume things about them. So with Amy I wanted her on to talk about the humanity of it all. Her life, the nuance of the decisions that she’s made, I think you’ll find them really fascinating.
Arlan Hamilton: I think there are people who are listening who, perhaps you’re an angel investor, or you want to be. Perhaps you’re a philanthropist. Maybe you were born into some money, maybe you married into some money, maybe you attained wealth very early in life, something like that. There’s a sort of underlying belief that you don’t have as much to offer in the room as someone else who had to struggle more. I don’t buy into that, and I really am interested in talking to more people who have wealth and how they wield it because I think that’s it. I say this a lot, that privilege is not the bad word, entitlement is the bad word. And what you’ll find with Amy is that she is far from entitled. She understands her privilege, and she wields it in a very specific and powerful way.
Arlan Hamilton: And so, it is my pleasure to let you be a fly on the wall to this conversation. Really excited for you to hear this, and thanks Amy for joining us.
Amy Griffin: Hi. I’m Amy Griffin, and I’m a mother of four. I’m a venture capitalist, early stage fund. Believe in the power of women and I am an athlete, and a philanthropist. And what else can I tell you about myself?
Arlan Hamilton: Let’s find out.
Arlan Hamilton: Let’s start before the beginning. Let’s just say hi.
Amy Griffin: Hi.
Arlan Hamilton: Hi, Amy.
Amy Griffin: Hi, Arlan. Great to see you again after our two days.
Arlan Hamilton: Yes, it’s been so long since we saw each other. We just met recently, thankfully.
Amy Griffin: But I’ve known of you, of course.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah. We-
Amy Griffin: And all the great things you’re doing.
Arlan Hamilton: Well, thank you. And I’m very, very grateful that we met because from the moment we started talking, I knew that we would get along. And now I’m in your beautiful office in New York, overlooking … This is Times Square, don’t make a … I mean, not Times Square. This is-
Amy Griffin: Upper East.
Arlan Hamilton: Upper East-
Amy Griffin: Looking upwards.
Arlan Hamilton: Looking upwards.
Amy Griffin: Sometimes it’s covered in snow but today it’s beautiful.
Arlan Hamilton: I mean, this is just gorgeous, and it has to be a little inspiring for you to work out of a-
Amy Griffin: It is inspiring.
Arlan Hamilton: … every once in a while, look back and say, like literally turn around and say, “Oh, okay”-
Amy Griffin: It is inspiring.
Arlan Hamilton: … this is where I am. Yeah.
Amy Griffin: It’s inspiring to come into the office every day actually.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah. So I definitely want to get into where we are, what your company is, what your fund is, but I think we first start … We go back a little bit.
Amy Griffin: Great. Great.
Arlan Hamilton: And couple of things that I do know already, one is that … Well, is it okay if we talk about-
Amy Griffin: Talk about anything.
Arlan Hamilton: You’re on crutches.
Amy Griffin: Yeah, yeah.
Arlan Hamilton: So I met you, you’re on crutches, and just killing the game with the crutches. First of all, stylish crutches!
Amy Griffin: They gave them to me at the hospital. I was very happy to have them.
Arlan Hamilton: I mean, doing it, yes, and then second of all, I have heard about you and have heard from you, that you were an athlete and still are, I’m assuming. So let’s talk about that a little bit. When did you start? Where were you first of all? There’s one more thing that we have in common. We were both Texas gals.
Amy Griffin: Texans. I’m doing the Hook ’em Horns. You can’t see it.
Arlan Hamilton: So let’s talk about that. So you were born where?
Amy Griffin: Born in Amarillo, Texas.
Arlan Hamilton: Okay. And is there a fun fact about Amarillo that you’d like to share with us?
Amy Griffin: Yes, there is, in fact, actually. Did you know that the Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States? And it is an amazing place to visit, but people don’t visit that often because they go to the Grand Canyon-
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: … or, like myself, have never been to the Grand Canyon but have spent a lot of time in the Palo Duro Canyon.
Arlan Hamilton: No, I did not know that at all.
Amy Griffin: So it’s beautiful. And it’s an amazing place. I had an idyllic childhood and that I have incredible parents and I’m one of four, and grew up just living the Texas dream, I guess. I had a great upbringing and then went off to college.
Arlan Hamilton: Wow. So you were born in Amarillo, grew up in Amarillo-
Amy Griffin: Yes.
Arlan Hamilton: … and when did you start getting into sports?
Amy Griffin: I think it was early on. I have this memory of my father, who was coaching our soccer teams, where he used to make the girls on our team run if they weren’t paying attention. And I’d say, “Dad, I’m losing friends, so you need to stop making them run around the goalposts whenever they’re not paying attention.” And he’d say, “No, they’ve got to focus.” So it started really early. I mean, it must have been four or five, from my memories.
Arlan Hamilton: And is this because your parents saw something in you, and encouraged it, or did you just … you took to it?
Amy Griffin: You know what, I think in Texas, I don’t know about you, but that’s kind of what we did.
Arlan Hamilton: Sports.
Amy Griffin: I am from that whole area of Friday Night Lights and our high school’s one of the Friday Night Lights high schools and so sports and academics were kind of everything and if you wanted to get out of Amarillo and do something else, then you had to do well academically. And then sports was also, it was another ticket. And so it was all that I ever knew but it was what I craved every single day.
Arlan Hamilton: So I was not so athletic as a child or even today. I know it’s shocking but I wasn’t and because I was tall, and still am, people always ask me if I played on the basketball team or if I … And I was just terribly non athletic and I think too, most people at my school they would stare.
Amy Griffin: Well, don’t worry because I was so horrible at basketball, I think I scored goals, baskets for the other team and finally they were like, “You can’t play basketball. You’re just bad, really bad.”
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, okay.
Amy Griffin: I was bad, so, so bad.
Arlan Hamilton: You’re tall, right? I mean, you’re-
Amy Griffin: So, of course, they said, “You’re going to play basketball,” and I was horrible.
Arlan Hamilton: How tall are you?
Amy Griffin: Five eleven.
Arlan Hamilton: Five eleven, yeah. So what-
Amy Griffin: Which is not tall by sports standard these days.
Arlan Hamilton: Right. So what was your sport?
Amy Griffin: So I played volleyball. I played-
Arlan Hamilton: Volleyball.
Amy Griffin: … volleyball and tennis and I sort of pursued both paths and then decided, after high school, that I would go … I was offered a college scholarship to go and play in the University of Virginia and it was incredible.
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: Best experience of my life were those four years.
Arlan Hamilton: And so University of Virginia and you were on a scholarship and you were … What is that-
Amy Griffin: I made more money when I was in college than I did when I first got out.
Arlan Hamilton: Talk about that.
Amy Griffin: Well-
Arlan Hamilton: How so?
Amy Griffin: Well, I mean, everything was paid for. Books, tuition, food, everything was paid for so it was a really great thing. And I was really proud and to be completely honest, my parents had set aside money for me to go to college and that was something that could have been done but I was so proud to pay for my own college and without really understanding what that meant to be a feminist in that moment, I didn’t really know what that meant, there were things that I was doing in college as an athlete that were, I guess you could say, helping our gender, or me not realizing why we were treated differently than the men-
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: … and that was a big part of my … I didn’t realize that we should be different. I felt like I was doing the same thing as the men athletes.
Arlan Hamilton: Can you give an example?
Amy Griffin: I have a great example. So one of them was, and if anyone ever listens to this who played with me, they’ll laugh because I always said, “Why do we not get our names on the back of our jerseys?”
Arlan Hamilton: Exactly.
Amy Griffin: Why do the men’s teams, most of the men’s teams, and maybe some of the women’s teams, but really the revenue sports mean football and basketball, they are able to have their name stitched on the back of their jersey, and we weren’t allowed to have that because it wasn’t in our budget. So I always said, “Hey, guys, by the time it’s my fourth year in college, we’re going to get our names on the back of our jerseys. You just wait, you just wait.” And so when it came time, it was my fourth year in college, I was a senior, and my coach was somehow able to find it in the budget. I think she probably made room in the budget or went and begged for a little bit more. And this is a division one sport we’re talking about. We had our name on the back of the jersey.
Arlan Hamilton: Nice.
Amy Griffin: So I have my jersey framed in my house and everyone says, “Oh, it’s amazing, your framed jersey.” And when I look at it, I think of it in a different way than I think people look at it as me playing sports. I look at it as an accomplishment on several different levels, on a level that may be greater than just having been an athlete.
Arlan Hamilton: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow. See, I would have never known that.
Amy Griffin: Yeah, yeah. It was a big deal to me.
Arlan Hamilton: That is really cool. And so then, I’m sure a lot has happened after that, but skip ahead a little bit to where you think … You left school and-
Amy Griffin: Left school. I moved to New York City with a FedEx box and a 1-800 mattress. I moved in with five women in the West Village-
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, man. This is creating itself, this is great. Say that one more time.
Amy Griffin: It’s very easy. I moved to New York City with a FedEx package and a 1-800 mattress and that was how I started, and I got a job.
Arlan Hamilton: And you were with how many roommates?
Amy Griffin: Five women. At one point in time actually, I don’t remember if it was four or five, but at one point in time, when I came home, a roommate had added a wall with another roommate moving in with us, with a dog-
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, no!
Amy Griffin: … and there was no email that had even been sent around. We loved her. She’s fantastic, but we had another roommate which is great because I guess it made the rental a bit less, but it was fantastic.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah. You hear those stories … I hear those stories all the time but I don’t meet the people who actually went through-
Amy Griffin: It was fun. It was really fun.
Arlan Hamilton: So you did that to make ends meet but what did you come out here thinking you would be doing?
Amy Griffin: Well, I knew what I was doing. I’d gotten a job when I came up and I thought I wanted to be in media and I wanted to be in … Content was king at that point in time, and I went to work, which was magical in itself, I went to work for Working Women Magazine, Working Mother Magazine, so I’d see Gloria Steinem was walking the halls of this organization. I was basically in a corner selling reprint ad sales but I was just happy to be there and I was soaking it up. And just being able to also live in New York City, from being in Texas, was eye-opening and defining and I knew I was going to come straight here, I knew that … I remember my father … I think he gave me a bouquet of yellow roses when I went away to college and he said, “We’ve got to get you back to the yellow rose of Texas,” but he kind of knew I was gone.
Arlan Hamilton: Right, right.
Amy Griffin: Was probably a sadness there.
Arlan Hamilton: So you came here, you’d gotten yourself a gig. Were you thinking that you would pursue sports as well? Was there ever any-
Amy Griffin: Well, that’s a great question. So, after a year of being at Women and Working Mother Magazine, I actually moved over and I got a job at Sports Illustrated.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, okay.
Amy Griffin: And I got a job at Sports Illustrated through a friend who was an athlete who grew up in my town and he made an introduction and the next thing I knew, I was working at SI and it was the time to be there, where so much was happening and I got in fairly quickly, into the marketing department, and was lucky to do so. I had some incredible mentors, some of them who were also athletes, had been athletes at University of Virginia, who took me under their wing and I’m still in contact with them today actually. Yeah. And that was incredible.
Amy Griffin: I mean, side story, but the woman who was really my mentor was a woman who was an all-American lacrosse player, had been at University of Virginia. And then fast forward about 10 years and my daughter who at the time, I think she was six, was doing a triathlon up in Westchester and they didn’t allow any parents into the waiting area, that’s where they help you set up, and I think my daughter couldn’t get her number on, or couldn’t get herself organized, and the woman who’d been my mentor at Sports Illustrated was now helping out at this triathlon because she lived out in Westchester. And she stepped under the rope and she set my daughter up and she looked over at me and gave me the thumbs up, and I thought, wow, this is definitely full circle. So I have a lot of stories like that.
Amy Griffin: But my time at SI was incredible and then eventually, I ended up in the marketing group where I was working in the Olympic division where I traveled with the Olympic Games. And I worked on their sports marketing partnerships. Really it was also with guests, for the majority of the time, and that, to me, was also incredible. I got to meet so many people and I felt that I had this duty to uphold. I was really excited to be able to be given that job and to be able to also see a number of athletes that were my friends from growing up, because that was my timeframe. I’d spent a short amount of time at the Olympic Training Center for volleyball, for the junior team, but I was seeing these kids that were my age, they were in sports … Like my best friend won the Olympic gold in wrestling. I had a friend who as in tennis. I had a friend who won a gold in swimming, from Virginia. So it was just a great time to be … This was in Sydney, in the Olympics.
Arlan Hamilton: The Sydney Olympics.
Amy Griffin: The Sydney Games.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, I remember those very, very vividly.
Amy Griffin: It was incredible. It was really special.
Arlan Hamilton: I had either just … What year was that because I had either just gone to Australia …
Amy Griffin: 1990 … I want to say ’98. Is that right?
Arlan Hamilton: So I was in Australia-
Amy Griffin: ’98 or ’99? 99?
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah. So I was either there at the same time or had just gone.
Amy Griffin: Or 2000. Around that time.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah, it was a big deal. It was a huge deal.
Amy Griffin: Well, because the Australians take their sport so seriously.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah, for sure.
Amy Griffin: So it was just incredible what the show that they put on. I didn’t want to come back. I remember crying on the flight home, thinking, I think I’m meant to spend a lot more time in Australia.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah, I could see you doing that, in another life.
Amy Griffin: Well, that’s a whole other thing-
Arlan Hamilton: You’ve got to clone yourself.
Amy Griffin: I’m actually a New Zealand citizen. We spend a lot of time in New Zealand.
Arlan Hamilton: You’re a New Zealand citizen?
Amy Griffin: That’s a whole nother pathway, but yeah.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, okay. So this podcast is about your first million. Were you thinking about making a living at this point or were you … What instinct were you following? Was it-
Amy Griffin: No because-
Arlan Hamilton: … quality of life, experiences?
Amy Griffin: 100% quality of life. 100% quality of life. And for me, it wasn’t about making money and being in New York at all. It was about the experiences. And the way that I think my life drastically changed when I met someone who … I guess the backstory of that is, and it still involves athletics, was that I was working 24 / 7 and I was at the office until late hours and I realized I had to do something to get out of the office because the whole idea of being in New York is to be experiencing life here. So I said to myself … And also my mom had gone through breast cancer. It’s completely fine, but I said, “Okay, I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to do this wheel turn. I’ve got to move my wheel.” And so I signed up to run the New York City Marathon with a blind runner, on his team. So with that, I got an email from someone who said, “I heard you’d signed up for the New York City Marathon. Could I join your team?” And it turned out … Well, the person’s now my husband.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, what a great story.
Amy Griffin: But he joined the team with us and we would run and that was incredible. It was the year of 9 / 11. So 9 / 11 happened and we didn’t know that the marathon was going to actually go on but we trained and we trained this blind man who had failed to train in the years past because he’d gotten hurt and wasn’t able to participate. And then we’d gotten all the way and then 9 / 11 happened and then they decided to host the race.
Amy Griffin: It sounds sort of corny but it’s true, the blind man would say to me, “You like him, right?” And I’d say, “Look, I don’t know. If I like him, I’ll either have one date with him, or else, if I don’t … If I have one date with him, I’ll marry him. If I don’t, we’ll be best friends because I respect this person so much.” And very quickly after the race … The marathon was an amazing day. We had an amazing day, beautiful day. The race was fantastic. He’s now running marathons at three hours and 30 minutes and there’s no way I could keep up with him now. I see him in the park these days.
Arlan Hamilton: The runner that you signed up with?
Amy Griffin: The runner that we run with-
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: … he’s now still running and is still a friend of ours and was at our wedding, but that was it. So I met my husband doing that and we met and then really haven’t spent a day apart. And so my life changed dramatically then because I was also faced with … I was about to go to the Beijing Olympics and was going to leave for six months and was fortunate enough … My husband’s been in finance for a long time. I consider him one of the smartest people I’ve ever met because he’s also just a really, really good human. Smart, but a good human on top of that and maybe that’s definitely-
Arlan Hamilton: There’s so few of us, Amy! There’s so few of us!
Amy Griffin: That’s right. You may even love him. He’s fantastic. And so I quit my job.
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: And I remember that first morning, of saying, “I quit my job. What am I supposed to do with myself? What’s my relevance?” And he said to me, “You know what? I don’t care if you stay in bed and eat bonbons for all of eternity or you go and you become a CEO because it doesn’t change the way I feel about you.” And I think he would still say that about me today but-
Arlan Hamilton: But you didn’t. You didn’t.
Amy Griffin: No, but I did because I didn’t work for many years and I just threw myself into … We have four kids.
Arlan Hamilton: Four kids.
Amy Griffin: Four amazing kids.
Arlan Hamilton: That’s work, right? I mean-
Amy Griffin: I think of it as work.
Arlan Hamilton: Yes.
Amy Griffin: And I think of it … I was working on philanthropic things in the background and also-
Arlan Hamilton: That’s the 10 years you were talking about?
Amy Griffin: The 10 years I was talking about. And also learning from him. I mean, he’s an incredible teacher. He’s been a professor, along with being an investor, and for many years, I would sit in his classes and learn from him, and he’s a great teacher. He’s a [inaudible 00:21:39] teacher on top of everything else. And so when it came time, fast forward about six years ago, and we still had … I guess my youngest was maybe not even born but had the opportunity to invest in something and I just got excited about the company and the idea and so I got involved.
Amy Griffin: And what was fascinating and I think the real story in this is that it was just like being on a team. It was exactly the way that I felt when I was playing sports in college and high school. And now I sit and I watch my daughters, and I was just saying this to the athletic director at my daughters’ schools, but I watch … My girls play volleyball. I watch the communication that has to go on behind the scenes where someone passes a ball to someone and someone else passes a ball and if they don’t do well, then they don’t win the point, then they all come together. But if they do well, and they win the point, they still all come together.
Amy Griffin: And I don’t know, I found it to be the same way for me in business and getting involved in these companies, that I meet with someone, I meet a founder, and I just completely fall for this person. I think of it as like dating and sports. My two analogies for my new work life have been dating and sports. And so every time I get involved in a deal, it’s just like joining a team again.
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Arlan Hamilton: So let’s back up slightly to really put a fine point on that. You said 10 years or so you took to raise-
Amy Griffin: 10 years.
Arlan Hamilton: … to help raise, co-raise your four children.
Amy Griffin: Half raise, nurse.
Arlan Hamilton: Create humans in your body, yes. Four times over.
Amy Griffin: I miss that, I miss that. It’s my daughter’s tenth birthday today.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, wow.
Amy Griffin: She said, “I don’t turn 10” … She’s on it. She said, “Mom, I don’t turn until 3.00 PM.” She said, “So don’t congratulate me yet.” Okay, okay, right.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, well, we should give her a call. That’s so great. Do you want to say hi to her?
Amy Griffin: She’s in school. I’ll get her after. And don’t worry, we have a [Benihana 00:25:16] date tonight.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, wow. That’s very, very nice. So 10 years you devoted to that, and what were you doing during those 10 years? Were you observing other people, what they were … In addition to your husband, were you watching what people were doing? Were you thinking, at a certain point I want to go back into the workforce or were you thinking this works for me, for the eternity?
Amy Griffin: I refer to those years in the most wonderful way sometimes, as the bookshelf years because if you think about it, I was having a child, and then nursing for a year, 10 months, or whatever it was, for every child, so I would sit and I would stare at this … I had this one chair, and I would stare at these bookshelves and I would just stare at the bookcases and I’d count the books and I thought to myself, will I ever get out of the bookcase years? And I loved them, they were magical, but I guess I think of those years as very fragmented. Yes, I would get involved. I was on boards. I was incredibly involved in schools and different things they were doing in schools. I don’t know. I’d like to think of it as I was trying to take up leader positions to make the schools better and to make these organizations better, these non-profits that I was involved in, and it was fantastic.
Arlan Hamilton: So now we know exactly what you were thinking in those 10 years, is there a point that you can distinctly remember that you thought, I’m going to change this, I’m going to invest in something, or I’m going to do something? Let’s talk about that a little bit.
Amy Griffin: Well, without really understanding the structure of how that all worked, I have a very close friend, her name’s Juliet de Baubigny, who is a well-known venture capitalist. She’s just raised another fund with Mary Meeker. That name is … I think everyone knows that name.
Arlan Hamilton: A little billion dollar something or other.
Amy Griffin: A few billion dollars, you know the whole thing. But Juliet’s a personal friend and we actually met each other in an ice cream line at nine months pregnant with our children.
Arlan Hamilton: Nice.
Amy Griffin: But she presented me with an opportunity to invest in something and she always said to me, “Amy, you should be doing this, you should be doing this.” And I kind of knew I would and I was always interested and I would talk about companies and I would go to dinners or events or conferences, a lot of times, the guest of my husband. But I can remember a few years back thinking, something’s brewing in myself, I knew it. I knew it. I also coached volleyball for two years, at the high school. That was a great experience. Maybe my favorite of anything I’ve ever done.
Amy Griffin: I mean, I started and I did one. And then I did another one, and I did another one, and I did another one. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to find, and when I bring this up to people, they all say, “Yes, yes, yes,” is that when I’m introduced to an incredible founder, then that founder usually introduces me to another founder.
Arlan Hamilton: Right, right.
Amy Griffin: So that’s where I find a lot of deal flow and where I thought, where will I find deal flow because there’s a million venture capitalists out there, people that have been doing this for a long time, huge funds, huge firms, well-known, I’m not. It started coming. And also when I look at the things that I’ve invested in, they reflect me.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah, I was looking at your website and you have a really interesting, great portfolio, it looks like. Talk a little bit about the common thread in each of the companies or the themes that you see in your portfolio.
Amy Griffin: Well the theme is, and we’ve talked a little bit about this, but it’s when I meet someone. And I’ve now created this rule for myself, which is again probably like dating. Well, one, I had this long no, short yes, which is, the thing about dating is you can date someone for a long time … I will credit this to my husband because we talk about this a lot, but long no. It’s kind of like going, well, you hang in there, you think it’s going to get better, no-one’s really going to change and then it eventually fizzles out, right? Or you have short yes. So you meet someone and you know right away and nothing changes and it never changes, and that’s how I felt about the minute that I met my husband and that was the first time that I’d ever felt that way about anybody. And that’s how I feel about companies.
Amy Griffin: So I sit down with a founder and I usually know within 10 minutes of meeting someone, and I want to stay, even though it’s allotted for an hour, then I could sit there for three hours. It’s like a date, or an athletic competition, either one. So my thread is that when I meet someone, I want to help them. And I don’t really have the inkling to be in front of the camera or to be in the public eye but I get this huge high, like I did in sports, from being part of a team to help someone, or making a connection to someone, or connect a founder to another founder. Sometimes I could say to someone, “I don’t care if they’re selling dog food if they’ve got … ” which, by the way, is a great category these days, but I hear about something and I think, I want that, I want to use that right now, and that’s when I get excited about a company.
Arlan Hamilton: So you get a conviction around something and then you pull in other resources and help syndicate in different ways-
Amy Griffin: Absolutely.
Arlan Hamilton: I’ve said in the past, 15 minutes is what it takes and then it’s-
Amy Griffin: Is that what you say, 15 minutes? That’s good for me to learn.
Arlan Hamilton: I say 15 minutes and then there’s diligence after that, that other people do because-
Amy Griffin: But I asked you about that and I love that and he said it’s the first conviction that-
Arlan Hamilton: It’s that first piece because you just know, because it is about taste. I think a lot of times, I know a lot of founders will be listening, and I think a lot of times people can take it personally if something is not working with an investor and the more I invest and the more I learn, it’s about so many variables at that time. It’s about-
Amy Griffin: Well, of course. Right. I mean, I remember my mom always talking to me … This whole investing piece for me is life skills, right? I can remember my mom always saying … I’d be dating someone or … She’d say, “You know, it’s just the timing’s just not right.” And I used to say, “Mom, that’s so unromantic and that’s so boring.” And she’d say, “No, but it’s timing. You’ll see. Timing is everything, absolutely everything.” And so I found that in my marriage. But I also found that a lot of times, for instance, as you said, I just had hip surgery. I mean, people are sending me deals that I’m … right, right now. “I’m so sorry, I can’t meet right now. I can’t focus on this right now.” Of if I happen to have a sick child one week and someone’s closing a deal and they tell me they might let me in, but I can’t meet with them because my child is sick, or whatever it is, then I miss the deal and-
Arlan Hamilton: That’s right.
Amy Griffin: … it’s circumstance.
Arlan Hamilton: And your perspective changes too over time.
Amy Griffin: Totally.
Arlan Hamilton: So sometimes there are things that you and other investors will get at a different time, and it’s about how that relationship went with the no. I always think about-
Amy Griffin: Absolutely.
Arlan Hamilton: … the best thing you can do as a founder is to take a no as gracefully as possible, as long as there’s no … Don’t allow abuse. Don’t allow being mistreated. But as long as it’s a legitimate no, or legitimate, even a pause … There are some people who have invested in things that I’ve done or helped other people do, that three years ago they said no but it was because how graceful that founder was. How long has this fund been in existence?
Amy Griffin: So I started making investments, as I said, about six years ago but the fund itself has been in existence for a year.
Arlan Hamilton: Right.
Amy Griffin: So this is coming up on one year right now.
Arlan Hamilton: And how did that feel? I mean, your office is wonderful. You have a team, right? The team helps you with-
Amy Griffin: I’m building a team.
Arlan Hamilton: … diligence and things like that, looking for-
Amy Griffin: Absolutely. I have someone that was incredible in there for me on the onset and I met her, again, through a group of women and was told, “Hey, this person is doing this right now but she’s in between working at VC funds.” And she came on board and having been at firms like Blackstone and big VC firms, really got me started and gave me my roots, and I’m deeply appreciative for that. And now I’m building my own team in that I’ve just recently hired someone who, as … to focus, as you said, the diligence, and as an analyst. And I want to use my instinct but I also want to make sure that I’m making sound investments because I feel that if I’m doing this, I want to do it right and I want to spend time-
Arlan Hamilton: And what percentage of your 45 companies did you say were led by women?
Amy Griffin: 80.
Arlan Hamilton: 80%.
Amy Griffin: Maybe more. I need to go back and really look but definitely. There might even be more with a woman co-founder but right now, I know it’s 80 for sure.
Arlan Hamilton: Was that something that you set out to do or did it just happen?
Amy Griffin: Well, I think I’ve also had, again, as I’ve said, my husband is my role model, and him having been in finance … At the same time, I want to distance myself because I want to do my own thing and not be known as John’s wife which is probably a thing for me. So I’ve had such a good male role model, as I was saying, with my husband, so I have nothing against men, but I also felt that it’s time for women and I see the numbers and I know the numbers. So I also don’t want to exclude myself by saying, “I’m not going to invest in that because it was founded by a man.” But I think it is as powerful for me to be on the cap table in some ways and so I don’t want to be left out from that and I think that I’m supporting women and feel very strongly about that, by investing in companies that I think are good companies, in terms of a track record.
Arlan Hamilton: Would you say then, in another way, would you say that you looked at everything without the gender lens and that it ended up that you ended up with 80%?
Amy Griffin: Well, no, because then if I’m truly honest, again, if I go back, the idea that it’s based on mission and founder, then that ends up being women so I get drawn into these companies where I hear this story about what someone’s done and the mission, the founder, the story and then it’s a woman.
Arlan Hamilton: Do you consider this an impact fund?
Amy Griffin: Absolutely.
Arlan Hamilton: Really? Great. Great.
Amy Griffin: I definitely do. I definitely do.
Arlan Hamilton: And that’s interesting. I mean, because it’s such a strong portfolio and still today, impact investing has a stigma to it, that it can’t generate returns, but you’re in some of the top … Talk about a couple of the top companies that you’re in.
Amy Griffin: Well, I can talk about companies like, for instance, if I talk about Draper James, which I heard someone say is a clothing company, started by an amazing celebrity who has this great personality and does so much for the world.
Arlan Hamilton: Who’s the celebrity?
Amy Griffin: Reese Witherspoon started it.
Arlan Hamilton: Reese Witherspoon, yeah.
Amy Griffin: But what’s amazing about it is she’s creating a voice for women in fashion, not between New York and LA. So I look at that as impact, is giving women a voice to choose clothing in a way that reflects who they are and not being told in the polls of the country that they have to wear what people wear in New York and LA. I mean, that’s the simple thesis for something like Draper James.
Amy Griffin: I have a number of wellness companies. I invested in something called Argent which hopes to be the first, the female [Lululemon 00:35:38] in workwear and she had me when she told me that she … When Sali Christeson said to me, “Amy, I’m putting pockets in these to hold pencils and wallets so that women don’t have to run back to their desks to grab their purses so they’re not missing anything.”
Amy Griffin: I invested in The Wing. I was one of the first investors in The Wing and believed in The Wing from day one when I took that phone call. And that was one of those where I love to talk to The Wing founders because they say, “We remember the call so well, Amy, because you basically committed to us after 10 minutes,” which, by the way, after honing my thesis now, I’ve tried to say to myself, “Amy, don’t commit while you’re at the meeting. At least wait 48 hours. You’ve got to sit back and think on it.” Because I truly tend to get excited about most things that I see and I find some glimmer of something exciting every time I meet with a founder, just by the idea that they’re putting themselves out there.
Arlan Hamilton: That they’re trying. That’s the hard part, that’s really hard because you’ll say no so many more times than you’ll say yes.
Amy Griffin: Totally. And everyone’s trying, everyone’s putting themselves out there.
Arlan Hamilton: So on the philanthropic versus investment, one of the questions that was brought up in a meeting that we were both part of, and that I’ve talked to so many people about-
Amy Griffin: The meeting we sat in a few days ago.
Arlan Hamilton: The meeting we sat in, yeah.
Amy Griffin: I know exactly what you’re going to say.
Arlan Hamilton: It was about why do you think there’s so many women, especially women, who are philanthropists but are not necessarily investors and especially investors in new technologies?
Amy Griffin: I’ve thought about it a lot too since we sat in that meeting. I think it’s just an education. I really do. I think there are women of means who have the opportunity to be philanthropic and they understand what they’re doing for the community or the organization and they see the money at work and they see, whether it’s the tax write-off that they’re getting, or they just understand the system, right? And I do feel I find it incredibly important and try to host meetings in my office, to bring people to the table that I know have the ability to make investments, but also don’t have the ability to do the due diligence and they don’t want to feel that they’re making a foolish investment, why would I … I don’t understand this process, or this person, or how would I do that? And I just think that … I mean, look at me. I am living proof of that.
Amy Griffin: So when someone says they went from the philanthropic world into investing, I could sit on that table, on the other side of the table, and just decide that I want to make philanthropic gifts and be part of boards, which is amazing too and I hope to do that too, and I think that also informs what I’m doing on the investing side, but because I sat on that side for a while, I think it’s informing what I’m doing now on the investing side. And I think that it’s incredibly important … In fact, I have these meetings, as I was saying, in my office, where I bring women in who aren’t your traditional VC investors and they ask these questions on costs and sometimes I think this is fantastic because they’re asking questions that traditional VC investors are not going to be asking at all. They’re asking more about the style of the things or how they’re going to be worn, just practical questions, but oftentimes, they’ll bring-
Arlan Hamilton: They’re the most important questions.
Amy Griffin: Really important questions. And I’ll bring a group of women together from someone who works in PR or someone who has their own health and wellness business, or they have nothing to do with investing, and they ask really interesting questions because there are so many women out there doing amazing things. I got an email from a friend who invested in something and she said, “Oh, my gosh. I just found out that the company that we invested in, I’m a little worried, it’s debt. We don’t actually own part of the company. I’m freaking out.”
Arlan Hamilton: Then she got a note.
Amy Griffin: And she’s insanely, incredibly, one of the smartest women I know in my life but doesn’t know that whole structure. So I said, “Don’t worry. It’s a note. You’re actually fine. It’s going to be great. She’s going to do great.” So, again, it’s just a process. And by the way, I’m learning every day too, not having come from a finance background-
Arlan Hamilton: I think we all are. I think we all are.
Amy Griffin: I came from a marketing background which is why I get excited about these founders.
Arlan Hamilton: And don’t you think it’s interesting … People talk to me a lot about, “How did you get into venture capitalism from where you were? How in the world?” And it really is … There are a lot of intelligent people in this world, definitely-
Amy Griffin: And curious.
Arlan Hamilton: And curious, and creative, and all of that, but it is not necessarily rocket science. It’s more about putting several things together at once and I think it’s a certain personality type, for sure. And also, not everyone is going to do what you did. Not everyone is going to say, “Okay, I do want to devote my time to the diligence and learn in this process,” and doing all that.
Arlan Hamilton: So what would you say to women who may be listening who do have the means, they do have means, they’re not necessarily looking to get a gig as a venture capitalist, but they want to be part of this innovation and … I mean, to me, that sounds like a wonderful LP type, right? How do they though not just have passive money? Do they get to be part of any … Is that a structure?
Amy Griffin: I might also suggest also just investing in a fund that’s a growth fund or an early state fund so they can learn what it means to invest and talk to that person who’s running that fund who’s had that experience. I mean, I’ve even done that, for deal flow, and to learn from people that I thought were incredibly smart. I’ll put a little bit of money in because I believe in someone and say, “Okay, now teach me how you do it. How do you do your diligence?” And in some ways it’s … I want to say it’s like the same way you’d ask someone, “How do you keep your house? How do you take care of your house? How do you keep your house clean? How do you organize your time? When do you go get groceries?” It’s a different process.
Arlan Hamilton: It’s like an inside baseball thing-
Amy Griffin: Totally.
Arlan Hamilton: … that women, and definitely women of color, have not always had access to, and it’s just … Not just in venture but in many things. I found that if you teach someone something, then can take the ball and just run with it.
Amy Griffin: Absolutely.
Arlan Hamilton: I think there’s different roles and different places for people. I think a lot of times, sometimes I’ll talk to women who, again, have the means but they don’t, like you said, they don’t want to appear foolish, like they’re investing in something that’s just a pot of magic beans or something like that-
Amy Griffin: Right, exactly.
Arlan Hamilton: … because they don’t know how to go from A to B and there’s not really-
Amy Griffin: Where do I get the money back? How am I making the money?
Arlan Hamilton: And when you think about philanthropic efforts, like the example that was used, was there are many women who will put $1 million into philanthropy but won’t put $100k into a startup company and I think the reason is, very similar to what you said, is that the $1 million, they know where it’s going, it is a sure deal. Even though they won’t see it again-
Amy Griffin: They know the impact.
Arlan Hamilton: … it’s capital. They know the impact, they know where it’s going. So there has to be some sort of education around why that $100k could be just as impactful, if not more, and then could become part of an evergreen fund that would help them do that over and over and over again.
Amy Griffin: And find the things that are important. If you love the environment, then find a fund that invests in the environment. If you love fashion, invest in something that’s involved in fashion because you’re using your expertise. I think people have so many different [expertises 00:42:37]. Jump in where you find you have an expertise. I don’t purport to have an expertise really, in any area, but every time I see a company, then I think okay, well, I’m going to dive into this sector and I’m going to ask people who invest in beverages, or whatever it is, and find out what’s interesting about this segment and who this founder is and what their background is.
Amy Griffin: It’s been fun. It’s really fun. And I think the other part of it is you just have to have a curiosity. So you just have to be willing to have that curiosity to say, okay, what’s out there for me to invest in? And, yeah, I do think that it, again, is education. It goes back to educating people how to do it.
Arlan Hamilton: And this doesn’t have to be a full-time job either. It can be-
Amy Griffin: No, not at all.
Arlan Hamilton: … a hobby or it can be just an interest.
Amy Griffin: What’s that book called? It is called Impact Investing? Impact Angels? It’s about women investing and it’s fantastic.
Arlan Hamilton: Ooh.
Amy Griffin: I need to get the name of it. It’s on my bedside table.
Arlan Hamilton: We’ll look it up.
Amy Griffin: It’s Impact Wings. Impact Wings. Impact Angels Investors Wing. Anyway.
Arlan Hamilton: We’ll look it up, we’ll look it up.
Amy Griffin: But I think it’s a great, very basic and very thorough explanation of how to invest and different ways to invest.
Arlan Hamilton: That’s really cool.
Amy Griffin: It’s great.
Arlan Hamilton: That’s really cool. Okay. I hadn’t-
Amy Griffin: I’ll follow up with you on that.
Arlan Hamilton: And that’s surprising. I had never heard of this.
Amy Griffin: It’s great.
Arlan Hamilton: Usually I’m really up on these books. That’s really cool.
Amy Griffin: It’s great.
Arlan Hamilton: And then-
Amy Griffin: It was given to me by another VC, a male VC in California.
Arlan Hamilton: Hey, it’s Arlan. Just breaking in really quick with a note. The name of that book is Impact with Wings: Stories to Inspire and Mobilize Women, Angel Investors and Entrepreneurs. It’s by Suzanne Andrews, and a lot of other people. So check it out. That’s the name of it.
Arlan Hamilton: Do you consider yourself self-made?
Amy Griffin: No.
Arlan Hamilton: Okay. What do you think about that?
Amy Griffin: No, no.
Arlan Hamilton: So when you think about that, what do you … what goes through your mind?
Amy Griffin: No. Let me rephrase that. I don’t consider myself self-made monetarily. I consider myself self-made, that from day one, that everything I’ve earned I started working really hard for, and I think that if you talked to anybody that I know they’d say, “Amy, when she does something, she does it really, really well.” I guess the difference is that I got married and the means part of it wasn’t something that was … I wasn’t out looking for a dollar the way that you were, the way that you have worked to make that happen. No, I wasn’t doing that.
Amy Griffin: It’s funny, in thinking about this, I still have that same hunger that you do, I really do. And one might say, “But why? You don’t really need to.” As I said to you, do I care about making money? Yes, I do. But ultimately, for me, it so begins with the founder and the need to be part of a team and that’s that female need to be part of something, to be part of a team, to be doing something, to be contributing. I feel like I’m contributing. I feel like I’m contributing a part of me that is really valuable now. I’d like to think that anyway. I feel that way.
Arlan Hamilton: And I can tell you, honestly, that just observing you over the past few days and understanding how … I mean, you talk about being an athlete. You are. You may not even realize that that’s what you put off. You are because of the way that you have handled … You’re walking around on crutches. What am I looking at here?
Amy Griffin: Well, I’ll tell you because I forgot to mention that in between … As my youngest got a little older and then I thought okay, I know I’m going to do something but before I really want to do something something athletic-wise.
Arlan Hamilton: So you’re holding this photograph-
Amy Griffin: I’m holding this photo-
Arlan Hamilton: What is this?
Amy Griffin: … which actually means the world to me. And I said to myself, “I am going to train and do the Hawaiian Ironman.”
Arlan Hamilton: Of course. Did you say the Hawaiian Ironman?
Amy Griffin: Yes. So, as an athlete, I’d done marathons, I’d done long races, and I love to swim and bike and so I literally just said, “You know what?” This is before I knew I was going to go into … I’d been investing but I hadn’t formalized this, and I said, “I’ve always wanted to do this.” I didn’t know when the time was going to be right. I dabbled in it in the last 10 years, back and forth, in between kids. “So I’m going to devote myself, for one full year, and I’m going to train fully and completely, 100%, for the Hawaiian Ironman.” And not to try and win it. To compete in it and to finish and to finish strong and enjoy every moment, and I did and it was, again, one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life. And, again, I was able to do it because my husband was able to be supportive and help with the kids and because I had the means to be able to train and do all that.
Arlan Hamilton: So if you would allow me, I’d like to put a finer point on this because I think it’s so interesting. I mean, even in this interview, I’m learning more about how I see the world and other people, just in this interview. That’s my … probably telling me that-
Amy Griffin: I think I talked too long.
Arlan Hamilton: … General Hospital’s on or something. And so, just in this interview, understanding people. So I had a woman tell me once, on the phone, she was … Her husband was a wealthy CEO of a company and she was starting her own company and she was actually pitching me for an investment, and she kept apologizing-
Amy Griffin: Yeah, yeah, I’ve done that.
Arlan Hamilton: … for … Yeah, she kept, “Yeah, I’m sorry, yeah … I shouldn’t even be on the phone because I shouldn’t take it from someone else who need it.” And I stopped her, finally, and I said, “As long as, in my view, this is completely in my opinion, but as long as you are sharing your privilege, you do not have to apologize for your existence, for what has happened in your world. There are many, many, many people who would trade places and I don’t … ” To me, privilege is not a bad word. Entitlement is a bad word.
Amy Griffin: I agree. No, I totally agree.
Arlan Hamilton: So-
Amy Griffin: And it’s been a privilege to be able to do what I’ve done for the last 17 years, which is to be married to my husband, have that part of our life. And another privilege, and honor, and blessing to now do what I’m doing now and I feel like … I guess one always has to have your own … to be able to speak your own piece and be able to say that I’m putting myself out there to be able to give back at all times-
Arlan Hamilton: Absolutely.
Amy Griffin: … and I felt like I was doing it then and I feel like I’m doing it now in a new way, for others. And in some ways, while I still plan to do the philanthropic piece, to be able to see someone who is starting a company and then they’re hiring other people and then they’re hiring other people and then contributing to the livelihoods of these individuals, I’m seeing it on an everyday basis and that’s all I could ask for.
Arlan Hamilton: So do you feel that everything that you’ve done to this point led up to this position that you’re in?
Amy Griffin: I really do. I really do. And as I got into it, even as I really formalized it even a year ago, I thought, what am I getting myself into because I’m ending up more meetings and more meetings, and I call them first dates. I love them. I love going in every day. I love meeting new people. I love hearing about new and exciting environments. And frankly, I’m getting older so it keeps me young and I get to be around people with innovative ideas and just opens up the world in a different way.
Arlan Hamilton: So I think we have two minutes left and I think-
Amy Griffin: I could keep going.
Arlan Hamilton: We could.
Amy Griffin: It’s so great. I’m kidding. This is really great. I really appreciate you having me.
Arlan Hamilton: No. I mean, we could keep going. I’m just-
Amy Griffin: I want to turn the tables on you at some point.
Arlan Hamilton: Well, what do you want to know?
Amy Griffin: I want to know why, when you were at your lowest moment, did you think, I want to go out and raise money for a fund?
Arlan Hamilton: Because a lot of what we’re talking about right now, it’s a lot of the … The founders that I invest in, several of them I already knew, I knew of because I had been tracking them, even without any capital. And these women are just … women, men, under represented founders. They were just working on such amazing things and in every single case, they had already not only started but were just working on it, right? They may not have had a bunch of money. Some of them had a little bit of money, most of them didn’t, but none of that was stopping them from the actual executing and I thought, wow, I mean … This doesn’t have to exist because I need it to exist. This doesn’t have to exist because I need … This has to exist because the world will be devoid of these things and these products and these people and their genius if there’s not someone waving their arms, saying, “Look over here. Look what we’ve found. Look what’s happening over here.” And it was just like striking oil. It was just amazing. So it kind of found me and-
Amy Griffin: That’s so cool.
Arlan Hamilton: … I had never before … I’d always started something. Like I said, I created a tour when I wanted to see a Norwegian band play, so I taught myself how to book tours. I started a magazine because there wasn’t a magazine that did everything, hit on everything that I wanted it to hit on. But those things are more like curiosity, insatiable curiosity. This was more like the calling that people talk about, that I had never felt. It was like, no, you’re supposed to do this, this is not … And one of the things that I’ve said in the past is, when people were saying, “Well, how do I know if I should keep going? If it’s hard, how do I know how to keep going?” And I say that, “First of all, if you can’t imagine the world without it, you need to keep going. But also, if you know that it has to exist even if you’re not there, then you absolutely really have to do it.”
Amy Griffin: Have to do it.
Arlan Hamilton: And that’s how I felt about Backstage.
Amy Griffin: I think I just got chills.
Arlan Hamilton: That’s how I feel about it.
Amy Griffin: It’s an honor for me too to be interviewed my you.
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, thank you.
Amy Griffin: I’m truly, truly humbled and don’t know that I deserve to be interviewed by you but if there’s anything I can do-
Arlan Hamilton: Of course.
Amy Griffin: … is to learn more from you. As you say, we just met but, of course, I knew who you were and what you’ve done, and applaud you. And so many other women who I look up to, who have been doing this long before I ever even thought about doing it and who I continue, like my name says, G9 hope to learn from and grow from and soak it in and be part of another team and then have someone else introduce me to another team and on and on and on it goes.
Arlan Hamilton: What’s your goal? Are you trying to-
Amy Griffin: It’s a great question.
Arlan Hamilton: What are you in for?
Amy Griffin: I’m at this place right now where the goal isn’t as clear. Right now, I just keep joining these teams in terms of, I thought about, what’s it going to look like in five years? Where are these companies going to be in five years? I hope that I’m in a new place that I’m able to help them in a new way, that I’ve grown with them, and I hope that I find other resources to continue to then find new companies that then help, to help the whole ethos of what I’m doing. But for right now, I’m getting my feet wet and getting my feet grounded and I feel like I’m finally comfortable enough to sit here and do a podcast with you.
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah, very cool. I’m so happy that you are. I think a lot of people can relate to you in different ways, but there’s a lot of people who I feel don’t get to necessarily speak up very often because, again, they may feel like it’s not their place to or … And I think people can relate to you. That’s why I wanted to talk to you.
Amy Griffin: That’s so nice. I think maybe that’s a sports thing, that that would be my goal in life, would be able to relate to anyone. That is my goal in life, is to be able … As they say, sometimes you can put me in a dinner party and I’ll talk to the wall. But I genuinely like everyone, which is kind of a problem too. Maybe not so great for investing but that’s where I’m honing my skills on the investing side, but I generally-
Arlan Hamilton: You’re much more disciplined than you were but don’t [inaudible 00:54:15] everything. Be ready [inaudible 00:54:17] something. You’re much more disciplined than you were when you started.
Amy Griffin: Yeah, for sure, for sure, you have to be. But that growth is also exciting too, right? So it sort of starts with my Texas roots, goes to my athletic honing of character and drive and just showing up, and then here I am.
Arlan Hamilton: One last question. If you could do any side gig or dream job for a day or just side gig for life, what would that be? Let your imagination go.
Amy Griffin: How crazy is it to say that I would love to somehow be a politician, to really affect policy somehow.
Arlan Hamilton: Really? Politics. That’s not crazy at all.
Amy Griffin: Politics, definitely.
Arlan Hamilton: What kind of role, do you think?
Amy Griffin: Any role where I’d be able to make change. Any role where I can see-
Arlan Hamilton: Interesting.
Amy Griffin: … a group of people that doesn’t have … that asks for something, that it’s not fair, that I believe in, that I would stick up for them and make change.
Arlan Hamilton: Wow.
Amy Griffin: I definitely see myself as that. I also love art history. I love supporting women artists. I’m kind of going all over the board there, but definitely politics. Definitely politics.
Arlan Hamilton: Do you think that’s something you might-
Amy Griffin: Politics?
Arlan Hamilton: … dip into later?
Amy Griffin: I guess life is long, right?
Arlan Hamilton: Yeah.
Amy Griffin: I’m getting older so it’s got to happen fast, but, yeah. No, but I do and I also think about the fact that when we were growing up, we didn’t stop to ask why we weren’t learning about women heroes in history or women. In Texas, we’d learn all about the Alamo but I never heard about a woman at the Alamo. But I never questioned that I should ask about why a woman wasn’t at the Alamo or who the women were that were helping with the Alamo. In Texas, it’s all we talked about, was Texas history. You too?
Arlan Hamilton: Oh, yeah.
Amy Griffin: I know a lot more about Texas history than US. So I also feel like if I’m doing anything, I’m setting a stage for my daughters and that I can be so proud of what I’m doing and then they can jump in to say look how much has changed. I feel like it’s changed in the last five years. Changing all the time.
Arlan Hamilton: What kind of world do you want to see for your daughters, when they’re older?
Amy Griffin: Well, again, I think sports, sorry to keep using analogy, is the great equalizer because I sometimes say to people, “I never realized that I couldn’t do the same things that men couldn’t do.” It was only really when I got into an office setting and there were a couple of times in my first few jobs where I realized, wait, I wasn’t brought into that meeting, or someone else rose ahead of me a little bit quicker and they were just in the office for six months and they jumped ahead of me and it was a man. But I never thought of that before. I just thought that if I worked hard enough, and it didn’t matter how smart you were, I just thought that if you put the work in, and you believed in yourself, and you brought other people along for the ride and you asked for help from the right people, then it would happen. If you helped them, they helped you, you put yourself into it. I don’t know, I just always thought things would happen. Is that fair or too idealistic?
Arlan Hamilton: I think it’s very fair and if that can be what your daughters-
Amy Griffin: I want my girls to see that.
Arlan Hamilton: … see, yeah, when they walk into the workforce or … Do you have four daughters?
Amy Griffin: I have two and two.
Arlan Hamilton: Two and two, okay. Yeah. When they walk into the workforce or taking over your multi company conglomerate, I think, while you’re president … There’s a lot of potential here, that I see in the future.
Amy Griffin: Thank you, thank you.
Arlan Hamilton: Anything that I missed that you’d like to make sure that you get across?
Amy Griffin: I’d just like to say that we’re both coming off this high after we’ve spent these two days at this Bumble summit with an extraordinary group of women. And it’s people like Whitney Wolfe Herd who are really changing the dynamic of how women are seen and I think there’s also a way of doing it gracefully and doing it the right way and she’s just galvanizing as to want more for women and for our daughters. So I was so proud to be a part of that and I’m still living off that high. That’s why, of course, I hobbled to California on my crutches, so that I could be there with you all and it was fantastic to finally meet you after reading so much about your story and what you’ve done. And, again, thank you so much for reaching out to me.
Arlan Hamilton: Thank you.
Arlan Hamilton: Tell me your elevator pitch for Social Studies.
Amy Griffin: Social Studies is the rent the runway for [tablescape 00:58:42], meaning we bring convenience and competence to your doorstep by delivering preplanned party boxes to your door so that you can host an event with ease and competence and then literally the next morning, we pick everything back up and it comes back to us.
Arlan Hamilton: And what cities is that available?
Amy Griffin: So we’re starting in New York and then we’ll move to LA.
Arlan Hamilton: Has it launched?
Amy Griffin: Launches in the summer. Password protected so we’ll be sure to put you on the link and then we’ll open it up, pull the bandaid off in the fall. And we’re super excited. The looks are incredible. And the other part of that is, again, when I say everything happens with a team, my partner, Jessica Latham, is brilliant and creative and she was one of the heads of events at Vanity Fair, won an Oscar in short film. So she just has this creative brain but also is a complete operator and is out there making it happen. So you can go online, hopefully in the fall, to see 15 to 20 looks at launch where you can order up a dinner party for Halloween, Christmas, Passover, what have you, and all the stress is taken out of it.
Arlan Hamilton: Hey. So I’d love to talk to you and keep the conversation going. Find me on Twitter and Instagram at arlanwashere. That’s A-R-L-A-N was here. Stick around too because I will let you know when my new book is going to be on pre-order. Now that’s coming out in 2020, it’ll be out. It’s a real book, oh my goodness! And you’ll be able to pre-order it, most likely this year. So stay tuned. I’ll let you know all about that on Twitter, on Instagram, and on this podcast.
Arlan Hamilton: Thank you again to DigitalOcean for sponsoring this episode. If you are interested in sponsoring an episode of Your First Million, get in touch with me. Right now it’s sups easy to do so. You just email me at arlanhamilton@gmail. That’s And put in the subject that you’re thinking about sponsoring and I’ll give you some more information.
Arlan Hamilton: I love General Hospital and one day I’ll marry it. What else, what else?