I Love My Job: Rad Girls Founder Leah Kauffman
The local connector talks about building the popular platform that celebrates the city’s coolest and boldest women.
Leah Kauffman won’t stop until she amplifies the story of every inspirational woman and girl in Philadelphia. The local connector is the leader behind Rad-Girls.com, the platform that shares the journeys of rad women—the people shaking up the media, business and creative industries across the city. Through the platform, Kauffman also hosts the annual highly anticipated Rad Awards, now in its fifth year, and Rad Fest, a one-day expo and job fair that convenes women for networking and empowerment. The Rad Girls brand now represents the creativity and audaciousness of the very women it elevates. When Kauffman isn’t wearing her Rad Girls hat, she’s VP of product marketing at the ad tech company Red Spark. Here’s Kauffman on what it’s like to run a successful side gig and stay creative. And since her viral “Crush on Obama” and “Bernie Bae” videos are definitely still relevant, Kauffman gives us her take on the 2020 election so far.
I grew up in… Meadowbrook, Pennsylvania.
My creativity comes from… the need to solve problems, intense conversations, a meal that knocks my socks off, or a thought-provoking documentary.
People most know me for my… dedication to recognizing and connecting the women trailblazing the way in their communities, and my feverish obsession with oysters.
I founded Rad Girls because… I felt inspired by the big conversations I was having with prominent women leaders, and I wanted others to benefit from their experience and advice.
To me, the word “rad” means… real and determined. Relentless and dedicated. Extremely cool and accomplished.
I enjoy sharing the stories of other women because… I believe that there is something significant to be learned from the journey of others.
The gig economy is… useful if you want to eat Goldie Falafel but don’t feel like leaving the house.
Having a side project is… beneficial if you’re passionate about challenging yourself, learning new skills, or meeting interesting collaborators.
I use social media to… communicate my joie de vivre, or let my community know what’s going on with Rad Girls.
Social media makes me feel… equal parts inspired and saddened. It’s a robust outlet that can be harnessed to share meaningful stories with the world. Sometimes people choose to use that platform in ways that are harmful to others, i.e., flat tummy tea or flagrant face and body tuning. One of my mentors recently described social media as “giving the illusion of life.” I couldn’t agree more.
As VP of product marketing, I spend my time… distilling customer and internal feedback into strategic actionable items that can be prioritized by business value and delivered by our company. My team communicates the benefits of those deliverables back to the customer or internal stakeholders.
Working at a tech company in Philly is… incredibly invigorating. I have the privilege of being surrounded by a talented team of entrepreneurs, developers, marketers, and business people who are all working in tandem to find intelligent solutions to complex problems. We operate in an environment where problem-solving is always top of mind, and I have yet to encounter a day where I haven’t learned something new.
If you looked into my closet you’d find… an overwhelming collection of bold prints and textures.
I’m inspired by… the people who don’t conflate vulnerability with weakness.
I’m afraid of… getting stuck in an elevator, that I’m not pushing hard enough to be excellent, and hiking in the wilderness.
Last week’s Rad Awards proves that… there is no shortage of women in the Philadelphia area who are doing magnificent work. The awards are a testament to the unbreakable bond of women across the gender spectrum, the strength to fight for human rights and the truth, and the desire to be heard and to be great.
My hope for the ceremony moving forward is… that our readers continue to nominate the outstanding people who deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated by this vibrant community.
My best networking tips are… don’t let a fear of rejection get in the way of reaching out to someone you admire. Be generous.
The hardest part about planning events is… coming to terms with the fact that, ultimately, I cannot control everything. I strive to do the best job possible in organizing the elements that are within my control and remember to stay calm and focused when the unexpected occurs.
So far, this election cycle has been… nerve-wracking.
My thoughts on Bernie Sanders now are… he’s still BAE.
My self-care routine involves… being a great friend, intuitive eating, drinking a lot of water, and dousing my face with P50 every night and morning.
When I’m not working I like to… ride around the city on my Vespa, play the piano, work out at Leverage, and make pasta.
A difficult moment in my career was when… I was transitioning out of journalism into tech. I had a lot to learn about the industry and culture. Now I view myself as someone who can tell stories about people and products.
The best career advice I’ve ever received is… from my dear “friend-tor” Linda Shi, who wrote a list of guiding principles that I do my best to follow. Lead by example. Be brave and kind. There are no dumb questions except when you don’t learn by the answers. Listen more than you speak. Empower those around you.
In five years I see myself… continuing to approach leadership with wisdom and empathy.