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Ten Minutes With an Author and Angel Investor

Media Executive Fran Hauser shares advice on getting ahead



Photo by Rana Faure

Fran Hauser, a lifelong local resident, has reached incredible heights in her career as a media executive at AOL, Moviefone, and the late great Time Inc. She left the corporate world to become an angel investor primarily supporting women entrepreneurs. In her new book, The Myth of the Nice Girl, the engaging mother of two young boys shares advice on how women can get ahead without changing their value system and explains why “nice” can be a superpower.

How did you get to this point in your career?
}My last title was president of digital at Time Inc. I was there for ten years and had built people.com, which was like launching a start up within a big company. I began to think “what if I had some skin in the game?” I started advising on the side in exchange for equity. I loved it. I wanted to create a more flexible life, but it was scary to leave such a big platform.

Why write a book?
I kept getting asked the same question, “How can you be so nice and so successful?” The pivotal moment came in 2016 when I wrote a piece for Forbes. It got a great response, but I knew that a book had to be more personal. I slowly became comfortable with opening up.

What do you want young women to learn?
I want to change the image of what a successful leader looks like. It’s not someone who has to be extremely tough and competitive. I’m seeing a generational shift. Because there were fewer opportunities at the top, women older than me had to take on more traditionally male characteristics. That has changed. I’m really clear with my teams that we have goals and metrics to hit, but at the same time, I am their biggest fan.

Why focus on the word nice?
Our culture has such a complicated relationship to nice. When we tell our kids to be nice, we genuinely mean it, but for adults it’s a throwaway word. And in the workplace it has a negative connotation. But nice in a weird way is provocative. The myth of the nice girl is that she’s a pushover and people pleaser, but there’s actually so much power in it. Nice and strong aren’t mutually exclusive. I am both, and it has served me really well.

How did your parents influence your career path?
I grew up the oldest of four kids in Mount Kisco, and my parents are Italian immigrants. My father only has a first-grade education and my mother third grade. They didn’t speak English and worked long hours so I was given a lot of responsibility at a very young age. My dad was a mason, and my mom had a tailoring business. I was doing her invoices in first grade. I couldn’t even multiply yet! But they are my role models. When I saw how my mom interacted with her clients, she was so kind and charming, but also direct and firm. She showed you can do both.

What was it like growing up here as part of the large, well-known Cambareri family?
We are incredibly tight. When I started elementary school, I only spoke Italian. But I was constantly surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and lots of music and dancing. I feel supported today because I’m completely grounded in this community. 

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