The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount

Meet CEO and investor Julie Castro Abrams

September 09, 2022 Portia Mount Season 3 Episode 4
Meet CEO and investor Julie Castro Abrams
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
More Info
The Manifista Podcast with Portia Mount
Meet CEO and investor Julie Castro Abrams
Sep 09, 2022 Season 3 Episode 4
Portia Mount

“I need you to step into your power and your confidence and lead because my daughter is watching you” - Julie Castro Abrams

In this episode we meet Julie Castro Abrams, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley based How Women Lead. A national organization that is out to mobilize powerful women through community building, venture founding, preparing women to join corporate boards, and advocacy on critical legislative issues such as abortion rights. As women we are on the precipice of losing essential rights we once believed were untouchable. In this conversation Julie shares what’s at stake for women. How Women Lead are activating women around the world, and why she wants every woman to embrace her power and use it for positive change. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at

Resources Mentioned
Julie Castro Abrams on Linkedin
How Women Lead website
Chingona Ventures website

Show Notes Transcript

“I need you to step into your power and your confidence and lead because my daughter is watching you” - Julie Castro Abrams

In this episode we meet Julie Castro Abrams, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley based How Women Lead. A national organization that is out to mobilize powerful women through community building, venture founding, preparing women to join corporate boards, and advocacy on critical legislative issues such as abortion rights. As women we are on the precipice of losing essential rights we once believed were untouchable. In this conversation Julie shares what’s at stake for women. How Women Lead are activating women around the world, and why she wants every woman to embrace her power and use it for positive change. 

Have a question or comment? Email us at

Resources Mentioned
Julie Castro Abrams on Linkedin
How Women Lead website
Chingona Ventures website

Transcript - Julie Castro Abrams


Portia Mount  5:03  

So, I’m here with Julie Castro Abrams, CEO and Chair of How Women Lead. Julie, so great to have you on the pod. I have so many questions I wanted to ask you because there is so much going on for women so much at stake for women right now. Tell me how you started How Women Lead, what inspired you?

Julie CA  5:42  

Well my, I would say, when I think about that question, I really have to go back to being a girl athlete, I was the division one swimmer at Northwestern. And I'll tell you, you know, the strength and the power that comes from being an athlete really was so countercultural to what so many of us are told as women, and so that, to me, get your girls and boys into sports.

Portia Mount  6:06  

Right on, I'm a huge, I am a huge believer in sports for kids too.

Julie CA  6:10  

So important. And for me, like during my 20s I just recall so vividly all those leadership moments, you know, when you're growing and you're going from being a coordinator to whenever you're moving up the ladder, every new leadership challenge, I'd have a dream of diving off the starting blocks, and the power and the strength of being able to control my physique in the water and moving forward. That's honestly, if you think about that, moving forward the power over and like, you know, really you, you taking control of, you know, all those things that you get as a swimmer, let's say I think by doing butterfly, the power over the water, right, and that it's so gorgeous. 

Portia Mount  6:52  

That's a beautiful, that's a beautiful, I never learned to do it, but I love to see it. It's such a beautiful stroke.

Julie CA  6:58  

Well, I can't do it anymore. But, there's something about that that is like, such a metaphor for life and leadership, righ? And, and I think that that really helped me also, frankly, it kind of fueled some of my entrepreneurial spirit. So I'll sort of start with like, my first job is with the Chicago foundation for women doing name tags for their very first event the year they opened. I just had brunch with one of the women who I met when she was one of the founding board members. And she was like, you know, I kind of wanted to apologize for probably being an idiot, you know, a 20 year old that wasn't quite, you know, ready, but she was like, Julie, she's like, we could see how strong you were, you felt like anything was possible. And she could really reflect back to me 35 years later, you know, and that was pretty beautiful, you know, that sense of like, you know, grace for yourself. We're all on a journey, we're doing the best we can. And I look at a 22 year old and  don’t expect them to have my maturity. Right. And so I think, for me, part of my journey is also sort of like, you know, just having grace and thinking, and I hope you'll all do that for yourself. Because you know, we're all just, we're just doing the best we can. We're all different. 


Portia Mount  8:11  

We really are. And you've used the word power a couple of times. And when I was prepping and going back through the website, that word is super prevalent. And I'm so intrigued because it's, I think for a lot of women it is a scary word. And like what does power mean to you? And why do you want women to pardon the phrase lean into being and feeling powerful? What, why does that matter?

Portia Mount  8:45  

Do you have kids Portia?

Portia Mount  8:47  

I do, I do. I have a six year old girl who is a hellraiser. And I have a 12 year old son.

Julie CA  8:56  

So I would just say think about your little beautiful little six year old. What do you want her to see when she sees other women in the world? Do you want her to see powerful women who are self possessed, who are not thinking? And so I would just say to all of you, I need you to step into your power and your confidence and lead because my daughter is watching you. And you know, there's nothing more important to me than all of these little girls my 29 year old daughter she's not a little girl anymore, you know, but she's on her leadership journey and when she takes her cues from all of us, and this is the thing if we care about her future, we want her to be paid equitably. We want her to have agency over her body. All of those things. We need to keep the pressure on. It's exhausting. COVID has been exhausting. We all feel like I thought we did this Roe versus Wade thing 30 years ago. Are we really going backwards? You know what? Now I really thought we could solve it 30 years ago when I started my career as a women's racial and gender justice activist, I thought if we solve this stuff, we would get equal and then we'd be done. Today as just like a lifetime study of the world, you know, I think we will, frankly, always have to be pushing and fighting and containing and holding our space. I don't know why I'm, it's super heartbreaking. But I'm trying to step back and have perspective as the 54 year old a little bit on the other end of the journey. You know, and just kind of look back and think, you know, what, just be ready for it. And you guys, you can't let up and I know you're tired. And I know you think like, it's hard. But you know, what, if you don't do some, some things all along the way to support and push and promote use your power, your platform to get women and other people, you know, aligned around what the world you want to see. You know, we are, we're going to regret it. And we're going to feel like we didn't do enough and you don't want to be there, that's for sure.

Portia Mount  11:06  

I so appreciate that, Julie, because I think, you know, my mom calls herself as a second wave feminism feminist and talks about how much you know, and for her was the intersection of being a black woman and being a woman in the 60s and 70s. My mom was, you know, she's, I guess considered a boomer but you know, really was a woman in the 60s. And the fact that we are here at this point, talking about a woman's right to the autonomy of her body, we are fighting for people's ability to vote. And I appreciate the clarion call of yes, our foremothers did so much work, how is it that we are here again? I was talking to a colleague and we had this conversation where we said can you believe we are talking about reproductive rights. And the fact is that they're not going to stop at this, this is just the beginning. And so this idea of using our voices, using our platform for me as a black woman, as a mother to a black son, as a member of my community, I feel sitting on the sidelines is not an option for me. Not at work, not at home, not in my community. It's not an option. And I hope other women hear your voice to say like, whatever your cause is, you have got to get in the game right now.

Julie CA  12:59  

You do, and and it, but this is the thing, there's some there's some things I want to, I want to encourage all of you to consider. Our culture has some elements that aren't great for women. And here we are, this is the first generation actually, of women we've got that have so much operational expertise, and influence and power. Right. And well, you know, 30 years ago, there were outliers, for sure, but I actually am part of a big generation, we have 84,000 women in our greater network of top executive women. But historically, women actually are pitted against each other. We do that with all marginalized groups of people in this country or in the world, right. But, but, you know, I like to ask people to do a countercultural commitment, right? So one be fierce advocates for each other, no more stabbing each other in the back, you know, extend yourself to give people grace and a path and support them. And really for women leaders because we love to tear down women leaders. In fact, I sometimes think like women's leadership is almost an oxymoron in our country. You know, we have got to actively make a commitment and pivot your brain because you've been conditioned, whether you realize it or not, to not actually feel that way about women. There's a friend of mine who wrote a book though she did a study about black women and white women, just comparing those two particular groups in their career trajectories. Black women had these interesting responses and indications of that, you know, appreciating their mothers, even if their mothers were really bad. You know, and white women hate their mothers, no matter you know, in that hate but don't respect their mothers, regardless of how great they were. So white women are particularly harsh with other women. Black women are way better and they're better for each other, but culturally, I just say invite everybody to create a safe space. So we all know we've got each other's back, because that's not how most of us experience the world. And if we did that, if we all made a commitment to it and we do in my organization, you just everybody like oh my god, really, those are the rules of the road? The second one is to make introductions. Most of us as women, how many men versus women? You know, who makes more introductions for you? People say the men make all the introductions for me. Women somehow got this message and we have to be hyper protectionist about introductions we make because somehow it's scarce. And you know what, we gotta get over that stuff.

Portia Mount  15:43  

No gatekeeping. No, gatekeeping.

Julie CA  15:44  

We have got to just say, Absolutely, I'll introduce you, they can decide if it's the right, you know, connection or not, but say yes.The other one is when her voice isn't being heard, be her echo chamber. Amplify her voice when she speaks up. And we know the stories about meetings where a woman says something and it's silent. And woman is later the guy says it and it's brilliant magic, you know, we got to do that for each other. And finally, and this is the hardest. And Portia, you are on the mission to do this for all of us, is to invite people to be unabashedly visible. You got to step into your power, you got to be visible, my daughter has to be able to see you. So those are the those are sort of that sort of that new cultural frame, I'd like to invite all of us to consider just being better with and for each other. Because when you, when you all agree to it, it's a beautiful, magic, loving, authentic, brilliant space.


Portia Mount  16:37  

So Julie. I am taken back to the time when I first met you and the energy and the intensity, and the clarity of your vision. And I am struck all over again. And, and the fact that you've built this incredible network of women from around the world. And I have to say, not a lot of good things happened during COVID. But one of the really great things that happened to me was attending a board prep class through How Women Lead, which I think may have been your first one of your first virtual ones. Because you are in Silicon Valley, and I would have never attended and the women that I met, were, are extraordinary. I am actually still part of my mastermind group we meet I think every other month, it has been well over a year since we've met and you're so your point around the connection, the uplifting one another, the supporting one another, we've had job changes, we've had some divorces, we've had a lot of things happen in our group of eight or nine women. And it has been really powerful. And the fact that you created this network and I want to talk about money and wealth, because you talked about that used to be an outlier. And I love now that as women, we are much more upfront about talking about our economic power, our ability to ask for what we're worth, so that we can invest in the things that we care about. Can you talk a little bit about just how the venture fund happened? What are you trying to do? What do you want women to know about money and the power of their dollar and investing in other women?

Julie CA  18:34  

Great. All right. So this is the thing: 98% of all of the investment management decisions in the United States are made by men, the majority white men. How's that make you feel in your bones when you hear that?

Portia Mount  18:48  

It makes us, you know, it's just ugh. Yeah. 

Julie CA  18:50  

Yeah, he's using old fashioned frameworks generally, that don't include you. They don't have your best interest in mind. And frankly, the data is really clear. Those decisions are not the best financial decisions because of the biases that are inherent in sort of a mono group owning so much power and influence. And they kind of just all do repeat the same patterns and behaviors, right? It's like we're, you're taught by the guy before you and you just keep doing what he always said to do. So this is what we know. Now the research says women returned 26% more for their investors than men. 

Portia Mount  19:33  

That's amazing. 

Julie CA  19:33  

It said, Yeah, Morgan Stanley did a big study last year using US census data, etc. They found that we're leaving $4.4 trillion on the table because we're underinvesting in companies founded by women.

Portia Mount  19:46  

That's a trillion with the T people.

Julie CA  19:50  

We're all losing out financially. So right now today when we're recording this podcast, the stock market's in the gutter.

Portia Mount  19:56  

It is in the toilet.

Julie CA  19:58  

Right now, it'll go back up. Don't, don't take your money out now whatever you do. However, because that's one of the worst mistakes you can make, when it goes up, then take it out you know, diversify. But, but, but but black women return more for their investors than anybody else in this country.

Portia Mount  20:16  

I did not know that actually, I did not know that.

Julie CA  20:19  

That was, well think about it. You know, if you pick off the very top cream of the crop and hardly invest ever in any one, the one or two or three black women who've ever gotten across the line, obviously, they have to literally be perfect.

Portia Mount  20:32  

Perfection. Yes, that is the requirement is perfection. Unicorn, you have to be a unicorn. 

Julie CA  20:37  

Yeah, well, only 2% of all venture dollars going to any women, how big companies, male female teams get some more money. But it's really bad because women are told you have to have a male co-founder, you can't raise money. So they artificially bring somebody in who was not necessarily great for the company or the investors. So in general, we have got to clean this mess up. Part of one of the things we know is so, one huge financial opportunity for all of us by investing in women founded companies, especially women of color, but also a huge power play in terms of you know, who gets on the first boards of startups is the venture capitalist. So you know, we are not, we are not playing and women are not playing in that space. So if you look at this definition, it is called being an accredited investor, it just means you make enough money to be able to put it into a long term investment vehicle and not needed out. So you have to make $200,000 a year as an individual for the last two years. So if you're an accredited investor, 30% of men who invest in some kind of venture or angel, you know, startup investing. Only 5% of women are actually investing in that asset class. That's actually where you make the most money in our country is by investing in startups. Like we have a company that's selling right now. I think that entrepreneur, the founders make $18 million after two years, that's a lot of money.

Portia Mount  22:14  

Wow, that's a lot of money.

Julie CA  22:16  

It's a lot of money. So if you want to make $18 million... 

Portia Mount  22:19  

I was gonna say, where am I supposed to be signing up Julie? Like, where do you sign me up?

Julie CA  22:24  

I'm gonna make a lot of money for having invested in her company as our venture firm. So because we're partial owners in that company. So, think about this. So what we've done is we've kind of researched like, one who should we invest in, and how should we do it? How do we reduce bias in the system? Because women, we all have bias, we got it from our culture, the society, we got it, right. And it's part of our brain heuristic. However, and once you do all of that, then the question is, you know, can I invest big? Can I invest in a way that's respectful and easy for these entrepreneurs, reduces friction, but also like, you know, we raised our venture fund in the pandemic, in 2020, within a couple months. Because people like you, Portia, we're so hungry, to do something beyond themselves to make a difference and be and be part of something, something more than just sitting on their couch being depressed about the pandemic, right. So in that first fund, it was just $10 million, which is small for a venture firm.

Portia Mount  23:35  

I love how you say it was just $10 million. 

Julie CA  23:38  

It wasn't a lot of money, it was 211 of my friends, we all got together, all my best friends. And we put money in this fund, you know, our average investment amount, I think was like $65,000. And it's spread over four years. So our minimum is $25,000 to $6,250 a year for four years. That's not unrealistic for quite a, you know, a lot of us.

Portia Mount  24:00  

Is that, is that tax deductible?

Julie CA  24:02  

No, but it's an investment. It's not a non-profit. I love that Portia. She's like, let me do the math in my head. But you know, you know, it's what is what is that? Yeah, anyways, about five or $600, $550 a month. But ultimately, that investment, all those people who made those investments for the very first time, got really hot, feeling powerful, and in their, in their, in their, you know, very in their strength. And they started investing in other venture firms as well. So what we're doing is we're inviting women to start exploring, we're creating an easy on ramp with a low minimum for people to start investing. And then all of a sudden, they tell people I'm a venture capitalist, I'm investing in venture, Portia people then immediately say, Oh, will you go on my board? Like they I mean, it's a mate or, you know, when we make investments we asked for a board seat and who gets those board seats are investors. So we're creating this environment that super rich for people to step into their power and, and really be able to change their brand perception and, and connect with other just like you're loving your mastermind group of great powerful women corporate directors, you know, these LPs are just, there's something about those of us who kind of made it and we're at a, you know, whatever that means, right? But Portia, you're, you're an outlier, you're your ceiling breaker. When you're with other women like you, your body relaxes, because most of the time, you're either filtering yourself, so you're not too big for people, or you're the one mentoring everybody else. Right? I could see your body, you're just like, oh my god, it's true.

Portia Mount  25:46  

I feel like you like see me, Julie. See me!

Julie CA  25:52  

Because I see you, and I am you in so many ways, our past, I have so many shared experiences. When we're together, it's just great. First, we take a sigh of relief, right? And then we're like, let's fix this. Let's like get in there and change policies and practices and make sure that we all have a better environment for ourselves and for other women. So that's the magic of how women lead and how women invest in the work we're doing together.



Portia Mount  26:45  

Sso there's a couple of things that I'm struck by so one is, there is the community, two there, sort of that galvanizing of the of these women who've got incredible influence, there is then really leveraging the dollar leveraging the investment. And you've also How Women Lead has also moved into some advocacy. And I want like, what I'm seeing as you pull these threads together, which is these women of influence, women who are, you know, not everyone, but many are able to leverage their dollars towards supporting other women and other issues that impact women. And then there's the advocacy piece. So can you talk about why that's important? And what kinds of advocacy are you focused on right now, and why?

Julie CA  27:45  

Great question. So one thing is like, I'm all about getting women together, because it feels great. And we want to change the culture and stuff. But the thing is, if you want real change to happen, and you want it to be sticky, you kind of have to work across the spectrum. So I'll use women on corporate boards as an example. You know, we were one of the signatories, and the speakers etc, driving legislation on public company board diversity in California. And today, literally, yesterday, it was struck down by the early, you know, a low level court, as unconstitutional. And we're gonna we I got on the phone with Senator Hanna Beth Jackson, who authored the legislation and the governor's office yesterday, just immediately, within a couple hours of that happening to strategize, what are we going to do, we're going to an amicus brief, we're gonna make sure that the pressure is on for this next for to make it frankly, because from court in California, we're really in good shape, because then the supreme court in California is going to get to support it. As far as we can tell. This is a very conservative judge who was appointed 15 years ago by a Republican governor that no longer represents California. Well, so so to me, you know, you got to keep working at that level. And we work constantly on these kinds of issues. But the second level is I just like, I'm on this podcast today. I want every woman in the United States to know, you should be considering putting board service on your journey. And what I usually, when I'm talking about legislation is corporate board service. But nonprofit board service is really important. And it's an important part of you developing your one just being an impact in the world, in the community, but also building your relationships, your reputation, building your governance experience. I've never worked in a public company in my life. I'm not going to go on the board of a public company. It's not appropriate. It's not I'm not your I'm not their target. But I'm on startup boards because I've run companies etc.

Portia Mount  29:47  

And you're and you're and you're an investor.

Julie CA  29:50  

Yeah, so knowing what kind of board is right for you, putting it in your roadmap, making sure that if you really want to go there, you can scaffold your career, you know, so movement building is what I consider that right. It's like getting in the hearts and minds of as many women that we possibly can. And helping men evolve their thinking. And understanding that diversity on boards reduces groupthink, and everybody does better. In fact, product recalls are three times faster, people don't die when you have products that are recalled on time. So you know, it's the you got to disrupt groupthink, so it's better for everybody. We also like your experience, we have a number of different training and education programs for women interested in getting on boards are currently on corporate boards. We also something right now, because Latinas are the least represented, it's called Latinas in sight. So we got 200 corporate directors of all backgrounds, who are committing to sponsor a Latina, for a corporate board opportunity. So we are using the power of our community. And then we placed 34 women on corporate boards last year. So by working across the entire spectrum, you can make change happen. When you just tackle one piece of a spectrum, it's this, it's not as sticky or sustainable. And you can also have objections at different points in that sort of hierarchy, if you will, of change making, like, you know, people would be like, if you just work on the legislative front, people were saying, they're not enough women who are qualified board candidates. Well, one that was baloney, but two, I have 1,000 women like Portia, that are totally kick ass and could go on your board. So don't tell me there's a problem with the pipeline. It's the network that you have. So that's part of the strength of doing this, in this way, this change making strategy. 

Portia Mount  31:46  

So Julia, and I have to say that I had never really thought about being on a board until I had heard of how women lead. And the thing that struck me and you alluded to it was all the different kinds of boards, one can be on. I've been on numerous nonprofit boards, which frankly, half the time wanted me to like, essentially work for them. I'm scaling, and nothing wrong with that at a certain point in your career. But I was really one of the best things, of the many things that I learned in the training was the kinds of boards that I could be on. I do work for a public company, and I do desire at some point in the future to be on a public board. But also the sort of the core skills that boards are looking for and the women that you had, who were you know, who presented, you know, one, I think, was like, a director, she was an attorney, and she was on the audit committee. I think we were all like our minds were blown at just how incredible these women were. And I mean, it's a given that they were knowledgeable, but I also finished like, oh, okay, you know what, I have a few things that I really want to shore up in order to be competitive. And so I'm wondering if you could just you've given the business case for why boards should be diverse, but I am sure there were women out there who like me thought like, well, I can't be on a public board or I could never do that. Why should board service be something that you know, you know, talking to like an early career woman who's thinking about her path. You talked about the scaffolding. Why should board service be a part of that career journey?

Julie CA  33:39  

Well, I think, first and foremost, it's urgent. We need you in those roles. It gave the example of product recalls, you know, equal pay, you know, women and people of color are not being paid equally, they're not being promoted equally. And if no one on the board is asking questions about what we're doing inside our companies to reduce bias and to make sure we keep an eye we're tracking and looking at the data. And we have best practices that are out there. You know, literally we're we all lose out. And so there's a lot of reasons why it's you know, you should want to do it as a, for the greater good. But I think the other thing is like I love being on boards. It was hard the first couple times, first couple of times as an operator and someone who just, my sickness is I love to get stuff done. I like... 

Portia Mount  34:28  

Mine too!

Julie CA  34:30  

Get it done because I want to take it off the list. It makes me feel good. So, it's hard to learn how to be a governor. And just listen and ask really smart questions. So it's that it's actually a good edge, a little leadership edge for us to learn how to do that. But I think the other thing is that's where you get to learn so much about the you know, innovations in the market and how other people are thinking. It is a blast. If you're in the right kind of environment, the right kind of board. It's super fun to, like, wrestle with these things together with the most brilliant people out there in the world. So I think for a lot of us also, you know, as we think about our career trajectory, you know, I'm a little bit at the, you know, another side of my career than then maybe you are even Portia, but, you know, I have a lot of wisdom and life experience to impart. And I, it's fun to do that to be part of that kind of a leadership journey. And it's also nice to think about, you know, if I wrap up my day jobs, ever, you know, what, you know, how can I still stay in the game and really be on the cutting edge of what's going on and contribute and be part of the, you know, part of driving the future of our country. And it's so anyway, to me, it's just frankly, it's just super fun. It's fun, intellectually, it's fun in terms of doing cool stuff with other people.

Portia Mount  35:59  

I love that. And I hope that more women will consider that journey. As I said, it really opened my eyes. And you said something that really struck me, which is, there are a number of women in our particular course who are mentors. And, again, a new thing that I learned is, they had retired from their day jobs, they were CFOs, and chief legal counsels. And they had a whole other career as board directors, which is a thing, which I know, I know that now, but I didn't know it, then.

Julie CA  36:40  

Well Portia, I didn’t mention the money because you know, what, you know, if you go on, it depends on the life stage of the board. Sometimes it's equity only and if it's a super early stage board, you may never make any money. However, on public company boards, the average is $308,000. And for pay just for the board seat, not to mention being a committee chair, where you make more money, I have some friends that are making two and $3 million a year on their board service. Now, when the CEO has to be replaced for you're on a bank board, and 2008, when the whole, you know, and they call you at three o'clock in the morning, because you're getting it shut down by the regulators, and then you get personally sued. There are all kinds of things that happen that you have to be ready for. So I wouldn't say do it for the money. But the money is an add, you know, especially if, you know, you're sort of like I'm going to wrap up my, my day job, part of life, but it's kind of nice to continue to have some income coming in. Well, I know you shouldn't do it for that. times with that when crises happen. You're like I'm making five bucks an hour.

Portia Mount  37:51  

Well, that's exactly right. And I have to say, I mean it maybe it's a tribute to the women who are part of How Women Leads network and who were mentors, like I never heard, they were all very upfront about the money. But it was pretty clear that most of them were not motivated by the money, which by the way, doesn't surprise me at all. Because what we know about women in power and women, especially at the highest levels of you know, corporations and other, you know, and organizations is they're rarely motivated by the money. They're, they're motivated by the impact and the ability to make change and all that. So it didn't surprise me. But I also appreciate that you talk about that. Because again, part of what I think about is we shouldn't be afraid to talk about money and talk about what it enables us to do. So big agenda for How Women Lead. What's on the horizon?

Julie CA  38:44  

Oh, well, so I talked about our board space. And one thing is, you know, there's pressure from public legislation and asset management requirements, sort of pushing it down market. And what that really means is the huge opportunity today, because a lot of those companies have now met the public board requirements is the pre IPO, the companies that are, you know, late, late in their sort of development journey, but before they go public, they need women on their boards, or they don't have them.

Portia Mount  39:14  

Okay, listen up, listen up ladies.

Julie CA  39:16  

There's a huge opportunity. So all these companies like Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase, and Deloitte, they all have they're asked to recommend board members when they're helping these companies go public. So you want to make friends with people that are in that space, and be able to have your value proposition super clear. And, you know, I have people who come into us now no women whatsoever on their board, even though I know these people and I know, they then they have women investors and they still don't have women on their boards and they're like, one of them literally said to me, Well, you know, but we can't lower the bar. I'm like, are you freaking kidding me? Do you think you've lowered the bar to get a woman on your board? The day we get unqualified women on boards is the day we know we're done. So like, you know, right now, it's, you know, women have 10 times the qualifications of any men currently seated on most of the boards.

Portia Mount  40:16  

Always. And I always really bristle at that phrase, it's, it's thrown at women, it's thrown at black, brown, and people of color have like, we don't want to lower the bar like all of us. And all of a sudden, when it's when we're talking about giving, you know, providing a seat at the table, somehow we're less qualified, when the reality is we are usually 10 times more qualified because we have to be, right, we're not allowed, we are not allowed to be mediocre. And so I appreciate that opportunity that you know, and that incredible network that you are providing to get the seats because there are not enough of us there.

Julie CA  40:58  

Thank you, there are not and everybody wins. And that's what you need to keep remembering you're not asking for favor. It's not justice, it's actually best for the corporate governance, it's best for the financial returns of the company. So pivot your own brains, you know, you're not begging for something, you're like, I'm going to solve the problems you have with groupthink with you know, and what happens is you up game, everybody, when you go into a group, if you're a different because they're thinking they all sort of like can call, you know, can kind of take a pass because they think they all think the same and I don't have to research that much. You go on the board, and they're like, Oh, I better step up, because she's gonna have a different opinion. And I need to have my own, be ready to like to stand in my power. The other thing beyond the board space. Right now we have an abortion, reproductive justice, right, a fellowship of women leading in this space around the globe, we have 13 countries represented  To me, this is a massive crisis for us in this in the United States, but also globally, we've got bizarre stuff happening where Mexico and Argentina passed abortion rights laws, Ireland.

Portia Mount  42:12  

It's insane. We're going backwards. We're going backwards.

Julie CA  42:16  

Right. Yeah, it doesn't, it's kind of just like, what kind of dystopian world are we living in. The other thing is, in terms of investing, just like on the board space, I want every single woman to start investing and start thinking about investing in venture capital, or in angel investing, but venture capitals easier to, because all you have to do is pick a venture firm that you believe in, if you're going to go invest individually in companies, you're not diverse, like I when you invest with us in our fund, right now we have 35 to 50 companies in the portfolio, you're diversified, you have a little bit of an ownership stake in every single one of those companies. If you take that same $25 or $50,000, and you invest it directly in one company, you're putting all your eggs in that basket. So for some people, we're just starting, I say, go look into doing a venture investment first, then you'll start to learn the language and learn about the things that happened along the way. But my goal is get 10,000 women to start investing in venture. I can't have 10,000 women invest with me, but I want you to start investing, there are all kinds of things out there. There's climate, anything along line with the values there climate focused funds, there's a firm called Chingona Ventures which means bad as in spanish, like how fun is that? 

Portia Mount  44:06  

Oh, my gosh, I love it. 

Julie CA  44:08  

And, historically, venture firms returned three to five times your capital that you invested. So if you invest $25,000, generally you can expect to get $100 to $150,000 returned. So that's pretty good. And that's how I want you guys to be thinking about, you need to diversify your investments over the course of your life and when it's time, you need to think about venture and use it as a power play. Tell everybody you're doing it, and then ask them for a board seat. It's all connected.

Portia Mount  44:49  

I love that and that is something I'm not doing but it is very much on my shortlist Julie so watch out. I'm coming soon, I'm coming. 

Julie CA  44:59  

Or five years from now. 

Portia Mount  45:00  

I'm coming soon.

Julie CA  45:02  

I want you to have all the wealth and power and influence because I'd rather have you running the world than the crazy people that are running the world right now.


Portia Mount  45:09  

Well, and I think the thing that I think resonates for me is it's the what, what you've done. And I think what you're encouraging women to do, it's the intersection of our ability to be great leaders, our influence, leveraging our dollars, and pulling that all together around the things that we care about. Men have been doing that since time immemorial. And imagine when what happens when you get women, especially women from so many different backgrounds doing that, and so I, I am so energized by that, we started this conversation with you talking about being a young athlete, a swimmer, and and feeling powerful, and, and how that spurred you, you built this incredible organization. And so I'm curious if you look beyond and like are there things that are a little bit of a personal question that I didn't know I was going to ask you, but I have to ask like, do you think about things like running for office? Or do you want to like, like, what, what's on your bucket list? Or in the future that you're thinking about? Julie that you would want to share?

Julie CA  46:30  

Well, I feel like honestly, at any point in my life, when you asked me that I mostly am like, I'm in it. I'm doing it. 

Portia Mount  46:40  

You're doing it. 

Julie CA  46:40  

I mean, we have a goal to get 10,000 women to invest to build a billion dollar venture firm. And I want to make it easier for women running venture firms because they're better investors for all of us. So I want to build a fund to funds and help those women run venture firms. So all that's going to take probably about five years. And then I'll come up with the next thing.

Portia Mount  47:00  

Yeah, come up with your next thing.

Julie CA  47:02  

I don't want to run for political office. I'm so grateful for people who do but I watch like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I'm just like, oh, god, she's so strong. And people say such mean things and she's okay. I don't think I have skin that's thick enough.

Portia Mount  47:18  

I don't think I'm built for it, I'm not built for it.

Julie CA  47:21  

No, Portia. I'd be up at one o'clock in the morning. Like, why did they say that? It's like some bizarro, rando, like person. I know, intellectually, they're crazy people. But it's hard for me to let that go. Because I am such an empath. Like I'm a social worker by training like, you know, I want you to feel okay, I want to protect you and take care of you. And so if you're acting crazy, I can't let it go. So.

Portia Mount  47:48  

Well, but I think I feel the same. Julie, I have zero interest in being, going into politics. However I really and this gets back to maybe that power influence and leveraging my dollars, I do want to be in a position where I can support the people and causes that I really believe in and so I'm highly motivated, to continue to you know, to succeed in my job and leverage my influence and you know, meet amazing women like you and learn and grow so that I can put my money and time into those into people like AOC. And frankly others like her who are making these senators who have been in office and Congress, members of Congress, have been in office since, you know, time immemorial. Like the fact that they are getting flamed so hard tells you how much of an impact that they're making. Because if she wasn't getting under their skin, you know, regardless of how you feel about her if she wasn't getting under their skin, they wouldn't be, they wouldn't be going after her so hard. She's getting to them and I love that.

Julie CA  49:00  

Yeah, I gave some money to Val Demings recently. I went to a party for her. She’s a fabulous Black woman in Florida.

Portia Mount  49:07  

In Florida. Yep, yep. 

Julie CA  49:09  

Yeah. And she was a police commissioner. This woman is fabulous. What a, what a bizarre experience to watch like, she's so overqualified compared to crazy man, Rubio, you know, and just to sort of see, like, you know, he'll he comes out and he's like, Oh, she's not gonna be tough on crime. It's like, Are you kidding? She's literally the police officer.

Portia Mount  49:32  

She's a police commissioner. Yeah, please.

Julie CA  49:35  

Like, you know, sorry, you lose that argument, like at every pass. So again, back to like, you know, if you're a woman or a person of color, you know, black woman, you got to be extra everything. That woman is fierce and brilliant. And I you know, I would put my bet behind her and I would follow her any day and think and we need to actually not just financially support but also just like stop people in their tracks when they say negative stuff about women running for office. 

Portia Mount  50:02  


Julie CA  50:05  

I'm gonna not I'm gonna tell people to stop bashing Hillary Clinton and everybody else we all love to bash. It's like somehow we think that's fun conversations. It's destructive. Don't do that.

Portia Mount  50:13  

It is, it is. And I think it goes back to the beginning of our conversation of like, we have to like our words and how we support one another, how we open doors for one another. It matters right now. It matters more than anything. So I love this part of the pod where I get to ask the lightning round. And so, so one, I'm curious about a couple of things. So one is best use of $100 recently that you can think of? Best investment, best investment of $100?

Julie CA  50:22  

Well, investment, I don't know about that. But so I'm back in Chicago. And you know, I'm married to a Mexican immigrant. And so my life is kind of interesting. I hang out with like, top public company directors and CEOs in the world and venture capitalists, and, you know, hanging out with Mexican immigrants, who were first generation trying to make it in the world, right. And so we are godparents for a couple of twins, who just graduated from college, they are the first in their family to go to college.

Portia Mount  51:21  

Wow, first generation, first generation college. That's amazing.

Julie CA  51:25  

And so I got to get together with these beautiful young women and just like, you know, kind of give them perspective. Because for them, their world is tiny, and I can really open it up. And one of them's like, Have you ever had wagyu beef? I was like, Well, yeah. And so a couple days later, I'm like, I'm taking these girls out for a fancy dinner.

Portia Mount  51:50  

I was gonna say that's, wagyu beef is probably more than $100.

Julie CA  51:54  

If I can take you girls out for dinner, and one of them got it and I think it was $120 bucks. And I was really happy. Because you know what, like, you know, opening up her aperture and having a beautiful dinner that she could get dressed up fo, and we could have two hours sitting and talking about what's important in the world. It was beautiful to me. So giving that kind of gift to me, that that was a biggie.

Portia Mount  52:22  

I love that. Julie Castro Abrams, thank you so much. So wonderful to spend time with you today.

Julie CA  52:58  

Oh right back get your Portia. You're fantastic. I can't wait to see you just like continue to rock the world and all the power, wealth and influence that you want to have and see how that little six year old follows in your footsteps.

Portia Mount  53:10  

Watch out for her Julie. She's coming, she's coming. Great to see  you. Take care. Bye, bye.