“I want every woman to make a shit ton of money” - Cindy Gallop
In this episode host Portia Mount speaks to legendary advertising guru, business consultant and entrepreneur Cindy Gallop. This episode is quintessential Cindy - blunt, humorous and serious about diversity and women gaining power through financial freedom and entrepreneurship. You will hear her no-holds-barred take on why big companies aren’t more diverse, why every woman needs to start her own business and not be afraid to make money. You will also hear how and why Cindy is tackling one of the most male dominated industries of all, adult filmmaking. Cindy is out to completely disrupt a market that has been traditionally run by men for men with her sextech start-up Make Love Not Porn.
Be advised there’s some salty language and adult themed content in this episode.
Have a question or comment? Email us at [email protected].
Transcript - Cindy Gallop
Portia Mount 0:00
Cindy Gallop, thank you so much for joining me on the pod, I have to say I was really excited because you have been someone I've admired a lot from afar.
Cindy Gallop 0:15
Well thank you Portia.
Portia Mount 0:17
And I've been so looking forward to this conversation, I want to talk to you about your career, women and money, sex, smashing the male patriarchy, but not necessarily in that order. So first of all, Cindy, you are kind of OG, I'm going to kind of want to put an underscore around gangster in terms of advertising and brand gurus and doing my research. I was thinking, damn, she's everywhere right now, in these pandemic times. And I want to ask you, first, how has the pandemic changed your life personally and professionally?
Cindy Gallop 0:55
Sure. So I think I mean, first of all, I would say that I try and count my blessings every day through this, you know, very difficult time for all of us. And I think probably very high on the list of blessings is that I'm lucky to be somebody who is a natural solitary, I'm enormously fond of my own company,
Portia Mount 1:19
Are you an introvert?
Cindy Gallop 1:21
I'm kind of an extroverted introvert. And it's my idea of bliss has always been to be in my apartment, on my own, with nowhere to go and no one to see. And now I get to do it every day.
Portia Mount 1:34
This is a dream for you then.
Cindy Gallop 1:37
So actually, I mean, while you know, I hasten to add, I'm absolutely hitting the pandemic wall along with everybody else. Overall I'm lucky enough, in that, you know, I live on my own, I am very happily single and child free by choice. I've never been happier to not have a partner and children. So I'm lucky in that, you know, lockdown conditions suit me a lot more than they do many of my friends and acquaintances who are very social beings naturally, and find it very difficult. And then I'm also lucky, because you know, I live in a lovely apartment here in New York with light and views and outdoor space. And that really helps the stir craziness. So, you know, that's all good.
Portia Mount 3:10
Cindy Gallop 3:10
When the weather is warmer...
Portia Mount 3:12
You're in New York City, we should add.
Cindy Gallop 3:14
Yep. And so when the weather was warmer, you know, I was able to socialize selectively, you know, social distance on my terraces. Now, in cold weather, my pandemic pod has shrunk massively, you know, and, with my very closest friends, we all get tested, you know, if we are getting counted on any way at all. So, you know, that's not great. But once the weather gets warmer, I'll be able to, you know, see friends again, which I'm looking forward to. And, you know, I'm in a work context. I and my team at “make love not porn” are very happy working remotely. We used to do that actually, before we took an office.
Portia Mount 3:55
Your team was the team of “make love not porn” remote?
Portia Mount 3:58
Yep. And so and so all of that, you know, works fine. And so, you know, all things considered. I, as I say, count my blessings and feel very fortunate.
Portia Mount 4:11
I love that I love your positive attitude. And we're going to link to all of your Twitter handle and LinkedIn because you actually post a lot on Twitter, about your life. In your I think you call it the sky apartment.
Cindy Gallop 4:26
That's right. Yes.
Portia Mount 4:27
You know, it was fun seeing you celebrate your birthday. And it's interesting how people have just found a way to cope in this in this time. And we're going to talk about “make love not porn” a little bit later, which I've done extensive research.
Cindy Gallop 4:56
I'm delighted to hear it.
Portia Mount 4:57
Well yes, and I'm a member and I know people probably from my corporate job are falling off their chairs right now. But I actually think there's something quite revolutionary about it. And I really want to talk about that, because I think it speaks to the things that women can do when they decided to have agency. Right. So, you've been really outspoken about brands during the pandemic. And, you know, if I think about the murder of George Floyd last year, I didn't see as many, you know, prominent individuals as yourself who have influence in industries really come out in very direct and blunt ways. And I wondered. And, you know, you did see for a little bit some brands coming out making statements. And you did see a push towards talking about diversity on boards. And we just got a new black CF female, a black woman CEO, who was announced, I think, yesterday. So there's some movement, but I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your thoughts on what the pandemic and how brands reacted during the pandemic Are there any brands that are out there getting it right?
Cindy Gallop 6:13
So, starting from the end of that question, the answer is no, no, there aren't. And, and so, let me for the benefit of our listeners, let me explain why. Not only has nothing happened on this front for centuries, decades, why nothing is happening. Really, right now. The reason is that at the top of every industry, is a closed loop of white guys talking to white guys, but other white guys. Those white guys are sitting very pretty. They've got their enormous salaries, their gigantic bonuses, their big pools of stock options, their lavish expense accounts. Why on earth, would they ever want to rock the boat? Oh, they have to talk diversity. They have to appoint chief diversity officers.
Portia Mount 7:09
And there's been a lot of that lately, hasn't there?
Cindy Gallop 7:10
They have to have diversity initiatives, they have to say the word diversity a lot, especially in public, secretly, deep down inside, they don't want to change a thing, because the system is working just fine for them, as it currently is. It's like the old joke about the light bulb. How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change. And in every industry, the light bulb does not really want to change.
Portia Mount 7:43
So the question is then, from your perspective, do you see this as a passing fad? I mean, companies have actually been, their stock has never been higher for companies. Many companies have record. financial performance right now. What do you think it's going to take for companies to take? Or should women of color people of color basically say, you know what, let me just go off, I'll get a few years of experience, because I have a lot of young women of color who listen to this podcast, and they wonder, is corporate america really for me? Can I really make it in a corporation? Or is this the time for me to go out and do my own thing?
Cindy Gallop 8:31
So Portia absolutely. So the answer to what we're discussing is start your own industry. And when I say that, obviously, what I mean is, I mean, start your own business. But I deliberately articulated in that way, as start your own industry. Because when you start your own business, you can basically decide to make that business work exactly the way you want it to. And when you do that, you are starting the industry, we all want to live and work in. And you know, I would especially say this to the young black women listening to us today, because I gave a talk at the Cannes Lions advertising festival and seven years ago now on porn, youth and brands, the biggest social cultural influence on young people today that we don't talk about. So as you can imagine, stacked out audiences, especially with the younger people in our industries.
Portia Mount 9:26
Of course, of course.
Cindy Gallop 9:27
And during the q&a, a young woman said to me, Cindy, what is the single piece of advice you would give a young person going to advertising today? And my answer was don't, and then I said, let me explain...
Portia Mount 9:44
I see the heads probably spinning off too when you were saying that.
Cindy Gallop 9:46
Yeah, and then I said, Let me explain what I mean by that. Don't go into advertising to go into advertising. Go into advertising to make what you want to happen happen. And so what I would say to every young black woman listening to us today is take a long, hard look around you at your industry and identify what you think is missing. What do you think should be there that isn't? What would you love to have in your industry that nobody else has created? What do you think should be there that you uniquely could bring to the table, and then basically go and do that. And by the way, I can tell you that, you know, in a white male dominated corporate world, there is a ton of opportunity in every industry, there are huge numbers of things missing that should be there that aren't because the lens of women and black talent and people of color talent and LGBTQ talent has never been brought to bear on it. And the great thing about this is that when you identify that gaping hole in the market, and you start your own industry, your own business to fill it, and you prove that it was so massively needed, and you build that business, in a few years time giant company x in your industry will buy you for a ton of money. And that is how you create wealth.
Portia Mount 11:13
Yes, and I want to talk a lot about money. And one of the things I'm really gratified by is that more women are talking openly about money, how to make it, how to keep it, how to negotiate it for it. But before I go there, I want to dig into this a little bit because entrepreneurship. So one, everything you're saying resonates because I think you look at the top of so many companies, and there are not, you don't see black women, you're starting to, you know, we're starting to populate very slowly. But still, there's only two black women running Fortune 500 companies, right.
Cindy Gallop 11:54
Only two currently, the first, one was Ursula Burns who is no longer running Xerox.
Portia Mount 12:00
That's a great correction right now, right? And I wonder, though, for the young woman who's saying, you know, I don't, I can't be an entrepreneur, I've got three kids. And you know, and I can't afford the perception of stability with corporations versus the perception of instability with entrepreneurship. And so here's the question for you, Cindy, because you had a long corporate career, and then you became an entrepreneur. And I'm wondering if you can give young women advice in terms of what that thought process is? And is there value in saying, you know what, go ahead, learn a few years and then find the gap in the industry that you've just talked about, and then go create that thing. But I wonder if you can just share your own thinking?
Cindy Gallop 13:01
And the answer to what you just asked, Portia is no, don't do that. Okay. I'm gonna explain why in a moment. But, you know, I'm rarely asked if, you know, a question like, you know, do you have any regrets about your career, I have zero regrets. But if there's one thing I regret, I wish that I had started working for myself a dam xx sooner. Because I'm 61. I'm of the generation where what you did was you went to school, you went to university and got a good job. Nobody talked about entrepreneurship, when I was growing up, okay. And here's the thing, people make the mistake of thinking that a job is the safe option. It's not, because in a job, you are at the complete mercy of management changes, industry downturns, marketplace dynamics. I always say, whose hands would you rather place your future in? Those of a large corporate entity who doesn't give a shit about you? Or somebody who will always have your best interests at heart Ie, you?
Portia Mount 14:09
Cindy Gallop 14:09
And, you know, I recommend by the way that our listeners do a search on YouTube. If you search Cindy Gallop for 3% conference, women and people of color, here's what you do next, you will find a talk of mine in 2016, which is the 10 simple steps to starting up your own business. And one of the points I'm making is that it is entirely possible to begin your own business while staying in your job. Okay, so I recommend that people that people test drive their concepts and and it's entirely possible do that, while still remaining employed, and to basically build your ideas to the point where you are confident it can make money and then to jump ship and go for broke, but here's the reason why I strongly recommend against adopting the mindset that goes, you know, got to do my time, got to put in this many years. Because, as you know, and this is especially the case of black women, but it's true for women generally, every day in the corporate working environment, unless you are in some company I've never heard of where this is not the case, you are subject to racist, sexist, microaggressions every single day. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say every single hour. And that destroys your soul.
Portia Mount 15:44
Cindy Gallop 15:45
My English grandmother, and for the benefit of listeners, I'm half English, half Chinese. And so in this case, I'm talking about my grandmother on my English side, who's an amazing woman, and a massive influence on me growing up. She was very interested in Buddhism, she was very interested in lots of things, really an amazing Renaissance woman. But I always remember there was this Buddhist saying that she used to repeat in our childhood, my sister's childhood, which was, she said, “the fool says, evil cannot harm me. But drop by drop, the picture fills”. Oh, you might say, I can stick it out in this corporate environment for this many years but every day, drop by drop, your soul is being eroded and your soul is being destroyed. Do not let that happen.
Portia Mount 16:43
I can't tell you how profound that is Cindy. The letters, the calls, the emails I get from not just black women, I will just say women of color who cross the board, the kinds of stories they share about what's happening in their workplace. And you know, there have been some incredible authors who are now writing about this much more plainly, someone like Minda Harts is an example.
Cindy Gallop 17:12
You know, I love Minda, I did a blurb for the memo.
Portia Mount 17:16
Oh great. It's stunning. It's actually stunning what women are enduring. And I appreciate your saying that because I think women of color, black women need to hear this. The environments we can only chip away at this much. And then it's chipping away at you.
Portia Mount 17:21
I know, exactly. And by the way, Portia, I highly recommend everybody listening. So, you know, I have keynoted at the wonderful 3% conference for the past. Golly, it's now coming up for 10 years. And the 3% conference for people who aren't familiar with it is a conference started 10 years ago by the amazing Kat Gordon, who is a female creative director and advertising. Because at that time, only 3% of all advertising agency creative directors were women, 97% were men, we as women are the primary purchasers of everything, and the primary influences of purchase, and we are being sold to ourselves through the male gaze. So Kat started a conference to change that. And absolutely to track the change. And I think today 29% of all advertising agency creative directors are women. Still not enough by the way.
Portia Mount 18:29
I was gonna say, not enough, when you think about our purchasing power.
Cindy Gallop 18:32
I know exactly. But the reason I bring up the 3% conference is obviously last year, it had to go virtual. And we wait to see what happens this year, but I think Kat is determined to hold it IRL and to hold it in Atlanta, by the way. It's moved around the country, it started in San Francisco, went to New York then Chicago. But the reason I'm sharing this with you and your audience is because I've been saying to women for years, you must go to the 3% conference. And by the way, you must go whether you work in advertising, whether you work in a creative industry, whatever business you work in, you must go. And the reason I say that is partly because I mean the content is phenomenal. The speakers are amazing, you know, role models after role models, but actually a very, very important reason why is because, and I actually said this from the stage in my closing keynote at the 3% conference in San Francisco back in. Gosh, this would have been 2014 I think I said to the audience. You do not realize how much our industry does not welcome, celebrate, value, champions and appreciate women until you are somewhere that does. And I say to women, you have to go to the 3% conference. It's a two day event these days. Just because you will never have been in an environment like that, where you will feel so seen, so appreciated, so celebrated, so valued. And that atmosphere in itself, you know, separate from the agenda and the program, just that in itself, being surrounded by our people. That is life changing. And I have to tell you, every woman who's responded to that call, you know, it was so funny. My best friend Kate Bristow, who runs an agency in LA called my brilliant friend with two women, all three of them worked in a different agency, but they were unhappy. And I said to them, you know, you've got to go to the 3% conference. This is literally like, the week before. Okay, I said, What are you doing? Clear your calendars, and this is pre pandemic. So it's IRL is in Chicago.
Portia Mount 20:54
Right, of course.
Cindy Gallop 20:54
Clear your calendars. You know, book those flights. Trust me, go to the 3% conference. So they did, they cleared their calendars, you know, and, apparently, they were standing in the line to check in. And I think they mentioned me and another friend of mine, Kate Stone was this wonderful trans scientist, innovator. She said, Oh, you know, Cindy? and they went, Oh, yep, we know, Cindy, and we're here because Cindy told us to come and Kate said Cindy told me that too she said, get on that plane. And they all loved it.
Portia Mount 21:28
I'm telling you, listen, I should get my phone. I'm booking my trip as we speak, right now.
Cindy Gallop 21:34
Portia my God, the difference when you are in a place and an environment, and an atmosphere that welcomes you. That is transformative. And that's why I say get the fuck out of the corporate world and start your own industry.
Portia Mount 21:54
I love it. I love it. I think when I sent my email to you, I said, You know, I was in the agency world, I worked on the public relations side of the business in New York and Chicago. And there was no, I was the diversity in my agency in the early 2000s. And I'm choked, Cindy, when I think about the collective buying power of a black people, people of color. It is still not reflected in the agencies. It's actually one of the reasons why I left the agency. Like there's nobody up there that looks like me. I don't have it shot. I don't feel like every job I make should be me trying to be Jackie Robinson, right?
Cindy Gallop 22:44
No exactly. And in fact, Portia, let me share with our audience. Because again, you know, I think a) they'll find this useful and b) this is how to think about any change anybody can affect in the corporate world. So I get what I'm about to share with you all, I get this call all the time, okay. And I'm going to give you an example of how I got it pre pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protest, but I get it even more now. Okay. So, this was like, you know, the year before last, a very well known white man in the marketing industry, you know, very powerful at a very big company with a huge global portfolio of brands, calls me up. And he goes, this is all very well meaning. Okay, very well intentioned. He calls me up and he goes, Cindy, I've got this huge marketing role. And it's this really big, amazing role and I want to hire a black woman. Who do you know? Okay, I get this call Portia, all the time.
Portia Mount 23:54
I don't know whether to feel happy he's reaching out to you or mortified.
Cindy Gallop 24:00
Because what I said is, you know, I said, it doesn't work like that. Okay. And then I said to him, right, if you genuinely want to bring in brilliant black female candidates for this role, here are the four things you have to do first, okay, and by the way, this is what I consult on. Because, you know, for the benefit of our audience, you know, I work full time on my staff for “make love not porn”, I have enormous challenges raising funding. I can't afford...
Portia Mount 24:32
and I want to talk about that too.
Cindy Gallop 24:33
I can't afford to pay myself a living wage out of it. And so I have to support myself alongside through consultancy and speaking and so I consult on diversity and inclusion, but in a different way to the way a lot of other people do it because I am absolutely not the unconscious bias coach, you know, I'm not the diversity inclusion trainer. I am a hard headed business strategist. And what I do is I help companies reengineer the way they do business, that systems and processes to integrate DNI in a way that makes it a key driver of growth, profitability and better business outcomes, because that is the only way we get people do any of what we're talking about. Let me I'm very blatant, I say, I help diversity help make you more money. So this is the kind of thing I said to him, you gotta do four things. Number one, you have to completely re engineer your job description. I said to him, you have written the job description for this role to appeal to white men. And a demonstration of that, because I've had a chance to do my research before we spoke, the demonstration of that is that you posted this job spec for this role on LinkedIn. And underneath your post on LinkedIn is a very long comments thread full of white men recommending themselves or another white man. So I basically deconstructed the job description, and some of it was brand specifics. And I'm not gonna identify any of this. But I'll give you one example. In this job description he had written of the candidate,
You will have a creative track record that makes us all jealous. And I said to him, No, they won't. Because no black woman will ever have been promoted into a role where she could make that happen. So you take that out of the job description. And instead, what you write is, This is the role where you can finally unleash all of that creativity you’re not being able to exercise today. Okay, so, you know, so I talked him through how you write this job description to appeal to black women. And then I said, right, number two, you have to re engineer your recruiter brief. I said to him, I know without you even telling me this, I know that you have briefed your recruiters to find brilliant black women, that you've briefed them generally to find candidates who are already doing this role somewhere else. Don't do that. Brief your recruiters to find brilliant black women 1,2, 3 levels down from this position. Ah, because I said to him I can guarantee you that the black women currently working one to three levels down from this role will do a far better job in it than the white men currently doing it who never had to battle all the challenges they faced. Okay. So you have to completely rethink the recruiter brief. And then number three, I said, you have to re engineer your interview process. Because and by the way, I know this company is full of white men, you know, I said to him white men, interviewing other white men start from a position of positivity. Those white men are actively looking in the interview process for reasons to hire that white man in that interview. White men interviewing the rest of us start from a position of negativity, they are actively looking for reasons not to hire us, when they interview us, they are actively looking for red flags.
Portia Mount 28:04
This is something that people don't really this is an unconscious bias piece of this too.
Cindy Gallop 28:08
Exactly. And by the way, Portia, I will just say I talk a lot about conscious bias. Because way too much credit is given to unconscious bias, a great deal more biases conscious than people give it credit for. Okay? So reengineering. And then number four, I said to him, you have to re-engineer your working environment. Because, again, bear in mind, I know this company, I said if you invite a black female candidate in the interview, and she looks at your company, and she sees as she will that is full of white men, she's gonna go Why the fuck would I put myself in there, I know exactly what's gonna happen. And I said to him, it's very easy to re-engineer your work environment, all you do is immediately promote and pay raise all the brilliant black talent that's been kept down internally for years that is already working for you. You elevate it. And then lo and behold, when that brilliant black female candidate walks in, she at least has a chance of thinking, this is an environment where black talent can thrive.
Portia Mount 29:12
That's right, because you have inclusion, belonging, and it's not I'm going to grind out for a couple years, I'm gonna get the hell out here.
Cindy Gallop 29:21
And you're walking the talk, you know. And so what I've been saying to our industry for years is don't talk diversity. Don't do inspirational, compelling, creative campaigns about diversity. Don't do PR-stunts about diversity, just fucking be diverse.
Portia Mount 29:43
Louder for the people in the cheap seats, Cindy louder for the people in the cheap seats. So let me just ask one follow up on that. What do you think about this whole rash of you're on LinkedIn, I remember there was probably a two month period where every other week, XYZ company was appointing chief diversity officers. And I have to say, my black women friends and I had a couple of reactions to that one we said, Hey, great, it's great, we finally have a black face on the executive, you know, on the executive team of these big companies, but why does it always have to be the diversity role? Why can't she be the CEO?
Cindy Gallop 30:28
Yeah, I've been seeing the same Portia, you know, because people go, Oh, but you know, there are lots of black and brown people now, being, and I'm gonna speak for those black and brown people, they don't want to be the fucking Chief Diversity Officer, they want to be the CEO, they want to be the CMO, they want to be the CSO, they want to be the CIO, and do not want to be the CDO, you know, and so that is the, you know, with massive respect for people in these very difficult positions, because...
Portia Mount 30:59
Right and they are difficult positions.
Cindy Gallop 31:01
Yeah, but that is absolutely evading the issue solution, which goes, here's a really easy way to put a black face on the leadership team, and to say, we've covered off diversity. And now we don't have to worry about it. Stop that shit.
Portia Mount 31:16
Yeah, let the company off the hook. I am grateful that you have put that out there. And for the people who are the new people who will follow you on Twitter I mean, you have really been at this for more than a few years to really push companies to have some intellectual honesty around their, whether they're serious about diversity. And so you know, just so while I'm grateful for that so I want to talk about money. And then I want to pivot to “make love not porn”. So entrepreneurship is the way you know, we've talked about entrepreneurship being the way to wealth creation. What do you want women to know about money and owning their financial destiny?
Cindy Gallop 32:10
Sure. It's very simple. And again, I've been saying this for years. I want every woman to unashamedly set out to make an absolute God and fucking shit ton of money. And I always explained that I particularly like that deliberately, because that is how much money I want you to unashamedly set up to make.
Portia Mount 32:28
I'm trying to imagine exactly how much a shit ton of money is. But whatever that amount is, I know that I like it.
Cindy Gallop 32:33
Yeah. And the reason for that is, you know, not just to benefit you, which obviously want it to but because when every one of us makes an absolute God and fucking shit ton of money, we can then use that money to fund other women.
Portia Mount 32:47
Yes, that's right.
Cindy Gallop 32:48
We can use that money to help other women, support other women, and donate to other women. We need to build our own financial ecosystem, because the white male one is not working for us. You know, and, you know, just imagine, if we as women, if black women have had that kind of money in the pandemic, think how much good we could all have done.
Portia Mount 33:10
Oh, my god.
Cindy Gallop 33:10
Okay, you know, at the most basic level a bit because unfortunately, Portia, we have all been, you know, acculturated to go, Oh, nice girls, don't talk about money, you know, and that has set us back centuries. You know, because, because men are brought up to absolutely, it's all about making money. And, and the point is, money is freedom, and money is power. And when we have money, we can all help each other, you know, and we're all helping each other already in every way we possibly can. But oh my god, the impact when we deploy funds in the way that we know they need to be deployed.
Portia Mount 33:52
Cindy Gallop 33:53
Portia Mount 33:55
So this is where I want to talk about “make love not porn”. So you, I watched both of your TED Talks. And I remember your 2009 TED Talk, which was like four minutes. And you were wearing this bat, like, we're gonna link to it. I need people to see this TED Talk and the following one that you did. And your cold opener was I have sex with much younger men and I just remember like, there is this fun, interesting sort of tittering in the crowd. But then you sort of hit people with the value proposition of “make love not porn”, and I want to talk about it in two ways. One, how did you come up with it? Why did you do it? And what's, the sort of the moonshot you're going for with “make love not porn”?
Cindy Gallop 34:43
Sure. So you know, everything in my life has happened by accident. And so “make love not porn” was also a complete and total accident. So you know, as I said, Portia I date younger men, I should explain to our listeners that I am someone who has never wanted marriage, I've never wanted children, I’m very glad I always knew that as opposed to finding out the hard way by having them. I adore being single, I love being on my own, I cannot wait to die alone. And I date younger men cashing in recreationally for sex. And I am deliberately very public about all of that because we don't have enough role models for women. And for men, by the way, that demonstrates you can live your life very differently to the way society thinks you should, and still be very happy. So the men I date tend to be in their 20s. And this is now 13-14 years ago, I began realizing through dating younger men, that I was encountering what happens when today's total freedom of access to hardcore porn online meets our society's equally total reluctance to talk openly and honestly about sex.
Portia Mount 35:48
A weird paradox, right?
Cindy Gallop 35:49
When those two things converge, it becomes sex education by default in not a good way. So I found myself encountering a number of sexual behavioral men in bed, I went, Whoa, I know where that behavior is coming from. I thought, Gosh, if I'm experiencing this, other people must be as well. I didn't know that because bear in mind, Portia 13 years ago, nobody was talking about this. Nobody was writing about it. This is me in isolation, as a natural action or the person going, I'm going to do something about this. So 12 years ago, I put up with no money, a tiny, clunky website of “make love not porn.com”. That in its original iteration was just words, the construct was porn world versus real world. Here's what happens in the porn world. Here's what really happens in the real world. Launched that TED, became, as you've seen, the only TED speaker to say the words Come on my face on the TED stage.
Portia Mount 36:38
You said it like eight times!
Cindy Gallop 36:41
The talk went viral as a result, and it drove this extraordinary global response to my tiny website that I had never anticipated. 1000s of people wrote to me from every country in the world, young and old, male and female, straight and gay, pouring their hearts out. And I realized I'd uncovered a huge global social issue. And so I felt I had a responsibility to take “make love not porn” forwards in a way that would make it much more far reaching, helpful and effective. But I also saw an opportunity to do what I believe in, which is the future of businesses doing good and making money simultaneously. I saw the opportunity for a big business solution to this huge untapped need. And I use the word big advisedly, because even then, 12 years ago, at concept stage, I knew, if I wanted to counter the global impact of porn as default sex ed, I would have to come up with something that at least had the potential one day to be just as mass just as mainstream and just as all pervasive in our society, as porn currently is, so thinking very big right from the get-go. And so, what I decided to do was, you know, bigger than porn is not anti porn, because the issue is important. The issue is that we don't talk about sex in the real world. If we did mongst, many benefits, which I'll come on to, and people would then be able to bring a real world mindset when they view what is simply performative, produced entertainment. So our tagline at “make love not porn” is pro sex, pro porn, pro knowing the difference.
Portia Mount 38:11
And can I ask a question, and knowing the differences, porn is entertainment, as performative and performative entertainment.
Cindy Gallop 38:19
Yep, and sex is what we have in the real world.
Portia Mount 38:21
And sex is what we have in the real world. Got it.
Cindy Gallop 38:23
And so our only mission at “make love not porn” is to help make it easier for every single person in the world to talk openly and honestly about sex. And to do that in two respects, A) in the public domain. And by that I mean parents to children, teachers in schools, and B) and this is the really important one, to talk about sex openly and honestly, privately, in your intimate relationships. And the reason that's so key is because we didn't talk about sex, it's an area of rampant insecurity for every single one of us. We all get vulnerable when we get naked. Sexual egos are very fragile. People therefore find it bizarre and difficult to talk about sex with the people that they’re actually having it with while they're actually having it. Because in that situation, you are terrified that if you say anything at all about what is going on, if you comment on the action, any way at all, you will potentially hurt the other person's feelings. You'll put them off you, you will derail the encounter, you'll potentially derail the entire relationship. But at the same time, you want to please your partner, you want to make them happy. Everybody wants to be good in bed. Nobody knows exactly what that means. So you take your cues on how to do that from anywhere you can. And if the only cues you've ever seen are important, because your parents didn’t talk to you about sex, because your school didn’t teach you, because your friends aren’t ours. Those are the cues you're going to take to not have a very good effect.
Portia Mount 39:50
Right. And the porn industry is primarily run by men.
Cindy Gallop 39:53
Yeah, no, it's a male lens. So give it a special talk about it. I decided to take every dynamic in social media and apply them to this one area no other social network platform will go in order to socialize sex, and to make real world sex and talking about it socially acceptable, and therefore ultimately, just as socially shareable. Anything else you share on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram. So eight years ago, golly, no, nine years ago now my tiny team and I launched the first stage of this mission, because I have a whole roadmap for the future, but I need funding to achieve it. So the first stage is “make love not porn.tv”, which is an entirely user generated, crowdsource video sharing platform that celebrates real world sex.
Portia Mount 40:38
Right and that people are normal just for I know a bunch of listeners are going to go and you need to sign up but they’re real, normal people.
Cindy Gallop 40:47
So anybody from anywhere in the world can submit videos of themselves having real world sex, we are very clear what we mean by this. We are not porn. We are not amateur. We are building a whole new category on the internet that has never before existed - social sex. So our competition isn't porn. It's Facebook and YouTube. Or rather, it would be if Facebook and YouTube allowed you to socially sexually self-express and self-identify, which they don't. So social sex videos on “make love, not porn” are not about performing for the camera. They are just about doing what you already do on every other social platform. capture what goes on in the real world, as it happens spontaneously, in all funny, messy, glorious, silly, beautiful, ridiculous, wonderful humanists, we curate to make sure of that. I designed “make love not porn” around human curation, very important. Our curators watch every single video submitted from beginning to end before we approve it and publish it. And we have a revenue sharing business model. Half the income goes to our contributors, who we call out “make love not porn” stars. And now I want to explain to your audience why what we're doing is so unique. Yeah, because porn is purely and certainly masturbation material. That's its role very good. We are not just that we are actually, by the way, very happy to be that. But we are many more socially beneficial things on top of that. So for example, social sex on “make love not porn” is enormously reassuring. Because we celebrate real world everything. Real world bodies, real world hair, real world penis size, real world breast size. And the reason that's crucial Portia is because you can talk body positivity all you like, you can preach self love. Nothing makes us feel great about our own bodies, like watching people who are nobody's idea of aspirational body types getting turned on by each other, desiring each other, having an amazing time in bed, our mantra is everybody is beautiful at “make love not porn”, when they're having real world sex, and they really are. And so our members write to us and say, your videos make me feel better about my own body. You know, one man wrote, he said, My girlfriend and I now feel able to be more open and central with each other. Because you've made us both feel better about our own real world bodies.
Portia Mount 43:15
Cindy Gallop 43:15
Then, you know, we're also reassuring because we celebrate the accidents, the awkwardness, the messiness. If you only learn about sex from porn, porn teaches you that sex is a performance. Nothing must go wrong. Oh my god, it did, how embarrassing. I can’t have a seat at this table ever. If you can't laugh at yourself in bed, when can you? And so in our videos, ridiculous things happen because this is the real world. And they were like the real world equivalent sex equivalent of America's Funniest Home Videos. And then importantly, we celebrate real world emotion; love, intimacy, feelings, those radiate through the screen. You know, one man wrote to us and the “make love not porn” stars. He said, the sex in that video was incidental. I want what you guys have. The way they looked at eachother, I saw the way your eyes met. I hope one day I can meet someone to have that with. We get very moving emails. But here's the overarching goal of all of this. So what I say to people that “make love not porn” is a very simple thing. Make it easy to talk about sex. Because we don't do that currently, people don't get how massively, profoundly transformative that would be. And here's what I mean. I designed “make love not porn” around my own beliefs and philosophies. One of which is that everything in life starts with you and your values. So I ask people this question. What are your sexual values? And nobody can ever answer me because we're not taught to think like that.
Portia Mount 44:40
I was just gonna say like, honestly, I don't know what I would tell you.
Cindy Gallop 44:45
Our parents bring us up to have good manners, work ethic, sense of responsibility, accountability. Nobody ever brings us up to behave well in bed. But they should, because in bed values like empathy, sensitivity, generosity, kindness, honesty, respect, are as important as those values are in every other area of our lives, where we’re actively taught to exercise them. So this is my vision of a world in which I get “make love not porn” funded to achieve our mission at scale as the Facebook of social sex. Parents will bring their children up openly to have good sexual values and good sexual behavior. The same way they currently bring kids up to have good behaviour in every other aspect of life. We will therefore cease to bring up rapists because the only way that we end rape culture and by the way, this really is the only way is by embedding in society and openly talk about promoteded, operated and very importantly aspired to gold standard of what constitutes good sexual values and good sexual behavior. When we do that, we also end Me Too. We end sexual harassment, abuse, violence, all areas where the perpetrators currently rely on the fact that we do not talk about sex to ensure victims never speak up. Never go to authorities, never tell anybody. When we end that we massively empower women and girls worldwide. When we do that we create a far happier world for everybody including men. And when we do that we are one step closer to world peace. I talk about “make love not porn” as much as I talk about world peace. I'm not joking.
Portia Mount 46:28
I love it. So you talked about you've had hard time getting funding, what's your...
Cindy Gallop 46:35
Well basically, and our audience should know this. What I did not realize when I embarked on building “make love not porn” was that my team would fight an enormous battle every single day to build it. Essentially, because every piece of business infrastructure other tech startups get to take for granted. We can't, the small print always says no adult content. And this is all pervasive across every single area of the business in a way that people outside the sphere don't realize, it's not just I can't get funded, I can't get banked. It took me four years to find one bank here in America that would allow me to open a business bank account “make love not porn”, our biggest operational challenge is payments. PayPal won't work with adult content. Stripe can't maintain critical processes or won’t. Every tech service I need to use; hosting, encoding, encrypting, the terms of service always say no adult content. We had to build our entire video streaming platform from scratch ourselves as proprietary technology, because existing streaming services will not stream adult content. And even something as simple as sending emails out MailChimp will not work with adult content. Rejected by six or seven times until we found Sendgrid who would. A couple of years ago, I needed a contract user experience designer, I put a completely standard UX designer job description up on Upwork. 20 minutes later, Upwork took it down. They said you're not allowed to advertise jobs on here because you make love not porn. Every single thing is a battle. And you know, when it comes to funding and investors, and by the way, if I could raise enough funding, I can overcome all this because money solves all these problems.
Portia Mount 48:09
Sure. I was gonna say because you just need money.
Cindy Gallop 48:10
But my challenge finding investors is the social dynamic that I call fear of what other people will think. Because it is never about what the person I'm talking to thinks. When you understand what we're doing at “make love not porn” and why we're doing it, nobody can argue with it.
Portia Mount 48:27
It makes perfect sense. It’s logical,
Cindy Gallop 48:28
It's always their fear of what they think other people will think which operates around sex, unlike any other area. So basically, what that means Portia is I've had to spend the past 12 years parallel parking two things, building my startup and working to change the cultural context around it. Because when you have a truly world changing startup, you have to change the world to fit it not the other way around. And I am seeing the results of that. I'm seeing more openness over time. And so I'm about to set out to raise a round of funding this year. And, and I'm optimistic. Here's the deal, I know my investors are out there, they are impossible to find by the usual means. Because what my investors all have in common is your willingness to fund “make love not porn” is entirely a function of your personal sexual journey. It's a function of your personal lens on sex and sexuality driven by own experience, and there is no way to research and target for that because sex is the one area where you cannot tell from the outside what anybody thinks on the inside. The people you thought would totally get it down’t, the people you thought were total prudes do and so I put what I'm doing out there all the time, because I have to rely on those synaptic connections being made that will draw those people to me, and it's a long slow and painful process, but every so often, it works. And so I have a growing list of people who, you know, look at my pitch deck now, and who I'm going to reach out to as soon as that's finalized.
Portia Mount 50:10
I'm one so excited to continue to follow that journey because I think, frankly, it is an unmet need, right. And I think the way you describe them and the impact that it can have on people, ending rape culture, raising people to be more open and accepting of sexuality, I think is really profound.
Cindy Gallop 50:32
And actually Portia, I want to put an appeal out to our listeners, they obviously I would like everyone to support me. So please go to “make love not porn.tv” sign up, take out a subscription they start at $10 a month. But also, I would love to ask our audience to consider becoming “make love not porn” stars, and contributing their real world sex. And by the way, you know, everyone should be aware that, you know, that this is an important point to make overall. The young white male founders of the giant tech platforms that dominate our lives today are not the primary targets online and offline of harassment, abuse, racism, sexual assault, violence, rape, revenge porn, therefore they did not and they do not proactively design for the prevention of any of those things on their platforms. And we see the results around us every day. Those of us who are most at risk every day; women, black people, people of color, LGBTQ, the disabled, we design safe spaces and safe experiences. I and my tiny team spent literally years concepting and designing “make love not porn” before we ever built it. Because we knew if we were going to invite people do something they've never done before socially share their real world sex we had to think through every possible ramification of that to create a completely safe and trustworthy space. So as a result, not only do we operate unlike anybody else in the adult sphere. We operate unlike anybody else on the internet period. And that's because as I said, I decided to “make love not porn” around what everybody else should have. Nobody else did human curation. There is no self publishing on “make love not porn”, our curators watch every frame of every video from beginning to end before we approve it and publish it. Nobody else does that. We review every post on “make love not porn” social, which has the ability to post on your profile photos, texts. By the way it can be a safe world, not as safe as you’d like, but we review every post and approve it before publishing, we review every single comment on every single video.
Portia Mount 52:33
Cindy Gallop 52:34
Before we approve and publish it. No one else does that we can vouch for every piece of content on our platform whether nobody else can and that is why “make love not porn” is a place where you will find nothing but love. We celebrate nothing but love. We showcase nothing but love we're all about love. We're one of the safest places on the internet. And we really want to massively expand our community of black contributors and “make love not porn” stars. And we actually for Black History Month you know we email our members every week with themed curated collections of videos, you know ,and so we just earlier this week did a make black love not porn email with all of our black “make love not porn” stars videos, which went down in an absolute storm. And and here's the reason why representation is enormously important in a real world sex context. And I'll give you an example. Before we launched “make love not porn” we had to see the content, see the platform with content pre launch. So for a whole year, I was going around asking complete strangers would you film yourself having sex?
Portia Mount 53:40
Clearly people said yes?
Cindy Gallop 53:40
Yeah, you’d be surprised at how many people sid yes, and so you know, this lovely young gay male couple, okay, lived in New York, in a committed relationship madly in love with each other. Submitted this wonderful video 45 minutes of amazing loving gay male sex, okay, it was adorable. I mean, how much they were in love with each other, just shone through, okay. Now, just before we launched, they contacted us and they asked us to pull the video because they had shown their faces, one of them worked in education, they got nervous. And by the way, you can be anonymous, but they hadn't been. And also by the way, we operate a rent and stream model, not an own and download because our commitment is the moment anything changes; relationship, life circumstances, even just your mind, you tell us and we take the video down. They're gone instantly.
Portia Mount 54:27
I mean, that's very, that's very different.
Cindy Gallop 54:29
Yep. No, I mean, for example, we might publish a video one day, you are free to change your mind overnight. You tell us the next morning and we'll take it down instantly. Okay, no one else does that. Okay. So obviously we yanked the video, but I wrote this couple I said to them, I really hope at some point further down the line you will allow us to publish it and here's why, you know that video, I said the nature of the “make love not porn” brand is that people would watch that video who would never watch gay male porn for example. And if you needed it, that video have the potential to completely change your worldview of what you think gay male sex is. Because if you are homophobic, you think gay male sex is whips, chains, dungeons, Satan's pit of hell, okay. When you see two human beings loving each other, the way that you love your partner or partners, I believe that has the power to transform how you view people who are different from you, whether their sexuality is different, whether their race or ethnicity is different, whether their disability is different. You know, I believe that social sex at scale can be transformative, in that when you are literally watching love, when you are watching love and feelings and intimacy manifest in this most human ways that we can all respond to, I think that can transform all sorts of mindsets and prejudices and biases. So I would love our listeners to consider making black love not porn, and joining our wonderful community as “make love not porn” stars.
Portia Mount 56:03
Okay, so we're gonna challenge some listeners, I may never hear about it, but I suspect that you may have a few people who will take you up on it, and I really do hope people will check this out too, because it really is quite groundbreaking. And again, I think our listeners who are primarily women, are getting a chance to see in real time how women innovate and innovate and meet unmet needs, and do it in their own way.
Cindy Gallop 56:37
Portia exactly, because, you know, a question I've been asked directly in interviews is you know, Cindy, do you think you would have had much trouble raising funding for “making love not porn” if you had been a man and my response is a man would never have had this idea.
Portia Mount 56:54
I think this idea feels and seems uniquely like something a woman would come up with.
Cindy Gallop 57:01
Portia Mount 57:01
And it's the argument for why you need women influencing all aspects of it. You’ve created your, so if we go back to the beginning, you created your own industry.
Cindy Gallop 57:11
And by the way, the enormous irony Portia coming from the advertising industry as I do and again, your audience may not be aware of this. I would especially like everybody's support because “make love not porn” cannot advertise. We are banned from advertising on Facebook, Instagram, across social. We are also banned from advertising on billboards on the subway here in New York. I've tried and it's important to know that this isn't just us. Facebook bans all female founded female sexual health and wellness ventures.
Portia Mount 57:46
I had heard that, that's true?
Portia Mount 57:47
Um, menstruation ventures cannot advertise on Facebook.
Portia Mount 57:52
I definitely have heard that.
Portia Mount 57:54
Menopause ventures, cannot advertise on Facebook. Fertility ventures can't. It's entirely gendered. Okay. In the meantime, male sexual health and wellness erectile dysfunction solutions come on.
Portia Mount 58:07
Cindy Gallop 58:09
So I'm trying to break that down. But again, this is why we need your support. Because you know, and it's infuriating “make love not porn” is so media responsive. Every time anyone covers us traffic spike, and we would be so advertising responsive if we could advertise and we can't and that's why we need all of you listeners to come and join us and subscribe and support us and becoming “make love not porn” stars.
Portia Mount 58:33
Oh, wonderful. Cindy Gallop, it has been such a pleasure. Thank you for your time today. We will link to all of the links that you've suggested including “make love not porn”. We'll also make sure you follow Cindy on Twitter at Cindy Gallop. She has got an amazing Twitter feed that is just full of not only information, amazing photographs and a lot of pretty witty commentary as well. So follow her and we will also link to that as well. Cindy thank you so much.
Cindy Gallop 59:05
It's been an absolute pleasure.