Julia Lam is the co-founder and CEO of Bucket, an online trip planning service. You can find the Text Set of articles she selected here.
How do the articles you selected reflect your perspective on women's history?
The American Dream is focused on the idea that if you work hard, you can accomplish anything you want. Although that's a great ideal to strive for, in reality, not all doors are open to everyone. In the last 10-20 years, we've finally seen women ask to actually be equals -- to be considered for the same jobs, get the same pay, and be treated fairly in the workplace. But gender roles and expectations start extremely early -- children's toys and how you treat them will affect how they will grow up. Princess toys and "being nice" will likely not land you a seat at the head of the table -- we need to teach young ladies that they can innovate, problem solve, and lead. We're not there yet in terms of equality, but finally, we're talking about it. I hope the next generation will see even more doors open than we experience today.
What has led you to do the work you do today?
I've always valued solving problems efficiently and am creative and innovative enough to think of alternative solutions. Some things are done really well, and others are done really poorly. When things are done poorly, you have an opportunity to make it better if you're willing to put in the time. That's what I do as a CEO, I problem solve. Whether that's figuring out what the market looks like, how the product should look and feel, how to build the right team, or how to get it to market.
A woman who inspires Julia:
Many women inspire me, but I'm going to share a story closer to home. I'm inspired by a woman I used to work with, Deborah Liu, who's now the head of Platform at Facebook and an investor in my company. She inspires me for a few reasons.
- She has a very senior role in a primarily male dominated field at a $300+ B company. There's very few senior leaders who are women, especially in a male dominated field like technology. She's intelligent, thoughtful, detail-oriented, and has earned her role as a leader of that organization.
- Deborah is also the mother to three adorable children. Although her work is extremely demanding, she does it all. She creates innovative art projects for her children to learn, helps them understand bigger life issues, and grow into the most well rounded individuals.
It's rare that you can find someone who can truly do it all, but I think Deb can.
Who are your favorite female authors?
I like Amy Tan as an author, but I actually never think about an author's gender when I read a book. One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell because I like his psychological studies and believe in his thesis that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something, you'll be an expert.