From Fake Male Cofounders To Brain Food: August’s Top Leadership Stories

This month’s top stories covered an ingenious ruse for sidestepping sexism in tech and how certain foods affect cognitive functioning.

From Fake Male Cofounders To Brain Food: August’s Top Leadership Stories

This August, we learned about two women e-commerce entrepreneurs who circumvented (some of) the startup world’s sexism by creating a fictitious male cofounder, and how one Fast Company staff member fared after tweaking her diet to include foods meant to boost cognitive functioning. Plus, one CEO shared what happened when he answered every email he got for a week with an invitation to hop on a call.


These are the stories you loved in Leadership for the month of August:

1. These Women Entrepreneurs Created A Fake Male Cofounder To Dodge Startup Sexism

Sexism in tech is still alive and well, as evidenced by the Uber scandal, sexual harassment allegations in the VC world, and more recently, the infamous James Damore memo. So when two women tech founders encountered sexist treatment in the process of building their business, they came up with a creative solution: create a fake male cofounder, by the name of Keith Mann, to navigate certain key business interactions for them. Here’s how that went.

2. What Happened When I Replied “Call Me” To Every Email I Got For A Week

Smartphones and computers make lots of things possible, but they may also have made many of us fear an activity that was once considered run-of-the-mill. Today, picking up the phone is some people’s absolute least favorite mode of communication. But Allen Gannett, CEO and founder of a marketing startup, decided to embrace it all in one go. This month, Gannett explained the top benefits and drawbacks to his week-long experiment.


3. What Happened When I Ate The Best Brain Foods For A Week

You know you should eat healthy for your body, but there’s plenty of evidence that your diet is equally as important for your brain. Fast Company’s Anisa Purbasari Horton put her anti-diet bias aside and decided to try the “MIND” diet, an eating plan designed for optimal cognitive function. Here’s what happened when she tested out a week eating of leafy greens, salmon, blueberries, and no sugar or dairy.

4. Productivity Secrets From Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Susan Wojcicki, And More

It’s no surprise that the most successful CEOs have adopted hacks and habits to help them stay on top of their game. While some of those tactics–like dedicating time for “deep work” and kicking off the workday early–are common productivity practices, others might surprise you. For example, Mark Zuckerberg does not “eat the frog” first thing in the morning.

5. I’ve Interviewed Hundreds Of Job Candidates, And These Three Things Are Deal-Breakers

It’s normal to be nervous for job interviews. In fact, as one former hiring manager explains, candidates usually don’t get knocked for giving answers that are just okay: “I understood that it was an awkward situation, and sometimes, people needed to find their footing.” However, certain answers are deal breakers. This August we learned what some of the most common ones are.


6. How Successful People Make Decisions Differently

It’s not just in your head: Successful people do make good decisions, and not just based on intuition (though that certainly plays a part). As Stephanie Vozza reports, the secret is in their method of evaluating choices. For one thing, it helps to recognize that the outcomes of some decisions have minimal consequences, and for another, it’s important to know whether you’re in the best frame of mind for deciding something in the first place.

7. This Is What Your Overactive Brain Needs To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Stop scrolling through Instagram before bed. That bad habit primes your brain to stay up–but it’s not the only thing that does. What you eat and drink before you snooze can also have a huge impact on your sleep quality. Among them: Winding down with a glass of wine might feel relaxing, but you’ll probably find yourself tossing and turning and waking up several hours later.

8. This Three-Word Phrase Is Subtly Undermining Your Authority

Some things are just better left unsaid. One of them, according to one speech coach? “To be honest”–or variations of it, like “let me be frank” or “honestly.” Even if you have the best of intentions, it might send the wrong signal–the person you’re talking to might feel like they’re about to get a slap in the face.


9. I’ve Interviewed Over 300 Entrepreneurs–Here’s Their Most Counterintuitive Advice

Successful entrepreneurs are typically praised for two things: their bold vision and their ability to execute. But there’s often more to success than just that. In interviews with over 300 entrepreneurs, Jenna Abdou, host of the podcast 33voices, has gathered a lot of firsthand insight from founders, some of it pretty surprising. For example, Andy Rachleff, who cofounded fintech company Wealthfront, tells Abdou that “competition doesn’t matter.”

10. This Is What Personality Tests From Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Uber Employees Reveal About Gender Differences

After the so-called “Google memo” broke, debate raged for weeks over the roles that biology, psychology, and personality traits may or may not play in women’s underrepresentation in tech. But when Good&Co analyzed personality tests at leading tech companies, it found no meaningful differences between male and female Googlers. At Uber, on the other hand–which has struggled with discrimination allegations and worse–men ranked 32% more “socially assertive” than women employees. Perhaps culture has a bigger impact than biology.