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Wild Woman Tara Hunt: CEO of Buyosphere.com

Jan 03, 2013 05:29AM

TaraHunt

By Leslie McCarroll

Tara Hunt CEO / Buyosphere.com http://buyosphere.com/users/missrogue http://tarahunt.com/

I first found out about Tara Hunt through a woman's entrepreneur group and was fascinated by her candid, authentic tale of the trials and tribulations of her company Buyosphere.com. I was impressed with how honest she was with the growing pains of her startup and how she just kept moving on despite  many of the challenges. Not only was I excited when she replied to my email, but I was even more honored to be able to interview her. She truly is an inspiration for every woman out there who is heading her own startup! Enjoy our interview, prepare to be inspired and hop on Buyosphere to create yourself a profile for that fashionista in you!

Tara Hunt is the CEO & co-founder of Buyosphere and previously worked with over 30 startups, including Like.com (acquired by Google in 2010). She wrote the bestseller, "The Power of Social Networking," now printed in eight languages and has spoken all over the world on entrepreneurship and how the social web is changing business.

What were you like in high school? Did you stand out from your friends? Did you always know that you were somehow different by having a keen sense for business? If so, how? To say that I stood out is an understatement, but it wasn’t for a keen sense of business. Not at all. Sure, I was always enterprising but not in the lemonade stand way. I stood out because I’ve always been a complete idealist, which wasn’t as cool in my day as it is now. I think I’d be one of the cool kids now. In the 80’s, I was seen as a loudmouthed hippie. I used to set up booths for Amnesty International and give long diatribes on the environment and recycling. Oh, and international issues like emancipation of South Africa was a big deal for me. I can’t even remember why I felt so incensed to get involved.

What is it that you really wanted to be when you “grew up?" So I already revealed that I was an idealist, right? I never dreamed of a normal career path. I started as a princess, ballerina, singer, designer, then moved to pirate at some point (perhaps after watching a movie). I remember thinking that the whole idea of ‘growing up’ to go to work seemed like an odd concept. Not the work bit. I’ve always been a hard worker. But the part about having to pick something to spend the rest of your life doing. Perhaps I had the sense that what I’d do wasn’t even invented yet.

How were your parents influential in your life as far as helping you go after your dreams? Or maybe they weren’t. Perhaps you had another role model? My dad owned his own vet practice, so he was an entrepreneur (though that word didn’t mean anything to me growing up - he worked hard, people liked him and he had a great skill). My mom was an artist, but she didn’t focus on the career of it until after we were grown. She really ran the farm (which was the second business - the supplementary one). But none of that registered for years. I don’t know if I had a real role model that I looked up to and said, “I want to be just like her/him when I grow up.” Maybe Bono a bit? It was in University that I really found role models. I think it was Marilyn Waring (feminist economist) who first ignited my passion to be like someone. I met her in Wellington, NZ many years back and got to hang with her again a few summers ago in Quebec. I still want to be like her when I grow up.

What has been that driving force inside of you that pushes you on despite the challenges you’ve have in your start up career? Wanting to change the world. I know. That sounds so cliché and lame. But I really actually want to change the world. And by ‘change the world’ I mean, I question the way we’ve structured the world we live in every single day. If it weren’t for the way we set up currency and the odd celebration of amassing mounds of it, I wonder what we’d be doing? Would we be inventing for the sake of advancing our world? I think a lot about extrinsic/intrinsic motivation and I think it was a terrible mistake on mankind’s part to invent currency, especially fiat currency. Because we are no longer allowed to be motivated by pure curiosity and world improvement tendencies. It’s all about ‘show me the money.’ And I’ve kind of fought against that forever to my own detriment because, well, money means you have accomplished something and I have no money. So there you go.

What is the most difficult thing that you have encountered as a woman entrepreneur? What advice can you give to other women starting out in the same position that you were in? It’s all about a difference of world-view and perceptions, not being a woman entrepreneur. It’s being forced into a monolithic system where social proof means you look like Mark Zuckerberg these days. My advice? Be better than that system, but play the game as much as you need to. Then get really rich. Then use that power to change it. I am too idealistic to pretend at this point. It’ll change in my lifetime, though.

Did you find it difficult to go back and get a job during the challenges of Buyosphere? Was it a conflict with your ego? How did you balance out your life working both jobs? There are ALWAYS conflicts with my ego. There is no such thing as balance. Things fall by the wayside. I haven’t been to the gym in 2.5 months! I like working for someone else, though. I get to focus on the creative bits while someone else worries about the payroll. But being an entrepreneur is challenging in other ways for work. It’s less about ego and more about watching someone else make the same mistakes you made with your business and having them not listen. It’s painful.

Have you found it difficult to date men that meet your expectations? Being a woman of empowerment and entrepreneur? That’s a funny question. I used to think that was a problem, but then I realized I was just dating the wrong men. I’m in an amazing relationship with a guy who is completely turned on by my confidence and ambition. I do have to make sure I consider his needs when I’m barreling ahead, though. It helps me slow down and appreciate things in life.

Do you have kids? If so how, do you balance both career and dating life? I have a son who is 19. When he still lived at home, it was more of a challenge and I sucked at it. I’m not a good person to answer this question. I love my son, but I wish I could have a do-over and be a wee bit more helicopter-y for him.

What has been your greatest challenge? Myself. My insecurity. My lack of faith in myself. My laziness. It’s always been around me holding myself back. But I think I know what’s best for me most of the time.

What has been your best success? Organizing a kickass karaoke roadtrip across America. It was amazing. And I convinced four friends to join me. That was epic.

Obviously you are very fit, do you work out routinely?  What is your approach to fitness? Man, I let the cat out of the bag that I haven’t been to the gym in over 2 months now. I am sad about this. But my approach? “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion” - get a routine rolling and don’t stop. Ever. If you need to take a day off, make up for it the next day. When you feel the results, you will feel more incentivized to keep going. As soon as you stop, even for a week or two, you loose that momentum.

What is your favorite workout regime? I still love doing a good amount of cardio (20-60 minutes) and then circuit training. I know it’s old school, but the high reps, lower weight makes my body feel great. I tried higher weight, lower reps, but it didn’t feel like progress to me. I also loved CrossFit, which is sort of the same concept.

Are you spiritual? Religious? Tell me about that. Who do you go to for spiritual reconnection or meditation? I’m agnostic. Truly agnostic. I think there must be someone divine somewhere. I’ve seen bits of it in the world and in people. But nobody has convinced me that one religion or another is the answer. I’m totally open. But I don’t think anyone has it right yet.

What or who currently challenges you? Figuring out what I’m going to do with my life. I’m not even 40 yet and I feel a bit lost again. I need a new challenge.

Favorite bad food? Drink? Pizza and beer. I’m Canadian.

Do you have a reoccurring dream? What is it? What do you think it means to you? Nope. But I dream vividly and in color every night. Usually about a problem I’m trying to solve. I keep a journal by my bed in order to capture ideas in the middle of the night. Most of them make no sense in the light of day.

What is your best invention yet? That I’ve produced? Nothing. That I’ve imagined? I can’t tell you.

Best advice for new entrepreneurs? You are crazy. Embrace it.

What’s next after/with Buyosphere? Have you reached the top of your mountain yet? If today was your last day on Earth would you be satisfied with what you have accomplished ? Leaving your thumbprints on the world? What would that be? That’s a cruel question. I actually asked it at a professional women’s dinner once and half the table cried when answering it. There is so much still to do. I just want to know that people feel free to question the way we live. I want people to step back and, en masse, imagine the world they want to live in then decide to make it.

I know you have traveled a lot in your career, where else do you want to travel to and why? I’ve never been to South America or Africa - I’d love to travel those two continents in their entirety. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t leave Africa, though. Why? Because it’s where I think the future lives.

Charity and tithing are important? Who do you contribute to and why? Who do you want to contribute to? I give bits and bobs here and there: Kickstarter projects, kids with clipboards, friends raising money for campaigns. You name it. I don’t really keep track or use it as a tax write-off, but I probably give a couple thousand a year to charity. Not enough, though. I’m never ahead enough to make a significant donation, though.

Do you mentor women entrepreneurs? Would you be interested in creating a program like that? I do already. Not through a program, but through my time.

What is the hardest part of getting funding for a startup and what is your advice? Asking.

What keeps you up at night? Whatever is on my mind when I fell asleep at night.

Does turning 40 bother you? That’s another cruel question. No. I’m actually sort of excited about it.

How you do see the social media landscape changing in the next five years? The future of Facebook? I hope it isn’t called social media. Or is remarkable. I hope brands start using it like human beings.

What is in your purse? My moleskine, my iPhone, a makeup kit (TSA standard), glasses, sunglasses, too many pens, my wallet, a pick, gum, lots of lint. Nothing remarkable really.

Are you comfortable with your body? What is your take on societal pressures with women on body image? I’d like to get more exercise because gravity and I are at war. No body issues here.

Life is short. Do you dance alone in your house when no one is looking? We hope so! What is your favorite music to dance to? I used to. But I should take it up again. I love old school funk and r&b.