Lisa Sugar


Although fortunes are known to rise and fall in Silicon Valley, Lisa Sugar’s success seems pretty sweet.

This week at Bespoke in Westfield San Francisco Centre, the PopSugar founder hosted an event to celebrate the launch of her first book, “Power Your Happy,” a tome that shares her approach to “working hard and playing nice” while building a major media company.

Sugar’s rise to become president of PopSugar is the stuff of which Silicon Valley legends are made: It started as a celebrity and style blog in 2005 and has since grown into an organization that boasts 500 employees and has expanded into a suite of brands in media and commerce, with shopping platform ShopStyle and subscription box PopSugar Must Have.

The brands, which Sugar created with her husband, Brian Sugar, attract an estimated 100 million monthly visitors worldwide. At a time when fellow Silicon Valley media company Mode Media imploded, and new media influencers are facing off against establishment editors, the climate was ripe to discuss Sugar’s path to personal and professional stability.

The book, she said during introductory remarks, was an effort to share practical advice for loving one’s job in a world of “TGIF” and “Friyay.” Wearing a signature blue dress, the pop culture aficionado briefly shared her story before inviting a group of local female executives to participate in a panel discussion with Fortune’s Leena Rao to discuss risks, failures and mentors in leading growing companies.

Participating in the panel were Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine, StyleSeat founder Melody McCloskey and Embrace founder Jane Chen. Each offered anecdotes from careers dependent on navigating the world of entrepreneurship and technology.

McCloskey garnered laughs for her description of pitching “a hair company” to bald venture capitalists, and said that her friend Travis (that would be Kalanick, the founder of Uber), was instrumental in encouraging her to launch the company.

Levine shared her approach to identifying and seeking advice from mentors and to that end, Chen described how a chance meeting with Salesforce founder Marc Benioff led to his financially saving the company after a major deal fell through.

Although the topics were serious, the mood was jovial; after the talks, the crowd toasted to Sugar with Champagne while snacking on — what else? — blue cotton candy.

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