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How This Founder Taught Herself to Code–and Built the Hottest Networking Hub for Women

Users get to interact with high-profile leaders like Chelsea Clinton, Katie Couric, Kelly Osbourne, and Margaret Cho.

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BY Mark Miller - 05 Jun 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Editor's note: This post is part of a series of interviews with inspiring women founders by Mark Miller and Lucas Conley, collaborators at Team One's Legacy Lab and the authors of the new book Legacy in the Making. If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can hear Tiffany Pham tell her story on June 6 at Team One's offices as part of Moonshots, a joint speaker series produced by Team One and Inc. magazine.

Reaching millions across 196 countries, Mogul--the award-winning social media platform CEO Tiffany Pham founded in 2014--has become a global crossroads for women of all ages seeking to connect and share information. Born out of Pham's vision to provide information to women everywhere, the site provides a forum for users to interact with each other as well as high-profile influencers such as Chelsea Clinton, Katie Couric, Kelly Osbourne, and Margaret Cho. Now a mogul herself, we asked Pham how she built--and continues to build--her modern legacy.

Where did the idea for Mogul come from?

I was inspired by my family. My father moved us from Vietnam to Paris to Texas following a career in telecom, technology and media. So, I grew up very passionate about media and access to information, and I promised myself at 14 years old that I would do everything I could to carry forward that family legacy.

That mission propelled me from Yale to Harvard Business School to a career in media where, initially, I was working three different jobs at once--one at CBS corporate, one with the government of Beijing, and one producing films on social issues. In 2014, I was named to the Forbes "30 Under 30." I was inundated with messages from young women all over the world. They wanted insights, advice, encouragement--all kinds of things. As I was answering them one by one, I thought, "What if there was a platform where millions of us could share our challenges and struggles and get stronger together?"

The answer was Mogul--an online platform that enables women all over the world to connect and share information with each other.

A great idea--but how did you realize it? Meanwhile, given everything else you were doing, did you ever sleep?

[Laughing] Not really! These days, when I get five hours of sleep it feels like a luxury. Believe it or not, back then, my favorite time of day was 3 a.m., when I was done with my other work. So, I used that time to teach myself to code. I knew coding would help me realize my passion to connect others. After a few weeks, I built the first iteration of Mogul. It was very simple and ugly, but it was one of my proudest moments: Building this thing with my own hands that I hoped would shape and change the lives of women around the world.

Fast-forward to today and we reach millions of users every week. We're backed by Hearst Corporation, and we have partnerships with international organizations like UN Women. We're able to turn every dollar we earn into educational resources, providing to ultimately 62 million women in need.

What is Mogul's greatest cultural impact so far from your perspective?

I think our greatest impact has been creating a place that enables women from all around the world to share their perspective and really see they're not alone. Young women come to Mogul's site daily, to see what's trending amongst women's conversations. For many, it's considered their number one source of inspiration.

One of the first letters I ever received was from a young girl in Pakistan. She said Mogul helped her realize she could be more than what her society told her. Her life was going to be all about marriage, but Mogul helped her see new perspectives, and now she's a feminist, and she loves Mogul. It's one of my favorite letters because it makes me realize how much of an impact Mogul has had.

What advice do you have to share with others who want to build their own modern legacy?

My best advice is to always remember that whenever you face a "no" it's likely just a "not right now." I'm driven by passion and have a short-term memory for no's. I will always keep looking for a path to yes.

My other big piece of advice is to write down any idea you have. Don't worry about it being perfect at the beginning. Just get started. Start coding, start building, start creating. It may be ugly, it may be simple--just as Mogul was in the beginning--but you will refine it and in the end, it will become just as beautiful as you hoped it would be.

What's next for Mogul?

We have some really exciting things ahead: we're launching Mogul's app in June 2018, further fostering connections and conversations to create a supportive network of women. Our book You Are a Mogul is available now for pre-order, and offers specific, actionable advice to readers from overcoming self-doubt, to pursuing side-hustles, to crushing it at life and work by over-delivering, all while remaining your authentic self. And finally, our first-ever conference, Mogul X, will take place in New York City in September 2018.

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