Interview: Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, Founders of theSkimm
Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of theSkimm, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg launched theSkimm from their couch in 2012 and have built a brand with more than 7 million daily subscribers. The company started with the Daily Skimm, the fastest growing email newsletter on the market (sign up here), and has expanded to include theSkimm app, Skimm Studies, Skimm Reads, Skimm Picks and Skimm Notes, Skimm This.
Not only that, there's a production arm, Skimm Studios, which develops and creates new and innovative video and audio content and original programming including the new podcast “Skimm’d from The Couch” which reached #1 on Apple Podcasts within hours of launch, and video series including "Sip 'n Skimm," “Skimm’d with…” and "Get Off The Couch" among others.
Not long ago, I visited theSkimm's offices here in New York City, and I got a big kick out of the fact that the conference rooms are named after episodes of the Law and Order TV show, because that's the show the founders love to watch together from that couch!
On top of everything else that's being created, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin have written a book. Danielle describes How to Skimm Your Life as "the book we wish we had when we were starting our careers. It breaks down all the daunting and unsexy parts about being an adult—personal finance, negotiating, de-stressing, and more."
I couldn't wait to hear what they had to say.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?
Danielle: For me, it’s working out. Putting aside the physical benefits, the mental clarity of moving and being active really helps me think through any challenges I’m facing. I love having that one hour in my day where I’m not tied to my phone.
Carly: Sleep. I find I can actually think through problems in my sleep. Our new book How to Skimm Your Life includes a whole section on sleep—how much you should get, what to do when you can’t get to sleep, how to avoid pressing snooze, and how to survive the work day if you didn’t sleep well.
What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?
Danielle: One thing we’ve both learned is that we all can define our own happiness. You can't rely on other people or outside circumstances to do it for you.
Carly: Happiness is not something you can measure against others. You have to create your own opportunities and space to succeed.
Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
Danielle: This past year was a stressful one for me, and the things that had helped with stress relief in the past just weren’t working. I had never been able to connect with yoga—I could never breathe on the right beats or relax in the studio. I tried it again recently, and this time it just clicked. I developed a habit of going twice a week, and it’s really helped me to slow down.
Carly: We included a whole section in How to Skimm Your Life called “Things that Need a Deep Breath: theSkimm on De-Stressing” with tips and tricks we’ve implemented around sleep, breathing, organization, and more.
Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?
Danielle: Starting theSkimm was definitely a lightning bolt moment for us. We were both working in news and were roommates at the time. We would come home and talk about our vision for theSkimm but needed that extra push to take the leap.
Carly: I remember the show I had been working on at the time was changed and Danielle’s promotion was delayed. That was the sign we were waiting for. We quit our jobs and started theSkimm.
Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful? (e.g., I remind myself to “Be Gretchen.”)
Danielle: Disconnect from energy that doesn't serve you, so that you can focus on being your highest and best power. Yes—I know this sounds really self-help, but it really helps me.
Carly: My mom always says what has to get done will get done. I say that to myself a lot.
Has a book ever changed your life—if so, which one and why?
Carly: We both really love The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
Danielle: I’m a big believer in manifesting and knowing what you want in the end. Working backwards from this goal helps me feel more strategic and empowered in my day to day decisions.
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