How theSkimm cofounders combat burnout and imposter syndrome

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, cofounders of theSkimm, get real about fighting burnout, deleting their email app, and getting over imposter syndrome.

Christine Han for the Skimm

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin launched theSkimm newsletter in 2012 from the couch of their West Village apartment with only $4,000 to their names. Since then, theSkimm brand has added an app, an expanded website, and now, a book. On June 10, in the same city that it all began, the cofounders kicked off the “How to Skimm Your Life” Night Out book tour.

The “night out” consisted of one hilarious conversation with model Ashley Graham. Ladders was there to catch all the specific, real, and pointed advice that every Millennial and Gen Zer needs to hear.

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin delete their email app

Weisberg and Zakin are Millennial entrepreneurs, so obviously they’re pretty much constantly tied to their emails, but not on vacations. When theSkimm cofounders take a break, they really take a break. From everything.

Much to Graham’s disbelief (and slight appall), Zakin admitted that she simply deletes her email app from her phone while on vacation and even sometimes on weekends.


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“It’s so amazing,” Zakin said. “The people that you work with have your phone number, so if it’s something where you need to be reached, you’re still reachable.”

The cofounders admit that they were completely burnt out the first two years that they launched theSkimm, but don’t regret one second of it. In fact, they encourage entrepreneurs to work through it.

“We had to do that, it was on us,” Weisberg said. “This was something that we were creating.”

But in this time of feeling like you always need to be busy to feel important, Weisberg urges you to learn the difference between working hard for an outcome and working hard to fill an agenda.

“Recognize that there are times where it’s going to be like that in your career…there are going to be moments where you have to put everything you have into that,” Weisberg said. “Then there are moments where you feel like it’s a trend, or you feel like being busy equates to success.”

Additionally, the cofounders have made sure that theSkimm team doesn’t get burnt out like they did during those first couple of years, encouraging team members to take one hour a week to go to therapy, do yoga, or take action on something else they’ve been putting off.

“We talk about how taking one hour out of each week can make a big difference and it’s really not that important, you’re not missing anything with that amount of time,” Zakin said.

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin role-play before big meetings for theSkimm

Again, Weisberg and Zakin shocked Graham by admitting that they use role-playing to get ready for big meetings. Weisberg and Zakin will imagine scenarios and have conversations as other people in order to prepare for certain comments.

When it comes to imposter syndrome, it’s a struggle the women have dealt with every step of the way.

“There is not a day that goes by that we don’t have imposter syndrome,” Zakin said. “We’d never had a board meeting before…we’d never had employees before, we never even had direct reports before this.”

Another way the women prepare for big meetings, especially meetings about money, is by creating scripts for themselves.

“We prefer to negotiate on the phone because we’ll keep a script that shows what we’ll say and it helps us,” Zakin said. “It’s a confidence booster and it allows us to stay on point and not fall into traps.”

Finally, this was a practice Graham could relate to.

“That’s funny you make a script because I make a script, too,” Graham said. “I write out what I want…I even write out sentences that I know I want to say.”

Zakin and Weisberg agreed that having a partner throughout the whole project has made all the difference when it comes to imposter syndrome.

“Thankfully there’s the two of us,” Zakin said. “We both don’t freak out at the same time.”


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