By Annie Pettit
(The clean version of this post, without profanity, is available by clicking here.)
Meet Cindy Gallop.
Cindy likes to blow shit up.
Cindy is glaringly bold and contentious in sharing her opinions about the state of advertising, the lack of gender equality in the advertising industry, and misperceptions of what comprises normal, healthy sexual relationships among people.
She began her career in advertising and made a name for herself at the Bartle Bogle Hegarty agency. She later founded their US branch, eventually being recognized as the Advertising Woman of the Year by the Advertising Women of New York in 2003.
Now, Cindy is the founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, an extremely ‘Not Safe For Work’ (NSFW) social sex website that aims to derail misperceptions about healthy sexual relationships. She is also the founder of IfWeRanTheWorld, a real-world experiment in tapping good intentions and turning them into tangible, do-able microactions that anyone and everyone can help you to do.
Just like Cindy, millions of people have worked hard, risen through the ranks, and founded companies. No big deal. Okay, it IS a big deal but that’s not the point here. The point, rather, is that when I think about people who are leaders, not simply presidents or founders or CEOs, I immediately think of Ms. Gallop. She reminds me on a near daily basis of four qualities I admire in genuine leaders.
- Be bold and fierce. Cindy isn’t meek, mild, and moderately opinionated. We’ve blogged before about the appropriateness of using profanity in the workplace, and Cindy has zero qualms about it. Her unabashed use of profanity and colloquial language to make her points clear and strong captures people’s attention and brings them into the conversation regardless of whether they agree with her.
I want to be very clear on this: Yes, MakeLoveNotPorn.com and All The Sky have enormous social benefit, but I am also out to make an absolute goddamn fucking shit ton of money. – MMLaFleur
I deplore the shying away that can go on, within women, from the term ‘feminist.’ I am, absolutely, all about being a feminist. – Ted.com
Cindy personified bold when a top ranking advertising executive resigned after a gender diversity controversy, She had no qualms issuing a public statement with a valiant dare, a statement that on its own caused even more controversy.
“I see that Kevin Roberts was paid a total salary of $4,137,786 last year, whereas, contrary to his remarks directed at me, nobody anywhere is paying me anything to do the work I do in this area. I note that PublicisGroupe/Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide now have a vacancy for a leadership coach, and I’d like to offer my services. Obviously, to ensure there is no gender wage gap, at the same salary Kevin Roberts was being paid.”
In her efforts to promote diversity and equality, she’s regularly accused of promoting ‘quota’ and ‘diversity’ hires that will lead to people who aren’t sufficiently qualified to be hired. Her response to those claims continue to be bold and fierce.
“Look around at the mediocre men who were hired just because they were men. Get hired because you are a woman or person of color and then do a bloody brilliant job in that role.” AdAge
“Diversity raises the fucking bar.” – 3% Conference
- Defy stereotypes. Everyone is raised with stereotypes. Boys and girls are taught how men and women ought to look, speak, dress, and present themselves. Boys and girls are taught how ‘young’ and ‘old’ people are supposed to behave. Our culture has taught us that older women should be quiet, demure, and blend into the background, but Cindy has completely rejected those notions. Instead, she focuses on what is right for her.
Cindy believes you shouldn’t hide your age. At 57, you could say she’s an older woman. And even though she’s not part of the Hollywood scene, she dresses however she pleases including wearing leopard-skin miniskirts, biker pants, python skin pants, leather pantsuits, and warrior outfits because what she chooses to wear is no one’s business but her own. Who’s to say that older women must show restraint and modesty in their clothing choices? Restraint is not Cindy’s modus operandi.
I consider myself a proudly visible member of the most invisible segment of our society: older women. I would like to help redefine what society thinks an older woman should look like, be like, work like, dress like and date like by the way I live my life. – The Guardian
- Ignore what haters and nay-sayers think. Cindy knows what is meaningful and important, and if someone isn’t comfortable with her use of profanity, her social sex projects, or how she presents herself as an older woman, well, they’d better get used to feeling uncomfortable. Cindy keeps on fighting for the causes she believes in, and she keeps on trying to mend misperceptions of sexuality so that people can have more realistic expectations of what a healthy sex life really is.
- Do what is right. Cindy has a firm handle on what it means to do the ‘right’ thing and she’s oriented her life to achieve that goal. Not in keeping with stereotypes of women, and particularly of older women, her end goal is to become rich. But at the same time, she also wants to create and support endeavors that have enormous social benefit. She’s managed to do this with both of her projects – MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld.
“When we launched If WeRanTheWorld, I said to my team, I want us to innovate in every aspect of how we design and operate this as a business venture, as much as the web platform itself – because I want us to design our own startup around the working lives that we would all like to live. Women and men alike.” – Forbes
Cindy’s leadership style and her dedication to her projects has amassed her more than 60 000 devoted followers on Twitter. Her provocative Ted Talk (Make love, not porn) has garnered millions of views. If you’re not yet convinced that Cindy’s leadership style is one to be admired, or at least appreciated, watch her talk at Mumbrella360 on How Advertising Can Change the World. You might learn a few things.