Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs
Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are the co-founders of the cooking and kitchen goods company Food52, an online resource for cooks, food lovers, and good eaters.
Amanda Hesser: The best career advice I’ve ever received came from Barbara Wheaton, a food historian and college professor of mine: Don’t ask for permission.
Merrill Stubbs: The book that has had the biggest impact on me is The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and James E. Loehr. Hearing about the personal experiences—and triumphs—of others facing similar resource management challenges is always inspiring and helpful for me.
AH: My first job was being a lifeguard. I learned I’m not cut out for sitting around.
MS: Training to be a chef helped me in my current career because I learned that the time it takes you to do something is mostly in your head. If you have 60 minutes to make a soufflé, you’ll likely use the full 60; if you only have 30, you'll make it in that time. And the 30-minute soufflé won't necessarily be inferior to the 60-minute one.
AH: I tap into creativity and inspiration by walking. When I’m at home in New York, I tend to hunker down and work intensely. Walking wakes up my brain and allows me to think freely. And I love that you can do it anywhere.
MS: The secret to working with a friend is to push yourselves to be direct and candid, even when you’re afraid you may hurt the other’s feelings. It will do far more damage to the relationship in the long run to keep resentments and fears to yourself.
AH: We knew it was time to take our business to the next stage when we knew our community was thriving. Merrill and I knew from the beginning that we wanted commerce to be a part of Food52, but we needed to first build a strong community and produce excellent, useful content.
MS: The biggest challenge that women entrepreneurs face is worrying our true, genuine selves aren't good enough or compelling enough or strong enough to be successful, and feeling a constant need to improve, do better, etc. Add this to the job of actually running a business and it becomes a herculean effort.
AH: Being able to cook for yourself is important because you’ll eat more healthfully. Because you’ll be treating yourself well and this will make you happier. Because it will serve your innate desire to satisfy your appetites in a meaningful way.
MS: The thing I’ve achieved that I am most proud of is getting better at not letting myself be motivated by fear. At the beginning of every new year, I write “Live Fearlessly” somewhere where I know I’ll see it often, and I return to it when I’m in a tough spot or am struggling to make a big decision. Fear is our biggest obstacle.
AH: The one thing I would like to say to every woman in the world is you can have everything, because you get to decide how your time is spent.