Being a woman executive sometimes you feel like you have to be a little bit of everything; tough but sensitive, funny but not goofy, strong but not bossy. I think there has always been pressure to be “the perfect” executive and woman. Men get to just be men. Women have to be a little bit of everything.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kira Baca — Chief Revenue Officer, Rightsline, Inc.
Kira Baca is chief revenue officer for Rightsline, Inc. where she is responsible for managing the entirety of the revenue-generating processes, as well as the performance, strategy and alignment of Rightsline’s revenue operations.
With over 18 years of experience in the media and entertainment industry, Kira is a seasoned leader in her field. Previous to Rightsline, Kira served as senior vice president of global business development and sales at Sony DADC, where she led her team in overseeing the implementation of the company’s sales strategy and identifying potential new business on an international scale. Before that, Kira was the vice president of business development of deluxe Digital Studios and responsible for identifying new opportunities for growth and business along with building solid relationships with clients.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
Ohmy goodness, this is such a long and winding story. I knew I wanted to work in the Hollywood entertainment industry, when I lived in Ohio growing up. My first job was working for Lorne Michaels as an intern, I then went to work as a personal assistant for Martin Scorsese. At some point in all of this, I decided I wanted out and needed a break from the craziness and opened a doggie day care in Beverly Hills called Central Bark — catering to the celebrity dog care world. I sold that business when someone wanted to franchise it, and then I heard about this new format called DVD — and decided it was a good time to get into media technology! The rest is history.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Since joining this company there have been so many interesting things; we have grown so much and are very focused on balancing the emphasis of being a technology, a customer centric and an employee culture focused company. Trying to balance all of those things in the company actually brought me to analyze how I balance myself. Being a wife and breadwinner, a mother of a young ambitious athlete, having a small ranch with lots of animals and working a ton building a company — trying to do it all for everyone. I started meditating in the morning about 6 months ago — 5 a.m. It changed my life. It balanced out my day, reduced my anxiety, helped me to make better choices for my health and happiness that have resulted in improvements in my professional and personal life. So, short answer through a long monolog is — meditation is one of the most interesting things that has happened to me since being a part of the leadership of this company.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was working for an agent (this was after Scorsese pre-Doggie Day care) I had to send a script to an actress named Greta Scacchi. My boss (the agent) told me to send the script to the Carlton Hotel in France, as Greta was attending the Cannes Film Festival. This was pre-internet days. I called a friend that spoke French and had him call the Carleton Hotel to get the exact address which, through some research, I found out was in Nice about 20 minutes from Cannes. I arranged the Fed Ex and off went the script. Two days later my boss came running into my office very upset that I had never sent the script. I assured her I had and pulled the copy of the Fed Ex record. Turns out there’s a Carlton in Nice and Cannes and while this may not seem catastrophic, in those days a lost day can mean a lost role for an up and coming actor. I was in big trouble. The lesson learned was, you do not have to figure everything out yourself. You CAN ask questions when you don’t know something. As a young professional trying to make my way I thought the less I asked and the more I figured out on my own, the more valuable I was. This is not true. The more you open yourself up to learn, ask questions, never be afraid to admit you do not know something…the more you learn, the more opportunities come your way. Being vulnerable can also be an asset. You gain trust when people see the real you. The real you may need to ask questions even if the question seems silly.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. What is it about the position of CRO or executive that most attracted you to it?
What I like about being a CRO is knowing that I must drive the financial momentum forward for the company. I must come up with plans and motivate the teams to meet our revenue and financial goals and in turn, we get to reward with growth, raises, bonuses, eccetera… I like working my ass off to move the team and business forward.
Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CRO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
I think the defining difference is setting the strategy for the future. Being able to take in lots of ideas and data points and say, “this is what we do to move forward even further.” That strategy (even if collaborated) is what the rest of the managers and leaders work with to execute the vision from engineering to customer support, to marketing strategy and sales, to human resources and staffing needs.
What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being an executive?
I love being a part of a team and I love getting to participate in building and growing a culture that represents the kind of business I always dream of being part of.
What are the downsides of being an executive?
Feeling responsible for EVERYONE. Not being able to turn it off. Sometimes passion breeds obsession.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CRO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I suppose a myth is that it’s all wine and dine with customers. It’s not. Very little wine and dine is done in my job. There’s a lot of spreadsheet management instead.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Oh this one I could answer all day long. Being a woman executive sometimes you feel like you have to be a little bit of everything; tough but sensitive, funny but not goofy, strong but not bossy. I think there has always been pressure to be “the perfect” executive and woman. Men get to just be men. Women have to be a little bit of everything. My husband is a stay at home dad so I’m lucky I have that, but it does not relieve me of my full attention mom duties, nor do I want it to. I want to be there for everything, even folding the laundry or watching TV with the family and that’s a struggle. I don’t cook though, so that’s one thing off my plate. I hate to say it but I think that is mostly unique to the working executive, woman, mother… superhero.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
In this role I had to learn a heck of a lot more about the tech behind our software. It’s not just sales, customers, strategy — it’s how it works and working with the engineers and having to stand up some tech chops to communicate well.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive?
It can’t just be a job. It has to be a passion to be a successful leader. A passion to build, grow, inspire and mentor people.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I suppose that is dependent on the teams they lead. I think honestly, humility and willingness to do anyone’s job if needed is so important as a leader of any gender.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I will give props to my old boss Barry Perlstein all day long. When Barry hired me to run his global language translation business, he taught me how to be the executive I am today. He pushed me to stand in front in the board meetings, he pushed me to speak up politely yet firmly when needed and he taught me that nothing would make me a better leader than being a mother and putting my family first. When I had only been working for him as SVP Global Operations for a couple of weeks I found out I was pregnant with my first (and only child). I was scared to tell him. Crazy, huh?! When I did I started by saying I would work through my maternity leave if needed. He shut me down and told me that I was now more valuable to the business than ever. Now, I needed the job more than I needed it before☺ But in all honesty I’ll never for him saying that being a mother was the single greatest asset to my career, my drive, my passion for growth and business.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Not enough… not nearly enough. I am passionate about so many things and far more of a donator than a doer. I’d like to do a better job at doing along with financially contributing.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Sleep is not overrated.
Excel is your friend. Learn it and love to pivot
Find a hobby and do it regularly
Always carry a portable charger
Invest in nice luggage.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
This is an impossible question to answer! Um, find a solution to world peace? Get rid of hatred and prejudice? Inspire people to look at the best qualities of humanity and live them truly every day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Ain’t nothing to it, but to do it… The Muppet Movie. Sometimes you just need to not overthink it, over plan it… just do it.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Ariana Huffington. I find her so inspiring. She didn’t even speak English when she decided she wanted to go to Oxford. She was raised by a single mother, not wealthy but she knew she could have whatever she wanted and she built an empire
Oprah — I mean come on. Oprah is amazing. No more words are needed.
Sherry Lansing — She was my hero when I started working in Entertainment. She was the first woman running a studio. I met her once at an airport, but I was not able to articulate what she meant to me back then.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.