Women of the C-Suite: “You don’t have to choose between listening to your head or to your heart. Listen to your guts, they are the synergy of both,” With Efrat Roman

Use your female instincts, don’t try to make decisions like a man or be “tough” like a man. As a very smart female VC told me once: You don’t have to choose between listening to your head or to your heart. Listen to your guts, they are the synergy of both. And when great advice […]

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Use your female instincts, don’t try to make decisions like a man or be “tough” like a man. As a very smart female VC told me once: You don’t have to choose between listening to your head or to your heart. Listen to your guts, they are the synergy of both. And when great advice is supported by Winnie the Pooh, you know it’s good advice.

I had the pleasure to interview Efrat Roman. Efrat is an entrepreneur, inventor, and Fem-Tech pioneer. She is the founder of CureDiva.com, the first and most extensive online store for breast cancer solutions, and the Founder & CEO of EZbra, the first and only sterile, disposable, and feminine post-op bra designed for breasts. Named one of the “20 Most Influential Moms” by Family Circle Magazine, Efrat is the proud mother of two, a storyteller and published writer, and a multi-disciplined artist and person. Breast cancer survivor, advocate, and disruptor.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I come from a family in which this was no statistical exception; every one of us — from my grandma to her sisters, to my mom and then to me — was diagnosed between the ages of 38–42 with breast andor ovarian cancer.

I thought I was “diagnosis ready”, but was not prepared in any way for the unbearable downgrade it brought to the quality of my life on so many levels. I couldn’t understand why nobody solved the problems that had such clear solutions, at least to me. It took some time and some recovery to get me to understand that this was something I had to do myself.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I created EZbra because I wanted something like that to have been there for me when I needed it, and I knew that it could help millions of women around the world. When my mother recently had to undergo another surgery, I could give her EZbra’s to support her during her recovery. Seeing her in the hospital after the operation with the EZbra on her was very emotional and a significant moment in my journey where I could see the importance and impact so close to my heart.

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?

At one of my first ever pitches to investors, I was a few weeks after the second round of my surgeries, and I was absolutely sure that EZbra was a much-needed solution. I was trying to explain to four men, what women post-op are forced to go through and how uncomfortable and hulky the dressings they are covered with are, when I noticed something interrupting from the corner of my eye. I kept talking and tried really hard to stay focused, but the investors started to look and behave awkwardly and I hurried to the valuation and thank-you slides. Only when I was leaving the room and about to put my bag on my shoulder, I realized that one of the gauzes that was supposed to be held by my post-op bra went traveling and was hanging out of my shirt’s strap… I still don’t get how they didn’t invest in EZbra — they got the best ever proof of concept pitch. I wouldn’t say it was funny in real time, but looking back at it and the faces of the guys in that room, it was hilarious!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

EZbra is one of those things that you come across in your life and can’t believe it’s unique or that it stands out, because how does this not exist already? It’s such a needed product, an obvious and elegant solution to a huge problem that should have existed decades ago but didn’t. It stands out because it’s sorely needed and should have been there all along.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just around the corner and everyone around the world is doing what they can to raise awareness and get women to get tested. Early detection saves lives, and awareness plays a huge role in that. This year, we are partnering with a number of breast cancer organizations in order to make a difference in the lives of women diagnosed with breast cancer and need to undergo surgery. Anyone who wants to support these women will be able to visit our site, purchase EZbras, choose and organization they support, and we’ll send the EZbras to them so that it reaches a patient in need.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Use your female instincts, don’t try to make decisions like a man or be “tough” like a man. As a very smart female VC told me once: You don’t have to choose between listening to your head or to your heart. Listen to your guts, they are the synergy of both. And when great advice is supported by Winnie the Pooh, you know it’s good advice.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I think it’s important to understand what type of team you need and how to manage them. At EZbra, almost all of our team members are women, which was something that I felt is important to the company and me. Our target audience is women and we’re dealing with a problem that women face in women’s healthcare — having a team that understands that and is part of audience is important. As the team grows, I think the best advice I can give is to listen to the different voices and opinions, talk about the good and the bad, and work together to make things better as you move towards a common goal.

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?

When I realized that there was nothing like EZbra out there, I wanted to do a patent search. IPs cost a fortune, and I met a patent attorney who believed in EZbra and what we do. She was there for us while I raised funds and bridged the debt, and without her trust and willingness to put her name and a lot of money on the line, I wouldn’t have been able to get EZbra’s first patent.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

EZbra was created to improve women’s lives, one patient at a time. This isn’t a product that is “nice to have” — it’s a must that should have been here ages ago for us. Success, for me, will be achieved when EZbra is the standard of care for every woman who needs to undergo any type of breast procedure.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Don’t ever let anyone stress you out — you perform better when you’re calm and focused.
  2. When you fail, remind yourself that you are the best judge of your own performance and be sure that you’ll do better next time.
  3. Go out there and do things you’ve never done before. Don’t waste time on fear.
  4. Deadlines are always flexible and enforced by reality.
  5. Always remember the two most important things about being an entrepreneur, are flexibility and creativity.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Healthcare in general, and women’s health in particular, is still dominated by men. No one can truly understand our struggles and experiences as women, and no one will solve our problems for us. I would love to see more innovations in women’s health led by women to improve and modernize the many outdated healthcare solutions and treatments available to us. It is time for women to lead women’s health, and the world in general, of course.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem

As a female entrepreneur I mentor a lot of young female startups. I think that the best advice I give all the passionate women I meet, is to allow yourself to dream in full colors and to the ends of your imagination and wishes, don’t restrain your dreams to budgets, lack of experience or technology. If you cut your dreams wings before it is even conceived, it will never fly.

We are blessed that some of the biggest 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 🙂

Oprah, of course! She is a powerful voice that can make a huge impact on women’s health and wellbeing around the world. EZbra is here to change women’s standard of care when it comes to breast procedures, especially for women with breast cancer. With today’s improvised dressings, women endure terrible pain, discomfort, and undignified dressings that are not made for breasts or their needs post-op. It is no wonder that 82.5% of women have PTSD in the time between diagnosis and chemotherapy — typically the time when surgeries are performed. This number should make the ground move! Oprah has done a lot and is still doing a lot to raise awareness and help those in need. I know that she’d see the genius and importance of EZbra, and would be able to create the awareness and demand that the post-op mental and physical challenges are treated with dignity.

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