I would say the five things needed in order to thrive and succeed as a powerful woman are: comfortability in your own skin, ability to connect with all types of people, not afraid to have a difficult conversation with any person, sense of humor, life outside of work.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Pace Webb.
Executive Chef and Lifestyle Expert Pace Webb is one of the most sought-after chefs on the Los Angeles food scene. Named on the Create Cultivate 100 List, Pace is also the co-founder of Daddy’s Chicken Shack, a fast-casual fried chicken concept with her husband entrepreneur, Chris Georgalas. Working on her catering company, Taste of Pace, has been an ongoing labor of love where she maintains massive spreads for large audiences. Operating Daddy’s Chicken Shack, by comparison, has been a country-style breath of fresh air.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
My mom and grandmother were both very big on entertaining — whether it was an extravagant event or large family gathering, their attention to detail always intrigued me. I followed in their footsteps and naturally became a fourth-generation entertainer myself. I became passionate about being able to feed people and help create an unforgettable experience through a good meal.
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
After facing significant health complications in my young adult life, I became interested in the slow food movement. Being able to learn and take the time to know what we put in our bodies inspired me to continue my education in classical culinary school from LA to Italy. From there I built my own catering company Taste of Pace, to be able to create memorable moments through elevated seasonal cuisine.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I don’t know if it’s the most interesting, but it was certainly one of the crazier things I’ve done! We opened our first Daddy’s location and moved my catering business into the same space when I was 8 months pregnant with our first child. That is called nesting in overdrive! I was walking around marching orders literally right up until the day before I was due. Being able to watch my dreams come true and grow Chris and I’s family at the same time was so special to me. It was a challenge to make sure everything got done in time, but it gave me great stories to tell.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
To be a successful business leader I think the first important characteristic is to have the ability to predict what is needed to cause an outcome. Simply, how can we prepare beforehand and what roadblocks we may encounter? It’s important to have a simple, proactive plan of action in order to address each situation efficiently. I think having spent years being a chef has prepared me to be a CEO. The quick on your feet action needed in both positions is crucial. It is similar to the role of CEO. You have a vision and a budget to achieve and you have to strategize what it’s going to take to pull it off. The products may be different, but the process is not. Secondly, communication is everything. Having the ability to check in weekly or daily makes all the difference. The constant cadence among your coworkers is key as it helps to build both confidence and trust. Finally, persistence — refusing to go away. Strength to not abandon what you’re working on and believing in yourself while watching your dreams come true right before your eyes.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
Strength is showcased in our society as one who does not show emotion and doesn’t show human qualities, which include vulnerability and a willingness to be wrong. People get nervous when there are too many of these emotional characteristics in one person. Shifting our focus on what is realistic, how people act around others or how they show interest in their tasks they need to complete should be our focus in our world today. Being relatable helps so that you can show your support and strength to others as well as showing the emotion that comes with it. Makes us as women more relatable and shows that you are more open to letting others in, such as sharing real-life experiences, and through those similar emotions and experiences you can be more connected and show that you will take care of them. Finally admitting when you’re wrong is the best way to squash what happens — move on and admit defeat is a much better learning experience for you than any argument. Unnecessary arguments that are ego driven take time and energy and women are known to be efficient!
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
During the course of the pandemic I changed my catering business to a digital education platform and had to lay off employees that were like family. When speaking to each employee about their termination they mentioned to me that they could see I was distraught. By showing that level of emotion the employee’s I was letting go knew I cared for them as more than a worker. I believe that in order to be successful you have to be a people lover, and understand how your employees tick so that you can better tailor your communications to get the best outcome possible.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
I think the best advice here is to read the room. Regardless of the situation or conversation, there is always something that is relatable — especially in everyday life. Good communication skills allow you to relate to anyone.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
In order to change the stigma we have to stop seeing one another as male or female and start seeing each other as people, no sex assigned.
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
After being both an employee and an employer, I have never tolerated ridiculous or uncomfortable situations in the workplace. The female generation needs to have a thick skin and stand up for what they individually believe in. There are more jobs and work related opportunities to turn to in today’s world than to keep yourself in a bad work environment. The question stands: are you tough enough to control situations and be honest with yourself to create a more conducive work environment for yourself, or are you too uncomfortable to change something or someone’s behavior when possible? The problems will only persist as long as females allow it.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Comfortability, and the demands and pressure that go along with those. As noted, being a woman is often followed by being a minority in the room and not being able to fully express oneself or have your character truly shine through. Ego is another. Women often don’t want to get involved or would rather stay true to their own life intentions rather than having their mind inflated by certain situations or opportunities. Finally, I think leadership roles are often a challenge. To any regardless of male or female, leadership has always been a sacrifice. Women a lot of the time do not want to give up other aspects of their life for the job or be in compromising situations insinuating that they don’t really want it “that bad”.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
I met my husband Chris at one of the busiest times of my life — when I was still working holidays and weekends. Once we got to know one another and I enjoyed spending time with him, I realized that what we had was worth exploring and so was the idea of going into the chicken sandwich business. This allowed for a better schedule, especially one that allowed for more time together in addition to the growth of the business. For us, a relationship in whatever sense is relating to one another on a consistent basis. When you stop relating to one another your relationship suffers. Once you go into business together, you either love it or hate it but for me it was one of the best decisions. Open communication for us was key, and when you have a new family as well as a new business there will always be some sort of imbalance. However, having that open line of communication will hopefully keep you on track and fix any situation that arises. Always asking how the other person is doing, as you never really know what goes on with someone until you really ask and create a safe space to hear the answers.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
Having a child. As a first-time mom, you don’t often realize the time requirement until you get there. You have to balance or adjust your work schedule to be able to dedicate time to your family. Part of the success of balancing both is having healthy boundaries and being ruthlessly efficient with your time.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
I think people are drawn to attractive leaders. Polished and authentic is what you make of it regardless of how much or how little makeup you wear. Trying to obtain work life balance and the ability to read the room is what makes you a powerful and successful leader. I have a specific skincare routine and haircut to make my getting ready time simple and easy, which allows me to be more productive. My tinted moisturizer, lip color, and little mascara allows me to easily get ready anywhere. Going along with that, I have 2–3 outfits that I wear to work in which I call my “uniforms” so that I can take the stress away of having to pick something out along with the hours it takes for a business professional to often get ready. In order to be successful you have to be comfortable and not be an imposter in your own skin. For me, I make my best decisions in my denim jumpsuit, which funny enough goes perfectly with the Daddy’s Chicken Shack theme. What are you dressing for and identifying looks for the various scenarios you put yourself in. If you’re comfortable with or without makeup, fancy clothes or denim whatever that may be that’s what makes you more confident and the best leader you can be.
How is this similar or different for men?
I think a man would agree here as they also have business “looks” and business casual looks. They definitely have it easier on the makeup front!
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
I would say the five things needed in order to thrive and succeed as a powerful woman are: comfortability in your own skin, ability to connect with all types of people, not afraid to have a difficult conversation with any person, sense of humor, life outside of work
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.
If given the opportunity, I would like to have dinner with Richard Branson. He is a visionary who is a risk taker both in life and within his business ventures. I admire that he is able to showcase his fun and adventurous side while working. Hearing his stories are therapeutic for me as it keeps me fueled in order to continue to do what I love.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.