A Podcast Gives Voice to the City of Reinvention
Are You In?
We just experienced a milestone in Berlin: two years of a podcast celebrated over two days. This podcast has transcended FAR beyond a perfectly branded audio experience; it’s now an impressive community that uplifts and unites hundreds of people in Berlin, Germany, and more online. It is a community full of visionary movers and shakers — artists, writers & editors, chefs, startup founders & operators, and more.
Any curious onlooker would ask: what was the magical glue binding this group together? What was the driving force? Well, the answer turns out not to be a what, but rather a ‘who’.
The ‘who’ is the woman behind the Women Authors of Achievement Podcast, Daria Suvorova. Her podcast was born out of a distinct need to create and connect during early 2021, at the height of the pandemic, and unbelievably atop her full-time job at Klarna.
Importantly, the podcast was also born out of the willingness and openness to take a risk. To “dive into the cold water,” as the first two podcast guests, Catherine Bischoff and Delphine Mousseau actually both mentioned when I recently re-listened to their groundbreaking episodes.
Disclaimer: I am an OG (Original Gangster) WAA Podcast listener and self-appointed promoter, from the very first episode here, followed by more endorsements here, or there, and there! All these rich episodes had a profound effect on me then and now, with so many lessons from the guests’ fascinating careers, life journeys, and backstories.
As Daria said when she started this passion project: we need to “expose more role models and have conversations (that bring forth) insights and life guidelines.”
Now back to this duality between risk and reward: it was a central theme that re-emerged during the 2-year birthday party for this podcast. (Yes, Berlin is a city where you can attend the birthday of your favorite female health app, as I did for Clue, or an influential podcast.)
It’s worth saying why this celebration was so remarkable from an optical perspective: it accurately reflected the podcast itself, only with a Berghain-style line out front to get inside the beautiful venue — itself outfitted in blue, one of the WAA Podcast’s signature colors. Let’s actually detour over to the power of brand for a moment, because as Daria’s enlightened boyfriend remarked, “She’s rocking it!”
Daria has managed to pull off 60 episodes of empathetic, clear-headed, humanistic interviews with truly accomplished women across the Berlin ecosystem. And she’s done this in style — with total consistency and grace. Her curiosity is contagious and her reliance on first-class graphics and an elegant color palette (designed by Louise Matell of aarise) make for memorable logos, stickers, and postcards that follow through onto the podcast’s Instagram and Linkedin channels like all great brands know to do.
Her episode conversations with outstanding women have ranged wildly, from decentralized finance to racial justice, creator economy to pop culture, space tech to leadership, investment to beauty brands, and every topic imaginable in the entrepreneurial space.
And why is that?
Because Daria doesn’t work top-down from mega themes: diversity, empowerment, etc., but rather bottom-up, from the roots of her community of incredibly accomplished women who she has set out to interview. Each hand-picked guest brought her own unique, authentic story and Daria was able to channel it forward, through the microphone in her studio, to all of our ears and minds.
And to great effect: By inviting these women she knew in the ecosystem to trustfully share their stories, she reached thousands. And of those, hundreds showed up to honor the learnings and enjoy each other’s company.
Each time Daria set out to involve another person, she asked: ‘Are You In?’ And yes, they were.
Let’s hear what happened over these 2 magical days.
Day 1: Let the Celebration (Panel) Begin!
On the evening of Wednesday, March 1, as Women’s history month descended on Berlin, Daria kicked off the milestone celebration with an in-person panel that reflected the podcast itself. But rather than 1 guest in the spotlight, there were 5 on stage. To be exact, the guests were seated on gem-tone velvet chairs in the heart of Kreuzberg, Berlin.
Daria kicked it off talking about transforming passion projects into a dedicated journey that brought together not only these panelists but also a constellation of stars around them: The Friends Space as a location and sponsor; Spendesk as a generous sponsor; CeeCee Berlin as a media partner, Ulala Chef as the delicious caterer; Nature’s Calling as sommelier; and team member Kasey’s local flower shop as the florist.
The panel discussion centered around the topic of Building a Dream and balancing financial independence, risk, and reward. We heard multiple perspectives on the topic, including panelist Laura Simonow, a former neurologist-turned-founder of This Place, also one of the evening’s sponsors. Laura conveyed how she changed gears away from the medical world towards the world of functional, natural cosmetics. She found that although it is advisable to make decisions with data, it is also sometimes necessary to rely on your guts and intuition.
Speaking of things that are good for you, we also heard from Vitamin Finance’s founder Andrea Fernandez, who explored how emotions are wrapped up in finance. Andrea says taking the leap to start your own company makes sense: “If you have something that drives you and adds value to society, then you should go for it.” Another vote for risk! Andrea explored honestly with the audience how she found her path to supporting financial independence, particularly aimed toward women. She adds: “For many, financial independence is an emotional topic.”
“For many, financial independence is an emotional topic.”
Andrea stressed the importance of knowing ‘we are on that path’, knowing our directions and having saved, means happiness and peace of mind. And you don’t have to take her word for it as a Blackrock study confirms it. When it comes to financial risk, Andrea points out that in investing, you can take more risk if you have more assets or wealth. She also asked: “What is the cost of opportunity?” noting that 2nd-time founders get paid more because they have more experience.
‘All of the Things’
Panelist Friederike Trudzinksi offered us food for thought about the context of social inequity against the appearance of success. As a former theater professional turned Chief Editor of Emotion Magazine, she noted that people often comment on her big achievements, but she recognizes that her success is built on having support around her: “If we (women) don’t have the same opportunities, then there’s work to do.”
Shifting gears, we heard from Chanyu Xu of Her One, a startup for female gut health; you can read her interesting story here. Chanyu says she has learned from her business's ups and downs and knows ‘cash is king’ (or queen shall we say?!) She recommends starting from a ‘zero base’ concept where you strip back all the expenses and then build up the minimal costs to survive with the business.
Finally, we come to the most luminous pink spot on the panel: international artist Johanna Keimeyer. For this year Johanna mentioned she would play it safe financially, having already shifted to a professorial status, with some of her students in the audience. She recounted creating a tight Excel budget for an ambitious art installation project which she then pitched to 400 investment partners. Eventually, she secured the 12 backers she needed. Her persistence and belief in her dream paid off.
Day 2: The Dinner
Given the 200-person crowd that showed up for Day One, I was especially lucky to be invited to attend the second part of this milestone celebration: the dinner gathering on Day Two.
Seated along an incredibly long table, were amazing women who had supported the WAA Podcast in various ways: as guests, as designers, as messengers, as collaborators, and as sponsors. The energy and dynamic were tremendous with people exchanging stories, contacts, and ideas – while enjoying delicious food, wonderful drinks, laughter, and toasts.
These were kindred spirits as well as entrepreneurial superstars of the Berlin scene: think for example, a co-founder of Pitch, the co-founder of CeeCee Berlin and his wife, along with founders of Cocoli and La Bande, Qunomedical, as well as various investors: Vera and Maru, among others.
Daria challenged the group to stand up and give a toast. As she gave one herself, she said: “The show exists because of the 60 women who said: Yes.”
It’s a living example of women supporting women. And as Daria’s podcast website reminds us: “Every woman is an author of her own achievements. Throughout history, women founded institutions, built economies, and influenced global developments.”
“The show exists because of the 60 women who said: Yes.”
If this is what 2-years-in looks like, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.