Always listen to your gut. A lot of mistakes were made because I listened to others rather than my inner voice. Sometimes you do not listen to yourself because you are influenced by external factors, and this is usually a mistake because at certain points nobody but yourself can provide the right answer. Even if you listen to yourself and you fail, at least you trusted your own judgement and failed on your own.
As a part of our series about Women Founders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Carmit Glik, Co-Founder and CEO of Ship4wd.
As CEO, Founder Member and Senior Executive of Ship4wd, Carmit Glik is at the forefront of digital transformation in the global freight industry, leading high-profile projects in digital freight marketplaces and sustainable, customer-focused end-to-end global digital transportation solutions. She brings more than 23 years of industry experience, working with startups and large multinational enterprises alike, covering strategic supply chain management, digital transportation, and freight forwarding solutions.
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 “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I stumbled upon this industry after my release from the Israeli army. I replaced somebody that was on maternity leave, and I initially thought that this job would be a three-month gig. It turns out, it would last for at least 23 years. What kept me in the industry, from the beginning, is its international aspect. The fact that you are working with people from all over the world daily and the ability to make an impact on a global scale are two of the main factors for this career choice.
Not many jobs have an international reach that can make a difference. Naturally, I am a very curious person, so I am extremely curious about what I do not know. I am fascinated by other people’s cultures, history, and geography. Working in international trade gave me access to all that. Without knowing what I was stumbling upon in my first job, I have found a career that has truly satisfied that natural curiosity that I have for seeing the world and working on a global scale.
Throughout my career, I have worked in more than 30 countries and lived in six countries. Working in global trade, not too many people are aware of what we do, how we do it, and why it is important. But, when you are in the business, you see the importance that global trade has, how it has brought societies out of poverty, and how it impacts small businesses and families. You also see how it creates wealth in society since global trade has existed since the Stone Age, which is the selling of products and byproducts from a distance. My curiosity and interest for the world, for cultures, and for people is what brought me to and kept me in this rewarding career path.
When you’ve worked in this industry for as long as I have, you realize early on that global trade is a game of volume. I’m especially focused on finding solutions for small and medium-sized businesses so that they have equal access to industry resources. Large companies have a massive advantage in global trade. Being who I am, I’ve always thought this is unfair and wondered how we can fix it. This brought me, over the last eight years, to really focus on small to medium businesses, and see how we can utilize the amazing strength that global trade possesses for everyone.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Every day is an interesting story and to choose one would be so difficult. However, I think the most impactful story for me is when one of our customers communicated that they understand our unique selling point. This was the most impactful day for both Ship4wd and myself because our customer was telling me why they choose to work with us, rather than me telling them why they should work with us. To me, this was the most rewarding day since we started the company. It’s different when the other side tells you what they get from a relationship.
Being a founder of any business, you are deeply passionate about what you do, and you try very hard to convince others or to pitch your ideas and beliefs. You try to convince employees, potential employees, family and even your children. You do it with customers, suppliers, and everyone you encounter. As a founder of a company that nobody has heard about at the start, it is only you and nobody else. You need to build that infrastructure. At first, it might seem nobody really wants you to succeed and sometimes it is a very lonely place. It is a special moment when you receive that type of positive feedback from an external party that you did not try to convince or you did not try to sell, but they came to you and said those positive things about the interaction with your company. We’ve been heard, and they are getting the experience that they have been promised. That recognition from a customer is the most important thing for us because it is okay for us to believe in Ship4wd, but it is not enough. The customers need to feel that, and they need to echo that.
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?
We made mistakes all the time. I’m not sure which examples are funny when it happens, but mistakes are part of opening a business. Mistakes are not funny when they’re unnecessary. The funny thing is that we call it a mistake because mistakes are the way humans learn. Similar to when a baby first starts walking. They take a couple of steps and then fall. We don’t call it a mistake because they’re learning how to walk. If it’s an adult falling though, it’s a mistake, but if it’s a baby walking, it’s not a mistake.
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?
There are so many people that are a part of our success. Every person working at Ship4wd is a part of our success. Our suppliers are part of the success, our investors are part of the success, and our customers are the reason for our success. Personally, in my life, the person whom I am most grateful for is my mother because she was able to see the future and understand what I have and what I needed to achieve, as a woman and as a mother. She always provided a safety net and support that I needed.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I think the problem is so deeply rooted. It’s not just one or two challenges that you can list and solve. It’s rooted within our history, it’s rooted within society, it’s rooted within culture. I think most women don’t even think it’s an option to start their own companies and when you don’t see something as an option, you will never reach to achieve it. Who are the role models and what are the examples in our society? We are not talking about women that live in New York, Paris, or Tel Aviv. We are talking globally. Women live in communities and in areas that don’t have sufficient access to role models. If you don’t dream big, and if you don’t see it, you will never reach it.
Unfortunately, women may have a harder journey to go through than men. It’s also very difficult for men. When you have a small business, the difficulties are enormous, the challenge is enormous for both men and women. When you create something that was not there before, and to convince people around you that the business is the right solution, or to just give you a chance, takes a lot of time and patience.
Part of the issue in our society is that women are not looked at as leaders, so if a man comes with the same idea they will not be treated in the same way. You need support, you need investors, customers, IT employees, supplier, and more. If I’m a woman, how do I convince others when they look at me differently from men? The first point of interaction is different. There are so many social barriers to begin with and we didn’t even touch the rest of the process which is quite a difficult process for men and women overall. I’ve done a lot of research to understand what the difference is between successful people and those we have never heard about that had a good idea. There are a lot of people that have had amazing ideas but that nobody heard about- even when the product was better than one that became well known. At the end of the day, it’s about perseverance. Those that kept on going and came up with a product that was potentially less perfect but kept on failing and standing back up.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
The list is long. I truly believe that by not having inclusive societies, we are significantly limiting our growth because the fact that women make up 51% of the population means that we are not utilizing their knowledge and skillsets to their maximum ability. It’s an economic loss and a growth loss. I think it’s critical. There are other major parts of our society that we are not using to their fullest potential, not just women.
Women can be a greater part of our society. We have the ability in the world to do better and to improve everyone’s lives. The changes are because the problem is so deeply rooted. This means the changes need to be very rooted. From the way we talk, to the way we educate and from the way that we are providing space. We need a public space for women to feel safe to interact. In most urban areas, women are not safe to interact in public. We need to fix all those issues because again, the moment that girls, teenagers, and women grow, will be the moment they are in a safe environment to share their opinions, be educated, and take on roles. At that point, our society will understand that there will be no limit to what can be achieved for everyone.
It’s about exposing our girls to their choices early on in their education. The student ratio is 60% women. Women are more educated than men by this statistic. However, there is a barrier that girls don’t break into the business world at the same rate. There is quite a gap. There is a growing need for more initiatives with larger corporations and with investors.
The government also needs to create more opportunities to promote women in business. When countries and governments want to promote initiatives and invest their resources into it, they manage to accomplish it and make impactful strides. I think in a world with so much negativity- from a sudden a war in Europe, an energy crisis, COVID-19, and more that we have experienced- all add to a negative growth economy. We have an opportunity for growth if we unleash the potential of the 51% of our population that are women and in which they can reach their fullest potentials.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders
It’s extremely difficult to be a founder, and it’s difficult for everyone. The challenges you need to face are numerous. However, I will say that when you’re a founder, you have the opportunity to create your own way of working. You can create and diversify your team. You can create a small universe that you believe in, and you have the power to do it versus if you go and work in an established place, you must accept the universe that was created already. So, while it’s extremely painful to go through the founder journey, it’s worth it to have the power to actually make a difference in this world and to create a community that shares your values and are willing to join the journey with you. This is extremely powerful.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
I think when people normally see a company that is successful or a founder who achieved success, they don’t see the pain and the journey to reach that. You have a false view of what is required, of how many failures you experience, and how much work it takes to create something out of nothing. It’s extremely complex and tedious. You almost need zero ego to be able to build something.
It really is the opposite of what everybody thinks. People think that founders have egos and are seeking power. However, once you create something, you need to put your ego aside because of how many times you get beaten down. Even if you have an ego you need to hide it for a while. The point people don’t see is that you are alone when you are opening a company.. Before someone told you yes, a thousand people told you no. It’s hurtful because you’re doing something you’re very passionate about. There are many people that are not geniuses but that achieve greatness. You just need to be curious.
What does it take? Is it IQ? Is it a wealthy family? How do you get there? I was really curious about it. Because it didn’t make sense to me. When I looked around me, there was no path or a certain checklist to follow. There are a lot of self-made billionaires. I looked at myself and I was not privileged. I was not born into a wealthy family that can open doors for me. I was born to an immigrant family. I realized that there really wasn’t a checklist other than a pattern in those that were successful. No matter what their history is, or who their family is, they all share a common denominator- they did not give up. It’s easy to say don’t give up because it’s extremely difficult to do and almost impossible if you let your ego lead you. We’re all human and have a certain capacity for rejection but if you’re willing to put that aside and continue your journey, it’s really all that takes.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean
Not everybody can be the founder. On the other hand, everybody has the potential to be a founder. So, it’s really a choice to make. I don’t think a founder is type X or type Y. Again, the real difference is perseverance and not letting failure get to you and make you stop. If you believe in what you do, you see the value that it brings to others, and you will not let anything stop you.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Failing is okay and it’s part of the process. It took me many years to let go of that and accept failure.
- You need to unlearn faster than you learn. Let go of a lot of prejudgments.
- Be persistent. Don’t give up.
- Always listen to your gut. A lot of mistakes were made because I listened to others rather than my inner voice. Sometimes you do not listen to yourself because you are influenced by external factors, and this is usually a mistake because at certain points nobody but yourself can provide the right answer. Even if you listen to yourself and you fail, at least you trusted your own judgement and failed on your own.
- You can do anything you put your mind to.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I invest my time to make the world a better place and believe my skills and knowledge within the logistics and global trade domain, coupled with my focused efforts, have opened the doors to the industry for small and mid-sized businesses who have been overlooked for far too long.
I believe in empowering SMEs and that their success will ultimately create a lot of opportunities for women and minorities in our society. My mission is to gather my collective experience and devote it to this section of society.
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.
The movement would be dedicated to empowering women to participate in every junction of our society, such as business, politics, education, and every other aspect of life. It would benefit not only the women themselves, but society as a whole, because if the potential of the majority of the world’s population is being fulfilled, amazing things would happen in the world.
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.
I would love to sit down for breakfast with the entrepreneur Melinda F. Emerson. Melinda’s dedication and relentless enthusiasm to empowering and developing small businesses is inspiring. She brings small business owners into light, gives them a voice, and inspires them to thrive. Meeting people who dedicate their lives and careers to helping small businesses carve their place in the world and succeed is what drives me. I would love to hear more about her experiences.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.