Paula Schneider

406: A CEO’s Battle Through Cancer and Corporate Turnarounds

When faced with unfamiliar challenges and uncharted waters, have you ever found yourself asking, “Do I have what it takes?”

It’s a universally felt question that tends to bring some pretty heavy insecurities, self-doubt and second-guessing to the surface – and can have a significant impact on even the most elite athletes and leaders.

But today’s guest, the formidable Paula Schneider, joins us to flip this question on its head. Paula is CEO and president of Susan G. Komen® and she teaches us that confronting the unknown is less about what we know and more about trusting that we can face and conquer the hard things—no matter the odds.

And in the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she’s sharing her inspiring journey, from facing one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer to turning around one of the fashion industry’s most notorious brands.

Her impressive professional arc includes roles as President and CEO of American Apparel, leadership positions at Delta Galil Premium Brands and Warnaco Swimwear Group, and strategic advisory roles at The Gores Group. 

Recognized as one of LA’s 500 Most Influential People in 2016, Paula has also been a recipient of the National Association of Women’s Business Owners Inspiration Award in 2010. Now, as CEO and president of Susan G. Komen®, one of the world’s leading nonprofits in the fight against breast cancer, Paula has been an unstoppable force – touching countless lives around the world with almost $1 billion in research funding.

Achieving all this with no MBA, no business degree, and no medical background, Paula’s real education comes from the school of hard knocks and her deep-seated self-belief.

Paula doesn’t claim to have all the answers; she simply knows she can find them. 

In this rich conversation, we explore:

  • The transformative power of accepting help
  • Drawing strength from personal battles to fuel global change
  • The art of listening, learning, and leading across industries
  • How to make decisions with imperfect information 
  • Building and sustaining mental strength through cancer and the unknown
  • Proactive cancer prevention, optimal screening times, and being your biggest health advocate

From her beginnings as a costume design and theater major to turning around renowned fashion brands and spearheading the global fight against breast cancer, Paula’s story is the very definition of uncharted and extraordinary.

Join us as Paula gives us a refreshing perspective on how to face and lead through the unknown – in illness, in life, and beyond.

“I never took a finance class, but I’ve run businesses that were worth almost a billion dollars.”

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