They founded goodstory, a film production company, in 2013 to champion female filmmakers and haven’t looked back. Meet good friends and business partners Paula Cohen and Susan Horn Toffler, friends of the Ad Council and valuable collaborators on our #SheCanSTEM campaign.
Question: How have you worked with the Ad Council? What campaign(s) have you supported and what was the project you worked on with us?
Paula and Susan: Just this past month we were honored to work on two campaigns for #SheCanSTEM. It was a dream of ours since creating goodstory. One of our founding missions was to use our advertising experiences to create work for good. And the Ad Council is the perfect intersection of these two worlds.
The added benefit was to collaborate with the exceptional talent of our Ad Council team. The right blend of smarts, humor, passion and appreciation. If all clients could be as dreamy.
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
Paula and Susan: We built goodstory on the notion of giving a leg up to lady directors. We spent 20+ years in the business watching companies with solely male directors and occasionally you would see a company that had one woman director on the bottom. And the work the woman director was getting would only be in feminine products or diapers, they just didn’t get the same access as the men. We heard the same story over and over from women directors, that they wanted to do car work and sports brands but just weren’t getting the opportunities.
So with that in mind, we tried to weigh heavy on women directors in our pool and pushed to get them in those doors–and we constantly keep pushing because the struggle continues. We were also one of the first production companies to sign on to the Free The Bid initiative, which thrilled us to see the seeds of our mission on a national/international platform. Supporting women filmmakers does make the brand world a better place because we’re hearing the perspective of 50% of the population.
Our other mission was to work with non-profits and help tell their stories by using the vision and creativity of our filmmakers. And it’s what we do in the advertising world, the same skill set applies, getting to the heart of a story.
Lastly, we’re constantly mentoring, hiring interns and college-aged kids that want to get in the business. Nothing makes us prouder than when one of our interns or production coordinators goes off to become a producer out in the production world!
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
Paula and Susan: “Nobody knows anything.” It helped us to be fearless in business, to forge forward. If we lead, they will follow.
Q: What age would you want to meet up with your former self, and what advice would you give to that younger you?
Paula and Susan: Seven-years-old. I’d say, “It’s gonna be okay. Hang in there, eventually, you’re going to start a business with your best friend, do great work and laugh your way through most of the day.“
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
Paula and Susan: We’re most proud of the fact that we’ve actually been able to keep our small but mighty company going with all the core values intact of what we wanted to do–tell good stories! That plus working with people who we sincerely like and respect. We have no time for the old school drama king or queen directors. Everyone is part of the work, from production assistant to executive producer.
Q: What can we look forward to from your organization this year?
Paula and Susan: Including more diversity on our roster. Tons of fun wrap parties. More episodic brand and org (non-profit) storytelling.
Q: You’re planning a “Change the World” dinner party and you can invite anyone (living, dead or fictional). Who are three people on your list?
Paula and Susan: Harriet Tubman, Anthony Bourdain, Joan Rivers.
Q: In 40 years, what will people be nostalgic for?
Paula and Susan: Icebergs