I’ve never met anybody like Kate Bohner. She is intelligent, enthusiastic, inspirational and fierce – in the Beyonce sense of the word. Her career path has been incredibly varied and interesting: It really seems like she could do anything. At one point in our chat she mentioned a book she had written and decided not to publish. “I would publish it after I’ve done something like run for office, like in my late 50s or early 60s,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the middle of my story.” For more about that story, read on!
You’ve had an extremely interesting and varied life. Can you talk a little bit about how you got started?
When you look there’s a common thread, and that’s finance. When I was at UPenn, I did a bunch of courses at Wharton, and when I came out I went straight to Wall Street. I worked at Lazard in New York and in London. I was in investment banking, in mergers and acquisitions. It doesn’t get more hardcore finance than that. Then I went to journalism school at Columbia. I had a fellowship and then, when I came out, I wrote for Forbes. I wrote Trump’s book, The Art of the Comeback, which dealt with his businesses.
How did you end up writing that book?
I was a writer and editor at Forbes. I was writing a column called “The Informer,” which was a series of small, short anecdotes with cartoons. It was kind of like a gossip column that was true, and it was the first time we were making CEOs into celebrities. I wrote an item about Donald Trump that got picked up – it was on the E! channel. The story was that Trump’s limo had broken down on the side of the road, and this random person stopped to help change the tire, and Mr. Trump paid off the guy’s mortgage the next day.
What a great story.
The first time I heard it, I was like, “This is impossible to fact check.” But the mortgage was at a local New Jersey bank, and I was able to verify it with the bank manager. After the piece ran, I got a call from Mr. Trump saying, “Thanks for that piece.” He started to become a source a little bit, but it was just on the phone. The Art of the Deal had done very, very well, and he was talking about doing a second book. When I was in his office one day, I said, “You should do a book called The Art of the Comeback instead of The Art of the Deal Part 2.” Random House had already gotten a deal to do it. They talked to a bunch of people at different magazines, but I was the one who put together the ten chapters, ten deals format. I wanted it to be ten different, compelling stories with a lot of the Trump zaniness and humor in it. It was a wonderful experience.
What happened after Trump?
CNBC. I was a correspondent on television for a while. It was a great time to do it, because the market was soaring. I wouldn’t want to be an anchor on TV now. For one thing, it’s grueling, and for another, the story has changed so much with Google – when I was at CNBC, there weren’t so many different media channels the way there are today. The edit hole gets smaller and smaller on TV and the New York Times and the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. People are forced to report more scandalous stories than when we were reporters. I was very good impromptu, so I would say, “IBM just reported that financial sales are light because the exchange rate, etc., etc.” It was really informative stuff. Today it must be really difficult. What was difficult for me was having to be at work at 5:30 am five days a week, and I didn’t get off the air until two.
What happened after you were on television?
Right after 9/11, a friend of mine who is a money guy came to me and said, “I have a scientist, I have me, the money guy, and I need someone like you, who knows marketing and can organize sales programs and business development.” The three of us bought patents from two professors at the University of Pennsylvania. The product was technology was motion sensors. I did that for the next seven years. I raised $24.7 million, and the guys also raised money. We ended up building the product and partnering with ADT so that they could do distribution and installation. We also got venture capital funding in 2007 and sold 20% to GE Healthcare Intel, and then 2009 we sold the other 80%.
And then came Fly Barre?
After I sold the company I needed a break. I was living with a social worker friend of mine in Florida. I started doing yoga, and I became a yoga instructor. I also started doing these barre classes, but I felt they weren’t athletic enough. So I developed a program that was more athletic. In New York I met the head of Flywheel Sports. He said, “Let’s do a deal together.” My exercise class was called “Power Barre,” and together we decided to call it Fly Barre. We started one in the Flatiron, but now there’s about 30.
How did you go from there to what you’re doing now?
After a couple of years of that I decided I wanted to go back to my roots. So I took a job as Chief Marketing Officer at a very large trading execution firm. We had 2500 traders. One day, the board of directors said, “Kate, we have this offshore registered entity in Cayman, and we want to turn it into a hedge fund.” Through that job I got to be friendly with with the owner of DMS – we had hired them to help us – and in the summer of 2013 I started working at DMS as the CMO, and since then I’ve been promoted to Managing Director. We are in seven jurisdictions, so we have our hands full!
Have you had mentors all of these years, people you’ve looked to for guidance and inspiration?
I’ve had tremendous mentors. My lawyer, Mark Alonso, who has done my contracts over the years, is probably my most significant mentor. He has taught me that you have to do contracts up front. I’m a great fiduciary, but I’m not that great at advocating for myself.
As someone who has had nine lives, what are three more lives you’d like to have?
- I’d like to own and operate my own company. I’ve learned so much from doing things the wrong way that I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience, and I’d like to put that to work.
- Mentoring young women is extremely important to me. There’s a group in Connecticut called Women Empowering Women, and we just had a big fundraiser to raise money for a rape crisis center. I was the moderator on a panel. It was one of these wonderful opportunities to give back. I want to do more of that.
- I’d like to buy a dog. I grew up with dogs. There was a time in my life where I traveled so much that it was impossible. But what I’m talking about is really more than just buying a dog – it’s being in a place where I can walk the dog and care for the dog. It’s more of a settled phase. And buying the dog is emblematic.