Motivated by the challenges of planning a modern wedding, navigating newlywed life and having three children, Carley Roney co-founded for XO Group, Inc., the home of The Knot, The Nest and The Bump—the ultimate resources for women in young couples and growing families. As a hands-on editor-in-chief Carley’s writing has appeared in several wedding and baby books, and her advice has been featured in the column, Ask Carley, and on NBC’s Today and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Carley’s fulfillment comes from the opportunity to share her hard-earned advice with women at crucial times in their lives.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: When I got engaged in 1993, my now-husband (and business partner) and I were excited like any other couple, but quickly realized the resources available at the time couldn’t help us. I was working 70 hours a week and no vendors were open when I finally could sit down and plan after 7 p.m. There were no etiquette tips for modern couples. I couldn’t find any ideas on how to plan a wedding for a little blonde girl marrying a 6 ft. tall Chinese guy – never mind finding a red wedding dress since my future MIL informed me that white was the color of mourning! We were also planning and paying for the wedding ourselves and couldn’t find any tips on how to do this.
With the realization that the world of weddings was outdated, cluttered and chaotic, I and three other partners formed The Knot Inc. (now known as XO Group Inc.) in 1996 to help today’s brides and grooms (and their families and guests) plan the weddings of their dreams – whether it’s a country club-chic wedding or a tropical destination wedding.
Q: What are 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: Passion, Determination, Humility
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: It was always very important to listen to both our gut and our users. All the growth decisions we’ve made have been born from listening to our users and their requests and activity on our platforms.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: Focusing on needs and desires of your customer are always the best source of inspiration. Keeping your target user in mind always gives clarity.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: I believe it’s our fresh, real-life voice. We’ve always striven to communicate with our users like we’re their best girlfriend giving them advice. So many women today turn to their friends for advice; we are their ultimate, knowledgeable best friend who will tell you how it really is.
Q: Do you (formally or informally) mentor anyone? If so, who and why is it rewarding?
A: I feel responsible for the personal and professional growth of all of our employees, who make it possible every day for us to be the company we are today.
ON Starting Out
Q: If you had a young sister or a daughter who was a senior in college, anxious about landing her first job or unsure of what she wanted to do, what would your advice be to her?
A: It’s important to just start somewhere and dive in. Unless you have a clear passion, you don’t know what you’ll be passionate about until you can exercise your skills. Also, where you work and your actual job is not as important as the people you work with.
Q: What do you think is the key to happiness?
A: Family. Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my three children and husband.
ON Letting go
Q: What do you do to unwind or disconnect?
A: To unwind, I have fun casual dinner parties on my roof deck with my friends.
Q: Oprah has that great section in her magazine “What I know for sure.” What do you know for sure?
A: Ultimately thinking of an idea takes 10 seconds, but making it happen takes days, weeks, years, a lifetime….
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: Eat well, spend time outside playing with my kids and red wine – love those antioxidants!
Q: How do you respond to the question “How has having a child changed your life?”
A: You do not understand your capacity to love until you have a child.