Daring Women

Radical Transparency

Leslie Miller says measurable progress happens when people question the status quo

Leslie Miller

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Seattle magazine.

Leslie “LAM” Miller is a true pioneer in the space of indie and hybrid publishing, where authors have more control over the process. In 2006, Miller left a successful career as a publishing industry executive and cofounded Girl Friday Productions, a women-owned and -led book production company.

Miller, also an instructor at the University of Washington and a contributor to Entrepreneur magazine, built the business to solve her own needs as a working mother, including creating flexible work schedules, better pay and benefits, and more transparency from leadership.


Humility. Curiosity. Empathy. An interest in leaving people and places better than how you found them. We should treat our teams with the dignity and respect it takes to deliver full informational and emotional transparency, which in turn promotes accountability for our decisions and choices. Transparency is accompanied by a belief that you will hold them safe. When I went back to get my MBA, one of my favorite discussions centered around how true leadership — unlike management — often feels like trudging through a swamp. The swamp isn’t pleasant, but you must go through it to get to the other side. Your job is not to march your people through the swamp but to figure out a better, more creative way forward.


Let’s be done forever with the mystique surrounding the psychopathic (male) genius founder. New, unique, and even groundbreaking ideas do not leadership make; how you bring them into being and how you treat the people who are helping you do so count just as much, if not more. Not only do I find the toxic genius founder culture tired, but I’m also not alone in looking at those workplaces and seeing no place for me or other women who prize collaboration, deliberation, vulnerability, relationship-building. That effectively keeps women out of some of the most dynamic new companies, especially in tech, which perpetuates the same damn cycle.


The larger your scope of authority, the more change you can make and model for others. We need to promote flexibility and balance, along with childcare and parent care, as nongendered needs that must be addressed. We all know that the nonwork work doesn’t go away, so if women are to get the same opportunities for high-level positions, it means we must deconstruct what we expect from men and women in the workplace and at home. Show compassion to those needing flexibility. Be supportive of other women around you. Change how leaders are defined by not adopting those outdated narratives yourself.


The woman who has really made it all possible for me is my work wife, Ingrid Emerick, my friend and business partner of nearly 20 years. Through her, I learned the value and necessity of complementary strengths. I learned that you can have the hardest of courageous conversations when there is a foundation of trust. I learned that going hiking or giving leadership reviews while navigating the desert promotes actual blue-sky thinking. I learned how validating it is to see someone you admire going through the same challenges you are and finding a way through — whether that’s parenting or marriage or loss. Most of all, I learned what’s possible when you know that someone has your back.


Take a cue from toddlers: Keep asking why. And stay relentless in your “why!” I’m lucky to have a whole cadre of next-gen female leaders at Girl Friday and I love their willingness and ability to question the foundations of business as usual. As women leaders, it’s also important that we keep asking ourselves that same “why” about our own actions. That self-interrogation goes a long way in ensuring we act in accordance with our values and stay open to different mindsets and experiences.


I confess to being a very reluctant networker, though I delight in people. What I enjoy is organic, authentic connections, and opportunities to meet people with more in common than me than just our fields. As a writer, apps like LinkedIn are more my speed.


I bake with my sourdough starter named Walter. Snuggle my two huge hound dogs. Watch football with my son, Romeo. (Go, Hawks!) Garden. Swim in the lake. Read. And I love to cook — weekends give me the time to do so with pleasure.


Ha! Anyone who works in publishing knows the author rarely chooses the title.

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