Everyone needs a reboot from time to time. A chance take a deep breath and reflect. A chance to talk to others about their lives and careers and what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.
On June 24, I got that chance. I had the pleasure of attending the GoDaddy Inspire event and listen to successful women talk about their lives, their careers and what’s worked (and hasn’t worked) for them.
Hosted by NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, the event featured a panel of technologists and entrepreneurs answering questions and giving advice to women who work in technology. Their advice ranged the gamut — from starting a business to managing creative teams to creating your own luck.
Me? What did I learn from the event? Here are six things I picked up (and it’s great advice for everyone).
1. Discover what’s unique about you and promote it.
When Danica started her career in Europe, she downplayed that she was a woman by refusing to do her nails and not dressing up. When she moved back to the U.S., she started to embrace who she was as a woman and didn’t shy away from being feminine. That change was the turning point for her career. By showcasing her feminine side, she was different and unique in her sport. She stood out and started to make traction. Her advice to the crowd was, “Discover what is unique about you and promote it. That’s what will make you stand out.”
2. When you lose your passion, you need a change.
An audience member wanted to know how long she should stay in a job before moving on. Lauren Antonoff, Senior Vice President at GoDaddy, suggested that passion is the key factor when deciding life or career changes. Gauge yourself. If you are more passionate about what you are doing than tired of what you are doing, then you’ll do good work; you can be happy at a job. The moment that changes, you should consider finding something else.
3. Luck doesn’t just happen. You have to be around long enough to experience it.
Tejal Shah, CEO of KidAdmit, discussed how success in entrepreneurship requires luck. The good news? Everyone can experience luck. You just have to have the grit and perseverance to keep pushing ahead. Luck happens when you work for it. That includes making mistakes and recovering from them. Antonoff added that she learned the most in her career when she experienced failure. By sticking it out, she was able to learn and use that experience to her advantage in the future.
4. Figuring out what you don’t want to do is as important as figuring out what you love.
Arum Kang, CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel, discussed how she made a mistake in her career when she decided to go for the first job she got rather than the right job. She suggested that you need to resist the peer pressure to just “get a job” and spend some time figuring out what it is that you really want to do. It may slow you down in the short-term, but it’ll pay off in spades later.
5. Transparency is the key to keeping team members engaged.
Whether you’re an intern, a small business owner, or a corporate employee, you want to have a team that’s engaged and ready to work with you. Dang said that transparency is the key to keeping team members engaged. The more transparent you are, the more people will trust you. The more they’ll be willing to put their all into their jobs. Building a transparent culture requires talking to employees frequently, even if you are saying the same thing multiple times – sometimes people need to hear something more than once in order to fully absorb it. Darlene Mann, a Venture Capitalist, echoed Kang’s comments. She added that trust is the most critical factor in keeping employees happy.
6. Entrepreneurship is about cognitive dissonance.
Dang discussed how great entrepreneurs need to be willing to live in a state of constant cognitive dissonance. Everyday, you need to believe that you will win and that you are going to make it. And, at the same time, you need to be concerned that your business is failing so that you can learn and change and iterate. That is a tough state of emotional existence and it’s not easy. Antonoff added, “Don’t forget – everyone else is just as freaked out as you. You just can’t always see that.”