“It’s important to be humble and always listening and learning if you’re going to be an effective leader.”
Years in industry? 7
Who or what inspired your career in tech?
I actually didn’t know I was entering a career in tech! When I started, I didn’t know much about startups and it seemed outside of what I was doing. I thought I was starting a counseling company but sure enough, I ended up running a tech platform with no experience and no team. Good times! Cindy Gallop, Founder & CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, was a big help to me at the time and still is today. She showed me how to be fearless.
What’s been your best hack ever?
Evernote has changed my life – no more post-its! Also, knock out your workout first thing in the morning to start your day off feeling strong. Don’t even think about it, just go! It helps release stress. And if you’re going to be stressed out anyway, you might as well be sexy. too.
What has been your greatest career challenge and how have you handled it?
Fundraising, for sure. We had revenues from Day 1 so I didn’t need to raise outside capital until it was time to hire. We’d had decent traction, but I could not figure out why investors weren’t taking me seriously. I was a solo founder for a long time and was definitely caught up in my head focusing on how to sell to more customers. I didn’t realize that selling to investors was different from selling to users. Once I joined a co-working space and started learning from other founders, everything changed. It’s important to be humble and always listening and learning if you’re going to be an effective leader.
What is your biggest career success to date?
Being the first African-American woman accepted into Y Combinator was a big deal. I really took the long road in my entrepreneurial journey and had to figure a lot out by myself, and I used to get intimidated and discouraged when looking at some of my peers and their progress. For all of my grind and hustle, being recognized by the larger community meant a lot to me. Things didn’t get easier after that, but it helped me in down moments to be like, “You got this. Don’t doubt yourself.”
Who are your role models?
I adore Shonda Rhimes. I’ve been accused of having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) before, but it’s just because I have so many ideas and I’m addicted to that first spark and dreaming it into a barn-burner. The fact that she’s been able to have several simultaneous and successful projects is an inspiration. Obviously, she has a great team with her, but the leader sets the tone for the vision and the execution and I want to operate at that level of excellence.
If you could go back in time, what’s one tip you’d give your teenage self?
You’re never going to fit in– AND THAT’S A GREAT THING!
What do you do when you’re not kicking butt at work?
Brunch, boys, and biking.
Flats, heels or kicks?
Flats on my feet, heels in my purse!
Best career advice book? The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. Because nothing you’re doing matters if you’re not happy. I also really like Essentialism by Greg McKeown, Contagious by Jonah Berger, and The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki.