Monthly Archives: June 2013

For those who are in denial that sexism exists!

This Twitter Stream about #EveryDaySexism caught my attention, which then very quickly turned into anger and then exasperation.

“The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalized that you don’t even feel able to protest.

Everyday sexism can be very well summed up in the words of an 80 year old woman who said in the EverydaySexism blog: “I have never met any woman who has not been sexually harassed”, amen to that! You’ll find some trolls, drama, anger, high emotions but mostly people exposing what we like best to ignore and pretend didn’t happen or rarely happens. Or like to pretend that it happens only to others, or that it’s normal, acceptable, expected. It is SO deeply ingrained into our way of life, that we don’t even notice it (comments like “you’re funny for a girl” or jokes like the one in this image!)

What’s obvious and extremely disturbing is that the sexist state of mind exists in both males and females. Victim blaming is common for females to partake in as well, asking questions like “what were you wearing? were you drinking? you guys always hung out together? was it an accident?”… etc. No one asks these questions if someone gets mugged; asking these questions insinuates that a victim of sexual harassment or a sexual crime brought this on themselves! Ridiculous!

To deal with this issue, we need both sides of the equation. We needed white men to abolish slavery. We have straight people who are fighting for equal rights for homosexuals. We need the majority of the people in power to first accept the problem and then act as a team to fix it! The problem is not equal rights any more, women have had equal rights on pen and paper for a while. The problem is empowerment. In spite of equal rights, discrimination happens everyday, in forms of salary differences, likability, promotion, credibility and marketing of pink glitter dolls! We need to see the paradoxes that exist, accept them and then work on them! Of course the changes must  come from within but we also need the majority of men to want to empower women.

So are we, the educated, privileged, intellectual disruptors of the world just going to sit back, complain, shake our heads and do nothing?

 

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Dude, Take 5…

I love my co-founders… well ok, I usually like at least one of them each day 😉 and we have 4 so there’s enough to go around!

Of course, like every startup, we go through a barrage of difficult decision making, often about things we don’t know enough of (the bliss of trying to carve out a new market!). Which means it’s not always fully logical but guided by gut feelings and ego fueled wars often take over our discussions. We all know how detrimental it is for us and we try to put in fixes (different people have veto for different things, vote for things we deem need majority etc.) but alas, sometime we don’t let go of our “honour”!

Friendly_Fight

 

And then, on the same day, I came across these two amazing blogs, “Give it Five Minutes” and “I Get It”. Woahhh – the first thing I thought was… who has five minutes.. we need it finalized NOW so we can begin building and shipping it. But wait.. is that a push back the moment I read something new? Irony.

We want more creativity, support, understanding, faith. We’ve gotto take 5. Or, 10. Send out an outline of the ideas or agenda before any meeting so everyone has time to marinate them, and if new ideas come up and unless there is an absolute obvious reason to junk it, we’ll take an hour before we decide to go for it or against. It’s OK if we don’t take the decision RIGHT NOW. It’s better if we take a decision a day late if it happens to be the right one, the next best thing, the silver bullet instead of us having missed it because we were undercover douches or egomaniacs.

Tl,Dr; Remember to be nice, respectful. Remember, our hearts beat for the same thing!

I am going to try and implement this strategy in our meetings moving forward – unless of course, I receive pushback 😉

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Ownership

Ever been to a house where stairs creek, a tap stops leaking only if turned off a certain way and the corner window has a little crack which lets cold air in but the people living there put this fantastic decorative showpiece that blocks the stream and they’re proud of the genius behind it?

Yes, that is ownership.

It’s not always glorious, it’s a lot of hard work (shovel snow or pay for a overflowing toilet anyone?), it’s a lot of commitment and understanding. Yet, the best owners are the ones that thrive the challenges and come out proud and loving!

In a company, your team will always consist of very different kinds of people, (for tech companies, different = weird!) – someone’s wife had a bad day, someone started a new strict diet, someone had a fight with their parents, someone with loved one who’s very sick, or is in financial crisis! Your business will go through different kinds of challenges ranging from “no sales in a while” to “we ran out of water in the office”. You yourself will go through crisis and wonder, is this a real business, will this work, what if we don’t make more sales, what if my key person leaves, how long do I wait? It’s a LOT to deal with. If this a startup, there is a whole different level of instability as the icing.

Good ownership if when you can look forward to solving these problems everyday, you may not know the answers but you know your people, your team feels the same ownership as you do, you understand the subtleties, you love the high of doing something meaningful, you feel empowered,  you own the mistakes, you share the victories! You treat your company like a child, your child, which has some bad habits, some defects but you’ll do anything to fix it. And you’ll work as hard as needed. And you look forward to it. It’s not a challenge, it’s your life.

 

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Patience for Startups

“Have the courage to be impatient, the patience to be brave.” – When I first read this quote, I was much younger and I remember thinking to myself, this does not apply to me but I can see how it applies to grownups!

After years of reading The Letter, I have come to the point where I am grateful to Abe for so beautifully and poetically making me aware that I am not alone in this silent desperation.

LeadSift is at a stage where we must take bold steps and be most patient, both at the same moment. As a B2B enterprise software, we need to be fervent in contacting Fortune 500 companies and relentless in our patience as we move through their molluscan sales cycles. Crouch behind the trees with feline grace while breathlessly waiting for the moment we can sprint for the kill. Be ready to hear no’s because that’s where we’ll learn the most. Keep trying because we will hear a yes. It’s gut wrenching; for people who have never done sales, who have never dealt with enterprise bureaucracy, for them who take pride in weekly feature releases and working 18 hour days, for them who take pride in moving fast, for LeadSift, for me. Every moment spent waiting feels like breaths being sucked out of our lives.

Startups have two options, move lightening fast or fail. So this dichotomy feels very unsettling, painful. I don’t believe there is an easy way out but believing in the wisdom stops me from feeling like a helplessness headless chicken, enables me to gather the courage to be patient, to wait for another day, the right person, right time, so we can be brave when the moment arrives.

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