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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Women 2.0 Conference

How many times have you been to a Tech conference with such incredible ladies in a single room! I had a fabulous day at Women2.0.

Here are my top 3 take aways from the Women 2.0 Conference held this year at Hotel Kabuki. 

1. Motivation:
Be on a disruptive mission, altruistic albeit selfish in its own ways.
Find your Why, and you better be doing something incredibly important.
The person who holds you back from following your vision is mostly just you.

2. Vision:
Focus on the Why and the problem to solve, before you delve into a solution. Embrace your superpower, but also recognize your Kryptonite. Build a promise of better, richer and easier lives for our customers.
Treat them as your compass, and not your skillset.

3. Diversity:
Women are stunningly under represented, although they make 50% of the population, 50% of degrees and 12 out of 18 trillion dollar spending every year. We need diversity for innovation, performance and efficiency for any organization.

A brief on some interesting sessions I attended-

Yoky Matsuoka is the VP of Technology at Nest, she takes us on a journey of working with Tech to solve real world problems. Nest claims to have saved 2.5billion KW since 2011. Its a learning thermostat that can be controlled from anywhere to save you on energy bills. Learns your environment to come up with the best energy saving strategy. Its one step closer to a Connected home in the Internet of Things. People buy things to increase their comfort level and enrich their lives, Nest is designed around it. 

Such great speakers, talented women launching their ventures following their dream, very inspirational! Poshmark is an exit strategy for your closet, while Peek enables an era of experience and shows you fun things to explore. WiseBanyon is the world's first free financial management company that helps you invest in the present so you love your future. JobBliss gives you an insight into the freelance market, RockYourBloc helps create tomorrow's business rockstars shaping up our youth. LocalData is all about urban planning, architecture, supports decision making through data; while CheddarUp is an administrative tool for pay, collect and track of funds. Donde is revolutionizing search on Mobile, Ziggeo works with APIs for video recording and playback. Scrumpt provides and delivers kid friendly food. Yuru is an Ask anything website, while Hillist lets you travel for less!

Mari Baker, Robin Hauser and Ellen Petry Leanse engaged us in an interesting conversation about diversity. 50% of the population, 50% of the degrees awarded are to women. We still have only 5% of CEOs as women although 12 out of 18 trillion dollar spending every year is by women! Diversity in work places help with Innovation, performance and efficiency of the organization. A recent McKinsey study found that stock performance is 4% higher with diverse representation. 

Thomas Korte, a dynamic and charismatic speaker from AngelPad shared his thoughts about investment in ventures. He shared that most engineers focus on the solution more than the problem itself, we should rather invest significant time and effort understanding the value of our product. We do not need accelerators, be strong and walk out when the deal does not sound right. What we need is advisors with great connections, but thats not a good enough reason to give away 1% advisory shares. Do not let competition deter you.

Jocelyn Goldfein, a vibrant speaker, advisor and investor walked us through a mode of Discovery vs Delivery. Architectural principles of form follows function. It is tempting to believe that culture shapes process, we should strive to pursue otherwise. If you consider the Tech spectrum from OS to Desktop Apps to Mobile to Web, moving from right to left gives more control on deployment destiny while moving from left to right gives more powerful and rich UX capabilities. Business model ranges from Enterprise to Consumer to Free or Ad supported models. 

As engineers, we have to constantly remind ourselves to look out to minimize overhead, and pay down tech debt. It might be a bumpy ride, sometimes chaotic, stressful at times, but enjoy the ride!

Kathy Savitt, the CMO of Yahoo was undoubtedly an absolutely articulate, dynamic role model exuding confidence backed by her intelligence and decades of experience in the industry. She has 5 daughters, she jokes about her husband being washed in a sea of estrogen. She inspires us to be on a disruptive mission, be altruistic but selfish in a way. When building a product, make customers your compass and not your own skill set. Listen to your customers and change course as need be. Find your Why and follow your dream. Truly believe that your best days are yet to come. Focus on the right decisions, and not the perfect ones. Find your Dorothy Boyd (Jerry McGuire's co pilot), have a maniacal focus, live your life in an enriching an entertaining way. Never refuse knowledge. Create your own board of directors, keep company of those who align with your mission. Have mentors who will advise you, have sponsors who will pound on the table to give you a life changing moment. Find yourself a principled and truth telling mentor, could also be your spouse or father.  

Make things personal. Value passion and accountability. Sweat the small stuff eg: in an airplane, tray tables have nothing to do with airline safety, but passengers who find issues with a tray table may lose trust with the airline itself. A child is bothered by you not caring enough to put your cell phone away during her piano recital. Live a richer albeit sensitive life. Embrace your superpower, recognize your kryptonite. 

There are 2 grave mistakes we as leaders sometimes make - I dont know, so it must not be important. I dont know, so I will delegate it. Care enough to dive deep. Know enough to ask the right questions. Be a humanist, not just a feminist. Be the heroine of your story, not just the protagonist. Lastly, get enough sleep. Less sleep is least worthy of an important decision.


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