Last week, our good friends at Ms. Tech hosted a fabulous event which highlighted the stories of four Chicagoans – female entrepreneurs and executives who all had a story to share. If you were unable to attend the discussion, we’re here to fill you in.
In a crowd of predominantly women, Patricia Anderson (CIO, Rewards Network), Shradha Agarwal (President, ContextMedia), Lori Coleman (CEO, CBD Marketing), and Ce Cole Dillon (COO, School Loan 411) shared their stories of experiences, victories, and failures.
Our team at ARA walked away inspired by these women and their stories and here’s why. All four women conquered fear and charted their own paths, learning lessons as they developed their careers.
Our takeaways from the event centered on three main themes.
1) The importance of making mistakes. Yes, mistakes. Why are we so afraid of them? In an entrepreneurial environment, sometimes it makes sense to take a risk. Lori’s most important words of wisdom – “Don’t look back – don’t let your mistakes define your life.” More key quotes can be found in her company’s book “Words of Wisdom from Kick Ass Women.” Consider how the fear of making mistakes holds you back in your career. If you’ve ever asked yourself “why aren’t they doing it,” consider instead “why aren’t you doing it?” (Thanks Shradha!)
2) Collaboration is Key. Patricia made a particularly poignant point about seeking feedback and input from everyone on staff. “Listen to everybody – they all have different ideas.” Shradha noted that she strives to develop a personal relationship with each of her employees. She stressed the importance of investing in your internal staff – learning about them personally, and continuing to foster that relationship. Patricia also highlighted the importance of developing external relationships as well as internal. Some of her external relationships have become her company’s vendors.
3) Speak up! Ce was quick to note that it was typically the men on her team who would point out their accomplishments. Meanwhile, the women were working diligently in their offices. Self promotion is important – be willing to share your accomplishments and say “I want something more.” If you don’t share your goals and ambitions, management will assume you are content in your present role. As Ce wisely stated, “Don’t wait for an opportunity to come to you. Step up and do it.”
We hope you find these words of wisdom as valuable as we did. And, if you missed last week’s Ms. Tech Talks, we hope to see you at their next event!