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Woman in a Man’s World

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Woman in a Man’s World

Woman in a Man’s World

Can you imagine being the first women in venture capital? To put this in perspective, today after 30+ years of women in venture capital there are fewer than 4% of senior VC’s who are women! Now imagine, again, how out of place Kathryn Gould must have been in these early years in a man’s world.
Kathryn gave the commencement speech at University of Chicago this year, and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend reading it. She has been on the investing side and the entrepreneur side, and shares some wonderful advice. These are some highlights of her speech. These are really great gems of wisdom for anyone, especially a woman entrepreneur in her first start up.
1. “So, about your adventure: should you have a plan? Maybe. But don’t follow it. Planning prepares the mind, and chance favors the prepared mind, but chance usually messes up plans!”
2. “Don’t be afraid to take a step down” (Kathryn left as marketing manager for a $100 Million business to join Oracle, a $1 Million business.) I agree, if your intuition says it is a good idea, but all the outer world says “no stay at your good job”, chances are it is time to take a leap. I talk about this often. When I left IBM to join a small start up that later became what we know as the cellular industry, no one thought I was making a wise choice. But my intuition said jump!
3. “Build Your Skills Not Your Resume.” We live in a work world of resumes, but not once you become an entrepreneur. When you are starting your own business, you will be doing jobs from janitor to book keeping at times. Broaden your skills at every chance you can, before and after you take the plunge.
4. These are some gems she learned along the way:
“How to cold call –adrenaline, real time, 3 seconds to grab their attention—learn this!”
“Also the adage As hire As, Bs hire Cs—absolutely true—be careful of the company you keep.”
“What goes around comes around. Help people with their careers, their ideas, contacts—and I’m serious, good things come back years later.”
“I also learned that the first time without a paycheck is a little scary.”
5. “Find Your Obsession.” I should put this at the top, the middle and the end. Without a burning desire for achieving something you will not have the needed fire to fuel your path as an entrepreneur.
6. “It’s Not the Calls You Take, It’s the Calls You Make. You are the creator of your destiny. In whatever business you’re in, there is always so much coming at you that you can stay insanely busy just responding. Don’t do that. Always think about what is your agenda, what do you want to make happen, what do you want the future to look like. This is not so easy.” I think this might be the number two reason people fail at start-ups or careers. (The number one reason is not having a goal they truly are passionate about.) Years ago I moved my family to the country. Initially there was no cell phone coverage on our land and although we installed a phone line, we worked on one side of our 88 acres and lived on the other. Our one land-line phone meant we were away from the phone most of the day. When our answering machine broke people became irritated they could not leave us messages–playing the now familiar electronic version of tag, your it. However, I found such freedom in not responding to everyone else’s requests that I stalled considerably getting a new machine. I recognized in that experience the perpetual vortex of being sucked into other people’s priorities, and the power of stepping out of it.
I leave you with Kathryn’s ending remarks:
“Break rules, find your obsession, be extraordinary!”

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