Remember what feels like way back in December, when everyone was posting on Facebook about how bad 2016 had felt? Those were the days, amiright? Because here we are, in early February, and it already feels like we’ve lived through a decade of bad… and yet we have to go on. All that is to say, I’m living my day to day hungry for good news. What is happening in the world that isn’t the actual worst? What good things are playing out in my friends’ lives? What are people accomplishing right now?
But here is the thing: as a woman with a successful career, I have a hard time being the person putting those good things out into the universe. I don’t like bragging about myself. Hell, I have a hard time typing out the phrase “successful career,” let alone trying to choke it out in a sentence. And you know who does not have this problem, ladies? Dudes.
This fall we went to Europe’s big tech conference in Lisbon. I’m so used to working in the female-centric wedding space, attending female-centric conferences, that I had no real idea of what to expect from a more traditionally male-oriented event. But we were invited as part of the women in tech initiative (an attempt at making the space a little more egalitarian), so I went in with high(ish) hopes. Instead when I ended up in pitch sessions, I would watch guy after guy get up and pitch themselves like they were God’s gift to humankind. Did they have an idea? Often no. Did they have a GOOD idea? Literally never. Did they have a lot of experience? Nope. But still, they would stand up, brimming with absolute confidence, and ask for $10 million from perfect strangers. On more than one occasion I had to leave the room because I didn’t want to break things.
Do I think we should all carry ourselves with the confidence of this kind of privileged man? Maybe… not. But I do wish as women we were better at sharing our often very impressive achievements so the rest of us could be inspired to reach to greater heights. Which brings me to my keynote last week at Alt Summit.
For years my professional goal has been to be interviewed on the Keynote Stage at Alt Summit, which is the major women’s entrepreneurship conference we go to each year. I don’t know if everyone grows up giving imaginary interviews with their hairbrush in front of the mirror, because I don’t know if everyone loves public speaking as much as I do. But I’ve been conducting imaginary self-interviews for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been dreaming of keynoting since I started this gig.
And this month, it happened. It didn’t (of course) fall into my lap magically, because that’s not how these things work. The team decided to pitch me as a keynote speaker, and then when I got picked to keynote, I asked if I could be interviewed, and the organizers agreed. (TL;DR you get what you want by working really hard, and then asking for it… sometimes over and over again.) But last week, after I finished what ended up being an amazing keynote interview about using our platforms for good during these difficult times, I couldn’t even get myself to sit down and write about it. Why? Because it was embarrassing, and I didn’t want to brag. So instead Stephanie, who had definitely had a few glasses of wine at that point, sat down and wrote the kindest possible description of the keynote, which made me teary when I finally got a chance to read it a few days later.
So today we’re taking a break from bad news and partnering with Squarespace to do what our team calls #bragbox. It’s when you tell everyone where you’re killing it in your life, so we can all be inspired.
I’ll take a deep breath and start:
I gave a keynote at Alt Summit, and totally slayed that shit.
I just moved my company (which I’ve never put a penny of capital into other than money that we earned) into a 2,000 square foot office in deep East Oakland, allowing me to invest in the neighborhood I live in.
I put on my brave face and hired a new, much-needed staff member, who is killing it in her own right.
I’ve built a team of smart amazing (mostly) women, who are helping me to run a kick-ass company.
And I just helped teach an intern who was with us for six weeks from Bennington College, and I’m super proud of the work we did with her.
Sure, I could list a bunch of other things (I’m raising a four-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old and I’m… alive…) but bragging about more traditional feminine activities doesn’t scare me as much. I’ll tell you I have great kids on Facebook, but I might not tell you when I reached major career milestones.
Because so many of the women in my life are the same (I just found out one of my girlfriends now has a staff of fourteen at her company… because her husband told me!), let’s do this thing. Ladies, it’s #bragbox day. What is big and beautiful—and possibly scary to share—in your own life?
This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be partnering with Squarespace again this year to talk about what it means to be a woman with hustle in 2017. If you’re looking to make a career change or kickstart one on the side, one of the best things you can do for yourself is create a home online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub where you can display just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build your online home beautifully, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on your first purchase when you use the code APW17 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace.
Image CreditNajva Sol for A Practical Wedding
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