Wednesday, March 11, 2015

International Women's Day Breakfast at Google

I was so honored to be asked to join a breakfast for a small group of women at Google this past Saturday in celebration of International Women's Day hosted by the Women Tech Makers group.  It was a great place to get to know other senior women in the industry, with loads of time for networking.

I was so impressed that when Natalie Villalobos (our host) asked her boss, Meg Smith (now US CTO), about taking her 20% passion project to inspire women in tech and improve diversity in the industry to a full time job that Ms. Smith agreed and talked to others at Google to get funding for that as a full time position!  Now Ms. Villalobos gets to work on Women Tech Makers full time - what an awesome job!

I loved our keynote speaker, Suzanne Frey, Director of Policy, Trust & Security, Google Apps .  She was full of energy, was inspiring and super smart.  Suzanne Frey had the following advice for the women leaders in the room:

  1. Ms Frey had learned about the cingulate gyrus - the part of the brain that does "look back" (ie how could this conversation have gone better, what if I had gone to that event instead of this other one, etc). Basically, she learned that women's cingulate gyrus fires much  more frequently than men's. The summary of the research was that more men are not focused on potential mistakes of the past, but moving forward, looking ahead.  Her advice? Stop ruminating on the past!

    As someone who has spent many a night tossing and turning thinking how I could've better handled a situation, how I wish I would've called my grandmother one more time at the holidays (I did not know she was sick and dying until it was too late and she had already passed), what if I had picked up my grandma's cat sooner - could I have prevented his FIP from flaring out of control and killing him? Was I too short in that text message to my friend? What if, what if, what if...

    I remember years ago complaining to my mother that my husband fell asleep instantly and she responded, "Men do that, they don't worry about the day behind them - they want their rest for the day ahead. Their minds are quiet at night."

    Of course, there is certain contemplation both men and women should always do, so that you can improve your future performance - but you cannot change the past or actions of others, and its better to learn the lesson and move on.
  2. Have your own personal board of directors. Other women leaders you can bounce problems and ideas off of. Meet regularly.  She meets with hers every quarter - an international group, so meetings times can be at very irregular times for US.

    This is hard for me - when I go to event like this breakfast, I got so much out of talking to other female managers. We face similar challenges but have very diverse ways to look at things.  It's the keeping it going afterwards.

    Do you have a personal board of directors? If so, how did you set it up? How do you keep it going?
  3. Your intentions and how you are perceived are not always the same.  Be aware of that, and it will impact how you take actions. It's important to believe in yourself - that will change how you are perceived!
     
  4.  Start to reinvest in yourself. Do NOT do things that deplete you.  Use things like TaskRabbit. You are worth a few dollars a month - your time is worth so much more. Your energy and efforts are better spent on yourself and elsewhere then on housecleaning, etc.
Lots of great advice from around the table - including learning how to pick our battles, how to manage children/family and work and calendar management.

What tips do you  have for emerging women leaders?