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5 Tips to Become a Fearless Leaders from Top Female Executives



Women in business generally belong to one of two leadership groups: female founders or female executives. While equity ownership may vary, these two groups both have decision-making power, scores of employees who rely on them, and have arguably paved the way for the modern woman entrepreneur.

I started my first company while still working full time at a top law firm — also a male-dominated industry. There were times that I encountered clients who only wanted to work with male associates. I had to prove the quality of my work while also not taking the rejection personally. As a result, the qualities of a driven work ethic and tough skin have transferred into my life as a serial entrepreneur.

Luckily, I have had the pleasure of meeting several top female executives along the way, who inspired me and taught me valuable lessons. Here are five tips I learned from these amazing women:

1. Don’t have a complex about being the only female in the room.

Even with the most optimistic outlook, it can be normal to have feelings of self-doubt, especially if others in the company are vocalizing concerns about you. No matter what, you have to believe in your abilities.

Elysa Walk, general manager of Giant Bicycles, enjoys the outdoors and is a recreational rider, but came to the bike industry with a master’s degree in business and no work background in the outdoor sports market. Some people at Giant initially had their doubts, and some even left the company due to her presence. Throughout the time it took for Elysa to “prove herself,” which wasn’t overnight, Elysa believed in herself and refused to acquiesce to the naysayers.

Have faith in yourself and change the tone of your work environment. If it’s hostile, only you can control how you react to the negativity and whether your attitude and performance combats others’ fears.

2. Mentor other women.

There are many tales about the cattiness of high-powered women and how difficult they can be toward one another. A New York Times article from October 2015 explores why women compete with each other. Mentoring other women isn’t just about playing nice or being politically correct — it supports a social revolution and the realization that we really aren’t in competition with each other, but more so with ourselves.

One female executive in the action sports industry told me about a great quote that stuck with her from a BMX X-Games competitor: “Willpower is a muscle.” If we start flexing that willpower each day, whether it’s getting up right when the alarm goes off or clicking “like” on a fellow female business owner’s Instagram post, we can begin the journey of empowering ourselves, supporting others and ultimately bettering female leaders in the process.

3. Be an end user. 

Be an end user of your product, especially if the market lacks in your point of view.

Karen Bliss, vice president of marketing for Advanced Sports, was a collegiate and professional bike racer before pivoting. Fuji was her first pro sponsor and she enjoyed competing in races until she decided to “get a real job” at 35 years old. It took her seven years to obtain an executive level position. She still enjoys recreational biking, and her background as a professional racer allows her first-hand knowledge of other female riders’ needs, wants and interests. Without knowing what her customer base wants, needs and experiences, she can’t possibly create and support a product that resonates with her audience. Being an end user helped her stand out and also gain credibility, not only among her peers but as a woman in the outdoor sports world.

4. Practice what you post.

We all have that one friend on social media who posts the most positive, uplifting, motivating texts and images we have ever seen. Yet in person, she is moody, disturbed and generally not a joy to be around. Why the dichotomy? We all have less than great days, but playing Jekyll and Hyde between social media and real life is detrimental to social connections.

One executive in the Las Vegas tech industry told me about how she called out a peer for always posting family and religious content. Yet in person, all she did was complain about how tiresome home life was and how she missed her single days. While there were underlying teachable moments related to workplace, home life and balance, the lack of consistency ultimately ended up affecting her colleague’s credibility among her peers. If you aren’t reliable and consistent with yourself, how can you be so within your job or to anyone else? Practice what you post and you may find that it’s for the better.

5. Make an impact while making an income.

Various companies offer community outreach opportunities, but it’s important for you to find your own path in what it means to give back.

One executive I met in the beauty hardware manufacturing industry used to be a licensed cosmetologist. She gave up cutting hair for clients long ago to focus on climbing the consulting corporate ladder. While she isn’t a licensed cosmetologist any longer, she still likes to go around her Manhattan neighborhood on Sundays and trim hair for the homeless. She finds it rewarding that, when you cut someone’s hair, they just open up and talk to you with less inhibition. Find what fills your soul, while utilizing the skills you have learned to keep you paid.

All the above methods have in common one thing: you. Keep yourself inspired, and you’ll find that you end up inspiring others in the process.


Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

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How to Create Buzz around Your Startup Idea



Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.

– Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

There is something very exciting starting up a business. Startups offer you a chance to do something fresh and take new ideas to the public. But if you’re going to succeed, you need to get it right from the very start of the journey. Creating buzz around your startup’s launch is possible, and here are some ideas to help you do it.

Blog About Your Startup Journey

This is a great thing to do if you want to create a personable and refreshing brand image. People like to see how your business is doing and how it grows from an idea into a fully fledged business. Blog about what you’re doing and how your business is expanding. If you can develop an audience of readers ahead of your startup’s official launch, it will be easier for you to hit the ground running. You can then make the blog the voice of the company as it grows and starts to turn a profit. This is something that you should think very carefully about when starting up a business.

Make Plenty of Announcements

You should try to make a lot of announcements when you are leading up to the launch of your startup. There are plenty of people out there that will be interested in hearing about what you’re doing. You need to start by creating a strong presence on all the key social media sites. If you can do this, you will build up an audience that will then be receptive to your messages. They will also be there to spread the word and share announcements with their friends on social media platforms. This can be hugely important when you’re trying to raise brand awareness and expose your announcements to as many people as possible.

Organize an Event and Invite People

Organizing a real event that people can turn up to and attend can be a great idea. It makes your startup’s official launch feel more real. If you just set a random date for the launch and don’t mark it in any way, it will be much more difficult to create a buzz. Hire a stage, sound system and find bleacher rentals to host the event. Then you can write a speech and make a plan for the schedule of the launch. If you can do this well, you will create a lot of buzz, and maybe get some more coverage for the startup too.

Reach Out to People Who Can Give You Publicity

There are plenty of people out there that might be able to help you achieve the publicity and coverage you crave. When your business is being talked about, people will hear about your brand and what it’s doing. So, you need to make sure that you reach out to many people in the press, the media and the blogosphere who can help you. There are many business magazines and websites that write profiles of new business and young entrepreneurs. If you can contact some of these people, they might be interested in offering you some coverage. Don’t underestimate how important this could be. Hopefully these ideas will help you with starting up a business.


About the Author

This article was produced by SolVibrations is a multi-author self improvement blog, aiming to inspire creativity within.

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