Being Imperfectly Perfect: tips from our Geeky Summit Speakers

November 15, 2016

Imperfection: a fault, blemish, undesirable feature...traditional definition. Yet, this definition doesn’t mean unstoppable. Imperfections don’t always have to be obstacles. No, they’re meant to be embraced, celebrated even, as ways to be unique, as areas to inspire, and as igniters of change. Instead of aiming to be “perfect,” something that we can all get caught up with, true industry game changers look to start their ideas and improve along the way.   

 

With our Geeky Summit coming up November 16, 2016, we reached out to a number of our speakers, asking how they have harnessed their imperfections to benefit themselves, their businesses, and their industries rather than getting caught in the desire to be “perfect” before starting.

 

Their answers boil down to one common theme: imperfection inspires, not stops, innovation.

 

 

“Imperfection creates opportunity.”

-Chelsea Klukas

Our speakers share their insights on:

 

...how imperfection inspires within business

 

 

Nikki Durkin, Founder, 99dresses | Founder, CodeMakers

 

The idea that something is 'perfect' or not is actually just a matter of perspective. What if that deal falling through was a blessing, and exactly what was supposed to happen. What if a team-mate leaving, or some other drama, is perfect? Through my last startup, I realised that nothing was ever actually 'good' or 'bad'. It was just my judgement that made it so, and many things that appeared 'good' turned out bad whilst many that appeared terrible turned out great. Once I had this realization, I began to focus a lot more on viewing everything as perfect - even the stuff that most people would think is pretty imperfect.

 

 

 

Kylie Lakevold, CEO and co-founder of Sparrow.ai

 

Seth Godin once said that, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.”  I think accepting imperfection inspires me to roll with the punches and improvise when things don’t go the way I planned. It also pushes me to aim for slightly less than 100% so that I can move on to other competing tasks that help my business advance.

 

 

 

 

 

Olivia Poole, Founder & CEO, VINA

 

I personally subscribe to two old Japanese philosophies that are super relevant to this topic! I love the notion of wabi-sabi which is embracing imperfection as beauty. The wabi-sabi philosophy lends itself to the art of Kinsugi, which is where they fill the cracks of broken pottery with gold, not only repairing the broken parts, but highlighting them and making the pottery even more beautiful and magnificent than it was before. I love these two things because it's those imperfections that make things unique, special, and extraordinary. Trying to be perfect is the biggest enemy in simply getting great things out to the world, and for the most part we see our "flaws" so so much more intensely than anyone else.  

 

 

 

Sophia Fairweather, Founder, BySophia

 

If I tried to be perfect I would still be working on my first project. I also need people to tell me what they think, so I can improve. I started experimenting with $200 with coffee and cookies at age five, made $4000 from that, then created FunCro with $4000. This year I am paying it forward and have been role modelling (presentations, coaching, interviews, and being a panelist) and creating four new products, each being a part of STEM...

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea Klukas, Co-founder MakeFashion | Senior UX Designer, Amazon

 

Imperfection creates opportunities. As a business, identifying the imperfections and frustrations of your customers presents opportunities to make their lives better. Many simple things that we take for granted help us manage imperfections. For example, a calendar minimizes the impact of having an imperfect memory. As a user experience professional, I'm always seeking to identify moments that can be made easier, simpler, and more delightful for my customers.

 

 

 

 

Chantel Elliott, Partner, Material Insight

 

Imperfection inspires me both on a personal and a business level. When mistakes happen and businesses or brands own up to them, I believe it really strengthens the relationship between a business/brand & its customers or prospects. In fact, it can actually build loyalty between a brand and its followers if mistakes are handled well, because it makes a brand seem that much more real. We all want to trust others and buy from trusted brands, backed by real people because, well, we're human too! And I think deep inside everyone has a fear of screwing up, so it's always a relief when someone else does it, owns up to it, and fixes the problem.

 

 

 

​​Tarah Ferguson, Founder, She Built That

 

Embracing imperfection is what allowed me to start my business and has brought me to where I am today. If I focused on being perfect I would have never started. Embracing my imperfections has allowed me to go after my dream and interview numerous other entrepreneurs who are also ‘imperfect.’ As one of my past interviewees, Meredith Powell, stated years ago when I interviewed her, It is your imperfections that make you perfect. Perfection does not exist, and once you realize that, you can do anything because you have nothing to lose.

 

 

 

 

Clarissa Peterson, Author, UX Content Strategist

 

When you design software, you are always aware that there is no such thing as perfection. It’s not like working in a field like accounting, where you know your work is perfect if all the numbers add up the way they are supposed to. When you design software, you want it to work as well as possible for as many users as possible, but it’s impossible to have software that is perfect for every user, because people are all different and they want and need different things. Your goal is never perfection, but rather just trying to make the best product you can with the resources that are available to you, and to keep improving the software as you find ways that it could work better, as users’ needs change, or as technology changes.

 

 

 

...turning “imperfection” into a positive

 

 

 

Nikki Durkin, Founder, 99dresses | Founder, CodeMakers

 

My biggest and most public 'imperfection' was the failure of my last startup, 99dresses. After that, I wrote a blog post about it that went viral and helped many entrepreneurs who'd gone through the same thing. During my downtime, I also taught myself to code, fell in love with it, and started teaching kids to code. That lead to my current startup, CodeMakers, which is going from strength to strength and is something I just love working on every day.

 

 

 

 

Kylie Lakevold, CEO and co-founder of Sparrow.ai

 

I drove myself crazy trying to be the person with all the answers in my last startup. I felt that if I couldn’t be the best at every role within the company, then I was failure as a CEO.  What I learned is that leadership does not mean that you have all the answers. Leadership means that you know how to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Lean on people that understand the imperfections in your business and know how to to improve those weaknesses...Imperfection in your business will force you to build your dream team.

 

 

 

 

 

Olivia Poole, Founder & CEO, VINA

 

I think I've personally developed such an affinity for the above philosophies that I don't even notice when I'm turning imperfections into positives anymore. It's important that you do that every day with everything you do. In entrepreneurship, there's no time to get hung up on how things could have been!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea Klukas, Co-founder MakeFashion | Senior UX Designer, Amazon

 

Imperfection is what makes us human and relatable. Often we are afraid to exhibit imperfection and vulnerability because we fear it will lose us credibility, however, it can build trust and respect. Acknowledging our own imperfections and being open to feedback and criticism helps us identify opportunities for growth. The strongest leaders are those who are continually aware of their own imperfections and aren't afraid to ask for feedback, coaching, alternate opinions, or help. Being aware of imperfections can also help us build a strong and diverse team around us that balances out our own weaknesses.

 

 

 

Chantel Elliott, Partner, Material Insight

 

In my business we've had many screw-ups with clients - mostly small things, but some bigger things. We always own up to it right away by informing our clients of the mistake & either providing a proposed fix or letting them know that we're working on it as a priority. With the bigger mistakes, clients of course get frustrated, but if they see you responding to it quickly and with your utmost attention, trust & confidence are maintained...

 

 

 

 

Tarah Ferguson, Founder, She Built That

 

Nobody is perfect. If I were to meet someone that told me they were, I would probably run the other way. As far as imperfections are concerned, I am a lot more accepting of myself at 34 then I was at 24. I will also say that when you start your own business, side hustle, or passion project, it leaves you very little time and energy to focus on imperfections. So, whatever you are thinking about starting - just do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kendall Barber, Founder, Poppy Barley

 

At Poppy Barley, we always strive for product excellence. Recognizing there is always room for improvement (another word for imperfection), makes us more open to feedback on products. Feedback drives us forward.

 

 

 

 

Imperfection is what drives these businesses forward. By moving forward in their businesses, they are changing the conversations in their fields, allowing for innovative solutions and experiences for their clients. At the end of the day, for all of the Geeky Summit speakers, imperfection is the one thing that challenges them to be better, to grow, and to surround themselves with teams who embrace each other’s imperfections for the betterment of their industries.

 

Just like our speakers, what are your imperfections that you are proud of?

 

Come celebrate these imperfections with these speakers November 16, 2016 at Chic Geek’s Geeky Summit!

 

 

 

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