Bringing Together Women in Tech to Celebrate Imperfection
The energy was palpable as attendees walked through the doors of TELUS Spark on November 16, 2016, ready to start their Geeky Summit adventures, a conference highlighting women leaders, creators and entrepreneurs working in tech – and the first of its kind in Alberta.
Over the course of the day, attendees engaged with keynote speakers - both international and local - listened to panels filled with entrepreneurs of all ages (including an 8 and 11-year-old), and participated in discovery sessions that ranged from how to have crucial conversations, to designing for users, not software, to dabbling in creating animations through CSS. Ultimately, it was a full day of celebrating the imperfect in all its forms.
After the day was done, reflecting on all the topics covered, on attendee feedback, and on the consistent themes that arose between 8:00 am and 5:30 pm, it is clear that, through all the conversations, the day had succeeded in being inspirational for many.
Imperfect Inspiration from the Geeky Summit
Below, we've summed up some of the pearls of wisdom and inspiration from our speakers.
1. Comfort Zones
In order to continue leveling the field in technology and in entrepreneurism, you must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Whether it comes in the form of having crucial, if not uncomfortable, conversations as highlighted by Benevity’s People Development Lead, Paula Blackmore-White, or pivoting on a dime when your original plan doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, as Kylie Lakevold of Sparrow.ai experienced in a number of her earlier start ups. Comfort zones are meant to be stretched – even if that means things get messy and uncomfortable.
2. Overcoming Perfectionism
As Kendall Barber of Poppy Barley said, “Perfectionism is rooted in fear. This is the worst place to create from.” And, as women are increasingly growing within the fields of technology and entrepreneurship, innovation must be as freeing as possible, not held back because of fear. The main thing is to just start and put your thoughts, your innovations, your prototypes, your ideas out to the world. There will always be a level of criticism no matter what you do, the trick is to just start and perfect along the way, even if “perfect” is never met. Stand behind your conviction for innovation, not your need to be perfect to start.
3. Using Fear as a Motivator
If perfectionism is rooted in fear, then it’s important to learn how to harness the fear and use it as a motivator rather than a deterrent. Understand what your fear is and break it down. If you have a fear of failure, know that “failure” isn’t a bad thing. Rather, look at “failing” as a lesson – what lessons can you take away from a situation? Tina Mathas, Associate Partner, Innovation and Partner Eco-system Practice at IBM, stressed that “failure is always an option.” So, if you know that failure is an option, that it isn’t necessarily bad, you can harness your fear to push you forward. Truly, fear isn’t something to run away from. It’s something to be faced, acknowledged, and then moved through since, chances are, on the other side of your fear is where your idea, your product, your invention, will have real impact.
4. Embracing Challenges
Challenges are nothing more than learning how to tweak. In fact, echoed across our speakers, was the theme that if you are not seeing new challenges, then you’re not moving forward. If the same challenge keeps coming up, this is something to acknowledge, face head on, and work through. Only when you start to embrace the challenges that you are presented with -– from that awkward conversation, to being the only woman in the boardroom, to understanding how or why your software and / or product isn’t providing a great user experience – will you be able to move forward and continue towards success – whatever your individual definition of success may be.
5. Value of Relationships
Lean on your support group, talk to them, engage with individuals who can support and / or challenge you to grow within your business / industry, and also form relationships that have nothing to do with your business or industry. Part of the reason we launched Geeky Summit is because Chic Geek recognizes the value in building a strong, supportive, and welcoming community for women who may not have this support elsewhere. It is a place to support, a place to educate, and also a place to have fun. Look at the relationships in your life both personal and professional – and see how they are moving you forward.
What started as a pipe dream, the Geeky Summit became reality, highlighting the power of what each speaker was talking about: innovation, just starting, relying on your relationships, and embracing the fear and challenges. An event that listened to what the Chic Geek community was missing and created a space that supports embracing imperfection, that challenges the status quo, and engages leaders – both old and emerging – through conversations.
To continue the conversation or learn more about Geeky Summit, visit www.thechicgeek.ca/geeky-summit.