Last night we officially kicked off our Women Crushing It Wednesday event series, and we’re so excited by the response and for the upcoming events in the series (stay tuned!).
We’ve covered in previous blog posts how we’re thinking about and planning our WCW events, and we’ll continue to do more of that—like when we host a webinar about it next week, which you can register for by clicking here.
|Pre-panel-discussion happy hour.|
But last night, Sarah, our marketing team lead, put it best when she spoke about why we’re hosting these events. Here’s what she said:
“Lauren, Andrea and I talk often about how to best navigate a tech industry and world in general where leadership is often still predominantly associated with men. We discuss tactics on how to formulate strong opinions, confidently speak our minds, always be top contributors and expect nothing less than utmost respect. At a certain point we realized if we’re talking about these things so much, there must be so many other women all around us having the exact same conversations. So we decided it was time to do something about it.”
With Sarah’s thoughts in mind, we turned to our panel discussion. For those of you who don’t know, we had a star-studded group of panelists—check out the line-up below.
|Our star-studded line-up. From left to right: Nia King-Rubie, VP of Strategic Communications, Glover Park Group; Holly Maine, Sales Director, Spotify; Sofia Gross, Political Partnerships Lead, Snap., Inc.; Carla Daeninckx, Design Director Creative, National Geographic Partners; and Isadora Italia, Community Director, IVY.|
The discussion covered all things branding, building personal brands, creating authentic connections in a world dominated by social media and screens, and navigating the workplace as women. True to form, our panelists crushed it—they were incredibly insightful, willing to share, and funny.
We can’t possibly cover everything in one blog post, but here are some of our favorite moments and insights from the first event in our WCW series:
Branding isn’t just about colors, fonts, and a logo—it’s about building an authentic connection.
Coming from women who work at global brands with extremely recognizable visual identities, this advice holds a lot of weight. National Geographic has turned a simple shape—a yellow rectangle—into an iconic logo synonymous with their brand, and I think we’d all be able to pick the Spotify and Snapchat logos out of a long line up.
But without authentic connections to reinforce those visual identities, a brand falls flat. Holly, our panelist from Spotify, suggested that the first step we need to take in developing an authentic brand is to think through, in a concise way, what we want our brand to represent and who we want our brand to resonate with. Knowing who you are and who you’re talking to is the foundation of an authentic brand—it’s not your color scheme or logo.
If you feel stuck in your career, break out of the rut by taking risks.
Early in her career, Carla, our panelist from National Geographic, was choosing between two jobs: one that was stable and safe, and one that would last only six months and would require her to potentially bite off more than she could chew. I already gave away the ending in the heading of this section, so it shouldn’t surprise you that Carla took the riskier, six-month job. Her parents might not have been thrilled with her choice, but Carla said it took her career to the next level.
“I knew all I could gain was experience and go up from there,” she said. “I told myself I was going to say I could do more than I could actually do. But then I worked my ass off to make up for it and benefited because of it. I made a ton of new connections and started to realize different places I could take my career.”
Sofia, our panelist from Snap, Inc., took a different kind of risk.
She knew the position she held at the time wasn’t something she wanted long-term—so she pitched a position to her managers that didn’t yet exist in her company, all with the understanding that she would fill that role.
“Especially if you work in tech,” Sofia told us, “pitching new positions is a reality.”
The best part of her story? The position she pitched is the one she now holds.
In-person events and experiences are still incredibly important.
It’s not surprising that a lot of the panel discussion touched on how we can use online and digital tools to achieve our personal and professional goals. Digital channels are, of course, important for building and maintaining connections with others.
But we were hosting an event, after all, and Nia, our panelist from the Glover Park Group, plugged the importance of in-person interaction.
“In the digital age, people forget about real, in-person interaction,” she said. “But having spaces where people can come together and interact in person is so important. You get exposed to different people and can engage and touch and interact with products in a way you can’t if you’re sitting at home on your phone.”
We all know that digital channels aren’t going anywhere, and that in-person events can’t scale the same way. But our event alone was proof of her point—with nearly 100 people in the room, everyone was intently focused on our panel discussion for over an hour. Where online can you find that kind of deep engagement?
Men—and women—need to work to eliminate gender bias.
We wanted to make clear last night—and want to make clear now—that we are not seeking to alienate men with our WCW series, and our panelists acknowledged that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the help of both women and men.
So how can men help women reach their professional goals?
First, we need to recognize that women can also play a part in perpetuating gender biases in the first place. Isadora, our panelist from IVY, challenged all of us—men and women—to take stock of the thoughts that pop into our heads about women at work.
“When a woman speaks first,” she explained, “do you think she’s being assertive or being overbearing? Take stock of those thoughts, be aware of them, and reflect on them.”
There was an overarching theme of women feeling like they’re not being heard at work—something that was validated by the results of a polling activation we set up for the event (future blog post about our experiential activations coming soon!). 46% of attendees who responded to the poll said they thought “speaking up / being heard” is the biggest challenge women face in the workplace.
Which is why Nia suggested that men help lift women’s voices in order to help them overcome this barrier.
“If you hear a conversation where a woman gets cut off,” she said, “as a man you need to help lift her voice up. Actively bring women into your conversations by asking them what they think and putting the spotlight on them.”
In general, our panelists stressed that we should stretch ourselves professionally, find mentors, ask for what we’re worth—yep, we talked about salary negotiation—and have fun doing it.
On finding mentors:
“I got my start working on political campaigns. It’s an environment where people are willing to do anything, but one thing people often forget in seeking out mentors is that they need a helping hand. Finding a way to make a mentor’s life a little bit easier, even if it’s just grabbing coffee for them, has gone a long way for me. As the mentee, you forget how helpful you can be to a mentor.”
On negotiating salary:
“Always ask for a number that makes you feel really uncomfortable. You know where you want to be. Just aim high. You’re probably worth it. You’d be shocked. I was.”
“Do your research. Nine out of ten people will push back on you about a number because that’s their job. Do your research and have hard numbers, and don’t be afraid to roll benefits into what makes up your current compensation. I moved from Google, so when I applied for other jobs I was thinking, ‘Now I’m gonna have to make my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner!’”
On being a little less serious:
“Have fun with your résumé. On mine I put that I like thrift shopping, and I swear I’m asked about that at every interview. People want to know you.”
If you want a behind-the-scenes look into how and why we're planning the WCW event series, watch the recording of our webinar, How We're Driving Revenue and Building Brand Awareness with Our Events, Step by Step. We talk about everything from setting high-level event goals to why we think it's so important to segment our guest list—click here to watch.