Hey Girl

On Being a (Young) Woman in Technology

I woke up at 6am for a call the other day only to open my email and be greeted by a note from a senior sales executive. It opened with a condescending, “Hey girl,” and proceeded to outline how I wasn’t being aggressive enough with bringing a new product to market and that I should call him so we could discuss further.

First time for everything.  I didn’t know if I was more taken aback by being called slow and passive or being addressed as “hey girl”. for women in the industry, I’ve often been called too aggressive, unduly assertive, or bluntly that I need to work on softening my tone.

Shocker – I wasn’t in a rush to call him. In fact, I never did.  However, I quickly responded to note that in fact it was his team that was causing the delay, and that P.S. – in the future, “Alyssa” worked better than “Hey girl.” This interaction is similar to many I’ve had and unfortunately seems to be the norm amongst my female colleagues.

  • I’ve been called a “Hot ginger,” which would make a “great draw” for a marketing event.
  • I’m referenced as “the mobile girl” more times than I can count.
  • I’ve been asked if I’m going to be late because I might need time “for a mani pedi.”
  • I’ve been told that big opportunities were given to me because they need folks on stage who “aren’t old white men.”
  • I’ve been propositioned by senior staff members – both directly and, on occasion, in writing.
  • I’ve been entirely ignored / talked over / interrupted in technical discussions, seemingly presumed not to have either a valid opinion or any relevant knowledge.

I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be a “woman in technology” – I’ve wrestled with a lot of different questions on both the macro and micro levels.  I’ve spoken with my boss, my family, my boyfriend, my therapist, my friends, my colleagues, my executives, attended conferences, and begun thinking critically about my own daily experiences.

A few things I would like to share:

  1. I’m not alone. I’m humbled by women like , , Sheryl Sandberg, , and many others whom I follow and from whom I try to learn. There are a lot of women who have navigated these waters before me. They put on conferences like the and . They form groups like , and . They host lunches and seminars and try to help elevate others. These have become sources of strength, knowledge and relationships which inspire and humble me.
  2. It is hard. Harder, different, difficult, awkward, and challenging. First step to fixing anything is identifying the problem. One problem is that simply being a woman brings additional barriers, navigation, and hassle towards making a contribution. It is harder to be heard, harder to know what’s appropriate, harder to form relationships, and harder to get ahead.
  3. There are no easy answers. Every situation is nuanced. Depending on my mood, the background, or the lead up, my response to an insensitive  comment varies significantly. Sometimes I smack the person, sometimes I make a joke,  sometimes I launch into a discussion, or sometimes I do nothing. I have never reported anything to an HR department. I don’t know where the line is, and the line seems to change. I look at examples like Elen Pao and wonder if I’ll get support or become the victim of even more jokes and remarks.
  4. I think most people are well-meaning. That doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. I don’t think those who have made a hurtful comment, hit on me, or been inappropriate are ill intentioned. Insensitive yes, but they aren’t trying to be pigs. Maybe I’m young and naïve, but I believe that most people are using phrases as terms of endearment, ways to break the ice, or occasionally even as a compliment.  That doesn’t mean the comments aren’t  hurtful, or damaging. It’s okay to call them out. Acknowledging the damage is the first step in repairing it.

I’ve wondered at times why I am so fixated on the topic – can’t I just add value, work hard, and not think about what gender I am? Why do I care so much?

I realized that what gnaws at me is bigger and more important than just what I am experiencing as a woman. I believe that there is damage being done, and I’m worried that I’m contributing to something negative. Certainly there is a lack of female presence, but there isn’t enough diversity – of any kind. Technology is being built by a group of people who are from a very small – and insular – subset of our society, with limited viewpoints and narrow set of experiences. I believe that the technology we are building as an industry – which is quite literally building the future – is not particularly good – or as good as it could be.

Furthermore, how will I participate in change? What will my contribution be? I struggle with integrating my own sense of self – my character – in the technology world.

I often marinate on teachings from my own Jewish upbringing as well a pivotal moments in history. One of my biggest fears is that I will be a bystander- that I will not participate in the work of making the world a better place.

It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work [of repairing the world], but neither are you at liberty to desist from it. -Pirke Avot (2:21)

I’ve resolved not to be a bystander.  I won’t behave correctly every time – I won’t engage with every comment or person, but I will not be silent. I’m worried there will be negative consequences for me. I’m worried it will make people uncomfortable. I’m worried it may stunt my career advancement, and I’m worried I’ll be wrong.

The only way I know how to move forward is engage and speak up. I do so on a macro level because I think it’s important to have diversity in our workforce, in the work of building the future.  I do so on a micro level because frankly, I’m sick of being the only woman in the room.

For Real? Estate – Part 1: The “No Es Bueno” San Francisco Land Grab

It all started wwhitebagith a plastic bag last winter.

“I think you’ll REALLY like this place over the others we’ve looked at — it’s right in your price range and they’re even willing to wait 3 months for you to start the lease until your other lease is up!”

My commercial broker, Amy, was her usual perky, peppy self as she maneuvered her late model BWW X5 slowly the narrow alleyway that passed for a street near San Francisco’s courthouse / jail complex on .

As we slowly drifted past a motley assortment of buildings in the street, I kept sinking down further into my seat and even contemplated refusing to get out of the car when it stopped at our destination.

The back alley buildings themselves held the businesses one would expect in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the local pokey – bail bondsmen after bail bondsmen, followed by shingle after shingle advertising criminal defense attorneys (“Available 24/7!”). And let’s not forget the tasty side of other sketchy-looking services that cater to the patrons of the court system and jail. Bail_bonds

Amy squeezed her large SUV into a small, cracked driveway next to a pale pink rock-facade 1960s era apartment building; we slid out gingerly onto the broken pavement, looking furtively from side to side for I don’t know what.

Across the driveway, a lean, blonde, very-tanned man greeted us energetically – Charlie, the broker from the “other side”, i.e. the guy who represented the landlord in a commercial rental transaction.

As Charlie thrust a lean, tanned hand toward us, Amy stage-whispered to my partner and me, “It was so nice of him to come out to show this. Most brokers are already done for the week. But he and I go way back and so it’s a favor.”

It was only 10 am. On a Friday.

So it made sense that he would be done for the day….if his clients were vampires.

The property itself was one of the oddest office buildings I’d seen in San Francisco. Badly weathered aluminum siding covered on the upper part of the building above a layer of pastel faux-rocks. A large external cement staircase in the front led up to each of the 6 units, 2 per floor.  They all looked like apartments rather than offices, each featuring a very homey front door with a knocker and a large picture window next to it.

Charlie bounded up the stairs in front of us, casually announcing over his shoulder that all the other tenants were defense attorneys.

Naturally.

And then I saw it.  The bag.

As I lifted up my foot to take my first step onto the staircase, I noticed the small, white, lumpy bag on the ground at the base, with a neatly tied bow — it was a bag that looked grossly familiar to anyone who has ever owned a dog.

I froze, my stomach lurching ever so slightly, and quickly side-eyed my partner, seeking some reassurance that that bag was not what my stomach and nostrils were perceiving.

Without missing a step, he whispered as he passed me and stepped onto the staircase, “Yes, that is exactly what you think it is.”

Our tour of the apartment / office turned out to be just as disheartening as our trip up the staircase. Charlie pleasantly pointed out the features: 3 beige separate (bed)rooms, beige in-suite bathroom, beige kitchen, beige wall to wall carpet, beige linen closets, fire escape access in the back down to the garbage cans….yes, garbage cans. In the back, where garbage goes.

At this point, there was no shaking the apartment-complex feel to it, although when asked, both Charlie and Amy swore it had always been a commercial property. They both gamely attempted to sell the highlights of the space’s 3 bedroom floor plan — more privacy because of the separate rooms, all new kitchen appliances, a shower in the bathroom, large closets for coats….by the end, I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to work there or make a happy home.

But even if the doggie welcome bag hadn’t been there, the office space was simply not at all what we could move our tech product design firm into. As I’d emphasized to Amy many times, our must-have requirements, after price range and square footage, included an office with natural light, and parking, both for me and my staff and for our Silicon Valley clients, many of whom had to drive into San Francisco for business meetings. (But not typically criminal court dates.)

Needless to say, we said our goodbyes to Amy and her services later that day. While I certainly didn’t hold her responsible for the doo-doo bag, I did let her know that we had higher hopes for her meeting our office requirements. But given the commercial real estate market, perhaps I was overly harsh on her on even that front. After all, Amy was only able to show us inventory that was available. And the inventory pickens were indeed slim.

While it was to be the last, tDIAKADI_Fitness_Performance_Life_-_Google_Mapshis wasn’t our first disappointing office visit to San Francisco commercial space within our size and price range. The other visits, while not as notably colorful as the Bail Bondsmen Backalley, all seemed wrought with similarly fatal flaws — one building was a converted warehouse that had a single tiny bathroom per floor of 8 offices.

And then there was the Peruvian startup attempting to run an illegal  out of their offices. Although we were initially excited about their bright, IKEA-decorated sublet, the dreamy deal started falling apart when we started asking several tough, probing questions such as, “Has your landlord actually given you permission to sublet the space?” These were met with a lot of blank stares, and a few “Es bueno, es all bueno, no problem, no worries. Deal?”, which we met with a corresponding, “Nooooo, no es bueno. Noooooo deal.”

I could go on about ore dire properties we viewed, but it just takes me back to the sadder place to recount the weird, cavelike, or just downright depressing office spaces for rent.

Basically, though, I was starting to believe that we’d be better off pitching a tent in the SoMA Streat Food lot next to the food trucks and turning that into an office space with tasty snacks nearby.

Wondering what happened next? Check out more about my roller-coaster experiences in the San Francisco land grab in Part 2: Why can’t I just work in my car??

 

For Real? Estate – Part 2: Why can’t I just work in my car?

(To recap just how this all started with a plastic bag of poo, please see Part 1: The “No Es Bueno” San Francisco Land Grab )

The crazy commercial and residential land grab in San Francisco is not new news to anyone who lives in the Bay Area. It was just my personal first brush with how insane it’s all gotten in the run up of the past 6 years since we first took a commercial lease. Ah, those were the salad days of early 2008, where SF 

For those of you (well, okay, maybe it’s just me) who find the price-per-square-foot number a little inscrutable — it’s basically the annualized cost per square foot for a rental. So an office space of 10,000 square feet at $30 / square foot will cost your firm a nifty $300,000 to rent for the year.

How little I realized what a bargain those olden days were.

I learned quickly, for when our office lease was about 6 months away from expiring, we started conversation with our current building management team about the potential cost of renewing. I nearly fainted in my chair when I was told that current market for our building and spaces like it was running between 

Just based on the sheer 80-100% increase in rent alone, it was becoming clear for our bottom line that we’d need to look around for a new office space.At this point, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve only helped create this quasi-dire office space situation by limiting my search area to the side of San Francisco that is absolutely the most competitive for commercial space currently, thanks to the tech boom. It’s the  combined with a few nearby streets in the Mission district.

While I’ve never been one to be driven by tech trendiness in making business decisions, there are truthfully some solid reasons why  (and it’s not because of the SF Giants home ballpark).

The major commuter train transportation hub, otherwise known as Caltrain, comes to rest in the heart of SoMA, which enables numerous non-SF dwellers to commute from as far as San Jose 45 miles away as it travels up through the Silicon Valley and Peninsula corridor. It’s also close-ish to the BART stations lining Market Street as well.  And it features a number of funky, trendy smaller office spaces in unique buildings with lots of light and architectural features, the kind of space that suits both unconventional start ups and also my firm, a design firm with Silicon Valley clients.

In short, for my business, SoMA was and still is best area of San Francisco for an office space.

And yet, despite having run my business successfully in San Francisco for over 9 years, it seems that we, too, were now being priced out of the market (or forced to downgrade significantly).

While I’ll refrain from making any poor-me comparisons to the, I have to admit that I can feel a few twinges of the frustration of having been based in a place as both a resident and a business owner (the latter activity which created jobs), of paying local taxes, and of generally contributing to the local economy by patronizing other local small businesses.

After contributing productively as such for 9 years, I suddenly found my ability to rent a suitable office in my home city becoming more and more difficult, priced out by small startups whose biggest contribution to the world so far, besides creating a mobile app that let’s them rent the air around their apartment, is that they believe they’re “disrupting disruption” and that they are proudly developing a corporate culture based on “awesome snacks.” (I am not making any of this up, although I may have combined a few startups.)

This whole experience has a distinct quality of what I imagine it would feel like to wake up one morning and find out every apartment in your building was rented at ridiculously high rents to spendthrift 13-year olds; these youngsters were given a wad of cash and no adult supervision. Sure, they might do *alright* for a while, until they spend all their cash on shiny new MacBooks and In-and-Out Burger and Twizzlers and can no longer afford the rent, at which point they flee and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. And your rent’s 45% higher than before and not going down.

But lest you worry – I’m far less likely to protest my commercial situation by , or by ; however, I haven’t ruled out asking those companies to let us sublet for a while…after all, they both have SOOOOO much more room, and we don’t need much space at all and will keep very quiet, I promise.

GoogleBusAnd more importantly, did we find a new space? More on that in another post, but I promise you, this story DOES have a happy ending…stay tuned for this to all be wrapped up neatly with a sparkly bow in Part 3: I do have a Real Estate Fairy Godmother After All…

NO Is The New YES

Living in Silicon Valley, we are ALL over committed. Whether it be our jobs, volunteer efforts, sports, kid activities, or our lively circle of friends, we are always on the go. But when you’ve been in this rat race for over twenty years, you start to wonder if these commitments are based on priorities or just trying to keep up. Should you cut back and simplify your life?

If you Google, “Simplify life,” you will find a myriad of and . There are even to simplify your life. You can get advice from many sources but when it comes down to it, you need to look at your priorities and starting saying NO.

I bet when most of you were just babes, learning to talk, your favorite word was NO.

NO, I don’t like Brussels sprouts.

NO, I don’t want to take a bath.

NO, I don’t want to go to school.

NO, I don’t want to clean my room.

Somewhere along our journey through life, we stopped using the word NO. And I’m not talking about those situations where “No” is appropriate. I’m talking about being a a fixer, and a constant .

If I want to do something, I don’t want to hear, “NO, you can’t.” I want to hear, “YES, you can.”

Understand that I love to be part of a community and to help people. And I take on most anything thrown at me. I love new tasks. Even if I’ve never done it before, I just dig in, learn what needs to be done, and do it. I have become a YES person.

YES, I will work late tonight to finish that project.

YES, I will organize the neighborhood party.

YES, I will introduce you to that person.

YES, I will volunteer in my child’s classroom.

I say YES to most anything as I love connecting people and feeling part of a something bigger. And it makes me feel good to say YES and complete a task. I’m the busy person people call to complete a task because everyone knows I get shit done…and shit done well.

But then I realized, “WTF am I doing, trying to please everybody else?”

That’s when it hit me. I have a problem…with saying, NO.

Over the summer, I took some time to think about my life. I’m fortunate to have found a loving husband who still puts up with my shit even after twenty years. I’ve got kids who are young but on the edge of being self-sufficient. I volunteer a fair share of my free time to amazing organizations. My knees are aging so I have to rethink my exercise routine. I have many friends and family getting divorced. My day job is all consuming that my passions are now shelved off to the wee hours of the night. My parents and in-laws are aging way too fast. My entire family ecosystem sometimes feels like playing hot potato with a cactus. And health issues are constantly coming up all around me. Throw in a couple tragic and natural deaths and you start to question your role in this adventure I call life. What is my purpose on this earth? I see many people going through the motions of life but not focusing on what is important to them. Life is way to short. Don’t you want to make a difference on the path you take? I know I do. That is why I came up with a list of five top priorities:

#1 family #2 health #3 passions #4 friends #5 day job

Don’t get me wrong, I will always help a friend in need. No questions asked. And some of these priorities do overlap. But with everything life throws my way, I need to take a step back, look at my priorities and start saying NO. It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a part of your life. And it doesn’t mean I don’t want to help. It just means that I’ve got a lot of shit going on and I have to make hard choices.

So next time you see me and ask for the world, understand the YES inside of me would love to help, but the new NO might take over and politely turn you down.

And that’s alright. It’s okay to say NO if it means YES to focusing on my priorities in life.

Startup Marketing Madness

Standing room only for sales and marketing startup advice.

Two weeks ago I attended an event targeted at startups. The content focused on how to model sales and marketing organizations in a growing company and who to hire. There were a few items that I found really interesting.

  • The VP of Marketing role is the most difficult hire for a small company.
  • Demand generation is the core competency for hiring criteria.
  • It will be difficult to get seasoned professionals, so look for someone to grow into the role.
  • If the person hasn’t shown results in 6 month, it’s probably time to make a change.
  • No one is mentoring the next generation of marketing leaders.

Revisit the last three bullet points. You need to grow into the role but you only have 6 months to be successful.  Wait .. what???  I guess we all need to be ready to take a leap forward without any resources for help. l always did like a good challenge.

So how do you make sure you put yourself on a successful path? I’m still learning but these are the things I’ve found important.

Build your own network of mentors.

I’ve been fortunate to have incredible bosses and colleagues with different marketing competencies. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve called my network for advice on strategy or an area where I was light on experience. These people can make a world of difference on  important projects.  I also have access to our corporate advisor who provides great executive perspective on the really difficult problems.

Align priorities with the executive team.

You can be walking into a firestorm of issues and in a small company you can’t  fix them all right away. Assess the impact of all the work needed to be done, prioritize projects and get agreement with the executive team on the things that need to be done.

Realize not everything will go right.

This has been pretty hard for me. I had the same role for about 10 years with very little change.  I was really good at it. Now, I have more responsibility for areas in which I don’t have a lot of expertise. Things don’t always go right. The most important thing is to recognize when things go wrong, admit the issues and correct course..  The great thing is that I’ve learned more in the last 6 months than I have in the last 5 years.

The buck stops here.

I still find myself pulling reports or looking at data  as if I were preparing a recommendation for someone else. Then my internal voice says, “wait you have to make that decision now.”  I pull the data again and make sure I have all the information that I need to make the best decision.    After that I double  check the data against what my gut is telling me.  If I’m stuck, I’ll go out to my network for opinions and then usually run tests of the things I’m unsure of. (The best part about being in marketing is getting to test your theories)

Hire smart people.

With a small team, I don’t have a lot of time to correct mistakes or micro-manage projects. I need direct reports and vendors that can articulate needs clearly and manage my input on the projects that they own to meet deadlines. I’m pretty honest with these people  on my expectations so we can all be efficient on what are usually very busy days. This is how I’ve always managed my projects, but now I include mentoring my staff  toward taking that next step forward.

When do you take the next step?

When I last looked at job opportunities, I went on about 30 interviews in 2 months. My decision to take on more responsibility boiled down to one thing. With a lot of people, I felt like they were bringing me in to solve the same old problems. I wanted some new challenges to take on and I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity.

Spicy Chai Latte Made in Belgium, or Startup Life on The Old Continent

Notice the Made In Belgium logo on the left?


We are sitting close together, oddly perched on the high bar stools in the boardroom, when Julie mouths the question “Do you want to blog on Silicon Valley Tales?” Joy rises to my cheeks. I temporarily fade out of the meeting. The tall wooden table we’re sitting around is basking in the bright winter light coming from the windows, where the medieval surroundings of our inner European city office clash hard with the SaaS platform for tablets we’re all working on.

Magical land of technology
I get this warm fuzzy feeling inside, like pride and excitement and wonder all mixed together. I’m proud of all the people around me who are building , I’m so happy to work for a startup, and now I get to contribute to a blog that has Silicon Valley in the title. The magical land of technology, that mythological place where the future is being shaped by clever people with Pixies t-shirts and/or beards…

Mekka
This place doesn’t actually exist as I imagine it. I’m not even interested in what it’s really like. I believe in the idea of Silicon Valley, in people giving it their best shot to develop technology that has an impact on life. I’ve never even been there, but that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have visited Mekka to understand what it’s about. I’m not even sure I’d want to go, not to break the bubble of wonder – just kidding.

Hormones and football
in my case, this blog is more about surviving the concept of Silicon Valley. Which, believe you me, is potentially more powerful than the real place. As for the part that this blog is written by women, I’ll be short about that. I’m in complete denial about what gender has to do with anything. My life is not that different from that of my beloved, except perhaps for my roller coaster hormone rides and his particular love of football.

Startup life
So, is startup life different in Belgium than it is in the US? I can’t really say, because I only know startup life in the US from reading and hearing about it. I’m sure people don’t really run around drinking spinach smoothies and munching on raw cocoa husks all day. I also don’t think people in Silicon Valley have this unquestionable belief in success all the time. And I’d be surprised if every coffee shop is full of entrepreneurs.

Grumpy Europeans
Now you know the clichés as we get them here. I wonder what the clichés about European startup life are like in he US. Maybe that nobody wants you to succeed here. That we’re a bunch of grumpy skeptics. Or that it’s always raining, and that we eat pork sausages with garlic for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Let me know in the comments.

Chai latte and spinach
If you want to come over and taste European startup life, you might have to be quick though. Because there’s a tin of chai latte, that quintessential ingredient of a good San Francisco workday as far as I can tell from here, sitting on my kitchen shelf, with “made in Belgium” printed on it. We’ll have spinach smoothies next…

Hitched to a Startup Cowboy

Growing (read: growin’) up in Atlanta, Georgia, California was always a mysterious, far off place. They didn’t have the FULL BLOWN Disney World of Florida fame, their beaches were rocky and the water froze your toes, and a 6 hour plane ride was supposed to mean that you stepped off the plane in another country (oui!).

But 6 years since arriving, I’m firmly planted in the Bay Area, and what a journey it’s been.  So what do I do here? I wear many hats, all of which I’ll write about for this blog, but I’ll start with the hat that brought me to this fab locale – the hat of entrepreneurial wife.

Yes indeed, my husband is one of the many scrappy entrepreneurs that is taking their chances on starting The Next Big Thing here in Silicon Valley (more on his specific venture ). I’ve gotten to go along for the ride – the many, many ups and downs, the growth from 2 people in our kitchen to 15 in a real live office – and thought I’d share my story through the things that I’ve learned, for those who may find themselves in a similar circumstance some day, whether in the Bay Area or elsewhere…

  1. Know what you’re signing up for. I met my husband years ago when we were both living in NYC. We were both enjoying great careers at the time, but from the very beginning he was always candid about the fact that he wanted to own his own business some day. I knew that he would make this happen and that I would be there to support him (or at least try to…) in the adventure in whatever ways I could. In other words, the idea of entrepreneurship didn’t get sprung on me. We had had numerous and open conversations about how this would impact our lifestyle and future choices, and this was a choice that we were making.
  2. Manage expectations. Alot. As part of #1, we had to do a lot of managing and resetting of expectations – whether it was the hours he was working, the hours I was working, or how we would manage it all when we added to our family (that’s a future post!).  Without level setting from the get go, all sides are set up for disappointment, or worse, resentment.
  3. Accept the second wife/child.  For an entrepreneur, the company becomes like another spouse (or child, however you want to look at it). You often feel like you’re being cheated on, all those hours they’re spending together, intimately hunched over the laptop into the wee hours. She woos him with the promise of money and fame.  He sometimes responds to her email before responding to you, one foot away in the very same room [gasp!].  With great patience, I remind myself that our relationship is without a doubt a priority for both of us, we’re just a unique, special snowflake family with this extra, strange spouse/child to contend with.  And I’ve learned to be gentle with feedback on anything related to the company, knowing that he has so much invested (mentally, emotionally, financially) in it’s success and does indeed view it as a living breathing thing that his sense of self partially depends upon.
  4. Accept the third wife/child. For an entrepreneur with a co-founder, they, too, will become another part of your growing family. By some miracle, my husband convinced his co-founder to leave his cushy job in New York and move into our small rental while they got the company off the ground. Working from our kitchen table, this meant that there wasn’t a whole lotta work/life balancing going on in our home, but I look back fondly on our nightly dinners all together and forcing them to talk about random, non-work topics and laughing until it hurt.  Now departed from our nest and off on his own, The Co-Founder is still like a brother to us – sometimes a brother that you want to give a nuggie to, but one that you love unconditionally. So I will say this – if you don’t like the people your entrepreneur will be spending all of their time with, you’re in for a rough ride.
  5. Have YOUR thang. Not a thing, a thang.  Something that makes you cock your hip and swivel your neck, something that you own completely and that fulfills you, no strings attached.  Better yet, make it plural.  With the ups and downs of running a company, you’ll have plenty of solo time – even if said entrepreneur is in the same room.  For me, I was loving (usually) getting my career change off the ground (another post!), building a new circle of friends, and smothering our quickly adopted rescue dog (the famous Madi) with love. Now, a toddler and a full time job that I’m obsessed with do the trick. Did I ever feel resentful that he wasn’t always available? Yes, I’m human. But I would have been 10x more resentful and disappointed had I been waiting around for him to make time or read my mind.  See #2.
  6. Wear your pom poms, with pride. Sounds simple enough, right? Be an unabashed cheerleader for your entrepreneur, because there are many many days when it will feel like the world, nay, every potential customer and investor, is against them. But it’s harder than it sounds. We all have plenty on our plates, and know the challenge of mustering additional bandwidth to deal with the many curveballs that life lobs at you.  But I can say with full confidence that my husband could not have sanely persevered with his company if he didn’t have people (not just myself) pushing him on, rationalizing him through the fears, talking him off the occasional ledge, listening without judgment, and assuring him that no matter what happens, my pom poms will be raised high in the air (forgive the blatant cheese).  But, and this is an important ‘but,’ it HAS to work both ways.  Like all good relationships, it’s a give and a take. There’s no way I would be able to muster the energy to be his and his company’s cheerleader if he didn’t do the same for me in my own career or personal achievements. So I guess my advice on this final piece is that, whether it’s your spouse, a partner, a friend, a relative, no one has an endless capacity to give and support without getting anything in return. Be a good cheerleader, but make sure they’ve got your back too. Even non entrepreneurs need a good cheer squad.

I’m sure I’ve learned far more than this during this journey so far, but these are certainly the ones that bubble to the top, for better or worse.  I know there are many people out there in similar circumstances and would love to hear your own learnings! I keep saying I need to start an entrepreneur spouse’s support group, no time like the present…