Girls in Tech do “Hashtags For Thought”

The 2016 Girls In Tech Catalyst Conference took place in beautiful Phoenix this year, and we left Arizona with the memories of so many inspirational, powerhouse speakers buzzing through our heads.

Back at work in San Francisco, we convened around our “hashtag whiteboard,” where we record small phrases that inspire us, dare us to be great, and occasionally let us be silly. As we took notes at the Tech Catalyst conference, we found ourselves translating the most inspiring thoughts and advice we heard into hashtags and jotting them down in the margins of our notebooks. Marker in hand, we set off on an impromptu brainstorming session to revisit these memorable moments. The white-boarding session was on! Here are some of our top Girls in Tech “hashtags for thought.”

#PowerPose — Arms wide and expansive, head up, and chest projected high to the sky. Kym McNicholas, Emmy Award-winning journalist & CBS Tech2 Host, reminded us that a good power pose can instill confidence, especially before a big meeting or stress-inducing event. Power posing physically turns up the confidence in how we speak, how we feel, and how we are perceived by others — fake it til you make it!

#Moxie — The conference kicked off with an interview with Kara Swisher, Co-Founder at Re/code, who confidently and unapologetically told us what’s what. Silicon Valley has been a “mirrortocracy” and not a meritocracy. Things don’t change if we don’t call attention to them, she said, so speak up and challenge what Kara calls ‘idiotic assumptions;” have the moxie to tell it like it is. #KaraForMayor

#SweetSpot — Did you know that it takes six months of boredom before one considers leaving their role and/or company? Bev Crair, Vice President and General Manager of the Storage Group at Intel, shared the importance of finding a job that hits our “sweet spot” by truly leveraging our passions, skills, and interests. Bev calls whatever truly feeds our soul and gets us out of bed in the morning “the juicy part of the sweet spot.” Once that is found, work doesn’t feel like work, it feels like joy.

#FireStarter — Find people who see your potential more clearly than you do! Sarah Bird, CEO at Moz, reminded us that nobody really knows what they are doing and to get out of our own way. She noted that she was asked to take the CEO position at Moz multiple times before she realized that it wasn’t a joke. We should not succumb to imposter syndrome and have self-limiting beliefs. Let’s all light that fire and inspire everyone around us to explore the compelling world of technology!

#ReframingTheGoodGirl — Many of us grow up as the “good girl” who gets A’s and does what is expected by following preconceived notions of success. It’s easy to get caught up in living a life that society approves of but that lacks authentic vision. Mary Cranston, Former Senior Partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, shared how that “good girl” lens framed her career decisions and her experience as a successful lawyer. Mary challenged us to authentically determine our paths, know when to say no, think like an optimist, and take risks in order to achieve success in a gender-biased world.

#LiveLikeYouWereDying — A sobering thought implanted in our heads by Jim McCarthy, Motivational Speaker on Happiness, that had many of us feeling vulnerable and emotional. It is difficult not to think about our legacy and the mark we want to imprint on the world before our time runs out. Jim’s advice was to live each day with thoughtfulness and purpose so that we make decisions that make us happy personally and professionally.

#GoCognitive — A theme throughout the conference was to keep learning and developing our skill sets. Sandy Carter, General Manager of Developer Ecosystem and Startups at IBM, introduced us to the cognitive space and urged us to start getting familiar with technologies that will power a new cognitive era. Do not be afraid to pivot into a new vector and learn something new! Tools like Watson Developer Cloud empower developers to get hands-on experience with Artificial Intelligence and continue the innovation of ourselves.

#Bliss — Work, family, self…can we really only choose two? Amy Jo Martin, Founder & CEO at Keynote Speaker, says we can have all three if we find the intersection of our purpose, passion, and skills. That intersection is bliss, Amy says, but don’t let it blind you from paying the necessary attention to family and self. Sometimes the key is to simplify life and get rid of the distractions so that you can focus on a life of meaning.

#ReputationalPower — We are all unique creatures, no two of us alike, and we should celebrate those differences by building a personal brand. Scarlet Spring, President and Chief Commercial Officer at VisionGate, urged us to step into our brands and live it out loud everyday by understanding our strengths. Our brand is like a life code, a set of values and attributes that we back up with our actions. Let’s unlock that reputational power!

Final thoughts:

We were so privileged and grateful to Coco Brown, Founder & CEO at Athena Alliance, for introducing us to Girls in Tech and for providing me (Alvina Antar, CIO at Zuora) the opportunity to share my father’s advice to #BeAn800PoundGorilla in all you do! The conference reminded us to follow our passion and our heart and to believe that success is warranted not because of luck or hard work, but because #IAmWorthy.

Thank you, Adriana Gascoigne, Founder & CEO at Girls in Tech, for putting on such an amazing, thought-provoking event that left attendees with new perspectives on how to live a life of authentic purpose.

Activating the connections, knowledge, & opportunities women executives need to lead at their highest level of impact. Learn more: athenaalliance.com

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