Tech Ladies San Diego May event was hosted by Housecall Pro, the all-in-one software to run your home services business. Check out their recent LadyPros video and campaign.
If you could pass on words of wisdom to your younger self, what would you say? This event lived up to its descriptions as an evening of community, advice, and self-expression, as the ladies of Housecall Pro took the stage to reflect on navigating life, careers, and more, in letters to their younger selves. For privacy reasons in this personal discussion, I’ve left the names for each letter & story off this blog, but I’m happy to add it if it’s your letter and you’d like to be identified.
Introduction to the Words of Wisdom
Stacey Edelstein, Tech Ladies San Diego City Organizer, introduced the event and told us more about Tech Ladies. It is a global network of 50,000 members and counting who are working to advance women in technology. “When you join tech ladies for free at hiretechladies.com, you get access to a fantastic job board, really great workshops, and webinars. And in San Diego, we try to run quarterly events that bring our community together to talk about great issues, share stories, and just allow us to build our own networks,” she said.
Chrissy from Housecall Pro introduced the company and the LadyPros video mentioned above. Then the theme of the event was discussed more, about how so many women have things they could have said to our younger selves to help get past blocks, or fear that we manifested and allowed to get our way.
Highlights from the Letters to Our Younger Selves
“My advice to you is simple. Go to therapy. This outside perspective will change your life. Acknowledge your anxiety and depression and learning the tools to manage them. You are not a victim should happen. And it happens to everyone. It’s not supposed to be easy. It isn’t about what happens to you. It’s about how you react to it. Changing your mindset, your perspective, making the daily decision to train your thoughts to be more optimistic, this will open up the world to you … I heard a quote last night that was really good: Live life
as if everything is rigged in your favor.”
“Keep in mind that strong women are not scared to lift each other up. They don’t compete for the spotlight and they stick together. Women are powerful and can learn from one another. So keep them around and value those relationships, you will be stronger, not weaker, for that … You’re a dreamer, don’t fight it. Dreaming keeps you motivated and humble. Dreaming leads to outlandish ideas and inspires curiosity. Dreaming is healthy, dreaming is necessary. And dreaming gives you clarity. Dream big, dream often. Your grandfather also gave you a piece of advice. Once he said, Don’t ever apologize. Apologizing is a sign of weakness. While this advice was meant to give you strength and encourage you to stand up for yourself, it will get in your way as you start to develop meaningful relationships. Apologizing is not a contest of who is right or wrong more often. Nor is it a sign of weakness. It shows humility and strength.”
“Recognize that a lot of other people want to see me succeed and acknowledged when’s as well. And not everyone is out to get me. In fact, most people are actually out to laugh with me.
So here’s the thing, people want to love you. So let them love you.”
“The path that you take in life is not set in stone, you will make bad choices. You will make mistakes. Just keep pushing, learn from them, embrace all the setbacks, the pain, the struggle, and be confident in what makes you happy. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t care what others say.”
“I just want to say start with these three things. You’re a warrior, you’re beautiful, and never be sorry for who you are. I know that right now is a time where you’re uncertain about a lot of things, you have a lot of unanswered questions to things that other people don’t ever have to think about. I know that you feel alone and you feel angry, you feel like there’s no one else that feels this way. There is and you’re not the only one. This is not the end for you. There are so many beautiful things, moments, people and places you will meet in your life and experience and see, I promise that this isn’t normal. And you have to be strong to fight for who you are and the life you want to create. This strength is what makes you beautiful.”
“If you think that you’re being too weird, you’re not. If someone else shames you, that’s on them, and you don’t need their acceptance or approval to be happy. You’ll find the people that don’t make you feel like you need to apologize for who you are. Lean into all of those things you like that you think no one else likes, they’re out there, you’ll find your people.”
“Live and find peace and your dichotomy. You don’t have to choose. There are so many parts, there’s so much power in all parts of you, that if you try to silo off your different identities, you miss out on all the beauty and gifts of the world when you hold yourself back.”
“So I need to tell you that you will often be the only woman in the room. You may already know this from the recruiting process and as part of the executive training program at that Fortune 500 company that you’ve just joined, you will be grossly outnumbered. Honestly, you will often be the only woman in the room for many years to come. Yes, there should be more of us. But there just won’t be. Not yet. Not in your generation. But it doesn’t have to suck. Here are some ways to survive it.
- So number one, don’t put pressure on yourself to speak for women. Just speak for yourself. Use the same voice that you’ve used your whole life leading and learning. You don’t need to be profound or have an extra special contribution. Just say what you think it’s gotten you this far and will keep on working. Just keep speaking.
- Number two, embrace a male mentor. Really, I can save you a bunch of time here, a female mentor would be great. But you’re going to work on some phenomenal people. And yes, some of them happened to be men. It’s okay.
- Number three, you don’t need to be that cute. Really, you want to spend a bunch of money on the best suits and heels. It was like Ally McBeal when I graduated. You want to look the part of the lady leaders that you see on TV, but really nobody cares that much. Save your money for great vacations and convince your friends to do the same.
- Number four, when the CEO of [a big company] hypothetically is your professor at grad school and decides to take you under his wing and then tells you that you’ll never get to the executive team wearing that … Don’t believe him.
- So five, have fun. Forget the career ladder. It’s a pointless race to the top at all costs, let them and do that. Instead, embrace the jungle gym. That will be your career. If you don’t like your job, change it. If you don’t like your role, learn something new. You are not in line for anything, you are in charge, you are in charge of your own career. Don’t let anyone talk you into a role that you don’t want or a path you didn’t choose. People will tell you ‘but you’re so good at it.’ When you want to switch careers early on, don’t let it shake you do you it’s your career is your playground.
- And finally, enjoy the journey. Know that just being in the room, even if you’re the only one, is making a difference. And that things really will get easier and better for the next generation. The road will still be bumpy, but you will have made a difference. In fact, when your daughter is in the fifth grade, she will go to career day at school wearing a T-shirt from your company and will tell everyone that when she grows up, she wants to be a tech girl.
So trust me, you’re going to be just fine.”
“My letter is short. I’m an engineer, I’ve been conditioned for the last 20 years to produce the most, the best product that can with the least number of lines of code. So if many of you in here in the room do the same, you’ll know that I can make a valuable point only a few lines. I was writing a letter to the 20-year-old me who just started on a Fortune 500 company writing code … I want to tell you that the most important thing you will learn in the not-so-far future, that I’d hoped you could have learned earlier, is to find a healthy work-life balance. This will not come easy to you. When you didn’t have this balance you are over-committing under-delivering and not always happy in your position. You work too many hours a week, which were mostly self-imposed … But most of the times this was to my detriment. I was tired, I was worn out I’m happy and frustrated with my position. Finding this balance will allow you to be more successful, have a happier personal life. And my output will be more general genuine and meaningful.”
“[When I was asked to participate in this event] the first emotion I felt was honor. And then when I started to think about it, I was really scared. I’m scared to think of me as the 32-year-old standing in front of the nine-year-old me and giving her advice. What if I mess up? What if I don’t say the right thing? What if my words of wisdom are not words of wisdom? What if she’s just disappointed? I can’t do that. I really thought about that, then I was like, that’s exactly it. That’s what I need to tell her. My entire life, I have just been plagued by that insecurity of every step I take, every move I make, there is a voice in the background saying you’re just not f&*)% good enough. And it has been crippling. It has crippled me in my personal life. It has crippled me in my professional life. And every day is a struggle to get past that. So struggle, struggle, struggle. Because only by overcoming that state, we actually learn. Please don’t get discouraged and shut down. Because once you’re there, I can’t get you out. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you that you can’t do it. Do it anyway. And just try it. Try and you’ll be surprised.”
Thank you Tech Ladies and Housecall Pro!