No matter the gender, work in the tech industry can be rough. The speed of change we face combined with the pressure from aggressive competition can add a lot of stress to life. Nevertheless, my journey over the last three decades has been exciting and energizing but sometimes, it did push me to the edge. I confess that I have wondered (more than once!) how much do I need to retire immediately. Suffice to say, that turned out not to be an option.
From my first decade in sales combined with the responsibilities of being a single mom to my current role leading Product & GTM Strategy for a highly technical analytics software organization, I’ve developed three very valuable strategies that have helped to keep me sane.
Turn your greatest weaknesses into strengths
I am innately resistant to change, far more so than the average human. Despite inspirational blog posts and leader directives, I’ve never been good at “embracing change”. So, about a decade ago, I chose to become a change management specialist. I did extensive research, took training, and developed a deep understanding of human behavior. This led me to create and implement a series of management workshops around the world for HP Software. People called me “The Transformation Fairy”. This knowledge hasn’t changed my instinctive and emotional resistance to change but it does give me a lot more control. And, it helps me to truly empathize and support people like me who struggle to handle our constantly changing world.
There’s a reason acting is a Hollywood profession. It is not something that most of us do naturally. Passion is an unstoppable source of energy and it separates those who are good at what they do from those who are amazing because they follow their passion. Always believe in what you’re doing or do something else. When I believe in something, my passion and my veracity is undeniable. When I don’t, my husband calls me the “Queen of the Eye Roll”. I’m a born evangelist but a lousy liar.
Find a “Ventor” that you can trust
I have been so fortunate to have had amazing mentors throughout my career. I have learned from them and will always value their advice. But when I feel myself reaching the edge (sometimes daily!), I turn to a small set of trusted “Ventors”. My Ventors are people who understand my professional environment, listen to my sometimes wildly inappropriate emotional outbursts, and can always be trusted to keep things between the two of us. The ability to release my internal frustrations without risk has a hugely positive impact on my mental health and on my blood pressure. But beware, for the protection of your personal relationship and your professional career, your Ventor must not be your partner, your spouse, or your boss, no matter how good a relationship you have.
As I finish these thoughts, it occurs to me that today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. My vision is that someday, this won’t be something we need to celebrate because it will be every day, not just today.