10DL Events

What I learnt about leadership (this week) “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”

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I attended a fabulous leadership workshop this week, arranged by YLD and Professor Frank Flynn from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. The session uncovered lots of great tips on how to achieve four key #business and/ or #leadership team improvements; making effective decisions on a regular basis, harnessing the collective wisdom of your team through better meetings, fostering collaboration within your organisation and motivating your teams and people.

These are all useful tips for leaders from all kinds of backgrounds, from corporate to public sector, startups to established businesses. Here are some of the top takeaways I’ve collated from the day.

Firstly, thanks to Frank Flynn for his marvelous insights, and to Greta Strolyte and YLD for having me along.

YLD kindly gave some of our 10 Digital Ladies members a discount to this brilliant and thought-provoking event (arranged by my lovely co-founder Lucia Adams). 10 Digital Ladies is the Women In Digital network that I run alongside my main entrepreneurial leadership development and mentoring startup, Kandu.

Good decision-making in leadership teams relies on good data – “Even a genius fails when that genius is relying on bad data or a bad frame in which to view it all,” explained Frank after taking us through a great workshop illustrating exactly that. Particularly, the session made clear that too often we sample on the dependent variable only e.g. business success books only ever research successful business leaders, they never ask ‘unsuccessful’ leaders what they do to actually see whether it’s the ‘how’ or the ‘what’ they do that’s actually relevant.

Bias can cloud and affect decision making, and there are many, many different types of bias – Confirmation bias, default bias, overconfidence, loss aversion and risk aversion, all of which are fully Google-able for more detail. For me personally, default bias was of particular interest. For example, once a person has made a decision, it can be psychologically hard for them to retreat from it, even if new data comes to light that suggests that decision is now out of date.

There are some great hacks you can use to improve decision-making – The first is to drill into that data. Frank said that, “People that are strong decision-makers have a propensity to ask probing questions about data to check its utility,” they automatically engage with critical thinking. Also, use checklists – Frank referenced a McKinsey report that shows that if organisations work at reducing the effects of bias in their decision-making process they can achieve 7% higher returns.

Harnessing collective wisdom is very valuable – it can surface better decisions through the collection of diverse views. But groups will naturally work toward convergence and not surfacing divergence of opinion; “When groups get together, they talk about the stuff everybody knows – not the stuff that just one person knows,” said Frank. In fact, the latter may not even be surfaced if a person doesn’t offer that information up at the right time. As a result, the benefits of collective wisdom can be limited without due regard.

A useful hack to get around this is to agree that one person will be responsible for collating all the relevant information needed for a collective decision ahead of a meeting and for sharing the composite with everyone. “When using this approach, groups are more accurate, more efficient and generally like each other more at the end of the process (of making a decision),” described Frank. This does mean the person leading/ collating information should be open-minded to really include everything that is relevant (bearing in mind that everyone thinks they are open-minded… ).

As a leader, you should instigate collaboration between your people to kick off more innovation or activate opportunities. “It’s not your job to facilitate or maintain collaboration, but you do need to get the ball rolling,” said Frank. He encouraged leaders to get their people to ask for help/ offer help or facilitate introductions to valuable secondary connections. “Technology can help with linking people together, as can well-designed physical spaces”, he added.

“Any intervention to encourage the instigation of collaboration needs to be designed to success” warned Frank. Networking events or mixers may not work, for example, as often people leave without having spoken to anyone new.

You need to motivate your people through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation – and one is not a replacement for another. Your best chance of motivating your people is to ensure you’re mainly using intrinsic #motivation, e.g. giving them #autonomy, mastery (allowing them to learn and get better), relatedness (fostering a feeling of connection between colleagues) and finally #purpose. There was a lot more discussion about all of these, but far too much for one blog!

Rewards and incentives can help with motivation – Receiving an unexpected reward can particularly activate dopamine production (unlike expected ones), said Frank. But by offering perks you can open up the risk of loss aversion if times change; people are more likely to remember what you took away rather than what you gave. An example was given of a major firm who took away free plastic cutlery from staff. A choice piece of staff feedback was, “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”
T

Do not guess what motivates others, just ask. You may be surprised, but it can help to better understand how to get the best from them. However, many leaders feel uncomfortable asking what their people want to achieve or do, feeling like perhaps they shouldn’t have to ask, they should just know it – despite not being mind-readers!

A few sign-off notes from me: I will discuss this with my co-founders but I reflected that with 10 Digital Ladies we have seen collaboration happen because we run small, intimate events, where we actively encourage our members to share learnings and any possible challenges in a safe environment. By giving this strong steer about the purpose of our events and our overall mission, we effectively encourage our members to ask for help or at least solidarity which sparks conversations, new relationships and ideas.

Nina LovelaceWhat I learnt about leadership (this week) “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”
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Ten things we learned about confidence building

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Confidence is one of the biggest factors holding women back as they navigate their digital careers. It’s an issue 10 Digital Ladies co-founder Lucia Adams has navigated first hand – both in her own career journey, as well as with the coaching clients she works with.

This month we were treated to a workshop by well-known BBC TV broadcasters Luisa Baldini and Louisa Preston. These two veterans of news broadcasting provided a fascinating insight into the tricks of projecting with confidence in front of an audience of millions. The workshop explored how we can start to build our own confidence and what we can do to appear confident even when we don’t feel it.

The event was once again held at the fantastic venue provided by our sponsors at Photobox and was an interactive affair with 10DL members trying their hands at rewriting a news story so that it could be delivered in 20 seconds.  

Here are the top ten pieces of advice that we took from our time with Louisa and Luisa:

Know when you can be assertive

Trying too hard to assert yourself can mean that you end up appearing argumentative or aggressive. When we are concerned we won’t be heard we might try to hard. Pick your moments.

The font of confidence: innate, underlying, immediate

There are three things you notice when you come across confident people. Firstly the confidence appears to be built in – they seem to be born with it. Secondly, it underpins everything about them – the way they stand, the way they speak and the way they move. Thirdly, it is immediate. They speak with confidence from the very first word.

Understand your personal brand

Confident people come in all shapes, sizes and styles. What is common to all of them is that they are comfortable in their skin. This comes from a real understanding of their personal brand. They know their strengths and weaknesses and they have created a brand that is built around those strengths.

Tackle your imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is something that most of us struggle with from time to time. Often the more successful we are the more of an issue it comes becomes. This is something that we need to tackle head on otherwise it will build and become a real barrier to building your confidence.

I am here and you will listen to me!

All too often we seem to want to want to ask permission to share our thinking. This often leads to a tone that is uncertain – as if we lack confidence in the veracity of what we are going to say. Whether you are a meeting or at an event you are there for a reason and we need to recognise the importance of your own contribution.

Hold your imaginary cloak in place – chin up and shoulders back!

When we lack confidence our posture gives us away. We tend to hunch forward – head down. Not only does this make you appear unconvinced in the importance of what you are saying it also makes it harder for others to hear you. If you imagine that you are wearing a cloak over your shoulders think about holding it in place – keep your shoulders back and your head up.

Do a quick count of three in between sentences to pace yourself

One of the common mistakes we make when speaking in front of a group of people is to rush our sentences. It is important to remember (especially if you are speaking in front of a large audience) that you need to drop your speaking pace and to pause. Pausing gives an impression of confidence and gives people time to absorb what you are saying. One simple trick is to count to 3 in your head between each sentence.

Video yourself – no matter how excruciating it feels!

Nobody likes to watch themselves on video. Most of us don’t even like to listen to our own voices but if you can bear the embarrassment it is well worth doing. It helps you understand any vocal or physical ticks you may be unaware of and understand how you are going to be perceived by your audience.

Have the confidence to do things slightly differently

The most memorable speeches we hear or conversations we have are the ones that aren’t quite what we expected. It might feel safer to follow tried and tested routes but it is by doing things a little differently that we can have the biggest impact.

Own your entrance!

It is important that you are delivering with confidence from the moment that you walk into a room. If you watch great orators take to a stage they have captured your attention before they even open their mouths.

Thanks again to everyone who made this such a good event. We had some fantastic feedback from our attendees and I am sure we will be calling on Louisa Preston and Luisa Baldini again for another session.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on building and projecting confidence and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram (@10digitalladies). As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Emma SindenTen things we learned about confidence building
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Is it time to disrupt the traditional interview process for the sake of greater diversity?

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There can’t be many of us that would say we enjoy the interview process. At a point in our lives where many of us will be experiencing some doubt, anxiety and perhaps struggling with confidence – even if we are sure that moving roles is the right thing to do – we have to undergo a process that puts us in the spotlight and under pressure to perform.

This month 10 Digital Ladies and PhotoBox held an event to look at whether the traditional interview process creates particular issues for women and if it does, what the solutions could be. The stellar panel consisted of PhotoBox Chief of Product, Dave Wascha, The_Dots founder, Pip Jamieson, CTO of Monzo Bank, Meri Williams and Jo Wickremasinghe, Product Director at Babylon Health. It was in fact an interview that Jo attended with Dave Wascha that provided the trigger for the event. It was hosted by our own Lucia Adams.

It was a fascinating discussion that ranged across a wide variety of subjects all liked to why companies, even those with the best intentions, struggle to employ a diverse workforce. Here are ten things we learnt from the discussion

  1. Diversity is difficult even if you work really hard at it. This event came out of the fact that despite PhotoBox being completely committed to ensuring diversity in its workforce it struggled at times. “If a company as committed as us is finding it hard then there is lot that needs to happen before true diversity can become a reality for most organisations.” (Dave Wascha)
  2. This is not a ‘man’s issue’. Unconscious bias affects us all. “I was called out for the fact that although we have a huge commitment to flexibility for working mothers the same wasn’t true for our working fathers. That made me realise my own unconscious bias.” (Pip Jamieson)
  3. Diverse teams really do perform better. It is easy to hire what you know and what makes you comfortable but “in the end you will create a team in which everyone looks and behaves like you. When all the evidence shows diversity increases the odds of success that doesn’t seem like a smart plan.” (Meri Williams).
  4. There are already great examples of how companies are disrupting the hiring process themselves if you know where to find them. A lot of these examples come from the tech sector. “Pairing interviewers and interviewees together to solve a problem is quite common in the tech sector” (Meri Williams’ and “blind interviewing where feedback from one round of interviews is not shared with those doing the next round to prevent bias contagion has been the norm for a while at Microsoft” (Dave Wascha)
  5. The best companies hire to add culture not to fit into an existing one. “Everyone talks about cultural fit, but the secret of good hiring is actually cultural add. Look for people who will bring something different to the team” (Meri Williams)
  6. Be honest and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Interviews are full of unrealistic expectations. The interviewer doesn’t know anything about you and will make snap judgements. “It is far better to be honest about the things that you feel could be a barrier to expected performance. My dyslexia means sometimes I struggled to find the fight words. By explaining this up front, I created empathy and also understanding.” (Pip Jamieson)
  7. Be conscious you are hiring based on how well someone will do a job, not how well they perform at interview. This is very hard to do but “be aware that success is not about whether they pass the interview test but whether they will perform once the interview is over and they are working in the role” (Dave Wascha)
  8. There is an ‘I’ in team: give yourself credit for the things you have done. It might be a bit of a generalisation, but it is true to say that women are more likely to talk about ‘we’ than ‘I’. “There is nothing wrong with taking the credit for the things you have done. In my experience women simply don’t give themselves enough credit full stop.” (Jo Wickremasinghe)
  9. Practice makes perfect. “One of the reasons that men might outperform women in interview situations is that they do more of them. Research shows that men will attend interviews even when they are not that keen on the job. Women however are pickier” (Pip Jamieson). “There is no doubt that every time I have been actively interviewing, I have got more confident with each one I complete. It is an unnatural situation so the more familiar we can make it the better.” (Jo Wickremasinghe)
  10. Don’t sell yourself short! “In the digital and technology space in particular the ‘seller’ is definitely at an advantage. Take time to find the right role and remember that these companies need you and what you can offer as much, if not more, than you need the role.” (Pip Jamieson)

Thanks again to everyone who made this such a great event. The conversation could have gone on all evening so it’s definitely a subject that we will be returning to! For those that missed it a video of the live stream from the event can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOElBvhir-c.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on hiring for diversity and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram (@10digitalladies). As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Emma SindenIs it time to disrupt the traditional interview process for the sake of greater diversity?
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10 Things We Learned About Raising Angel Investment

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10 Digital Ladies ran an event earlier this month to help female founders better understand more about what it takes to raise their first equity investment. We focused on how to get in front of angel (individual) investors, and then how to make the best possible impression.

The event was hosted by 10 Digital Ladies co founder Nina Lovelace, and 10DL 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner Jo Osborne. Jo is CEO and Founder of EVRELAB, the company behind SkinNinja, a free app that enables people to discover more about their skincare, cosmetics and personal care products’ ingredients and what the science says about them. Jo and Nina were joined by:

  • Colin Gillespie, angel investor and champion of women-led businesses. He is also Chief Strategy Officer at All Response Media.
  • Rachelle Mills,  CEO and Co-Founder of KareInn, which helps leading care providers transform their care delivery, making operations run more smoothly and improving elderly resident’s health & wellbeing
  • Kasia Michalska, Founder & CEO at Ralloo, the UK’s first micro-sponsorship platform. Ralloo matches projects looking for funds with brands that want to support them and
  • Amber Fraser, Co Founder of Brave Food, a company all about doing the right thing and having the courage to take that exciting, first step towards something better.
Our panel offered some extremely practical, honest and inspirational advice. If you couldn’t make it however worry not – these are our top ten learnings from the night.
  1. Get a feel for whether your best route is angel investment or VC (venture capital)  – or you may waste precious time.  Said Kasia, “We made a mistake and went straight to VCs… and although we had very positive feedback, it was a waste of time as it was too early. We never heard no, it was always come back in 3 months…. it gets your hopes up. But angels gave us our funding almost immediately.” Although each company is different, a rule of thumb would be that your company is not VC ready until it’s seeking at least 500k of investment, is clear on its business model and return on investment, the panel agreed. Rachelle added, “VCs are looking at things like market size, whether or not there is an obvious need / fits a proven existing need (think Uber vs SpaceX) and the trends of that market space.”
  2. Apply for assurance for the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme if your company is eligible. These schemes offer offering tax reliefs to individual investors who buy new shares in your company. HMRC advance assurance for these schemes will often be a prerequisite for angels and angel networks.
  3. Develop a punchy, 10 slide pitch deck. Kasia said, “The pitch deck is critical. That’s the thing that gets you through the door. We had lots in the deck but we then slimmed it down so we only had a few key messages. Less is more.” Key slides should cover what problem(s) your business solves, why your business is the solution, your traction/sales to date, financial forecasts, go to market plans and a slide on the credibility of your top team.  It’s also crucial to know your competition. Investors see a lot of decks, will know who else is in your space – so how is your company better, and different? Amber added, “Be clear about why you need investment: why now, why this much, and have a clear idea of what this cash is going to help to achieve. Some founders want to ‘raise’ but aren’t able to quite articulate the whys.”
  4. Be careful who you meet. Said Kasia, “Don’t jump into every single meeting with a “potential investor”, do investor due-diligence, preserve your resources. Also, recognize quickly investors who will not invest despite the initial interest.” The panel added that quality angels often make introductions to other angels, and some angel networks can help you meet more individual investors, faster (in return for a fee). Always be ready to pitch however, as you never know what could happen, added Rachelle. “I thought I was meeting to demo our platform, but in the end they both adopted the system and invested in our company because they believe in what we are doing.”
  5. When you get the chance to present, tell a story. “Do not underestimate the power of idea over the robustness of the spreadsheet,” said Colin. “You don’t always need screens to sell your product. My portfolio is so broad – because I invest in people and the pitch. I need to buy into the person before I even look into their spreadsheets.”
  6. You absolutely must be able to defend your financial assumptions, however. Jo said, “Investors want to see the hockey stick (startup growth assumptions) – but you need to make sure you know and are able to defend those numbers.” Angels will want to see a reasonable return on investment over a 4-5 year time frame. Amber added, “Financial plans (pre revenue) are mostly wrong, but the exercise of pulling them together is incredibly important.”
  7. When you start to get interest, “think about taking the smart money, not any money,” added angel investor Colin. The best investors are those who are genuinely interested in your business and who are willing and able to maximise your chances of success. Jo added, “Really good investors…can advise you and offer you access to their network.”
  8. Stay curious in the face of scepticism or rejection, advised the panel. Don’t respond poorly or become despondent if angels pass, said Jo. “Take the feedback as an opportunity (to learn), and try and keep it positive. For example, if an investor gives you feedback and it is something you can correct such as: “you haven’t proven X, that’s why I will not invest” you should bat back along the lines of: “Thank you for that feedback. So that I am clear, if I can come back to you with proof of X, you will invest?”. Kasia added, “A lesson I learnt is to listen to their questions – it’s not always about saying what you want to say. Answer them honestly.”
  9. Just because you are female or identify as being female, don’t assume female focused investors will invest in your company. “They look at merit the same way everyone else does,” said Jo. “By all means, call out the time wasters but also appreciate that there are also many people who are on your side and trying to help you and the industry at large even if they are not prepared to invest in your business at this stage. There are always future rounds and you might want to keep that door open.”
  10. Show up or project yourself to investors in a way that gives you strength, the panel agreed. It is a performance, but it’s not an act. “If you need a power outfit that’s ok. Be who you are, be honest.” said Jo. There was an interesting audience chat after the panel discussion about the balance that needs to be struck between being authentic, but also obviously highlighting your achievements. Pitching is no time for hiding lights under bushels, the panel agreed.

A massive thanks again to our panel for their time and energy, our sponsors Photobox for the venue, and our sponsors Bright Innovation for their help collating this blog.

Our next event is tomorrow! Join is for Is the job interview a barrier to achieving diversity in the workplace? on April 25th evening. To sign up please head over to: https://www.meetup.com/10-Digital-Ladies/events/260250289/

Remember, if you have any thoughts on women in tech would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram.

As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Raising Angel Investment
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Opening Doors – by Jo Osborne, 10DL’s 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year

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Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Award winner Jo Osborne will be hosting the next 10 Digital Ladies event, on how to raise your first angel round, on April 11. Jo Osborne is CEO and Founder of EVRELAB, the company behind SkinNinja, a free app that enables people to discover more about their skincare, cosmetics and personal care products’ ingredients and what the science says about them.

Opening doors.

That’s a loaded phrase. Throughout recent history, that was a man’s role. I haven’t looked at why this was deemed to be a ‘man’s job’ – were the doors too heavy or perceived to be too heavy for women? Were the tight, corseted dresses and huge ballooned skirts that women wore back then so oppressive that a woman couldn’t actually reach the door handle? I don’t know…

What I do know is that right now, today, opening doors, for women, is still a problem.

It’s just that now, we are not talking about the literal doors but the figurative ones – many of which seem wedged shut when it comes to female founders raising investment for their company.

I would argue that these figurative doors are just as heavy. No one benefits from this. The women seeking funding for their businesses do not benefit (from lack of capital). The investors don’t benefit (because statistically, female-led businesses perform better). The public doesn’t benefit (because products that ought to get to market to make lives better, don’t).

What can we do about it?

For starters, we stop going to events telling us that we are the problem – that it is our tone of language or the way we stand (I will not name names, but you know who you are if you’re reading this and have imposed this kind of thinking to others). Frankly. It’s bullshit.

Instead, we take practical and meaningful steps to get ourselves the meeting, to be heard and to close the deal – and be the change we want to see. In terms of the armoury you need to do that, it boils down to three key things:

  • Be the subject matter expert about your business. This means, understanding every small detail from the market need and the competitive landscape, to your numbers (especially your numbers!). You are no doubt already eating, sleeping and breathing this stuff by now anyway; show your potential investors that. They are not just investing in the business, they are investing in you. Give them your ‘mic drop’ moment for the day by being the best, most knowledgeable founder operating in your space that they have spoken to all week. Do not give them any reason to doubt what you are saying. In particular – know your numbers. If you can’t explain your financial model and defend it, you are not investable: so be the expert.
  • Understand that before you even step fast into your investment round, the term “hard graft” will take on a whole new meaning. This boils down to being the person who is the most visible, the most engaged and the most thorough in following up with each lead. You need to be the person who doesn’t let their contact with angels get lost in their inbox. You can teach Harry Potter a lesson about being a Seeker – because that’s how good you need to be at getting hold of these potential investors and locking in themeeting. The meeting where you will knock ‘em dead and take you and your business to the next level.
  • Resilience. Nana korobi ya oki (meaning fall down seven times, get up eight). This will become your mantra. Success of your investment round and business as a whole, depends on it. I am not going to lie to you, some days this will feel freaking impossible, but the sooner you get back up, the sooner you can get your round closed, so don’t get too comfortable sitting on the floor. It is not where you or your business belongs. It’s always a choice.

I am delighted to be able to bring together some of my favourite female founders (to the next 10 Digital Ladies event), all with completely different backgrounds, skills and varying business verticals that I know you will be able to gain a unique insight to the thrills and rollercoaster ride that is raising your angel investment round. I am even more thrilled that my own angel investor will be joining the panel to provide a unique insight in what is looked for when it comes to seeking out talent and investment opportunities.

Jo Osborne

You can join me, and a powerhouse panel, this April by registering for the event here.

This is a guest blog written by Jo Osborne – Founder and CEO of EVRELAB and speaker at our upcoming “Raising equity funding: How to get to and through the door of angel investor” April event. Find out more about EVRELAB here: www.evrelab.com 

Nina LovelaceOpening Doors – by Jo Osborne, 10DL’s 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year
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10 Things We Learned About Managing Work/Life Blend

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10 Digital Ladies and our 2018 Portfolio Award winner Lidia Oshlyansky, Design Lead – Growth Opportunities at Spotify, hosted an event on November 22nd to discuss the perennial issue of work/life balance or blend with 10 Digital Ladies cofounder, entrepreneur and product consultant Nina Lovelace.

The session was fantastic namely because Lidia and her fellow panellists spoke openly and honestly about their own challenges regarding work/life, leading the audience to also share their own challenges as well as tips on how to try to manage. Lidia was joined on the stage by Melanie Yencken, Director of UX at Patsnap, leading product design teams across the UK and China. In her spare time, Melanie is also the founder and coordinator of LondonTechLadies, a women’s network with 2500+ members. Our third panellist was Amanda Jones Floyd, a digital product leader with over 15 years’ experience. From January 2019 she will be the Product Lead – Premium at Spotify.

Here are 10 of the major things we learnt on the night if you missed this important session:
  1. Work/life balance isn’t just important for women with children. Although the panel agreed that having children was a major life change which had a major impact on work/life as it stirred up strong emotions, everyone spoke about how they all had to manage important relationships such as with partners and also the one they had with themselves.
  1. There is no ‘one size fits all’ to work/life balance or blend. Each person has to work out what tasks or relationships they are trying to balance, why, and how to try to manage those. Melanie says, “Be mindful of what gives you energy, know your values and the balance you need.” She added that as an introvert, she often needed alone time to destress. Lidia said she didn’t do ‘balance’ but did ‘blend’ – sometimes her children attended her meetings due to necessity.
  1. It is helpful however to ruthlessly limit or prioritise what takes up your energy and time. A top tip from Melanie is to “List out your daily tasks and mark them as either depleting or nourishing and try to get a balance.”
  1. Having clear boundaries that you communicate to others can help. Due to time differences across countries Lidia sometimes works different hours on different days to be there for her teams. “I answer Slack messages at midnight. But set yourself some boundaries, you need to be disciplined.” Melanie adds that if you are doing ‘life’ things, protect that, and be fully present. She says, “I don’t think about work when I’m focusing on friends/family events.”
  1. However you need to be realistic. Amanda adds, “Be aware of the company you are entering. If it’s a global business, there may be a requirement for different working hours. You need to make a decision based on where you are in your life.” Travel away from home has become less important to her after having children, she says. “It’s important to know your values and beliefs and see if the job aligns to your motivations.”
  1. Work can also nurture you in ways home life can’t – for example by keeping you networked and enjoying colleagues company, as well as the challenges of the work itself. Amanda says “If I’m going to be away from the children I love, it’s important to go somewhere you enjoy working.” Lidia adds though, “Work is not going to give you a hug when you’re feeling down.”
  1. Technology can be a help and a hindrance, the panel agreed. A show of hands to the audience revealed that most people kept their mobile phone next to their bedside table as they struggled with being ‘always on’. However being able to stay connected and work from home/ be remote thanks to tools such as Slack and Google Hangouts was a blessing, they added. Few said they had got this cracked, but a useful hack mentioned was communicating to your team that you would only reply to emails or other alerts on weekdays and perhaps at set times of the day.
  1. Knowing your limits, and having people around you to help you stick to them and not burn out is crucial. A few audience members shared that their partners had called them out when their work/life balance was having an unhelpful impact, citing examples of overuse of phones and too much travel causing concern. Melanie suggests, “Find your support network of like-minded individuals who can help you find your limits and call you out when you’re blind to them.”
  1. Women can trailblaze for men around work/life, but men may find they face the same challenges women have when they try to set boundaries, the panel agreed. The panel and audience cited examples of men who had taken extended parental leave and been sidelined. It’s no longer helpful however for anyone to assume a woman should be the ‘primary parent’ they agreed when it came to having children.
  1. You can’t always have it all, so don’t compare yourself with someone who appears to. There has to be a trade-off with careers and children, Lidia says. “I think it’s really hard to pack it all in, so let go of perfection. No-one is perfect.” Melanie adds that she used to compare herself to others, but now realises “underneath everyone has imbalance and struggle.”

To that last point, I think everyone is the room was very clear by the end of the session that work/life is a constant conversation we have with ourselves and others, and that sharing their concerns in safe environments is the best way to help tackle them.

The event was kindly hosted at the amazing Spotify offices near Oxford Circus and supported by the brilliant people from Bright Innovation, our marketing partners. We’d like to thank the panelist and everyone who attended, and our sponsors Photobox who help us to resource running our events.

We can’t wait for the next event on 13th December which looks at ‘Why digital innovation needs your voice: How diversity builds kick-ass products’. Sign up now.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on work life blend and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram.

As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Managing Work/Life Blend
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10 Things We Learned About Diversity in Digital Innovation

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In the digital environment, innovation is all around us. The industry is built on the desire to push boundaries. The heroes of the digital world are those whose innovation has literally changed our world whether it’s platforms, products or services. Ask people to name a technology innovator and you may get Jobs or Gates, Brunel or Edison. They could have centuries between them but one thing they will probably all have in common is that they will be men.

However, innovation is changing. It is now less about tools and infrastructure and more about personalised services. Our Innovation Award winner Hannah Bowden led the event trying to uncover the secrets of innovation. Hannah has successfully merged her past experience in psychology, AI and community regeneration to lead innovation at BetterPoints, which designs and implements digital behaviour change interventions for health in the UK and Europe.
Hannah was joined by our two panellists Mike Altendorf, NED, investor and advisor to a range of tech and digital businesses and Adel Du Toit, IT Lead for User Experience at Boston Consulting Group. Missed the event? Don’t worry, below are the 10 things we learned:
  1. You need a mixture of skills, aptitudes and personality types within a team to be able to make the most out of innovation. Hannah added ‘It’s not a women or men thing it’s all about the right mixture of traits’.
  1. Digital needs to be mixed with the human side of innovation. Adel adds ‘it’s all about blending people and technology, that’s when it works best. You need to be able to understand the problem and empathise with it.’
  1. The way we innovate is changing. The MVP, fail fast approach is still relevant however these days it is all driven by the data which means greater insight and less failure. Mike adds ‘Building learning loops is crucial in successful digital innovation and transformation. Discovery, finding proof, growth, getting to market these are the core loops that interact. It’s about reducing uncertainty as much as possible.’
  1. Data, data, data. Data is a very important part of innovation. When you start to see what data means and where it can take you, that’s when it can become something very exciting. Hannah says ‘Understand the data and work out what it means and what it can change. Apply that data into something useful.’
  1. Moving away from the fail first approach isn’t easy. ‘It takes courage to look at the data in a different way. Evaluate why it didn’t it work, and what to do differently next time. It will lead to quick fire development.’ said Hannah.
  1. The cultures in start-ups are changing. Mike says ‘The focus is now about values and getting the right people. Moving away from the ‘just do it’ mentality. There is also a focus on LAU (learning as usual) rather than BAU (business as usual) as a founding principle. You need the right organisational models to make this happen’
  1. We need to invest in the future, children need to be able to learn transferable skills for the upcoming job market. Mike adds ‘We need to ensure our young people are employable.’
  1. Be able to be open about honest with your team and colleagues. It’s ok to show emotion at work. Adel said ‘what I’ve really seen change recently, is it’s ok to bring feelings to work. Its ok to cry (it’s not healthy to hold it in) be more honest with the people around you’ Hannah adds ‘stay honest, stay true to yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will respect your integrity.’
  1. You need to be determined in innovation. Whether you are a man or woman. Getting investment for a start-up can be tricky. Mike adds ‘You need to be resilient when looking for investment, you might get a few setbacks.’ Helen adds ‘don’t give up, the doors will open for you.’
  1. Passion needs to be at the heart of innovation.

A final takeaway…“First to market seldom matters, rather first to product/market fit is almost always the long-term winner”. Andy Rachleff, Co-founder Benchmark Capital.

Well…what a great event that was.

The event was kindly hosted at the Bright Innovation offices, our brilliant marketing partners. It was a great event, we’d like to thank the panellist and everyone who attended, and we can’t wait for the next event on 24 January, sign up now.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on diversity in innovation and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram. As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Diversity in Digital Innovation
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10 Things We Learned About Building a Healthy Company Board

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Although it needs to happen at a greater scale, women are increasingly creating or joining company boards, whether they are founders building their own startup boards, or executives or non-executives joining established businesses. Little debate, however, focuses on how women or indeed men can prepare themselves to build and lead, or join and contribute, to an effective board that both helps drive a business and creates a challenging, fulfilling experience for its directors. The latest 10 Digital Ladies event tackled this subject and more in ‘Healthy boards for healthy directors; Creating the perfect company board for you’ on November 8th 2018. This event was hosted by Nina Lovelace, cofounder of 10 Digital Ladies, with the panel discussion being led by our Inspiring Board Member Award winner Celia Francis.

Celia is a proven pioneer with over two decades of experience leading innovative emerging technology companies. She has extensive experience working across strategy, investment, product development and marketing, and is now setting the direction for Rated People, an innovative online marketplace connecting trusted tradespeople to homeowners. Celia was joined by executive board coach and HR expert Carrie Birmingham.

10 Digital Ladies and the expert panel tried to uncover the issues in this session and here are ten things that we learned. A big thanks to both Celia and Carrie for their honest and constructive advice.
  1. Boards can look very different within organisations of different sizes. Startups might not call them boards, but they are people that come together to make the strategic decisions to run a business. More rigour is required for more established businesses, however. Celia explains, ’Boards are ultimately responsible to the investors and shareholders and are there to also offer governance and strategy.’
  1. To run an effective board, it’s important to spend time focusing on the important topics and not getting caught up in the little things. Bikeshedding, as it’s known, is spending disproportionate time and energy spent over an insignificant or unimportant detail of a larger concern. Carrie says, ‘Board agendas often try to tackle lots of things in one meeting, Be rigorous about trying to tackle too much in a small space of time.’
  1. For a board meeting to be effective it’s important to have certain recurring topics and review what is driving the business results. Celia says, ‘We cover topics such as the CEO report, CFO report and finance review including budgets and KPIs.’ The best boards often do pre-meeting prep to ensure time is maximised for quality decision making.
  1. A good preparation for board life to to get invited to attend a board meeting as an expertise in your field or department, to present on a topic or project. However, it’s important to understand what is expected from you before you go in. Carrie suggests, ’It’s important to talk to someone who has experience in presenting to the board. Make sure you are prepared, get good at presenting your ideas quickly and prepare yourself for challenging questions.’
  1. Having the right skills and vision are both important to cementing your seat on a board. Carrie says, ‘Ensure you have functional expertise and develop the skills to have conversations in that environment.” She also adds, “Also, what is it that you want to achieve? Have a purpose. Getting on the boards, is not the means to an end.”
  1. You also need to be able to positively challenge others, if you are to achieve either executive or non-executive positions. Boards want someone to ask challenging questions to help them make better decisions. You also need to be able to think strategically, not getting drawn to solving the operational problems of the business, says Celia. You need to be able to challenge and be open to challenge.
  1. Joining charity boards as non-execs or trustees can be good training ground for executive or non-exec board life. For corporate boards you are still expected to have deep areas of knowledge and expertise at running departments and managing teams, the panellists agreed. There is no shortcut.
  1. However, if you want to become a board member don’t be afraid to let people know. Own your career trajectory. Celia adds, “Let everyone know what it is you want, and have the skill set and experience to back it up.”
  1. Who to tell, however? Networking plays an important role in securing a role on the board. Celia says “You need to be friends with and network with venture capitalists – they have access to board roles.” It’s also important to have a strong network of peers you trust around you when you are running a board, to let off steam with.
  1. There is evidence that more boards want women on them as executive or non-executives, but can struggle to find women to take up those roles. Celia and her immediate peer network get regular calls to join new boards but often have to turn them down due to lack of time. Perhaps VCs and other headhunters aren’t aware of the full network of women able to take up these roles or where to find them?

We’d also like to say a special thank you to Claire Davenport, CEO of Hello Fresh, for her excellent expertise and interaction during the event.

We hope that helps if you missed this illuminating event! To summarise our learning, to secure a position on a board it’s important to have the right specialist skills, target the right level of board for your abilities, be able to challenge others constructively, do it for the right reasons – and have a strong network to access the opportunities in the first place. What’s stopping you!

The event was kindly hosted at the amazing Rated People offices in Blackfriars and supported by the brilliant people from Bright Innovation, 10 Digital Ladies’ fabulous marketing partners. It was a great event, we’d like to thank the panellist and everyone who attended, and we can’t wait for the next event on 22 November on Managing Work/Life Blend, sign up now.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on Healthy boards for healthy directors and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram. As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Building a Healthy Company Board
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How to Align your True Self with your Career: Using Purpose as your North Star

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What does it mean to be true to your purpose as you mould your career? What are the challenges in bringing your whole self to work? And what are the rewards? Our September 10 Digital Ladies event was dedicated to exploring this very topic. Co-hosted by Saswati Saha Mitra, the 10 Digital Ladies award winner for the 2018 Specialist Category, the theme for the event came about from a conversation we had about how it was at times difficult to find and keep hold of that ‘red thread’ of what was truly meaningful to us as we navigated our career paths. Time and time again, Saswati came back to the question of how to make a meaningful difference in the world.We set about pulling together a line-up of speakers who would offer rich and varied insights on the topic. Our panel was made up of:
  • Saswati who leads Uber’s Global UX Research team, delivering high quality strategic insights to Uber’s Product and Business Leaders. With 600+ cities to conduct research in, she also builds scalable processes that allow anyone in the company to become a user expert.
  • Gemma Carver who, as Digital Director for Pentland Brands, is responsible for growing the digital footprint of a portfolio of globally recognised brands such as Speedo, Canterbury, Mitre and Berghaus while also nurturing young brands such as Seavees (trainers) and Endura (cycling), and incubating new brands and innovations.
  • Emma Prest who oversees the running of DataKind UK, leading a community of volunteers and building understanding about what data science can do in the charitable sector. Emma also sits on the Editorial Advisory Committee at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
  • Penny Jones who enjoyed a brilliant 15+ years in digital media, performing a variety of business development and strategy roles. Far more interested in people than platforms however, she recently stepped down from her role as global strategy director for Conde Nast International to launch a career coaching practice, From the Middle, helping early and mid-career women create careers in which they thrive.

Here are the 10 things we learned from our speakers:

  1. What’s your purpose? If you know your overall purpose – you have something to guide you along your journey. And so, when life happens, you can adapt to the changes needed, without going too far off course. Penny said, ‘My purpose is to help people, I looked back over my career and the best bits were when I was helping the people in my team. I woke up in the morning and felt confident because I knew what I was doing.’
  1. We spend about 60/70% of our waking time at work, that’s a lot of our time and energy. Saswati said, ‘I want people to be able to say “I am proud of the life I have led, and it really matters to me where I spend my time and energy”’/li>
  1. Plan ahead (as much as you can) and set goals. ‘I didn’t know this in my 20’s, but you need to think ahead for the next decade,’ said Saswati, ‘By having a longer term plan aligned to your overall purpose, it gives you enough time to make mistakes along the way and correct your path’. Setting yourself some realistic goals helps to give focus and structure to your career. Try having some short term quick wins and longer term goals to aim for.
  1. It’s ok to be yourself. In your early 20s when you first join the professional workforce you don’t always know your true self. Gemma said ‘It’s taken me nearly 20 years to realise you don’t have to flex and mould to the role around you.’
  1. Do your research. Figure out the roles and industries that interest you. Then find people already in those roles, talk to them about the positive things about the role and also the challenges, and work out if it’s really for you.
  1. You might not always need a change of role. Sometimes you can be in the right role just not the right company. Gemma shared, ‘I once worked out I was in the right role, but it was more of the people change that I needed.’ It’s important that you work for a company where the values align to your own personal values.
  1. It’s ok to be scared. Emma said, ‘I was terrified when I applied for the job at DataKind UK, and I was probably still terrified for about a year and a half. It took me a while to feel like I knew exactly what I was doing and that a lot of the time I was the expert in the room.’
  1. Labels are for clothes. We often label ourselves with the company or roles we are in. Penny said, ‘when I left The Guardian, I wasn’t Penny from The Guardian anymore. I jumped straight into another job to give myself an identity again.’
  1. Have meaningful conversations. You need to have the right conversations with your employees to make sure they’re engaged and fulfilling their potential. Penny said, ‘you work hard to get the best people in your company, you want to be able to keep them and inspire them.’
  1. Careers are long and winding. It’s a marathon, not a sprint: Penny said, ‘career paths won’t always be linear… and it’s ok to change your mind.’

Stepping up and being true to yourself takes courage – and that can feel scary, especially when the path forward isn’t always crystal clear. Sometimes it’s about believing that the way will unfold; using your inner compass and trusting that you will get there.

Thank you to Photobox, our brilliant hosts for the evening, and also to Bright Innovation who have been doing amazing work helping 10 Digital Ladies reach an even wider audience, as well as doing our event write ups!

Nina LovelaceHow to Align your True Self with your Career: Using Purpose as your North Star
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10 Things We Learned About Embracing Ambiguity

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The latest 10 Digital Ladies event tackled the question ‘How to embrace ambiguity and uncertainty in a fast-paced digital world?’ In an ever increasingly fast-paced digital world, where the widening technology landscape and technology breakthroughs are causing business models to change and adapt faster than ever, how do we as humans embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes hand in hand? We were joined by Anne Simmons, this year’s winner of the 10 Digital Ladies Technologist award 2018, and expert panellists, Reshma Shaikh, Chief of Staff to the COO at Springer Nature, Lindy Stephens, independent consultant and leadership coach in the software industry and Lindsay Ratcliffe, innovation and experience design leader and author.
If you missed the event, don’t panic…take a look at the 10 things we learned at the event.
  1. One of the hardest things is to stay resilient through change. Anne says, “I have had to get better at embracing ambiguity, I don’t find it easy”. Some people find it easier than others but that’s ok. You can learn some tricks to help you cope.
  1. Reshma shared a top tip “resilience is about personal management, you need to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are”. It’s useful to create a support network around you, with people who can help guide you and give you honest feedback. “But it’s also important to be able to check in with yourself,” added Lindsay “and work out how to get yourself out of the low”
  1. Being able to check in with yourself is very important. Knowing where you get your energy is key. “I like to think of resilience like a bucket; when its full I can handle anything but when it’s empty I feel like I need to hide under a duvet” said Anne. “It’s all about learning what fills up your bucket, and also knowing what drains it.”
  1. Lindy pointed out “You can’t always get it right. Sometimes you don’t have all the you need – so how can you know what is right or wrong?” You just have to go for it and work through it as you go.
  1. During times of change and uncertainty it’s important to be transparent and open. Anne said, “The first thing a lot of people think is ‘what does it mean for me’, -remember people need to hear that”. And be honest. Lindy adds, “If people think you are lying about something, they start to question what else you might have lied about.”
  1. There are many different layers of communication. Reshma said, “It’s important to be able to say, I will treat you like a human, please treat me like a human too”. It’s often easy to forget how other people are feeling through the changes- especially those in a leadership position. You need to understand and acknowledge how people are feeling.
  1. Not everyone will feel the same about change as you. Some people thrive during change, whereas others can fear it. Lindy said, “I love a crisis, it’s my bread and butter, but sometimes I forget people feel different to me.” BY taking a moment to consider all points of view, you’ll be able to bring everyone on the change journey with you.
  1. Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Anne said, “You can choose to think about things in a different way, it’s unlikely that everything is changing, hold on to that and deal with them in different ways.”
  1. As a Leader you need to be present, don’t shy away from the change “make sure people know you care, it can really make a difference” Reshma adds. Present doesn’t always mean you have to be in the room. Call in to meetings, send emails, you can show presence without actually being physically present.
  1. It’s important to remember that you have a voice in this world of ambiguity. Lindsay said, “You as an individual need to ask, is it going to change for the better, do I have a role in this change? And remember, its ok to say, ‘I’m out’. It’s your life – you have to do what works for you”.

So, knowing yourself and what makes you tick is one of the most important things during times of ambiguity. Always remember, it’s your life – own it!

The event was kindly hosted at the amazing new Photobox offices in Clerkenwell and supported by the brilliant people from Bright Innovation, our marketing partners. It was a great event, we’d like to thank the panellist and everyone who attended, and we can’t wait for the next one in September.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on working with ambiguity and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram. As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Nina Lovelace10 Things We Learned About Embracing Ambiguity
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