More than you probably want or need to know…
I am a gal whose greatest joy has been working with and learning from men. I am the the daughter of a great man (and woman too!), the wife of a perfect husband, the mother of two spectacular sons, the protégé of extraordinary male bosses, the sister of an entrepreneurial brother (and three amazing sisters), and the colleague and collaborator to some of the most talented men on the planet.
I am a late bloomer and a reluctant success. I am a lucky gal who doesn’t deserve any of what she has. I am someone that has figured out so much, but still knows nothing at all.
I am someone who’s conflicted—sometimes strong and sometimes embarrassingly weak, sometimes confident and fierce and sometimes painfully insecure, sometimes warm and effusive and sometimes completely withdrawn and intimidating.
I am an experience junky and a risk taker, but full of ridiculous fears (like heights and going into water I can’t see). I am a good writer and strong visual mathematician. I see and feel more than the average person. Disorder and lack of symmetry bother me.
I suffer from insomnia that’s unrivaled as far as I can tell and go from thinking it might be my competitive advantage or superhero power to being completely defeated by it. I feel like a genius in the morning and am mostly junk at night. If there’s anything important that has to happen cognitively, it better emerge before 10 AM or it’s not possible until the next day.
I have high blood pressure even though I’m fit. Stress is a frenemy–if you don’t care, how do you get up every day and drive yourself? I can’t figure out how to care and not be stressed and live in constant fear of not caring, worried about living a life that feels soulless, lacking in meaning. Hence, high blood pressure I can’t seem to kick.
I’ve chosen a life that makes me feel very lonely and is harder than it needs to be, but wouldn’t want it any other way. There are times I long for a more traditional life with my friends and family, but know that wouldn’t work for me as it would make me feel antsy, angry, and focused on the wrong things.
I got a D in “Accounting for Non-Business Majors” and a C in Calculus in undergrad and still wonder how the heck I got into business school, whether anyone looked at my transcript. Even when I took Accounting again in community college to bone up the summer before I started business school, I still got a C. You know what Einstein said about the definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The lesson I learned from this and many other failures is that they’re just part of the journey, you won’t be good at everything, others will fill in your gaps if you work effectively with them, and failures and weaknesses don’t have to stop or define you.
I love to dress well and enjoy it as a way to express myself, be artistic, convey my brand and my ability to be creative and organized in my broader life. I am a person who takes way too long to get ready but I believe feeling good and looking good is as important as what you have to say—if you don’t have the first, no one will pay attention to the second. Superficial or not…that’s reality.
I am someone who's done a bunch of random things and wouldn’t do anything differently if I could do it over again (other than going abroad my junior year in college). I’ve run a 400-student dormitory. I’ve written public policy and worked in law firms. I’ve raised money for community agencies and educational institutions and given grants and micro-enterprise loans. I’ve mowed lawns and babysat. I’ve campaigned for political candidates. I’ve designed and manufactured apparel and spent hours in gritty cut-and-sew sweatshops. I’ve made an e-commerce store on one of the first internet platforms that existed in the 90s. I’ve sold big software deals to big companies, lived with customers for months on-site, and managed complex engineering teams all over the world building all sorts of products.
I’m now in good shape and hope to stay that way. Working out rigorously by myself is like meditation or prayer in the moment and provides all sorts of good things all day, every day. A good male friend, former professional athlete, introduced me to high intensity workouts years ago and sweaty ADHD hours (my label) have changed my life. I credit them with improving my health and appearance as well as my psyche and the way I feel about myself. They always help me find or rediscover my mojo and empower me to carry myself with more confidence. I also believe my solitary workouts have contributed to dramatic improvements in my cognition and overall performance at work, honing my ability to solve tough problems and puzzles. They've also improved my ability to sort through interpersonal quagmires going on at work in my head, keeping the drama to myself and managing myself internally vs. making it the problem of others.
I once had a guy I didn’t know in a cramped hotel gym at 5 AM say to me, “you must be either a cop or a spy” after watching my high intensity workout. That comment made me feel like a million bucks, that my inner girl badass was coming through. I’ve made myself get up at 4 or 5 AM many times when I didn’t feel like it to run through Times Square in New York in the dead of Winter, each time feeling like some sort of girl superhero the rest of the day, emboldened by achieving something that made me feel uncomfortable yet good.
I’m a pretty decent thinker and am able to accommodate change and complexity quickly to drive teams to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate risks. I like to take on big, hairy, undefined projects and drive them with a bunch of people to a good place. I like to make order out of chaos but once things are fixed, I get bored and need to move on.
I am excessively impatient, impertinent, and irreverent. I’m a really bad wife, mother, and daughter in the traditional sense, but hope that I make up for it somehow in other ways. I often wonder whether it’s enough to be mostly fun to be around, not too naggy, and available when they want to call on me since I’m so inadequate on all the other dimensions. I try to be supportive when the boys need me, but otherwise tend to focus on my own life, my own career, and let all of us live our own lives.
I’ve often feel like a poser in so many life situations—like I’m in a position I don’t deserve. From what I’ve gleaned, many women feel this way (more than men do), and it’s something to work through over and over again. The upside of feeling like a poser is that I think it’s helped keep achievements in perspective and reminded me that the journey isn’t about me, but about the ever-growing responsibility I have to open opportunities for everyone around me. With success comes responsibility, so I’m enjoying the challenge of figuring out what that means for me and how I can capitalize on it to make the lives of other people better—whether it’s people working with me in my personal or professional realms.
I’ve learned that marriages can become toxic when women effectively become employees of their husbands. The harsh reality is that marriage is as much about economics as it is about love, particularly over the longer haul. Like any ecosystem, it’s a fragile coexistence and balance of power. Its success depends on mutual respect, which relies on both parties feeling like they’re choosing to be there, and that they have things they’ve earned on their own. I’ve learned that once couples evolve into a death spiral around spending—either of money and/or time with their kids—it becomes gang warfare where each battle incites the next, fueled by revenge and a lack of respect. I learned from my ultimate gentle-man husband that relationships don’t have to be this way. You can stay friends, want the best for your spouse, and encourage them to do things that might inconvenience you. Most importantly, I learned that proactive, unsolicited, magnanimous gestures beget the same.
I’ve had so many amazing women in my life–mom, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, childhood friends, college roommates, and colleagues. They all inspire me to be a better person and I feel lucky to have them in my life. Meanwhile, I’ve had more strong male friends than most. I love being with men and am more comfortable in a room full of men vs. women. It's probably always been that way, but the dynamic has intensified as I’ve continued with my career while many women in my life chose other paths. I wish I was able to better navigate moms at school events, but I’m like a fish out of water and back-to-school night is more stressful for me than presenting to thousands of people on a big stage with 30-foot jumbotrons behind me at a business conference.
I endured fertility treatments for more than five years, but was lucky enough to have the miracle of modern science pay off in spades. I experienced two miscarriages that knocked me for a big loop. I’ve struggled with chronic pain and multiple surgeries for various things but am still blessed with mostly flawless health.
I focus on eating the right things but fail nearly every day in one way or another. I absolutely love beer and have since my dad let me sip his Coors Light while watching the Cowboys play the Steelers in the 70s. Heck, my Jeep tire cover says “Beer” on it. I should definitely drink less of it but have been too weak to walk away and try to counterbalance my bad beer behavior with extra good eating and exercising to achieve some sort of yin and yang dynamic.
I love music and movies and the opportunity to share my favorites with my kids. I’m relishing the process of seeing them become real people with real interests, some shaped by me and others mostly realized entirely on their own. I’m having fun watching the tables turn and now rely on them to keep me fresh—with the latest songs and artists, apps and devices, TV shows, movies, and books.
I believe there are so many kinds of smart and I love surrounding myself with people who are better than me, who are able to do things that I can’t, who challenge me and inspire me with a skill that eludes me yet compliments my strengths. I’m lucky to have ended up with a career in technology that includes the broadest spectrum of smarts available—from the introverted, engineering IQ to the extraverted, sales IQ and everything in between.
I am someone who’s found herself angst ridden and many times tearful in lonely hotel rooms on business trips, wondering what I am doing with my life and whether my choices are admirable and challenging or simply selfish and stupid. I’ll never be sure of exactly what I’m trying to prove or whether I’m barking up the wrong tree.
I started as an “extravert” on the Myers-Briggs personality test when I first took it as a 16-year-old in 10th grade but evolved to being an “Introvert” by the time I took it for the third time in my late 20s in business school. Meanwhile, I also changed from a “Feeler” to a “Thinker,” which I think emerged because girls are conditioned to act a particular way (or they’re considered to be the B-word) and I was able to be comfortable with who I really am over time. I don’t need a lot of friends and I’m not big on parties. My favorite thing to do is having dinner sitting at a bar with my husband or another good friend.
I’m mostly frustrated and impatient on the inside too much of the time but have gotten better and better over time at letting things go or figuring out how to work them out of my system with some angry jump roping and/or burpees and/or a good song and/or enjoying a good show or meal with my boys. I know logically it doesn’t make sense to worry about the stuff I do or care about the things that get to me. As my favorite male colleague and friend once said, “you need to give fewer f*cks.” To be good at something, you have to care about it and often the inevitable downside of caring is frustration and the challenge is keeping it all in perspective. Over time, I’ve realized that while I can’t control most of the things that happen, I can control how I react to the stress and choose to deal with it. I’m getting better at keeping all of these things in perspective but it will be a life-long struggle for me.
I was someone born lucky who’s been made better by everything I’ve gotten to experience and everyone I’ve known. I am someone who has an acute sense of justice but a total disregard for the law. And now I am someone who’s an author too (or at least made an attempt at it after years of contemplating the endeavor).