August 15, 2018

Last month, my fellow SAE Danielle Johns and I had the opportunity to attend INFLUENCEHER Week in the Seaport district in downtown Boston. Organized by the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), the event featured an inspiring lineup of panels (one of which featured Julie Yoo, CSO and Co-Founder of Kyruus, one of Aria’s clients!), presentations, and workshops to promote and further women leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology industry.


Here are our top takeaways from the sessions we attended at INFLUENCEHER:


  • Remember the Ladder of Inference. The Ladder of Inference illustrates how strongly our personal biases and past experiences impact our thought processes and, as a result, the conclusions we reach. If you and a colleague or friend reach a different conclusion about a specific situation, remember both of you are basing your conclusions on your own biases and assumptions of what really happened. Instead of, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” start at the bottom of the ladder to identify where your thought processes vary: “This is how I see it. How do you see it?”


  • Third time’s a charm? More like 4.3. Surprisingly, it takes an average of 4.3 cold emails to result in a reply. This is a good reminder that change does not happen overnight and that good things take time. Whether you’re cold-emailing someone a new story angle or an idea for a new entrepreneurial project, people need time to digest and come along. It’s also a good reminder that a lack of reply does not always mean no.


  • Success defined three ways. Success looks different for everyone, which is why we were especially intrigued by these definitions of success shared by three powerhouse panelists at the event.

Julie Yoo, Kyruus CSO and Co-Founder, shared her framework for success: sense of purpose; sense of belonging; sense of being valued; and understanding the path for growth.


Alex Williamson, Bumble Head of Brand, said success comes down to finding something broken in society and building something (a company, piece of technology, initiative, etc.) to try and fix it.


Jennifer Lum, Co-Founder and COO of Forge.AI, stressed that success is not static; as a career or person evolves, so too should the list of goals used to gauge success and progress.


  • Reframe the “F” word. Instead of taking failure (the “F” word) at face value, remember it’s really only “perceived failure.” Most personal and professional growth comes from these hard lessons and challenges, so instead of letting failure define you or hold you back, use it as fuel for your next project, idea, or initiative.


  • Shift from blame to joint contribution. Blame is the antithesis of accountability, and it shuts down learning, inquiry, and creativity. When something goes wrong it’s easy to place blame on a reason or person…but that doesn’t always get to the root of the issue. A joint contribution approach takes a more systemic view of the big picture, involving all parties and highlighting underlying issues to foster a more open environment for growth and improvement.


  • No doesn’t always mean no. In an entrepreneurial setting, receiving a “no” isn’t a sign of failure, and doesn’t always mean no outright. Rather, a “no” presents an opportunity to go back to the drawing board, get creative, and achieve the “yes” you’re aiming for.


  • [No subject]. Want someone to read your email? You’ll need a subject-line that compels your recipient to at least open your email…and hopefully read it. We were shocked to learn that the number 1 most-opened email subject line is actually “No subject.” Mogul CEO and Founder Tiffany Pham shared the subject line she swears by for networking and professional introductions: “Thank you and an invitation this week.”


  • Redesign your thinking. Stumped by a problem or question you can’t seem to solve? Maybe you need a dose of design thinking to illuminate potential solutions by bringing empathy and generative thinking to the table. Take your problem or question and either rethink the question — go levels higher to question your question — or challenge your assumptions about the solution, or the space in which the solution exists, to discover options that you otherwise wouldn’t see.


  • Suggested reading. Across all the sessions we attended, we gathered a multitude of recommendations for great books full of educational, entrepreneurial, and inspirational stories and strategies. Those recommendations included: Winning from Within, Hard Things About Hard Things, The Alchemist, Heart Talk, Sapiens, The Gatekeepers, Built to Last, The Achievement Habit, and You Are a Mogul (written by keynote presenter Tiffany Pham, coming Fall 2018).
Blog post written by:
Ashley Owen
Author: Ashley Owen
Account Director & Wellness Officer