By: Rebecca Kwong-Taylor
Mere minutes into the breakfast event at Terminal City Club, featured guest, Cybele Negris, already comes across as extremely down-to-earth, forthcoming, and genuine. Throughout her morning talk, the webnames.ca Founder and President busts myths, challenges the status quo, and offers advice that is applicable to even the most green of attendees.
You don’t have to be in the tech industry to appreciate what she had to say. Or even, be in any industry at all. As a student, even I found her words to be incredibly awe-inspiring. Here are my top 5 takeaways from the Sept 24th Women’s Executive Network's “Women in Tech” talk:
1) Be tough.
Asked what it takes to do her job as a woman, Cybele shares the need to be tough. For entrepreneurs, perhaps that means sacrificing hours of sleep or not taking as much time off. She shares her personal example of taking only 3 days off after the birth of her second child, a story that is reminiscent of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, who returned to her CEO role 2 weeks after giving birth. It’s important to evaluate your own situation, however, and recognize what your circumstances may require you to do.
2) Balance is a myth.
Life is not all sunshine and rainbows – it’s difficult. Balancing personal issues, professional success, etc. is a constant struggle even the most successful women face. Seeing powerful women in the spotlight, we can be forgiven for thinking that everything they do is correct and everything in their lives is under control. Hopefully having women like Cybele continue to talk about their own struggles with balance can reassure other women that they’re not alone in going through this.
3) It’s not about being perfect.
Many of us have unrealistic expectations that you have to be perfect in order to be successful. However, it is alright to have fears, it is okay to fail. This is what makes us human. We must not be so intimidated that we don’t speak up for what we want.
4) We need to help each other be the best we can be.
Technology is still a male-dominated industry, but the presence of women is lacking in just about every sector. Cybele spoke that through caring for people and encouraging them toward their own path, we can help nurture them to success. We should start educating girls early about non-traditional female careers, and we should take more interest in our colleagues’ work and careers – we need to help each other be the best we can be. Ultimately, be nice to people, especially women to women. Give advice – and seek it out as well.
5) Change your perception.
In many instances, being a woman might seem like a disadvantage, but to Cybele, she actually views this as an opportunity to gain an edge. Utilize what makes you different (gender, skills, experience, etc.) in order to make what you’re doing stand out. Cybele was a trailblazer when she started her company. Even in a male-dominated industry, she has been recognized with numerous accolades, including one of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs, but also one of Business In Vancouver’s Top Forty under 40.
In all, the Women’s Executive Network “Women in Tech” talk was a worthwhile event to attend. The talk with Cybele Negris did not feel forced, or even like a regular women’s networking event. I felt like I truly gained. As well, I actually had the opportunity to chat with Cybele after the talk, and she is as honest and open to me as she was when she was charming the crowd.