Maybe I will be found out
Maybe its timing, maybe its age or who knows but in the past few weeks a variety of interesting opportunities have come my way. I am really excited about each of them and am trying to figure out how to make them all happen and wondering does this make sense. I've definitely gotten better at thinking things through vs diving in head first and that is certainly age related.
Yet through all of these conversations there is still a piece of me that thinks "omigod, they are all going to figure out I know nothing.". Why?
I was talking with my friend about this today at lunch. She recently launched Girls Guide to Paris which is my new favorite site. Her insight was that since men have been ruling the landscape for so many years that they wouldn't even conceive the notion that they don't know what they were doing. If they didn't, they would just make it up as they go along.
She had been to a conference a few years back called Women and Power. At this event one of the panels was about the words that women use vs men and how they talk in business. It reminded me of something that happened about 10 years ago at a conference I was lucky enough to attend.
Fred was invited to a conference outside of DC which was put on by one of the big accounting firms who had a small group of people devoted to the Internet. They invited mostly the early adapters in the business from Red Burns to Jason Calacanis to entrepreneurs in the space (many who have actually gone by the way side). Fred was invited and I came along for the ride. Although I was working in that space, I wasn't invited as I was the lowly revenue driver behind Silicon Alley Reporter. I let the heads of the conference know I was coming. They knew me and thought I'd add to the conversations so they were happy to let me sit at the round tables and participate. I was delighted.
We were sitting in a large room around tables that formed a large square to create conversation and everyone had their name in front of them. I was sitting next to a guy who started an Internet agency, was a friend and someone I was doing business with at the time. As the conversations began I couldn't get my 2 cents in. It was really frustrating. After a few attempts, I gave up. He whispered to me, "women always start their sentences with I feel or I think but men don't, just start with your point without the I feel or I think part and you will get in there.". It was a serious aha moment. I took his advice immediately and I became part of the discussion. Fascinating.
Perhaps, in time, the feeling of do I really know what I'm talking about will change. I see my girls and their complete confidence in their knowledge and being able to make it up as they go along. Maybe the next generation of women will be past that, I hope so. Someone actually said of me once to someone, Joanne is great at what she does because she raises money like a man. It was meant as a total complement but has always made me laugh. She met me soon after my friend gave me the advice about not starting conversations with I think.
In the end it is all about the approach but in the end there isn't a woman ( in my age group ) I have met who has the inner feeling sometimes that says "omigod one day they will found out that I have no idea what I'm doing". I'm truly working on getting past that.