There’s No Better Time Than Now

There are literally nights when I can’t bear to put myself to sleep because my mind is racing.  I find myself thinking about recent conversations with exciting individuals, the type of talks where you cut each other’s sentences off because minds are moving faster than our mouths can accomodate.

It is such an exciting time to be alive.

A few years ago I remember reading Michael Arrington’s controversial piece in TechCrunch about why we shouldn’t blame men for the lack of women in the tech industry.  Around the same time, a post was published about ageism in Silicon Valley and why older programmers are losing out to younger, less experienced (and less expensive) recent college grads.  Shortly after, the NYTimes asked the question, “What is it about 20somethings?

These headlines and countless others tell me that women are still fighting for equality, older generations are fighting to stay relevant, and the next class of young adults remain judged and misunderstood.  I would imagine that this narrative has repeated itself across every generation, but I’m having the quintessential “the world is my oyster moment.”

As a young woman working in a web-based profession, I feel like I am living during one of the most profound paradigm shifts in human history.  As much as my age and gender may work against me, there are tools at my disposal that put me at a greater advantage compared to young women of the past.

A New Toolset: Strong women, generous men, and a resourceful network.

So what separates a young twentysomething woman growing up today compared to twentysomethings of the past?  I would argue that it’s the following: a roster of women who paved the way, a network of supportive men, and technologies that know no borders.

I have access to a network of strong women that have achieved various degrees of personal success.  They range from women like my mom who immigrated to this country against all odds to women who are co-founders of tech-startups or executives at large corporations. Find your heroes, listen closely, and learn from the best. 

I also have access to a network of accomplished men who have generous ears and big hearts.  Thanks to allies like my dad and a long list of mentors who support me unconditionally, I’ve been taught how to navigate a world dominated by men. You have to know what the rules are if you want to break them, bend them, or change them. 

And then there are my contemporaries, my peers and friends whose passions and aspirations I draw from on a regular basis. They are dreamers turned do-ers, explorers, job seekers, job changers, academics, and artists. Seek out people who bring you energy and never let them go. 

I’m experiencing a time of tremendous transition both personally and professionally. Some days I’m completely overwhelmed, but then I’m reminded of these sentiments. I’m thankful for choice, for technology, for opportunity. I’m thankful for today and so much more.


Mark Salvador – This blog post is for you

My blog has been sorely neglected and my coworker Mark Salvador has been quick to point that out. As a result, I’m dedicating this post to him.

I haven’t updated this site since last June when I got back from 2tor’s company meeting (yes, back then we were called 2tor). Almost a year later, I can look back and say a lot has changed. For starters, I live in a new city now. I made the move from New York to DC back in January and have spent the last few months doing my best not to compare the two.

do-what-you-love-and-never-work-a-day-in-your-life-300x225I transitioned teams and took a leap of faith by taking on a Director of Marketing role for Semester Online. It’s the company’s first foray into the undergraduate space and my first time taking on a marketing position that extends past the realm of social media. There are days when I’m petrified of failure (missing deadlines, not being strategic enough), but mostly I’m having a blast. I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone and 110% engaged in my work.

I’ve been asked by family and friends if I’m going out in DC and meeting new people. To be honest, I haven’t had much time to do that, but it’s okay. I came down here for work and the challenge and opportunity I have in front of me is enough for now. The notion of work/life balance has been an on-going struggle since high school, and for the first time in my life, I’m finally okay with the reality that my imbalance is my homeostasis.

Listening to Sheryl Sandberg speak the other day, she brought up this great point that we don’t have enough cultural reference points where women are happy at work. Career driven women in movies are portrayed as control freaks who don’t have lives and are often giving up some great sacrifice in order to get ahead (think Sigourney Weaver in “Working Girl”, Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal”, or Anne Hathaway in “Devil Wears Prada”). We rarely see women who are working, working hard, thriving, and completely thrilled to be doing so.

There’s no one holding a gun to my head saying I need to be here working as hard as I am. It’s self inflicted and a decision that I’m proud to stand behind. Anyone with ambition in their twenties needs to be told more that it’s okay to throw yourself at your work. In fact, you should challenge yourself to find work that’s worth throwing yourself into. That’s the key. Do what you love and never work a day in your life. It’s cliche, but true.

Maybe one day the novelty of higher education and a high growth startup will wear off, but for now, I’m enjoying the ride, even if it does mean living my precious New York behind. Mark Salvador, great coworkers like you make experiences like this one worthwhile. Thanks for the push… more to come.

Leaving the office early and the myth of having it all

There are no words to describe how much I admire Sheryl Sandberg. From the first time I saw her TEdxWomen speech followed by her Barnard Commencement address last spring, I’ve been following her quotes and interviews in the media closely. She set the Internet on fire by sharing that she leaves the office every day at 5:30 to spend time with her kids. And now she’s taking the world by storm with her new book, Lean In.

She’s proof that ‘you can have it all’ as a women, both a career and a family. Although I can’t quite relate to motherhood, I can appreciate her message. I grew up in a household where my parents were running a small business from home. Regardless of how busy they were, we’d always eat dinner together. They made themselves present without being pushy, available without being overbearing.  I took this for granted growing up, but it’s only the last few years that I realized just how much I cherished that family time. My parents asked me every day what I learned in school and always made me feel like they were interested in what I had to say. I’m convinced those dinner debates during my adolescence were the foundation of the critical thinking skills I have today.

I had the pleasure of seeing Sheryl Sandberg speak the other day and she was just as confident and charismatic in person as her interviews make her out to be. Thank you, Sheryl, for sparking important conversations and setting an example to follow.

Every day is a holiday, every meal is a feast

There are no words to describe how inspired I feel coming back from 2tor’s annual company meeting.  Sheryl Sandberg recently said, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocketship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.” That’s exactly how I feel about this company – it’s a rocketship that is on a meteoric rise, one that will deliver impact and meaningful change to the world.

For most people, spending 48 hours with your co-workers sounds like agony. For me, it was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. If ever there was a movement to #occupyhappiness, I’d certainly be in the 1%. I have a renewed sense of passion and purpose, a deeper love for my team, and a greater commitment to our mission of revolutionizing higher education.

Our CEO, Chip Paucek, shared the following quote with us during his keynote. For me, it perfectly captures what it feels like to be a 2torian today.  May we seize our moment, celebrate every day, and take nothing for granted.

Every day is a holiday, every meal is a feast

The ToughMudder Challenge

A few months ago, my friend Jason passed around a link to ToughMudder. If you’ve never heard of it, ToughMudder is a hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces (aka my version of hell on earth).

“No way!” I thought to myself. “I’ve never run 10 miles in my life!”

I found myself agonizing over the website, watching video after video of people scaling 10 foot walls, jumping into lakes, running through fire, and yes, sprinting towards live electrical wires. I felt intimidated, out of shape, and scared. Because of this, I knew I had to sign up.

My general approach towards fear: You don’t run away from what scares you. You run to it, face it head on, and conquer the crap out of it.

So yes world, I am officially signed up for ToughMudder New England. The race is taking place on July 14 and will be the ultimate test of my strength, stamina, and sheer will power. I’m confident I’ll be in good company (I have some of my best pals doing it with me) and I know that crossing that finish line will be one of the most rewarding feelings ever.

I have 115 days to train, which means hitting the gym or park 4x/week, healthier eating, and a much earlier bed time.  If you’re looking for a crazy excuse to get into shape, you want to run up a ski slope and get electrocuted, and you want to hang in Vermont this July, join the team! I can email you the registration link or just go to the New England page and join “Down In My Plums”.

Check out this video for a peek of what I’ve signed up for: