It was windy in the windy city—so windy that I had to hold down my hair to keep it from flying away.
And for this meeting, in particular, hair was important.
To spice things up for Halloween, Ms. Tech, a global women’s networking group that helps business women do tech and tech women do business, and The Shift (4101 N Broadway), one of the first coworking shared spaces on the north side of Chicago, partnered to create a festive twist to networking—networking in wigs.
It was Wednesday, October 28, 2015, and we were coming from work in our wigs at 6 pm. Each member brought a guest to the event, and I was paired with Corielle Heath, Founder and CEO of liftUPlift, an e-commerce site where you can shop directly from female makers and entrepreneurs worldwide.
As Corielle stood next to me in her princess crown with a bright smile, and I in my pink, Nicki Minaj wig we mixed and mingled with other Ms. Tech members about our business and how we can gain skills through certifications in SEO and SEM.
After we refilled our cups with Portuguese wine and filled out bright pink ice breakers, we were ready to sit and listen to some of the most influential women advocating and helping women reach their full potential as entrepreneurs in the tech space.
The panelists for the night included women involved with Ms. Tech, starting with the Founder and CEO of Ms. Tech, Nicole Yeary in her blue, Katy Perry wig.
Mentor, Investor, and Council Member of Ms. Tech, Dima Elissa joined the panelists in a black wig.
Nicole Vasquez, Founder, President, and Community Connector of The Shift, moderated.
Panelists Share Their Struggles:
Through open-ended questions, the informal panel shared stories that highlighted struggles. More importantly, they sought to change our mindset.
“Give yourself permission to be fabulous. Do not let anyone define who you are,” said Elissa.
Elissa told us the story of how she found the company she wanted to work for, NutraSweet, and how she was offered a position despite numerous obstacles including a hiring freeze. While Elissa did apply through the traditional route of submitting her resume to HR, she also networked with employees in the company and sent a letter to the president of NutraSweet. On her moving day from Florida to Chicago, she received a rejection letter from HR for the position, even though she already been offered and accepted the position from the president of the company.*
Since then, among other things, Elissa has launched a company (and jettisoned the last one).
She finished her introduction with, “I love helping women achieve their dream…I love and adore this community.”
Yeary spoke about her beginnings on her friend’s couch and a 49 cent McDonald’s ice cream cone.
When Yeary started, she was doing a myriad of things. A mentor changed her life with one question, “What do you do?”
And the follow-up question, “What do you want to be known for?”
“If I was going to send someone to you, what would I send them for?”
As entrepreneurs and savvy business women, we want to master everything. But, with Yeary’s story, we learned in her words, “Just because you do all those things doesn’t mean you should do all those things.”
Doing everything actually prohibits you from achieving your goals. What we need is a focus.
Yeary’s mentor encouraged her to stop her involvement in a bunch of projects and focus on one thing for six months.
Since 2010, when Yeary started Ms. Tech, it has evolved into a global networking space to empower women in tech.
This year, Ms. Tech partnered with 1871 at Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago and now provides curriculum for women-owned businesses.
Upcoming Women Tech Events:
These are member only events and each member can bring a guest.
Ms. Tech encourages women to help one another through building a community. The Ms. Tech membership offers blogging opportunities, access to events, office hours with Nicole Yeary, and access to a network of accountants and lawyers to help women create and launch successful startups in Chicago.
Event Location: The Shift (4101 N Broadway)
Event Host: Ms. Tech
Event Date and Time: Wednesday, October 28, 2015, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Discovered Through: Ms. Tech Facebook Group
Bonus: Wearing a wig and being taken seriously
*Corrected for clarification on October 31, 2015