Let’s Join The Manhattan Girls Club (Founding Tech Startups)
By Heddi Cundle (Founder & CEO, myTab)
Earlier this month, I was in New York City. Now, I used to live in New York in the 90s when New York was still testing my inner strength by making me dodge flying bullets and knives in the not-so-pretty Meatpacking District. No one from Manhattan would venture over the Brooklyn Bridge (do I need a passport?) and certainly no female in business was truly on my side while I worked day and night in the music industry.
So over the past 10 years, since I’ve lived on the West Coast, I’ve only been to New York three times. The first was quite an eye opener – the city had been cleaned up (thanks Giuliani, for messing up a perfectly filthy city. Your city flag should be endorsed by Swiffer) and the second visit was verging on fluff cuteness regarding attitudes and not a sniff of BadaBing lingo. But this recent visit, I saw a whole different New York, especially with the women I met during a flurry of tech meetings.
Not only are these gals kinder and less defensive than the past decades but they know their stuff in tech. I was interrogated about my startup and with good cause. The questions were well thought out, unique in strategy and challenging in a “c’mon Heddi, you’re onto something big with this company but it’s my job to bust your balls until you get too big” way.
And the best part – the questions and meetings were aimed at the intention that these women had my back and were really rooting for me.
I’ve had many meetings with women in Silicon Valley and all are great but there’s an LA Fear element. You know like in LA, it’s run on fear and paranoia (being a one industry town and all that)? Well, the Valley has the same type of nervousness. Women want to strut their stuff and claim Hail Mary’s about their opinions but still shy away from truly being a happy and confident Rottweiler.
But the East Coast? They’re knocking out the slam dunking image nonstop and they’re doing it with style, panache (yes, I do still say panache – you should also) and a flurry of intelligence that won’t be undermined by their male colleagues. You know why? Because they don’t see that they’re working in a man’s world. They work in New York and that overrides any industry, gender (I sometimes get gender and genre mixed up so usually state I’m white, Jewish and like RnB to cover all bases!). But think about it – New York as a city just wipes out any other category. They’re New Yorkers before they’re women. Genius!
As much as I adore Northern California, my personality has always been typical East Coast Posse. I speak as fast at them and have no fear factor. I know so many incredible females West side who have paved the way for the rest of us to skip down the newly cobbled start up road yet there’s still an element of reservation in their verbiage, a slight blip in being so bold, a tiny hiccup in breaking new ground and the lack of fine balance between confidence and defensibility. And I think that’s a shame because we all, as a gender (please hope I got my genders and genres right this time or this blog post will keel over) should be focusing on the actual job at hand – not the male vs female ratio or the rocking boat nervousness.
We’re in Silicon Valley which has just about the most talented and creative startups on the planet. The East Coast is rocking it in style and we need to also. No more bra burning or ‘I’ll open my own door, thank you very much’ but just switch gear and zoom into what you’re doing. You’re in Tech Mecca Land before you’re a woman. Don’t focus on what lipstick is toned down enough for an Exec meeting, nor which of 5 types of black trousers you should be wearing for that presentation or (g-d forbid), should I wear an up-do so I don’t twiddle with my hair during the conference.
Be yourself, be bold, be proud of what you’re doing foremost and don’t start competing with Manhattan female. They’re not in a competition with us West Coast’ies because they’re too busy doing, being and not taking any BS since they’re New Yorkers… and they want us in their cool club, no membership fees necessary.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
Photo credit: Brian Auer on Flickr.
About the guest blogger: Heddi Cundle is Founder and CEO of mytab.co, an online social travel gift card where friends and family can gift, save, plan, share and book travel — all within myTab. Heddi has 18 years of PR & Marketing experience, from travel and hospitality to TV, consumer retail, technology and music. Credentials include co-launching the phenomenon London Roadhouse Flair Bartending competitions. Follow her on Twitter at @HeddiCundle.