We’ve all been compared to someone at some point. It’s often a physical comparison -- "you look just like so and so!" -- but sometimes it’s a reflection of similar personality traits, mannerisms, or behavior. However, it’s not often that someone is compared to one of the most famous people in the world. But, that’s the situation I found myself in a few weeks ago.
The best way to sum up my reaction when I first saw my head on Mark Zuckerberg’s body in the December 2011 issue of San Francisco Magazine -- surprised. I’m confident that anyone would feel the same to see their face on the body of one of the most famous technologists on the planet.
What made it even more shocking though was not the hoodie I wouldn’t wear (probably not ever), nor the frighteningly over-sized hands. (Mark -- don’t worry! They look good on you.) No, it was much more basic. What made it surprising is that I’m not Mark Zuckerberg or any man for that matter. I’m a woman and proud of it -- right down to my petite hands and fun, trendy outfits.
After I got over the initial reaction, being compared to Zuckerberg was a paradoxical experience. I was, at once, deeply flattered and somewhat shocked. As I said, he is one of the most brilliant technologists of our time and one that I am honored to be compared to. But, at the same time, it was disheartening to see my head placed on a male’s body -- as if masculine features are synonymous with uber success.
On an all-too-frequent basis, I am asked what it is like to be a “female founder in tech.” From the very first time I was asked this question, my philosophy has remained the same: it’s a non-issue. When I get out of bed each day and rush to the office to work with my team, not once do I consider that I have one more X-chromosome than my male counterparts.
Like all tech founders, male and female alike, I am 100% focused on building an awesome product (in my case, TaskRabbit). What makes us all successful is that we are uniquely talented and innovative. Zuckerberg is not good because he is male and, similarly, I’m not successful because I’m female. We’re successful because we are just plain good (and work really hard) at what we do, irrespective of our gender.
While I appreciate the spirit of the SF Mag article, I would have preferred that the piece celebrated the amazing companies I, and the other female entrepreneurs, are building, leveraging our unique skills and passions. I, for one, would have much rather seen Susan Gregg Koger, founder and chief creative officer of ModCloth, in one of her impeccably fashionable outfits -- the very thing that has made her and her company such a success -- rather than a stale hoodie.
For our part, instead of focusing on how we stack up against our male counterparts, we will continue doing what we do best - build successful products and companies -- with an eye towards being the next Busque, Koger, Bianchini, or Fake, not the next Zuckerberg.
Editor's note: TaskRabbit Founder Leah Busque will be speaking at the PITCH Conference on February 14, 2012 in Mountain View, CA. Get your ticket now! Photo credit: Modern Luxury About the guest blogger: Leah Busque is the Founder of TaskRabbit, the pioneer in service networking. TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that connects folks in a community to get things done. Since its founding in 2008, Leah has grown the company to more than 35 employees and expanded service to Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, New York and Chicago. Prior to founding TaskRabbit, Leah was a Software Engineer at IBM. Follow her on Twitter at @labusque.