4 dos & don'ts of speaking at Web Summit and other large stages

4 dos & don’ts of speaking at Web Summit and other large stages

Kat – November 2018

Whether it’s speaking just in front of a couple of people or thousands – sweaty palms, racing heart, forgetting what you wanted to say, we’ve all felt some level of nerves when speaking publicly. Recently we had the pleasure of attending Web Summit, one of the biggest tech conferences from around the world. There were many highlights from the trip and the conference itself (shout out to Booking.com for providing an awesome women in tech lounge!), but a perk was seeing great speakers live and in action. The event was a perfect case study of good examples of what to do to make a positive impact on stage – and one cautionary tale of what to watch out for. Here my top 4 dos & don’ts of speaking at Web Summit and other large stages:

1. Do make an entrance

Those first few moments on stage are the most nerve-wracking ones, but they are also the most important. So don’t waste them on thanking anyone, saying hi to the audience, or introducing yourself! David Nihill, who held a great talk on hacking public speaking, had these two great tips for making a memorable first impression: One, try to outsource the introduction of who you are to the moderator or someone else so you don’t need to cover it. Two, you don’t need to memorize your whole talk, but do memorize the first 30 seconds of it. After that, your nerves will have calmed down and you’ll feel more confident on stage.

2. Don’t forget about people

People notice how you treat people. So when you’re on stage, make sure you know the names of the people you are introducing or who introduced you. There were a few moments where speakers simply thanked “the moderator” or moderators had to read off cards who the next speaker was. The audience notices this, so make an effort to know the names of the people you’re sharing the stage with.

3. Do be an active participant in the conversation

You might be on stage as a moderator instead of a speaker or panelist once in a while, and that can be a lot to deal with. Especially on a stage like Web Summit’s where talks are closely timed and the audience can submit questions. Yet the most important bit is being an active participant and listening. Don’t just focus on the script of questions you want to get through! There was a moment where a moderator repeated a question that had already been asked by someone in the audience – don’t let that be you.

4. Do get up on that stage

My most important takeaway: Don’t let fear, or nerves, or someone else stop you from getting on stage and sharing what you have to say. Women especially need to be seen and speak more on stage to not only inspire others about what is possible, but to also show they are capable and qualified to do big things. On the Women in Tech panel, Lindsey Turrentine from CNET said, “The more you talk about who you are, the more people can see that you are qualified to do what they do.” So make use of these tips or forget them all – in either case, make sure you get out there and make your voice heard.

That was also one of our favorite parts: Be it through Whatsapp or Facebook groups, Slack channels, or old-school in person meeting, the women at Web Summit banded together. And that’s all we are about at CoWomen. We’re stronger together after all! And one of the things I’m most excited about our new location for the community club & coworking space in the Alte Muenze in Berlin-Mitte is that we’ll have more space to hold events and workshops to teach women skills to get the confidence to go out there and have their voices heard! If you haven’t yet, you can check out all the info on the crowdfunding campaign running until December 8th, where you can also become a CoWoman or support rising women: www.ConnectRisingCoWomen.com

Feminism is not for sale

Feminism is not for sale

Kat – September 2018

After almost four years away, I went back to the US for the first time a few weeks ago. It’s a little surreal walking down the same NYC streets as a visitor which you used to walk everyday to work. It’s also always interesting when you have moments to compare how much you have – and haven’t – changed. I’ve always been a feminist, but only during my time in Berlin did that influence my work choices, first by launching the women’s leadership podcast Leading Rebels and then cofounding CoWomen.

Awesome feminist merch from independent bookstore The Strand, Bulletin that donates to Planned Parenthood, Wildfang which donates to a rotating monthly charity, and The Hivery, another kickass women’s community & coworking space.

This time in NYC though, it was refreshing to see my feminist views reflected back at me in almost every store I stopped at. Everything from bookstores to clothing shops had notebooks, postcards, shirts, everything and anything you could imagine emblazoned with feminist slogans. I definitely was guilty of picking up something almost every time I saw it. Guilty though is the key word here, because on my last day I walked by a store that made me stop in my tracks. It was a huge clothing store, loud music blaring out the open doors, clearly targeting a younger generation. And it had a sign on the storefront which said: Work hard so you can shop harder.

After so long in Europe, which is by no means perfect (this is a quote attributed to Coco Chanel after all) but does have a slightly better relationship to consumerism, this was jarring to see. For someone to publically, unironically say the reason you should work is so you can buy stuff – and use this as an advertisement for you to come into their shop – seemed so tone deaf to me. This is targeting a generation of people that entered the job market in a huge recession, that have learned the hard way that happiness is not defined by what you own, and that chooses doing meaningful work over a higher paycheck.

Suffice it to say that I did not feel spoken to by this sign. But later that day, I had to realize that there is a connection between it and what I had been doing. Haley Nahman recently wrote a great piece for Man Repeller on how reaction culture is the internet’s biggest blindspot, and it’s growing in which she argues, “In the era of Instagram, when personhood becomes personal brand, aligning yourself with a particular set of beliefs has become more important than thinking and behaving in accordance with those beliefs.” Haley is speaking specifically about our culture of firing off quick reactions to events on social media instead of engaging with them more deeply, but that day in NYC I also saw the connection to our consumer culture. After all, if I buy a shirt which proudly proclaims I’m a feminist, I’m doing my part, right?

I’m not discouraging you to buy things about causes you believe in, voting with your money is a very real thing, and we at CoWomen have a shop too after all. But do have a look at who that money is going to. Are the companies you’ve giving your money to actually using it to further the cause they’re advertising on their products? Or just using a movement being “in” to create products that sell and fatten their bottom line?

Because you need to make sure your eyeshadow is on brand before you go out to smash the patriarchy.

Case in point: L’Oréal in Germany thought it would make use of the feminist “hype” and release a video with singer Lena Meyer-Landrut advertising an eyeshadow pallet you can use to create a “feminist statement look” (I wish I was joking). I’m happy to say that in this case the public created enough of a backlash for L’Oréal to take down the video – though they are keeping it as part of the pallet name.

I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to this – even if the items I bought that day in NYC were all from shops I support (such an independent bookstores), I can think of an item or two I own that didn’t help create positive change. I hope this also opens your eyes to questioning who you’re buying from next time and not get blinded by the cool slogan. Hint: A company like L’Oréal which only has 5 women on their managing board of 15, despite being about products for women, and doesn’t even pledge to use proceeds of their “feminist palette” for any cause beyond making money, doesn’t qualify.

Most important of all: Your time is as valuable as your money. Even if it’s just grabbing coffee with a younger woman to give her help and advice, we need action to follow words if we want to create lasting change. I’m certainly proud to be part of creating that change at CoWomen – we don’t just sell shirts that proclaim empowered (wo)men empower women, we also use the proceeds from those shirts to create a community that helps women to thrive in work & life.

Top 2018 women’s podcasts

Top 2018 women’s podcasts

Kat – July 2018

It’s not a secret I love podcasts seeing as I host one of my own. You build such a personal relationship with someone when you have their voice in your ear while you do the dishes, ride your bike, or are just winding down after a long day. What I also love is the amount of kickass women that have used this still fairly new medium to amplify women’s voices in inspiring and fun ways. I often get asked what women’s podcasts I’d recommend, so here a selection of my top 2018 women’s podcasts:

1. Leading Rebels

I did mention I host a podcast, right? I almost was tempted to bury it at the end of the list, but if I’m the one that keeps telling women they need to showcase their work, I need to walk the talk. Leading Rebels is a women’s leadership podcast where badass women from around the world share a behind-the-scenes look at their journey and actionable advice to help you skyrocket your own growth. The world needs more kickass female leaders. Be(come) one of them! Season 2 is launching on July 26th so make sure you’ve caught up on the first season until then:

Tune in to Leading Rebels

2. Girlboss Radio

I first got introduced to Sophia Amoruso when I read #GIRLBOSS about her journey going from dumpster diving to founding Nasty Gal, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world. On Girlboss Radio, Sophia interviews boundary-pushing women who’ve made their mark—eschewing polite conversation and extracting solid advice from the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Tune in to Girlboss Radio

3. In Good Company

Writer and brand consultant Otegha Uwagba founded Women Who, a platform that provides support and inspiration for working women everywhere, and wrote the best-selling career guide for modern working women Little Black Book: A Toolkit For Working Women. In Good Company is her monthly radio show full of practical advice, fresh ideas, and interviews with smart, successful women. Essential listening for working women everywhere – whether you’re just starting out or already have years of experience.

Tune in to In Good Company

4. Skimm’d from The Couch

The Daily Skimm, a daily newsletter that breaks down the most important news you need to know to start your day, is a staple in my inbox, so I was excited to hear that its founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg were launching a podcast! They two former news producers started theSkimm from their couch and now they’re bringing it back to one, and inviting powerful female leaders to sit down and chat about everything from celebrating career wins to the worst advice they’ve ever received. It’s an inside look at what it’s really like on the road to success.

Tune in to Skimm’d from The Couch

5. The Role Models Podcast

This is another great women’s leadership podcast from Berlin! Isabelle Sonnenfeld, Head of News Lab at Google for Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and David Noël, former VP Community and Communications Director at SoundCloud, started Role Models to connect the local tech and startup community in Berlin with women role models. The Role Models Podcast features a series of wide-reaching recorded conversations with inspiring women about their approach to life and career, lessons learned, and challenges tackled.

Tune in to The Role Models Podcast

6. The Broad Experience

We all define success differently, and having a sane, balanced existence is important to a lot of us. But many women are ambitious, yet we don’t quite reach our full potential. There are many reasons why. In The Broad Experience, Ashley Milne-Tyte, a British-born writer and public radio reporter based in New York, features women of different ages from all sorts of different backgrounds, who speak about women and the workplace.

Tune in to The Broad Experience

  1. Being Boss

This is one of my top tips for all the creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, and side-hustlers out there. Co-hosts Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon dig into the mindset, habits, routines, and boundaries that help you make money doing what you love. They’ve also brought out a book by the same name that is a great read!

Tune in to Being Boss

I hope these podcasts inspire you, make you laugh, and get you to take action IRL. Are there any more women’s podcasts that I’ve missed that you’d add to this list? I’d love to hear about them – drop me a DM with your recommendations!

Creating the perfect (work)day

Creating the perfect (work)day

Kat – April 2018

What would your perfect day look like if it was completely up to you? That’s the luxury question I got to ask myself at the beginning of February. I’d decided to leave my full-time job and go out on my own. Which was 110% the right decision for me, but I didn’t think it would take me so long to adjust. There is such a thing as too much freedom as everyone who has worked from home will tell you! When do you wake up? When do you work on what project? Until when do you check emails? Is running errands or meeting friends during the day an okay break or a no-go distraction? Questions over questions! Since one of CoWomen’s goals is to help driven women create their perfect day, I thought I’d share what have been my three key findings to help anyone looking for inspiration on crafting theirs – be it because you’re doing home office for a day or switching completely to working from home!

1. Get into a sleep schedule

This has been one of the toughest challenges for me because before I even left my job I had made a big decision: No more alarm clocks unless completely necessary. I really, really dislike alarms. They make me wake up grumpy and unhappy and more often than not I will hit the snooze button ten times as is, making me run late anyways and start my day hurried and stressed. But I thought they were a necessary evil that I had to find a way to live with. And I did it all: put my alarm far away so I had to get up to turn it off, buy an actual clock instead of using my phone, etc. etc. Nothing helped. And then I read that long-time entrepreneur Regina hasn’t used an alarm clock in years, and thought, “Whaaaat? How is that possible? How can someone that runs a pretty involved and big business work productively without an alarm clock to get them up and going on time?” She inspired me to see that possibility for myself, and my life has been 110% better for it. How do I make it work? 1) I try to go to bed at the same time everyday, also on the weekends, to get in a rhythm of waking up around the same time. 2) I try to avoid morning meetings or calls. This is also the best time for creative work, so that’s a double win. It isn’t always perfect – sometimes morning appointments are unavoidable, and I still need to use my alarm clock. Sometimes I oversleep and have to work longer to make the time up. But in general this has made me more rested and relaxed. So even if you don’t want to or can’t get rid of your alarm clock, I can highly recommend trying to get on a sleep schedule and keeping your morning free from external obligations.

2. Develop morning & evening rituals

One of the other benefits of keeping my mornings free is that it has given me the space to start off the day with rituals that give me a positive boost rather than the rushed have-to-get-out-of-the-house-as-quickly-as-possible mornings I had before. I try to keep it simple to not make this feel like a chore: A glass of water when I wake up, 20-30 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes meditating, then shower and breakfast. I also try to not look at my phone or emails before all of this but that is still a work in progress. Likewise, I’ve found having a small evening routine helps me wind down and sleep better: I check my phone one last time, then put it on silent and away, write down my schedule and to-dos for the next day as well as what have been my wins for the day and what I’m grateful for, and then I read for 20-30 minutes before lights out. These rituals have made a huge difference in making me feel more focused and also just happier about my days.

3. Schedule enough time to get out & meet up with others

While I love the freedom of working from home, there’s is one thing I miss: People. I am at the end of the day still a very social person, and while I work best on my own, I also feel cooped up fast if I don’t see anyone else for too long. I’ve learned how important it is to make sure I schedule enough time for meeting with friends after work. This also helps me stick to having an actual “workday” and not working too late into the evenings as you can be tempted to do. During the day, I try to schedule in an errand or two that will get me out of the house. Fresh air and moving is equally important for recharging!

I have by no means perfected what it means to work from home, it will always be a work in progress, and there are many more areas than just these three, but I hope my experience helps you discover something new for yourself! Whether you work for yourself or in an office, the main thing is to try to create days that bring the most joy to you.