Raising Our Daughters To Be Brave

September 12, 2018

Crista Samaras made headlines as a nationally ranked lacrosse player at Princeton from 1994-1999 and a gold medalist in the 2001 IFWLA World Cupas a member of the Women’s National Team. She went on to coach women’s lacrosse at Yale and start three companies. From the outside, she is a true American success story. What is less known about her is her lifelong struggle with depression.

“I wasn’t a person who ‘kind of” suffered from depression,” explains Samaras. “I was a suicidal kid from seventh grade until today. It’s just the state I’m in.”

Lacrosse became a way for her to battle her demons.

“I couldn’t find ‘happy’ or a sense of joy,” she continues. “I just wanted to be alone, rid of the competition. For me, lacrosse wasn’t about just winning. It was winning to such a huge degree that other players were no longer in the same playing field as me.”

During her sophomore year at Princeton, the perfect storm hit—Samaras’ depression spiked, and her parents lost her childhood home. She ended up failing out of school.

“It was a very public failure—one that I couldn’t hide behind,” she admits.

After a yearlong break, during which she took classes at the University of Maryland and discovered her passion for writing, she returned to Princeton.

“The experience taught me so much more about my own grit and resilience and overcoming failure,” she says. “Graduating from Princeton was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

As founder and CEO of Brave Enterprises, Samaras devotes her life to helping teenage girls get to the base of their fears and learn strategies to become more brave, a term she defines as “taking action when we’re afraid.” In this article, Samaras shares five ways we can encourage bravery in our daughters, and, in turn, live more brave lives ourselves.

Read the full story on Forbes.

How This Teen Is Using Artificial Intelligence To Stop Gun Violence

May 13, 2018

Just days after a gunman shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida in February, Shreya Nallapati, a 17-year old high school senior from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, declared “a technological revolution against mass shootings, specifically in schools.”

Fed up with the lack of action being taken by government officials and leaders to end mass shootings, Nallapati decided to take what she knew best– technology — and apply it in a way that would make a lasting impact.

“I was tired of people posting condolences on Facebook and then forgetting about the incident,” Nallapati explains.  “I want to use my knowledge of artificial intelligence to bring people together to solve a problem that is prevailing in society.”

Nallapati put a call out to her network of young women technologists, the Aspirations in Computing community, to join the effort. Together, they created a platform called #NeverAgainTech that uses predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to minimize gun violence and potentially prevent the next mass shooting. #NeverAgainTech is led by teenage girls, a welcome anomaly in a tech world dominated by men.

5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Confidence Muscle

September 6, 2016

Do you ever feel like everyone around you is smarter and more accomplished? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. Even rock star women like Sheryl Sandberg suffer from self-doubt and what has been dubbed the “impostor syndrome” — the nagging fear that plagues many high-achieving women (and men) that they aren’t as smart or talented as the people around them. The good news is that confidence is not a fixed state, but more like a muscle that can be strengthened with regular workouts, as shown by authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in their book, The Confidence Code.

Here, we share 5 exercises that Sheryl Sandberg and other Silicon Valley do each day to build their self-confidence.

1. Write down 3 things you did well that day before going to bed.
After the tragic death of her husband in 2015, Sheryl Sandberg felt like she would never be able to bounce back and accomplish the things she had done in the past. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist and professor at the Wharton School, convinced her otherwise. He suggested she make a daily practice of writing down 3 things she did well every day, at night before she went to bed. “Focusing on things I’d done well helped me rebuild my confidence. Even if it was small, I could record something positive each day,” she explains. Now, instead of focusing on what went wrong, she ends the day by reflecting on her successes.

2. Push yourself outside your comfort zone.
Carol Carpenter, VP of Product Marketing at Google, had gotten used to being the second-hand person in her role as Chief Marketing Officer at ClearSlide. So when she was tapped to be the CEO of ElasticBox, a cloud computing company, the negative voices began to creep into her head. “Taking the CEO role was uncomfortable for me. I had convinced myself that I was a great supporting actor, never the final decision maker, in spite of my prior experience running a $580 million global business with over 400 people.” Carpenter exercises her confidence muscle by pushing herself into uncomfortable situations on a regular basis. “Both success and failure contribute to muscle growth, ” she explains, “My mom-in-law has a saying, ‘Fly into the teeth of the shark.’ I remind myself of that every day!”

Read more on Forbes.

How This Startup Coach Helps Founders Around The World Raise Millions

Win wallets first, then hearts. – Andrea Barrica, 500 Startups

Andrea Barrica has seen thousands of pitches in her role as venture partner and “pitch coach” at 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley accelerator and global seed fund. She’s traveled the world, from Ghana to Poland to the Philippines, to help startup founders develop and deliver winning pitches, which have garnered an estimated $50 million in combined investment to date.

We were fortunate to see Barrica in action recently as she coached the latest group of startups – Batch 16—which also happens to be the largest cohort in 500′s history, with 53 companies in total. In line with 500’s commitment to diversity in tech, 26% of the companies in this group have at least one female founder and 32% are from outside Silicon Valley or the U.S.

Meet the Former Welfare Mom Who Saved the Birthplace of Modern Computing

Computer scientist Dr. Sue Black is a force of nature. From working her way out of public housing with three young kids in tow, to earning a PhD in Engineering and becoming a professor at the University of Westminster in London, to publishing a book about how she helped save WWII code-breaking site Bletchley Park from ruin, to working tirelessly as an advocate for women in tech, she has accomplished more than most of us could hope to achieve in a lifetime.

Most recently, Dr. Black was appointed advisor of the UK Government’s Digital Service and was honored as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), a grade within the British order of chivalry. Here, Dr. Black talks to us about her early struggles, how she became passionate about computing and what she’s doing to promote diversity in tech.

3rd Annual Lesbians Who Tech Summit Brings Visibility to LGBT nnovators

At the Firewood Café off Castro Street in San Francisco, a roomful of women sat eating kale salads and gourmet pizzas topped with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. They sipped iced tea with lemon and an occasional glass of bubbly. It looked like a gathering of “ladies who lunch,” except these ladies wore hoodies and high tops, sported buzz cuts and neon hair, and were embellished with body art instead of pearls. More importantly, they were kick-ass software engineers, founders of tech companies and advocates working tirelessly to make the technology industry more inclusive.

This year’s Lesbians Who Tech Summit was anything but conventional. And that’s how founder Leanne Pittsford wants it.

“I go to some of these women’s events and they are like stuffy and their heels are clacking, and people won’t talk to you,” Pittsford explains. “My call to action for women’s conferences is to have a little more fun, to not take ourselves too seriously. What makes our conference magical is that we’ll have an incredible interview with Kara Swisher (Executive Editor of Re/Code) then right after we’ll have a hula hoop contest.”

New Report Details Hurdles for Black Women Launching Tech Startups

On paper, Asmau Ahmed could easily be typecast in the role of promising tech startup founder: honors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, MBA from Columbia University, patent holder and co-developer of a visual search engine that could revolutionize the way shoppers make decisions about everything from a lipstick shade to decorating a living room.

This is why she insists investors read her resume before they meet her in person.

“They get to judge me based on my credentials, not on what I look like or my gender, and that helps get the conversation started and get past the initial reservation — and there is an initial reservation when you see a black woman running a tech company,” the 37-year-old CEO says of her experience raising money to fund the growth of her company, Plum Perfect, which she founded in 2010.

Meet the Women Changing the Face of Tech

From the “Elephant in the Valley” report revealing that 60% of women in Silicon Valley have been sexually harassed, to the meteoric spike of the #ILookLikeAnEngineer meme, to the immediate backlash over Sir Michael Moritz’s comments about not “lowering standards” to find qualified women to work at his VC firm, Sequoia Capital, to Netflix NFLX -2.62%, Amazon and other tech giants unveiling new parental leave policies, egg freezing and breast milk shipping, the “women in tech” issue is downright trendy.

But the depressing headlines about tech’s nagging and very real gender gap don’t really tell the whole story. Look below the surface, as we have, and you will discover powerful grassroots, entrepreneurial activity among women who haven’t been deterred by sexual harassment, hacker in a hoodie stereotypes and the lack of startup funding. These women aren’t asking for permission from Silicon Valley – or anyone – to seize the opportunity to make their mark in the innovation economy and what the World Economic Forum terms as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Copyright © Samantha Parent Walravens