TIECON 2020 interview with Shellye Archambeau
Like all the events around the world, this year’s TIE CON 2020 Roadshow which is being organized by TIE Silicon Valley has gone virtual. Last month, there were talks by Mr Vinod Khosla and Mr Deepak Chopra. Today there was an interview conducted by Ms Thuy Vu, Co-Founder of Global Mentor Network with Ms Shellye Archambeau, the former CEO of MetricStream.com.
Below are the notes (in random order) I took during the talk:
- Shellye Archambeau has a book on words titled “Unapologetically Ambitious“.
- I grew up in a racially charged suburb of LA and people around me didn’t want me to succeed.
- Two things for my success are discipline and courage. You are not born with them, you cultivate them. Then I set goals and go for them. Unlike others, I went with them consistent(ly) every day.
- My parents made it clear to me in my early years, that life isn’t fair. With that out of the way, you have to think about what you are going to do about it. You are always scared, but I always know my family is behind me.
- The more often you go ahead, take a risk and jump into the pool, you keep doing it and after a few times, you realise you didn’t die and get over the fear. Having the courage to take risk is just a muscle, you keep doing it, you will get it. Fake it, till you make it.
- Risk and Opportunities are the sides of the same coin. Also, you need to be rational. Before taking a risk, I ask the question, what is the worst that can happen and can I live with it? Then take a risk. But these challenges gave me the foundation.
- The biggest risk I took was becoming the CEO of Zaplet which merged with Metric Stream (Global Risk Management & Compliance), it was the aftermath of the dot-com crash. I am not an engineer, I don’t look like a stereotypical CEO in Silicon Valley. Odds were against me. I went for a company that needed fixing, was at its worst phase. Nobody expected it to survive. I thought if it worked it would be great.
- I am hopeful this time that Racial Discrimination in this country will get fixed. It all starts at home (company), listen to your employees and engage with your communities (local and broader), work with your government to let them know that this issue is important for you. It is important for businesses to raise their voice.
- Companies don’t measure diversity. You will have to do it, if you want it to happen, it is business 101. You need to be clear about your intention. Start your journey early, so that you have a wide range of openings available and not for a narrow role alone.
- What you can do during this pandemic? Instead of town hall done every month, you need to keep communicating every day, even if you don’t have anything new to say, they need to see you and you need to show you are there and they are safe. Never waste a crisis. Reaccess your strategy, to validate whether it is still the right strategy. Recession(s) always accelerates the trends that started before the event. This is also a great time to relook at your partnership, your partners are also going through tough times, everything needs to be reevaluated.
- Is this a good time to start a company? Yes, there are lots of disruption and hence opportunities coming out of it. There are more funds than ever that are interested to fund businesses started by women and people of colour.
- One mistake every entrepreneur do? They fall in love with their product. Nobody can tell your baby is bad, but the problem is that you don’t hear the feedback and criticism. Instead, fall in love with your market, so that you can anticipate the needs. So as the market changes, you will be able to anticipate, change and grow. The second thing is it is all about the team – hire people who can grow with you, you have to be intentional about the culture. Third part, have a set of good advisors, who are outside the company, who you can share and learn from them (those who have been there and done that). Lastly, you need to manage cash – more companies die because they run out of cash than their ability to deliver.
- Check this great book – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – A book by Angela Duckworth
- It was clear I wanted to be a CEO when I was 16 years, in my high school days. Pick your strength and focus on it.
- If I can tell my 20-year self, let people know what you do, you have to develop ways to tell them. Instead of replying to you with a routine question like “How are you”, I answer “I am doing good, we just launched a new program and it is doing well”
- My biggest ambition now is to “Impact and Inspire the next generation especially women and people of colour can achieve their aspiration”.
[Disclaimer: The notes above are not meant to be comprehensive or accurate, and if there are any mistakes they are due to my notes taking.]