5 Takeaways from Audrey Crane on Working in Tech

Recently Audrey Crane spoke at the Women @ Tradecraft group in San Francisco, and I was fortunate to be there to listen in on the discussion. Given the purpose of the group, the talk focused on Audrey’s career path and her experience as a woman working in Tech. Audrey has worked in the industry for over 15 years and is now a partner at DesignMap. Naturally, her story fostered a rich and insightful conversation. She covered many topics, but several key themes emerged. Here there are, as 5 key takeaways, per the insights of Audrey:

Impostor syndrome is rampant.

“If you have it, you’re going to feel that way, and it’s a drain of energy.” Audrey expressed that a lot of people feel it, and there may be nothing that can help. Her personal method is to acknowledge it and get to work. “Don’t be paralyzed or distracted by it.”

She referenced this talk by Brene Brown on Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count. In this, Brown explains the importance in recognizing your internal critic. But rather than giving in, become familiar with it and move on.

This leads to the next, and related point…

Understand and know the value you contribute.

“Your work is not about what other people think of you, and your self perception. It’s about the value that you bring.” Think about what you bring and contribute to your role. It’s never nothing. Understand the value that you provide to others that you’re working with, the team and the project.

Check out Tina Roth Eisenberg’s 99U talk on Labors of Love, and how her research of super heroes prompted her to discover and embrace her own superpower. She explains the importance in recognizing this and how it can influence your work.

With that, there’s likely a connection between your superpower and the value that you provide. And, as Audrey explained, fostering an objective view of your value is a way to offset imposter’s syndrome.

Second-Generation Sexism is real.

(As explained by Herminia Ibarra, Robin J. Ely, and Deborah Kolb in this Harvard Business Review article Educate Everyone About Second-Generation Gender Bias.)

Gender bias can exist in subtle ways that are difficult to pinpoint, but has huge consequences.

For example, in team dynamics, and a particular scenario where women feel that they have to prove their worth before their ideas are considered. The underlying thing being that their value is overlooked, and not simply assumed. This can limit progress on a project and hinder the overall work.

Audrey’s way to address this has been a shift in mindset…

“There are 7 different ways to organize pocket change, and they’re all right.”

Skills or characteristics that may be perceived as Feminine are not wrong. They’re different and valuable. Holding the perspective that there is a singular (and correct) process in working towards a solution is dangerous. A different approach is simply another way to view a problem, to see potential gaps, and to broaden a conversation.

A change in mindset can fuel a new approach to working with others and teams. Cultivating and sharing the position that there are many (and different) ways to accomplish something can help to address gender bias.

Be a human at work.

“It’s ok to be human in the workplace. It’s not fair to your work and colleagues to leave your ‘humanness’ at home.” Audrey noted that “to be open and vulnerable is a strength.” People respond to and resonate with vulnerability. Connecting and communicating as a human helps to foster successful teams.

Ultimately these takeaways surround the importance of exercising your personal value and strengths. And the first step in doing so is to identify and acknowledge what these are. From her experience, Audrey has found ways cultivate this and continues to emphasize it in her work as a Partner and mentor at DesignMap. The previously referenced talks and article are some of the many things that have helped in this effort. They’re a great place to start in the discovery of your own superpower and value.