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  • Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

  • My parents were refugees of communism.

  • Growing up, I watched my mom and dad

  • work two full-time jobs without ever complaining,

  • so my siblings and I could live a better life than they did.

  • I was proud to be their daughter.

  • And I understood the immigrant part of my identity well.

  • The female part of my identity, however, was much harder for me to own.

  • I never wanted to draw attention to my gender,

  • because I was afraid I wouldn't be taken seriously as a CEO.

  • So I focused my energy on the things that I thought were important,

  • stuff like making my team laugh.

  • I remember I would painstakingly write and rehearse jokes

  • before every all-hands.

  • Or I'd be the first one in the office and the last one out,

  • because I thought that these things mattered.

  • When I was six months pregnant,

  • one of our large competitors reached out, wanting to talk about acquiring us.

  • Every startup wants the option to be bought,

  • but it really got under my skin

  • when during conversations with these strangers

  • who I was negotiating with,

  • their eyes would sometimes wander to my pregnant belly.

  • I went into labor the same night of our user conference.

  • The weeks leading up to the event,

  • watching our team prepare for our big product unveiling,

  • I wondered how many male CEOs would skip their own conference

  • for the birth of their child.

  • I assumed most would.

  • But I kept reasoning with myself that if I wasn't pregnant,

  • there'd be no question whether I'd be there or not.

  • So I have to be there,

  • forcing myself to parade my nine-month pregnancy,

  • work the halls as hosts on my feet for 14 hours was a bad idea in hindsight.

  • The moment I arrived home, my water broke and my contractions started

  • and I wouldn't hear my son's first cry for another 32 hours.

  • When my baby was six weeks old, I went back to work.

  • Our M and A had fallen through by then,

  • and I was determined to fundraise a war chest to fight them back.

  • But I was still bleeding from several tears in my vagina

  • from pushing out a baby.

  • To this day, I still ask myself

  • why I rushed back to work when I wasn't ready.

  • And I realize now it was because I was afraid.

  • I was so afraid of what people might think of me

  • as a new mother and CEO.

  • I was afraid that they would think that my priorities had changed.

  • So I pressured myself into proving to everyone

  • that I was as dedicated to the company as ever.

  • I would spend the next two months fundraising to secure our war chest.

  • I had a full schedule and I needed to pump milk,

  • but I didn't have the courage to ask for 50 million dollars

  • and ask to use their mother's room.

  • So how does one pump milk on Sand Hill Road?

  • Well, I would park my car

  • in front of someone's super nice home in Palo Alto.

  • I'd undress and extract milk from my breasts

  • with a silicone hand pump.

  • It worked out, I guess.

  • We secured a lead investor for our series C

  • and then our competitors came back with a revised offer,

  • and we decided to sell to them for 875 million dollars.

  • A few months after the acquisition I became pregnant for the second time.

  • And shortly after, I found out I had a miscarriage.

  • While with my team ...

  • I felt it slip out of me.

  • I went to the bathroom ...

  • and it fell to the floor.

  • I didn't know what to do,

  • so I just walked back out to the team, pretending as if nothing happened.

  • It took going through infertility, miscarriage,

  • pregnancy, giving birth without any drugs, while running a company

  • for me to realize how wrong I was to hide my womanhood

  • as if it's something I'm ashamed of.

  • For so long, I thought I had to be what I thought a good male CEO looked like

  • so that I wouldn't be judged or treated differently.

  • I was so constricted by my belief that businesses value maleness more.

  • And it made me afraid to be a woman,

  • which meant I hid a massive part of who I was from everyone.

  • When I dared to be fully myself,

  • when I dared to trust and share my frustrations

  • and my anger and my sadness and my tears with my team,

  • I became a much happier and more effective leader

  • because I was finally honest in who I was.

  • And my team responded to that.

  • One of the most important side effects of leading as my complete raw self

  • was seeing our culture evolve

  • to a more close-knit and effective version of itself.

  • I remember we had several back to back rough quarters.

  • It felt like everything was in shambles

  • and I didn't have time to prepare for an all-hands.

  • And then it was time for me to speak.

  • So I walked up to the mic cold and I started talking openly

  • about my concerns, my concerns on competition,

  • the mistakes we had made in sales strategy,

  • really exposing the weaknesses of our company.

  • And I asked the team for help.

  • That completely changed the conversation

  • and how we would build and solve problems together.

  • As we collectively brought our full selves to work,

  • we were able to accomplish so much more in terms of revenue growth

  • and the most products shipped the company had seen.

  • And it progressed us from a startup to medium-sized business.

  • Whoever you are, if you're thinking about starting a startup,

  • or you're thinking about leading,

  • do it

  • and don't be afraid to trust and be yourself completely.

  • I wish I knew that a decade ago.

  • And learn from my mistakes.

  • If you find yourself fundraising on Sand Hill, needing to pump milk,

  • go use their nice-ass mother's rooms.

  • Thank you.

Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

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B1 TED afraid pregnant pump milk startup

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/02
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