Thursday, September 17, 2009

The First Official Girl Geek Dinner in Ottawa

Despite the fact that my thesis defence was going to be the next day, and the fact that I had to sign up last minute because of my motorcycle road test (which was cancelled because of their strike), I managed to get in on the first official Ottawa Girl Geek Dinner. And I'm so glad I did!

Thanks to the wonderful sponsor Thornley Fallis, a number of students were able to attend the event at the Black Tomato with free admission and a free dinner! When I finally figured out I could go, all those student spots had been filled. But, luckily, I remembered the advice from Grace Hopper last year (ask, ask, and ask again), and emailed the organizers anyway! Turns out one of the spots was taken by someone who couldn't actually come, and I got in.

The networking opportunities here were beyond amazing. I went with Natalia and Serena from CU-WISE, but we were a bit late, and couldn't sit together. This was a blessing. The best thing you can do at any event is sit with people you've never met, and talk away!

To all those I met: You are all amazing and would make great speakers for CU-WISE. Definitely contact me (info on right bar of blog), and let's set something up! Or just drop me a line to see how we can help each other. Would love to connect in any way!

On to the speaker of the night, Tara Hunt. I must admit that I hadn't heard of her before the dinner. Then again, I only joined Twitter a couple of months ago; you might say I haven't been keeping up with the social media scene as much as others. But there seemed to be a lot of people really excited to see her, so I was definitely curious to see what she was all about! She didn't disappoint.

Her story:
  • A quick poll reveals that most attendees were in marketing and business development; only a small number were 'coders.'
  • Admits that she was ready to be a coder... until her first class on Fortran. Switches to women's studies with a minor in communication.
  • Inspired by Cluetrain Manifesto. Wants to start own company.
  • Starting own company turns out to be scary. Single mom, mortgage... and a cat. But "gotta do it."
  • Best thing she ever did. Even though she fell flat on her face. (Thanks SARS in Toronto for that.)
  • Gets a regular job, but doesn't lose entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Starts blogging about dreams.
  • Joins a start-up in Silicon Valley. Gains confidence.
  • Starts business number two.
  • ...
  • Book deal for Whuffie Factor.
Advice for starting a business:
  • You WILL tear your hair out, but "it's the most rewarding thing you could do for yourself."
  • There is money available, especially for Canadian women in the tech space.
  • If you have ideas, now is the time.
  • DO IT!
On balancing work and life:
  • "My son turned out ok... he's just really independent now!" ;)
  • Made the difficult decision to send son to grandparents for a year and a half.
  • Suggests finding an understanding partner (I believe she was referring to business partners, but life partners count, too!).
  • Greater success comes when you aren't spending all your time on your business.
  • You don't have to be Wonder Woman. Sleep is good.
Between the good food, Tara's talk, the Q&A after, and the incredible energy in the room that night, I came home full of adrenaline and feeling good!


Here are some links to others talking about the dinner:


Giggey said...

Glad you had a great time at the dinner. We're pretty excited. I hope your thesis defence went well!

Gail Carmichael said...

My next post will be about my defence - stay tuned! :)

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