I recently interviewed Trae Vasallo, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) because I wanted to get her perspective on coaching women and launching great technology companies.
I had heard about her on many occasions and was encouraged to seek her out. Calling up one of the most powerful VCs in the world seemed more than a bit daunting.
Fate, however, had other plans.
Trae was a speaker at the recent Watermark Entrepreneur Conference I attended. I was so taken with her disarming and natural presence that I sent her an email requesting time. Much to my surprise and delight, she did.
When I first sat down with Trae, I told her that she has every reason to be arrogant. She has a first class education, has done great work in technology and is a partner at the most powerful VC firm in the world. Yet her style is very open and vulnerable. And — gasp — she is totally “out” about being a mom of three.
I went on to say that I assumed her style was a very conscious choice, given she could easily pull off the typical VC attitude, and had every right to do so. She threw her head back and laughed.
“Yes!” she said that absolutely it was a conscious choice for her. She grew up in the Midwest (as a Canadian and now American, I have learned that there is something in the water in the Midwest that makes a person honest and down-to-earth it seems) and so it was very important to her that she be authentic. She admits she’s not very good at politics (really?) and this will limit her path at some point (apparently it hasn’t yet …).
We spent a delightful 45 minutes chatting about technology, being a geek, being a mom, and how to balance all those things. About launching companies and telling great stories so their great products will be bought. About how to coach entrepreneurial teams through launch and other transitions. About how to show people where they need to grow.
I discovered that she is every bit as natural, authentic and open in person as she was as a speaker at the Watermark conference.
So what were her big words of wisdom for me and the professional women I coach? Be authentic and be bold. Just be authentically who you are and use that as a source of strength. If someone has a problem with that, that is a clue about them that you need to have. And be bold, reach out for what you want. Go get it!
Next week, I’ll share her words of wisdom for entrepreneurs and how to launch companies successfully, another topic very dear to my heart.
What are your words of wisdom for women wanting to be successful in their careers (and sometimes also as parents …)? And for dads too as more and more this is becoming an issue for all of us?
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