Coding & Cocktails @ Decoded – Demystifying code with Kathryn Parsons

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Decoded HQ, London. March 18th, 2015

Kathryn Parsons and the team at Decoded hosted us at their HQ near Silicon Roundabout, giving us a quick lesson in how to code, how to hack, and why understanding what goes on behind the screen is so important for every one of us. This is even more so for women, who continue to be significantly under-represented in the technology sector.

Kathryn walked us through how the Decoded mission – to demystify code. Technology is disrupting, expanding and changing so many industries around us, it’s difficult to point to any business that has not and will not continue to change due to the rapid growth and development of the internet and the technology around it. Kathryn and their team left a clear impression on us – learning the language of code would help us develop, move with the changes, and be a force for change in the future. The other choice is to put our heads in the sand and risk being left behind.

After warming us up with cocktails and an incredible spread of food from their in-house chefs, we first learnt the basics behind coding – the use of the three principal programs HTML, CSS and JavaScript. On first glance code frankly looks like an alien language, but after a little while it looked a little less terrifying. We then learnt some serious lessons from the hacking team – be wary of free wifi! When you connect to free wifi, whether in Starbucks or the London Underground, your connection is open to hackers who can see everything you’re doing, including the logins and passwords you use for any number of platforms. To know you’re safe when signing in to anything, look for a green padlock at the beginning of the URL.

We’re all very seriously considering signing up for the Decoded day courses – the future is in the coders’ hands!

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‘What I know in my 40s that I didn’t know in my 20s’ with Julie Meyer

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The Orange, Pimlico. January 28th, 2014

We were thrilled to have Julie Meyer, serial entrepreneur and founder of venture capital firm Ariadne Capital, come to talk to us. Julie has had a fascinating career, dating back to 1998 when she founded First Tuesday, the network of entrepreneurs which many credit for igniting the internet generation in Europe. It was sold in 2000 for $50m, and Julie went on to found Ariadne Capital to create a new model for the financing of entrepreneurship in Europe; that of ‘Entrepreneurs backing Entrepreneurs’. She has also launched EntrepreneurCountry – a global forum for entrepreneurs.

The subject of Julie’s talk was ‘What I know in my 40s that I didn’t know in my 20s’. As someone with such a varied and successful career, we thought Julie might have some good advice for us, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The presentation and Q&A crossed a breadth of subjects, but we keenly wrote down the advice below to share with everyone.

  1. Understand what you can do as a person
  2. Worry less about the money and more about what you can do; the money will find you
  3. Ask yourself what you should do rather than using everyone else as one big advisory board on your life
  4. Don’t try and fix things to be perfect at everything; play to your strengths and then you understand your unfair advantage and your unique contribution
  5. See yourself as a premium; don’t sell yourself at a discount
  6. You don’t win by playing by someone else’s rules
  7. To win big, work for yourself
  8. Don’t worry about breaking the glass ceiling; create new rules
  9. Society works best when it’s organised around the entrepreneur
  10. And remember: Now is a good time to be a woman

To hear about what Julie is up to, follow her at @StrongJules. And follow this link http://entrepreneurcountryforum.com to read more about her other venture EntrepreneurCountry.

We also asked all the members at the dinner to introduce themselves, and say something that they know now that they wish they’d known when they were 20 – it made for a very lively conversation! We thought what came out was really interesting – many of the comments could apply to any age and are still worth reminding ourselves of now. This is a selection of what was said:

Be braver

Don’t rush

Trust your gut

Say yes

Don’t think about what everyone else is doing

Don’t try to please everyone

Don’t be too quick to judge people or situations

Keep up passions outside of work

Time is your friend

Do anything – you don’t have to follow a path

It’s okay to blag it

Speak up – your opinion is valuable

Don’t take it personally

It’s okay to fail

Be more confident

Don’t set milestones

Spend more time alone

Pick your battles

Ask for help

Care less about what other people think

How to build executive presence and improve presentation skills

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Bumpkin, Notting Hill. October 22nd, 2014 

We were delighted to have Susan Treadgold, founder of Treadgold Executive Development, join us to speak about presentation skills. As part of this she shared her thoughts and advice on developing executive presence and why it is particularly important for women of our age. Susan also talked about some of her personal experience, particularly around her career in banking and subsequent transition to becoming an entrepreneur. There were many takeaways, but these really stayed with us:

  1. First impressions count
  2. Most people notice how you look and sound, not what you say
  3. Executive presence is 67% gravitas, 28% communication and 5% appearance
  4. Mehrabian’s pyramid of communication shows that we communicate via words (5%), tone (38%) and body language (55%)
  5. Powerful mammals take up space: give yourself wings
  6. Aim for excellent speaking skills: avoid ummm/I think/I feel/I believe; use and rather than but
  7. Breathe from your abdomen
  8. Appearance should be polished and put together
  9. The jacket is a key part of the corporate uniform
  10. Relax – if you worry about doing something (eg blushing) then you are just encouraging it

Susan mentioned a fantastic speaking society called Toastmasters – http://www.toastmasters.org/ – If any of you go please do send us your thoughts, we’d love to hear how you find it. And you can find information about Susan’s future Masterclasses here http://www.tedlondon.com/speaking.html

An evening with Female Entrepreneurs at Esc the City School

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Escape the City School, The City. September 17th, 2014

We had two fantastic speakers lined up to speak for our event with Esc the City, two women who are among the UK’s most prominent female entrepreneurs.

In 1962 Dame ‘Steve’ Stephanie set up a technology company with just £6 (at the time she had to get her husband’s permission to open a bank account). When her company peaked in the 1980s, she was worth £150 million. She has given away at least £67 million to more than 100 philanthropic projects. Louise Chester-Cox was a Director of several City banks and headed up a global team advising on over £50bn of assets. She attributes practicing mindfulness for the last 18 years as the greatest tool to help her manage life and be more effective, and has subsequently set up her own businesses that train on mindfulness at work

Dame Stephanie Shirley talked about the lessons she’d learnt through her pretty amazing life as an entrepreneur and philanthropist:

1) Work with people better than you

2) Choose your partner (in work and life) wisely

3) Believe in the beauty of work – if you don’t commit to what you’re doing, you’re just taking up space

4) Change can be your friend

5) Giving your time and money for social good will make you feel great

We can also highly recommend her book ‘Let it Go’ – amazon link here

Louise Cox-Chester followed with tips on practising mindfulness. She was working flat out as an investment analyst when she discovered the practice. Mindfulness should help you gain awareness, clarity and perspective on your life, and should help with managing stress and the pressures of multi-tasking. She founded Mindfulness at Work, which offers fantastic courses (we can vouch for them!) – all info on the website http://mindfulnessatwork.com

Britt Lintner – how to manage work, passions and family

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First Floor, Portobello Road. June 11th, 2014 

Britt Lintner joined us for an evening of laughter and frank discussion. Britt manages a successful career as Managing Director at hedge fund Man/GLG investment management as well as being a successful clothes designer, wife of one and mother of two. Britt’s no nonsense tips on work, life and fashion were refreshing and inspiring, and we summed them up two lists of tops tips for life and fashion.

Britt’s tips for life:

  1. Life isn’t linear. No extreme ever lasts, so keep moving.
  2. If you don’t know your worth or value, don’t expect someone else to calculate it
  3. Jump headfirst into everything
  4. Take every risk now, especially before you have responsibility
  5. A positive, can-do attitude will go a long way
  6. Keep your femininity
  7. Speak up. Push your friends and peers into being more direct
  8. Don’t ruminate, move on
  9. Control the volatility of your emotions. (but you can cry!)
  10. Tell the trust and be honest
  11. Align yourself with your mentors/sponsors/people you admire
  12. Dress to a brand

And on that final one, here are Britt’s top tips for dressing for work:

  1. Buy clothes that are 1%-5% elastane/Lycra so that they keep their fit and don’t need dry cleaning too often
  2. Use cedar shoe trees to keep your shoes in good nick
  3. Mix high quality with high street (Zara etc)
  4. Stick to leopard print and polka dot, these are the only prints that don’t go out of fashion
  5. Count your accessories – if there’s more than eight then take some off
  6. Invest in shoes and handbags as they will last
  7. Stick to dark, neutral block colours for the office
  8. Respect your environment – dress conservatively at work
  9. Know what you look good in
  10. Leave your inner Miley Cyrus/Rihanna at home

And most importantly, be yourself!

Shaun Porter from Nutmeg – Managing your personal finances

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The Running Footman, Mayfair. February 25th, 2014. 

Personal finances is an area where women are (statistically speaking) lacking in education, knowledge and conviction. As Erin Rogin from Strategic Financial Designs puts it, “The dumbest thing I see women do with money is convincing themselves that they aren’t good with it.” So to address that we had Shaun Port speaking to us. Shaun is Chief Investment Officer at Nutmeg, an online savings and investment management service. Started just over 3 years ago, Nutmeg is shaking up the investment world and opening up options for individual investing – the sharp eyed amongst you may have spotted their recent adverts on the tube.

Shaun demystified finance for us, and explained everything from how funds work, to what different assets classes are, to what we should be thinking about from ISA’s to pensions to mortgages. He broke down the important stuff, and gave us these top tips:

  1. Inflation is the enemy
  2. Harness the power of compounding
  3. Start saving and investing early
  4. Beware of fees and make use of pensions and ISAs
  5. Don’t follow the fad; think long term

Karina Robinson – Tips to get to the top

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Bumpkin, Notting Hill. November 26th, 2013 

Karina Robinson joined us for our very first Broad Minded event, talking us through her top 10 tips for getting to the top. Karina has had a very interesting and enviable career. She started as an equity analyst at a merchant bank before becoming the Political and Economic Correspondent at Bloomberg. Today she is the Founding Principal of Robinson Hambro, a firm focusing on chairman advisory services and one that has played a key advisory role to Lord Davies Women on Boards. She is a major advocate and voice for women in the workplace, with positions on the Diversity Advisory Panel for Fiona Woolf and the Global Female Leaders Summit 2015.

Karina gave us a brilliant presentation – top tips below:

  • Sense of humour – lesson for us all, but especially those majoring in the balancing act
  • Keep a duster handy – expect to face some different treatment as a woman; learn to deal with it and dust yourself down afterwards.
  • Money money money – make sure you have control of your own finances
  • Connect, above all, connect – we may not always love it, but networking and building relationships will be an invaluable asset
  • Marry well – you don’t need to find your own Roman Abramovich but finding a supporting partner is incredibly important for any woman, especially one that wants to follow their own career path
  • Be an alien – don’t be afraid to stand out; you’re a woman and be proud of that.
  • Grasp opportunities – if you see the glimmer of an opportunity, grab it!
  • Support other women – often women’s worst enemy at work can be other women. We’re in this together – support each other.
  • Drop the guilt trip – can we have it all? Who cares, you’ve got enough to think about without that on top.
  • Have fun!