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从这些硅谷的成功女性身上,我学到了这五件事

Julian Guthrie 2019年05月06日

这些“阿尔法女孩”的故事中,我们为职业女性总结了五条建议。

我的新书《阿尔法女孩:这些女性新秀在硅谷男性文化中做成了一生难求的好交易》(Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime)讲述了四位硅谷女性的故事,她们在硅谷由男性主导的残酷风投界成为了明星,她们投资并支持建立了我们这个时代最重要的一些公司。这四位阿尔法女孩分别是MJ·埃尔默尔,她是美国一家风投公司最早的一批女性合伙人;马格达莱纳·耶希尔,持续创业家、早期电商大师,Salesforce的创始投资人;索尼娅·柏金斯,她的投资让互联网更安全、更快捷;赛瑞西亚·格武,她从风投公司Accel Partners的基层做起,现在是Aspect Ventures的联合创始人,也是非盈利组织All Raise的创始团队成员。我一直关注这些女性,看她们如何在工作、家庭、离婚、癌症以及人生其他许许多多事情中披荆斩棘。她们遭遇过挫折和背叛,但却找到了成功的方法,成为变革的代言人。

从阿尔法女孩的故事中,我们为职业女性总结了五条建议:

1. 你的家人不是每时每刻都需要你。

马格达莱纳·耶希尔是Salesforce第一位来自公司外部的投资者及董事会成员,该公司在网络泡沫破灭期间几乎耗尽资金,马格达莱纳帮助拯救了这家公司。但是,当Salesforce2004年6月23日上市时,马格达莱纳却没有到场。她儿子病了,所以她待在家里。后来她后悔那天把自己的需求放在了一边。即使没有她,儿子也会好起来;当时可以让其他人帮忙。Salesforce的创始人马克·贝尼奥夫在纽交所敲钟时,在那个历史性时刻,她本应该站在他旁边。她本应该在场,为这个在她的支持下焕发新生的公司庆祝。就像一个人出生一样,一个公司的IPO只有一次。马格达莱纳后来告诉自己:当时的决定大错特错。没有一个心智正常的人会做出像她一样的决定。

2. 幽默创造奇迹。

《阿尔法女孩》中的女主人翁用幽默来平衡男性的力量。MJ·埃尔默尔28岁时,已经是硅谷IVP公司的合伙人了,有一次她需要解雇一位年龄比她大一倍的男性创始人。这位创业者的公司业绩不佳,MJ还了解到他和手下一名员工有染。她召集了会议,细数了这位创业者身上种种根深蒂固的问题,然后告诉他:“你被解雇了。”

他愤怒地看着她,说:“我不接受被一个女人解雇!”

MJ向右看看。又向左边看看。之后看了看身后。然后她微笑着说:“好吧,我在这里看不到有其他人,你能看见吗?你被解雇了。”

MJ用幽默缓和了当时可能升级的紧张局势。她巧妙地开除了这个男性创始人,给她的男同事留下了深刻的印象:无论如何,这都是一场女性的胜利。对于这些人来说,MJ的决断代表了所有女性在这种情况下的应对之策。

3.不要置身事外

社交在硅谷很重要,而即使在今天,硅谷92%的风险投资合伙人都是男性。女性需要找到一种与人建立联系和关系的方式。被人喜欢是一种财富。

索尼娅·柏金斯受邀去太阳谷参加银行界某次社交活动时,她才二十来岁,刚被任命为门罗风投(Menlo Ventures)的新合伙人,这场活动是由蒙哥马利证券公司(Montgomery Securities)及托马斯·维塞尔合伙公司(Thomas Weisel Partners)的创始人托马斯·维塞尔举办的。除了以妻子或女友等身份出席活动的女眷外,索尼娅是少数几个受到邀请的女性之一。那天,她正在小屋里吃午餐时,维塞尔走到她身边宣布:“索尼娅,我把你加进去了——你要参加比赛。”当天下午要举行一场高山滑雪比赛。

索尼娅之前的人生中一共只滑过十几次雪,她很快就站到了陡峭冰冷的山坡上,感觉就像圣诞怪杰格林奇的狗麦克斯一样,看着白雪覆盖的悬崖,内心十分肯定不会有什么好结果。她的竞争对手包括前奥林匹克滑雪运动员以及前海豹突击队员,维塞尔喜欢招募这一类的人转行当银行家。轮到索尼娅时,她从山上滑下,速度不快却专注而稳定。等她成功着陆时,维塞尔给她竖了个大拇指。那天晚上吃饭时,索尼娅得到了餐厅里最令人垂涎的座位,这是每一个有上进心的银行家都希望得到的座位——挨着维塞尔坐。正如索尼娅所说:“如果你不参加比赛,你永远无法获胜。”

4.弄清楚更衣室谈话都说了些什么

赛瑞西亚·格武早就明白,在男性主导的行业里,女性至少需要一个男性盟友和她通气,看看其他男的都在说些什么。

一天,赛瑞西亚正在她Accel Partners的办公室里工作,风投界同行吉姆·戈茨走了进来,关上门,告诉她,硅谷里有人暗示赛瑞西亚的一些交易是靠调情或和别人上床拿到的。赛瑞西亚之前也听过这样的谣言。周围都是野心勃勃的人,所以总会有各种各样的流言蜚语。她出去和创业者吃了顿饭,会有谣言出现。她去参加个会议,也能听到谣言。用她的话说,哪怕她“怀着孕步态蹒跚”,都有人造谣。她用一个词来描写这种荒谬的谣言:杀人的(manslaying)。她觉得,有些男性试图贬低抹煞她的成就。她已经在高科技行业呆了很长时间了,知道成功的女性扰乱了原有的男性统治。最后,赛瑞西亚意识到这种造谣的行为是那些男性的心理问题。她不会让那些没有安全感的造谣者阻碍自己签下大交易。她很高兴有吉姆·戈茨这么一个人,能告诉她周围发生的好人好事、坏人坏事和丑人丑事。

5.不要让对方无法发挥潜能

世界各国的女性都承担着更多的煮饭、打扫卫生和照顾家人的工作。全职女性和她们同样全职工作的配偶相比,做的家务更多。这背后原因有很多,女性有时会认为,把这些活干了比开口请伴侣或配偶帮忙更容易,而给自己造成了损害。

MJ·埃尔默尔觉得她作为风险投资者的工作得到了丈夫的支持,但却没有在家里得到支持。MJ的丈夫也是风投工作者,但在家里,做晚饭、催孩子们洗澡、检查作业、给孩子们读睡前读物的都是MJ。她的丈夫从没提出过要帮忙做家务。但是MJ意识到了一个重要问题:她也没有开口请他帮忙。也就是说,她做的工作超出了预期,却没有让丈夫充分发挥潜能。

MJ建议女性一开始就要和伴侣谈谈家务分工的问题,谈谈自己的期望和想法。“不要成为殉道者。”她说,“不要陷入假定的性别角色里。”

朱丽安·古特里是《阿尔法女孩:这些女性新秀在硅谷男性文化中做成了一生难求的好交易》一书的作者。(财富中文网)

作者:Julian Guthrie

译者:Agatha

My new book, Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime, is the story of four women who became stars in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of venture capital in Silicon Valley and helped finance and build some of the foremost companies of our time. The alpha girls are MJ Elmore, one of the first women to make partner at a venture firm in the U.S.; Magdalena Yesil, a serial entrepreneur, early e-commerce guru, and founding investor in Salesforce; Sonja Perkins, whose investments made the Internet safer and faster; and Theresia Gouw, who rose through the ranks at Accel Partners and is now cofounder of Aspect Ventures and a founding member of All Raise. I followed the women as they navigated work, family, divorce, cancer, and much more. They suffered setbacks and betrayals but found a way to succeed and become a voice for change.

Here are five takeaways for working women, drawing from the stories of Alpha Girls:

1. Your family doesn’t need you every second.

Magdalena Yesil was the first outside investor and board member of Salesforce, and she helped rescue the company during the dot com bust, when it was running out of money fast. But when Salesforce went public on June 23, 2004, Magdalena wasn’t there. Her son was sick, so she stayed home. Magdalena would come to regret that she had set aside her own needs the day Salesforce went public. Her son would have been fine without her; someone else could have stepped in. She should have stood next to Salesforce founder Marc Benioff during that historic moment when he rang the bell on the New York Stock Exchange. She should have been there to celebrate the company she had helped build and bring to life. An IPO, like a birth, happens only once. Magdalena told herself later: Big mistake. No man in his right mind would have made that decision.

2. Humor works wonders.

The women of Alpha Girls used humor as a way to level the power dynamic with men. When MJ Elmore was a 28-year-old partner at IVP in Silicon Valley, she was tasked with firing a male founder twice her age. The entrepreneur’s company wasn’t doing well, and MJ learned that he was sleeping with one of his employees. She called a meeting, went over the entrenched problems, and told him, “You’re fired.”

He looked at her indignantly and said, “I’m not going to be fired by a woman!”

MJ looked to her right. Then to her left. She looked behind her. Then with a slight smile, she said, “Well, I don’t see anyone else here, do you? You’re fired.”

MJ used humor to diffuse a tense situation that could have escalated. Her deft firing of the man impressed her male peers; deservedly or not, it was a win for women. To the guys, MJ’s decisiveness represented how all women might handle the situation.

3. Don’t sit on the sidelines.

Networking is key in Silicon Valley, where even today, 92% of all venture capital investing partners are men. Women need to find a way to bond and connect. Being liked is a currency.

Sonja Perkins was a newly named twentysomething partner at Menlo Ventures when she was invited to a banking boondoggle in Sun Valley, held by Thom Weisel, the founder of Montgomery Securities and Thomas Weisel Partners. Sonja was one of only a few women other than wives or girlfriends to be invited. She was in the lodge enjoying lunch when Weisel approached and announced, “Sonja, I signed you up—you’re in the race.” The downhill skiing race was being held that afternoon.

Sonja, who had skied maybe a dozen times in her life, was soon on the steep and icy slopes, feeling like the Grinch’s dog Max looking over the snowy precipice, certain this would not end well. She was competing against former Olympic skiers and Navy seals, guys Weisel liked to recruit to turn into bankers. When it was Sonja’s turn, she took off down the hill, focusing on slow and steady. When she made it to the bottom, Weisel gave her a thumbs-up. That night, Sonja got the most coveted seat in the dining room, a place where all the sharp-elbowed bankers wanted to be—right next to Weisel. As Sonja says, “You can’t win if you don’t play the game.”

4. Find out about the locker room talk.

Theresia Gouw learned early on that women in male-dominated industries need at least one male ally to share what the other guys are saying.

Theresia was working in her office at Accel Partners when fellow VC Jim Goetz walked in, closed the door and told her that some guys in the Valley were suggesting that Theresia was flirting or sleeping her way to important deals. Theresia had heard rumors like this before. She was surrounded by ambitious guys, so there was always talk. She went out to dinner with entrepreneurs and there was talk. She went to conferences and heard talk. Even when she was “waddling and pregnant,” as she put it, there was still talk. She had a term for these kinds of ridiculous rumors: manslaying. Some of the men, she felt, were trying to cut her accomplishments down to size. She’d spent enough time in the tech industry to know that successful women disturbed the natural male hierarchy. At the end of the day, Theresia realized manslaying was a problem in the minds of men. She was not going to let some insecure rumormongers stop her from landing big deals. She was grateful to have a Jim Goetz to tell her the good, the bad, and the ugly.

5. Don’t enable underachievement.

In every country across the world, women do more cooking, cleaning, and caretaking. Full-time working women with full-time working spouses consistently perform more housework. There are myriad reasons for this, and women sometimes harm themselves by thinking it’s easier to do the work than to ask a partner or spouse for help.

MJ Elmore felt supported by her husband as a venture capitalist, but she didn’t feel supported at home. MJ’s husband was also a venture capitalist, yet at home, it was MJ who made dinner, got the kids into baths, checked homework, and began the nightly reading for her children. Her husband never offered to help run the household. But MJ realized something important: She never asked for his help, either. In this way, she was an overachiever enabling her husband’s underachievement.

MJ now advises women to talk with their partners early on and establish expectations and ideas around divisions of labor. “Don’t be a martyr,” she says. “And don’t fall into the assumed gender roles.”

Julian Guthrie is the author of Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime.

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