A shift in seasons brings many changes—clothes, style, love… We asked Dr. Christina Villarreal about relationships, and the work/life balance women face these days working in start-ups (the niche she focuses on). Here is what she had to say…
Q: Dr. Villarreal, your specialize in helping up-and-comers navigate the tech scene; what’s the biggest misconception you encounter regarding the assumptions people make of ‘successful’ young techies?
A: I have been helping people in the San Francisco Bay Area’s tech scene since 2007, and have seen a lot of ups and down within the community with regards to rapid career growth/successes, challenges, fails and recoveries. Many of them are brilliant young entrepreneurs spanning the millennial generation with a wide range of intellectual and creative strengths, innovative business ideas and technical skills. A common misconception about those who’ve made a big mark in the tech scene with their ‘successes’ is that their personal lives naturally fall into successful patterns as well. Regardless of early career success, these people are still figuring out how to cope with naturally occurring ‘phase of life’ problems with dating, developing effective communication skills, managing emotional pitfalls, and building healthy relationships with family and friends.
Q: In 2013, Inc. magazine ran an article titled “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship,” which shed unique insight onto the emotional and psychological hardships of achieving success. What’s one thing you wish non-entrepreneurs would be sensitive to when engaging with entrepreneurs?
A: I think a lot of non-entrepreneurs can’t relate to the indescribable sense of passion that fuels the thoughts and behaviors of entrepreneurs. It’s not uncommon for the family and friends of entrepreneurs to feel like “they’re a little bit crazy” for dreaming big, taking big risks, and turning their lives upside down for the sake of their startup. If you have an entrepreneur in your life that you care about, you may not understand their choices and that’s okay. Aim to be a nonjudgmental friend and source of emotional support in spite of your differences of opinion.
Q: What advice would you give to women who are considering becoming entrepreneurs, entering the Tech field or becoming tech entrepreneurs?
A: A piece of advice I give to women of all ages (but especially young women!) is to stop caring so much about what other people think. Women live their whole lives facing the disapproving judgment of others. We have impossible and conflicting standards we are measured against- some subtle some obvious. As girls and women we are expected to put other’s opinions and needs above our own. At each crossroad we have to choose- will we try to please others as expected, or can we dare to please ourself first? I say, it’s virtually impossible to please everyone, so you might as well aim to please yourself first because at the very least you know you can get that right! Believe in yourself, your goals and abilities. Maybe your path will look different than those around you; maybe you’ll have to try harder, and for longer before getting the results you want. Don’t let that deter you- invest in yourself; the payoff will be well worth it!
Q: As a busy and successful woman yourself, how do you balance work and play? In your line of work you must have discovered that it’s imperative to step away from the office once in a while.
A: I make it a priority to experience a range of pleasures each and every day. Our moods are greatly shaped by how much we are enjoying life- if we are feeling burned out, we are bound to come up short as we aim to be successful in our professional life. Some of us, including myself, are lucky enough to absolutely love what we do for a living. Even if you don’t mind putting in the extra hours because you feel passionate about your work, it’s still important to see the big picture: without adequate self care, rest, and enjoyable activities we are not grooming ourselves to maximize our full potential.
Q: Are there any exercises women can perform to strengthen their mental health when they’re preparing to undertake a challenging new career?
A: Use the power of visualization. Imagine yourself not just at the finish line of your goal(s), but visualize yourself achieving the small steps it takes to get there. Don’t let there be a huge abyss between where you are now and where you want to be in your career future. Yes it can be indulgent and fun to fantasize about ‘the ultimate opportunity’ coming true, but you’ll benefit more from fantasizing about hitting your goal for the week if it’s actually achievable in the here and now. (taken from my article: http://drchristinavillarreal.com/?s=5+goals)
Q: How do you stay stylish without having to devote too much of your time and attention to your look?
A: I do a lot of online shopping! Experimenting with fashion and cosmetics has always been a personal, fun/playful hobby of mine. Like many busy career women balancing work, family, friends and time for fun, it’s hard to find time to engage in all-day shopping trips. Learn what basic styles are the most flattering for your figure, and become familiar with your sizes within brands you know you like and trust. Follow fashion blogs that capture your unique style and fashion tastes for seasonal ideas and colors, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to take some risks too. Aim to have fun as you develop your style in the various parts of your life!
An interview conducted by Hesper Hobsburhg.