What Can Founders Learn from a SWIM?

I was one of the lucky women to have a seat at the MIT Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) conference in March. (The wait list exceeded 200!)

As I listened to the speakers discuss the challenges women face in the business world, I could not help but observe that many of these same issues apply to the start-up community. The limited number of role models, the tendency to be overworked and burned out, the danger of being underestimated and the fear of failure all affect the founders I know and work with.

With that said, the advice that was given to overcome these obstacles is applicable to founders as well. While some of the advice was gender specific, below are my top takeaways from the conference for founders, both female and male:

1. Don't hold yourself back by thinking you have to do it all by yourself.  Delegate and simultaneously build a loyal following by training your own talent.  Leadership is about empowerment, of yourself and others.

2. Embrace the difficulties and limitations you face.  Not only do obstacles keep your competitors at bay but they can also be a springboard for innovation.  Creativity works best with constraints.

3. Be present. While it is important to be forward-looking and evaluative, don't let your concerns and musings keep you from being actively engaged.  When you tune into those meta-thoughts, you are not participating.

4.  Find your rhythm. Implement breaks with appropriate frequency. Protect the routines you need to stay happy and productive. Whether it is exercising, traveling, spending time with your friends or family, figure out what makes you tick and hold it sacred.

Many thanks to MIT SWIM and the wonderful speakers for such an inspiring event.

This post was authored by Jennifer Fang.

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