Prominent columnist and business leader Falon Fatemi argues that there is a problem when it comes to the representation of women as power-holders in the professional world. As the founder and CEO of the sales & marketing intelligence platform Node, Fatemi has come face to face with the biases of Silicon Valley, which, as she discusses, has its own archetype of success: that of the lone genius. It’s “a reclusive (usually white) male genius in a hoodie with an engineering degree from Stanford or MIT, who builds his world-changing company through sheer genius and force of will,” she declares in her popular column.
This stereotype of technological brilliance is something that Falon Fatemi is always conscious of, and something that she even uses to her advantage. “In a lot of ways, it’s a blessing and a curse to be a woman in a male-dominated environment. I actually see it very much as an opportunity. Because, guess what? I’m being underestimated everywhere I go. And there are huge advantages to that,” she says with a laugh, adding that it’s not uncommon for her to be greeted with skepticism whenever she meets potential investors: “They underestimate me when I walk into the room, like ‘What is she doing here? Is she a PR?’ The second I open my mouth, and I know what I’m talking about in such depth that it exceeds their level of understanding from a business standpoint, that all goes away. It blows them away.”
Part of the reason for Fatemi’s acumen, especially when it comes to technical knowledge, is the breadth of her Silicon Valley experience. “I was born into the tech world,” she says, citing her parents’ immigration to the area from Iran in the 1970s. With encouragement from her family, she pursued a career in the fast-paced tech capital, starting a job at Google at the age of 19 (as one of the company’s youngest-ever employees).
During a recent interview, Fatemi gave us 4 tips for up & coming entrepreneurs.
1. If you don’t ask for the deal, you’re not going to get the deal.
2. It’s okay to be afraid. Just don’t let it stop you from taking action.
3. Resilience is the only path to success, and, honestly, the path to success in the startup world is not linear.
4. Surround yourself with amazing people who’ve reached the success points that you have goals towards. So you can get that coaching.
Interview by P.K. French