I’ve found emotional resilience to be an absolute requisite for all my work - Tracy Chou, Block PartyFeatured
What are the skills you feel are essential to succeed in your role?It’s partly the nature of the work I do, partly the broader context of an industry and a society and a world that is changing so rapidly, but I find it hard to even formalize or describe what my “role” is. My LinkedIn byline is one thing, and at this exact moment, it says that I’m the CEO of a new startup I’ve just founded, but in that capacity I’m also still a software engineer, and tech and product lead; simultaneously, I still have strong ties into diversity and inclusion advocacy and activism as a founder/co-founder of multiple efforts/organizations and a “public figure” (insofar as a Twitter verified checkmark deems me so, anyways) in that domain.So for me, the most essential skill to “success” is an ability to operate in these conditions where it’s not really clear what I should be doing, or even what success looks like, and to not be fazed by the ambiguity and uncertainty and constant change.Two things I try to prioritize are perspective and empathy: gathering a general understanding of and intuition around complex systems and the intersecting incentives and motivations of the people within them — everything ranging from financial to emotional, political and social. With that, it’s a little easier to formulate goals and work through the right approaches and tradeoffs in order to achieve them.More foundational than the rational and analytical side of affairs, though, I’ve found emotional resilience to be an absolute requisite for all my work. With regard to startups for example: in addition to the baseline level of anxiety that often comes with startup uncertainty, there is also the emotional turbulence, the highs and lows that can be triggered by almost anything, whether it’s team growth or dysfunction, fundraising success or setbacks, product traction or lack thereof, press, competitors, or honestly, really anything. And with diversity and inclusion activism: it’s dead exhausting to be fighting these battles day in and day out, to not to be taken seriously, to deal with abusers and harassers and ordinary-grade mansplainers, and to feel only infinitesimal progress for years of work. I truly think the most important skill I’ve developed in the last few years has been an ability to detach emotionally, to observe my emotions as they’re happening and to let myself feel them and acknowledge them, but not to be mired in them. That’s the only way to keep going, and hopefully, eventually, to find some “success”, whatever that means!Tracy Chou is an entrepreneur, software engineer, and diversity advocate. She spent five years at Pinterest as an engineer and tech lead and was an early hire engineer at Quora prior to that. She is a founding member of Project Include and is an investment scout and advisor for a couple of Bay Area VC firms. In her latest venture she is CEO of Block Party, with a mission to solve online harassment and abuse and rethink social platforms.