Make your decisions based on your dreams, not your fearsFeatured

It took me some time to be able to write about this. Radical changes are never easy. A bit of background about me: I was always considered the smartest woman in the room. I graduated first of my class in high school - first out of 350 engineering students at the university - and joined a selective double degree program in France. You might think this is arrogant , but read through, and you might relate to this story. This background is only here to show how messed up things became later and my own series of mistakes.After the exchange program, I came back to my home country and landed a very nice job - or so I thought. I was an executive trainee for a large, fast-growing company. My employers were impressed not only by my skills, but also by my commitment. They told me that I was a hard-working, skilled trainee. I’d often work more than 12 hours a day, on weekends, and deliver the best results. After a year, my boss gave me feedback: I was doing a great job. I got a promotion and changed departments.In the new department, things were different. Misogynistic and homophobic jokes were frequent, including inside the office’s premises. To make it worse, I started working with personnel budget and found out that relationships, beauty, and even the body odor of an employee were criteria for a promotion. Everybody acted like that was okay, but it made me sick. That’s when I got my first bad feedback. My boss told me that the executive directors didn’t like my face (that is how he put it). The reason: I never laughed at their jokes and I didn’t seem at ease. He understood that was how I felt and then told me to fake it. At that time I thought this was my best chance professionally, so I faked it a while. It didn’t work out, and I got fired. Lesson number one: never fake it. Never forget that you have other options. I should have quit when I started to feel uneasy and wanted to do so.I didn’t know what to do next or where to go. It was a surprise to me that someone could be considered skilled and hard-working and still get fired because their bosses didn’t like her face (now I know it is actually pretty common). Thankfully, I had a good profile, so I quickly received nice offers with better management positions, but I was afraid I would choose the wrong place to work again. Then, my first boss contacted me and said he was going to work for another company. He also found our previous company environment toxic. I went there for an interview and got an offer that was lower than the other ones. However, the environment was really nice, an important requirement for me, and there was a possibility to get promoted quickly. So I decided to go with this one. Lesson number 2: make your decisions based on your dreams, and not based on fears you had or mistakes you made in the past. Jumping on this opportunity only delayed my real dream coming true.I did get a promotion after a few months. The paycheck was good. I could participate in the stock option plan. The company’s culture was way better. Yet, I didn’t feel like it was my dream job. I started remembering my first thoughts when I began my career: I wanted to make a difference, as many people do. I wanted to have my own business and work for something that I truly believed in. Extra points if I could create something brand new to make the world a better place. Also, I would love to work with tech. I graduated as an industrial engineer specialized in finance, but I always loved programming. So, I took a big leap and started my company: Baqwara.My previous employers were education holdings that focused on managing K12 schools. In my home country, education is a big issue, so I thought I could make a difference in this sector. While my previous employers focused on the traditional model of education, my idea was to take a big risk and try something new. A sort of online school/college, without teachers and blackboards. A community where people would learn from each other and interact more than in a classroom. Rather than having one ‘know it all’ expert, I imagined a place where everybody could contribute, teach, and learn. That was Baqwara. Then, I just needed to code it.I took some programming classes and I had been a teaching assistant for one of them, but it had been a long time since I last wrote lines of code and I didn’t have any experience with web programming. So it was time to learn a lot and dive into the ocean of the new technologies and frameworks. I also got help from my cofounder who is technology-oriented. Without him, the journey would have been more difficult. Three months and thousands of lines of code later, here I am, founder of a tech startup in education (edtech for intimates). I’m just starting, but am thrilled to finally pursue the version of my career, and myself, that I have always wanted – working with tech and education at the same time. The day I saw our first member using Baqwara, I was happier than in any other day in my previous jobs. Overall, it’s been a hard, painful and totally worthwhile journey :)
Hi Mariana,Thanks for sharing your painful and exciting journey. I had a similar experience. My high standards have been wonderful in certain environments and challenges when I want people to care as much as I do. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? If you’d like, let’s schedule a phone call because I can tell you care a lot about your work. Email me to schedule a call at [email protected]Warmly,Carenna
Hi Carenna. Thanks for reaching out. Sure, I'll send you an email. Best regards
Send me your email and it would be great to connect.
A great and well written post @marianasimon. Thank you for sharing. I relate all too well with your experience. I was "laid off" a week before Christmas, after the company I worked for hired two men to do my job (no joke). This was after stellar job reviews, and being told what a good job I was doing. Glad you used that experience as a change for good to start your own company. I remind myself that not all blessings feel good. Looking back now I am thankful that company gave me the push I needed. Good luck with your startup!
Thanks for sharing your experience, Karolina. I'm sure you will be able to overcome any obstacles as I can see you have a good mindset :) Feel free to ping me anytime . Good luck!
What a beautiful journey of realization and actualization of your dreams! How do you think your previous experience have informed you on the culture that you'd like to build for Baqwara?
Thank you, Teresa. I learned that a company's culture may have values that look great on the wall, but the daily routine reflects more the behavior of the leaders than anything else. So, if I want to build an inclusive and welcoming environment, I need to set a good example right from the beginning.
This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you!
I'm glad you like it. Have a nice week, Carly!