Bye “Sweet 16”, Bring On “Lucky 7” — 2017

What a 2016 is all I can say…. It started out really promising, had some hiccups, both professionally and personally, but in the end, “the strong always survive.”

Some relationships ended… and as always, new ones began. The ongoing cycle of life is in functioning order. You know that cliche, “people come into our lives for a reason, season, or a life-time.” Maybe ‘end’ is not the perfect word for all scenarios, because in some cases, I did not necessarily end things, but rather shifted how they fit into my life — meaning, some things and people needed to evolve so that we all could grow individually and continue on a path that was personally best, because we control our destiny.

For me, a lot changed. Friendships. A long overdue romance. YES people, even I, though very low profile, had a romantic life… Just because some of us choose to keep it discreet, does not mean we do not engage in mutually, enjoyable experiences with people who matter to us. My work changed — I think I have now represented every cornerstone of technology. I experienced so much, learned a ton, and had fun along the way with every new team, innovation, company, brand, product, service I represented.

I went from management and leadership roles to working for myself again freelancing, so that I could flexibly meet the latest and greatest rising stars. I explored cofounding a beauty startup, after working on a virtual reality social app and was then asked to help put together a mobile conference with a close friend, which unfortunately was canceled one month before the event date, due to inadequate sponsorship funding. The right intentions were there, but everything does not always fall into place (ideas, teams, timing, strategy, appropriate resources, etc..) and you have to let go of the dream or vision. Much easier to do this when personal relations are not a biased factor, aka doing business with private friends. It is an entirely different dynamic starting a company and being friends with people you work with and starting a company with prior personal friends. You can know a person forever it seems, but only when you: live with them, have romantic relations with them, or do close business with them — can you fully open the floodgates of unfiltered intimacy. When you have everything out on the table, especially if heavily guarded secrets are shared, it’s like having preferred friendship equity that reaches the cliff quickly, but like a holding company, will take far longer to vest, if there were even any distribution(s) to be expected from the partnership. This is an inside joke between my closest friends that, “we’re gonna be friends forever, because well… you know too many of my secrets!”

I took this year to enjoy more holidays than the past several years combined, because, well… I felt I deserved some “ME” time. I had been a slave and borderline sweatshop worker to technology, startups, and brand building since I graduated from law school and was ashamed to admit I overworked myself at times to unhealthy, inhumane conditions), but the passion — that addiction we all have in this business, to succeed was my fuel to keep going, even when I was running on empty. With everything said, yes, I took some amazing holidays this year to look at life around me and it was refreshing. My favorite escapes are always sunsets and ocean views, so that is where my heart took me each time… To the sea or some island in the sun….

A female CEO asked me, “Candy, what are you up to these days? Seems like you are holidaying and in travel mode, according to your Instagram feed.” I guess I was enjoying life, in between discovering my passionate career transition, which led me to a few viable possibilities — especially after an epic week in Ibiza, which by the way is not only a place of mayhem for enthusiastic electronica loving partiers or the unspoken debauchery. If one explores the Balearic Islands, there is a diverse culture and lifestyle to suit everyone’s tastes. I soaked up the sun, went yachting, rode horses, and Martin Solveig’d at Pacha, because you can’t go to Ibiza and not do a ‘dance all night’ inside that sweet, cosy-cherry of a club.

My personal motivations leaned towards:

a. Writing a romance novel

b. Alibaba Group opportunity (corporation)

c. Accept a cofounder/CMO role (startup)

Guess what I went for? My entrepreneurial heart went with “c,” but with a splash of “a” as long as it does not detract focus from my primary goal, “c”.

I was looking for my next life changing decisions this year and one of utmost importance was my permanent visa situation for Germany. To be honest, that was really a pain, and besides making me lose valuable beauty sleep several nights in a row, I was offended at the idea that the authorities would deport me if I so much as sneezed in a way they did not like — I was feeling disappointed in the system I served. How could the German visa authorities make my permanent visa process so painfully complicated, to a point that I had to hire a lawyer to fight for my rights, while we satisfied their scrutinizing paper trails. Meanwhile, fast-tracking all refugee applications, which I definitely support, but felt a bit under-appreciated as a highly qualified candidate already living within the system for seven years. I get it: social good ranks higher / more urgently above my situation, but in all fairness, I think they just wanted to prove a point to me, that they have the clout to confirm or deny. My case was quite clear — just honor the visa request. It’s not THAT complicated to see the value in keeping educated immigrants, skilled internationals, who are demonstrating years of economic dedication.

I have earned two masters degrees at top private German universities. Private meaning I PAID for my own education, thus contributed to this country’s educational system. I held strong positions at good companies, putting me into the top tax bracket which cost me nearly 46% of my salary to the German system.

So when they pushed my paperwork under a pile, scoffed at my German speaking fluency, then added a hurdle by reminding me I can only take senior level working roles, because of my advanced education, otherwise I steal jobs from less qualified candidates in the job market — If I choose to work for myself, I’ll need to show I can fully support myself + set up a German retirement account to prove I’m long-term invested in being part of the Germany economy — well, let’s just say, I tried to remain calm and carry on (solutions driven attitude) — but deeply frowned upon their hasty reaction regarding approving my application.

THANK GOD, a very close friend of mine, heard my case and supported me in the battle to re-establish my rights to remain here as a permanent resident, which most of my other friends who are also foreigners have been granted already. Dear friend, you know who you are and I have told you a million times already, but here is one million and ONE — tausend dank from the bottom of my heart, I am ever grateful and moments like that, make me realize the importance of not having a quantity of friends, but a quality of friend that can make all the difference in life.

Moving past that tiny emotional rollercoaster, I narrowed my options down to joining a few organizations as CMO when a very interesting message pinged my LinkedIn. I hardly use it for active job searching, since most of my work comes from my wide and dense private network, but this was a blast from the past. They met me years ago during my regular involvement with Pioneers Festival in Vienna and we had a chat about a new project they are working to grow. Ironically, several fintech companies have reached out to me, so this indicates that fintech is on the rise as a trend with no end, because money makes the world go round. We casually discussed opportunities and the CEOs I typically interview with usually know what they are looking for, who they want, and what they are willing to offer the right candidate. The process is quite fast, because I tend to attract entrepreneurs who “think fast, act fast.” It also shows the ability to execute efficiently and effectively value a promising candidate by contacting them, arranging prompt meetings, see if there is a fit, and close the deal so that both parties can begin sharing the same goal — which is to grow a company vision together. I also love companies, people and teams who are transparent, you feel confident when they lay it all out right away.

Companies that are too vague prove to either be slow thinking (which can be a bottleneck in the tech world) or don’t take human capital serious enough, by not doing good follow-up (cancelled meetings, no one is available to meet with a high potential, too busy, etc..), will stay in touch after you sat with them in a two hour meeting (usually deciding if they can afford to hire talent, how, why and when) — typically, these companies will miss out on good candidates often, because everyone’s time is valuable.

Nothing is quite as unsexy as getting super excited about a team and product, only to be twiddling your thumbs, waiting for them to make decisions while other offers are streaming across the table. FYI, when talent scouting, if you see someone who is a great fit, take the recruiting process seriously. It’s like dating, the initial attraction is already there if you’re meeting face to face, so once you get their attention, don’t turn them off by being uninterested or not romancing them properly, because like Tinder, the best profiles know that their options are only a swipe away to find the right match.

After pouring my thoughts onto digital ink, my key updates are:

  • Started a romance novel about adventurous BlindLove
  • I will become cofounder and CMO of a fintech startup going into 2017
  • My romantic curiosities are speculative, ever since my former flame. I optimistically decided to move on, after several unpredictable, but surprise-filled moments we shared together through a few wonderful years. I abruptly ended it, because I wanted to be someone’s #1, not just their top 1%... I met a passionate entrepreneur, who’s not in tech, which is a relief to have a buffer between work and personal. I hope he is not the ‘Spanish version’ of my German former— I’m prepared to accept that romance is always a riskier venture than even professional passions.
  • I also really really really — want a puppy. Animals are great for the soul.
  • I give a shout out to all the single ladies, because dating can be complicated. The best women have to Spartan up and refuse to settle for any guy who makes you cry, doubt yourself, or ask why are you even dating or if you are even dating… Trust me, you deserve MORE. Don’t tolerate inconsideration, reward laziness, or accept people who take your kind heart and good spirit for granted. #AintNoOneGotTimeForThat

That was my personal annual update. Hooray, I am still “human,” AI has not taken over my mind, yet. A few viral posts I noticed are: my newsfeed on every social media platform is filled with romantic love, marriages, proposals, new born (adorable) babies, but for some, the record spins the same song to the tune of “party hard,” — but for me, I feel content to exhale beyond 2016, take a deep breath, inhale inspiration, and breathe life into all the exciting opportunities that await me for 2017 — Can I get an Amen? Or even better, a HELL YEAH.