This second part is about how I f***ed up. My own bias and assumptions played against me. I’m sorry.
I'm not going to blame it on the Valley, on the fact that I'm a male or even on culture. The blame is on my own bias and assumptions. Is on myself for not trying to open my eyes and listen before I let my brain judge.
A month ago I went to GDC (Game Developer Conference). The conference was man-dominated and I spend most of my time talking to male founders. Coming back on the train I met Adam is the co-founder of video-game startup and was interested in my approach towards knowing and helping founders. I told him I have no idea about video games (no investments) but I’m eager to learn from others. He exchange cards and decide to meet next week.
He contacted me and we schedule to go for dinner. He also mentioned that he will bring someone else from his team. Here is where my brain started to play tricks on me.
I assumed he was the co-founder and CEO of his video-game startup and that he will introduce me to his co-founder or employee.
When I got to the restaurant he was waiting sitting next to this asian girl. I introduce myself and she said “I’m Sally”. I thank them both for coming and started talking with Adam about GDC. I asked him questions about his startup and went on for about ten minutes when I asked: “How did you decided to work on this?”. He mentioned: “I didn’t. Sally contact me some months ago about joining her on this new startup. She is the CEO, so she can probably tell you more about it”.
For the last ten minutes I just assumed she was there as part of the team but SHE was the team. She was the founder, CEO and engine of the startup.
The moment I redirect my questions and attention to her I open my eyes and started learning so much about the video game industry. The dinner went on to be a normal conversation and we are still in contact. We have exchange several emails and keep close in touch.
But that night I went home with a thought that bothered my mind. I had assume and judged before I listen. My own assumptions and bias took over me. Having 7 sisters and even helping women founders on a daily basis didn’t stop me from making a big mistake.
I’m sorry. I had reach out to the founder and told her about it. She probably thought it was normal and that it was “one more guy” assuming she was not capable of being a successful founder and CEO. Well, I don't want to be “one more guy” or investor that makes bad assumptions and let themselves rule by a stupid bias. I think she understands what happened. I have been trying to help them as much as I can and they have been teaching me about their industry.
I learned the lesson. I’m working on challenging my own assumptions and my own bias. It’s not easy and I will probably make mistakes. But there will be fewer and hopefully one day there will be none. I encourage you to do it.
Challenge your own assumptions and your own bias. Every day.