I had a freakout moment of major imposter syndrome yesterday. I was speaking at a panel at Google-sponsored Women in Tech event as part of San Francisco #TechWeek. The panel was on The Future of Tech Careers with an AI focus and led by the inimitable Elena Lenena.
Throughout the course of the day, the two other panelists, a female tech CEO and another ML expert, dropped out for real-time emergencies. An airplane delay. A COVID-positive kid.
Oh sh*t! I’m now the solo remaining speaker. Hundreds of people are coming to listen to me talk about AI trends.
I didn’t feel like an AI expert. Who am I to lead an entire hour-long session without the ability to hide behind my fellow panelists, and to be the expert talking to a room full of data scientists, product people, engineers and VCs???
The fear is real. I could feel my heart pounding. Worried that I’d be laughed at and exposed as a fraud for the dumb things I was going to say.
I took a deep breath, texted my business coaching group for support and reminded myself of some truths. I coach tech CEOs, serve as a product advisor, and personally use both ChatGPT and Midjourney. And right now, *nobody* is an expert on AI. We’re all figuring it out as we go along and deal with unexpected crises like airplanes and COVID. Leaders adapt. That’s what humans do best.
And here’s my top take-aways if you’re wondering how last night’s talk went:
- You do you. The organizers made a deliberate choice to limit the room to 100 people, turning away 200+ applicants. They wanted the setting to be intimate and to be female-only. One male was so determined to get in that he ignored all the emails, made his way through building security, and physically entered the room. His face blanched as he saw the sea of female faces and I’d like to think he finally understood what it felt like to be a minority in tech. The organizers gently talked to him, and he left.
Lesson: when it’s your event, you can do whatever you want to curate the experience. As a participant, you can try everything possible to get in (more power to you!) and you may experience an unexpected learning.
- Just try it. We heard amazing use cases for how women had incorporated…