(Originally published on Englund&Caracolias, Medium)
Yeah, I’ve been in tech for longer than I sometimes want to admit. Since the day I entered the premesis of my first Swedish employment and realized that it was me and the 14 guys I’ve wished for more female colleagues and fought for gender equality throughout my career.
Many people ask why and I respond time after time, somewhat differently at different times. It’s a tough environment that’s not one of my choice. It would be nice to have a wine and salad AW instead of beer and pizza one. A heterogeneous environment is more creative. Organizations with more women are far more successful financially than those we we have today. And who doesn’t want to be on a winning team?
Last week I almost skippade the StartUp Grind event. I was tired, I don’t find Epicenter particularly cosy as a meeting place and I expected the usual crowd, I didn’t feel like biking home in the dark. But since I’d paid 250 SEK I figured I’d go for a quick meal. And I like Nami Zarringhalam, the founder of TrueCaller who was the subject for the night’s interview. The chairman of the board Stefan Lennhammer was there as well.
I ate a stale salad and spoke to a woman in VC, an interesting discussion about running businesses in China. The interview never seemed to start. Well, it finally did though.
”The guy”, Sune Kaae introduced himself. T-shirt, fast talking, big gestures. I sighed and prepared my departure. Didn’t feel I had the patience to sit through one more of these ”boost til you burst” things.
Then he said something like, ”it will be a long talk and I will start with some personal questions about your backgrounds.” What?! Did he say personal? And he sure did. He dug deep into school years, career dreams, family and what not. He asked about mistakes and successes in running their business. And Nami and Stefan spoke openly and humbly. About good times and bad times, hard work, trust, respect, friendship and beliefs. The looked at each other with… I would say love and respect. No startup or tech platitudes what so ever.
The usual norms were broken for a while — and there were no women on stage! Just three humble, human men who took their task seriously.
This is perhaps the best interview I’ve seen, ever. Thank you Sune for conducting it splendidly, and thank you Nami and Stefan for the answers.
My friends, take lead of the people who talk about respect and beliefs. The ones who are secure enough to be human and decent. The people who talks about making mistakes and celebrating wins. The people who dare asking the unusual questions. The meaningful and educational questions.
WHY? you might ask. Well — all research today supports the fact that companies started and/or lead by women are far more successful than the ones we’re used to seeing today. The typical characteristics that are usually connected with women being the reason. Obviously, some men posess them as well, but not many enough.
Oh, almost forgot, some time ago I attended another startup event and the following was uttered on stage by the person leading the show, ”we gonna make you fucking cry and you better get used to it!” some people laughed. Not me. Me no like one bit and quite honestly you shouldn’t either.