#DefineExperience is our bimonthly campaign where we interview interesting and successful people about their experience. We ask them not only about their professional experience but also about a more personal side of things.
It’s a pleasure to introduce to you our tenth interviewee – Polly, a creative entrepreneur, design junkie, and mathematician who never stops improving.
1. Hey Polly, what’s your story?
Long Story Short: I am a 27-year-old Bulgarian girl who has always been fascinated by crafts, design and arts but somehow ended up studying and teaching Mathematics and Informatics; creating Management tools; leading Operations and projects at the entrepreneurship organization Start It Smart; building WordPress websites and creating startups, the latest one – a social app for dog owners – Doglar. In 2014 I had the opportunity to participate in a Summer Entrepreneurship Program which included visiting New York, San Francisco and Boston and studying entrepreneurship in Babson College which was a life changing experience!
2. Polly, please define experience.
Trusting your gut or your intuition. We collect knowledge from everything we do and see and sometimes we “just know” the right choice in any situation – this is our gut. Or in other words – this is our experience calling from our deep subconsciousness telling us something we already know. Yes, the road to collecting this experience can be a little bumpy, doing the same thing over and over again, failing, standing up, doing something different and being scared every time you take a chance, but isn’t this the charm of life?! 🙂
3. What do you consider as your most significant accomplishment in your career so far? What about outside of your career?
I don’t view life as a series of accomplishments, I see it rather as a journey… or lots of different journeys actually. My biggest personal accomplishment would be when I learn to enjoy every single second to the fullest instead of worrying about the future.
In terms of career – I am most proud and honored for being a part of Start It Smart for so many years and being responsible for all the operations and projects in the organization. This gave me lots of courage and strength to face new challenges – currently, the biggest one in my professional life is Doglar.
I’m a dreamer who firmly believes everything is possible! You can annoy me big time if you tell me otherwise 🙂
4. Do you think failure is part of experience? What was your biggest failure?
I think you learn a lot from both success and failure. For me in terms of work – I have started several projects and startups during these years that didn’t turn out to be successful or even have the chance to be seen by the public. I would have been much happier if they were launched but then failed miserably, but we didn’t push it to that point.
But during these projects I realized a lot about many mistakes I have made when choosing the right team or the right project and the right timing. I would love to write a book called “What NOT to do when becoming a female entrepreneur” – I feel like I have made almost any mistake you can possibly make, at least in the first year of a startup’s life 🙂
The latest thing I realized is that you should never make a decision when you are enthusiastic! They teach us at home and at school that we don’t have to make decisions when angry, but being hyped also clouds your judgement and you can end up with not-a-good-match co-founders, partners, investors, decisions, etc. So when someone believes in your idea and you want them so desperately to do so, don’t make the immediate decision to work with them no matter what, but wait a little and think it through 🙂
Speaking about failures – entrepreneurs tend to over criticize themselves because of our huge expectations about goals and expectations. I do that too and now I’m learning to cut myself some slack. I would say that my biggest failures so far are connected with not letting things go or postponing a decision that I know in my guts is right (like closing a project or stop working with someone).
It is always a difficult decision to make and hoping that things will miraculously get better (or with effort but for a long period of time) is just plain naive. This hope may lead you in the wrong direction for much longer than your energy or your startup can survive. I would say that all entrepreneurship is about timing, so having a short and realistic deadline for everything is essential.
5. What life-hack tips would you give to your 18-year-old self?
- Play computer games less and read more books!
- Work out regularly.
- Spend more valuable time with family, especially grandparents.
- Don’t be so stubborn. You don’t know everything (and you will start to understand this soon :P).
- But do keep believing that everything is possible.
Some work-hacks would have come very handy to my 18-year-old self too and these would be: Parkinson’s law, the Pareto principle, 3-minute rule (or – don’t postpone anything that takes up to 3 minutes to do) and Active listening (or – don’t listen just to answer).
6. Would you do something differently if you had the chance?
This is very much connected with the previous question: I have made much more mistakes when I was 18 and after this as well, but I learned a lot from them, so I don’t want to “warn” my 18-year-old self for them coming 😀
I wouldn’t have started smoking, I would have started sharing my thoughts, lessons, and knowledge much earlier and I would have started my first startup at 16…
I think my case is that I want to try everything and do everything in life… It’s messy but I wouldn’t change it 🙂
7. This is not from the questions list, but can you tell us more about being a female CEO?
It’s not easy but it’s very interesting. You have to face lots of challenges and put up with emotional roller coasters on a daily basis but I think that every entrepreneur experiences this. Sometimes being a woman in tech can be overwhelming, especially in terms of proving yourself in front of your male peers.
I have seen so many extraordinary women wasting so much energy into this. We shouldn’t talk about our genders but judge only by the milestones we pursue and the goals we achieve.
As to my female peers I would add: Don’t get trapped in men’s overanalyzing everything habit. Trusting your gut is the greatest power we have as women. Men have it as well, they just don’t seem to seize it that often. It doesn’t matter whether someone trusts your gut or not, as long as you do. Trust your own gut and don’t let emotions get in the way. From there – not even the sky is a limit 🙂
We want to thank Polly for sharing her story with us. It’s always very inspiring to learn about someone’s lessons and achievements.
If you enjoyed reading our tenth #DefineExperience interview, then stay tuned, because there’s more to come. Moreover, if you’d like to be part of our #DefineExperience project by doing an interview yourself or recommending someone to get interviewed, then write to us.