Want To Succeed As A Leader? Do This One Thing Right Now.


by Kathryn Brown, Founder + CEO


Want to succeed as a leader? Stop listening to everyone else, and start listening to yourself. 

That's what I'm doing, and suddenly I'm getting a lot done, faster. It's funny how removing outside influences saves you a lot of time (no more "meet for coffees") and angst (no more tossing and turning at night mulling over said coffee meetings). 

But this is a new insight for me. 

A few weeks ago, I was slouching over my laptop on the couch, unshowered, still wearing my pajamas, at noon. No, I wan’t depressed. I was over-caffeinated and frazzled, having already worked for six hours. Hashtag startup life. Hashtag female founders rock. But I didn’t feel like I rocked at all. I especially didn’t feel excited about startup life that morning, until I opened an email from Jennifer Cloer, Executive Producer of The Chasing Grace Project.

I met Jennifer a few months ago when I was planning the launch party for ScoutSavvy. She was seeking stories of women in tech to feature in her documentary series that follows the ongoing struggles and triumphs of women in our industry. A few hours before the party, I sat down with Jennifer on camera to discuss my career and what I hope for my own future, and the future of my startup. She also filmed our event, and in true startup style, she even helped me corral the early line of attendees and unpack party supplies from my car. 

Jennifer’s email contained a link to the project’s trailer that we were planning to present on a panel at The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North American in Los Angeles.

By that time, I had long forgotten my answers during the interview, so I clicked the link to see the cut. A few minutes later, my emailed response was “Wow I am so proud of you! This is an amazing trailer. Seriously, at 3:57 a big fat tear rolled down my cheek”.  

I was crying not only because I have been in a contact state of exhaustion this year, but also because I had a strange out of body experience when I watched myself on camera. It was more than the typical “OMG do I actually SOUND LIKE THAT?!?!?” horror that we all feel when we see and hear ourselves in a recording. Instead, I watched someone powerful, confident, and smart on the screen. She looked like a successful startup founder. I even wanted to go pop open a bottle of wine and ask her for advice.

Only I didn’t have to. She was me. 

So why am I, in my first company blog post ever, telling you a story about me crying while watching a video of myself? Executive coaches would definitely advise against it. Yet to me, it’s important to lead with this scene to set the stage for this company moving forward.

I’ve spent the last two years listening to everyone else. Now, I’m listening to me.

I’m done listening to everyone else. When I started working on ScoutSavvy as a recruiting solution, I was warned against building software for HR.  Early stage investors told me to come back and talk to them when my app was launched. I did. They told me to come back when I had revenue. Others told me not to focus on revenue. Some told me they hated the name. Some told me they loved the name. Some told me that engineers never pay for anything (they don’t). Some HR folks told me to grow the job seeker side of the market, then they would be interested. Some mentors told me not to include personalized content for job seekers. Job seekers told me they wanted personalized content. Since our apps launched in for iOS and Android in May, I’ve followed this advice, often changing my course depending on the meetings I had that day. But this tactic has not only failed, it takes me further away from my original intentions for starting this company.

My mission is to help people like you navigate your career paths by connecting you with opportunities based on what you want out of your life. I want to build a community of smart, talented people who help each other get to the next level. I want to build and launch tools that change individual lives AND change the world. And I want you to help me do it. 

Here’s what you can do:

1) Download and sign up for the ScoutSavvy app for iOS or Android, then create your profile.

2) Join our members only slack group and Facebook group (you’ll get the links when you sign up!).

3) Support women entrepreneurs like me by purchasing our Fund Female Founders swag.

4) Tell everyone you know about us. 

5) Share The Chasing Grace Project with your friends and colleagues. 

Startups are hard y’all, especially when your mission is to change the world for the better. With our combined efforts, we can make sure that people like us have an equal chance to access resources, get hired, and let our talents shine.

Kathryn Brown