I am truly sorry for my the lack of communication on my personal blogs these past few weeks. I could blame it on a lot of factors. Working on a few projects, family stuff, but really…honestly…I got a bit depressed. And for no good reason.
After Rainmaking/Startupbootcamp ended earlier this year I made a decision that I would not actively look for a job. I would take some time out. Write my story (because at the end of the day, I am the master of my own narrative 😉 ), make sense of my life and say yes to every meeting. I had coffees with A LOT of people. (And I found out how many people tend to waste your time. 1. I don’t work for free and 2. No, I am not going to just hand my Roldex over to you – sorry, well…not sorry)
But soon, I started having actual conversations with people whom I would want to work with. I started working with the team at Innovate Finance on their inaugural FinTech Growth Forum (this Tuesday, folks!) The lovely lads and ladies over at 11.FS invited me on a guest on FinTech Insider News, which was and is a load of fun (live show this Thursday!) This did more to lift my mood over these past few months than anything – so thank you, 11.FS.
And then there were the messages. Emails and Tweets and DMs from people I knew, people I sorta knew and new people who just stumbled across my blog who sent me the most heart warming correspondence.
- “OMG, this rang so many bells for me.”
- “I am reading this in the shower and crying.”
- “We’ve never met and I know you are my soul sister.”
- “So happy to see a blog that tells it like it is.”
- “You’re Liz Fucking Lumley!”
- “You’re Liz Warrior Princess!”
- “Tell me when you start your own company, because I will work for you for free!”
I also seem more in demand as a (paid for! :-)) conference speaker than ever before. Every week I get a new request – and my job title is simply ‘Global FinTech commentator’. I don’t seem to need a company or a job title for credibility. I have plenty of stories to tell and my experience speaks for itself. I kinda like being the elder stateswoman of the FinTech world (or ‘The Godmother of FinTech’ as former Innovate Finance CEO Lawrence Wintermeyer described me :-)). I was one of the first journalists in the UK to talk about blockchain. I did the first live webcast from Sibos. All those teams you see running around Sibos or Money 20/20 or Finovate with a camera crew and lights? Well, they owe me debt. A few years ago, it was just me, alone with a camera and a dodgy microphone.
I was a pioneer.
I am Girl, Disrupted.
All of those things should have lifted me up. They should have. But they didn’t. And the fault lies with me, 100%.
I spoke at Money 20/20 in Copenhagen this year (the last time I wore a name badge with a job title I no longer held for a company I no longer worked for), and someone said something to me that threw me.
“You are known for being so positive and happy, now you are writing about difficult things…what’s wrong?”
At first I got defensive. ‘Why can’t I be angry??! Taylor Swift gets to be angry!’ (yes, I can sometimes be irrational after a glass or two of red ‘Look what you made me do!’ ;-))
When I started this blog, I wanted to write about my journey through FinTech – as a woman, as a girl, as an American in a foreign country, as a former (current?) journalist – as a person. I wanted to write about where I failed, where I learned, the big events and small circumstances that end up creating the mosaic of my career and my life – not only as a navel gazing exercise but because I think some of my experiences resonate with others.
Look – This is what I did wrong, as well…you are not alone.
I wanted to be real.
When Rainmaking ended, it wasn’t personal. They had run out of money. I had been down that road before. But it still hurt. I had worked with some wonderful, scary-smart people at Rainmaking. People I would work with anytime, anyway, anywhere (Jordan, Hattie, Colin, Sara, Luke, the fabulous Miss Cilia!, etc…). But that journey started somewhere very different – on a day, three weeks before Startupbootcamp FinTech Selection Days in 2015 when I arrived (exhausted from working out my notice at Finextra) not knowing what the hell was going on, I was met with a surprise – a big one – one that caused me to make my first, of many, many major mistakes at Startupbootcamp. It was a mistake born out of not realizing my own value.
Of thinking I wasn’t good enough.
Of feeling like an impostor.
I will write about it…someday.
My biggest learning over the past 23 years, hell 45 years, of my life, it to never, ever allow that to happen again.
That experience, those leanings – the people I dealt with – the people who helped me see how to deal with certain situations better – I need to write about. I will, in detail. However, the comment at Money 20/20 threw me – because I felt I was being told I couldn’t tell my story – that I didn’t have a right to – and it caused me a bit of pause. But today, I look back and think that *pause* might have been a good thing.
I will tell my stories – when it is the right time to be told. When the focus is what I learned and how ‘I grew stronger, I grew smarter in the nick of time’ (God, I love Taylor Swift).
I went into the Innovate Finance offices in London yesterday and I wanted to wear a comfortable dress. I put on a dress that last year had been one of my ‘go to’ easy to wear outfits. It was snug. Too snug. I thought. ‘You silly girl, Liz, get off your ass and start believing in your value again.’
I have spent two decades fighting for everything. I have spent too long selling other people’s visions and products. I need to start selling my own.
So I will start writing again. I will continue telling stories about getting kicked off the cool girl’s lunch table in the seventh grade. I will talk about my love of old lady swimsuits. How great it is being over 40. I will write about FinTech and all it’s excitement and complexities and contradictions.
I will ring my bell.
I will post my little selfie quotes where ever I damn well please.
I will eat donuts (well, until my ‘comfy dress’ is less snug 😉 )
I will write about me – because I can.