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At Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit: Leaders optimistic about fixing tech industry's gender disparity

Fortune last week hosted its annual Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA, bringing together leaders across various industries for three days of interviews, panels, and candid conversations about both the evolving business world as well as the influence and role of women in that evolution.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on stage with Michal Lev-Ram, senior writer at Fortune. Photo courtesy of Fortune.

Clara on CNBC -- Oct 2014
Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih interviewed by CNBC live at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.

Attendees at the event included executives, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the spectrum, including Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway), Gary Cohn (President and COO, Goldman Sachs), Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management), Mary Meeker (Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook), and Debra Sterling (Founder and CEO, GoldieBlox).
The agenda was packed with a wide-ranging set of sessions. On Monday afternoon, attendees heard about how (and how much) leaders should connect on social media. On Tuesday, another discussion addressed the challenges and solutions in motivating and inspiring workers across different generations. The last day featured special talks on philanthropy and entrepreneurship.


One core topic discussed by attendees was that of gender inequality, which still pervades executive and management teams across the Fortune 500 as well as greener sectors, like the technology industry.
Seeking to unpack this very issue, CNBC interviewed several women leaders closely involved in technology, including Rebecca Rhoads (chief information officer at Raytheon), Sonja Hoel Perkins (managing director of Menlo Ventures and founder of Broadway Angels), and our very own Clara Shih (CEO and Founder, Hearsay Social).
In the interview, Clara explains how she is hoping to impact change at Hearsay Social: “We specifically try to recruit women and we are open-minded about women who may not have a programming background.”
Clara also shared her broader perspective that a key way of nurturing a more diverse tech workforce is by making sure girls are confident in their technical skills from a young age. This helps set the stage for later in their lives, so they can be confident when faced with more male-dominated fields, like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
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Leadership lessons from Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit 2013

This October, I attended the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., and spoke on a panel with three other women under age 40: Warren Buffett’s financial assistant Tracy Britt Cool, Cinnabon President Kat Cole, and SunRun founder and CEO (and my Standford classmate) Lynn Jurich. Fortune‘s Leigh Gallagher moderated the conversation, which covered all kinds of inspiring and helpful leadership lessons.

Here are a few highlights I gleaned from my co-panelists:
Inexperience isn’t always bad. Jurich’s lack of experience in the solar and energy industries freed her to ask “dumb questions.” (Jurich’s company installs solar power systems in residential and commercial properties). This turned out to be quite smart. She was able to create her company’s energy-focused mission with a fresh perspective because she wasn’t weighed down by expertise — and the assumptions that often come with it.
Details and depth matter. Cool met her future boss, Buffett, when she was an undergrad at Harvard and organized a group visit to Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKA) Omaha headquarters. Most students are in and out within the day, but Cool and her group stayed for several days to get to know Buffett’s businesses.
It’s okay to fail. Cole talked about the importance of risk-taking — and how different industries tolerate failure to various degrees. She reminds her Cinnabon employees that they “make buns, not bombs.” No lives are at stake when a batch doesn’t turn out. It’s okay to fail. That’s how we get better.
Respond to discrimination with grace. Gallagher asked if any of us had felt discriminated against in our careers or school years due to age, race or gender. I shared my philosophy that you can’t control what other people assume about you, but you can control how you react. It’s usually most constructive to give people the benefit of the doubt and respond with grace.
Following our panel, I caught up with two Silicon Valley friends who are under-40 influentials. Wildfire (GOOG) CEO Victoria Ransom (left) and Instagram (FB) director of operations Emily White (right) joined me, fittingly, for an Instagram:

This post originally appeared on Fortune: Leadership lessons from a top entrepreneur
Photo credit: Fortune.

Hearsay Social headlining conferences hosted by the NACD, Fortune, Deutsche Bank, and SIFMA

With fall in full swing, our schedule is packed with events around the country where we hope to meet you face to face!
The Hearsay Social team is thrilled to take our vision for social business on a global tour this fall. From NACD, Fortune, and Women on Wall Street to SIFMA Social, LIMRA Annual, Dreamforce, and American Banker, we will be coming to a city near you to share best practices, case studies, and thought leadership around the future of selling.
Here are three events this week where our CEO Clara Shih will be headlining sessions:
Clara kicks off the tour this week at the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Board Leadership Conference, to be held in the Washington, D.C. area. Clara, who is also on the board of Starbucks, is speaking alongside directors from Allianz Global Investors Mutual Funds, Mutual of Omaha, Coca-Cola, JetBlue and many others, as well as Mary Jo White, Chair of the SEC.
Clara and fellow panelists will be leading a session called “Social Media Strategy: The Board’s Role,” on Monday, October 14th. They will discuss how social media has provided companies with a unique platform to listen and communicate with their clients, employees, fans, and critics.

At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., Clara will participate on a panel, “Leadership: Lessons from Under-40 Influentials,” to discuss “power, ambition and the next generation of leadership,” on Wednesday, October 16th.

Other speakers at the event include Warren Buffett (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.), Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO, J.P. Morgan Asset Management); Carolyn Everson (VP, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook), Marissa Mayer (President and CEO, Yahoo!), and Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook).


At Deutsche Bank’s 19th Annual Women on Wall Street Conference, Clara will join other high profile female leaders, including Vicki Fuller (Chief Investment Officer, New York State Common Retirement Fund), Sallie Krawcheck (Owner, 85 Broads), and Mary Schapiro (Managing Director and Chairman of the Governance and Markets Practice, Promontory Financial), to talk about how they have “defied conventional wisdom, taken risks, and cultivated success.”

Additionally, on October 16th, Kristin Shevis, head of sales, Eastern U.S. for Hearsay Social, will participate on a panel, “A Conversation With Social Media Leaders,” at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Social Media Seminar in New York. Panelists will explore the role of social media in the financial services industry. Other speakers at the event include executives from LinkedIn, Twitter, FINRA, SIFMA, and top financial firms.

Check out our events page to see where we’ll be in the coming weeks and months!