You're the CMO of Fleep, you’re the CMO of Fleep, a successful Estonian startup building a collaboration software. What's your experience with leading a team as a young woman? What's your secret?
My first experience of leading a team dates back to high school, when I was the president of the Student Council. And to be honest, not much has changed since then! I have been lucky to lead teams of people who genuinely want to get stuff done. Leaving aside all the cliched “secrets” of really listening to your team or trusting your gut, I would say the best thing you can do as a leader is make difficult decisions and follow through.
When team members think along and contribute, there will always be different opinions. It is the leader’s job to listen, and take different viewpoints and ideas into consideration — but also, at the end of the day, make a decision that fits into the bigger picture. And then, follow through with the decisions.
You're also the Co-Founder of #muhoov, an apparel company that helps people show the world where they're from. How do you manage your time to do this on the side? Has it been rewarding for you?
#muhoov is my passion project. It was one of those things that just clicked, and was easy enough to execute as a business on the side (with today’s technology, and my excellent technical co-founder Mihkel)! I love it because it is so different from my day-job, and it has made me learn a lot about building a business from the ground up, everything from finance to printing techniques to drop shipping.
Some people enjoy yoga, others play video games or bake cakes in their free time. My evenings and weekends are filled with #muhoov business, strategy and marketing planning. It’s been almost a year, and it’s still as exciting as it was in the beginning! The most rewarding moments are seeing someone rock a #muhoov sweatshirt on the street, or on social media — I almost always feel the urge to point my finger at them and shout “I made that!”. (Yeah, that’s how exciting it is for me.)
You were also President of the Alumni Association of the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF). Why do you think it's important to keep in touch with alumni members of prestigious programs?
I served as the BAFF Alumni Association president for two years. I’m always looking to contribute and give back to the communities that have helped me. So for me, it was definitely about more than just keeping in touch with the alumni. That said, nurturing the relationships between the alumni is a core part of the Alumni Association’s mission.
BAFF Alumni come from different fields, countries and backgrounds — and we have seen how much can be unlocked when these alumni connect and cooperate. Building such strong networks across borders is crucial and very powerful in today’s world.
As a TEDx Speaker you talked about how to 'fall in love with the world'. Why do you think it's important to travel and get to know different cultures? Have you experienced any difference in the way women think about life / work at different parts of the world?
Traveling and living around the world widens your horizons and opens your eyes to how diverse the human species is. I’ve found that it helps one become a more tolerant, open-minded person, but also helps develop critical thinking. And what I mean by this is that seeing the diversity and getting to know different cultures makes one think about why certain values, behaviors and ways of thinking are prevalent and where they come from. Even more, it helps in thinking through one’s own motivations, goals and priorities.
I’ve met SO many different women from very different backgrounds. And the only thing I can say for sure is that there are no rights and wrongs to a woman’s role in the society, at home, at the individual level. As easy or as difficult as it may be, women around the world have to figure out their own place, the roles they want to be in and what will make them content. The environment we are in will always place some expectations on us, but we need to figure out for ourselves what sits well with us.
Your life motto?
“Action cures fear."
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