Roya Sabeti is the founder of Stilobox, a resource for women aspiring to lead that shares speaking & growth opportunities to professional women. She is also a member of the team at Galvanize, a learning community for technology. She is especially passionate about empowering entrepreneurs by creating content & resources to help them learn and grow their companies. When she’s not creating content you can find her practicing circus arts or creating unique experiential experiences for others.
How did you get to where you are today?
The number one thing that moves the needle is putting yourself out there and taking chances. I moved to San Francisco about 4.5 years ago to work for a tech startup. Looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was working a job I didn’t enjoy, and had just gone through a breakup. I needed a change. At first it was really intimidating because it seemed everyone in SF was doing amazing things, starting companies, and changing the world. Since I believe in NOT being the smartest person in the room I knew I was in the right place.
When I first moved here I noticed it's very common to have a side hustle and coffee shops are packed on the weekends with entrepreneurs building their companies. SF is a tough city to make it in, nothing is handed to you and everyone is hustling hard. But it’s also very magical, and I feel extremely fortunate to live in a place and period of time where technology is truly changing the world.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
Life had good and bad days. This is especially true when you are an entrepreneur building a company. I remember a quote my mom always says, “This too shall pass,” meaning at some point in the future the hard time you’re experiencing right now will be a distant memory. It’s easy to get caught in the pain of the moment and let it get you down. I’m a big believer that feelings need to be felt. Do what you have to do to get it out, but then move on, and don’t dwell on the negative. Life is too short.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
I dedicate my morning commute to choosing the 1-2 most important tasks I need to accomplish to move the needle that day. I do this before I check my email and allow myself to become distracted. A lot of the time we’re attracted to that “feel good high” we get from putting out small unnecessary fires. Ultimately you need to move the needle on the things that matter in order to make progress.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I try my very best to live by this advice. “If you don’t ask the answer is no, if you ask there is some chance (no matter how small) that the answer is yes.” I have this quote in each Stilobox newsletter we send out in hopes of encouraging women to apply to speaking opportunities and not focus so much on possible rejection because if you don’t ask then you’ve already rejected yourself.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?
Surround yourself with those who are doing or have already done what you’re trying to do. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and say “heck yes” to opportunities. I love Sheryl Sandberg’s quote, “If you wait till you feel ready you’ve waited too long.” So….. DO THE THINGS YOU DON’T FEEL READY TO DO. That’s exactly how you become ready to do them, and once you’ve done it you’ll only continue to grow, learn, and improve.
How do we get more women leaders?
Leadership is elevating others to be their best. The goal of Stilobox is to support women who are aspiring to lead, by sharing stories of awesome female leaders, as well as resources and opportunities for them to learn and grow. Women need to empower and support each other, men do this really well. Find ways to support the amazing women around you. Remember, a rising tide lifts all boats.
What does success mean to you?
Success is feeling a sense of purpose in what you are doing each and everyday. I feel most “successful“ when I’m performing meaningful work that provides value to others. I really enjoyed the book “The Happiness Advantage.” In it the author talks about how we are constantly raising the bar for success (“I’ll be happy when X happens”), then when we achieve X we replace it with something else. The idea is that happiness comes before success not vise versa.