How did you get to where you are today?
I graduated from Georgetown University and wanted to do "international development," so I figured I should go to graduate school to learn more. I sat down with a Georgetown alumni one day who told me... "Nora, if you think you like international development, then go do it. Try it out before you go to grad school."
Fast forward a few months and I secured a job in Rwanda, Africa for a four month period (my PR firm at the time gave me leave of absence). After I returned, I realized I wasn't done traveling, so I left for Buenos Aires, Argentina to do a one-year fellowship (Princeton in Latin America). And after that year, I wanted to stay.
I started working with a guy doing design and development work in Buenos Aires, and I went on to launch the marketing/PR side of our company. After three years together, two other marketers and I (all female) decided to leave that company and start Launchway Media-- where we now work with tech startups all over the world who have a product that fits the US market.
I really can pinpoint pivotal moments: (1) talking to a GU alumni who pushed me to face my fears and move abroad alone (had a wonderful solo trip) and (2) gaining the courage to say enough is enough-- and to launch my own company.
What was your toughest obstacle and how did you overcome it?
Both of those moments were so scary for me: moving to Rwanda alone and launching a company with no safety net. But despite the panic, I had to keep reassuring myself that it was the right decision.
With moving, I knew it was now or never, so I just bought the ticket and left. With launching the company, I had (and still have) two incredible co-founders who I knew I could rely on and succeed with. We helped each other through the panic moments.
What’s the key to staying focused & motivated?
Organization! My to-do list process is so strange but it works and keeps me going.
However, it is really easy to lose motivation, or to take the loss of a client personally (I'm still really working on that). I think a combination of pushing yourself and asking for help when you need it is the solution.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don't wait - just do it. This can be for so many things, but for me it was critical when deciding to launch a company.
I actually did wait a while and wish I did it sooner, but the more you think and dwell, the easier it is to talk yourself out of something you should really do.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to start a new venture?
Find a mentor in the field that can help you get started (at least in terms of advice). There are so many incredible people willing to help, so listen to what they say and don't get too stuck on your own idea.
How do we get more women leaders?
I think a lot of change will come if we empower young girls and teach them that traditional gender roles are a thing of the past. Educating this group in STEM and encouraging curiosity is important, as well. I think that is more of a long-term solution.
Short-term is what women are doing now: speaking up about injustices and enacting change. We need to come together and push the technology industry to stop marginalizing women.