Education, Event, Communication

41 Min Read

Girls in Tech San Diego Speaker Series: Communication

Girls in Tech San Diego’s Speaker Series: Communication event was hosted and sponsored by the customer data management company, Tealium. Girls in Tech (GIT) is a global non-profit focused on the engagement, education, and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology.

The event dove into the internal and external dialogue women are faced with in their professional careers, addressing the internal monologue of women in terms of why they don’t deserve an opportunity or promotion that their male colleague might claim..


  • Janelle Lynnae, CEO and Founder of Next Level Confident (NLC)
    Janelle coaches, educates, and transforms the bodies and minds of hundreds of men and women using customized mindset modules and high-level accountability.
  • Alicia Cafarelli, Senior Director of Customer Success, Tealium
    Alicia leads the Account Management and Project Management teams. One of her many career highlights at Tealium include creating the mentorship program.

Lisa Rosenfelt, Co-Managing Director of the San Diego chapter of Girls in Tech, introduced the speakers. She explained the Girls in Tech provides support, networking and mentoring for women who are starting and advancing their careers in tech. Their events are usually the second Thursday of the month, ranging from educational panels like this speaker series, to networking events where you can meet other women doing similar things to build a support group, and skill set events such as hackathons.

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Janelle: The Right Mindset for Getting What You Want

Janelle started her company a little over a year ago, training bodies and minds because she believes that everything stems from the mind. If your mindset is in place then you’re going to do all the actions that you want, she said.

“It’s about loving yourself and not just trying to change your body. It’s about changing in here [in your head]. So I know it sounds like hippie stuff. But honestly, it’s true. I talk to women every single day, who are seeing it really playing out in their lives, they don’t see their worth. They may be dating guys treating them like crap and they just can’t see a way out of the relationship, or they’re working a job that they don’t love, or they deserve way more at their job. One of my clients would stay and work two hours longer than any of her coworkers because she didn’t think her time was quite as valuable as her coworkers’ time. She would stay for extra hours because she felt guilty. Those are things that we will work on: knowing you are smart, you are capable, your hours are worth just as much as every other person’s hours whether they’re male or female,” she said. 

Janelle spoke about how one personal training client didn’t even want her to shadow, he thought she’d be uncomfortable or he’d be uncomfortable. Two years down the road, after he lost 30 pounds, he told her that initially, he didn’t want her to train him.  “What was cool was that I was able to just be myself. I wasn’t trying to be a man, I wasn’t trying to do it like the manly way, I didn’t try to change who I was to fit his expectation. Instead, I rose to the occasion, and approached him to tell him that I was more than capable than any other person,” she said.

Next, she displayed her favorite quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be … You playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same thing. As we’re liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates others.”

Janelle took a poll and talked about if we had ever been talking about our job and career to someone who has a lower career status and felt bad about the fact that we have the job that we have, so we diminish our job, to not offend them or make them feel bad about their position. On the flip side, she asked who has ever felt insecure about what they do, and have big, lofty dreams so feel like they haven’t met their expectations. “What I think is so strange is the paradox between those two scenarios. We’re trying to make ourselves smaller in front of some people because we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t want to offend anyone.’ And at the same time, we’re also insecure about what we’re doing.” Cocky, but insecure, masculine, but not strong enough and crying or emotional. “I don’t want to feel this weird paradox that pulls you two different ways. Being pulled in too many directions, that’s what it feels like, like you’re like pleasing everyone else. You’re not pleasing yourself. You choose to please yourself and you feel bad, you feel guilty about it.”

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She said the next story was a little bit hard to share. Growing up, she had an older brother who was known as “the smart one.” So for all her childhood, he would say next year you’re going to be smart. And every single year was this chase of trying to be smart like him. She was homeschooled most of her childhood and had a lot of strict Christian rules. When she finally went to public school, it made her ‘the weird one,’ such as being held out of the sex education classes and going to a library by herself. Through all her education and early career, she was looking for things that confirmed those “not smart” and “weird” stories in her mind.

“I’m going to show a couple of examples of other limiting beliefs that I have struggled with. The first thing to recognize is that your beliefs, your thoughts, your actions, lead to results. For example, personal training [stresses] actions, the actions of getting your dream body or whatever that means to be healthy. So often, trainers and coaches focus merely on the actions, such as get to the gym, eat salad, eat the chicken, do this, do that, do that, do that. It’s so focused on the action and do do do do do do do do do do. But belief system [is a problem], there’s an underlying belief of ‘I’m not worthy to take time to do this. I have a family or I have a job or I have all these other things, other people’s time is more valuable than my time.’ So if you get to the core, I see what your job actions you want a raise. But you don’t you’re too afraid to ask for your raise. But if you don’t believe that you are worth that raise, if you don’t believe that you’re worth that money, you’re never going to take the action or you’re not very convincing,” she said.

“But if you believe, ‘I’m literally worth this money and am willing to walk away. Hey, I’m still worth this money that if I don’t get it here, I know my value. I can go anywhere. Because I’m powerful.’

She spoke about:

  • Thinking too much about the worst possible outcome, such as being a coach and having one off day in fitness or nutrition and thinking you are going to be horribly overweight. 
  • How many people that look successful are only successful in one area in life, such as career, but their relationships with friends or family could be struggling. 
  • Don’t think you can’t impact people’s lives because you’re not perfect. “I will use my struggles and reflections to help people transform.”
  • Writing that truth down is hard, it’s difficult to figure out the truth. She instructed the audience to write down their biggest dreams, biggest fears, the scary thing that you actually don’t like telling people.

If you don’t get anything else out of her talk, Janelle wants you to please believe that the power of your brain actually matters. People like Oprah or Tony Robbins don’t have anything special that you don’t have. After the mindset work, then it’s time to take action.

“Start with that first small step. People love to get all the education and all the certifications, which is good and knowledge is power. But then they don’t ever take a leap of faith. I want to research and then I can do it, they say. I recently met someone who has a degree in sports exercise science. And she’s a certified personal trainer. So she has more knowledge than I do in this industry. And she is afraid to be a personal trainer, she’s at the front desk at a gym because she’s too afraid to take the next step,” Janelle said. 

She’s heard from amazing entrepreneurial women who are making five or six figures running their own business and traveling the world but their story would always start out with, “I was married to a man who was beating me and I was homeless in my car with my son…” She heard stories where people are all-time lows and that’s when they actually took the leap to do something really great. “I never really had any crazy lows. What if I always stay mediocre but I always stay like doing just good enough? And I got pissed, I was like fired up, I’m not going to wait until something really horrible happens to me that propels me. I decided I needed to step away from mediocrity and propel myself to the uncomfortable place. I’ve been uncomfortable for over 13 months [in my own business],” she said.

When taking action, always remember that the tortoise always beats the hare. “I remind myself of this every single day because I feel that I’m moving very slow. I have expectations that are way out here and I’m just right here. Just take a little step forward, slow and steady wins the race, you don’t have to conquer the world right now.”


Alicia: Finding Your Voice

Alicia said when she was younger, she was “super shy to the point where I was terrified and wouldn’t call anyone, not even the doctor. It was like my worst nightmare.” It really was about confidence. She wasn’t so concerned about messing up on the phone with the doctor, for example.

“Obviously, standing up here today, the people who know me know I have no shortage of confidence, you will hear me for a mile away. I’d like to make my presence heard. It’s been a journey for me and  I want to share how I got there,” Alicia said.

How many times has someone said, “Hey, who wants to take on this project, who wants to manage this account, or who wants to go for tat promotion?” Alicia said in our head we often immediately think we’re not good enough. She told a story about earlier in her career, she wouldn’t speak aloud when she knew the answers to the questions asked in meetings, because she thought there’s someone else who should answer, someone more senior. Now she has learned to listen to her intuition about when to speak up in those instances, but that change took a long time. 

“One of the things I started to do is every time I had a breakdown, and then I would come back and watch it play out later to see what happened. It’s really about validation, I needed someone to say, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ And you still need a star, a check box … but you should just be able to know that’s enough. And so I say this because as a woman, I feel like this is powerful [with so much research] talking about women’s intuition all the time,” she said.

Find a supportive group of people

In college, she said she didn’t want to put herself out there and nothing seemed to interest her at first. When something began to interest her, she wrote it down so she could start looking for like-minded people. She found the American Marketing Association and practiced speaking and writing proposals, eventually going on trips with her chapter. “It gave me an environment that really allowed me to start speaking up because I was with a really small group of women were really supportive and we’re all talking about similar interests. And I think that’s something that we forget that we can do.”

The power of this support group is very important, Alicia said. “Iit doesn’t have to be professional. This can be your friends, this can be this can be your spouse, this could be meetup groups. It gives you the opportunity to get started finding little steps that you can take along the way. Not everybody manages a team immediately, you can start with these like-minded people. They’re going to be your support group,” she said

After you find your support group, how do you continue to find your voice?

At work, she used team meetings to try different things like jokes and read people’s reactions. “I would see the energy and use intuition and I would look for the heads nodding and smiling. And that didn’t work. It really was it was a journey. It’s practice, it was trial and error … everybody’s personality is really unique and different. So think about this as creating your own test audience for the goals that you want, in order to get yourself speaking.”

If you don’t want to public speak, find those one-on-one interactions, find a team meeting or project you can volunteer to present to your team, even if it’s a group of three people.

girls in tech san diego communication tealium

Managing getting interrupted and not given a chance to speak in meetings

When she was a new manager, she tried to be quiet to make her point in meetings. “I was like, ‘Yeah, they’re going to notice then they’re going to call on me, I’m just sitting here…’ It didn’t happen, and I felt angry. I felt frustrated,” she said.  She says she recently addressed this problem of not being given a chance to speak and/or being interrupted in meetings, by sitting the male leadership team down and telling them about how they weren’t letting women speak. She said, “I work directly with you and love working with you all the time. This is really frustrating.” She said the result has been really interesting. “I’m really fortunate that I have the ability to have these conversations, and that I have a really receptive audience. And so now, even in meetings, I think it might take  20 minutes, but eventually they’ll stop themselves [and give all team members a chance to speak].”

If you want to try to impact change, make it small.

If sitting down with the male senior leadership team to talk about being interrupted is too intimidating of a step to start with, what if you started small? Alicia suggested discussing “changing the team dynamic” in a positive way and implementing a “laptops down, no phones” policy at meetings to be respectful of each others’ time. “Something that’s really simple. But it also is sending the message that we don’t want interruptions. We don’t want to be distracted. It doesn’t need to be this monumental conversation, you can start small,” she said.  

Pretending to be someone you’re not

Alicia said her whole career she felt she had to fit a certain mold and manage a certain way. “I just I felt like I was constantly trying to be someone else,” she said.  One of her bosses was a gamer who loved data and spreadsheets, which is the opposite of how her brain works, she said. She was trying to model herself after him because she saw he was a successful manager, so she tried to talk about data and spreadsheets and felt and sounded so inauthentic and uncomfortable. “I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t feeling more successful … The second that I stopped trying to be someone else’s is when I found [my managing style and voice]. What my team will tell you is that I’m over the top, I refer to myself as a uniform, and everything in my verbiage is magical. And I say that because this is who I am,” she said. It is important to be your authentic self. “It makes a significant difference. The people that I’ve surrounded myself with are those people who are truly themselves every day. There are my mentors, they are people have voted for me, I want to work day in and day out with the friends that I surround myself with. Because they bring the energy, and it allows you to do something.”

Raises and promotions

Alicia’s previous company gave her very positive feedback and additional responsibilities but didn’t want to give her more money. It took a while for her to make the case and ask for additional compensation, she felt like a pioneer, being one of the first women in the company to ask for a raise, that she knew of. She said it was a pretty big leap but she had to listen to her intuition. You don’t have to take that big of a leap at work, you could take on a project or create a position in your organization that you feel needs to be created. “Sometimes you have to be that first person to stand up and try it. And what’s the first thing that happens? It doesn’t go right. That’s okay. You can get back up again. You do it, and you’re successful,” she said.

The voice in our heads

“I have a voice inside my head, it’s Sally Jessy Raphael, because this is my inner negative speak. So every time I’m trying to do something, Sally’s in my arena. You can’t do this. You can do better than that. I spent years [listening to that voice], Alicia said. Early on as a new manager, she would be physically exhausted from examining and criticizing every thing she felt she did wrong every day.  After years of thinking about this and therapy, she realized that’s her “story” and that changing the inner dialogue helps so much. 

When she’s nervous about something such as public speaking, she uses her positive inner voice to help build confidence. “As I started to do speaking engagements, I’m really trying to push myself and get myself out there … So I literally started telling myself I’m a magical motherf*** unicorn. I just kept saying it [in my head]. Because it makes me happy, right? They’re sparkly, majestic, and it gets me pumped up.,” she said.  She said anyone And I say that can come up with a mantra, it needs to be something that gets you pumped. It can be something you just make up or anything in the world. It just needs to be something that just gets you excited.

Women supporting women

Alicia told a story of how in the fifth grade she declared herself president of school and wrote letters to friends and deliberately left some girls off a list declaring one day “overall day.” “Don’t ask me why. I was terrible,” she said. It has literally changed the way she thinks about her female relationships to this day, she said. In corporate America, she noticed that when she is going into a conference room, or I’m going into a room where there are other executives are leaders, she is a minority as a woman. Instead of competing with each other and leaving other women out, we should be encouraging and helping each other, supporting each other in a common cause. We should not fight to get that “one” spot for a women in the C-suite or with a client. “Screw that. Let’s support each other. It is something that has gotten me through my career. And I will tell you, the reason I’m sitting in this room is because of the women and children who have supported me. It is my team who is looking forward to coming to hear me speak tonight; it is my wife, it is my friends who came here to support me, which is fantastic. It is my team members. These are the women that I’ve held these relationships with that I will constantly support,” she said.

Summary from Alicia

  • Trust your intuition. “I really can’t emphasize this enough. Listen to your body, it will feel true in the right place.”
  • Write it down, write your goals down so you can always go back and see them. 
  • Create your own test audience. 
  • Speak up. “This is the hardest one to do. It is something that has taken me 25 years, it really has. It’s not easy, it takes being scared. Do it because I know it’s right. And I know that it can impact change.” 
  • Be your authentic self.” If you truly delivered at all times when you tap into that person, I promise you something magical will happen. Everything will come together.”

Check out Girls in Tech San Diego’s Eventbrite website for upcoming events

Topics:   Education, Event, Communication