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Trailblazing Women: Katy Lynch, CEO of Techweek

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/10/2015 Anne Ravanona

This interview is part of a series on Trailblazing Women role models (Entrepreneurs and Leaders) from around the world and first appeared on Global Invest Her. You have to see what you can be. 2015-10-17-1445107228-4749274-KatyLynch.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-17-1445107228-4749274-KatyLynch.png

"If you are somebody who is incredibly passionate about something, you have the potential to leave a huge mark on the world that will impact people's lives. That is what it ultimately means to be an entrepreneur - you are building something today that is going to impact people's lives tomorrow."
Prior to Techweek, Katy was the President and Founder of SocialKaty, Inc, Chicago's largest social media marketing agency. Founded in 2010, SocialKaty exploded, offering a rich set of services to a diverse portfolio of over 60 full-time clients, including AAA, Spartan Race, Beanie Babies, O-Cedar, ServiceMaster, and Firestone Tires. In July of 2014, Katy excitedly announced the merge between SocialKaty, Inc and Manifest Digital, a Chicago-based experience design agency. This combination created one of the largest social and content marketing teams in the U.S.
Starting her Social Media career in 2008, Katy was Social Media Manager of Where I've Been, Facebook's largest travel application. With almost 10 million members, Katy developed Where I've Been's online community for over 2 years. Subsequently, Chicago Tribune named her one of the most Influential 'Tweeters' in Chicago.
She is also involved in Mark Zuckerberg's immigration reform organization, FWD.US and in 2012 was named a Top 50 Tech influencers by Crains Chicago and placed on Thrillist's Top 50 Twitter Feeds To Follow.

Visit her website at www.techweek.com and follow her on Twitter @TheKatyLynch or @TechweekCHIWho is your role model as an entrepreneur?
I really love Elon Musk. I saw him speak in Chicago a few years ago. I love his story and hearing about his journey. He is such a great businessman, an awesome technologist and a fearless leader. The thing I find most admirable, is that he is bold and not afraid to take risks.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
"Starting, growing, raising money for and ultimately selling my social media marketing company, SocialKaty, was an awesome achievement. The most important job as a CEO is hiring the right people. Being able to choose exactly who I wanted on my team, train them and set them up for success and put all the right processes in place - those are the things I believe led us to our success."

You should always hire smarter people than you. You want to be able to work with someone who is charismatic, hard working, shares the same passion as you, who understands and believes your company values.

What has been your biggest challenge as a woman entrepreneur?
Honestly, my challenges don't boil down to me being a woman, they just boil down to me being an entrepreneur. When I first started Social Katy, hiring people was a challenge. Ultimately it's hard to find great people that you like, that you trust with your brand and are going to take your brand to the next level. I definitely wouldn't say that I've had challenges as a female entrepreneur.

What in your opinion is the key to your company's success?
The 2 P's - People and Processes. Both are valuable for different reasons and you can't have one without the other. Hiring A+ players is really key to the success of your business, but at the end of the day you also need processes, and you need those smart people in place to be able to execute your processes.

If you could do 1 thing differently, what would it be?
"I wouldn't change a thing! I think that's part of the beauty of being an entrepreneur. There is no right answer. Learn from your actions, whether it is positive or negative."
What would you say to others to encourage them to become entrepreneurs?
Now's the right time to be one. There are so many resources out there. I'm very lucky to be living in Chicago where is a thriving tech community and so many resources like 1871, the ITA, Women Tech Founders, MsTech... There are so many organisations. The other thing I would say is:
"If you are somebody who is incredibly passionate about something, you have the potential to leave a huge mark on the world that will impact people's lives. That is what it ultimately means to be an entrepreneur - you are building something today that is going to impact people's lives tomorrow."

Take that risk! There are a lot of people who want to be entrepreneurs and being afraid to take that risk is the one thing that's holding them back.
"Especially for young people, who don't yet have big responsibilities yet, take the risk now! Do it! You really don't have that much to lose."
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a visionary. I know how to create and articulate our goals and our vision and how to get people excited about those goals. Positive reinforcement is something that is very important to me, and I think my whole team would agree. They would say that I am positive, charismatic and know how to get people fired up. When everyone has that shared vision and are working towards the same goals, it creates a strong loyalty and work ethic.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
"Trust your gut and don't be afraid to take risks."

When I was younger, I spent too much time 'humming and hawing and hesitating' around things. If I could go back, I would shake myself and say 'Katy - trust your gut - go with it!'
"Never use excuses to hold you back from being an entrepreneur. Never use your gender, age, background or where you are from, to stop you from starting and leading a business".
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I have been with Techweek for 5 months now and everything is going very well. We are currently in 6 cities. As I look forward, one of the things I'm excited about it expanding the business internationally and domestically. I want to take Techweek from 6 cities, to hundreds of cities. That is what I'm focused on and excited about for the future.

3 key words to describe yourself?
  • Charismatic
  • Passionate
  • Positive

Watch Anne Ravanona's TEDx talk on Investing in Women Entrepreneurs.
For other interviews with Trailblazing Women leaders on Huffington Post Read More Here
Follow Anne Ravanona at @anneravanona, and check out other interviews in the Trailblazing women series on Global Invest Her blog
Learn more about Global Invest Herwww.globalinvesther.com

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