Brainstorm Tech Spotlight: Danae Ringelmann, Co-Founder and CCO Indiegogo
Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference (July 22-24 in Aspen, Colo.) regularly brings together the best and brightest minds in tech innovation. Each week, Fortune turns the spotlight on a different conference attendee to offer his or her own personal insight into business, tech, and entrepreneurship. This week, we asked Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann to answer 10 questions about life outside of work, the company she admires most, and industry advice for young entrepreneurs. Her responses follow.
What is the best advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received came from my father who said, “The world has a way of saying ‘no.’ It has a ton of inertia and it doesn’t like change, but it’s your job as an entrepreneur to keep saying ‘yes.’”
This advice was amazing was because it really prepared me for entrepreneurship which is a rollercoaster of “no’s” and “yes’s,” so every time I hit a “no” or anything went wrong, I just remembered that it was the world saying “no.” It always stopped me from getting phased and helped me to refocus on what the next step was to get us back on track.
What would you say to a group of young people looking to enter the tough job market?
Do what my mother always told me, which is to follow and pay close attention to your nature in order to identify your strengths and what you’re good at. Then, focus on articulating what types of people you like to work with and what types of problems you like to solve. Do those first and then go out to see which jobs match. Trying to pick a job and then seeing if you actually like it is much less efficient. Your career is definitely not a straight line. It’s very fluid, but if you keep in touch with your nature, it should feel organic and it will make sense. You won’t be fighting yourself.
What would you do if you weren’t working at your current job?
I don’t know. If I had an answer to that, I wouldn’t be at my current job. I love Indiegogo. I love that we give everyone an equal opportunity and don’t judge. I love that we’re proving to the world that finance doesn’t need gatekeepers and can be fair once and for all.
What was your biggest missed opportunity?
If there was one, I’ve forgotten it. There’s no room in my mind to [waste] remembering it. All you have is the moment in front of you now. You need to open your eyes to see that opportunities are everywhere.
What do you do for fun?
I spend as much time as possible with my friends and family outside. My nephew is two-years-old and every day he reminds me of how special life is.
What business or technology person do you admire most? Why?
My father. No matter how difficult a situation was financially, emotionally or ethically, he never cut corners. Every decision and action was made with selfless integrity because that was the right thing to do, not because he was trying to adhere to any external or societal norms.
What other companies do you admire? Why?
I admire all businesses, companies, organizations, and people who do what they do because of an authentic and genuine desire to solve a problem and help the world. What’s the point otherwise?
What technology sector excites you most?
Neuroscience and the study of consciousness. We’re on the brink of understanding ourselves and I believe that greater empathy across the human race is fundamental to actually solving our problems.
What do you do to live a balanced life?
I approach life with the goal of work-life integration, not necessarily work-life balance. I also take 15 minutes every day to clear my mind, I work out, and I smile as often as possible.
What is one characteristic that every leader should possess?
Every leader should desire to continually improve their self-awareness. No one is perfect and we wouldn’t want anyone to be. Often, flaws are endearing, but self-awareness enables leaders to see when their strengths are needed and when their weaknesses are getting in the way. Self-awareness empowers well-intentioned leaders to do what’s needed in the moment, not what their egos might want in the moment.