In Conversation with Jessica Naziri of TechSesh
Describe your business in a few words?
I’m an on-air tech expert, blogger, influencer, and a technology and digital media entrepreneur and founder of TechSesh, a community and sisterhood for young women in tech. My mission is to help create and endorse a growing number of female role models, advocate a more equal gender ratio, and empower more women leaders in the tech space. My career is an evolution from a journalism career writing for some of the largest publications to full-time influencer and founder of TechSesh.co.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business but was never sure I was ready. It became a mission after being let go by an LA tech start up and I was left to reflect. I was tired of going to work and being mansplained because I didn’t have a technical background or an object between my legs. I never felt fully accepted by my male peers. Needless to say, it created a fire under my belly. Not only did I want to help brands reach their female audience, but I wanted to create a community to help empower women to get into the tech industry and help break the stereotype of what someone in the industry should look like. So much of “women in tech” is focused on what women DON’T have: opportunity, mentorship, respect from peers, access to funding, etc. My goal with TechSesh.co is to change that discourse; no more pity parties & stop treating women like a charity case.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was a Tech Journalist at The LA Times and CNN.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always wanted to do something meaningful. For the longest time I wanted to be a foreign correspondent and a storyteller. After spending a large portion of my career as a journalist, starting my career at CNN and CNBC, I found another calling. Tech. Digital media. It was difficult at first, especially coming from a traditional Middle Eastern background where most women either don’t work or take safe professional routes. Till this day my parents still think I’m unemployed.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
My journey was a little different. Being that I was On Air for many years, I already had an audience that was interested in what tech I was using. When I decided to officially start as a business I became much more active on social media and luckily my audience began to notice. I wish I could say that I had a plan, the truth is that I was initially doing it for fun but turned into something special that I really enjoyed.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Progress is not linear. Even nos and failure will get you where you need to go. Spend your time not wasting your time. I have spent the last few months reworking my schedule to spend my time on important things.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
My son. He is everything.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
What is the biggest flaw? Bold right? Hire grinders. People who will do anything for the company and will stick by you.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Running a company, even in the best of times, can be intimidating, daunting, exhausting and the list goes on. Now add in the ongoing global pandemic, and it’s anything but business as usual.
We had a slew of events lined up for 2020, and unfortunately had to cancel nearly everything. Thankfully we were able to adjust and business picked right back up after the initial shock. I also had the time to finally work on some of the things that I always put aside and am super excited to implement them in 2021.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Exciting partnerships and products to come.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Mental health is everything. Put your phone down.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Trying to appear “perfect” is boring. Being honest, raw and vulnerable reminds people that you are human and not just a bubbly girl with a perfect life that talks about tech on Instagram. Instagram is a highlight reel but life is not.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Still managing it.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
As a mother it’s extra hard, but I think the best tip is to outsource. Get a VA to schedule your Tweets and manage your calendar, Grocery delivery on Sundays for Monday.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I speak Farsi fluently.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
With a little bit of trial and error, I have come across a few tactics that have helped me spend my work days more effectively: No morning meetings. Put your phone on airplane mode. Work for 30 minutes straight and then break.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Time is everything. It’s money, it’s actual time spent with my son, it’s self care, and it’s working past midnight. Being an entreprenista is choosing when and where I spend my time. (Let’s be real I would have been fired by now if I worked for someone else).