EP: 139 How To Be Bold Professionally And Personally With Martha Aviles

BWW 139 | How To Be Bold

Have you ever experienced the incredible power of being motivated, pushed, and inspired by someone’s energy? And that’s exactly what my guest accomplished on today’s episode! Besides delivering an enlightening speech, Martha Aviles, the Marketing VP at Gigster in Austin, and I share a profound bond. As a woman, sitting at the top can be lonely, but I found Martha. She even pushed me to get a tattoo! If I have the courage to get it, I’ll share it with you!

During my chat with Martha, we discussed:

  • Her history as a first-generation Latina in the U.S. and the hard work it took for her to get where she is in her career.
  • Her perspective on being a Latina executive in the technology space.
  • The story behind Martha’s “bold” tattoo and what the word means to her.
  • How we can all be bolder professionally and personally.
  • How we can speak up at work, especially asking for the pay and benefits we deserve.
  • What the future of work looks like for talented professional women.

Tune in to this episode and be bold with Martha!

Listen to the podcast here

How To Be Bold Professionally And Personally With Martha Aviles

How are you doing out there? I hope wherever you are, the weather is beautiful, the sun is shining, and you’re having a wonderful season. For those that may be in Australia or the opposite season, I hope you’re enjoying your weather out there. I want to start with a question, “Have you ever had someone motivate, push, and inspire you just with their sheer energy?” My guest in this episode, Martha Aviles, who is an executive in the tech space, did that. I felt like I was meeting another soul sister out there and know everyone, I did not meet her via LinkedIn. I connected with her public relations firm and it was such a good conversation.

When you get to a certain level of leadership as a woman, it can get so lonely. It can feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to. It’s isolating. I was so excited that I have found one of my people in Martha. She gets me. I get her. I understand some of the struggles that she was discussing and she even pushed me to get a tattoo. I’ve been thinking about it since our conversation. If I ever have the moxie to get it, if I’m ever that brave that I get one on my wrist or on my arm, I will be sure to share it with all of you. You’ve heard it here first. If I ever get a tattoo of the word brave, I will be sure to share it with all of you.

During my chat with Martha, we discussed her history as a first-generation Latina in the US and the hard work it took for her to get where she is in her career. We also talked about startup companies. For anyone that’s in a startup situation, how hard it is to be in a startup. We talked about her perspective on being a Latina executive in the tech space, and the story behind her own Bold tattoo. She has the word Bold tattooed on her and what that word means to her.

How we can be bolder professionally and personally. We talked a lot about that during our conversation. How we can speak up at work, which is near and dear to my heart, especially asking for the pay and benefits we deserve. Martha’s example of being bold is out there. You want to read that. Also, what Martha and I believe the future of work looks like for talented professional women like you.

Here’s more about Martha. She is the VP of Marketing at Austin-based Gigster, a firm that accelerates the delivery of digital transformation applications, giving companies the agility to thrive in a software-defined world. With over twenty years of high-tech marketing experience in SaaS, semiconductor, networking, and network security at startups, private and public companies, she is a fierce marketing leader. Martha has a gift for building and growing high-performance marketing teams, and corporate brands, and inspiring thought leadership.

BWW 139 | How To Be Bold

Her extensive experience includes lead generation, integrated marketing, product marketing, digital marketing, public relations, brand management, analyst relations, and crisis communications. In addition, she has successfully led through twenty-plus mergers and acquisitions, including managing several integration and acquisition exits.

Prior to joining Gigster, she was the VP of Marketing at Austin-based Talroo and also held senior leadership roles in marketing at RigUp, now Workrise, and Enverus. Both of which have reached unicorn status based in Austin. Martha is an MBA graduate from the University of Texas and holds a BBA from Texas A&M University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, and she welcomes that.

Before we get started, if you are enjoying the show, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. As I always say, if you’ve already left a rating and review, I thank you so much. Leaving a rating and review helps the show gain traction and grow. The support that you’ve already shown me means the world to me. It encourages me to keep bringing good guests on and to create content for you. Thank you so much.

Also, since Martha and I chatted quite a bit about negotiation and asking for what you want on the show, make sure to download my new freebie, Get Paid: 10 Negotiation Tips. I am so jazzed when I hear my clients, family members, friends, and colleagues. They get paid after they went and asked for it. They went and opened their mouth and were confident. They asked for more money.

I understand that it doesn’t always happen that easily, but when I hear those stories, it makes my entire day or my entire week. I want the same thing for you too. If you’re negotiating a raise in your midyear review or if you’re going through the negotiation process in a new job, this freebie is for you. Go and grab it at BraveWomenAtWork.com. Let’s welcome Martha to the show.

Martha, welcome to the show. How are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m good. Again, thanks for being here. We’d love to hear more about your backstory. You’re a fellow executive like I am in a different space, but we’d love to hear more about your story and how you’ve gotten to where you are now.

I’m a first-generation American, born in Miami, Florida to Nicaraguan immigrant parents. I learned English when I was 5 or 6. I didn’t need English before that living in Miami. My father is an electrical engineer. He moved to this country without knowing the language and had a child a week after he arrived in this country. He moved up the corporate ladder. I say that because it’s important to know that he’s an electrical engineer because I’ve always worked in tech.

It’s because immigrant parents had three choices for us, either doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Those were pretty much the only career choices that were given. That sounds silly but that’s the way it was. I knew that I didn’t want to be an engineer but I wasn’t scared of the technology because my dad pushed me into coding classes and setting up area networks, “You’re going to learn about how to build a computer now,” and all of that. That’s how I got started in tech.

I’ve been doing it for over twenty years. I graduated undergrad shortly after 9/11, which wasn’t a great time to graduate. I had an offer rescinded at a large organization and I didn’t know what rescinded meant when I was 22. I’ll be completely honest with you. I was like, “What? I don’t get to have this job?” They had laid off a bunch of people because the economy was soft because of 9/11 if we can remember way back then. I started in startups and it made my career. It was the only company that was hiring. I couldn’t find a job so I took life in a startup.

I can only imagine how hard it was graduating out of 9/11 disillusionment. What was that like? I was a few years ahead of you. I graduated in ’99. It was a few years before but that had to be so hard.

I was an intern in the late ’90s and this was before the dot-com bubble. I made more as an intern than I did as a graduate and it was hard. I am someone who’s always loved cars, and this is silly, but I used to have a spreadsheet of all the cars I was going to buy. I remember graduating thinking, “I’ll never buy these cars now,” because I thought my salary as an intern or my hourly salary ended up being more.

However, even the offer that was rescinded was $30,000 more than I was making at a startup. It’s in my genes or it’s in my nature to hustle. I knew I wanted to hustle and I had to work hard. I had to get over myself. I didn’t give myself a lot of time to mourn what could have been. I worked through like, “How can I learn everything about marketing at a startup and go from there?” It wasn’t easy but I was grateful to have a job at the end of the day because there were so many people unemployed at the time.

One last thing on your background with startups. I’ve never worked in a startup before, but I’ve heard stories from afar on the hours are out of the realm. Has that been your experience where you’re like, “It’s not for the faint of heart?”

The startups get in the media or TV, the pop culture, everyone’s like, “Startups are exciting and sexy.” I’m not saying that they’re not, but it is not for the faint of heart. On the TV show, we may laugh about this, that, or the other because things are exaggerated, what have you but they also don’t show you how much work has to go into creating something and building something from scratch.

Everybody, PSA, if you’re going to a startup like Martha, she can tell you the real deal because it’s not an 8 or 9-hour workday. It takes some sweat equity and you got to want it. Thank you for being honest, vulnerable, and transparent about startup life. One thing that we talked about before you jumped on is your trajectory as a Latina woman. I want you to be authentic and as real as you feel comfortable in your experience with navigating the corporate environment as a Latina executive.

It is not easy. When I was younger, I’m someone that’s a lifelong learner. I’m always seeking and looking for answers. I read a lot. As I realized that I wanted to be an executive, I was like, “What do I need to do to be able to do that?” Naively in the beginning, I didn’t realize that it was very obvious to other people that I was Latina, if that makes sense.

When I was young in my twenties, I was like, “This is a level playing field. What do I need?” I went and got an MBA from the University of Texas. It’s a great school. I thought, “That’s a card that I’m going to have to use and leverage,” because at that point I was 32. I realized that I needed an extra card to play because I had seen some of the racist or sexist comments.

What I’ve now learned is that you need to find advocates within the organization that are influential at the executive level. You also need to advocate for yourself and you have to be okay with not all places are for you. I’ll be completely frank. In 2014 or 2015, I was 34 or 35 years old, I was looking for an executive coach that was Hispanic, that had done either marketing or sales, or had been a former operator in a business, and I couldn’t find one.

You really need to find advocates within the organization that are influential at the executive level. You also need to advocate for yourself and that you have to be okay with 'not all places are for you.' Share on X

I looked for two years because I wanted someone that could relate to me. There were too many times that I got feedback that was like, “Why don’t you behave more like Scott? Why don’t you present like Scott?” By the way, Scott is not a name. I’m just inserting a male executive name here. It was hard. I started at Gigster and I’ll be completely honest with you, it’s 2023. You would think that we had gotten further away from that, from stereotypes, and that thing but there were so many executive recruiters.

I’m going to say at least five said to me, “This should be easy because DEI is all the rage and you’re Latina and a woman.” It was said in a not supportive way, and that’s 2023. I’m talking January and February 2023 and I decided not to work with those people but I will say that being Latina, I haven’t been able to find a way to leverage it. I’m not ashamed of being Latina. I’m only letting you know that it’s the reality of it.

That also shows me that you worked hard to get to where you are. I want to congratulate you for the success you’ve had and I’m sure you will continue to have in your career. How did you keep the faith and the confidence up during this journey so far?

I didn’t always. I knew that I wanted to be a CMO and then a CEO, and that’s still what I would like. However, it was a struggle. I’m a lifelong learner, but I found coaches and marketing advisors. I went and got an MBA. I am a voracious reader. I had to find my own way. Now, I’ve realized that what I was missing is probably community and people that I could relate to.

I’ve got a couple of executive friends. They are not Latina. They’re Caucasian but it is helpful to have that group around you. I also joined Chief seeking the same thing because female executives can be isolating and being a woman of color is an added layer to that. I have my North Star and I keep grinding at it, but I have good days and bad days. Part of the reason why I do these shows, I’m an introvert and this is not my most comfortable setting, but I want other people to either reach out to me or hear my story because I’ve been there.

I’ve struggled. I’ve cried. I’ve been angry. I’ve felt like I can’t be angry at work. I felt like I can’t assert myself at work because you’re going to get typecast as the spicy Latina. There are so many things that we get compared to men. There’s that double standard that still exists. It’s part of the reason why I do these shows so that someone else can hear the story and maybe take one piece of it and be like, “I’m going to be okay.” You’ll make it to the other side of that bad day.

That is so good. You made my whole day. Hearing why you do the show, not for your own self-promotion, but to help one person, to inspire one person, and to give someone hope. Whether you believe it or not, I am a fellow introvert. I’m more of an ambivert. I can flex both directions and I suspect that you might be able to do the same. Again, I appreciate you being here.

Thanks for having me.

You’re a voracious reader and learner. Do you have any resources that you would recommend? Any books you’ve read, any other podcasts, or any other resources you’d be like, “Ladies, if you are looking to advance, here are some things that I would highly recommend?”

Yeah. I’m obsessed with Brené Brown. I hope she reads this one day and will reach out to me. Anything Brené Brown, I have read most of her books 2 or 3 times. I know that sounds silly, but every time I feel like I learn more, whether it’s Dare to Lead, The Power of Vulnerability, and all of that. Tech culture is changing but it was very macho and broey. e don’t talk about our vulnerabilities and I’ve embraced all of that. I highly recommend that.

If you’re a fellow introvert, I’ve read Quiet a couple of times because that helps. Whether you’re an introvert or whether you manage introverts, you need to know how to work with others. All of the podcasts that I’ve done, I can’t say enough about all of them. I love that women are rooting for each other, trying to support each other, and having a narrative around that.

BWW 139 | How To Be Bold
How To Be Bold: Whether you’re an introvert or whether you manage introverts, you need to know how to work with others.

Also, StrengthsFinder. This is something that I do with all of my teams, whether someone new is coming in or whether I’ve joined a new organization and there are team members there already. It was a pivotal change in my career. Up until I got my MBA, I always thought I had to be good at everything, and I still think you have to be good at a lot of things.

However, once I read StrengthsFinder, I realized, “Why don’t I hone in on the things that I’m already good at? Make those superpowers and stop trying to be good at everything.” As women, we’re highly empathetic and we want to be good at everything. We want to support everyone. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder was super helpful. Those would be my hit list.

Those are good resources. I knew we were going to get along because I consider Brené Brown my fairy godmother. I also read a lot of her things and talk about her all the time on this show. Martha, one of my dreams is, “How can I get Brené on this show?” It would make my whole year. If you know Brené or know someone who knows Brené, please hook us up.

Hopefully, you can get Brené. I’ll be a silent partner, but I want to talk to her.

As I was doing research on you and preparing for the show, you shared on LinkedIn you have a personal tattoo with the word Bold. I was like, “I love that. I got to ask Martha.” Why did you decide to get that tattoo and what does the word Bold mean to you?

My executive coach at the time was the one that I was having at least 1 or 2 meltdowns. Her name was Jen too, by the way. I was like, “Jen, I’m never going to be a White man. It’s not going to happen. I’m not good at it.” She was like, “Let’s unpack that.” She walked me through it. As we were having those conversations, I had the a-ha of, “I’m not going to be good at it because that’s not who I am.” I started to embrace who I am a little bit more but she was like, “You’re one of the most bold people I’ve ever met.” I was like, “What?” She’s like, “Yeah.”

We had this whole conversation about being bold. In my case, I’ll come back to why I got the tattoo, but in my case, being bold means owning who you are and blazing your own trail. I’ve had to do that. I’m a first-generation American. There was no one to model after. I don’t come from a long line of female executives or all of this. Everything is brand new to this country. One day, Jen told me that I was bold and I was like, “Okay.”

Being bold means owning who you are and blazing your own trail. Share on X

She had me write a highlights list of what are all the times that I showed up bold and in my authentic self. I was like, “You’re right.” She helped me figure out that I was bold. One day, I was having a rough day at work. I had a tough board meeting and I drove over to the tattoo shop and I was like, “I need you to put a tattoo on my wrist right here.” He was like, “This font’s not bold.” I said, “Yes. Just tattoo Bold on my wrist.”

I’ll be honest with you, to me, it’s only a daily reminder to show up bold because I am bold and I’ve had to be bold. Again, I’m a work in progress. I don’t want this to come across as, “I’m way up here. This is how you do it.” That’s not it. I struggle all the time, but this was like, “Let’s have this permanent reminder of it.” I liked the word and it stuck with me. It helps me when I’m struggling. I think, “You have a tattoo. How do you want to show up? Do you want to show up bold? Do it.”

Do you have any regrets about getting that tattoo?

I don’t. When I’m 90, I’m going to remove the B, it’ll say, “Old,” and I’ll be a sweet old lady, but for now, I’ll just rock it. That’s the other thing. I didn’t have my first tattoo until I was 32, but I did it for several different reasons. My sister got cancer and I realized that life is short. Do what you want. I’d never had tattoos before because I wanted to be respected in Corporate America. I was always thinking about my image and trying to manage that. I realized after many years of doing this, it didn’t matter. Either you were going to value me for my work product and my character or my person. I have a visible tattoo that says, “Bold.”

That is awesome and now, you’re pushing me. You don’t even know this, but I’ve always wanted to put the word Brave. That’s why I have the title of the show. Brave is the idea of being bold or brave or going for it because life is too short. I very much resonate with your story. Let’s keep in touch because I want to make sure. Maybe in a year, you’ll be like, “Jen, did you ever get that Brave tattoo?” I’ll be like, “Martha.” You’ll keep me accountable.

You should get it. I’m telling you, I look at it often. If I’m having a bad day, I look down. I’m like, “Breath.”

Let’s use the word unpack. Let’s unpack the word bold for other women that are reading. As working women, as female leaders, can we be bold in our decisions? Let’s start professionally and not look back. One of the things that I read about you is that you had an example that I’d love for you to share, which is that you had to leave a dream job or what you say was a dream job after being forced to lay off. This freaked me out. You had to lay off 70% of your staff due to the industry tanking. It might have been oil and gas. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that story and expand on how we can be bold in our decisions and not look back?

This is something that I coach lots of women on. Often, we want a very laser approach to our careers. First careers are not a perfect ladder. It’s not linear, and we fall in love with the idea. In this case, I was the Head of Marketing at a unicorn company. It’s worth $1 billion. I had a big team and I thought I was pretty awesome.

In March of 2020, a thing called the pandemic hit. I’m sure we all know, but also, oil and gas went negative. The C-Suite came to me and said, “You got to lay off this many people.” It’s difficult to lay people off, and I was crushed because I was like, “This was my dream job.” However, what we can do is deal with the present. Those were the cards I was dealt. How can I make the best decision for the company, which I tried to do right by both the people that we let go and the people that we retained, which was only four people?

I knew that my spirit just wasn’t in it to win it anymore, and I am one of those people. I needed to find a new job, even if that meant taking a step back or going to a different industry or a smaller company, which I did. With being bold, you have to figure out what’s right for you. Get centered around what your values are and don’t fall in love with what’s on paper. Sometimes that means raising your hand even when you’re scared. It means saying the comment even when you’ve got that little voice in your head saying, “Why are you going to say this?”

Figure out what's right for you. Get centered around what are your values and don't fall in love with what's on paper. Share on X

It means leaving a job that people on paper would’ve been like, “This is a perfect job. Why would you leave?” You don’t have to do anything for anyone else but yourself. How can you continue to invest in yourself? It’s by being aligned with your values. You have to sometimes do things that are scary. It would’ve been fine to stay there and the executive team there was upset when I left. It was a hard two weeks. They were like, “We kept you. Why are you leaving this?”

They almost felt betrayed on some level but a month later, I got an email from the CEO and he said, “I learned a lot because you left,” and I appreciated that. It was one of those things where I was doing what wasn’t common. What everyone would’ve said, “Why are you doing this? There’s a pandemic. You laid off 70% of your team and you can stay. You have the job. Why would you leave?” However, I knew it wasn’t the right place for me anymore and I needed to move on.

That is bold. You left the company during the pandemic, is that correct? The free world has shut down. Everyone’s in total panic. People are on different ends of the spectrum. People think that this could be the end of humanity as we know it and you’re like, “Forget this. I’m going to leave my job.” What went through your brain with that? Was it an easy decision or did you agonize over it and say, “It would be so much easier for me to stay in comfort?”

I agonized over it. I’m a very introverted person when it comes to that. I probably didn’t sleep for six weeks. Leading up to the layoff, it took us six weeks and there wasn’t a lot of sleep there. I was still there for 6 or 8 more weeks and it was difficult. I wanted to be thoughtful about where I wanted to go, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it wasn’t going to be the place for me. I learned that the hard way.

As I mentioned, I’ve done a lot of startups and there have been times when I was either acquired by a large company or in this case, it was HP. HP wanted me to go work there. They said it’s going to be a startup. It’s this little incubator team. You’re going to love it. I had a retention bonus and all that. HP at the time was a 350,000-person company. There was no way it was going to be a like a startup but I drank the Kool-Aid. I was like, “I’m going to be able to do this.”

I’ll be honest with you, while I met some great people there, it wasn’t the environment for me. On day one, I knew it. I was only there for eighteen months but I felt slowly I was withering away and not myself because I stayed for eighteen months for a retention bonus that wasn’t that large. I was like, “I’m never doing that to myself again.”

I knew it affected my mental health because that’s not who I am. I’m a builder. If you put me in an optimization job, I’ll probably get fired. I will fail. I knew because I had done it before. I’ve made mistakes. Sometimes people will ask me, “How have you done all this?” I’m like, “I’ve screwed up a whole lot,” but I’m someone that learns like that. It was a learning. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, and that’s how it works.

I love what you said. A lot of the women reading, me included, say, we’re recovering perfectionists or it’s just a part of our nature. I have to ask, how have you learned to embrace failure in an instructive way and not in a, “I’m going to beat myself up,” way?

That has been an interesting journey. I will always say, I’ll go back to all my learning and my coaching and I have therapists. They all drive Ferraris, probably by now. I treat it like, “This is an experiment,” because if you think about it, there is no playbook for life. Things can happen whether it’s health issues, company issues, a pandemic, or whatever. There are all these variables that can affect your path.

If you think of everything like an experiment, “We’re going to try this and it’s an experiment. Maybe it’ll work and maybe it’s not going to work.” That reframing has helped me a lot. I will say that reframing didn’t happen for me probably until about 2020. I used to get upset and tied to outcomes. I am a recovering perfectionist still, but if we think about it, there are so many things that can happen in life that are variables that are thrown at us that you can’t see coming. We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t have a playbook. You only have to do the best you can, show up as much as you can, and sometimes, you take it on the chin. It’s all an experiment and we’ll see.

I’ve been saying to myself about some other work that I’m doing with coaching women and things like that. The readers know that I want to launch a group program this fall. Part of me is like, “I got to perfect it. I got to make it perfect,” and it’s the beta. In my mind, I’m coaching myself. I’m like, “Jen, if you don’t launch this, that’s the failure. If you launch it and you learn, then there is no failure because you’ve done it anyway.”

I have to nerd out for one second. I have 160 plants in my house. I used to get these expensive plants and try to take care of them. I wanted the plants to be big and it was this whole thing. It’s my creative outlet but now, I treat all the plants as an experiment. If you happen to lose one, you’re not crestfallen on like, “I killed this plant. I didn’t do this right.” I don’t know. This is an experiment. My plants have been growing much more now that I don’t get so wrapped around the axle with, “This has to get big.”

Your plants are like, “She’s more chill, so I’m going to grow.” Maybe they do feel the stress of us. I don’t know. We’re being funny right now, but it’s a metaphor for our teams and our life. If we hold the wheel too tight, things aren’t going to flow. Things aren’t going to grow. You’ve already said you’re a builder so you can’t build when you’re holding on so tight.

The plants remind me of that all the time.

You talk about self-worth and asking for what we want or deserve. I am all about that as well, including getting higher pay and better benefits. As I was researching you, I saw that you asked for a 30% raise and you got it. Can you please tell us about that story and the idea of self-worth?

Self-worth is something that we can always improve on, including myself. I was at a startup and I started as an events coordinator. By the time that startup got acquired, I was running all of marketing. It was in 3 or 4 years. It was because I hustled and I worked hard. I realized quickly, “I’m underpaid.” I went and looked at the data online.

BWW 139 | How To Be Bold
How To Be Bold: Self-worth is something that we can always improve on.

I started talking to recruiters to understand what I should be making at that level. I started talking to other organizations. I didn’t have an offer or anything in hand. Now, I’m a homeowner so I might approach it differently. I was getting close to an offer. I was in the final stages with a couple of different companies and I walked into the CEO’s office. I reported to him and I said, “I would like you to pay me this. Here’s why.”

I laid out all of the processes, systems, and positive outcomes that the marketing team had done over the last few months under my direction. I said, “If you’re not willing to pay me this, I am going to leave.” You can only play that card once. Let me be clear, I have not done it any other time. That card is reserved very few times but it was a perfect storm. They were like, “We’re underpaying you. You can have this raise.” It was pretty bold. Now, that I’m chuckling because I was only 28. I don’t know that I would play that way now, but it was one of those things where I almost did have another job and I didn’t have any dependents so I was willing to go for it.

Being in my mid-40s, 28 feels like a beginner’s mind. I’m sure you may relate to that, but that boldness that we’re talking about, even when we get into our 40s and beyond and mid-career, we can sometimes get a little complacent. I keep appreciating your examples of boldness no matter where you are in your career because we start playing it safe, or at least, I’ve played it safe as I’ve been getting older.

I’m like, “This is fine.” Let’s not live with just fine. Let’s live with exciting and meaningful work experiences and living with those bold moves. We get an opportunity to make those bold moves and sometimes they can pass us by if we don’t harness the energy and the opportunity that life gives. What do you think about that?

I’m someone that likes words and quotes, hence the tattoo. My quote for 2023 has been, “You didn’t come this far just to come this far,” because I’ve seen that. I have shaved off a little bit of my boldness in certain situations or maybe I get deferential and I’m like, “Life is too short. We have to be the main character of our story. We need to be in places where we can thrive.” If you’re in a place where you’re not thriving, ask yourself why. If it’s things that are external to you, then leave. You don’t have to be there.

I appreciate the advice that you’re giving. Let’s go to a broader question because, with all of your experience, you probably have a solid response to this, but I want to know. Post-pandemic, what do you think the future of work looks like for women or what would you like it to look like? You could answer either one way or the other, or both.

Hopefully, what executives look like is starting to change because there are so many more companies that are working from home. What matters is your impact and outcomes and not so much the politics. The pandemic has helped that. I don’t think we’re here now, but I hope we get to a point where people aren’t saying, “You’re a Latina and a woman. DEI is all the rage.” I want it to be a place where we can all be equal.

There are differences between men and women from different cultures, but diversity is important because you get the strongest ideas that way and it’s been proven. You can go and read in Forbes or wherever that diverse companies make more revenue and ultimately, drive better outcomes. I hope that we can get there. The pandemic has started to level the playing field a little bit, but we have to continue pushing the envelope. This is why people like you that are doing this awesome work of giving women a platform to be heard is awesome. We’ve got to continue doing things like that.

What scares me, as an anecdote, is that there are industries and businesses that are pushing for a return to the office for example for the full five days. It’s not necessarily tax, but I’m in banking and financial services. There’s this push to be more in the office. I’m sure it’s beyond banking. There are other industries that are similar and I’m like, “That’s not going to work for top talent long term.” It’s not, or not now, especially for women who we know, and I hope it’s improving.

In my own home, I’m thankful that my husband and my partner are so even in terms of caring for our children, picking this up, going there, and making dinners. I’m very blessed, but women still on the whole carry that uneven burden of work and we need flexibility. I’ll beat that drum until the day I die. We have to keep pushing because we do need more flexibility. We do need to be more inclusive. Those are real hot buttons for me when it comes to women and work in general.

I wholeheartedly agree and I’m going to say this. This is a bold statement. I hope that those companies and those industries that are pushing people to go back into the office for the sake of going back into the office end up paying with their revenue not increasing as much. It’s because you’re not going to be able to attract top talent. Hopefully, the top talent will go to the more progressive companies and those other companies will end up learning their lesson the hard way. I want to prove that point.

You want to prove it to be like, “You’re not going to keep top talent. You’re not going to make the bigger revenue with being in your grandfather’s culture.” We talked on the show about the Industrial Revolution, the 9:00 to 5:00. Let’s kill it already. Let’s allow people to get work done how and when they can do it. Let’s trust our people because when we trust our people, they work harder for us. That’s my PSA and newsflash for everybody.

Trust is imperative and I wholeheartedly agree.

I would love your response on this. What are 1 or 2 ways that women can be bolder at work now?

Make the ask, raise the hand, or make the comment. If we don’t do it, we won’t know what happens. I can’t encourage that enough. Also, find allies, advocates, and influencers in your organization that can help you get ahead. Who are the people that are in the right room that you want to be in, that can advocate for you? I didn’t realize how important that was.

If we don't do it, we won't know what happens. Share on X

As a child of immigrants, we were taught to work hard. That’s what I knew. “You need to work hard. When you’re tired, you haven’t worked hard enough.” However, all of the advocacy and having someone that has your back and is your ally is incredibly helpful. I devalued it for a long time in my career not knowing about it so I encourage that.

I appreciate that, especially, the community. I too try to be a lone wolf and it doesn’t work, especially if you’re a female and you have a Latina female executive. You have some extra strikes there and you’ve had to work hard to get where you are. Thank you for that advice. As we’re wrapping up here, where can women find you and connect with you online?

Go ahead and shoot me a note on LinkedIn. My last name is Aviles. I love connecting with other women. I’m also part of Chief. If you happen to be in Chief, stop by and say hello. I’m happy to connect with anyone on LinkedIn and go from there.

Thank you again, Martha, for being on. It’s been so fun and a pleasure to have you on this episode.

Thanks for having me, Jen. I appreciate this conversation.

That’s a wrap on my chat with Martha in this episode. As always, I hope you found the conversation both valuable and inspiring. Here are a few journal or thought prompts, until next time. What does the word bold mean to you? Where can you take a bold step professionally or personally? Again, it doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a baby step. How can you hold yourself accountable for that bold step? Who can you tell about your plan, your dream, your career vision, or whatever it may be?

Get an accountability partner. Hire a coach. Talk to a colleague. Talk to your boss. You can even send me a DM on social media or join the Brave Women at Work private Facebook community to get extra support. Whatever you need to do, take one of those little bold steps each and every day. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast platform. Until next time, show up, be bold, and be brave.

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About Martha Aviles

BWW 139 | How To Be BoldMartha Aviles is VP of Marketing at Austin-based Gigster, a firm that accelerates the delivery of digital transformation applications giving companies the agility to thrive in a software-defined world. With 20+ years of high-tech marketing experience in SaaS, semiconductor, networking,
and network security at start-ups, private, and public companies, she is a fierce marketing leader. Martha has a gift for building and growing high-performance marketing teams, corporate brands, and inspiring thought leadership.

Her extensive experience includes lead generation, integrated marketing, product marketing, digital marketing, public relations, brand management, analyst relations, and crisis communications. In addition, she has successfully led through 20+ mergers and acquisitions, including managing several integration and acquisition exits. Prior to joining Gigster, she was VP of Marketing at Austin-based Talroo, and also held senior leadership roles in marketing at RigUp (now Workrise) and Enverus – both of which have reached Unicorn status in Austin. Martha is an MBA graduate from the University of Texas and holds a BBA from Texas A&M University. Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maviles/

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