On Being BOLD as Female Business Owner: Lessons for Women Entrepreneurs from the #SiliconSlopes Tech Summit

It’s not every day you meet someone who’s transformed an idea into a $1.8 billion business.

Last week I did, and we shook hands.

Josh James, Founder and CEO of Domo, gave me a compliment every female entrepreneur wants to hear. Here's what he said and what I learned from it.

We were at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit, a two-day event for Utah’s booming technology industry. The inaugural event was held at The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, and nearly 5,000 attendees heard from tech and business experts.

I walked in wearing an emerald green dress and new boots, ready to source new corporate anniversary clients for my start-up, AnniverStory™. I came prepared, with a curated target list of potential clients (thank you to my intern Stephanie!) and business cards at the ready. I told myself, “I’m getting three new clients out of this. Ready, go!”

Looking at the crowd, I’d guess only 1 in 10 were women.

The perk of being a gal in a sea of dark-suited men is you stand out. With the goal of meeting new clients, I didn’t mind being noticed.

In my first five minutes there, I practically bumped into Domo’s Josh James, a visionary business leader who took his company from inception to IPO to $1.8B sale. I knew his face from Twitter and had seen him in the news. He's something of a legend in Utah. Later that day I would see him on the main stage, interviewing the President of Pandora, but this was our 10 seconds together. I wasn’t going to miss it.

“Oh, it’s you. Hi, Josh James. I'm Crystalee,” I said, trying to sound brave as I extended my hand.

“Well, that’s a bold dress,” he smiled at me.

It was such a simple sentence, but I walked away feeling as if he’d handed me a $100 bill.

How’d he know that’s the word I was going for?


That interaction spurred me to approach a CEO of another big company, one on my target list, letting him know about my services. I passed my card out to potential collaborators, clients, and old friends. It felt good.

Almost a year in, business ownership is still a brave new world for me, but I believe in being fearless, even when fear may be bubbling under the surface. I believe we’re stronger than what frightens us. I believe that conquering fear is where the real fun starts in life.

Last year I decided I was done with letting fear stand in my way. It was time to spread my entrepreneurial wings. 

Letting go of fear leaves a wide open space for freedom. I’ve never been more excited about my work. I wake up on Mondays looking forward to helping my clients. I love what I do. I love the challenge of learning new things, the variety in my schedule, and living on my terms. I love that because I manage my time and talents, my kids get the best of me.

Being an entrepreneur has lit a fire that lights up all sorts of spaces in my soul.

By no means do I have business ownership all figured out. I'm making mistakes and learning new things every day. I think that's part of the fun.

I DO believe in myself and my ability to help others creatively tell their story. I do this through the written word and strategic celebratory events. I feel confident about that, and others are noticing. Even a billion-dollar-company leader.

So that’s the lesson for the business-owning ladies out there:

Be bold, girl.

Dress the part. Act the part. Show up like you mean it. Fake it for now if you have to.

You got this.

In my next post I’ll share about meeting Liz Wiseman, author of “Multipliers” and “Rookie Smarts,” who was one of the Summit Slopes Tech Summit keynote speakers. I had the incredible opportunity to spend a lovely lunch hour with her and her hand-picked friends. (She deserves her own post!)