Where I am today.

The last time I published some thoughts here was quite some time – literally: years! – ago. In the meantime, I sold and dismantled my last startup and decided to take a break. It was urgently needed: I was burnt out and thoroughly fed up with a lot of aspects of entrepreneurial life. I also felt as if I couldn’t see the bigger picture any more – I was so lost, I needed to step back from it all and give myself time to heal.

Since closing the doors behind my last startup almost a year ago, I’ve been doing a bunch of smaller and larger projects, both personal and professional. I did a few consulting projects, amongst them a challenging but very satisfying project with great colleagues at Summer&Co, and I invested time in furthering my own education and skillset by looking more deeply into the world of business coaching, enganging with the fantastic team at scale up in Munich. I’m also greatly looking forward to intensifying my connections with enable2grow this year, where I feel that I will be able to leverage my skills and experience to generate real and lasting impact for clients in various branches of industry.

I am also currently reviewing my diaries that I wrote over the last ten years. Most entries are from the time I spent building Fast Forward Imaging, going through a lot of highs and lows along the way. I’ve realised that these diaries are three things: first, a treasure trove of information. How did I approach building my sixth startup, which mistakes did I make and where did we really manage to shine? Second, they are a reflection on the personal transformation that founders face when their dreams of building and scaling a company become reality. And thirdly, they are a brutally honest account of dealing with failure, large and small.

The combination of reading my diary and the work I have been doing with scale up has sparked an idea: the Scaleup Women project. I recently came across a British study showing that 40% of scaleups in the UK have women on their leadership teams. However, only 20% of startups in the UK are founded or co-founded by women, which leads to some interesting questions:

  • Are startups that have women in their founding teams more likely to become scaleups?
  • Can a startup increase its chances of becoming a scaleup by hiring women for their leadership teams?
  • What exactly is the influence that women in leadership roles have on companies in an intense growth phase?

I want to start an ongoing discussion with women in scaling companies to see where our experiences overlap or differ. I have no idea where this will lead – a book, a podcast, or quite simply a blog – but I believe that if we want to change the situation of women in the startup world, there is little better we can do than making it crystal clear what positive impact women have on companies in their growth phase.

So if you know a Scaleup Woman, I’d love to meet her 🙂

Here is a link to some further info on the project and my thoughts surrounding it: https://annarojahn.com/scaleup-women-2/

When Stuff Goes Wrong

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Stuff goes wrong. It does that all the time, and you allow for it when you make your plans. But sometimes things spiral out of proportion, beyond anything you imagined you may face. You come up against a challenge of a completely new and unexpected magnitude.

I wrote most of this blog post in Q4 2013 when I was faced with one of the biggest challenges in my career as an entrepreneur to date – not only on a professional but also on a personal level. I did not publish this post at the time, because I felt that I needed to gain some distance first.

Continue reading “When Stuff Goes Wrong”

We are Panda!

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This past Saturday, I got up early cursing and swearing at myself. Why the hell did I think to apply for an event that was scheduled to start between 8 and 9am on a Saturday? However looking back at the day, there is literally nothing better I could have spent my day doing than taking part in the Panda contest, a career competition for female leadership talent. 100 women were selected out of 500 applicants and met bright and early in the foyer of the Esplanade hotel in Berlin.

Continue reading “We are Panda!”

The Equality Dilemma, or: How Far Will Leaning In Really Get You?

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Disclaimer: I have yet to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ – my current thoughts are based on an brief overview I received during a workshop with the Berlin Geekettes and an impression I’ve formed through some of the commentaries on the book in the press and my direct circle of friends. I will try and post an update on this when I’ve actually read the book (and possibly pour out a whole bucket of ashes over my head, shouting out ‘Mea culpa! Mea culpa!’ when I do).

I recently joined a group of 60-or-so women for the first of two Berlin Geekettes workshops on Sheryl Sandberg’s book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but started feeling extremely uncomfortable only about ten minutes into the first session. Why? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Continue reading “The Equality Dilemma, or: How Far Will Leaning In Really Get You?”

Jess.

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It is pretty much impossible right now to be discussing women in the tech and startup world in Berlin without coming across my third interviewee, Jess Erickson. Jess founded the Berlin Geekettes network, and is currently busy building the Berlin base for General Assembly. Meeting Jess is easy – she seems to be everywhere at once – but finding time to sit down for a quiet chat is actually a bit of a challenge. However we finally manage to get together at Kommerzpunk, one of Jess’ favourite spots. Continue reading “Jess.”