Hayley Nelson - Connector and Confidante

What are your “and” words and why? Connector and Confidante. Connector-- I like to connect with smart people to share ideas. I love meeting movers and shakers who inspire me to aim higher or go outside of my comfort zone. I'm fascinated by the culture of companies (especially for women), how companies are run, and the challenges people face in the tech and media worlds. I love connecting people who have the potential to hit it off, collaborate or work together in some capacity. I have actually made some great job matches for people I know! Confidante-- I like to dive deep with people to learn about what motivates them, coach them on challenges and give advice on career paths. People know I will keep what they share private, and that they can use me as a sounding board. 

What you are known for saying / a quote from you. What does this quote mean to you, (or if it’s from someone else, why does it inspire you)? Go for it! If you want to do something, don’t get stuck on the barriers to getting there. Figure out ways to get around them to make it happen. If something is not working for you--you have the power to change it! Don’t settle. Go big! When an opportunity comes your way, seize the day! Carpe diem!

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? I am so impressed by the lady CMOs of San Francisco-- from Carolyn Feinstein at DropBox to Andrea Mallard at Athleta to Melissa Waters at Lyft-- these ladies lead large and fast-moving organizations, while raising families at home. I am also so inspired by my close friends who happen to be CEOs-- Shani Higgins, formerly of Technorati, Sara Olsen of Go Strategy Partners, and Enmi Sung Kendall of Healthy Ventures. They give me great career advice and guidance every step of the way. I am constantly in awe of how smart and capable they are.

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? I wasn’t very aware of having limits when I was growing up. I started off thinking I would be an Olympic athlete or Broadway dancer, then I thought maybe a run for office! My parents were good at encouraging me to charge ahead. I think constraints only came into the picture for me later in life! And now that I’m in my forties, I see how lucky I was to have that support system and worldview during that formative time. I try to instill that in my own kids-- the world is your oyster! What will you choose? We are so fortunate to have so much choice.

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? On days when I’m not feeling at the top of my game, my kids help me keep it all in perspective. Being a mom is more challenging for me than any job I’ve ever had. My kids really keep my on my toes. They challenge me in ways I never expected. And they motivate me to be my best self.

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? Get inspired by getting to know more awesome women who are out there blazing trails. Don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for introductions and brainstorm with people. And don’t get discouraged if people don’t write you back. Most will!

Sometimes, however, it’s a good idea to turn inward to listen to your own thoughts. Go on a hike, bike ride, or whatever you enjoy most, and just let the thoughts come to you. I can often piece something together best when I am in motion and not in front of a computer. That’s when great ideas come into focus.

Hayley is the head of content marketing at Airbnb.