Kimberly Wiefling - Passionate and Scrappy

Image by Jovanni Casaus,

Image by Jovanni Casaus,

What are your “and” words and why? Passionate and Scrappy! - Passionate - because I'm very emotionally intense about my work and my life. Scrappy - because I strongly believe that, at my core, I AM a badass warrior, and I am capable of pretty much anything I determine to do, albeit not always in a socially acceptable or politically correct way. When I was working at HP long ago in their analytical products group I had several engineering and project management jobs. One of them involved "explosion testing,” where I took a $100,000 mass spectrometer and purposely blew it up using hydrogen. As a reliability engineer I also did shock and vibration testing as well as drop testing - dropping those same $100K instruments from 3 feet to see how they'd hold up. My mother once asked me if I was sure that I was supposed to be doing things like that at work! My motto at that time was "When it absolutely, positively has to be destroyed overnight, bring it to me!"

Want to know more about what it means to be scrappy? Here's my official definition:

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)? Many things SEEM "impossible" until your competitor does it. Then you realize it was MERELY difficult! I use my passionate and scrappy powers to support myself and others in achieving what seems impossible, but is merely difficult. Often "impossible" is achieved through cooperation and collaboration. And sometimes it just happens magically, through the most astonishing synchronicity. While I was still a "wage slave" in the corporate world I dreamed of having my own business, writing a book that would become internationally famous, and transforming Planet Earth for the better. Ridiculous! Well, it was at the time, but I kept those dreams alive. I wrote down those dreams. I found "thinking partners" to talk with about my dreams. Over the years those dreams turned into goals, and those goals developed into plans. One day while I was still working full-time in the corporate world I got some business card stock for my printer, made up a name for my company, printed some business cards, and started passing them out and telling people I had my own business. To my astonishment, they believed me! My first business was career coaching, with a nerdy name "LaPlace Career Transforms," named after an obscure mathematical function I'd learned during my 7 years studying physics in university. I offered a free coaching session to a dozen friends in exchange for their feedback on my process. Pretty soon I had testimonials, recommendations, and a dozen "clients" to talk about. Never mind that nobody was paying me (yet!). It took me about six years from the time I dreamed of having my own business until actually launching it. When I did finally launch it, it was Feb. 1, 2001, just about the worst possible time to launch a business in Silicon Valley - during the so-called bust. As I like to say to others starting their own businesses, "The first 5 years are the hardest!" Yup, I wanted to give up plenty of times, but when I felt that way I'd put a date on my calendar six months in the future and say "I'll quit on that day if I still feel this way." Through a series of good luck and miracles I never had to make good on that threat!

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? Hannah Kain, Founder and CEO of ALOM, Inc. Hannah is supremely capable and competent, and she's been a source of encouragement and support for me throughout the past 20 years. She always takes time to help other Ladybadasses on their journey to badassery, and she's a ton of fun as well, with a laugh that could light up all of Silicon Valley! Once when I visited her home I was delighted to find that she is married to one of my idols, Jakob Nielsen, famous for his thought leadership in usability design. I got to see his underwear drying on a clothing rack, and that was as close to a famous person as I had ever been!

Dr. Francine Gordon, one of the first women faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business long ago. Francine is one of the few people on Planet Earth who knows me fully, with all of my flaws, and loves me - NOT in spite of them - but completely WITH all of my flaws. She has been there for me during dark times, and has shared our life journeys through an amazing array of adventures, including lots of time spent working together for Japanese companies and trying to figure out how to ask in Japanese "Is this meal kosher?"

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? When I was a kid, about 12 years old, and I drove dune buggies, snow mobiles, speed boats, did water skiing, climbed trees, had a chemistry set and an Alka-seltzer-powered rocket! I dreamed of being a scientist. I earned my bachelors degree in physics and chemistry, and my masters degree in physics. When I started working, however, I found that human skills, leadership, project management and team effectiveness were far more crucial to success than science and technology. Believe me, I didn't have a clue about that "touchy feely crap"! So I learned it the hard way. I guess doing things the hard way just comes naturally to me!

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? I remember that we're all just living on a giant rock that's hurtling through space around a big fiery ball! The only thing that really matters is who we choose to be during this crazy ride around the sun! And I reach out to my Ladybadass friends and other scrappy supporters for a reminder to keep hope alive and survive to thrive!

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? Stop caring what other people think of you and trying to please everybody, or anybody for that matter (except your mom! She matters! Unless she's a psycho. Then heck with her, too!). There are over seven billion people on Planet Earth - hang out with the ones who like you! Use the F word more. And if you're a horse, don't try to climb a tree - get a squirrel! When I die, on my tomb it will say "Kimberly Wiefling did whatever the fuck she wanted every fucking day of her fucking life." . . . or something like that. U-B-U!

Kimberly is the Founder and President of Wiefling Consulting, Inc. and, Cofounder of Silicon Valley Alliances, and author of Scrappy Project Management.