INNOVATE PASADENA: Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the Innovate Pasadena community and taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions! I am excited to be able to share your experiences with our network of innovators, entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists, designers, artists, and more.
CHRISTY CONNER: Thank you for this opportunity! I am excited to do this! Many thanks!!!
INNOVATE PASADENA: Tell us a bit about your background; what brought you to Pasadena?
CHRISTY CONNER: I grew up in the area and was always attracted to the big academic and cultural institutions in Pasadena. I was also living in Century City at the time and the thought of easy parking was a good draw! My first company in Pasadena was a startup named Enfish, a software company that had a fantastic index and search technology.
INNOVATE PASADENA: What advice would you give to women who want to succeed in networking?
CHRISTY CONNER: For me, networking challenges fall along personality types as opposed to gender lines. My advice to both genders is the same – just get out there and do it! And then follow-up once you make the connection. For example, I am an introvert and can find getting out and meeting new people sometimes challenging. What helps create success in networking is to find the elements that you love in the process to make it an easier and enjoyable experience. The elements that I love in the process are being able to learn about fascinating things people are creating and helping others.
INNOVATE PASADENA: Do you think that women feel intimidated by networking more so than men? Why?
CHRISTY CONNER: Everyone is intimidated by networking at some point – it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, to figure out what to say and how to say it. Everyone feels awkward in the beginning, so just do it whether you feel awkward or not and with practice it gets easier. Each new conversation is an opportunity to try again.
INNOVATE PASADENA: You’re very active in the community and a Co-Organizer for Friday Coffee Meetup. What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship, or mentoring since you started working with Friday Coffee Meetup?
CHRISTY CONNER: Glad you asked about my favorite thing to talk about! In addition to being an exciting forum for entrepreneurship and innovation, the Friday Coffee Meetup organizers have really tried to create a community that is welcoming and interested in how we can help one another. This hasn’t happened by accident but is a specific tenant of what we try to do. Focusing on the culture you want to create is key in any endeavor.
Also, being inspired each week through the Friday Coffee Meetup makes my leadership in work and life even stronger. Having an outside source of inspiring innovation beyond my work brings me exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking.
INNOVATE PASADENA: What makes Pasadena’s innovation community unique?
CHRISTY CONNER: The variety and volume of innovation. We have innovation at all levels – from the large institutions like Caltech, NASA/JPL, ArtCenter to commercial entities, and a vibrant grassroots meetup community. There are opportunities at all levels to be involved in and inspired by innovation.
INNOVATE PASADENA: You’re a Meetup Co-organizer, community builder, you’ve traveled the world, worked for NGOs and non-profits, worked for tech companies in various stages of funding… after all of this success, what do you struggle with now?
CHRISTY CONNER: More of a surprise than a struggle has been the realization that even now at this point in my life and career, that I am ever evolving and that each stage in my life will be fluid and contain this continual self-definition. I have had to let go of the idea that I will ever fit nicely in a box and embrace what I want to explore at this stage in life – creating new things, connecting people and things to create innovative new relationships and conducting business operations so that they flow beautifully like music.
INNOVATE PASADENA: What has been the role of luck in your success?
CHRISTY CONNER: Where I feel luck has been influential in my success is in the global exposure I have received in my different roles. Learning from different people and cultures has given me a unique perspective when it comes to problem solving and building new initiatives.
INNOVATE PASADENA: Is there a particularly memorable time when networking has yielded a big pay off?
CHRISTY CONNER: I have received new roles and great friends through networking but now the payoff for me is when I can help someone else. When someone tells me that I have helped them, created a new piece of business, a collaboration or find a new position – that makes my day!
INNOVATE PASADENA: What have been the most effective tools you have used to help you market your skills and services? Are there any resources you’d like to share with the community that have helped you?
CHRISTY CONNER: I am a big LinkedIn user; I use it as a CRM to manage networking follow-up’s. I also have a list of networking opportunities in LA and Orange County – so you can find a group that resonates with you and get out and practice!
INNOVATE PASADENA: If you were writing a book, what would it be about and what would you hope to impart?
CHRISTY CONNER: It would be about the things I have seen and experienced and what they have created in me – resilience, courage to always take the next step, and finding beauty wherever you look.
INNOVATE PASADENA: Is there anything else you would like to share with our community?
CHRISTY CONNER: Two things – (1) Friday Coffee Meetup is every Friday at 8:15am at Cross Campus Pasadena. (2) I will be co-hosting Speed Networking with Alec Miller for Innovate Pasadena Connect ‘17 – come out and join us!