Name and occupation:
Michelle Panzironi – COO and Co-Founder of Phrase Media, LLC and hypetree.com
What do you love most about being a woman?
I love that no matter what job I’m at, I’ll always have the unique perspective that being a woman in business affords me. When I was younger I trained in martial arts and I used to languish at being the only girl on my level, worrying that I was being left out or unfairly scrutinized. But that experience taught me that being the odd-girl-out gives you the unique opportunity to shine apart from the others and distinguish yourself – as long as you see it as an opportunity and not a handicap. When you’re a woman in a man’s sport, you stand out and everyone pays closer attention to what you do. But when you succeed at your goals, everyone takes notice and, most of the time, your male counterparts are just glad to have you on their team.
I find that being in this position helps me relate better to the women I work with. There’s a solidarity that’s involved in bucking your gender role and striving to be recognized for your individual achievements, rather than just be a support-beam for the men around you.
Have you had to deal with much sexism in your industry?
In the internet, haven’t really had any major encounters with sexism since I got involved back in 2009. My first job was at a website with two female founders and, as I’ve extended my résumé and personal network from there, I’ve found that most of the men I work with seem to be part of the newer generation in their thinking about gender. Most of the guys have close female friends and just see you as another co-worker. I’ve since worked under a number of female founders and executives and I’ve taken that experience with me to hypetree.com. My two male co-founders and I have several talented females working for us, whom we consider both valued resources and good friends.
Who or what inspires you most?
My parents and my family history inspire me to push everyday at what I’m doing. My parents worked so hard throughout my childhood to provide for me so I could do anything that I wanted to in life. My mother comes from a long line of business-owners and entrepreneurs and my father comes from carpenters and artists. I consider it my path to continue their legacy of enterprise and creativity. I strive to bring new ideas to fruition so that I can create opportunities for others, as they did for me.
Something about you that would surprise us:
I’m only 21 years old and I’ve already worked in the marketing departments of 4 different websites. Also, as I mentioned before, I trained in martial arts and have earned my 3rd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. For reference, I’m 4’11”.
Advice for women entrepreneurs:
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” There may be people who try to put you down or make you feel less-than because of your gender. But you have to remember that the only person who can stop you from reaching your goals is you. Respect yourself and you will get respect from others.
Also, don’t wait for a man to stand up for you when you’re being ignored. Being on the other side of the gender divide, they often fail to notice. Always be standing up on your own two feet.
Website and social media links: