On May 16th, as part of our She Leads efforts, we hosted a great conversation with Angela Guzman about finding and owning your voice at the San Francisco headquarters of WW (Weight Watchers). Angela is a design leader and entrepreneur, and the creator of Apple emojis . I was thrilled to have a chance to ask her questions about her career across the design teams at Google, Airbnb, and Apple and to discover how self-awareness and owning her own voice has helped her forge her path in Silicon Valley. These are some of the major takeaways I had from our conversation.

Get in the right mindset

Mindset has a huge impact in how we work and how we are perceived. “Whenever I walk into a room for a business meeting, I’m in the mindset of a designer—not a woman, not a Latina, but simply a designer,” Angela said. Looking at the world through this focused lens has helped her to frame and create productive conversations.

Use all your skills

When you build relationships with people, be sure to use all the skills at your disposal—all the skills that make you who you are. Are you a talented designer who loves to surf? When you’re networking, don’t just focus on the design skills you have but bring up stories from your battles with the waves. When you’re working on a design project, maybe there’s a lesson you learned out in the ocean that you can apply to the design challenge.

Build your village

Build your village, constantly. Whether you’re at work or outside of work, in your industry or at the local PTA meeting, get to know people and find ways to connect. Build your village and foster meaningful relationships with those people you respect and admire.

Adapt, evolve, thrive

Learn to adapt. This one struck a major chord with me. Angela shared how, after moving to the U.S. when she was 8 years old, unable to speak any English, she had to find a way to communicate with her classmates. While she learned English, she would draw pictures to communicate with people. This taught her to be flexible and resourceful—valuable skills for her career—and also gave her lots of creative practice that came in handy when creating the first set of the Apple emojis!

Be confident yet humble

This is a tricky balance to achieve— the right mix of confident and humble. Know how to be confident when you’re dealing with an area that you specialize in but also be open to hearing what others have to contribute. You might learn something that will elevate your game further even when you were already super-knowledgeable about that area.

Expect the same high level of effort from everyone

Regardless of how people appear, you should have the same expectations for them as you have for everyone else in your orbit. This is another one that really hit home for me. Angela grew up as the youngest in a house full of women since her dad passed away when she was 7 years old. No matter that she was the youngest and also a girl, she was always expected to pull her weight with the household chores. That framed her worldview in a way that never allowed her to believe she couldn’t do something because she was female. In her own words, “have equal expectations.” By expecting the best effort from everyone around you, you will set the bar high and get the best from people.

That’s it! Overall it was a great night with Angela Guzman at WW HQ. I hope these takeaways can provide a boost to your own personal and business growth. Interested in our next event? Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know.