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A year of Wovid Diaries

Five lessons from bringing my big idea to life

Our experiences of COVID-19 might differ, but one commonality exists – it has impacted our lives and the world in unimaginable ways. When the pandemic started, I joined a municipal crisis response team in Sweden. Analyzing the media discourse closely at the time, I realized that the media narrative of women was narrow and bipolar: women were either the victims of domestic violence or superwomen in politics. Where were the rest of us? I wondered: how will we and our stories be told and remembered by this and future generations?

Same time last year, I created a WhatsApp group and invited over twenty women from my network who had crossed my path over the years and who were based in various countries around the globe to interview them. The group quickly developed into a space for sharing and keeping each other updated on the developments in our respective regions. Zoom entered our lives and our meetings turned into brainstorming sessions. In September, I created a second WhatsApp group with the women who joined me on the mission to create a global platform. Five professional women, based in four different countries, became the Wovid Diaries founding team.

We officially launched Wovid Diaries in December 2020 – a global platform with outreach to over 40 countries. Our mission is to widen public knowledge on women’s experiences of the pandemic to empower and inspire women around the world. Looking back at this journey, I see moments of creativity, connection, fun, excitement, and inspiration. I also see moments of frustration, fear of failure, doubt, and imposter syndrome. Most importantly I see gratitude.

Here are my five lessons from bringing my big idea to life:

1. Pursue your ideas despite the fears

Many women are haunted by impostor syndrome. Doubting your skills and fear of failing could either keep you from realizing your dreams or push you to work harder to make them happen. When launching the WhatsApp group, I had a moment when I asked myself whether or not I would be able to pull it off. Do I have what it takes? I took a moment to review all my skills and previous achievements by drawing a mindmap. When I was done, I also reminded myself that I would rather try and fail, than letting fear holding me back from realizing my idea.

2. Create a positive environment

Taking the various steps to realize your idea requires focus and dedication. Surrounding yourself with people and particularly team members that will complement you and help to push in the right direction is the key to success. We all have days when we feel less motivated or doubtful, and in these moments the right attitude from people around you can be vital in re-energizing you. The same way a smile can be contagious so is positive energy in a group setting. Negative energy and attitude have the same effect and can result in you doubting yourself and even lose motivation. In the early stages of Wovid Diaries, I chose to talk about it with people who I trusted would push me in the right (positive) direction.

3. Update your toolbox

When starting something you haven’t done before, you need to review if you need to update yourself and your toolbox. I had been using WhatsApp and Zoom for our meetings, but my team members pushed for creating a digital workplace and space. Given our diverse backgrounds, we had used different tools in our day jobs – which was a clear asset!

The most creative and innovative brainstorming sessions happen between diverse minds. Hence, we brainstormed, identified, and adopted the digital tools we needed such as Trello, Slack, Outlook, Canva, etc. This was a time where I had to push myself. I was not used to and have always found adopting digital tools challenging – but I made it (barely but I made it!). I upskilled professionally and learned that having the right tools to realize my ideas is another key to success.

4. “Failures” are lessons learned

Failures carry most of the time a negative undertone. I would argue that they can be rather positive in developing your idea – particularly in the early stages. Anyone who launched a business or project knows that “learning by doing” is the guiding principle. We need to test our ideas to see if they work. The key is to follow up, evaluate and admit when something has not worked out as planned, then pivot accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that all failures should be completely dismissed though, sometimes it could be a question of timing. For instance, our team was incredibly determined with how we wanted our editorial calendar to look and created an ambitious editorial plan. It barely lasted for two weeks as we realized we had massively underestimated the amount of work and time it takes to create original content. We then revised and set a manageable editorial plan. The editorial plan is still good, it’s just that we don’t have the capacity it requires at the moment as we are all in full-time employment as well!

5. Keep the passion and fun alive

The balance between work and having fun is important. I launched Wovid Diaries while doing my day job. I now invest my free/socializing time in another job. The same goes for my co-founders. When we launched our project we were high on excitement and newness endorphins. Then routines began to take shape. Whenever we start repeating something, excitement reduces, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot still enjoy what you do and have fun! Once again, communication is key to avoid anxiety. By acknowledging that we are moving into this new phase, we are reminded that it is a natural state of mind. When less high, we’re also less distracted and this allows us to have constructive discussions and deeper connections as a team.

It has been a year since the first WhatApp group was created, and six months since we launched the Wovid Diaries website. Looking back, I am grateful for each step and experience. It was rocky at times, but with each twist, Wovid Diaries grew, and we became stronger as a team. This journey has redefined me as a person, friend, professional and feminist. I am not going to lie and say it is easy, but the return on investment in terms of experience (and hopefully capital in the future) makes it worthwhile!

Zeynep ERDAL

Founder & Managing director of WOVID DIARIES

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