Fitting In and Standing Out Managing Options
Theresia Gouw, CoFounder and Managing Partner, Aspect Venture

Teaching Guide for Women Inspired Program


In today’s world, highly talented women continue to face challenges that limit their success, career potential and general life satisfaction.  In partnership with the GSB Women's Task Force, the GSB Alumni Relations Office makes these resources available to spark thinking and discussion on important topics of career navigation, leadership through awkward dynamics in the work place, work-life balance, and diversity. 

These resources are designed to challenge you to grapple with the forces driving your own internal compass and gut reactions as you watch, discuss, and share a combination of both the Capstone Perspectives and Video Case Vignettes.

Women Inspired Program Vignettes

This content is designed from real stories and perspectives of diverse women with the simple assumption that career satisfaction and life success are driven by the ability of a woman to make consistent value judgments and decisions that are driven by an inspired perspective of oneself and ones life vision.  The vignettes and cases are structured to spark personal reflection around one's own values and decision-making process, which will lead to transformative learning of practical ways to address challenges.  The video case resources are made available to all alumni and the content is designed to be experienced individually, in a group discussion or with a professional coach.

The collection includes two different types of videos: Capstone Perspectives and Video Case Vignettes.  The Capstone Perspectives feature a woman’s perspective, experience or advice on a particular topic or theme.  The Video Case Vignettes focus on a particular challenge a woman faced, decisions she made, and what she learned from the experience.

Video Case Vignette Format

These case vignettes feature leaders who share their experiences and insights to help you understand the opportunities you have to hone your own thinking and career design.  The case vignettes are broken into 3 clips: the background and challenge; the decision or action taken by the leader and the results of the case with lessons learned.  At the end of each clip, take time to consider or discuss how you might handle the dilemma, whether or not you agree with the action that was taken, or what you might do differently and why.  Take heed of the lessons learned and see what advice you can take from leaders who have gleaned important insights from their experiences.

How to Make the Most from the Video Vignettes

Try to watch a combination of Capstone Perspectives and Video Case Vignettes from different leaders.  In many cases, you will see that leaders may handle the same question or challenge very differently.  Consider which approach or perspective works for you.

As you watch the videos, reference the scrolling notes next to the video, which includes a brief background on the leader, a summary of the vignette, take-aways, and questions to consider.  For every vignette, ask yourself whether or not you agree with the leader.  Try to understand what values or frameworks are driving your reactions.  If you have not yet faced a similar challenge, consider how you might use the challenge to prepare for what may lie ahead.  You may also recall a very different challenge you have faced that brings you to a similar conclusion as the challenge in the video.

As the leader shares her challenge, imagine yourself in her shoes and how you would handle the situation.  Pause the video to consider and/or discuss the challenge, how it is handled, and the lessons learned.  Think about what you might do differently or what was done well.  Use these stories and insights to consider the values and decision making processes that drive your own internal compass.

Take time to reflect on your own situation, goals, values, plans and future.

After you watch the video, ask yourself the simple question:

What will you continue doing? Start doing? Stop doing?

Additional Readings and Resources


Video Vignette: Managing Options

Featuring: Theresia Gouw

Summary: A VC Partner sees new opportunities but struggles to make more change when her personal life is completely in flux.

Background on Leader: Theresia Gouw is an engineer, experienced entrepreneur, and successful investor who co-founded Aspect Venture.  Prior to launching her own firm, Theresia worked her way up to the role of Partner at Accel Ventures, where she championed many successful companies through IPOs or acquisitions. As an entrepreneur, Theresia was founding VP of Business Development & Sales at Release Software, a venture-backed company that provided SaaS to enable digital rights management and payment technologies for the software industry. Earlier, she worked at Bain & Company and as a product manager at Silicon Graphics. Theresia holds a ScB in Engineering from Brown University, magna cum laude, and an MBA from Stanford University.  Theresia serves as Treasurer of Brown University’s Corporation Board, vice-chair of and at Stanford co-teaches a course on Venture Capital at the GSB. She also serves on the GSB Advisory Council and DAPER investment fund.

Takeaway: Although change is often scary and difficult, it ultimately may lead to better balance and happiness.

Considerations and Questions (Segment 1):

  1. Given the competing demands of various alternatives, what should Theresia prioritize with her decision?
  2. What are the typical reactions to change and how can Theresia manage the risks?
  3. When faced with opportunities and alternate paths, what criteria do you use to make critical life decisions?

Considerations and Questions (Segment 2):

  1. What surprises you about Theresia’s choices?
  2. What did Theresia do to address the risks to launching a new company?
  3. Do you think Theresia found better balance or more happiness?
  4. How did Theresia simplify her life in the midst of the change?
  5. What have you done well in the past to create better balance your life?

Considerations and Questions (Segment 3):

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of planning your life path?
  2. How can you address uncertainty when planning for personal and professional change?
  3. How well do you react to life changes?
  4. What lessons can you take from Theresia’s situation?

Key Take-Aways

Although daunting, change may enable a better balance and more rewarding lifestyle.

As an entrepreneur and founder you can set the culture and priorities of your organization to allow for flexibility and greater rewards.

If you can focus on a more narrow challenge, you eliminate complexity and better enable time for life balance.

You can better manage risk, if you identify, quantify and define it.

If you cannot stop thinking about something, you are clearly being called TO something rather than being called FROM something, and you should not ignore it.