Fairy Tale Tenacity

Oct 29, 2020 | First Person

By Anna Degtereva, founder and CEO of LinkUpConferenceShow   

Tenacity is the single most important characteristic that a strong woman can possess. Yes, optimism is great, and goal-setting is important. Action plans are essential, and hard work is more than necessary. To succeed in life and business, we need all of these. But before any of them come into play—we have to know what we want and be tenacious enough to hold on to it.

Where I grew up, there are many old tales of strong women doing impossible things. It is always the women in these stories that possess the skills required to reach a happy ending. I believe this is because tenacity is a female characteristic, one that we must nurture in one another to survive and thrive.

My favorite tale is about a strong young woman named Vasilisa. Her story is similar to the tale of Cinderella that is so familiar here in the United States. Just as Cinderella loses her parents and is mistreated by her stepmother and step-sisters, so too is Vasilisa.

Thankfully, most of us are blessed enough to have family and friends who are kinder to us than the wicked stepfamilies in fairy stories. But even in their kindness, family and friends can lead us astray. Maybe they don’t support our life choices. Maybe to them, our dreams of career success are crazy, or our priorities are misguided. For many reasons, they cannot understand our inner fire or the path we are compelled to travel.

But we must follow our path anyway. And often, we must do it without a fairy godmother or prince charming. Vasilisa knew this, and she journeyed alone into the dark forest, bringing back the hot embers needed to reignite a warming fire in the hearth of her home. She braved the unknown, scary places alone and found the light, just as we all must.

This story teaches us, among other things, that we are responsible for our own flame, our own fire of life. No singing mouse is going to retrieve those embers for us. No friendly bird is going to deliver the flame of focus to our doorstep. Without the tenacity to endure hardship and face the deep, dark woods, we will live a cold existence, forever at the beck and call of others rather than in control of our own journey.

It’s easy as women, and especially as women in business, to lose track of that spark. We are social creatures with great responsibility, wired to take into account our family, our friends, our coworkers and our larger communities. But our inner flame can become dampened by those around us, as we drown under the weight of obligations and expectations. It is easy for our priorities to become buried or shrouded in darkness.

But we must be tenacious. We must never lose track of our own inner light or let it be smothered by daily realities. Don’t let the noise of our chaotic lives and busy careers drown out the fire within.

We have all fought to hold on to this fire, and we have all lost sight of it from time to time. But what is important, what is essential, is that we always possess the tenacity to get it back. To get our fire back. To get our focus back. To work toward what we want. Not what our family wants, not what our friends think we should do, but our embers of truth. They will lead us down the right path, through the dark places. When we know what we want, when we have our own fire, we are truly unstoppable.

About the Author

Anna is a serial entrepreneur dedicated to technological innovation around the world. Her hunt for big ideas spans the globe as she connects with visionary thinkers, startups, mentors, investors and other crazy individuals on the quest to bring positive change through technology. 

At 26, she launched her first company, which helped educate 150,000 Ukrainian students. At 28, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. At 31, she launched the first tech accelerator in Ukraine. At 33, she started her first venture fund. At 36, in Kazakhstan, she worked with the Minister of Energy, Minister of Innovations and the Prime Minister himself to help build a tech ecosystem. And at 38, she moved to the U.S. and developed a revolutionary idea for a trailblazing tech conference, LinkUpConferenceShow, that will disrupt the current boring format. 

Learn more on Anna’s LinkedIn profile and blog.


Anna is thrilled to invite NAWBO members who work in fintech and telecom to participate at LinkUpConferenceShow (LUCS)—the first digital networking conference for top-level executives and CEOs. There will be five moderated networking sessions with decision makers and thought leaders from the field as well as the show; hosted by professional comedians and special guests keynoting the virtual event on December 8, 2020. A special discount of 15% off can be redeemed here by using the code LetsLinkUp.

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