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By: Caren Maio

In school, the unpopular kids sit alone at lunch. Some of them just don’t fit in. In business, it’s much the same way. Fitting in is just as important. It’s the fast track to networking, perks and promotions. But what if you’re not part of the club?

I’m a female CEO of a New York real estate technology startup — an outsider to my industry in more ways than one. New York is 2,563 miles from Silicon Valley, the epicenter of new tech ventures. Real estate and technology companies are predominantly captained by men. Investors and customers alike can be sternly skeptical when a younger woman from the advertising world comes to transform how they do business in their fields.

Being an outsider comes with plenty of challenges. But this article isn’t about that. I’m here to say, without reservation, that these same differences can be an advantage — and have been for me. As an outsider, you’re freer to innovate and can see solutions others miss. Being different means you stand out from the competition, which can be an asset. And it’s far from a lonely struggle. Underdogs often build close-knit networks to help each other find their way. It hasn’t been an easy path, but here’s how being an outlier has given me an unexpected edge.

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Originally posted on Women Presidents' Organization by Women Presidents' Organization.

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