“Study French against all odds and learn the hard way”, a life lesson by Roxanne Varza, Palo Alto

BLOG,Nuggets April 5, 2012 11:53

By PenTales Pundit Elise Nardin, Zurich, Switzerland

Since Roxanne loves French so much, we’ll do a little exception here and have a short intro in French, pour lui faire plaisir. Née à Palo Alto en 1985, Roxanne adore le français, quitte la Valley pour poursuivre son projet en France et rêvait de conduire le plus gros camion. In respect for non-French speakers, I will stop here. Any good translation tool will surely have helped you translate the first couple of lines.

An eminent actor/observer of the European tech scene, ex-TechCrunch, she helps bridging European start up scenes together, gets entrepreneur women to talk about their endeavours at Girls in Tech Paris, reports on the French start up scene for tech blog Rudebaguette with fellow Americans living in France, and covers the French tech market for Kernel Magazine and Betakit. It was tempting enough to ask this busy successfull whole-hearted techie what her nuggets of wisdom could be. The former truck-driver wannabe tells us about ‘learning the hard way’, pursuing your dreams against all odds, getting where you want, in her case France.

1. Who is your hero and why?

I have a lot of heroes, actually. That may sound weird but I admire lots of people for lots of different things – everyone from Mark Twain to Steve Jobs.

If I had to pick one person, it would have to be this one person I know who has had epilepsy since a very young age. Yet, when he was growing up, you would never know it. He managed to accomplish so many things despite of it and never let him stop him from doing anything he wanted. And even when he has seizures in odd and scary circumstances, it never phases him.

This person is my younger brother.

2. What was your dream job as a child? 

When I was about 2 years old, I told my mother I wanted to be – yes- a garbage truck driver! I told her that it was the biggest truck and surely this would help me get invited to all the cool birthday parties. True.

3. What do you wish you had known 10/20/30 years ago? 

I actually don’t think I have any “I wish I had knowns.” I believe in learning the hard way. So I am actually glad about all the mistakes I made and I don’t wish that I would have known something to keep them from happening.

4. Is there any motto you follow? What’s something that you think always holds true? 

I definitely believe in being true to yourself and following your dreams.

My whole life I wanted to study French and live in France. My Iranian parents had a hard time understanding this. They had left Iran and come to Silicon Valley, which was for them the “best place in the world.”

Children of Iranian immigrants don’t study French, they study law, medicine, engineering, business. They couldn’t understand my desire to study French and want to become a journalist – in another country. They told me it was not possible, at best I could become a (bad) French teacher. We fought about it a lot but I was determined to pursue this path.

People today still have trouble understanding why I left Silicon Valley if I love tech. It’s because I have always loved France as well – and never have I been disappointed by following my heart.

5. What’s something your parents told you and turned out to be right? 



1 Comment

  • Jamshid

    Roxy, would you tell him the “I hate math” incidence and the reward? You still have to solve couple of differential equations to show you like math.