Tumblrs I have known and loved
In honor of my Bloody Mary blog launching later today (update: it’s alive), here’s a walk down memory lane with some other tumblrs I’ve created over the years.
Garbage life: We were super poor when we first moved in together and chronicled all the garbage we found on the streets of Brooklyn and turned into furniture in our apartment.
Movies my boyfriend ruins: Erik is terrible at summarizing movie plots.
Nail polish names: For a really long time I kept track of all the nail polish I used and what they were called. Since I do my nails like every other day this got too crazy.
Fuck yeah Stephen Moyer: In 2009 I really liked True Blood. This stupid tumblr still gets followers every day even though I haven’t updated it in 5 years.
Android vs iOS: where we stand
I switched to Android about 6 months ago, initially against my will as part of my job doing product at Aviary. The whole product team switched, actually (most of us to a Nexus 5) - we were all 100% iOS besides our two Android developers, and it showed in the quality of our product (and in the arguments we would all have in Android product meetings). It was a horrible transition. Three of us were unable to figure out how our text messages worked. We didn’t understand any of the customization options and so we kept accidentally destroying our phones. We consistently missed notifications (I missed tons of meetings because I was so used to relying on my iPhone to blatantly remind me). The camera was so bad that we were all still carrying around our iPhones to take photos. A couple months later, I officially took over iOS product management at Aviary and very gratefully switched back to my iPhone 5 and taunted everyone else on the product team who were still stuck on Android.
Then the HTC One M8 came out. Three or four people on our team bought it, and I became obsessed. The screen was huge and beautiful. The camera was amazing. And most importantly, it had an infrared sensor that could control any tv. Almost completely for that last feature, I decided to bite the bullet and get one myself. I wasn’t up for an upgrade, but AT&T offers a plan where you can just pay extra every month to bypass that. So I’m now essentially paying a billion dollars a month so I can have both an iPhone and an Android. But it’s worth it (especially as a product person), because I get to test both as they release updates and as new apps come out, and form a lot of opinions about each platform that I can loudly share with everyone around me. With iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 coming out next month, this seems like a good time to broadcast those opinions to the internet. Especially since I keep seeing tweets like this:
If the iPhone 6 is anything less than mindblowingly spectacular I think I might actually crack and get an Android…— Jon Gold (@jongold) August 6, 2014
When I got my M8, I thought of the transition as temporary. I really just wanted to control my tv with my phone because I am a crazy person. But I switched back to my iPhone for a week when I went out to WWDC (didn’t want anyone to bully me) and found myself desperately missing my Android the entire time. For me, it comes down to the fact that my phone is now a productivity tool, more than it’s a device for trendy group communication or for fun. Yes, Android apps are generally uglier than iPhone apps. Yes, a lot of cool new apps and games are only available for iOS. But what really matters to me is that my phone helps me get through busy days and stressful travel, and in my experience Android is just better at that because the OS gets out of the way and lets me do what I need quickly.
THAT SAID! I am not a crazed Android fanatic. There are things I like on both platforms. But I think both have room for a lot of improvement, and that’s what I want to cover here.
STUFF THAT’S BETTER ON ANDROID (AS OF IOS 7)
- Google Now. Today I had a flight and my phone gave me my car pickup confirmation number, alerted me when I had a gate change, and helpfully displayed all my up-to-date flight info until I arrived. In general, it also tells me when there’s new updates on websites I visit frequently, displays tickets when I get to a show, and tells me when it’s time to leave for my next meeting (including current traffic/transit info and taking into account my current location). I love it. It is perfect.
- Notifications. I’m excited to see what iOS 8 does for iOS notifications, but it’s not just about making them actionable. With iOS, I usually scan the latest notifications on my lock screen but for the most part rely on reminders from badges on individual app icons while I’m using my phone. I love that Android displays app icons in the status bar to remind me that I have an unread text or email. (This drove me nuts initially, but now I hate going without it on iOS.) Android also makes it super easy to disable notifications from individual apps right from the notification screen, so at this point I very rarely receive one I don’t care about. The LED light that blinks while my screen is off is a nice touch, too (you can customize it so it only blinks for certain apps, and you can change the colors for various apps so you know what it’s notifying you about).
Typing. I think this’ll get better in iOS 8, but as of right now I much prefer the predictive text, swipe typing, and correction suggestions of my keyboard (I use the third party SwiftKey) to typing on iOS. I also love that the case of the letters changes based on whether I have caps lock selected or not. Oh, and I can tap and hold to type numbers and punctuation instead of having to switch to a secondary keyboard. Pretty handy.
This is an obvious (and controversial) one: the bigger, brighter, more beautiful screen. Photos look so good on here. I can see evvverything. My iPhone 5 seems tiny and silly now. I’m excited to see what a giant iPhone 6 looks and feels like.
Customizable default options. I use a third party keyboard and a third party alarm clock (this one by DoubleTwist, which wakes me up at the right time in the morning based on sleep cycles). They’re my defaults at the system level - no app will ever open the wrong keyboard or set an alarm in the wrong app. If I wanted to, I could use a different default camera or app for subway directions. I use a third party lock screen (Start) that I’ve customized heavily to enable me to quickly launch all my favorite apps and a third party texting app (Hello, which is beautiful and made me actually enjoy texting on an Android).
Quicker access to system settings. I can pull down with two fingers to access everything I need (wifi, brightness, sound, etc). Unlike on iOS, I can actually tap through to each option to change them (find a different wifi network, adjust sound profiles, etc). Speaking of smart gestures, my phone has a ton of em. I can double tap the screen to wake it up, so I don’t have to use a button! Oh man, and I can see at a glance which apps are taking up the most storage and using the most battery, and delete or quit them with one tap.
Sharing between apps. I know this is coming to iOS in some capacity, but it seems unlikely that it will be much more powerful than the existing sharing options (like, right now you can share a photo from one app to another, but only using the iOS share dialog in the prescribed way). On Android, actions are completely customizable for every app you have installed. If I share a website to Instapaper, it knows to save the URL to read later. If I share a reddit photo by texting a friend, it knows to include the caption. Etc etc. No more copying to clipboard and pasting. No more app switching. You can just share stuff the way you want to.
The real killer feature for me: my M8 battery lasts. all. day. Even if I listen to Spotify on the way to work, read for an hour over my lunch hour, text people and check social media all day, and make phone calls throughout the afternoon. I usually still have 50% battery by the time I head out from work. (One note here: this has gotten a little bit less good in the 6 months or so that I’ve had the phone. Curious to see how bad it is within a year.) When I was using my iPhone, it would consistently get down to 25% by 11 am. If there is one thing I hope the iPhone 6 does better, it’s battery life. I don’t know anyone with an iPhone who doesn’t panic constantly about their phone dying. I’ve had to worry about that with my Android maybe twice since I got it, and that’s after I’d been actively using it for 12 hours.
All that said, there definitely are some things I miss about my iPhone. If the updates this year or next can address the majority of my concerns above, I’d consider switching back because of these things.
STUFF THAT’S BETTER ON IOS
High quality apps. Oh man, do I miss Tweetbot 3. I pretty much never use Twitter on my phone anymore because there are no good clients. A lot of the “best” developers and designers out there still refuse to work on Android apps because they like the pixel perfection of building for iOS. And even the great apps from iOS that are brought to Android tend to be ported poorly (Mailbox sucks, Evernote is slow, Threes doesn’t feel as magical). So that’s really annoying, and I blame the open nature of Android. If you don’t give people strict guidelines and pre-packaged SDKs, it’s going to be tougher to create a perfect experience.
Similarly, because of Apple’s strict review process, most apps work better on iOS. Android has come a long way but I still experience some crashing, occasionally have to restart my phone when something weird happens, have to google how something works, etc. I miss taking it for granted that things will work consistently, and how I expect them to.
Oh my god I miss emoji. Ugh ugh ugh. A lot of Android apps at this point package in the standard iOS emoji (like whatsapp and hello, the two apps I use most for typing), but if I want to use emoji elsewhere I’m at the mercy of the weird Android emoji at the system level. I had gotten really used to communicating with emoji, and it still frequently trips me up that I can’t just reply to an instagram photo with the 😳 face.
Discoverability in the App Store. I used to spend so much time browsing the App Store and finding new games and cool new productivity apps and random things I didn’t even know I wanted. Google Play is TERRIBLE. You can’t find anything. I can live with this because for now I feel like I have all the apps I need (if anything the lack of a good app store helps me from becoming distracted and spending a ton of time browsing) - and if there is something I end up wanting, I just google it instead of searching in Google Play.
Text expansion. Keyboard shortcuts are built into iOS and they’re extremely helpful. Ohmygodgoogle why won’t you just build this into Android. I sorely miss being able to quickly type my email address (I had a shortcut for “mmf” > “email@example.com”) and being able to insert emoticon art like shrug; > ¯_(ツ)_/¯ . For some reason there are no third party apps that can do this. Can someone please make this for Android? [Edit: apparently this is just a limitation on my device. The very smart Jon Chin pointed out that you can do this on most Android devices with the personal dictionary in your settings. Sigh.]
Touch ID. I think some Androids might have this but mine doesn’t. I never bought a 5S so it’s not like I was relying on it, but I’ve heard other iOS people raving about it and had been looking forward to having it on my next iOS device. I’m hoping this’ll come to high end Android devices soon, though.
Better peripherals and cases. Android device fragmentation is a very real problem. It’s really hard to get decent accessories and cases because there are so many devices that most companies don’t bother supporting Android at all. I just got this sweet iPhone case from Giphy and am seriously considering switching back to my iPhone so I can show that off. You don’t get that kind of hardware personalization with Android - there aren’t a ton of cool options. (Although the M8 does have one awesome case, which can show you the time and weather through the front of the case.)
Tablets. I will never give up my iPad. Ever ever ever. All the benefits of Android (better for productivity, notifications, typing, etc) go out the window because all I use my iPad for is games and media, and I don’t think Google will ever catch up to Apple in those categories. (By the way: if you are or end up being a person who has all three devices like I do, you need this charger. Life changing.)
Little-to-no OS fragmentation. Android development is hard. It’s really hard. App quality is not going to get better until developers don’t have to worry about supporting 10 different operating systems on 1,000 different devices. This problem is minimized if you have a high end device (basically any new HTC, Samsung, or Google phone) and if you are a person who understands the importance of updating to the newest OS… but that’s not realistic for 90% of smartphone users. I think this is the biggest hurdle Google faces. Trying to reach all markets and support all kinds of people (both those who want something fancy that works right out of the box, and hackers who want a completely customized device) is a trade off for quality. Apple has an exceptional adoption rate for new versions of iOS because users at this point don’t have much of a choice - it’s designed to work one way, and that’s the experience iOS users sign up for.
Sorry for all the words. I think both platforms have come a long way, and I think both have their clear strengths. If stability and high quality apps are important to you, there’s no question that an iPhone is right for you. But if you’re feeling frustrated by Apple’s slow pace at adopting new technologies or giving you access to customize your own phone, I really think this is a great time to give Android a chance. I’ve had an iPhone since the day they launched and never thought I’d jump ship, but my Android has made me happier than my iPhone ever did because it feels like it’s my phone, not one that millions of other people are using too.
And if you’re still not convinced, MAYBE THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND
How to get a job at betaworks (or, why do people still suck at cover letters?)
I was actually going to write a whole post about this, but Jan - one of our awesome summer interns - serendipitously did it for me yesterday:
The catalyst for my own plans to write about this mostly came from our current search for a receptionist. We don’t often hire for non-technical roles (the nature of what we do - building beta products - inherently means that the vast majority of people who work here are engineers and designers), so this particular job post has resulted in a very different kind of application.
Namely, to massively generalize for a sec: engineers and designers mostly seem to understand their worth and how sought after they are in the market right now. They are not afraid to be themselves, and if they do include cover letters (which is pretty rare), they’re short and to the point. As in: “Hey, the stuff you guys are working on looks pretty interesting. Let me know if you want to grab a coffee and chat.”
In contrast, the receptionist applications we’ve been receiving include cover letters 100% of the time, usually a full page long. And these tend to be cover letters that completely dehumanize the person applying. I’m seeing a lot of:
- Dear sir or madam
- "the résumé enclosed herein"
- I feel confident that my skills will be an asset to your firm
- Please don’t hesitate to set up a time to discuss this further
…omg I can’t. Basically, we’re receiving dozens of copy/paste jobs of what cover letters are “supposed” to sound like. The thing is though, at betaworks (and most startups) personality is a huge part of what we’re looking for. Especially in a non-technical position where your preexisting experience and skills really aren’t as important to your success in the role.
I don’t mean personality as in your hobbies and sense of humor; I mean just showing that you have one. Specifically, to us, what matters in every hire we make is that you are smart, motivated, passionate, and creative. Everything else is secondary. In Jan’s case, no one cared about the great things listed on his resume until he set himself apart from the competition by doing something silly. In most cases, I don’t even look closely at a resume unless the cover letter shows some real signs of life.
To summarize, some quick tips if you’re thinking of applying to betaworks or any other similar startups:
- Yes, you do need to include a resume. But focus more on simplifying it and stripping it down to what matters. I would rather see a half page resume that just lists relevant facts than a three page resume full of buzz words.
- Speaking of buzz words: kill them. Kill them all. In both your resume and your cover letter. This is not high school; we are not judging you on your ability to follow directions. We want to see creativity and understand what sets you apart from everyone else applying.
- Include a link to your twitter. If you’re not on twitter, get on twitter. If you really hate twitter, have some other web presence, even if it’s just an about.me page (which you can make in two seconds). It’s a good sign that you understand the internet and are excited about it. Kind of mandatory.
- In your cover letter, yes you should explain why you are a good fit for the company and/or the role, but that should be like two sentences tops. What I really want to hear is why you’re excited about us. (And with a company like betaworks, there is a ton to get excited about. Surely you love digg, instapaper, poncho, dots, giphy, or one of our bazillion other companies or projects. If you don’t, there is undoubtedly always someone else who does and I’d much rather hire them!)
- Think: WWJD (what would Jan do)? Include a funny photo or gif. Tell a joke. Tell a funny story about yourself. Don’t be super weird right off the bat, obviously - but humanize yourself. We’re funny people. We want to surround ourselves with funny people. Be yourself!
Hope this is helpful. And if you love betaworks and want to join our operations team, the receptionist job is a great way to get your foot in the door. Email me and practice your new cover writing skillz!
But I think Impostor Syndrome is valuable. The people with Impostor Syndrome are the people who aren’t sure that a logical proof of their smartness is sufficient. They’re looking around them and finding something wrong, an intuitive sense that around here, logic does not always agree with reality, and the obviously right solution does not lead to obviously happy customers, and it’s unsettling because maybe smartness isn’t enough, and maybe if we don’t feel like we know what we’re doing, it’s because we don’t.
Impostor Syndrome is that voice inside you saying that not everything is as it seems, and it could all be lost in a moment. The people with the problem are the people who can’t hear that voice.
10 reasons you should move to NYC
Here are some choice quotes from a whiny HuffPo opinion piece I read this morning titled “40 reasons you shouldn’t move to NYC”:
2) There is no question that being around peers comfortable with spending $5,000-6,000 a month on an apartment has a warping effect on your perspective. There is no way that it cannot.
12) Oh, you need to run over to Home Depot or head across town to pick something up at Office Max or some other perfectly minor errand? OK, see you in four hours.
18) Is there anything worse and more jarring than walking down the street and getting hit with the sound of a shrieking siren or a taxi laying on its horn five feet away?
25) It is not relaxing to come “home” to New York. Because again, New York is busy and buzzing and always on. Normally that is a good thing, just not when you’re coming off a couple weeks on the road.
26) I’m not sure if New York really deserves its reputation as a haven for creative people or as a creative, inspiring place. It is very clearly a “reptilian environment” which research shows to make being creative very difficult. As someone who wrote a book while living there, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say you have to work harder to feel safe, be vulnerable and produce creatively in New York than you do in other cities.
I’d respect it more if I felt the benefits were clearer. I’d respect it if it was necessary. If it wasn’t-in too many cases-endured simply because of cognitive dissonance and a stubborn refusal to consider alternatives.
New York is not an easy place to live. No one is pretending it is. And I’m sorry that it didn’t go well for this person. I imagine a lot of that has to do with him being an entitled artist who thinks his life should be carefree and that anyone who enjoys a challenge is just dumber than he is.
Before I moved to NYC, I never wanted to live here. I always swore I never would. And my first few months here, I hated it. I was broke, I had no friends, everything was scary, everything was expensive, everyone seemed richer and meaner and busier than me. But, as time went on, I started noticing things. Really unique, beautiful, special things that don’t exist anywhere except New York. Like…
Coming out of a building at night in my first New York winter, and seeing snowflakes gently falling from the sky. Onto all the buildings around me, onto the quiet streets and cars, reflecting light from all directions and sparkling like a painting. Winter in New York is an amazing thing. Everything feels lighter, and quieter, and calmer.
New Yorkers get frustrated with tourists because they walk slowly, they’re always lost, they ask silly questions, they don’t listen when you tell them which way to go, etc. But New Yorkers are so kind to each other. There’s a special kind of bond that forms here with other humans who are crazy enough to live in this city.
I learned that streets go east-west, and avenues go north-south. And now I can find any intersection in the city, and I always know exactly which direction I’m facing and which way to walk. It feels like I have a superpower.
It’s never boring. Ever, ever, ever. This is why we live here. We meet someone new every day. We go to a new restaurant every week. We discover a nice little park we’ve never seen before. We appreciate these things. We love finding them and sharing them. New Yorkers are endlessly curious and excitable.
Every kind of person in the world is here. It’s not a tech bubble. It’s not a religious community. It’s not a city of artists. We have everyone. And we all support each other and get along.
I love coming home to this city. I love the constant noise (it helps me sleep). I love that the guy at the corner deli knows me, because he doesn’t know everyone. I love walking from the crazy outside world into my calm tiny apartment where I can watch everything from my window and feel happy and safe. I love that no day is ever the same.
Once you learn the tricks, it’s a great place to live. Home Depot?! No one goes to Home Depot. We have no need for home improvements because we’re all renting tiny shitty apartments. We know when to walk, when to take a cab, and when to take the subway. We know there is a ferry. We know all the quiet spots where you can get a cheap drink on a Friday night. We know how to get tickets to all the events. We know which events to avoid. We know how to sneak margaritas into any park in the city.
Everyone knows everyone. I have met incredibly interesting artists, chefs, writers, actors, makeup artists, CEOs, homeless people, horse carriage drivers, poets, engineers, inventors, and celebrities - all through friends. People are friendly here. They make real connections. They introduce each other. They help each other. We all have this big, huge, crazy thing in common, and it feels like a big supportive family.
People here are not insane. They get apartments they can afford. Almost no one I know lives in Manhattan. We live in New Jersey, and Brooklyn, and deeper Brooklyn. We commute from Westchester and Long Island. Also, the salaries here match the ridiculous housing prices, so it really isn’t as scary as it sounds.
You can succeed in New York - anyone can - if you just accept it for what it is. If you want suburb living, you should stay in the suburbs. If you want consistent air conditioning and cheap restaurant chains and a big backyard, it’s not for you. But you’ll be ok if you can learn to laugh off the inevitable ridiculous situations (everyone has a story where they got stuck on a subway for 4 hours in the middle of the summer with no AC and a dead phone battery and thought they’d never make it out alive). You learn to appreciate the good and easy moments because you’ve been through so many difficult ones. You learn to love the guy singing karaoke on your street corner every day because he’s just trying to have a good time. You find your favorite subway performer, who makes you cry happy tears every time he sings Sam Cooke. You find your friends who you can complain to, and commiserate with, and then laugh it off and go back out to do it all again.
I don’t want to be here forever. I think everyone has an expiration on their time in NYC. But I will never, ever regret living here - and I think everyone should try it. It’s difficult, yes, but it’s magical. It’s still New York. It’s still the most fascinating place on earth. It’s still a place where anyone can do anything they want, if they just try hard enough (and ok, maybe find a few rich friends to supplement their costs). It changed my life. it has changed all of our lives.
And if you’re gonna talk shit about New York, we’re not gonna like it.
A meetup you will actually like: Product Secrets
(Cute logo by #1 designa Emmi Hintz.)
We started ours because we want it to be different. Three things we think we can do better by running one ourselves:
A conversation about the full product process
Mike and I are both product people. We’ve gone to meetups for PMs, meetups for designers, meetups for engineers. At each one, the conversation is limited, because the topic is built for one demographic and then is discussed by people who all have the same frustrations and suggestions and resources. We think one meetup group targeted to people who are involved in the full cycle of product development will be more interesting, more valuable, and more effective. (Plus, as you might have guessed from the name, every speaker will reveal an industry secret that they haven’t shared publicly. So that’s cool!)
A focus on networking
I know, networking is a dirty word. But it doesn’t have to be! We want to provide a place where every person you meet is relevant, interesting, and probably has something in common with you. We hope to achieve that by really getting to know our attendees and being able to introduce people who should meet. Plus, easy things like nametags, letting people stand up after the speaker to announce things they need or can offer, and, most importantly…
We want to be very clear that this event is for product managers, engineers, and designers. If you are not explicitly involved in building a product, we still think you’re great but this is not the right meetup for you. Recruiters who show up will be banned from future events. We are very serious.
Basically, we’re developing the meetup we always wanted. We’re looking forward to sharing knowledge and learning, meeting other great people in the industry, and making sure everyone feels happy and welcome. You should join us!
- June 17th: building a product with personality, with Timehop CEO Jonathan Wegener (event link)
- July 22nd: finalizing the details now, but it’ll be a good one, probably design focused (event link)
- August 12th: all about great onboarding experiences, with The Elements of User Onboarding author Samuel Hulick and Cover product designer Tom Wahlin (event link)
Women in Tech
I’m not a person who generally talks about the “women in tech” issue. I’ve always said it’s never affected me personally. I feel awful when I see bad things happen to women in our industry, but have never felt the need to get involved in the conversation.
I think I was confused about what the issue is. I’m at AltConf this week (which - to their credit - have been incredibly welcoming to women and vocal about the inclusive nature of the event), and Brianna Wu got up on stage today to give a talk called “Nine ways to stop hurting and start helping women in tech.” The room was packed. She gave a lot of concrete advice on things men should be doing differently. You should watch it. But what really struck me was the conversation that happened with the audience after the talk. As soon as Brianna finished, a man raised his hand and said (I’m paraphrasing, but this is all true):
"This was a really aggressive way to approach this issue. You gave us a lot of stick and not a lot of carrot. Why do you have to attack us and make us feel like bad people? Why not phrase it positively and constructively - like, our businesses are at a disadvantage because we’re missing out on female candidates? I think people would respond a lot better if you did. I’m not saying this from a place of privilege or anything."
It illustrated her point so perfectly that I wondered for a second if he was a plant in the audience. First of all, hello tone argument. Secondly, he did it. He did exactly what every man does when they hear a woman talk about these issues. He made it about himself. He chastised her for “being negative.” He got defensive. He separated himself from the issue by saying that he’s not sexist or privileged; he’s just a normal nice guy trying to help her out. (For the record: he did actually seem like a nice guy trying to help. I don’t at all mean to imply he’s a bad guy or not supportive of women in tech.)
Part of Brianna’s talk was about how it’s not enough to be a nice guy. (This echoed a lot of the concepts in Mike Lee’s incredible talk, as well.) In fact, that mentality is part of the problem. It keeps you from changing anything. It prevents you from taking accountability. We get it; none of you do this on purpose; you still do it. You really need to acknowledge that you are doing it and stop doing it, instead of relying on us to get used to it.
So, for the first time, I got really, really angry. I felt personally offended. I finally saw the thing other women have been experiencing. I realized I am one of them.
Brianna kicked off her talk by saying that no women like talking about this issue. Female developers want to talk about, you know, development. And some of them have gone so far as to say they no longer want to be responsible for speaking to this issue; they just want to get back to what matters to them. But we have to talk about this issue. We have to talk about it until it stops being an issue. That’s going to take all of us (all of us women, and a lot of you men).
So let’s talk about this. I don’t think of myself as a victim of sexism in tech. I’ve always had respectful coworkers, and I’ve been lucky enough to always feel safe at work. But this conversation happened to me last night at AltBeardBash (which was, otherwise, a lovely party):
Guy: “Hey, we’re thinking a lot about how to make WWDC and AltConf more appealing to women. Do you think it would help if we offered childcare?”
Me: “Oh, I think it’s great that you guys are making that a priority, but I don’t think it’s that easy. It goes so much deeper than that. You guys should do some outreach to schools; you should have more female speakers; you should make sure female developers feel welcome and important here-“
Guy: “Oh, I wasn’t serious. I just wanted an excuse to come talk to you.”
And you know what? Last night, I brushed this off as a drunk guy attempting to make conversation - I didn’t take it personally - but let’s be honest. I didn’t like that someone talking to me in the context of the conference wasn’t interested in my ideas, or my thoughts on diversity in tech, or even what I do for a living. I was one of a handful of token girls at that event and that’s all he saw. And that is (unintentional) sexism in tech. And those moments add up to - I think mostly unconsciously - why some women don’t want to be in this industry. And it’s a terrible feeling to realize that I’ve been helping this happen by not saying anything. By not even realizing these kinds of interactions were anything but normal.
Brianna talked about how sexism in tech isn’t the Mad Men world that men picture when they think of that word. Men (and women!) don’t notice sexism is happening because they don’t see men groping women, or kicking them out of meetings, or saying outright derogatory slurs, or the other bullshit they see in clearly misogynistic fiction. But it’s there. It’s sometimes subtle, and often unintentional, but it’s constant, and it’s really, really not okay. I no longer want to be a person who says it is okay.
So I want to start talking about this. I want to join Brianna and so many other amazing smart women in fixing this. I don’t want to have to worry about men hitting on me at tech conferences.* I don’t want to have to wonder if I’ll be able to get a job in 10 years, when my greatest perceived asset is not being young or pretty. I don’t want to be interrupted by men every time I talk. I don’t want men to keep making stupid insulting jokes and telling me that I’m the problem if I don’t think they’re funny. I don’t want people to gossip that I got a promotion by flirting. I want my hypothetical future daughter to join a work force that is 50% female, and that is totally happy to make her the boss.
I encourage you all to watch Brianna’s talk, pick up a book, follow some tech women on twitter, include them in your events and your conversations, and think about how you personally can help. Speak up if you see something happen. I know we can do this.
Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’d like to continue this conversation and talk about what we can do to work on this together (particularly in NYC), feel free to email me.
*EDIT: A (male) friend of mine read this and asked if it’s ever ok to hit on women at tech conferences. I hope this doesn’t come off as a diatribe against flirting at conference-related parties. To be clear, my issue was with the insulting (and, frankly, ironic) nature of the conversation: the implication that diversity in tech is a joke, that I don’t have any important opinions to share, etc. I certainly don’t think I can prevent people from falling in love at tech conferences. Everyone here is great! I hope some people do fall in love! Why not!
EDIT #2: For the record, a representative from AltConf reached out to me after reading this post to apologize for that conversation happening. I didn’t really need an apology, but it was a really nice gesture. They are super serious about including women and have zero tolerance for these kinds of situations. Which is great.
It’s okay to stay (until it’s time to go)
I’ve had the idea for this blog post floating around in my head for a while now. Ever since I hit around the 2 year mark of my career at Aviary, I’ve been getting increasing pressure from the people around me to go do something else. “Wow, 2 years - that’s a crazy long time in the startup world.” “Don’t you want to try something else?” “You’re wasting your time; no one learns anything after 2 years at one company.”
And I kept wishing that someone, somewhere, would tell me that it was okay to stay. Because for me, staying felt right.
I knew I wasn’t ready to leave when talking to any other company just made me appreciate Aviary more.
I knew I wasn’t ready to leave when I noticed I was learning something new every single day.
I knew I wasn’t ready to leave when I was balancing 4 jobs and lots of customers and partners very literally depended on me.
I knew I wasn’t ready to leave when I laughed my ass off for an hour straight at lunch with my best friends.
But then? One day, I was. I woke up and I realized that it now suddenly felt okay to go. Aviary is doing great and getting better every day. The team is stronger than ever, and has perfected a bunch of smart processes to automate various things and make sure nothing goes wrong. And - while I still felt like I was contributing - I no longer felt like I was the only person in the world who could do my job. For the first time, I felt like I could leave and both I and Aviary would be okay.
So: I just wanted to put the word out there that it is okay to stay. Stay as long as you’re happy. Stay as long as you’re learning. Stay as long as your company needs you and you need them. And the moment will come when you know in your heart that it’s time to do something new (and that your company will still be able to thrive without you).
On that note: while I’m very sad to be leaving the incredible team at Aviary, I’m thrilled to say that I’ll be starting at Betaworks on Monday. I truly believe in their mission, have an insane amount of respect for everyone working there, and can’t wait to help them change the world.