Browsing Category

Creativity

Creativity, Diversity, Marginalization

Don’t Wait for the President to Make Changes – Bring About Change All Year ft. @RandFish

dont-wait-for-the-president
Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found it harder to “not get political” than with this election. Can any two candidates be more polarizing? Can Facebook get any more fraught with zealously divergent opinions? I hope not. But, the election is still several months away, and friends – it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

In the midst of this political mire, it’s easy to forget that we actually have a lot of power to create the changes we want to see. Going to the polls isn’t the only way to vote – and one might argue it’s not even the most impactful. We also vote with how we spend our time, and with how we spend our money.

We also vote with how we spend our time, and with how we spend our money. Click To Tweet

Here are a few of my ideas for how we can bring about positive change in the tech industry all year.

3 Ways I Choose to Contribute to Positive Change

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve become more and more vocal about promoting inclusivity and diversity in tech – for people of color, transgender people, and every other marginalized population. But if you’re not the CEO or hiring manager of your company, you might feel like you have limited say in who gets hired or how they’re treated (or, if you’re a contract worker like me, you have NO say). My answer to you is this: Think outside your box.

Join Fund Club

Anyone can support marginalized people in tech at Join Fund Club. When you become a member, you get a monthly email with Fund Club’s new pick: a project, initiative, event or organization focused on diverse communities in technology. You commit to give $100 to the month’s selection, directly to the recipient project (no middle-men taking a cut). Make no mistake – it IS a commitment, and you don’t get to pick and choose who or what gets your money. But, from my experience, each project chosen has been pretty incredible. Example: CallbackWomen’s mission is to radically expand gender diversity at the podium of professional programmers’ conferences.

Sponsor Model View Media

Model View Culture is a magazine about technology, culture and diversity. In fact, I think their description of their latest issue says it best:

“In this issue, we deconstruct the rhetoric of imposter syndrome, cover the implications of artificial intelligence for queer and trans people, and critique claims behind the 3D printing “revolution.” We look at the cost of the Lean In industry on women in tech, and ponder bots and digital dualism. Plus, unpacking the mythology of indie success in the games industry, and a new organization focused on trans women in software.”

And that’s just ONE issue! You can see why I’m excited. You can support them by purchasing a print subscription or digital subscription, or you can donate a subscription for someone who can’t afford it.

The fact that it’s interesting and well-written is Model View Culture’s biggest selling point – but how does supporting it create positive change?

For this, I go to Becca Edwards, Strategy Director at Rallio, who contributed some words of wisdom on the power of awareness.

“I think awareness is key to bringing about change. A friend or mentor pointing out where you can improve and you taking the time to absorb their criticism. Maybe it’s awareness that there can be a better way. Or that an action or mentality affects more than just you. Or that you’re loved and worth love, no matter what you are or what you do, and that you have a safe space to change. That’s when I would evaluate what I’m doing and take complete stock of the situation. I’m a reader, so I’d look for research and writings on the thing I need to change to get a better understanding of it. After that, it’s setting goals (starting with small steps) and reasonable expectations for meeting those goals.” 

Support Projects on Patreon

Without art and creativity, where would the tech industry be? Probably in someone’s garage, or in an uninspired office park. You don’t have to code to be in tech – and you don’t have to have an aversion to numbers to be an artist, writer or creative. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform, but unlike Kickstarter, the goal isn’t to raise one large lump sum, but to fund creators who create a stream of smaller projects. It’s more like a paid subscription. For $2-$7 a month, you can help support someone’s work and get regular “rewards.” Another difference – you get the goods before you pay, which, if you’ve been burned by Kickstarter projects, is a nice thing.

There is a huge range of artists and creative projects, from Cosplay to independent journalism. One project I find interesting is Egyptoon, an Egyptian cartoon on YouTube that presents social and political issues and current events in Egypt and the Arab world with humor and sarcasm.

Then, with a decidedly more techy bent, there’s Why I Need Diverse Games, which sponsors attendance at gaming conventions, promotes game creators who make diverse games, and highlights the work of underrepresented people in the games industry.

Lauren Van Mullem says she uses Patreon to support the work of a writer who traveled to Sweden to record the stories of Syrian refugees. For $2 per story, she gets a unique glimpse into the refugee situation from their perspective.

How Other Awesome People are Making Positive Change

Creating and supporting positive change is a team effort, so I opened up the question to some of my favorite people in the tech industry. But first, I ran across this post from Erica Joy that I’d love to share with you. My favorite sentence (because it’s hilarious):

The Bay Area is full of photographers. Throw a burrito in any direction in San Francisco and you’ll probably piss someone off for getting queso fresco on their brand new lens. 

And, my favorite part (because it’s pertinent):

Making sure diversity permeates all aspects of the business, voting with dollars to support other companies who value diversity, making diversity the first thought in the decision making process, all these things are how a company builds not only a diverse environment, but an inclusive environment.

With that in mind, check out what these people are doing – small scale and large scale – to make the world a little better and a little kinder for everyone.

Ashe Dryden founded AlterConf. She wants to bring about “critical cultural discussions in tech and gaming.” As the Twitter profile for AlterConf notes, “We’re moving the diversity conversation beyond 101. Coming to a city near you!” Check out the many ways you can participate to support AlterConf.

“My favorite charity is Give Directly. It’s a very data-driven and research-backed approach to maximizing financial contributions to improve people’s lives. Being the contrarian that I am, I also love that it works so well despite so many people disbelieving and fearing its impact.”

— Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

“1. Get involved with organizations that encourage women/girls and people/kids of color in STEAM subjects. See some groups here.
2. Join HandUp and support unhoused neighbors.
3. Volunteer. Find opportunities here.
4. Continually inform yourself about unconscious bias, privilege, and being an ally instead of expecting lesser-privileged people to educate you. (See some good resources here.)
5. Talk to others about unconscious bias, privilege, and being an ally often.
6. Speak up when you see discrimination, but use your privilege to make room for lesser-privileged voices if they have the energy to say something.
7. Make it a point to expand your circle of contacts to people you don’t normally mix with.
8. When you mess up, apologize for the hurt caused and don’t focus on your own intent.”

— Michelle Glauser, Advocate & organizer of underrep-ed people in tech

I recommend expanding your social network among marginalized people (especially queer/trans people) and spending time donating money to them when in need and also doing rideshares/car pools to help get them to informed consent clinics for hormone therapy. QT people, especially the younger ones, have so many issues with finances due to homelessness and general poverty and are also gatekept from HRT due to ridiculous and transphobic standards that are found at any clinic that is not an informed consent one.”

— Ramona KnivesRamona Vs. Cis People

“There has perhaps never been a more important year in America to join, help spread the word about, and support TurboVote. Go beyond your own vote to help bring about change.”

— Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice President, Strategy, NewsCorp

A lot of times when people think of change, they think way too big instead of focusing on the micro-interactions we have with people and the change we can bring through 1-on-1 relationships. I personally know that change won’t happen overnight but I personally commit to providing a positive influence and educating people on a daily basis through my personal interactions.

This also means going out of your way to make time. I try to take at least 30 mins – 1 hour each day to personally mentor or provide guidance to those who need it. Also make sure that your avenue of change is something you’re passionate about. It’s much easier to be dedicated to making change when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. We all have issues that matter more to us.”

— Everette Taylor, Entrepreneur & Marketing Executive

“For me, creating positive impact is about making time to help people in our everyday lives. It’s all about the small things for me, but one big thing I’ve done is co-create the Copy Muse Collective, which helps newer writers learn the ropes of freelancing from established writers. I had a tough start as a content marketer, and I’m passionate about making that path easier for others to follow so that more women can define their own career paths outside of male-dominated spaces.”

— Lauren Van Mullem, Founder of Truer Words


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Creativity

In the Age of Entrepreneurship, Being Multipassionate Is Your Greatest Advantage ft. @VioletaNedkova

multipassionate
Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Everyone wants to have their own business nowadays, but not everybody stays in business. Startup founders, app makers, solopreneurs, coaches, etc. Only a small percentage of us make it to the second year and that’s not because of stamina or savvy or luck or timing. I think many of the ones who make it are multipassionate creatives.

Correct me if I’m wrong but…

Running your own business is like having five full-time jobs at once – copywriting, marketing, design, etc. That’s a lot of roles for a single person!

I had the pleasure of meeting a founder the other day who – in his words – has a new obsession every other day. That doesn’t mean he changes his job or anything, just that he alternates between things in his free time. Now, I bet my hat he has original ideas every other day because those come from unusual combinations of different elements.

Multipassionality used to be sort of strange and shameful, but now it’s a faunt of amazing ideas and creative businesses. Why “choose” one career path when you can pursue all of your passions and bundle them up nicely and call it a business?! It’s not enough to have a “fun business idea” anymore; a lot of people crave for lifestyle businesses today.

Being a Multipassionate doesn’t just mean having many passions and skills. It also means coming up with original ideas that get you ahead of the competition. It’s great to be able to take care of multiple aspects of your business at once, but it’s even better to create a UNIQUE lifestyle business that is conceived from various passions.

You can literally take your knowledge from every industry you worked in and every hobby you ever had and apply it in your current venture. If I hadn’t learned to use Photoshop in high school to make fan fiction banners, I wouldn’t be able to make my own graphics now. If I hadn’t been interested in photography and life coaching and UX, I wouldn’t understand my people’s needs. And if I hadn’t been passionate about a lot of things, I would have never thought that marketing could be as creative as we are

Multipassionality can be your greatest asset if you allow yourself to look at it that way.

Perhaps a story will portray my point better…

There was a girl who loved to buy vintage clothes. She was at the thrift shop every other day, rummaging for hidden gold. On the surface she was too big a rebel to ever amount to anything – she couldn’t keep a job, she didn’t believe in institutions, and her friends were low lives and bikers and hippies who thought were better than everyone else.

But she had so much passion for things! She was into photography for a while, which then morphed with her passion for vintage clothing and compelled her to start an eBay store. She had been bored with every single job before that – nothing was every stimulating enough to keep her interested for long, but this time, she had found her match.

A true Multipassionate would relate to that instantly – nothing ever being challenging enough, but then you find that one thing that is always stimulating and that allows you to grow beyond your personal ceiling, and you’re in love and committed to see it through.

So the girl grew her store, selling vintage clothes, working tirelessly and learning as she went along. Her love for photography came in handy and her passion bled into customer feedback and styling and social media. She started the store of necessity, but the work was so fulfilling and challenging that she ended up transforming it into a fashion empire.

I am talking about Sophia Amoruso: CEO of Nasty Gal, author of #GIRLBOSS, and role model of every woman who’s starting her own business today.

What did you think of the story? Did you feel sorry for the girl or did you relate to her? I bet you thought it would end up being inspirational – coming from me – or maybe you know the story by heart already because it’s truly a modern inspiration.

My point is, one passion will not give you the skills you need to start your own business. A few passions, on the other hand, will give you something that’s much more valuable, something that could one day become your greatest ally…

Something called CREATIVE CONVERGENCE.

Multipassionality doesn’t just give you a competitive advantage, original ideas, and the ability to do a thousand jobs at once. It mostly gives you a chance to design a business and a lifestyle that is uniquely yours. Successful entrepreneurs like Marie Forleo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Regina Anaejionu are great examples because the only way you can copy their businesses is to become them! I call it “personal business” because it springs from the life and work experience of the creator. That’s what we are – CREATORS!

You don’t have to write fiction novels or screenplays or make custom jewelry to create something new. Your “art” can be your business.

Now, over to you –

Whether you’ve been scared to unleash the full force of your Multipassionality because you’d be mocked or ignored or called a flaky dabbler, I hope you’ll reconsider. As Marie Forleo puts it, Only you have that special gift that the world needs.

We are not outliers! There are more of us than you know. If you look at One Woman Shop’s interview series with Multipassionate women, you’ll realize some of the women you love and admire are just like you! Women like Jess Lively and Sarah Von Bargen. I bet my hat that Kathleen Shannon is one, too. You can tell someone’s a Multipassionate by the uniqueness of everything they create and put out there. 

It can be scary to take on the world, but you don’t have to do it alone either.

There are people out there who encourage Multipassionates to take a stand and accept our Nature as strength, not weakness. Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk speaks to every one of us when she says we don’t have to choose one thing. Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose really hits every heart string with her Scanner’s theory. (Basically, she says that being a Scanner, as she calls it, is nothing wrong. It’s an advantage!)

Whether you’re a Multipassionate or you’re friends with one, please join us. We need acceptance and to be more outspoken and confident about this issue. Because there’s another thing I’ll probably leave for another article – women are generally less confident than men. As a result, a lot of Multipassionate women stay hidden while Multipassionate men – called “polymaths” – have taken all the credit throughout the ages.

Fellow ladies, let’s be LOUD and PROUD about all that we are. Let’s show the world how diverse and passionate we can be. OK?

Are you Multipassionate? What’s your take on Multipassionality?

Let me know in the comments! 🙂


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.