To be a “woman in tech”

I clicked on the WSJ headline (http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2016/09/28/why-women-in-tech-might-consider-just-using-their-initials-online), because I couldn’t believe that in today’s world, there’s a suggestion that we would actually remove our names (and replace with initials) and remove photos of ourselves in order to be treated equally.

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I’ve been a woman in tech since the 1980’s.  Oh, of course, now I’m showing my age too.  But dammit, I’m unapologetically proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished.

 

The WSJ blog highlights exactly the problems that exist and continue.  We’ve got to change this.  Here are just a thoughts on what it has felt like to be a “woman in tech”:

The only woman in the room

For much of my career, I’ve been the only woman in the room.  This experience started as a college student as one of the only females in my upper division math classes, to then the only women in a code review as a new software engineer, to even in the last year, as the only female executive of a tech company.  Trust me, it takes guts to be heard in a room of 25 or 30 people, especially when you are the only woman.   My advice to women in tech:  don’t be intimidated by the numbers.  You can make a difference.  Learn to be heard.

Having a different voice

My strong opinion is that my opinion matters.  I refuse to be shut down.  Those that know me, know that I have strong opinions.  One CEO that I’ve worked with described me as being a really excellent marketeer, but “hard headed”.  I laughed.  Yup, I’ve got an opinion and this is business after all. I get high marks for being a great collaborator by my peers, so thankfully, I’ve never been characterized as a “bitch”.  That’s the double standard that drives me insane.  Even in the last year or so, I had a peer walk out of the room on me because he disagreed with my opinion.  Unprofessional and rude to say the least, but my advice to all the women in tech is to be firm.  Stand behind your convictions. And please, everyone, do not shut anyone down.  Stop, listen and learn.  Diversity of opinion does matter.

Always trying to fit in

Being one of the few female executives at many of the tech companies that I’ve worked for, I’ve tried to always fit in.  But there is a part of me that is tired of trying to fit in.   I will never be one of them.  I am uniquely different.  Thank goodness.   I could go on and on here about hanging out with the guys on the road, sports conversations, male oriented offsite and team building activities (skeet shooting and 4 wheeling), but I won’t.  I am proud that I am always true to myself and who I am.  I’ll participate when I can, but only if is something I’d like to be involved in.  My advice:  stay true to you.   And, yes, I did the skeet shooting and the 4 wheeling, it was fun!

So, how can we all improve the tech world to remove bias?  Let’s treat each other fairly, openly and honestly.  Let’s stop unconscious bias by training people to look for it.  Let’s treat each other with respect.  Remember the golden rule… treat others as you want to be treated.  That should go a long way to improving where we are.  It’s not about hiding our gender so we can get a foot in the door.  The door should be open for everyone.

“math is fun!”  A lesson learned.

“I was doing integrals during breaks this summer,” says my daughter, a rising junior at Santa Clara University.  This was an amazing statement considering that she only made it through Algebra 2 in high school and showed no desire to do anything in STEM once she reached college.  As an aside, she is very artistic and a creative.   She is also an avid learner that loves learning everything.  She had not picked a major when she entered college, but she continued to take math in college “just to get good at it.” Her counselors actually did not encourage her to do so, since she was likely to declare as a humanities major and they questioned her choice of loading up on too many credits and taking a “hard class” like calculus.  She asked me what I thought (thankfully), and I asked her if she loved math, and she said, “yes, math is fun!”  I told her to ignore the “advice” and continue to follow her dream of completing calculus in college.  82ee23c25aac891019b82d127f03512e She has since declared as a Communications Major with a Minor in Math and a Minor in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies.  Wow, what a combo!  I’m not only super impressed with her ability to do all of this, but also to pursue her arts as hobbies, volunteer in the community, exercise, and smile through it all.  I guess the lesson here for every student and for every parent, and something I have watched and learned from all of my kids are:

  • Don’t assume anything
  • Don’t give up even when its hard
  • Follow your passions and love what you do
  • Be a life long learner
  • Question the status quo especially when you know what you want to do

I now (secretly) hope that she takes the computer science route in her math minor.  No matter what, though, I will be proud of whatever she does and whatever path she follows since she will be following her heart and dreams.

The 3 R’s of Marketing

It’s that time of year.  September. The last third of the year is in front of us. It’s Back to School and Back to Business.  But what about Back to Marketing?  This is a great time of year to kickoff new business initiatives and finish the year strong in anticipation of the new year.  This is especially true from a marketing standpoint.

At Back to School night we hear about the goals and objectives for the school year which invariably center around the traditional 3R’s …. reading, writing, arithmetic.   When students master all of these (and more), we consider them to be a well rounded, educated individual that can maximize their potential.

Similarly, every marketing organization at every company has to think through integrating the 3R’s of marketing for their biggest possible impact.  Today’s marketing is a blend of art and science, and there is definitely a business to marketing which the 3R’s of Back to Marketing comprise of: Reputation, Revenue, Results.

Reputation:  Provide Aircover!

The reputation and brand of a company can be considered one and the same.  Marketing’s role is to help shape and amplify the brand position and value both inside and outside of the company. But everything must begin with the message.  Content is definitely king and is the secret to success when used effectively for every marketing vehicle.  Understanding the importance of value based messaging by audience type will create the most compelling message to the market.  And today’s marketing organizations have a number of great tools and techniques that go way beyond old-school advertising to amplify the brand position and message in the market and build the companies’ reputation.  At a high level these include Thought Leadership platforms and initiatives, all communications vehicles, influencer programs, and every brand interaction whether it is physical (i.e. Events, briefing centers) or digital (i.e. company’s website, organic and inorganic, demand gen campaigns, social channels). By amplifying the brand message and position to the market across all touchpoints, the marketing team can provide aircover and help the company gain mindshare, which leads to gaining marketshare and more importantly, revenue.

Revenue:   Drive Demand for the Business!

Marketing must work directly with the customer facing teams in the company to drive demand for the business.  All demand generation activities must be done with an end goal of pipeline generated or touched, and if possible measure the impact on revenue.  The holy grail of every company is to turn interest into demand into closed sales opportunities.  It is important to have the alignment between the sales and marketing teams so that the goals can be agreed upon.  If, for example, a campaign is coming up short on the number of qualified leads or opportunities identified, the team must quickly understand this and make adjustments to the content, the program and message, audience and/or campaign mix. Finally, when demand generation activities are integrated with Reputation activities, that is when marketing is operating at peak performance.  Creating a small stand alone or one-off digital campaign, for example, without the necessary thought leadership and aircover, will likely not yield a lot of results.  Which takes us to the last “R” of marketing.

ResultsMeasure Everything!

Everything in marketing can and must be measured.  Clicks, impressions, marketing qualified leads, open rates, sentiment analysis, number of attendees, retweets, web rankings, etc are great indicators for a marketing scorecard.  But what about ROI? Almost all companies want to measure the ROI of marketing’s effectiveness, but not everything in marketing can be measured with a hard monetary amount.   This is where the science and analytics of marketing comes in.  For example, when a Q&A with the CEO is placed on a strategic online site, what is the ROI of that activity?  The measurement of this will not be ROI, but perhaps social pickup or traffic. There is a blend of hard monetary returns and other measurements that make up a scorecard which should give an indication of overall marketing effectiveness.  It is important to agree upon metrics and success factors prior to embarking on an activity so that there is no confusion about what is being measured and analyzed. If the results are not achieved, adjustments can be made and made quickly.  We always hear about “fail, and fail quickly” or “fail and move on”.  With today’s digital marketing we now have the ability to adjust quickly and more effectively.  When a program, initiative or campaign is done through an integrated approach with a combination of reputation and revenue activities, then results are likely to be achieved and the metrics will prove this.

All of the R’s seem fairly straightforward, but it isn’t enough to master one set or subset of activities, otherwise the full potential of marketing’s efforts will not be realized.  Integration and mastering Back to Marketing’s three R’s will yield the greatest impact for every company.