Hi, Could you introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Becca, a heart-centered, impact driven technologist. I'm a mama of two, a maker, dot connector, challenger of the status quo, explorer of the outdoors, householder yogini, and traveler.
What are you working on?
From a business/work perspective, I'm currently wrapping up a project with a development team on a custom, niche e-commerce platform and looking to secure my next gig and connect with new potential clients solving wicked problems in healthcare, education, future of work, sustainability, and social justice.
In addition, I'm preparing for participation in an internet governance panel discussion later this fall that feels big and scary at the moment. That tells me I'm in my stretch zone of growth, which is ultimately a fantastic place to be, despite the discomfort.
I'm considering B-Corp certification and what that would entail for my company and developing more thought leadership/content around being an independent tech consultant.
Beyond business and work, I'm always researching something. At the moment, it's preparing our family for the unschooling journey we will embark upon very soon. I've been tracking and logging interesting startups making positive social impact out in the world for the last year and a half, so I continue to add items to that.
I'm listening, learning, and amplifying as it relates to understanding what it means to be actively anti-racist, understanding systemic forces of oppression that have shaped the US and its organizations, how to instill anti-racist beliefs and activism in my elementary-aged kiddos, and what it would mean to design an organization from the ground up with equity, diversity, and inclusion at the center, permeating all processes and ways of operating from recruiting to makeup of the advisory board. I'm confronting my own limitations and biases and sitting with myself in this work.
Disconnecting my sense of self worth from my work identity.
And soaking up a book called Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown.
What are the challenges and successes you’ve faced creating and running Thought Distillery?
The hardest thing to date was to finally make the leap to go independent after thinking and writing about it for four years. Securing my first contract after going independent took some time. Not having income for a few months was uncomfortable to say the least.
Sometimes it feels lonely. :-)
I'm now finding that the investment I've made in growing my network over the last five years, especially, and always operating with a give-first mentality is paying off.
I've stepped outside my comfort zone a number of times to show up at events, and participate in things like hackathons, etc. over the years. Those things have opened a number of doors.
I'm grateful to have landed a contract earlier this year that came from outside my existing network and brought in the highest bill rates I've earned in my career. And then I landed another contract that came from someone I had not worked with before. These gigs have made it feel like I will actually be able to continue on the path of working independently for myself through my own company.
This small business is profitable and is able to support our family of four and I'm grateful for that.
I am finally getting out of my own way and contributing in all the ways that I can. Potential is neither finite, nor a destination. I feel empowered to keep going.
What are your goals?
I used to outline professional goals on a quarterly basis, but have largely left this practice behind in favor of intention setting.
I have been developing a concept for the last couple of years I am calling my Big Crazy Vision. BCV is a sustainable social enterprise incubator and learning lab, all about cultivating the conditions for visitors/patrons to feel inspired to be their best selves out in the world.
I am setting intentions around a near-continuous pipeline of meaningful work and to continue to be able to support my family, and have a surplus to fund eventual professional exploration, product creation, BCV founding and purchase/leasing of acreage.
Share, learn, grow, rinse, repeat.
Do you have a mentor?
Not formally but I am always learning from those I interact with. If anyone, my biggest teachers in life are my kids.
Do you mentor anyone?
Also not formally, though I have informally mentored a number of startup founders in the last several years.
What could society do to better foster female talent?
Start young by eliminating branding toys in such deeply gendered ways.
Instill an understanding of biases (gender and other) in teacher education programs. Analyze existing curricula for signs of those biases and rewrite them accordingly.
Stop blaming flawed recruitment and employee retention/engagement processes on the pipeline. It's an excuse.
Use tools that minimize bias from the application process. Textio, Joonko, and Applied, to name a few.
Create more opportunities for women to reenter the workforce on equal footing after an extended period of leave.
Make salary transparency and openly sharing market rates for roles ubiquitous.
What advice would you give to people getting into your field?
There is no singular path.
Invest time and energy in professional communities and networking opportunities. There are a number of amazing Slack communities out there, including geography and programming language-based developer communities, Women in Tech, and platforms like Elpha.
Check in with your network whenever you have something of value and stay connected over time.
Craft and share useful content related to your interests and expertise.
Make sure your boss (if you have one) and your boss's boss understands the value you add to your organization. Don't assume anyone else will be your advocate, so be your own.
Get to know people outside your functional area.
Ask questions. Lots of them.
Start saving $$$ young. If your company has a match for 401K, maximize that.
Keep a portfolio/log of professional experiences and kudos so you can start crafting/shaping your professional story. Save work artifacts along the way.
Do your research when looking to join a company. How balanced is the company's leadership team? Advisory board? A company's About page can be very telling. Analyze the language of the job descriptions. Is there talk of super heroes, super powers, and kegs in the office that could indicate bro culture?
Think about parallels between any work experience you have to date and how it connects to where you want to go. Always be thinking about connecting the dots and those parallels.
I have lots of other guidance in my Operating Manual on Building and Facilitating Self-Managing, Agile, Remote Teams.
What’s the best and worst advice you have received?
I don't typically make a habit of asking for advice and when I do, it's often highly situational or tactical. It also doesn't fit neatly into binary categories of good/bad and best/worst.
My husband and I separately went through an incredible yoga teacher training program and one of the key takeaways from that was not, "Is it true?" but "How is this true?" I say that to point out that any advice, guidance, or lessons we receive can provide valuable data points in terms of how we respond and what we feel intuitively.
In general, I think the "best advice" comes from within and it's up to us to tune into those inner voices. The "worst advice" comes externally with statements of "should dos" and societal conventions toward status quo.
Who do you follow? What blogs do you read?
Oh, lots of people!
What’s the best way to keep up to date with what you’re doing?