Author: Virginia

How and why we decided to move to London

How and why we decided to move to London

My husband and I recently decided to move from Seattle to London. This comes as a surprise to us, as well as to many of our friends and family members. You see, even though London is a fantastic city with a much more global presence than Seattle, we’ve been quite happy with our very established lives and careers and home in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. As we disclose this plan, I often joke that we’ve been at 51% and 49% yes about the decision until very recently.

So why and how did we decide to take on such a big change? I figured walking through our thinking could be helpful to others who are deciding whether or not to make a similarly large life transition. Here’s a peek into the reasons behind both our excitement and our reluctance, and the strategic steps we both took to research the change and reassure ourselves that it was the right move for our family.

While this isn’t meant to be a dissertation on privilege, I will be repeatedly reminding readers of the privileges that allow us to make this decision easily. I think it’s important to explicitly recognize this, because these privileges are not available to everyone and will factor heavily in the decisions you’re able to easily make for yourself and your families. It would be foolish to assume everyone is in the same position as us, and disingenuous to advise someone in a very different position to make a similarly drastic life decision with the same considerations as us given different life circumstances.

Why did we decide to move?

Before I get to the “how did you make this decision”, I figured I’d tackle the “why,” even though they’re often interrelated. I hope externalizing these thought processes differently can be helpful to different audiences. We definitely had to solve for “why” before moving on to “how” in terms of our own thinking process.

FOMO hindsight

A huge factor in committing to this move is not wanting to look back and ask ourselves “what if we’d taken that leap?” We live relatively unruffled lives in Seattle, in a comfortable easy bubble. We own a nice home and manage to pay for it with manageable ease thanks to our two tech incomes. We can afford to Amazon Prime whatever sudden whim we think might make our lives easier. We drive two cars even though we could try harder to ride public transportation, because the local incentives and infrastructure make it simpler and easier to do so.

Moving to a busy and global and fast-paced proper city like London, with the rest of Europe at our doorstep and the rest of the world a bit more plugged in, just felt like too cool an opportunity to pass up (both for ourselves and as parents who want our kids to have interesting life experiences). We felt like we wanted to ensure that we all had that life experience, because we’d look back and be disappointed in ourselves for not taking this leap if we didn’t just go for it. The excitement and opportunity potential outweighed the scariness and disruption for us (even if just barely!)

Diversity

When we flew out to London just to investigate the move, I was immediately refreshed to be in an area with different cultures, different racial groups, different languages, different cuisines and smells and accents–it was incredibly eye opening as to how comparatively homogeneous our corner of Seattle feels by comparison. I don’t want to overly fetishize the concept of diversity as some sort of commodity, as so many fellow privileged white folks do and as I know I can be guilty of. At the same time, I’m acutely aware of having grown up in an extreme bubble of well-meaning whiteness, English-speaking-ness a certain type of upper class yet hippie yet affluent American-ness that’s quietly embarrassed about its lack of actual diversity of thought or influences or experiences, and I want to give our family the chance to break away from that.

I was raised in an affluent and largely white suburb of Seattle, where there were TONS of “Think Globally, Act Locally” bumper stickers and, later, far too many of those ugly “Coexist” ones. But how much did we actually coexist? There were a handful of largely secular Jewish families in my community and friend group. I think I had one mixed-race half-black high school pal, of the total of two black kids in my high school class. There were perhaps three or four Taiwanese and Mexican kids, and no south Asian kids I remember. This is in a class of over THREE HUNDRED students. Yeah… We were NOT a diverse culture, though we may have prided ourselves on values that would accept and celebrate any hypothetical diversity our white asses encountered.

I learned foreign languages not because they were a deeply ingrained part of my community, but because they increased my perceived academic and professional capital as a privileged white student. I studied abroad and traveled to various other areas, but I mostly visited western Europe where perspectives (and structures of systemic racism) are far closer to the America I grew up in than they are different or challenging.

Even though I think my community did a relatively decent job of raising me with values that celebrate and respect cultural and racial diversity, living in a vacuum fundamentally limits your understanding of the world. I inherited a million tiny biases from my upbringing, and I see it now as an adult trying to unlearn so much about privilege, class, systemic structures of inequity… it’s a lot to undo.

While there’s no perfect way for us to parent our child, we know that we can expose Storm to a world of different types of people in a major city like London. He’ll also have quicker, easier access to other parts of the globe and to other communities than his own white secular parents. Providing a more enriching environment with broader opportunities for understanding and human connection across the race, culture, and class boundaries we were raised with ourselves felt important to us. It felt like a way for us to live some of the values we theoretically espouse but rarely put into action in our Seattle microcosm. That’s not to say we won’t have to try to break those barriers in London too, but my hope and impression is that we won’t have to reach as hard to do so.

Privilege

We are moving from a very expensive part of the USA to one of the MOST expensive parts of the WORLD. We’re also moving with only one secure salary, as I have yet to find a London-based job. Why would we take such an enormous financial risk? Frankly, because we can afford to.

We both have an enormous amount of white privilege, which has granted us many opportunities that will make us attractive to employers all over the world. Growing up, I traveled extensively and lived abroad in high school, during college, and after college. This isn’t something I would have been able to pull off without a lifetime of white privilege helping me out (along with a bias for international living from my English-then-Canadian-then-American mother). I also have the privilege of dual citizenship and Grant has the privilege of a fully sponsored visa, not to mention we have a paid relocation package from his future employer.

We can trust that our whiteness and the advantages it has afforded us will make for a smoother transition than many people would be able to make. We trust that our charm, social ease, educational background, career experience, and language opportunities will be sufficient to eventually smooth over any anti-American bias we encounter abroad. We wouldn’t be so at ease about this without the systemic advantages afforded to us all by whiteness and structures that disproportionately advantage white, native English speaking people like ourselves.

The “undo” button

Realistically, we probably won’t hate London. I’m half English, carry dual citizenship, and have lots of extended family across England. My husband and I have always loved the UK when we’ve visited and have been charmed by the architecture, character, accents, rolling green hills dotted with sheep, functional public transportation, you name it. But even if we somehow still hate living there, we are privileged enough to be able to “undo” this decision if we need to.

We are being relocated at no cost by my husband’s new employer, who head-hunted him for this role. The company also sponsored any visas our family needed, is covering our temporary housing, and pairs us with a relocation specialist to help us find a great London home and placement in daycare for our child. While we would have to pay back relocation costs if we were to leave before a year is up, we are certain we can make it that long in the unlikely event that this is ends up being a terrible life choice for our family, and we are confident it won’t end up being so terrible that we want to leave that quickly. We can rent out our home in Seattle for a decent price that allows us to cover our mortgage and at least some maintenance/property management costs, so we have somewhere to come back to if we decide to return to Seattle after a few years.

We were able to make this transition to one of the most expensive cities in the world because there are many structures in place that make it much easier for us than for many people who might want to live in London (or make any kind of big move).

Community tradeoffs

While we’re very sad to leave our friends and family members in the Seattle area, we landed on the decision to move anyway for a couple factors.

  • If we ever decided to relocate to England permanently, we could probably talk my English mother into making the jump too. In the meantime, we hope to encourage her and my father to visit a few times and video chat a whole lot more.
  • While we would have been devastated to leave our friend community some years ago, we just don’t see pals as often as we used to now that we are parents. When we do see friends, it’s our most kid-loving and/or kid-connected pals who make the cut, and it’s never as often or as focused or as grown-up or as unencumbered or as carefree as it used to be. Friendships take a bit of a backseat especially during early parenting years, so it felt like a surprisingly manageable time to leave friendships behind since they’ve already been “on hold” since our child erupted onto the scene and fundamentally changed how we spend our time outside of work.
  • Digital connection helps so much! It’s way easier to stay in touch online than it used to be, even though it still requires effort (just a different kind).
  • Our East Coast family isn’t that much farther away! We have tons of folks in the DC area we already don’t get to visit as much as we’d like with a toddler in tow. While it’s a couple hours longer to fly from there to London than it is to fly from there to Seattle, it’s a manageable difference (with an admittedly larger mental gulf to traverse. Somehow needing a passport makes it feel disproportionately farther away.) We hope to visit more and convince them to do so as well, and we hope London is an attractive lure to entice this change.
  • Again, privilege. We are sure we can afford to do things like buy iPhones/find good data plans for elderly relatives/start up a travel costs slush fund/etc. to facilitate easier visits.
  • New connection opportunities. A pal who recently relocated to London mentioned that she’s had a number of friends visit her in London who had lost touch when she lived in other cities. Something about being in a massive wonderful global hub makes people find an excuse to come connect with you! We are hoping this is true for us too. (Drop us a line if you want to visit!)

How did we make this huge decision?

I think the tactical actions we took helped us arrive at a clear decision. I hope writing out this methodology is helpful to others considering big life changes, even though I know not all of these tactics are accessible to everyone.

Scope things out in person

My husband received an offer before we had ever met the team he’d be working with in person, or even found out what the project he’d be working on was. (This is relatively unusual for the video game industry, and moreso for a creative position such as his.) So our first step was insisting on both of us flying out to meet the team, get a feel for everyone in person, sign NDAs to learn about the project, and revisit London for several days with a lens of relocation and not just tourism. Thankfully, this was a natural part of the process for his future employer as well, but not every opportunity will make this option available. While our son fell ill and I therefore delayed my trip by a couple days, we had the luck of him getting well enough to leave with a sitter, and the privilege of being able to afford a trusted sitter who could stay with him for a few nights for our first ever absence from him.

I can’t stress enough how important this “scoping tour” was. When I moved to Mexico City after college, I couldn’t afford to do this. When I went to college on the East Coast after being raised in Seattle almost all my life, I didn’t take the time to do this (and definitely should have, as we did have the privilege to do this in my household if we had made it a priority). When I studied abroad in Barcelona, I had previously been to Madrid for a shorter study trip but had never scoped out the city of Barcelona before. Heck, when I went on a brief community service trip to Nicaragua with my high school, the organizers prepared me for months (also a great privilege) but I’d never actually been anywhere with such a gap in standard of living compared to what I was accustomed to. Being able to check out the opportunity we were evaluating is huge, huge, HUGE. Plenty of people are stuck with interviewing via Skype and then discovering to their unpleasant surprise that they aren’t actually excited by the climate/city/neighborhood/commute/etc. they moved to.

Being able to get a glimpse of the city you’re moving to, reconnecting with contacts that might become your new community, getting a feel for the transportation infrastructure and restaurant options and everything–this is all an invaluable part of choosing to make a big international move. This isn’t something that everyone can afford to do, and we were grateful that my husband’s future employer largely footed the bill for both myself and him. (We were also privileged enough to pay out of pocket for expensive last-minute flight changes as well as an additional night in a hotel beyond their contracted limit for interviewees.)

Evaluate your worst-case scenario

As someone who had had both good (Barcelona; privileged study abroad program at fancy university) and bad (Mexico City; broke post-college post-breakup desperation job) international living experiences, I knew that things with this move had the potential to be soul-crushingly depressing. However, we assessed where we were at in life, with a stable happy marriage in which we are (barf, I know) truly each other’s favorite person to hang out with, a healthy well-adjusted child who would handle the change well, and for whom we could easily find child care without requiring any special needs. My husband and I are also both good connectors who forge new relationships easily when we actually try, and I personally excel at figuring out how to leverage my network (more on that in a bit) and unearth friendly and helpful contacts in a new place thanks to this digitally connected area.

All this meant that we ultimately didn’t see a terrible worst-case scenario with this move. Even if Grant hated his new job (unlikely), he’s well-connected in the industry and would be able to find other opportunities, whether back in Seattle or somewhere else (since we would have already done the big move thing once and had kind of gotten over that initial resistance). Even if I didn’t find work in London (unlikely) I could potentially spend a couple years at home with our kiddo until we qualified for the UK’s government-assisted childcare programs, and though I strongly prefer parenthood when I’m working full time and loving what I spend my days doing, I’d survive a couple years of stay at home parenthood if I were forced into it. Yes, it’s possible I might even learn to like it. :)

We also had a decent community, unlike when I moved anywhere else. I have family in England and we have quite a few social and professional connections. No matter how things went, we figured we could proactively connect with friends and family in and around London and make sure we weren’t too isolated or culture shocked or depressed. Making it one year or more would be manageable, and we’d always have our home to come back to in Seattle if things didn’t work out as we hoped.

Leverage your network

When we started considering this move, we immediately put out feelers to three groups of people:

  • The internet. Plenty of stuff we wanted to know was researchable online via expat guide sites or Facebook groups.
  • My extended family in London. I wanted to float the idea of living there to the folks I was closest to, both emotionally and eventually geographically, to put out feelers for how it would be to live closer to them. Everyone was warm and encouraging and enthusiastic–which is what I expected, but it never hurts to confirm!
  • Our existing social and professional network in London, plus our friends-of-friends network. We pinged the handful of pals we had there, but I also asked everyone I knew to connect us to folks they thought we should meet, whether for friend stuff or professional stuff or parent stuff. Even though I wouldn’t say we have a robust group of bosom buddies awaiting us in London, I definitely have a list of people I hope to invite to our eventual housewarming party. :)
  • Everyone I know who’s done a massive international move. I asked folks who have dealt with this kind of transition what they wished they’d known, how they made their decisions, what they did and didn’t regret, etc. I asked things from the compulsively practical to the deeply emotional to the embarrassingly financial, and got a ton of responses that helped me guide my decision. (In case you’d find the specifics helpful, I’ll detail those here:)
    • Would we earn way less money in London? Overall yes, but for many people quality of life would outweigh it. This depends heavily on your values, but we were told to prepare for a rough financial impact and make sure to consult with tax folks to avoid weird double-taxation issues. (We determined we would survive the financial hit but did a lot of homework to minimize it. Again, privilege.)
    • Would I happily find work there? Probably, but be careful of West Coast tech companies with London offices that expect you to work a West Coast schedule. (This fits the description of many jobs I’m applying to, so it was helpful unsolicited advice!) Interview closely for this kind of culture detail to figure out what balance of weirdly-timed calls you’d find acceptable given where you’re at in your life. While this was specific to the Microsoft roles I was investigating at the time, it seems like good advice for anyone in a similar position.
    • What should we bring vs. get rid of?
      • Ditch literally all small appliances; don’t bother with transformer type converters. All the appliances will eventually die faster than they would have otherwise, and your’e better off just selling them and buying new stuff. Lots of expat groups facilitate this so it’s not a huge deal.
      • Lamps, however, it turns out may be fine as long as you use the right UK bulbs so you don’t overdo it on the wattage with a mere plug adapter; no need to even pay for rewiring. (Lots of conflicting info on this one; the key for safety really is to not exceed wattage.)
      • Plan to downsize to a US Queen/UK King bed at largest, and bring any sheets that fit said mattress because you’ll pay loads of tax within the UK and the bed sizes are ever so slightly different in that they are all a bit shorter in the UK than the US. (Sad for our tall asses, but worth knowing ahead of time; we bought a new US Queen mattress to eek out every inch even in a downsize. Definitely wouldn’t have done that without research.)
      • Only bring your nicest furniture that can turn around tight corners.
    • Could we deal with the transportation? Yes – online grocery stuff is more robust there, and people might Uber or Car2Go for the occasional trip but train service is great and worth it (though expensive and necessary to budget for). Traffic is awful and it’s likely not worth getting a car even if you end up with somewhere reliable to park it (also unlikely).

Turn up your extroversion (even if it hurts)

Whenever I take a Myers-Briggs type personality test, I fall right between the E for Extrovert and the I for Introvert, usually leaning ever so slightly more I. This surprises nearly everyone who knows me, since I tend to turn on the social vibe when I’m in a social setting, but I actually need a lot of down time to feel recharged and un-harried (I suspect this has a lot to do with growing up as an only child very accustomed to plenty of solitude and personal space).

Despite my preference to kind of retreat and cozy up with my family, I knew I’d need to turn on my social charm and savvy in order to establish a new community in London. So I’m currently being far more brazen than is comfortable about asking people for London introductions, and once I actually get there, I’ll probably have to be far more social than is comfortable when it comes to making good on various vague offers to grab a drink or a coffee sometime.

This means pushing myself–enduring the guilt of making my husband tackle bedtime for our kid solo (which we rarely foist on one another–parenting is a lot more tolerable with a buddy) in order to meet up for that pint with someone I only know from the internet. It means doing the mental and logistical work of finding childcare, and then paying for it, just so that I can grab lunch with an old Microsoft contact who moved to London in case it ends up being a fruitful professional or personal connection. It means turning all those little “mostly just for politeness” pseudo-invitations into actual dates, by doing the work of following up and suggesting times and locations that are convenient to the other person rather than myself. This is all exhausting, extroverted work–but I know it’s what will be required of me if we want to maintain a healthy happy social life and mental health balance in the long run of our London tenure.

(So yeah, if you’re in London and I know you, please consider pushing me to get the drink or offering to come to me instead, haha–I’ll be bending over backwards accommodating others in order to finagle as many get-togethers as I can, so I’ll very much welcome the change!) <–See, this is brazen and a bit socially uncomfortable and certainly feels quite un-British, but I’m putting it out there anyway. :)

Plan to let go a little

You may see from this blog post that I’m a bit of a planner, perhaps unkindly called a ‘control freak’ and more professionally described as ‘risk averse’ with a penchant for ‘forecasting all outcomes’ and ‘developing contingency options’ and other resume-speak. The biggest stresses for me in this transition were around realizing that we simply couldn’t do everything ahead of time.

It’s harder to find a job from another country than when you’re on the ground and can meet people in person in the correct time zone. So even though we both would have been much comforted by my securing a London-based employment offer before we moved there, that simply didn’t pan out and I had to trust that it would work out in the long run somehow.

We can’t downsize all our furniture and “stuff” right away because we don’t want to sit on the floor in a dark living room for too long. :) We aren’t ditching certain possessions until the bitter stressful end, even though it’ll make our exit more hectic, because it’s worth it to sleep soundly on our normal bed for X more weeks and it’s worth keeping a sense of normalcy in our home for ourselves and our little one as long as we possibly can.

We can’t go apartment-hunting ahead of time because the London market moves quickly enough that anything we found would be snapped up well before we were able to see it in person (a must for my final decision). We can’t seek daycare placement for Storm because we want to make sure we know where we’re living and don’t have a massive daycare commute. Some details just HAVE to wait, not just until we get there, but until we get there, settle into temporary housing, get over jetlag, schedule apartment visiting days, investigate childcare to make said days easier, vet said potential child carer and related commutes, and finally commit to either taking a toddler with us to look at apartments or trusting a little-known stranger with said toddler.

We couldn’t give specific notice at work, daycare, to our friends and family, etc. until my husband and Storm had their visas approved, which could be forecasted but not perfectly predicted ahead of time. We couldn’t see off everyone we wanted to see off because our lives only fit in so much (and there is now a massive snowstorm forecasted on the day of our harried final sendoff party). We couldn’t fix up every little house thing to make our home into the perfect rental because we couldn’t predict what would make future tenants willing to pay what we hope to get per month.

Not being able to predict or plan is tough, but in many ways, this feels like the giant “product launch” that is parenting, haha. We could amass baby-specific supplies when I was pregnant, and ask other parents for advice, and carve out as much in our life as we could that might help facilitate an easy transition into parenthood. But nothing TRULY prepared us for the reality shift that came when our kid entered the world. Many things have stayed surprisingly similar, many things have been completely upended, and nothing is quite how I expected or feared or planned. So on some level, that’s London, too–I guess we’ll see what awaits!

Seek the silver linings

No matter how ridiculous they seem, it can be nice to make some mental lists of the silver lining parts of a big transition, so you can pull back and look at the big picture even when you’re mired in stressful details and doubts. Here are some of ours:

  • Storm will probably develop a cute accent. :)
  • Now that I’ve gotten skilled at interior design over the course of our eight years of home ownership, I’m much better equipped to select a great rental dwelling and make it look fantastic. It helps that we’re getting rid of much of the furniture we owned anyway and starting from scratch, since I’ve learned that fitting your former furniture to your new abode is often not as successful as you’d like.
  • While I’m not a huge fan of paring down belongings for the sake of it, I admit that we have a tendency towards clutter and maximalism. Being forced into getting rid of a lot of things is as refreshing as it is exhausting to deal with.
  • We will have so many more travel opportunities! We can see parts of Europe that we’ve only dreamed about because we weren’t previously willing to deal with the nine-hour flights just to get there. We can pop away for bank holiday weekends and the like on very cheap and quick flights.
  • Our kids will learn to be resilient in different ways, such as handling themselves on public transit and said airline flights and on having to walk to the park instead of drive.
  • Maybe I’ll somehow finally score that perfect vintage Burberry trench in a charity shop somewhere.
  • I’ll get to use my multilingual skills much more often than in Seattle.
  • I’ll have an excuse to learn a whole new set of nursery rhymes to sing to my kid. :)
  • We’ll have an exit path if the US erupts in political flames, assuming Britain doesn’t.
  • We’ll now be more open to the idea of living outside of Seattle if a cool career opportunity arises in another city/country, which is healthier for our long-term career prospects.
  • I’ll look back and be glad our family took on this challenge, even if it’s tough at the time.

There you have it! What big challenging decision are you trying to make for yourself? I’d love to hear if you found this helpful!

An image of our son Storm between illustrations of Seattle's Space Needle and London's Big Ben and London Eye landmarks

Things I will and won’t miss about pregnancy

Things I will and won’t miss about pregnancy

I’m due with a baby in less than a week! It doesn’t feel like he’s going to arrive all that imminently, but since it’s around the corner I can’t help but think about what I’ve enjoyed (and not enjoyed) about being pregnant.

Things I will miss about pregnancy:

  • Disappearing acne. Some women have horrible hormonal breakouts during pregnancy; I have those normally every month and they’ve disappeared in pregnancy. It would be nice if that stuck around. :)
  • No more itchy scalp! My hair is dry and coarse and prefers not to be washed very often; however, my scalp usually needs shampooing well before my hair actually does and it’s a bummer to have to cater to my itchy head and ruin a great hair day/week. This seems to have gone away during pregnancy; their washing needs have synced up nicely. Thanks, fetus!
  • Not caring about my waistline in clothing. I LOVE being able to wear clothes that show my belly. I mean, it took a while into the pregnancy to be certain that I definitely looked identifiably pregnant, but once I was there it was a thrill to wear form-fitting stuff and horizontal stripes without a care in the world. I’ll miss that. (And if you’re one of those helpful folks who will encourage me to just keep doing that anyway, I regularly got mistaken for pregnant when I wasn’t and that was no fun at all for me, so I won’t be going that route, heh.)
  • Grocery carte blanche. I have never been so cavalier about popping in for one or two items and walking out with $70 of organic seasonal fruit. It’s hard not to justify when I’m buying mostly healthy stuff and the occasional craving food—I’ll dislike having to actually watch the grocery bill soon.
  • Reckless A/C abandon. I turn it on full blast every single time I get in my car nowadays, without thinking twice about it, and we’re even going to get one installed in our bedroom to keep the newborn infant cooler (and so we can manage some sleep as new parents). This will eventually become financially and environmentally unsustainable but right now it feels justifiable as I’m 39 weeks along in July/nearly August with 30+ extra pounds on my frame.
  • Comfort privilege. I have no qualms whatsoever about requesting a more comfortable seat at restaurants right now, getting dropped off close to somewhere instead of having to walk a few blocks, etc. Being preggo has made me super aware of how many Seattle restaurants have no regard for actual seating comfort in their establishments—no thank you to the dinky bar stool with no back support and sharp metal edges that cut into the middle of my ass cheek!
  • Metabolic check. Ever since I got over my first trimester nausea, my body kind of refuses to handle refined carbs or sugar well—which is super healthy for me. I basically ought to eat paleo-ish most of the time for my metabolism, i.e. lots of meat and leafy green veggies and not so much other stuff, but in pregnancy that set of nutritional needs feels physiologically urgent. I can’t describe it perfectly, it’s like a sixth sense that’s part taste part intuition and part blood sugar and part some weird pregnancy magic that goes NOPE NOPE NOPE when I eat something ill advised, especially on an empty stomach. And while it’s a little annoying (I both will and won’t miss this, shut up), it’s an incredibly effective tool at getting me to eat like I should. I’ll miss it being so EASY to make the right choice.
  • Growing a human inside of me. Honestly, despite everything on the second half of this list, pregnancy has been really magical for me. (Probably in part because it took us a looooong time to finally get here, but I think also because I’ve always been sort of fascinated by it and excited by the idea of it.) I love feeling this little guy moving around inside of me, and I like feeling like I’m harboring some kind of precious cargo. I can totally understand why a part of some women’s postpartum depression involves missing the feeling of a baby being inside of them… I suspect I may count myself in that category. I think I’ll miss it. It’s an oddly nice feeling even when he occasionally left hooks me in the bladder.
  • Community. The sense of connection you get with other parents and especially other birth mothers is intense. I can see how it would totally feel difficult as a parent of adopted children, or even just as a non-birth parent, to not feel a part of this certain sisterhood of the traveling womb or whatever, but it really is a nice sense of all-knowing welcoming community. God that sounds so TERFy and I don’t mean it to, but it’s not something I know how to describe otherwise. I would never presume to define anyone’s womanhood based on this, but I just dig the welcome that I get from other women who have been pregnant and given birth before, even if they also love to overload me with unsolicited advice sometimes, haha.
  • Making everyone take the elevator instead of the stairs. Sorry folks, if you wanna chat with me you’re gonna have to give up on that one healthy choice because my knees are tired, haha. I feel no guilt doing this while pregnant whereas I felt bad before if I just did it over a knee injury or general laziness. Which is silly, but true!
  • Contractor privilege. I have been doing a ton of home repair projects (perhaps the lazy homeowner version of “nesting” in which I tackle every single maintenance and upgrade issue we have been putting off for 6 straight years in the space of 4 months?). Contractors have been better about accommodating my schedule based on pregnancy, and that’s really effing helpful as it can be so damn hard to wrangle them and ensure that your job gets priority especially during the busy summer season. This isn’t perfect or anything, and some bigger jobs have still gotten pushed out annoyingly, but a couple smaller providers have been incredibly accommodating about fitting in fairly last-minute work because they know we’re expecting a kid so soon, and it’s super wonderful. I also just have this giant purestrings justification thing going on about getting allllll the annoying work in before baby arrives, which is a nice motivator even if we’ll regret it later as we gasp over our bank statements.
  • Nesting. I like being this productive and motivated to get shit done around the house! I wish I could bottle this up and sell it.
  • Self care. I’m so much better about prioritizing massage appointments, lazy baths, breaks between tiring chores, exercise classes, proper bedtimes, downtime between social engagements, etc. when I’m pregnant. If I were this good about taking care of myself during all walks of life I have to wonder if I’d be less stressed out overall!
  • Being told how great I look all the time. I don’t really understand what it means, in the sense that I’m not sure what pregnancy-specific aspect of my appearance we’re commenting on, haha. I think it has to do with a combo of how I’m carrying (uh, round?), how I’m gaining weight mainly in baby-like areas (belly and boob and not so much like face/neck/ankles, lucky me), and that I don’t look miserable or haggard. No one has said I “glow” at any point, heh, but people seem to think pregnancy looks good on me. OK? I’ll take it, thanks! (I definitely feel pretty damn good; I know I’m lucky in that this has been a shockingly easy pregnancy.)
  • No periods! It’s really nice, folks! Some women might feel like having a period is some integral part of feminine identity or whatever, but for me it’s an annoying extra thing I have to remember to carry, and a lead-in to all my clueless coworkers asking if I’m taking off when they see me head to the restroom with a purse. No, dummies, I’m fucking bleeding everywhere and I need supplies. Mind ya business.
  • Expectant Mother parking spot. I didn’t discover this until a helpful male coworker pointed it out near the beginning of my third trimester, but damn was it nice. Microsoft doesn’t have these at every building, but I used the heck out of it right up until my second-to-last day of work. (On my last day some dude parked his Harley there and I only feel a little guilty that I ratted him out to security and made him move it. C’mon dude, not cool, there is someone literally headbanging on my bladder and I factored that into my pre-commute urination strategy. All you did is buy a motorcycle.)

Things I will not miss about pregnancy:

  • Food prep. I really hate cutting up veggie sticks and making little peanut butter tupperwares to dip into, hard boiling a batch of eggs, and whatever other behaviors I’ve had to take on in order to get enough high-protein healthy snacks. And I’m so fucking sick of trail mix. I know I’ll have to be good about food prep once kids are old enough to eat solids, but for now, I’ll be glad during maternity leave to be able to just make myself a snack at home when breastfeeding leaves me ravenous instead of having to prep and carry a freaking restaurant’s worth of metabolically sound bullshit. God I hate food prep so much.
  • Giant boobs. Mine were plenty big before. Yes, I’m aware they’re about to get even bigger. Not a fan. Makes it really hard to find clothing that fits and doesn’t look inappropriate, and they just generally make you look heavier. And they actually are heavier which hurts your back, and it gets really hard to find good bras, and nothing from Anthropologie fits unless it’s stretchy, and it’s generally just annoying. (Plus all this other weird shit happens that turns your boobs into a body part that you don’t recognize as your own and I won’t miss that either but I should probably get used to it since I think those changes are permanent; oh well.)
  • All the H- symptoms. Heartburn, hemorrhoids, hunger (like BOTTOMLESS PIT type hunger that required me to sleep with food on my nightstand and pack a little grocery store worth of bullshit everywhere I went), and hacking old man cough from being so immunocompromised in order to not reject a fetus that you get ONE COLD and you end up coughing like you’re dying for literally six months straight. There was another H-symptom I was going to include but I forgot, so let’s throw in Hella-bad memory. And uh, histrionics? Nah, fuck that word, but I *definitely* have some amusingly disproportionate reactions to things, usually manifesting either as super snippy impatience/annoyance over something objectively minor, or shocking sobbing fits over something objectively minor. (The former is the most common, and both pretty much only happen around Grant, for better or for worse.)
  • Random comments. Whether they’re unsolicited advice, well meaning warnings about how little sleep we will ever get again, strangers asking to hug me, or construction guys saying I’m about to pop as I walk by, I just sort of don’t love the random commentary. And I’m TOTALLY all for pleasant small talk with nice strangers, such as complimenting someone’s shoes or what have you, but the sense of permission people have to just discuss/comment on your body/health/LIFE when you’re pregnant is disconcerting. Harboring a baby fosters this sense of unearned intimacy that seems primal, but it can be unweclome. (Sometimes it’s nice too. But frankly, it’s nice from other pregnant women and visibly obvious moms, and less nice from literally everyone else. Kind of like most compliments or comments directed at a woman’s appearance, haha.)
  • Medication overload/underload. You can’t take shit for shit while you’re pregnant (no aspirin, no cold meds, no this no that, half the essential oils and herbal teas are banned for no clear reason or lack of data) and yet you end up taking tons of shit that you wouldn’t otherwise (Unisom because you’re nauseated and can never sleep, Zantac because you start to barf every time you lie down in bed otherwise, Qvar inhaler because of aforementioned old man cough, a million vitamins and probiotics and enzymes to help it all work, motherfucking Metamucil, etc.) I look forward to my medical regimen being a) more limited and b) more flexible, even if some stuff is still restricted during breastfeeding.
  • Pregsomnia. I already suffer from mild anxiety and not so mild insomnia, and it just seems way worse preggo. Probably because the things I’m worrying about are more legit, you know? All sorts of labor stuff and postpartum woes and latching stuff and sleep training stuff and financial stuff and the massive career impact of parenthood and childcare and RAISING A GOOD HUMAN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE while maintaining a happy marriage and not losing my sense of self and… see what I mean? My worries are about REAL SHIT now and they keep me up and night and I kind of can’t blame them.
  • Foot stuff. I can barely reach my feet even suspended in a nice deep buoyant bathtub, so they’re cracked up to shit in a way that no pedicurist can really tackle. Plus I don’t like exposing Junior to all the nasty chemicals that a pedicure entails, so I’ve gotten exactly one my entire pregnancy which is a bummer. It’s not looking so great at this stage. And they got bigger! Fucking relaxin! Even though I went out of my way to wear footwear that I hoped would help contain any spreading out, they are totally wider at the very least. I’m hoping desperately that they will go back to being a solid 11 because I already went from a 10 to an 11 when I gained some weight a few years back, and it really limits your fashion choices. A 12 would be much worse (AND I’d have to give up my roster of existing footwear). Sigh.
  • Feeling weird about pictures. It’s a common trend for a lot of pregnant women to photograph their changing body throughout a pregnancy. I started my pregnancy with a significant enough gluten/pizza gut that I was frequently mistaken for being pregnant when I wasn’t, which is never ever fun. So during the earlier parts of pregnancy, I had absolutely no desire to document my “bump” progress, schedule a maternity photo shoot, etc. Now that I’m farther along I’m more OK with it, but it feels like a large portion of pregnancy selfie excitement is only made for skinny gals. I am all for the body positivity movement but that doesn’t mean I actually feel it in my own heart/cellulite, so it bums me out to feel, just, BIG compared to other pregnant women, and to look like I’m farther along, etc. This becomes notable in pregnancy fitness and education classes, too, when everyone goes around the room and says how far along they are. (But once you hit your third trimester it matters a lot less.)
  • Stretch marks. I mean, I’m pretty sure mine are here to stay and frankly fairly minimal and will fade a lot with time, but we’d all rather NOT get them than get them, right?
  • All tops being too short. Yep, even maternity ones. I have a long torso and am a larger person already, which has been great for fitting the actual baby into my body with fewer terrible symptoms than shorter women, but it’s been a real annoyance to just constantly have to tug shirts down or have the bottom of my belly exposed. And I’m not nuts about the paneled pants that go way up to alleviate this. Not made for my body.
  • Misc. body stuff. There’s a lot of other weird little things that are too personal to go into in a blog post, but your body has some shifts that are annoying and that I won’t miss. Including…
  • Weird belly button. Go back in, slight bulge to right of navel. WTF.
Name Your Thing!

Name Your Thing!

I spoke at AltConference 2017 about how to name things.

Last year when I spoke at AltConf 2016, things went really well… and I was invited to speak again in 2017 on the spot! (And I accepted on the spot, haha.) I actually started brainstorming this talk right then and there, so I had an entire year to ruminate on what I wanted to cover.

However, life takes its turns, and I was about 8 months pregnant on this trip–needless to say, my life has been a lot busier prepping for a new baby in the family! I spent a lot of time thinking about this talk in my head, but not nearly as much time actually prepping, writing, rehearsing, polishing my slide deck, etc. I was also sweating profusely and having trouble breathing, thanks to the little guy taking up space for all my vital organs and wreaking havoc on my physiology, haha.

All in all though, I still feel pretty good about how it went–the content being more pragmatic and technical actually lessened the impact of my relative lack of preparation, since the content was actionable despite not packing the same emotional punch (by design). At least that’s what I’m telling myself, based on the fact that many people stopped me in the hallways or reached out on Twitter and mentioned that they found my talk helpful!

Lastly, I want to thank and shine a spotlight on Nancy Friedman, and her blog Fritinancy. She’s an enormously helpful, friendly, and accessible resource, whom I would absolutely hire to name something if I were in that position again. (Yes, despite all my great advice, I think the best advice I can give is that it’s worth paying for qualified expertise in this domain, because there’s SO much you can get wrong!)

Thanks a ton for watching, and please share with anyone you know who is working on a project that they’re struggling to name. And now, on to the naming resources I mentioned in my talk!

Name Your Thing Resources:

My blog post on domain hacks

    • – tl;dr; don’t use them

United States Patent and Trademark Office

    • – check your name ideas here if you’re based in the USA

Fritinancy

    • – Nancy Friedman’s wonderful naming blog. Look up her naming brief exercises in particular!

Every Frame a Painting – The Marvel Symphonic Orchestra

    • – video about how easy it is to ship movies with temp/default music instead of something more original. Temp music discussion starts around 6:00, but I recommend you watch the whole thing!

Name Your Thing template (Google Spreadsheet)

    – please save yourself a copy

And here is the URL slide choosing hierarchy I promised to include:

    1. Your name dot com
    1. wording compromise (getsquare, etc.)
    1. Hyphens or .net etc.
    1. Funky Tlds (.party, .io, .fm)
    1. domain hacks (don’t ever do these)
My AltConf 2016 talk: Sell Out and Save the World!

My AltConf 2016 talk: Sell Out and Save the World!

Woohoo! I’m so excited! Last year I spoke at AltConf in San Francisco during Apple’s WWDC week. I’m really proud of the talk I gave—I had refined it a bunch, tested it in front of different audiences, and poured a lot of my soul into it. (And yes, a lot of emojis.)

It’s a little bit about how to feel OK having a corporate job. It’s a little bit about diversity in tech. It’s a little bit about why online dating sucks. If any of that sounds interesting to you, please watch it!

(And feel free to let me know what you think, but you know, be gentle with your constructive criticism. I’ve literally never given a talk at a conference before.) <3!

Sell Out and Save the World – AltConf 2016 (best viewed on a bigger screen so you can follow the slides. And none of the videos or animations play in this slide processing, but if you’re DYING to see the Taylor Swift Apple Music ad, go here.)

My top Grace Hopper session takeaways

My top Grace Hopper session takeaways

I just wrote up a trip report for my team at Microsoft, highlighting at least one takeaway from each session I attended at Grace Hopper 2016. It occurs to me that I should share that with the rest of the world, too. Here they are!

 

  • “Growth and comfort never coexist.” –Ginni Rometty, Chairwoman, President and CEO of IBM during the Day One keynote.
    • This stuck with me; feels profound as we attempt to shift to a growth mindset as a company. Time to embrace discomfort. :)
  • Solitude matters to think creatively; all of us are in too many meetings! From Susan Cain’s talk on the Quiet Revolution.
    • We need to carve out alone time when we’re thinking big (especially for those who are more introverted). I know I’ll be blocking out time on my calendar to get into the right brain space for certain projects moving forward.
    • Some other impactful points from this talk!
      • Introverts should speak up early in meetings to make sure they’re heard.
      • Brainstorming works better alone as opposed to a group activity.
  • Lead the meeting if you need to make sure you get recognition. From an Intuit panel about women’s career development.
    • If you’re concerned that you’re not getting seen for the work you’re doing, take charge and set the meeting yourself and guide it through. It’s a guaranteed way to be seen and also drive progress/outcome.
  • Everyone benefits from accessible design. From a powerful Microsoft panel on inclusive design.
    • If you’ve ever dictated into your phone, pulled luggage through a curb cutout, or walked through an automatic door, you’ve benefitted from accessibility designs. When we design inclusively, it makes things better for ALL users.
  • “We need to make technology cool for girls to study.–Rebecca Minkoff, Tech-Thinking Fashion Designer, from a panel on closing the gender gap in STEM.
    • This immediately made me think of IoT and the enormous opportunity we have to do cool work that centers and celebrates women enjoying technology.
  • Email your manager and say “I’m moving forward with X on Y date unless I hear otherwise from you.” From a panel about women negotiating.
    • Instead of waiting for express permission, sometimes it’s best to just propose what you think needs to happen and make it happen. That way your initiative doesn’t get stuck in waiting-for-permission purgatory or email delay, and you can show what you’re capable of without red tape holding you back.
    • Of course, you need to make clear that your manager has the opportunity to weigh in, but that’s where setting clear dates and expectations in your email comes in.
    • Do this immediately after every interesting hallway or coffee machine discussion with your manager; that way you can deliver on those chats instead of just having them fade away (and then revisit the evidence of your bias for action come review time.)
  • Influence isn’t about you or your rising titles; helping other people is what grows your influence. From a panel about the Art & Science of Influence Management.
    • Great point that makes it less about the self and more about the team/company/project!
  • Line length in a slide should never be more than 13-15 words.
    • Enough said! :)

 

And for what it’s worth, some of the most engaging connections I had were from randomly putting myself out there. This was a scary tweet to post (and I actually only connected with people that I chatted up in person), but I consistently find it worth it to do stuff like this!

After Grace Hopper

After Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper Celebration was a fantastic experience. I learned so much and met so many fascinating people, and when you get in that conference groove mindset you really connect! There’s something about a female-centric space that’s so special and supportive in its energy–it’s something I realize now that I didn’t fully appreciate while I was attending Bryn Mawr for my undergraduate. But I get it now. (And it’s what we work to provide in App Camp for Girls.)

The highlight of the conference was probably the networking. Not because I felt the need to go out of my way and meet people, but because the person-to-person discussions I ended up having were often more profound and relevant than even the most helpful sessions. There’s something about connecting with people in a more intimate number (introvert alert!) that’s far more satisfying than a killer 1:many lecture.

I also have to laugh at how many times someone proclaimed that I was “PMing” something throughout the trip. Sometimes it was chaos in a busy bathroom with no toilet paper in one stall* or a clear meal plan during the lunch rush**. It reminds me why I really am a great hire for the role I’m in, and why I’m always a natural MC even if it exhausts me internally. I can just turn on the “get shit done” mode and, well, get shit done, even in a large group that’s a challenge to wrangle. A young new PM hire at Microsoft told me she aspires to PM things as effectively as I did at one lunch break, which I consider a great compliment!

On that note, It’s been gratifying to move into an era of my career when I can start to mentor other women in tech. I’m not sure when that transition happened, exactly, but I suddenly (?) feel like I’ve got this fountain of guidance that a) other, mostly younger women seek, and b) actually provides them real value. I don’t mean to devalue my own worth by seeming so surprised, but I guess I’ve felt for so many years that I myself was seeking answers, that it’s gratifying to notice when I now seem to be experienced enough to provide them in this context. Hooray for aging!

Ooh, that reminds me: let’s have some props!

  • Props to the gal who pushed back on a panelist who had claimed she was “dating herself” by saying how many years she’d been in an industry. The attendee at the Q&A mic said “please don’t feel like that’s something you ever need to apologize for; we’re all here because of your wisdom and experience!” Hell yes.
  • Props to the stamina of everyone who worked booth duty on that expo floor. That shit is exhausting.
  • Props to all the event staff, janitorial–that was a LOT y’all were dealing with.
  • Props to the men who were graceful about many of their bathrooms becoming gender-neutral bathrooms this week. That can be a jarring transition and I appreciate that you didn’t make a fuss. (We all know it’s rare for you to feel that particular type of marginalization, but I still have empathy for ya because again, we 15k women are a lot to deal with when you’re accustomed to being the most represented group!)
  • Props to the gal who knew I was craving one of those free ice cream bars and went and got me (and several others) one once we had secured our seats at a busy session! So thoughtful and sweet (har har not like that).
  • Props to all the interesting note-takers! I loved seeing how people visually and verbally represented the info we were drinking up all week.
  • Props to the bartenders. I hope enough people tipped really well to make it worth your massive efforts.
  • Props to Peggy for letting me store my luggage in her hotel room <3
  • Props to everyone who rolled with it when I roped them into impromptu networking, conversations, drinks, meals, Ubers, etc. Some great connections happened from my forced situational extroversion, but I know it can catch you off guard when a tall blonde lady yells at you to come fill this four-top or whatever. Thanks for rolling with the punches; I hope it enriched your conference experience as that was always the intention; I know it enriched mine.
  • Props again to Microsoft for sending me, as well as 800+ other women, and for sponsoring so many activities within the conference. I’m continually impressed, thrilled, and grateful to work for this kind of employer. (And this is my personal blog so I’m ignoring your style guide handling of the Oxford comma, haha. Take that!)
  • Props to the oxford comma ;)

A few non-props:

  • To the gal who mistook me for pregnant on the very first day: we both know that was kind of shitty. But I’ve put my foot in my mouth that very same way with other women, and it sucked and I felt terrible about it like forever. You probably still feel terrible about it, or did for a while. In case you have been carrying it around, it’s OK. I’m over it now. You have my permission to let it go, as long as you try to remember not to do it again, and I will too. :)
  • To the event staff we were all pushy and frustrated with at the Toyota Center: I’m sorry some of us were rude (myself included) in our moments of frustration. It’s not a fair excuse, but we were a horde of logic-driven beings being confronted by illogical constraints, which I realize you had no authority to escape. We shouldn’t have been rude even though it’s OK for us to be pushy/ask for what we need/question things that seem like they need questioning. There’s a line in how this sort of thing is done, and a lot of nuance around gendered behavior, but some of us were snappier than we probably needed to be and I felt and still feel bad. I know you were just doing your job. I’m sorry.
  • To the staff at so many hotels, restaurants, and bars near the conference: I got the feeling y’all weren’t quite prepared for the volume and intensity of GHC attendees this year. I really hope that changes in future years; it’s a killer opportunity to really bring it and show what the hospitality and service industries can do even in times of chaos, especially when you’re charging premium rates and doing great business. I strongly encourage you to bring on more staff during this conference if it’s held in Houston again so you aren’t stretched noticeably thin by the sudden influx of guests with needs and appetites. We’ll appreciate it, and we’ll all tip well especially when our generous employers are footing the bill.
  • To Donald Trump, you’re a terrible human and I get physical anxiety every time I see your face or hear you begin to talk because I’ve been conditioned to expect the fucking worst which you consistently deliver. The only way I was able to stomach your hateful bullshit during that last debate was to surround myself with powerful women and drink and eat candy and deride your constant misogyny and malevolence together. I look forward to your impending self-immolation. You are one of the rare humans who makes me truly wish harm upon another human because it’s clear you’ll eagerly cause harm to so many more if you’re given even a drop of power.

A closing note:

Are you wondering how you can capture this energy and be part of the wonder that is Grace Hopper? Here are some actionable steps!

  • If you’re a manager, support women who want to go to GHC, and work to get them sponsored to attend by your company. If that’s not possible, at least support them attending on their own and/or streaming the talks, and be supportive of their other commitments taking a backseat while they soak up the learning and empowerment.
  • If someone on your team comes back from GHC and surprises you with bolder questions or pushy seeming negotiations, roll with it. Don’t punish them or poke fun at them. Let them try out their newly learned skills, and respect them for it, and listen to what they have to say!
  • Consider attending yourself. We had over one thousand male allies in this year’s audience. It can be humbling and intimidating to suddenly become a minority if you’re a man in tech, but it’s a great firsthand experience at empathy and your eyes will be opened to a whole world you didn’t know about regarding the challenges women face in the workplace, the sheer number of amazing talented female technologists, and the many permutations of what an engineer (or PM, or designer, etc.) actually looks like. Or talks like. Or thinks like. You should totally come.
  • Get involved! Volunteer at a local nonprofit that helps get women into tech! Ask your local community what you can do to help more actively! Sponsor programs and students that are tied to diversity initiatives! Make connections with programs that can feed diverse talent into your organization! Make a commitment to working harder at improving your company’s diversity! Read other blog posts with other opinions about what you can do to help! The ideas and suggestions are out there if you make it a priority to find them.

Thanks for reading! <3

 

* Take the countertop Kleenex box and stick it in the stall that’s missing toilet paper.
** Scan OpenTable for nearby locations and your desired reservation time, accounting for travel time including conference congestion. Book a reservation (4-6 is the largest that will usually still allow you to find quick options) so you don’t end up slammed during the lunch rush with no food options for an hour. Claim your space using technology!

Before Grace Hopper

Before Grace Hopper

I’m on my way to Grace Hopper right now, which I’ve never been to before. My employer is actually paying to send me. Paying for my hotel and my flight (and the Wi-Fi which allows me to write this post) and paying me for the time I spend enriching myself here.

I’m so honored and privileged to work for a company that actually invests in me as an employee, that sees me as an asset, that wants to grow me so I can flourish for them. Maybe it’s a sign of not having found the right career direction before, or not being picky enough with my prior employers and positions, or me successfully escaping impostor syndrome or maximizing my networking, or me needing time to grow into the seasoned pro that is finally an obvious hire at a big tech company like Microsoft.* Whatever the cocktail of reasons is, I’ll take it!

I’ll get to connect with colleagues from App Camp for Girls, and from my current and past jobs. I’ll connect with fellow Bryn Mawr graduates who have pursued careers in tech. I’ll meet new people and compliment a thousand cute smartwatch bands and sensible but snappy pairs of shoes. I’ll take on loads of swag I don’t really need and regret it later, and give away fewer of my beautifully letterpressed business cards than I hoped because nobody wants to carry around more *stuff*. I’ll get buttons caught on my lanyard; I’ll snag my necklace with my badge; I’ll get blisters and sweat and my brain and heart and contacts will be completely full. I’ll lose literally every pen I bring including the one I swipe from the hotel. I’ll take notes in three different apps and only collate them on the plane home when I re-read Liz’s blog post and type up my own post-conference post.

I’ll chat freely, comfortable that this audience won’t judge uptalk or complain about the word “just” or dole out creepy-toned compliments or judge my bubbly effervescence as technical incompetence, because I’ll be surrounded by my peers who deal with that all the time, and by allies who know that sexism in tech is a problem and are determined to find a way to improve this culture.

I’ll learn about new technologies and ways of thinking. I’ll have “aha” moments when I realize something someone said makes me see the solution to a problem I didn’t know I was solving for, or makes me realize I’m asking the wrong questions to get the answers I need. I’ll write my first few lines of code since App Camp. I’ll have a deeper appreciation for the roles my colleagues perform, and I’ll brainstorm ways for us to work better together. I’ll learn to automate something I previously did manually. I’ll focus on eradicating some habit that’s been holding me back in my meetings or my slide decks. I’ll hit that “connect” button SO many times on LinkedIn. I’ll forget to change my Twitter display name back to its usual form for like a week. And I’ll have a freaking BLAST.

I love conferences! Eeeeee!

 

*Yes, I shamelessly put in the Careers section link. No, I’m not kidding. At least throw your hat in the ring; this place is amazing! :)

Xcoders rehearsal of my AltConf talk

Xcoders rehearsal of my AltConf talk

I know I’ve been posting videos galore lately, but all the links are coming to me at once! :) Here’s my run-through of the talk I eventually gave at AltConf, for the Seattle Xcoders Meetup.

Three things of note (at least to me):

I know this shirt didn’t read great on camera. I had to rush from work, it sucked. I won’t make this mistake again!

Also in the vanity field, though, I have no idea why this camera is SO unflattering! I feel like it widened me by like 30%, haha. Just watch the slides, OK?

It went over better than you can hear; we didn’t have the audience audio captured so it’s hard to tell when my jokes actually get laughs but I swear they do. However, I gained stage presence and improved and changed the talk A LOT for AltConf, so when I do eventually post that version you should watch it too or just trust that it’s better, haha.

Enjoy!

Donut.JS lightning talk

Donut.JS lightning talk

Back in late May, I spoke at DonutJS, a totally rad Meetup organized by a bunch of Portland tech wonder-folk. It’s such a great and fun community! I highly encourage folks to attend and/or present if they’re in Portland and can swing it.

This was my first-ever public speaking gig! OK, I guess second, since I spoke to a Meetup group of all of three people about social media one time in like 2013. And I’m always the MC of App Camp for Girls in Seattle, and I’ve been leading webinars for my Microsoft job for months. But still, it was my first “someone asked me to speak at a thing and I said yes!” engagement.

It was challenging because I knew I was later going to speak at AltConf, which was a much longer time slot—10 minutes at DonutJS vs. 45 minutes at AltConf. So I had to choose where I wanted to chop things apart and which points I wanted to focus on. In the end, even though the App Camp discussion was more personally meaningful, I thought the online dating failure arc made for a better ten-minute story for a semi-technical audience, so I went with it. I hope you enjoy; I’ll post the longer AltConf version as soon as it’s out!

Udacity interview with Kate Rotondo

Udacity interview with Kate Rotondo

When I spoke at AltConf back in June, Udacity asked to interview me and I was lucky enough to get paired with my pal Kate Rotondo as my interviewer. Hooray for networking! Hooray for connections! Hooray for women in tech! :)

You can read about the interview here, or just cut to watching the video below.

This was a ton of fun, and we covered a lot of different topics including App Camp for Girls. Thanks to Udacity and Kate for the opportunity!