Tag: Dan Benjamin

The Internet ROCKS.

The Internet ROCKS.

I swear, I don’t know what I’d do if we’d never come up with this whole interconnected awesomeness thing.

I re-launched my business earlier this year, which involved picking a new business name. It was incredibly hard to come up with a name I liked that was also what my business needed, and I was so much better at it when I had help from lots of Twitter and ADN friends. People were so generous and pragmatic and willing to share their expertise. Plus, I found a couple great blogs with loads of helpful naming advice. I wasn’t able to shell out for those experts like I hoped to, but they were still incredibly supportive of me, and I know I’d go to them if I had to name a more grown-up company with a proper budget in the future. I learned so much about this entire naming field that I didn’t even know existed when I named my thing this time around. Which is clear, because that name and URL sucked, and they’re much better now. :)

IMG_3978Since the big rename and relaunch, I’ve predictably had many woes getting the technical details of my new website together, not to mention the graphical stuff that just totally loses me. My husband Grant has been my biggest helper in the graphics department, but the amazing Berklee has been a close second. He’s been ever so generous with his time and energy, throwing business card ideas and mockups at me faster than I can download the files. This was the final design*, in case you were wondering, although I plan to change the “consultant” terminology to something that better encapsulates what I actually do. (“Coach” is the closest I’ve got right now.)

Bryan Redeagle of Capsule DX offered to help me with web stuff, and he was so appalled by some of the shoddy code in my former theme that he just full-on wrote me a new one, all custom from scratch and designed to fix exactly the stuff that was frustrating me. He never charged me a penny, because we worked out a special deal, but mostly because he’s fucking awesome and he honestly just wanted to help (and wanted code to shine like all perfectionist programmers do). I can’t thank him enough, or recommend his work loudly enough. I’ve never gotten this level of service out of anyone I’ve hired for any project, except for the amazingly affordable florist at our otherwise overpriced wedding. Most of you who know me know that praise does not come from me unless it is sincerely deserved.

Marie of Code it Pretty has also been a very generous donor of her time and expertise. She already generously writes a blog that just helps people figure out frustrating web crap, and she’s so cool about chiming in when I have something tricky to solve. And oh, remember when I wanted to make that app? Well, it’s still in the works; I’ve had to kind of put it aside in favor of earning money via my main business. But Marie is weighing in about user experience and will probably help with an Android port someday.

Martin and Doug and some other generous folks all piped up wanting to assist me, which is fan-freaking-tastic and also incredibly generous. (Oh, and I never would have gotten in touch with them if it weren’t for Rob Rix by way of The Modern Scientist, who connected things via Twitter, and whom I met via Keith Bradnam whom I originally connected to because of some Marco or some 5by5 thing.) Oh, and I’m totally going to connect with Brandon Wright to make completely different apps down the road, because we just find each other awesome to work with and he reached out to me because of Quit.

Dude, even my ergonomics are improving, not as much as I’d like but still some. Fellow standing desk enthusiasts, from Lex Friedman to Kelly Guimont have chimed in about footwear and other tips for making my home work setup more reasonable, and Twitter-whining about various aspects of it has often produced helpful results. The most helpful thing of all, though, was a visit to the Fully showroom in Portland. I urge you to set up an appointment if you’re near there. Either way, some of the best recommendations  and price quotes I’ve gotten were from them, and of course I discovered them online.

Oh, and you know how I suck at being new to Mac? Well, of course loads of people have helped me out with that. Heck, Paul Holbrook sent me a PayPal contribution towards buying the damn thing because he could tell how badly I needed to switch, and Michael Clifford straight up bought me a license for Moom because he knew it would solve my problems. Oh, and the fantastic Jean MacDonald reached out, helped me get settled with some fantastic software, and has generally been insanely helpful and fun. So all those folks and everyone else I’ve mentioned and then some have just been so full of great links, tips, and advice. Let’s see, what other resources have I fallen in love with online, thanks to Internet connections? Mixergy. Marie Forleo. Heck, even Jenna Marbles inspires me. Laura Roeder. So many more I’m forgetting. But I never would have found any of those sources on my own!

And how did I forge most of these connections? Why, by listening to shows on 5by5 and communicating with that network’s general audience. A huge chunk of my most interesting Twitter following also grew out of me baiting Marco Arment into retweeting something useful or funny or silly or random I posted, and then following every single person who favorited or retweeted whatever that thing was. And you know what? That strategy has put me in touch with some of the coolest Internet pals I’ve met to date. I’ve had great conversations with many a jackal, and I’m also launching a podcast soon with Kai Davis and Chris Zaborowski.

And, of course, Quit. Most people who are bothering to read this know that I’ve called in to that show a good number of times, and that I’ve finally taken my online dating coaching business full time thanks in large part to the nudges I’ve received from Dan Benjamin, and to the inspiration that a number of shows on his network have provided. I continue to seek ways to make it more sustainable thanks to his relentlessly business-minded approach. And, of course, his shows inspired me, but so do the connections I’ve made from listening to them and appearing on them. I even got one (just one so far, but still) paying client who heard me first on Quit! Altogether, the social aspects of the Internet and of 5by5 in particular have skyrocketed my own success and happiness and ability to easily and quickly find affordable and effective solutions to at least 75% of my tech problems on this earth.

Lastly, I made many of these connections happen because of my own output, lest you think it’s ALL just Internet magick [sic]. I made them because I was open to socializing with people and learning new things. I was willing to put myself out there even when exhaustion or shyness or House of Cards would rather prevail. I followed up on leads, wrote things down, Skyped/FaceTimed/GooglePlusHung my little heart out, learned a bunch of new stuff, flared up my tendinitis, lost sleep, called 5by5 and waited on hold for hours, checked my email/DMs/etc., read, wrote, retweeted, subscribed, shook hands, followed back, spent money, and generally put myself out there and followed up on shit. But that effort has been so incredibly rewarding, and SO much easier than it would have been without all this great Internet infrastructure.

So to my friends and family members who don’t get why the Internet is so important to me and why I sometimes can’t stop checking my iPhone, well, you’ll probably never read this anyway so never fucking mind. But the Internet rocks. :)




*Special Business Card Footnote: Futura on the front, since I know .05 people are going to ask, and a weirdly condensed Franklin Gothic Medium on the back logo. Vistaprint; wouldn’t use ’em again; saving up for proper letterpressing but first things first financially, thanks Dan. Going with a press guy in Chicago who can paint the edges red too because OMG sexy. Curt Stevens of Lithocraft if you need ANYTHING printed in Seattle; tell him I sent you. Avoid Allegra Graphics in Greenwood no matter how good a deal you thin you’re getting; you’re welcome.

A note (or novella) on harassment

A note (or novella) on harassment

On The Crossover Episode 8 today, a very important conversation happened. Sarah Parmenter and Whitney Hess joined Dan and Haddie to speak about serious harassment that both women have experienced. Sarah’s story in particular was harrowing, in that someone specifically targeted her by faking porn pictures of her and going out of his (come on, it’s a he) way to try to expose those photos to everyone in her large and prestigious professional circle. She wrote a recent blog post about the issue, which Whitney followed with a post of her own, and both women were very eloquent and amazing as they told their stories. I urge you to go consume all of that content for yourself, in this order: Sarah, Whitney, Crossover. Go back and do that before you finish this post! Or don’t, but you should. :)

I’m not a stranger to harassment, but I’m lucky. I haven’t been nearly as harassed or harassable as most of my female colleagues at most jobs I’ve worked at. I don’t know exactly why; I expect it has something to do with being naturally tall and loud, both of which are things I can’t change about myself (at least not easily). I hope part of it is my personality, too, but I honestly don’t know. I used to attract harassment when I was a teenager, but only from random strangers when I’d walk around the city, etc. Never from people I interacted with on a regular basis. That came later in life, and in a subtler costume.

I was harassed at my first “real” job after college, as a legal assistant for an attorney who turned out to be a Red Flag Elemental. I didn’t realize it until I’d been there a while, but his harassment of me was much subtler than anything I had learned to spot as harassment, even though I grew up surrounded by hippie feminist liberals. I was more skeeved out by some of the questionable law practices in that office than by any of the potentially inappropriate harassment-type stuff, and I booked it pretty quickly even though I didn’t have a good exit strategy, because I just didn’t want to be around that vibe even if it meant I was broke and desperate and totally alone.

That drove me to a different law firm job, for a high-powered attorney who was both feminist and old-fashioned. She always wore below-the-knee skirts with nylons because you never knew when you’d end up in court, and some judges are old school enough to believe women shouldn’t wear pants in their courtrooms. (That thing that happened to Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife? Totally happens in real life.) She was a very ethical senior partner, but shady things still happened out of her line of sight. After I left the firm, and I believe after my former boss passed away, I heard through the grapevine that a female legal assistant was let go after sticking up for herself when a partner (later disbarred for unrelated reasons) smacked her rear with a newspaper in the copy room. I like to think such a thing wouldn’t have happened on her watch, but I think lesser things must have.

Then I moved on to jobs with a more subtle type of harassment; the ones where you’re denied opportunities for growth because you’re female, or you inherit a higher-powered position without inheriting a commensurate salary bump, or you’re spoken to in different ways than your male counterparts for the same types of offenses, or mansplaining is inescapable. Those are standard rate at almost any place of work, and you have to learn how to advocate for yourself in those circumstances. There’s discussion I don’t care to expand upon here about how that’s partly gendered behavior; about how some men face those same challenges. I don’t doubt it. But all that was minor league stuff compared to what I encountered when I entered the video game industry.

Working as a female in games is a blessing and a curse. So many amazing women are entering the field more and more often, but I get why they’re reluctant. I get why the #onereasonwhy phenomenon struck. Women who are comfortable wearing attractive clothes are slobbered over; inappropriately joked about or to. Women who are not conventionally attractive are the subject of some seriously messed-up conversations and jokes. It doesn’t help when you work on a product that has a minimum cup size of approximately Z for all its female NPCs; I hate to think of what the entertainment (or adult entertainment) industries are like. The most wildly inappropriate things have happened at the allegedly-AAA places I’ve worked at, though I have to say it seems like working in QA is truly the dregs. Testers and people who work in testing somehow seem to have a massive overlap with people who either lack appropriate social graces, or choose to override them to deliberately harass, belittle, demean, and disgust the women in their workplace. This is insanely frustrating as a tester who simply loves being picky about errors and making things look better. I didn’t ask for the stigma that accompanies a burning perfectionist core and a devil’s-in-the-details eye. (Watch me make like nine typos in this post.)

I don’t yet feel like I have enough distance or legal protection to get into the specifics about the things that have happened to me and to my female coworkers. But you know the strangest thing? Big Tech jobs are where I’ve felt by FAR the least amount of harassment thus far. Big Tech is where everyone was professional to me, where there was a decent balance of women vs. men (even if the women tended to be more PMs and the men more SDEs), and where I generally felt that there was less homophobia, bigotry, and inappropriate expression. It wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t nearly as rough as when I worked in video games. I felt more of a dev/business animosity than any kind of male/female animosity. But I also wasn’t in any Big Tech role for long, and I was always there primarily as a linguist for hire, and not a lasting asset.

I’m grateful that I haven’t gone through the types of things that Sarah and Whitney (and yes, even Haddie) have experienced. But you know what? I suspect it’s coming. I’m prettier than I used to be (neither fishing nor bragging; I simply know how to put myself together better than I used to). I’ve gained a bunch of weight, which in some views makes me less attractive, but of course I’m curvier as a result and that invites a different kind of harassment. I’m also likely to become pregnant at some point, which will invite a different kind of creepiness, I hear. And I’m growing my business. My Twitter following has more than doubled in the past few months, and my Facebook page is growing slower but will probably take off if I do things right. I’m trying to scale up a very public business that involves very personal and intimate interactions, and I don’t know how far it will go, but I aim to become something of a minor media figure someday kinda soon.

I’m sure that unacceptable trolling and harassment  is something I’ll face again even though I don’t work in game studios or law offices any more. Stories like the ones Whitney, Haddie and Sarah shared help raise awareness, help women everywhere stand up for themselves, and help educate and encourage men to stand up for an environment free from sexism, harassment and nastiness. Please go peruse their stores, and please pay it forward in whatever way you can by impacting your own circles with an understanding of the fact that it is absolutely not okay to tolerate harassment, even the minor kind. Women everywhere need your support. (Including me.)

Shlok it up

Shlok it up

I’ve continued listening to QUIT!, and it keeps helping me as I delve into my business relaunch. I called in again to Episode 9, and I listen eagerly every week.

Last week, on Episode 10, Dan was talking to Shlok Vaidya about his emerging after holing up to write his book, and they made a crack that it was like a phoenix rising from the ashes. In fact, I believe these were the exact words:

“…a really big, masculine phoenix, with huge guns.”

I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head, so I kinda make him a crest. I wish I were savvy enough with any software to have made this on a computer, but there ya have it. old-fashioned pen and pencil (and yes, hilighter).


It’s pretty clear from this that a) I’m not an artist, b) I was limited to basic office supplies, and c) I’ve never seen a gun in real life. Anyway, Shloky, you have free reign to use this on your online dating profile if you’d like! ♥

A brief note on QUIT! and quitting

A brief note on QUIT! and quitting

I’ve been meaning to craft a more thoughtful and ever-delayed post on leaving my job and going the solopreneur route, but I realized that maybe I should get something out there in the meantime to pimp the fact that I was on QUIT!. Twice! QUIT! is a new 5by5 show, in which Dan and his various co-hosts take calls from listeners about quitting their corporate stooge jobs and/or redefining themselves in their work life. My first call-in appearance was on Episode 2 – Everyone Gets Fired, when I called while squatting in an empty conference room at my corporate stooge contract job. And the next time was Episode 6 – The Voices In Your Head, after actually quitting, in which I got some great advice about how to scale up my business to be more financially sustainable.

Both times were SO phenomenally helpful, and downright fun. In addition to getting valuable input from the actual hosts,I also got loads of great suggestions and resources from the other listeners and chatroom jackals. I’ve had my hands full following up on leads, researching information products and referral structures, and generally getting my head back into the solo game. I’m SO excited to be devoting my whole self to my side thing, and even if it doesn’t pan out in the long run, I feel like I’m finally giving it the shot that it has deserved this whole time.

photo (25)
This guy is my only coworker now.

Here’s a big quitter’s e-hug to Dan, Haddie, Shlok, Mantwan, Michael K, Alex/aomind, T.J. Barber, _Funk, and everyone else who chimed in with words of support. I love what I do, and I’m looking forward to finding a way to make it work and make me enough money to stay at home with future kids and keep doing creative things that make me happy. I even added blog categories for “podcasts,” “freelancing,” and “working from home,” because those things are becoming increasingly important in my quotidian existence and my big-picture plans.

If anyone out there is thinking about quitting their job and/or has always wanted to try a business venture of their own, I urge you to listen live (usually Fridays at 2 PM Pacific) and try to call in if you can. Call in live at 512-518-5714 or leave a voicemail at 512-222-8141. Dan would love to hear from you; I’d love to hear you on the air; and most importantly, I think you’ll love the advice and support you get (even if it’s not what you were hoping for). Okay, mushy PSA over; back to your regularly scheduled complaining in my next post. :)