2010 March

Podcast #11: Don’t Talk Me Out of Hiring You

In our 11th podcast we expand on some thoughts Nancy shared on Future Tense about how women interview for jobs.

Listen Online


ZOMG, we’re dismayed at how differently we’ve seen men and women present themselves in the interviews we’ve been conducting at Clockwork recently. Buck up, ladies! Straighten those shoulders, look us in the eye, and tell us why we SHOULD hire you, not why we shouldn’t.

What do you think? Does that explain it? Hit us up with questions in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Gleek Girls Guide

Are you in or around Minneapolis? We’re hosting a Glee premiere party on April 13. You should come (especially if you want to see Nancy sing karaoke)! Get more details and RSVP at gleepremiere.eventbrite.com.

Ada Lovelace Day, Part II: An Ode to Nancy Lyons

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate women in technology and science. Learn more at FindingAda.com and check out a list and a map of all the other blog posts around the world!

Last year, Nancy wrote an embarassingly glowing post about me for Ada Lovelace Day. And she doesnt know I’m doing this, but I owe her back. Big time.

Here’s the deal: I literally would not be where I am today without Nancy Lyons. Forgive me in advance, but this is a long story.

When we met, Nancy was President of Bitstream Underground, an ISP and web development shop in Minneapolis. I was working in account services at a marketing agency, finishing my Bachelor’s Degree at night at the University of Minnesota. I majored in Advertising (copywriting was my focus) because it’s essentially the “family business” and I didn’t know what else to do. In all honesty, I was a little lost (like most people in their 20s, I guess).

The company I worked for had invested in Bitstream and Nancy came to talk to the account services team about how we could best work with her team. She told us about the company, what they did, their culture, their philosophy, how they worked. I was awestruck. The only thought I remember having when I left that room was, “I have got to work for that woman.” I immediately sent her an email that said something like, “I am in love with Bitstream and I want to marry it.” She replied that it was important to her that Bitstream stay single. A correspondence ensued over the next few months in which I relentlessly pursued her for a job and she relentlessly tried to blow me off. At one point she said, “You have got to stop spamming me.” So I couriered a can of SPAM to her office. And that’s how I got my first real interview.

What she gave me when she eventually gave me a job was a chance. Nancy didn’t look at me and see all the things I hadn’t done yet — she looked at me and saw my potential more than anyone else in my life (including me) ever had.

When I started working for her, I had a lot to learn. Like, a lot. But, I did it. I figured it all out and in doing so, I found my calling.

Over the last ten years, Nancy and I have developed a remarkable friendship. If you’ve ever met us, or seen us speak, you know we’re pretty different. Not entirely opposites, but different in many ways. The difference in our approach to things has taught me more than I can probably write here. (Plus, I’m Irish. We’re not an emotive bunch, this is hard for me.)

Nancy believes in leadership through service and I see her live that value every day. Her job is often thankless, and she handles it with grace. She has a generous heart and is truly concerned with the well-being of those who work with and for her. She turns the spotlight on those around her far more often than she shines it on herself. She’s passionate (if you’ve seen us speak, you know what I’m talking about). She’s taught me that you don’t always need to say everything you know. You can have confidence in your own abilities without having to prove yourself to anyone else. You can write your own rules for how to run a company, how to work, how to live. I admire her passion, her intelligence, her unwavering concern for other people. As a business owner, she puts people before profit. Doing the right thing is more important to her than doing the easy thing. She’s incredibly smart about business and technology but posesses sharp emotional intelligence and an ability to read a room and adjust her delivery to the needs of her audience. She speaks her mind fearlessly even when she knows that what she’s saying might piss people off. She doesn’t apologize for being who she is. Also, for a girl, she’s pretty good with computer stuff.

Ada Lovelace Day is about acknowledging the women in technology who have literally shaped our lives. And if you ask me how I got where I am today I can point directly to the moment that Nancy offered me that job at Bitstream and say, “There. See that? Right there, and because of that person, is how I got here.”

I don’t know that I tell her thank you enough. So, hey Nancy: thank you.

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate women in technology and science. Learn more at FindingAda.com and check out a list and a map of all the other blog posts around the world!

We talked a lot about what we wanted to do for Ada Lovelace Day this year, and ultimately we decided to make a list of women who have inspired us in our own lives, versus picking someone famous or well-known.

Nancy’s List

Barbara Lyons and Nancy Branom Genieser, Physicians

My mother, Barbara Lyons, and her best friend from medical school (and the woman I am named after) Nancy Branom Genieser.  These women went to med school in the late ’50s – during that post-war era when women weren’t encouraged to do much outside of the home, let alone become physicians.  But the part of the story that I really love is all of the adventures these women had together.  They were both graduates of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. After completing their coursework, and before graduation, they worked together in a clinic environment on a Navajo Indian Reservation for a year.  They lived and worked with the people on the reservation, really experiencing Navajo culture.  And every weekend they struck out on some new adventure: hiking, canoeing, exploring.  They were young adventurers out to really see the world.  As a kid those stories were so important and so exciting to me.  I found inspiration in the fact that these two bright, funny, out-going nerd-girls could be so accomplished and balance their life of learning with so much fun.  Both of them went on to be very well-regarded physicians with families and lives.  But those stories of their youthful years as young doctors out to see the world were just pure joy to me.

Lisa Corp, Stage Manager Extraordinaire

In college I was involved in theatre and I probably wasn’t mature enough to take it as seriously as I should have to consider it as a career.  I could certainly sing and act and deliver a punch line, but because I was more of a character actor than an ingenue, there was always plenty of competition for the meatier roles.  It was my friend Lisa who encouraged me to think  about theatre “tech.”  I didn’t think I had any actual talent for the construction and design of a theatre experience.  But Lisa disagreed.  Lisa was hopelessly devoted to stagecraft — all of it.  She understood the power and nuance of lighting and sound and the sense of place that a set created and that, when done well, the audience (and even the actors) took for granted.  The environment created by the backstage personnel, more often than not, is another character in any show — with equal, but very different, weight and importance to the story.  Lisa understood all of that and was passionate about it in her own quiet way.  She inspired me to see beyond the spotlight to the, well, spotlight.  And it opened up a whole new world of possibility to me.  It also really influenced how I approach my work today in terms of management and process.  Lisa passed away a few years ago from cancer.  I never told her that, in addition to being my roommate and friend, she had also been a mentor.  I hope she hears that now.

Mary McKinney, Teacher

My 8th grade science teacher Mrs. McKinney taught in a way that suggested that she wasn’t just about validating or encouraging the kids with left brain sensibilities.  I remember her creating an open, positive, fun and experiential environment for learning.  It was the only time in my academic life I remember having a good time in a science class.  It was our energy and our interest, and not our aptitude for science, that dictated whether or not we got any respect in her classroom.  As a result, her class is the only science class that stands out for me from my school years.  Turns out, I did have an aptitude for science.  I just responded better to experiential learning versus textbook learning and lectures.  I think teachers are the unsung heroes of our culture.  Especially now with education being such a politicized, hot-button issue.  Mary McKinney was definitely someone who helped shape my view of the world and my place in it.  For that I am forever grateful.

Meghan’s List

Ms. Voss, Teacher

Ms. Voss taught the first and only computer class that I took in high school. I couldn’t tell you what language we programmed in (I think it was BASIC), but I do have this sweet photo to show of my work:

Yeah, she took a photo of each of our projects. How sweet is that? And that’s back when you actually had to develop film! I’ve hung onto this photo since 1992; I remember clearly the sense of accomplishment I felt knowing that from nothing, I had created something. Sure, it was the cover art from an obscure ’90s band, but come on. I was 17. It felt deep at the time.

I get that same feeling of pride and accomplishment now every time I launch a web site with a team I’m working with. That feeling of knowing that without me (and each of us on the team) the site wouldn’t exist. The more complex the problem we’re trying to solve, and the more constraints on the project (budget, timeline, hardware, software, you name it), the bigger the rush. I love that feeling.

Margaret McInerny, My Awesome Mom

While my mom doesn’t work in the technology field, she’s influenced and encouraged my love of technology in a couple of ways:

First, in 1983, when Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter space, I became obsessed with the idea of becoming an astronaut. That year, for Halloween, my mom sewed me a handmade, quilted astronaut suit (with a helmet!) with a namebadge that said RIDE. I have a clear memory of how it felt to wear that costume, and to dream about going into space. I also clearly remember how it felt to have such a different costume; the other girls I knew were definitely not dressing like astronauts. But my mom always encouraged me to do what I wanted, whether or not other people thought it was cool.

Sadly, I have no idea where that costume is today. Even more sadly, as I grew older, the “baby” journals that my mom kept for me (I’m the oldest, I got a lot more ink than the next three did) started saying things like “Meghan says she hates math and wishes it would die.” Like so many girls, I rejected math and science in a way that I regret to this day. Part of my passion around speaking and educating people in technology is to try to prevent that from happening to other young women.

Which leads me to the second point I want to make about my mom. She embodies everything that the Geek Girls Guide is all about: embracing technology, learning new things, asking questions. She’s interested in how things work and is constantly trying things out. She’s a project manager at an advertising agency and is learning now about how to manage interactive projects. She’s on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr. She (with three partners) started a web site that sells photography. She doesn’t always know the technology, but she’s never afraid to ask a question or just figure it the hell out herself. She’s intellectually curious.

In short, I hope I’m a lot like her when I grow up.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

It’s been fun to share with you the women who, while not widely known or famous, have influenced the Geek Girls we’ve become.

Who inspires you?

Future Tense

We were on Future Tense this morning, which was pretty cool! I listen to that show every morning while eating breakfast and getting ready to head into the office, so I had a bit of a fangirl moment interacting with Jon Gordon. He talked with Nancy and me — and Jennifer Bohmbach — about Ada Lovelace Day tomorrow.

Check out the audio that aired this morning, or you can also listen to our unedited conversation with Jon (y’know, the one with more ums and ahs).

mp3 file here.

On a Mac, hold down the control key and click and select “Save Link As…” and save the mp3 somewhere on your computer.
On a PC, right click and select Save Target As… (in IE) or Save Link As… (in Firefox) and save the mp3 somewhere on your computer.

When you open the file, it should launch your preferred audio player.

Keep an eye on this blog, and FindingAda.com for a worldwide day of blogging about women in technology.

Oh, and in the long version of our conversation with Jon I reference this presentation from Ignite Sydney, “I’m a Barbie Girl…in a CS World.” I really love its message about being yourself, whether or not that matches who people think you “should” be — check it out:

Podcast #10 – What is The Cloud?

In our 10th podcast we break down a popular buzzword-of-the-moment, The Cloud. (We also blogged about this topic last October.)

Listen Online


We could recap the podcast, but we’re so dang busy right now (as you can tell from the dearth of posts and podcasts lately). A good complement to this podcast is our blog post about the cloud from last October.

What do you think? Does that explain it? Hit us up with any questions in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.

Gleek Girls Guide

In somewhat unrelated news (except that it’s just further proof of what geeks we are in other parts of our lives as well), we Geek Girls are also hosting a Glee premiere party on April 13 in Minneapolis. You should come! Get more details and RSVP at gleepremiere.eventbrite.com.