Category: News

An Outsiders Perspective on the Women in Tech Movement

03/06/2017
During the month of February, Echo-Factory planned, promoted and hosted a series of Women in Tech panels at Apple stores in Old Pasadena and Santa Monica. These events, featuring major local tech players, including Renée LaBran, senior advisor to Idealab, Max Powers, senior vice president of business operations at TeleSign, Natalie Sun, creative technologist and founder of NextArt, and Anna Barber, managing director at Techstars, centered around the advantages women bring to the industry, along with advice for tech companies looking to include more women and for techy women looking to advance.

  

The Women in Tech Movement

Before attending these events, I hadn’t considered myself the right audience for Women in Tech. While I can get behind any cause that champions diversity, I’m not angling for a Google offer or prepping my resume for Facebook. Yes, I dabble in HTML and do a whole lot of SEO work for our Echo-Factory clients, but I consider those duties to be technical things I do in a non-tech job. I’m also living in a “fairness” bubble, working in a company with male and female owners, alongside men and women in positions of leadership, which has left me somewhat removed from the battle for inclusion that continues to be waged. However, I have come to find the Women in Tech movement is less about the field and more about the shared struggle women continue to endure to gain entry to sophisticated work environments.

The Women of Women in Tech

Both mornings, the Apple store felt closer to prime time rather than 8 a.m. on a Wednesday. The audience, made up of women and men, was alert and ready to engage our panel. As our speakers warmed up the crowd with introductions and personal anecdotes, I found more shared experiences than I had thought possible. The smiles and nods of knowing agreement around the room seemed to indicate that our audience did too. Despite discussions of obstacles, the conversation didn’t devolve into a man-bashing pity party. Instead, everyone exuded positivity, taking note of the good advice of our speakers. You could feel how excited we all were for the not-so-distant future of the tech world.

After a short Q and A, a back area was opened for attendees looking to engage the speakers in person. A surprising number of women swarmed our professionals, all with their own tales of assistant mix-ups and coffee requests, along with the techniques they’ve personally used to circumvent incidences like these and navigate male-dominated workplaces. In this arena, I met small business owners, entrepreneurs and techy women—all with the aim to shine, not in spite of their male counterparts, but because of a desire to do their personal best.

Secrets from a Panel Insider

After our Women in Tech series ended, I met with Dea Goldsmith, the moderator, Echo-Factory co-founder and chief creative officer (a titan herself), to discuss the events in more detail.

Traditionally, Echo-Factory has done more marketing-focused events. What made you want to pursue this topic?

We work closely with a number of tech companies, including those in the clean tech sector. Our job is to help them tell their story in a way that is relatable to those outside of the industry. My team and I work closely with technology to make this happen. Echo-Factory also works closely with Innovate Pasadena, a group that brings together tech startups and investors in the city. Having this exposure, coupled with my own history in a traditionally male-dominated and managed profession, made this movement feel very relevant and one of personal interest.

What was most surprising about these events?

Our tech panel had one major commonality: They entered the tech world without asking permission. They brought their own backgrounds, all of them non-tech, and became self-taught experts. They didn’t wait for the ideal job or until they had the perfect skill sets—they created their own opportunities. And, when they discussed their own moments of doubt, instead of buckling under fear, they developed strategies like seeking out mentors, books and any other constructive resources to help them surmount obstacles.

Our speakers also knew they were part of something bigger and, while that movement wasn’t always Women in Tech, having that larger goal really allowed them to push through difficulties. This has been an effective strategy I’ve personally used with great effect. When our goals are too small, that means they are often just about us. It’s easier to fight through a situation when you know you’re doing it for a larger reason.

What did you view as some of the best advice from our panelists?

I really loved the idea of creating your own seat at the table. Sometimes the elements that make women such excellent teammates and collaborators can leave them behind when it’s time to shine. These powerful women share many of the same fears and self-sabotaging habits as our audience—they’ve just figured out ways to overcome them. The advice from the panel on controlling negative emotions, their call for us to step out of our comfort zones and the importance of finding colleagues for extra support, seem so obvious now, but were a great reminder.

I also really appreciated the tips for those in positions of power. Creating a work culture that truly embraces diversity, not just in word, but also through active initiatives and critical evaluation, is the only way to ensure that, once women get through the door, they stay.

The Struggle Isn’t Just in Our Heads

After one of the events, a gentleman approached our group (a small mob had formed around Max Powers as she answered questions). He was concerned about her team management methods and, instead, suggested we treat others like our always beaming, coddling first-grade teacher. He thought it might be best for Max to return to more traditional methods of approaching the tech sector (you know, with cookies and a polite smile and a hope that those in charge might let us in). Max politely said she’d consider it (while it was clear she would not), and the group quickly worked to turn the subject back toward one of productivity. But his comments served as a good reminder of why this conversation needs to continue. In a room with predominantly likeminded people, it can feel like the discussion has maybe run its course. Clearly, there are still minds that remain to be changed, and there is work that needs to be done. Luckily, we have the women for the job.
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What about Men

02/07/2017
 

I was watching a completely factual documentary about Portland, Oregon the other night, and came across an inspiring song, dedicated to the struggles that men face in this country.

  It reminded me of several very important facts:  
  1. Echo-Factory is hosting a “Women in Technology” roundtable next week.
  2. About 90% of the people who have registered so far are women.
  3. Women already have about a 35% advantage in leading tech companies over men.
  4. If we (and by “we” I mean men) don’t show up and discover their secrets, that gap can only grow!!!!
  So, I urge you, my fellow men, to RSVP immediately.  Only by engaging with women in technology leadership positions will we be able to learn their secrets, and hopefully one day steal their powers of tech company growth and success.
women in tech                  

Women in Technology, The Latest Silver Bullet

Wed, February 22, 2017
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM PST
 
Apple 3rd Street Promenade
1415 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
RSVP Here

Using Women To Your Unfair Advantage

01/27/2017
women in tech Here are some facts. Ninety-three percent of investor money goes to startups founded by men. Just 11% of Silicon Valley executives, 10% of directors, 10% of committee members and 8% of committee chairs are women. At Fortune 500 companies, things aren’t much better, with just 11% of the executive workforce made up of women.

Here are some more facts. Private technology companies that are led by women return a 35% higher ROI. Publicly traded companies with women in leadership roles in a broad range of industries have about a 27% performance advantage over companies that don’t.

There are lots of reasons that the tech world needs more women in leadership positions, but this is the stupid-obvious one: It’s a big competitive advantage.To put it another way, if your startup or tech company isn’t actively working to put women in leadership roles, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Learn the Mysterious Secrets of the Female Tech Executive’s Mind

With these facts in mind, we’ve scoured the planet to bring together three, genuine, bonafide women who are in leadership positions at tech companies. We’re bringing them together at two round-table discusses hosted by Echo-Factory and held at Apple Stores in Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Our hope is that our panelists will help to answer two critical questions:
  1. What gives companies with women in tech leadership positions such a strong competitive advantage?
  2. Why, despite this advantage, are women in tech leadership positions still so rare?

Meet the Panelists

Our panel comprises three incredibly impressive individuals coming to us from within the tech industry and ready to share their own experiences and insights when it comes to women in tech.

Renée LaBran, Senior Advisor, Idealab Renée serves on the board of directors for Rustic Canyon/Fontis (a growth stage fund). She is also a top advisor to Idealab, a preeminent tech incubator in Pasadena, and serves as Gov. Brown's appointee to the Board of Trustees of the State Bar of California as a non-attorney public member.

Max Powers, SVP, Business Operations, TeleSign Max heads Client Services and directs the operational business team for TeleSign, a leading Internet security platform. She leads global routing and makes sure Client Services helps TeleSign’s worldwide customers optimize service workflow and solve immediate real-world security and fraud challenges.

Natalie Sun, Creative Technologist, Next Art Natalie is a digital creative consultant, VR producer and art tech curator who likes to “tinker with technology and design great experiences that allow people to share their stories.” She is also the founder of Next Art Night, a series of events that focuses on future-making experiments by artists working in technology.

Meet the Moderator

Dea Goldsmith, CCO and Co-Founder, Echo-Factory Dea is responsible for all things creative at Pasadena-based advertising agency Echo-Factory. She spends the majority of her time thinking about, strategizing and iterating new ideas with her happy team of creatives. Dea is a firm believer in harnessing the power of technology in marketing to deliver explosive business growth.

RSVP

February 22nd, 8-9:30 am
@Apple Store on 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica
RSVP HERE

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  Bringing in a CFO to “clean up the books” before acquisition is a common process. Even if the books aren’t particularly dirty to begin with, a good CFO has the ability to help cast the company in the best possible financial light to potential investors. (more…)

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Innovate Pasadena Friday Coffee Meetup—affectionately known as "Friday Coffee"—has grown by an verage of 125 new members every month for 3 years straight. In a recent blog post for Innovate Pasadena, meetup Organizer Mike Schaffer (and Echo's beloved CEO) tells the tale of the Friday Coffee's incredible growth over the past 3 years, chalking it up to something simple but extraordinary—people who run innovative companies coming together with a real passion for a shared vision. (more…)

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