Don't hide your passion. Lead with it! Here are five ways to cultivate that excitement. By Krys Freeman (Director of Systems + Technology, GreenBiz Group)
As women working in tech, our lives get heavy with the weight of "keeping cool."
We’re too good at it.
We’re predisposed to understand that if we’re women, we should be prepared to work through sexism; if we’re women of color, we should be prepared to work through racism and sexism. The key language, here, being "work through." We each develop our own unique ritual of getting through the day: learning what we need to learn, teaching who we need to teach, ignoring any hindrances to this process. We become skilled at the art of representation – of both our ideas and ourselves – through calm composure without ever stopping to think about what parts of ourselves these processes leave behind.
How do I know this? For over seven years now, I’ve been a woman meandering in and out of mostly white male spaces; not so much wandering as intentionally trying to keep up with – walking alongside and not following – my passions. After graduating from Occidental in the throes of a recession, and moving to the Bay Area from LA with literally nothing, my passion for technology was how I pulled myself out of poverty. I was able to get a job – and work through it – while also creating a life for myself using self-taught tech in my spare time.
From Viral Marketing Coordinator at a sustainable retail startup (slightly too ahead of its audience at its launch), to Webmaster & Technology Coordinator at Sustainable Life Brands, then Director of Systems + Technology / Creator of Hack City SF at GreenBiz.com, and self-employed consultant, I, too, have become the master of working through a number of daily stresses facing women, and men, in tech. I’ve learned how to keep cool. But it’s no calm and collected nature that sustains me. It’s the nagging tug of my passions, the constant call of a desire to do more. Yes. It’s true. Despite all we do in the workplace to seem "put together," objective, never "too emotional," it is our excitement that allows us to use technology as a radical tool for change.
You don’t have to believe me. You can try these five tips below.
- Stay in your sweet spot. This doesn’t mean that what you do will always come easy to you. It means that what you do will always utilize your top skills linked to your passions. For instance, if you know that you’re an amazing project manager and you’re passionate about expanding tech to new groups of people, then you should constantly be engaged in or taking lead on coordinating, managing, and/or executing projects invested in reaching a number of new and diverse audiences.
- Own it. You’re different and you know it. You’re easily excitable. You always have a lot to say. For some reason, you’re never willing to just "go along with" anything left unquestioned, even if it’s "just code." Own all of this and use it to challenge and encourage growth in whatever space you’re in. No one may thank you now. Everyone will want to thank you later.
Do something that matters. Do you dread waking up every day? Do you describe most of your work as "busy work?" Stop that. Right now. Cultivate your usefulness and do something that matters. Do that thing! The idea that just popped into your head.
- Dream big. Then dream bigger. You’ve got an idea. It matters to you. Guess what? It probably matters to the rest of the tech world. Plan it out as big as possible, and then plan bigger. Execute. Getting anywhere close to this goal will most likely change something, even if it’s just you.
- Walk. Towards. Away From. Go wherever you need to go. You, too, have got a nagging, tugging, piece of excitement moving you around this world. Name it. Develop it. Allow it to take you into the spaces you need to be. Let it change you. Let it change our world.
I’d love to keep the conversation going and invite you to follow-up with me directly via twitter @krysfree or email: hello[at]krysfreeman.com.
If there is a practice that you’ve learned in order to cultivate and sustain your excitement, please share it with other readers it in the comments.
About the guest blogger: Krys Freeman is a firm believer in technology as a vehicle for radical change. While many of us speak of technology as the "next" frontier - the little red pill that will make our biggest systems challenges disappear - Krys believes that technology is now and that the real innovation opportunities lie in design thinking.