Leading Geeks

Can they actually be led?

Category Archives: career change

Is this what men feel like at work?

I am ridiculously happy with my job and my company.do I want to be a man?

And, this morning, I realized that – until now – I’ve never worked anywhere that I could just be me. Where I’m treated with respect. Where I don’t have to reassert myself many, many times in order to be treated like a peer, and then have to tell myself many, many times that it’s ok to be considered a bitch and get ahead rather than be considered nice and stay stuck.

My colleagues respect what I say. Seek my opinion. Follow my leadership and simply expect me to follow theirs.

I don’t have to constantly prove myself in ways that men around me don’t. I don’t have to yell at meetings. I don’t have to pretend that I’m someone I’m not. I don’t have to make the choice between a bitch who goes somewhere and a fun person who doesn’t.

And then, this morning, when I was reading about the GitHub engineer who quit, I found myself wondering, “Is how I feel with my current job what men feel like at work?”

Suddenly, it makes more sense to me that men are more easily considered superstars. Because here’s what’s happening to me:

  • When I don’t have to spend my energy fighting, I spend it on ideas and execution instead.
  • When I don’t worry about how my comments come across, I express my thoughts more.
  • When I don’t get disproportionately penalized for being wrong, I take more risk.
  • When I don’t feel held to a different standard, I take care of myself and don’t get sick as often.
  • When I don’t find myself judged by my gender, I can ignore it and make better working relationships.

I realize that men have other challenges at work. I’m sure they’re challenges I can’t even imagine. And I know that no one escapes the repercussions of crappy, political, hostile environments.

But without gender pressure, I can get more done. I can be better at my job. I can be happy at work. My stress level is shockingly low, despite feeling all the stresses of a crazy seed-stage startup and the full measure of our growing pains and limited runway.

Is this what men feel like at work? It’s more powerful than I ever imagined.

Next Stop: California!

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, one o...

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, one of California’s most famous landmarks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confession: this is going to be an annoying blog post. It’s really a teaser, where I tell you I’m moving to California at the end of August, but I’m not quite yet announcing what’s going on.

Oh, and my husband is coming with me, so I’ll just get that bit of speculation out of the way immediately. :)

I will tell you a few things, however (and use bullets, since I think in bullet points):

  • I am not staying at Amazon.
  • I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED about what comes next.
  • I have already fallen in love with my next company.

A few more details, I suppose, might be in order:

  • If you’re in Seattle, I’d love to see you before I go! I’m throwing a house-cooling party on August 16th – let me know if you want the details.
  • I am going to miss Seattle. Fantastic food, weather that sucks much less than Boston, and some of the best coworkers and friends I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. And the view of Mt. Rainier from my living room didn’t hurt, either…

At any rate, stay tuned for my post late next week – I personally think the next bit of news will be quite exciting! :)

Disney Characters and Dolls: Do they belong in a job interview?

Disney characters, dolls, and job interviewsI am currently in the job market and I thought I would share some fun and interesting anecdotes about interviews I have had or others have shared with me.

Last week, I was sitting on the dock of the sailing club I belong to sharing my most recent interview with some fellow sailors.  The question I got was how you would describe a relational database to a 5 year old.  Now normally I would use a card catalog and a phone book to discuss the difference between a relational and flat file database, but the question was for a 5 year old.  This question was tough because 5 year olds do not know how to read or do basic math.  So I thought about my four year old niece and realized that I could use her collection of dolls as an example.  Dolls have various parts that can be categorized.  My niece has various uses for her dolls such as dolls that stay at home, dolls that travel and dolls that can go in the bath tub.  I then needed some place to store the dolls and their parts, so I included places like her doll trunk, her baby carriage and various other storage compartments.  I realized as I started breaking this all down that maybe my nephew’s train set might be a better example, but ultimately, can a 5-year-old really understand a relational database?  I am not sure of that answer, but I guess they wanted to see if I could explain things in a simplistic way.

As I was describing this rendition of my interview question, my fellow sailors agreed I did the best I could with what I had.  They then began telling me about interview questions they faced.  My favorite was, “If you were one of the 7 dwarfs, what dwarf would you be?”  I realized at this point I would have to try to remember the 7 dwarfs: Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Doc, Bashful, Grumpy and Sneezy.  When we all sat there on a sunny afternoon we realized that many of the 7 dwarves do not portray qualities you want a potential hiring manager to think about.  So given the choices, what dwarf would you be?  And more importantly, what does this information tell you about a potential job candidate?   That they can remember the names of 7 Disney characters? And know that only two, Happy and Doc, and maybe a third, Bashful, display characteristics of a positive employee?

The next question we discussed was, “Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? “ Now of course this is a typical interview question, but the discussion on the dock went to the current economy and whether this is really a fair question?  Currently, many companies are laying off good people, or cutting salaries and budgets and a career path is something we as professionals all want to strive for, but is that a luxury that must be put on hold until our employers become more stable?  Can managers expect our current and future employees to expect to climb the corporate latter as the latter is continuously shrinking and as rungs are being knocked off the frame? I think we can, but I think we may need to redefine the latter.  Career paths will be changing over the next couple of years as companies struggle to make sense of this new economy and we as managers need to recognize a new way to motivate employees.

So what does make a good interview question?  My colleagues on the dock had a lot to say about this as well.  First there was some disagreement about how many interviews and how long they should last.  One person suggested, bring someone in for a whole day and let them meet with everyone all at once.  I like this idea in terms of commuting, but as we all know scheduling such an event can be tricky.  Another person suggested planning the interview process like a project.  I also like this idea, because you can as a team decide who will ask what and then come together to get the whole picture of the person.  Ultimately what we all agreed is that in this new economy the old questions and the old ways don’t necessarily make sense anymore and if you are blessed with the ability to hire someone new everyone agreed that some thought about the process and the questions needs to be considered.  Go ahead and think outside the box, come up with new questions, but try to make them relevant to the job, the team and the economy

Photo courtesy of Loren Javier.

On Freedom

I’ve decided to keep this blog focused on leadership (and perhaps grammar), and I’ve started a different blog on inbound marketing. Why? Because I’m finally free to post my actual thoughts.

I couldn’t always post my ongoing leadership thoughts because I had to be very careful that none of my geeks or anyone else in my firm thought that my posts were real. Somehow, if there was even the slightest hint that one of my geek constructs was based in real life, paranoia ensued. Perfectly understandable, but very limiting to my blog!

Oh, my posts still won’t be based on actual geeks I know or who have reported to me, but I expect that no one will be suspicious now. As such, I can let my thoughts on leadership and leading geeks “flow” more readily.

I’m excited to see what will come.

On Changing Careers

Eleven years ago today, I started my first job in IT (although it was still called MIS back then). It was a career change away from the medical profession (I was a really bored medical secretary who had applied to med school), and it led me a very long way. I moved from there to my first law firm, and then became IT Director of two different Boston law firms.

By the time this post publishes today, I’ll be several hours into my first day as an Inbound Marketing Consultant at HubSpot. Eleven years after entering IT, I am making another career change.

Some of you knew this change was coming, some didn’t. I figured I’d take advantage of this “announcement” post to answer some questions that I’ve been asked recently:

Why the change?
Well, you know the saying that some folks climb all the way to the top of the ladder only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong building? Yeah, that’s me. I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing and cared more about a lot of the peripheral job functions (okay, well, leading geeks and budgeting weren’t truly peripheral…) than I cared about the plumbing aspects of the job.

But weren’t you really active in the legal IT community?
Yup. And leaving ILTA was incredibly difficult. However, in many ways, ILTA and my role as Social Networking Coordinator for the ILTA ’09 Conference precipitated this change. I realized that I adored what I was doing in marketing and social networking, and I decided to follow my heart.

What’s going to happen to this blog?
Leadership is still incredibly important to me, and I expect that I will still blog on the topic. I also expect that I will become a “geek in transition” and will blog about what I’m learning at my new job. I’m going to blog on what interests me, and we’ll all just see where it goes. I definitely appreciate those of you who have been reading since I started blogging in early ’08, but I understand that you’ll stop if I bore you. I hope to not be boring, but such is life, eh?

This should be an interesting ride.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,744 other followers