10 global women with gusto

Over the years, I’ve had to increasingly deal with the position of a somewhat budding public profile. This mainly started with some time editing Marketingmag.com.au and more recently with general digital commentary to a growing Twitter audience. I’m mainly stating this not to bang on about myself (#yawn) but because I’ve found it quite an interesting journey – especially as a woman. I feel as I’ve refined my beliefs, developed my voice and put myself out there, the more people either switch on or off. I’ve been pondering whether I should continue to express myself more and my opinions, or say less. I looked around me and noticed most people were in the non-polarising camp. I then thought about women that regularly reach me who have a strong fearless character. I therefore present you with a list (in no particular order) of passionate women (with a digital media slant) who really say something.

Penelope Trunk
Twitter: @penelopetrunk
Role: Founder of Brazen Careerist and blogger
Based: Some barn in the US
Why? The queen of unhindered commentary, I’ve been following Penelope’s posts for a while now and have become completely adjusted to her talking about work woes, Asperger’s Syndrome, miscarriages in the office, libido and relationships plus more. She’s not afraid to leave any topic untouched and sums it up with: “Most blogs suck because people write what they think others want to read instead of what they themselves want to read.”

Rachel Hills
Twitter: @rachelhills
Role: Freelance journalist, feminist blogger and upcoming author
Based: London via Sydney
Why? I instantly resonated with Rachel when I first started reading her work. She takes a balanced and modern approach to gender issues with a pop culture slant. She’s young, relevant, intelligent and Australian – a must-follow. I hope to enjoy another London-based high tea with her soon!

Cindy Gallop
Twitter: @cindygallop
Role: TEDster, entrepreneur, ex-adland
Based: New York
Why? Cindy’s Twitter bio really says it all: “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.” She’s the ultimate free spirit and role model for women’s change and advancement. She created MakeLoveNotPorn (launched at TED2009) and IfWeRanTheWorld. She’s also excellent at curating the best women-related news and articles in her social channels.

Laurel Papworth
Twitter: @silkcharm
Role: Social media and communities consultant
Based: Sydney
Why? Laurel has been working in the social media space before it was the social media space, and as a result has quite the profile. I really admire Laurel, mostly for her resilience and stamina. There’s been a few times now when I’ve randomly checked Twitter and noticed an onslaught of negativity addressed at her and she still just gets on with it.

Meg Pickard
Twitter: @megpickard
Role: Digital Engagement for Guardian News & Media and creative geek
Based: London
Why? I heard Meg talk at the Media09 Conference in Sydney and was hooked. Her work seemed like an absolute dream job at a time when I was at the intersection of digital, publishing and communities. I recommend reading Meg’s personal and professional blogs as I love the style, tone, content and photography, and I’m sure it’s subconsciously influenced my own.

Kara Swisher
Twitter: @karaswisher
Role: Founder and co-executive editor at AllThingsDigital
Based: SFBA
Why? This one probably doesn’t need much elaboration… Kara’s incredibly influential as one of the tech community’s most experienced and heralded reporters, plus she’s a gay female in a straight male dominated industry. Respect.

Angie Chang & Shaherose Charania
Twitter: @women2
Role: Cofounders of female-founder focused organisation, Women2
Based: SFBA
Why? Continuing on with the tech theme, this duo pretty much created the only female network I’ve ever found useful and relevant. Each doing cool stuff in their own right, they continually give back with their work on Women2 and it’s great to see them be recognised by FastCompany, among others, as two of the biggest women players in tech. And yes, I know this breaks my list numbering!

Jolie O’Dell
Twitter: @jolieodell
Role: Writer at VentureBeat
Based: SFBA
Why? Having worked as a tech journalist for ReadWriteWeb, Mashable and now VentureBeat, Jolie’s had a stellar career. Plus she’s also studying computer science, which means extra cred! However, what stands out for me is her candid and reflective nature in her personal blog posts. Here she discusses everything from productivity and alcoholism to journeys into C#. She’s also brilliant on camera.

Rachel Botsman
Twitter: @rachelbotsman
Role: Co-author of Collaborative Consumption: What’s Mine Is Yours
Based: Sydney
Why? I saw Rachel speak at TEDxSydney 2010 and was inspired by her every word. She’s written a book, nurtured a movement, joined the Collab Fund, regularly unearths upcoming social businesses and has a beautiful new son. I really respect how she balances male and female leadership qualities with ease and blends thinking with doing.

Hermione Way
Twitter: @hermioneway
Role: Video Director for TNW, Founder Newspepper and Techfluff.TV
Based: SFBA
Why? A self-described “Natural born enthusiast for life”, I met Hermoine through the lovely Chloe Nicholls and instantly found her carefree attitude addictive. She’s social, speaks her mind and an entrepreneur in her own right.

So, who do you admire for voice and strength? I’d love to read about more women in our everyday networks, so feel free to replicate, post and share.



P.S. While on the topic of women’s evolution, you might like my post from last year titled: ‘Lifehacks for women‘.

Female Founder profile: Jenn Vargas

When I was in San Francisco and Silicon Valley last year, one of the highlights of my trip was meeting the extraordinarily talented Jenn Vargas. Jenn is the founder of 101in365 and after graduating from Cornell University in 2009 has worked at two of the hottest web 2.0 companies going – Flickr and Etsy as a product manager. She’s particularly inspirational as a smart, entrepreneurial women in tech and was one of the members of the Women2 Founder Labs in Fall/Autumn 2010.

I’m proud to call Jenn a friend and professional contact, but have been wanting to find out more about her startup journey for a while. Not to mention her thoughts on getting things done and productivity. She took some time out of Brooklyn life to answer my questions:

What is 101in365 and how did it come about?

101in365 is a community and tool to help you develop, track, and accomplish your goals in 365 days or less. At the end of 2008, my college roommate and I decided to each make a list of 101 goals we wanted to accomplish in 2009. I’d made similar lists before (I’ve had a bucket list on my site since 2007), but it was a really interesting exercise coming up with 101 things for a single year and then have someone else to keep me on track. I kept that list on my blog and manually updated it for that entire year. Once 2010 rolled along I decided to automate it for myself. Things just kind of happened from there!

Why 101?

You know, I have NO IDEA. We just settled on 101. I like to think it came out of the “101 ways to be better at X” books/lists that are out there but I honestly think it was just a number that we arbitrarily chose. The serendipitous part is that when you do the math it comes out to 2 goals per weekend with 1 weekend off! That’s actually pretty manageable!

How is the social web aiding personal growth and development?

I think the social web really exposes people to a lot of influences (both positive and negative) that they might not have been exposed to otherwise – new things to learn, new methods for doing X or Y, special-interest communities – and these ideas spread like wildfire when you add in the power of YouTube, Twitter, etc. for getting a message out. Compound that with people’s natural tendency to want to brag about their accomplishments and having the same platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) at their disposal to do so and you have an almost perfect ecosystem of material and platform to help people continue to grow and learn.

Can you be creative while being productive?

I don’t think they are at all mutually exclusive. Sometimes creativity defines productivity. Everyone has their own methods for accomplishing things and when there are more things to do in a day than there is time to do them, you have to get creative. If we’re talking about creativity in the “artsy” sense – producing paintings, writing and all that – then who’s to say that’s not being productive. I personally try to combine the two and require a creative outlet from the “daily grind” to maintain sanity.

How does one stay focused on their goals in the age of opportunity and distraction?

Make a list! Obvious answer aside, I really do think it’s important to take the time to sit down and spell out what it is that you want to accomplish in a given period of time – a day, week, month, year – so that you can clear that from your mind and go about your business. Once they’re out of your head and stored somewhere else, you don’t have to worry about being distracted and forgetting what it is you wanted to do. How many times do you find yourself in the kitchen going “Crap! What did I come in here for?!” I don’t want my life to be victim to my distractions! It’s good to have something to go back and refer to. As for opportunity, that’s the best time to have goals. Opportunities may not always align with your immediate goals, but having so many opportunities at your disposal may actually help you reach your goals in ways you didn’t expect!

Is goal setting and planning still relevant in an ever-changing world?

Absolutely! I think the types of goals that we set and the plans we make have changed and will continue to change, but it all comes down to our innate desire for self-actualisation. (Wow… maybe those psych classes in college did pay off a bit!) I can’t really see a time where people don’t define themselves by what they’ve accomplished, at least to some degree. Not to mention the sense of security of knowing what you want to do and that you have a plan in place to do it despite the ever-changing world around you. I think now, more than ever, goal setting and planning is not only relevant, but necessary.

What’s your killer tip for procrastinators?

This is a tough one because I’m a HUGE procrastinator. I thrive on putting way too much pressure on myself and waiting until just before a deadline to do something. I’ve tried so many things to get me out of procrastinating, and I’ve found that the only thing that works is doing something that you really and truly love. At least for me, the reason I put something off to the last minute is because I probably dread doing it. The more I focus on doing the things I love, the less I find myself procrastinating. There will invariably be something that you have to do that you don’t want to do (taxes and doctors appointments come to mind), but if you think of it as “the sooner I get this done the sooner I can get back to doing what I love,” you’ll give yourself some incentive to get that pesky task out of the way.

Do you subscribe to the GTD methodology?

I do and I don’t. I subscribe to the methodology that I need to get things done, but I’m not a by-the-book GTD’er. I used to be a bit obsessed with following along with the latest “killer tips” coming from Lifehacker, ZenHabits, 43Folders, and all those productivity gurus, but I realised I was spending more time reading up on this stuff than I was actually doing anything. I’m a firm believer in doing what works for you.

What do you do when you’re not working on your startup?

101in365 has yet to take over my working life. I’m currently a product manager at Etsy in Brooklyn, NY and work on 101in365 on the evenings and weekends. And when I’m not working I’m probably out taking photos or cooking something (and then taking photos of that)!

What’s it like being a young female developer and entrepreneur?

It’s interesting. I’ve found that I’ve had to work harder at being taken seriously. People end up being surprised by the fact that I built 101in365 myself. I’ve actually had a conversation where a seasoned entrepreneur suggested I only focus on the female demographic for 101in365. Because I’m a girl. And I should position it as “by girls for girls.” It’s that sort of attitude that frustrates me most. Despite that, though, I don’t like to define myself as a female developer/entrepreneur. I’m a developer/entrepreneur who happens to be female. I don’t want special privileges or considerations because I’m a girl. I’d be perfectly satisfied with everyone acknowledging that you don’t have to be a young guy to start something cool on the internet (or anywhere else for that matter!) and then we can all move on.

What happens if you don’t achieve what you set out to in 2011?

I never accomplish everything on my list. It’s just an inevitability. Life happens sometimes. I treat my own list as more of a guideline, a list of things I want to strive toward in that given year. Based on two past lists I’ve learned that I usually have a 50-60% completion average which isn’t bad at all, in my opinion! There are always some things that I want to accomplish more than others so I’ll likely put more time and effort into those things, but at the end of the day, I’m still accomplishing at least -some- of my goals. If I’m happy with what I’ve done that’s all that matters. Then it’s time to leave that in the past and focus on the 2012!


What I’m currently doing

  • Making stuff happen at Niche (it’s now been seven months since I was brought into the new role and yes, the main website needs to be done)
  • Being involved with the Victorian Government’s App My State initiative
  • Getting the @socialmelb site finally off the ground
  • Researching and writing a thesis for my marketing masters at RMIT University – due in late June
  • Walking/running three times per week for physical/mental fitness
  • Organising an overseas trip mid-year to my version of utopia
  • Doing afternoon tea reviews for the High Tea Society (updates via @highteasociety)
  • Reading a little each night from the mammoth book pile on my bedside table
  • “Focusing more on kind, and less on mind” – how can I help others/be selfless?
  • Continuing to attend my fair share of meetups around town (Melbourne event consortium list has what’s on offer: http://bit.ly/melbevents)
  • Learning more about spirituality, religion and philosophy
  • Living the present and thinking less about the future or past – promoting feeling
  • Smiling when I get a spare moment to myself  #reflection #gratitude
  • Sleeping and snuggling with my cat #catlady :-P

I don’t often externalise my activities but I’m sure it will help with productivity. Also, I’m trialling Remember The Milk for day-to-day personal task management. Will see how it goes. Inbox Zero is still a long way off…

So, over to you – what are you currently doing?