Blog Post - Lesbians Who Tech NYC Summit Edition!

Joyeux Dimanche- That’s French for Happy Sunday!

 

You’re thinking, “Why French Krys?” - I am currently in the south of France working on a new project with a new client based here for the next 6 months and I’m SO excited! I’ll still be bringing you goodies every two weeks, but I might be a teensy bit slow responding to emails!

 

This week I want to bring you some highlights from the Lesbians Who Tech Summit that took place last weekend in NYC! This conference is still my favorite professional conference because it is filled with queer, inclusive, and badass individuals that is a unique, welcoming experience of community building and friendship.

Left to Right: August Team Members - Jessie, Krys (me), Sasha, and Monique

Left to Right: August Team Members - Jessie, Krys (me), Sasha, and Monique

I was truly blown away by the speaker line up this year - Candidate for Governor, Stacy Abrams, NY Times best selling author, Luvvie Ajayi, Standing Rock Activist and Leader Pearl Means - The Lesbians Who Tech Summit continues to bring talented people from all industries to share incredibly insightful lessons for everyone.

 

One talk in particular that really hits home to NYC was that of my colleague and friend, Sasha Ahuja. During her talk, Waitin o 042: ndoin acis u rganizations, u ifetime  she spoke about the massive workplace shifts of the 20th and 21st centuries. This is what we know:

 

Our workplaces of the early 20th century were designed for the industrial era during a post WWII, Jim Crow-segregated nation. We now live in a fast-paced, uncertain technology-driven world that has shifted how we live and work, yet racial segregation and racism still exists in our societies and workplaces. Research has shown that by 2042 white people in America will become the racial minority.  Companies must prepare for this shift now by improving policies and hiring for the future, today.

 

Sasha also shared some insights. First, you have to keep a mindset that diversity and inclusion has no manual, you are going to get it wrong - it’s imperative to try something, however. When you start to tackle diversity in the workplace you should start with race. The United States was built on genocide of Native people, slavery, racial segregation, and mass incarceration - race is built into the core of our country. Next, remember that hiring for diversity and inclusion is not undoing racism - undoing racism is lifelong work that starts with at the individual level.

 

She insists to get started one must normalize, organize and galvanize. Normalize the conversation of race by doing the individual work to understand racism and racial segregation, organize resource groups and engage others to learn from and do this work with you, then galvanize by engaging your community to find candidates to bring into your organizations such as city universities and colleges local technical schools or institutions local to the community that represent the diversity that your city represents. For the entire talk, check out this amateur video (taken by me), the slides, and speaker notes all on the August public google drive.

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Way to go Sasha, and all of the other speakers at this year’s Lesbians Who Tech NYC Summit! - High Five, Fist Bump, Secret Handshake! -Write here...

Try a Workshop with Your Team!

Most of you know this, I work at a company called August! Ever wonder why the founders named the company August? We’ve heard some really funny guesses, the best I’ve heard is that someone researched for the word august in the dictionary and found this definition: respected and impressive.

Well, now that is true and all but the name of the business came because the founders started the company in August - which means, IT’S OUR BIRTHDAY! #turnup

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Speaking of celebrations, last week at the office we had a special guest, Alison Coward, founder of Bracket Creative, join us all the way from London. She shared some tips about how to facilitate great workshops and be more creative with your team.

 

We get it. Meetings are tough. We’re stuck in meetings back to back all day with barely enough time to grab lunch, then the first time we get a break to do work it’s 6pm. What if instead, our teams got together regularly, as an entire working team, and had more focused, purposeful meetings in the form of workshops? You might be thinking, “oh no! Workshops take forever to plan and take so much time out of the day.” Well, typically yes, that’s true, but a workshop could just be repurposing an existing meeting on your calendar to a more creative session where your team shares ideas, collectively, and turns them into actions.

 

Alison believes that good workshops are the catalyst to great projects, and great projects - where everyone is allowed to be creative and open, collectively - as a result, creates a better team culture. She insists that workshops encourage teams to create together, they force teams to collaborate in a different way, and (with the help of a great facilitator) you get fresh, rich ideas where everyone has the ability to contribute. As a result, teams are able to generate better content together, faster; they have clarity on the work when everyone knows the next steps ahead; and teams are more motivated and engaged in their work.

So why not try a simple creative workshop with your team? Alison has free resources for you to get started on the resources section of her website including free guides, templates, and a podcast, ya’ll! Get to it - try something!

 

Newsletter #1: Thank you for stopping by!

Thank you for joining my newsletter and embarking on this journey with me!

With each newsletter, I hope to bring you a curated mix of goodies including current topics circling the internets, events local to NYC (and beyond - send them my way), my thoughts and opinions on all things, and a sneak peek into some tools and practices that you can try with your teams. I’ll also try and sprinkle in some GIFs and memes for the LOLs.

 

I’m so excited!

Switching gears a bit - these last 7 days continue to remind me why I do this work. Why understanding diverse opinions and including every voice is so important now more than ever. As I begin to process the horrific acts of terror that happened in Charlottesville last weekend, I am even more determined to continue to undue the microaggressions, oppressive mindsets, and gender inequalities that happen to people at work every day in every industry. I believe every organization is responsible for undoing racism and tackling unconscious biases because everyone deserves a job and a safe workplace.

If you are like me, I know you have been distracted at work and have been struggling to focus throughout the day. I encourage you to take the time to find a way to relieve stress and recenter and continue onwards for tomorrow.

 

This Week's Links 🔗 and Love ❤️

Listen to This 🎧

Ever imagine me as an afro-rocking astronaut? Wait no longer! I had the honor and privilege of sitting down with the women of She Geeks Out to talk about diversity, inclusion, and the work that’s necessary to make real organizational change. Timely, right? I also share a lot about my journey to and experiences so far at August. Take a listen to the full episode of the podcast and take a look at this crazy video on my About page.

Resources for You in Response to Charlottesville ✊🏽

  • Not many people truly understand the history of racism in America. This NYT article breaks it down in 24 digestible chapters. Read + Share. LINK
  • Want to join the resistance to stand up against racists and white supremacists? Find an organization near you at Indivisible. LINK.
  • Do you hold power and influence inside of your company? Get started at transforming your company into a more equitable organization by using this model shared by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. LINK

Other Reads This Week 🤓

  • The Google diversity manifesto was a mess and freedom of speech at work has become a nationwide discussion. What are companies to do? LINK
  • Are D&I programs inside of big tech companies good enough? Examples like Google remind us that tech companies might need to prioritize focusing even more on addressing hidden biases. LINK.
  • What’s happening to affirmative action in this country? A group of Asian American students are suing Harvard for discriminatory policies. LINK.

A few things we can all learn from Oprah - A reflection of the Oprah Winfrey Show success story

The text below is something that I wrote and shared on my Medium account on December 28, 2016. This post resonates with me a lot - It is a reminder that Black women and women of color are powerful. Our resilience is our superpower. I'm sharing this again here as my first post on this site - feel free to share and comment!

 

Like most Millenials, I’m a cord cutter. I don’t own a TV and the little bit of cable entertainment I do get is via streaming on-demand services. I’m your typical busy Brooklynite so my entertainment, news, and all things culture typically come from the internets — blogs, viral news links, online radio, and of course, podcasts.

On my journey to Philly from Brooklyn for the holidays I stumbled upon a podcast I hadn’t heard of: “Making Oprah.” Ironically, it’s the story of a TV revolution told by Jenn White and produced by Colin McNulty, both of WBEZ Chicago. It’s a captivating story of how a self-proclaimed overweight Black woman took over daytime television and became, I would argue, the most powerful woman in America.

The first episode takes Oprah fans back through the time lapse of what became the world’s biggest daytime TV show phenomenon. As a latchkey kid growing up in the 90’s in a single-parent home, The Oprah Winfrey Show was my after-school special. The Show was my babysitter between the hours of 4 and 5pm until my mother came home from work, and Oprah herself, a special fairy godmother of sorts.

As I listened to the podcast I began to learn about what made Oprah successful in a male-dominated daytime television culture. The secret of the show’s success became apparent to me very quickly. Here’s why…

I work at a company called August. We are an organizational design consultancy and we work with big corporations to change their company culture in order to make teams more creative, self-managing, and productive. From the work I’ve done in the first 8 months with the company, I can honestly say that what we’re doing is working and frankly, there were a lot of similarities between the Oprah show then and what we’re trying to do today.

As the Oprah show kicked off in 1986, she and her small team of 4 producers explained their working dynamic in a series of inspiring interviews: They made no plans nor developed a strategy. The women crafted an inspiring mission — “Live your best life.” They admitted to making things up as they went along. The producers didn’t publicize, instead they let the work speak for itself. The team followed their instincts and the instincts of other women. They worked in a small room and formed an intense relationship often characterised as a “cult,” which really meant they loved their work and working together. They were a unit, a team, and they had no idea the impact they would have on history.

These characteristics, rather, their ingredients of success, very strongly align with what we’re selling at August: small teams (5–9), strong purposeful missions, the ablity to sense and respond to data instead of building long-term plans, the idea that everyone should act as a scientist — try small experiements and learn as you go. We also teach teams to create a rhythm of regular sprints on their work; a habit of putting their work out into the world as quickly as possible instead of waiting until it’s “ready.”

Same, same. Right?

Right. These 5 women were creating a revolution on daytime TV right before the world’s eyes and they didn’t even know it. Their working style — creativity, lack of planning, trial and error, lady instincts — generated a 9–10 million viewer-a-week following by the end of 1987, making them the #1 show in television history beating all the other daytime shows during that time.

Business successes like these weren’t heard of again until the tech boom in the 2000’s with cool, sexy work places like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, and Tesla, for example (the list could go on, I know). These women, however, were self-organizing in a way that we didn’t know was special until Silicon Valley made it a thing.

At August we’ve noticed, and we’ve preached, time and time again that the future of work has strong roots growing from feminist theory: equality and respect of and for all people, inclusion for diversity of thought and experience, embracing differences as a key contributor to creativity and progress, and, as a result, crafting a new pedagogy for the development of the employee’s individual potential and subsequently the business’s potential.

Oprah and the staff at the Oprah Winfrey Show nailed it back in 1986. That small group of 5 created a culture that continued until the end of the show at Harpo Studios in 2011.

That’s cool as fuck.

So maybe our team at August has been wrong. Maybe the future of work isn’t feminine or rooted in feminist theory. What if the future of work is creating a culture that cultivates a dynamic and builds on feminist theory and embraces the notion that bringing your whole self to work is a gift? A culture where who you are outside of the office is the same you that must be brought into your work.

Perhaps, authenticity is the key unlock to the future of work.