Rewrite The Docs at ATO 2019

solidarityforever

If you’re here because you saw my talk at All Things Open 2019, thank you!! If you are here just because, thank you too! 🙂 The original blogpost that my talk was based on is here and below are links to some of the organizations I mentioned. The ones that accept donations are indicated with a $ sign:

Solidarity!

My DEI Sniff Test

I recently started a fantastic and challenging new job, but before I got here I spent 6 long months carefully job hunting.

At this point in my career, I have afforded myself the right to be a lot more picky about where and with whom I work since I spend more waking hours with coworkers (and customers!) than I do with my family.

For most of my professional career I’ve been the “Lonely Only” along several axes, and I didn’t want that anymore. I didn’t want to have to be the sole representative of diversity anymore or feel burdened with the task of rifling through my LinkedIn to fill the pipeline with underindexed folks.

So, I took a more studied approach to job hunting. Rather than just relying on “warm intros” from white male friends, I struck out and did a lot of my own research and quickly developed a “diversity sniff test” that. I hoped this tweaked approach might prevent me getting into some of the same messes I’d been in before. So, what’d I do? Well here’s a few things.

1. I checked the picture on the team page

I know team pictures can be outdated and misleading, but a quick scan for people of color on the team page can at least give you a sense of whether the company has made any effort to show that they care enough to at least try to show that people of color are welcome there. For whatever it’s worth, Teachable’s Careers page was one that stuck out in my mind as making me feel like I’d be comfortable there.

2. I looked into who was actually in leadership.mostlywhiteguys
A careers page can only tell you so much. I’ve definitely worked at places where they purposely position the women and POC in front during picture time to make them jump out in the picture even though few were in leadership roles. Finding out who is actually in charge around there sometimes requires sniffing around on site like LinkedIn and Crunchbase. Once you know who they are, you might peek at their Twitter to get a sense of what actually matters to them .

3. I looked at what they sponsored.

nylasdiCompanies that truly care about DEI should be going beyond hire a few brown faces and be giving money and time to groups and events that want to disrupt the ratio. This can be a cover up too (one need look at all the noxious corporate pride stuff), but it gives you a little signal that they are trying to exhibit some amount of virtue or what Prof Scott Galloway from Pivot podcast cynically calls “Woke As A Business Strategy“.

***

I am not saying my current company perfectly ticked all my boxes. None of this sniffing is foolproof, but this research — coupled with working my diverse network to ask several pointed questions of the whispernet— did yield a better result than in the past.

How about you? How do you sniff out companies that share your values? Drop me a line and let me know!

Gratitude: May 2019

Before the month ends, I am just sliding in here to share a few things that gave me life this month.

Cillian Murphy’s Playlist on BBCRadio 6 Music

I completely live for Cillian Murphy. For the past few months, he has been covering for Guy Garvey (of Elbow) on BBC Radio 6 Music. I like ALL the music Cillian plays, and when he plays and waxes poetic about artists I already know and love, it just deepens my overwhelming love for him. He was just in NYC for a theater run and I sadly missed despite my best efforts. One day, Cillian. One day…

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen


This book holds the solution to many of the world’s problems. Nearly all feedback is a gift. We just need to learn how to mine it for the gems.

Fontaines DC


I learned about this band via Cillian Murphy and his aforementioned radio show. They are so Irish and wonderful. Their NYC show is sadly already sold out.

Gratitude: April 2019

Here are some things I was grateful for last month. I meant to post this last month, but I started a new job and the month zipped by! 

New job!
I am now the Head of Customer Success at Nylas! I couldn’t ask for a better group of folks to work with and the trips back and forth to SF have been fruitful and illuminating. I am exceedingly grateful for all the outpouring of support and sighs of relief from my loved ones . It was a tough slog.

Juanita on Netflix

I love Alfre Woodard. I love Adam Beach. I love Alfre Woodard and Adam Beach together. This movie made me smile from start to finish. Will watch again.

Food!
belotti
During one of my many recent trips to the Bay Area, I had occasion to have several great meals. Two of the best were at Japanese restaurant Rintaro and Italian restaurant Beloti. If you go to Belotti, definitely get the broccoli!

Minding The Gap

This Oscar-nominated (not that that matters, but still) documentary about a group of skate friends coming of age in middle America completely broke my heart and is the best movie I’ve seen thus far this year.

Gratitude: End of Summer 2018 Edition

The kid is back in school (yes!!) and summer is just about to close the door, so I’m just dropping in with a little gratitude before the fall.

1) Terence Nance’s Random Acts of Flyness on HBO is SO BLACK and gorgeous and genius and one of the best things I’ve ever seen anywhere ever. If you are a fan of the strange and beautiful you will love it too.

2) Claws Season 2 just finished on TNT. Now Claws is trash but it is high trash made by people who know how to make trashy tv. It is overly violent and squishy and campy and everyone is a little bit to a lot queer. So highly enjoyable.

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3) Late summer has looked a lot like this, except also with laughing friends and kids racing around and wine glasses.
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4) Summer never fails to serve JAMS. Here are some of my favorite of the season.

Gratitude: June 2018

Before the month ends I just want to take a moment to share a few things that breathed la vie into me this month

1) POSE on FX / Nick Cave at Park Avenue Armory

POSE_103_001210r

These two are bringing queer black culture to masses in a major way and I am here for it. POSE airs on FX and is an inside look at 80s/AIDS-era ballroom culture that digs into the very real struggles of our gay and trans black and brown folks. It is at time a little overwrought (it’s made by the folks who did Glee) but the performances are heartfelt and Billy Porter as the sort of loving elder/ringleader at the heart of it all is delivering the performance OF A LIFETIME. Direct all the awards to Mr. Porter, hunty. Give he his check and put some respeck on his check y’all.

PAA_NickCave_JamesEwing-1330

As for Nick, he is bringing the queer disco house glitter and black boy joyousness but not shying away from the pain and also making it weird and liberated with those gorgeous and larger than life sound suits. I highly recommend going to see it before it closes.

2) Mina and Bryte on NTS Live

minanadbryte

I’ve made no secret of my love for NTS Radio. The amount of sheer spiritual energy they broadcast to me is immeasurable, and this episode is no exception. Mina is a talented producer and Bryte is a wicked new MC out of Ghana that got me swelling with pride.

This whole episode is excellent summer hiphop, reggae and Afrobeat vibes.

3) Fearless Cities NYC

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In this sea of bad political news and even worse neoliberal & “progressive” responses to that news, I’m holding tight to social ecology and municipalism. Last year, the incredible Barcelona en ComĂş municipalist government hosted likeminded folks from around the world at the first ever Fearless Cities conference to explore how we can build this movement. They tasked everyone to go back home and hold a regional summit. This year the American one will be held in NYC.

I sadly have to miss it but I’m in touch with organizers and a lot of my beloved comrades will be there. Lots is and will be cooking in this space. Join us to find out how we can build power by embracing the small and local.

Some Stuff I Would Do If I Didn’t Have to Work for a Living

  1. Travel and spend time with my family (immediate travel list: Barcelona, Stockholm, Dakar, Sarajevo, Tokyo, Melbourne, and back to HK and Berlin)
  2. Sew
  3. Garden
  4. Spend more time in Slovenia
  5. Start an ice cream business in New Orleans (and find out how to make it not be work)
  6. Cook elaborate meals
  7. Learn to code
  8. Hardware hacking
  9. Write and blog more
  10. Learn to sing
  11. Learn to DJ
  12. Go dancing a lot – classes and clubs
  13. Study languages (German, Arabic, Mandarin, Ewe )
  14. Volunteer with or start/run community service groups
  15. Podcast or create some other sort of media
  16. Learn to sculpt
  17. Mentor people

Gratitude: January 2017

Boy did this month blow by super fast. Wowee. Before it’s gone for good, here’s a list of a few things I was grateful for this month.

My pals over at Help Scout summarized my SupConf NYC talk into a schmancy looking blogpost. Check it out here – https://www.helpscout.net/blog/avoid-burnout/
screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-10-01-25-pm

Believe it or not, I only just sat down and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack this month. It is so adorable and catchy!  Lin-Manuel Miranda kept reiterating in interviews that the soundtrack is the whole show but it only clicked for me when I heard him say it again in this chat with Damien Chazelle, Donald Glover, and Issa Rae.

I bingewatched season 1 of Chewing Gum and I am officially obsessed with Michaela Coel. Issa Rae is cute and all, but I am LIVING for Michaela Coel right now. She is my cool younger cousin in my head and since her family is also from Ghana, I am hoping it turns out that we are somehow related. Not likely, but I can dream. Oh, also no Season 2 spoilers please.

The Women’s March was controversial and problematic (this interview really resonated with me) but it still felt huge and important and I was glad that I went. This is a sociopolitical moment I have been waiting for, and if it were anything less than messy then we’d surely be doing it wrong.

What were you grateful for in January?

How I Made Twitter Manageable (For Me)

So towards the beginning of this year, a colleague of mine walked into the office and announced that he’d quit both Facebook and Twitter. The decision immediately struck me as drastic, but as time moved on I too became increasingly irritated with looking at the unsolicited family photos and reading the asinine political opinions of nearly-forgotten high school acquaintances and random people I’d happened to have had a friendly chat once at a wedding rehearsal dinner.

Younger, more tech savvy people advised me to create filters in Facebook but as I went to do that, I weighed out the time it would take to make those filters against the actual joy I think I would ever get out of using Facebook and decided just to stop using it.

Months passed and I began to feel similar rumblings towards Twitter. Upsetting shit kept happening in the world and reading the opinions of the great unwashed masses was starting to dampen my mood and make me cynical. I thought to dump Twitter and discussed it with a friend who reminded me that there was still some business value there if I could put in some structure, prune my follows, create lists — basically not let it get as far gone as I’d allowed things to get in Facebook. So I took that advice to heart and began making it more manageable for myself. Here is what I did:

I Deleted the Twitter App from My Phone

I was recently on vacation and midway through I realized I was using Twitter as my main source of news. Forget about major world events, according to Twitter a Taylor Swift beef was really what demanded my attention before I even brushed my teeth. It was ridiculous. I found that when I deleted the damned app from my phone not only did I not go to it for news but I felt less inclined to tweet out knee-jerk responses. Using it on the mobile web browser is not a fun experience so I tend to only tweet when I am at a laptop and when I am at a laptop I usually have more important stuff to do than sit on Tweetdeck.

I Stopped Responding to Randos I Disagreed With on the Internet

I know some people kinda have no choice or that engagement is part of their brand, but talking to people I don’t know about things I don’t agree with them about is not my idea of a good time. I’ve received a fair bit of cyber bullying in the past and I would never victim blame, but I find that making Twitter bearable for me means trying to only tweet things in agreement with people I already like and leaving the other people alone.

I Stopped Looking at Trending Topics

Madness lies that way. I just don’t want to know what the majority of Twitter thinks is popular and I don’t think it’s a nice way to find out that a celebrity you liked died or did something heinous.

I Stopped Clicking Hashtags

If a certain term seems to continuously reappear in my timeline, I will look it up in Google News. I’ve just clicked on enough hashtags at this point to realize that it can just be an abyss. And we all know what Nietzsche says about the abyss, right?

I Participated in More Structured/Safe Online Communities

As a person that has been a “net native” since pre-AOL days, I know there are always warm and welcoming places on the web and I continue to seek them out. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to many wonderful Slack groups with nice people who treat each other respect. I also (snicker if you want) still maintain a Livejournal where I follow (and am followed by) an intimate group of people, many of whom are my friends IRL. I also maintain a private Instagram where I can share and follow images of people doing happy things with people they love and respect.

I hope that this list has been helpful and helps you to find a healthy medium for yourself, since the digital options are dizzying and can get dangerously habit-forming and mood altering (to say the least!). I’m a big girl. I don’t need every minute to be a “kumbaya moment” and I know no place (online or in fleshspace) is perfect, but life is too short to spend time in places that are unpleasant because you think that one day there will be some sort of pay-off (I kinda wrote about that here). So whenever possible, I see what I can do to make a situation work for me, but when I can’t it’s important to remember that the welcome mat is always laid out for me elsewhere in the nets.