Female Tech Pioneer’s 10 Solid pieces of Advice JUST for Women Start Up Founders

Last year, I spotlighted Tech pioneer, CEO and Founder of digital customer acquisition company  ChannelNet Paula Tompkins who offered 10 solid pieces of advice for women working in the tech industry who may have limited opportunities to “lean in.” And that is where the differences between being an entrepreneur and working for a corporate entity come in.

She cannot “lean in” as Sheryl Sandberg advises in her recent book and try to have it all.

“Entrepreneurs—men and women—have to make sacrifices,” Tompkins sayd.  “Having it all is impossible.”

But women entrepreneurs bring something different to the workforce as the owners and bosses, she adds.

For example, she says she has a very collaborative and relationship-focused management and leadership style, not unlike how many women are.

“As a leader, giving performance feedback is a very important part of my role,” she says. “So when I am speak directly to staff about their performance they seem to be surprised…it’s not something they are expecting and they should be.”

Tompkins offers some solid advice and steps for success for women who are business owners in the tech field:

  1. Prepare yourself. This is big game hunting.
  2. Make sure you have the resources and available cash in the bank to withstand the scrutiny your organization will be subjected to. This endeavor will be very time consuming and expensive.
  3. Establish a detailed battle plan.  Thoroughly map the organization and assign competent and credible employees to face off with the myriad of cross organizational stakeholders involved in making decisions your company will rely on to thrive. You personally must be committed to driving and participating in the process, which can take months and even years.
  4. Make sure your feminine intuition is on hyper alert to sniff out subtle queues coming from the organization you are trying to conquer.
  5. Create an advisory board. They can be great resources. If selected properly, they can bring experience and perspective to the table.
  6.  Network with other entrepreneurs.  At times owning a business is a very lonely experience because you are isolated at the top.
  7. Know when to walk away.
  8. Be strategic, yet pay attention to the details.
  9. Trust your instincts
  10. You are the face of the company—project success and be credible. Retain your true self as a woman and don’t try to be one of the guys, but do join the male conversation.

That is some superb recommendations! Let’s make them work!

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NC telecom company owner, a Sierra Leone native launches Ebola App

Sierra Leone Ebola Trends   Android Apps on Google Play

A Sierra Leone native and North-Carolina-based telecom company owner has developed an Ebola app to inform expats and others globally about the health epidemic plaguing Sierra Leone and the region.

Al Turay,  president and owner of Raliegh, North Carolina telecom company Teleficient, in the North Carolina Research Triangle Park says the app pulls news from news websites worldwide discussing eBola and delivers it to app users.

It’s a one stop shop.

Currently,  an estimated close to 3,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Gunea  (1 in Nigeria and 1 in Senegal)  have died form the highly contagious  disease,  marked by high fever, vomiting and shakes.

“It’s my only contribution to my country to overcome this disease, “ said Turay, who has operated his 6-employee company in North Carolina for over a decade after earning Bachelors and Master’s degrees in engineering management and information technology.

Currently, the app, which Turay designed and coded himself, can be downloaded and installed from the Google Play store for Android phones.

“I’ve submitted the app for Apple’s strict review and processing but I anticipate it will become available for iPhone and iPad’s by Monday or Tuesday,” Turay says.

In addition to being a one-stop information source, the app is also interactive in that it allows Sierra Leoneans on the ground to upload images of treatment facilities, family members dealing with the disease, community and civic organizations there working on training residents on how to curb the spread of the disease.

Daily, the Ebola app sends updates on statistics about deaths, and other facts from the Sierra Leone  Minister of Health and Sanitation’s website.

It also includes prevention tips and videos of speeches from the nations’ leaders on what they are doing to curb and fight the pandemic.

Finally, the app provides a face and personalizes the various Sierra Leonean doctors that are fighting the disease and dying from it. It includes features about each doctor, so that in the tragic event they lose their lives, they would be more than just a mention on a nightly newscast.

It’s about putting a face and story to those on the front line, Turay added.

Combined with the interactive piece, the app could do wonders to provide a different, on the ground, grassroots, citizen journalist perspective to the crisis.

It can make it more real and help to invoke more sympathy to what people there are struggling with and overcoming on a daily basis.

Turay said ultimately, he hopes to travel to Sierra Leone to train the youth on developing apps that can help their nation.

Although Sierra Leone’s electricity infrastructure is unreliable, one thing it does has is a very high and robust wireless phone adoption.  In 2008, 40% of Sierra Leoneans citizens had a mobile phone and surely that number has grown exponentially by now.  The United Nations estimate that 6 out of the world’s 7 billion people own mobile phones which means that more people own phones than toilets.

Mobile apps are connecting the world and changing lives in the process.

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Google targets Emerging Markets & Developing Countries with Android One launch

android one

Google announced the launch of its Android One platform on Monday, September 15, targeting the low-end smartphone segment in emerging markets. While newly launched phones are currently available in India, the company plans to roll them out to other developing…

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Minority Civil Rights Group asks FCC to investigate Tech Diversity

Diversity

A minority advocacy  organization has asked the US Federal Communications Commission to address the tech industry’s “abysmal failure” to employ African-Americans, Hispanics and women.

The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council  (full disclosure: I am on its board) said the technology sector’s “troubling” employment practices hurts the FCC’s ability to follow congressional directives to “regulate EEO and promote employment and ownership diversity.”

Specifically, in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and all four FCC members, the group asks the FCC to have its Diversity Committee investigate the employment disparity and determine to what extent, if at all, tech companies “recruit on campuses with high minority enrollments, actively mentor minorities for careers in the technology sector, and select diverse candidates who are U.S. citizens or residents.”

MMTC points to the fact that in the near future most media jobs will be more like tech jobs than traditional TV/radio production, advertising sales, and on-air jobs the group usually advocates on behalf of. Further, given media convergence, diversity within the tech sector will increasingly fall within FCC EEO authority, MMTC said.

“The digital divide cannot be closed when a sixth of the economy so profoundly and uniformly excludes African Americans, Latinos and women from equal employment opportunity,” the letter stated. 

Thoughts?

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The Darren Wilson and Ray Rice connection Black Male Apologists don’t get

 

ray rice

Gut check…

If you start your statement:

I support equality but…

I think women should have equal rights but…

I don’t condone Domestic violence or what he did to her but…

You have already said too much.

Taking a break from discussing politics and technology, I am going to make one last  attempt to explain to many well-intentioned black men who don’t support domestic violence and do not condone what Ray Rice did to understand why many black women are turned off by their less than supportive response and their reactions, nonetheless.

I’ve been battling folks all week in social media and after reading this Washington Post “Post everything” blog think piece on it which declares many black men akin to Darren Wilson supporters, I think I have it.  

You see brothers who supported the Mike Brown family, have also expressed outrage over the fact that the 18 year old Ferguson, Missouri’s killer, police officer Darren Wilson hasn’t been arrested while on paid administrative leave pending investigation.

You’d think a piece equating them to Darren Wilson supporters would let them get it, but nope!

Many are still out here, in the comment section and on the pages of those who have posted the piece, calling the author, Julian Long, of TheNegroLobby.com horrible emasculating names, and calling him gay and whatnot, just for writing in support of women. and/or dissing the piece, generally.

Talk about TONE DEAF!

*sigh*

I’m going to give it one last try, tell me if this is  convincing to make the point AGAIN by presenting this hypothetical:

Imagine, a hypothetical situations where  Darren Wilson, after killing Mike Brown, told his boss that Mike Brown was choking him when he shot and killed him, which leads the police chief to put Wilson on paid administrative leave.

Imagine, hypothetically  that a video surfaces from a camera phone which proves that Wilson NOT Brown was doing the choking or that there was no choking at all.

It turns up the chief had access to the video to prove what happened but chose not to pursue it; or gave him a slap on the wrist thinking no one would ever see the video.

The video gets released and circulated creating outrage in the community.

It causes the chief to fire Wilson.

Under that hypothetical scenario, would you be here, today, arguing that the police was wrong for firing Wilson, and subjecting him to a form of double Jeopardy?

The answer is likely NO.  As a black man, you can empathize with Brown and and can relate to him?

You would be too busy concerned over the dead 18 year old and wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about Wilson getting double jeopardy fine.

That is the point.

That is why you all come across as Darren Wilson supporters.

Y’all are doing the same thing…taking up the case for the PUNISHMENT of the aggressor, the one who did the killing or punching.

And in doing so, you all come off as you are MORE upset at the institution dishing out the punishment for not subjecting the aggressor to a stiffer fine earlier on to appease the masses so that the aggressor could play next year….

…or so Darren Wilson could return to the force in a year.

Many of us women don’t want to hear it.

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Why ‘We the People’ should decide how the FCC regulates our services

we the people

Every week, I am seeing groups who are not necessarily  subject-matter experts in telecom make broad misstatements and present distortions to their captive audiences about what is needed to “save” the internet from so-called “fast lanes” that will put smaller, rising businesses and users at a disadvantage.

I agree that there does need to be some changes in regulators’ approach to dealing with internet companies and users, but I am most concerned with the fact that the current laws are quite out-dated, close to 20 years old and most likely do need to be updated to avoid some of the doom and gloom predicted to happen.

Former Congressman Rick Boucher turned telecom law firm partner, picked up on the most salient points  to consider in this area in the recent OpEd piece. Focusing on a new paper by a think group he honorary chairs,  Boucher lays out a good case for letting consumer preference and habits dictate.  Internet and digital online and mobile services and offerings  today cannot fit neatly into  traditional archaic regulatory paradigms.

“With the cascading movement of consumers to Internet-based communications, regulators face far more difficulty in assuring the continued provision of the core consumer values of access to public safety and disability services, competition, consumer protection in dealings with the service provider, and universal connectivity,” Boucher writes in a recent commentary in The Hill. “Regulators simply don’t have purview over platforms like Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Snapchat, email and messaging,”

Boucher, who founded the Congressional Internet Caucus and chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications,  said technology and the Internet acknowledge the call in the research for a “new network compact” which recognizes that consumers, regulators and service providers have more complex relationships with one another than in the recent past.

Before, regulators determined that most consumers needed one certain basic type and level of service and offerings, but these days, consumers have more choice and no longer are limited to receiving their voice, data, and video services through traditional means.

For example, you can watch your favorite Broadcast TV show on your mobile phone or on your computer and not necessarily on a television set. Consumers can make a telephone call via their computer via Skype. Many smart phones and  tablets act like computers of yesteryear and have some if not all of the capabilities of traditional desktops.

“Recognizing that consumers are now in charge, a new network compact should feature empowered consumers in a dynamic relationship with competitive providers,” Boucher states. “Regulators should seek a more strategic relationship with service providers that focuses on the core consumer values yet remains responsive to consumer behavior.”

The example he gives relates FCC’s Lifeline program designed in the mid-1980s to provide low-income consumers with affordable wired telephone service, then subsequently wireless voice service.

“But, in the Internet communications age, a subsidy to phone companies that discounts the cost of service has lost much of its utility for consumers,” he adds.

Correct! Not everyone even have a traditional landline phone any longer.

Consider also the rapid amount of cord-cutting going on by cable customers who are relying on their Smart TVs and subscription services like Netflix.

Let the customer decide and be flexible in approach, so for example instead of mandating wholesale access to existing networks for competitors, regulators could let the competitors actually compete for the type of services consumers want most. The result would be to drive innovation, competition and investment into new networks which all could expand  broadband capacity.

Acknowledge the rapid, fast moving competitive landscape that is afoot and the new world order of more consumer options.

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Two new Ways You’re getting Ads on your Smartphone

iphone-5c-itunes-radio

Not only is overall mobile usage up, according to pretty much every report available on the internet, but there has been a major boom in the amount of commerce conducted via mobile. A report recently released by comScore states that m-commerce is up…

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On #DearKate Controversy: 10 Features on Women in Tech wearing more than just underwear

high tech women

Here is the deal.

In a field like the entertainment industry, where women are raking in as much money, and are just as big stars, if not bigger than men, they can afford to roll around half naked on stage and it can be legitimately be called feminism. They can, with a straight face, say that wearing sexy clothes on stage is empowering and an example of  taking back sexuality. Few would object.

Okay, let’s be real. Of course plenty people who would disagree that it is an example of women empowerment but there would be many more self-proclaimed feminists around to  legitimately call those out who slut shame scantily clad female entertainers as practicing respectability politics – you know, the concept that being a good girl who dresses demurely and is lady like are upstanding and can avoid being mistaken for a whore.  The idea being that women can avoid  unwanted sexual attention, sexual harassment or sexual assaults  if she doesn’t lead men on with her looks.   But we know that how a woman dresses doesn’t necessarily deter rape which is a crime of violence anyway; and that men can wear what they want without suffering stigma and negative labels.

In a nutshell, in industry’s where the power differential is slightly closer, feminist campaigns and messages can go over easier without too much fuss.

refinery cool women in tech

Not so in Tech.

Consider that women make up between 10 to 20% in workforce in the tech field although they are 57% of the US workforce. Sexism allegations and scandals are plentiful, the most recent and notably former Sengrid evangelist Adria Richards at PyCon controversy last year. And a  recent study by global think tank, the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), found that women in science, tech and engineering  fields in the U.S., Brazil, China and India are “languishing in the middle-rungs of their organizations and, as a result, are much more likely than men to report that they plan to leave the industry within the year.”

Clearly, nationally and even globally, we  have a challenge to achieving parity and equlity in a field plagued with accusations of rampant sexism; and dogged by the perception and reality that hostile environments within various companies are plentiful and women are challenged with stereotypes, bias and gender-based stigma.

So when one thinks of how to meet this tremendous task of elevating women’s value in the tech space, pairing this important workplace justice matter with an underwear campaign would not ordinarily come to mind.

There is a time to promote women being able to embrace her body and her choice to be photographed in her underwear without shaming; and to promote the idea of  all shapes and sizes of women being  celebrated , and there is a time to promote high achieving women in tech.

But those times don’t always have to exist in the same campaign.

Apparently, the creators of Dear Kate underwear didn’t get that memo when it decided to name its latest line of undies, the Ada collection, after female tech pioneer Ada Lovelace. In what was meant to be a provocative expose about women who code can also be sexy and free to pose in their underwear if they want turned sour when many readers  didn’t greet the article or photo lookbook as intended.

Many in social media have complained that the spread really just reduced women to be objects to be gawked at once again.

Maria Joyner over at Medium.com did a piece including several anonymous comments from men disappointed with the underwear campaign, and who, among other things, admit how hard it is for women in tech to advance and overcome sexist environments; and accuses the Dear Kate campaign as being a cheap publicity stunt.  It is not a purposeful attempt to spark conversation about different body types featured in magazines, as many of dear Kate’s supporters are touting it to be, Joyner argues.

It is pretty safe to say any intended empowering message has gotten lost and buried in the controversy.

And Dear Kate’s attempted to reclaim the issue with the hashtag #noncontroversial but again, as with this campaign, just because you say something is [fill in the blank] doesn’t necessarily make it so.

No one is commenting on articles about the women are even discussing their poignant and insightful commentary on their industry.

It also seems silly considering the controversy is a big win for the dear Kate brand’s exposure.  BizJournals did a piece about how sales have soured, the company’s websites pageviews have spiked and founder Julie Sygiel and some of the women featured are getting more media appearances than before. She’s seen beaming with pride in the piece.

To be fair, it is hard to promote women in tech without pissing someone off.

Ask Refinery 29 about its lukewarm response to a post last year on 8 cool women changing tech that featured a fashion blogger, tech journalists and women with businesses that are online moreso than women inventors, coders, developers or engineers.

panels-women-who-kick-ass_612x438

Although, I did think Entertainment Weekly’s feature on female actors who portray kick ass characters in sci-fi and super hero movies did a good job of showcasing women as soft and stylish displaying the multi-dimensional aspect to women who are rough and tumble on screen.

To borrow an oft used cliché conclusion, at the end of the day it all  boils down to the fact that those who want to promote women in any professional field have a tough time doing so without evoking the primal and most basic element that separates them from women and that is their sex; and all that stereotypically defines women.

As Angelia Levy poignantly pointed out in her blog, we are not talking about the accomplishments of these trailblazing women, but rather the fact they were in their underwear

I did a quick search and managed to quickly find 10  features with very eye catching featured images at the top in stories about women in Tech.  All the women looked fashionable and mostly attractive.  

I learned a lot about their contribution despite the fact they were not in their underwear. Imagine that!

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Inc’s 15 Women Tech Start Ups to Watch

gcgeekgirl

Women in Tech in Singapore

Lessons-from-Female-Startup-Founders

Female Start Up Founders Share Lessons Learned

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A Celebration of women in Tech - UK

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Women in their 20′s share successs

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Digital Undivided Women in Tech feature

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Hackbright’s Coding Academy

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25 Latinas in Tech

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Kansas City Women in Technology

WomeinInTech

Women in Tech in NYC

 

 

 

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Facebook changes algorithms to Defeat Click Bait; Will suppress Publisher posts with links too

celebstyleweekly-new

Facebook recently announced that it is taking on “Click-Bait” content shared on its site. Those are articles shared with scandalous, inflammatory and other salacious titles written to entice a reader to click the link.  Only, soon after, the reader discovers it wasn’t what he or she anticipated the piece would be about based on the headline.

Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed,” Facebook wrote in a post. 

The social network site plans to take note of the amount of time readers spend on these articles, keep track of which articles are not read for along time. Then, Facebook’s algorithm will begin to suppress those articles that show readers spent less time on them as its fancy machines would identify them to likely be click-bait.

Sites like Buzzfeed, UpWorthy and the like that are notorious for “Click-Bait” headlines will have to worry, maybe.

It also announced in the same post that it will encourage publishers to simply post their article on their page from a service or directly, but without doing what a lot of people do now: post a “see more” text with a link that is placed in the caption of the photo.

Publishers that use the latter will see their posts suppressed from Facebook users’ news feeds, and from the feeds of people who have “liked” their page.

DON’T DO THIS: leave the hyperlink in the caption to the photo after it uploads onto your page, DELETE the hyperlink.

culinarian-newDO THIS: (DELETE THE LINK after the article attaches with the image)

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TMobile, Sprint offer $12 No-Data Cap Music Streaming; Social Media Only Plans

mp3player1709e

Just the other day while doing my budget, I was lamenting with a family member on how I would love it if all utilities came with a la carte options and pricing. It really hurts the pocketbook to have to shell out exorbitant monthly expenditures to pay for a full menu of services when I only use a few. This is the case especially with my cable bill.

The computer retail market seemingly has resolved that problem.  Prices have dropped because consumers can opt out of purchasing the souped up machines already pre-loaded with expensive software they won’t use and instead by a basic machine and install what they need. That way, they also maximize storage space and have a quicker and more efficient running system.

Mobile phone customers got a relief recently when Sprint and T-Mobile offered new price plans that save customers from going over their data allotment monthly.

I could relate because when my husband first got his smartphone a few years back, and we switched to a shared minutes plan, we used to bump up on our allocation all the time until we learned how to manage our bandwidth.

These new packages could also solve that problem considering we both use our smartphones for checking email, streaming music and accessing social media sites mostly.

With Sprint’s, for $12, subscribers can get a plan that connects just to FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, for an additional $10 more. They can do all the surfing, uploading, pinning they want and stream unlimited music from any app they choice for just $5!

Perfect for long runs outside or at the gym or work commutes on public transportation.

T-Mobile offers a similar plan that caters to the way some users consume info and data on their smartphone.  It lets customers listen to some of the most popular music services without it eating up their data.

Both these new options are clearly a reaction to competitors like Boost Mobile and Clear Wireless. Both companies burst on the wireless scene not too long ago and immediately gained popularity with their no-contract, pay as you go options, especially among customers who could not qualify for pre-paid plans or did not have the budget to manage mega bills with those plans.

For both, data usage charges do not apply when subscribers access sites covered by the plans.

There’s nothing like watching your customers walk off to a new carrier to cause you to think creatively. To no surprise, some of the net neutrality advocates managed to find fault in increased consumer choice and flexibility, pointing out how these new options permit ISPs to pick winners and losers among services and to discriminate against some.

Never mind that the consumer still ultimately has the option of picking the comprehensive plan and going with one of many plans that all ready exist. The new options do not take away existing options, just add on. Color me confused.

Consumer choice when users get to pay for what they consume most is a good thing for some people, not all but some.

Am I missing something here?

These options will be perfect for those on limited budgets like students, new wireless broadband users, the elderly and some low-income wireless phone users. Sounds like a winner.

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