GHC 2012: How to Influence without Authority, and Why It’s Important

These are some notes and thoughts from one of the sessions that I attended at Grace Hopper this year.

Dictionary definition of Influence. – The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Inherently, you don’t need authority to influence.

What do you need to be able to influence?

- Relationships – Get out into the hallways and meet people… Learn what their goals are and figure out how you can help them advance those goals. Do your job well and build a reputation for yourself.

- Trust. Takes time to build, very easy to break.  You get this by doing what you say and saying what you do. Be consist in your approach to things.  Reciprocity is important. Give as much as you ask. Takes time. Not a one off thing you try to achieve.

How do you influence?

Become good at summarizing, be concise, make sure your ideas are based in fact. Consider your audience. Change the length and depth of your data depending on who your talking to.

What’s in it for them? If people find nuggets of their ideas in your plan, they will want to be bought in to it.

Ask questions. Ask short questions, give people a chance to tell you what they think. Make an emotional connection and find out shared values. Ask open questions, avoid leading questions, not yes/no questions.

Now i’ve always had a bit of an issue with session’s on how to influence people. We had one when I first start at ThoughtWorks at TWU. I’ve always thought there is a very fine line between influencing someone and just plain manipulating them. In my rose-tinted world I hope that you don’t need to consciously try to influence people if you are leading by example and have everyone’s best interest’s at heart. If you are genuine and achieve great things, it will change the way people around you act.

Thankfully someone in the audience asked just this question: How do you make sure you’re not coming across as being manipulative?

Avoid one sided conversations.  Present your idea and ask for feedback.  Focus on what is in it for them.  Respect “No.”, but try again.  Make sure that you are “perceived as trustworthy”. (<- shouldn’t you just BE trustworthy?!)

What do you do when you are dealing with someone who ‘needs’ to feel like they have that authority over you?

Make friends with people who are friends with them and ask their advice. Ask how can I talk to them in a way that they will listen to? Make sure you are advancing them in their goals as well. “Their ego is their teddy bear and don’t take their teddy bear away from them”.

As long as you don’t care who gets the credit you can go along way.

 How to influence what you are working remotely?

Try to meet at least once. Phone and Skype become easier once you have met face to face. Talk about non work stuff to create a personal connection. Get into a conference call 15 mins early and chat, make it known that that’s what you do.

For more notes on the session see here

GHC2012: Nora Denzel’s Keynote – Tips for staying in your technical career

Go and watch her whole keynote speech here. It’s well worth it, and much better than I could ever attempt to summarise!

See here for Nora’s bio and some of the quotes from her keynote.

Nora’s keynote was funny and inspiring. She’s a great speaker. As well as talking about her own journey she focused on issues of diversity and also retention of women in IT.  Mentioning that once you have got women into IT, you have to work just as hard to keep them there.

Nora talked about her top 5 tips for a long career in the technical industry.

  1.  Your attitude…. Your career is an obstacle course not a path. Obstacles are put in your career not to kick you out– but to see how bad you really want it. Things don’t happen ‘TO’ you in your career, they happen ‘FOR’ you. You are not victim of these obstacles. Don’t run away. You shouldn’t be scared, this gives you tools to deal with things.
  2. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable…. Tech is always changing, you will always feel like you have no idea about something. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable. It’s about how fast you can learn. If you are comfortable all of the time, you are not growing. Comfortable OR growth.
  3. Act as if…. Fill in the blank. Act as if you are confident… Act as if you are a good speaker…. etc. Nora gave a great example of how she met the first lady to go into space. She strutted confidently onto the space shuttle, but when Nora asked her if she was scare, she responded that yes, she was terrified. I knew how the systems worked and all the possibilities of what could happen! What is courage? Master your fear. Easier to act into a new way of thinking than to think into a new way if acting.
  4. Control your career PR agent. YOU! You are your own agent. Be careful about what you say back to a compliment. Say thank you and then stop. Don’t qualify all the things you were terrified about or didn’t do right. Always tell the truth but just not so much of it. Shorten your press release. If you don’t have confidence in yourself how can we have confidence in you.
  5. Maintain your village. People that support you. Have a network that you nurture. It is not what you know or who you know, it is who knows what you know!

You have the chance to change the world. To work on things that will change peoples lives.

Grace Hopper ‘ A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships were built for. Sail out to sea, and do new things.’ @ndenzel #ghc12

GHC 2012: The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing 2012

This years Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing was held in Baltimore, in the US.

I once again got the chance to go and it’s always an amazing event. This year was the biggest ever at nearly 3700 attendees, made up from students, academia, industry and some military.

It was a very busy year for ThoughtWorks there too, each year our presence gets bigger and this year we did a tonne of interviews and assessments. Hopefully we’ll find some great women.

As always the dance party was my favorite part. Not just because I love dancing, which I do, but because it epitomises everything great about this event. The exhibiting has finished so we can all relax, the organizers can relax, you have well over a thousand people dancing like no one is watching, celebrating being who they are. So many smiles, many new friends have been made. And just a great electric, energized, and optimistic atmosphere. I love hearing first time attendees overflowing with excitement and drive as they tell me what an amazing experience it was for them.

I didn’t get to attend as many sessions as I would of liked but I did manage Nora Denzel’s keynote and a sessions called How to Influence Without Authority. See follow up blog posts.

Next year will be in Minneapolis, and I’ll be taking a break from the conference as i’ll be busy getting married over that time!

San Francisco, California

After Napa Valley, we headed back to San Francisco here are some of the shots from our adventures.

The Castro Theatre

Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco Hilly Streets

 

Flower Conservatory, Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park – Pagoda

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach – Surfer

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Napa Valley, California

A month ago, my fiancé and I went on holiday to California, to a family wedding in the Napa valley and then to spend time with friends in San Francisco.

The wineries were beautiful. Could of happily spent days wandering around the vines and the gardens. Here are a few of the shots that I took whilst there.

Frog’s Leap


Silver Oak

 

Little Miss Geek

I wanted to share with you a campaign that has been gaining traction in the UK recently.

There has been a lot more media coverage of the lack of women in IT due to the launch of a new book. The ladies of Lady Geek have launched a campaign through their social arm to inspire young girls to become the next pioneers in technology, and to get the attention of the British Government. The founder of Lady Geek, Belinda Parmar has written a book called Little Miss Geek, to go alongside this campaign.

Whats the book about? (From the book description on Amazon)

Belinda Parmar charts the rise of the Little Miss Geek as she fights her way from childhood, through school and into the heart of the technology industry. Along the way the book outlines practical steps that will bridge the gap between women and technology, and help inspire girls everywhere to be tech pioneers.

You can get the book on Amazon here and there is also a kindle version http://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Miss-Geek-Bridging-Technology/dp/0957389809/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kinc_1

My copy of the book is currently winging it’s way to me, so once I’ve read it I will report back. Some parts of the campaign make me cringe slightly, there’s a lack of celebration of the achievements that women have had in technology, but their intentions are all good. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking on a panel with some of the ladies from Lady Geek, and they are full of energy and drive for making a difference in this space. They also do a great job of addressing how the stereotypes around a “typical IT worker” can be so damaging when attracting people into our field, which we know is something thats always bothered me!

Media Coverage

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-10/03/little-miss-geek

“What I like about the Little Miss Geek campaign is that it is practical. It goes beyond merely moaning about the data; it outlines simple techniques that companies and schools can employ to address the issue. As Parmar says, the plan is to address gender imbalance in tech in the same way that Jamie Olivertackled childhood obesity. There is a manifesto that companies can adopt to attract more women to the workplace — with initiatives such as apprenticeships, mentorship schemes, and “female heroes” programmes. Lady Geek also plans to run after-school coding clubs for girls and has started carrying out workshops in primary and secondary schools exploring boys’ and girls’ perceptions of the tech industry and attitudes towards the ICT curriculum.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/belinda-parmar/girl-geek-women-in-tech_b_1934820.html?utm_hp_ref=uk

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/oct/01/so-few-women-working-technology?newsfeed=true

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-10-05-scarcity-of-female-geeks-questioned

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/kicking-myself-as-lady-geek-catches-the-it-bug-8202190.html

 

About Lady Geek’s campaign  http://ladygeek.com/littlemissgeek/

Why we are running the campaign:

  • Women only make up 17% of the UK’s tech workforce and this has been falling by0.5% each year = we need to encourage more women to want to work in the tech industry. 
  • There was only 1 girl for every 11 boys in the average UK A-Level computing class in2011. Girls account for 56% of high education applicants but only make up 14% of Computer Science and I.T. subjects  = we need to excite girls to want to study computing, so they are more knowledgeable about tech. 
  • 80% of women want creative independent job roles. Only 30% of women believe that tech jobs can provide such an opportunity = we need to change the negative perception women have about the tech industry. 
  • 4 out of 10 gadgets are now bought by women but only 3% of women are creative directors in this industry = we need women to become creators of tech and not just consumers.  

What we aim to achieve: 

We hope to gain national Government awareness and backing, so the issue is taken seriously and initiatives are put into place to help get more females into the industry.

We won’t rest until women make up 50% of the UK’s tech workforce.