• blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – Space to Think

    My brain needs space to think.

    Sometimes that space is just a quiet room, or an uninterrupted moment with eyes closed, or a walk around the block.

    When I was young and something became too much – usually involving two siblings mad at each other – my Gram would say “go run around the house”. A wise women she was. The run around the house bought her time away from the quarrel, but also distracted us kids from whatever big issue was going on. (You took my cookie, stop looking at me, etc.)

    Space. It allows my brain to think, and reflect, and gain perspective.

    I am currently on a vacation like no other I have taken. 11 days of riding a motorcycle in Western Canada and the U.S. with a loose agenda and many miles to travel. One city to the next, mountains everywhere I look, rushing water, dried up rivers, glaciers melting, forests thriving and forests burned, different cultures everywhere we land for lunch and the night, … and space.

    I remember this quote from my school days and always loved it. Now I am feeling it…

    “Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.” “That,” I said, “is very frank advice, but it is medicine easier given than taken. It is a wide country, but I do not know just where to go.” “It is all room away from the pavements. […]”

    — Josiah Bushnell Grinnell [9]

    I am fortunate and I believe I live a blessed life. A key part of enjoying that is also stepping out of it to reflect, and taking that time, and space to think. What better way to do that than to go west, young man, go west!

  • blog
  • Leadership Thoughts – A-maze?

    There was a horrific event in our city a few months ago involving a man who intentionally drove his van into a crowd with the intent to kill people.

    It is unusual for such violence where I live, and therefore shocking and overwhelming for everyone who was involved as well as all of us who feel we live in an environment safe from such acts.

    One of the responses was for the city to install concrete barriers around our main train station. This station is used by approximately 300,000 commuters on a daily basis and all of the people using the train for vacation and other travel.

    So, it’s extremely important for the station to be safe. These barriers would definitely hinder, and probably stop an event like the one I described from happening in front of this location.

    As I walked by this week, I thought of the leadership it took. To take action, to make that action swift, and to demonstrate to the city that people are a priority. And yet, my second thought was this…

    Now we are stuck with these hideous looking barriers. They created a maze, it’s not amazing. Hard to walk through, hindering people’s commute every morning and night. Yes, barriers are probably needed. Couldn’t we implement something that is more appealing, and still a barrier? For inspiration, the large pots with flowers some hotels installed around their perimeter come to mind. While they are beautiful, they still provide the barrier to cars and other vehicles.

    I thought then that true leadership takes action, and follow-through. I worry that whoever decided to put up the concrete barriers is off to the next priority. I’ll bet he/she doesn’t take a commuter train and may never actually drive by and consider the view these concrete slabs create.

    So I’ll remind myself, and maybe some of you, remember to take action, think about people, and follow-up. Check back in, see how your decisions are doing a few weeks later, and refine where necessary. It’s not too hard.

    Have a safe day, girl geek.

  • lifestyle
  • Women in Tech – Own the Stage!

    I recently attended a conference and came away inspired. The technical information was helpful, the contacts I made were valuable, and I came home feeling full and thankful for the experience. I was full of knowledge, full of ideas, and full of an overall positive experience from thinking and talking about technology non-stop for 4 days.

    The bonus was sitting in the front row of an audience of over 40,000 people and watching talented, technical, business focused women speaking about the future of our industry and using examples of achievements that have already been accomplished.

    All of those words are inspiring to a girl geek like me – the technology industry, the future, and real life achievements (not just what could be done, but what has been done). It’s a fantastic and exciting time to be in tech. But the word in the sentence that brings chills to me even as I write about it weeks after I am back home is the word women.

    When I started in tech many, many years ago, there were no women in management in the technology team at my company. There was no role model, no sense of my spot at the table to aspire to, and no clear view of whether I would be supported at that time to move into an executive role in technology.

    So I sat in that front row – even having that terrific seat was an achievement based on being in a position in technology of making decisions – and listened to women telling stories of accomplishments. Not stories about being a woman in tech, just a leader leading tech innovation. And they did it with strength, and knowledge, and personality. They did it sounding powerful and looking female.

    I share two photos. I know they aren’t great quality, my phone camera competing with magnificent stage lighting, but they capture the essence of the moment. Two women owning the stage and inspiring women like me that we are making great progress in this tech field from that moment I started with no women role models above me.

    I share to inspire you with their greatness, and challenge all you girl geeks to look up to them as role models. I equally challenge you to look around you once today to find a girl geek you can inspire too. There are young women every day entering the field. Let’s take care of them.

    Ginni Rometty, Chair, President, and CEO of IBM

    Alice Keung, SVP & Chief Transformation Officer at Economical Insurance

  • blog
  • Thankful Tuesday – The sign of the line?

    Thankful Tuesday – the sign of the line?

    Did you ever stand in line and feel thankful? I did today and let me tell you why.

    I am attending an IT conference for CIOs. The attendees are all senior executives in technology – about 900 men and women – and there are short breaks between sessions. During the last break, I found myself standing in a line for the women’s restroom. And I realized I was smiling at the prospect.

    Imagine being at an event for senior IT executives and there are so many women there is a back-up and a line. Wow! I’ve attended at least 15 of these type of conferences over the years and this hasn’t happened to me before. So many women, so many leaders, so much progress. And so many role models for young women joining the technology career path.

    Back to the sign. What is the sign of the line? We’ve come so far, but we’re not done yet!

    Oh yes, the photo. They also had muffin tops for snacks. Another reason to smile. Am I on Seinfeld?

  • Travel
  • Travel Tales – You don’t get credit!

    Travel tales – you don’t get credit!

    If the flight is advertised, booked, and scheduled for 9:10, and you put it on the board as 10:00 and then say we are leaving ‘early’ at 9:10… sorry, you don’t get credit for early departure.

    Interesting day of travel so far. The driver who picked me up to bring me to the airport went to the wrong house and I had to ‘find’ him, a serious multi-car, multi-truck accident occurred on the highway 15 minutes before we passed through, and I got pulled over in the security line for having an iPad. Being tired from an early morning start and distracted by all items above, I’m still not tricked by the message that we are ‘early’. But good try!

    I feel fortunate that with all the snags and some grumpy people along the way this morning, I arrive at my gate still calm and peaceful and looking forward to my speaking engagement this week. I send out positive thoughts to those involved in the accident and the emergency response workers on the scene. Safe travel to anyone embarking on a journey this week!