The Business Of Being Awesome

For the last few months now, I’ve been working with a great team of classmates at MIT Sloan on a podcast called The Business of Being Awesome. Erica and Lily started the podcast last year, and after being featured on episode 8 (below) of the first season, I wanted to be more involved.

I’ve been helping with strategy for the podcast, and then miscellaneous marketing efforts. It’s been a really fun team to be involved with, I’ve gotten some good press, and I even got to write a fun blog post about online dating. I’ve stolen the copy of this from the website, and put it below.

https://soundcloud.com/bizobapodcast/episode-8-the-necessary-evil-of-networking-bizoba

A love affair with online dating

I would deem 2011 the year “Kate Dates.” I went on at least 40 dates that year, purely for the enjoyment. There is something about finding someone who at the very least agrees with you on some political issues and probably a lot more. My website of choice was OkCupid. I chose it because it was free and I was still in college; I kept going back because I loved it.

My profile was amazing, and I took good care of it. Anytime that year I went to a new, good movie, it was instantly added to my “favorites” list. Granted, it probably wouldn’t make my top 10 cut long-term, but I liked to stay relevant.

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Not all my dates were good. I remember one guy who intrigued me because he was in medical school. He was seriously the worst of them all.

One guy confided in me that he had been married while on our third date… this didn’t sit well with me. Been there, done that.

Another guy really liked playing games and we had fun going to the Chatterbox in Saint Paul, where with food and drinks you could play any game (including video!) that you wanted. When he leaned in for that kiss though, I felt more like he was my brother and knew that was the end.

There is one date in particular that sticks out in my mind. I went out with this guy because he liked math and basically said he was a math professor “I work for the math department at the University of Minnesota.” You’d think that by date number 36 I’d be a little jaded, and maybe I was, but I still loved getting to know someone new. On the date, it was clear this guy was looking for something serious. Bless his heart, but I felt bad telling him “I’m just here to have fun, nothing serious…” Needless to say, it was one of the most enjoyable dates I had been on and I was looking forward to another.

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The next day, I went to Colorado where, lo and behold, OkCupid also has a presence. I quickly updated my location so I could meet a guy or two while the friend I was staying with had to work. This was the first time I met an actual married man, who was actually in an open relationship. It was interesting from an interview perspective: I had tons of questions about logistics, trust, intimacy, and the fact that they had children together. His wife’s boyfriend was around the house a lot and had met their children – this was a bit too much for me, but was definitely an eye-opening conversation.

Today, I’m engaged to the math professor [not a math professor] and couldn’t be happier. Yet, because of our relationship (rather than in spite of), I still love exploring the world of online dating.

Last year, I took a course titled Analytics Edge at MIT where, get this, we explored how analytics can give companies a competitive edge. One of the companies we did a case study on was eHarmony. We also discussed other social networks, specifically Hinge and how it leverages your existing network to connect you with 3rd degree connections. So fascinating!

Of course, I had to create a profile on Hinge, just to see how it worked. I remember the text I sent to Joe:

Me: “Hey, I joined Hinge fyi… #research”

I would hate for a coworker of his to stumble upon my profile and mention it to him and have him not know about it. We are all about communication.

This past weekend, his little sister was in town. She is currently single, and to be honest, I haven’t approved of her former boyfriends either. Wanting her to find a good match, I suggested we create her a profile. I chose Tinder, probably just because that’s what I think the kids are into these days. We also did Coffee Meets Bagel, so give me some credit.

Another friend of mine is also looking to find someone (coincidentally, it is the friend I visited in Colorado!). I’ve consulted with him on his dating profile, and am still trying to convince him to give me full rains. Think about it: if I had access to his account and his calendar, I could literally schedule dates I felt were a good match. I would obviously send him notes on our conversations beforehand, so he wouldn’t be caught off guard on something. The other side of me cringes at the idea of a relationship being founded on lies though… so I haven’t actually done this.

If anyone out there wants a consultant to help them with their online dating, I am your woman. I won’t actually independently chat with them, nor meet them for a first date, but other than that, count me it.

Originally posted on The Business of Being Awesome on April 1, 2016.

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Women in tech v. Women in business

Last week I moderated a panel of female investors and entrepreneurs at a tech event in Minneapolis. I was excited to be involved and am thankful for the opportunity. I learned a lot from the women in the panel and I also learned more about myself. 

The tool I got to use for gathering questions was pretty neat. Anyone in the audience could submit a question online and it was directly fed onto the iPad I held. It kept the flow moving along quite nicely by not having to vocally solicit questions from the audience. It also gave me the ability to vet questions and as the moderator, that was my duty. 

As the questions started rolling in, I noticed a certain theme among some of them. Lean In came up, as did being a working woman with a family. I deeply considered whether to bring up these topics and ultimately I decided against it. I believe that when we are discussing women in technology it needs to be a different conversation than discussing women as professionals. 

I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In when it came out about a year ago. I thoroughly enjoyed its message. It really resonated with me considering my ambitions to become an executive officer at a large company while also wanting a family. I felt it clearly addressed the issues that separate men and women, both acknowledging that we are different, and calling for greater equality. This discussion needs to continue until women are treated and compensated as equals in all industries and is not specific to technology. 

Insinuating that fewer women are in technology because of these inequality issues ignores some of the outright sexism that exists in tech. Society does a terrible job of teaching kids that both boys and girls are smart and that girls are as capable within STEM fields, just as boys are as capable within historically female-dominated industries. 

Online and in conference rooms, women are often seen as inferior to their male counterparts. I’ve gotten weird looks introducing myself as the technical consultant and my male coworker as being from marketing. Phrases like “who can we talk to about the technical stuff” and “will you be taking the notes?”/“can you grab us all coffee” undermine both our intelligence and our earned right to be there. Assumptions about a lack of technical skills means women have to prove harder that they are competent. Additionally, as Amanda Hess explains, women encounter situations online that no one should have to deal with, making for a larger barrier to entry for women. 

Neither battle can be won in a silo, but I think acknowledging the differences is an important step. As we continue the dialog on gender equality, keep in mind there are additional hurdles for women to jump when entering technology and similar industries. The Minneapolis tech community is extremely supportive of women and is a place where I truly believe we are equal. I hope this spreads to more places and we grow towards a more gender balanced industry.