Sunday, March 10, 2019

B Boys, Taking Risks & International Women's Day 2019

Weekly Update 2019-10: All about boldness: slapping chords from Brooklyn's B Boys, living a life of boldness favoured by fortune and #DevTO's annual IWDTO event.

Music: B Boys
Not to be confused with the British male vocal/instrumental pop group of the same name, or even the title of the same name that refers to a person devoted to breaking and hip-hop culture. Nope, this is indie power rock out of Brooklyn, New York with a very confusing name and a penchant for slapping chords and rough drum beats. It's the definitely the song with the most power on my otherwise very chill playlist Sunday Shoegaze, but it somehow fits. Check out their 2016 EP No Worry No Mind.

Last week marked the end of my first full quarter with Vena. We named it the Falcon Release, and of course there is an illustration to go with it. I even posted it to Dribbble.


All fifty of us in the development and product departments went axe-throwing (more fun than I thought it would be) and did some escape rooms. I really love these celebrations; they definitely make me feel valued as a part of the team but even moreso, I really like the Vena development team and I only get to work closely with about half of them. So it's a great way to hang with the people I don't usually talk to as much as I'd like to.

Gotta wear plaid to throw axes!

We won our escape room!

If that wasn't all, my amazing coworker Carrie enlisted each team to make a logo, which would then be turned into a sticker that they could give out and collect for the next quarter. I designed the stickers for my two teams without knowing, and now I'm so stoked that they'll be made into stickers too!

The Apps and Integrations Team (they transform data)

The Workflow & Collaboration Team (they love Subway).

Work trips can be a lot of fun, especially to access a different physical setting to help promote more creative and versatile thinking. Vena sends staff to our clients' locations all over the world to promote Vena, complete onsite training and setup, and run Customer Exchanges to allow our clients in different cities to connect with each other. Unfortunately, the designer (at our company and many others) is rarely as necessary on these sorts of trips.

This weekend is different - I am going to a Customer Exchange in beautiful Vancouver! Yes, I volunteered to be the face of our Product Team for some pretty cool clients out on the other side of the country - including banks, silver and gold mining companies, a really cool animation company called Bardel (notably behind Rick & Morty), and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC! I'm excited to learn about their pain points and hopes for our product, and to connect with them for future user interviews and the like.

Luckily the work is only one day (Thursday) so I have a couple days after that to hang out with all my friends who fled Toronto for Vancouver in the past couple years. Notably Erika and Ario Speedwagon have been gone for six months and it'll be great to see them both again. I really hope Ari remembers me.

Random Thought: Fortune Favours The Bold
As someone who loves to plan and gather all the information before making decisions, I have been trying something new lately. Having all the information can be a great way to make a decision but when it's impossible to obtain, I don't want to keep falling into a spiral of indecision. So I've been practicing making some decisions based on gut and intuition, trying to take more risks when the stakes of failing are low enough not to matter too much.

Travelling to Vancouver is definitely a great example of how this has started to work in my favour. As soon as I heard that someone from my team would be sent there, I knew it would be a good way to push myself into a new experience and take a low-cost risk. After only five months with Vena, I wasn't sure if I would be ready to talk to customers about our entire product portfolio – it's highly technical and involves more than four times the subject matter I cover in my daily work. But the risk of failure is pretty low, and I gave myself lots of prep time. Mixed with the support from my team in Toronto, I knew this would be a great opportunity.

This mentality is something I want to continue. The phrase "Fortune Favours The Bold" comes to mind; when there isn't time or opportunity to make an educated decision, I'm going to start moving toward the riskier choice. On a lower scale, I've been doing this for a while with various kinds of events in Toronto. It's so easy to flake on plans and stay home, especially during winter, but I've made a mental note that every time I force myself out of the house, I have never regretted it.

For all of us type-A people who suffer from analysis paralysis, I really suggest trying this out. I'm making strides to move away from overthinking, and not being so cautious when the stakes of failure are so low. Of course, the trick is to recognize when the stakes are low in order to seize the opportunity. Life is too short to worry as much as I have done in the past, and I am resolving to remember all of the success I've had in practicing boldness for my future decisions.

Not to mention, nothing is bolder than the mighty falcon. I need to remember that this quarter at work.

Inspiration: IWDTO 2019

Friday March 8 marks the annual International Women's Day, which is a big topic in the tech industry. Many roles in tech (including design) are still overly male-dominated, so I relish any opportunity to hear women, non-binary folk and their allies speak about their experiences in tech and feel a sense of solidarity and community. Vena sent ten of us to a wonderful annual event held by #DevTO: a day we celebrate and set a stage for Women in Tech to gather, speak and cheer with their allies.

Specifically, I was really impressed with Pansy Lee and her toolkit to support gender equality from a refreshing lens - focusing on how men can be better allies. Toxic masculinity is a huge problem and focusing only on women to provide the solution for gender equality is simply not a full-picture view. I can't wait to check out the toolkit with my boss Andrew next week. We always have great chats about gender equality in our past experiences and how they relate to the representation of women in our workforce at Vena.

Sarah Stockdale was also a stunner, speaking out against women's inner voice telling them they're not good enough. She brought more light to a fact with which I am already all too familiar: women often don't apply for roles above their self-perceived skill level, while men of the same skillset and experience wouldn't blink an eye about applying for a role above their qualifications.

Despite the technical difficulties, it was an awesome event. I am not a big fan of networking but I make a point of it at events like these. It was a joy to catch up with many an old coworker from my two most recent roles, and meet some new people as well. International Women's Day is a cause for celebration as well as recognition that we're on a journey that's nowhere near its end.

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