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What’s tech got to do with it?

A journey of my thousand miles to get to now

What's your story?

I constantly joke that when I grow up I want to be an author. Although I’m not entirely sure when I’m going to grow up so I’m not too sure when I’ll be an author. It is still at the top of my list of aspirations. Fear is currently holding me back from pitching an idea to an agent. Oh I have lots of ideas, it’s just that when I sit down to write them. Blank.

For those of you who caught my Instagram stories last week, you’ll know that I have 6 GCSEs, 1 A-Level and no degree. It took me many years to accept that not having one is very much part of who I am. I spent a long time thinking I needed one if I wanted to get to the top, without stopping to actually ask myself if I really wanted to get to the top.

Looking back to where I’m at right now, I can say with 100% certainty there was no plan. I looked at what everyone else was doing in my industry and thought that’s the path I should be following. I’ve made decisions out of fear (which I’m still doing because I’m not bringing in any money right now and it scares me beyond measure). I’ve been held back by fear, but not any rational fear.

The thing I’ve rarely done is sit myself down and really asked myself what I want, what I’m comfortable with and how I could go about achieving it.

Don’t let that stop you…

You’ve probably read the thing recently where research carried out showed that women need to match 100% of items on a job spec before they’ll apply. I sat back and said “really?”.

As you’re aware, I work in web & tech, if you’re not, “Hi, I’m Emma, I help female founders understand web & tech”.

When you work in this field you know damn well that the job specs that are out there are often led by people who have no idea who or what they should be hiring for. Or they’re led by recruitment consultants who manipulate their clients to request unicorns. This in itself is a topic I could talk ad nauseam, but I won’t.

So when you see a job spec, if you’ve been doing this a while, you look at it and work out what it is that they’re really after. A designer, or a UX pro.

I rarely let a job spec stop me from applying for a job. In fact, once upon a time, I contacted a reasonably well known luxury lifestyle brand and said “your website is shit, I could do a better job” (maybe not in those words). They gave me the job, and I increased their community engagement by a ton… 2 years before social media was a thing.

There is very little that I won’t try and go after if I really want it. This, like most amazing things about me, you can attribute to my dad, who said I could be or do anything I wanted.

Any dog can be a guide dog if you don’t mind where it takes you

I’m stealing that line from the amazing We Rate Dogs (and yes I have a t-shirt with that on).

Our lives are no long set in a stone that is called class divide or job for life. We get to make our own rules for the most part, so we get to be the guide dogs of our own lives, and we really shouldn’t mind where they take us.

When I see the words “5 year plan” I will do a visible intake of breath for this reason. 5 years ago, a fair amount of tech companies didn’t exist, and the ones that did possibly don’t now. Instagram & WhatsApp were bought out by Facebook in that time. The tech landscape doesn’t work in 5 year increments.

So why are we so keen to have a nice neat little plan all worked out for us? I know, I’m going to build a brand that helps millions of women. I don’t know how I’m going to get from helping practically none to that million right now, as most of the things I keep trying are failing. I do know I will do it though.

You have a point though?

Well, yes, I do have a point. How many of you reading this went to university to do a degree with the goal of being something specific when you got to the end of it? Now how many of you are actually doing that thing?

So why, as a society, are we so adamant that we should put teenagers through the pressure of getting good grades and then dropping a house deposit on an education with a view that it will make something out of them?

I am fully aware that I am not the exception, of not getting a degree and turning out OK. I’m also fully aware that there are women, like me, who didn’t go to university and are stuck in jobs they hate, with lives that they don’t want and in places they really don’t want to be.

Yet, to suggest that I had opportunities wouldn’t be right either. So far I’ve made most of my own luck. I’ve sucked it up and put my big girl pants on (give the size of my arse, they’re just called pants round here), and gone after what I wanted. I have failed more than I’ve succeeded, but when I have succeeded I’ve had some wild rides and learned a lot.

We shouldn’t let our education, or lack of it hold us back from achieving what we want. That goes for what you do or don’t know about tech.

No Appologies

I’ve spoken with two women this week who have said “I’m terrible with tech, I’m so sorry”, and my heart sank.

Not because they don’t know tech, if they did we possibly wouldn’t be talking. How can we know everything?

I don’t know how to carry out a craniotomy (even if I’ve watched every season of Grey’s Anatomy & ER), I don’t know wtf ISO settings on a camera does, I don’t really know what a politician does (arguably, neither do most of them) and I don’t know how to speak Latin.

The things I don’t know are greater than the things I do. The same is true for you. Just because you use something, doesn’t mean you know how it works. Who reading this, drives a car, but wouldn’t have a clue how to change the oil?

You could Google how to do any of these things. You’d probably find more than one YouTube video for most of them. But how do you know the thing you’re about to click on is going to help you? The sense of frustration of filtering through ALL the stuff on the web only to find you’re still stuck on something is often a worse feeling than not being able to do it in the first place.

So, I’m going to ask that you please stop apologising for not knowing tech. If you did I wouldn’t be creating Angels Playing Skittles.

Couture

When I was working with my branding agency on my brand, I was asked the usual questions “describe your brand in one word”. Hard, even for a wordsmith like me. One that stuck out was “Couture”.

I have a slight obsession with couture. Rather than try to bumble through why, I’m going to ask you to recall the bit in The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda schools Andy in the blue jumper she’s wearing. Couture is art that defines art.

In creating what I’m hoping y’all will buy, I wanted something that was a little more couture than what’s out there at the moment.

I already know that it’s unique. I know someone will copy me at some point, but until they do, I need to get my arse in gear and deliver what I keep talking about.

Swiss Army Knife

I’ve been writing the intros for the Toolkits this week. I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve found there are two I’m really not loving very much and two I really can’t wait to get out there.

One that’s got me hooked is called “Dead Handy Resources”. It’s like the draw in your kitchen where you put all the crap you can’t find a home for, but will really need at one time or another. It’s all the things I’ve had to create because nobody else has done it.

When I look at the toolkit portfolio, I’m a little overwhelmed. There’s currently 11 of them. Which I’m wondering if is too much, then I realise, these are the flat head and Philips screwdrivers, it’s the wrench, it’s the penknife, it’s the corkscrew, it’s the tweezers. It’s not like you need them all the time, but bloody hell, when you need them, you really bloody need them.

I know this, because, I’ve needed them at some point or another.

Admittedly, it’s a little more pricey than a Swiss Army Knife, and I realise that I would be better off offering it as a subscription model (the Dead Handy Resources is actually). I just know I don’t have enough interest to justify it, which is a little sad, but hey ho.

This week, I’ll share a lot more about each one and why I’m creating them. So I hope you’ll check in and get as excited (ok maybe not AS excited) as I am about them.

Keep up to date

If you’d like to know more about the toolkits, they’re slowly being added to the Female Founder Toolkit and I’ll be sending out weekly updates via my amazing newsletter.  If you aren’t already a subscriber, sign-up today.

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