Teaching Myself How to Code on a Saturday and Founder FOMO

I’m starting this post at 10:38 on a Saturday night and the FOMO is starting to set in. Industry colleagues are drowning my Twitter feed in SXSW selfies and photos of BBQ and cookie and milk shots (!!!). Friends are scattered across the city urging me to come out and play.

There’s this immediate FOMO I feel about not being out tonight, but what’s even more persistent is this other type of FOMO — fear of missed opportunities.

WHY I’M LEARNING HOW TO CODE 

I’m tuning everything out and sitting in my Upper West Side apartment because I’ve committed to a night of code. I’m learning Ruby on Rails because I’m desperate to build a custom CMS and take my baby off of WordPress (I love you WordPress, but I need something more flexible beyond the world of posts and pages). After attending this panel at Columbia on Thursday with Jessica Livingston of YCombinator and 3 YC alum, I came home and immediately started a Ruby tutorial on CodeAcademy. I’m at the halfway point of the class and feel like I have some basic fundamentals under my belt – arrays, loops, booleans, and blocks (oh my).

I’ve had a lot of responses like, “Why don’t you just hire someone to do it?” but the reality is developers are expensive and that elusive technical cofounder is MIA. Time to take matters into my own hands (**but please world, send any developers my way who can help**).

VISIONS UNREALIZED

I started Dipsology.com about a year and half ago with my co-founder and fellow Barnard alum/a cappella nerd Adrienne. We started the site to help connect and educate a growing community of cocktail enthusiasts. We’ve carved out a really nice lifestyle business in a niche market, but we’ve always seen the opportunity to be something bigger. What if we could create a platform to transform the ways in which liquor brands connect/engage consumers and on-premise accounts?

The visions are grand, but like most nontechnical entrepreneurs, I’ve struggled to find a partner to collaborate with on the site. It’s that elusive technical co-founder that’s missing. I’ve had several calls in the past few weeks with developers in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and India and weighed the pros and cons of outsourcing. I’ve sent feelers out to different friends and colleagues who might have developer friends to moonlight on the project. At the end of the day, it just feels like wasted time.

And so here I am, on a Saturday night, cozied up in sweatpants at my kitchen table about to tackle another lesson on CodeAcademy. Perhaps we’ll reunite again SXSW. Until then, wish me luck!

There’s No Better Time Than Now

There are literally nights when I can’t bear to put myself to sleep because my mind is racing.  I find myself thinking about recent conversations with exciting individuals, the type of talks where you cut each other’s sentences off because minds are moving faster than our mouths can accomodate.

It is such an exciting time to be alive.

A few years ago I remember reading Michael Arrington’s controversial piece in TechCrunch about why we shouldn’t blame men for the lack of women in the tech industry.  Around the same time, a post was published about ageism in Silicon Valley and why older programmers are losing out to younger, less experienced (and less expensive) recent college grads.  Shortly after, the NYTimes asked the question, “What is it about 20somethings?

These headlines and countless others tell me that women are still fighting for equality, older generations are fighting to stay relevant, and the next class of young adults remain judged and misunderstood.  I would imagine that this narrative has repeated itself across every generation, but I’m having the quintessential “the world is my oyster moment.”

As a young woman working in a web-based profession, I feel like I am living during one of the most profound paradigm shifts in human history.  As much as my age and gender may work against me, there are tools at my disposal that put me at a greater advantage compared to young women of the past.

A New Toolset: Strong women, generous men, and a resourceful network.

So what separates a young twentysomething woman growing up today compared to twentysomethings of the past?  I would argue that it’s the following: a roster of women who paved the way, a network of supportive men, and technologies that know no borders.

I have access to a network of strong women that have achieved various degrees of personal success.  They range from women like my mom who immigrated to this country against all odds to women who are co-founders of tech-startups or executives at large corporations. Find your heroes, listen closely, and learn from the best. 

I also have access to a network of accomplished men who have generous ears and big hearts.  Thanks to allies like my dad and a long list of mentors who support me unconditionally, I’ve been taught how to navigate a world dominated by men. You have to know what the rules are if you want to break them, bend them, or change them. 

And then there are my contemporaries, my peers and friends whose passions and aspirations I draw from on a regular basis. They are dreamers turned do-ers, explorers, job seekers, job changers, academics, and artists. Seek out people who bring you energy and never let them go. 

I’m experiencing a time of tremendous transition both personally and professionally. Some days I’m completely overwhelmed, but then I’m reminded of these sentiments. I’m thankful for choice, for technology, for opportunity. I’m thankful for today and so much more.

 

Mark Salvador – This blog post is for you

My blog has been sorely neglected and my coworker Mark Salvador has been quick to point that out. As a result, I’m dedicating this post to him.

I haven’t updated this site since last June when I got back from 2tor’s company meeting (yes, back then we were called 2tor). Almost a year later, I can look back and say a lot has changed. For starters, I live in a new city now. I made the move from New York to DC back in January and have spent the last few months doing my best not to compare the two.

do-what-you-love-and-never-work-a-day-in-your-life-300x225I transitioned teams and took a leap of faith by taking on a Director of Marketing role for Semester Online. It’s the company’s first foray into the undergraduate space and my first time taking on a marketing position that extends past the realm of social media. There are days when I’m petrified of failure (missing deadlines, not being strategic enough), but mostly I’m having a blast. I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone and 110% engaged in my work.

I’ve been asked by family and friends if I’m going out in DC and meeting new people. To be honest, I haven’t had much time to do that, but it’s okay. I came down here for work and the challenge and opportunity I have in front of me is enough for now. The notion of work/life balance has been an on-going struggle since high school, and for the first time in my life, I’m finally okay with the reality that my imbalance is my homeostasis.

Listening to Sheryl Sandberg speak the other day, she brought up this great point that we don’t have enough cultural reference points where women are happy at work. Career driven women in movies are portrayed as control freaks who don’t have lives and are often giving up some great sacrifice in order to get ahead (think Sigourney Weaver in “Working Girl”, Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal”, or Anne Hathaway in “Devil Wears Prada”). We rarely see women who are working, working hard, thriving, and completely thrilled to be doing so.

There’s no one holding a gun to my head saying I need to be here working as hard as I am. It’s self inflicted and a decision that I’m proud to stand behind. Anyone with ambition in their twenties needs to be told more that it’s okay to throw yourself at your work. In fact, you should challenge yourself to find work that’s worth throwing yourself into. That’s the key. Do what you love and never work a day in your life. It’s cliche, but true.

Maybe one day the novelty of higher education and a high growth startup will wear off, but for now, I’m enjoying the ride, even if it does mean living my precious New York behind. Mark Salvador, great coworkers like you make experiences like this one worthwhile. Thanks for the push… more to come.