Inflection Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks (Video + Transcript)

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Transcript of Inflection Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks:

Angie Chang: Thank you for joining us tonight. I know there’s a lot of competition for what to do with your evening. It is time for our Inflection Girl Geek Dinner. I’m going to hand it off to our first speaker.

Mikaila Turman: Today, I hope to reach all of you, regardless of what stage of knowing and understanding your core values are. For those of you that said you know your core values, I want to challenge you to really, really, really think about how you would define your core values, if asked. Inflection’s core values of integrity, transparency, and innovation were significant drivers for why I came onboard with the company seven years ago.

Ellen Perelman: One of my favorite values is speed with rigor, which means that we move quickly, but we make sure that as we move and we make decisions, we use data to inform those decisions. In marketing, we rely on data a lot to answer key business questions and help us make decisions and measure our impact of our efforts along the way.

Mahu Sims: So, what a year this has been so far. 2020 has been a year of great challenges, and not to discount all the sad things that have happened so far, there was a lot of positivity. 2020 has made us more creative. I’ve seen people come together more now than ever before. From a year ago to now, my life did a complete 180. I learned a few invaluable lessons. My learnings fell into two general themes. If I, one, leaned into my challenges, and, two, always planned, there was no way I could fail.

Izzy McLean: By definition, it’s the application of new tech, emerging tech to solve regulatory and compliance challenges for businesses. So, I thought it might be a cool topic to chat about today, just so you can keep it top of mind in your own professional pursuits or at your own organizations.

Avanti Ketkar: When we make products, we want to think about our products from our customer’s perspective. We want to familiarize ourselves with the features and flows that are outside of [inaudible] expertise. Overall, just understanding our customers better makes us better engineers.

Mikaila Turman: If you are here networking because you’re looking for a new organization, and you’ve identified your core values, now you can take the next step and see organizations that align with you.

Angie Chang: It’s 6:00, and it is time for our Inflection Girl Geek dinner. Thank you for joining us tonight. I know there’s a lot of competition for what to do with your evening, but I plan to be reading the Twitter later, and seeing what happened. In the meantime, we are continuing with our fine tradition of Girl Geek Dinners for over 12 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m based in Berkeley. Sukrutha is in San Francisco, and we’re really happy to be continuing this tradition of bringing women together across companies to hear from other incredible women, talking about what they do best, whether it’s HR, marketing, product management, engineering, you name it.

Angie Chang: So, we have a really great roster for you tonight of some of the amazing women from Inflection. First, I want to talk a little about what we’re working on at Girl Geek X. So, we have a virtual conference coming up. It is going to be March 8th, 2021, and we’ve been doing it for our fourth year now. It’s always been virtual. It’s been a full day of women talking about their new technologies, their leadership skills, and helping shout each other out, sharing what they have learned along the way, so that they can help you advance your career faster. Also, plenty of companies who are hiring also sponsor. So, they can have their speakers and their opportunities showcased to our community of 40,000 women in tech.

Angie Chang: Another thing that we have is podcasts. So, we have a great library of podcasts, which have the best of our Girl Geek dinners. They’re available on any of your podcasting services that you like to use. You can find Girl Geek X there. We have about 20-something podcasts there. You can also check out all of the events that we posted in the recent history. You can find our videos on YouTube. So, if you go to, you can find all our videos there, and you’ll also find tonight’s talks there in a few weeks, after we do some production, add some music, make it shorter. Feel free to loop back, and then send those videos to your friends.

Angie Chang: Also, I wanted to talk a little bit about how Inflection is hiring. I’m really excited, because when I saw the job listings, I was like, “Wow, there’s so many engineering, marketing, accounting, different roles in the tech company that they’re hiring for.” A lot of them are remote. So, I’m really excited that you can definitely apply for those jobs from anywhere around the world, and also hopefully share them with your friends, because we know in this pandemic women have been disproportionately affected, and unemployed, and in dire straits. So, please do feel free to share those job listings that are in your Zoom email, and I’m sure in a followup email. You’ll also see those job listings there. So, please feel free to share them with fellow girl geeks and anyone that needs that.

Angie Chang: So, let’s see. What else is there? I think that’s all we have for now. I’m going to hand it off to our first speaker, Mikaila, who is the Vice President of Human Resources at Inflection. She is a very skilled HR professional, who’s been working for over 16 years, and has been at the company for over seven years. She is passionate about cultivating and maintaining the culture, and intently focused on upholding the core values of Inflection, which she’ll be talking about next. So, I wanted to welcome Mikaila. Here we go.

Mikaila Turman: Hello, everyone. Hi. I’m Mikaila. Thanks so much. It’s great to see you and be with all of you tonight. As Angie mentioned, I’m the VP of HR at Inflection for the past two years, and been with the company for seven. Just a little bit about Inflection. In 2006, Inflection was started by two brothers, Brian and Matthew Monahan. They created and rolled out several people data-driven products over their tenure, most notably,, which was later sold to Over time, other online people search products have emerged, such as, which was a B2C subscription-based service and the bread and butter of our business for several years, and where the concept of GoodHire began.

Mikaila Turman: In 2018, the brothers handed the Inflection reins over to our current CEO, Mike Grossman. Since then, our primary product focus has been on and our associated APIs. GoodHire is the easiest, most flexible, and most delightful employment background screening experience you can find. Yes, that’s directly from our website. As the VP of HR for Inflection, I’m also a GoodHire customer. In HR, I usually say, “Nothing is ever easy,” but I love GoodHire because it truly makes background checking easy. Currently, GoodHire has assisted about 80,000 organizations with their background checking needs.

Mikaila Turman: As Angie was referring to, open positions, Inflection has open positions in various departments, and we’re diligently focused on having an inclusive workplace and on increasing the diversity of our workforce. To quote our D&I statement, “We believe in empowering everyone to be themselves at work, so we can be better together.” Please check us out, and our open positions out, at or We’ve also recently partnered with as well, if you’re familiar with that. So, you can check us out there, too. Okay. Now moving on to core values.

Angie Chang: Quick question. Is there slides that are supposed to be displayed right now?

Mikaila Turman: Yeah. I’m sharing my screen right now. Hopefully everyone can see that.

Angie Chang: Perfect.

Mikaila Turman: Okay. So, core values is a topic that I am truly passionate about for two main reasons. One, Inflection’s core values of integrity, transparency, and innovation were significant drivers for why I came onboard with the company seven years ago. I got recruited to Inflection by a previous coworker. As I looked at the website … Of course, we all do that. I interviewed with various leaders in the organization. The as-advertised core values were truly apparent in the people that I met with. As I look back now, my previous company had a decent mission statement, but it wasn’t rooted in core values. I would venture to say that the customer is always right was their core values, which does make sense for a staffing company, and you think it’s okay until you’re told you shouldn’t bother recruiting people of color for certain clients, because, well, the customer is always right.

Mikaila Turman: One of my best friends still works there. Data shows that a best friend at work is a shoe in for employee retention. But I’d argue the data and say core values may just be more important. Two, I’ve been in HR now for 16 years, and I’ve, obviously, seen a lot of people come and go in my organizations, and for various reasons. But I believe a person’s decision to stay with a company or leave a company always connects to core values, one way or the other. It’s basically like the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Mikaila Turman: Stop for a minute, and think about this. Core values, as I say the words, core values, I know that some of you who are out there immediately said to yourself, “What are my core values?” Some of you said to yourself, “Self, I know my core values. Right?” Some of you said to yourself, “I know my core values. They’re honesty, integrity, grit, work-life balance,” yada, yada, yada. Today, I hope to reach all of you, regardless of what stage of knowing and understanding your core values are. For those of you that said you know your core values, I want to challenge you to really, really, really think about how you would define your core values, if asked, and how those core values shape your life.

Mikaila Turman: During the interview process, I always ask, “What are your core values? Tell me examples of how I would see those core values displayed in your work.” I’m continually surprised how many people, at any level, are thrown off by those questions. The answer lies in you. You know this answer, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper. Let me express what core values mean to me, from an HR leader perspective. In an organization with well defined core values, transparency, integrity, innovation, accountability, those words should be the foundation in which employees perform, work, and behave. In order for that foundation to be solid, organizations should expect employees to uphold those values, and do something about it if they’re not.

Mikaila Turman: So, true confessions here. I’m an HGTV geek. So, the word foundation makes me think about the rare occasion when I actually get to sit down and relish in the joy of watching a house flipping show with a glass of wine. Inevitably, most of the houses with the crumbling foundation are the hardest to fix up. They end up costing a lot more money. Wow! How true is that, also, for an organization with crumbling foundation of core values? Okay. But there is good news. A house with a crumbling foundation can be fixed and repaired, and it ends up beautiful and way more valuable. Same for an organization. Right?

Mikaila Turman: Regarding back to my previous life before HR, I was a personal trainer. So, the term core always makes me think of six pack abs. But we all know now that core is everything under the service, the food we put in our body, the muscles we work, the chemicals interacting internally, all the things that get that external surface of six pack abs, hopefully. When you develop and understand your core values, they should be packed with deeper meaning. So, I define personal core values as the deep rooted beliefs that a person operates from, and are externally obvious. For example, if you asked my coworkers what one of my core values may be, I’m certain that they’d say, “Mikaila has a core value of family first. Her kids and her hubs are her priority. She will adjust everything else in her life to ensure her family comes above all else.”

Mikaila Turman: So, let’s step back to where I started. For those of you that said, “Self, what are my core values,” then think about when you wake up in the morning. What gets you out of bed? What gets you on that first Zoom call of the day? Why do you do those things, even when you don’t want to? Is it because of your core value of responsibility? Is it because of your core value of money? Is it your core value of teamwork? Think about what your family members, best friends, closest colleagues would say about you. Would they say you’re the family glue, the dedicated wife and mother? Would they say you always did the right thing? Would they say you work hard and play harder? What words would they use to describe you? Because those are the obvious core values you exude every day.

Mikaila Turman: For those of you that said, “I know my core values,” again, I challenge you to dig deeper into that, and define them. Actually write a definition. Have you fully considered what those closest to you would say about your core values? So, here’s an example. One of Inflection’s well defined core values, and my personal favorite, is the Golden Rule. We are intensely collaborative and treat one another as we want to be treated ourselves, with respect, civility, and empathy. Know your core values. Take the time to really define them, as if they are as important as updating your Instagram. I mean, your resume. Then use them as your superpower.

Mikaila Turman: If you are here networking because you’re looking for a new organization, and you’ve identified your core values, now you can take the next step and seek organizations that align with you. You can ask questions in your breakout sessions. “What are the core values of your organization? How could I possibly align?” If you are currently in a role at a seemingly good company, and you just can’t figure out why you are not satisfied, look at your company’s core values. Are you and your coworkers living up to them? Do they align with your own? Sometimes employees come to me and they are unhappy, and they can’t put a finger on it, or verbalize their frustration. In those instances, I ask them, “If you are honest with yourself, what is not working for you in this role? Where is the organization not upholding the core values, from your perspective?”

Mikaila Turman: Usually we can turn things around and take some actions to get back to good. But if it’s clear that a person’s core values are not well enough aligned with the organization’s, it doesn’t work, and that’s okay. Because a company has to uphold the core values of the organization, and the individual has to uphold their personal core values, as well. Thank you for joining us tonight. I hope this chat helped you think about your core values and dig deeper, so you can live your best life in your current adventure, or into a new one, maybe even at Inflection. With that, I’ll hand the virtual mic over to my colleague.

Angie Chang: So, our next speaker is Ellen. She is the Chief Marketing Officer at Inflection, and she has over 20 years of experience. She’s worked at large public companies, like Yahoo and Intuit, and also venture backed startups. She has a journalism degree from Northwestern and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. Go Bears! Welcome, Ellen.

Ellen Perelman: Thanks. All right. Hopefully everyone can see my screen. Well, it’s great to be with you all tonight. I’m going to talk about marketing and numbers. When I first–wasn’t in marketing, I didn’t really necessarily associate marketing with numbers, but, in fact, I was pleased to discover that there’s a lot of data underlying marketing. In fact, as an organization, one of the things that Mikaila didn’t mention, we are a very data-driven organization. One of my favorite values is speed with rigor, which means that we move quickly, but we make sure that as we move, and we make decisions, we use data to inform those decisions.

Ellen Perelman: In marketing, we rely on data a lot to answer key business questions and help us make decisions, and measure the impact of our efforts along the way. We use data to answer questions such as how much money should we invest in a campaign? How is our website performing? What content should we create? How can we drive more revenue for the business? Today, I’m going to just walk you through a couple of examples of how we do this, some actual case studies, if you will. To set some context, we, as a business, marketing is responsible for driving a lot of leads. Leads is the lifeblood of our organization. Leads are prospective customers.

Ellen Perelman: We drive leads into the business primarily through our website. We use a variety of channels or sources to drive those leads, paid search, organic search, referring websites, partner relationships, et cetera. We drive those leads to our website, and then we work, in marketing, to either convert them to a paying user or to create what’s called an MQL, or a marketing qualified lead, which we pass on to our sales team, and then the sales team works to convert those leads into opportunities, and eventually to close deals and customers. So, that sets the context.

Ellen Perelman: So, next, I’d like to talk to you about paid search. Paid search is a really big channel for us. We spend a lot of money on paid search, but we spend it efficiently, and we are very intentional about how much we spend and where we spend it. So, to just provide some context for folks who may not be familiar with paid search, or how it all works, you probably have encountered paid search ads, if you spend any time on Google. At the top of the page when you do a search, you probably see an ad. I’ve got an example of one of our ads on the left side of the screen. We bid on placements. We have hundreds of keywords we bid against, and then we measure our performance with a few key metrics.

Ellen Perelman: One is impressions. How many times did that ad show up on a search result page? Clicks, how many times did people click on that ad? Those two metrics combine to form something called click through rate, which is our efficiency of converting impressions into clicks. Then CPC are the cost per click. How much do we pay for each of those clicks? That’s certainly important, as we think about how much money should we invest in paid search? Then we drive those clicks over to a landing page on our website, which I have an example on the right. Once the lead gets there, the person gets there, we look at a couple other metrics.

Ellen Perelman: One is the number of visits to the page. The number of visits that convert into a lead, meaning how many people filled out that form and hit the submit button. The conversion rate, which is just the efficiency of us converting visits into leads. Then how much do we pay for that lead? Because that becomes really important. So, let me put it all together. This is a lot of numbers and a lot of data on the page. Just to summarize how we think about this, we’ve got impressions, how many times our ad shows up. How many people clicked on it? How many of those clicks turn into leads? How much do we pay? How much is the applied rate we paid for those leads, based upon how much we paid per click? How effectively those leads convert into customers. In this case, this example here is 20%.

Ellen Perelman: So, from 24,000 clicks, we end up with 375 customers. Well, that’s interesting, but back to the original question, which is how much to invest? Well, in our company, we are very mindful of a 12 month revenue per customer. So, how much money can we expect to generate in revenue for that customer over a 12 month period? That would be an average customer. We operate under the model of we’re willing to spend as much as we can to break even. So, our costs equal our revenue. So, let’s just say, for example, that the cost … The 12 month revenue generated from that customer is $500. So, we’ll spend up to $500 to acquire that customer. That’s not just on media expense. That’s all expenses.

Ellen Perelman: So, there’s a mathematical equation there. The gist of it is that we’ll be willing to spend up to $100 for that lead, all in, to generate that $500 in revenue for that first year. So, with the example I’ve shown up here, we could actually spend more money, because we’re not hitting that break even number yet. The key to this, interestingly enough, if you look at the math, it’s that conversion rate, that 20% conversion rate from a lead to a customer. The better we are at converting that lead into a customer, the more money we can spend.

Ellen Perelman: Let me share with you another example. As I mentioned, once we get that lead to the website, how effectively can we convert that lead into a paying customer? So, what I have up here on the screen are the steps on our website that a prospect would follow, from submitting a lead to selecting a background screening package, to maybe choosing to add on some additional options to that package. So, adding more to the shopping cart, if you will. Eventually, giving us a credit card and purchasing that background check. Now, what I’ve included at the bottom, these are all example numbers. These aren’t real numbers. Let’s assume that 10,000 people made it to that page where they could fill out the lead form.

Ellen Perelman: Let’s say we have tools that allow us to measure this. 50% drop off and never complete that stage. So, that means at the next step there’s only 5,000 visitors that make it to the select package page. Another 50% drop off. So, then 2,500. Another 75% drop off. So, the final page, 625 people make it to the page where they’re going to actually purchase a background check. Then only 15% of those actually end up purchasing. So, starting at 10,000 visits, that means out of every 10,000 visits, with this example, 94 paying customers, or a 1.9% MQL, or marketing qualified lead, to purchase conversion rate.

Ellen Perelman: So, what we’re trying to do every step along the way is to improve the conversion rate. Right here, what I want to show you is we do a lot of AB testing. So, right now, this is actually a live AB test we have in place right now. We’re trying to improve the conversion rate, getting more people to click on this page and move to the next page. This is a select package page. Now, these two pages, the control and test, might look similar to you, but there’s one minor difference, which appears to be minor, but it very likely could be a significant difference. That is on the example on the left, we do not have a description of the value or what the benefit of each package is.

Ellen Perelman: So, allowing people to make a more informed decision as to which package they should purchase. On the right we have descriptors. So, for standard on the left it says one to two business days. For standard on the right it says more comprehensive and up-to-date criminal records, one to two business days. Then how we’re going to measure the effectiveness of this test, again, back to conversion rate, is the percentage who make it to the next page, as well as the percentage who eventually make it to purchase, and the dollars they purchase.

Ellen Perelman: So, just a few key takeaways. Hopefully this came through. Conversion rate is key to everything. Optimizing conversion rate, meaning improving the conversion rate, allows us to drive more revenue and increase our budgets, and drive even more revenue. Small changes can sometimes yield really big payoffs. Thank you.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much. That was so insightful. Super helpful for all of us to learn and understand more, at least for me. I feel like I learned something new, and I always learn something new with every single Girl Geek dinner that we have. So, thank you so much for your time. Up next, we have our next speaker, Mahu Sims, who’s the Director of Marketing and Digital Marketing. She’s responsible for managing the marketing deck stack, reporting on marketing performance, launching digital campaigns, and maintaining the GoodHire website. She recently received an MBA from Rutgers and became a mom to a beautiful baby girl. Welcome, Mahu.

Mahu Sims: Hello. Happy to be here. Let me just share my screen. Great. So, I’m going to talk a little bit about the lessons I learned in 2020. First, since this talk is about both my personal and professional experiences, I thought I’d share a little bit more about myself. I’m the director of marketing operations and digital marketing at Inflection, as you heard, as of about a month and a half ago. I’ve been in technical marketing for about six years now. I currently live on the East Coast in New Jersey with my husband, Muta, my four-month-old baby girl, and our three-year-old Goldendoodle. I love hiphop dance, reading, exploring new tech platforms and gadgets. A fun fact about myself is that I made it to a green belt in karate as a child, and I’m looking to get back into it.

Mahu Sims: So, what a year this has been so far. 2020 has been a year of great challenges. Not to discount all the sad things that have happened so far, there was a lot of positivity. 2020 has made us more creative, and I’ve seen people come together more now than ever before. Personally, this year has been the most polarizing year of my life. I’ve faced some of my greatest challenges, and I’ve accomplished some of my biggest goals. Since I often like to learn and draw from the experiences of others, I thought it might be beneficial to share my 2020 story, and what I learned along the way.

Mahu Sims: About a year ago, in October 2019, I’d just landed a new role after working at my first company for about five years. I had finally decided to leave. A week after taking on that new role, we found out that we were pregnant. We were super excited, but I was also really nervous to enter the working world as a pregnant woman. One of my biggest fears going into 2020 was that I didn’t think I would be eligible for a company sponsored maternity leave. Now, that just seems silly. Jumping into 2020, we were hit hard right off the bat with bad news. Our baby girl was diagnosed with club foot. Club foot in itself isn’t that bad, but it could sometimes mean that your baby has larger chromosomal abnormalities, resulting in disorders like Down syndrome. So, we decided to take a test and find out. The whole time we were freaking out. We were relieved to find out that Nala was completely happy. She only had a club foot.

Mahu Sims: The next event in our life was another blow. Around March 3rd, I received a vague but demanding email from our HR team, stating that I needed to be at work the next day, and I could not miss it. For me, this meant one or two things. Either I was getting a promotion, or I was being laid off. It was, obviously, the latter. I was devastated. Being laid off is stressful, but I was also six months pregnant. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I felt like a complete failure. A few minutes later though, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and went out to find a job. I gave myself a pat on the back because I found one in just three weeks. Due to COVID, my offer was converted into a contract offer. So, that didn’t give me the stability that I was looking for, but it was truly a blessing in disguise.

Mahu Sims: The next month my mom tested positive for COVID. Our family was extremely nervous, because we didn’t know much about the virus. We were happy though to find that she began to recover quickly. She ultimately recovered fully a few months later. We were forced to cancel our baby shower. In May, racial injustices against Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery had received national attention. This was tough for me, as a Black woman, but also as a mom-to-be. I was constantly thinking, “How do I explain to my daughter that she should be proud to be Black, but sometimes it was really hard?”

Mahu Sims: In June though, I finally got a win. I graduated from Rutgers Business School with my MBA. A few weeks later, this win was followed by a stressful birthing experience. We weren’t allowed to bring family and friends into the hospital, and we had several complications with delivery. Right on the other side of that stressful situation was a beautiful baby girl, who was happy and healthy. About a month and a half after delivery, I had to take a break from bonding with my baby 24/7 to focus my efforts on finding a full-time job again. In September, I started my role with Inflection, which has proven to be an amazing company. In October, we made another large life decision to finally move out of state to Georgia after debating for several months.

Mahu Sims: So, from a year ago to now, my life did a complete 180, but I learned a few invaluable lessons. My learnings fell into two general themes. If I, one, leaned into my challenges, and, two, always planned, there was no way I could fail. On the professional side, I learned that there were jobs out there, and getting one was possible. I managed to do it twice within just three months. I also learned that in order to get a new job that I loved, I had to own my job search. I had to think about what was most important about the location, the job itself, and the company that I worked for. In terms of location, I calculated that I spent over 2,000 hours commuting in my career so far. These hours were better spent with my daughter and family. So, I preferred working remote.

Mahu Sims: In terms of the job itself, it had to pass a passion and skills test. I was open to new roles, and I didn’t want to rely solely on my current experience. I wanted to find careers that I hadn’t thought about, but where my experience was transferable. So, I wrote down all the things that I’m passionate about and the things that I’m skilled at, and the list aligned to two types of roles: technical marketing and product management. I ended up in technical marketing again, but it was a fun exercise to do. Finally, the company that I worked for needed three things. One, a great product that customers love. Passionate employees that cared about the culture and core values. Finally, a company that cared about diversity and inclusion. I’m happy to say that I’ve found that at Inflection.

Mahu Sims: On a personal note, I learned to talk through tough scenarios. If I had the what-if conversations with my family about the tough birth, or potential defects, it could have reduced our stress in the moment, and we would have been better off for it. Finally, I needed to find ways to give back. With all that was going on in the world, this had become super important to me. So, as you’ve noticed, I’ve had many ups and downs this year. As a person prone to stress and anxiety, I needed to implement what I like to call my CORKSS framework to get through it. C stands for continue to plan. I planned through my job search and pregnancy. The more I planned, the better prepared I was. The more prepared I was, the less anxiety I felt.

Mahu Sims: I own my routine. I was extremely intentional with my time, even when I was unemployed. This meant setting time aside to learn, manage my job search, and even doing things like working out and reading. I remained introspective. I continued to inquire about my stress, asked myself why am I anxious? What can I control? I would try to ignore the things that I couldn’t, and go all in on the things that I could. I kept my physical health in mind. It’s super easy to fall into unhealthy patterns when you’re stressed out. But eating right and exercising actually made me feel better. Since I didn’t like to exercise all that much, I would pair it with something that I love. For example, I fell in love with the Hamilton play over the summer. So, I would watch it every time I worked out, which certainly increased the number of times I exercised.

Mahu Sims: Speaking to everyone. As I mentioned earlier, I love learning from the experiences of others. I joined various personal groups and professional groups, and managed to talk to as many people as I could about what they were going through. Finally, stay positive. It’s definitely harder than it sounds, but I try not to get consumed by the negativity around me. I would take breaks away from my phone to read a book, play a game, or hang out with my family uninterrupted. So, yes. 2020 has been tough so far. But I know that if I lean into my next challenge, plan my way into success, and remember CORKSS when I’m stressed, I’ll come out on the other side of it just fine. I wish the same for you. Thank you.

Angie Chang: Thank you, Mahu. That was so inspiring to hear your story and this transparency that you shared with us. I also remember that you shared your story about getting your job in COVID, which I think is super impressive. We keep hearing in the news how women are disproportionately affected by this crisis, and it’s really great to hear that you were able to get an offer, even though it was [inaudible 00:36:28] contract, but also now that you’ve found this great role at Inflection, which has shown its DEI initiatives. It’s been really inspiring to hear you share that story. So, thank you.

Angie Chang: Our next speaker is Izzy. She is a general counsel at Inflection, where she oversees, or leads, the company’s legal and risk functions. She’s been with Inflection for about five years. Before she was at Inflection, she was an attorney for Hirease, and she also received her journalism degree. I think that’s funny, because I had an English degree. So, a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina and a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law. Welcome, Izzy.

Izzy McLean: Thanks for that introduction, Angie. I’m Izzy McLean, general counsel at Inflection. Super excited to talk to you all a bit about this concept of regtech and how it is a really ripe area for innovation, maybe in ways you wouldn’t traditionally even expect. I think a lot of us here enjoy problem solving, and doing it in really creative ways. That’s probably a big reason why you all here have connected with Girl Geek X. I think that’s what’s really cool, in my opinion, about regtech. By definition, it’s the application of new tech, emerging tech, to solve regulatory and compliance challenges for businesses. So, I thought it might be a cool topic to chat about today, just so you can keep it top of mind in your own professional pursuits or at your own organizations.

Izzy McLean: What do I really mean by regtech? Generally speaking, regulatory technology is a new area of tech. Usually it’s software-based, but not always. It aims to ease the regulatory and the compliance burdens for businesses that have to juggle a lot of different laws, that are usually in a state of flux, or they’re ever changing. Examples would be tech solutions for companies that have to deal with GDPR compliance or privacy obligations, tools that banks use for know-your-customer or anti-fraud, anti-money laundering requirements. So far, regtech, it’s been associated with the financial services industry, but there is a growing need for regtech solutions to come out into other verticals and into SaaS services for customers.

Izzy McLean: We’re just starting to see the nascent stages of that, especially in the privacy sector where you see more changing laws. A lot of you might have heard about the recent changes with European Union and some of the privacy laws there. So, aside from that, I want to talk about today how we at GoodHire have baked in a regtech solution to our own screening services, and we’ll use a case study to work through that. Suffice it to say that you don’t have to associate regtech with financial services. We’re starting to see it in our other spaces, and I think it’s safe to say that in pretty much every vertical there is a value add for some sort of regtech solution.

Izzy McLean: Aside from the personal benefits of maybe getting your hands dirty and creating new, easier ways for people to follow the law, as they run their business or as they use your services, there are some other benefits to think about with regtech. It might be that your services themselves require the customers have some foundational knowledge about the law. That’s our situation at GoodHire, because we’re very regulated. Background checks are extremely regulated. It’s worth asking, if you have a corporate responsibility in those situations, to guide your customers toward compliant use of your product. That is the tack that we’ve taken at GoodHire.

Izzy McLean: Not only do we want to help customers understand their own legal obligations, so that they can stay safe and solvent, but we also want to make sure that those customers who are using our services follow the law, so that their job applicants receive all the rights they’re entitled to receive under the law. That’s just simply the right thing to do. Then there’s customer peace of mind to consider, as well. A lot of organizations might not have sophisticated legal teams or in-house compliance teams. When they feel that your service or your product, either by the way it’s designed or the features that it includes, if it actually helps them understand their legal obligations and then provides them a way to comply with those obligations, those customers are going to feel safe. They’re going to have peace of mind. They’re more likely to stick with you. They’re less likely to churn. All good benefits to consider.

Izzy McLean: As I mentioned earlier, I thought it might be helpful to use a case study from my experience at GoodHire to talk about how regtech can be added to an already existing SaaS service. So, GoodHire is our employment background screening service, as I mentioned. Customers use us to background check their job applicants before they hire them, or maybe throughout the course of employment. The procurement and the use of background checks is highly regulated under federal law, state law, and local law. Meaning, unfortunately for customers, there are a lot of laws and rules that they have to follow when they use our services. Those rules can differ based on the customer location, the job location, and the candidate, the location of the candidates they screen. It’s very complex.

Izzy McLean: We were finding that a lot of our smaller customers, especially, were having a hard time understanding what the law was. They were having a hard time understanding how to comply. So, that was something that we immediately wanted to improve. We decided to invest into educating our customers, so that we would raise the probability that they would follow the law and compliantly use our services. By doing so, they avoid litigation and fines and enforcement, and also they ensure that their job candidates receive all their rights under the law. Again, super important to us, as a business. We felt it was the right thing to do. So, we decided to research every applicable background check law in the country, at the state, the federal, and the local level, document them, understand them, interpret them, and then bake them into our service using the genius of our engineers.

Izzy McLean: So, on the educational resource side, we built a comprehensive guide that set out each of those laws in every jurisdiction, so that all of our customers can read it and have access to it and understand what the laws are for them, and how to comply as they use the service. Then on the automated solutions side, our engineers created the ability for us to take into account customer location, candidate location, and job location, and figure out, based on those inputs, which of the 180 legal rule sets should apply to that particular candidate, as the customer used the service. So, the research alone was about a six month investment. There was a lot of product and engineering work, as well. We now feel that compliance is a big part of our brand. Recently, I’m pretty sure compliance was rated the number five reason that customers come to GoodHire.

Izzy McLean: So, I think there’s definitely been some meaningful ROI on that one regtech project, that helped formulate that brand for us, of compliance advocacy. It really is the gift that keeps on giving, because it was built in a way that is very scalable and adaptable. So, as the laws change, we can easily just pull the levers and make tweaks internally, and update our system for compliance. I would just ask that you keep regtech in mind as a potential area of employment for yourself. There are companies that specialize in the creation of regtech tools in multiple verticals. So, that’s an option. Also, keeping in mind, if you’re at a business, for new features, or processes even, in the services and the products that you sell. If you think that you’ve identified an area that is a pretty ripe one for opportunity for regtech, go ahead and chat with your product teams. Get buy-in from executives.

Izzy McLean: I think that customer advocacy can create value for your brand, can reduce churn, and improve revenue. So, that’s a talking point you might want to use. Your competitors may already be working on something similar. So, you want to be sure that you’re staying ahead of the curve with regtech solutions. Also, you can manage cost of regtech development internally, if you form tiger teams to do a lot of the upfront research and due diligence in-house. Also, just be sure to think about how you would balance any increased risk that comes with offering a solution for compliance. That’s something that executives are probably going to want you to discuss as you make this pitch. So, those are just a few starting points, of course, but keep regtech in mind as you create and as you go out into the world and do cool, professional stuff. That’s it. Thank you so much.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you. That was awesome. All right. Next up, our next speaker, Avanti, who’s the VP of engineering at Inflection. She oversees data engineering, platform engineering, and customer success engineering teams. So, welcome, Avanti.

Avanti Ketkar: Hi, everyone. So, it’s a pleasure coming back to Girl Geek Dinner. So, today’s topic is more around how we can bring the engineering teams closer to our customers. When we talk about technology teams and engineering projects, we talk about the robust architecture we want to build. What are the different modern technologies and tools we want to explore? [inaudible ] we want to build, how much automation we want to do, and, obviously, the focus is on the quality of the code, the development processes, and generally building high energy, fun culture for the teams.

Avanti Ketkar: There is a very important aspect of building products that is often overlooked by the engineering teams. So, definitely one of the factors that we typically overlook is getting closer to our customer side. Why do we want to do that? Because when we build products, we want to think about our products from our customers’ perspective. We want to familiarize ourselves with the features and flows that are outside of our current expertise. We don’t want to just build to the requirements, but we want to build products that actually delight our customers, that gives them an excellent experience, and the products that want them to keep coming back to our experiences. Overall, just understanding our customers better makes us better engineers.

Avanti Ketkar: So, here at Inflection, we also try to do the same, and to do that, we take several measures. There is a lot of focus on working closely with the customers, not just with the product teams, but also with the engineering teams. Different ways that we can do this is getting involved into the product development side early. By early, it’s not just requiring [inaudible], but even earlier than that. Right? When there is discovery happening, when there is customer calls happening, even when the customer started requesting features and they’re not even prioritized yet. So, as early as possible being part of that whole process, I think, is very important.

Avanti Ketkar: Also, there are customer meetings that happen on different business teams. There are quarterly business reviews. There are sales pitch that happens. Customer success teams always work on retention, have continuous interaction with our customers. So, it’s really good for having those interactions, as well as understanding the customers’ complaints and requests, as we build new products. What do we do specifically to actually address those needs? We have built several different efforts and programs within Inflection, so that the engineers can work more closely with our customers. Right?

Avanti Ketkar: One of the processes we follow is something called agent escalation process. So, we have a big customer support center in Omaha, Nebraska. That is the team that is talking to customers every day. Right? In every capacity. They have emails, and chats, and phone calls happening with our customers. So, whenever our agents come across issues, we have a set of processes called agent escalation process. That directly comes to the engineers, as well as product managers. We can actually look through and understand what are the things that our customers are not happy about? We have a customer-focused on-call program, and I’ll talk about that in a little bit of detail in a bit. We also have quarterly ship-it events. That’s nothing but hack-a-thon, as some places call it.

Avanti Ketkar: These are the events where engineers take several days completely out of their routine work, and focus on fixing things, not only just for customers but different flows, anything that our agents want. In fact, two weeks ago, we had a completely customer-focused hack-a-thon, which was driven by the customer success week. That was a big event. We had a huge success. Many different features that our engineers developed actually made it to production. So, that was a very fun event. We also have a dedicated customer delight team. Even though we have all the engineers working towards the customer’s delight, we still have a team dedicated to that. So, the things that don’t get prioritized to be worked on right away, this team is continuously focusing on improving our customer experience.

Avanti Ketkar: We also have frequent communication with our internal customers, because, as you all know, the engineers don’t just work for external customers. Right? We have several internal tools and platforms and various different things that we cater to. All our customers are internal as well as external. So, one of these programs that I want to dive deeper into is the on-call program. It’s a typical on-call program, in a sense that we do deal with production issues. We do deal with production escalations. We have resolution SLAs that we place. We try to fix things within 24 hours on production if something is broken, 72 hours if something is broken but not as much of a priority. We have several guidelines as to how we fix things.

Avanti Ketkar: In addition to that, what we have done is we have taken this program to the next level. Engineers actually go on-call for an entire week. What that does is that it gives them a complete break from the routine development work. So, they don’t pick up stories. They don’t do the regular scrum work. They don’t have to attend all the meetings. What they focus on in this week is everything that is customer-centric. So, they can plan ahead of time, talk to the sales team, attend some customer meetings, or they can plan ahead, talk to the customer success team, and listen to some calls. They might be having some codes or bug fixes that they have been thinking about for a long time, and that are good for customers. They can take that time and actually work on fixing those things.

Avanti Ketkar: So, this is basically a dedicated customer-focused week that every engineer spends when they are on-call. This program so far has been very useful. This is just one of the examples that we do. We use it [inaudible] our sales, as well as customer success teams, use it. We have access to these various tools that typically engineers won’t use. What we have done is we have opened them up to our engineering teams, as well as product teams. Here is a screenshot, for example. Recently, we launched background checks in Canada. We are going global. One of the features was Canada background checks. So, you can see here, if you go to Gong and search for Canada, the tool actually shows you all the phone calls that use the word Canada.

Avanti Ketkar: So, you can go and read about what the customers are asking for. You can go in there and see if there is any feedback when the feature was launched, or what is the feature that is missing, that maybe we should implement next, and so on and so forth. So, there are several ways you can use this tool, and has been so far proved very successful. This is another tool, another screenshot. This is something we use for our interactions. So, all of our phone, and email, and chat interactions are recorded here. We can just go here. You can see I’ve filtered it with the chat. I can literally see all the chat logs from the customers that are coming to us. This is another way we can go in there when we are on-call. We browse around here, look at features that we are interested in, and learn a lot about our customers.

Avanti Ketkar: While doing that, we have learned several lessons. It doesn’t come naturally for us to think about being closer to the customers. So, it’s definitely a significant amount of work to actually double up this documentation, to double up the processes. This also needs to be a continuous feedback loop, not just from engineering teams, but from customer support agents, our product teams, our QA teams, and we need a continuous feedback loop to keep on improving our programs. This is just from the customer perspective. Right? There are more things that we are learning. Our escalations are getting fixed faster, because the engineers are learning the products and features that they were not familiar with before.

Avanti Ketkar: We are more comfortable with looking at areas that we haven’t worked on before. When we now test a product or a feature, we test it in a better way, because now we know how our customers are going to use it. So, our testing is getting better. In general, it’s making us well rounded engineers. As a result, we definitely have happier customers. So, for us, this has been a great effort and has been a great program that we’ve been running. I will definitely encourage you all to take a look and see how you can embed this philosophy into your product development process. Thank you.

Angie Chang: Thank you, Avanti, for sharing that insightful dashboards about how engineering gets closer to the customer. So, that’s the last talk of tonight. We will be sharing these with you on YouTube. So, feel free to check your inbox. It will come to you, along with the jobs, because Inflection is hiring for many remote roles and entry level roles in Omaha, and also just remotely for wherever you are. So, the roles include things like senior software engineer, help desk analyst, senior product manager, email marketing manager, senior accounts, learning development specialist, and a director of product marketing.

Angie Chang: Now, we are going to be moving on to our networking hour. So, if you are still hanging in there, go grab some water or a snack, and then come back and click on that link in the chat. There’s also a link in your email for the Zoom breakout sessions, where we’ll be putting you in rooms of four to six other girl geeks to chat for 20 minutes. Then we’ll rotate a few times, so you can meet some different groups of people. So, I will see you on the other side. Thanks for coming.

Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

5 Genius Gift Ideas For Girl Geeks For 2020

Champion the unapologetically ambitious! Girl Geek X supports women who support women. Nab some swag and tag us (@girlgeekx) on social – we love to see how you are styling this winter.

Here are some fresh face masks, hoodies, pillows, and even bumper stickers to cheer on women leaders in all arenas.

All proceeds thru January 5, 2021 will go to Fair Fight, Stacey Abram’s nonprofit fighting voter suppression. So buy one for you and one for a friend!

1. More Representation – Face Mask

In a global pandemic, masks are a must! Run your errands politely and firmly stating that “a woman’s place is in the White House and Senate” celebrating all the women ascending in leadership. Champion the unapologetically ambitious, like Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, to name a few. Get your face mask for $10 here!

2. A Woman’s Place Is In The White House And Senate – Cozy Hoodie

Stay warm this winter with a soft hoodie with kangaroo pockets! Champion the unapologetically ambitious with a hoodie reminding the world that “a woman’s place is in the White House and Senate.” Perfect for your next Zoom meeting! Get your cozy hoodie for $34.85 here!

3. Sisterhood – Throw Pillow

Update your couch with this mood! Support the unapologetically ambitious: “a woman’s place is in the White House and Senate.” Perfect for having in the background at your next Zoom happy hour! Get your throw pillow for $21.65 here!

4. Women Belong In All Places Decisions Are Being Made – Hoodie

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said: “women belong in all places where decisions are made”. Girl Geek X supports women making decisions! Ethically sourced following the World Responsible Apparel Practices Standards. Get your hoodie for $39.90 here!

5. More Kamalas! – Bumper Sticker

Entertain the cars sitting behind you in traffic with a bumper sticker stating “a woman’s place is in the White House and Senate” celebrating Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, who famously said: “our unity is our strength and our diversity is our power.” Get your bumper sticker for $5.40 here!

We love to cheer on women breaking glass ceilings and bamboo ceilings, and we also love women who get things done like Stacey Abrams. The Guardian lauded that “In 2020, she is still not the governor. But in some ways, Abrams never lost.” She penned in the New York Times: “Voting will not save us from harm, but silence will surely damn us all.”

We support and appreciate our community organizers and instigators who fight for fairness. This is why all proceeds thru January 5, 2021 will go to Fair Fight, Stacey Abram’s nonprofit fighting voter suppression. So buy one for you and one for a friend! The holidays are around the corner, or brighten another person’s day just because we’re all mired in this pandemic winter together.

For more inspiring women in tech:

Sentry Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks (Video + Transcript)

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Transcript of Sentry Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks:

Sukrutha Bhadouria: We’re so excited to do this event today.

Angie Chang: It’s always super exciting to be able to go to all these companies and see what the girl geeks there are doing and hear from them. And then also be able to network with other women.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Once you turn on and see a ton of amazing people showcase their amazing achievements and talk about all the amazing projects they work on and tips and tricks they’d like to give out.

Sophia Lawhead: What I wanted to talk about was the step that everyone has to go through at some point when you’re looking through a new job, or looking for a new job, and that’s the recruiter screen. And so, this is the step that usually comes to the second step after you either applied or you’ve been reached out to over LinkedIn by a recruiter.

Virginia Badenhope: If there’s someone else out there who’s not getting the kind of traction that she wants in her career, as a reminder, that’s not a thing that is unique to you. It’s a thing that happens to a lot of people, that you’re not alone, and that it is not a permanent state.

Mimi Nguyen: So, it’s been a very windy path getting to my role here at Sentry. I was working as a creative writer for a while until I realized that my very beautiful dream of one day owning a house in the Bay area was quite possibly not going to be achieved by creative writing.

Saloni Dudziak: I lead the people organization team at Sentry, and my talk here is going to be focused on how to respond effectively to and in times of crisis and uncertainty. Even more so in that’s very not normal, new normal environment where myself and my teams have continued to be challenged to repeatedly pivot and respond in these uncertain times.

Meredith Heller: I joined as the first support engineer. What’s relevant to this talk today is building out the innovation platform. So, I’m here today to talk a little bit more about that and why I think it’s great.

Priscila Oliveira: Today’s agenda is open source. How did I become an open source contributor? How open source impacted my career. How can you become an open source contributor? And Sentry, it all started as an open source project.

Angie Chang: Stay tuned. We will be back and see you again, and have a good day. Bye.

Priscila Oliveira: Bye.

Angie Chang: Hi there. Thanks everyone for joining us. Sorry we’re a few minutes late. Once again, I had a lovely Zoom surprise. My name is Angie Chang, and I’m the founder of Girl Geek X. And for anyone who hasn’t been to a Girl Geek X event before, like a Girl Geek Dinner or our annual Virtual Conference, this is our event series that’s been running on for over 10 years now. It’s actually about 12 years that we’ve been doing these events at companies across Silicon Valley. We started at Google, and then Facebook, and then we did a bunch of all these different startups.

Angie Chang: And we just had so much fun going to these companies and hearing about what the women there were working on, from engineering, to product, to anywhere from startups to business development, to even fun things like sales and being the general counsel of a company. We also learned about, for example, being a genetic scientist. So, it’s just always super exciting to be able to go to all these companies and see what the girl geeks there are doing and hear from them. And then also be able to network with other women. So, after this one hour of talks, we’re going to be having some networking in the breakout sessions. We will be breaking you into little rooms so that you can chat with a smaller group of people, and then be able to talk about some of your career goals, your anxieties.

Angie Chang: Right now it’s a really crazy year, and so we just wanted to able to connect everyone to share about how we can stay engaged and what’s exciting for us and how to help each other be accountable to our goals. So, is Sukrutha here? I know she was…

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I’m here. Hi. Welcome everyone. Just like Angie said, we’re so excited to do this event today. Obviously this is a different time from what we usually do it, but we’ve also been seeing that people are joining us from all over the world. Sometimes staying up at two AM to be a part of this. So, we’re hoping this is going to make it a little bit easier for our members overseas.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, just that this has always been so inspiring for Angie and I. And for me, every time I hit a difficult time where I feel stuck at work, it’s always been super empowering for me to just go into a room, virtual or not, and see a ton of amazing people who happen to identify as women, showcase their amazing achievements and talk about all the amazing projects they work on and the tips and tricks they’d like to give out. And that has helped me in turn. And I know it’s helped a lot of our attendees and even our speakers to then go on to do bigger and creative things.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: In fact, I’m noticing that Grace Hopper is going on right now. A lot of people who have posted on LinkedIn that they’re speaking who are on my LinkedIn network, their first speaking opportunity was at a Girl Geek Dinner. And we always would tell them it’s a very forgiving crowd. Go for it. Try it out. And people were always a bit nervous. And after they were done, they were so excited and feeling super empowered.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: So, that’s all I want to say. Angie, was there anything else before we hand off to the first speaker?

Angie Chang: No, I think that’s it. Thank you.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: All right. So our first speaker’s Meredith Heller. She’s a software engineer on Sentry’s ecosystem. Now she gets to maintain both Sentry’s core integrations and the integration platform. Welcome, Meredith.

Meredith Heller: Hello. All right. So, let me… okay, so hopefully everyone can see this okay. Hi, my name is Meredith. My talk today is going to be about the Sentry integration platform. So, a quick overview of Sentry, very high level, if you don’t know what it is, Sentry’s platform helps developers diagnose, fix, and optimize performance of their code. With Sentry, software teams can easily trace issues related to errors, performance problems, and trends in code quality.

Meredith Heller: At Sentry, we use Sentry every day and I could not imagine doing my work without it. It’s an incredible developer tool. And it’s grown so much over the last few years. So, these numbers are just to impress you, but also show you that a lot of people use Sentry, not only use it but depend on it.

Meredith Heller: So, a little more context about me and my journey at Sentry. 2016 was definitely a big year. A lot of change happened in that year. And for me specifically, it was the year that I joined Sentry. I joined as the first support engineer at Sentry, and then later moved to the engineering side where I’ve gotten to do a bunch of things, most of them integration-related. And most relevant to this talk today is my work that building out the integration platform.

Meredith Heller: So, I’m here today to talk a little bit more about that and why I think it’s great. So, kind of a little outline of where I’m going to go with this, talking more about just integrations in general, why we wanted to build this platform and how I think the UI augmentation really helped achieve the goals that we set out when building the platform.

Meredith Heller: So, first and foremost, integrations are important. Like I said, most of my work that I’ve done at Sentry over the past four years has been about integrations. Sentry offers a lot out of the box. It’s a great tool, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. People like to use all sorts of tools and the developer workflow and we want to be able to support as many people as possible. I’d say that the top three categories of integrations would be project management, alerting, and source control. Most people have one integration from each of these kind of categories.

Meredith Heller: And the other thing that makes them important is data from these integrations can actually make Sentry more useful. So, for example, our Github integration, you can have commit tracking, and that can help you triage the issues more quickly. Jira has issue syncing, which can help to decrease resolution time. So, they are pretty important to getting the full Sentry experience.

Meredith Heller: But they are also very hard. And there are a ton of things… I could complain about integrations, as much as I love them, I could complain all day. But I think the things that stood out to me the most about integrations are that they are different enough where you can’t just say, “Okay, here is our skeleton for all of our alerting.” And just plug them in and have every one of them work the same. This is because different companies have different ways of integrating, different ways of authenticating, different ways of returning response codes or the error messages. It just varies a lot.

Meredith Heller: And we have a pretty small team, so that means that every time that we decide to build integration at Sentry, we invest a lot of that domain knowledge on our team being towards knowing these external APIs, the nuances between our integrations, what integrations share and what they don’t. And then, the other part is, okay, well we’ve built the integration. That was a lot of work. Well, debugging and maintaining this integration is also a lot of work. It’s hard because you may not know what’s over there. There can be unexpected changes in those end that you’re relying on, or even the whole app that you’re relying on.

Meredith Heller: So, enter in the integration platform. We know they’re hard. Integrations are hard, and we know the importance though. We want to build a platform that makes it easier for people to build more meaningful integrations on top of Sentry. Yay. So, we went and we did this. We went and we built the integration platform.

Meredith Heller: So, now I want to talk about the UI augmentation, and how I think that helped with this goal. But first, I want to give a little bit more context. What is this? What are we augmenting? And this is straight from the docs, so there’s a lot more information that you can get on this if you’re curious, but basically the UI augmentation piece of this is the ability to add UI components to Sentry itself through this JSON-Schema-based system.

Meredith Heller: And we currently have two ways, or two places in Sentry that you can do this. So, here, I don’t know if you can see this super clearly, but basically this is a screenshot of what… if you’re looking at an error in Sentry, what it would look like. The first example here is the stack trace link. I’m not going to go over the details of this, but that is one of the ways in which you can augment the UI.

Meredith Heller: The other is this linked issues here. There’s a bunch listed here because this is a test account. But essentially, if you’re looking at this error and you’re like, hey, I want to track this in Jira. I want to track this in another service, you’d click that little plus button and this module would come up. So, this is an example of the Azure DevOps issue, which we built this integration.

Meredith Heller: But now, for other developers building on the platform, for example, Clubhouse, the scheme on the left is all that you need to define to get this module basically to pop up. We’ve already done the work to hand all the front-end stuff. You just need to tell us what fields you want, whether they’re required or not, and if you have a field that’s like a select field that you want to have the data be dynamic, meaning we make the request to your server as to get back data. You can just put the URI there. So, this is pretty cool .Clubhouse is one of the first partners to build on this platform. So, that’s why I’m using them as an example.

Meredith Heller: So, how did this UI augmentation help with out goal? This is our goal again. Build a platform that makes it easier for people to build meaningful integrations. Currently, if you look at our project management section of our integrations, basically half of these are on the platform. Clubhouse, ClickUp, Linear, and Teamwork are all on the platform. Linear and Teamwork were just added recently, actually.

Meredith Heller: It’s a win for the developers that use Sentry. There are now more integrations. They have more options. I think it’s a win for the teams building the platform because they have flexibility within the schema to find what form fields they want, whether they;re required or optional and even if they want Sentry data to pre-populate, for example, in the description area.

Meredith Heller: And it’s a win for Sentry because we don’t actually have to build the integration. The work for us is to review and publish application. And the maintenance is only for the platform. So, we’re always going to have to maintain the platform. Just because someone builds another integration on top of it doesn’t mean that the maintenance gets larger. So, that’s pretty great.

Meredith Heller: And the one last thing I didn’t have a ton of time to go over in some more detail, but I think, for me, one of the most unexpected things, benefits of the integration platform is we actually have what we call internal integrations which means I’ve been talking a lot about how you’d use the platform as another company to build on top of Sentry and have that app be distributed through other users. But what if you want to build something custom? You can do that, too. Enterprise customers have actually used the platform to build their own version of Azure or their own version of Jira because of restrictions and permissions, or even just the customizations. So, it’s been really cool to see this platform grow and be successful. And yeah, so thanks for listening. This is… hit me up if you have any more questions. I’ll stop sharing.

Angie Chang: And that’s really great. Thank you, Meredith. Our next speaker is Mimi. She is a technical writer at Sentry. And she is also an organizer for Write/Speak/Code. And she is a proud coding bootcamp graduate. And so, fun fact, she can order from a restaurant menu in under 15 seconds, has zero regrets. Welcome, Mimi.

Mimi Nguyen: Yay, thank you. All right, one second. I want to make a quick note. A bunch of us were using templates for our slides and it says confidential in the left-hand corner, but they’re not confidential. So, feel free to tell everyone how great Sentry is.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, cool. So, I’m just going to assume you all can see my slide deck here. Tell me if that’s not true. All right. Here we go. All right, so hello again. My name is Mimi and I’m tahe technical writer here at Sentry. So, I just wanted to get started with a little bit more about me. These are my cats. That’s Maple and Pancake a couple of weekends ago when it was super, super hot in the San Francisco Bay area. And that’s my current progress on a paint-by-numbers, or as I like to call it, how to chill out and stay inside, #2020.

Mimi Nguyen: So, it’s been a very windy path getting to my role here at Sentry. I was working as a creative writer for a while until I realized that my very beautiful dream of one day owning a house in the Bay area was quite possibly not going to be achieved by creative writing. So, I went to a coding bootcamp and graduated. Then I became a software engineering intern. And now, I’m a technical writer, a role that uses two of my skillsets, writing and software engineering.

Mimi Nguyen: So, I work on docs. And let’s dive into the creation of docs and how it can foster inclusivity with your teams. All right, so three of our topics today, collaboration, inclusivity, and why words and people matter.

Mimi Nguyen: Collaboration. Cool, so we’re going to go through these pretty quickly. I never regret setting a flexible agenda, whether it be for my goals for a project or even the topic covered during a meeting. And I always share this agenda to provide visibility to other teammates and collaborators. It helps facilitate… I’m going to wait for the garbage truck to drive by.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, so as I was saying, these agendas help facilitate meetings. Right? But also, once you all have a plan together, it’s easier to communicate that plan to the whole company because you have buy-in from your stakeholders.

Mimi Nguyen:And we all should remember that communication is hard. There is always room to misunderstand or forget details. So, make sure to track your tasks in a calendar or something like Asana, which is what we use at Sentry. But most importantly, follow up with your collaborators. Sometimes you need to be assertive, which is personally hard for me because I hate nagging people. But if you really want something done, just follow up very assertively. And if you have time, have a retro. Discuss what worked, what didn’t work. Then gather that information into templates or guides. And this will help others be more self-sufficient, but also serve as a record of your iterations. What worked for a past project might work for another project in six months.

Mimi Nguyen: Inclusivity. Okay, so through your collaborative process, you’re already being inclusive. And you’ve most likely encouraged others to be inclusive, too. And thoughtfulness in your preparation and sharing agendas and plans, this all creates a space for ideas and questions and the feeling of inclusion. Constant communication with your teammates is an exercise in being intentional and effective with our words. Different people, leaders, teammates, everyone, everyone, thinks in a unique way. And the more intentional you are with your words, the smoother the collaboration. Intentional word choice also leads to accessibility, which we’ll cover in a few slides.

Mimi Nguyen: And again, iteration. Something we hear all the time here in tech, right? But really, iteration should be embraced. Record what works and what didn’t work. Write it down and share it with others. Someone with experience sharing their knowledge with some newer folks is a form of inclusion.

Mimi Nguyen: Words and people. All right, so we’re going to talk about why American idioms aren’t international, how assumptions are distracting, and how words evolve, oftentimes for the better.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, so external documentation is international, and that’s what I work on, external documentation. Sentry customers read our external documentation to install, configure and understand our product. That means we avoid idioms or any communication that involves a very deep level of cultural knowledge. So, I’m going to have some examples coming up, and these are things that I’ve encountered in the Sentry docs or docs from other companies as well.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay so, “roll your own.” I know many people in tech are familiar with this phrase. It usually goes something like, “roll your own SDK.” But roll your own originates from cigarette culture, and it alludes to rolling your own cigarette. So, even if your reader can contextually understand what roll your own means, it’s still more clear and to the point to say, “Make your own.” Make your own SDK is clean, and again, to the point. There’s no guessing if you have to physically roll something.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay so, this phrasing was pointed out to me by a friend. Typically in western culture an introductory class is designated with the numbers 101. This indicates it’s the first class in a series of classes. Right? However, not everyone goes to culturally western schools. To be more inclusive and accessible, it’s more clear to say something like, “Blah, blah, blah intro class.” Or even, “Class one, blah, blah, blah.”

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, hurdles. So, hurdles is a word choice I’ve recently noticed in some documentation, and I think the phrase was something like, “that’s the last hurdle in setting up.” Hurdles are these fences that runners jump over during a track event. There’s definitely an argument to be made that the word hurdles is international because there are hurdles in the Olympics and the Olympics are international. But you’re still relying on a reader to understand the feature of a track race, when really what you want to say is step. Like, “that’s the last step in the installation process.”

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, so assumptions are distracting. Being inclusive means avoiding assumptions. What is easy or simple for you may not be easy or simple for the next person. Also, how does one measure easy? Is it five minutes? What are we comparing this to? Is it running in zig-zags for five minutes? Or is it running in a straight line for 10 minutes? Do you see what I’m kind of getting at? I just avoid the words easy, simple, or normally, because they’re vague and there’s probably a better way to have cleaner communication.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, so try your best to consider the newcomer, or what some like to call the beginner. And I try to avoid saying beginner because we are all beginners. I used to laugh when people said, “The older I get, the less I know.” But I think I kind of get it now because I know that I know a lot, but also know that I don’t know a lot. I also don’t know what I don’t know.

Mimi Nguyen: But what I do know is you should know your audience. So, being inclusive means trying to understand the needs of your audience. If you’re writing documentation for Python Developers, there’s a really good chance you don’t have to explain what pip install means. You could just write pip install and move on.

Mimi Nguyen: Okay, so words evolve towards inclusion. Sometimes you need to exclude words in order to be more inclusive. So, at Sentry, we’re constantly trying to evolve the way we communicate. For example, we’ve removed most instances of the word blacklist from our code base and our documentation. And I know this sounds kind of obvious, but changing variable names takes time. And sometimes a lot of effort, and I want to recognize that effort. We are also still working on removing instances of the word whitelist. We still have a master branch, but we are also working on removing the word master from our code base. And I just checked earlier this week and it looks like all instances of the word grandfathering are no longer in Sentry docs, so hooray!

Mimi Nguyen: Also, I am super happy to answer any questions later about why these words should be removed from your code base and documentation. Ta da! That’s it. Once again, I’m Mimi. You can tweet at me @Mimi_Dumpling. Although, the closer we get to the election, the less likely I will be on Twitter. You can also email me at Thank you everyone.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you Mimi. That was amazing. I learned so much. I do want to say when I was first… a few years ago when I was… well, no. I’m a lot older than I think I am. Several years ago when I was reading some articles and I saw the reference to 101, I didn’t actually get the connection because just like you said, I didn’t get my early education here.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: All right, so our next speaker is Sophia Lawhead. She’s a tech recruiter. She has a background in hiring data and software engineers. And we all know how hard it is to hire really strong engineers with diverse backgrounds, so I’m sure she has a really tough job. She’s also focused on product managers and data scientists of all levels.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: When she’s not reading through LinkedIn profiles, you can find her enjoying local stand up comedy and trying to perfect her at-home pizza making skills, which I’m sure we’re all trying to do in this lockdown pandemic situation. So, welcome Sophia.

Sophia Lawhead: Thank you. All right. I will share my screen. Thank you everyone for coming. Again, I’m Sophia. I’ve been at Sentry for about six months, and like what was mentioned, I’m a technical recruiter. So, what I wanted to talk about today is related to hiring, and it’s something that I think is relevant to everyone here working the tech industry, working at startups. And I know that about 40% of you, I think, indicated that you’re actively looking for a new role right now, or you’re considering it.

Sophia Lawhead: What I wanted to talk about was the step that everyone has to go through at some point when you’re looking through a new job, or looking for a new job, and that’s the recruiter screen. And so, this is the step that usually comes, the second step after you’ve either applied or you’ve been reached out to over LinkedIn by a recruiter. And what I’ve come to realize over my last about three years of recruiting experience is that a lot of people don’t really know the purpose of this call. They’re not really sure what they’re supposed to share, what they’re not supposed to share, what this recruiter is looking for and how they can move past this step, move through it to the next step, which is usually a lot more interesting, talking to a hiring manager or doing the technical screen.

Sophia Lawhead: That’s what I want to talk about today is in these screens, how can you best present yourself? How can you be most prepared and have the information that these recruiters are looking for? To get the most out of this call, make it quick, efficient, and hopefully pretty painless?

Sophia Lawhead: We’ll start out with what are these recruiters actually looking for? These are the four things we’re going to cover. It’s wanting to know what are you looking for. Then it’s getting into what is the compensation range that you’re going to require for your next role. And work visa needs, if that’s relevant to you. And then finally, your work history.

Sophia Lawhead: When you’re thinking about starting to look for a new job or if you’re actively doing that, think about what are you looking for? What is most important to you? What needs are not being met at your current job that you’re going to look to find in your next role? This is something that I want to know, any recruiter wants to know, and it helps us determine fit for not just this actual role, but for the company overall. So, it’s a good thing to have prepared.

Sophia Lawhead: Then the next thing you want to have ready to go is what is my compensation range? And the reason that we ask for this is actually not because we want to try to find what is the lowest amount of money that you’ll accept. That’s actually not in our best interests as recruiters, as hiring teams to try to low ball people. The reason is is it’s not great for our retention. This is something that’s been seen in the tech industry many times and most industries. If you bring someone in at a low salary, they’re not going to want to stay very long. They’re going to probably within a year start looking for something new where they can be better paid.

Sophia Lawhead: So for us, it’s really about finding what you’re looking for. Does that match what we have budgeted for this role? And making sure there’s this alignment there, mostly so we don’t waste any of your time. And so, how do you determine what you are looking for? This can be determined by not just what do you need? We all have bills. We all have rent or mortgage. So, what do you need to maintain your lifestyle? But then also, what are your goals? Are you looking to buy a house? Have a child? Open a taco truck, maybe when pandemic is over? But whatever those goals are and your needs, that’s how you determine what your ask should be. What level you’re looking for.

Sophia Lawhead: And something a lot of people don’t take into consideration when they’re thinking about that is it’s not just about your base pay. It’s about the whole package, right? So, some companies, for example, will often a referral bonus, or… I mean a… sorry. Annual bonus. And that annual bonus is something that you should factor into your ask if you want to keep that same level of compensation at your next role.

Sophia Lawhead: So, the next thing to think about is what if I need work visa sponsorship? I know a lot of people in this industry do. So, if that’s something that’s applicable to you, it’s really good to just come to the call with all your details prepared. The policies of what a company can and cannot move forward with are pretty black and white and generally set by the HR and finance team. So, if you… if this isn’t brought up by your recruiter, definitely ask them. They should be able to tell you right away or get that information for you. And if we have the information about your expiration date, up to date with what type of visa you have, where you are in your visa journey, this can help the whole process move swifter, especially actually the end process of creating an offer for you if you get to that stage. So, it’s in your best interest to have this information ready to go.

Sophia Lawhead: All right, and the final step is and many ways most important is thinking about what is my work history? What is the story I’m telling through my work history? So, what we want to know in your work history is really about the last five to seven years. And that’s because a lot of hiring managers don’t really consider past about six, seven years to be super relevant to what you’re doing today.

Sophia Lawhead: As we all know, technology moves fast especially if you’re using a different language, if you’re doing a different skillset, if you’ve moved up. What you were doing back then, it’s not that it’s not a foundation that you built on, it’s just not necessarily as relevant today. So, that’s why it’s more focused on the past five to seven years.

Sophia Lawhead: Your LinkedIn is where you can put all of your work history. And I encourage you to put every single detail in there. I think you can never have too much information when it comes to that. But you want to keep your resume to the one page, and that’s why I think that you can cut off after about five to seven years.

Sophia Lawhead: So, and when you’re thinking about who’s looking at my profile? Who’s looking at my resume? Most likely the first person at any company is going to be someone non-technical. I myself don’t have a STEM degree. I, like many engineers and tech workers out there, Google things on the fly. That’s how I learned. So, I will be looking up any terms I don’t understand, but the way for me to understand it the easiest, fastest and be convinced that you will be a right fit for this role is for you to break it down in simple terms for me. So, to use as little jargon, as little acronyms, and as little internal terms as possible.

Sophia Lawhead: For example, here at Sentry we have a visibility team. And if you just put on your resume I’m on the visibility team, I don’t really know what that means unless I work at Sentry. But saying I work on the data visualization team, I instantly know what you did. So, that’s what I mean by breaking it down into simple terms. And it also shows me you deeply understand what you did if you can explain it to me in a very simple way.

Sophia Lawhead: So, when I’m looking at someone’s past work history at each job, and when I’m asking them questions about their work history in a call, and all recruiters do this. What I’m really wanting to know is at your work, what you’ve created, the app, the data pipeline, whatever it was, what was the purpose behind it? What did it accomplish? Why was this created? How did what you engineered, what you built, the dashboard you made, how did that affect the business goals? Did it move the needle? Did you affect KPIs, especially if you can show me with numbers or percentages that’s very… indicates that you were a big part of the process and your work was impactful.

Sophia Lawhead: And also, I want to know what did you work on? What were you responsible for? How involved were you with planning? Also, team size and structure. This all goes back to knowing how responsible you were for it and how much work burden was on your shoulders. For example, if you are on a project and there was a team of 20 working with you, that’s really different than working with two other people. That’s a lot heavier work burden, a lot more hats. So, it’s a very different work experience. And then also, I always want to know what technologies you worked with.

Sophia Lawhead: So, when you are booking your recruiter calls, those recruiter screens, I think it’s great to have this checklist to think about. This, if you have all of these boxes ticked, you’ll be totally ready for your call. So, I would review the company website and the job description before the call. You’d be surprised how many people do not do that. It will definitely set you apart.

Sophia Lawhead: Something I would do even maybe before setting up the call, too, is test out the product if you can. Can you do a tutorial? Can you read reviews? Can you create a free trial version, free subscription? That might tell you if you even want to be working on this product, but it will also surface a lot of really good questions for you and give you a better sense of what you would be doing day-to-day.

Sophia Lawhead: And then, think about again, your desired compensation, know your visa details. Also some things to think about and have ready to talk about are your flexibility around things like title, how far are you willing to commute, are you willing to relocate, will you need assistance, how much assistance in terms of monetary assistance would you want? Having that ready to go can really help you in those first calls know, is this company going to be right for me? Are their policies, are their location, everything going to line up with what I’m looking for?

Sophia Lawhead: And again, talking about things like unusual work gaps like length or short durations. That’s something we’ll ask about. So that’s actually something you can put on your resume if you want, and then that kind of cuts out that conversation. We already answer it, so it can make that call a little bit shorter.

Sophia Lawhead: And also, come prepared with some questions. This is another way to set yourself apart. And it does surprise me how many people will say, “I don’t have any questions.” And so, here’s some ideas of questions that you can ask. It just shows your interest. It shows that you are invested in this role, but these are all important things for you to know. Benefits that are important to you, is there things like parental leave? That’s something that a surprising amount of people don’t ask about til the very end of the process. Pandemic plans. What does that look like for your company? Any of these I think are great to ask.

Sophia Lawhead: And so, I’m going to leave you with two tips that are weird a little bit. A little out there, but they’re definitely effective. And this is great if you have a little bit of anxiety. If these calls make you a little bit nervous. You don’t really like talking about yourself. So, the first one is every recruiter should be on LinkedIn and have their own profile photo. If they don’t, I would be a little suspicious. I’m just kidding. But so bring up that photo, have it in front of you and talk to the photo while you’re on your call, almost like it’s a video call. And that can actually give you this sense of a real person is talking to you. It gives you a sense of I’m having a real conversation. It’s much more fluid, natural and can bring the anxiety down a little bit.

Sophia Lawhead: And then the next one is called superhero pose. And I think was on a Ted Talk potentially, but so in those one to two minutes while you are waiting for that call to come to you or you’re waiting to make the call, sit and… or you can stand. Either one’s fine. Put your hands on your hips, elbows out, chest back or chest out, shoulders back and take a couple deep breaths. And I did it before this event. It definitely instills a sense of confidence, power, it calms down the amygdala, brings down the adrenaline and it can really just set you in the right mind frame to have this call and have it go well. And I, like I said, I’ve used this on three on-site interviews and I received an offer for all of them. So, tested and proven. Very small sample size.

Sophia Lawhead: But that has been my presentation. If anyone has any questions, and interested in Sentry, want to talk about roles, please reach out to me. That’s my email. But thank you for your time.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: All right. Thank you so much. That was so amazing and actionable, Sophia. I learned a lot. So, what do you think you… where did you get this idea of the superhero pose?

Sophia Lawhead: I’m trying to remember. I was actually thinking about that. It might have been from a Ted Talk. I was also a psych major, so it might have been something that I picked up in my psych classes. But it’s something that’s been out there. It’s something I didn’t make up, but it is actually surprisingly effective.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I’ve tried it, too, actually. So, I do think it’s been… oh, someone just posted it. It was a Ted Talk delivered by Amy Curry. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to switch over to our next speaker, Saloni. She’s the VP of People. She’s an experienced [00:38:43] who has worked with many, many early and mid-stage high-growth companies, building and running key foundational [inaudble] from the ground up. While when not People-leading, she’s a wrangler of little humans and puppers while experimenting with different cuisines and attempting her hand at horticulture and farm-to-table foods. Welcome, Saloni.

Saloni Dudziak: Thank you very much. It’s great to be here. Hi everyone. I’m Saloni. I’m glad you could join us here with our wonderful, delightful speakers and hear a little bit about what our Sentry geek girls are passionate about.

Saloni Dudziak: I lead the people organization team at Sentry, and my talk here is going to be focused on how to respond effectively to and in times of crisis and uncertainty. I have generally been passionate about these topics and obviously even more so in this very not normal new normal environment where myself and my teams have continually being challenged to repeatedly pivot and respond in these uncertain times.

Saloni Dudziak: So, I’d like to start with a little bit of history and talk about where we were just at right before the world kind of got turned upside down with this global pandemic. We were about seven months into what will be a 16-month process that involved completing a total gut and rebuild of 36,000 square feet across two floors of a high-rise building in the financial district in San Francisco. However, as things began to start unfolding in late February and early March, we made the decision to shut down all of our physical locations in early March. And then once the shelter in place order in the Bay area was enacted, our construction on the new build out was paused until around mid-June.

Saloni Dudziak: So, as of this week, we’ve finished our build out on one of our floors. We’re set to finish another one in November. Obviously, it’s been a very bittersweet process to see a year and a half long project come to fruition and then no certainty of when we’ll be able to enjoy that space. And I think that almost every single People leader and anyone on a People team would agree that navigating those initial few weeks and then all of the many months that have followed have been extremely challenging in many unusual and unprecedented ways.

Saloni Dudziak: So, unfortunately I wasn’t able to deliver live tour as I planned. We’re still in move-in phase, and it’s a bit messy. But I’m giving a quick sneak peek to one of our spaces because I think it really represents the care and effort that our folks have put into the small details. And it’s a good indication of what the rest of the space will look like.

Saloni Dudziak: So, we’re in the middle of an office build out, and then this new crisis ensues. What’s the first go-to step? The number one motto in my home is don’t panic. And I think that’s key when you’re responding to a crisis, whether it’s momentary or ongoing. So, this starts by putting on your metaphorical life vest, taking a step back, assessing the situation quickly and then responding with an action plan that will need to be highly iterative as the nature of responding to crises means change is imminent and requires adaptability.

Saloni Dudziak: So for me, using the shelter in place example, putting on my metaphorical life vest meant establishing a very regular routine to my day. I’ve been a distributed worker in the past, so that gives me a bit of an advantage, but this was more than just that. This was a crisis that was changing day-to-day and week-to-week. So then, my goals were to assess this unfolding situation on a daily and weekly basis in a much more structured way. So, time blocking when I would check in on the news. What type of information I was consuming, making sure I was taking care of how often I was consuming that information.

Saloni Dudziak: And so, obviously not panicking doesn’t mean that I wasn’t or haven’t been stressed. There have been certainly highly-stressful times. But it does mean that I could more clearly understand what I could control and thus, respond to those events, and let go of the things I couldn’t control.

Saloni Dudziak: So, once you’ve got the two buckets of things you can control, things you can’t control, you’re setting yourself up to be more adaptable and able to respond effectively when things do change again. And then a part of this will soon fall establishing a positive psychological mindset where you can view a setback or a situation as temporary, changeable, it’s specific, that it will pass and it won’t remain in a permanent state.

Saloni Dudziak: So, if I took all these initial lessons, I can then formulate an action plan to respond to crises and that involves communicating with your teammates often, providing regular updates to establish some consistency as events unfold, and providing tools and resources for this different state of working.

Saloni Dudziak: So, what does that look like in real life? When you’re dealing with crises, finding ways to be resilient and adaptable is the first thing you do. You prioritize your connections to your people who will provide you with that positive reinforcement. People who will support and uplift you, but also give you the space to just be and feel your feels. Could involve joining social support groups or simply relying on your friend groups, partners, family members. I think just knowing somebody that has your back and will help to actively help build you up sets the foundation for that psychological resiliency.

Saloni Dudziak: The next up is having a sense of purpose and proactively working towards some set of goals. If you don’t feel connected to something that drives you, it’s really hard to stay resilient. So, making sure you’ve got something to work towards to make progress on. It doesn’t have to be big or grandiose in nature, but it does need to inspire you.

Saloni Dudziak: And then ultimately, don’t burn out. This goes back to kind of the life vest analogy where you need to make sure you’ve got yours on, but then you have to continue to inflate it. And when it inevitably starts to deflate, this could be setting your boundaries and taking breaks from being other people’s person, so that you can replenish yourself, avoiding negative outlets, getting your sleep, taking care of your physical health and practicing some form of mindfulness that will work for you.

Saloni Dudziak: So, if you’ve gotten resilient and adaptable, and once you’ve not panicked and come up with a plan of action, how do you maintain that motivation and productivity? If you’re an individual who’s trying to stay motivated or if you’re a manager trying to help your team stay motivated, you first need to understand what it is that drives them, and what their sources of motivation are.

Saloni Dudziak: I like referring to the infamous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’m also a previous psych major as well. This touches upon all of the key elements humans need in varying degrees to feel productive and motivated. And even though in the original theory it’s presented as these stacked building blocks, these hierarchy of needs often overlap with each other. Some take more precedence than others depending on individual circumstances and are often situational in nature.

Saloni Dudziak: Ultimately what you’re doing is finding out what motivates yourself or your teammates. And once you’ve spent time understanding this, you’re able to start building the frameworks for keeping yourself and your teams motivated.

Saloni Dudziak: I’d like to share a little bit of some of the ways we’ve worked towards inspiring continued motivation and productivity over the past many, many months that involve some tangibles and intangibles. We had rolled out this wellness stipend in January for our employees. And I think typically people associate wellness and health with physical well-being, but we’ve tried to specifically highlight to also consider using this for psychological and emotional well-being, even more now so than ever.

Saloni Dudziak: We also created a wellness guide with a ton of different resources in addition to the stipend, and various ideas on the ways that you can use the stipend. And then we also included meditation and mindfulness resources, ways to keep your kids or your inner-child busy and engaged, ideas for staying social while staying home, physical wellness resources for home fitness options, and then self-care and emotional well-being tools, too.

Saloni Dudziak: We also introduced resources for working from home. So, initially when we moved to this distributed work, we weren’t sure how long this would take given the shelter in place date kept being moved. And once it became clear that the timeline was going to be a longer term, we wanted to make sure that employees had the ability to get their home spaces set up properly. And so, the stipend allows for setting up an environment that allows you to have the right tools for productivity.

Saloni Dudziak: And then for us internally, we also wanted to create a how-to guide for distributed workforce. So, more qualitative information on how to be effective in this remote environment.

Saloni Dudziak: And then, of course, you’re constantly reiterating the focus on communication because you don’t have the luxury of a quick chat over desks or passing through hallways. How you communicate and how often and the forum which you’re doing so are very important in this kind of crisis distributed world. And then, reinforcing those expectations for managers at every level to stay connected with their teams in multiple ways.

Saloni Dudziak: Doing a pulse survey regularly. We’ve been doing that to gauge where our people are at and our organizational health by gathering real-time data. We can continue to tailor our processes and responses to meet people’s needs, and then address any blind spots. And then of course, always encouraging and supporting a healthy mindset, leading interactions with empathy, understanding, allowing for flexibility in trying times, trying to find joy and humor in small moments and being compassionate are all key to crisis management.

Saloni Dudziak: So, ultimately building resilience and being adaptable, finding ways to stay motivated and productive are really hard. I can’t stress how much people just need to be kind to themselves and acknowledge that sometimes there’s going to be moments where it’s just not going to happen. And that’s okay. But having the tools and resources that can help you navigate through those types of moments is really key to finding those ways to get back on track.

Saloni Dudziak: And ultimately, everyone is playing a game of Twister. Sometimes you might have all your hands and feet firmly on the grounded spots, and sometimes you might feel a bit of teetering. But always go to the just don’t panic.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much, Saloni. That was really insightful, and I love that image of Twister. That was really fun, but yet true. Our next speaker is Virginia. She’s the general counselor at Sentry. She’s a tech lawyer who’s been around the block, having practiced at firms big and small, as well as tech companies ranging in size from startups to [inaudible]. Oh, and she also tries to make sure her kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing in remote learning. That’s a super mom and super parent, I have to say. Welcome, Virginia.

Virginia Badenhope: Thank you. Okay. So, hello everyone. Thank you for having me. I am the general counsel of Sentry. And as was stated in my introduction, you can see that I have had a long career arc. I’ve been at big law firms. I’ve been at small law firms. And eventually, I made my way to a number of tech companies. And what you can also see on this slide is that I didn’t really find my niche until I was kind of like seven years out of law school. And twice during that time I thought about quitting law altogether.

Virginia Badenhope: And I highlight that because part of what I want to do in the talk is to acknowledge how normal struggle is, and that… I don’t know. If there’s someone else out there who’s not getting the kind of traction that she wants in her career, as a reminder that that’s not a thing that is unique to you. It’s a thing that happens to a lot of people, that you’re not alone and that it is not a permanent state. I think this talk is also sort of a follow onto what Saloni says in terms of different ways that you can try to be resilient.

Virginia Badenhope: So, one of the major factors of my early misery was that I started my career in some big, prestigious law firms where the primary form of feedback was yelling. Right? And I think the thought was that that was what was necessary to achieve the level of perfection that clients expected, that the partners of the firm expected. And I also think that in some ways that that kind of unforgiving environment was by design. It was intended to help toughen us up because I guess the thinking was law is a profession where it’s someone else’s job to find and exploit all the flaws in your work.

Virginia Badenhope: And I guess from the law firm’s perspective, this was effective because all the work that I produced was perfect. Right? From the header to the footers, to the pagination, to whether the text was full justified or left justified. Every detail was perfect.

Virginia Badenhope: The thing is that when it came time for me to supervise other lawyers, I knew that this was not how I wanted to be. So, I wasn’t that way with other people, but somehow I never learned to stop yelling at myself. And I think part of what contributed to that was this idea that you need unflinching criticism to get to the kind of success that I wanted. And that if you had anything less than that, then it’s just sort of BS and it’s the kind of stuff that ends up on SNL as sort of self-affirmation that is really laughable.

Virginia Badenhope: And it wasn’t until I hit a roadblock with my kids that I started working, knowing that I needed to work on this sort of idea of criticism. And what was happening is that I was finding myself yelling at them more and more. And I felt really bad about it. I was able to get the behavior that I wanted most of the time, but I’m pretty sure it was damaging my relationship to them. And my deepest fear was that it was actually damaging not just the relationship, but them.

Virginia Badenhope: And I didn’t turn the corner on that until somebody pointed out that sometimes the reason that people are hard on other people is because they’re hard on themselves. So, then the suggestion was okay, so if you learn to be gentler with yourself, maybe you’d be gentler with the kids, too.

Virginia Badenhope: And so that was really when I started trying to break down this idea that you need to have this sort of unforgiving, unrelenting criticism in order to be successful.

Virginia Badenhope: And so then I started looking around for different kinds of inspiration because I’d been to talks before. I had been to… these were not new concepts, but none of them really stuck. And so, I’m going to share some things that did stick just because it helps it… it’s easier for me to think about these when I have key specific things to think about.

Virginia Badenhope: So, the most influential book I have ever read and the most helpful in my life is this book about actually How To Talk To Kids So That Kids Will Talk and How to… How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. And some of the core concepts that it revealed was, one, that it is actually possible to be kind and gentle at the same time. To be firm and gentle at the same time. Because I had this idea that if I was gentle, it meant that you were kind of ignoring problems and you were just sort of giving this sort of everything-is-happy point of view. And the point of the book is no, that’s not true. You can stick to the whatever standard you have, but you don’t need criticism to achieve it. That there are better ways to engage cooperation.

Virginia Badenhope: Another key point that it makes is that feelings are actually easier to deal with if you acknowledge them rather than if you push them away. And that was like… it’s probably second nature to a lot of people, but for me, that was sort of like a revelation because I was brought up to be like if you have a bad feeling, the way to not… you just need to push it away and… like it’s a sign of strength to be able to just set it aside.

Virginia Badenhope: And then the last kind of insight from that book is that it’s really hard to get to problem solving if there is any kind of distress going on. Right? So, if you don’t feel good or if you feel defensive or whatever, it’s just really hard to get any kind of input and to put your mind in a place that you could actually solve the problem at hand, or get to the behavior that you want.

Virginia Badenhope: And so that kind of flows into the next kind of inspirational thing that I heard which is that you don’t get people to change by telling them that they’re bad. You get them to change by asking them to be better than they’ve ever been. Right? And I think the important thing about that is that it’s hard to get anywhere if you don’t feel good. And so, if you make a judgment about you’re not good at something or… like if I had said, “I’m impatient with the kids.” That connotes… or “I’m an impatient person and that’s why I yell at the kids.” That connotes some kind of… like something of the identity and some kind of permanence. And it’s really hard to make any kind of change from that space.

Virginia Badenhope: And so, I’m learning now not to judge. Right? Whatever it is I’m feeling or whatever difficulty I have is to basically suspend judgment and see if I can get to the problem-solving element quicker. And the imagery I like to use for problem solving is soccer. So I spent a lot of time watching youth soccer. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that the players who are the most successful are the ones that basically shrug off a mistake and move to the next thing. Right?

Virginia Badenhope: So, if it’s impossible to win every tackle. You are going to lose the ball some percentage of the time. But the ones that are the most successful are… they don’t just go uh, I lost the ball. They’re like, man, I’m going to get that ball back. And they immediately pivot to try and to recover the ball. And a lot of the times they do because what… they’re looking to the next thing. They’re ignoring whatever happened in the past and then moving on to the next stage, which is sort of like the problem solving aspect of it.

Virginia Badenhope: And I noticed that one of the most useful things that a coach can say is to basically acknowledge the problem, but then immediately say next time. Right? That didn’t go well. You’ll get them next time.

Virginia Badenhope: And so, here are some examples of reframings that I have found to be helpful. And I actually had to use a lot of reframing on getting ready for this own talk. One second I thought I was a genius for coming up with this topic, and another it was like, oh my God. Who cares what I think? This is a dumb topic.

Virginia Badenhope: And I don’t know how that happens, but I’m not going to judge. I’m just going to try and reframe that to be in a more helpful spot. Right? So then, it went something like well, even if not everyone is interested in this topic, I can’t be the only one who has self-doubt from time to time. No one is confident all the time. And so, if one person feels like this is helpful, or that she is not alone, that might be good enough.

Virginia Badenhope: So, be brave and show some vulnerability. So that was sort of the thinking that got me to this point. And I thought it was pretty meta to be having to employ the techniques that I was talking about to get through the thing that I was trying to do.

Virginia Badenhope: And so, here’s some examples of reframing that I have found to be useful. So, I try to get rid of shoulds. I should’ve blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Right? That’s backward looking. I try to change it to be like well, I can’t change what’s already happened, but I can still do X, Y, and Z to improve the situation, mitigate the damage, whatever. Basically recover from whatever the mistake was. And followed up with next time I’m going to do something else.

Virginia Badenhope: So, this isn’t like you ignore that something didn’t go right or that you sort of gloss over mistakes. It’s just that okay, there was a mistake, and now here’s what I’m going to do to fix it.

Virginia Badenhope: Here’s another should. I should be or I should blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I think it’s been more helpful for me to reframe it like I would like to. Right? So basically suspending the judgment but still acknowledging whatever it is that you’d like to have happen. I’m not good at. So, we basically banned this from the house. The children are not allowed to say I’m not good at. I told them I would rather have them swear or curse, say bad words, but I do not want to hear I’m not good at. They can say I’m not good at blah, blah, blah yet. But what is preferable would be to say, okay here are the things that I can do to get better. I can develop the following skills. Right? That’s very different than I’m not good at. Because I’m not good at, again, implies some kind of permanence.

Virginia Badenhope: Here’s another one. Comparing. Oh, So and So is so much better at me then blah, blah, blah. And so, then I try to turn that around. It’s like oh wow, I really admire that person. What is it that I can learn from her? A little bit more helpful than judging myself against some standard.

Virginia Badenhope: So, it kind of goes on. I can’t stand it. You can say… or I can say I can handle it even if I don’t like it. There it is. I can’t. Reframing I can’t into the thing that I can do, which is to learn techniques. And then finally, oh that was dumb. What was I thinking? I try to reframe that. Well, that didn’t work. Let me try something else knowing what I know now.

Virginia Badenhope: And so, those are just some examples of reframing that I have found to be helpful. And so, so far I’ve shared ways that I had found to be successful in getting myself out of a negative spot. Now these are the words that I use or that I have found to be most helpful in encouraging other people. And these are the words that I use with my children when I’m… to help them gather the strength to face their challenges. Right? Because sometimes it’s really powerful to know that someone else believes in you, even if you don’t yet believe in yourself.

Virginia Badenhope: And so, I tell them I have confidence in you. And I have found that this phrasing has advantages over you can do it or it’ll be fine because there’s no possibility of getting pushback that’s like, no I can’t or you don’t know that, because the only person who knows how I feel is me. And I feel confidence in you. So there. Thank you.

Angie Chang: Thank you. That was a really great talk on reframing. I really appreciate that. So, we have one more speaker. If she’s still here, Priscilla. She is a software engineer at Sentry. I know she was here. So, great. We will find her and bring her right up.

Priscila Oliveira: Hello everyone. Before I get started, I’d like to thank you for joining me today in Girl Geek X and thank you for this opportunity. It has been a while since I’d like to give a second talk being this talk about my experiences in the open source world. So today, I’m going to talk about how open source impacted my career.

Priscila Oliveira: My name is Priscila. I’m a software engineer at Sentry and an open source contributor. In the open source community, you may know me as a maintainer of [inaudible]. I’m coming to you from my home in Vienna, Austria, and I’m really excited to give this presentation.

Priscila Oliveira: Today’s agenda is open source, how did I become an open source contributor, how open source impacted my career, how can you become an open source contributor and Sentry, it all started as an open source project.

Priscila Oliveira: So, I’d like to start this presentation by asking you do you know what’s open source? Let me tell you. Open source is [inaudible] creating and sharing content and software in a collaborative and public way. It’s when someone puts out an idea and a community forms around this idea, making it better. The community is made up of different people around the world who share ideas, opinions, experiences and learn from each other. Open source is really cool.

Priscila Oliveira: So, how did I become an open source contributor. My first contact with open source was years ago when I was in a technical high school back in Brazil, and I was told to install Ubuntu Linux because it was nice and I didn’t need to pay for it. Back then, I didn’t know much about open source. I only knew that it was some sort of a free software that I could use and people were very excited about it.

Priscila Oliveira: Many years passed and I found myself living again in Vienna. By the way, I’m from Brazil. And one day I felt the need to integrate more in the tech community. So I decided to join a local meetup called React Vienna. In this meetup, I was introduced to Verdaccio, a private NPM proxy registry. I was introduced to this open source project by it’s main maintainer, Juan Picado.

Priscila Oliveira: And after a few more meetings talking about open source, Juan convinced me to try to contribute. And that’s how it all started. So, at the beginning, the imposter syndrome began to take hold. I thought that I had to understand the whole application very well before anything, that my code had to be perfect. After all, everything was going to be public and everyone could see my code.

Priscila Oliveira: But besides all these thoughts I said to myself, “You know what? Just submit the pull request. Just do it.” And that’s what I did. This was my very first open source pull request. It was very simple. I just disabled an [inaudible].

Priscila Oliveira: So, how open source impacted my career. After more than two years contributing, I can say that my mindset changed, and this has had a great impact on my career. I see a couple of things different now. As for example, documentation. Documentation makes everything easier for those who wanted to use a project and those who are wanting to contribute. We have to think that not every contributor is a developer, and not every code is readable enough. Documentation is important.

Priscila Oliveira: Feedback. Always give constructive feedback. Code reviews are opportunities to learn and to ask and to share knowledge, et cetera. If we just agree with something, expand why and try to give examples of what is it that could be a better solution, a better option. And if you get bad feedback, don’t take it personally and try to get something positive out of it.

Priscila Oliveira: Communication. While you’re working on an open source project, you will contribute alongside many people from all around the world with different cultures and backgrounds. You have to be always polite and respectful.

Priscila Oliveira: Tests. I learned how important they are. They increase [inaudible] ensuring that the release version is always a stable build and that no users will be impacted by bugged developmental code.

Priscila Oliveira: Networking. Open source allows us to work in on real world projects and helps us build networks. You will have also the opportunity to meet many interesting people, even if only virtually. This is also related to job opportunities.

Priscila Oliveira: The most visible way to measure our contributions outside of work and to be discovered is through open source projects. I would also say that nowadays, most of the companies value open source projects a lot. And one of the reasons behind this is that these projects are part of their code base.

Priscila Oliveira: So, when you mention during an interview that you are contributing to open source or that you have contributed, it will definitely make the interview more interesting.

Priscila Oliveira: I’d like also to share that I truly believe that open source helped me a lot when it came to interviews, and also to get the job that I currently have at Sentry.

Priscila Oliveira: So, how can you become an open source contributor? I’ll just say that you should start by choosing a project that you like and believe in because it has to be enjoyable.

Priscila Oliveira: Read the contributing guideline and project documentation. You mustn’t to read the whole documentation at once, but only parts that you need in the moment.

Priscila Oliveira: Simple pull requests. Do like I did. Just simple tasks at the beginning until you feel more confident to work on something more complex.

Priscila Oliveira: Hacktoberfest. I think that is no better time talk about Hacktoberfest than now because October is already here, knocking on our door. So, this is one event that offers a good opportunities for new contributors. And normally, the projects that participate in this event use the tag good first issue or Hacktoberfest in their issues indicating simple tasks for beginners. By participating, you may also get a new T-shirt. Look, I have this and this T-shirt, and I hope to get a new one this year.

Priscila Oliveira: A common misconception about contributing to open source is that you need to contribute code. But there are several other ways to contribute. As for example, writing maybe could improve the project’s documentation or write tutorials for the project, or help with the translations. Here at Sentry, this is one of the core responsibilities. All our engineers regularly contribute or review our documentation.

Priscila Oliveira: You could also helping people. How? Maybe by answering questions about the project on Stack Overflow or Twitter, for example.

Priscila Oliveira: Sentry, it all started as an open source project. I think a lot of people are familiar with Sentry, the company or the software. What many may not realize is that Sentry is also an open source company that started from a personal frustration from our co-founder David Cramer. Back in 2011, Cramer was frustrated with the lack of exception tracking, so he decided to create his own project using the Django framework. The project was named Django DB log. Since it was open source, at a point many people got interested and involved over time. The project grew and in many communities were created around [inaudible]. The wider community contributions has been code documentation, user experience, et cetera.

Priscila Oliveira: If you are interested in open source and in contributing to Sentry, a good place to start is in our documentation. I’d like to end my presentation by saying contributing to open source can be intimidating at first. But in the end, it’s rewarding.

Priscila Oliveira: So, that’s it. I hope this presentation has inspired you and you have enjoyed it. Thank you. Yes, if you have any questions, any questions please send me here.

Angie Chang: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Priscilla. So, she’s still here. You can chat with her. And now we are going to… oh wait. Before we go to our break out sessions for now, we want to quickly share that we are so happy that Sentry’s partnered with us and that are hiring. They will be hiring for head of customer success, solutions engineering, product marketing and all kinds of engineering.

Angie Chang: So, there’ll be email after this event, which will ask you some questions about ratings for the event. But also, there are some links to the jobs there. So, please check them out or send them to a friend who’s interested. Stay tuned. We will be back and see you again. Have a good day. Bye.

Saloni Dudziak: Bye.

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