Erin Dorney

Blogging life & librarianship

Posts Tagged ‘leadership

Women Who Tech TeleSummit 2012

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Women-who-Tech

I first heard about the Women Who Tech TeleSummit back in 2010, after reading a blog post by librarian Bobbi Newman. I have been trying to expand my professional development to areas outside of librarianship, so this affordable ($20!) and accessible virtual conference seemed like just the ticket. And I was not disappointment.

Mostly, I attended the sessions relating to startup culture. Half the time, I had no idea what was going on. Awesome! That almost never happens at library conferences. But it was really neat because I was so intrigued by the things I didn’t understand. I feel like I’ve been exposed to an entirely new vocabulary and I’m definitely going to be investigating some of the speakers’ recommended resources. As someone who dreams about owning her own business someday (there, I said it), it was inspiring to hear from this dynamic, creative, tech-focused group of women. It was also interesting to listen to the discussion with my ears bent library-wards… à la Brian Mathews’ recent “Think Like a Startup” whitepaper. Lots of possibilities for applying these principles within higher education and librarianship.

I definitely recommend attending the 2013 Women Who Tech TeleSummit if you can! Below are my notes. Do you have any thoughts on startup culture or how it might be applied in your field?

Funding Your Own Startup
Amy Errett (Maveron Capital), Amanda Steinberg (DailyWorth), Joanne Wilson (Investor) & moderated by Pemo Theodore (EZebis)

  • Can you have an idea funded? It’s difficult – you need proof of concept to gain traction. Business is 1% idea, 99% execution.
  • You usually have to give something for crowd-funding models (not equity, but a product) so it might not work for something like an online media company. Music, arts, consumer products have been successful there (i.e. Kickstarter).
  • CircleUp just launched 6 weeks ago. Depends on the amount of money you want to raise, but at least crowd-funding gives people options.
  • Understand the character, values of the people who are investing with you. You will live with them for a long time. Investments go through cycles of good and bad.
  • Entrepreneurs often don’t think they have the luxury of being picky about investors, particularly in the early stages when they are just excited to be funded.
  • Focus on revenue to have negotiating power. Quality of business model and financial model are very important. Investors have their own agendas.
  • (Steinberg recently got a $2 million investment) Now looking at ways to segment her audience at DailyWorth (daily email about money geared to women), launching CreateWorth, hiring more people. Bridge between financial services and women.
  • Required reading on start up culture/entrepreneurship?

Harnessing Your Power
Elisa Camahort Page (BlogHer), Lynne Johnson, Susan Mernit (Oakland Local) & moderated by Jill Foster (LiveYourTalk)

Professional purpose & one critical decision that has shaped you as a leader?

  • Journalism background, technologist, critical cultural thinker. Wants to bring those things together in her profession. Shape young people, is overjoyed to see them surpass her. Critical decision: To start blogging in 2000/2001, lead to her being seen as a leader on and offline (Johnson).
  • “hyperlocal site” Oakland Local. Critical decision: thinking about non-traditional career paths, what work would utilize her strengths and be rewarding to her? (Mernit)
  • Creating opportunities for women. Critical decision: took a job in an industry she knew nothing about, was confident about succeeding or failing, then moving on to something else (Page)
  • What does asserting your power mean within the industry you’re working in? Context/culture matters. Know what battles to pick. I will always pick the battle for the customer, for the user. Back down when it will truly demoralize your staff.
  • Learn to understand group dynamics and how to harness that power for the greater good. Confidence is very important for a leader. Taking risks enables self-confidence, absolutely.
  • Engage others, bring them in on the conversation, listen to their ideas.
  • Women competing with other women? You’re often competing to be the token woman, so it’s understandable. But that’s not a solution.
  • Be strategic & display assets that you have that the rest of the group doesn’t.
  • As a new manager, how would you form relationships with existing employees? It’s difficult in a corporate environment, people below you may have interviewed for the job. In a small company, things are flatter and it’s easier to assimilate into the culture.
  • Ask questions as often as you make statements.
  • Practice public speaking – presentation means a lot in leadership. Find mentors. Reach out and help others.
  • Make time for yourself, don’t make yourself the last person on the list. Be willing to go around obstacles instead of over them. Don’t stay in a place where you’re stalled.
  • “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does allow freedom.”

Agile Development and Failing Fast
Sarah Allen (Blazing Cloud, Mightyverse, RailsBridge), Shaherose Charania (Women 2.0, Founder Labs), Tara Hunt (Buyosphere) & moderated by Jen Consalvo (Tech Cocktail, Thankfulfor)

  • Agile Manifesto – 2001. Emphasis on working together nimbly. Refined & primarily adopted by the engineering side of software. Promoted on business side through lean startup movement.
  • Idea generation, validation, prototype. Cutting out the fat – what can I build today, quickly, at a low cost to test my assumptions? Lean startup – getting data from customer, making iterative changes (small changes each day), designing your product in real time with your customers (early adopters who are OK with a fuzzy product and will give you feedback).
  • Minimum viable product (MVP)? When should a product be pushed out? Different viable products for a beta customer vs general population.
  • Do you want press or do you want polished product? Get feedback from more than just your friends & supporters. Test with your target audience. How will you define your market? Early MVP can be the smallest unit of work that you can use to test your key assumptions. Doesn’t promise more than you can deliver. Release a tiny product with A feature, not the all the features.
  • Failing fast? Take customer data and your vision and merge them. No one is 100% right (you or the customer).
  • It’s a challenge to not be afraid of failure. Things we can prove vs things we believe. Assumption might not be completely wrong, but we need to know more about it.
  • Is this failing fast culture killing creativity? What are we measuring as failure? What are the metrics? “pitch deck” Failing fast versus succeeding slowly.
  • Agile practices – balancing art vs science? Unique to your team, the vision for your startup & their appetite for risk. Startups are creating something from nothing, isn’t that what artists do?
  • The Starfish and the Spider, by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom
  • Find tools that work for your team. It’s about communication and collaboration.
  • Don’t take funding for as long as possible. Be independent. Allows you to tweak, think about things differently.
  • ⅔ of new startup ideas right now are not new, they are mashups, derivatives. Not that those aren’t important.
  • “Creative Fridays” – stretch your mind in a different way for a few hours.
  • Intellectually give yourself permission to do stuff that seems completely unrelated on a regular basis. Something that seems fruitless to keep your mind alive.
  • Have a personal board of advisors during this time. A startup can be chaotic and lonely.
  • Write down what you think the vision of your product is, what your key assumptions are and how you intend to test those assumptions.

Written by Erin Dorney

May 31, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Leadership is a function of knowing yourself: PALS 2011

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Lets Go I Want To Go All The Way To The Horizon by Bethan on Flickr

I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Pennsylvania Library Association Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS) last week. PALS is a cooperative endeavor between PaLA and the Office of Commonwealth Libraries with support from Polaris Library Systems. The yearly program offers leadership development for newer librarians (those with less than 6 years of experience) through training and mentoring support. You can learn more about the program (including 2009 and 2010 graduates – 2011 participants will hopefully be up soon-) by visiting the PaLA website. It is an incredibly important program in terms of recognizing, developing, and ensuring continuity of effective library leadership within Pennsylvania.

I have a bit of history with the initiative (I was invited to speak to the inaugural class and compare the program with ALA Emerging Leaders back in 2009) but this time was a completely new experience. Along with four other Pennsylvania librarians, I am a mentor for the class of 2011. Mentors got to attend the academy and participate in various ways, including sharing illustrations of leadership from their own experience. Post-academy, I will work with a small group of PALS graduates in my geographic area but will also support all of the graduates in terms of networking, leadership, career and personal development.

That’s right, folks. Three years ago I moved to Pennsylvania (not knowing a single soul) to start my first professional position as a librarian. And it was a newly-created position to boot. Now I am being asked to mentor other new librarians and support them on their journeys. It’s pretty dang amazing. I was preparing for the academy and my boyfriend asked me, “Did you consider yourself a leader before they invited you to do this?” Honestly, no. I never sat down and thought about it. But now I see that it’s what I have been aiming to do all along, even with this blog. Leadership is a choice we make and it doesn’t hinge on being in a position of power. More on that later. I am so honored to be a part of PALS, and I know I will learn just as much (if not more) from the friends I have made through this experience as they will learn from me.

Along with friends, I came home with a copious amount of notes and new ideas (shamelessly stolen), so look for more posts on library leadership right here. Perhaps this is the re-invigoration I needed to spark my blogging back up. Pete Bromberg has already requested that I turn my opening keynote into a blog post (it’s coming, I promise!) so keep your eyes peeled.

In good consciousness, I could not wrap up this post without thanking the PALS organizers for inviting me to participate, particularly Tina Hertel, Angela Buckley, Holly Etzweiler, Mike Packard, Allyson Valentine, Mary Garm, and Marguerite Dube. And of course, all of the PALS Class of 2011 – you are such an inspiration to me! I look forward to learning with you and making our collective mark on libraries in Pennsylvania.

Written by Erin Dorney

June 12, 2011 at 2:15 PM

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2010 PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies: Apply today!

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2009 PALS Attendees

I’m currently the Treasurer of the College & Research Division of the Pennsylvania Library Association. Being involved with the group last year as a member-at-large really helped me learn more about Pennsylvania, meet other academic librarians, and get involved with PaLA in a number of ways. One new initiative from our state association is the PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS). After a blog post last May regarding surprises from my first year as a librarian, I was honored to be invited to speak to the inaugural PALS class of 2009 about “Achieving your Potential” where I discussed my freshman year on the job. I have become good friends with many of the librarians who attended PALS and consider them among my most valuable colleagues. It was probably one of the best professional development opportunities I have seen geared towards supporting leadership of new librarians.

This year, the CRD is again sponsoring two attendees to PALS. The workshop will be held June 6-9, 2010 at the Radisson Penn Harris, Camp Hill, PA. We invite nominations and applications from academic librarians who have less than six years of experience and who have the potential to become the next generation of library leaders in the state of Pennsylvania. The CRD will pay for Academy registration for the two librarians chosen (alert – free! free! free!) and will work closely with them as they continue to enhance their careers. Further information about the Leadership Academy can be found at: http://www.palibraries.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=102

If you are interested in applying or in nominating someone to be sponsored by the CRD, please send the following by April 1, 2010 to Tina Hertel at tina.hertel(at)lehigh.edu:

• A letter of interest
• A letter of nomination from your supervisor
• Current resume of the nominee
• Statement indicating PaLA membership or intention to join at the end of the program

Nominees will be informed of the CRD’s decision by April 16, 2010. Any questions or concerns about the process can be directed to me or to Tina. I can’t stress enough how important and valuable this opportunity is for potential library leaders. Please consider sending in a nomination and don’t forget, you can nominate yourself!

Written by Erin Dorney

March 16, 2010 at 11:53 AM