I am a tech geek.
Not a hardcore programming, rocket scientist, mathematical genius. I’m a girl that likes gadgets, science fiction movies, imagination, and possibilities. My dad was a radio operator when he served in Vietnam, he built model airplanes and cars, built full size experimental aircraft, and has a very technically oriented mind. I watched him enjoy his hobbies for years but it wasn’t until the personal computer became commonplace that I discovered my tech passion.
Though I’d worked on many different kinds of computers throughout my childhood, the first I’d ever had in my own home was a Windows 95 machine I bought at the age of 18. The awe inspiring magic that is the internet (no, really) made me feel like those happy cows that dance in pastures after being let out. It never gets old, I just love being able to look up anything my heart desires. I’m a knowledge junkie.
Fast forward many years.
I now teach people of all walks of life how to use technology. My skill set is really patience, curiosity, and excitement. I have unending patience and a gentle approach when I teach. I’m thoroughly excited about how tech can be used, how it’s already changing people’s lives, and what the future looks like. It’s hard to hide it so I don’t. It’s a part of my schtick. I leak enthusiasm.
I started speaking as a way to promote my business but I’ve always loved public speaking. It became my calling card. I would speak anywhere and everywhere and the increased visibility was a determiner of success. After a few years of this approach, I began to get paid for what I loved – talking about technology and possibilities. I was in heaven. (See this blog about my entertainment career.)
The majority of my speaking engagements fall into one of these categories: corporations hire me to inform, educate, and train their employees on social media and technology; non-profits bring me in to speak with their members; and I talk to kids at schools or clubs.
I get paid for most of my presentations (I average over 50 per year) but I’m always so happy to talk to kids, as a volunteer or paid speaker, any chance I get.
Kids are fun. They GET technology and are power users like me. They are accustomed to viewing barriers and obstacles as objects to get around (think about a video game) rather than something that equals failure (as adults often do). They ask the questions that I haven’t thought to ask. They challenge me and I simply can’t do my job without them. Their ability to see the world from a fresh set of eyes is absolutely invaluable to me. Kids help stoke my passion for what I do because they remind me that I’m playing and that my job is FUN.
The other reason I approach my work the way I do is that there are very few people that can. I live in Santa Rosa, California. It’s an hour north of San Francisco and two hours from Silicon Valley but those places couldn’t be more different than Sonoma County. We are better known for being wine country and for our amazing agricultural products than for being tech forward.
I am a woman, a minority, a tech geek, a business owner, and a public speaker. By sheer factors, I NEED to speak to students. I must stand in front of them and have them see my existence and the possibilities for themselves. Much of our population is Latino and the represented political environment and business leaders are white men, plain and simple. I see this as my social responsibility.
I believe that kids need to be able to not just “read” technology but to “write” as well. Freedom is in creation not consumption. They need the information, passion, excitement, guidance, and all the push we can offer. If I’m one of the few that can do it here or elsewhere, you better believe I’m all in.
I understand the importance of influence. I was once a little brown girl, not sure what the world held for me.
I am them.