From Code To Conquest: How to Succeed as a Minority in Technology by Kiley Williams
So. What's the started have this clicker whoops alright so Who am I. Let me type that into a terminal you get roof hopefully but. I. Grew. Up in PG County and I. Grew. Up I born, in Brooklyn but. Grew up. But. We. We. Moved to the west coast and there was a massive earthquake so he moved to right back to the East Coast where there were no earthquakes and so I moved to DC and, PG. Group. And Clinton Suitland Fort Washington. Running around crazy over there played, golf football track basketball tennis dodgeball. I don't know everything else that's under the Sun I. Volunteer. As a high school track coach both. Here in Virginia and in Seattle as I currently live in Seattle and I. Also volunteer, as a high school entrepreneurship, teacher here and over front more Oh Virginia so, I mean. I spend my free time somewhere, between eating traveling, and. And, somewhere, with live music, hopefully all three like, Coachella or something so. My. Family's here my. Assistant my mother both, in Maryland. And they, might walk in at some point tonight and have a dog which means Seattle it drives my car on road trips so. He's mad that I've been gone for awhile so really. Why am I here and for. Being here is that we're all a team and a lot of people go out in the world and they, may think about all, right I'm gonna go do this one thing for myself and build my Empire do, that and really it's it's it's ludicrous for us to imagine that, we, can go out there and do everything on our own and that's. Something that you. Know it's it's it's said by a lot of people a lot of successful people are out there but they you know a lot of people claim they can do something rather, what, it takes is the community and you, work with each other and. So that being said it's been family difficult for anyone. To build a company let alone a minority, specifically. Black people Latin. People and it's it's hard it's very hard and so on top of the 90, percent or 93, percent failure rate you have as a first-time business, owner first time founder. You have on top of that all the other, variables. That are trying, to make you fail and. So some of those variables are your sales network to, get out and, so. I know there's a lot of consumer, businesses, out there and they say all make money later we'll get eighty million dollars in investment, and. I personally had a friend that had to hand back fifty million dollars in investments, so it's not a pretty thing literally, losing, and. So. That. When people. Don't or you don't like the people you're asking for money, from and you don't you, don't have anything in calm them or you don't have much in common with them or they have some, kind of issue with you it's hard to do that I've been the recruitment network a lot of people I heard talking, with some really good schools and that helps a lot but, at the same time you'd still get the undertone, of do I really want to work with that person or they don't look the the nerdy type or they don't look the tech type so do they are, they really going to run. A real good, business and so, you went into and. Now. One, of the other things I want to share with my experiences, as a black entrepreneur. Building. And running that company it, was the hardest thing that I've had to do I went. To military school I went to boot camp every summer I did lots of hard things I was. All-american athlete in college and by. Far this. Is the hardest thing that I had to do and you know you can actually feel it in your body you could see the, changes some investors, would say like. Yeah I haven't eaten in like three days so I, love. Chili and eggs so now. The big thing here is a lot of entrepreneurs talk about all right this, is awesome I started a company and now I have a yacht like in that's, not how it goes at all and, there's, a lot of things that go into getting. From point A to point B to Point C and. We'll cover that and one other thing I want to say is if anyone, wants to jump in with a question or interrupt, or whatever just go ahead like it's. Something, to talk about but if you have questions and I covered something or blew past something I'm happy to go back and talk about more of it so. All. Right so my early interests, were in my father's pay phone business and he was if. You think about all. People who were involved in the area he owned about sixty to seventy percent of those and.
That Was actually where I actually saw my first issue, with, a black owned business, and, he. Was you know we ran into he had a lot of run-ins with the police you know two o'clock in the morning trying to fix a payphone and looks like you're trying to rob it right and so, as, an eight year old nine year old I got to see that firsthand and sometimes. The concept of oh maybe I should hire someone to be the quote-unquote, CEO of this company said, I don't get in trouble or people do business with me because they don't you know because of certain racial issues, so. My mother also kept handing me technical stuff her first first, time you got a computer she said here make it work and so I sat there for about nine hours trying, to figure out how, to open this thing called Windows so I just started typing the word windows slowly and I put W and an eye and an enter didn't work that WI and the open windows so I thought it was a hacker. But. You, know a lot. Ago but, I didn't always have a computer you know again, pay phones went downhill if you remember that - my father was from the Caribbean, he grew up in the jungle built his own house and so, what he knew was just hustle hustle hustle and so you know he kept hustling pay phones were going down as cell phones were coming up and ultimately, that, meant that pay, phones went out of business and so did, us you. Know we didn't have any money and so I was moving around I didn't have a computer so I figured out the library, I gave, you 30 minutes of time on the computer and I just would rotate my name on that list and, like haven't you been here like six hours maybe. But it's different names on there so, that's why I learned HTML I would, read the books and then run to the computer I only had 30 minutes to figure out how to make the webpage before I got erased so I, did learn how to write things correctly and so. I, spent four and a half years at the military school that's, what's in front world Virginia Scott randolph-macon if you've heard of it and that. Was kind of like a Wild West they had it was back in Windows 98, Windows 95 I was on the network so there's, no security and I could do whatever I wanted so, I got. A little bit of trouble but it's a military school so you can't really get in trouble but. And then I just tried to learn as much as I could and. Anywhere I would go I talk to people I was playing golf and some guy wants up to me and helped me with my golf swing he end up being a software developer and he sent me links galore. Links. And links and links just to learn and read things and so that, was a huge, key. To. My professional, background with, the Carnegie Mellon and some of you went there at, Carnegie Mellon I built a file sharing network that file-sharing Network actually was rolled over from my military school yeah, you know four hundred boys and a hundred girls in a school and on a shared network you could pretty, much do whatever you wanted with file sharing and so, I wrote that over to Carnegie Mellon where, they got about. 20,000. 25,000. Users on it and what. I would do is during my track meets I would go and drop off little pieces of paper yes was littering chop a little piece of paper with the secret password to a far-our, file-sharing, Network and we had homework notes, class recordings, those types of things on it and eventually. Started they started sharing videos, and, and pictures, and music and all that other kind of stuff that. Caused, the few issues with the Recording Industry of America, but what glaze over that and then, hit huh so, then I parlayed, that and the. Nationwide. Students classifieds, which we called front listings front listings we, built on the file-sharing Network that we had already because, I saw that was about to get sued sued out of existence so, we, took all of our user base and push that over to front listings and that was a really good way to push.
Ourselves Our to cede and gain, the system and beat the chicken or the egg problem and I, can talk about that in a bit as well and, then I graduated 2008, when the stock market was on sale and so. I ended up going to Microsoft, because they handed me a paycheck and. And. Actually the student classifieds it went head-to-head with Facebook there was a little, bit of a hostile. Action. That was taken a DDoS that was taken against our network, our system our servers and Aidid. Off the denial of service attack that means that if your imagine, that you're standing there and someone's talking to you and then that person clothed clones, themselves, 10,000, times and they're all saying different things to you that's, what happened to our server which was sitting in my dorm room so I had no way to scale no way to do anything right now we have EWS so when that happens on AWS, it'll scale automatically, but back then it was all right plugging the other computer and put them in the computer and so someone was attacking fretless. Things went down and after, I went out it was down for X amount of time people jumped over to Facebook, classified, we lost 75% of our user base in about. A day and a half and so I. Had to get a job. And. So I started, working in the Microsoft IT department, it, was also there's like this middle ground between SharePoint, and IT and we basically just got to build prototypes of things we thought made sense and then, while I was doing that I built something called called, wink which I will if we have time I can run through have a little deck on that but wink, was an, image crawling and reactivate re exif occation algorithm. And what it did was if, you did a picture of you in 2008, before, all this image, stuff was out you, would go out and would go on the web and find every picture of you and then bring it back and tell you where it found every picture of you and it, couldn't obviously couldn't remove him because that would involve, some illegal stuff but it. Would tell you where those things are and so we went, up the chain and actually what I did I was a college, hire sent in a room like this and I, after there's a corporate vice president, she said if anyone has ideas you know we're all about ideas and so I raised my hand I was like well my roommate and I worked on this thing and. We. Don't know what to do with it because I Google if we come up with something and it gets a certain amount of users we get a million dollars but at Microsoft we just we get in trouble so what, do we do so she said send me an email and, I'll say alright what do you want the email she said give me a summary and a you know a couple screenshots and and we'll see what happens and so we'll, see what happens meant that the, next morning I was going to the gym at 5:00 a.m. and I, see her for the email off to Bill Gates Steve Ballmer the, entire c-level sweet and then the entire all their reports and then, immediately I guess they're on their planes around the country or the world they, start emailing, me back and so I call my roommate I turn, around I wasn't going to the gym turn, her call. Her I see it I see just are you coming home like yeah I'm coming home we took off of work for the next day and a half and we. Just responded to emails and so. For about. Two years that Microsoft had two jobs and I, was, working 16 18 hours, a day on. This or excuse. Me one share point and the other part was on the image crawling and you.
Know We were all over the country doing that we you know we got to pitch and meet a lot of people some, were nice some weren't the current CEO I'm gonna just not. Talk about him so but. But. What ended up happening was, I met, an entire pillar of people that were that were like hey look Microsoft, isn't in this world of let's innovate right now. And but we're gonna we're, gonna help you and so at first I thought about it and I say hey I you know I'm I I went to the racial side of things I said hey I'm a black guy trying to come in here and do something make some changes and they don't want to see me and what, it really was it was some some, upper. High level battle that was going on where Steve Ballmer and his people were trying to take, over the company but Bill Gates says people want to take over the company and Bill Gates wasn't there anymore well, he wasn't you know involved, anymore so he didn't have any power and there. Was a struggle and I walk in saying hey can someone you know my app and that didn't work out too well but I ended up meeting and that was the best experience because, I ended up meeting all the executives, that then helped me get out of there and. And helped me leave, and so, I'll talk about that in a little bit so. I then I left he did a little consulting, I. Was, just urge to leave and. People kept giving, me hints you know our consultants. That we hired they said hey you know if you left Microsoft, you could make three times more and not that I would say that you should ever and so it turns out that's what they were trying to tell me to do for like a year I kept ignoring it and so. I let them do that I realized I was still working for a corporate company and receiving a paycheck and I wanted to make, the paychecks and so. Right now I'm currently in the world of cyber security at a company called polymers, and polymers, is a, cybersecurity firm that's run by Bill. Gates's former. Technical adviser and he's one of my been my personal advisor, since I was 22 and. He just made a nice, pitch to me to learn something that I didn't already know and so again I can touch on that but, but. The. Big question is why did I start my own company and this is an email from my sister that she would send me every, single day from 2009. Onward. Until I quit Microsoft, and it says my life has been reduced to email and meetings this, is not fun, seriously I'm considering, a complete change of career maybe being a jet pilot I only, have one life I need to do something I enjoy where I have some promise not 15 layers of executives, above me that trickled things down I'm grateful, to have an income yes but I don't get excited about the work we do no, one does it's IT these guys are here to be stable and make money to support their families nobody has the drive to change the world on this team and that's. What Microsoft, was all about back then it was people were just trying to maintain and toe, the line they weren't trying to make any waves and that's actually what several, executives, said to me, and. In my description for, you know for this meetup you know I was invited to dinner as I was invited to people's houses I was invited to places to sit down and talk to them and, and. It, opened, up my eyes to a lot of things they said you know one of the the director of Microsoft, Research set me down he said I like, what you're doing I'm supporting, you but I'm telling you that other people are not supporting, you because they, have been here for 20 years now they have kids going to college and if they make any waves that messes with their college fund it's. Not something I thought about ever right you know I was at the 20 year old kid, trying to make waves and so you. Know my sister kept sending this to me and saying hey I said should email it's time to do something about it and so I my. First foray was I started a consulting firm with a couple good friends of mine and we, messed, up we tried to get a couple contracts, and we failed at all of them and you, know we just you know we didn't realize that consulting, isn't just about writing a good con of running a good response, to the RFP it's about knowing, people and being able to prove that you're not gonna mess up their business and so the. Big thing here I was upset I did go back to work and I wasn't gonna go have a yacht in a year so I had. But I learned lessons, right and I said alright I fail I fail in, sports when you fail you figure out what not to do and so I then. Started time Technologies, Inc in 2011. And actually, it was called tartan soft and so that's uh it, was. Tartans. Of the name or the name of our mascot and at carnegie mellon and.
Software. So that wasn't very innovative but okay, but it was called tartan Soffen was an LLC and we, named, it that because carnegie, mellon had opened up a new, accelerator. Program and they. Said that they were trying to get people in and my, co-founders, one, was seek, and we had a very, unhappy. Touchy. Large, white guy and so, we were like we have a very diverse set of people and and, so the only we were missing a woman, but we. Figured we can find one of our friends to jump in so but. The whole thing here is there was more failure involved here what happened was is we we met went out met with a bunch of investors got a lot of promises, from people and then, Carnegie Mellon took a long time to actually. So the fund was if you could find a minimum, of $100,000. Investment they would match that investment, and we went out and found 250,000. And so we're celebrating, quit our jobs I put in my you know I said I was gonna told Microsoft I was gonna quit and then, our matching, or our lead investor pulled out meaning all the money was gone and so, I'm, in there all right well I couldn't Microsoft I have no job nothing, and, we have no money now so what do we do and. To. Keep going down that rabbit hole of bad things how that, same day then quit Microsoft, the left side of my face was shattered it's completely shattered by, someone playing flag football with me I couldn't. See out on my left I couldn't talk I couldn't eat and I couldn't even stand up and I couldn't think straight because there were bones all over the place and then. I had I was sitting there looking at a 40,000 dollar surgery, bill, luckily. I got to the hospital at 11 p.m.. My, job maybe I should have just stayed at, Microsoft, and I'm sitting there and my friends were like no. Putting. Yourself in these situations, and. So. And. The, sale was was, architected. By one of the executives, that I'll talk about the, former executives, for Microsoft he used to run the entire Windows division he invented Windows CE II all. That you've. All probably touched the software, and hardware that he's built and I, actually went to his office when I first met him in 2009, and he was building a tablet, before. The iPad came out and he, was sitting there what do you think of this I mean I just met you and you handed me a tablet which is futuristic, and so, this guy he's super smart and he calls me one day and he says hey I think I have a high net worth individual, that wants to buy your company and, I was like why, would they want to buy my company and he said well several, reasons you have a good team you have a product that they want to build that you've already built and done the work on and they, just want and they have more money than you and they just want to give you the money so that they don't have to do the work and, that's exactly what happened they to, take us take my team they. Asked you know certain questions. Certain hard questions do you need that all the members of your team which would have meant that I would have gotten a lot more money if I said no what I said every everyone, on my team comes with me or we none of us go and, not everyone does that and, I was told in college by one of my entrepreneurship professors, that you'd have to make that decision and I didn't it came up and and I team, is what makes you and that's what I said the beginning we're all a team when we all work together and so while, I think I architected, all that stuff myself I didn't I bounce ideas off of people and that's how things worked so. I've. Heard of range all corporation in 2016, it's, something that will pop up I guess if you look me up it might pop up here and there but it's something that we're not making.
Publicly. Publicly. Known what, it actually does or is until. Later, this year and that's. For legal reasons that's for people who were still attached to it that they can't talk, about what they do they can't tell they'd get in trouble they get sued so, that's. Something that you might see so. Again, why, did I start my own company you. Know my job at Microsoft was, a cushy no actually. What people were getting laid off left and right a lot of my friends were getting laid off I was getting, because. Of the politics. That were happening when I was meeting these executives, I'd have to you know skip out on a team meeting to go meet with Steve Ballmer right and that just sounded arrogant and so my, at. All and. Luckily. So I kept getting bad reviews at Microsoft, because of whatever reason they would come up with luckily one of my mentors. Was the, CTO of Microsoft, so he could see it come through and flag it and then like send it back down and it was just this lucky not lucky but these I. Don't, know these things that kept happening that that made it so that you know that they weren't there I would have been totally screwed. Now. The, Microsoft executives that continually urged me to take the risk and leave Alex. Canaris who's the right. Now berry brakes is. One. Way mentioned, used, to run Windows and architected, the sale of my company and entosis, my Leo's who sat on a call, he was in charge of mergers and acquisitions for Microsoft, and he. Called me and told me that image. That image stuff that you built you had to leave it at Microsoft, let it simmer for a while and you know maybe you can take it out again patent, it and sell it but, you have enough ideas in your head that you can go do something else and I was in massive debt I was broke and I'm like well dude you make two million of dollars a year that's easy for you to say, and. He was driving to like it's, been a house or something he was on the phone with me so I'm like I I don't I don't understand what you're talking about he's like well if you are gonna be 30-plus, and start this business right now you're 23 24, you, know you're gonna have a lot more, a. Lot more constraints. That that, are there you might have kids you might have a life you might have all types of things health issues right now you're fine it's a money issue we can worry about money we can find money I'm like okay find, my money you can find me some money but. What. He really meant was all, these people yeah he makes 2 million dollars a year these people made more than him meaning all their friends make more than them meaning, $100,000, investment is really not right. And so we're, that, they were basically saying we will introduce you and walk you into rooms with high net within the high net worth individuals, and that's what they did. My first I embarrassed, all of them my first meetings you know I walk in and I didn't know things and. My first investment, investor, meeting the guy was just like okay stop I'm gonna turn this into a teaching moment but we're not putting any money in that company and so, but it was a teaching moment and again I took that as a positive right, so. But. I knew that I'd learn a lot and again failure, and learning a lot from failure is what we do. Is. I wanted to make money and so, I. Like fun coupons but. So. Don't, be shy about wanting, to make money, now obviously minorities. Are underrepresented in, the world of technology and. This. Is a number or a graph that's really going to show you how how, bad it is. So 73%, of senior, leadership in tech is white, and there's. Some more numbers I'll talk about how. Many of those are white males and then, 21%, are Asian, which includes Indian and East. Asian yep. The. Teaching Oh from the. Investors. They. Were the guys that run Wells Fargo for the West Coast they, it. Was about the deck it was about how we were presenting the deck it was just like we, were just bad it, was like don't. Come in here with like eight million slides and, and. He said. Yeah. And he, also oh, that's the other big thing they asked us he said what's it what's your cap table looked like and. The. Cap tables a capital is it capitalization. Table and it shows just basically, it's a list of you know this person owns this person this person owns, that person and I sat down I said my friend or my co-founder, who worked at Goldman Sachs Sachs and I'm just like please tell me you know something like that he looks at me he's like we. Don't know what that is. Actually. When he was like okay stop. So. I mean I did a lot Wikipedia, I did, a lot of Wikipedia. College, if you will and. And. One of the interesting, things was one of my friends went in to start. Her MBA when I was starting a company and so I was asking her a lot of questions and then by the end she was asking me a lot of questions and so it, was like I wouldn't got an MBA and.
She Finished about when I sold my company so, it worked out well and, so, yeah this is I mean this, is a huge percentage, white and Asian make up a massive percentage, of this which, means that three, percent Latino, two percent black and then obviously. You have the other mixed-race, and Pacific Islander which, is pretty crazy right so. So. More numbers 78, percent of top VC team members are white thirty percent of the top seventy-one, VC firms are percent. White thirty percent that means they probably. Don't even talk to 15 percent of and then, black, and Latin leadership is, both at one percent for VC firms so that that means let's, talk about this all but two of my investor, meetings out, of the entire time we've been doing pitching since 2010. Were, two white males that's. Two out of all those I don't know the percentage much but I met and pitched with over 75 percent of the top US VC firms and so, I go in there I don't look like them yep. 2016. Our sorry 2017, yeah, it's. From I have it in the notes but yeah okay. I think. It's fortunate maybe but, yeah. So this is a it's, a crazy number here and so I mean I was looking down the list and I got this number here just because I was looking down the list you know when I saw that number and I, was like man I've talked to it I counted and I was like I talked to all these people and it, was frustrating some of the one, of the worst. Responses. That I got from, an investor, was I oh. He, goes did you did you go to Burning Man and I was like no I couldn't afford to go to Burning Man it was like five thousand dollars to go I'm trying to start a company he, goes ok willing talk to people who have been to Burning Man and I'm, like and that was a major firm it's. A major Silicon, Valley fireman and and I, mean I like all kinds of music I've been to everything pretty much but Burning Man but I can't go in the middle the desert with $5,000. And not do where it doesn't make sense right, so you get people like that yep. It's. A mix there's the youngest person that I talked to I and, I'll just I don't even care it was with drone a venture firm, madrone. Madrone they're based out of Seattle and he. Was 22 but, he was straight out of college maybe, 23 straight, of college and he. So, what I do one thing to always keep in mind is when you hand out and send files to people I never attach things directly I send links that I can track and so, I sent him a link via tax at i/o he said we sat down with him for two hour meeting talked all these questions he was kind of arrogant but fine I actually knew the the heads of the managing directors I talked to all of them before but I was trying to go through and not you, know go, through that route I was trying to go the correct route and. He. Said to me he was he. Was he. Was Chinese but, he said to me he. Said I don't think we're interested in your, and your team and it, was something not that those exact words but then he said he, said sending the deck and I'll circulate it with the rest of the with the rest of the the company and I, sent the deck he never opened it then I emailed him I was like hey what do you think of the deck and he goes oh I share it with a bunch of people and we're not interested never opened it and I have a tracker I can see when you opened it when you what slide you look at how long you look at them where your mouse is all, that and I, know it works because it's not my company's another company that's. Big that's what their company does and, I'm sitting like that's crazy and I. You, know I sent. An email to the managing, director and told him that and, the kids he's no longer with madrone but it's it's, things people do things like that if I didn't have the ability to go and do that you, know and get him out. Would. Have turned you know turn them off from aronia and so but. The age range I've talked to people that were in their 70s, 80s and. They. Are oddly. Enough I didn't know this until two. Years ago but the person who gave me a scholarship to go to military school I mean. He's he's, started, and sold over 40 companies bought, companies he, brought the Cleveland, Cavaliers to Cleveland. Everything. I had no idea I just thought this guy was just giving me tuition to go to this school but he invited me to his house and he introduced. Me to more investors, the people that the one guy who has who, was the creator of Bluetooth, all. Just all types of stuff and so it's it's. A whole spectrum, of people you have people who were really young were 18 years old whose parents left them with a bunch of money and they're, you know you talk to them and they've got you know 50, million dollars to put somewhere right and so. Thanks. For the question so I like this yep. What's. The most beneficial, and I. Just. Run my mouth. So. Like John John Legere the t-mobile CEO, I literally, was walking into my.
Office Building, and he was staying there in a bright pink you know he just bright, pink everything and. I'm like I know you he's like sure about that and. He just start talking Hey. And you know he was looking for a restaurant I helped him find it that's how I like you and then you make sure you connect with him right and then the Starbucks CEO I noticed. He was taking pictures and are doing like a live. Stream while I was at a geek wire event and nobody, recognized, them I walked, up start talking to him and then we start talking and he knows he knew the CEO of polymers and then we was, on the email train chain starts happening, Steve. Ballmer I the first time I met him I was, leaving, I was. Leaving some event but he was going to use a porta potti and. Like. A good. And, went my other buddy some PTO saying they were sitting there with me and we both we started talking to them so it's. All about talking to the people but also making sure you take that extra step to connect with them and make yourself memorable, so always having something that you can say oh yeah there's, this there's that and they'll remember you and then, you know try to bounce yourself in and most, of the time they they're just really busy but the other thing is you know if you were really interesting they'll sit down and have lunch with you and they'll sit down and invite you to something or one. Of them Bill, Mitchell I rent track his daughter started running hurdles ICO Turtles and so he started sending me non-stop pictures, of his daughter like how, she do this here's a video what's she doing wrong and I'm like you know critiquing. Her form and all his other stuff but that helped. Me getting you know into more, of his Grace's I think he already liked me a lot but he, got into more of his Grace's because of something that we had in common right so. This, right here this has been up for a minute but there's no black moment among the fortune 500 CEOs, which is kind of insane and. The. Only by Clemens to ever be on the list stepped. Down in 2009, and 92. Percent of the senior, leadership at top VC firms are men and then, 44 out of the 71 top funds have zero. Female senior investment leaders which, is a lot and. So. What does that really mean for women in in tech entrepreneurship, you know you go into a room and we've, all heard about the issues that happen and all the fallout last year in the year before that right it was a whole bunch of problems and people, not you know people stepping out of line and causing issues and so.
It, Makes it a lot harder for you go out there and raise money and makes it a lot harder for you to go and get. Continued, money and to build your business to get business all those types of things but. I think for women that's starting to change a lot because a lot of the men and the VC firms and silicon, silicon, valley have gotten into trouble so. So. There was a Google manifesto, but the. Google manifesto, was a developer, at Google or whatever he was but he basically was like an anti diversity, rant is that what you're talking about, and he basically was saying that there's an attack on white. Males or something like that because, of diversity, what, I was talking about was there. Was a lot of sexual harassment, going on among, species and I mean amongst all industries, now right but among, species in particular and. Silicon. Valley I can't remember who's 2016, or 2017 but, that. Caused the surge and people correcting themselves and, catching themselves, and kicking a lot of the the people out who were causing issues and you, actually start to see a little bit of a rise in and. Women. Getting you know more funding because you, know the people that were messing things up weren't there so. So. Why, are minorities, underrepresented underrepresented. So. One thing that I've noticed, is, the employee versus employer mentality, and, that's something I came out of and, again coming from this area when I do business in this area I go to a lot of meetups and talk to people and just sit there and listen and a. Lot, of people are afraid to step out there and I'll touch on that in a moment the other big thing was IT versus, software architecture, and you. Know I've it's it's fun when I meet an uber driver or lyft driver or whatever and they you know that's what I do they start talking they say I'm gonna get into IT and I tell them IT is being automated you know IIT, and physical IT is being automated it's about software are it's extra cloud architecture, and learn those terms and go act with those terms and for. Some reason it's it's it's. In our community, of minorities, it has been heavily focused. On IT, as opposed to the other words that I was heard, being tossed around tonight which I was really excited to hear but, I mean to me little words a little mental shifts make a big difference another, big thing was for example a little, example, is uh when. I go to Canada Canadians. I found at least in Vancouver, have they refer, to themselves as Canadian, first and then their ethnicity. Second, and so, that makes them all United and and I feel way better when I go to Canada I just feel like people have treated me so much better than even in Seattle and I. You know I some. Little things like that and those little differences, can make a huge difference so. And. So, again, stepping outside of comfort zones and then the fear of failure because of more, severe consequences again if I messed up and I fail I didn't have any money then that means like the family doesn't have money right and so there was no no, golden parachute there was no fallback Evan spiegel's dad already made fifty million a year or whatever you made right, that's easy let me go make an app if I fail I'll just go back to my you know yeah I. Don't know I like yeah so whatever so. So. You know it's a fear of failure and that was my fear and at some point I'd say forget it you know Microsoft, getting on my nerves everything's get on my nerves I'm gonna go do my thing and if I fail I'll just figure something out and I'll be a janitor or whatever and then. So the other big thing here is to remember I know probably a lot of you heard this but the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time that's, yeah you are the average of that and so if you surround yourself with people that are doing really well ice around it you know my roommates, were all doing really well and they were you know I surrounded.
Myself With them all the time and, my. Friends you know I picked and choose who I was hanging out with and and so, if you have really really successful friends, who are working their butts off to do something you're gonna go and try to do those same things because you'll see that they're possible and I saw the same thing in sports right if you go to a really good school the reason why I was an all-american in college was, not because I was faster, than somebody or went to a better school so, because everyone. Used the same track so University. Of Pittsburgh Duquesne Cal U Penn all of them went to the same track and so we had like five d1, coaches coaching everybody and so you know we we were surrounded by these really good people and so I'd had these workouts that I was doing thinking I was doing a lot and I here comes everyone else doing three times that and I'm like I guess, I won't die if I do that and so, it, worked right and so that's. Something that I that. I've found is something to keep in mind also. A big, thing here is for. Those of you in your 20s and early 30s, you know partying. Huge you know people go out and they rage I like, to party but at, the same time you might have five people that's all they do and so if you're trying to go home and spend your entire weekend, writing code and everyone's. Like hey you know come out come to do this come do that next thing you know it's Sunday night and you're still hungover I mean. That's not gonna help whereas you have four friends that are like no I'm staying in today because I gotta do this I'm working on this deck I sent you the deck you know take a look at it and you're, gonna stay inside and do your work and so it's really easy to see that play out the. Big thing in my mind was it's the entire system ranked I always thought it was read I thought everything was rigged and, it, is so. Spoiler. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I, was, in that boat because I, want. To be a neurosurgeon when I was younger, I'd like my pajamas were all surgeon clothes and I've. Read certain books I did all I was ready to be a surgeon, I also was ready to go into the Navy that was my other big thing I want to be the Navy so my, family was like oh you'd be a surgeon. In the knee home this is everything it's so but. Then the war broke out in 2004, and then I was in the military school so that stuff happened and then I start looking at how long it took to become a neurosurgeon how, much money it took you know all his other stuff and I. Realized that computers were modeled, after, the. The way the human body and brain works and so I said so I can mess up and play around on this computer all day and not get sued but, but. Still get the the. Still. Get to the satisfaction, of working on something that that's kind of like a system I can build AI and have it think like a human and and, it's not human but it thinks, like a human and my. Mother when, I graduated, from Carnegie Mellon and got my job she said she. Said if. I had known I'm, not gonna it's, not exactly basic if she had known that you can make as much as you can with so it Microsoft my starting salary was 70 grand a year in 2008. I think now it's like 110 but. But. She. Said if I know you can make this much right out of college I probably would have told you to do this too but she, didn't know all right and if you can sit there and say hey look this is possible, if I do this this and this here's my plan I feel, like you're you know that's, selling that's what sales is it's you're trying to sell them on what, you want to do I didn't want to go to college my mom is sir tricked me into going to college and, see.
If She brought me there on Carnival weekend and carnival. Weakens to kind of this partying weekend and my. Sister's six feet tall and so she hung out with all like the people who do modeling and so I come from military school, she sends me to class with like you know two models, who were doing. Computer science and game theory and I'm just sitting there to slay and everyone's paying attention to me and I'm just like what is happening and then there's parties and I'm like this is college it wasn't that wasn't college. And. So but you know my sister, my mom played a huge influence on me you, know changing my mom's mindset and, because you know I want to be the neurosurgeon I'm gonna do this and I was able to do all these different things but, I chose this computer route which really seemed like I was most time I was hacking around and getting in trouble but. Once. She realized that there is an opportunity to make this money really quickly and easily I mean even now the barrier, to entry is really low right you can go make a mobile application and people. Like it because it plays a radio in a certain loop and you make you know 2 million dollars over a weekend and so, it's possible to do those things but showing the possibilities, now being a neurosurgeon is not you know you can you can make it all the way through neurosurgery, school and then you you get the, thing that happened to me I lost my 2010. Vision but I lost it for a, good five months I was everything was blurry and so, that could happen to you someone could just run into you you know there's all types of things all types of risks you know real estate crash, all these things are are not, a hundred, percent and like I said you know I thought everyone thought I had a cushy job why why are you quitting Microsoft, Microsoft, had their first layoffs ever in 2009, and so, it wasn't safe you know it you know I knew Microsoft was not going anywhere but you, know it wasn't safe and then it wasn't as safe as you think so it's, all about selling the, people who were supporting you and peanuts. It so that answer your question. Decorator's. Who. Do not have that built-in system with ventures how, do you suggest going about finding. So. One, it's looking at that's a good question so it's, talking and again talking to people that you meet even if they're it's like little bright coin so you follow these breadcrumbs and it's, named. For up to an example there's a my, dog when I would go out and walk him I meet people and this, this, woman I met is in she's, trying to get into taxonomy, which is library science and just so happened I worked with a bunch of library science people at Microsoft but we talked every day and then she asked me what I did I asked her what she did and then said go separate ways and in this Keith's building like that a lot of a sudden its we, found this link that now that she's going to go talk to two or three of the library science people that probably gonna get her a job in Microsoft right but, then we when she goes and meets those people it's a hey you have time to grab coffee real quick you know you talk for you know talk for an hour and then go away and then you notice that person likes to I don't know plant flowers or under underwater, basket weave right and say you do when you do that and. It's, it's it's a slow process but, even with these execs that likes me you know I went I didn't drink beer I never drank beer but Bill. Mitchell loved beer he has a beer brewing company it's called Pico Brewers really good but. It's a beer brewing company so I went out get beers with them all the time and I ended up starting to like beer because he liked expensive beer but. But. If I going out with him in the going and doing those little steps helped, and you know if I was someone in the neighborhood I would have met him by walking a dog or you know he.
Paddleboards. Right but, just meeting every person and like I was saying taking every opportunity to, to, meet someone and just talk to them you, know someone who's trying to get into business John, Legere right you go up and meet him or I recognize you then all of a sudden you might have he might give you a tip on something or he might introduce, you to an exact, who likes to mentor so, it's. All about taking opportunities, and just talking to people and even at groups, like this you know talking to people a tailor right like you just don't get up go talk and then you can you, can then follow those breadcrumbs and meet people. And actually here's, to my. Mentor. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So is it yeah is it for me yeah. So I was so I was at the, going-away party for Bill Mitchell and I was, talking to it was a group of execs so standing there and this guy Bob Moog Lia he, runs snowflake, computing now he. Starts, talking about telling me what kind of cars I should look into you I'm like okay well I'll have the Impala, 1lt or 2lt whatever he's like you know the SS edition he's like well you know I'm no great Ferrari dealership and I'm like yeah, I don't even know that how, much that even cost. But. Yeah I mean you listen, to what they say but at the same time you can take that archived it because it might actually help at some point in the future right not the Ferrari thing but like he might have something else that he that. He puts, out there and and it might be relevant later one. Thing that I will say for the women in here one, of my best friends Janet Perez, she's, I know. She's worked heavily in the minority community, she, was, see us out of brown she's one of the I call her power power power woman. It's, a hard word to say or a power so, she is really really good and she started a company. Called president, Co and it's, for social networking with women and trying, to just, help build that community so that people can have mentors, and things like that so she's, done a really good job with it and she launched it with the former CTO of square and, again him I met him at brunch like we. Were brunching and we started talking and he introduced me to a ton of investors. Right so. Yeah. Just. Listen to stuff but you hear from other people that. And. There's. An interesting actually, was funny I was just talking I was gonna as we had a I had to rush over here and I told him I was coming here to do this talk and he was just like wait I'm wait what are you totally talk talking about me about and only just don't worry it's fine you helped me get out of Microsoft and and.
It's It's interesting he said you know I'm. Gonna paraphrase, what he said he said it's not like there's any machine code out there that says you know you have to be this color and this, age and this height and the sides and this whatever in order for your code to work and that, that's what he told me about an hour hour, and a half ago and that, was really really powerful to me because that's true it's not like you put in code compile it and then all of a sudden it says, oh no you're the wrong type I can tell don't work right you, know you you, can get out there so my, best, employee, we worked on some speech recognition software my best speech employee was, her. Name was Kelly and I called I call her the pizza lady because, I was trying to work on some speech recognition software and I, ordered pizza I didn't eaten in the entire day I ordered pizza and she shows up to my door she, was 47. She might be mad at me for saying this but she's 47 48 but, she had a PhD in speech recognition with. Our citizens PhD and liquor and linguistics, with a, specialization. And speech recognition and my, code wasn't working with for the speech recognition stuff so she answered, the pizza and we start talking about some Pittsburgh stuff and it. Just so happens it comes out that she had that degree, and so I'm like to you it's not I'm not being weird but do you have time to come in my house and look at my coat. She's. Like yeah this is all wrong this is all. Will. Be hired because, I mean it's it's the opportunity, and it's about finding the person that the, inductions waiting for nuance technologies, which is what powers Siri and all this other stuff but. It's. About finding you know that just again taking those opportunities and, the, people who actually need, you, won't care. And you know peace someone it's time to say oh I don't like this I don't like that then obviously they don't have they have too much time so.
But. Again also it's you know sometimes. It might take you to get out there and do something on, your own to, just just take the initiative and run, your own thing. And I, mean that's it's it's hard to see. That now because back you know ten years ago or 20 years ago no, one cared to be out a degree in tech it was just how good, are you and get in there and do it there's, one other thing I'll say is a lot of the base, level coding stuff is is, being, considered now blue collar which, means that those were those jobs are gonna be automated in a, decade or so which. Means that if you can get yourself to say a cloud architect, level or a cloud, you know some sort of architecture level and, you can go very niche really quickly and get there learn, some AWS stuff, real quick and get certified, people are gonna snap you up and hire you because even. If they don't feel a they feel a certain way about you they, you know your skills. Overshadow. That you know that feeling of whatever they feel and then all of a sudden you start getting a lot of experience. And the, other thing is I work for charities so I work with the charity right now and, we, pull in a lot of people who just want experience, and we don't care if they're good or bad that will get them there and knowing Kate you're just trying to help right and so charity people aren't though they'll let you you know come in and do whatever then it pads your resume like crazy so. Does. That help okay. So. Like, I said the system is rigged so rigged, it for yourself and, the. Big thing here is know your weaknesses. And be okay with your weaknesses and then find someone who has those is strengths as strengths, and then, study and read everything like some, people gloss, and they might read a little bit of stuff but read everything and go through it yeah it's gonna take you forever but read as much as you can and then, something that Alex kipman told me Alex kipman was the inventor of the Kinect and he, who's that, was a really rude meeting he got having left and my roommate I were like this I just, want to go home. Technology. Because again the Kinect back then was just coming out and we were like if we can get people's images and start scanning we can do all types of crazy things and he's. Like yeah this is interesting but, not really that interesting in fact it's uninteresting to me and I'm like hi. Okay and he said solved the heart problem he said my heart problem again he likes to talk about himself with my, heart problem was creating. Video games or making a video game controller without, a controller but I was like it is actually kind of hard so, so. I took that to heart and went back and built that reacts if occasionally that, we, had built previously it was more just like an advanced Instagram but, then we built that algorithm because of what he told us and so get, out there and solve the hard problem, and then you're gonna gain the system because you're really actually solving, hard things and then, again this is what I've been saying the whole time every time you speak to someone it's a new opportunity so, take advantage of that and then always be switched on so whether you're at the gym whether you're doing you know you're walking it's. Just be active, in the way you're thinking because, you know the person sitting next to you could be whoever I was at brunch and yeah I was at brunch at like 8:00 mimosas, but, the dude next to me was a CTO of square right and I was like so like don't, just fall on him and whatever you know talk to him and be ready to to, work on an opportunity, and. So, what, can go wrong absolutely, everything I told you my face got shattered and everything was going wrong my car probably broke down I don't know what else happened but, everything. Can go wrong but everything that can go wrong will, go wrong which means that you can assert that for those of you who do test-driven development you can assert, that everything will go wrong and so you can test on that and. So know. That your first user is always going to be the worst user you're gonna be like this is beautiful this is amazing and then someone's going to come in there and do. It all wrong and say it doesn't work and then write the wrote the worst review ever and so.
Bank, On that and know that's coming because it's it's actually coming so you have to meticulously. Craft, your success and so, you have to make sure you're trying to cover all the bases and then when you don't cover those bases make sure you have a catch all over here make sure there's somebody who's awake all the time for a terrible, terrible. Message or a terrible tweet that's gonna pop up right and then. Obviously, yet. It's, out of my control but many. Unfortunate events are gonna be out of your control and so, you. Know you're not I couldn't stop the guy, from running into my face it just happened right there's, I couldn't the investor, that pulled out I couldn't stop that things are gonna be out of your control so you have to be okay with it and stay calm and this, is what the. Old philosopher. Thinker Seneca, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So, that's. Where I say my. Latin teacher from high school said proper prior preparation prevents, poor performance there, was an extra P in there that is not pg-13. So it's, six PS for now but. But. That's. What I always think about is always prepare always prepare always prepare and always practice practice, practice always, think about what you're gonna be doing and, and you know try to think about the, different, ways that something can go wrong like I said before again. Plan with as much detail as you can without impeding, progress if, you're just gonna keep planning keep planning keep playing keep playing keep planning that's not gonna help but if you plan and plan you say okay I think I'm almost there I think I've gotten a lot of planning done here let's go and try this and, that's that you know try, to find that balance it's never gonna be a silver, bullet for that balanced planning, is much less it's less expensive so if you're gonna go build a website and you're gonna draw a bunch of pictures on a whiteboard or on a piece of paper you can get rid of that stuff really easily but, if you're gonna spend three. Weeks building a website then all of a sudden it doesn't work the way you want it to work because, you haven't looked at the user experience ahead, of time then that obviously cost you three weeks instead of three, hours right and so that's so that's a huge thing to think about is planning that's something I learned at Microsoft, being a p.m. there and. Then use focus groups and. User experience studies, don't be afraid to test your food as I say you know Gordon, Ramsay as long as I test this test that tests, your food if someone says it's crap okay, let's crap that person proceeds. To describe everyone, else might think it's amazing but that person right there has a perception then you start wondering is that person a severe outlier or is that person a representation of something I'm not covering so. You, know just because someone says it's crap and everyone else says it's good you might these might be all your friends were afraid to tell you it's crap because you're ten feet taller than them right so you. Want to go in. Test test test with people you don't know for that image software that we built we've itzá for as many college hires as we could pack, them all into a room own beer lots of free alcohol for them and and. We pack them into a room and then we just had them just trash, it and they trashed it they, told us all kinds of stuff we were sitting they just like man we didn't do this and that but, it worked we got rid of the privacy issues we got rid of the crawling issues all that stuff because we asked for people to hurt our feelings so. Preparation. It helps because then also your product won't fail or. Won't fail as badly as it might if, you hadn't, done those and then again look for feedback from anyone who wants to give it it's any feedback at all so.
The. Entrepreneurial, reality, I like, this picture because it's so true all the time yeah it's gonna be a lack of sleep I already, didn't sleep very much but I sleep on average, nowadays two to four hours right. I was sleeping some, days I would go 36. To 48 hours and then I crash and then go get up again crashing meaning I get six hours of sleep and so my body was starting you could see like changes happening and like I was getting like my advice my abs I lost my abs even though it's working out it's just like your body just starts doing things and so there's, a balance issue that has to happen lack of money there's gonna be a lot, of lack of money I lived, off of chilli and eggs. And I called it jardin air with eggs which is these peppers from Chicago I put. A bunch of jardin arrows in the pot and mate put one maybe two eggs if I could afford it and so, it's a whole bunch of jardin air and then cutting an eggs and so I lost about 20 pounds just, like trying to build this this company and. Stress. Obviously, and then people. Asked how you describe your job I'm an entrepreneur so you're a drug dealer. It's, people, parents, you know it's, it's it's stressful, commitments. And relationships, people. A lot of people are not going to understand what you're doing and that, goes for significant, others and and, I tell people this one. Of the students the first day of class, she says she asked me she's really she's my best student I was there one of them I probably three best students and she. Asked me you. Know how do you balance your relationships, and how do you balance you know don't you everyone get married and this and that and I was like I made a decision and prioritized, that my, business came first because, then I'd be okay to then go do other stuff and I'd, have a foundation, to build upon but, if I didn't have that and then someone, decides, they don't like me because my left foot got bigger and you. Know what am I gonna do right and so. Commitments. Relationships that it's it's gonna be hard. Especially. That's why as you get older it's gonna get harder because you're gonna have a relationship are you gonna have a commitment, that you have to be at all the time but then you have this business thing to do and you have to work and so you in my world and this is not perfect for everyone but I prioritize, I say this is what I'm focused on this, comes second all the time except, for these exciting exceptions, right and this, comes next this comes next and people.
Are Gonna you know people, will understand that if they're if they, you know I don't know whatever people get it if they don't whatever. Lots. Of lots. Of pomo, you. Know my friends to be going out of the time or I just didn't have mining to go places with them because I I couldn't and it sucked but you, know at the end of the day I had my goal and my priorities, and that's what I wanted to do and, so and in failure and rejection becomes, normal I actually walked. Around college, and practice getting rejected because. I was really bad at taking rejection and so I went around and like asked people all the time just because I knew they would reject me so I got really good at being, rejected only okay whatever like you're going right. And. So, that you get really good at that though because these investors are gonna give you some weird way of it oh I don't know maybe later and this and that and it's like it's, really close to dating but you. Know but but. The rejection becomes normal, but so you have to be, okay with rejection, and you're gonna get rejected, way more than you're getting accepted. You. Cut them like, there's the biggest thing is, toxic. People. Who are toxic to the company and that's, one of the biggest mistakes I made was not cutting someone who should have just been cut just you're done I gotta go and it. Sucks but it's business and that's when people say it's just business it's really just business like I'm sorry you didn't pull your weight and so, you. Gotta go cuz I need I need that money and that equity that's why you have to structure equity, and all that stuff at the beginning really well so that you can't cut that person and you don't lose 50% of the company and so that's you know you just cut them it's okay to be ruthless if you will because. It's your business it's your baby all right if you. Had a baby and the. Babysitter just stopped showing up what. Are you gonna do like you're gonna cut the babysitter right and get a new babysitter because, you have that in some agreement somewhere or whatever so that's, something does. That answer your question. But. They only 50% of the company you can take that IP and walk it over to the zone buddy and then up and you, know like there's, some things you can do they get shady but if they're being shady and you. Know so. Good question yeah. Oh. FOMO. Fear of missing out, already. Hey. I have one great here. It's very missing out. Yeah. People. Are going out having a good time and you see them doing that then all of a sudden you. Feel it's a fear that you're missing out so. So. Big questions that I get how do you come up with a really good idea I have an idea book I have a set of several I lost one which freaked me out and I got over it but I write, all my ideas down because I think that everything, and that's I keep in my head takes up brain space and, so I write it down I put it down and I can also then share it with people my friends and I have a shared OneNote and, we, put, a bunch of ideas like, one section it's like take over the world and another section with a bunch of stuff but we, put stuff in there and we see what fits we see it sticks to the wall alright and so a lot. Of you know I've got students that'll say I can't come up with an idea I'm like ask your friends people, give out free ideas they literally were like you know it would be a good idea if you did this this and this okay, my laundry's done and like you can sit there and really I could built that in the weekend and that, that you there's ideas that are just thrown around like that that you know there's inspiration everywhere so.
Also. When I travel, and I meet people in different countries and I see, different cultures it's, a really good way to get new, ideas for things with. All the downside how do you keep pushing forward I don't, know but, I'm. Kidding so but without. A downside honestly it's the upside, is I do what I would I'd like I do what I enjoy and, and. I. Wake, up and I'm not frustrated when I was at Microsoft I'd wake up and it was like, no. One to