Barkha Herman 0:00
If I wanted to tell women, hey, you know, leadership is available and promote yourself, you know, I talk about your work, then I have to do the same I have to self promote, I need it to be the change I wanted to see in the world, just an act of determination more than bravery for me.
Max Matson 0:18
Hey there, everybody. Welcome back to the future product podcast. My guest today is Barkha Herman, founder of South Florida women in technology, former Microsoft Solutions Architect podcaster, and speaker, technologist, you hold a lot of titles Barkha, do you care to tell us a little bit more about yourself and your journey in tech?
Barkha Herman 0:34
Yeah, absolutely. I think that I've just kind of started acquiring titles, so not doing everything at once. But, you know, I've been in the tech field for 30 plus years now. And over over the years, you know, had hobbies. And some of them are creating a being a founder, being a founder of Women and technology group, as well as started and sold some companies along the way, and then having careers including at Microsoft, as you mentioned, and consulting for many large companies over the years. So very cool.
Max Matson 1:15
Awesome. I mean, regardless, I'd say you do a lot, right? You got a lot of things going at once. How do you balance it all?
Barkha Herman 1:24
Yeah, so that's a good question. And I get that question a lot. And I think that when I was very young, I only had to sort of, you know, leaving home, and being only responsible for myself, all I did was work and sort of essentials to keep me alive. So you know, that was it. And I worked a lot. And I was able to work a lot because I was in a new field. It was very exciting. I was learning, I was doing a lot. All that was great. Then I had a career, a family, and I was pursuing a second degree. And I did all three of them together. I think that it kind of put me in this habit of doing a lot. And so after the kids kind of grew up and started driving themselves to high school, it was amazing. And then they left home and they you know, they're independent. And now it's like, I don't feel like I'm doing anything at all. I have this pattern of doing a lot. So. So So I hear you that I'm doing a lot, but I don't feel like I'm doing a lot. Yeah. You know, I might have picked up a couple of tips on time management along the way.
Max Matson 2:43
Well, I think we'd all love to hear them.
Barkha Herman 2:48
Yeah, so, I mean, do you want me to talk about time? Yeah, yeah, let's get into it. Yeah, so um, this is one thing that I kind of discovered about myself, I can either spend a lot of time in planning procrastinating or worrying, which is not being here in the moment and doing stuff, or I can lose myself in the task. So I mentioned when I was younger, I was learning to become a developer or coder. It was exciting, like, I could start something and then hours went by, and I would literally have to remind myself to feed, you know, feed myself and things like that. That was, you know, losing time. And I would think, Oh, I'm only doing one thing, but I was accomplishing a lot, right and paid off very much so. So that's what I tend to do is, I am good at putting things on my calendar, everything is on my calendar. If it doesn't exist on my calendar, it might not happen. What I'm also good at losing myself, and what I'm doing, and what it does is kind of a single focus. It's kind of like, you know, being in computer science, it's kind of like Harvard architecture, if you're multitasking. There's a cost to how many tasks you're switching. And sometimes the cost of task switching is, you know, it's diminishing returns. So you can context switch a little bit, and it's efficient, especially if something's happening. And you know, you can do something else in the meantime, but if you're doing too many things, then it's it doesn't pay very much at all. Bonuses is the name of the game.
Max Matson 4:34
Absolutely. I love what you say about the calendar, right? Same here. It's not on the G Cal, it doesn't exist.
Barkha Herman 4:40
Max Matson 4:44
That's awesome. So I'd love to learn a little bit more about you know, some of your experience with kind of being a leader in women in tech. Can you share some of your experiences there and the work that you've been doing in that space?
Barkha Herman 4:56
Yeah, you know, when I started out, um, There weren't that many I was consulting for IBM at the time I live in South Florida area, IBM was big here, I was doing some consulting. And you know, there were a woman woman there. But I think that there was this sense of I need, I needed to be masculine to fit in that, that row. And, and I did that. But it wasn't a comfort position for me. I think that as I got older, I became a little more myself. And it was a comfortable position, I could, you know, I could bring my whole self to work, and it was really more rewarding. And then, what I what started happening was, again, you know, bring back to family work, all this stuff, I noticed that there were a lot of young men who were doing amazing work, but they had downtime, they had more time than me. When I finally got to the point where I was able to go to conferences and be somewhere, I was watching all these people, or very inspiring, and don't get me wrong. I mean, the reason I have a fabulous career is because all the men in my life helped me get there, right? So nothing against men in tech. However, I was not seeing that many female faces. And so it was like, Okay, what do I do, if I'm going to tell people that, hey, I would love to see more women speaker, my male colleagues can't help me with that, I have to step up. Right? If I wanted to tell women, hey, you know, leadership is available and promote yourself, you know, a talk about your work, then I have to do the same, I have to self promote, I can't be a wallflower and tell other people aid, you don't be a wallflower. That doesn't work. So that was really my journey into it. It wasn't something that I set out to do. But I realized that I kind of had to do it, in order to, I need it to be the change I wanted to see in the world. And that's what it's all about.
Max Matson 7:09
So I mean, it's very brave, right? You kind of see that that void of leadership. And so you took the step to actually step into that and embody it. Was it was that a hard transition for you, kind of being in the spotlight?
Barkha Herman 7:24
It really wasn't. So I think that again, you know, I've read this, I don't know if this is true, but there have been surveys where people say, you know, the two top tiers, and I don't know which order is death and public public speaking.
Max Matson 7:42
I believe that.
Barkha Herman 7:44
Um, I've heard that, and I know a lot of very talented, intelligent women that I've kind of encouraged them to, hey, you should speak you should lead you should show up. Right? This is not about speaking as much as representing Right. And, and many of them still don't, and that's fine. You know, I don't want anyone to be out of their comfort zone. However, for me, it wasn't so much that I was afraid like I was, you know, I'm cerebral. I like to live in my head. That's the best place to be for me. Not out in public. From raising kids, I realized that for them, I was willing to speak up. For them, I was willing to pick a fight. For them, I was willing to participate. So if you have the right reasons, then that fear kind of goes away. And for me, it wasn't about me showing up as much as me showing up for someone. That made a huge difference. Right. So it wasn't so much bravery. It was just an act of determination more than bravery for me.
Max Matson 8:59
I see just truly wanting the space to change and to see that change. You just had to kind of step into it and embody it yourself.
Barkha Herman 9:07
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Better. Yeah.
Max Matson 9:10
So you mentioned South Florida, and I saw in your your LinkedIn that you're I believe the founder of South Florida women in tech. Is that correct?
Barkha Herman 9:18
Yeah. So that's another funny story. I started you know, I, I was attending a lot of meetups. I, we had started this cloud user group locally, and we were hosting all these events. I was like, you know, I'd love to have a women only thing. And I went to meet up and there were 10s of them. And I wouldn't try to reach out all of them. But all of them, you know, the typical Meetup group, they start, they do 510 events, and then they kind of fall off the face of so I tried reaching out and I couldn't find anything and I said, Screw it. I'm gonna create my own. I did. I said, this is just a meetup. We're just gonna get together and you You know, we're just women geeking out together. I have a lot of women in my family friend circle that I can't sort of talk to. So this was like a unique situation. It was a handful of us, but it grew fairly fast. And we were meeting regularly, we were having fun. We were talking, you know, women, we were talking tech, we were talking women in tech specific stuff and whatever else. And it was great. I had one young lady come to me, and she told me, she said, you know, there is no one I can talk to, like this with, I have no place that I can go and have this kind of conversation. And to me, that's what it was about. Then COVID hit. So that I was like, oh, all that juiciness of meeting in person was just gone. So then made it a virtual thing. But then I made it also more of a you know, I had colleagues and friends all over the country or around the world. So now it became slightly bigger, we still have the same name. And then I got to the point where it's like, okay, this is this is this is fun. I love doing this. So I made it a nonprofit. And so now it's a nonprofit. We we try to meet every week, we, at best we do three out of four weeks out of the month. And we're doing some amazing sessions. We have, you know, a career focused track, we have a book club track, and then we have some technical tracks during during the month. And it's all good stuff. We're recording all the stuff making it available. It's free. And it's a great place. It's a labor of love. It's it's just a great place to hang out for me.
Max Matson 11:48
That's fantastic. Now that's so cool. I so kind of talking, you know, so COVID, I was one of the great disrupter right, just everything that was in person. Forget about it. Right. It's amazing that you managed to to make it through that transition, though. I also just for anybody in the audience who doesn't know you run your own podcast as well.
Barkha Herman 12:10
I do. Yeah, yeah. I'd like to be as as regular as yours, Max, but not. And again, what happened was, I was listening to a lot of podcasts. And again, women in podcasting is slightly smaller than men in podcasting. Again, I love all the podcasts that I listened to, I'm addicted to them. That's what's playing in the background, when I'm coding when I'm doing my work, or writing or writing an article creating content, whatever. I'm very inspiring. But it's it's kind of like, I would love to have a podcast that interviews normal women, normal women in tech. And so I started interviewing just my colleagues and people in my community. And the stories were astounding, like, you think that you know, you don't have to be a CEO, CTO. And listen, I love those stories, right? I love to hear about Marissa Meyer story, or, you know, all of these amazing women. They're very inspiring, but so are the ordinary stories. So you know, I interviewed young women who were flunked in a class, but then they came back and became CTO, right? I've interviewed a person who got pregnant, and then they decided to go to university after that. And they were the first person in their family to get a degree in computer science, fabulous career at this point. So these are simple stories. These are everyday stories. And to me, it's like unsung heroes. And because at you know, like, Listen, I'm not, I'm not trying to say Oh, only women in technology are awesome. That's not the point. The point is that these are such great stories, and so anyone can hear and get inspiration from them. So that's what the podcast is all about.
Max Matson 14:12
That's fantastic. No, I Well, yeah. Let's talk a little bit more about about tech as kind of a mechanism for upward mobility, right, because it's something that I'm definitely passionate about, I come from the Rust Belt, where there's a little bit less opportunity, right? And across the board, I've always seen tech as this great answer. And I think it's kind of been bolstered with AI for people who don't necessarily have the resources going in don't have, you know, this prestigious university background, the connections to actually be able to create a product and have their value be undeniable, right?
Barkha Herman 14:47
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Um, so, most of the people that I follow in tech are creators and And a lot of them don't have university degrees and don't have the traditional path, right. Even the ones who we know of like, you know, Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, dropouts, college dropouts, right. So so it's yes, they had a lot more opportunity than some others. They were in amazing campuses and whatnot. And absolutely, yes, there's an advantage to be in Silicon Valley, because you may run into a founder or a VC person in a Starbucks, right. So all that is great. But I think that tech creates this unique opportunity that is so great. So my mother was the first career woman in my family and I grew up in India, so but she was a school teacher. And it was an amazing career for her because she had the same days off as us, and mostly the same hours as us. And he actually brought home, work home all the time. But she was able to have a career and a family life and be very effective of both to me, you know, I feel the same way about tech, you. And especially today, when I was going in computer science class, I took a class where, you know, I learned Fortran is to be more Fortran class, right? I have to use mainframe computers to do certain. Nowadays, you can go on YouTube and learn. You can learn technology, you can teach yourself rust, you can teach yourself node, you can teach yourself, you know, AI, you can do all these things. And I think that more and more we see stories of people who are not in the quote unquote, right community, quote, unquote, by body, right flavor, whatever, right? Location, environment, whatever that may be. And especially like working moms, if you're going to work from home, come on, in. How amazing is that? So I think technology is a great equalizer. And the event, the ubiquitousness of the knowledge that we have right now, you know, I remember having to order books, and then wait for them to come. And then reading them to solve a problem. You have that anymore, you can go to Code felon, and the rest of the balls that people are written, you know, it was a, it's just, it's amazing. We live in this great time. So I think technology is amazing. You can anyone can can learn and create and succeed. And we have literally 1000s of examples of it.
Max Matson 17:48
Yeah, absolutely. So kind of on that topic a little bit. You mentioned, you know, tech is the great equalizer. I love that. Are there any emerging trends in tech and an AI that you're excited about? And that you think may you know, impact the industry and women in the industry?
Barkha Herman 18:04
Um, yeah, you know, I think AI is the big big buzz. Right. So let's talk about AI. I remember taking a class in neural networks. This was in the 90s. So we were using some, you know, old datasets, Berkeley sockets ensure internet was available was there, but big data was not a thing, right. And so we would train neural networks using C, and data sets that were kind of academically available, they weren't particularly large. And what we could achieve using that was trivial. Like, it wasn't that great. I mean, it was, in some sense, it was amazing. But the data was in there. Now we're looking at data being ubiquitous. So it's everywhere, whatever we do, we are generating data all the time. And that has the ability to transform things. And it's brought to the forefront. Um, some trends that are troubling. And you know, I'm one of these optimists eternal optimist. I see problems with society. But the fact that we're even seeing them is a great thing might be years ago, we didn't notice it. So AI ethics and AI is a big thing for me. However, I think that it's something that we're talking about, and if we're talking about we have a possibility of fixing it. You know, facial recognition started with young college men being used for facial recognition. We've come a long way from that that's not an issue anymore, right? That's not a thing. But even something as simple as medicine dosage, which is not tech, which is not AI? Well, it's medical type, but it's not AI, is because experiments are done on young men in so dosage for an aspirin would be different for you Max, then it would be me because so many differences. So these differences aren't even considered or like they're not in the human imagination is definitely not in in, we're not talking about it. But AI is kind of exasperating some of these issues, but also bringing them to forefront so we can fix it. Yeah. So, you know, ethics and AI is a big deal. To me. And I think that there is a way of making it so that we can make the world you know, more inclusive. You know, I hate using the word because it's thrown around badly. But more, you know, more specific, I think that there are many generic answers in the world, I think that we're going from a low definition world problem solving to a high definition problem solving. And so, you know, like, the, the, the solution, when you Google, it would be the same for everyone. Whereas when you do you know, when you're using a chassis city, or your personal data, to train chat TPP now the solution is very specific. It's specific to your context. And it's specific to you. So I think that we're going from this, you know, Laura's to a high res world. Yeah, I mean, I'm sure there'll be good and bad about it.
Max Matson 21:52
Right? No, absolutely. I think, you know, one of the the traps that what I, that I've seen kind of media, and just the general discourse falling into is kind of these doomsday scenarios, right? Like the existential risks of AI. And just having spent some sleepless nights reading up on the issue. I, I do believe that that stuff is a little bit more fanciful and far out into the future than people maybe make it out to be. But I think that the the kind of dei issues, the issues of, you know, bad training data, have, you know, there being inherent bias in that training data are what we're really dealing with on a day to day basis. I spoke to a founder named Marco last week, he works specifically in tech that, you know, takes images of people's faces and turns them into, like business portraits. And one of the things that he was mentioning is that the silver bullet to all of this is just to have more representation in the data. Right? Yeah.
Barkha Herman 22:53
So same formula as me, you know, me going to conferences and finding a lot of, you know, very attractive, very smart, very capable young men speaking. It's not the trouble is not removing men, the trouble is adding human or getting the right data. Right. So, which is reflective? And I think that's true. It's funny, because I gave a talk on like, AI, one on one recently at an event. And we talked a little bit about generative AI. And, you know, the question always is like, oh, you know, is it is it going to take over and this and that, and as an illustration of what it is and what it isn't? What I did was I actually use generative AI, and this was Dali to generate what? My photo, right? So describing myself, right, I gave it as much information as I could. And the image that came out, looked nothing like me. And it was looked older than me more tired, whatever, right? So the point here is not that the point here is not that generative AI is wrong or bad, it's improving, it's getting better. The point here is that generative AI can only create based on what it has sampled, like you said, it's been trained on and what's available on the internet. And, you know, I am very, I'm a very specific context. So for it, to be able to generate me would be difficult. But this exercise was just an illustration of, hey, you know, this is possible. And this is what I mean by we're going from a generic frame, like a fuzzy frame to a more, you know, finer grain image of the world. And that's what we're creating. We'll be creating solutions to me, it's like, you know, I recently ordered a farm bot. It's not actually unless you can program how to water and water water. You know, to me, it's like being able to do that is so great. You know, in robotics and AI, we're getting to the point that you can have your farm in a small cube in your backyard. That's amazing to me. Yes. We talk about food deserts, we talk about inequality, we can kind of tune what we're building for the greater good rather than just run scared of it. Absolutely not saying there are zero risks.
Max Matson 25:35
Right. Right. Certainly. Yeah. The two are not mutually exclusive. Right. Yeah, absolutely. So kind of, you know, talking a little bit more about that. First of all, you gonna have to send me that that foreign product, that sounds awesome. But secondly, so we've kind of have the silver bullet as far as the training data, right. But as far as like the underlying trends that lead to the misrepresented data, which I do believe is, you know, the percentage of women that are in the tech industry, right? What are I know, this is a problem that you've thought about a lot? What are some of the fundamental solutions to getting more women into tech? And why do you think that there have been, you know, proportionately so few to this point?
Barkha Herman 26:22
Um, yeah, it's, it's an interesting question. So one of the things that I experienced, and this is a very small sampling, you know, speaking of bad training data, when I was going to university, the number of women that I was in a classroom with for computer science and computer engineering was very small. So it was a small number of women who are just exposed to it. I think the numbers are higher now. And that has a lot to do with making, making it accessible. Because when I was growing up, my mom was a schoolteacher. And she talked about careers that she thought, were okay with it. Now, my mother was very progressive, she was one of the first person to, you know, or have a career. And so she wasn't trying to tamper like, the intention wasn't to temper my expectations. It was just she, she saw her frame was limited. And I think we've done a good job of expanding the frame for young women to say, hey, technology is for you. It's okay. Right, right. It didn't exist. So that was problem number one. I'm not saying it's 100%. But we're getting there. We're addressing that as we go. The second part is that I think that once and you know, I work for Microsoft, I've consulted for, you know, like Deloitte, Raymond James, a large companies I've consulted for IBM, there have been there have been incentive to have more women in tech.
So it's not that the intention is not there. The trouble is that first, people don't know how to retain women. A big issue, big challenge. So there's a lot of times when you know, good, good when the good women are brought in. And then the nurturer is not there. And then the kind of youth and, and I don't like to think of it as a male versus female kind of thing. But I want to talk about a man of masculine principle and feminine principle, the mouth, and we all have both. In US, the masculine principle is more competitive, and the lone hero kind of scenario, the feminine principle tends to lean towards community a little bit. So that community needs to exist in most places. And that's one of the reasons why we I started what I did, is providing that community support. That's one challenge. The third challenge, and I find, you know, I graduated with a computer science degree, I had a friend going to university the same time, she had an electrical engineering degree, and then she converted to computer engineering and she graduated as well. And within five years of her graduating, landing a great job, getting an MBA, all this stuff. She became a she transitioned to the marketing team. This happens a lot. So we have highly technical, technical, technically trained women who kind of find technical adjacent roles, industry, and not hardcore, you know, technology kind of thing. So there's there's that sense also There are 100 problems, right? Or maybe 1000. And not all of them are things that exist everywhere.
But there are a lot of flavors of challenges. And each one is unique. And what will help is actually paying attention to that. And one of the reasons why I find that women kind of transition to either managerial or non technical roles is because, again, you know, they have a little more feminine in their makeup and the feminine tends to be, you know, creating a community minded, leadership minded, outreach minded. So then it's like, oh, you're good at this, you do this, because we all suck at it, or whatever, you know, that may be just a thing that I've observed, again, small sample size, but I've noticed that so. So these are some of the challenges that we need to address. It's more than just saying, hey, more women in tech in school. It's more than more hiring. It's also how do we have programs that help women stay and develop technically become, you know, Tech Stars? Right? That that have recognition, following whatever, and the right support? So it's a it's a whole thing. And you know, I'll be honest with you, there's always going to be professions where there's going to be more like, gender disparity. There's a reason why there are more female nurses than male nurses. There's a reason why there are more female teachers than male teachers. I think some of it has to do with just, you know, feminine tendencies. I'm not looking for parity, but I want a what I'm looking for is every young girl who wants to have a career in tech, wants to succeed, stay in it, and retire fabulously. You can do do that. So that's what I'm looking. Yeah.
Max Matson 32:01
Fantastic. That's so interesting. I hadn't heard it kind of express in that way. It's more of a retention issue. Right. But that makes a
Barkha Herman 32:06
lot of sense. Yeah, yeah. Very interesting. Definitely. So
Max Matson 32:10
kind of, yeah, to that point, what was your own personal experience? You know, you've worked with some really huge companies, Microsoft, IBM, Deloitte, that you mentioned, what, you know, what kind of experiences did you have? And do you feel like some of those were shaped by being a woman?
Barkha Herman 32:29
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So early on. I had a degree in hotel management, and I transitioned to computer science. Now growing up in India, I was a mathlete. You know, I'm wondering a lot of, you know, things, competitions and things like that. And then when I moved here, and I worked on my second degree, computer science degree, there were educators who would look at the paper and go, Oh, you don't fit this mold. So you're not this. I had colleagues who were kind of curious about, you know, Oh, is she capable? Right? So there were questions everywhere. I was a young person. So I was also kind of not very smart, experienced wise.
So some of it, I just kind of said, oh, yeah, let me show you. And, you know, that has to do with the way I was raised, I, my, my mother never discriminated between me and my brother, you know, she always told me, Hey, you can be whatever you want to be. And I was also, you know, one of the smarter kids in the school. So I have faith in myself, right? That's very difficult in the face of a mom, that's not there for you. Right? So you can fight five people out of 100. But you can't 595 out of 100. So there needs to be that. So so that was something that I found. Fortunately for me, you know, there were detractors. But there were more supporters. There were people who saw she Spark, she can do this. You know, she she rises up to challenge and so there was a lot again, you know, I say, when I started out, there weren't that many women in tech, but there were a lot of men who were very supportive. And that's one of the reasons why I succeeded. So that was one that that was one thing. The second thing that happened to me was this recognition that, you know, 90% of people in tech look like X.
That doesn't mean I have to look like x. And that was something that took a while for me to get to. It wasn't something that just happened right away. It was a sort of trajectory of it. You know, coming coming to that conclusion, and I don't want to throw anyone under the bus, but I've had people ask me different questions, you know, just disrespect me. I even in even in, like, more recent meetings, you know, I would be in a customer situation. And this is while working at Microsoft, and again, not throwing anyone under the bus. I'm working with a customer situation where I am the technical resource. And I have some colleagues that are the sales resources, or project management resources. And I will do a presentation talking about a topic and somebody looks at the male counterpart and says, Well, how would you solve this, right? And one of the things that really, really helps us ally ship. So my colleagues know me, they work with me, they know that I'm capable of answering questions. And you know, they would do the polite thing saying, say, Oh, that's a great question for backhoe bucket, I could jump in. And I could say, and again, you know, a lot of people operate in their automatic, right? They just the last 100 people that they've dealt with that our technical resources were male. So there's an automatic response. This is the Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Thinking Fast is a shortcut solution. And the shortcut solution can be wrong, right. But it could also be life saving. Like, what is a learned behavior? And you know, for me, showing up all the time speaking, and helping other women show up is what's going to change that shortcut in most people's minds? And it's a generational thing, too. I think that with time, hopefully, it'll change. But yeah,
Max Matson 36:57
absolutely. I love that. Right. It's for the men in tech, who you know, want to be allies to, you know, our co workers who are female. It sounds like just being a good teammate. Right, is really the way to go. I mean, at the end of the day,
Barkha Herman 37:14
yeah. And early on, it looked like, men speaking for me. And that was not helping, right? Because I didn't know how to ask for help. Right? So um, it's, it felt like people were trying to rescue me. And that's not what I needed. I needed to stand your ground. And my, by standing my ground, I was like, Okay, well, I can answer this, let me do this. Right. So so what you said is so important, Max, is that, you know, for the male people in tech, having somebody's back, but having somebody's back looks like asking them, hey, how do you like to be supported? Right? As opposed to? How dare you, right? Making into a victim or whatever, or trying to help them and rescue them the way you would want to be? So it's always a conversation of, hey, you know, let's talk about this. You know, I want you to present, how can I support you? How can I help you? And that's a, that's a very subtle, but very powerful stance.
Max Matson 38:19
Absolutely. So would you mind sharing kind of a few key strategies that you have, you know, for women who are looking to excel and tech roles, especially kind of in the realm of AI?
Barkha Herman 38:29
Yeah, so I actually come join my community. First of all, I'm there. But other than that, find allies find communities find mentorship. I think that, you know, some of us, including myself, sometimes I like to do things alone. I remember way, way, way back, when we're pair programming became a thing. And I was like, Oh, but I want to make I don't want to make mistakes in front of somebody else. Because my process is Miss typing, compiler errors, whatever, and then fixing it. But that's just iterative. Everybody learns that way. We all do it. And I think a lot of times when you're new to a, a field, let's say AI, you've never done anything in AI, you've been doing a lot of other coding, whatever, you're new to it, especially then finding a team, or group or whatever, even something as simple as joining a GitHub project or open source project or something. Anything.
That would be the one good place to start. And then you know, the sky's the limit. AI is at the cusp off. Transformation. It's new time. That doesn't happen very often. Right? And I will tell you, that there's a lot of guys who are thinking of a lot of ways to solve world's problems using AI, right? And if the women jump in, and they have a different set of problems they can solve. That's the sauce, right? That's the secret sauce. Because maybe somebody's not thinking about that. Right? So there's a lot of input that can come into it. Plus, you know, you talk about representation, right? training data. So let's be that Let's Participate in that. And this is not just about men or women, it's about people of every different shape, color, race, whatever. Right? So this is, there's all flavors, we need all flavors
Max Matson 40:41
100% 100%. Um, my mom, and I want one of our favorite shows was Star Trek Next Generation. And it always stood out as an example of that, to me, in narrative fiction, right, is, instead of kind of seeing this natural conflict between yourself and people who are different than you, it's actually a lot more valuable to get their perspective, right. Yeah. Yeah.
Barkha Herman 41:05
Yeah. So absolutely. Yeah. And so you know, if there are female founders out there, this is a great time to be alive, because you can do so much. And as far as you know, AI, join Community Connect with me with LinkedIn, I'll do my best. But there's a lot of free stuff on LinkedIn on Google on. Nvidia has their own. Microsoft has a lot of stuff, there's so much free stuff. So but but doing it, you know, you can only go so if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far. Go with a group.
Max Matson 41:41
I love that. Yeah. 100%. So that's interesting. I, I think that that can be applied to a lot, right? I mean, yeah, across the spectrum. You know, recently in one of your more recent newsletters, you mentioned, grit, right? And how it can help you get the most out of your working life. How is grit been a crucial trait for you in your career?
Barkha Herman 42:04
Yeah, so I am a big fan of Angela Duckworth book on grant. And once I read it, I was just like, Oh my God. And the funny thing is, when I started working at at Microsoft, that was one of the books they gave us. Oh, really? Onboarding. Holy crap. You know, this is great. This is. Um, so I am a big believer of this. One of the one of the things that we do sometimes, and you know, I'm guilty of this as well is we tell people Oh, it's okay, you, you can do this. And Angela's, duck woods, a thesis is the growth versus fixed mindset. When you tell a person that you're good at something, the first time they encounter an environment where they realize they're not as good at that. It might fall apart. I'm not saying it's 100%. But they might, right.
But if you tell them, Hey, you, you can be better at this, or you know, you did a good job, what you're doing is you're encouraging effort, not a static thing about them, like, you know, you can you can say hey, you know, you're beautiful to a child. Well, beauty is not lasting, but you know, you can look good, then there's an aspiration to improve even looks right, you can probably make up you can improve, you know, workout, do whatever, eat right, you can get better. There's always room for growth. But the magic formula, and that's missing, and that is that grit. Grit is this ability, you know, to me, you know, there's life and entropy, then I'm gonna get like, into physics, entropy principle, that kind of everything decays. To me, I view life as the defiance of entropy. Life creates, right? We humans and all all living things. We you know, look at plants, look at animals, look at everything we create. We don't allow things to decay we build Li, we're fighting entropy by just being by existing. And I think that that's the grid that is common to all humans. It's in us. And a lot of times we kind of lose it and we go, oh, I can't do this. And you know, despair. Look, it's human. It's human to despair.
I'm not criticizing anyone to have that. But it takes that determination and Brett to overcome that and the results are always amazing. Because you either learn something new or you you create what you want to create And either way, you're closer to your goal than giving up. Right. And to me that is such an important part off. And you know, I'd say my mom told me that I can do anything I want to. I believe it. Yeah. Because I need to believe it to improve. And I've talked to so many young people who are like, Oh, well, you know, back then this was this, and that's why you got here. Listen, you know, this is the best time the world to be alive. I wish I was younger, you know, I'm fine where I'm at. But I think that it doesn't matter. Because I have that grit. That can get me from anywhere I am. It doesn't matter where you start. It's a matter of how far you go. And so if you have the grit, you will go far. And it doesn't matter. There's a lot of people who are born with silver spoons and all the opportunity in the world who didn't do much, right. And there's a lot of people who started rock bottom and did amazing things. And differences, grit, the differences that growth, mindset, grit determination. And it's it's, it's a winning formula for me.
Max Matson 46:11
100%. Yeah, I love that. I mean, I think that it's, I liked what you mentioned there about kind of younger people, right? Because I do think that, you know, some of the challenges that we face today are pretty existential in scope. But therefore, the solutions are that much more grand, right? I mean, I think that that's
Barkha Herman 46:31
absolutely one of the persons that I follow. His name is Peter Diamandis. And he says that if you want to transform the world, you know, solve solve a problem for a billion people than 10 people. Not only will you transform the world, you also get rich, even if you charge them a buck of these, right.
Max Matson 46:57
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Barkha Herman 46:59
So. So yeah, your big problems means big solutions. Big opportunity.
Max Matson 47:05
Absolutely. Especially in today's day and age, right. So how did you kind of use grit to your advantage as a founder, right, because I think one thing that I haven't necessarily mentioned is that you're a multi time founder.
Barkha Herman 47:20
Yes, yeah. Um, yeah. So you know, I think that because of the way I am, I use it in everything that I do. And definitely, as a founder, it's the loneliest place. And there's gonna be 100 people that tell you, Oh, you know, you can do something. So for a founder, if you do not have a growth mindset. And if you do not have grit, then you really need to do some work. I think it's more important for a founder than anywhere else, you can kind of get away with having a job, if you're decent at your work, you can get away with a lot of stuff. But as a founder, you're it's your thing. It's your creation. And so it's so much more important. So let me just give you an idea. My first ideas for found when I was starting out, you know, this is decades ago, is trying to do things. All right, this and I'll write that. And what I realized was that I was not solving a problem for anyone I was kind of solving a problem that I thought existed was only when I started sort of interacting with the world and saying, hey, you know, if you had it, you know, if you could solve one thing, what would it be? And that's when that requires a lot of disappointment. Because it requires, oh, I've got a brilliant idea. I know, this will make, you know, million bucks or whatever. Somebody says, Oh, I wouldn't pay money for it. That's a growth mindset. That's great. So then, you know, you could give up and you could say, oh, well, let me find another person that will say yes to me. And you might find a few people. Or you could say, well, what would you pay? You know, whatever. 100 bucks. And that's the difference between having grit and not having grit. And to me grit is not just being stubborn, there's a big difference. Stubborn, would just keep doing what you're doing. I think having that grit, that is, this is my vision, I want to accomplish it. It doesn't matter what it takes and how it's done. I think a lot of founders get kind of stuck in the minutiae, well, it must look like this. It must follow these steps. And that's where you know, that's stubbornness, not grit. Grit would be, you know, I want to create a product to solve this problem or to transform this so Actor or whatever, and then you do whatever it takes to get there. That's it. So it's, it's more to me. Grit is more vision driven than just being stubborn being.
Max Matson 50:15
It requires vulnerability, right? That's it's kind of what you
Barkha Herman 50:18
was being able to say I'm wrong about something I'm willing to learn. And that's the mindset part with grid is that you have to say, Oh, this didn't work. What else? What what is? So like I said, in the example, oh, let me sell you this idea. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't pay for it. Well, what would you pay for a while, you know, you think that this is the problem, but this is really most direct problem. Well, let me solve that. And then maybe we can come back to the other one. and whatnot. I mean, even Twitter didn't start as Twitter. Right. So yeah. Pivot
Max Matson 50:53
100%. Yeah. Don't be afraid. I. That's awesome. So I do have one last question for you, which is, in this industry, what is the one thing that you're the most excited for right now?
Barkha Herman 51:08
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, I think that I'm very excited about AI, the changes in AI. But I think that more than that, and this is gonna sound sound kind of weird. But I think that we as human being, there are two things. One is that we're on the cusp of a transformation of the human condition that is going to be slightly on the post scarcity side. And that leads us to nothing but a sort of a conscious upgrade consciousness upgrade. And I think that we're headed there right now we're kind of focused on, there's a war here and homeless people here and this person's rights are violated and whatnot, we're kind of at that point. But I think we're very close to getting over that. And growing in a way that we all have a lot more potential that we can realize. And then the other thing is space. I am very excited about saving space travel, and leaving our galaxy our planet. That's the fantastic I love it.
Max Matson 52:18
I love those answers. Yeah, I'm excited about both of those as well. Yeah. Very cool. Well, Barkha, thank you so much for your time. Thank you for you know, your your unique perspectives on on all of these issues. And for taking the time to do this means a lot, would you? Would you mind telling everybody kind of where to find you?
Barkha Herman 52:41
Yeah, so LinkedIn is the best place to find me. I'm most active on LinkedIn. I do tweet, but not much. So LinkedIn, it's my name Barkha Herman and I think I might be the only one on LinkedIn. That's nice. And, and then, if if you are a woman in tech, and you want to join my community, it's Sofala. intact as the the name of the organization, S F. W, I t.org. is a place to go. SF wa t.org. And if you are a woman in tech, and you want to be on my podcast, tell your story. Reach out to me on LinkedIn, I would love to talk to you. And Max. I mean, it's so wonderful to see you do what you're doing. I love what you're doing. I've been listening to your episodes and enjoying them very much. Thank you. Wonderful to see young people sort of be in the Creator space and you know, making a change. I think I love it.
Max Matson 53:48
I love topic. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it. i This has been fantastic.
Yep. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks for having Oh, my pleasure.