Women of Silicon Valley

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Kesha Williams, Software Engineer for Chick-fil-A, shares her thoughts on the importance of mentoring, coding to young people and a sneak peek into her tech talk topic: What Humans Can Learn From Machines, ahead of her exciting talk at Women of Silicon Valley 2018 on March 21 & 22.

  1. How did you get into software engineering?

When I was a freshman in high school, my father purchased a computer to do the family finances.  Luckily for me, he placed the computer in my playroom.

My free time was spent with a Barbie doll in one hand and a computer manual in the other.

Later on, in my junior year of high school, I attended a summer science enrichment training program that taught me more about computers. My exposure to computers early on in life fostered a lifelong curiosity with technology.

When I enrolled in college, I majored in computer science and mathematics. I started my career with the National Security Agency (NSA) and 23 years later, I am still excited and intrigued by the continuous advances in technology.

  1. What do you enjoy the most about your day-to-day work?

I’m most excited about the opportunities to learn new and exciting technologies. Technology is ever-changing and it advances on an almost daily basis. I’m excited to be at the forefront of where emerging technologies like machine learning and computer vision/facial recognition will take society.

This may sound cliché, but these technologies (especially when combined) have the ability to change the way we live and can even bring ideas from the wildest science fiction movie to life!

  1. How did you get started on mentoring and why do you think it’s important to do it?

Mentoring is important for me because it is a way to give back to the tech community.  I’ve learned a lot during my 23-year journey in tech and the lessons I’ve learned can help others who are on the same path. I mentor girls and young women for two main reasons:

  • I am passionate about increasing the diversity in technology because there is a lack of representation of women and people of color at all levels in most organizations.
  • I enjoy seeing people reach their fullest potential in life and achieve things they never thought possible.

I seek to impact girls and young women at all stages of their journey:

  • Technovation allows me to reach girls between the ages of 10-18.
  • The New York Academy of Sciences allows me to impact young women in college.
  • WEST (Women Entering & Staying in Tech) gives me the opportunity to help women in the early stages of their career.
  1. What advice would you give to technical women who are struggling to achieve their goals in the industry?

My advice to women who are struggling to achieve their goals is first and foremost to always believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, it will be hard for someone else to believe in you.  Also, you can’t allow someone else’s perception of what you are or are not capable of stop you from going after your dreams. I’ve also found in an industry that lacks diversity, it is important to find a community that has other individuals that are like me. I’m very active with Women Who Code Atlanta, and this network has provided me a lot of support.

  1. Could you tell us a bit more about your Hour of Code sessions and the importance of teaching coding to young people?

Computer programming is a fun and lucrative career choice and more people should be made aware of the opportunities available.

I partnered with my local library to offer free Hour of Code sessions to elementary school students on one Saturday out of the month. I wanted to work with kids because the earlier they are exposed to computer programming, the more likely they are to choose it as a career field. This is evident through my own personal journey.

I also have my 10-year-old daughter serve as my teaching assistant. She studies the course materials ahead of time so that she can assist students that need help during the session. This exposes my daughter to technology, volunteerism, and leadership. This whole experience has been a win-win for all parties involved.

  1. What exciting things are you working on right now?

A really cool project that I recently worked on was one involving facial recognition. I led an innovation team of six developers to investigate how computer vision and facial recognition could improve restaurant operations and customer experiences.

My team developed a prototype that recognizes people as they enter a room and then provides a custom welcome message on a monitor that greets the person by name. This project was really cool because it is a first step toward using facial recognition and computer vision on a broader scale.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your tech talk and machines taking on human biases?

I invented a predictive policing machine learning algorithm called, S. A. M. (Suspicious Activity Monitor).  SAM looks at a particular situation (using computer vision) and predicts the likelihood of crime (using machine learning). SAM looks at several attributes about the person and even their current location in order to make a crime prediction.

When creating SAM, I intentionally excluded race as an attribute he considers because I didn’t want him accused of racial profiling.  The decision to exclude race was an “a-ha” moment for me because it showed me that machine learning can actually remove human bias from certain situations; the power of this technology is absolutely mind blowing.

After learning this, I wanted to share what I had learned with the world.  I routinely travel the world speaking and teaching at technical conferences about SAM and the power of machine learning. We must make sure the power of machine learning is used to improve society instead of reinforcing current issues like bias and profiling.

Kesha Williams is a software engineer with over 20 years’ experience specializing in web application development. In addition to being a software engineer with Chick-fil-A, she trains and mentors thousands of software developers in the US, Europe, and Asia while teaching at the University of California. She’s authored courses on Java, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Augmented Reality (AR). She most recently won the Think Different Innovation Award from Chick-fil-A for her work on investigating how emerging technologies can enhance restaurant operations and customer experiences. In her spare time, she leads the Georgia chapter of Technovation, serves as a mentor with the New York Academy of Sciences, and conducts free Hour of Code sessions for children at her local library.


From the creators of the largest global Women in Technology event series, Women of Silicon Valley is returning for two days of empowering keynotes, panel discussions, technical workshops and diversity-focused sessions on March 21 and 22, 2018 in San Francisco.

Learn from inspirational leaders and industry experts, get deep insight into tech trends and business strategies, boost your technical skills and learn how to flourish in the sector… let’s smash that glass ceiling!

The two-day conference will provide deep insight into the tech industry, as well as gender diversity and inclusion, through rich content delivered by experts. Sessions will include:

Inspiring Keynotes

  • Redefining Success: The Third Metric That Can Benefit Your Bottom Line (Arianna Huffington, Founder, The Huffington Post, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global)
  • Climbing The Tech Ladder in Heels: Where Technology & The Human ExperienceConverge (CTO, Estée Lauder Companies)
  • Transitioning From Engineering To Management (Director, Engineering & Product, LinkedIn)

Tech Specific

  • Security Isn’t Sexy – It’s Business(CEO, MKACyber)
  • Thinking at Scale(Software Engineer, WhatsApp)
  • What Humans Can Learn From Machines(Software Engineer, Chick-fil-A Corporate)

Diversity-Focused Sessions

  • C-Suite Level Panel – How To Champion Women in Technology Initiatives
  • Creating A Business Case For Diversity
  • Prevention of Sexual Harassment

Technical Workshops 
Topics will include: 

  • Real-World Practices: How To Successfully Implement Open Source Into Workflow & Projects
  • Microservices, Security, Deep Learning Analytics, The Future of Data Science & DevOps
  • JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, WebGL, mobile APIs, Node.js, ECMAScript 6
  • The Digital Apocalypse: The Rise of the Games Industry
  • Building Apps For Windows, Office 365, Edge/IE, SQL Server, Azure, HoloLens, Visual Studio & ASP.NET

Take a look at the full conference agenda.

Confirmed speakers currently include:

  • Arianna Huffington, Founder, The Huffington Post, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
  • Chief Technology & Information Officer,Estée Lauder Companies
  • Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor, City of Los Angeles
  • Chief Data Scientist, Senior Principal Engineer, Office of the CTO, McAfee
  • CMO, VMware
  • Director,KPMG
  • Vice President,Amazon Web Services
  • CTO, SVP Technology, BMC Software
  • Senior Director, Engineering, LinkedIn
  • Senior Director, Products, eBay
  • CMO, GE Ventures
  • Software Engineer, WhatsApp
  • Senior UX Manager, Sony Playstation
  • San Jose Managing Partner,PwC
  • Partner, Microsoft Ventures 
  • UX Researcher, Google
  • Engineering Manager, Facebook

… and many more!

Our audience of 1,000 tech leaders and professionals enables you to engage with an intimate vibrant community, interact with our speakers and build meaningful relationships.

See full speaker list.

Request a brochure for all the info on the conference’s format, speakers and prices.

Rahmaan Mwongozi teaches how to apply systems analysis to problems that arise in life as well as in business

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Rahmaan Mwongozi "Roc"

Rahmaan Mwongozi “Roc” is a motivational speaker and podcast host, as well as the author of Inner Demons. He guides individuals not only on how to ask smart questions and follow the trail to solutions, but also on how to embody a “no excuses” attitude that manifests in excellence.

His innovative approach to problem-solving, however, began as a young boy in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs. Determined not to fall into the trappings of his environment, Roc followed the trail of possibility and opportunity, playing the long game and working hard. Now living the dream, Roc openly shares his story, as well as his thinking and strategy, with those who want something more from life.

Today an independent business analyst on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Roc cut his teeth on Fortune 500 corporations including Pfizer, Enron, and AT&T – where as an entry level employee in his early 20s, he solved systemic problems that had eluded management for years.

At 40, he took pause and reflected on his life to date. A systems analyst by trade, as well as by nature, Roc was eager not only to analyze his life internally but also to offer his journey as a case study in the human experience –leading him to write his debut book, Inner Demons, with a raw and gritty transparency. While the particulars of our lives may vary according to circumstance, Roc knew, we all face universal challenges, as part of the human quest to cultivate a successful, meaningful, and authentic life.

Through Inner Demons, Roc shares his transformational journey, Inner Demonsinspiring readers to rethink life in terms of possibility, creativity, and strategy, instead of obstacles, compliance, and defeat. Not just a good read but also a work of art, the book is illustrated by tattoo artist Eva of Bang Bang NYC, whose A-list clients include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber.

At the heart of systems analysis is the awareness of relationship, where one recognizes not only all the moving parts and the big picture, but also their position in relation to each other and to oneself. So it’s no surprise that Roc’s book reads like a love story and is, at the core, about relationship – to and between self, family, friends, lovers, work, community, and society. Offering Roc’s own relationship web, and thread of choices within that web, as a model of how to honestly face a problem, ask smart questions about it, and follow the trail of answers to the optimal solution,

Inner Demons storytelling weaves together a blueprint for self-analysis and problem solving, applicable to diverse situations in life and business. In his own case, Roc’s problem-solving and “no excuses” mindset enabled him to avoid the trappings of his East Oakland neighborhood, where poverty, gangs, violence, and drugs took many down the rabbit hole of despair. Keeping his distance and planning his escape, Roc paid attention to where the power and resources lay, then went after them with gusto –leading him to an MBA degree, work with Fortune 500 corporations, and ultimately, the good life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Roc now leverages his power, influence, and platform to foster a community of cutting-edge artists and thinkers, who are not afraid to grab life by the lapel and “go there.”

Find out more about Roc and Inner Demons at RocsWorld.com.

The iGen iEverything Train is Coming, but Are You Ready?

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iGen

Technology is being consumed at an ever increasing rate causing executives, managers, and process improvement experts on the factory floor to re-define the methods of training and dissemination that have become obsolete.

Critical skills and tribal knowledge are being lost as boomers retire and training plans for new employees fall short of preparing workers for the sophistication of the new manufacturing environment.

Move over millennials, here comes the IGen! Born between 1995 and 2005 this group of tech savvy natives is the next cohort and are just now entering the workforce. IGen, or Gen Z as they are often referred, have grown up in a world of social media where Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter reign supreme. These kids are a force to be reckoned with and require access to information in ways that are familiar, immediate, and actionable. Our success depends on them because as the IGen goes, so goes the manufacturing industry, the nation, and the world.

Alliance Resource Group, in partnership with Sify Technologies has pulled together experts from manufacturing, academia and automated methodologies to develop a solution that addresses the manufacturing challenge of this next generation and identifies the key components of a successful framework including content management, dissemination methodology, scalability, and integration with current learning management systems. These components constitute a micro-learning strategy that facilitates current and future state requirements.

Alliance Resource Group (ARG), is a service disabled veteran owned business located in Newport Beach California. With a foundation in resource management, recruiting, and consulting, ARG provides services to small and medium size companies throughout the United States.

View the ARG White Paper here! Better be prepared for total process transformation if you want to remain competitive.

National Minority Supplier Development Council Honors Leaders in Supply Chain Diversity on May 24th

LinkedIn

On Thursday, May 24th, the 2018 National Minority Supplier Development Council Leadership Awards will recognize the dynamic corporate executives, minority business owners and NMSDC affiliate council presidents for outstanding leadership that has a positive impact on their companies and resonates throughout the NMSDC network. Chuck Nice, television host and comedian, will be Master of Ceremonies. The black-tie gala event at the New York Hilton will begin at 6:30 PM, and will include dinner and a ceremony to present the honorees, with the festivities wrapping up at 10 PM.The NMSDC advances business opportunities for certified MBEs and connects them to corporate members. To meet the growing need for supplier diversity, NMSDC matches its more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to our network of more than 1,750 corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services and solutions. NMSDC, a unique and specialized player in the field of minority business enterprise, is proud of its unwavering commitment to advance Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American suppliers in a globalized corporate supply chain.

Said President Louis Green of NMSDC, “NMSDC and its 23 affiliate councils around the nation look to vigorous, visionary leaders within our membership and our network. The Leadership Awards identify and recognize those who have set the bar high for our collaborative efforts on behalf of MBEs and corporate partners. We are most grateful to our honorees, who by their example show the way forward, as we advocate for robust minority business enterprises and for greater diversity and richer inclusiveness in corporations — not only in their supply chains, but in their board rooms and executive offices as well.”

This year, the Supplier Diversity Professional of the Year Award winner is Mr. Alex Alvarez, Jr., of Apple Inc., where he is Global Supply Manager, Apple Global Supplier Diversity in Corporate Procurement. The award honors a national corporate member with at least 2 years of experience in a corporate supplier diversity role. The seasoned recipient demonstrates exceptional action, engagement and leadership in supplier diversity and in support of NMSDC’s mission. Mr. Alvarez is a recognized thought leader and expert in Supply Chain in areas such as procurement and supplier diversity. He co-led Apple to Best in Class, Billion Dollar Roundtable, and several top awards, including NMSDC Corporation of the Year for Innovation.

The MBE of the Year Award is presented to Leon C. Richardson, Founder, President & CEO of The Chemico Group, one of the largest minority-owned chemical management and distribution companies in the United States. The award goes to the owner of a NMSDC-certified MBE who has been actively engaged within the NMSDC network for a minimum of 2 years. The recipient is a change agent, who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in guiding their company to success and has shared their knowledge and wisdom with peers as a mentor.

The CPO of the Year Award is presented to Mr. Arnold Sowa, Senior Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer, MetLife, Inc. The award goes to an outstanding leader whose vision, passion and integrity have proven impactful within the CPO’s corporation as well as the larger supplier diversity community. Mr. Sowa is responsible for overseeing MetLife’s global procurement, travel, third-party risk management, and supply chain social responsibility programs.

In addition to the above awards, the Vanguard Award is presented to an NMSDC affiliate council president who has exhibited leadership in driving the value proposition for minority supplier development among corporate and MBE constituents throughout the NMSDC network. This year’s recipient is Michelle Sourie Robinson, President and CEO of the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC), one of NMSDC’s most influential affiliate councils.

The Corporate Co-Chair for the evening is Toyota, and MBE Co-Chair is Rose International.

About NMSDC

The NMSDC advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. One of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations, NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes. The NMSDC Network includes a National Office in New York and 23 affiliate regional councils across the country. The network also includes five international partner organizations located in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, China and South Africa.

To meet the growing need for supplier diversity, NMSDC matches its more than 12,000 certified minority-owned businesses to our network of more than 1,750 corporate members who wish to purchase their products, services and solutions. NMSDC, a unique and specialized player in the field of minority business enterprise, is proud of its unwavering commitment to advance Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American suppliers in a globalized corporate supply chain. For more information, visit www.NMSDC.org.

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Female CEO Takes on Tech Industry with Edge Music Network

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Elizabeth Vargas

Diversity in STEAM Magazine (DISM) recently had the pleasure to speak with Elizabeth Vargas, founder and CEO of Edge Music Network.

DISM: Let’s start with the obvious question first: What’s your take on the lack of female leaders in the tech space?

EV: I could give a dozen reasons and even more excuses for our gender’s absence in the C-suite—not only in tech but in nearly every industry—but I won’t. The truth is that no one cares about why you haven’t succeeded; they’re only interested in how you’ve succeeded. That’s where I want to go. I want to focus on the future, and prove that with vision, hustle and commitment that you can break through and achieve your dreams. That’s how I think I can help young and mature female entrepreneurs achieve their goals and dreams.

DISM: Okay. Let’s go there… tell us your story.

EV: As a child, I always loved music and theory but wasn’t allowed to watch TV until I was 13. My dad was a preacher and I think he thought that delaying my exposure would protect me from the outside world. So, it’s kind of funny that, of all programs, I got hooked on MTV. I remember thinking I would own it one day! That was my big dream– which eventually evolved into what is now Edge Music Network.

DISM: A lot must have happened between “one day” and now…

EV: In between, I gravitated to all things music, first studying jazz vocals at the Cornish College of the Arts and then creating the Vargas Girls Jazz Cabaret in Seattle–where we played in nightclubs. My experience in the music industry paved the way for Edge Music Network to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world.

DISM: Has there been anyone who has helped you along the way to achieve your big dream?

EV: I get asked that question often. People assume since I’m a successful female CEO and entrepreneur, I have a powerful man or group backing me. It was the exact opposite. I had everyone around me including those closest to me telling me to quit while I was ahead and it couldn’t be done and to give up on a regular basis. But I can tell you, everything I’ve achieved has been of my own sheer will, passion and desire to work hard– beginning with the Vargas Girls. I had a day job testing software, which came naturally to me. Being tech-savvy helped me launch our first website and later, my own digital channels like YouTube live video, where I live-streamed and interviewed bands and rock legends—all while keeping focus on becoming the next MTV. The only thing that changed for me was the platform. Television wasn’t the only game in town.

DISM: Speaking of the only game in town, explain Edge Music Network and how it diverges from other music video platforms like Spotify and Vevo.

EV: Edge Music Network (EMN) globally streams premium music video content from top-tier distribution partners and independent artists. But it’s more than a free platform for fans to watch their favorite music videos and entertainment programming. EMN offers fans access—from phones, tablets, computers and TVs—to the music and artists they love while providing artists and record labels with the royalties they deserve. We’ve completely flipped the compensation structure of platforms like Spotify and Vevo that give artists 10 percent or less of the profit share. We ensure a 90/10 split in the artists’ favor. On top of that, because EMN believes in the transformative power of music, we dedicate 10 percent of ad revenue to charitable causes such as those that feed the hungry, house the homeless and help victims of natural disasters.

DISM: Sounds like you found a straight path to your dream. Was it really so simple?

EV: It has been anything but simple. I spent years learning how to navigate application development, digital rights agreements, content licensing and distribution and how to acquire the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring EMN to life. But it’s the decades of relationship-building with my partners, advisors, record labels and artists that serve as the foundation of EMN.

DISM: What’s your advice for women today who want to pursue a career or start-up in tech?

EV: Today, every business is tied to technology, whether you work behind a desk, with your hands, your voice or your heart. So, to say there are few women in tech will eventually become a thing of the past. What may remain unchanged is the lack of female LEADERS in tech and that’s a personal choice. It’s up to each one of us to find our passion, find a mentor, find a way to achieve our goals, whatever the odds or the required education. Learn it. Do it. Fail. Get back up and do it again. And again. And that’s never easy. But it’s certainly fulfilling.

About Elizabeth Vargas:
Elizabeth Vargas is the founder and CEO of Edge Music Network, a music video streaming service providing live and on-demand content through a video syndication platform. After studying jazz vocal and music theory at Cornish College of the Arts and attending Bellevue University to study international business and media technology, Vargas combined her passions and pursued a career in the music industry. Over several years, Vargas was able to learn the ins and outs of application development, which allowed her to effectively lead the development and engineering of EMN’s platform. She has decades of experience architecting and brokering digital rights agreements between content creators and publishers to ensure equitable revenue share and royalty distribution and has worked with industry leaders to fight for fair compensation structures to keep the music alive—all of which paved the way for Edge Music Network. With deep working knowledge in content licensing and distribution, application development, as well as strong industry partnerships, Vargas acquired the content libraries of some of the largest music publishers in the world to bring to life the Edge Music Network app that gives artists the royalties and respect they deserve while giving fans access to the music they love—anytime, anywhere, from any device.

With philanthropy at the core of Edge Music Network, Vargas has built one of the most technologically advanced platforms to bring people together with the power of music while providing support to charitable organizations that feed the hungry, aid victims of natural disasters and support homeless veterans. For more information, visit edgemusic.com. Download the app at Apple ITunes Store and Google Play.

Richer Than Oprah: How The Nation’s Wealthiest African-American Conquered Tech And Wall Street

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robert f smith

It’s a Saturday afternoon, at the height of vacation season, in one of South Beach’s hottest hotels, and Robert Smith, the founder of Vista Equity Partners, is dressed like exactly no one within a 100-mile radius of Miami: in a three-piece suit.His signature outfit–today, it’s gray plaid, accented by an indigo tie and a pink paisley pocket square–apparently doesn’t take a day off, and Smith isn’t taking one now either. He’s gathered dozens of CEOs from his portfolio companies, software firms all, for a semiannual weekend off-site to drill them in the ways he expects his companies to operate.

It’s not just the suit that’s unusual. Private equity firms almost never treat their portfolio companies, transactional chits by design, like an organic cohort. And until recently, PE, a field built on borrowing against cash-generating assets, wouldn’t touch software firms, which offer little that’s tangible to collateralize. Yet Smith has invested only in software over Vista’s 18-year history, as evidenced by the CEOs, like Andre Durand of the security-software maker Ping Identity and Hardeep Gulati of the education-management software company PowerSchool, who have been summoned to Miami Beach, waiting to swap insights about artificial intelligence and other pressing topics. And Smith deploys more than 100 full-time consultants to improve his companies.

“Nobody ever taught these guys the blocking and tackling of running a software company,” says Smith, an engineer by training, as he takes a lunch break at South Beach’s 1 Hotel to nibble on a plant-based burger. “And we do it better than any other institution on the planet.”

Smith includes the likes of Oracle and Microsoft in that boast, and his numbers back up the braggadocio. Since the Austin-based firm’s inception in 2000, Vista’s private equity funds have returned 22% net of fees annually to limited partners, according to PitchBook data. Smith’s annual realized returns, which reflect exits, stand at a staggering 31% net. His funds have already made distributions of $14 billion, including $4 billion in the last year alone.

Not surprisingly given those numbers, Vista has become America’s fastest-growing private equity firm, managing $31 billion across a range of buyout, credit and hedge funds. Smith is putting all that money to work at a breakneck pace, with 204 software acquisitions since 2010, more than any tech company or financial firm in the world. After finishing an $11 billion fundraising for its latest flagship buyout fund last year, Smith has already deployed more than half of it, focusing as usual on business-to-business software. “They recognize it’s a kind of central nervous system,” says Michael Milken, whose bond-market innovations basically birthed the modern private equity industry and who has been a co-investor in two Vista deals. Taken together, Vista’s portfolio, with 55,000 employees and more than $15 billion in revenue, ranks as the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

7 Tips for Succeeding as a Freelance Tech Business Owner

LinkedIn

If you’re passionate about computers, possess a background in information technology, are naturally analytical, good at problem solving, or have a gift for attention to detail, there are a few freelancing paths in the tech arena that may be just right for you. Trained technicians command high dollar figures, and hanging out your shingle as a freelance tech expert can be an attractive option.

It’s important to understand that having a technical skill to market and knowing where to look for your first freelancing jobs are just the start. Employers looking to hire freelancers on job sites generally want skilled workers who are experienced or have a positive feedback rating on the site in question.

A good strategy to build a portfolio and client base is to accept jobs paying less than you’re really worth at first in order to get your foot in the door, do good work, and receive positive reviews. Build a reputation this way, then start going after better-paying jobs charging what you’re really worth. Freelance tech people are often scrutinized a little more thoroughly than other types of freelancers. Getting those first few jobs under your belt with positive feedback will make your journey a lot easier.

Another virtual guarantee with tech freelancing is that you’ll likely be interviewed before prospects make the decision to hire you. For that reason, it’s important to develop quality interviewing skills and keep an updated resume. This becomes more true as the type of technology services you’re providing become more advanced. Coding a piece of software for someone is a whole different arena from writing a report for them to give away.

As a freelancer, you’ll be competing with many other people for jobs, so it’s incumbent upon you to not only present yourself well, but also make it clear that it would be a mistake NOT to hire you! Here are several tips to help make that a reality.

1. Assemble a killer personal portfolio.

This one can be a bit tricky at the outset, as you need to make sure you have permission to show work you’ve done previously for an employer as a sample of your work. Going forward, make sure anything you do as a freelancer you have the right to show. Be careful about signing NDAs (nondisclosure agreements), as they can sometimes restrict you from showing your best work. Put your best, most recent work in your portfolio, and make both a print and online version of it for best results.

2. Get glowing recommendations.

Ask clients to give you written or video testimonials, as these can very often make the difference in whether you’re considered for a job. If you’ve done quality work for them, this should be no problem. Moreover, they’ll be likely to use you again and again, as well as refer you to others.

3. Be sure to charge what you’re worth.

Once you have some freelance jobs under your belt, decide on your base rate and stick to it. You understand what the work entails, and your clients don’t. Explain what they’re getting for their money, and demonstrate why you’re worth it. You’ll always get clients who will lowball you, and who will expect you to do a job on the cheap with the promise of more and better-paying work in the future. This almost never works out, so be willing to decline jobs.

4. Diversify your client base.

It’s essential that you diversify your client base as much as you can. It’s great to have clients who have projects so large that they eat up most or all of your time, but there will come a day when either you’re done, or they head in another direction.

What do you do then? If you plan to remain a freelancer long term, make it your business to always have a steady stream of leads coming into your business. If your work is in high demand, you can take only the highest-paying jobs or perhaps hire a subcontractor or two and realize a little passive income. Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have!

Continue onto Entrepreneur to read the complete article.

Sell Yourself and Your Brand

LinkedIn

Creating a personal brand helps employers see your uniqueness

Why take the time to develop a personal brand? See how you can stand out to employers.

  • In a tough job market, you need to stand out. Besides helping you identify your personal strengths, having a brand can pull your resume to the top of the pile, make you shine in interviews, and leave your LinkedIn readers positively wowed.
  • Corporations take great care to develop a brand that defines their product. Brands help inspire trust and commitment in consumers; if you apply similar thinking to your personal brand, you can distinguish your value in a way that inspires an employer’s interest in you.
  • With so many marketing options, you need to be consistent. Use your brand in all your job search communications, including your cover letter, in interviews, and in thank-you notes. Your LinkedIn and other social media should clearly reflect you and your professional brand.
  • Most work is project based. Your brand is a shorthand description of what you bring to a team or to the table for projects.

So, are you ready to start thinking—or rethinking—your personal branding strategy?

Consider several of your best work experiences and how you contributed to them. What skill or characteristic is reflected in your best work stories? How did you use it? With what result? Ask yourself: “Why do people like to work with me or employ me?” What earns you compliments or accolades? What do people depend on you for?

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • Are you friendly and always the one to organize social events at work? Your brand could include “an inveterate team builder and initiator.”
  • Do you take unusual care to ensure details are thoroughly thought through and accurate? Your brand could be “willing to take on the precision that scares others away.”
  • You might be an outstanding supervisor who makes operations flow and brand yourself “a problem-solver who excels at developing talent.”

You can identify your signature characteristics yourself or work with a career coach or counselor to help you identify them. It’s a good idea to ask for some feedback on your ideas from a few trusted friends or colleagues before you go public with your brand to avoid a mismatch of how you see yourself and how you may come across to others.

Source: careeronestop.org

Machine Learning At Google: The Amazing Use Case Of Becoming A Fully Sustainable Business

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Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. From the start, they have also made significant efforts to do this in a way that doesn’t deplete the world’s natural resources.

The company has been fully carbon neutral since 2007 and ten years later they are hoping they have achieved the next major goal – drawing every watt of energy they use for their business operations from renewable sources.

Kate E Brandt, their lead for sustainability, spoke to me about some of the ways they have been tackling this ambitious challenge while she was visiting London to speak at the Economist Sustainability Summit 2018.

She told me “We set a goal in 2012 that we wanted to reach a point where 100% of the energy used for our operations was coming from renewables – so it’s a longstanding commitment.

“We are completing our final calculations but all our indicators point to us having achieved that in 2017 – but stay tuned!”

Of course, Google being pioneers of machine learning and deep learning means they have some formidable technology available to them to achieve this. As you would expect, it has been deployed across a wide variety of use cases in order to achieve their aims.

With data centers accounting for 2% of the world’s global energy usage, creating efficiencies across its own network of 14 major hubs has been a priority for Google.

The challenge here is that the hugely complex nature of the equipment means there are literally billions of possible configurations of servers, chillers, cooling towers, heat exchangers and control systems. Knowing which configurations will lead to the optimum level of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) – the metric used by Google to rate energy efficiency in data centers – is insanely complex for human beings to work out. Even a team of highly trained Google data center engineers.

But they took it as far as they could – building their own centers from the ground up so as to have maximum control over the variables at play, and custom-designing components to be free of extraneous, resource-sapping features common in off-the-shelf components.

Google – specifically, one engineer named Jim Gao – then turned to machine learning, the same technology which powers its image recognition and translation applications used by millions worldwide, to take things a step further.

Brandt says “So Jim took a machine learning course online, and got to thinking that it was really an interesting idea for optimizing data center cooling.

“One thing he told me which makes it so powerful as a tool – if you think about 10 devices each of which have 10 settings, that’s 10 billion potential configurations, and not something that the human mind can optimize.

“But once he was able to train this algorithm to see patterns across the various systems and how they impacted the cooling infrastructure, he was able to see that there was a tremendous opportunity.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Famed Physicist Stephen Hawking Has Died at the Age of 76

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Professor Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, whose brilliant mind ranged across time and space though his body was paralyzed by disease, died early Wednesday, a University of Cambridge spokesman said. He was 76 years old.

Hawking died peacefully at his home in Cambridge, England.

The best-known theoretical physicist of his time, Hawking wrote so lucidly of the mysteries of space, time and black holes that his book, “A Brief History of Time,” became an international best seller, making him one of science’s biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein.

“He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Even though his body was attacked by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, when Hawking was 21, he stunned doctors by living with the normally fatal illness for more than 50 years. A severe attack of pneumonia in 1985 left him breathing through a tube, forcing him to communicate through an electronic voice synthesizer that gave him his distinctive robotic monotone.

But he continued his scientific work, appeared on television and married for a second time.

As one of Isaac Newton’s successors as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, Hawking was involved in the search for the great goal of physics — a “unified theory.”

Such a theory would resolve the contradictions between Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which describes the laws of gravity that govern the motion of large objects like planets, and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, which deals with the world of subatomic particles.

For Hawking, the search was almost a religious quest — he said finding a “theory of everything” would allow mankind to “know the mind of God.”

“A complete, consistent unified theory is only the first step: our goal is a complete understanding of the events around us, and of our own existence,” he wrote in “A Brief History of Time.”

In later years, though, he suggested a unified theory might not exist.

He followed up “A Brief History of Time” in 2001 with the more accessible sequel “The Universe in a Nutshell,” updating readers on concepts like super gravity, naked singularities and the possibility of an 11-dimensional universe.

Hawking said belief in a God who intervenes in the universe “to make sure the good guys win or get rewarded in the next life” was wishful thinking.

“But one can’t help asking the question: Why does the universe exist?” he said in 1991. “I don’t know an operational way to give the question or the answer, if there is one, a meaning. But it bothers me.”

The combination of his best-selling book and his almost total disability — for a while he could use a few fingers, later he could only tighten the muscles on his face — made him one of science’s most recognizable faces.

He made cameo television appearances in “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek” and counted among his fans U2 guitarist The Edge, who attended a January 2002 celebration of Hawking’s 60th birthday.

His early life was chronicled in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything,” with Eddie Redmayne winning the best actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the scientist. The film focused still more attention on Hawking’s remarkable achievements.

Some colleagues credited that celebrity with generating new enthusiasm for science.

His achievements and his longevity helped prove to many that even the most severe disabilities need not stop patients from living.

Continue onto TIME to read the complete article.

How These Black Founders Are Building Startups Without Investors

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black woman business owner

Research shows that black founders face disproportionate barriers to funding despite enormous economic potential. But here’s how several are pushing ahead.

As a woman of color, Janine Truitt was intrigued when she met an investor last winter whose “whole schtick” was to help underrepresented minorities raise money for their companies. But she was skeptical.

The owner of Talent Think Innovations, a consulting firm she founded in 2013, Truitt had bootstrapped her business and wasn’t initially convinced that venture capital was the best way to grow it. “I was thinking about my business as a legacy that I would build and pass down,” she tells Fast Company, “and that is not something investors love. They want to know if it’s a solid idea, [that] there’s a need for it in the market, and how quickly you can get out of it and pay [them].”

Many black and Latinx entrepreneurs feel more congenial about venture capital than Truitt does, but most have disproportionate trouble accessing it all the same. Those who struggle to get funded typically need to find other ways to innovate and grow. Here’s how.

VAST UNTAPPED POTENTIAL

Women entrepreneurs launched some 3.5 million new businesses over the past decade, according to the most recent “State of Women-Owned Businesses” report, with as many as 78% of them owned by women of color. By 2016, an estimated 1.9 million firms owned by black women employed some 376,500 workers, generating $51.4 billion in revenue.

Yet despite all this combined economic clout, venture capitalists have largely stayed away. A 2014 Babson College study found that most women-led businesses have been funded by the founder herself or by friends and family. Only 4% of women-owned businesses and 13% of minority-owned businesses received VC funding last year. Part of the reason is that less than 3% of VC funds have black and Latinx investment partners, according to analysis by Social + Capital.

Despite these long odds and her own reservations, Truitt knew how helpful investor backing might be for getting the tech solution she was working on off the ground–a multi-sensory platform for jobseekers with disabilities–around the time she met the equity-minded investor. So after a little encouragement, Truitt pitched her product. Impressed, the investor team offered her another meeting, so she spent the month of December hiring and leading a team of developers to build out the product, then sent off schematics for feedback.

Shortly after New Year’s, Truitt says she received an email from one of the partners saying they’d need to see the technology gain at least six months of traction in the market before deciding whether to invest. He also asked if she’d thought more about their earlier suggestion that she turn the business into a nonprofit. That wasn’t a route Truitt was initially planning to pursue, although she was open to it. Nevertheless, she’d wished their interest in investing in nonprofits had come out on the table earlier. “[My product] was always a solid idea,” she maintains, adding, “They may have the money, but it’s a partnership.”

The VC firm granted Truitt another meeting, but she hasn’t heard anything since. “I am just moving forward on my own,” she says.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.