Episode 33: Tech Maven Karuana Gatimu

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are again for another Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary mavens who bring a light to our world. Couldn't be more excited to be sitting here today in the Mixer Commons on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington with none other than Karuana Gatimu. Hello!

Karuana Gatimu:  Hello. Hello. That's a great intro.

Heather Newman:  Yes. And, Karuana and I have been catching up and I figured I'd have her on. She is a maven of many sorts technology and diversity and inclusion and adoption and is also just an awesome friend. So, wanted to get with her today and talk about all those wonderful things. So, tell everybody what you do at Microsoft.

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh, sure. I will. And thank you for having me. I think that the, uh, being here, you brought the sunshine to Redmond, Washington. It is beautiful out here today, which is, I'm finally thawing from snowmageddon. So I work in Microsoft Teams engineering and I run our customer advocacy group and we're a little bit of a unique team for Microsoft because we bring together all the adoption best practices, documentation and guidance, worldwide training, but a lot of feedback and also quality work with our tap program, our prerelease program. So it's fun to have all that together. It's like I found my tribe. And it's a pleasure to get to lead that.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And we're here, are we allowed to say where we are?

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh yeah, you can say it.

Heather Newman:  We're at MVP Summit. So I'm a Microsoft MVP in the Office Apps and Services segment. And so I got to see Karuana speak and we'll probably see her speak a couple of times and what we do here is we get updates on things and a lot of it is under nondisclosure cause it's coming soon kind of thing. But there's lots of great things coming with Teams and we got a sneak peek for some and then a lot was released because of, was it Enterprise Connect?

Karuana Gatimu:  Enterprise Connect. Yes. That's a major conference. It happens to be the same week this year as MVP Summit. As well as things happening for any of your European listeners. We had our Amsterdam Ignite Tour this week as well. So lots of things happening around the globe and we're privileged to be such a big part of that front and center for Microsoft Strategy. Microsoft Teams is a big piece of the M365 strategy going forward. And you know, I've been lucky to get to work in these spaces. I worked in SharePoint when it was new. I worked on the Yammer acquisition, worked on the release of Power BI and now I'm here and you know, it's really exciting to be around a new product, especially one that's been as well received, as actually all of those have, but especially Teams right now is a, is a hot topic.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I think in talking to customers and partners and in the space, we've been talking about how, you know, SharePoint has, you know, is beloved and been along for such a long time and that Microsoft Teams is really making M365 Microsoft 365 and Office 365 sticky. In a way that it's kind of pushed things to the next level I think, which is really exciting. Will you talk about sort of the adoption programs that you have around that? Cause I know you do a lot in that.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yeah, we definitely do. We do think that it makes Office 365 sticky. But what we even more hope is that it is really transforming that experience. You know, people have given us feedback and this is, I believe that Teams is a representation of the transformation of our own corporate culture. You know, with Satya here and the whole leadership team really focusing on diversity, inclusion, being open, actioning customer feedback. That's really how Teams was born. And so what it's trying to do is provide that center of gravity for that communication and collaboration. Well that's great, but it's also a big change for people and likely not the only change going on for them. So we really wanted to have an adoption

Heather Newman:  What people have lives outside of technology?

Karuana Gatimu:  They do amazing. Even I have a life, nobody knows that, of course, they think my life is Teams, but I actually do have a real life. And in my real life there's other things going on besides some new application that I'm supposed to learn. And so, you know, we have an entirely new adoption framework that we took that feedback from our customers and that, I do a lot of direct customer engagement, which for me is my bread and butter. I really like to have what I call truth from the trenches, right? What is actually happening out there in the field with our customers trying to drive adoption. And so we took all that feedback and we altered the Office 365 adoption framework and Microsoft Teams was the first group to put that into production. I was on the V team that changed the main framework and you know, we think it's going to help people, you know, find their tribe, right? Find Their tribe, tell the story and user our tools to drive adoption more easily.

Heather Newman:  Right. That's awesome. Yeah. And so when, just so folks, there's, you know, folks that are definitely in technology who listen, but like there's folks that aren't, so your title.

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh yes. So, titles inside Microsoft are like kind of super confusing when you, you know, and that's okay, but if you look on LinkedIn, a lot of us don't use our internal title on our LinkedIn profile. I happen to, but you know, that's why I say, I'm the Lead of the Customer Advocacy Group. Okay. But technically I'm a Principle PM Manager, so that's a principle program manager, manager. So I manage other PMs because I'm a lead, I have a team. But it's funny, right? But you know that principal title is basically you earn that inside of Microsoft when you get to a point where you're supposed to drive your own programs forward. Not that other people don't. But there's a greater expectation that's on you once you reach that principal level. It's considered a leadership level. So, you know, I was lucky I came into Microsoft that way because I've been a director and a GM and all sorts of other stuff elsewhere.

Heather Newman:  And you were at Sketchers as well?

Karuana Gatimu:  I was, I was, I was the Chief SharePoint Architect at Sketchers and I ran ecommerce there and digital marketing. And so, you know, that was a great job. I love Sketchers. They're a fantastic company, lot of fun. And that was at the time when, you know, back then I remember my VP of IT coming to my desk and handing me an iPad and saying, listen, make SharePoint work on this.

Heather Newman:  Okay.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right. On the first iPad. I'm like, I'll do it. I'll definitely do it. So, you know, I think that it's the same situation now. People out there, you see Teams, you want to use it. There's probably some IT person who's still trying to figure it out. And my job is to bring those two things together. What the business needs and when it pros can do and help move that ball. So, I did have a hand in designing this job. And for anybody out there who's listening from a career development perspective, I'd say, you know, you want a job, design it, own it, go after it. You know, I lobbied people for a long time to make this role. And I had different iterations of it along the last, I'd say like four or five years. So, you know, I'm really lucky now that I got, I got the Gig.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Yeah. You have to craft your own world. You have to craft your own path a lot of the time. So Karuana and I had the pleasure of, you know, we met officially at Ignite a couple of years ago and talked pretty much the rest of the evening into the morning I believe. And then we've been doing great just stuff together. And I have to say thank you for being such a great advocate and saying, hey Heather, do you want to do this? And I think we do that for each other and I just appreciate that. So thank you.

Karuana Gatimu:  You're welcome.

Heather Newman:  Yeah.

Karuana Gatimu:  I like to be an active myth buster. That powerful, intelligent women can't band together and work together effortlessly. I think there's still a lot of myths out there around that. I don't believe any of them. They've very rarely been my experience. Usually when I meet other really smart women, they're always excited to find out what you do and start to partner and do cool stuff. And we happen to have a lot in common. So, you know, that was, it was even easier. We just clicked like tribe members do. But you know, I also think it's important. I think it's an important example to set like, hey, we're all in this together. We have to band together to create the world we want to see.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And so we've had the chance to do a few things together. Like you came down to SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles, and we went to the European SharePoint Conference and did workshops together. So we led workshops on the show floor, for networking and leadership and empowerment and all of that. And we have, we're about to embark on another one.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yes, I'm so excited! SharePoint Conference North America! Ahhhhh!

Heather Newman:  Yes, Las Vegas, third week of May if you haven't registered or don't know.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right, exactly. And you know what I like about the SharePoint Conference is, you know, Ignite is such a huge event and I think it's a wonderful event obviously. And you can learn everything you might ever want to know about any Microsoft product at Ignite. What I like about SharePoint Conference is it's focused on that collaboration space and so you can deep dive with other product group members and you meet other customers and hear what they're doing. You know, the attendance is such that you can actually kind of get to know people. A lot of deep dive content on a variety of subject and Teams of course has a track there in the SharePoint Conference and we're about to do our diversity, inclusion and belonging track. And what's really amazing about that is SharePoint Conference is one of the first conferences to have a dedicated track for diversity, inclusion and belonging, on at the same time as other technical content. And that's because that's how important this is, right? If we don't have better diversity, if people may be diverse but they don't feel included, and you may be included but you don't feel like you belong. We won't actually design products that work for everyone. So I, you know, I'm super excited to be involved in that.

Heather Newman:  And you know, we did it last year and it was the first time and it got a lot of, you know, talk and feedback. And that's the other thing too that I really love about our community is that, you know, it's like some stuff worked and it worked really well and it was great that we did it and there's other things that didn't. And we were like, what didn't work? Tell us, let's figure this out. And you know, we have a committee that is working on this, you know, and we did last year as well. And you know, Cathy Dew from Women in SharePoint is heading a lot of things up. And Jennifer Mason and you know, and all the folks that work on the Microsoft team. So, you know, it's not, these things aren't just in a bubble, you know, and it's great to have a bunch of different voices and also people involved in it and, you know, putting out a call for speakers and all of that. And I think we're about to do a call for meetup leads and all of those things. So, you know, the diversity, inclusion and belonging area it's a moving target and it always has been. And what I'm, you know, Jen Stirrup, was part of, and they created a diversity and inclusion advisory board this year for the MVP Summit, which I was on. And it was really amazing to, and it's got, I think, I don't know, there's probably 50 people on it and it's everyone. It's not just women, it's everyone, and everybody was contributing, you know. Did you see part of the pre day?

Karuana Gatimu:  I did. I just see part of the pre-day. And the thing, you just hit on something that's really important. Diversity, inclusion and belonging is not just about, you know, different genders and different, you know, ethnicities. It's about everyone coming together and feeling a part of something bigger than themselves. And I think, you know, as a longtime community activist in a variety of topics, technology and otherwise, one of the things that I think is most important for people who are doing community leadership is to be open and to take feedback and criticism very well and to really make other people feel like they get to have a voice and a choice in the direction of those communities, in those events and what have you. Because sometimes these things can become like some sort of a clique. And I think that that's very dangerous for our causes right now. I think it's very, very important to be open to feedback, to be open to other people shaping things. And you know, you may encounter people who have opinions that you don't agree with. That's okay, because we need, that is the essence of diversity. It's not diversity in how you look, it's also diversity in how you think, that is important to really, you know, moving us forward. And especially right now in the US right now, we need that ability to hear other people we need. We're pretty good at talking in the United States. We're not so good at listening. And one of the things that I really try to contribute, even though I am a talker, is to really help people understand listening skills and what it means to be an active listener. I think from a community standpoint, that's what I love about the SPC D&I committee. Right? We took that feedback back. You know, we were open, we were, you know, we invited that feedback, and now we're actioning it. We're making changes and people are going to be able to see themselves reflected back in the community, which is all anybody really wants. They just want to see themselves in the bigger picture. To know that they matter. I think it's really important to do that. Certainly part of a legacy I'm trying to leave. I was recently nominated to the Experiences and Devices Women's Board, which is Rajesh Jha's organization, which is all of Office. We have a women's board and you know, a senior female technical leaders from all across that group, we're coming together technical and you know, PM all disciplines are represented. And to me that's a huge honor and I really take that stuff seriously because I want to participate and leave something behind. Selfishly, I don't want any other woman to have to go through what I went through to get here in my career. And that's why I created this Service Adoption Specialist Course so that people can take and validate their skills, people who are business and technical and communication skills. There was nothing for us and I just thought that that was not okay, you know. And so it's brand new. You know, it came out in January. We've had over 5,800 people take the course and we have the second highest conversion rate to a paid certifications of any edX course ever. And that validated for me that yeah, there's a segment here in this industry that really needs this career path modeling. And I'm thrilled about that. And so many of them are women, right? Because women come from very diverse career backgrounds. We end up in tech, you know, I'm theater trained, I know you are, right. We didn't, this was not our primary place. And so, you know, I think that all of this work where there's diversity, inclusion, the adoption more, you know, everything, I'm really trying to leave this, this breadcrumb trail, this neon breadcrumb trail that's very obvious, about how you can move forward even if you don't have a traditional technology education. Cause I don't, you know, I don't have, and for a long time I wouldn't even talk about that cause I was too insecure about it.

Heather Newman:  Oh yeah. I had the imposter syndrome about it. I would say, oh well, I was just a theater major and a dear person in my life pointed that out to me. And I was like, oh my goodness. I was like, I use it every day.

Karuana Gatimu:  That we're just is, to me it's like, it's like part of the evil empire. I use it.

Heather Newman:  Kinda. Just. It's doubt language.

Karuana Gatimu:  It is, it's doubt language. That's exactly true. And it's habit. For me it's been habit and I've really tried to work on, especially when I'm speaking in public, you know, I'm still working on editing the thoughts in my own head. That's going to be a lifelong journey, I think.

Heather Newman:  I know I wish Grammarly could be stuck in there or something.

Karuana Gatimu:  I know, right? Something exactly. I wish that, you know, but at least when I speak in public, I very much try not to minimize my talent. I have talent. People pay me for it. Why am I the one that's minimizing it? That makes absolutely no sense. You know, so, but it's a journey.

Heather Newman:  Well, it's like doing it before somebody else does it to you.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right.

Heather Newman:  That's usually the thought process.

Karuana Gatimu:  Cause I'm anticipating how my career was 25 years ago that imprinted upon me. And the truth is it's not like that today. And I also have to accept that some things have changed, and for the better. So that's not always easy for me to do. I am a grown dog. I won't call myself an old dog, but I'm a grown dog and I still have to learn new tricks sometimes and let the change wash over me and be in the present era instead of the old one.

Heather Newman:  I think it's interesting in looking at, you know, you and I are in the similar, I would say, you know, grown dog bracket

Karuana Gatimu:  Hashtag grown dog. We just made a

Heather Newman:  Grown dog. And it is interesting looking at, you know, people that are, you know, a generation ahead of us and then the generation, you know, younger and you know, how they fit in the mix and how we have conversations with them and there's this sort of wave of sort of, you know, there's a push, there's a lot going on in our world right now and I really, it's interesting making sure all voices get heard.

Karuana Gatimu:  Absolutely. And some of the most valuable conversations I have, and they're not official reverse mentoring relationships, but there's a lot of young women that I know who find me through one way or another and I add them to my mentoring circle or whatever inside Microsoft. And they are so important to me. They keep me fresh, they keep me connected, they helped me understand things from a different point of view. They also help me understand the persistence of certain things. As an African American woman, you know, in a technical field, there's not that many of us. It is definitely changing for sure. But we are, you know, kind of one more step in the kind of diversity and inclusion pattern there. And so there are certain things, especially in certain parts of this country, that we haven't healed yet in terms of being nice to one another. And you know, part of me gets angry about that part of me gets frustrated and part of me just digs my heels in. I am determined not to allow limiting ideas have an impact on me or mine. And so I take that mine pretty broadly. And so, you know, I just want to do everything I can to again, make that neon path for people to expand any way they want to in an authentic way. You know?

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. And I think, you know, like, I know you do this, I do this, we both travel a lot extensively throughout the world and you know, I just got back from India and, you know, you're going to all kinds of places as well. And you know, I think that's the other thing with this, when you do this kind of work also understanding that, you know, you have to, one way to talk about diversity, inclusion and belonging here is very different in different places in the world. And we were in Puerto Rico and it was like Puerto Rico is diverse because of its history. And it's not the nicest history either. You know what I mean? So you, you have to also think about that. You can't just sort of pop in and be like, hi, la, la, la, you know?

Karuana Gatimu:  Right. Yeah.

Heather Newman:  And that's super important too.

Karuana Gatimu:  Well, and you know, to me that goes again to those listening skills. I think in the US and we're not, we're not trained in that. You know, there's a public speaking course you take in college, there's not an active listening one unless you're a psych major. So, you know, of course I was, so I did. But I think that definitely traveling has certainly informed my thinking about listening, about these topics. To your exact point, it's so different in so many other areas. And of course, I'm Kenyan American, right? My father's from Kenya and when I went and visited there, I became very clearly aware of how different my life would be had I grown up there instead of here. And I want to be really clear. I'm not saying it's better or worse, I'm just saying different, right? I mean, you know, had I lived on the farm where my grandmother lived, you know, my father's mother. There's not a lot of bandwidth there. You know, it's an agricultural community. There's not a lot of wealth there. You go into the city and of course there is, but the gap between the haves and the have nots is very, very clear. And the access to education, especially for women, young girls and women is very, you know, questionable sometimes. It's not equal amongst everyone. So, you know, given those things, I'm really clear about the opportunity that I have working here. Sometimes I pinch myself that I ended up in Microsoft, one of the best companies in the world and the kind of role that I have that I get to really have an impact. And I have absolutely zero intention of wasting that. Because I could be an awesome chicken farmer right now, you know, and that would be fine, but instead I have a different opportunity and that opportunity allows me to empower others and that's what I am all about, you know? So whether I'm doing it for Teams or whatever product I'm doing it for. What I like about the product though, I'd have to say is never before in my career has my professional life and the product I'm working on dovetailed and complimented so perfectly what I am personally passionate about. And for me that's my career success. Everything I'm personally passionate about, I get to work on as a part of my daily job and that is an earned gift, you know, and I'm very grateful for it. It's definitely something new I'd say in the last four or five years that's come together and continues to evolve. So you know, if folks out there, if you don't feel that, like go after it, figure out what it is one step at a time. Mine has continued to evolve. It wasn't like I had some perfect plan, there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Note to self for all the PM's out there, there is no perfect plan. Perfect does not exist. You have to just be nimble and like figure it out.

Heather Newman:  I was listening, I saw one of those, you know Gary B? I saw one of his, and he was talking to a 22 year old the other day and she called in and was asking questions cause she wants to be a millionaire at 25 and all of this stuff and he was like, no, you will not do that. He's like, maybe at 36. He's like, what did you do this weekend? Did you hang out? Did you go do this, do that? And she's like, I worked with my mom and dadada. And he's like, for real? She's like, yeah. And he's like, you know what I did in my twenties? Worked all the time because I want the long game. You know? And so, there's talent and there's where you're plopped into the world and then there's hustle.

Karuana Gatimu:  There's hustle. Yeah, I definitely, you know, and the other thing also is about priorities. Why? My question to that woman would have been, why do you want to be a millionaire? What do you think that's going to get you? Because I guarantee you, I feel like I have more freedom than a lot of those folks. I have freedom, I have impact, I have respect in my community. I have all of the things I ever dreamed of and a wonderful personal life, and all that stuff that goes with that. So, you know, money's not the answer. Wish for something else. Okay. Just out there, just don't wish for money. Wish for something else. Wish for freedom, wish for health, wish for something that is meaningful versus, you know, the financial reward. Look, the only reason I can say that is because all my bills are paid and my car starts, because that wasn't always the case in my life. But the truth is that that's not what I really care about now. Now that I do have a little money in the bank and my car does start every time I put my key in it, I'd come to realize that that's not what I should be wishing for.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is about that, is that it happens to all of us and at different periods of time. You know, it's like you can be doing really well and all of a sudden the bottom falls out of things. You know, and a lot of the time, you don't always see that or hear it from people. But that happens and it happens to a lot of us and it's just, you know, I remember not too long ago when you're like, oh my goodness, this debt or this thing happened or this, you know, disease or whatever, all those things can come up. And that's the other thing about, I think the belonging piece of this. I think is so important and I know you do too, is that, it's like cultivating beautiful, deep, strong, friendships.

Karuana Gatimu:  So important because that's what's going to carry you through. And you know, I absolutely know the difference in that. When 9/11 happened, I was in the first year and a half of owning my own company and all of my customers were in New York.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Karuana Gatimu:  And that, that destruction of my business in 30 seconds. Because nobody's, you know, I did marketing consulting and website design and event management and production. Nobody cared. Nobody is doing that. Everything came to a screeching halt in a way that no MBA program is ever going to teach you how to manage. That was the best business administration course I ever had managing through an instantaneous downturn. Right.

Heather Newman:  With one of the most tragic things.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yes, exactly. And you know, the tech bubble bursting and all these things happened and yeah, that changed my life in an instant. I had to figure out how to pivot and it was extremely difficult and very stressful and actually really contributed to the demise of my first marriage, for sure, because of that level of stress.

Heather Newman:  You drop a pebble into a lake and people think, you know, it's just that person. In my personal life too, I've had some really major traumatic things happen and you know, and that's on such a global level and some of the things happened that, well, the thing that happened this week in New Zealand, it rocks everybody in that community. It rocks the world. It rocks our global energy. Our global consciousness. It's like the lessons that you get out of those things. You're just like, what's the silver lining? And, well, there isn't a silver lining, but it's a confusing time, but it also, you have to figure it out and go to the next step of the next day. Step by step.

Karuana Gatimu:  I'm sure that the folks, you know, the two MVPs that we lost, I know we had a moment of silence for one of the gentlemen here and then I was reading online. There was a second identified. You know, I know there's no silver lining for their family, but what I will say is that the depth of depravity that we're seeing in some of these violent attacks just makes the work we're doing in diversity, inclusion and belonging and empowering everyone, all the more important. I believe that the cornerstone of a lot of this strife comes from the inequality of class that exists around the world. You know, if you were in Venezuela is another situation, people are struggling for food, right? Like, if the, you know, I stood there just the other day, standing there looking at my pantry and it is overflowing with food. And there was a beautiful Time picture of the protests that are going on down there. And I was just thinking again, it's the luck of geography, right? And, you know, born here, living here, I can go to Safeway and go to the grocery store and get whatever I want, assuming that I have a job because not everyone here does. But I really think that we have to, and in technology in particular we can use technology to democratize opportunity. And I am so dedicated to that and I'm just so happy to work in a place where I know that the leadership is also dedicated to really empowering others. That's not just some, some mission statement. It's actually a thing.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. We have got more MVPs out and about. So I want to ask you one more question. We talked, we dipped into sort of personal life a bit. And just so I know how, I know your busy schedule, I mean you and I catch up like in brief text messages and on Teams and you know, this, that, yeah. Good. Yeah. Yeah. And then luckily we get to see each other in person quite a bit, but how do you turn off? How do you get away from things and you know, just take a moment and stuff?

Karuana Gatimu:  It's really easy for me. I don't have a problem unplugging. I really never have.

Heather Newman:  I don't either, really. So I get it.

Karuana Gatimu:  You know, but a lot of people do. First off, I love what I do so it doesn't feel like work to me, number one. Number two, when I go home, my dogs and my husband, you know, they deserve my attention and I give it to them. I'm not one of those people that's in my phone 24/7. I know how to turn it off. I don't have on notifications on my phone because I'm on it all the time. And when I'm not, it's because I need to not be on it. And so nobody questions, you know, my commitment to my role and I'm not neurotic about it. You know, if my boss really needs to find me, she has my cell phone number, she'll call. So I'm not worried about that. And also I love to cook. You can't think about Microsoft Teams or SharePoint when you're chopping onions, you just can't. So I really use cooking as my thing and I love to do that. But you know, and maybe it's because of the things I've been through in the past. I'm not at all willing to sacrifice my personal life for my career. I already did that once, wasn't good. And I'm a better person in my career because of the absolute sanctity and happiness of my marriage and my home with my two dogs, which I post a lot about on Twitter. So, you know, they're really, really important to me. And they are the, you know, literally the wind beneath my wings. I would not be as successful as I am today without my husband. He is one of my chief cheerleaders and he's so supportive and so I just try to give it back, you know, when I'm there. So, yeah, I don't have problem with that, but I tell you, those notifications, everybody seems addicted to notifications on their phone. Turn them off for a week. Who cares?

Heather Newman:  It's the experiment, a great experiment to do.

Karuana Gatimu:  Experiment, because you know something, I don't know, I'm not doing brain surgery here. I'm doing Microsoft Teams adoption and yes, things are important, but nobody's going to bleed out if I don't see that issue for another 20 minutes or an hour or until the next morning. I'm entitled to get my sleep. And we are in a worldwide business and so I do have to be pretty hardcore about that. Otherwise I really could work 24/7. Because of, you know, European schedule, India, Africa, I mean, people are always up and always have questions. So I definitely do that. But let's be clear, I do work a lot of hours when I'm working. I work a lot of hours and I love it. I love what I do. I love the people. I love the challenge. To me, this is my time. And I just want to rock it. I don't want to waste this opportunity to help others. I just don't think it's going to come back like this again in this particular way. And I have a lot of energy right now, so I want to leave something behind. I'm on a bit of a mission.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, I hear ya. I know. I think about, I think I just wrote something about, you know, about International Women's Day. I was like, in 200 years, I want to be part of the brave people in the world that helped us find our equality and balance.

Karuana Gatimu:  That's exactly right. This is our chance. You know, I have the energy to still do the work, you know, maybe 50 - 60 hours a week, but I have the wisdom now of what work to do. And I don't much waste my time on stuff that isn't impactful. Politics, personal, one way or the, I just don't because life is too short. How many years do I have left? Really? I mean think about it, you know? I mean, and so, I just feel like now's the time to hit it hard and then I can look back on everything we've done and be happy about it. And you will be a big part of that by the way.

Heather Newman:  And high five. Yeah, I think that's right on. I was, I dunno, a few years ago I was in a meeting or at an event, Life is Beautiful in Vegas. It was the first one, a festival. And I was in a room and a guy started talking and he was like, well, I'm 42 years old. So it with the life expectancy of a man that means that I have about, I dunno, like say 40, 45 birthdays, Christmases, thanksgivings, blah, blah, blah, left. And I was like, I wasn't really paying attention to him cause I was literally at a bar with a friend because it was in a bar. And I was like, what? And I turned around, I was 42 at the time. And I turned around and I was like, nobody did the math for me before.

Karuana Gatimu:  I've done the math.

Heather Newman:  Well, I'm doing the math now.

Karuana Gatimu:  That's right. That's why I'm on a mission. There's not that much time. And so, you know, because the kind of changes that I want to continue to drive is not small and the things I want to leave behind, you know, and this isn't, look, maybe this stuff I'm going to leave behind in 20 years, nobody will care about. But I don't care. I care about it now. And it's not about other people's opinions, it's about my opinion of myself. And, and maybe part of it is I don't have children so the things that I do are my legacy. And of course, there's a lot of young people in my life, so they are too, but yeah, I just feel like, you know, I can sit around and watch Netflix later, you know what I mean? I can do a lot of those things later and I also want to feel like when I finally do like retire with my husband and we're traveling and what have you, I don't want to feel like I left something undone. So I'm super focused on that. And besides, you know, with everything going on in the world, now's the time to lean in. If you've got communication skills and you've got real empathy that you can action, then now's the time to bring it into the world because it's needed. There's too much of all this divisive, aggressive conversation that lacks empathy and that does nothing but divide us further. So we need to be the alternate voice. Why not?

Heather Newman:  We talked about humans in tech. You know, and just humans in the world.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yeah. Just being human and we need more examples of that. And you know, I feel like I was gifted with the gift of gab by my family. I want to turn it into a force for good cause I've certainly used my talent of her talking for not good things. So I'm making it up for that. I've weaponized my speech more than once. So I'd like to turn it into something that is more meaningful than that.

Heather Newman:  Well, I think you have, and you continue to do. So.

Karuana Gatimu:  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate, I always appreciate, I appreciate you, I appreciate everything that you do and thank you for having me on your cast. Awesome!

Heather Newman:  This is a makeup for a session that got lost with a bad mic kit. So you know, so we're always learning.

Karuana Gatimu:  Always learning, yup.

Heather Newman:  Always learning, you know. So, alright, well Karuana thank you again.

Karuana Gatimu:  You're welcome.

Heather Newman:  So everyone, that was another Mavens Do It Better podcast and you can find us at the usual places on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify and at the mavensdoitbetter.com website and we will put all of Karuana's information in the show notes so you can follow all the goodness that she is doing. Thanks everyone. And here's to another big blue, beautiful spinning sphere day. Woo-hoo.

Heather Newman

Heather Newman is an award-winning marketing maven, technology entrepreneur and an epic connector that brings many worlds together. She has extensive experience marketing products and services for Enterprise businesses, startups and emerging markets. Heather builds plans and processes that are nimble, human and different. She is an adept storyteller and is passionate about growth for both employees and the corporate bottom-line. Heather hails from the arts and the bulk of her career has been working with the largest technology companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetApp, Hewlett Packard, and Dell). Her nineteen years of experience working at technology companies and building global high-tech marketing strategy has driven millions of dollars of revenue and multiple award-winning campaigns. She has led global marketing teams for many technology companies including AvePoint, IT Unity & KnowledgeLake. Heather was a part of the original Microsoft SharePoint Marketing team. During her tenure, she helped launch multiple versions of the product, build the SharePoint Partner Ecosystem and conceived of and produced the first three Microsoft SharePoint Conferences. Creative Maven has produced thousands of global marketing campaigns and events. Currently CM is focusing on go to market strategies for Microsoft and its partners as well as a new site sister site launching in 2015 called Marketingfixer.com. Heather also serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Content Panda, an innovative technology startup looking to actively disrupt how content is delivered inside software.