Espree Devora got tagged as “the Girl Who Gets it Done” when a friend observed her enthusiasm in tackling a number of business tasks for Tony Hsieh, then head of Zappos. Her passion for content creation began when she was in the 6th grade and her father gave her a video camera. She filmed hundreds of sequences featuring “extreme” sports (skateboarding, motocross) and built the first online action sports social network. In 2012, she attempted to start “We are LA Tech,” featuring local startup founders. She shot 12-episodes, but her enterprise partner refused to edit the material. Dead end.
Two years later, in September 2014, Espree resurrected “We are LA Tech” as a podcast. By October 2014, it topped Apple’s New & Noteworthy. She had learned on YouTube everything she needed to know to run a podcast. In 2015, Espree launched “Women in Tech” in response to the dire “glass ceiling” warnings so prevalent at the time. Her purpose? To “create a positive piece of content whose sole purpose is to show us what’s possible, to expand our belief system, so listeners walk away feeling, “’If she can do it, so can I.’” Much of the theme of her work is what Espree calls “vulnerable leadership.” She wants to share “how people have built their companies and their professions in ways that are really empowering, and what can we learn from them.”
For people interested in getting started in podcasting, Espree recommends the technical equipment and software that she has found to be most helpful, and talks about planning, motivational strategies, and her series of podcasting training videos.
The first tool in Espree’s podcasting toolbag was an app to help her maintain focus on daily goals, to help her deal with her fear of “ creating this thing, and then her second fear, of creating a thing that didn’t work out.” Tools she uses today include an Audio Technica 2100 microphone and Sound Studio editing software.
As podcasting has grown, the demand for podcasting training has likewise increased. Espree offers a series of podcasting training videos and teaches everything from large groups to intensive, private, month-long master classes. She recommends continuous outreach to maintain relationships with podcasting audiences, lists a number of tools effective for doing this, and offers tips on techniques and frequency . . . in order to be “un—annoying.”
Espree had been scheduled as a speaker at this year’s now-cancelled South by Southwest. She has given many presentations there in the past, performed live podcasts, and led meetup groups. She credits her success to being where hard work meets luck and opportunity, a variation of the Roman philosopher Seneca’s “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.”
Espree can be reached on LinkedIn and all social at (Espree Devora), and on Twitter @espreedevora. Her podcasts are on: WeAreLATech.fm http://podcast.wearelatech.com/ and WomeninTech.fm http://podcast.womenintechshow.com/.
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined today by Espree Devora, “the Girl Who Gets It Done.” She is the Creator and Host of the We Are LA Tech podcast and also the host of Women in Tech. Welcome to the podcast, Espree.
ESPREE: Hello, hello! Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
ROB: Very excited to have you here. Why don’t you tell s a little bit about your own journey into becoming “the Girl Who Gets It Done” and hosting the things that you do?
ESPREE: Oh my gosh. A lot of people ask me when I became an entrepreneur, like when I made that decision. I feel like I was born an entrepreneur. I remember walking into Westwood Village with my father and looking into the empty office buildings, picturing what businesses I would put in them.
As I went along my journey, I think I just became very resourceful in a lot of different areas, from junior high to high school to college, and eventually the tagline “the Girl Who Gets it Done” came from when I was hanging out with Tony Hsieh, who is the head of Zappos, and a bunch of his entourage. I was taking care of some things and people kept asking me, “Are you his assistant? Are you his publicist? Who are you?” My girlfriend who was with me at the time just said, “She’s the girl who gets it done.” [laughs] It just stuck, and it’s been that way for a really long time.
ROB: Excellent. I think if you get a nickname around Tony Hsieh, you stick to it for the most part.
ROB: What about the journey into these podcasts that you host? When did you realize that was something you wanted to do and then really caught your ongoing attention?
ESPREE: I think the first moment that I realized I was really excited by content creation was in the 6th grade, when my dad gifted me a video camera and I got to explore. I ended up building the first action sports media company online. It was the first action sports social network, and we produced hundreds and hundreds of video content across skateboarding, motocross, all these things.
Then in 2012, I had this urge to continue creating content, but at that point in my life I was more interested in the startup world. I had already been in the startup tech world, obviously, building the first social network for action sports, but I didn’t understand that. At that time I was just doing things. They weren’t a global trend like it is now. Terms like “social media,” “entrepreneur,” “founder,” “accelerators,” these things were not a thing then.
In 2012, when LA started to have more startups and have more founder stories, I wanted to capture that moment, so I partnered with someone to create a video series called We Are LA Tech. Unfortunately, that person didn’t share the same work ethic I had. We shot 12 episodes, and that person’s responsibility was to edit them and none of them were edited. My heart was broken. I waited a year, and I ended up going on a backpacking trip to escape this reality that this video series would never be completed that I felt so passionate about.
While backpacking in Europe, my friend Mark who founded a company called BetaList, started showing me podcasts on his iPhone. At the time I was an Android person. He’s like, “You’ve got to listen to these podcasts. They’re so funny. You’ll love them.” I get back to the States; I get an iPhone because I want to stay connected with my friends in Europe and it was the easiest way to do that at the time. I start listening to podcasts.
I didn’t realize that years before, I had actually been listening to two podcasts, Podcasts and Product People by Justin Jackson, who actually has now co-founded a podcast hosting company called Transistor. He was one of the early podcasters, and I just loved his show. But at that time I would move the audio files from the computer to my phone. It wasn’t the thing it is today, so I didn’t even know I was listening to podcasts.
Anyway, at the same time, I was like, wow, if I start a podcast too, I never have to rely on a video editor again. [laughs] So in 2013 I started stirring up the We Are LA Tech podcast in my head. It launched in I think September 2014, and by October 2014, it was number one on Apple’s New & Noteworthy. It was just really exciting. I’m completely a self-taught podcaster. I taught myself how to edit. I taught myself everything. I just watched a lot of YouTube videos, and I’ve been podcasting ever since.
Then in 2015, I launched the Women in Tech podcast, and the story goes on and on.
ROB: What made you realize that maybe it was worth at least experimenting with the Women in Tech podcast? Or were you all-in from Day 1 and you knew it had to be a thing?
ESPREE: The Women in Tech podcast was inspired because at the time, these women’s groups were becoming a thing. They were never a thing before. I’m like, “Oh look, that’s me. I founded companies and I am a girl too, so I want to check out what’s going on.” All these groups I would go to at the time, the whole conversation would be about how women are held back or statistics that are in the negative and this and that. I’m like, man, I’ve never felt held back. The only person I’ve ever felt held back by is me.
If I had heard all these messages about how much was not possible for me, I would have never built the first action sports social network. I wouldn’t have raised money. I wouldn’t have done all these things because I would’ve believed it wasn’t possible for someone like me.
So I wanted to create a positive piece of content whose sole purpose is to show us what’s possible, to expand our belief system, so listeners walk away feeling “If she can do it, so can I.”
ROB: There’s a common thread, it seems, between both of the podcasts. You have, with LA, an underappreciated market for startups – I think perhaps even still to this day, there’s some very good companies, but also with a chip on their shoulder. And then with Women in Tech, similarly, there’s sometimes a lack of appreciation, a lack of highlighting, a lack of encouragement in both cases, you’re putting a positive spin on it rather than saying, “Hey, pay attention because you’re not paying enough attention.”
ESPREE: Yeah. I think my brand theme – I call it vulnerable leadership, where it’s not that I want to just be positive. I don’t want to be Instagram perfect. But I do want to share a vulnerable message in a way that we could shift our belief system to turn something that could be perceived as a negative into a positive.
I think the process behind that is really important. It’s not just about being like “Everything’s great! You have it so much better than everybody else!” [laughs] It’s about, okay, today sucks or whatever a person is dealing with, but here are the steps I went to, because do I want to feel sucky right now? No. If I don’t want to feel sucky, what’s something that I can do to potentially shift myself out of that mindset? I think that’s what my shows exemplify, just vulnerable leadership: how have people built their companies and their professions in ways that are really empowering, and what can we learn from them?
ROB: For those of us who are outside of the LA tech world, certainly we’ve heard of some of the newer fliers – I think maybe Byrd or Lime scooters is from there. I apologize for not knowing what you know.
ESPREE: That’s okay.
ROB: I’ve definitely ridden plenty of scooters. But what are some of the companies that are maybe trending right now that people may not fully be aware of, but should be?
ESPREE: Oh wow, trending? I don’t know who’s trending right now because I tend to stay laser-focused on sharing people’s stories. But some companies that are iconic that you may have seen – of course, Snapchat is here. FabFitFun is here. There’s really huge companies that are popular at least across the U.S., if not globally, that were created – Myspace was in LA. Google has tons of offices here now, and they’re really a dominant force in the LA tech scene. YouTube has their Creator Hub here. It’s definitely a thriving tech city.
My primary interest is the lifestyle and culture of a tech professional, more than what is the latest gadget. However, if you tell me the latest video or microphone gadget, I will be interested, but that’s just for personal, selfish reasons. [laughs]
ROB: I was going to ask – I think a lot of people, when they hear about podcasting, they feel very intimidated in terms of the whole process, from creation of the content to editing and publishing. What was in your first podcasting tool bag?
ESPREE: That’s a great question. I’d say the first thing that was in my podcasting tool bag was actually the app. I don’t even remember what it was called. It’s like Daily Goal. It was some daily goal app. The reason that was the first one in my bag is because I was so afraid of, one, creating this thing, and then creating a thing that didn’t work out.
What I did was I created a goal every day. It could be like “create podcast artwork,” “get a microphone,” “schedule an interview.” Just one thing. And I wouldn’t allow myself to not do the thing. I remember when I got my first podcast poster designed, and I didn’t like the design and I thought it was really ugly, but my goal for that day was “post it,” like it’s done. So I just went with it. It was about the forward movement; it wasn’t about being perfect. I actually happen to really like that flyer now, but at the time I did not.
That was my first one. Then as I became more educated by watching YouTube videos, I bought a Snowball mic because I knew my episodes would be in-person and it would be more than one person, so I wanted a mic that picked up more people.
A Snowball mic is actually the lowest level mic because it’s really meant for musicians, like a guitarist or something like that. It’s not meant for multiple people. Those are for technical reasons that I can get into another time. Feel free to tweet me @espreedevora if you’d like to know more reasons why. But it was a Snowball.
What I’d recommend to everybody starting out is an Audio-Technica 2100, and that’s actually what I’m using right now. Again, I could share with you the technicalities of why in another conversation.
Then I had my computer. I have a Mac, so I found an editing program called Sound Studio. I found it on a random forum. They do a terrible marketing job because they’re very hard to find. [laughs] But they’re an incredible software program. The way I describe it, it’s like iMovie for audio. They just make it stupid simple to edit audio. It’s great. So I used that.
I remember my very first interview, I didn’t even know how to record it. I was just confused, and I plugged the Snowball into the computer and I was trying to figure it out. It’s scary, but what matters is that we take a step forward.
In my speeches, when I give speeches on how to podcast, the thing that I tell the whole audience is on their way home, I want them to take out their phone and, in their voice memo app in their phone, I want them to record their first interview on the drive home, or their first podcast episode. Then I want them to send me that via Google Drive or email or whatever it is, because that’s all that matters in the beginning, is taking a step forward and just taking action.
ROB: If you take that step forward every day, which you were doing with your app, it’s like those challenges when people talk about if you just get 1% done better every day, it really does add up. Are you still editing, or have you managed to delegate that opportunity?
ESPREE: First of all, I happen to love editing. I call it “painting audio.” But it is not who I want to be in the world. [laughs] I’m very lucky; an editor that I hired in 2014 has been with me since, and he works with me and edits everything. I have other editors that I’ve worked with as well. So I do have the editing done. Every so often, I’ll tell them that I want to contribute and I’ll do an episode here or there, but I do not rely on my own time for editing anymore.
ROB: It’s the same as my experience. We actually did a quick cycle episode that we recorded yesterday about the financial stimulus involved in the CARES Act and how marketing agencies can claim that money for themselves to keep their team onboard. But normally, I have trained editors – and I think what you said before, audio versus video is very, very forgiving.
ROB: If there’s a glitch in the middle of a word, it’s remarkable. You can just highlight it, delete it, and it sounds great all of a sudden, whereas if you did that with video it would look insane.
ESPREE: Totally, completely. And there’s so much that goes into video, from lighting, color correction, angles, audio. There are so many variables, you just cannot get away with high quality video if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a huge learning curve.
The main components of a podcast – and again, I can dig into this deeper in a different conversation – are the tracks: is each person’s voice being recorded on a separate track or is everybody’s voice on the same track? How does it sound, the mic that you’re using? Are you doing it remotely or in person? Because that will have an impact on your equipment decisions. Things like that. But there’s just so much more that goes into editing and shooting video.
ROB: As you mentioned, all the information is out there. Everything is essentially figureoutable. I think there’s a book to that effect. I first figured out how to record live because I was at the Social Shakeup Conference and I saw somebody there recording live, and I just walked up to them and asked them, and because they’d done it enough, they had a page that listed all their gear, and they had affiliate links.
Normally I don’t even click on affiliate links because I’m kind of ornery about that, but I totally clicked their affiliate links. It was something done with a mix of generosity and sharing, and if they get a few bucks, to your point, for that Snowball mic or for the Zoom recorder that we use when we’re in person, who am I to be upset about that?
ESPREE: Yeah, totally. But I don’t have an affiliate link for you. [laughs]
ROB: Maybe another revenue stream there.
ESPREE: Yeah, it’s something I’ve thought about. It’s one of the many things that still is on my to-do list for way too long.
ROB: But you’re figuring it out step by step. How did you make that jump? I think a lot of agencies, marketers, organizations develop a competency without taking it to the next level. You went from creating podcasts to training people to do podcasts. How did you evolve into that shift?
ESPREE: I think it’s a few things. One, I was just asked by several people. I got into podcasting in 2013, when it wasn’t a thing and it wasn’t cool. It didn’t start to become more – I mean, obviously podcasting has been around for several years, way before that, but it just became this mainstream thing in the last few years.
In 2013, it wasn’t on the radar. In 2014, it started to bubble up on the radar because of the StartUp podcast. Then Serial came out, so then the mainstream news started talking about podcasting, and it was a domino effect from there.
At that time, I think it was just supply and demand. [laughs] Even today, it’s supply and demand. People have a really hard time finding any indie production companies for podcasts, so I get a lot of inbound on that because I’ve been creating my show for several years. You can’t find a lot of people who have been both producing and hosting for several years. Maybe they just started 10 episodes ago or something. I have hundreds and hundreds of episodes done and distributed. So sometimes it’s just getting there early.
Now my “why” is interesting. I get asked a lot to teach. Initially I did it just for the community so that they can learn and express themselves, but I found that it was really exciting to be a part of their journey in creation and to really help facilitate them creating something meaningful so it’s not just another audio file, but it’s something people feel mentally subscribed to. That’s been great.
So I do a couple things, whether I’m teaching classes for the general assemblies of the world or USC and organizations like that or I’m doing semi-private masterclasses that are a month-long immersive, and I meet with a small group of people and I have expert guest speakers on. It’s just really, really fun. So I’ve really enjoyed it. That’s why I do it, because I love it and love being a part of their journey.
ROB: There’s so many cool little hidden skills in there. I think you’re able to keep going on a podcast because of that rhythm that you put into your life overall. I think people might not think entirely – you’re based in the Los Angeles area, and that’s content city. That has to partly pervade who’s interested in talking to you.
When I look at how you’ve picked up these skills along the way, one skill you picked up that I think a lot of people would look at with some jealousy is you have figured out how to be selected as a speaker at South by Southwest. That’s where we originally intended to speak in person. How did you figure out that process? I know people who have been trying for years and can’t sort it out. I imagine you did it one step at a time.
ESPREE: Honestly, I feel like I got – what’s that saying? “Where hard work meets luck and opportunity” or something like that, or preparedness? I’ve bene working so hard for so many years. I started going to South by as a journalist, and then I became a speaker at South by – I don’t remember what year, but I’ve given many talks there and performed the podcast live and led meetup groups.
But the meetup groups I’ve led have been the podcasters meetup, and like I said, in 2013 no one cared. I said I would do this thing; I was the only person offering myself up to do this thing. Or maybe there weren’t a lot of people. And the talks that I’ve given have ranged from anything from in the early days it was more on entrepreneurship, and now, again, podcasting.
It’s just about demonstrating where my unique value proposition is, the unique insights, the energy that I bring to the table as a speaker, what makes me a speaker that stands out amongst the rest. So just really think about that for yourself. What is an interesting angle? Actually, I think I’ll do a thing for you in a second, just for your audience, so you can have a little sampling of what that sounds like.
The last thing is performing my podcast live at South by Southwest. I performed the Women in Tech podcast live last year and then also this year. Again, it’s over time, establishing myself as a podcaster, my relationships, the audience that I have. The purpose and mission of why my content exists in the first place is very clear.
It’s just this stew of hard work, and then it’s the luck of being noticed. Sometimes you can even manipulate being noticed. I should say positively manipulate, meaning that you’re doing enough outreach, that you’re using programs like Pipedrive and Contactually to make sure that you’re continuously doing your outreach. That’s maintaining your relationships.
My mom comes from an entertainment background, and she always said – it was her or maybe my grandmother who said “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” So when she talks about being in the entertainment business, she says they’d cast the people who called last because that’s the person that was on the top of their mind. I’m like, that’s really interesting.
And it’s true; the more you’re on the top of people’s minds, in a non-annoying way, the more they’ll think of you when there’s an opportunity. The more you make yourself helpful – I was featured in Forbes randomly, and the reason I was featured in Forbes, that feature happened because I was doing an interview I think a year or a year and a half before, and the interview went something like 3 hours late. So I was just sitting in a waiting room for several hours. I never complained and I just chilled there and I was nice about it.
Then the person who kept coming back in to apologize to me was so grateful that I did that that when there was the opportunity for Forbes, I was the first person that was thought of. Just because I waited in a chill manner. [laughs]
ROB: Which anybody can do.
ESPREE: Totally. So it’s like, how are you showing up to life in unique ways that make you stand apart? If it’s okay with you, Rob, I’m going to do a quick thing. I’m going to show you how I start my speaking engagements and my podcast, because it’s not this tone of voice. Is that okay with you? Can I do that?
ROB: Run with it.
ESPREE: Okay, cool. Everybody watch your eardrums just a little bit. I’m going to hold the mic a little bit away because I don’t know the levels of how we’re recording right now. But this is what it sounds like, and the reason why I’m sharing this with you is because this is what sets me apart and makes me a unique speaker and podcaster. I’d say the thing that sets me apart is my energy when I show up to the stage.
Three… two… one…
“Welcome back to the Women in Tech podcast, celebrating women in tech around the world! So excited for our next guest here today. Welcome…” and then you say the person’s name. But that’s just crazy, right? That’s out of nowhere. Where it’s inspired from is growing up, I was super into wrestling. [laughs]
ROB: Yes, it sounds like wrestling. [laughs] That’s amazing.
ESPREE: I was super into wrestling and I loved the wrestlers being announced onstage, and then I was really into Steven Tyler’s stage performance and how he would really be into the mic and really be energized. So that’s why when I do my podcasts and my interviews, I stand. You never see people stand when they’re doing it. I stand. And I do it for a lot of other reasons too, because of your vocal cords. Onstage, I stand. Sometimes I’ll kick my shoes off. I’ll never stand behind a podium.
There’s just all sorts of techniques. My friend Mark, who actually built the YouTube Player, gave me the best speaking advice. He said, “People don’t remember what you say; they remember how you made them feel.” I think about that with my podcast. I think about that onstage. How am I making everyone feel? Are they feeling the way I intend for them to feel? And if not, what do I need to do?
When I show up that way, the guest feels more energized, the audience feels more engaged, and to the event organizer, I’m a unique speaker that brings something different to the table.
ROB: Absolutely. I love it. We have a wrestling announcement right here on the podcast. [laughs] I think you mentioned something that is really key that would be easy to get lost in the mix. You mentioned staying on people’s minds in an un-annoying way. I think we are in a very perhaps more challenging moment for that, where people who don’t have that skill may be a little bit lost. We are sheltering in place right now in our homes to avoid getting and spreading the coronavirus. What you can’t count on is bumping into somebody in the halls, in a restaurant you usually run into, at a networking event.
How do you think about staying on people’s radar in an un-annoying way? Because quite often, I think people give advice of sending a link – and you actually did send me a very good link in our chat – but I think there are often times where that can feel still very inauthentic and people can tell. You’re still just sending them a link because someone told you to send them a link to stay on their radar.
ESPREE: A hundred percent. I think there’s a lot of different ways, and we need to find the tools that are right for our own personalities. The kind of things that I look at – one of them, the first thing I want to say, there’s a tool called Bombbomb which does video messaging. It’s really great to make something a bit more personal, to show somebody that you care.
I find that even when I send a Bombbomb video, if I don’t say the person’s name, they may think that I created it for a lot of people. I remember I made one for even my friend, who’s also a customer, one time. She said, “You know, it was until you said my son’s name, I thought it was a video for everyone.” It’s really interesting to me because it was personalized.
There’s tools – like I said, Contactually. There’s a ton of other tools. I know Tim Ferriss uses Evernote a lot. I don’t necessarily know if he uses it for maintaining follow-up, but Evernote is a great tool. There’s WorkFlowy. There’s different programs that will spit out who you haven’t followed up with lately. LinkedIn is such a powerful resource for all of us.
I think it’s about really thinking, who do you want to connect with? Why do you want to connect with them, and how often? And are you tracking that follow-up? I use a CRM system called Pipedrive, and like I said, I’m a huge fan of Contactually as well. I think Contactually is just a great follow-up tool. I’ve heard good things about Nimble.
You could find out what’s going on in someone’s life via Twitter, via Instagram, via Facebook. Really paying attention to their social networks. I call it ego marketing. It sometimes sounds like a bad thing, but all of us – all of us – we operate on our egos. We feel like the world is revolving around us at all times. “What’s that person thinking of me? What’s that person doing,” blah, blah, blah, me, me, me.
If you all of a sudden come to someone and say, “I watched your talk online,” and say the specific talk, and then say what you got out of it and maybe a timestamp, it is just so clear that that is about them.
The kind of messages I can’t stand – because I get an abundance of inbound messaging for the Women in Tech podcast, or even one yesterday, perfect example, the We Are LA Tech podcast. Someone messaged me asking to be on the show and they weren’t in Los Angeles. If they knew the show, they’d know every single episode is from someone in Los Angeles. So obviously you don’t care. You’re just mass mailing.
With Women in Tech, I’ll get messages about the controversial topics someone could talk about, and if they knew the show, they’d know we do no controversy, no politics. So it tells me that you really don’t care. I’m just some name on your list.
So when you’re thinking about follow-up, you want to think about: who do you want to follow up with and why? What’s a meaningful way to follow up with them? And then tracking that follow-up.
And not following up too much. Another example is somebody followed up with me three times in one week, and I hadn’t seen any of the messages. Then on the third message they said, “I know you’re probably getting annoyed with my messages” – which just shows me it’s an automated system. “You’re getting annoyed with my messages,” and the truth was I hadn’t even seen the other two. My response back was, “One, I’m not interested, and two, I recommend you not follow up in such a short period of time.” [laughs]
Imagine if I’m giving a talk, if I’m at South by Southwest this week, I am not really on email or paying attention. If you follow up three times this week, during this particular phase of my life, the chances of me seeing them is so low. That’s why it’s way more effective to follow up 3 weeks to a couple months apart. But just really be sincere in why you’re even following up with the people in the first place.
ROB: If you’re following up 3 weeks or 3 months or anything like that, also, you have to have a mindset where you’re playing the long game. You’re not playing the short game where it’s “How many times can I message you in 2 weeks and then either ignore you or maybe you’ve answered me.”
ROB: If someone looks at the Women in Tech podcast, I think one thing they’ll realize is, number one, your level of commitment there. I think I’m seeing over 400, almost 450 episodes. But also, I think they’ll notice that you do the work, and you do the work authentically.
What I mean by that is you’re not just cherry-picking and trying to ladder up to the biggest name. You have some names on the podcast that are known, but you also have – again, in this theme – people that your listeners might not know but they should. It looks to me like quite often you are going far and wide. You’re doing the work of actually reaching out to people across the world, and probably even going there to have those conversations.
ESPREE: Rob, I love how you did your homework. [laughs] You would be an email that I would open, because that is so spot-on. I get a lot of messages from a lot of super fancy people, thinking that they’re just entitled to be on the show. My personal excitement is sharing a story of a woman that normally doesn’t have access. I’ve traveled to Bosnia; recently I was in Kazakhstan. I’ve traveled to over 100 countries just to celebrate these women in tech in person, share their stories, be in their culture.
People say, “Why not just do remotely?” I wouldn’t see the bullets in the buildings on the streets of Bosnia if I wasn’t in Bosnia, understanding that the girl I’m interviewing, as a child, she had to be in a bomb shelter to be safe from the war. These are just things you don’t get on a 1-hour Skype call or something like that.
So really discovering all these magnificent women in tech around the world, giving them the opportunity – I’m really proud that the Women in Tech podcast is, for the majority of guests, the first podcast they’ve ever been on. It just blows my mind. And it’s not necessarily even, by the way, Rob, that these people aren’t seasoned; they’re just not the internet celebrities of the world. They’re not the Gary Vaynerchuks. [laughs]
Then I also have the more well-known people, as you mentioned, and I’m excited to share their stories as well. But my “why” in doing the show is not for social status. It’s not to look good. It’s really to be this bridge for women in tech around the world to be able to discover the resources and mentorship that they need to accelerate.
Hearing stories of how women have pulled over to write notes, listening to the episodes, or shared the stories with their family, or investors have reached out to them because they’ve been on the show – truly social impact. It’s amazing. So it’s not about “do I look the coolest?” It’s about “am I creating the biggest impact?”
ROB: That resonates completely with who you are and what you want to accomplish. I think it’s also a little bit of a secret – and it’s not a secret because we’re talking about it, but candidly, it makes booking a podcast a lot easier when you’re booking people who are interesting and have a story, but it is their first podcast. They say yes a lot more.
ESPREE: Oh yeah, I’m sure. Well, the one thing about women in tech – yes, I think your point is accurate, and, unfortunately, with women in tech – a lot of people ask me, “What’s the biggest commonality of all the women in tech that you’re met with?” They’re expecting some technical answer. Unfortunately, the biggest commonality is that I think as a culture, oftentimes we feel we’re not enough.
So I will get women who will say “I don’t think I’m good enough for your show” or “I haven’t spoken before” or something. Then it’s my responsibility as a person who wants to be empowering to give them the level of confidence, and also to say, “Listen, I wouldn’t be picking you unless I thought you were good enough to be on the show, so how about I make the decision on that?” [laughs]
I’ve had a couple people not want to be interviewed because they’re scared, but yes, you are absolutely right that it’s going to be a lot easier. You’re also right that it’s a huge pain point in the podcasting industry for new podcasters, or even a lot of seasoned podcasters, to get yeses from guests. It’s a huge pain point. It is one that I do not have, and maybe that contributes to it, you’re right.
ROB: And you do in-person a lot, which always helps with that rapport. It would be great if we were, but that’s not an option right now. We’re not getting on planes right now.
ROB: That is okay. We’ll hope that we can meet up at South by Southwest next year, perhaps.
ESPREE: A hundred percent.
ROB: Espree, when people want to check out all the things that you’re doing, where should they look to find you?
ESPREE: Man, if only I had been smart enough to have one link that says all the things. [laughs] Honestly, look me up on LinkedIn, Espree Devora on LinkedIn. Add me there. It’s also Espree Devora on all social – on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook. I do really engage on Twitter. And check out the podcasts, WeAreLATech.fm and WomeninTech.fm.
ROB: It’s all those little things. You put in the work on the domains too.
ROB: Fantastic. You’re consistent on the brand. Espree, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It’s been a true joy to get to know you a little bit, and I know our audience has enjoyed your challenging example of just doing one more thing each day and how that carries through in everything you do.
ESPREE: Thank you so much for having me, Rob. This has been great. I’m happy that you made it remote and we were able to make this happen.
ROB: That’s great. Be well.