Technology is evolving, no doubt, and for the past twenty years I’ve watched it grow by leaps and bounds. When I started in this industry, people were still afraid of the Internet. There was barely any activity, expect for the few of us who dredged through bulky computers, landline connections and dare I say it, an AOL account. No, Google was not a household name, shopping online was a rarity and working online was still a very unknown, fly by night technology that would disappear in a few years.
As a women taking part in this wonderful new technology I learned it wasn’t going to be an easy task. I wasn’t a computer nerd, I never was any good at math and women weren’t really diving into the “dot.com” craze back then. Living in San Francisco during that explosion helped. The fact that I’ve always taken an interest in human psychology helped me open my eyes to the possibilities.
Which brings me to this week’s feature of Women in Tech – Melissa Fach. Wow, what can I say about such a creative, wonderful, genuine woman that our online community doesn’t already know? You may be following her on Twitter already and know that she’s the owner of SEOAware.com, a Moz – Associate and lastly, a Community Jedi at AuthorityLabs. What you may not know is that I’ve met Melissa, and let me tell you she’s warm, compassionate and super smart. We talked shop for hours…which is not something I ever thought I would be doing when I first jumped into this industry. But it was so easy to talk to her, the fact we both delved into and studied psychology probably had something to do with it. But enough about why I think she’s an awesome woman to know, and let’s show you why she’s this week’s candidate in our #WomeninTech series.
What are some of your “rules” for effective leaders?
I think to be an effective leader you have to be able to see things from everyone’s perspective. You might not agree, but you need to be able to understand different perspectives, be open to changing your views and validate the feelings of others.
I also feel accepting others, no matter how different they are than you, is really important. We live in a time where people are judging and attacking others due to religion and/or political views, style, looks, etc. As a leader you have to be able to accept everyone and support their right to be different.
Lastly, I don’t think you can be a “leader” if you are condescending to others and if you look down on others. Every “leader” needs to do what I call a “narcissism reality check” on a regular basis.
Are you doing what you love and getting better at it? How? What skills allowed you to start?
Right now I am doing what I love. I have moved a bit away from the SEO world and into the social/community world. I think everyday we learn and if we accept that we don’t know everything, we can change for the better on a daily basis.
As far as skills, I think my background in psychology helps me interact with people and helps with marketing direction for specific audiences. I also think my experience with, and my careful observation of, the industry I am in has helped me know what the audiences I am targeting wants.
Patience, understanding, forgiveness, diligence and acceptance are critical to be good at any form of community management.
How do you empower your team?
I don’t know. I try to support, be as informative as possible and try to be as kind as possible.
What will I do today that will matter one year from now?
The number one priority for me personally is to be a good wife and mother.
Workwise, I try to help my friends in this industry and I try to be kind to those that I interact with. I will never be a Danny Sullivan, but if I can be remembered as someone that truly cares about people in this industry, I will be happy.
Delegating is not an easy task… what do you delegate?
Over time, I think you have to look at your skill-set and determine what exact skills people are paying you for. I delegate the tasks that are necessary, but not necessarily what I am being paid to do. If you choose the right team members, you don’t have to go over things very often.
How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
Acceptance and faith.
Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
Random conversations, evaluation and brainstorming over research, articles, and marketing strategies.
You have two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
I will check out online reputations and skill-set is important, but the most important things for me are attitude and core values. If these last two things are not right nothing will work.
Your number one advice to someone in a new leadership position?
Focus on acceptance, be open to other views, and remember self-preservation.
If you could have lunch with 3 great women in history alive or dead, who would they be and what would you eat?
Queen Elizabeth I – I have read everything about her and she overcame so much and ruled well. I would love to talk with her.
Cleopatra – I have some questions about what really happened with the Romans
Ellen Degeneres – She is just a genuinely loving, accepting and kind person. I would love to meet her.
I would take them for Chinese or Vietnamese food and for dessert we would go to Serendipity for frozen hot chocolate
Are you doing what you love, would you do things differently to get there?
I am doing what I love and I wouldn’t do anything differently. You have to fight through the mud and pay your dues to get to the good stuff…I have reached the good stuff.
Your favorite story about a success or a failure you have learned from. Could be a stalker, could be a failed client… we want to know about your process.
I guess I could say that I learned through the years that it is more important for me to choose the right client than it is for me to be chosen by a client. Taking on a lot of clients and making good money was not what was best for me, or anyone else, mentally. The client screening process is critical to your mental health
You are well known in your niche, how are you helping other women and giving it forward.
Well, I try to highlight them with others, help them find jobs they like, I am around for supportive phone calls/advice and do just about anything I have time for. I try to be here for people.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I had a rough start in life. As a result I was anorexic for 7 years and to this day body image is a huge problem for me. I don’t see myself as a physically attractive person and probably never will, and I am honestly kind of happy about that. I focused on other things than looks.
What built my self-esteem was not being as pretty or as skinny as everyone else. My self-esteem comes from my education, my ability to learn, and my determination to excel. So, if you see a bunch of women all dressed up and pretty at a conference and then see me in a Captain America shirt just know that I don’t care too much about getting dressed up. I would rather sit down and hangout and talk to real people.
How can we as women make the world a better place?
I don’t publicly curse often, but I am just going to say this – stop making other women feel like shit. Just be nice to one another.
I think people in general forget that everyone has personal lives and problems they deal with on a daily basis. So, they may put on a happy “public” face, but behind the scenes their world could be falling apart. Avoid insults, judging, dirty looks and gossip, because none of these things result in a positive result.