The Leo Yockey Show

Service-Oriented Leadership (Valerie Phoenix)

August 03, 2021 Leo Yockey / Valerie Phoenix Season 1 Episode 14
The Leo Yockey Show
Service-Oriented Leadership (Valerie Phoenix)
Show Notes Transcript

Leo meets with guest Valerie Phoenix to discuss how her lifelong history or service-oriented leadership led her to start Tech By Choice. They also talk about the surprising ways in which her nontechnical degrees have helped her in tech, and how our relationship with money evolves over time.

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By: Leo Yockey

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Leo Yockey show, the show where I Leo Yockey interview guests about how their unique life path led them to define success and fulfillment. The goal is to provide you the listener some relief for your existential dread. Here's the secret. It's all about asking questions. Seriously, have you seen those memes that are going around that are like, do I like him? Or does he just text regularly? They're they're popular because they speak to a universal truth, right? Oftentimes, when we're facing problems, or we don't know what to do, it's not that we don't have the answer. It's that we're not asking the right questions to get to those answers. I really believe that if we frame our past in the right way, and we ask the right questions, and we connect the right dots, we'll find that how we got to where we're at, is part of a whole story. And when we see where we're at in that story, where we see where our current chapter ends, there's only so many ways that the next chapter could go, that would make sense, right? And that talks about a little bit last week with Murphy, and how if he hadn't had experience with digital advertising and music, maybe it wouldn't have made sense for him to strike out on his own as a musician, and it wouldn't have felt right. Anyway, that's what I get into with today's guest, Valerie Phoenix. She is the founder of tech by choice, a great organization that I'll let her talk about in the interview. And watch how, just by asking the right questions, we get to kind of unpack how she got to where she's at. and really make sense of where her values fit into what she does for a living. I think it's all really cool. But hey, if you've been enjoying this show, you know, thank you, for your support, continue to leave your five star rating and reviews spent anywhere, but especially on Apple, it makes a huge difference. You know, we're still ranking internationally. And you know, a lot more people have been reaching out to me directly to tell me what you like about the show that you believe in it. You know, thank you so much. It all really means a lot to me. So, yeah, let's get started with today's show. Here is Valerie Phoenix. Hey, Valerie, how's it going? How you doing? I'm doing good. Excited to be here to chat with you. Yeah, me too. I don't know if either of us are as excited as your dog. Yeah, hopefully we can maintain that level of excitement. In case that guy edited out, Valerie's dog is barking we may be hearing from them. And and it's all good. It's all great. I love it. Yeah. I'm gonna just dive right into it. Because I feel like we're gonna end up having a lot to cover. And I don't want to take over your entire afternoon. So can you tell me I guess we'll we'll tackle kind of both things separately. So can you tell me first? What you do for your I guess we'll call it day job. For the sake of this this context, this conversation? Yeah, so right now I'm a engineering manager for a mental health tech startup. And so my day I like to tell people, I'm focused on creating environments that make it easier for people I work with to get work done. And just like thinking ahead, and strategizing, and having fun doing that, and I don't know, did I say interviewing people? I'm constantly in interviewing in that that's a lot less meetings. Nice, nice. I see already. I'm like, Oh, this is really interesting. Because I think you're the first person that I've ever talked to who's in a managerial position, where the very first thing that you say about what you do and what your core duties are, is, I forget your exact phrase, I'm already going to butcher it. But you said something about making the work environment easier or better or more comfortable for the people that are working under you. So I think it's very interesting that you have such a service oriented way of looking at your job that I wish more managers had. Yeah, I've been told I'm unique in my leadership style a few times. So that's very interesting. And so to that point, can you tell us also about the nonprofit that you founded? Yeah, so I started tech by choice about two years ago now. And so our mission is to make sure that underrepresented groups can enter stay and thrive in tech. And we do it from a very non trivial way. Because we know working with all underrepresented groups, we have to focus on the barriers that they face. So just just like technical literacy, financial literacy, things around, like mental health, are all things that we tackle on top of like, the professional development, so lots of lots of moving pieces, but we've been able to build a really great community. So it's all worth it. Yeah, definitely. And I like you already got right into to the three key pillars of tech by choice as, as it says on the website, which is enter, stay and thrive. And I and I love that because I feel like in a lot of places where they talk about the importance of diversity and inclusion, a lot of the focus is on that first pillar enter, right, you know, we got to get our numbers of we have to have more diversity, how we have to recruit more diverse people. And those other pieces, I feel like you might see a little bit of it with this day, which which you kind of touched on already is kind of the mental health piece and financial literacy and, and kind of, for lack of a better term kind of just getting people settled in, but then thrive, can you kind of can you just kind of speak a little bit to what that third pillar is? Because I feel like, in my opinion, at least in what in what little I've seen, I feel like that is a piece that is often really missing, especially from diversity driven organizations that aren't necessarily community driven, or like run by the community, I should say, yeah, so that that part is something that is always changing. I always say like, Oh, we can thrive right now in this current times, by doing XYZ thing, and that's supporting the community or like, work situation, we can have this interview process that is very, reduces a lot of bias is very supportive. But that can change, right? So like with COVID, when COVID hit, people started to rethink the way that they did a lot of things because we were experiencing all the burnout, people were just like high levels of stress, people aren't able to focus and then you had the flip side of it were in order to like zone out and like have some feeling of peace people were overworking. So to them, for them to thrive. They needed freedom to just work non stop until it's time to like eat sleep, wake up, do it again. Yeah, so to me, because thrive is always changing. In order for us like as tech by choice as an organization to help people thrive, we always have to understand what's going on with our community, we can't get turned into one of those orgs that are very high level very top down. Because we'll never understand what it means for our members to thrive for as far as like programming. And what I think that looks like, to me thriving means that even if you're unhappy with the job that you currently have, you know, have a game plan, you have like that, that side hustle to keep you going. You have all the resources that you need to take whatever the next step is, we don't have that kind of like lost feeling of, well, what do I do now that I'm here? How do I get my next promotion? Should I change jobs? Like just being able to drive means that you can have those questions, but you know, where to redirect them? And where to ask them and things like that? Yeah, I think that's really powerful. For sure. Because the idea that we're, you know, in some perfect world where most people enjoy their job is obviously not reality. And I really like that concept of even if you don't like your job, you know, you kind of have resources, you know that there's a way out, basically, and you can kind of get a game plan and you're supported in that, you know, for the listeners, especially like, Can you can you speak to times, you know, pre tech by choice in your own career where you didn't have that, like, I guess set another way? Did you worry at any point that you weren't going to be able to stay and thrive in the tech industry? Um, I feel like you type by choices. 100% sure. I felt that a number of times, even post tech by choice. So we won't get into the post not yet. But I definitely started now it was really hard for me. I jumped into tech without even really knowing what tech was it didn't know what girls are out there. All I knew was I needed money. I needed a better job. And Google told me both developers make Lots of money. So that's what I did. I think there's a couple like pivotal moments where I'm just like, this is not for me. I was really excited when I found out about meetup. I didn't know what meetup was, I didn't understand any of that concept. And I learned about it through a podcast that I was listening to, to figure out what tech was. And I went to one meetup, it was really great, very supportive. And I thought, okay, everything on this website is going to be like this. went to another community event, I should say that the first event I went to was focused on like women in code, learning how to code. And the second event I went to was a boot camp that was just getting started in LA. And there, they were moreso focused on prepping people to get into their boot camp. It was in downtown LA, it was not in a nicer part of downtown either. It was at night, and parking was super far away. So one, I was terrified to even walk to the location. When I got there. It's just men, I was the only female. And they were mostly white men. And they were very tech bro ish type people. But I didn't know those red flags. And so the activity hat, we had to do pair programming. And so I was paired with. I was doing the coding, and the other person was telling me what to do. And I remember the guy coming up to me who's leading the event saying like, Well, why aren't you talking? It's because you're a girl, right? You're afraid to speak, wow, and talk here. And it was about I think it was a callback luncheon. That's what they were trying to teach us. And it was the first time I've ever heard about anything like that. And I remember thinking like, I don't know what to do, or what to say to this person. I don't get it. I'm just just for listeners who are not into tech, because this isn't just a tech audience. a callback function is pretty advanced for a one hour session geared towards people with zero programming experience. Yeah, yeah. Like I remember just no one getting it. I think it took me probably like a year or two to be in tech to understand what a callback function is. Yeah. But I remember thinking, the guy telling me since I was talking that I needed to switch spots for the person I was pair programming with. And so the guy started to do all the typing. And then I was talking him through what to do. And I remember the guy just coming back and saying, like, yeah, you're not going to get this, you're not getting this, you have to do this, just really redirecting and trying to correct me in that process. And I remember I just got up and like, laughs, I remember going to my car, like in tears saying, like, never do this, I'll never be a part of tech, like, I'll never figure out this JavaScript stuff. And I think that was a key moment to me to realize that community can really tear you down. Like, I had to be very selective with what I decided to put myself in an environment that I was going to be around. And I think that's, that helped me understand it, how to create environments, whether it be at work, or for tech by choice, that will really make people feel good about even making a mistake. Like that whole process of learning this function, or this, this code that made no sense to me. There was no safe rows, there is no like, this is how you ease into this. And it was just very harsh. I think that's like the complete opposite of like, how I view everything now. Yeah, yeah, I think that's really powerful. We this this topic actually comes up a lot on the podcast of, you know, who you surround yourself with, that really matters, it really can, like make or break you because you had this amazing first experience was thank God, you at least had that first experience with the with the meetup that was geared more towards women, so at least you at least some part of you knew like, well, I guess it can't all be bad. Because imagine if that that first experience was your first ever experience. And until you know, because you're brand new, you're just you know, dipping your toe in to see if you like this, if that had been your first ever experience. You know, you looked up web development on on Google, you know, there's so much about the industry that both you and I know now that you didn't know, then, I mean, that could have been enough for you to walk away from it forever. And I don't know I think that's just man. That's that's really, I mean, what's upsetting about it is how not surprising most of that story is, you know what I mean? Like it's so It's so typical for the industry. And so and as a result, it is so much more important to kind of know who your people are and to be able to find People that that you can trust and who aren't going to like, you know, just assume like, oh, you're not talking much is it because you're a woman like, Damn, dude, maybe maybe I'm not talking much because I'm brand new. And you're pressuring us to do a bunch of stuff that unbeknownst to me is probably too advanced for any of us in this room Anyway, you know what I mean? And those those, you know, those biases that are sometimes either conscious or unconscious, you know, if though, if you were a white man, he might have been a little bit more forgiving. And I would even say, for you not talking, he would be like, oh, wow, you remind me of Mark Zuckerberg, you know, like, really annoying, double standard. But anyway, sorry, that's my, that's my tangent about that. But, uh, preaching to the choir here, obviously. So, so you touched on something that I kind of wanted to talk about, which is that you initially got into web development, because you needed more money. You know, you did some Google searches, and you realize that web development is something that makes a lot of money. And probably, I'm assuming from that Google search, you also kind of figured out that you could be self taught, you know, you didn't necessarily have to go back to college or anything like that. You got an attack because of the money. Has that changed at all? Since being in tech by choice? Or since tech by choices has grown? Do you still feel like money? Is the main, you know, like motivating force keep keeping you in this industry? Or do you feel like now that you're kind of helping people not have to go through what you went through, that you you enjoy the process more of being in tech. Now, money is still the driving factor. So but it's, it's the driving factor for different reasons now. So when I was when I was first trying to get into tech, it was for survival. Like I would not, I think I I was 100% living paycheck to paycheck. But I think it was even less than that. Because I was living paycheck plus maxing out multiple credit cards just to make it. So that first I want to say here it was survival. And then like, once I realized, okay, like, I'm in an OK, space, no longer living paycheck to paycheck. I may have like a few extra dollars a month, like now I can rethink about what it means to work in tech. And I can rethink what my relationship is to money. And when I started to rethink those things, I realized, Oh, I'm just here for money. But because it's I'm here, because of the access at this money can get in. I know, I went when I was in college, I thought the only way I'll ever be able to travel in my life is if I do study if I study abroad. And then I want to stay after a year of being in tech, I went on, I got on my first plane. And I left the state by myself. And I went to a conference. I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna stay here for the opportunities, because now I have money. And I can go to these work related events, and my job will pay for it. I'm like, why would I ever leave? So turn into opportunity. And then when I started looking at lunch in tech, by choice and start started really working with the community, I'm like, Well, if I had more money, and more access to that money, our bigger network or a network who had, if I can connect to one person who had more connections, I could then give other people that opportunity to make that choice themselves. So I'm just like, okay, so money is always a factor of why I'm here. But the depth of what that means tends to change me like about like, every two, three years. But I think what the one thing that always pops up in my head when I hit the rough spots for tech, and I'm questioning if I should be here, or if I should stay. One thing that keeps me here is money. Because I realize I'm a black woman, and for most of the year I where we're fro, like, I tend to voice my opinion. If I don't voice it, my face shows it sound like I'm going to be treated like crap. anywhere I go, it doesn't matter what industry I'm in, I'm going to always be considered second class, or I'm not going to use a be deemed highly skilled off of first glance. So I'm like, why would I remove the money to still be treated, mistreated? So I'm just like, always stay for the money just for that. Yeah, I think that totally makes sense. I mean, I was telling you before we started recording, you know, as we were kind of like talking about like different, different things that that mean, or how success means different things for different people. You know, there's people that I've interviewed on this podcast where, you know, their job is literally just there. job and you know what really brings them joy and fulfillment are like things that they get to do outside of work. And the main benefit to their job is that they don't have to constantly think about whether or not they need to go somewhere else every six months or whatever. And that part might not necessarily be the case for you, I don't know. But it is really interesting. Because you keep you actually brought up this concept in two different places, of kind of re re examining things re examining both how and why you're doing things, you brought it up, and we were talking about thrive in tech by choice, you're saying that what people need to be able to thrive in the tech industry, as an underrepresented and underestimated individual is, you know, you know, what, what people need is going to constantly change, and you want to have like, a bottom up approach to always, you know, be be being able to always respond to what people need, and you're taking that same mentality, and you're applying it to your life too. And you're looking at, you know, initially it was, I just need to not constantly be in debt and be able to survive. And that was all you're focused on. Right? Because that's just where you were at, you know, and then you got past that point. And you said, Okay, I'm not at this point anymore. I'm not just surviving. What do I actually want to need, you know, and you knew that you would want to travel or I'm not sure if you knew you always want to travel. But like you, you did not think that traveling would necessarily be an option for you. And you looked around, you're like, wait, that's not true anymore. I can't travel and, and so you're able to kind of do more stuff, and constantly reevaluate what, what you want. And I think that, even though Yeah, like, technically, you're intact, just for the money, but the fact that like, you're constantly kind of like leveling up and seeing what you can do, both for your community and for yourself, I think I think that's really cool. And I think that is really important, because I don't think a lot of us do that. I don't think a lot of us, either on a personal or professional level really take the time to reassess what has changed about my life, about the world around me? And how exactly do I want to respond to that? So I think that's really cool. Yeah, I like the way you broke that down. And like I sound really, really eloquent. You are really eliquid whether whether you get underestimated or not, I know the truth did I know that you're very eloquent, and I and it, but it is so true, though, right? You know, like, we just we don't typically take that time. And so I think that that's a really like, important lesson to be taken from this. I'm like, Damn, like you said it twice to like, that's, it's so it's so powerful. It's so true. So speak. So speaking of college, I saw on your website, you said that and actually don't think I knew this before. Maybe you'd mentioned it before. But I don't think I knew this before looking at your website to gather these questions. You have your degree is in psychology and art. Oh, yeah. I don't know if you know this, but I actually recently interviewed I Isha, I used to Blake. And so we talked a lot about like her theatre background and stuff. And but I'm just I'm wondering, from your perspective, you know, kind of putting on the software engineering hat for a second. I believe that, you know, no experience goes wasted. Right. So you have this degree in psychology and art. I think that I think that both psychology and art intersect with technology a lot. Have you had experiences in your career where you're kind of leaning on some and not leaning on some of that experience, but being able to utilize some of that experience and knowledge that you gained from college? in your career in tech? Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that colleges taught me is just how to learn. So when I was on that self, self taught TAs, like I leaned on that heavily. But outside of that, like my actual degree, actually started off in tech, being a UX designer. So I was doing a lot of research a lot of personas, and coming up with different ideas and hypothesis on how we can improve websites for companies I worked at. So initially, my degree was extremely helpful. And it was the reason why I landed a few of my first jobs was because I was someone who was learning the technical skills, but I had the psychology background. So when people would come across my job, my resume, they would say, like, Oh, you have the potential to be a great manager, like you're going to be really great UX person because you understand human behavior. And you can figure these things out and you'll be good at doing research and doing all this paperwork in documentation. So they looking at my for employers, looking at my resume. I seem like a really great fit. But actually, how I really use it is just navigating conversations. Yeah, I found that in tech, like there's a stereotype that people in tech don't talk or they're not good at conversations, which sometimes it's true. But what I've actually noticed is that people are unaware of different communication styles. And that's true in any job and like corporate or startup space. And that's one class that I took, that I use the most is just understanding the different forms of communication, how different people communicate based off of how society says we should talk and things like that. So using my my degree, it's mostly just to have conversations, and to kind of like think more far further ahead when it comes to what the humans do, as far as using our product or just odd things that humans do. Because we're odd people, right? Yeah, I think that's really cool. You touched on a couple of things that I think is really interesting. First of all, you said, college taught me just how to learn in general. And for for those of you who don't know, the listeners, who are, again, not familiar with the tech industry, as you can imagine, you know, our phones are always updating websites are always updating, you know, so if you're the person working on that stuff, you know, technology is constantly evolving, and so you're constantly having to learn. So it's not just you know, learning how to code once and you're in and you're done. It's, it's, you're constantly learning and learning how to learn is very important. But you're actually not the first person to come onto this show and say, college taught me how to learn my friend Diego who was in Episode Two, he he said something very similar. He's technically not using his career, his degree either in his job, but he had, you know, some of those those habits and, and, you know, way of thinking and looking at things he gained from college. And I think that's really important, because I'm definitely one of those people who, you know, I didn't go to college and I'm like, What is it even for? It's all a scam. And like I said, No, no experience goes wasted. There's, there's use for everything, you know, so so long as you know, what to look for, and how to apply it. And learning how to learn is such an important skill. Oh, my God, because it's like, once you can figure out how to learn, you can do anything, whatever it is that you want to do, right? Yeah. Oh, I forgot to say that my art degree has come in handy. When we've been playing draw phone, I always win. always wonder. Well, that's, that's, that's very funny. I love that. There's also a lot of creativity in engineering, but no, the dropil is the most important thing. I love that. Yes, but the communication styles, I think that that's really important, too, you're saying that, you know, people who they're not necessarily bad at communicating as much as they are unaware of communication styles, you know, all of these things, even the like, non technical part of the job, are still technical, in that they are skills that you can learn in a kind of mechanical way, you know, you you are able to learn this stuff from your degree, you know, someone who is not in a position to go to college, you know, like, there's, there's books, YouTube videos, like all these things. And it's interesting, because I feel like all those soft skills are like, really undervalued just in general. And it's like, you know, why are you reading about, like, you know, the love languages, or attachment styles or communication styles, it's like, all of that stuff does end up coming into play, whether you're running a business, whether you're working, you know, in a job as an employee, even while you're still in school. And I think that a lot of people sleep on how big of a competitive advantage it gives you and also even beyond the competitive advantage. I don't know about you, but for me, being able to communicate with people, and I'm by no means perfect, but you know, having, you know, more soft skills, and I'd say the average engineer when I was, you know, when I was in tech, it also just made my job easier. It's like I can get through my days so much more easily if I know how the other person's communicating. And I can kind of respond and react to that in a way that's not going to worsen the situation. And just from that alone, it just, yeah, it just makes everything so much smoother. Yeah, yeah. Again, I think it's really interesting that when when I first asked you about your managerial job, you went straight into a service oriented description of what you do, you know, You want to make the workplace better and easier and and more functionable for the people working under you, or your direct reports, I should say. And, you know, tech by choice is obviously a very service oriented organization. It's a nonprofit that helps people enter, stay and thrive in tech. So I'm wondering, have you ever done stuff in the past like before in your previous life pre tech, where you were really involved in a in a community or any kind of like giving pack? I got, you're connecting so many dots. I'm just like, oh, wow, I am very, like community based and everything I do. Um, that's why I'm hosting the podcast. Just call me the millennial Oprah. No, I think thinking back to like, how I grew up, my mom did daycare. So we had like, anywhere from like, 10 to 15 kids in the house at any given time. And so I learned a lot of like, how to be a person from my mom and like modeling how she worked with the kids and work with the parents. And she was very, what is the group want to do? How does the group feel about this? She was never the type of person to say like, Whoa, everyone's going to eat this. We don't like it and you just don't meet. Like that was just not the way she handled things. And so I think that was my first understanding of community. And the way she ran a daycare, she made us feel more so like a family versus like, these are the daycare kids. They're separate, like, No, we were all together doing things. And we had a lot of fun doing it. Um, so I think that's where that comes from. And the way that I decided to like, be it show up as a leader and the way that I look at Tech by choice, because it's pretty much now that I think about it, like the colors we have protect by choice is actually the same colors that my mom had for her. Her childcare logo. So I like your you've had no clue like how many dots she just connected right now. Just Wow. I've turned into my mom. Like, in the best ways, though. It sounds like Yeah, yeah, I'm just my mom. And I didn't realize that until like right now. Um, yeah, community. It's just second nature for me, I guess. Yeah. I love that. That's so cool. And pardon the pun on Phnom Penh. But the the colors being the same as the daycare, that's quite a that's quite a callback. if I do say so much. You got you got it. I don't know how many other people's gonna laugh at that. It's funny, because we mentioned callbacks. So it's a literal callback. And then it's it's a pun on the callback functions is, huh. Yeah. Yes. Who two nerds just laughed a lot at that. That's really cool. I love that. So what about in college? Were you ever involved in any community stuff in college? college, I just, that was probably the only time in my life I act at my age. So there was no no community base anything happening. But in high school, I was a part of a lot of I think I was a part of almost every club at our at our high school. Please don't ask me why or how, but I was. So a lot of community there. And then I was a part of this program called upper bound. That felt like a second home to me. And we really focused on like how to get to college and all this other stuff. And they help with like resources and workshops and classes. You nobody familiar. The tech by choice. Okay. Very familiar. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm just a repeat of my life. Yeah. No, that's, that's good. Yeah. So I think that was another farming community, what other I also will know, in college, I did come back and like help volunteer for that program, the upper bound programs. So I worked with a lot of like high school students getting ready for college. And that was a lot of fun. I think I used to one of my favorite things that me and my mom would do together growing up, is we would do the Relay for Life events, the local events, so being able to go hang out in the park and like, get that together. And so I guess there's a lot of aspects of my life that has been very community based driven and stuff like that. Yeah, that's really cool. So I think I touched on it before we recorded that. One of the things that I was going to try to figure out remember I said, I have questions that are geared towards trying to figure out why, of all of all the people that know that these problems in tech exist. Why was it You that started tech by choice and not and not in a like, Who are you to say, but almost the exact opposite of like, why isn't everybody feeling like, you know, empowered to do this? And the reason why is because you already had so much experience in that you know what I mean? Like this is, this is just what you do like you are a community driven person and you believe so, so close to the core of who you are in the power of community and community driven things that it almost seems like if you see a need for that community, it's like, you can't you can't help but do it because it is just such a part of who you are. That was so sweet. Are you a motivational speaker too? Because that definitely made me feel good. No, I think that's true. Because when I when I was looking at some of the other communities that I was a part of trying to get into tech, I think one of the things that they lacked wishes, who even know how to how to phrase it, because it's a feeling that you get when you're in community, and that the community just gets you. And I didn't feel that with a lot of the other themes that were out there. And I think it's people don't know how to how to generate that how to how to make that happen. That doesn't seem very scheduled, or it doesn't seem very. So basic. What's it What's a personal work term for that basic, unseasoned? That's not there on season that sort of feels like, yeah, some community generic, there we go generic, it feels very sterile and generic, and just like, not fun. And I think that's what they're missing. They're missing the understanding how to do that. And the understanding of how important it is to stay connected to the members. So you can keep that going. Yeah, absolutely. Um, a few weeks ago, we had Marshall hue on the show, and he is a musician and an activist who got really involved in, in chop in Seattle, the like, where it Yeah, so he, he was saying, in our interview, you know, he was talking about how protesting is a skill, like, you have to kind of know what to do to, you know, one not make the situation worse, and to, you know, like, not burnout and, and all these things and actually be productive. And it seems like, it's like, it's something that seems as simple as you paint a sign and you go out there. And that's not the case at all, I would say the same is probably true for these community driven organizations, it seems like, it's just as simple as getting a group of like minded people together and getting out there and helping, but there is a lot of skill to it, there is a lot of stuff that you need to do to get it right. And you have been able to spend your entire life tweaking it, you know, like we we come from software engineering, and software engineering is all about continuously improving, just like what you were talking about with thrive with assessing, you know, your financial needs and aspirations like these things, you know, you're continuously, you know, tweaking these things in on a broader scale. You're continuously tweaking, you know, how to do community driven things. And, and I think that's great. And I think there's also kind of solves the mystery of you know, or not necessarily mystery, but it kind of explains why, all this time while you've been in tech, you know, money has always still been the driving force, like tech by choice hasn't necessarily changed the fact that you're in it mostly for the money, it's because you're in your job, because you're in your job, because you're in your job. And pretty much no matter what you would be doing with your life, you would probably have some sort of community driven thing around that. So even if you pack this all up and said, You know, I don't want to do tech anymore, I am just going to be an artist, you know, you would probably be running some sort of community based organization for art, you know, like, it's not even so much that that gave you purpose as much as it is. I'm Valerie, of course, this is what I'm going to do. Of course, you know, yeah, it's funny, you say the art thing, because growing up, I always knew I was going to do some type of nonprofit or some type of community. But for the longest time, it was a art Bay's nonprofit for kids that grew up in the city I grew up in, like, I picked the building I would buy and everything, and somehow it turned into tech by choice instead. And hey, I mean, tech is a lucrative field. I mean, there's there's absolutely, you know, a possibility that even if you stay in tech, there's there's a future where you get to still do that. Eventually. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Not, not right now. It looks like we're just about out of time. Is there? Is there anything else that you'd like to share with us? Aside from promotions, I'll let you do promotions and plugs in a second. But is there anything you feel like you'd be remiss if if you left without saying, I think the only thing I'm going to share is that if someone's telling me to get into tech, look beyond coding, because they're 1000 Other things you can do to make a good living. You don't have to learn how to code. So I wish I knew that. Yeah, absolutely. such an important point. Yeah. And and to that point, ask all the war, a wide variety of people, you know, whatever it is that you're interested in, ask a wide variety of people don't go to one person, even if they seem like the Pro, because we all only know what we know. And what I know, might not be useful to you, you know, because I don't really know what you're looking for. Yeah. That's great. I love that. Valerie, thank you so much for coming on, man. This is this is great. I do love how we got to connect all these dots. Because it's true. I mean, I think, I think when we don't think about it in this way, but when we really stop and pause and reflect on our life there, there are a lot of patterns. And the way someone said it to me once is like interest change, but like core values don't. And it seems like you know, community is absolutely a core value of yours, and has been, you know, pretty much since you were born. Thanks. Thanks to your mom. Yes, yes, definitely. That's really cool. Well, what would you like to promote? Where would you like to be found? Um, follow me on Twitter, digital Black Hippy, give tech by choice to follow. We are attacked by choice or on all platforms. We have a YouTube channel too. So if you're the type of content, check us out on YouTube, give us a follow like and subscribe. That's what the YouTube people say. Right? Yeah, I think so. Yeah, like and subscribe. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I'll say to you know, if you are someone who is interested in getting into the tech industry and feel, you know, in any way, intimidated or unsure where to go, tech by choice is a great resource to use can't recommend it enough. Lucas, actually, former guest of the show, Lucas casera is the financial planner. We connected through tech by choice and through Valerie's so you know, it's a great community of great people who, you know, all want to help each other out and all want to, you know, make sure that they that they thrive in this in this gold rush of an industry. Yes, that was a better plug that I gave. So thank you. Anytime, you know, I'm the I'm the hype man over here. Yeah. All right. Thank you so much, Valerie. I'll talk to you later. Bye. All right. Once again, that was Valerie Phoenix. Thank you again, Valerie for coming onto the show. You know, I love what she's doing with tech by choice. And seriously, no matter what it is that you're going through in life? Are you experiencing a loss? Are you starting a new venture? Are you redefining your values, no matter what that is, just find a group of like minded people, it makes a world of a difference. So I really appreciate what Valerie's doing in the tech community. I just love being able to be with people when they have those aha moments. It's so cool to me, you know, the fact that the colors for tech by choice match the colors of Valerie's mom's daycare. Like That is so cool to me, you know, and it really shows how this service oriented leadership is just a part of who she is. And I love creating those moments with any everybody. So you know, if you're, if you're feeling kind of stuck, if you feel like I hear, you know, all these things that Leo's saying with these guests, but that's because they're doing these big things, and that can never be me. Let's talk seriously. The firt the first step to really living in your truth is understanding how you got to where you are today. And I love helping people navigate that, you know, it's it's work that I've been doing on myself for like 15 years now, honestly, you know, and, yeah, we're gonna continue exploring it with more guests every week. It's looking more like I'm not going to close out the season right now, I know I mentioned something about that last week, but I think we're gonna keep on rolling for at least another couple more months before before we wind things down. So again, thank you so much for being on this journey with me. And see you next week. Stay evolving.