24 March, 2009

Finding Ada - AdaLovelaceDay09

So for my Ada Lovelace post, I thought I would write about my friend and fellow BrixChick Janesta. Like Ada L., Janesta is a ground breaker in that she started her career in technology when it was uncommon to see women in tech roles and lucky for me and my ilk that she did! Not only did the great---and at that time courageous---work set the stage for those of us who came along later to experience more possibilities, but like walking in the snow, I am sure it wasn't always easy and fun to set out early. Here are three things I learned from her that have helped me immeasurably:
1. It's lonely in the Sandbox alone: We were put on a team in the middle of one of the most rancorous "mergers" in IT history. While I was working it to put the hate in Hatfield, Janesta serenely remained the Real McCoy. Exasperated with me, she stuck the olive branch into a chilled glass of Ketel One, handed it to me and I discovered two things: Damn! I love a vodka martini and two, a friend; we have been friends ever since---much to my benefit. I have repaid that karmic favor many times and it always works in my best interest---even when I had to endure the second most rancorous "merger" in IT history without her.
2. Preparing mentally takes space and time: Life moves fast. My tendency to wing it, fling it, sing it or ding it often makes sense, but I find I get the best results from taking space to prepare not just the work, but the instrument---yes, myself. Though we often have to focus on non-human tasks, priorities, etc., Janesta never forgets that there is a person on both ends of the equation. I observed her preparations to carve out a calm in the eye of the storm, before she tackled anything particularly onerous and saw how that was a critical success factor in achieving her goals.
3. The Art of Saying, "No." Brilliantly simple, sometimes the trick to meeting expectations is simply to set them appropriately. A well timed, "I simply can not..." is light years better than excuses/explanations/justifications/rationalizations and the lies that pass for statistics. For all parties. Though more often, I saw that her worklife reflected the maxim, "too much is never enough," I also saw the well timed, firm and confident no was the best tool to ward off the crazies and allowed her to focus on what was important but not necessarily urgent.

Not exactly rocket science, but within the underpinnings of a successful career and a wonderful person to know. Thanks, Janesta! Happy Ada Lovelace day!
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