When Moz CEO Sarah Bird isn’t leading a team of over 200 employees she dedicates her time to civic initiatives. She wants to make the Seattle tech scene a more diverse and inclusive place.
In pursuit of that goal, she meets regularly with middle school girls, hoping to inspire the next generation of leaders and technologists. She’s also a vocal advocate for gender equity and compensation transparency.
“We need more economic inclusion,” she said. “It can’t wait and it doesn’t happen by accident. As someone who benefits both from privilege and a robust economy, I’m obligated to make Seattle a place where everyone can thrive.”
We caught up with Bird to find out how she manages work, family, and civic engagement for this installment of Working Geek. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: It’s no-meeting Friday, so I’m working from a co-working space in Capitol Hill, Seattle. I go here when I need to put my head down and knock things out.
Computer types: MacBook Air — Most of my work is in the browser so I don’t need heavy-duty gear.
Mobile devices: iPhone 6.
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Work: Gmail, Google Docs, PowerPoint, Twitter. Learning to love Slack. Favorite Everything-Else Apps: Spotify, Audible, Amazon (a must for busy parents!), Postmates.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I want my workspace to feel like a family living room. I want people to feel relaxed when we’re talking. I want to remind them that they are humans.
Also, whiteboards. I effing love whiteboards. Sometimes I can’t form thoughts without trying to draw them. The drawings don’t help others understand me; They help me understand myself.
Comfy chairs are a must. I have terrible posture and I’m not particularly interested in improving it.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? Forgive yourself and others. For yourself: If you’re challenging yourself, you’re going to make mistakes. Think about what you’ll do differently next time, then get over it and move on. For others: The greatest gift we can give someone is affirmation that they are worthy of our regard independent of their achievements. Be tough on the outcome and kind to the human.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I like Twitter for content discovery, networking, and finding out what’s going on in the world. I like Reddit for laughs. Keeps me in stitches. I like Instagram for connecting with family and friends. I like that it’s not about sharing opinions or being clever. And I like that it’s a small emotional and time commitment.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? I take the Fifth.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 28.
How do you run meetings? First, I try not to. If I’m doing my job well, most meetings I attend are run by other people.
I do run the weekly exec meeting. We have a rolling agenda for our team meeting in a Google doc that we send out ahead of time to collect topics for discussion and record who is responsible for bringing the discussion. There are some recurring topics for high-visibility initiatives. During the meeting, we capture notes, decisions, and action items right in the agenda doc. The document becomes a running history of our team activities. Occasionally I’ll look through it for trends or things that we’ve ‘dropped’ and should revisit.
Everyday work uniform? A simple dress, tights, and boots that are made for walking. The fewer pieces of clothing to coordinate and put on the better. That sounds way more scandalous than it is, doesn’t it?
How do you make time for family? My family Service Level Agreement (“SLA”) is to be home by 6:30 p.m. hungry and ready for family time a minimum of three school nights per week. The SLA can be suspended with advance notice to my hubby. :)
I do “me time” things between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. That includes any Moz project work, email, exercise, hanging out with friends, or reading. During typical work hours, I’m available for people; during the evening, I’m available for family. Everything else happens at night. Like Batman. The night is mine.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? I read trashy books, run, and dance badly. I also like to drink wine with my hubs while cackling to some Rick and Morty or swooning over BBC dramas.
What are you listening to? Beyonce’s Formation. I slay.
I was working through the audiobook version of The Phoenix Project, but it was like listening to an anxiety dream. I got 65 percent through and had to drop it. I need more solutions, less train wreck. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? The Moz blog; The New York Times Morning Briefing; Reddit homepage; Not a read, but NPR every morning; Women Entrepreneurship Startup Digest; Quibb; Geekwire, of course!
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? If I told you, you’d lose all respect for me. My kindle is password protected. I was a lit major, so I know better. We all have vices. One of mine is bad lit.
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? Night owl. I’m up as late as I can push my body. Then, I stumble out of bed around 7am like a zombie after pushing the sleep button a couple times. I’m not grumpy. Just brain dead. Even when I am well-rested, I like to be gently coaxed out of bed. Preferably with strong coffee.
Where do you get your best ideas? My walks to and from the office. Oh. And the internet.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Locally, Howard Behar is engaging, funny, principled, and driven. I want to be him when I grow up. I also have professional crushes on Elon Musk, Oprah, Fred Wilson and Captain Picard.