Fun Facts: Digital Sisterhood Network founder Ananda Leeke met Kathy during a Fabulous Women Business Owners DC’s meeting in December 2010. Kathy served as a the guest speaker for the meeting and discussed the importance of mentoring in women’s lives. She also introduced The Hot Mommas Project, a free online database of case studies written by women entrepreneurs that focus on real-life scenarios and solutions. The Project is housed at the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the George Washington University School of Business, where she serves as Entrepreneur in Residence and teaches Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership.
Digital Sisterhood Leadership Project (#DSLead) Interview:
1) How can people find you online?
- Web Site/Blog: http://hotmommasproject.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/HotMommasProject
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/chiefhotmomma and http://twitter.com/hotmommasproj
2) Why did you start using social media?
I started using Facebook for personal use, blogging to get on a writing schedule and experiment, and Twitter at the behest of Guy Kawasaki. That was the real jump in where I saw social media as a currency for influence and action. My experimenting from before – and general interest in tech – came together. I hire many interns, but am often the most techy even though I could be their mom. It’s a true interest, which is key. If it’s a chore, that’s not a great starting point.
3) What has social media allowed you to do in your life (personal, professional, business, nonprofit, community)?
Social media has allowed me to spread the wealth. In every sphere, people want to talk to me about social media. I come from a traditional business background and, thus, am the “token social media person” wherever I go. I am a part-time faculty member at George Washington University. The Dean wanted our department chair to use Twitter. He had me come in, give him some pointers, and always has me retweet him. I also got my former professor Rosabeth Kanter on Twitter. She’s brilliant.
Social media has allowed me to create wealth. I actually got on Twitter as an experiment, expecting nothing. I’ve gotten speaking engagements, sold several hundred tickets to events, and made connections that led to my writing for Maria Shriver. These are just a few examples.
Social media women are special. They say yes. All hands on deck. They’re in. When starting the Hot Mommas Project – now the world’s largest collection of online role models for women and girls – I sent an email to my personal database of about 3,000 or so. How many folks wrote cases? Maybe two. Everyone that first year, and since then, has come from social media.
4) In her 2011 Digital Women: from geeks to mainstream presentation that was given at the WIFT International Women Conference for Digital Women, Dr. Taly Weiss, a social psychologist and CEO/Founder of Trendspotting, concluded that “women are dominant digital users – they breathe and live digital.” Dr. Weiss’ conclusion echoes BlogHer’s 2011 Social Media Matters Study findings. They include 87 million women (18 to 76 years old) are now online, 69 million women use social media weekly, 80 million women use social media monthly, and 55 million women read blogs monthly. These facts illustrate the power and presence women have in the digital space. Now that’s Digital Sisterhood!
How has social media helped you carve out leadership roles as you interact online and offline?
Aside from the above, I was specifically approached to serve on a board to head up their social media efforts. This was an aging services organization and, normally, I am the token business person. The board members had come to take notice of my social media leadership, specifically, and I have a Harvard MBA and teach in a business school! Just to give you a sense of how much import they place on social media. They wanted THAT information from me versus my business skills. It was awesome. In terms of leadership online, that is an interesting question. I don’t really think about it until someone comes up to me at a conference and says “Take a picture of me with @ChiefHotMomma!” I kind of laugh, though, because I am enthralled with the amazing women I meet online and am always thinking “What’s your story, hmmmm, I bet another woman or girl would LOVE to learn about you.”
5) Social media has helped women become Digital Sisterhood Leaders, ambassadors of social expression who share what they are passionate about online. In her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (2013), Ananda Leeke, founder of the Digital Sisterhood Network, writes, “Without even knowing it, women have become Digital Sisterhood Leaders as they use their social media platforms to advocate causes; to build communities; to create apps, art, books, businesses, products, publications, services, tools, and webisodes; to curate content; to educate and inform; to give voice to their thoughts as subject matter experts, thought leaders, and brand ambassadors; to share information and experiences; to explore and experiment with new technologies as early adopters and trendsetters; to engage in social good; to influence others with their lifestyles and personal interests; to inspire and motivate; to mentor; to network; to tell their personal stories; and to promote and celebrate the expertise, gifts, and talents of others. Based on my online and offline interactions, I have identified 12 key leadership roles they play: advocate, community builder, creator, curator, educator, influencer, mentor, motivator, promoter, social do gooder, storyteller, and thought leader.”
What other types of leadership roles do women play in social media?
I like to see women at the tops of lists. If I had my druthers, for instance, there would be women on the boards of major social media companies. Let’s start there and work down. The venture capital firms and angels investing…like @Springboard and Golden Seed to start. Yes. Then women as inventors of applications (apps)and tech. Good. See inspirational science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) stories on the HotMommasProject.com case Library or enroll in ACTiVATE. Women, everywhere, get your tech on. Use it. read about it. blog. Try to make money from the blogging and tweeting. Or, just have fun. But, no matter what, introduce your kids – and especially girls – to tech and #STEM early. @idTechCamps. Check the National Girls Collaborative Project…a clearinghouse of STEM programs for girls. Go!
6) What types of leadership roles do you play in social media?
I try to inspire other women. Not just mommas (which is a funny slang term to get attention – it works!)… Hot Mommas = Dynamic women of ALL ages.
7) What lessons have you learned as a leader in the digital space?
- Develop a voice or regimen and stick with it.
- Don’t be cheesy. Don’t be a taker.
- It’s a good natural overflow for social people. It’s also a good outlet for introverts. The melting pot.
- Many people view social media as a currency.
- It’s in print, make your mom proud.
8) Do you have plans to expand your leadership roles in the digital space? If so, what are they?
We’d like to do an app. We’re also getting into Google+ which we see as an inevitability and trying to stake claims in video and Amazon via key words through ebooks. Also, getting some of our content up via ClickBank may be more appropriate for us than a blog which we’ve never done the best job with.
9) Who are your favorite social media women leaders and why?
Tinu Abayomi-Paul @tinu – current editor of WomenGrowBusiness.com, Shonali Burke @shonali – past editor of WomenGrowBusiness.com, Jill Foster @jillfoster – founding editor of WomenGrowBusiness.com, Jenny Lawson @thebloggess – too funny for words, Ann Handley @marketingprofs widely known as social media goddess, Elisa All -@elisatalk an amazing entrepreneur who sold her company to Disney Digital, Rieva Lesonsky @rieva – a former editor of Entrepreneur magazine – she rocks, and my former professor Rosabeth Kanter @rosabethkanter – super brilliant.
10) Share three ways women can use social media to define and express their personal leadership brand.
- Be the best at something. If your profile says “best at this” or “global leader at x” the social media brand is just an extension of that excellence.
- Find your voice ratio. Is it 70% info links, 20% interaction, 10% humor? Whatever it is, find it, tweak it, work it. Reinventing the wheel and aimless wandering is tiring, and is impossible to communicate to a team. (Even if you don’t have one now, always be thinking “repeatable process” for scale in future.)
- Lead. Sounds simple, but, are you? Contribute to your field, your topic, with your words and actions. The rest will take care of itself.