Monica Manney 0:01
Welcome back to UVA data points. I'm your host, Monica Manney. In this episode, we're bringing you a conversation between Siri Russell, the Associate Dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the UVA School of data science. And Kelly Palmer, the chief diversity officer at Willow Tree. This conversation took place at our recent a Women in Data Science event and it is introduced by Nikita Amanna, a current MSDS student at UVA data science. So Nikita is the first person you'll hear and then she passes it over to Siri and Kelly. And so with that, here is Siri Russell and Kelly Palmer live from wids 2023
Nikita Amanna 0:36
In highlighting the work of our female students through our student presentations, to hearing about the experiences of leaders and gaining advice in the corporate data science space. To listening to disruptors at the frontiers of equity and inclusion. We want to show the amazing work currently being done in this continuously expanding field, as well as get inspired for the future. And looking towards the future. However, let us not forget the work of those women that made it possible for us to be here. From grote Grace Hopper to Ada Lovelace to Joy belong weenie, mera mera Marathi. And so many of the other women in this field making and having made enormous strides. Let us remember that we sit on the shoulders of great minds, and that we have a lot more work to do. And on that note, I would love to introduce you all to today's Fireside Chat with Kelli Palmer, Chief Diversity Officer of willow tree and Siri Russell, Associate Dean of DEI at the School of data science. Thank you.
Siri Russell 1:50
So Happy Friday, we're very excited to be here with each other and also to be here with you. Before we get into the conversation, we really wanted to start by extending an invitation. So this is a chat. And that includes all of you. So we'd really like for this to be conversational where we can we have folks who have microphones. So there will be opportunities during this talk, to raise your hand and invite us to linger in something that you want us to like. Let's talk about that a little bit more. If you have a question, that does not have to wait until the end, right. But I also invite you to consider having a wonder. And what I mean by that is, you know, sometimes I feel like in these kinds of situations, we spend a lot of time thinking about I gotta get this question perfectly articulated to that I sound like I know what I'm talking about also so they understand me. You don't have to do that here. You can just wonder like, I'm wondering this or that. And we'll wander with you. Yeah. All right. So I know we're here together. But Are y'all with us? Yeah. All right. So let's get this party started. We decided we weren't gonna do bios, because we know y'all can Google. So if you need to know what school we went to, you know, use your phones. But instead, we thought we'd start by, you know, sort of talking about what was the journey to get to this chair. Right, Kelli? Like, what was the heart of your story that brought you to this seat right here?
Kelli Palmer 3:41
I mean, there are 46 years before this chair. So that could be a journey. But I think a few highlights are worth sharing. Starting early on, you know, I'm touched by what President Ryan said about needing to have more models. So that this seems like the the ordinary unexciting thing to do. As a young person, I was identified as gifted. Anybody from my era understands that. And our programs were in math and science. And so I got an accelerated curriculum and math and science from third grade. dating myself in a real way. We have two rooms that were computer in my high school, and I had the opportunity to learn to program and engage in that way. And then I went off to college and thought I was going to be pre med because Cosby Show. And freshman bio, got me off of that notion and So I went on to study elementary education, but to get admitted to that program, in my interview, I was asked to talk about the thing I have read recently, that was most interesting to me. And it was the hot zone. I don't know how many of you are familiar with that book. But it's the, the basis for the movie contagion. And the person, the panel of people interviewing me, included a woman who was a science teacher, and she said, You will be in a classroom. Well, I got into a classroom. And it wasn't my spot. I needed to be able to use the restroom, when I wanted to go to the bank, and all the things and so God bless teachers. And I went on to get a Master's in Counseling. Because I was actually told I wasn't warm, or terribly kind in the way that I did things. I'm a DC native, y'all I was in the south. And DC is below the Mason Dixon Line. But somehow it's not the south. And then I found that helping was valuable. But there was a glass ceiling and higher ed. And that's where I wanted to be. So I came here to do PhD and university administration. And I won't tell you a lot about that work. But I will say that I chose to use the nation's largest data set for my dissertation. I am a quantitative researcher. And that was not typical for the space that I was in, I wanted to be able to do the definitive work. And I saw that data was the pathway to being able to be informed and persuade. And it gave us the most expansive arms in the time since I've worked a variety of places and a variety of roles. But today, I sit at willow tree, which is, it started as an app developer in Charlottesville in 2007. And I don't know who follows local news. But in January, we sold for 1.225 billion. That's amazing. For our sweet town, that's had all of its ups and downs in so many ways that something so rich in this space was started here. And the meat of our practice involves data science. So when I agreed to do this, I was the chief diversity officer. And today, I'm the Chief employee experience officer. So I think broadly, not just about diversity, equity and inclusion in this space that I've come through in my own way. But I think about how humans experience the power of harnessing and leveraging data to change the world. It's an awesome job. And I'm so honored that you will have me with you.
Siri Russell 8:23
I I just love the sound of Kelly's voice. whenever she's talking. I'm just like, yes, she could be describing making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spoiler alert, I'm going to say something slightly different from anything she says today. Just to offer y'all choices. So you know when I think about, like my what's at the heart of my story, like how did I get to this chair? I tend to think the answer to that is me. Yeah, it was me. Yeah. Oh, no, that's also a Britney Spears joke. I don't know if anybody caught it. This me, y'all. Okay. Get on the Googles the chat GPT regular live chat GPT. So, you know, for me, I was raised in the deeper south. I grew up in sort of rural South Carolina. And where I was, I learned a lot of social lessons that I didn't realize that I had fully absorbed until much later. So when I think about how I got to this seat, I think about a particular moment, probably about seven or eight years ago now. I was at my desk and a co worker stopped by and said, Hey, did you hear about what just happened in South Carolina? In what had just happened was that Bree Newsome had scaled the South Carolina flagpole at the statehouse, and had pulled down the Confederate flag. This was a moment for me, I grew up in South Carolina, that flag had always waved there. And in my professional life, I was pretty focused on what I saw as what it meant to be professional, which meant fitting in, right. I had for a long time, adopted particular mannerisms that I realized were holding me back. Because I've read what Bree said about why she did it. She said, I did it. Because I'm free. And I had this moment where I went, Oh, I'm not see, I am being less of myself every day. Right? I have adopted this mindset, where I come to work and feel I must be less woman, less black, less Siri, in order to succeed in order to be included, right. And what I realized right, then, was that for me to be free, I actually had to be more of me, right? I had to be my full self. That was a career changing moment for me. Because at the time, I was working as a zoning compliance officer, I was a bad news bear. I was the person who would knock on your door and tell you that your neighbor had complained about your junk car. Okay. And you fast forward from that moment to right now. And I'm the Associate Dean of diversity, equity and inclusion at the School of Data Science here at the University of Virginia. So, when I say how I got here was me that I mean, I became more of myself. And I brought that into my practice. Yeah,
Kelli Palmer 12:16
I mean, speak to my soul, bring yourself
Siri Russell 12:22
free. We don't all do that. So while we're you know, since we're still feeling good, I mean, I'm feeling good. Y'all feeling good? Since we're still feeling good. Let's talk about this, you know, Women in Data Science, what I was thinking like, what does that mean? What does it mean to be a woman in? Right? What's unique, right, like, I'm thinking, Kelli, what are your thoughts about this shared experience that we have? And even more I'm thinking about that question that always comes up about having it all what is it? Oh, when I think about this, I think about Icarus, y'all remember Akers? Right. And they talked about Icarus. And, you know, I feel like whenever I hear that story, they tell us about flying too close to the sun. Right? But if you go back and read it, Icarus was actually cautioned also, not to fly too low. Because the weather could also melt their wings, right? So there's something in there, right? It was don't fly too high. But it was also don't fly too low. So what is this in that center? Where we're getting all of it? Kelli, can you talk a little bit about your thoughts?
Kelli Palmer 13:42
I mean, the visual of Icarus that I've never associated in this way leads me pretty immediately to you are to direct you are not direct enough. You are to human centered, you should be more human centered. Does any of this sound like my story? I got an entire degree because I wasn't nice. I'm trying to resist the urge to say that had been male, I would have been destined for greatness. But oh, I said it. Okay. So we know those things. I'm going to put them to the side and I'm going to talk about this other thing. Being a woman in and trying to have it all there is amazing narrative that I think we've all been brought up in if we've been steeped in this United States place, and I'm sure there are people from other places as well. But here, women are supposed to be feminine to some degree, at least historically, at least in my day. And that makes you were supposed to make and grow humans and somehow run households while also earning money, but perhaps not more than your husband. Now we're in a new time, she may have a wife, I love that she may share those duties with others. She may be they , there's a lot of exciting things afoot. But what doesn't change is that she, they are supposed to do it all. And my two cents on this is, you can have it all, just not at one time. My own story is that I went straight through school, I did all the degrees as fast as I could, because I was keenly aware of what was coming on the other side, the partnering and the children and the no time and stuff. And so I probably went through school faster than I should have, I'm gonna own that out of a fear of timing out for my intellectual life. And I wanted it. So I got it maybe a little too early, maybe a little before I even knew what I was getting. You know, if I could go back to my doc classes, I'd be such a different human. But it is what it is. And I did what I did, and I wouldn't, you know, undo it, because I made it. PS, I have four children. I previously had a husband, he is not the current husband. We can talk about that later. And so as that title about this, having it all, but not at one time thing, I will say that the single greatest choice that any human makes, is about whom they partner with relative to their career. And that is also even if you choose not to partner, I'm not saying that we all do insured, I'm saying that that choice changes things. And I would encourage you to think with care. I would not be in this seat, were it not for a man holding up my universe? Isn't that a fun thing? In 2023, a man holds up my universe. He does. He raises our children, he makes sure the bills are paid, and I run around the planet. Negotiate wisely. The other thing that I'll put out there is that I had kids late. I had a lot of pregnancies to get four there were seven. Life is what it is. But I say this to say that I chose the job to do the thing it needed to do to let me make the humans and I got promoted every time I went on maternity leave. I'm not saying that as if I have some superpower. I'm saying it to give you yours. When I left, I did some things for those in preparation for those three months. That kept continuity but somehow made really really clear that they needed me and I made some interesting choices and those leaves and if this is a place where you want to dig we can dig there. But this is my story about having it all. I feel like I've had everything I've wanted just not at one time. I had a job that didn't completely scratch my brain as I was having those babies because I heard from my friends what it was like to have those babies be strategic
Siri Russell 19:22
I love that I think this is a good space to linger. Because I'm feeling that someone or someone's in here is feeling like we should linger so someone someone's there's some space here we go. Where's our microphone? Wait till they get here.
Kelli Palmer 19:43
You have such a good energy luck reading. Britney Britney.
Siri Russell 19:48
Britney right Baby One More Time.
Speaker 1 19:53
Okay, thank you for being so radically honest. Just about the value of partnership, when it comes to careers, that's essential. And also something you've said in passing, I just want to wonder about it together. The idea that, you know, you can be absent from the workplace for a certain amount of time, whether it's maternity leave or whatever, but you're still necessary. And I feel like that's important to highlight. We have this long built up pattern in many workplaces, that presence is value. And sometimes value is other things. You know, it's, it's your contribution, which doesn't have to be measured as a every day, same day, show up, do the thing. And maybe you could talk about how in a new discipline like data science, maybe we can design that into it, to make it just a more de facto inclusive field, because we think about contribution, maybe in a different way.
Kelli Palmer 21:07
Gosh, I would love to have direct wisdom about shaping as you build the field, I don't know that I have that. But what I do have is, again, pieces for my own story. So I'm a creator. As you work, you come to know who you are in the world of work, there are people who love to start a thing. There are people who love to support a thing. There are people who love to keep a thing going but making it better. I am a creator, I started thing. And so the reason I could be physically absent, but absolutely necessary, is because I was always just this far ahead of the business on what should be happening. And I had become the most expert in my business note, I don't pretend to be expert about anything, I'm not gonna make that up. But the most expert in my business on this thing in the distance, and without fail, either something that I planted bloomed in my absence, or the circumstances of the business or society shifted just enough that people went. Wait, we need this thing. Kelli, Kelli Palmer, Kelli Palmer is working on this thing. Where's Kelli Palmer? She's on maternity leave? Can we get her can we find can some who we shouldn't, but can we call her
the only connection I can make comfortably and easily here is your choosing to specialize in the thing that is here. I don't know how to design the rest of it for you. But what a cool spot to be in my area has very rarely been this thing I've had to make it up. You all signed up for it. You went to school for it, you're doing it. There's something yummy there.
Speaker 3 23:32
I'm gonna give you a cautionary tale. So I have two children. And similar to Kelli, folks were very excited to have me come back to work after every maternity leave. I felt very necessary. But part of that had to do that in previous roles. I've gotten a lot better at this. But when I was still having the children, I didn't have very good boundaries. And I also had a tendency to carry too much of the load. Right. And so whenever I left, what became immediately apparent was, Oh, she's doing the work of like three or four people. And we want that back a way a very, I think unhealthy way actually, of being indispensable. And I think something that we also fall into too often in our sort of like the drive to be a high performer. Especially. I mean, how many of you were that kid in the class that was raising their hand all the time? I know you're out there. I see some of you going it's me. I'll do it. Right. I had to break myself out of that in order to move towards balance. This thing You know that I think we're also starting to move towards talking about that? How do you construct balance in your life? And even considering the temporal factor, like you're talking about Kelli, it's not gonna be all the time. I know, that's something I practice for myself too. Sometimes we're a little out of whack. And that might be a few months, and then you gotta go. Okay. So I think of the balance as being over the course of really my lifetime. Oh, a hand is coming up already. I'm excited. Who's coming? Oh, excellent.
Kelli Palmer 25:38
Can I do one add on before we, I want to just note about this idea of committing too much and boundaries, that the secret to my ability to move. And I mean, has been that I am always growing my replacement. So even when I'm the strange person going, but there's this thing out there, we should do it. As soon as somebody hears me, I don't care if they're below to the side, or in a completely different division. I'm like you want in on the weirdness? We're going over here, and that's my buddy. That's the person keeping things on track when I'm on leave, but it's also the person that I can go, Oh, don't worry, I can be chief employee experience officer because Kendall will be the chief diversity officer. Okay, have fun, I started you have a good time. I'm going over here to start a new thing.
Speaker 5 26:50
So what I love about that is that you're identifying and then living in your power. And today, South Carolina Gamecocks are playing to get to the Final Four. And I want to quote, something the Washington Post wrote today about Aliyah Boston, who's their lead player. And what the coach said was, I think a player like Aliyah, doesn't realize her power. I think she's a really nice young lady, and she wants everything to be smooth, smooth sailing, she doesn't want any conflict, she's not confrontational. When you're like that, you don't really understand the power of being dominant. And I'm throwing that out here, because part of what happens to women institutionally is we are not allowed to claim our power. But the voice that you bring to the room is going to be different than the voice anyone else in that room has, and you shouldn't feel afraid to use it. Your point of view matters to your organization, and it certainly matters to you. And if the Gamecocks didn't play the physical game that they played, if they played nice lady like basketball, they wouldn't be where they are. So it's okay to stop being lady like,
Speaker 4 28:15
I want to have a wonder, when a wonder about why that person who titled that article, or wrote the first paragraph, thought that there was some correlation between dominance and power.
Siri Russell 28:34
I would like to hear you because I think I know where you're, I think I know where you're headed. I think I know what road you're trying to track down here. Tell me wonder a little bit more about this power and dominance piece?
Kelli Palmer 28:52
Well, I'm a black woman, what? I have traveled and lived around the world that I get labeled other things. But in fact, I am a black woman. And so the stereotype that I should often fulfill in rooms, particularly where I am, gender and race, ethnically underrepresented is that I'm supposed to live into my dominance. But in fact, the way I exert power in rooms is through my silence, because it is unexpected. And when I speak, people listen. I'm not saying everyone needs to play that way. I'm just saying that correlation does not imply causation. And dominance therefore does not equate to power and vice versa. That's that's And I'm pushing this person who may want things to be nice and gentle as Ebola may run the floor, masterfully, because of that. And that's where we get dinged as women sometimes is that we seem away or we should be away. And in fact, being underestimated, not seen, not paid attention to, can be a challenge that we pivot into an opportunity. Because what we hear and see and know and have time to focus on, we can flip and play. And when we do it, people pick up on it. Because we choose our time and have harnessed our power. That's, that's where I was going, I feel what that article is talking about, and I feel where we were going, but it was just that association of words that made me go, Oh, don't think you have to be alpha to be a no, no,
Siri Russell 31:23
I want to underscore, you use the twice he talked about choose right and choice, because we do have a choice about how we step into our power, how our power is presented and realized. And I love that. I also love that we have someone who's been waiting here so patiently. Come on.
Speaker 6 31:50
I thank you all wonderful conversation, I wanted to touch on one word Kelly that you brought up, which was creator. And I think in particular, with my experience in data science, it's very much an art form. And the female perspective in that art form is important and unique. And I'm wondering what kind of structured or directed flexibility you found in data science and how your female perspective has brought a unique and wonderful insight into this field that is not necessarily always just facts and numbers, but also interpretation.
Speaker 4 32:34
You know, it's so hard to know your own way of knowing. But as you ask that question, the image that came into my mind was that of a stick. And with a bulbous end, imagine you're just walking through the forest, and you come across a stick with a bulbous end. Some people might look at that and go, I can hit someone with it, that bulbous end is gonna, let me take you out. And somebody else might look at it and go, but if I just whittle it like this, it's a spoon. And I can eat with it, and somebody else might go, but if I just shave it like this, it's, it's a shovel, and I can dig with it. What I know is that for whatever reason, the way my brain works, if you put me in a room around a table with 15, people who aren't me, maybe they're not women, maybe they're not black. Maybe they're not from DC. Maybe they didn't get a PhD at UVA. I don't know. They're not me. You know, who comes up with the most different solution? Usually. I see the stick differently. And I posit, though, I don't know that many of the people in this room also see the stick differently. I have made it my life's work to understand how other people see the stick. So that when I tell them about my imaginings for the stick, that I can work from their place of comfort to my place of innovation. Sometimes that journey is brief. And sometimes that journey takes years. And sometimes in fact, I'm just wrong. But that's how I have found my way. That may not be terribly specific, but that is where they're going.
Speaker 3 34:56
It's also to go back to the power conversation. When, right the ability to do that, that's a demonstration of power as well, right to put yourself in the shoes of someone else, to not just understand their perspective, but also to use that knowledge to bring them to your mean, your way of thinking, you know, you can never underestimate the power of influence work. Right? I mean, that is my whole job.
Kelli Palmer 35:29
Without authority, I just want to add the rest of
Speaker 3 35:32
it. Yes. Right. The ability to get things done without positional authority is not something that you can achieve through dominance, because it's not based in hierarchy. Right. It's based on a host of other things that are equally if not more powerful, because I think, a superpower that I have, and I think that you also have Kelli, well, I know that I'm just being coy is, not only can we get other folks to do those things that we're asking them to do, but we can get them to do it while thinking that it's their idea. Oh,
Kelli Palmer 36:12
that's like the number one requirement.
Siri Russell 36:17
Yeah, I mean, my boss isn't in here. Right? Right. But that really, I think, so when you're thinking about your power, be thinking about those things do right, how that shows up your ability to influence in ways that are authentic, that are generated, not harmful, right. And there are ways that bring people with you on your journey, you're up.
Speaker 7 36:46
I just wanted to expand on the idea of taking leave. And couple of times I've done a leave of absence. So I know one time when I wanted to leave a job, they asked me to do a leave of absence, because they knew I wasn't going to another job. And that you don't have to use maternity leave. So definitely use your power to go off and do a personal sabbatical. Do things that revive your spirit?
Siri Russell 37:14
I think that was lovely. Yes. Thank you for saying it. And I love to like the idea of stepping away. Right. Going back to that balance piece. I want to pause. I was just about to say because I feel like someone else has something to add. And then there you were. No, we have someone here to someone in the Okay, yeah, back here. And then we'll come here.
Speaker 7 37:40
I just sign it, I guess kind of throw me off. I've so I've been in the word world of work now for a little over three decades. And I just want to say how cool it is to be in this space, a professional space where these things are being said out loud. For a big part of my career, like, these were kind of backroom conversations, you know, over coffee or bitch session. Sorry, I'm losing my voice. You know, walking down the street with a friend, you know, and how quickly this has changed has been open. I mean, I remember working just a few years ago for a company that sold for over a billion dollars and how much of my time there I was the only woman in the room. So it's really great that we're saying these out loud, and we're hearing these from each other.
Speaker 4 38:34
I love that. And what you say makes me think about the rooms I've been in, and the room I'm currently in. And I don't want this to just be a conversation about how awesome women are, we are awesome. I want to also honor that. I'm on an executive team right now with a collection of who the men on my team respect and value their wives and want to be active in raising their children. And the other women on the team have chosen different pathways. And it enables me to have of what I want at any given moment. Because those folks evidence that evolution that is happening more broadly, that I can look at my colleagues when we need to get something across the finish line and go. The kid has a play. I'll be back on it at nine and no one blinks. No one questions. I'd go back on and at nine. So I think that was just a nice opening for me to share that our progress is a collective progress, and it is because that expectation of women that I grew up with is morphing, as is the desire of men. And with those two things happening at the same time, we're getting magical new possibilities.
Siri Russell 40:29
We've got one here, and then you're in the front, then we're gonna pivot a little bit conversationally.
Speaker 8 40:35
Hi, this might be a bit of a pivot to, but I'm just noticing that you guys are very, like, self assured and confident in yourselves. And I'm kind of wondering what your journey was with that and finding your voice. I'm pretty young. I'm 21. So I feel like I'm still on that journey. And yeah, I think it's something women have to deal with. Like, one example is the way we talk. Like, I feel like I still talk with an up tilt at the end, which is something I was like, conditioned to do. So I don't know, I'm just wondering how we get to a place where we feel self assured and confident.
Siri Russell 41:23
You want to go first, you're younger than well, how do you know that now? Okay, I think a couple of things. So let me let me start by telling you what I did this morning. So before I came in here, so I have like three talks I have to do today, before I came in here. I sat in my bedroom, and I've got this collection of crystals. And I was holding them in one arm and I went right like this. And I went, Siri, you're a monster. You're a beast. No one can defeat. I was like, You got this, right. Literally, this was what I was doing this morning. I am a big believer, like, I do a lot of shit talking basically, in meetings, I can do it internally that right? Like, I'll be sitting there thinking
Unknown Speaker 42:16
they can't problem solve, like I can.
Speaker 3 42:21
I hype myself up all day long. That's right. I have a collection of sort of like totems in my office, things that are connected to my family, things that are connected to success I've had at work, things that resonate with me that I can look at and remind myself throughout the day. Yes, ma'am. I have a picture of Muhammad Ali. Because I also sometimes say that myself rumble young woman rumble like and I'll say that to myself, even before I go into a meeting where I know I'm about to get aggravated. I think for me, your question is, it wasn't like, it hasn't been like a light switch where it's like, now I am a confident person. Right? It's been more like, what are the things that feed me? What like, having had some successes, reminding myself of that surrounding myself with powerful women like this human over here, right? Like some of these folks back there. Who also hyped me up who you know, mean, like, I'm looking Dean Hylton back here, who before I had to give a talk a few weeks ago. Literally, I'm sitting in my car and she's on the phone telling me you got this, you're the best of this. Right. So I think for me, it's been surrounding myself with other humans who are encouraging who, who continue to aspire and assure me as well as constantly doing it for myself, right?
Speaker 4 44:06
I mean, I will pick up where you left off the company you keep matters. My I have a have a boss bitches group that I'm a part of. I'm not gonna lie to you. Like we all set intentions. When I was on maternity leave the last time by the way, I'm done. Yeah. But when I was on maternity leave the last time we started this group, and it's five women. We didn't even really know each other. It was kind of the all of us knew one. Somebody you know, and everybody just kind of got together. And we said, we're gonna be awesome. As spouses as mothers as professionals, probably in the opposite order. And we're going to support each other and doing it. And we built relationship. And we build each other up. And it's amazing to have people in your world who will look at you and go, this is your superpower. And it shows up like this. And not because they're billowing smoke or wanting to be nice, but because they've watched you. And the way they underscored is by opening a door for you. So that group of women has moved each other from basically mid level management roles till all of us are now in the C suite, or the proprietors of our own business. And we set targets for what we would be managing in terms of revenue. And we've exponentially beat them. Who you run with determines how you run. So choose. The other thing is, I failed a lot. I mean, just a lot. I took a job I shouldn't have taken I realized about 30 days in that I was in trouble. I'm professionally serially monogamous. How could I leave a job after 30 days, I stay in jobs like 10 years at a run. But I had to, I wasn't right for it. It wasn't right. For me. I thought it was an utter failure. I think I've told y'all I've had two husbands and not at the same time. So you want to feel a failure, get divorced. You know, I've gotten a rough review. I've had a project utterly bomb, I have gotten on stage and forgotten what my word should be. And I got up the next day, or the next hour, and I found something else. And even in the moment when I did the next thing, and it felt like a step down, or step under, or a reboot. In hindsight, that was just a sad step to hop. In hindsight, that was just a speed bump to give me or to reveal to me another superpower. And on a very practical level, I'm an opera singer. I have been standing on stages forever. This is my jam. If it is not yours, join Toastmasters. Learn the route. Seriously. Freshman year, I had listened to my god brother who said Don't take too many classes. You don't want to mess up your GPA and lose your scholarship. That took too few classes. I was super bored. I went to the registration lady, because that used to be a thing. And I was like, Is there something else I can do? And she was like, take public speaking. And I took the class and I learned the three segments of a speech and how to write something on short notice and how to function off of a prompt knowing the rules of a thing and the structures of a thing. give you confidence. It is the never having done it in any form before that makes the ground quiver. So hedge, do it. Somewhere somehow with something. And then one day, somehow, when you think you might be halfway through your life, in my experience. I don't have time to be that worried anymore. What's the worst thing that's gonna happen? I'll get better. That's a wonderful piece to live with. And that's just time.
Speaker 3 49:14
time and I love what you said about understanding, like, knowing the rules, understanding the structures, and I think that knowing is also that knowing yourself. Part of what I operate from is a very strong sense of who I am and what I'm about, right? Like, that's kind of my guiding star. And it's what propels me. And it's also what keeps me in the light. All right, I'll survive. It will be fine. When we talk about stress, always What does stress prepare you for? That's a real question. What stress preparing Before like, nothing, so it's usually not a good use of your time. I think. I love your question. I don't think it gets anything gets maybe gets easier with age like Kelly's telling us, but I believe it gets less scary, gets less scary gets less scary. But I love your question because I feel like it could be asked at any point in life
Unknown Speaker 50:25
And the thing is we're faking?
Siri Russell 50:27
I told her what I was doing this morning.
Speaker 4 50:29
Like, I'm gonna pose something to the audience, to my fellow people over 40 Does anyone feel like they're still pretending to be an adult? Okay, that's the dirty secret of life.
Siri Russell 50:53
We're getting close to our time. I know we've got you had your hand up. Awesome.
Unknown Speaker 51:01
Hey, thanks. Thanks for doing this. Oh, gosh,
Unknown Speaker 51:03
this is really loud.
Speaker 9 51:05
So my question is, what advice do you have for very junior women in this room? Because, like it or not, we're on sort of a clock if having a family as part of our career goal. And you know, it's tough if you're, if you're taking leave, and you don't feel like you've got that indispensable position. You know, how do you reconcile that? Because you could leave and then you know, the career opportunities disappear without you. Sorry? Yeah.
Kelli Palmer 51:38
So this is gonna sound super morbid. So you gotta end up on a better spot, because this is not the end.
Speaker 4 51:51
When I was making choices, about re productivity in my own life, I thought, what does the end look like? Who is with me? What will I have done? And for me, it was a very clear answer. I work to live, I love working, I love being successful. I am so excited to like, catch and kill and accomplish and do like, I hope you feel how hungry I am professionally. But I do it for my children. Before I had children, the run to the PhD quickly was not first, about the exploration of my timeline. It was first about the viability as a black woman in America with the data being the way it was when I came of age to be able to pay for and raise humans on my own, which was the statistical likelihood. And what I felt was the greatest value, importance and joy of my life, as I defined it was making and growing humans. And so when the pivots point came where I had to take risks. I operated on my main piece of advice when somebody says, Kelli, what's your one piece of advice that you give people make choices you can live with? And so when faced with a dilemma, what do I want the end to look like? I want to die peacefully in my bed with my children around me. I want to leave money to educate their children. I want to have loved massively. I want to have grown other people in ways that they got to do the same. And I want when somebody reads my obituary in the virtual newspaper that they will probably get through chat GPT for them to go. That time when I met her that time when I sat with her that time when she said a kind thing or a hard thing to me. She was all right. And none of that starts with a title other than mom, so when I made my choices my eye was on goal.
Speaker 3 54:25
I think it's probably a little bit different for me, for one thing I don't like thinking about dying freaks me out. And I also don't like working to be perfectly honest with you. I prefer not to right in a perfect world. I would be living a life of leisure. This just happens this that's the way I teach. I'm trying to get him to teach me. For me, all of the choices that I have made, you know, I keep going back to myself. And part of the reason that I do that, without giving you a lot of personal background is that I've had to bank on myself, since I was a small, a small human. And so for me, all my choices, were really tied to something that I first started thinking when I was actually quite young, which was, there's got to be more I have always sort of internally thought, it really believed that to like, be a Kanye West on you, but like really believed that I was meant for more than where I was that I could be more could be great. Part of that greatness to your point, not tied to title, right. But was really about how I live my life. I come from unhealthy people. Part of greatness for me was creating healthy people. Both those that come from me, and then also the people that I interact with, right? So my choices were really propelled by a sense of urgency, and a conviction, right, like at some of the lowest points and I went through a pretty episode of pretty serious depression when I was in undergrad. You can see it on my transcript if you indicators. Yeah, right. And on my way out of that, the thing that was pushing me was a sense of this isn't where I'm supposed to be. I don't know, right? What your right timeline is, or anyone else. But for me, my journey has always really been in a is this where I'm supposed to be? Is this me looking around? Is this? Is this Siri? Right? And the answer to that a lot of times has been no. Right? And I'm not I'm not. When it comes to employment, I'm not monogamous. But part of that, is that push that I've been something I've tried to work on, I want to be great. I want to be more I want to get to me. I'll know it when I find it. I feel like I live it every day. When it comes to the choices. I think Kelly's exactly right? What can you live with? For me, I had my children at the same time as I was working. I got two masters degrees in the same period of time while I was having them. People would say to me, like, what are you doing? Right? I said, this is this is me, this is what I want. And this is what I want from my life. And also, I can do it. Right people ask you do you have enough time? I got all I need. We got one question. And we're gonna end on it. Were here. Here we go.
Speaker 10 58:24
Um, you've touched on a few of these things. But as I'm watching new women come into my lab or in quantitative area, or as a teacher in those positions, what is a good way to encourage and mentor and empower other women into this field? How do you approach that?
Speaker 3 58:44
Connect? Touch him? Right? And don't wait for folks to come to you to mentor? Right? I think, you know, invite folks to reach out but I think when you are being intentional about mentorship, it's also rendering people visible. Right? And going to them. Kelli, I'm trying to be quick. So you go,
Speaker 4 59:07
Oh, I mean, I wholly echo that. But I would also caution around mentoring them into this work. I find that when you are trying to get a person to a destination, that's like herding a cat. If you show interest, if you engage, if you expose if you connect, if you identify people land where they should, and sometimes the cats will run away and other times the cats will come but often when you center in the human and wherever they want to go. Even if they run away they will send other cats back.
Speaker 3 59:54
Right we're at our time so we got by super fast. Thank you, thank you! Stay connected
Transcribed by https://otter.ai