Women Leaders in the Drone Industry: Be Authentic

July 27, 2018

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Over the course of three days, I heard the word "Authenticity" over 76 times.

Women and Drones was asked to attend the Women in Technology International (WITI) Summit which was hosted in San Jose, CA from June 10�"12. I jumped on the opportunity to join the Summit when Sharon asked me earlier this spring, and I am so glad that I did. Here is why . . .

Image Source: Women and Drones

This was my first WITI Summit, and I quickly realized how proud each woman was to announce the number of times they have attended the summit in its 24-year history. In the first session, women announced they had attended all the summits in the past decade to it being their first time.

The simple question of how many WITI's have you attended established how much these women love being involved with the organization and each other. Before we get into the details of the conference I have to announce that it was not about technology, but more about the women inside the corporations and small businesses that were making it all work. The WITI Summit is about collaboration, supporting women, and increasing women's visibility within the technology industry.

Throughout the speaking sessions and workshops weaved a message of women empowerment, bridging pay gaps, fighting gender diversity, and how big the voice of women is all around the world right now. I left the conference with new friends and inspiration for what women are doing in technology and for each other.

The morning of day one, I went to a workshop where a Donna Cerani spoke about leadership success. While talking, she used the word authenticity multiple times. The third time I heard her use the word, I started to track it in my notes. I made 76 slash marks in my notes at the end of the conference. Although this is the overall concept for this blog post, I also want to share a bit about how this answered a few questions I had before I arrived at the conference.

I was most interested in the entrepreneurial track at the conference because many of us believe there are or will be jobs in the drone industry in the future. As a woman in technology, I was curious to see how this conference assists women entrepreneurs. My goal was to relay information to other women entrepreneurs in the drone industry. More recently, I have also read articles focused on how larger corporations are developing internal drone programs by adding drone skills to current employee job requirements.

As a result, they are not hiring small businesses as consultants or drone pilots. I wanted to use this conference to answer the question: How are other women in technology making it work? And how can the Women and Drones organization grow from this knowledge?

We like buying from people we know, we like, and we trust. When we buy local, we typically seek businesses we see as authentic. When we operate our businesses authentically, we align our personal and business values. Below are three ways we can authentically show up in our business, and more tips from the experts talking at the WITI Summit 2018.

Ways to show up and be authentic:


The beauty of the Women and Drones organization is that it is all about sharing stories of women and their success in the drone industry. If you are reading this blog and you have not shared your story, please let us know who you are and what you do in the drone industry. We are here to support you.

John Bates, the Founder & CEO of Executive Speaking Success, was one of the men speaking at WITI. He said "it's a rip-off to humanity" when we don't share our story with others and that we should always start with our mess.

Our mess is the story. This idea resonates with many of us yet it seems difficult to get down to the dirty details to share our real story. We all have messes in our lives and from those messes, we have grown and learned valuable lessons. And those valuable lessons need to be shared.

Break down your (mess) process by describing how you got to a specific place in your business. The story is about the process. When you create a story about the process, you begin to allow the reader or listener to take the journey with you. In the end, you end up making them the hero.

Amanda Healey spoke about our personal brand and stories to create for LinkedIn. It was great to learn and be encouraged to share our strengths to create stories that connect. To start on your story, there are a few letters you can use to develop the plot of your story. All stories that go VIRAL have all of these components. Pick a letter that resonates with you and start creating your story.

The C's, The L's, The E's:

C: Circumstance, Curiosity, Characters, Conversation, Conflict (John Bates)

L: Love, Laugh, Learn (Amanda Healey)

E: Entertain, Emotion, Education (Amanda Healey)

Remember: your mess is your story. Formulate your mess into a process. Highlight the lesson learned. Get vulnerable, and share.

Create Your Personal Brand

When we think about personal brand, it's time to dig in and discover that we are the product of our entrepreneurial business. As drone entrepreneurs, we are the face of our business. Our business has two brands: us and it.

To get a better picture on personal branding, ask yourself this question:

"What do I want to be known for?" (Donna Cerani)

Yes, just take a quick second away from the screen, close your eyes, and take a breath. Dive deep and write down your answer on your phone or notepad. What do you want to be known for? You can also ask "What do you want your business to be known for?"

I took it a step further and purchased the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This book has been suggested to me many times over the past few months, so when Donna Cerani mentioned it, I placed the order in the workshop. When I arrived home Tuesday night it was waiting for me. I took the test, and here are my top five strengths: 1. Strategic, 2. Achiever, 3. Individualization, 4. Learner, 5. Input.

I would love to know what your top five strengths are. Have you taken this test?

Have you ever wondered where you promote your personal brand? Just like your business brand, your personal brand goes on everything. In your social media platforms, including your website, always use the same photo on everything. It is a great way for people to know who you are, so make sure it's current. (Amanda Healey)

TIP 1. Use the same profile photo on all your social media (Amanda Healey)
  • Take a professional photo, choose one and put it all over the place.

TIP 2. Connect with people on LinkedIn, especially ideal clients. (Amanda Healey)
  • Yes, send them a note about what you really enjoy or appreciate about them, and why you want to connect. Make sure your bio is up-to-date, and incorporate your strengths.

TIP 3. At the end of the day, write down the thing you most loved doing and the thing you hated doing. (Donna Cerani)
  • When you do this over time, hire or delegate the things you don't want to do so you can make more time to do the things you love.
  • Share how you're leading this effort in your company or role as a leader.

Mentor, Coach, Sponsor—What's the Difference, and How Does It Make Me Become Authentic?

How many of you see programs for mentoring and coaching? Knowing what those words mean to you helps you maneuver through the programs for business success. I constantly get offers online, on Facebook, or on Instagram to join a program for entrepreneurs that will generate money in five seconds. Many of these programs feature the lead person as mentor or coach.

If you want to develop a relationship to help your business grow, it is good to know what you expect from a mentor, coach, or sponsor. And then personally seek those relationships based on your definition so you get what you pay for. When we show up with our authentic self, we can easily find those who will help us move through challenges, grow skills, and be our ambassador.

These roles may be different for you, but here are my definitions:
  • Mentors—provides advice on challenges—short or long-term investment.
  • Coaches—teaches a new skill—short-term investment.
  • Sponsors—a personal ambassador that will help you get a new opportunity. Long-term investment—they have to know you and your work.

Mentorship programs are great, especially in group format or with a more experienced or skilled person. When you answer the question—what do you want to be known for?, who is already doing your DREAM job? Follow them, friend them, and ask them for mentorship or to be your coach if you have one specific skill you would love to develop (Janet Jannesen).

I love Brene Brown. She is funny and brilliant. She is determined and vulnerable. She is doing what she loves and sharing it with others. I love Jon Browermaster's career story. I resonate with him on life, adventure, career change, growth, and creativity. I appreciate how he just goes for it; I feel like that most of my second career has included elements of taking the dive into the deep end and swimming.

Will you share who you want to have as a mentor, or who you would like to be like when you grow up?

The Miscellaneous Food For Thought

In the cyber security industry, there are millions of jobs that will not be filled. Students in universities are not studying cyber security. And even fewer women are studying cyber security than men. Since cyber security is important, it is vital that women know that there are jobs waiting for them, and businesses are welcoming them to join. The declining workforce is of great worry to this industry (Rhonda Childress).

In most of the recent technology studies performed by IDC, all results show that men believe corporations are doing better in all categories of diversity and pay gaps, where women do not believe the companies are doing enough (Michelle Bailey).

Food security is a technology industry. IBM has developed a tracking system to show us what farms our food comes from. When farmers participate, they can find disease causing agents faster, and save more lives. And millions of dollars will be saved when not all the farmers have to shut down their business or burn their crops due to disease (Suzanne Livingstone, IBM).

One of the most important aspects of the conference is that many women are not asking for what they want. They are seeing a job post and saying, "I don't meet all the qualifications," where a man would say, "I meet seven of the 10 qualifications." When you look at the job, say, "Yes, I can do seven of these 10 qualifications (Raejeanne Skillern, Intel).

"When I speak at events, even larger technology events, with men, I am not talking about technology. I speak about empathy. And yes, sometimes I am terrified because I don't know if I am making the right choice. This is the way I show up authentically to who I am" (Raejeanne Skillern, Intel).

Women are not asking people to work with them because they think it is too salesy—guess what people want to be invited to work with you. Believe it or not, some folks might walk away thinking, "Wow (your name here) does not think I am (good enough, have enough money, at the same level) for her service." When I realized this, it broke my heart because like most of us, we want to work together and help each other's businesses succeed. My goal is for you to become a leader in the drone industry!

I am going to take a moment and step up to the plate and be vulnerable with you. I would like to invite you to work with me.

Are you interested in learning more about being a leader in the drone industry, changing a habit that's holding you back, or have a question about wildlife and flight planning?

I have openings right now, so please book a 90-minute strategy session with me by going to Alimosphere and clicking the "work with me" tab. You walk away feeling inspired, and best of all, you will have a plan of action.

Thank you Sharon and Wendy for presenting me with this wonderful opportunity to connect with women in technology.

Below is a list of the most influential speakers I met at the conference. If any of them or their businesses call out to you, please seek them out on LinkedIn. Send a message about being in the Women and Drone network and how you found them. They would love to know you too. Here is a link to the schedule: WITI Summit Schedule.

Next year if you can, do attend. It will change your life and business.

Donna Ceriani
Leadership success coach, Success Compass

Amanda Healy
Senior marketing manager & social media storyteller, TIBCO Software

Pushpa Ithal
Founder and CEO, MarketBeam

Parna Sarkar-Basu
CEO & brand marketing strategist , Brand and Buzz Marketing

Janet Janssen
Principal, Power, Play, Purpose Culture

Minette Norman
Vice president, engineering practice, Autodesk

Carolyn Leighton
Founder/chairwoman, WITI

Michelle Bailey
Group vice president, general manager, & research fellow, IDC

Renee McKaskle
CIO, Hitachi Vantara

Stephanie Hubert
Instructor, apparel merchandising & product development, University of Arkansas

Tracy Stone
Global leader, Tech Women @ Intuit Initiative, Intuit

Neeru Khosla
Co-founder and chair, CK-12 Foundation

Rhonda Childress
IBM fellow vice president—GTS data security and privacy officer, IBM, and 2018 WITI Hall of Fame Honoree

John Bates
Founder & CEO, Executive Speaking Success

Bill Lamond
Human Potential 2.0

Carolina Milanesi
Principal analyst, Creative Strategies

Barbara Nelson
GM & VP, cloud services & software for consumers, Western Digital

Mandy Mock
VP & GM, product engineering solutions IT, Intel Corporation

Amy Foley
Vice president, product innovation & delivery, Johnson & Johnson Health & Wellness Solutions

Jennifer Ferguson-Mitchell
Spokesperson/head of media relations, International Telecommunications Union, United Nations

Jorden Woods
Founder, StarChain Ventures

Suzanne Livingston
Director, IBM Food Trust™ Offering, IBM

Radhika Iyengar-Emens
Managing partner, DoubleNova Group

Beena Ammanath
Global VP—Artificial Intelligence/data/innovation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and 2017 WITI Hall of Fame Honoree

Carol Evanoff
CEO, Carolevanoff.com

Shannon Bell
UCLA Anderson School of Business
[email protected]
(310) 206-2544

This article was originally published on Women and Drones.

Alicia Amerson is a published author in marine biology, a small business owner, and an international speaker. She is a visionary with expertise in international marine conservation and biodiversity research projects and drone technology. She earned a Master's degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography where she studied ecotourism in the whale-watching industry. She is a certified PMP project manager with over 10,000 hours and 15 years of professional success in environmental and technology-based projects. She holds a FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot certification.

As a licensed small unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) pilot she created the first UAV Marine Wildlife Task Force. She is trailblazing the path to create a robust drone stewardship program focused on responsible practices for flying UAS technology to benefit humanity and respect wildlife and wild spaces. She launched the first environmental drone course to assist commercial and hobby drone pilots with developing flight plans that respect wildlife and green the drone footprint.

As the California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom's first California Sea Grant Fellow, she was able to work with legislators and NGOs to secure $2,200,000 over two years for the Large Whale Disentanglement Network and Pinniped Stranding Network to reimburse volunteers in their efforts to save wildlife on the California coast.

In 2017 Alicia started Alimosphere, a small woman-owned business with the mission to protect wildlife and our ocean heritage using community, education, science, and technology.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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