Celebrate 100 episodes of the Underrepresente din Tech Podcast! Allie and Michelle share their highlights and low points of the past two years with this show, as well as what it is they are looking forward to for the brand.
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Before we begin the episode, Michelle and I want to say a quick thank you to the following individuals and companies, without whom we would never have reached 100 episodes of this podcast: Bet Hannon, Design TLC, GoWP, Human Made, Lockedown SEO, MasterWP, Ninja Forms and Saturday Drive, StellarWP, The Blogsmith, WPWallet, YIKES Inc, and Yoast SEO.
Hi, Allie. Wait for the 100th time.
I was going to say for the 100th time, hi, Michelle. Yay.
Although technically we both haven’t been on 100 times, but-
This is true.
… this is our 100th episode combined.
It is our 100th publish episode. Which even if we both haven’t been on all of them, I almost think it’s even more impressive that we’ve produced and published 100. Despite the times where you couldn’t do it and I couldn’t do it, we’ve stuck with it. Despite the times that we’ve had to skip a week, we’ve still stuck with it. Because I feel like I know that when I start things that I have to do regularly, it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to go to the gym every Monday,” and the first Monday that I miss, it’s like I’m off and I never do it.
So I think it’s doubly impressive that we can’t say that we’ve published 100 weeks in a row, but I think it’s still even more impressive that we’ve always got back on the horse, we’ve published the next week and.
We’re pretty consistent for sure.
I love that.
This episode’s going to be sappy and I might cry.
I know people can’t see us, but I don’t have any tissues in the office, so I have my roll of toilet paper here in case I start to tear up.
It’s tissue. I definitely think that our ability to have remained consistent with this show is, for me, it has very much been dependent on you in terms of I don’t ever want to let you down.
We made an unofficial promise to each other. We’ve never signed a contract or anything, but we’ve made an unofficial promise to each other that we are going to do this and we are going to not let each other down. And so anytime where I ever feel like, “I’m tired, I don’t want to, I don’t want to.” I’m like, “Well, Michelle is depending on me and we’ve got to do it.”
Yeah, that’s a huge part of it for me.
That’s pretty awesome. Do you remember what date was our first episode? Do you even know?
I can pull it up, because I have-
Because I want to say, I think we’ve been at this, the project for over two years now. I want to say it was the fall of 2021 that we started, or fall of 2020.
Michelle, it has been two years and a month.
There you go.
Our first episode was June 8th, 2021.
The project, the fall before that.
Correct. And actually we had started kind of a video vlog conversation series before that. So I’m looking at our first published episode on Castos was June 8th, 2021. But we had started producing this sort of content even before that. Wow. Two years.
I’m patting you on the back right now figuratively.
Yeah. Patting myself on the back. Oh, man. Good for us, man.
This is just going to be a good for us episode. I’m going to give us permission to do that. [inaudible 00:03:50] at all share what we’re talking about. This is our 100th episode of the podcast, and so I thought it would be really cool for us to look back and look forward at the project as a whole.
So maybe not just the podcast, but the database as well. And for each of us to share highs and lows. Our favorite part of having worked on all this stuff together. Something that we really struggled with or maybe, I hate to say a low point because I don’t think we’ve had a lot of low points necessarily. We’ve had things that have been difficult and something that we’re each looking forward to about the future because we’re always pushing forward.
So do you want to go first or do you want me to go first?
What are we starting with the low or the pushing forward?
High first, low second, pushing forward third.
You go first. And I’m going to keep thinking for a minute.
Okay. The high point for me, this honestly today is a high point of knowing that we’ve reached 100, feels really significant and I can’t think of anything that I’ve done consistently for two years. It feels like such a huge… I’m one of those people that, “I’ve got an idea for a project, let’s go. Let’s do it.” And then I do it and then I forget and I move on to something else. So this feels like a high point.
I would say having Josefa, the executive director of the WordPress Open Source project on the show, having her agree to come on, that was definitely a high point. Being able to record an episode together in Thailand during WordCamp Asia. That was high point.
That was pretty awesome.
Yeah, that would really great. So I’ll leave those three. I don’t want to name every single thing and take them away from you, but those are three things that really make me feel like this isn’t just some little rinky dink thing that we’re doing. It matters. And we’ve been consistent and we’ve hit these kind of milestones and people have taken the show seriously and people listen and people tell us how much they like the show, and that makes me feel really good.
So I’ll add to that, getting sponsors on the show, not because of the money. The money helps, it helps us with all the software and things that we have to invest in and all of that. But what it means to me is that the companies that want to sponsor us are also endorsing us.
They’re saying they believe in what we do and to see some of the companies that have sponsored us, whether it’s in-kind sponsorship with our software, whether it’s monetary sponsorships for ad spaces and things like that, it just shows to me that we’re on the right path, that we’re doing the right things because other people are willing to invest in us and the work that we do with DEIB in the tech space. So, for me, that’s a big high spot.
Absolutely. Low point or a struggle? It’s funny, this was my idea, but I’m having a really hard time thinking of-
I got one.
…. a low point. Or something we struggled with. I would say that there are times I can get frustrated with the project in terms of I feel like we’re not moving forward fast enough, or I feel like we’re not building the database fast enough. Or there was a period of time where we were like, the database is not as efficient as it needs to be and people aren’t benefiting from it the way we hoped and we had to really reevaluate.
I would say my low point was hearing the feedback that we were getting from people who were searching the database and saying, “I’m not getting responses.” And us making the decision to a) remove people from the database, the database is now half as large as it used to be, and having to do all of that work of removing those people, updating the profiles and all of that, that was really frustrating. And it was kind of demoralizing to see that number go all the way back down.
But it means that the people who are in the database… It’s more of a quality over quantity group now because those people are more responsive. The information is up-to-date and all that stuff. So that was my low point.
I would say, earlier today, I was looking for a tweet that I had tweeted about something else since I went into my tweet bookmarks Twitter bookmarks, and I scrolled down a little too far and found that initial attack on us on Twitter.
I forgot about…
I’m not going to name names because at this point it’s water under the bridge
It’s you know you know.
But I will say that there are some right wing/racist/whatever people, negative people in any space, including the tech space and including the WordPress space. And very early on when we launched our website, we came under attack from some of those people for being too woke. A.
Actually, the right wing attacking us for being inclusive. That part doesn’t bother me because we’re obviously doing something right if you’re pissing off the wrong people. But the phrase that was used is that we were profiting off the victims. And first of all, an underrepresented person is not a victim unless they’re specifically being targeted and harassed or whatever and that’s a case by case business. You cannot say every disabled person is a victim. Every Black person is a victim. And so that my righteous indignation just like, “Grrr.” That mama bear for all of us kind of came out in that.
So I would say that was, what is it Newton’s Law, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction or something like that? I’m not a physicist.
No, that’s right.
But it was definitely kind of one of those low points, but also a high point because number one, we were making waves and we were making people who need to be uncomfortable, uncomfortable. So even though being attacked, that did not feel good. It was definitely, I can’t think of that word, but it was showing us that we were on the right path and doing the right things. So that was that mixed bag kind of thing, that yin and yang and that one thing. But for me, that was like, it never ever made me question that we were doing the right thing, but it still didn’t feel good.
No. It really didn’t feel good. And for better or for worse, I had kind of just forgotten about that. That was essentially two years ago. It was right when we first…
Yeah, even before we started the podcast, it was when we started the database specifically. And that was really the first time that I had encountered pushback like that specifically from somebody. And I will say the silver lining of that, the number of people who came to our defense in the WordPress community, the number of people who didn’t even need us to defend ourselves, they automatically knew that this was crap, was incredibly heartwarming and wonderful, and, honestly, I think, good for the brand because for those couple days, Underrepresented in Tech, we were everywhere, all over Twitter, people were talking about it.
So we got a ton of exposure from that drama, if you want to call it. And so yeah, it felt really bad, but there was good that came out of it. And I agree with you that it kind of bolstered my belief in the need for this kind of work.
So yeah, while it was a low and that didn’t feel good, it absolutely also just gave you that fire in your belly to keep it moving and faster and furiouser and all of those things.
So the thing I’m looking forward to, I’m going to steal this because I’m sure it’s probably one of the first things that came to your mind. I’m really excited for, hopefully, our webinar series that we’re planning, that we are gunning for. And I’m really hoping that it actually does take off.
Because you had proposed the idea of us having some kind of event series for a while, and that bug kind of sat in our ears for months and we didn’t really talk too much about it, but we were both kind of aware of it and then all of a sudden, I don’t know what the catalyst was for you that kind of crystallized the idea or made you want to really move forward with it, but one day you were just kind of like, “I’m ready. Let’s really start doing this.”
So we sat down and we planned it down all the details. We are halfway to our sponsorship goal. We’ve given ourselves two more weeks. So if you are interested in helping us with that, I will put a link in the show notes to all of the details that you could want as a potential sponsor.
I’m really excited for the idea of us having an independent series of content that not only discusses in more focus depth the kind of things that we talk about, but give other people the opportunity to deliver those messages, not just have it be us.
We will be facilitating it and producing it, but we are planning to bring other people in from other walks of life to share their experiences. And if it works and it takes off, I think it’s going to be one of the most gratifying things that I’m ever going to be able to work on. So I’m really excited for that.
The catalyst for that, you may remember that I made, I though, an innocuous tweet about the lack of diversity at WordCamp Europe this year. And hearing people say, “Well, it’s really not that easy.” I thought, “Let’s just show you how it’s done.”
I didn’t know that was the direct catalyst, but I’m glad then.
Yeah. So gosh, I don’t know where there’s any resources and finding people who are underrepresented to speak at our events. Well, let’s see. We’ve already given you several ways to do that and we’ve given you opportunities to learn how to do that. We’ve talked about it on our podcast, so we’re going to put our money where our mouth is and get some sponsors to help us do that and actually pay people for their time, which is something that we also talk about a lot on the podcast here and honor people’s time and pay for the services and the resources that we need. And so that’s why we have the dollar amount that we’re looking to sponsor.
But yeah, so pretty exciting. I’m very excited about that too. You stole my thunder.
Well, if you need another second to think, you reminded me of just yesterday, the Make WordPress team came out with a new handbook page for WordCamp organizers, specifically about WordCamp Speaker Selection For Content and Diversity. So it’s like yet another thing exists written by people who understand these topics and who are passionate about these topics and who know what they’re doing.
So it seems like constantly these kinds of things are being created and distributed by community members, but then we always have the excuse. So here’s another thing. I’m going to put the link to that in the show notes too. Here’s yet another thing that’s been created for you. If anything we’ve said has not been enough, there’s now yet another and it’s an official, it’s on makewordpress.org. So it’s as official, as official gets in WordPress.
It most certainly is. Absolutely. I would say too, that another one of the highlights that actually is part of the looking forward to the future too, is I don’t know how often people approach you. I’m in a lot of spaces. I’m in a lot of Slacks, I’m in a lot of places. But people will comment to me that they listened to an episode and what they got out of that particular episode, and I’ve had kind of talk about WordCamps. I’ve had people who are organizers at WordCamps say to me, “I just listened to the podcast episode with you and Allie. What other things can we be doing?”
And they have done reach out to me to say, “We want to make sure that we’re doing this right.” And so that’s a huge positive. So the fact that we’ve had that kind of an impact, but also knowing that people are listening to what we have to say. We didn’t go to college for this. We’re not experts in that, but we are underrepresented and we know and we’re WordPressers, we’re tech people, and so we have this experience, if not prior education, about all of this.
And so being placed, as the experts in the field, I feel like we are impacting, and I feel like we’re only going to continue to have that positive impact because I think I always say we don’t pull any punches on this show. We’re going to call racism, racism. We’re going to call bigotry, bigotry. We’re going to call out oppression and we’re not going to sugarcoat it, but we always frame things in a positive way of how we could all be doing better. And it’s not a podcast to come on and listen to us lambaste people.
It’s a podcast to hear us talk about issues and how we, as a community, can do better. And so I think that we have developed that reputation enough that people do listen and do try to think of ways that we’ve influenced and how they can do things better going forward. And so I think that it can only get better from here, I guess, is what I’m trying to say.
I agree. And yeah, you get more of that feedback because I’m kind of been a bit of a goblin this year, just kind of hiding away and not really interacting a whole lot for better or for worse. But I love when you showed me those things. I love when you tell me about those things because I think anybody who creates any kind of content on the internet sometimes feels like, “Okay, well, I’m spending time making this and I believe in this and I feel like I’m working hard, but is anybody even listening? Is this even helping anybody? Am I just screaming into the void?”
And particularly with podcasting, podcasting is hard because I don’t know if there’s any way that this is different anywhere else, but as far as I know, there’s no way for us to see how many people subscribe to our podcast. There’s no way for us to see who has us on their Apple Podcasts app or their Spotify. In podcasting you just don’t get that information. I didn’t know that when I started podcasting. We can see analytics of how many listens we get, but that is often based a lot off of where the episode gets shared, by whom it gets shared.
I was just telling Michelle, one of our last guests we had, she has an amazing reach. And so her episode was astronomically listened to by so many people. So all that is to say, when people tell us that they listen, that means… Even just saying you’ve listened, that means a lot to me, telling us then what you got out of it, that’s a whole other level. But I just like hearing that people listen because we don’t really have a way of knowing who is listening and how much people are listening and all that.
If there’s one thing that you could take as a listener is please tell us, please let us know that you enjoy the show or which episodes you’ve liked or that kind of a thing it’s information we don’t really get. And not to say we do it for the attention, we don’t do it for people coming and saying, “Oh, I love the show,” but we do it for the people who are listening.
This isn’t just for us to talk to each other about these things, it’s for us to talk to you all. So hearing that you’re listening is crazy valuable.
Yes, absolutely. All good stuff.
Yay. All good stuff. Well, here is to, I guess, episode 200 in 2025.
I like it. Let’s do it.
Awesome. Cool. Well, yeah, thank you all so much for listening. Is there anything else that you wanted to say, Michelle, in our 100th episode?
I want to say thank you to you because you’ve been such a great partner in this. There are times like when my dad died and things like that where this was really hard for me to keep going. And you’ve been the person that’s like, “I got it. It’s all good. I’ve got it.” And I couldn’t ask for a better partner for a project like this. And we all say that between you and me and who we are, we tick a lot of those underrepresented boxes just between the two of us. So we do bring a lot of experiences.
Of course, we can’t speak for everyone, but between the two of us, I think we do a lot and we understand a lot and we’re able to share a lot. And so thank you for being my partner in this.
Thank you. Also, I think we tick a lot of skills boxes. There are things that I do for the show that you don’t do. There are things that you know how to do that are not my strong suit. And so us being able to bring the skills that each of us have uniquely into a project like this, it has been beneficial, visually beneficial, for these past two and a half years. We got pretty lucky with each other.
Absolutely. And also, thank you for the people who have sponsored us over the last two years.
Oh, for sure.
Because their belief and their trust in us is not unnoticed. It is very much appreciated. And from a one time episode sponsor to Yoast [inaudible 00:22:00] time with a lot of what we’re doing, every little bit helps. And the fact that people are willing to, and companies are willing to be there with us, it just says a lot.
Absolutely. I’m going to go ahead, because I don’t have the list of everyone who’s ever helped us out in front of me, so in the show notes, and I might record a little bit after we hop off and check it onto the recording, just to give a shout out to the people who have helped us out because they think that they definitely all deserve, there’s a lot of people who’ve helped us to get to 100 episodes. We wouldn’t have gotten to 100 episodes if nobody had not helped us. So I think that’s super important. I should have thought of that before. I’m a terrible podcaster.
You are not. We’re just rolling with it like we always do.
So we’ll see y’all next week. We don’t know what the topic will be, but we’ll be here and we hope you will too.
This episode was sponsored by The Blogsmith. The Blogsmith is a holistic content marketing agency for B2B technology brands that creates data-driven content with a great reader experience.