Role models in tech when you’re a father.

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I would apologize if not blogging made me a worse person, but frankly, it doesn’t.  It means I’ve been busy taking care of my family and my business.

However, as I learned tonight, it does reduce my generosity and empathy output to the ‘net writ large.  For that, I will apologize.

Now that we’re here in Seattle growing a business and I’ve been engaging  more in the startup communities here, it’s really amazing to see the variety and quality of entrepreneurs and people here in the PNW.  I don’t want to flame any wars between here and somewhere else, but I will say; the people here are freakin’ awesome.

In one month, I’ve met more engaged, thoughtful, grounded entrepreneurs than I have in the last 3 years in Los Angeles.  These people want to change the world, but they don’t pretend they already know it all.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

I am now a father of an almost 5 (already going on 12) year-old girl.  I have lived my life inside a workplace and work-world that has always been male-dominated, and frankly, haven’t really had any female leaders to look up to as role models.  Those who approached role-model status, were the women who acted like men.  Arrogant. Dominant. Single-master visionaries.

This is not what I want my daughter to learn.

Tonight, I saw for the first time, another path.  I got to watch an entrepreneur who built a business from 4, to nearing 140 employees pitch and recruit new talent to her company; by talking about all the cool shit they were doing, but doing so in context of the values that she collaboratively built within the company.  That company is called Moz. They building internet marketing tools. They seem to be pretty good at it.

I plan to go learn as much as possible from their CEO, Sarah Bird.  Seriously, even go look at their team page. Do you notice anything different about it?  It’s alphabetized. It doesn’t lead with positions and titles and work it’s way down the hierarchy.  It’s by first name.  That tell’s me they value who their people are, over what title they hold; while still acknowledging that not every company works in a flat architecture . I don’t think I could even work in a totally flat architecture, but that’s a me problem, not an organizational problem unless I make it one.

So Moz has this core set of values they talk about that’s got the admittedly not-great acronym of “Tagfee.” Though comparatively, it’s not any worse than some legislative acronyms thrown around these days.  Anyway, I digress.

What really impressed me was that there were two values on the list that I have NEVER seen espoused in a company run by a male.  Two values that if you stop to think about, are totally valid, and genuine, and they are values that are clearly making a measured difference.

Those two values are Generosity; and Empathy.  I challenge everyone I know to go find a male-lead business that list those as important values.

Those are things that as males, we are simply not programmed, not raised, not socially encouraged, to include in *anything* we do.  They are (for worse, I would argue) distinctly NOT male traits.

And they come across in the manner in which Sarah and her team conduct themselves.  They are clearly inspiring, and properly aligned with their other values of Transparency, Authenticity and Fun.  After all, how transparent and authentic can you be if underlying those values is a theme of “I don’t care about you” that our typically not-generous, and not-empathetic approach to business we usually take as guys?

Tonight, I was fortunate to have my viewpoints shifted in a way that will help me be a better person, father, and leader in my own company; and it gives me a new touchpoint on how to value and support the natural gifts my daughter has as she finds her way in the world.

Thanks Moz and Sarah, I really appreciate that; the world needs more of *how* you do things.

@sarahbird @moz @stmeetup