✊🏽 ✊🏾 ✊🏿 Why We Matter: Fireside Chat with Madison Butler
For this installment of Afroflare's Why We Matter Speaker Series, Nikole Phillips will host a fireside chat with Madison Butler, Founder and CEO of the Blue Haired Unicorn , LLC.
Hello and thank you for joining us today. I am excited to have Ms. Madison Butler. I've been looking forward to this.
The Texas winter storm kind of put us behind, but we were able to reschedule and here we go to get into this conversation.
So just a quick intro of who I am.
My name is Nikole Phillips. I am the data analytics manager on the business intelligence team here at Cloudflare.
Now, as I stated, we have Madison Butler.
She is a community builder, a public speaker, co-founder of multiple nonprofits, including Blue Hair Unicorn, Triple B Community, and Rage to Rainbows.
She's also been featured in the Unleashed Voice magazine, which is a magazine that focuses on Black voices in the queer community, and she's also on the cover.
So Madison, I'm going to turn it over to you just for you to give yourself an additional intro.
Hello, how are y'all? My name is Maddie. I live in the Austin area.
I am, however, not a Texan. I am a New Englander through and through. I co -founded a couple products of my own.
Blue Hair Unicorn is my own consulting firm, so not necessarily a nonprofit.
But in general, I kind of center my career around psychological safety and building sustainable strategies that allow us to ensure that our spaces are safe for everyone.
Great. So what does Blue Hair Unicorn mean?
Like what made you, is it just because you dyed your hair blue? Is it your favorite color?
What is it? So it's actually, so when I first moved to Austin, so I've been blue for like five years, but before that I've been like every color under the sun.
I've always had some kind of like funky hair color in my adult life.
And I was interviewing for a company, oh God, like when I first moved here.
And they were like, oh my God, we love you. And I was like, oh my God, yay. And they were like, but, and I was like, oh God.
They were like, but we need you to change your hair color.
We need you to straighten your hair. We need you to wear a skirt.
We need you to take out your piercings and we need you to cover all your tattoos.
And I was like, what? Oh, okay. And I think in the moment we're so taught to just like be automatically appreciative of when companies to work with us that I didn't know what to say in the moment.
But when I drove home, I was like seeing red because I finally like had this light bulb where I was like, oh my God, how many times have I worked for people who like didn't care about me at all as a person.
They cared about what I could do for them and then shoving me in a box.
And so when that, at that point I was just fully recruiting. And so I went home and I was like, what can I do?
So people know that like, I'm not going to change my hair color.
And I like went and I put blue haired recruiter on my LinkedIn and I rolled with it and it like caught on and then people would like go out and people would be like, oh my God, you're the blue haired recruiter.
And so when I moved more under like a people umbrella, I was like, okay, well I can't keep being the blue haired recruiter because I'm not a recruiter anymore.
And so I was like, who am I?
And then I thought about when you're a recruiter, you think about the hard to find talent, the most unique talent.
And I was like, oh shit, that's me. That's me. Like, exactly.
I'm the, I'm the person that I'm looking for. How do I show up for myself?
So I've coined blue haired unicorn. I guess I'm stuck with blue hair for the duration now, which is fine.
But that's kind of how that came to be. No, that's a really great story because I wouldn't have expected something like that, like a negative experience to transition into something that you've like really coined and made it your own and now you're doing great things with it.
So that's great.
So your consulting agency. So what the blue corn unicorn consulting, what do you do from there?
So I do obviously speaking engagements under the sun, but in general, I work with smaller stage startups, usually pre-C to series C or D on how they can build sustainable strategies around their people development process and just around creating organizational culture.
Too often, we think about DEI and culture at the point that we have a lot of money.
And at that point, it's usually too late.
You look around and you're like, oh my God, I have 300 carbon copies of the same person.
Now what do I do? And so for me, a lot of times people ask like why I don't focus on companies like Google's and Amazon's and Facebook's.
And for me, it's like those companies are too far gone at this point. Had someone come in when they were little, it would have been different.
And so I want to focus on building better, big companies for the generations that come after me.
So they never have to step into corporate America and enter rooms and wonder, do I belong here?
I want to create organizations where people step in and they know that they belong there and it's their decision on whether or not that room deserves them.
Yeah. And that was one of the questions that I did want to ask because I see that you're labeled the startup maven.
So is that the reason like you want to help an organization build a foundation of a strong culture first before they get and become a Google or Facebook and so on?
100%. And I think I will be 100% honest.
I do feel like a lot of large companies don't actually have great strategy in place to scale in a way that's safe, but what they do have is money.
And so their DEI and their culture stuff is very much for optics. Yes. And that's what I don't want.
I don't want to create companies that think diversity is about how many black people you can slap on your career page or how many rainbows you can put up at pride month.
Like that's what I don't want. And I think so many large tech companies have kind of gone down that road, which is unfortunate.
So what was your motivation into getting into this space?
Was it just like you organically moved in here or was it something that you always wanted to do?
Cause you're young, you're under 30.
So. Just barely. I'm 29. For me, it's actually a really interesting story and it's definitely a little bit more personal than work related, but growing up, I'm biracial.
My mom is white, my dad is black.
And from a very young age, I always felt like I had to lean into whiteness in order to be acceptable, in order to be pretty, in order to be light.
And so I spent a lot of, and to be fair, like not at like the ask of my parents, like my parents, a lot of the time for like, you're black, you're black.
And I just, I couldn't get past how many, how many times I got in trouble for something that wasn't my fault, except for the fact that I was black.
And so in your logical child brain, you're like, well, I'll do the opposite.
And so then it was like, I went to boarding school and it was mostly white.
So I leaned into whiteness pretty hard. I went to business school, leaned into whiteness really hard.
And whether it was straightening my hair or changing the sound of my voice.
So I sounded less aggressive, even down to just how I presented.
I looked like I stepped out of a J.Crew catalog, which isn't like necessarily very different than right now in this moment, but it was intentional.
Like right now I walk out of my house and I like wear Crocs with socks.
And so in my, in my early twenties, I was still very much leaning, leaning into that.
And I dated someone who was really just a terrible person.
And our relationship was incredibly volatile. It was incredibly abusive, incredibly violent.
But he spent, that's okay. He spent three years, like making me hate my blackness.
He made it very clear. And to be clear, that's part of abuse patterns.
They take the things about you and you can't change. And so when I finally got out of the relationship, I harbored a ton of internalized anti-blackness, just hatred for myself.
And then all of a sudden our breakup went viral on the Internet.
Like it was all over a Buzzfeed and Mike, and I'm a Democrat.
And this whole time I had leaned into my whiteness so hard only to find out that when a story went viral about me, they made, everyone made up stories based on the fact that I was black.
And that was like the biggest light bulb moment for me that I was like, no matter how hard I leaned into this, coming out of it, the only thing anyone cared about with that story was that I was black.
It was a black woman. And so for me, that was just like an incredible light bulb period was when I actually left him and it didn't really hit me until much later during this event.
I actually got pulled over. We lived in Texas. I was driving home to the Northeast.
I got pulled over and like, I want to say it was Alabama or Louisiana.
It was- Oh Lord Jesus. I was wearing pajamas and the police officer literally approached my vehicle with his gun out.
And I tried to explain to him like what was happening.
I was like, I'm just trying to get some distance between me and this person who would kill me if they found me.
And instead of him being understanding, he called backup and it became an ordeal that cost me like $5,000.
So you were almost another Sandra Bland. And I was so nervous because at the time I had my dogs in the car and my dogs were barking.
And so I was panicked that he was going to shoot my dog.
And like, I was just like in pajamas crying at 830 in the morning.
And I never actually made that connection until the story went viral.
And I was like, Oh my God, even in that moment, the police protected him over me because he was a white man.
And so that was a really big changing point for me where I just decided that I was going to one, unlearn and unshed the nonsense that society shoved down our throat about our blindness.
And that's hard.
Learning stuff is hard and it's painful and it sucks. But I promised myself that I was going to show up for me, for my relationships, for my family.
And it took me a couple more years to realize that work is not your relationship.
Yep. Yes, it is.
I needed to show up for myself there. And fast forward a couple of years, I actually was working at a tech company and I remember asking another black woman, like, Oh my God, why don't you ever come to happy hours?
And she was like, I sit in my car every day at lunch for an hour.
So I can just like call my mom and talking my normal voice.
She was like, I can't, I cannot be someone else after 5pm. And I was like, Oh my God, I do that too.
And like, and I also sat in my car to eat lunch, but I was like in my brain telling myself it was because I wanted pressure.
And I was like, Oh my God, I do it too.
Like I inadvertently code switch all day to fit in.
I laugh harder. I smile harder. Like I completely let things go that are wildly offensive and text my name.
And I didn't want to be that person anymore. I didn't want to protect harmful people to make sure that I was safe.
Yeah. And so I just started kind of calling things out as I saw them.
And then I started talking about it online.
And the more I talked about it, the more people were like, Oh my God, relatable.
Yes. I like this. I get this. Yeah, I don't have a space to say it because it's not safe.
And so I know that I have a lot of privilege being able to say the things I say and get up on a platform and call out the nonsense I call out.
And so for me, it feels like a responsibility to use that privilege to change the narrative of corporate America.
I was not expecting that story. So the first thing I want to do is thank you for being so transparent and so open and so vulnerable.
I really appreciate that because I wasn't expecting that. I've also appreciate the fact that, and I commend you that with everything that you've been through, once again, you turn that into something positive.
And that's, I just think an unspoken thing that we as black women do that no matter how hard things are on us, we will figure out a way to turn it into a positive.
So kudos to you. I'll keep you in my prayers because that's, that's huge.
But when you started to go through that transition of owning yourself, owning your blackness, and really seeing how well received it was from people, because a lot of us still can't do that.
We can't go on a social media platform and really speak our truth because you will have certain individuals like, oh my gosh, did you see what Nicole just said on I'm going to speak to her manager.
So what gives you the courage to keep going and doing that, even though you know, you have people that are going to try and demonize you for your voice?
Oh, yeah. I mean, last year, I got death threats, like real ones where people showed up at my house.
And so for me, it's that like instance of like, if not me, then who?
Someone has to be the person and I know that right now I have the ability to do that.
And I'm also very intentional about the spaces I work in.
Like people calling my manager is not like a new thing for me.
Yeah, but I'm intentional about who I work for. I'm very transparent about the things I talk about and the things that matter to me.
And that is part of why I get to continue to have my platform.
And again, I realize that that is super, super privileged, and I get that.
Um, but for me, that's why because I know I have that privilege, and I need to be able to use it to lift other people up.
So much of allyship is being able to leverage your power and privilege.
And so I want to make sure that as long as I have that power and that privilege, that I'm using it for the betterment of others and not just for myself.
You touched on something about allyship, because speaking to what I just said about you using your platform, um, I think it was around the George Floyd unrest, where you were posting living in your truth and speaking your own black experience.
And for those of you that asked me based on the post, I just want to I'm sorry, Madison, when I said hit dog holler, I want you all to understand what that means.
If a dog is hit, it hollers. So when Madison is speaking her truth, and her own black experience, what happens is it triggers some people because what she's saying is the truth, and it upsets them.
And it upsets them because they know she's talking about them without her saying any names.
So a hit dog holler is in reference to those individuals. So I wanted to go back as a couple of people kept asking me what that meant.
So allyship, we hear that term so much in the tech sector.
And personally, to me, it's almost where that term is watered down.
Because you'll have like the water cooler discussion, it'll be like, I'm so sorry, you had to go through that.
Just ping me if you need anything. I'm always here for you.
And then if something happens, it's like they don't know you.
You had someone literally go to your employer and try to get you terminated.
Because some of the posts that you said it was nothing offensive. It was just your own experience.
You didn't do anything wrong. A young lady spoke up for you on your behalf and put herself out there for you.
Can you differentiate what true allyship is versus the water cooler talk allyship?
So I think a lot of people feel like allyship is empathy.
And empathy is actually just a human emotion. If you don't have empathy, that's probably a larger problem that you should discuss maybe with a therapist.
Allyship is actionable. Actionable items, whether it be the act of speaking up for someone, the act of believing someone, the act of calling out a microaggression.
Everything that is allyship is rooted in your ability to act on it.
And act on it and not just because the spotlight is on you and it makes you look good.
And so you think about Amy Cooper who deems herself an ally who sat on her DEI committee but in real life was fearful of Black people.
That is an allyship.
Allyship for clout is just spicy privilege. It's not allyship. And so for me, my best example is I have someone in town who is a white man and he and I are very, very close.
And very, very often he hops in my LinkedIn posts and he will say to people like, here is my number, here is my email, like let's have a conversation about it, but stop asking her for emotional labor.
And he takes time out of his day to get on the phone with people and whether it be to educate them or to just have a hard conversation, like he's open to doing that because he knows that emotional labor for me is still very much labor.
It is still hard. It is still draining and it is still exhausting.
It is so exhausting to have to validate your existence over and over and over and over and over.
And so for me, allyship is so much bigger than the act of empathy.
Feeling bad for me doesn't change anything.
The way that feeling bad for myself doesn't change anything. And so I really, you know, for me the biggest act of allyship that I can ask of anyone is the ability to look in the mirror and call yourself on the things that you do to uphold white supremacy in a world that was created for white supremacy.
And that's me too.
Like there are ways that I uphold it and every day it's looking in the mirror and making sure that I can be better and do better.
And then on the other side, it's the act of believing black folks.
How often am I required to bring a roll of 10 receipts to prove like trauma when in actuality, it's receipts don't exist for some of it.
I can't ask someone to like, hey, can you say that again so I can record it?
Like that's not possible. And so often we bring our experience to people and they're like, well, I didn't have that experience with so-and-so.
And so I ask people to sit back and say, well, why didn't you?
Why didn't you have that experience?
Why was your experience different? And just from the perspective of my lived experience as a it's not a myth simply because you didn't experience it.
Yes. Yeah. That's point taken. And I will take that. So we also touched on the fact that a lot of these larger organizations have recurring epiphanies about the DNI space, but the needle has not moved very much.
What like some of the things that could be occurring is already what you said.
They're not putting really their money where their mouth is.
But what other things do you think could be causing like the Googles, the Facebooks and so many other organizations to not be able to press through?
I think for me, it is a we focus on one part problem. We focus on the hiring.
We focus on how do we hire people? DI is much more holistic than that. Culture is more holistic than that.
You hire a bunch of Black folks, but then they don't have the opportunity to actually grow within your organization to actually do anyone a service.
If you hire a bunch of Black folks, but the same amount left on the back end, did you do anyone a service?
And if all of your Black talent is sitting in your least paid roles, are you doing anyone a service?
Are you just perpetuating that so you can have certain numbers in the metric?
Exactly. Yeah. So for me, I think that is the biggest part.
So much of DI has to be centered on the employee life cycle, not just hiring them.
It matters how we manage them. It matters how we promote them.
It matters how we review them. Fundamentally, it matters how we exit them.
Exits are done wrong in almost every company because everybody takes it as some kind of a better relief when in actuality, we should be celebrating people's growth.
And we should be also acknowledging we didn't give them the space to do that here.
So how can we do better? So I find, especially with Black women, we feel very burned when we leave because someone took it as an offense as for now.
Like now it looks like we have a Black woman leaving and that's going to be a public thing.
And it's going to look bad. Rather than taking the human -centric approach of celebrating people's achievements and their goals and whatever is happening next.
As leaders and organizations, our goal is to make people better for whatever happens next.
And sometimes that next is not us. And that's okay.
Yeah. Yeah. And that's okay. You want to grow. I tell my team all the time, I'm not going to be your manager forever, but I want to make sure I set you up for success in whatever way you go.
And that's what leaders definitely should do. So to follow up on the current climate within the tech sector, I can only speak for myself, but I do know some people like from the African diaspora that there is an elephant in the room where we feel tolerated versus appreciated.
How do you help ORDS actually make their diverse workforce, when we get to that point, feel appreciated?
Well, so I think part of it is one, especially as black women, we go through this phase of like pet to threat where we're like cute and we make you look good until we change the table and we call out things that are wrong.
And now we are a threat to the organization and now our job is at risk. Yeah.
On the other side, when it comes to tolerance versus value, I feel like a huge part of that perpetuates that in the tech space is we're so focused on culture fit.
We are focused on having people fit in and you can't ask people to fit in and in the same breath, tell them to be authentic.
It's the antithesis of one another. And so I think a lot of people tolerate us because they actually know that we don't fit in, but they know that they have to have us in order to be woke and look good and that social impact.
And so for me, it's all about organizations, knowing that you're not looking for a culture fit.
You're looking for someone whose perspective adds value.
And so I'm saying to my hiring managers, because the answer you always get is I just want to hire the best talent.
And so the question I'm always posing to them is, okay, that's awesome.
Let's hire the best talent. But tell me what perspective is missing at your table.
Yeah. Who is not here. And that has nothing to do with the optics of it.
It has to do with the lived experience of it.
And so the best part about that is you never hit a day where you're like, everyone's here.
Everyone's perspective is here because everyone's perspective is incredibly individual.
However, when you think about perspective rather than culture fit, you allow people to show up with their lived experience, showing up with their trauma, with their history, with their lives.
That is what makes people feel safe and feel like they are valued when they can show up as whoever they are and exist out loud without feeling like that is going to be a detriment to their career.
How often do black women straighten their hair and change their voice because they feel like they will automatically be assumed as the angry black woman.
Exactly. Organizations need to be able to shed their view of stereotypes in the way they look at culture fit in order to be organizations that are truly safe.
If you want a place where people feel valued, they also have to feel like they are safe physically and mentally.
And that's the thing, because it's like we do water ourselves down to fit into the culture, right?
Or you'll be considered the angry black woman.
But then there's a label that's put on us that is also exhausting, which is the strong black woman.
Because when that label is put on us, it's put on us from a perspective of we don't have any emotions.
We are not feminine.
We don't have bad days. Like nothing happens. We're pretty much just an emotionless, empty brick wall.
How do you help organizations realize, or for yourself, how have you transitioned?
I'll take that back. Not even organizations. How have you started to transition out of that strong black woman label that's put on us?
Well, so it kind of goes back to what I said a couple minutes ago, where I basically said people need to be able to show up with their trauma, because that's part of the human experience.
There's no one you're going to meet that has experienced no level of trauma in their life.
And so, so much of this work is being able to humanize our workspaces.
I am not a robot who checks my human sweater at the door from eight to five.
Yes. Whatever is going on in your life is still going on.
No matter how good you are at thinking that you're pretending it's not there, whether it's a divorce or an ill sibling, like distance learning with your children, like all of that is still going on.
And I have started to be really in tune to what I need, because I'm not, I am a strong black woman, but it doesn't mean that I deserve to also be silent in my trauma.
And so being really vocal about trauma that I do experience, or stuff that's going on in my life, or with George Floyd, knowing when I needed a day.
And with January 6th being like, I got on an all-hands in my meeting.
I was like, listen, I have my camera off, because I was up till 3am, because I couldn't rip myself away from the TV.
Because I'm watching white supremacy live, flying across the country, and nothing was happening.
So being open about those emotions within myself has allowed my team to also be open in those emotions as well.
Because I think too often we're asked to be these like unemotional things at work, and like one emotion drives innovation.
Like if you want people who are innovative, they also have to be in tune with their emotions in order to be creative.
Emotions aren't inherently bad, and that, and it's funny, because when people call me the angry black woman, anger is not inherently a bad thing.
And sometimes I am angry, and I am also black. That's okay, because there's tons for me to be angry about.
And I think acknowledging that, and owning that, and talking about those things has been incredibly important.
And kind of breaching that elephant in the room is like, people have emotions, and people have bad days.
And we're so hung up on this like world of hustle culture, where we feel like we have to be working all the time.
That it's almost like you have to train yourself to take care of yourself. And I know I struggle with it.
I feel guilty when I'm not working. Yeah, me too. And so I've had to be really like strict with myself, and knowing when I need to just take a break, and when I need to just sit in silence, and log offline, and turn off my email.
So for me, that's been a piece of it, is just acknowledging my own emotions, and also acknowledging when I need, when I need a day, and when I need a break, and when I need help.
You have a question that just came in. So how do you deal with blowback or negative responses to your vulnerability regarding your emotions at work?
So for me, I think that's part of it. No matter what you do, someone's going to be negative.
Like you literally cannot please anyone. And for me, it's knowing that the right people are going to see me.
And the wrong people are going to exit the room.
And me not knowing that before is how I ended up in a wildly abusive relationship, because I didn't know what I needed.
And I leaned into trying to please people.
And so in this moment, I've learned to lean into myself, instead of leaning into trying to make other people happy, because at the end of the day, I only harmed me.
Exactly, exactly. So that's some, that's some really, really good advice.
And I think we do have to get out of the mindset that you just can't please everybody.
And that's so another question that I do have, because you touched on something when you spoke about the domestic terror attack that happened.
How do you vet organizations? Like, how do you know this is an organization that I can show up and be who I am?
So, and when I'm coaching people, I'm kind of telling them the same things.
Like we, again, and this goes back to what I said before, we're so taught to go in and try to please people when we're interviewing, because we have to feel honored to work for people.
I am of the belief that if someone wants to come and work for someone else's dream and make someone richer, we as an organization should feel honored that people want to come do that.
I like that. No, like people can consult, people can do all of these things.
And they're making an active choice to come make someone else's dream better.
And so for me, I encourage people to actively interview the same way you're being interviewed.
Be intentional with your questions and not like the, well, do you have kombucha?
Can I have beer? Can I have a puppy in the office? Yeah. I am so intentional around value conversations and talking about my own belief systems and what drive me that I think typically companies and I can kind of be like, oh, this isn't right.
Yeah. Okay. And I'm very open. Like if I am someone who deeply believes in Black Lives Matter, as I am, I'm going to ask companies what that means to them.
And not just the little square that I posted on Instagram. I want to know, like, if you believe in Black Lives Matter, what are you doing for your Black population inside these walls?
Not for your investors, not for the office of your customer base.
Like what are you actually doing internally to make people's lives matter?
Same with being queer. Like I want to know, like, is it just a little bit of rainbow capitalism or do you actually care about queer folks?
How are your policies set up?
Are your policies set up in a way that are inclusive to everyone? Or are we still using the term maternity leave?
Okay. So for me, I'm asking questions constantly to kind of just get an idea of like where their values sit.
And of course there's always going to be organizations that need to do the work.
Yeah. I need to know that they're willing to do the work and not just slap me on their career page.
Like, look, yeah, I have a Black person.
Yeah. We must be diverse. We must be awesome.
And again, that involves a lot of leadership being able to look in the mirror.
And so I'm interviewing with leaders. I'm asking them like, where are your pain points with yourself?
Where do your biases sit right now? How have your biases shaped the culture of this organization?
And what do we need to do to change that?
How can we fix it? Because good leaders can acknowledge their faults and their mistakes.
Bad leaders will say this happened by happy accident or bad. They won't acknowledge their responsibility for the organization they shaped.
So for me, it's definitely more about knowing my worth and knowing what deserves me and what tables don't.
And asking the questions that get me those answers.
And you know what? That's a good way to put it because that is very true. We do go into interviews feeling as if, oh my gosh, this organization wants to interview me, and not really looking at the fact that just like I know I would be a good fit for them, are they a good fit for me?
So that's another good nugget. Thank you.
So another question that has really been pressing on me is someone said on Twitter that 2020 left, put on a wig, and came back as 2021 with a bang.
Everyone was like, 2020 is almost over.
And girl, 2021 came in not even 90 days in.
We done had a domestic terror attack, insurrection. We had an inauguration. We had everything go on in less than 90 days.
So do you think the tech sector bears any responsibility in all of this?
And I think for me, it's the fact that it's not so much the tech sector as like social media and Internet has shaped the world that we know today.
And so when people have the ability to enter echo chambers where there is no feedback, they believe wild things.
It's why I don't really love Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an echo chamber.
Unless you invite someone on stage to challenge you, you can just talk and be wrong and loud.
You can be loud and wrong for like hours. And so I do think that there is some responsibility.
I mean, we waited until the very last minute to turn off this person's Twitter, but like we could have done it three years ago and that would have been fine.
Yeah. But I also think that there is really scary power in people like this being able to find places virtually to congregate.
So for me, as someone who basically what happened was I had a alt-right influencer, which if you don't know alt -right, they're like Nazi-leaning, made a 30-minute YouTube video about me to her 100,000 followers.
And I mean, it's a well -put-together video.
Like she definitely took four or five hours to make the video. And when I tell you like it was the death threats were like gory and just like wild.
But if you played that same video for people who know me, they would have been like, what's the problem?
Yeah. This isn't true. Yeah. But when people can congregate together without fault and without rebuke, the problem continues.
Just like because nothing happened for January 6th, it will happen again.
History repeats itself without fail.
Exactly. And so even with this person, not only is she still living large on LinkedIn, because LinkedIn said we can't do anything.
She's an organizational psychologist.
You've got to be kidding me. YouTube would not take the video down.
YouTube would not take the death threats down. When I called the police, the police were like, well, stop talking about race online.
So if we continue to silence the people who are victims, who are the oppressed, it just makes the oppressor stronger.
Because they can say I had no consequences. It's the same way when I'm talking to organizations.
Yes, you can write a no tolerance policy, but if you don't actually enforce it, you're only protecting the people who are doing the abuse.
Because now they can turn around and say, well, I obviously didn't do that.
Look at the handbook. And I obviously didn't do that thing.
And I do think tech plays a role in not shutting stuff down fast enough because it looks bad.
Because it teeters on freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech, one, applies to the government.
Two, freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence.
You are still responsible for the things you say. I cannot run into a movie theater and yell fire without consequence.
These scenarios are the same, except they're in print online and they live forever.
And you're also this too.
So you definitely can't run into a movie theater and yell fire. Not now because I don't go into movie theaters.
But I live in a world where the first thing I do when I go into a movie theater is I check every exit.
Where do I run if something happens?
And I feel like the Internet has become the same way. I have to immediately kind of look at who's in this thread, who's in this room.
Let me find my exit.
Because unfortunately, the Internet is also dangerous. And I know we want to think it's not.
But they doxed me easily. My address was out floating around the Internet within a couple of hours.
Someone showed up at my house. And me being me, I was like, oh, they probably want directions.
And so the Internet is a scary place.
And without some kind of responsibility being put on people, they will continue to just escalate.
It's like when you don't manage having a puppy. If you don't tell them when they're wrong, they just get worse and grow into really big, hyper bad dogs.
And there's no bad dogs. There are only bad owners. Yes. And that is the truth.
So where you have the power to make a difference, you should be. Rather than, it's going to look bad.
And it's going to be bad for my stocks. Yeah, exactly.
Exactly. Because for me, like, people were really shocked about January 6.
I was not shocked. I wasn't waiting for the shoe to drop for four years. Forever. Yeah, forever.
Like, yeah. I don't know where people have been. And now they think that everything is going to get better.
But okay, that's another story for another day.
I don't want to go on a tangent. So as it pertains to the orgs that you have founded, Rage to Rainbows and Triple B, like, what was your motivation behind it, too?
And tell me a little bit more about them. So Rage to Rainbows is actually pretty on topic with what we were just talking about.
So I have 51,000 followers on LinkedIn.
And like, I'm convinced that the LinkedIn algorithm purposely shows my content to people that hate it.
I'm also like, mind blown by like, the things people are comfortable saying in front of their employer.
Because like, there's a difference between talking about DEI and talking about racism, like being a racist and like, yes, and not caring.
Yeah. And so I was getting really caught up in reading comments and trying to argue with people.
And I finally was like, none of these people want to actually learn.
I'm always down to help educate. But these people don't want to be educated.
They want to invalidate my existence. Yeah. So how can I put this energy elsewhere?
Because the one thing I know, is if you're so comfortable threatening me and being mean to me, you're pretty, probably pretty awful to people in your real life.
Whether it's the Black woman you work with, the Asian old man at the grocery store, the queer woman who lives next door, somewhere you're making someone's life awful.
Yes. So I wanted to be able to put that energy somewhere else.
And so I kind of thought about it. And I was like, all right, for every racist comment, I'm going to donate to this organization.
For every homophobic comment, I'm going to donate to this organization.
And I had like a list of eight.
And I put it on LinkedIn. And I was like, that was like a pretty not spicy post for me.
Like that was pretty tame. Yeah. And I was like, okay, now I have to do it.
Yeah. Like the post itself had like 400,000 views and like 4,000 comments. It was wild.
And companies were like, oh my God, I want to match you. And people wanted to match me.
And so my friend Emily was like, well, let's like make this a thing.
Okay. It took about six months kind of figuring out what we wanted it to look like, how we wanted it to be like, what was our lens?
What was our vision? It was launched on Giving Tuesday of 2020.
And so November and December, we raised like $12 ,000.
That is fantastic. Congratulations. Thanks. It was really more about how can I put energy and money into the organizations that support this person's real victims, like the people in their lives.
And I'm a person on the Internet. I'm actually quite good at like not caring about people on the Internet.
Probably a trauma response.
But I know that they're impacting someone else in a negative way. And how can I help that person that I don't know?
Triple B is actually tandem with my podcast, which is called Bye Bye Binary.
It's with my partner. Yeah. My partner's non-binary and we kind of realized as they were looking for jobs, like how weird it became with new pronouns.
Every time they went to an application, it was like male, female, unknown, which is like high key offensive.
I was about to say unknown. Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, we just, we kind of were just thinking about like, what did we want?
And we wanted one, a way to talk about like actual queer experiences.
Oftentimes we're like over-sexualized, over-dramatized.
It's either like a queer drama or a coming out story. And that is just like not the, like we have normal lives and passions.
Yeah. That's what to say.
It's not just about that. Yeah. And then we created an online community for other queer folks.
I think a lot of queer people in general, we aren't accepted by our family members, by our coworkers, by society in general.
And we just wanted a space where people could just show up and know that that level of acceptance was unspoken.
Like whatever it was they needed, they could come to this group to vent, to celebrate, whatever it was that they needed, that we were going to be that group for them.
I recognize that in a pandemic that makes it especially hard and it's lonely.
Yeah. And I wanted a place where people could just kind of reach out even virtually.
Okay. That's, that's fantastic that you did that because I know we have talked about the racial element being Black women, but how do you being a, you're a triple minority, you're a Black, a Black queer woman.
So in addition to being a Black woman, how do you show up as a Black queer woman?
Because that's a lot to encompass at work in general, in life.
And I've got a fourth one. I've got ADHD. So just, yeah.
And how do you make organizations receptive of that? Because I know, like you said, at work there's some people are just not well adjusted to the LGBTQIA community.
So how are you working in that space as well? So I think it's, again, it's about really helping people learn about things through an intersectional lens.
And so I typically talk about intersection, but in the way of privilege.
And so I also acknowledge that I'm a Black woman who's queer and I have ADHD.
But I also acknowledge that I am a citizen. I am an English speaker. I am a college graduate.
I am middle class. I have access to food and shelter every day. And so being able to break those things down for people, I think kind of gives them this aha moment of like, where is, where is my privilege?
And being able to talk through like the actual barriers I face as a Black queer woman.
And I think oftentimes we come into the argument of religion and freedom of religion and all of these things.
And so the thing is, religion is great. Whatever you practice is great.
You just cannot use it as a weapon to hurt people. And that's any belief you have.
You cannot use it as a weapon. And so helping people kind of understand that as people's identities aren't up for debate.
They're not an opinion.
My pronouns are not an opinion. My relationship is not an opinion. It's an integral part of my identity and it's not a choice.
And I think for me, it's just again about having those hard conversations and having the things, saying the things that are essentially uncomfortable for me to talk about and to say, because I know it's beneficial to someone else to hear it and to understand it.
And also making sure that I am always, again, going to bat for myself. I'm not going to argue my identity with other people.
And I'm not going to let other people invalidate my partner or my relationship.
And so there is a part of me that I stand very strong in knowing when to educate and when to step away because someone isn't worth my emotional labor.
That is the truth. Because as I always say that, don't argue with a fool because you ain't going to win.
My mama has always said that to me.
Yes. The Triple B podcast. Can you let us know when that airs?
Yeah. So we have a YouTube channel. We are on like your favorite streaming platform.
So Apple, Spotify. And it's just bye bye binary, no spaces. And we release typically every other week.
Okay. So everyone tune into that because that's super important for people to be able to hear.
And you know what? I always feel as if that type of platform also educated because a lot like I told you before, I'm a black Christian woman.
So it helps you to really learn and be able to be receptive and stuff like that and engaging and stop assuming a lot of things.
So I appreciate you having the environment.
Thank you. Hiring managers because I'm a hiring manager.
But one thing I have realized is when we're really trying to drive the DNI space, you'll have buy-in from executives.
But at the end of the day, the hiring managers are the front line.
How do you get them to take the responsibility?
Because a lot of times the reason why these orgs are not diverse and inclusive is because you have these darn hiring managers that have their own preconceived racist notions or whatever, biases and all that stuff.
How do you get their buy-in and educate them around the space?
For sure. So I will actually say that I usually think that middle management is the root of the problem.
Simply because middle management manages up very well.
And as a individual contributor, you're not as likely to go report your manager because that now puts your job at risk.
So the first thing I talk about, and this has nothing to do with hiring, but just from an accountability standpoint, is with all of my reviews, I do skip level reviewing.
So you're going to review your manager to their boss.
Because me reviewing you doesn't actually stand in the middle because I can't hold you accountable.
However, your boss can certainly hold you accountable.
Yes. And for me, a lot of these issues are solved with accountability.
Kind of like going back to the Internet issue, accountability is so much of the work.
And so because middle managers manage up very well, I need higher-ups to have a lens into the org they're kind of managing.
Yes. And the team they're managing.
And then when it comes to hiring, it is again about having balanced interview teams where no single person is making it.
Because as managers, human nature is to want to hire people who are similar to you because it is easy.
It is easy to hire someone who has a similar communication style, a similar background, because they're not going to challenge you.
And human nature is to communicate in the way that you like to be communicated.
Yes. And so you don't have to change that. And so I think also really focusing on the fact that you do not have to hire people you like.
And you should occasionally hire people you don't like. If you want to have beer with everyone on your team every weekend, you probably hire people who are pretty similar to yourself.
To you. Yeah. And that's a problem. I'm all for team building, but like y'all do not all need to be best friends all the time.
Because you've then got a team that's pretty homogeneous.
That's very true. And I think that for me has been a really big focus and something that people didn't really ever get, that they didn't have to hire people they like.
And really knowing as a manager, learning your team's communication styles and being able to alter your own to help them thrive.
And so I often have my managers asking these questions when people are hired, which are, what styles of communication make you thrive?
What shut you down? And what will have you ready for a new job? Because I think that's the part that people worry about the most is like, how do I manage someone who's so different than me?
Yes. And so being able to give them a playbook on how to really peel back the layers of a person to understand how they operate, how they thrive, really kind of helps them feel a little bit more secure in hiring someone who feels risky.
And although that person is not risky, it is when you haven't ever hired someone who's different than you, because that gives you a place where you could potentially fail.
And no one wants that. That's a good way to look at it.
How do you build trust amongst employees and people, team, or HR? Because in experience, and what I've heard in the industry and even experienced myself, there are times where you feel as if the people's team or HR is not to protect the employee, but to protect the organization.
So how do you build a culture where people feel protected also by their people's team, that they will also be following the protocols and it's fair across the board for everyone and will be held accountable?
So fundamentally, I actually believe that HR and people are two separate functions and two separate teams.
I fundamentally believe that HR should hang out with legal and focus on compliance and pay and all of these things, because HR, no matter what, I don't think will ever break the stigma of protecting the business.
And that's why you run into organizations that cover up scandals because it protects the business.
But I think that every organization should have someone whose core goal is to make sure that the people within your organization feel safe, they feel heard, and they feel valued.
And chances are, if that person is also supposed to be HR, you're never going to get truthful stories and truthful answers from people because they will always be worried that their job is going to be at risk.
And my other thing is like HR just needs to humanize themselves.
I know that we're never going to live in a world where we have that element.
And so much of HR isn't human right now.
We have to be able to have hard conversations and not the ones that like we were taught to have in SHRM and when we got these certifications that are like all legalese and like tough on the outside.
Sometimes we have to be able to bridge that gap of humanity and like sit down and have real conversations with people.
Otherwise, people just think we're like weird corporate robots that are like, and just like, you know, at the whim of the CEO.
And that's not who I am. And I know that's not a lot of who my network is.
Yeah, we do care about people. But I think we also have to be good at making that known and putting ourselves out there so that people know that about us.
Yes. That's comforting to hear, just to let you know that.
So I want to just make sure people are able to follow you and find you.
So Instagram, Twitter handle, LinkedIn, all that good stuff. So my LinkedIn is Madison Butler, or it's LinkedIn, like whatever at Blue Haired Unicorn.
And then my Twitter handle and my Instagram handle are Corporate Unicorn, but it's spelled funny.
So I don't know. I'm gonna spell it for myself so I can spell out loud and not mess it up.
But it's C-O-R-P-R-T-E unicorn. I ran out of characters.
But I do have a website and that's bluehairedunicorn.com. Okay, great. Great.
So close out question. What would Madison today tell 21 year old Madison knowing what you know now?
So I think for me, and I think the thing that I it's like my affirmation to myself, it's like no matter what people think of me, it does not invalidate my identity.
Whoever I choose to be every morning when I wake up is exactly who I am.
And I don't need to get a seat at someone else's table that doesn't value me.
I can have my own table and that's okay. Okay. Oh, amen. All right.
Well, thank you. That is a good close out. Well, thank you so much for being here with me today.
I hope we can do this again soon. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Thank you. Have a good one. Bye everyone. Thanks for joining. The real privilege of working at Mozilla is that we're a mission-driven organization.
And what that means is that before we do things, we ask what's good for the users as opposed to what's going to make the most money.
Mozilla's values are similar to Cloudflare's.
They care about enabling the web for everybody in a way that is secure, in a way that is private, and in a way that is trustworthy.
We've been collaborating on improving the protocols that help secure connections between browsers and websites.
Mozilla and Cloudflare collaborate on a wide range of technologies.
The first place we really collaborated was the new TLS 1.3 protocol. And then we followed it up with QUIC and DNS server HTTPS, and most recently, the new Firefox private network.
DNS is core to the way that everything on the Internet works.
It's a very old protocol, and it's also in plain text, meaning that it's not encrypted.
And this is something that a lot of people don't realize. You can be using SSL and connecting securely to websites, but your DNS traffic may still be unencrypted.
When Mozilla was looking for a partner for providing encrypted DNS, Cloudflare was a natural fit.
The idea was that Cloudflare would run the server piece of it, and Mozilla would run the client piece of it, and the consequence would be that we protect DNS traffic for anybody who used Firefox.
Cloudflare was a great partner with this because they were really willing early on to implement the protocol, stand up a trusted recursive resolver, and create this experience for users.
They were strong supporters of it. One of the great things about working with Cloudflare is their engineers are crazy fast.
So the time between we decide to do something and we write down the barest protocol sketch, and they have it running in their infrastructure, is a matter of days to weeks, not a matter of months to years.
There's a difference between standing up a service that one person can use, or 10 people can use, and a service that everybody on the Internet can use.
When we talk about bringing new protocols to the web, we're talking about bringing it not to millions, not to tens of millions.
We're talking about hundreds of millions to billions of people.
Cloudflare has been an amazing partner in the privacy front.
They've been willing to be extremely transparent about the data that they are collecting and why they're using it, and they've also been willing to throw those logs away.
Really, users are getting two classes of benefits out of our partnership with Cloudflare.
The first is direct benefits. That is, we're offering services to the user that make them more secure, and we're offering them via Cloudflare.
So that's like an immediate benefit these users are getting. The indirect benefit these users are getting is that we're developing the next generation of security and privacy technology, and Cloudflare is helping us do it.
And that will ultimately benefit every user, both Firefox users and every user of the Internet.
We're really excited to work with an organization like Mozilla that is aligned with the user's interests, and in taking the Internet and moving it in a direction that is more private, more secure, and is aligned with what we think the Internet should be.
Cloudflare Gateway protects offices, homes, and corporate networks from malware and other security threats without sacrificing performance.
Gateway provides a secure DNS resolver and filtering service that inspects and logs all DNS queries to apply policies that either block or allow the request.
This video will show you how to get started with Cloudflare Gateway by configuring a location, creating a policy, and using that policy to block security threats.
To get started, navigate to the Cloudflare Gateway dashboard at dash.teams.Cloudflare .com.
If you don't have a Cloudflare account, you can sign up and the browser will redirect you back to the Gateway overview page.
Now, let's configure a location.
A location is typically a physical location, like your home, office, store, or a data center that you'd like to protect.
For this demo, let's call our location aus-1.
Gateway should automatically detect your IP address, which allows Gateway to know which requests are coming from your location or network.
Now, let's configure the DNS resolvers. To take full advantage of Cloudflare Gateway, you should change your router settings to the Gateway IP addresses.
For this demo, I'm only going to use the IP addresses that Gateway assigns.
Now, let's configure the DNS resolvers. To do this on a Mac, go to your laptop's system preferences, click network, then advanced, and navigate to the DNS tab.
You'll see your existing Internet provider's DNS server IP address here.
Add in the IP addresses from the Gateway dashboard by clicking the plus sign.
If your network supports IPv6, make sure to add the IPv6 address here as well. Click okay, then apply.
Now, my laptop is sending all of its DNS queries to Gateway's DNS resolvers.
To complete the location setup, navigate back to the Cloudflare Gateway dashboard and click complete setup.
After configuring your first location, you'll see the Gateway overview page.
Here, you can view your location's requests and if they were allowed or blocked.
After the initial setup, the graph may take a few minutes to show data.
While we're waiting on the data to populate, let's confirm that our location was properly configured.
It looks like our location is properly configured, but as you can see, there's no policy assigned.
Let's create one. Create a policy and apply it to your location to protect your network from Internet security threats like malware and phishing.
The policy will control what the user can or cannot access while connected to your location.
To create a policy, click policies, then create a policy. For the purposes of this demo, I'm going to create a policy that blocks malware and social media.
Let's call this no malware or social media. We'll assign it to our location by clicking here.
Here, you can enable a block page, which will show if a user attempts to access a page that's been blocked.
Let's enable it, then click preview to see what a block page would look like.
Let's disable it for now.
You can also enable safe search, which allows Cloudflare to automatically filter content based on the same restrictions that large search engines use to protect users from explicit content.
Now, let's identify what security threats we want Cloudflare Gateway to protect against.
Gateway allows you to block all security threats listed here with one click, which include malware, phishing, and spam.
Let's just block malware for now, then move on to the content categories.
Gateway allows you to block certain content categories. Since we want to block social media with this policy, click society and lifestyle, then social networks.
If you'd like to allow or block a specific domain, you can do that in the allow block tab.
Let's enter chatgoogle.com to ensure that it's blocked and click add domain.
Now that the policy has been configured, let's click add policy.
The policy will propagate throughout the Cloudflare network in a few seconds.
So in the meantime, let's check out the Gateway activity log.
The activity log is where you can see all the requests to your configured location.
You can also see what content categories the requests were associated with.
This request was associated with content servers and information technology content categories.
It was an HTTPS request created from the aus-1 location and was allowed as it didn't trigger the policy.
Now, let's test our policy to make sure that it works properly.
Let's test the social media portion of our policy by attempting to navigate to Twitter.
Shortly after hitting enter, you'll see an error page indicating that Twitter cannot be reached.
Cloudflare Gateway has successfully intercepted the request and blocked the page accordingly.
During this Cloudflare Gateway walkthrough, you saw how to configure a location, create a policy, and use that policy to block Internet security threats.
To learn more about Cloudflare Gateway, navigate to teams.Cloudflare.com backslash gateway.