Yes We Can
A recurring series presented by Cloudflare co-founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn, featuring interviews with women entrepreneurs and tech leaders who clearly debunk the myth that there are no women in tech.
This week's guests: Airika Adams and Aneesah Gay host the podcast Fresh Melanin. Fresh Melanin is an on-air safe space for women of color within tech to come together and vocalize their individual experiences within the culture we live in.
Great. Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week's installment of Yes We Can. I am so honored to have Airika Adams and Aneesah here today.
Welcome, ladies. Hi. So glad to have you here.
And so Airika is joining us from Florida right now and Aneesah is from L.A.
So it's great. Hope everyone's doing well everywhere. And so we're going to dive right in.
And so the two of you met while you worked at Wix. You both started on the customer support team and you've since graduated into new roles there.
But let's go back to your original roles on the support team at Wix. We see a lot of that at Cloudflare, too, where some people's first roles in technology start on our customer support team, too.
What was it like to work on the customer support team?
Aneesah, do you want to start? Yeah. Great. It was exciting. Tough.
I'm not going to say. Customer support is tough, but it's very exciting. And there was a lot of opportunities and the company was just willing to let us grow.
And that is something that's really positive about Wix. So we definitely learned a lot.
You acquired a lot of skills. And you really honed in on listening to the users, really listening to their complaints, good and bad.
And you can also provide thoughtful solutions to the product team.
I love that. How about you, Erica?
Do you have anything to add to the exciting and the tough listening to the customer comments that Aneesah made?
Yeah, I know. But like I mean, overall, the solution department at Wix is super great.
You know, we were really able to kind of like get the full scope of like user issues, which is amazing.
And it's also like an amazing foundation to kind of like learn how to solve those user issues.
And also kind of like learning how to have empathy for the user as well.
So, you know, Wix, like she said, is great.
And we love that they give us the ability to kind of like be curious about product.
And they have an amazing like open door policy, which kind of like allows employees to get involved with other departments to learn.
And we were able to just like help out in that situation.
I love that. So when customers are writing in or users are writing in and you're talking about how important it is to listen and to dig deep, like what are some things that they would write in about?
Maybe just give us one or two examples to help contextualize for the audience.
Because I think a lot of people are like, what kind of questions do people write in about?
Maybe you can give us one or two examples. Yeah. I mean, people write in about if you just think about like building a website, any question that goes along those lines.
So like, or how do I get my site on Google? Or how do I get my editor to run a certain way?
Or how do I get something to look this way? Sometimes they kind of like have a visualization of how they want their website to be.
And we kind of help them along the way. Oh, I love that. How about you?
Any others to add? That's a great. Actually, that's a good point. You should explain Wix is a website building tool.
So if you're thinking about creating a website, Wix is a great platform to help do that.
So that's an important point because not everyone really knows.
Anissa, any other ones to add? Yeah. Some of them would also be technical.
It would be like, hey, why is this not loading? And they would provide screenshots or along the line of, I think this is broken.
Like, can you help me fix this?
You know, and that's what we learn through like getting a lot of the customers support tickets.
Definitely. Good. We share, I hear that from our support team all the time.
Actually, fun fact, Matthew and I were the first two support members of Cloudflare.
We did all this to get all of them for the longest time we were.
Matthew was like number one on the leaderboard for a long time.
He's no longer number one. We have since have a wonderful support organization who's overtaken his ticket responses.
But for a long time, when you start, you know, even as founders, you want to be listening to the customer and there's no better way than the person was written in and say, hey, I have this question or I have this problem.
You learn a lot. Yeah. Agreed. Yeah. And, you know, you're and you show your point about it being both exciting and hard.
Definitely resonates because I think it's both exciting and hard.
So you take your customers problems on the way to onto your shoulders, which is can be really hard.
OK, so so you listen to the customers.
You heard all these sorts of things and you've since both moved on.
And so, Erica, your next role at Wix and we'll come to you in the next was to join the product management team.
So maybe tell the audience, what does a product manager do?
Yeah, I mean, so basically, if you think about a product manager is basically responsible for the development of like products.
So we make sure that we're guiding the user. I mean, not the user, but we make sure like we're getting the success of the product itself.
And we lead like these cross-functional teams and we basically make sure that they're building out these features correctly.
Awesome. That's great. Give us maybe an example of a feature or product that you've helped design and ship for all.
Yeah. No, definitely.
One of my favorites would be the callback feature. So sometimes when users call into support, they might have to be like transferred to an agent and a different department.
And users were kind of like experiencing going on like these long hold times, depending on the volume for that day.
So instead of the user kind of like waiting on hold with their phone, like attached to their ears, what we did was like we now give the user like this ability to press one and request a callback.
They can kind of like hang up the phone. And when it's their turn to receive that callback, they will get that callback from us and we can just continue on the conversation.
So it really helped users kind of like go about their day and not have to be stuck on the phone.
I mean, I feel all of us here can agree. We don't like to be stuck on the phone waiting to be transferred.
And that was like a great feature that I was able to help ship out.
Oh, awesome. I didn't know you built this. So I'm going to ask you since I have you here and as a captive audience.
So I love that feature.
I've definitely been on the hold. It's like press one for callback. And I'm like, yes, call me back.
But there's a fear of me that always says, what if they never call back?
Can I have to go back line? And so as the product manager who's built and designed and ship this feature, does that ever happen?
No, we always call back.
We all the system will always call the user back. Yeah, definitely.
And the agent also has the ability to go ahead and leave a voicemail for the user as well.
Good. OK, good. Well, I'm glad that you you because I think that little.
Yeah. I want you to call me back, but you better call. Yeah. No, the system works.
It will call back. Definitely. And the agent definitely is there to, you know, leave that voicemail, sometimes also send emails to the users as well.
Cool. Great. I love hearing that. Good. OK. So, Anissa, you took a different path.
So you, again, both started support, but you went down a project management and incident response.
Now you're on the incident response team at Wix. What does that mean?
What is incident response? Well, to break it down, we are tracking bugs or any drops that may impact users.
Maybe be it like they're selling a product or they can't get a feature to turn on.
And we're responsible for kind of identifying any crucial bugs that have a wider effect.
And we want to minimize the time to resolution.
So definitely want to make sure they can get back in, log into the editor.
Or if they're selling products, they keep getting any revenue. Yeah.
Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off. How did you decide to go down that path? Because I don't think that you knew about incidents response as a potential career from from college or high school.
I think it's probably something you more fell into.
Well, how did you decide that this was a path that that you were excited to explore?
Definitely. I am a very curious person. I'm always curious about why this broke.
Why is this happening to the user? What is it? How can we fix this? So that constant drive for the why something is broken really like gave me this path, this opportunity.
And also I was in the technical support side. So I'm very detail oriented, always noticing trends.
And I'm like, hey, we're getting multiple complaints about this.
I think something's broken. So I would have the opportunity to reach out to devs and say, like, hey, I think this product on this system is broken.
And these are how many users I have that are affected. Just so people know, devs is developers.
Yes. And you've got the tech lingo down. I just want to bring it.
I love it. OK, so we're going to move to the podcast that you've created together and what it's like to create a podcast.
But before we do, I just want to finish talk a little bit more about your time at Wix.
And, you know, you both clearly love your jobs.
You love the company you work at. You're sure you're showing up every day, putting your best foot forward.
How do you think about the impact you're making in the world through the work you do at Wix?
Does that something that you think about?
I'm just curious. How much time do you spend thinking about that?
Erica, do you want to go first? Yeah, no, definitely. It's a lot of impact.
I mean, when I think about impact, I automatically think about the ability to kind of like help small businesses.
And that's kind of like what Wix does as well.
It's truly amazing to be able to kind of like help people with their ideas.
And that's something that I personally love to do, help people bring their ideas to life, like no matter how small or how big their ideas may be.
We kind of like help people give that we give people that ability, you know, and we allow them to create their websites or for their businesses or for any idea that they might have very seamlessly.
So I think helping small businesses is it's something that can resonate with everybody, really.
Yeah, we got to hug our small businesses. Yeah, I love that.
I love supporting them. Anissa, how about you? How do you think about the impact that you're doing at Wix?
I definitely think I'm in line with what Erica is saying is just seeing the impact and the growth within small businesses.
And I also just like seeing the growth as the company grows, more small businesses are growing along with us.
And some of them have really great success stories. And I think that's really where I see the impact that I'm making, you know, and it can be small as someone writing in like this feature just doesn't work and they keep writing and writing.
So I keep, you know, I keep telling the product manager like, hey, we need to come up with a good solution.
And if I can just get one feature like resolved, then I know I made an impact on someone.
That's great. And it turns out, you know, who to call at Wix because you and Erica are friends.
Erica, where is this prioritized feature?
Oh, I got everyone's phone numbers.
Right? On speed dial. Okay, that's what you want. It's like you kind of want to collect friends within companies.
I feel like having a product manager that you know is a good friend to have within a tech company because they really can prioritize a feature to help get it shipped and solved.
And vice versa for her being working with like QA and stuff like I can kind of like go to her for certain things too.
Yeah, definitely, definitely. And so, you know, this last point about you're making about helping give people, some to be creators, could be small business owners, a voice online, that is really empowering.
And if somebody wanted to get started to create, hey, actually, I want that.
I have this hobby idea. I want to start it. Like how hard is it to get started on Wix?
Or how easy is it to kind of set up a landing page or a website? Is it something that takes months and months?
Or how long does that take, Erica? Definitely not.
It's something that can be done in like a day, literally. You can get started.
And I always tell people like your website is always going to change. It's going to always be an ongoing project, just like getting your site on Google would be like an ongoing project, changing out like certain things with an SEO.
It's going to be super seamless. And you're going to be able to drag and drop like whatever you might need.
You don't have to know how to code to use Wix. If you do know how to code, that's even better.
There's places on Wix for you to kind of like shine your light there.
But the average person can get a website up in a day, literally.
Awesome. I love that. Well, for all the people listening, think about the hobby or the idea that you've been wanting to share with the world.
Now, you know, I think, Erica, you just made me feel like I'm going to put something up on Wix today.
Do it! Today is not very much time. That's easy. I'm going to drag and drop.
Okay, so you both met at work. That's how you become friends. And obviously, you work on the sports team together.
You've both taken different career paths within Wix.
Love what you're doing. But you also decided to start a podcast together.
So you've created something together, and it's called Fresh Melanin.
Can you tell the audience the premise of Fresh Melanin? Anisha, can you tell us maybe what that is?
Yeah, so Fresh Melanin is an on-air safe space for women of color.
It's basically like me and Erica were having these deep conversations about how it is to be women of color in tech, but also having like life discussion as well.
So we just decided like our conversations were so good, and Erica was like, we should start a podcast.
And I was like, well, I don't know what that is, but I do like talking.
And I feel like the value that we have and the type of careers we have, we can share that with more women of color in tech and get their experience about working in this field.
I love that idea. So you had this idea and you've set it up.
So how's it going, Erica? How's it going? What are some of your favorite stories you've shared with the world so far?
Yeah, I mean, it's actually going very well.
Something that, like she said, just started off as like a patio conversation is now like a full-on brand and we have so much community around it.
We just opened up a new merch store at FreshMelanin.com and it's a great milestone for us.
I would say like my favorite story, it would definitely have to be like we did an episode last season with a Google employee.
Her name was Shayana and we met her at a networking event and that event was at The Wing.
And we asked her afterwards to kind of like come on and like show other women of color, like how they're able to kind of like get into tech and her experience and how she was able to be like a program manager at Google.
It was one of the best shows that we've done.
She was dropping so many gems. And she also was someone who kind of like came up not just in tech, but she kind of like worked her way up.
It was like a two-part series.
So it was really great. That would definitely be one of my favorite stories there.
I love that. I love that. And you know, it's so interesting.
You said a networking event where you met this woman. You invited her on and she said yes, which I actually think happens in tech all the time.
And that reminded me, that's how we met through, I think Cloudflare was having something for Black History Month last year.
Yeah, for Afro, yeah. I met a lot of my colleagues, Vashti, and we have a women's chat room at Cloudflare.
And I was saying, hey, who is I?
I'm looking for guests to bring on, I guess we can. And she's like, actually, I met these two awesome women.
And Issa and Erica, they've got this new podcast they're creating.
I think they'd be great. And she connected us.
So this is one where it's amazing how you kind of throw out the ask and sometimes people say yes.
And I think people say yes more than we like to. We do.
We really do. That's great. So how do you find the other guests that you have on your show?
Do you, same thing, networking, just find what people ask and people are saying yes?
Yeah. It basically is like we're out there networking. We're asking people, word of mouth, friends of friends.
And some people want to come on. They ask us like, hey, can we be on your show?
And we're like, yes. You're valuable. What you have would be great for audience experience.
And we would also get, you know, really great conversations out of it, too.
Yeah. I love that. Okay. So, Anisha, one of the things you said was I didn't know exactly how to run a podcast, but you like to talk.
So you said, yeah, let's do it, which is kind of, I think, very endearing.
What's been easier than you thought about getting going and maybe what's been harder than you thought?
The easy part is uploading, finding services that you can upload, like SoundCloud, very easy to upload.
And then I guess the hardest would be, you know, just really still, I guess, finding the passion.
But, I mean, not finding the passion, but the hard part is, you know, making sure you're doing this for you and for our brand.
And me and Eric have tried different schedules, and we realized that just doesn't work for us.
Like, we like to record what we like to record. And we like to put out good, solid content that has great traffic versus, like, boom, boom, boom every day.
I mean, that's successful for a lot of people, but you can easily burn out.
And that's not what we wanted. We wanted to have a long, successful, like, brand.
Oh, interesting. So this brings up an interesting point about the frequency that you have your podcast.
So is it kind of best practices frequent, and you're saying, actually, we go for quality over quantity?
Is that kind of what I heard?
Yeah. I mean, the best way to answer that is that we have a schedule, and when we feel like we're going to get burnt out, we might feel like, okay, you know what?
Maybe it's coming towards the end of this specific season. And before we just, like, check out and put out not great episodes, we might just, like, end the season and come back in, like, you know, a month or two.
And we let our listeners know stuff like that.
So and then during those seasons where, I mean, during those times when we are, you know, taking a break, we might be sending out a lot more newsletters.
Or we might be, like, you know, talking to our listeners just, like, on social media or something like that.
We might not physically be putting out episodes, but we're still staying in touch with people.
And, yeah, and working with Anissa on this podcast, we obviously, we have two different ways of thinking sometimes.
And if you listen to a show, you'll hear, like, we don't always agree on things.
But this format of the show and making it sure that, like, we both are on the same page has been working out well.
Yeah. I love hearing that. You know, when you're speaking, Erica, it reminded me I had a woman, Tracy Chou, on a couple weeks ago.
And she's a designer, incredibly creative type. And one of the things that came up is this, like, importance of refueling your creativity.
So I think that what you said kind of reminded me of something I heard a couple weeks ago where it's just when you're really creating and having these outlets, it's amazing, it's empowering.
But you also have to take time to refuel because you can kind of run dry, I guess.
Yeah. Yeah. And the listeners can hear. They can hear it.
Sometimes even before we do, they will hear something, like, that just doesn't sound right.
And they'll send us an email or something and let us know, like, how are you guys?
And we're like, oh, okay. Let me take a break. So how do you refuel each other?
Because it sounds like this is something that's come up. You kind of sometimes have to take a break, take a step back.
And obviously one of it is, okay, well, we just take a break from recording.
But is there anything else you do to kind of refuel yourselves and your creativity?
I think travel. Yeah. We've traveled together.
Yeah. We went to Thailand. Podcast together when you're traveling together.
Yeah. Or we also hang out without talking about the podcast. Like, we'll be like, let's hang out, but we're not going to talk about work or the podcast.
Okay. So you like to travel. You like to spend time together. Any other habits or tricks to help others who maybe feel like, hey, I'm actually kind of feel maybe that maybe I'm out of my creativity.
I need to refuel. Any other ideas? I think it's also just we communicate with each other.
We're like, hey, I need to take space, you know?
Like, I need to focus on this. And I'm also telling her, like, what's going on?
And she communicates with me, like, what are her new projects? And we just agree.
And we're like, okay. Yeah. Like, as long as you keep that open communication, especially when we're working together.
Yeah. It makes a good, solid recipe for success.
Yeah. That's awesome. This is like a very good, it's pretty amazing that through work and that you've created this friendship and working relationship and that so much respect between each other.
You know, again, I started a club for two founders and two of us are still running the business, Matthew and I, and a lot of what you're saying is kind of, I really appreciate it because I feel like we've created the same sort of partnership as you guys are describing where someone you can talk to and be open with and say, hey, like, I'm down, I'm up and someone to go to, which is, I don't know.
I wish everyone had that in their life.
Yeah. No, it's really important for communication because the next time we meet up, we might be recording an episode and the vibe might be off, you know?
So we have to make sure that we're, like, aligned on if we're both okay to be recording or if we're both, like, not feeling well to record, it's good to be honest with each other about stuff.
That's good. That's good. Okay. So, you know, Anisha, one of the things you said it was kind of easier to get started than you thought and you're using SoundCloud.
What are some of the other tools that you use to get a podcast going?
Because I know a lot of people that say, hey, I would like to start a podcast.
That does kind of sound daunting. So I'd love to hear what other tools you use to get going.
So you use SoundCloud. What else do you use? We use GarageBand and we use Canva for, like, marketing.
So those are the three things that we use.
Three simple tools. And GarageBand is on Mac, but on Windows, there's other software editing, like Camtasia or Castation.
We've tried that. And, yeah, those are just the three tools that we use to get our podcast up and running.
And Hootsuite. Oh, and Hootsuite, yes. Yeah. Because Erica knows I am not always great.
We both know what's trends in this. No, I love it. So, okay. And then, so you, and I'm assuming your website, freshmelanin.com, is on Wix.
Okay. So you have a website, freshmelanin.com, which is built on Wix, which was, how much did that cost?
How much did that cost? It's on, like, auto. So it's, like, remember.
We're paying for a domain, like, roughly between, like, 200.
It sounds like a lot, but it's not. Yeah, it's not compared to other places. Yeah.
And they're two separate costs. You know, we secured our domain name, which was, like, $14.99.
It renews at that price every year, so that's great. And then we just do an annual plan versus monthly, and, yeah, it's roughly $200.
Okay. So you have a website.
You bought the domain, freshmelanin.com. You got your website, and then you use these other tools between GarageBand, which is included in a Mac if you already own a Mac.
You use SoundCloud. Is that expensive to get going or also pretty inexpensive?
No. SoundCloud is about, like, $15 or $12 a month once you start having a certain amount of tracks.
So to start off, you really don't have to pay.
So test it out, see if you like it. You know, same thing. Cool. And then you use Canva and Hootsuite for kind of the community management, so-called managing the newsletter and connecting with your listeners to kind of create this community around Fresh Melanin.
Yeah, and those are both free as well. Sounds pretty simple. It's kind of like the five-step plan.
I will be remiss if I don't mention this, and it is that if you ever want to do your domain registration with Cloudflare, we also have a great – and we do it at cost, so we can save you a couple dollars if you'd like.
So there you go. Just so you know, I have to represent Cloudflare well. So there you go.
Yeah, anyway, just FYI. Okay, good. So that sounds great. I love that. Well, I'm really excited for you.
So if anyone wants to listen to their podcast, it's freshmelanin.com.
You can go. You can subscribe and join the community. And so, you know, we're down to the last five minutes, and I do want to kind of turn into more personal.
So what I've been asking everyone is, as women in technology, where has the industry lived up to your expectations and where has it fallen short?
So I've asked that to everyone, and so I'd love for you both to answer that.
But I also would love to ask about being a woman of color in technology, right, and maybe anything that you think is specifically different or harder or better because of that.
And so, you know, I know that's kind of a big meeting, personal topic, but I would love to hear both of you comment on that.
So maybe we can start with, you know, as women in technology, where has industry lived up to your expectations and where has it maybe fallen short?
And then we can move to maybe being as a woman of color, any reflections there.
Does that sound good?
Yeah. Awesome. Erica, do you want to go first? Yeah, no, definitely. I mean, the industry has, it's lived up to my expectations by simply, like, allowing us just to be in the room, you know, and the room might look different for everyone, but they allow us as just, like, women to basically stand and be a part of the conversation.
When it comes to just, like, being a woman of color, it's, I feel like sometimes it's just fallen short by, like, not giving us, like, a seat at the table in that room, if that makes sense.
And I'm learning that in this industry I'm not, I'm not waiting really to be given a seat at the table.
So most of the time I'm, like, coming in there, like, with my own chair.
And I just, I need to just, like, be able to kind of, like, put myself in that position.
And that's something that I've learned along the way, not waiting for someone to tell me, like, this is who I am and this is, like, what I can do.
Kind of just, like, pulling up my own chair and sitting amongst everybody else and having those ideas out there.
Good for you.
That's awesome. I love that you bring your own chair along. Good for you. That's great.
Anisa, how about you? For me, I would say where it lived up to is definitely the community aspect.
As soon as you jump into a tech company, you really can find your community there.
It can be someone who's on your team or not. And you can also start building new creative ideas.
I think that is really important.
But where it has fallen short, like Erica said, is that women are there, but sometimes we're not given a seat at the table.
And sometimes we are. And sometimes we're not given a seat at the table.
It's just redirected in a way. And I also feel like we're not using our voice to the full potential that it could be, you know, and really having people listen to us and not just saying, okay, okay.
Just taking the value and the perspective that we have into consideration.
That's why we have our podcast as well.
It allows us to, you know, use our voice and nobody can tell us like what to say or what not to say or how to say it at all.
It's a little bit of your chair analogy where you're like, well, I want people to hear our voice.
So we just created, I brought my voice along with me. Very empowering.
And so, Erica, I love your chair analogy. And actually, Anisha, your chair analogy of it, I'm going to ask you a question.
And it's kind of like, well, maybe you faced the wrong way.
You know, you said it was such a confidence. Like I just bring my chair and I pull it right up and here I am.
And there's. So I want to ask because there's probably some people who were like, I want to do that, but that sounds hard.
What if, what if people react strange? And so any advice for people who say, well, I'm going to do this.
And there's probably some people who, who maybe find it hard to bring their own chair along any advice of how to think about it or things that you've kind of, how you kind of got over that hump to do it.
Yeah. Do it. Even if you're like trembling, it doesn't really matter. Like there's plenty of times I've had to bring my own chair and to the room and I'm like shaking so nervous, but it always will work out.
Especially if you have great intentions.
It might. It will always work out in the right way. It's supposed to, so just do it anyway.
Basically that's, that's the thing. Do it, whether you're scared, whether you're nervous, whether you are, you know, annoyed, do it anyways.
I love that.
I love that. When you said great intentions, we were saying, if you bring it with the great intentions, it'll all work out.
Why did you say with great intentions?
Why did you say that? Well, I mean, like if you're positive and you're thinking about things in a certain way, you're going to learn from this.
You're going to gain some type of like networking from this.
You're going to gain some type of intelligence from this whole situation overall.
So that's why I say, do it anyway. You never know what will end up after the situation.
I love that. Yes, we can just do it. I need to, anything to add.
I would add just because you've heard no once doesn't mean the next answer won't be a yes.
So to me, don't let no stop you, you know, just always keep pushing forward.
That's cool. And so like, do you have a, that, that's where, where maybe sometimes we hear no, what you should really hear is not.
Yes. Not right now. Yeah.
Not right now, but don't let that stop you. I always feel like if people get beat down by the nose, then you're going to miss out on that, that yes.
Oh, I love that.
Well, that's a great place to end. And it's actually, you know, you're going to miss it on the yes.
It's kind of the whole spirit of this. Yes, we can. And so thank you so much, Nisa and Erica for showing up today and saying yes to being on the show.
I love meeting you. I love having this conversation. I cannot wait to listen in on the fresh melon podcast until I check it out and have a great, great day.
And thanks so much for being awesome members of the technology community. Thanks for having us.
Thanks everyone for tuning in this week. See you all soon.