Cool Adults with Sara Chipps
Today’s show is all about getting started: taking the steps to turn new ideas into living, breathing (and sometimes even money-making) projects. Our guest this week is the totally rad Sara Chipps—the co-founder of Girl Develop It, and now the CEO of Jewelbots, which makes smart, open-source friendship bracelets that girls can code. (We want some for all our BFFs.)
Just start with those baby steps. It’s going to take a thousand baby steps. Everyone has a good idea, right? Everyone. Ideas are worthless unless it’s something that gets made. So you know, if it’s going to take a thousand baby steps, then if you start today, you only have 999 left. But if you don’t, then it’s never going to happen.
Here’s what we covered (and as always, you can find the full transcript below).
First up, we talk about all the URLs we’ve purchased—and how sometimes, spending $5 is just what you need to take your own idea seriously.
- Jenn shares her love for David Allen’s Getting Things Done method (and explains how it helped us GTD for our first episode).
- Katel tells us why “Write Book” is maybe not the best item to put on your to-do list.
- Sara recounts her love for Jenn’s web series, Cook Inside the Box—where Jenn and our friend Sequoia made recipes from the sides of boxes. Sara’s favorite episode? The one about hot dogs rolled in cornflakes. Mmm hmmm.
- Why Sara C. has made it her mission to get more girls and women into coding.
- The joy of friendship bracelets—no matter how old you are.
- How to bounce back (and learn something!) when a bunch of kids tell you your idea sucks.
- Highway1, the hardware accelerator that helped Sara prepare to launch Jewelbots.
- The importance of finding a co-founder who gets you—like Brooke Moreland, Sara C.’s cofounder at Jewelbots.
- Why you don’t actually need to be good at math to be a programmer—and how our industry has done newcomers a disservice by pretending otherwise.
- How Girl Develop It went from a single class in New York City in 2010 to a nonprofit operating in 58 cities and serving 55,000 members (and counting) nationwide.
Also in this episode:
- Woohoo! It’s now light out till, uh, 5:15pm here in Philly, and we can’t be happier about that.
- We’re already dreaming about two of Philly’s best summertime hangouts: front stoops and beer gardens. Yes, please.
- Being, like, a totally cool adult. No, really. Ask the kids.
This episode of NYG is brought to you by:
CodePen—a social development environment for front-end designers and developers. Build and deploy a website, show off your work, build test cases, and find inspiration.
WordPress—the place to build your personal blog, business site, or anything else you want on the web. WordPress helps others find you, remember you, and connect with you.
Sara Wachter-Boettcher Today’s show is brought to you by CodePen. Ever want a place where you can write and share front-end code with others? CodePen is that place. It’s full of awesome inspiration and projects with a great community. And speaking of community, the CodePen World’s Fair is happening in May. We’ll talk more about that in a bit, but be sure to sign up for an account at codepen.io. That’s [spells out codepen.io].
Jenn Lukas Hey! And welcome to No, You Go, the show about being ambitious and sticking together. I’m Jenn Lukas.
Katel LeDû I’m Katel LeDû.
SWB And I’m Sara Wachter-Boettcher. On today’s show we’re excited to talk about getting started. We’ll discuss how we come up with new ideas and then, once we’ve got ‘em, how do we actually take them to fruition? We’re totally pumped today to talk to Sara Chipps, who has taken two of her amazing ideas, Girl Develop It and Jewelbots, and made them into reality. But first on the agenda, let’s talk about how five bucks turned into a new podcast.
Getting started with just $5
KL So a couple of weeks after we started talking about the podcast, uhhh, got an email from firstname.lastname@example.org and saying that we’re paying five dollars a month for the email address and now we really have to do the podcast. And at that moment I really think it became real and like this thing was really going to be real. So we kind of wanted to start there and talk about how that happened.
JL Five dollars is all it takes. Five dollars and a dream.
SWB [Laughs] yeah, so I was the one who sent that email and I was like, “Well, I got a credit card! I got five dollars a month. I spend five dollars a month on a lot more dumb shit than [others laugh] email accounts.” So for me it was a really low investment to also look at it and be like, “Dude, we are going to take this seriously. And I think that that’s how most anything I’ve ever done sort of came to be—by figuring out something that was small, but really concrete. And the concreteness is what helps it feel real and feel like something that you’re seriously going to do.
KL And a little skin in the game. I mean, I know it’s not much, but you know when you kind of feel like you’re putting some actual cash to it, you’re like, “All right.” [Chuckles.]
SWB That’s like a whole latte I can’t buy now.
JL Yeah, I think that there’s definitely been a couple nights where, you know what? Maybe I’ve had a few glasses of wine and that helped make the appeal of certain domains sound good [laughs]. I’ve been known known to buy a domain or two.
SWB I can’t relate to this at all.
KL No, me either [all laughing].
JL After an exciting night out. But, you know, there’s one thing, you know, you’ll be at the bar with a friend, you’ll be at the coffee shop with a friend, you’ll be at the house with a friend, and you’ll be like, “Oh I have this idea,” and you’re sorta joking around and you’re like, “You know what? Lemme—lemme just pull that trigger and buy that URL,” and the next thing you know: you’ve got a URL and you’re on your way.
SWB Yeah, I’m curious, Jenn, you had Cook Inside the Box a couple years ago, this web series little episodes where you and our friend, Sequoia, would cook recipes from the sides of boxes. I loved this series so much, everybody please go Google this right now if you haven’t seen it [laughter]. So I’m curious: how did that start?
JL So I do remember how that happened. Oh my god, so many years ago at Converge in South Carolina, one of my favorite conferences. I think I was with Val Head and Chris Coyier and maybe a couple of other people and we were walking to go get some food. And I was telling them about how I was eating a box of Nilla Wafers and um you know those delicious cookies? And there was a recipe on the side of a box for Nilla Wafers which didn’t make any sense to me because a Nilla Wafer is just like a cookie. You just—
KL You just eat it.
JL You just open up the box and eat it, right? [KL chuckles] But they had this recipe and I was like, “This is amazing.” We talked about, like, what other boxes could possible have recipes on them and then I became a little bit obsessed with figuring out [laughter] that, and I thought it was really funny. And then one day a few weeks later I was telling Sequoia about this conversation and she was like, “I would totally do that with you.” And I was like, “Really?!?” I was like, someone else—
KL This is a good idea.
JL —someone else is in invested in this?! That’s amazing! And then that was it. We went to the grocery store and started our user research.
SWB What was the first recipe you made?
JL It was the Nilla Wafers’ Nilla Yogurt Freeze, which was a mix of strawberry yogurt, frozen with Nilla wafers, and the serving size was: one [laughter].
KL Was it as delicious as it sounds?
JL It really actually was. It was just a little bit sad.
SWB I think my favorite episode was the one where you rolled hot dogs in ketchup and then rolled them in—
JL Cornflakes! Yes, cornflakes.
SWB Yes! And baked them for…not long enough? And that was a treat. Mm hmm.
JL Yeah I heard that was quite—that was when I was a vegetarian so I had an easy out of not eating that, so I avoided that one.
KL Yeah, you were like, “That’s all you.”
JL Yeah. But yeah, you know, all of a sudden you take this thing that just happens in casual conversation, next thing you know you’ve got a YouTube web series [laughs].
SWB You know something I always think about is that one of the challenges is anything that feels big. Like there’s a lot of steps, there’s a lot of moving parts, there’s a lot of pieces to it. And so some of the biggest stuff that I’ve needed to take all the way from end to end is book stuff. And I don’t consider myself necessarily a like typical writer, just because I think everybody has a different process. But the way I do it tends to be, like, I need to have some kind of outline that’s enough structure, enough substance to it that I can imagine it coming together. And then I have all these weird tricks to actually getting it done where it’s like I pick off the easy chapters first, so then I feel like I have something of substance, all of these different things. But I don’t know a lot about techniques or process for getting something big like that done, just sort of what I’ve cobbled together and made up. Katel, running a publishing company, do you feel like you have developed some of those tools or techniques for people to kind of tackle big things?
KL I was actually just talking to an author recently who had [chuckles] told me that for the past couple of months a “to do” on her list had been “write book.” And I was like, “No!” [Laughter] “Don’t do that.” I was like, “That’s too big. You’re never going to get to check it off and that’s going to feel terrible.” So along with looking at kind of how she could break things down and sort of structure them and, just like you said, pick off some things that were a little easier. You know, get a framing set up first and kind of plug in the meatier bits. One thing that we’ve started doing is just having check-ins during the writing process and I think that’s helped a lot because it’s a bit of accountability. So folks don’t feel like they’re just off in the ether writing and writing and not knowing whether they’re going in the right direction. So I think just having some tetheredness helps a lot.
JL One of my favorite books of all time is Getting Things Done by David Allen, and he’s got a really, for me, approach that really resonated well, which is, you talk about what the next step is that you have to take. And you don’t worry about, like, what’s the 20-step-ahead step? It’s, what’s the next thing I want to do for this exact thing? So if it’s something like, you know, I want to write a book. Well, I was like, “Well, what’s my next step? Maybe it’s get in touch with someone who I know, like Katel, who publishes books. So my next step is to email Katel.” Just that. Not even, like, come up with an idea, not write it, not find a publisher, it’s just write someone I know. And then the other thing that I really liked about the getting things done approach is if it’s something that it’ll take less than two minutes, to do it right away. So if I can write you an email that just says, “Hey Katel, I want to talk to you about books. Let’s grab dinner sometime this week,” and that’ll take me less than two minutes, then I’d send that email.
KL Yeah, I think breaking things down to as small as possible so that you can actually start checking things off your list is—it feels better than anything.
SWB You know something that you just said, Jenn, about “if it takes two minutes, just do it.” I totally noticed that when we were working on starting this podcast. So you know one night we’re sitting, talking about lots of different things we needed to do, like all these macro to-do lists, right? Like, “we need to figure out microphones,” and like themes, and guests, and schedules, and like—you know it was very, very broad. And one of the things that we knew we needed to do was start recruiting a few people who could contribute to our first episode where we wanted to have these short snippets. And Katel and I, I think, both had kind of the same reaction, like, “Okay, let’s make a list of those people and assign each of us a list of those people to contact. And then, you know, we’ll do that after this meeting,” and meanwhile Jenn is literally over there like, “Okay, I sent all my emails to my people!” [Laughter] And you know that doesn’t obviously work for everything. It works for those short things though, and I think that that really gave us some momentum, and that momentum at that particular moment was really, really important and helpful, and got us all the way here where we are today! [Laughter]
JL GTD, man!
KL That’s right [music fades in].
Thanks to our sponsors
SWB Hey Katel, do you know what I love getting done?
KL Um, nails? Snacks?
SWB I mean yes, and also yes. But more than anything, I love thanking our sponsors, because I’ve realized that starting a podcast is just a lot of work. There’s so many little details to take care of and so many pieces that have to fall into place. Getting some support from wonderful sponsors has made that so much easier. One of those great sponsors is wordpress.com! WordPress is the first place I went to create our site: noyougoshow.com. It’s also how I run my personal site, sarawb.com.
Whether you’d like to build a personal blog, a business site, or both, creating your website on wordpress.com helps others find you, remember you, and connect with you. I love WordPress because it’s easy. You don’t need any special skills to create an amazing site fast. You can just pick up a template and go. But it’s also super customizable. So if you’re working with an awesome developer like our co-host Jenn, you can turn your WordPress site into pretty much anything you want. Plus they have 24/7 support and plans that start at just four dollars a month. Go to wordpress.com/noyougo to get 15 percent off your website today. That’s wordpress.com/noyougo.
KL We’re also so excited to have CodePen as our sponsor. CodePen is the place to write and share code with the front-end community. You can share your code with others and explore what they’ve created by browsing all sorts of Pens. And this spring, the CodePen community is coming together in real life for the first time ever with a CodePen World’s Fair, taking place May 30th through June 1st in Chicago. Three radical days of hanging out with people who love CodePen as much as you do. Day one is an expo with art exhibits and interactive installations, day two will be amazing conference talks about front-end dev, and day three will feature fantastic workshops! Sign up at codepenworldsfair.com to hear more. That’s codepenworldsfair.com.
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Interview: Sara Chipps
JL So though I’ve had a slew of my own ideas, some better than others, I’ve also been fortunate enough to be part of other projects that were the creation of others. One of these was teaching for Girl Develop It, a non-profit organization that provides affordable programs for adult women interested in learning web and software development in a judgment-free environment. I met Sara Chipps over six years ago. She co-founded GDI in New York and was looking to expand it to Philadelphia. I can’t begin to explain how flattered I was when Sara had asked me to teach the first class here in Philly, which was an intro to HTML and CSS class and, to this day, I can say that it’s been one of my favorite parts of my career. She has since embarked on new feats in robotics and wearable technology, and is the CEO of Jewelbots. I am so, so excited to have Sara here today to talk about the opportunity that she has given people to join in some of these projects with her and hear more about her current adventures! So, welcome to No, You Go, Sara!
Sara Chipps Thank you so much for having me! That was the best introduction I’ve ever gotten in my life!
JL [Laughs] yay! I’m fangirling here a little bit to have my friend on the show. So I’m super pumped! So, Sara, tell us about Jewelbots.
SC Yeah, so Jewelbots is a project that I’ve been working on for the past almost four years. You know, I polled a lot of my male peers about how they got started in programming and how old they were, and what I heard from them is often they were, like, middle school years was apparently the prime time for people to get started programming, and often it was because of gaming or something that is traditionally masculine, which might help explain why there is such a big gender gap. So we set out to make something that was more traditionally feminine and open source. And so we met with about 200 young girls in that demographic and we talked to them about what we could build for them, what would be exciting. And what we heard from them is that their friendships and their friends are the most important thing to them at this point in time. Do you guys remember being that age?
JL Oof. Yes [laughter].
SC So, yeah, so what we did was we made smart friendship bracelets. And the way they work is they detect your friends when they’re nearby and they light up when you’re together, and you can use them to send secret messages and things, and they’re also open source. So girls can program them to do all kinds of things, like go rainbow colors when all their friends are in the same place, or one girl made a metronome. They can do all kinds of animations in really cool colors, they can make games, that kind of thing. So it’s been a lot of fun.
JL That’s so neat. We did, like, a beach trip a couple of years ago and we made friendship bracelets on the beach and it was the best [laughter].
SC That’s so great!
JL So I don’t think that joy of friendship bracelets has faded.
SC That’s so awesome.
JL Knowing you from Girl Develop It and knowing a bit about Jewelbots, I think that it’s quite obvious you want to encourage women in the STEM field. For this one, would you say that you were thinking more about wearables, like were you really into that? Or were you thinking, like, “Okay, well, I’ve worked with adults. How do I get into younger girls and women getting into this?” What was your inspiration for getting this project started?
SC Really it was hearing from adult women things like, “I didn’t know what an engineer was until I got to college.” And just stuff like that made us say, “Okay, when are people learning about this stuff that are getting involved in this field, and how can we make sure that that is something that they know about?” And so that’s kind of how we settled on this age group, is, you know, it’s when a lot of men are typically exposed to programming.
JL Right, yeah, so you had this idea and you mentioned you know you got together with about 200 girls that gave you this feedback. How did you decide to sort of start with this? I mean it’s user research, right? How was that the next step you took?
SC So I started with an idea. So I knew I wanted to do a wearable. I knew it needed to be a bracelet just because you know if you’re doing notifications or anything like that and it’s around your neck you don’t see it, and if it’s on your—if it’s like a ring, it has to be a huge, huge ring. Yeah it’d just be like this monster.
JL I would wear it probably—[laughter].
SC That’s great. So my idea was that we would make a bracelet and you could change the color based on your outfit, right? So like I wanted to wear blue today, I would make my bracelet blue. That would be like my look for the day. And I thought this was a great idea. I also thought I had remembered what it was like to be 12. So myself and a friend at ITP, which is a program here at NYU, made a prototype and brought it to schools to see what girls thought, and they were like, “That’s a dumb idea.” Well, they saw it and they’d be like, “This is cool! What is it?” And we’d tell them and they were like, “Oh, I’d never use that.” [laughs] like, “Okay, god!” [Laughter] I know, it was really rough. Because you think you remember, right? I found myself in front of classrooms, like, explaining that I was a cool adult [boisterous laughter]. Like, “I know most adults are lame, but I’m not.” And I was like, “Oh my god, I am, I really am.” [Laughter.]
SWB So what did they tell you that they actually wanted to use? Like after they told you that your idea was lame, how did you get out of them some good ideas that would be things they would want to use?
SC So instead of saying, like, “What’s your idea?” We asked them more about their lives and their day-to-day and the things that they enjoy using. And just every conversation went back to friendship. You know, like, they all still wear the friendship bracelets—like the ones that we used to make, either the thread ones or those like plastic lanyard type ones, and they still make those, they still wear them, sometimes they’ll wear ‘em like all the way up their arms. So one day when we had compiled some of this feedback and started talking about, “What if we made like a real friendship bracelet?” And we started talking to them about that. That’s when they started really freaking out. Like their whole faces would light up and they’d be like, “Oh my god! I would have to have that!”
SWB It’s so refreshing to see people really take their user research seriously, because I think so often user research gets like straight up ignored. So I think that that’s such a huge difference and I think it also speaks to what makes this valuable for actually hitting that mission of encouraging girls to enter STEM because you know you didn’t like accept kind of a shallow answer to that and you really looked at what was going to make it meaningful and connect with them at that deeper level.
SC Like we didn’t even think about this until we actually did a hardware accelerator in San Francisco called Highway1. This was my first foray into hardware and so it was a really big help getting into Highway1 where you know what they do is they kind of incubate your company and they have experts there that can help you and guide you through the design and development prototyping process. And our first I just heard some nightmare stories about like, “Here’s something that we built and we didn’t talk to anyone. And here’s how we wasted like millions of dollars for this company because we built this thing that either doesn’t work or there’s this huge error we didn’t foresee or the people just don’t want it.” And so after hearing those stories I was like, “You know what? Um we should probably go talk to some people.” That’s one thing about my job and what we do is that girls in this age group are so fun. They’re so fun. They’re so opinionated and like fierce and hilarious and independent. And so it’s definitely the best part of my job is just meeting these girls and hearing about their lives and just being so impressed. I’m like constantly impressed by girls in this age group and like the cool stuff that they’re doing.
JL How did you break into that? Like, how did you get access to being able to talk to these girls and finding out what they wanted? Was it through one of the incubator programs? Was it through NYU? Was it through something else?
SC So there’s a statistic like 94 percent of parents in the US want their kids to be exposed to more you know programming and programming resources. And not even 40 percent of schools have computer science programs, and what is called a computer science program in most schools is like not something that we would consider programming. One thing that this has really exposed me to is just what a huge gap there is. Like we tried to like visit the entire demographic of you know socioeconomic classes uh in this age group. So if you go to a private school they will have a computer science program taught by a programmer and if you go to most public schools they have like a typing program taught by a teacher that doesn’t know anything about programming and – if they even have that, you know, sometimes there’s like a computer for an entire classroom to share.
So what we did is we volunteered to teach some classes. We were like, “Hey, we’re programmers. We’ll teach, you know, some beginner programming classes to your students in exchange for them answering some of our questions.” So that was kind of how we got in there. And it was a pretty neat thing to be able to meet girls and talk to them.
JL Yeah, that’s so smart! So you work with a co-founder, Brooke Moreland, on Jewelbots, right? How did you come together? How do you find that you’ve surrounded yourself with people to help make your vision come true?
SC Brooke was—when I moved to New York—one of the first people I met. She had a company called Fashism with an ‘s-h’. It was kind of like Instagram before Instagram, where people would upload pictures of their outfits or like fashion and people would like rate their fashion. And it was really popular with teenagers. Like hugely popular. And so with her background, you know, her skillset is just really complementary to mine in the way that she has fashion and business in her background, and I’m more focused on the technology side of things. And so when I started working on this, I reached out to Brooke and was like, “What do you think?” And she’s like, “This sounds awesome.”
JL And for me sometimes, I have the problem of like how do you hold an idea that’s like so precious to you and then like trust others? Or like even be brave enough to first mention the idea to someone else?
SC Yeah, yeah, I had been working on it for a few months already. And it’s so funny like when you first start prototyping something, it looks like garbage. Right? Like you’re always like—and when I was first working on this I was using Arduino and things were, like, taped together and falling apart and all this stuff. And so I just kind of showed her this thing. And she’s like, “Oh this is cool!” And then you have to find people that I think are like…can see past the tape.
KL [Laughs] yes.
JL So once, you know, you showed Brooke the idea and she was like, “This is great.” Were you both like, “Okay, we’re going full-time on this”? How did you sort of build up to what Jewelbots is now?
SC At the time it was just me and I was full-time on it. And going full-time on a side project is really hard. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without getting into Highway1, as they give you seed funding for your business. So I had already been full-time on it for a few months and then she had just left her job. So we kind of both just jumped in.
JL Monetary blockers I think are tough when people have ideas. You know, do you have any advice for people that are sort of like, “Well, what do I do? I have this idea. I’m not sure how to take it to the next level.”
SC Before that I had a full-time job and it took me – I had been working on it for maybe about eight months or so part-time before we got into Highway1, before I was able to quit my job, and I’ve definitely been there. You know, Girl Develop It, I always had a full-time job. And it’s really difficult and one thing I learned fairly early in is even if you make the smallest bit of progress at night—you know, like, you get home, you’re exhausted, you don’t feel like working on anything—and you just spend five minutes writing one email, right? If you can get that one email out, or do that one thing that will push things forward, you know you’ll just keep going. The place where you get lost is when there’s, like, three weeks and you didn’t work on it and you’re just procrastinating because you’re like, “I have hours and hours of work to do.” But if you just make sure to take a little time every day, or you know just a few times a week, making sure you’re spending 15 minutes, 20 minutes, you can make sure that things keep growing.
JL I like that a lot. Because things can feel overwhelming. You know you take a break from something and all of a sudden there’s so much to do versus a little. So I think that makes total sense. So before Jewelbots, you know as I mentioned, I know you through GDI, Girl Develop It. Can you tell us a little bit about Girl Develop It and how that got started?
SC Yeah! So we never set out to make the company that it is today which is a really awesome, big non-profit. So one thing that happens to female developers is you will meet—like someone will be like, “Oh it’s so cool that you’re like a female developer! I know another female developer. You guys should be friends.” [Laughter] And you’re always like, “I mean, thank you, but like [laughs] I have work, I have a job.”
SWB And like there’s more than two of you out there. You know, like, “Oh gosh, you have to know this one other person who they happen to have the same job.” It’s like, do you say that every time you meet somebody who’s an accountant? [Laughter] “I also know an accountant!” No, you don’t.
SC “Do you know them? Do you know this other accountant?” [Laughter] Yeah so when—so someone had done that to us, and it was actually fortunate because we were talking about how in our computer science classes often we felt like we were afraid to ask questions because we were afraid that, you know, sometimes you feel like you ask a stupid question, it’s something you should know. Like, people in the class are going to be like, “Oh god! Of course the girl doesn’t know this!” [Chuckles] and, like, start throwing batteries at you or something. I dunno [laughter].
JL Huh, Philadelphia style [laughter].
SWB But that sounds frustrating, right? It’s like you feel like you can’t just hang out and focus on learning and getting the most out of your class because you have to sit down and be like, “Oh I’m also somehow like a representative for my gender here.” It’s like, that’s a lot of extra pressure and a lot of bullshit.
SC It is. It is and so having both shared that experience, we were like, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where you know like people could learn and they could ask every stupid question that they think of?,” you know, and not be afraid of having to know that? Because also learning as an adult…like, kids are so fine not knowing things, you know? Like, because kids: you’re not supposed to know. But as an adult, you know, it can be scary asking questions because, you know, you’re supposed to know. So we scheduled just one class, one HTML/CSS class. This is in 2010 when there wasn’t a lot of these boot camps and things like that teaching. And we didn’t know how people were going to come or if they would be into it or anything like that but it ended up selling out, you know, in the first day. And then we planned another class and another class and then people in other cities were like you know, “We want to do this. This sounds cool.” So finally you know it started growing and it kind of like grew like a weed. Like it just kind of—yeah, it was pretty wild.
JL So in a lot of teaching for Girl Develop It, I know a lot of times the students they want to make a change in their career and they’re ready to try something new. Do you have advice for people that would want to start a new career, how they get started in doing that?
SC Programming isn’t hard. Like, you know, we’ve done this disservice as a community to say that you have to be good at math to be a coder, or you have to be some kind of genius to be a coder, and it’s so not true unless—I mean, yeah, there are, like, people that work—there are like quants that work in finance, and they have very specialized degrees. But most, you know, development jobs where you’re doing web development, it’s not rocket science. You know, it’s not anything that the average person can’t understand if they put in the work. So I think that, first of all, don’t be daunted by it—don’t think it’s not for you or you’re not smart enough, because I promise I’ve yet to meet the person that can’t understand how to, like, do an HTML/CSS page after like you know sitting down for a bit and working to understand it. And also, you know, be ready to put in the work, because it’s definitely hard work.
SWB That really brings me back around to thinking about Jewelbots and how powerful it is to bring that to girls who aren’t getting that message, right? Who are like getting far too many messages about technology being something complicated and foreign and sort of you know being kind of alienated from it already at a young age and not even knowing you know what an engineer does. I really like the idea that you’re making it feel accessible and relatable because you’re totally right, this isn’t something that normal people can’t do. It’s not just for special people. And so I’m curious, like, as Jewelbots has grown and developed like, where do you see that going?
SC We’re on target.com, we’re on our own website, we’re in a lot of places and it’s grown a lot, which has been very cool. We also were in the Wired store, and I think that the way we see things going is a good question. We’re about to make some big announcements for Jewelbots and kind of ask our audience and our community what they want to see from us in the future. You know, this community has come together of young ladies and they’re building things and sharing with each other and the coolest thing I think is the tiny speaking careers that are launching because of these eight-year-olds—eight-, nine-, 10-, 11-year-olds—that are going out there giving conference talks about programming their Jewelbots, which is so adorable. Like, I cry every time. I really do. And that’s not a joke. I’m just like sitting there crying [laughs].
JL That’s so amazing!
SC I know!
SWB Yeah, that’s super cool.
SC Yeah. But so we’ve shipped 10,000 of them now, and we’re working to figure out what’s next and what we should be working on next. So we’re about to announce some big stuff and then ask the community what they want to see from us.
JL Oh I can’t wait to hear more about that. Speaking of speaking, I know that you cut back on speaking to make time for Jewelbots. How’d you come to that decision?
SC I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I didn’t really travel. Like my family, like we went to Disney once and my family was very like we drove 20 hours to see family members and that was our vacations which I loved them for. Like [laughs] I’m not complaining. But getting older like being able to travel the world to give conference talks was such a cool experience because I got to see so many different places. But what I started realizing that even though it was fun and glamorous and things it was getting in the way of work, it was getting in the way of like getting things done. And so now when I do talks or when I get you know asked to do talks, I evaluate like, what will this do? Will this help the business? You know um or will this be you know a distraction?
JL That’s great and then, Sara, have you ever felt blocked or in a rut? And if so, how have you gotten out of it?
SC Yeah. And that’s a really good question. Focus can be hard, because there’s just so much going on, and often you feel like you’re doing the same thing every day. I usually focus on my personal life then, or, like, what habits I can bring to my life in general that will be beneficial because often it’s not work, often it’s work affecting life, right? So if in work I need to be doing the same thing every day for a while, that means my other time I should try to do something fun. So I usually focus on adding a new habit or, you know, something in my life that can distract me from the the rut, the day-to-day.
JL And then before we wrap up, do you have any final advice for anyone that’s got an idea and wants to get that idea to a product?
SC What I say all the time is, just start with those baby steps. It’s going to take a thousand baby steps. Everyone has a good idea, right? Everyone. Ideas are worthless unless it’s something that gets made. So you know, if it’s going to take a thousand baby steps, then if you start today, you only have 999 left. But if you don’t, then it’s never going to happen. So it can be really daunting. You know, I look back and I can’t believe we have like a manufactured product. Like I never—it’s just insane. I never would imagine I could do something like this. But, it just took a thousand baby steps.
JL I love it. Sara, thanks so much for joining us on No, You Go today.
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JL You’re so awesome!
SC Thank you for having me.
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Fuck Yeah of the Week
JL You know when you’re so excited about something that you just start going google wild and you have like one million tabs open and you can’t wait to read them all? That’s our next segment: the Fuck Yeah of the Week—where we get super excited about someone or something that we just want to google the shit out of. Katel, who’s our Fuck Yeah this week?
KL I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s daylight, because this morning when I was making coffee I looked up and I realized that it’s now light out in the morning a little earlier, which is so awesome, because you know just a few weeks ago it was like dark when I was making coffee, which is just really depressing. So I’m just really excited that our days are getting a little longer and I feel like we can get a little bit more light and a little bit more time back into our lives.
SWB And a little more energy, right?
KL Yeah, definitely.
JL I love that. I mean I know when I you know I work on sites so when I’m leaving work when it starts getting dark at four, I’m like, “Okay, well,” you know it’s hard to sort of keep in that mind set where like I’m still at work because then it feels like daytime is work—
JL —and nighttime is home. And so when like the day starts pushing more forward, then I’m like, “Okay, look, I still have this crossover.” It’s not such a hard line between like work and home. It’s just like, “Oh, here’s just my day.” Instead of like, “Here’s work. Here’s home.” It feels so versus each other—
KL Yeah! You’re totally right.
JL —when it’s day versus, you know?
KL It feels like there’s a much crisper line.
SWB Plus, every day is one step closer to it being summertime stoop beer season, and that is something that I look forward to saying, “Fuck yeah” to very soon.
KL Me too. And beer garden weather. So, fuck yeah, daylight! [Music fades in.]
SWB Fuck yeah, daylight!
JL Well that’s it for this week’s episode [music fades out] of No, You Go, the show about being ambitious—and sticking together. No, You Go is recorded in our home city of Philadelphia, and our theme music is by The Diaphone. Thank you to Sara Chipps for being our guest today [music fades in]. We’ll be back next week with another episode [music ramps up to end].