“It’s really all about not making the mistakes over and over,” says one of our Growth Hacking panelists. “It’s a lot more fun to make new mistakes.”
By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)
To help you all get just as excited as we are for our upcoming “How To” Conference in San Francisco, we’re chatting with our speakers about all things tech — how they got to where they are today and even some of the mistakes they made along the way.
Today’s conversation is with growth hacking panelist Laura Klein, who was recently appointed VP of Product at Hint Health and is a mentor at Tradecraft.
Here’s a bit about Laura’s background: Laura has spent 15 years as an engineer and designer. Her goal is to help lean startups learn more about their customers so that they can build better products faster. Her popular design blog, Users Know, teaches product owners exactly what they need to know to do just enough research and design. She is the author of UX for Lean Startups from the O’Reilly Lean Series.
During the day, Laura is a Mentor at Tradecraft where she helps train the next generation of UX Designers and the VP Product at Hint Health where she’s trying to make healthcare affordable. In her spare time she pretends she has enough time to write another book.
Read on for more about Laura’s insight about getting into tech almost accidentally and building a career she loves. (And in case you missed it, check out who else is speaking on our Growth Hacking panel.)
Women 2.0: How do you typically spend the first hour of your day?
Laura Klein: Reading email and Twitter in bed on my phone and wondering why I don’t go back to working from home so I could sleep in for another hour.
Women 2.0: Who was an early role model who inspired your career in tech?
Laura Klein: I got into tech accidentally when my friend, Ellen, told me about a research position available at a sort of tech think tank where she was working as an interaction designer. She also was instrumental in teaching me how to switch from engineering into design. I quite literally owe any success I may have had to her meddling, and she has never let me forget it.
Women 2.0: What do you love about your job?
Laura Klein: I love building stuff. I love talking to users. I love hanging out with engineers and collaborating on something that I know people will use every day. So, pretty much all of it.
I hate office politics, but I just avoid that part by working exclusively at startups where I love all the people.
Women 2.0: What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?
Laura Klein: I would say, “You’ve got this!” I spent a lot of my early twenties thinking that computers were hard and magical and the people who were able to program them were some sort of wizard geniuses with special powers. Then I learned to program and figured out that it was just a thing that people could learn to do. I wish I’d done that sooner. I wouldn’t have spent a couple of years after college wondering what to do with my life.
Women 2.0: What’s one thing that’s awesome about being a woman in tech?
Laura Klein: Well, I’m pretty fond of being a woman, in general, and I’d rather be a woman in tech than a woman in any other industry.
I have a group of really close female friends, many of whom are in tech in one way or another, and we’re all quite supportive of one another. I get the sense that that isn’t really what you’re asking, but the truth is that I have no idea what it would be like to be a man in tech, so I can’t really say what makes being a woman in tech more or less awesome.
Women 2.0: What are a few apps or tools you couldn’t live or work without?
Laura Klein: Well, there are so many different tools out there for the same thing that no specific product really stands out. For example, I love Slack for staying in contact with my team, but I’ve also used Skype and HipChat and IRC channels for the same thing, and I loved those too.
It’s less about the tool and more about the behavior. Basically, I love being able to keep the engineers and designers and product all talking to one another and sharing what’s going on in some sort of asynchronous conversation. It makes collaboration much easier.
Women 2.0: What did you learn from your greatest failure? (And if you’d like to share what it was, we’d love to hear it!)
Laura Klein: I had a couple of startups in which I was heavily invested fall apart. I learned that things fail for a lot of reasons. You should own the reasons that were your fault and learn from them. And you should also understand the reasons that weren’t your fault and figure out how to avoid similar situations in the future. It’s really all about not making the mistakes over and over. It’s a lot more fun to make new mistakes.