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How It Feels To Be ‘The Only:’ An Interview with Christina Morillo of Women of Color in Tech

Jun 27, 2016 3 min readPodcasts
Photo of Courtney Seiter
Courtney Seiter

Former Director of People @ Buffer

Angers activates.

That’s the quote a friend shared with Christina Morillo, and it stuck in her mind.

So when she set out to find some stock photos for the side project she had started with her friend Stephanie Morillo, she recognized what she was feeling when she couldn’t find them: Anger.

The project, Women of Color in Tech Chat, is a community for women of color and non-binary people of color in tech. The goal was to build a simple splash page.

“When we went to build a website and we found that there were no photos of women like us, it came out of frustration,” she said. “The fact of not being able to see diverse representation; it just made me so angry.”

And then, the activation: “Something ticked. I though, wait a minute. I can totally hire a photographer and get some women in tech and we could have a photo shoot. And I could flood the internet with our photos…I just made it happen.”

Today, the Women of Color in Tech Chat photos have been used all over the web, and Morillo, an information security architect, has been featured everywhere from Re/Code to Cosmo.

And the co-founders also wrote about how they made their project happen (and got funding for it) so others can follow their blueprint.

christina morillo

Plus: Carolyn and I chat about empathy in customer service and how to meet customers where they are.

What you’ll learn from this episode:

  • How we gauge tone of customer emails at Buffer
  • The language we use to meet customers where they are
  • Writing tips and tricks that help convey tone
  • What it feels like to be “the only” at work
  • Ways to combat and overcome impostor syndrome
  • Who can and can’t bring their whole selves to work
  • How to become a mentor or mentee through organic relationships
  • How to own and tell your own story
  • What it means to code switch
  • How to execute on your good ideas
  • Christina’s favorite quote: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Dr. Wayne Dyer quote

Stuff we talk about in this episode:

Notable moments

  • 3:27: Rainbows and kittens and starry eyes
  • 5:00: Click here
  • 6:11: Being sad together
  • 7:30: Sometimes life is hard
  • 12:30: Professional empathizers
  • 15:00: ‘All the cool stuff we talk about behind the scenes’
  • 16:44: Informal therapy sessions
  • 17:3o: Being ‘the only’
  • 19:18: Apple IIGS!
  • 21:00: “You either have the hunger or you don’t”
  • 22:30: “You can code until you eyes fall out”
  • 24:23: Say yes to things that scare you
  • 26:58: People of color can’t have a bad day
  • 29:00: Bringing the big afro curliness
  • 30:30: Anger activates
  • 35:20: We can’t be Oprah
  • 38:45: You will be tired
  • 42:00: Tech tech tech tech tech

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Have you ever had the experience of being “the only ____ ” on a team or in a room? How did it feel and how did you deal with it? Or, do you have thoughts on meeting customers’ tone with empathy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments or at!

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