Driven by the belief that technology and social media can connect, inspire, and transform our everyday lives for the better, Stephanie Humphrey is passionate about sharing that power with all of us — and particularly with those of us who have long been underrepresented in technology. With her weekly 60-Second Tech Break on Instagram & Twitter (@TechLifeSteph) Stephanie is able to help thousands of people understand both tech basics and how to improve the outcome of everyday tasks and interactions.
Helping students understand social media – both its benefits and potential pitfalls — is also an important mission. With a seminar called ‘Til Death Do You Tweet, Stephanie helps students, parents, and professionals understand and avoid the potential negative consequences of online behavior. Her new book Don’t Let Your Digital Footprint Kick You in the Butt! takes an even deeper dive into this topic.
Finish this sentence: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for ________________.
My mom. It sounds totally cliché, but my mother was the person that convinced me that I could do or be anything. She ingrained that idea into me so completely that it removed a lot of the doubt and self-consciousness that I might have faced from others, as well as from myself (not all, but a lot!). Her insistence that I honor my potential motivated me to pursue goals and dreams not necessarily associated with a young Black girl from a lower-middle class background. And wherever that training falls short, my faith steps in to pick up the slack. I am a Christian, and it has only been my faith that fills the gaps, quiets the fear of uncertainty, and allows me to continue to serve others.
Resumes highlight professional and educational achievements. Which one of your life or personal experiences deserves to be on your resume?
“Successfully navigated a major career change from a traditional corporate role to an on-air contributing role on a national daytime morning show.” I am most proud of the persistence and perseverance I’ve shown in forging an entirely new career from the ground up and being able to support myself in a business that I truly love. The media/entertainment industry can be notoriously unforgiving and competitive, and I am proud of the character I’ve shown in navigating it and the longevity I’ve been able to have in the field.
What qualities do you look for when hiring someone on your team? What qualities do you avoid?
Practically anyone that gets added to my team has to be able to communicate effectively — written and verbal. I absolutely will not micromanage, so a potential team member needs to be a creative self-starter as well. With that in mind, I’d avoid someone who only wanted a role where they simply executed instructions all day (unless that’s what the job required). And I think staying away from complainers is good advice in business and in life!
“I believe showing up as my authentic self in any space where I do business … shows others in the majority the value of DE&I”
What’s one piece of career advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
“Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.” This advice could have eliminated (or at least mitigated) a lot of the anxiety I had around second-guessing decisions I’ve made in my life. I still obsess over a few of the choices I’ve made in the past, but understanding this advice helps me gain some perspective about them. I’ve also found journaling to help immensely, as it provides a written record of the hindsight that guides us to make better decisions going forward.
Which three books, podcasts, or new sources do you think everyone should read? Why?
I would be remiss if I didn’t include my own book in this response! My book, Don’t Let Your Digital Footprint Kick You in the Butt! can help anyone — but especially students — understand how important it is to consider your personal brand in your digital behavior, with the ultimate goal of becoming a better digital citizen. A Tale of Three Kings is another favorite of mine. Even if you’re not a person of faith, it’s an interesting study of three distinct personality types and gives you some insight into how you see yourself (or how you’d like to see yourself). And while I wouldn’t consider Twitter a “news source” per se, it’s one of the most efficient ways for me to get a lot of different news at once, and I believe you should get your news from multiple sources. I have curated lists that allow me to see all my tech content and news content in one place. It also allows me to follow sources with different viewpoints to get an understanding of how varying groups see a particular issue.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is front and center right now. How do you express your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in your personal and professional life?
Since I am a woman of color, I believe showing up as my authentic self in any space where I do business shows that commitment because my presence shows others in the majority the value of DE&I. It allows others like me the freedom to be their authentic selves as well. I am also committed to creating opportunities for other diverse individuals in the media space when I have the chance to do so, and serving as a mentor to ensure the pipeline stays full.
What’s one tangible step every employer should take to help build a more representative organization?
If language doesn’t exist anywhere that explicitly outlines the organization’s commitment to DE&I, that should be the first step. Incentives for referrals of diverse individuals that eventually get hired can motivate employees to recommend candidates that may not reflect the majority and can also remove the “we can’t find anyone” excuse. And finally a commitment to regular training and communication from leadership is key to changing culture.