Over the years, Victoria Taylor helped facilitate over 2,000 Ask Me Anything (AMAs) with all kinds of people - farmers, celebrities, politicians, academics, and more - on Reddit.com for over 8 million subscribers.  Now, the first-ever Director of Digital Community at WeWork and host of the PBS web series InnoVaTe, Victoria is connecting, highlighting, and celebrating business entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders in technology.  Her dedication, work ethic, and commitment to all users on her platforms has made her one of the most beloved and trusted women in digital media.  With a belief that all voices are important and unique perspectives create transformative digital communities, Victoria's goal is to help foster innovative culture through online communities.  Learn how an online network can support your founder vision, the secret to successful entrepreneurship, and how you too can become a woman leader in digital media. 

Connect with Victoria Taylor here and follow her here.

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I want to make it easier for people to find and create meaningful connections.

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Daring Digital

What is the power and potential of digital communities for young women?

The power of digital communities is the opportunity to connect with those who share your same passions, realizing you’re not alone on your journey, and meeting people who want you to succeed.  The power and generosity I’ve seen demonstrated by so many people online is really inspiring.

Whether you’re looking for an internship or career change, there are so many people willing to share their advice, expertise, and relationships.  You can see that happening on all kinds of online communities such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.  Every day, there are gestures of goodwill by different people, especially young women, working to elevate each other.

What did you learn from your influential digital conversations?

I learned that the commonality among people who’ve had extraordinary experiences and successes is dedication.  Being passionate about something and doing it day after day after day is what leads to reaching your goal.  Whether you’re a scientist, farmer, geneticist, author, or actress it’s about being consistent once you’ve found your passion.

There are also funny little bits of wisdom I remember, as well.  I had the chance to do an AMA with the cast of Portlandia.  Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein remembered going to a restaurant and both ordering a salad when they really wanted pasta.  They shared, ‘Ya know – life’s too short.  Eat the pasta.’  That idea struck me.  If you’re really passionate about something – do it and enjoy it.  Life’s too short.

I’ve talked to so many incredible people who’ve said amazing things, but the common themes is don’t give up and you don’t know until you try.  If something doesn’t work the first time, keep trying over and over again.  If you have a movie that didn’t do well, or a book people didn’t understand, keep trying, put yourself out there, and be willing to try new things.

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The commonality among people who’ve had extraordinary successes is dedication.

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What is your vision for startup support through an online network?

My vision for how we can support people through an online community is to help figure out the vision you have for your business, product, or service and take it to the next level.  One of the trickiest things with anything online is finding what you’re looking for with the abundance of choices, options, and wealth of information.  What I want to do is make it easier for people to find those meaningful connections so they can meet the right people who can help them.    Through an online network, you can make lifelong friendships that will transfer with you throughout your career.  It’s important to build and celebrate together and have people who are happy for you when you succeed.

How can aspiring women in tech become leaders in STEM industries?

Becoming a leader with anything starts by making sure you’re part of that industry.  The hardest step is to move into that space and just get started.  There are so many people who want to lend their support or expertise.  When I was filming my recent PBS series, InnoVaTe, in Vermont, I met Denise Shekerjian who helped to create Burlington Generator – a space where people who want to create things such as 3D printed objects, electric circuits, or jewelry, have the equipment and tools available.  Becoming a leader means taking matters into your own hands, building alliances, and asking for support so that you can get to where you want to go. 

There are many people who do want to see you succeed.  I have friends who are female PhD’s, app developers, and coders who are amazing and dynamic women.  They’re always collaborating, supporting each other, or lending advice.  It’s about finding who else is out there because you won’t know until you start to look for those resources.  It can be easy to feel like you’re the only person doing what you’re doing, but if you look, you can find incredible inspiration and support.

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Being passionate about something and doing it day after day is what leads to reaching your goal.

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How can we all foster inclusive and empowering digital communities?

It’s easy to connect with people who you have a lot in common with.  It’s more difficult to connect with others when you don’t have as much in common.  Being able to have a respectful dialogue and exchange of ideas with those who are different from you is incredibly important and an incredibly transformative type of online interaction.

I’ve seen it countless times in places like Change My View, which is a subreddit devoted to people discussing topics where they’re open to having their mind changed about all sorts of things.  It’s about trying to emphasize our shared values, discussing things that maybe make us different, and doing so in a respectful and thoughtful way so that we’re able to open our minds and have a powerful moment of dialogue.

Watch Victoria's bSmart interview here!

Having a respectful dialogue with those who are different is an incredibly transformative online interaction.

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Lady Leadership

What are the characteristics of a successful woman leader online?

The female leaders and mentors that I know are incredibly generous.  They’re generous with their time, talent, expertise, and they make themselves available to mentor, lead, and get involved in charitable causes they’re passionate about.  One of the challenges of life is maintaining relationships with all of the different people you’ve had the chance to work with.  It’s another secret of many women I admire that they make time for their relationships.

It’s very easy to turn a social media relationship into a substitute for spending time with someone and actually catch up one-on-one.  It’s important to keep up both so that you’re not only emailing, texting, or G-chatting back and forth, but you’re also able to pick up the phone and set aside time for coffee.  Taking the time to sit and look at someone letting them know that you care by asking how they’re doing is what sets a lot of leaders I know and respect apart.

What is the key to inspiring and instilling an uplifting community vision?

With any online platform, there tends to be a minimal amount of rules so that people can express themselves in the most possible ways.  If it’s a type of community with more rules or a specific vision, then that tends to be stated very clearly so that the members of that community share the vision and feel they’re reflecting those values while enjoying being a part of that community.

Where you have difficulty is when people misuse the platform by perhaps being too enthusiastic and end up channeling that enthusiasm in a way that’s not reflective of the rules and regulations communicated.  A lot of times people get so excited about their latest product, service, or album that they want to share it with everybody and they don’t realize that those messages might be overzealous and not welcome by other users.

The best way to keep everyone on the same path is to reflect back the community spirit and energy that you want to see.  For instance, I’m a very enthusiastic participant in my online communities and I try to support people and share the things I think are awesome.  Finding those platforms that reflect what you enjoy, and expressing yourself on those platforms, can be the best way to share your vision as you find a likeminded community that will be strengthened just by you being there.

What have been your biggest challenges supporting online communities?

Any time you’re dealing with large groups of people or a large audience, not everyone is going to understand what you’re trying to do.  It’s not always easy to ask difficult questions, but that’s what I did.  The most challenging part was when people didn’t understand me and lashed out misunderstanding what I was trying to do with good intentions.  

I would think that if they got the chance to meet me, they would realize that I really do care and continue to care about all users of any platform I’m involved with (which is crazy, I know), but I really do care about people.  Whether it’s someone I was doing an interview with or someone I’m meeting because they reached out, I really do care so much.  The difficulty can be in conveying that, but if I keep trying, I feel like maybe it will get through.

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When you experience a setback, the people around you might not know what you’re going through.

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How can we bSmart and turn a professional setback into a career comeback?

I don’t think I was smart in any way, I think I was fortunate to have thousands, if not millions, of people looking out for me.  Many times when someone experiences a setback, the people around you don’t know what you’re going through.  It’s key to reach out to your family and friends to let them know you’re going through a difficult time and that you could use their advice, support, or well wishes.

I recently heard an inspiring story about a member of the WeWork team who found out one of their community members was going through a difficult time.  The member had moved to a new city for a job, then immediately lost the job.  This particular WeWork team member canvassed their local area for jobs and lined up interviews to help their community member get back on their feet.  Within one week, the community member had started a new job.  A big part of overcoming a setback is to reach out and ask for help knowing there are resources available to you and that you have a community to support you.

When you’re scared, you feel alone, but remember that there are people who care about you and want to help you do well.  Let them know that you’re open and receptive to their help, and that will get you through any setback.

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Reflect the community spirit and energy that you want to see.

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Overcoming a setback means reaching out for help knowing that you have a community to support you.

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Spotlight on Victoria Taylor

Neighborhood: New York City

Occupation: Director of Digital Community, WeWork

Women I Admire: Too many to list

Dream Mentor: I’ve already got some, they’re very nice (I’m very lucky to have many amazing female mentors in my life).

Look of the Season: Cardigans are always in.

Ultimate Accessory: Marc by Marc Jacobs black pebbled-leather Too Hot to Handle Sia crossbody.

Favorite Store: Uniqlo!

Go-to Outfit: Rag & Bone Jeans, Uniqlo Thermal Turtleneck

Must-have Shoes: Converse Sneakerboots

Can't Live Without Product: Lush shower gel

Salon Recommendation: Parlor

Signature Scent: Don’t wear one

Beauty Essential: Eyeliner (without it, I don’t look awake)

Cocktail of Choice: I only drink red wine

Current Craving: Sockerbit sour candy

Favorite Quote: If life isn’t surreal, you’re not doing it properly.

On My Playlist: I lost my playlist (Rdio is gone)

Favorite App: Probably Twitter

University: Marquette

 

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