We are thrilled to have Kaylee Williams speak at #Intermitten18. She is the President of VolunteerLocal, which is a volunteer scheduling and registration platform for festivals, endurance events, nonprofits, and universities all over the world.

Kaylee’s talk, “Building for (and towards) Diversity in Tech,” will teach proven strategies to diversify the applicant pool when job opportunities become available at your company, as well as skills for incorporating inclusive and fair hiring practices at every stage of the process. We can’t wait for her to share what she has learned, how she’s put it to work at VolunteerLocal, and how we can apply those same skills at our respective companies. We asked Kaylee more information about her work and what drives her. Here’s what she shared with us.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I’m inspired by the impact that volunteers can have on our communities, our economy and our culture.

Over the last decade, volunteer work has quietly woven its way into the very fabric of our society. Volunteers empower the nonprofits that serve our most marginalized and vulnerable populations, the endurance events that promote wellness, fitness and health, and the festivals that make our communities more cultural, vibrant and fun. Without volunteers, it couldn’t happen.

Here at VolunteerLocal, we have an internal dashboard that shows us each day, each week, each year how many unique volunteers have signed-up online. As I write this, 988 people registered to work a job and shift for an event they care about. These are people who expect nothing in return except the opportunity to make an impact. They’re willing to show up at 4am to navigate traffic in parking lots, or throw on a pair of gloves to insulate the walls of a home for a family they’ll never meet.

We believe that VolunteerLocal makes volunteering easier and more accessible – which, as we have seen, increases the number of people willing to do it. That is what inspires me when I sit down at my desk every day.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to do similar work?

Starting and growing a tech company is hard work. I have a few key pointers.

  1. “Selling” is not a bad word. It’s critical to your business. It does not matter if you’ve never been professionally trained in sales or business development; in my opinion, this can even be an asset. If you believe in the value of what you’ve built, you can sell it. Remember that you’re not selling a product or a service, you’re selling a solution.
  2. Know thy customer. Who are you selling to? This will help guide your sales pitch, of course, but it will (should) also drive your product development pipeline, your marketing efforts and – when the time comes – your new hires.
  3. Find a few mentors who are willing to help guide you through this process. In my opinion, the best mentors are the ones whose strengths lie in your weaknesses.
  4. Tenaciousness is the most underrated characteristic of the most successful entrepreneurs I know. A friend of mine once said that “the only skill an entrepreneur needs to have is the ability to get punched in the face and stand right back up, only to get punched in the face again.”
  5. Be persistent and be polite, in all things.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?

The best leaders are products of their failures, not their successes.

What inspired you to get involved in Intermitten?

I am in love with the overall mission of this conference. Intermitten brings together technologists from around the country to explore themes of diversity and inclusion, creative collaboration and building rich, mentor-driven communities. This conference reflects the non-linear path that most startups take as they launch and scale – there is no “one” right answer, no center of gravity. But together, we can build a foundation of resources and tools that support a diverse community of entrepreneurs from the early-stage (idea) to market saturation.

Click here to learn more more about Kaylee, read about all of this year’s speakers, and then get your Intermitten 2018 ticket!