Women Empowerment Podcasts

By: Yadira Y. Caro

Podcast junkies like myself always seek recommendations of what to listen to next. That is the beauty of podcasts. The enormous variety allows you to pick based on you interests. Plus, you can listen to them at any time, especially on the move. As you may infer from this blog, I love to learn from other people’s journeys through interviews. Therefore, interview podcasts are my favorite.

Working in an environment dominated by men, I look for stories of professional and successful women to find inspiration. Unfortunately, most of my favorites go-to podcast lack women as guests. Therefore, podcasts with an emphasis on interviewing successful women are a great choice to find fascinating stories and valuable lessons.

Here are some I listen to:

No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis – Journalist Rebecca Jarvis’ podcast features company executives, entrepreneurs and celebrities turned entrepreneurs. Her questions are insightful to elicit guests to share their stories and many times, unconventional path to success. At the end of each show, she highlights a listener who has launched their business and gives them the opportunity to pitch their product to the audience.

Wall Street Journal Secrets of Wealthy Women – Want to know how millionaires became financially successful? In this podcast you learned about their journeys. Host Veronica Dagher interviews successful women in top level jobs sharing ventures and most importantly money secrets related to investing. It also helps women lose fear in investing and take control of their own finances.

Girlboss– Former Nastygal CEO Sophia Amoruso was the subject of many headlines after her company went bankrupt. Instead of letting that experience shadow her efforts, she launched Girlboss Media. This is a business and lifestyle company producing content geared to millennial women. In her podcast, she attempts to redefine the definition of success as climbing a corporate ladder, and she interviews women in media, business, arts and many other industries. They share their stories and provide advice. Even if you are not a millennial (or a woman), there is great advice for entrepreneurs in every interview.

Latina to Latina– I started listening to this per recommendation from interviewee Univision’s Selymar Colon. In this podcast, journalist Alicia Menendez talks to many successful Latin women around the world about their challenges as minorities making it to the top. Anyone regardless of ethnicity and gender can take away valuable advice.

Have any other recommendations? Let me know!

Advocate for Military Spouses: Jamie Muskopf

The day of my interview with Jamie Muskopf from her home in Washington state, she received a called from school saying her kids would have no class that day. Even with that unplanned event, she still went through her day as usual managing her responsibilities as a Project Manager for Microsoft’s Military Spouse Technology Academy, recording an episode of her podcast S.O. Unbecoming, and this interview. Jamie is also completing her Doctor of Social Work studies at the University of Southern California while taking care of her three children and her active duty Navy spouse.

This was another typical day for a military spouse. While significant others perform their jobs at home or abroad, these military spouses must manage their households and in many cases, their careers as well. Jamie has made her mission to advocate for them.

Before marriage, Jamie had started her started thriving career in technology as a developer in college, a job she learned “accidentally” when her supervisors at her summer job at the University of California Santa Barbara asked her to create a website. A few years later, back at home in Hawaii, she became a Director of Web Services at Pacific University and completed a Masters in Information Systems. Later she joined the U.S. Pacific Fleet to develop their Knowledge Management program. At her job she met her future husband. She continued working until the demanding schedule at work and at home forced a career break. In the meantime, she completed her Masters in Knowledge Strategy from Columbia University with the goal of one day returning to the workforce, which happened last year.

During our conversation we talked about her career in tech and Knowledge Management, her mission to use what she has learned for social good, and her weekly podcast S.O. Unbecoming, where she interviews military spouses who are “unbecoming one version of themselves in favor of another.”

What made you realize that knowledge management was important?

As you know, the military is full of different tools and they’re all there for interesting reasons. But there’s always this assumption that “if I use this tool everything in the world will be better.” And really you need more of an understanding that the information you work with and create are part of a larger eco-system. Where I was working at HQ at Pacific Fleet, it was definitely always tied into decision making.

I learned to be very empathetic ultimately to the Commander because there are all these people generating a lot of information (for him). I happened to have a commander that said “pump the brakes, you are giving me all this stuff, tell me why it matters. You can’t just give me a bunch of raw data. I need you to collaborate, and I need you to create something that is just a higher level than what you’re giving me right now. It’s good information, but it’d be richer knowledge if you put it all together first.” I listened very intently to what he wanted. He eventually took high notice of that and he became a really big supporter of knowledge management because he just got it. He understood what we were trying to accomplish. 

When did you take a break in your career?
My husband was my boss’ flag aid. I had no intention whatsoever (to go out with him) but he kept bugging me (laughs). A year later, I was like fine (laughs). We got married and then a month and a half after he went to Connecticut for school. I was pregnant at the time, so I ended up staying in Hawaii. I worked after getting married for the next two years. Then I had two babies who are 18 months apart. Once I had my daughter, he was on a sea tour.

My career and his career were way too competing because at that point I was traveling once or twice a month. We had built a knowledge management program to be pretty wide and all across the fleet, and I was doing a lot of speaking engagements. But it was just not sustainable, so I left. It definitely had a huge impact on my life. It definitely taught me how much my identity centered around my career. I felt kind of lost for a little while.

I loved being a stay at home mom. It was something I dreamed about because I was a single mom for a while and then I was working. I loved my job, but I also hated the fact that I was gone from my son, even though my mom and dad were in Hawaii, so I didn’t have to worry about that so much. But it was tough making the switch from being very career driven to being mommy.

What were your assumptions about military mothers before?
I just had this assumption that it would be easy. I really felt “what could be so hard about having someone else pay your bills and staying home with your kids?” Overtime I learned, on the other side, there are people thinking the same thing about you “they have it so easy, they work, they have their own money, not have to worry about all of these things.

What prompted you to switch to social work?
Because that is knowledge management. People don’t understand that really, at the core of knowledge management, is people and behavior and a culture. If you don’t have a culture that supports good knowledge management, that supports the idea that people need to collaborate and share, we don’t have good knowledge management, that is impossible. You might have semi decent information management but you don’t have knowledge management. If we’re going to really do knowledge management in the world, something more has to be done about how we address behavior. That is not psychology, it’s not necessarily education, it’s a little bit of all those things, but what is it?

When I was still at Columbia University, a friend of mine who’s a social worker was always telling me “you should be a social worker.” (I thought) I would cry every day; I get too emotional over things (laughs). But she said “Look at the Doctor of Social Work program.” So I did and I realized that the program is an innovation program. It almost should be like a Doctor of Social Innovation because what we’re learning right now is what is social innovation, what does that mean, and ultimately, how do you address or how do you identify social norms. The program is bringing me a completely different set of research and lenses. I love that because of what I care about now, which is advocating for the military spouse community. There’s a lot of crazy social norms involved in that, that keep us from working.

How would you describe what you’re doing now at work?

I’m the Project Manager for Microsoft Military Spouse Technology Academy. Right now I’ve been working in the Pilot Program Classroom. It’s been interesting watching this whole process unfold; seeing from both a participant side and being empathetic to it because I am a military spouse. Then seeing from an employer side: what social norms are in place there, what culture, what things are operating in the norm, and the norm being that military spouses unemployment rate is 54%. That norm is very much on purpose. It’s part of a culture around military spouses that has been there since the beginning of the military; your number one job is to support your spouse.

The military spouses now, they want to work, they are working and if the military wants to retain active duty people, they’re going to have to really figure out how do we support working military spouses.

Changes have to happen inside the culture that is the Department of Defense, changes have to happen inside the culture of military spouses. Then there’s also changes that need to happen inside employers and potentially inside the law when it comes to employers creating more innovative ways other than just saying “why don’t we just make all jobs remote.” That is part of an answer, but its not the whole answer. I might suddenly had to pack up-house, I might suddenly have to prepare my household for an unexpected deployment and I need my employer to be flexible about those things.


If I need to move, I would like my employer to be flexible, either allowing me to continue remotely or maybe helping me find another position in our company. Maybe connecting me with a partner in the location that I’m at. Employers need to be incentivized to do such things by the local state governments and potentially, the federal government.

I feel like being in the DSW program is going to give me that lens and that science background to really look at that whole problem or the series of problems, and come up with a model or multiple models that can provide solutions.

The military spouses now, they want to work, they are working and if the military wants to retain active duty people, they’re going to have to really figure out how do we support working military spouses.

Why did you start a podcast on the topic of working military spouses?
My whole point in that podcast is do three things: one is to give to military spouses who are going through the process of getting back into their careers or maintaining their careers, the opportunity to share their stories. I want military spouses of diverse backgrounds; I want to see the diversity in the military spouse community that I see day-to-day, represented in some platform.

Number two is I want to give other military spouses the opportunity to hear those stories, and be inspired by them, or at least, have community with them. As the show goes on, not all the stories are going be great, some of the stories are really heart-breaking and are really frustrating. I know that there are stories that other military spouses will connect with because they’ve had a hard time getting back into the workplace or continue their education.

The third piece of it is definitely to educate civilians, educate employers on what these people are going through, and how are other employers innovating or how are they operating in a way that is supporting military spouse careers. I’ve been very surprised and not surprised at how little people really understand about the military spouse experience, and the kinds of stereotypes and biases that people have about military spouses. It’s been very eye opening.

What are three resources or pieces of advice that have helped you in your career?
My number one thing is to always be growing and tending your network. The way that I have done that over the years has been LinkedIn. Now it is more widely used and it’s a great way to build your professional network. I got recruited for the job with Microsoft over LinkedIn.

The second piece of advice is to always be in learning mode and to have a growth mindset. Even when I was home with babies and sitting there wondering if I’m ever going to get more sleep, I took every opportunity I had to keep up with what was going on, to learn, to read. I listened to the Tony Robbins podcast, Gary Vaynerchuk, Side Hustle School. I love listening to Malcolm Gladwell, Hidden Brain. There are just so many podcasts out there, you can put it on even with your baby on (laughs).

The third thing is just be kind to yourself. It is a hard lesson that I had to learn. I never really give myself grace to be like “it’s okay, you don’t have to be going and going and going all the time, you’ve done that for a long time.” Being kind to myself also has meant changing the perspective of failures to opportunity. I think once you start recognizing that you may fail at things or things that you do may fail, it is just about getting an opportunity to learn something and then try something differently again. That to me is being really kind to yourself.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me! 

Developing Coders: Will Gant

Note: This is the second part of the interviews to the Complete Developer Podcast hosts. Read here BJ Burns interview

In the Complete Developers Podcast, William Gant is described as the more experienced developer of the duo of friends. His career spans over two decades as a developer. In the show, he shares with his friend BJ Burns the lessons he has learned along the way related to code, and dealing with customers and teammates. In this interview, Will talks about his experience, how he started the podcast and some advice for developers.

Why did you decide to become a developer? Did you know that since you were in school?

I was initially going to be a Biology major and I got really interested in biologically inspired computing algorithms, like gene expression programming, that kind of stuff. Once I got to college I double-majored, and the computer classes were late in the day while the biology classes were early in the day. Those two lifestyles just did not go well together, and so, one of them had to go (laughs).

What were some of the first programs or things you learned as a developer?

I started out with GW-BASIC. This was way back in the early ’90s. Then I got into Visual Basic for Applications, then just regular Visual Basic, and ended up moving to .Net when it came out. I’ve been mostly doing that. I had foray into a bunch of other languages. I’m always trying new stuff out, seeing what ideas I can take from another platform.

As far as programs, the first one that I wrote and felt worked really well, was actually a prank. I made a program that could take a screen capture of somebody’s screen and put it flipped upside down with an upside down message box that says “Windows has detected that your video card was installed upside down.” I made it in the background of my uncle’s computer where my dad could hit a button and do that to my uncle at random, because they worked in the same office. He wasn’t real happy about that (laughs).

As a developer, what do you think are some of the misconceptions of people from development or developers?

I think a lot of people have an incorrect understanding of the difficulty level, either thinking it’s more simple than it is or thinking that it’s more difficult. There’s a broad range of difficulty levels in the industry. (As a developer) You kind of get into the habit of breaking stuff down to where it’s simple enough, where you can actually deal with it. A lot of people aren’t aware that that’s what you do versus solving a huge problem. It’s sort of like, ‘how do we fix the transit system in Germany’? You don’t start with, ‘I’m going fix the transit system in Germany.’ You go, ‘I’m going to dig a ditch right here, and then work my way through.’

I would also say a lot of people just generally don’t understand how you give instructions to a computer. The way I’ve always explained it is: imagine if you had somebody that took everything completely literally and didn’t have any external source of information. How would you explain stuff to them? That’s the way you’d explain it to a computer.

People have seen all these hacker shows, they’ve seen like, the guy in The Matrix, with the characters going crazy on the screen, and they think that’s what we do. I mean, it would be cool and all, but you know, we don’t.

“A lot of people just generally don’t understand how you give instructions to a computer. The way I’ve always explained it is: imagine if you had somebody that took everything completely literally and didn’t have any external source of information. How would you explain stuff to them? That’s the way you’d explain it to a computer.”

For anybody who wants to become a developer, what would you recommend to get started?

I would probably work backwards. I would start with, ‘what kind of development do I want to do’? If they’re doing web development, there’s probably not a whole lot of reason for them to go through a degree program, just because it’s overkill. The technology is going to be old. If you’re doing typical business programming, you might want to get an accounting degree and minor in computer science, or vice versa, so that you know what’s going on there. It’s not a discipline that lives by itself. It’s always attached to something else, and that something is not necessarily technical related.

Why did you started a podcast?

BJ was going through a pretty rough phase in his life when we started the podcast and I had taken him on as an apprentice. I was teaching him how to do software development so that he could get his financials back where he needed to be. He suggested the podcast idea, and I actually didn’t think it was going to work, but I went along with it.

I bought the microphone and thought, ‘okay we’ll probably do this for five or six episodes, then he’ll get bored and I’ll have a nice microphone.’ We’re like 170 episodes in now and that’s obviously not happened. I would say that it’s pretty darn near accidental when you think about it (laughs).

I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy it either. I thought that talking into a microphone was something that was going to intimidate me and that I was going to find really uncomfortable. I did for a while, but now, I’m not. I used to be painfully shy, and I’m completely over that now.

How do you come up with ideas for the show?

If you brainstorm on creative stuff for long enough, eventually, you realize that you’re swimming in ideas. In the beginning, it was tough. I did not know if we were going be able to come up with ideas for a podcast each week, and now I think we’re like 150-something ahead. We could go for like another three years with no new ideas and not run out of material.

In the podcast you mention that you’re an aspiring software architect, is that something you’re still pursuing?

We put that in the beginning of the podcast as my introduction because that was kind of my goal then. I think before the first episode, I actually got promoted to that at work. I deal with a lot of the software architecture, just like big picture design of the software: how we’re going to scale, how we’re going to accommodate major software changes going forward, how we’re going to make our team be able to develop faster, that kind of stuff. It’s fun! It’s the hardest code too, so it’s the best.

How is your usual process when it comes to development?

The first thing I’d recommend is figure out who the real stakeholders are, because a lot of times you go in and the person you’re talking to is not really the one that’s got the authority. The next thing would be to see what things have to get done and what’s the priority level like. What do the delivery milestones actually mean? What real result does that create for the company? A lot of times, what you’ve got to do is shuffle things and go, ‘well, I could hit a milestone that’s not quite so ambitious, but it’s 20% of the work and it gets 80% of the result. I can do that right now and get them into a better place.’ That’s’ usually the way I look at it.

I don’t know that the tech is necessarily the most important thing. The tech is how you deliver it. The process is how you figure out what to deliver.

Is the show targeted particularly for developers?

Yeah, it was initially for developers. Then we started getting a lot of people that weren’t developers who were listening, and we started realizing, ‘hey, we’ve made content that’s kind of bigger than just development.’ That happened organically.

Do you apply any of the things from your job into your personal life?

They kind of bleed over into each other. Since I’ve been doing this for so long, I’m not sure exactly where the seam is anymore. The way that I have to manage multiple projects, I’ve found that I use that in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning. I don’t think twice about it until the end of the day and I’m like, ‘wait, I just did a Gantt chart for making vegetables’ (laughs).

I don’t know if it’s maybe an overly organized personal life that has gone over into work or if it’s the other way around. I wasn’t an adult when I started writing code. The first code I got paid for was 20 years ago this week.

What was it, what did you developed?

I was just helping a friend of one of my programming teachers with a development problem that he just could not figure out. The teacher was basically like, ‘hey, I’ve got this kid in the class, he’s a giant nerd, he can probably help you, and he’s probably cheap.’ And it worked out!

What resources have helped you in your job, either books, podcasts or websites, or anything like that that you would recommend?

Other than our stuff, anything by John Sonmez. He’s got simpleprogrammer.com. He’s also got a book called The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide and a book on soft skills. The coding stuff is almost the easy side of things, but the interpersonal things in figuring out how to work well with a team, seems to be a spot that a lot of people really need a lot of help on.

If you’re getting into the hard tech, the Gang of Four Design Patterns book, Code Complete , Clean Code. There’s also a good book called Don’t Make Me Think, which talks about how you design things. As far as organizing things, I would probably look at Getting Things Done, by David Allen. I have a modified version of that system. It doesn’t work perfectly for creatives, but it works well enough as a start, and then you can fix it once you find the problems. My to-do list has like, 800 items on it right now. So, I have to have organization or I’ll go crazy.

Do you have questions, feedback or suggestions of people to interview? Contact me!