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Maya Angelou by Jess Johannson

A Women's History Month post celebrating Maya Angelou.


We asked our Chief People Officer and woman in tech Jess Johannson to tell us about her most inspirational woman, Maya Angelou.


Why did you choose Maya Angelou?

She is graceful.

She is strong.

She is love.

She is inspiration.

She is who I want to be.

What do you find most inspiring about Maya Angelou?

Her ability to speak in poetry. She painted an amazing picture every time she spoke. She spoke from her soul and heart, and there is something so genuine, authentic and real about her.

What’s one Angelou insight or sentiment you wish more people would hear and take on board?

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Wouldn’t the world be a different and, hopefully, much better place if everyone took this on board?

Angelou is not a tech figure; how do her thoughts and works apply to tech?

Hard to narrow down to one … She was fearless in everything she did. Another famous quote from Maya is “If you don’t like something, change it”. So appropriate in tech where change is constant and you are continually trying new things. I hear it as “Don’t rest on your laurels; there are ways to improve anything.” The tech industry always challenges you to be ahead of the curve and forward thinking … and so did Maya Angelou.

If you had to pick just one piece (book, poem, whatever), what is your favorite Angelou work?

“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”

How have Angelou’s philosophies impacted your own career?

Resilience in times of stress and courage in times of fear.

Can you share a video of Maya Angelou that inspires you?

If someone has no experience with Angelou’s work, where do you recommend they start?

The same book that is my favorite—“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” It provides the frame of her life—where it all began and how it shaped the woman she became.

What question should we have asked that we didn’t ask?

Do you think Maya Angelou would be proud of you given she was the inspiration for your life?

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