Lesbians Who Tech Summit SF // Erica Anderson

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Erica Anderson, a member of the Twitter product marketing is a news maker. Not only has she been named 30 under 30 by Forbes Magazine, 40 under 40 by The Advocate but, she has served and shaped the way we get our news. She has worked with Katie Couric and CBS to expand Couric’s social media use, with MTV as a news correspondent, and now at Twitter where she developed executed a product partnership to build event detection technology for newsrooms (Dataminr for News), as well as Twitter for Newsrooms, a one-stop resource for news organizations and journalists. While working for Twitter she organized President Obama’s Twitter Town Hall.

Anderson begins her speech by sharing that she had no idea she would ever end up at Twitter nor was her path to the company a straight line. She graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Journalism and moved directly to Washington DC as she continually found herself interested in the way news and journalism was evolving. She came out as a queer person and credits being authentic and true to herself as the path to getting where she is today. She says that she will talk about three things that helped her get to where she is today. Starting at the beginning, “Find and enlist mentors. Be teachable.” She says there are three types of mentors, the first the ones that come into your life out of nowhere and teach you a skill, and you have to be open or you’ll miss it. She met Jason Novak out of the blue one day in 2007 and asked Anderson if she had a blog to which she replied she didn’t. He was a tech savvy guy and so Anderson invited him over to her place and over a few beers he taught her to set up her first blog which later became her main platform of communicating. Anderson got hired to cover the ‘08 presidential election by MTV from a mobile perspective. The second type of mentor is the mentor that knows the field well and you can go deep with; this mentor for Anderson became Helen Thomas, the first woman in the White House Press Corp. Thomas moved to DC right after Pearl Harbor, a less than stellar environment for women at the time and made her way to the top, covering 10 presidents all while sitting in the front row. Anderson notes that Thomas allowed her to ask “stupid questions” about the industry, wire services, how news used to break, and what it was like when Kennedy was assassinated and she was on the other end of the phone. Anderson says the last type of mentor are the network of inspiring peers.

The second thing that helped her get to where she is today, “Be humble and confident. Authenticity won’t fail you.” After graduating from college Anderson felt like she had it all figured out in terms of social media, as the people that came before her seemed not as well versed. In 2010, Anderson went to interview for Katie Couric to help her understand social media. She recounts walking into Couric’s office incredibly nervous and watching Couric look at her resume and see that it was too much information. Anderson realized she had an instant to sell herself, so she went back to what she calls her “true north,” that she believed in journalism. She had a great time while working for Couric and living in NYC however, she started to get comfortable and so when Twitter contacted her to work for them she said yes. This led her to the final aspect of where she is today, “Go for the Pulitzer. Skills, execution, integrity.” The Pulitzer prize, as she shares is about someone that is in the top of their field doing ground breaking things but, also leads with an incredible amount of integrity. The integrity aspect of the prize is the most fascinating to Anderson. She closes her talk by saying that her truth to finding happiness in her life is to constantly going back to the things and people that she is passionate about.