- Cultivating a Cleantech Sisterhood with Lisa Ann Pinkerton, Founder and Chairwoman of Women In…
From the newsroom to the boardroom, Lisa Ann Pinkerton has used her keen analytical skills to share technology stories with the world for over a decade. She is Founder and CEO of the award-winning Technica Communications, Founder and Chairwoman of the non-profit Women In Cleantech & Sustainability, an international speaker and moderator and documentary filmmaker. She was named a PR Executive of the Year by the American Business Awards (2020), Female Entrepreneur of the Year for Advertising and Marketing by the Women in Business and the Professions World Awards (2020), and a Woman of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal (2017).
Before founding Technica Communications, Lisa Ann was a Senior Account Executive and managed new business operations for the San Francisco PR firm Antenna Group. She got her start as a broadcast journalist covering environmental science in 2001. She was awarded the Best Environmental Journalism award by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2005. Her work has been broadcast on National Public Radio, PBS Television, WPXI-NBC, American Public Media, The Environment Report, Great Lakes Radio Consortium, Free Speech TV, WYEP 91.3FM-Pittsburgh, WRCT 88.3FM-Pittsburgh, and WCPN/WVIZ PBS ideastream in Cleveland.
On episode 146 of the Bigger Than Us podcast, Lisa Ann reflects on the path that led her to realize the gap in women’s networking in cleantech, how she rallied support from women and men to create a more diverse space that benefits everyone, and her mindset on learning from failure.
By catalyzing a platform for women and men to work together for the green economy and using her voice to inspire and educate, Lisa Ann Pinkerton is having an effect that is Bigger Than Us.
Take me to the podcast.
My commitment to the planet came about because I recognize that she doesn’t have much of a voice. And I could help be that voice and that catalyst for change.
What I think people do find interesting is that I got my start as an NPR reporter and in PBS broadcast journalism. I did environmental science. I learned a lot about media and how to make a story compelling and how to read your audience.
It was very early, but people were very passionate. They were just starting to figure things out. And the economics were almost there to a place where it could go more mainstream.
So I covered a lot of technology pieces anytime I could, but at the same time I would cover environmental pieces, things that could excite people about nature, because our theory was if people feel inspired by nature, they’re more apt to want to protect it.
But at the same time, I recognized that there was a lot that these cleantech companies needed in terms of media exposure and support, and they weren’t getting it. And one story from me, even if it was from NPR wasn’t going to change their world all that dramatically. They needed a lot of those stories. So that’s why I evolved my career into public relations, and then eventually founding Women in Cleantech and Sustainability.
I started recognizing, well, women definitely network differently than men. And I wanted to bring these two worlds together.
I was going to a lot of co-ed networking events. It would be me and five women in a room of 150 people, and we would all naturally gravitate towards each other. The men I would meet would assume that I was somebody’s assistant, or I was right out of college, but not that I was a business owner.
I wasn’t the CEO of a big tech company or that kind of thing. They weren’t interested in talking to me, never mind the fact that I have a massive network, and I could probably connect them with multiple decision-makers that they’re looking to connect with. But they never took the time to get to know me.
At the same time, I was going to a lot of women’s entrepreneurship events. It was night and day, the experience. I felt inspired, I felt energized, excited about what I was doing. I felt the support from the other women there. And I started recognizing, well, women definitely network differently than men. And I wanted to bring these two worlds together.
There were maybe a couple of other women’s organizations in the Bay Area, they had chapters, but nobody was holding any meetings. And nobody was — if they were holding meetings, they weren’t really very interesting topics, not topics that I was interested in. And they weren’t regular.
So I started Women in Cleantech and Sustainability, to be an educational and networking organization that would support women and men in their careers in this field, bring greater gender diversity across the spectrum, and also inspire women to be the natural leaders that they are.
What we know about the roles that women aspire to: they are the ones that they see other women being successful in.
When I recognized that there was a dearth of women showing up in the industry, we knew they were there, but they weren’t visible. So we brought them out into the light so that they could meet each other and support each other.
We started doing WCS talks, which is a TED-style event that Google hosts every year, in 2014. We just invited some of our female colleagues who we thought would give great talks, and they had some prominence in their field.
They had never been asked to give a talk on their experience as being a woman in the space and how that related to their industry. Through that experience, they realized what their voice was, and the message that they wanted to share with the industry at large.
They went back to their marketing teams at their companies and said, “I want to speak more. Put me on these panels.” And they hadn’t insisted on that before, because they actually hadn’t had the opportunity to speak in a way that was genuine to them in their voice.
What we know about the roles that women aspire to: they are the ones that they see other women being successful in. So it’s important for us to highlight women, and show them being successful as a way of encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps.
We are all connected, and we are all together as one on this planet.
How will my action today affect the seventh generation of my family? When you take a moment to consider that, and the spectrum of influence that your decision today will have on people seven generations from now, it changes the motivation for the decision that you want to make or the action you want to make.
I mean, you could say, in 500 billion years, none of us, none of this will exist anyway. So, what does it matter?
You’re here, you’re in this reality, and you have the opportunity to make the best decisions for this reality. We are all connected, and we are all together as one on this planet. We’re all Earthlings. And the only things that divide us are human constructs. And so some of us won’t be here, that’s fine. You have an opportunity today to leave this place better than you found it.
We have a mentorship program that we’ve been running for about four years now. And it is oversubscribed every year. What we do is source mentors from the industry. And we do this once a year. The output of that is that after six weeks, it’s not as if you don’t ever talk to your mentor anymore. These become long-term relationships.
I had no hand in crafting it. You have new board members and new volunteers that come in and learn the ropes, and then the older volunteers will graduate out of running the program after a couple of years. So it’s self-sustaining.
We all know what our mission is. We know what the vision is that we want for our organization and the community at large, and when people have an idea of a program or an initiative that they want to create, the organization supports them in that. We trust them to make the right decisions and to be the leaders that we know that they are to create the program that they envision.
The legacy that I get to leave is through these organizations and inspiring the communities at large that are part of these organizations to go out and make the world a better place.
Why not be an active player?
Anybody’s willing to live their life as they see fit because honestly at the end of the day, it’s all just a game. And if life’s just a game, if you play video games, you fail a lot, that doesn’t mean you quit. It doesn’t mean you act conservatively so that you’re not gonna die in the game. You just go do what you do.
We all have an opportunity to fail forward, if you will. Because failure gives you data, gives you information, you can make a better decision next time.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about myself on this journey for me that it is okay to fail, and it’s okay to make mistakes. And that people are not going to hate me for it.
You have your players, and you have your NPCs. And I think people get a chance to be a player in the game and not a bystander. If you have the opportunity, why not? Why not be an active player?
Read the full transcript of Bigger Than Us episode 146 with Lisa Ann Pinkerton
- Date of publication:
- Tue, 05/04/2021 - 10:04
Click on the link - it will be copied to clipboard