Once upon a time, someone, a female executive no less, tried to tell me that I had to be softer and friendlier. My response was an arched eyebrow and a distinct annoyance that would not budge.

Methinks this someone didn’t realize that I get recruited due to my combo of analytical processing ability and work ethic.

I have never been recruited due to a smile.

The best compliment that I have ever received in my life was when I was a youngster. The compliment came from a distinguished engineer working on and leading development on a programming language that has literally changed the world and they said “you have an agile mind.”


No hidden agendas.

They said it because they enjoyed the conversation.

The second best compliment I have received was when I was at university and there was a classmate who was the only undergraduate chosen to study with the then poet laureate of the united states. She was also the poet chosen to be the opening act when Alice Walker came to Berkeley. She said I made her brain hurt after an intense 3 hour conversation about post colonialism, politics, and identity. In conversational context, it was a good thing….and it was something we laughed about.

These experiences taught me at a young age that it is okay to not do small talk.

It also taught me that the best place for me is around people who are self aware and are accurately confident in both their intellect and abilities.

I had a feeling that my now boss and I were going to get along when I heard her say “either show up with a point of view or don’t show up” to the general public a while back. It probably also helped that I knew that she’s been a product leader and executive at various companies. She also does quite a bit of nonprofit and charity work. One doesn’t have to look very hard to find examples of her standing up and standing out. She is a sought after product executive.

Admittedly, It also helped that she has been vocal about the quality of my work before she became my boss. She has also never once commented on my physicality.

It feels odd to write that sentence about physicality and communicate how it matters to me that it wasn’t commented upon or a factor in someone’s perception of my job performance.

Yet it does.

It is important to me that perception and judgement of my performance is tied to my brain, my abilities, and my performance.

Originally published at on October 20, 2015.