Rounding 3rd base in our Meet the Dream Team blog series, is our Chief of Staff & Director of Communications – my counterpart in our MarCom department – Micaela Youmans! Not only has Micaela been making her mark at Silicon Valley Forum for over 6 years, but she is the amazing architect behind our event branding and graphic designs. As an English major and Communications wizard, her writing capabilities and creativity is beyond inspiring.
It would be a rare day in the office if Micaela didn’t respond to questions with a good movie quote, pith expression, witty catch phrase, or a mind-bending figure of speech. She knows how to throw things right over your head and get you thinking – and please don’t butcher her name. Every team needs a Micaela – without an h.
This interview was a lot of fun and I am excited to share a little more about Micaela:
Question: What is your favorite or most inspiring quote?
Answer: “I like getting older. I feel like I’m aging into my personality.” Nick Miller, New Girl
Question: What is something you have to deal with in your position, that you want to fix or help with or make a personal impression on?
Answer: I write all of our event descriptions and abstracts, and have done for the last six years, so I have a unique challenge: keeping the words “emerging tech” “innovation” and “entrepreneurship” from sounding as threadbare as they sometimes feel. It’s like playing Scrabble with half the tiles missing. Or like that one “Simpsons” episode where Marge finds a Chanel suit in an outlet store and keeps hacking it into new outfits until a sewing machine mishap finally cuts her off.
Question: What is it that you do you do here? 😊
Answer: I’m in charge of our communications efforts, which covers a lot of ground: event descriptions, blogs, newsletters, press releases, and various ad-hoc marketing projects. I’ve written a few speeches for Denyse, which she always edits, because I’m like THESAURUS!!!! and she’s like BUT THIS IS NOT HOW NORMAL PEOPLE TALK.
I also do our graphic design, and I have explored the darkest corners of Power Point so doing. Which I realize sounds like I learned how to wash clothes with my refrigerator, but you guys—Power Point is amazing for simple design work. I’m still learning what it can do, and they keep adding new stuff all the time.
What else…chief of staff, operational support, some light IT, hiring process lead, strategic lead on a few of our signature programs, partnership management, Crab Rangoon, things of that nature.
Question: What are your credentials/past experience, for working in your position?
Answer: An English degree and a stress addiction.
Question: What is your personal super power, strength, & weakness?
Title/Super Power: Independent
Same answer to all three: I’m SUPER-independent. I’m great at working alone, but I have a hard time admitting it when I need a hand—I tend to try to do everything myself and hiss like a startled possum when people offer to help. Sorry, people.
Question: What do you like about working at SVF?
Answer: Honestly, the last six years have been life-changing. The nature of our organization’s work means I get a multi-faceted view of what makes Silicon Valley tick, and it’s an extremely weird and amazing and terrible place, full of extremes and opposites. You never know what you’re going to get from any given experience—but that’s exactly why it’s interesting.
I’ve also enjoyed being part of our programs and touring all these super-famous companies. I’ve had lunch at LinkedIn! I’ve attended a pitch night at Spotify! I once got a free toothbrush from a Facebook bathroom! (I’m crazy. Allow me to amaze thee.)
Mostly, though, it’s the SVF team. I know we all keep saying it, but it’s true. None of our paychecks are riding on this. I get to work with some of the smartest, funniest, coolest people I’ve had the privilege to share office snacks with. I’m inspired by my SVF colleagues every single day.
Question: Can you tell me about your background and where you are from originally?
Answer: I was born in Santa Cruz, moved to San Jose when I was four, and have been here ever since. My parents are both from California, too. I’m about as suburban and white-bread as it gets. 😄
In regards to my career – I’ve had a pinball of career path (I’ve been a photographer, bookstore manager, record store manager, bakery manager, and wedding invitation salesperson), but it’s something I’m proud of. I’ve been able to use elements of everything I’ve learned—and everyone I’ve learned from—in unexpected ways. And it definitely makes me v. grateful for where I am now.
I’ve always loved art, although my organic skills (i.e. drawing and painting) are pretty limited. I will be the Saddest Boy when flat design inevitably goes out of style. It’s already going. I’m already sad.
Question: What are the values that drive you in life and at work?
Answer: Making my parents proud. Yes, even now.
Question: Your top 3 favorite Podcasts/Books and/or TV shows?
- Podcast: N/A
- Book: Too many. Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror” and Ocean Vuong’s “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” both blew me away this year.
- Teevee: My fella and I recently got into “Great British Baking Show” and now we critique everything we eat by squinting at it and proclaiming it a “good bake, but a bit underproved.” We’re a big hit at Taco Bell.
Question: What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Answer: Keeping it real.
Question: What about our personality adds to the team dynamic?
Answer: I’m an endless fount of useless information.
I am in constant state of admiration for Micaela’s great design graphics, brilliantly crafted words, and her ability to swiftly find the perfect meme for any occasion. As a shrewd wordsmith, I am quite certain she taunts me with *peculiar* words knowing I will be on dictionary.com the moment she leaves my office. I love that she challenges me, pushes me to look at things from a different perspective, and shares my obsession for the perfect taco.
For six years, I have the incredible privilege of watching Micaela grow as a strong leader and communicator, and am fascinated as I watch her fear LESS in her career as she tackles new opportunities, and navigates through the changes of our ever- evolving organization. Although she has a passion for words and design, she has a serious business brain and and can easily flex her Chief of Staff muscle to ensure operations are running smoothly and efficiently.
Sit up and take notice, folks. Micaela Youmans has arrived!
-Denyse Cardozo, CEO of Silicon Valley Forum
Marketing & Special Projects Manager