Fabulous 40 with Heather Newman

Published on: August 05, 2019

The Fabulous 40 video series, hosted by VP of Product Technology Dan Stoll (@_danstoll) interviews members of the Office 365 & SharePoint community. Dan delivers a rapid fire of 40 questions that let you get to know about that things that drive and inspire the leading minds in Office 365.


This week Heather Newman (@heddanewman) , Founder of Creative Maven Inc catches up with Dan at Microsoft's Partner conference, Inspire.

Heather let's us in on her many business ventures and how she is helping companies not only train on and connect with Office 365, but also become healthier in terms of their employee engagement, corporate culture and much more. Heather shares with us how she got involved in the early Diversity and Inclusion programs in the Microsoft, SharePoint and Office 365 communities, and continues to be a leader in Diversity and Inclusion programs and education.


Full Transcript

Dan:              All right, so, we're here at Inspire. So I guess I should be able to find someone,                                               who I could talk to. And, look! Look at that, Heather Newman!

Heather:      Oh, hey!

Dan:               How you doing, Heather?

Heather:       Oh, hey Doll, hey!

Dan:                 I'm doing really, really good.

Heather:      Good!

Dan:                Hey, could I bother for a couple of minutes and get some questions in?

Heather:      Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Dan:               All right, all right. Let's go for a wander.

Heather:      Okay, cool.

                         All right, Thanks for meeting me here. It's pretty impromptu right now, so. What                                         number Inspire is this for you?

Heather:      I think, all told, I think it's 13.

Dan:                Dang!

Heather:      Yeah, WPC for a long time. - I thought I was old school, coming in at eight. So, well                                     done on that!

Heather:      Thank you!

Dan:              What's your top tip for anyone coming to Inspire?

Heather:      Shoes.

Dan:              Shoes?

Heather:      Good shoes, good comfortable shoes, yeah. I'm in those today. I brought--

Dan:              You got on flips.

Heather:      Well, I have a pair of cute shoes in my bag for the lunch, but when you're walking                                         around, good shoes, for sure.

Dan:              Yeah, definitely. What's your biggest goal for this Inspire?

Heather:      This one's about networking and connecting with our partners for ContentPanda, for                             sure.

Dan:              And what's your favorite thing about coming to Vegas in general?

Heather:      Oh, goodness, I don't know. I turned 21 here. Actually, in the Aladdin, which is now                                  the Planet Hollywood. You know, I was a theater major, so I do love the productions                                and all of the glitz and glamour of Vegas, so that would probably be my favorite. The                                food is great, too, so.

Dan:              Well, yes, yes. Now, you're the founder of Creative Maven, what's the specialization of                          your company?

Heather:      We work with companies on getting them a little bit more healthy, as far as their                                         employee engagement, corporate culture, and then I also do marketing strategy,                                       brand, messaging, clarifying message.

Dan:               So, you're just essentially taking all those skills you've learned all over the years, and                              just are simply providing it to other people.

Heather:      Yeah, and I've moved them into a workshop format, so I'm doing more workshops and                             online classes. So, it's cool, yeah!

Dan:               Why did you want to build your own company?

Heather:      At the time, I really, I'd been a Microsoft employee, I'd been a vendor, and I really                                        wanted to build something myself, and so just went for it, you know?

Dan:              Your company name came from the book "The Tipping Point". Now, what stands out                               about that book?

Heather:      I mean, Malcolm Gladwell's a genius, and I really just, I, the categorization of the                                        three different sections of sales and connectors and mavens. The word maven, I                                        thought, was probably the sexiest word I've ever seen, although I'm probably more of                            a connector, so I'm a little bit of both. But I was like, "Oh, yes, maven!" Yeah.

Dan:               What book or eBooks are you reading right now?

Heather:      Oh, goodness. What am I reading right now? Jen Sincero, the badass book, definitely. I                            go back to Brene Brown's books all the time, and so I'm always constantly reading                                    those. I just read "GuRu" by RuPaul. So, yep.

Dan:             You're also the founder of Content Panda. Tell me about that.

Heather:      Yes, I am. ContentPanda is an in-context, on-demand help training and support                                          application for Office 365, and custom applications, and we now work in over any                                    web app. Been around for about five years, and love helping our customers.

Dan:              Where did you come up with the name ContentPanda?

Heather:      We always knew it was gonna be Content, 'cause we always knew we were going to                                deliver content in context, right, inside the UI. And we wanted an animal. We looked                                at owls, we looked at all kinds of other things, and honestly--

Dan:               You looked at Content Owl?

Heather:      Yeah, I don't know, it was one of those, and we wanted sort of a mascot, and                                                   something that would stand out in people's UI, and so honestly, my business partner,                               Simeon Cathey, asked his 15-year-old daughter at the time, what she thought, and                                   she swiped on her phone, and she's like, "I don't know, Dad, everybody likes pandas!"

Dan:              That's true, come on!

Heather:      So it stuck.

Dan:              You run a podcast, Maven's Do It Better. What's the focus of your podcast?

Heather:      Extraordinary experts who bring a light to our world. So, sharing stories of people                                    who've been in the industry, any industry, and how they do what they do, and what                                  sparks them.

Dan:               Any upcoming topics or guests you can share with us?

Heather:      Oh my goodness, yeah. Today, Sharon Weaver's gonna be on, a wonderful colleague                                and friend of the SharePoint community. I just had Gina Belafonte on, who is the                                        Executive Director of Sankofa. The Executive Director of the Comic-Con Museum                                    was last week, so I get people from all industries. It's a lot of people I know in all the                                  different worlds that I have, and I love talking to people about their stories.

Dan:               Any favorite guests you've had join, so far in your podcast?

Heather:      Oh, goodness! I started in October, and I have about, I'm almost to 50. I think Johnny                              Juice Rosado, who is a good friend, who was a producer for Public Enemy, and a                                          musician out of New York, and a band called the Odyssey. I also had a wonderful                                        flamenco guitarist who is in his 80's from San Juan, that I rolled in upon--

Dan:               San Juan, in Washington?

Heather:      San Juan in, no Puerto Rico.

Dan:               Oh, Puerto Rico, oh, yeah.

Heather:      I came into his restaurant and he was playing, and Salvador Dali stories and all that                                  kind of stuff. Julia White has been on the podcast. She is amazing so, yeah, I've got a                                fabulous list, and it keeps growing, you know? Yeah, it's wonderful.

Dan:               Do you have any other podcast recommendations?

Heather:      I love Pod Save America, that's one of my favorites, I really like that. There's these                                     guys, the Tender Friends, that do reviews of chicken fingers, which is fun. And then I                                 have a really good friend who works in the cannabis industry, Weed + Grub, a series                               where they talk about that whole industry which is a bit big industry now, and                                             booming, so that's kinda fun.

Dan:               Have you ever listened to My Dad Wrote A Porno?

Heather:      I have, yes, I have listened to that one for sure, yes. I think everybody has, you kinda                                 gotta dip in there, 'cause you're like, "What?" You know?

Dan:              Yeah. You've earned the title of Microsoft MVP, when were you first awarded that, I                                 guess, that title?

Heather:      Last, several, I've had it for two years, so last year was my first MVP award, yeah.

Dan:               What's the best thing about being an MVP?

Heather:      The community, just connecting with the community, and the access to Microsoft and                             learning about all the technologies.

Dan:               And what drew you to the technology as a career?

Heather:      You know, it wasn't my first career, my first career was theater, and I did a lot of                                           production in theater, and then I did a lot of marketing in the Seattle area, when I had                              a theater company there back in the, gosh, early 2000's. And I really enjoyed the                                       marketing side, and so a friend of mine, who I went to theater school with, his wife,                                   Nancy McSharry Jensen, was the first GPM of SharePoint. And she gave me my job,                                 writing the first 125 cases studies for SharePoint, which I then deleted off the server,                             and there was no delete undo, so you're welcome. You have an undo button and a                                     recycle bin.

Dan:               What's the best thing about being a woman in technology world?

Heather:      I think that being a women technology is, we've got such a great community, and I                                     think that gender, to me, doesn't matter. When we're working together it's knowing                                 you craft and finding your voice and all of that, but I do love our community where we                             support each other, standing outside the WIT (Women in Tech) lunch, about to go in                               there and inspire,  and I think the community is so amazing, and how we network and                             support each other is so important.

Dan:                And what would you say to other females considering a career in technology?

Heather:      Go for it, it's a fabulous place to work. There is so many opportunities. Find your voice                            and look for mentors and look for companies that share your values, I think that's                                      really a big big part of it.

Dan:               Now, you've been a huge advocate for the women in tech, do you recall your first                                      event?

Heather:      You know I've been involved in Women In Tech for a while. I think it must've, we did                                 somethings internally at Microsoft, that were smaller, kinda grassroots, back in the                                 day. But I think it was probably SharePoint, SPTechCon, where we did the Women In                               Technology lunches in conjunction with them, and Cathy Dew and Jennifer Roth and                               Lori Gowin, that whole group, really, when they created women in SharePoint, really                               synthesized that. So I think probably some of those were maybe my first.

Dan:                 What's your recommendation for people wanting to get involved in Women In Tech                                advocacy?

Heather:      I think that there's many groups, there's a diversity and inclusion you know, at Inspire.                            There's the Global Diversity Inclusion group at Microsoft, there's the Female                                                Quotient, Girls Who Code, So there's a lot of groups that you can join. Join the WIT                                  network, I've been a member, and it's awesome.

Dan:              Other than yourself, I mean, I'm sure you don't look up to yourself, but you're a                                           massive part of the Women In Tech movement. Who are the other women in tech that                          you actually look up to?

Heather:      Gavriella Schuster, for sure, she's such an avid supporter of all of this. Julia White, I                                   watched her career from when she was with the SharePoint team, and now she's                                       leading Azure Marketing. So those two women I definitely follow, I'm trying to think                               of who else, there's so many, and so many in our MVP community that I look up to as                               peers, you know. We really work with each other and help each other. Liz Sundet is a                               really good friend of mine, and we talk all the time about how we can do better.                                           Karuana Gatimu is another person that she's, we sorta mentor-mentee each other, so                             I have a lot of really strong relationships with so many great people. And really great                               allies too, I have great allies in the men in this community and I really I'm always very                               proud of how we work together.

Dan:               What got you into the SharePoint community in the first place?

Heather:      It was, I was laid off from a job and I needed one and was working at marketing and                                  I've always been aa gadget head, I've always had a camera and all tha kinda stuff as a                              kid. But literally it was Nancy ,and she brought me in and she said basically Heather if                            you can market a piece of luggage or a cup or technology and you understand                                              marketing, you just need to learn the lingo. And so she gave me my first opportunity.

Dan:               What was your first impression of SharePoint?

Heather:      Oh my gosh, I... Well you know what for me I was like what is this thing, right I thought                            it was super cool to try and put everything in one place for you to do your work, you                                know. So to me I thought it was a really neat piece of technology I've never seen                                        anything like it.

Dan:               What's your best source for Office 365 information?

Heather:      The tech community for sure, Microsoft tech community, all of the different sort of                                   the road map, the tech community. You know I watch Daniel Glenn and those guys on                             the little message center review that they do and Darrel Webster, so and I'm on                                         twitter, a lot and I see a lot there. Its a big community.

Dan:                Do you have a favorite Office 365 event?

Heather:      You know, well I mean I love this event. Inspire's always been very close to my heart,                                 so like that's probably my favorite 'cause I used to produce Office and SharePoint's                                 presents for this event and so that's probably my favorite. Yeah.

Dan:               Yeah, okay so what has been the best destination you've travelled to for work?

Heather:      Oh my goodness,I'm so blessed and grateful that I get to, I can't just say one. New                                      Orleans is my favorite city in the entire world, but I just went to New Zealand and                                    was blown away.

Dan:               North Island or South Island? 

Heather:      North Island , I haven't done the South Island yet, so. Yeah , I know, I need to get                                         there. But you know South Africa , London. I'm so... I've been to a lot of great places                                  because of my work, so.

Dan:             What's your favorite Office 365 app that you, that helps you in you're company right                              now?

Heather:      I love the combination of Microsoft Teams, Planner, OneNote and I'm starting to you                              use To-Do. So, OneNote I gotta say, I love me some SharePoint but OneNote you                                       know my heart is with you, I've been with you a long time.

Dan:             Have you been burnt by OneNote at all?

Heather:     Once, but I think it was more of a, it was a sync issue but it was a long time ago. Alls                                 forgiven, it's all good.

Dan:              What Office 365 service would you love to see more of your customers using more?

Heather:      I think making that switch to Teams and also using Planner, and I talked yesterday                                    about, I just want more interconnectivity. Tasks, tasks and calender, you know we                                    live and breathe and die by our calendars and tasks. And I just, I want all of those                                        things to connect in a better way.

Dan:             All right, so it's fair to say that, you know Planner and To-Do are essentially Office 365                          app you used the most in your world. You're a well known speaker in the SharePoint                                Office 365 community, do you remember your first gig?

Heather:      You know, I do, I didn't do a ton of speaking when was producing and working at                                        Microsoft and then working as a vendor. I was logistics and content and all that. And I                            didn't speak a ton of AvePoint in the community, I did more internal sales and                                              marketing stuff for our teams and customer. But so my first community event for                                      SharePoint was after all of that, and it was SharePoint Saturday Utah. I think it was in                            2008 maybe, I think yeah.

Dan:               How would you break that first speaking session?

Heather:      It was great, you know I partnered up with my business partner Simeon and we did                                 one together, and it was fantastic, I loved it. I mean I got, I mean I love being on stage, I                            was a theater person, so you know for me it was like but I was nervous you now like I                              still get the flutters and stuff I think, yeah.

Dan:                 What would, what's the next conference you'll be speaking at?

Heather:       SharePoint Saturday in New York City.

Dan:                Oh damn, that's a nice one.

Heather:       Yeah, and I'm coming to Australia for Digital Workplace Conference I'm doing two                                    sessions and-- Yep, and two workshops yeah.

Dan:                 Down there with Debbie?

Heather:        Yep, lovely Derby Ireland.

Dan:                I saw you speaking at a Comic-Con in San Diego, how did that come about?

Heather:      A friend of mine connected me 'cause of all the diversity and inclusion work I did. I did                            Comic-Con last year, I did Wonder-Con this year and I got asked back, they have a                                    beautiful education program and so I'm doing diversity and inculsion in comics and                                  how we continue to spark those conversations. I'm a moderator, we have four                                              panelists who are all voice actors, who are like the voices in your ears in so many                                       games. The superman, T'Challa and just tons, they're wonderful, so I'm excited again                               to go.

Dan:               That's good 'cause you just answered my next question.

Heather:       Oh.

Dan:               And who would be your co-presenters?

Heather:      Mela Lee who's a voice actress in so many names, Kellen Goff. Lets see, Jason                                              Lewis and James Mathis III.

Dan:               Gotch ya, and have you got your costume ready for the event?

Heather:      I don't, I don't do the cosplay for the event

Dan:               Come on.

Heather:      No I know, I usually wear a dress as a moderator so yeah no, I don't do the cosplay                                   stuff.

Dan:                What was the most exciting announcement for inspire for you so far?

Heather:      I think all of the, like seeing all the co-sell. Just a lot of the new marketing materials                                  that are available to you as partners. Somethings I didn't know about, a lot of the                                        Ingram Micro and AvePoint together, that was a really exciting announcement and                                  just the continued look at the modern workplace, for me was really exciting.

Dan:              How do we stay up to date with your tips and content?

Heather:      Well I am Hedda, H-E-D-D-A Newman on the Twitters and Instagrams,                                                            CreativeMaven.com is the marketing business, ContentPanda.com is the software                                    business. I'm on LinkedIn and I write on medium under Hedda Newman as well and                                  then the podcast, MavensDoItBetter.com which is on Itunes, and Stitcher, and Spotify                            and all that so.

Dan:              Before I jet off and get some nail polish remover from last night's show, any                                                   parting words of wisdom?

Heather:      I just think with anything you do, I don't know I sometimes I always go back to RuPaul,                             if you can't love yourself how are you gonna love anybody else, right? And I think for                               all of us its something we need to do everyday.

Dan:                That's great, all right. Lets hug it out, thanks very much .

Heather:      Thank you.

Dan:               And I'll catch you later.

Heather:      Okay

Dan:                See ya. .


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