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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

I first met Liza and the Lullabot gang at the Iowa Code Camp and started following her on Twitter the same day. She's got a pretty interesting story, but I'll let her tell it. This is another one of those interviews I did a while back and then somehow misplaced. Obviously my filing system (gmail) needs some work.  Without further delay, I give you NINE Questions with Liza Kindred:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/56/170623788_a0be73bbff.jpg1. Where are you from?
Des Moines, most days. I travel a great deal for work, so sometimes I feel like I am "from" airports and hotel rooms, but my preferred place to lay my head is at home!

2. Who do you work for / What do you do?  Give me the 10 second pitch on why I want your "product".
I am the Business Director for Lullabot, a virtual open-source consulting & education company. (How's that for a mouthful?) We specialize in Drupal, and do high-level consultation for people who want to use Drupal, as well as teaching people all about it through workshops, on-site training, DVDs, best-selling books, and the top Drupal podcast in the world. Our clients include companies like Sony BMG, Harvard, Lifetime Television, MTV UK, and many more. We also work with a variety of really cool smaller clients. Drupal's popularity has certainly increased in the years that I've been working around it!

The 2-second pitch: "We make Drupal fun."  <http://www.lullabot.com/>

3. How did you end up there?
My background is in fashion, art, & business. I was working freelance for a number of local small businesses doing things like fashion styling, photoshoot production, and boutique consultation. I was really enjoying what I was doing, but at the same time I had also started working 5 hours a week for Lullabot (which at the time was a 2 person company - we're at 12 full time now). I realized that the fashion work, while highly rewarding for me, had grown stagnant. The number of exciting opportunities available in the world of technology is huge compared to what's going on in fashion.  I came to realize that there is a lot of creativity that one can have in working with technology - the ability to create *things* and not just *elements* of things (creating a community that didn't exist before vs. picking out fall fabrics, for example).

The other important thing that really drew me to this work is the concept of Open Source. I stumbled into OS, but I hold the tenants very dear. (For those of you who aren't sure what OS is, I wrote a non-technical analogy here: http://lizakindred.com/blog/this-is-how-we-roll) What I am the most fascinated about are the way that the tenants of Open Source relate to running businesses. There is a certain elements of openness, transparency, and being reliant on the success of the community as a whole that are lacking in most traditional business models. I love working for (and with) legitimate businesses that relies on hackers for survival.

4. Ok, so you work with Drupal a lot, but what other areas of technical expertise do you have?
I have zero technical expertise. Here's what I do: I turn free software into jobs.

Lullabot is an amazing company full of truly fantastic people. I am really proud that over the past few years, I've had a part in building a sustainable business model based on totally non-traditional elements (our team is totally virtual / distributed, we don't do development work, our people top out at 20 hours of client work & get to decide how to spend the rest of their time, etc.) 

I suppose it could be said that I have also developed some mad skills in running a virtual company. We have people in six states and in two countries, and are among the most closely knit teams of people that you will ever come across. I've helped to build this business from the ground-up, and now we have an awesome benefits package, real systems & procedures, and all that other stuff that feels legitimate.

5. So I know you mostly from your twitters, but that's just one part of the big picture. What's something the world at large doesn't know about Liza Kindred?
Well, since you know me from Twitter, you probably know that I have a wonderful 8 year old daughter... what many people might not realize is that I am a full-time single mom. I have a super-supportive family that helps me out a lot, and I also take my daughter with me for a lot of work travel. It's constant, and rewarding, juggling game.

6. Speaking of Twitter, what's your take on the whole social networking boom? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc...
Many people are early adopters; I am not. I really want to know that something will add value to my life before I will commit to using it. My time is so important to me; I need to feel like I am getting more out of a service than I am putting in.

That being said, the 3 that you listed are all services that I use and enjoy. I love being able to meet new people (Twitter), catch up with old friends (Facebook), and I have successfully used LinkedIn to get business advice from people in my network. I don't spend gobs of time on these things, but I find them really valuable. I think that the key is to find the ones that fit into my life and use them as tools.

In the future, I think that people who aren't adept at using social media tools will be left in the dust. My neighbor keeps asking me where she can go to "learn email" and I feel like I don't even know what to tell her. She's only 45 and so far behind! I think that rather than needing to use any specific tools, it's important to know that they are out there, and to know how to keep an eye on what's happening.

7. What's the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Time. We have so many things that we are working on - in addition to the long list above, we're producing a big kick-ass Drupal event & are working on internal projects. We collectively have so many ideas, sometimes it can be hard to know where to start - and more importantly, where to stop! Plus sometimes, I get burnt out and just want to find a warm beach to lay on... but then I get antsy and want to start working again!  <http://doitwithdrupal.com/>

8. We've covered tech pretty well, so any non-technical interests or hobbies? What do you do for fun?
I'm a museum junkie. Whenever I travel, I try to hit up the contemporary art museums. I used to serve on a lot of art-related non-profit boards, but I realized that I wanted to spend more time just appreciating and being with art.

I run for exercise, hit up the farmer's market every weekend I am home, spend a lot of time reading, and try to spend as much time as I can chillaxing in the hammock with my daughter. When I get adult time, my absolute fave thing to do is to hit up a fancy restaurant in a new city and eat & drink more than I should in good company.

9. So, last question... any tattoos?
Heh. Yup, but I am starting to think about having the older ones removed. A butterfly seemed like such a keen idea at 16, but not so much now. In contrast to that, I have one that I think that I am going to add to. I have a three-pointed crown with wings on the back of my neck that I'd like to scroll organically down my back. Time shall tell!

Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2008 4:55 PM General Interest , NINE Questions | Back to top


Comments on this post: NINE Questions with Liza Kindred

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I want to use this info for my narrative essay college project. I hope you don't mind. Thanks!
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