DevelopHer, an online career development platform for women, may have reached its one-year anniversary this month, but the story of its genesis dates back some five years. Born of founder Lauren Hasson’s desire to empower others, DevelopHer shows women in tech how to do three things: build confidence, become valuable assets at work, and earn their worth in technology careers.
Hasson is a tech professional whose accomplishments include presenting ideas to the United Nations on bridging the global STEM gap at the UK G8 Innovation Summit, winning high profile hackathons, including SXSW two years in a row, and having her work featured in an Apple iOS keynote.
The foundation of DevelopHer rose from a call-to-action moment Hasson experienced in her career. Despite her many impressive industry accomplishments, Hasson found that she was paid the same amount as a male peer, two years her junior, whom she was training and managing. And beyond that, the co-worker was hired at 50 percent more than Hasson when she was at the same level.
Learning of this disparity led to Hasson investing thousands in herself and learning to build confidence and to negotiate for herself. After tripling her own salary, Hasson then pivoted her attention to empowering other women.
As an active member of the tech community, she said she would hear other women talk about challenges around career advancement and earning what they’re worth.
“I kept saying, ‘Someone should do something about this.’ Then, I realized that, while I may only be one woman, I am someone and I’ve figured it out myself and had a powerful message to share,” Hasson told Dallas Innovates. “That’s why I founded DevelopHer. To make career development not only accessible but affordable for women in tech.”
The result was a 100 percent self-funded one-woman shop with testimonials from women who have seen salary increases up to $80,000 and landing dream jobs using DevelopHer training.
To mark the one-year anniversary of DevelopHer, Hasson shared insights and thoughts about her first year with Dallas Innovates.
How would you describe DevelopHer’s first year?
“In one word, incredible! If you had told me one year ago when I launched DevelopHer with a single podcast episode that, in one year, I would have been able to achieve everything I’ve done, I wouldn’t have believed you. As I write, I’m on a plane returning from NYC where I spoke to Google’s women tech leaders. Google! I have to pinch myself – I simply can’t believe everything that has happened in just one year alone!”
What’s happened over the first year? What has changed or evolved from the original vision?
“A lot has happened in one year. I launched DevelopHer on 9/19 — the six-year anniversary of my getting back into tech… I went live with a single, 20-minute podcast episode in which I interviewed the VP of Engineering at Trunk Club (I cold-called her!) about her career and lessons learned.
“Within days, InnoTech’s Women in Tech Summits had booked me to keynote their Austin event and share my incredible story of how I tripled my salary in just two years after learning I was paid 50 percent less than a male peer and share my framework to how I did it. And from there, my speaking career took off.
“Since then, I traveled all over the country speaking at top tech events, companies, and colleges from Boston to Chicago to Denver to Los Angeles and, of course, my hometown Dallas. In the midst of all the speaking, I launched my first online course that is the follow-on to my Become a NegotiatHer keynote and webinar and also launched DevelopHer’s membership community.
“Now, just one year in, I have not one but two keynotes that draw crowds and produce results for real women – 1) Become a NegotiatHer: Learn the Secrets to Make More $ in Your Tech Career and 2) Zero to Hero: Build Your Value + Become an Asset at Work.
“I’ve just launched in-house corporate programs — companies hire me to come inspire their women and help engage and empower them to take their careers to new levels. I have a strong membership community where I host monthly, group coaching Q+A calls, host a DevelopHer Slack community, and more. And I recently launched a blog where I write about everything from what to do if you have an offer and are just now thinking about negotiating to growth mindsets to lessons learned. And, of course, I also have the podcast and have a great lineup of not only leading tech women but also real DevelopHer success stories, experts, and allies in the works.”
What lessons have you learned over DevelopHer’s first year?
“What I have learned is that everything takes longer and is more expensive than you think it will be. I’ve never worked so hard in my life and I’ve made a huge personal investment in DevelopHer because I truly believe I’m building something that will really change the world. I’ve also learned that pacing yourself is really important.
“A lot of people don’t realize this, but I don’t run DevelopHer full-time – I have a full-time job (that I love!) as well. That means for me, I have to be really good about managing my time and pacing myself so I don’t hit a wall. And, an important lesson that I learned is that just because an approach works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for me. I’ve had to constantly experiment this year, try something, learn, and iterate in order to find my groove and what works for me.”
What has been most surprising? Most challenging?
“The thing that surprised me the most was how much I love speaking. This was incredibly surprising for me because I’m a major introvert and had had some less-than-great experiences speaking in the past. In fact, ten years ago, in one of my previous startups, I had been such a terrible speaker that the organization that hired me called me up and fired me. I was that bad. And I didn’t even think about speaking again until I founded DevelopHer. I knew that in order to get the word out that I would have to overcome my fear of speaking again.
“So this time around, before I even started speaking, I invested in learning how to effectively practice and prepare a talk because that is what held me back before and I was determined to learn from my past mistakes. And it paid off. When I landed the InnoTech Women in Tech Summit keynote, all I did for 10 weeks straight was practice, practice, practice (and, of course, work full-time). It was the hardest 10 weeks of my life but it was all worth it because, I got a standing ovation at the InnoTech Women in Tech Summit! And it got even better. When I finished speaking, at least seven women rushed the stage to book me to speak at their events. And then organizer of InnoTech itself called me up and booked me to keynote the rest of their Women in Tech Summits, including Dallas!
“The most incredible thing is just one year before InnoTech Women in Tech Summit Dallas, I would have never dreamed they would even consider me to be part of their event much less keynote it and now I’m a regular part of their lineup. It really surprised me that I’d transform into a motivational speaker and end up loving it so much!
“The two most challenging aspects of the last year have been the trolls that have come out of the woodworks to try to tear me down and investing my personal savings to build the company – it’s terrifying to see your bank account go down at the end of the month instead of up when you are in building mode. Fortunately, I have an amazing inner circle of confidants who believe in me and have been right by my side through this entire journey who have really supported me when I’ve needed it the most!”
Is DevelopHer reaching your goals and expectations from when it was founded a year ago?
“I’ve far exceeded anything I could have dreamed I would achieve, but I also have so many goals that I’m still stretching to achieve that are continuing to drive me forward.”
What does DevelopHer’s future look like? Any specific plans or new wrinkles to roll out on the horizon?
I have a number of really exciting things on the horizon:
- New Keynote: I’ve just rolled out my new Zero to Hero keynote. Almost all events that hosted me last year have re-booked me to present Zero to Hero.
- Corporate, In-House Programs: I’ve just announced my corporate, in-house offering and already have a number of engagements lined up. Companies are excited for me to come in to present Zero to Hero to empower and engage their women in tech. I’m also speaking with a number of companies about getting their women access to DevelopHer member content.
- New Monthly Member Content: I’m expanding DevelopHer’s membership program to include an online learning library of exclusive DevelopHer content to help women level-up their careers with new micro-content released monthly.
- University and College Programs: I have several partnerships with higher education and collegiate organizations in the works to get their students access to DevelopHer training and member content at an enterprise level.
- Partnerships with Women’s Organizations: I also have several partnerships in the works with women’s and industry organizations to get their members access to DevelopHer’s content library and training.
What have you been doing beyond or as an adjunct to DevelopHer?
“In addition to DevelopHer and all the speaking that goes along with it, I am also involved involved in judging hackathons and speaking to middle-school and high-school girls to get them interested in tech. I also am “eating my own dog food” and continuing to invest in my own tech career. I started out with expertise in iOS and now I’ve expanded that to include front- and back-end web development and information security.”
Is there anything I haven’t asked about that Dallas Innovates readers should know about DevelopHer?
“Yes, I have a number of free resources available on my website and a few answers to questions I am frequently asked:
- Free webinar – I get asked all the time if someone can watch my keynote online and the answer is yes! I’ve taken my signature keynote, Become a NegotiatHer: Learn the Secrets to Make More $ in Your Tech Career, and I’ve turned it into a free, online webinar on my website. You can register for the webinar on the homepage of my website at www.DevelopHer.com
- I get asked all the time – is DevelopHer just for women in tech? The answer is no, I initially developed the content for women in tech because I am one myself but women from all careers from government to medicine to digital have successfully negotiated salary increases with my course and joined the membership. I also have versions of both of my keynotes that are appropriate for non-tech and non-female audiences.
- I also release regular podcast episodes where I interview leading women in tech about their careers and lessons learned. I am currently expanding the lineup to include real DevelopHers sharing their own success stories, career experts, and my own male allies.
- I have a blog and have a number of great posts scheduled!
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