Meet The Woman Of The Blockchain: Sarah Austin
“I (Sarah Austin) would love to sit down with Google CEO Sundar Pichai who said AI is “one of the most important things that humanity is working on. It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire,” adding that people learned to harness fire for the benefits of humanity, but also needed to overcome its downsides. Pichai emphasises that AI could be used to help solve climate change issues, or to cure cancer. I’m an advocate of raising awareness to both the dangers and benefits of artificial intelligence and automation. I am tirelessly working to educate the private and public sectors on the need to regulate and integrate artificial intelligence. As the workforce becomes automated, people are worried about how technology impacts job security. While parts of jobs will be lost, new jobs will be created and will expand the economy despite the change in work.”
I had the pleasure to interview Sarah Austin. Sarah is a marketing and communications consultant who helps companies like Intel, Virgin America, Ford Motor Company and SAP.
Thank you so much for doing this with us!
What is your “backstory”?
Asa former video journalist at Forbes.com, early technology influencer, and television presenter, I’ve learned how to process hundreds of thousands of messages across blogs and social media to extract meaning. I spent 5 years codifying a decade worth of experience in marketing and mass human interaction into communication software.
I started a company that uses an artificial emotional intelligence system as a human resources tool. The company is called Broad Listening, a psychographic modeling software that analyzes written text to help human resource offices strike the right tone when advertising positions and communicating with existing and potential employees. I sold the company a couple years ago to an investor, but the experience taught me the value in paying attention to fine details in written communication and the micro-decisions that go into word choice.
Today, I’m passionate about what makes someone successful at their job and how companies tailor internal messaging. When I enter a company, I bring my own automation tools with me that make me 10x more productive. The future of work is automated with machine learning. People who learn how to automate as much of their work as possible are the ones most likely to survive at an organization. Today, I’m a marketing and communications consultant helping companies like Intel, Virgin America, Ford Motor Company and SAP.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
I’m finishing my book on influencer marketing that will be released later this year. The book teaches anyone how to become an influencer through the use of social media and automation. I want to share my tips and tricks on successful social media marketing and personal branding so anyone can become an influencer marketing professional from the comfort of their home.
For example, I am an influencer for SAP Leonardo, the digital innovation software that delivers blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies to enterprise businesses. I get to attend conferences with access to executives and news announcements. Attending these conferences gives me an inside look at technology and keeps me on the cutting edge. Today, I’m in Orlando for SAPPHIRE NOW, a conference with 30,000 attendees of SAP customers and partners, where I’m interviewing blockchain energy executives and SAP customers as part of a live broadcast from the show floor about protecting the environment. It’s more than just content marketing, it’s authentic audience engagement around how blockchain technology can drive purpose and profit. This is just one example of how being an influencer can open doors to build meaningful relationships and drive business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person whom you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
When I was in high school and applying for college, I was blessed to have Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, as my mentor — he even wrote my college letter of recommendation. I was fascinated with computer programming from an early age and as soon as I was old enough to drive I started attending hackathons and coding meetups. At one such event, called Super Happy Dev House, I met Steve Wozniak who was there coaching and encouraging young developers. He’s very supportive of young people and likes to give back to his community.
What are the things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
I’m excited about how blockchain technology supports sustainability.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Most people say they are concerned with the volatility of cryptocurrency. I’m not worried about it. Bitcoin is still early and while it has its ups and downs that’s part of the appeal. Sell high, buy low, that’s how I look at it. Also, if you wanted to have a stable cryptocurrency then buy a stablecoin.
People complain that Bitcoin has no inherent value. I disagree. Bitcoin is a scarce commodity and deflationary. The US Dollar is inflationary. Though the US Dollar is strong, and remains above fair value, inflation puts the dollar at risk of decline. Investing in Bitcoin has a similar appeal to investing in gold, in my opinion.
Privacy is a huge concern for blockchain because it’s transparent. You don’t want your competition to know who you are doing business with or who you are paying. Unfortunately Bitcoin is not private money. Many have turned to Monero, a digital coin that promises a higher degree of anonymity and untraceability baked into its design. I don’t own any Monero, but I can certainly see the appeal.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
Nonprofit organizations are becoming the management leaders of America. Every other person in America volunteers. On average volunteer gives five hours a week to one or more nonprofit organization. Volunteers are becoming unpaid staff and even taking over management tasks and serving on the board. The reason people spend 5 hours a week as unpaid staff is because they are not getting purpose or value from their paid job.
What happens is employees spend less time contributing to their company and more time volunteering because they aren’t getting the corporate social responsibility opportunities or sharing in the value of purpose from their company.
I started a nonprofit organization, Coding FTW, to solve the problems faced in the technology sector around girls education. Teaching girls to code and simple work hacks shows them how to automate work. They can apply these work hacks immediately to their school work and eventually to their jobs. The next generation entering the workforce will come equipped with their own automation tools, and teaching girls these skills will help to bring more diversity to the workforce.
This year at SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP CEO Bill McDermott announced the company mission of purpose to give customers something meaningful they can connect with. The lead the competition, and engage employees, businesses need to integrate their purpose story authentically. It’s not enough to promote software products. SAP engages customers with a deeply human connection rather than the quality of the product or service alone. SAP’s purpose is to improve people’s lives with technology.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Enterprise products are difficult to build and even more difficult to scale and manage. If you are working in consumer product marketing and you want to make the switch to enterprise there are a few things you should know.
In consumer tech you build products for the end user. In the enterprise world, you serve two people: the buyers and the end-users. As a product marketer, you need to understand both the buyer needs and the user needs. Your product experience needs to solve both buyer problems and user problems while also providing a great experience to the end-users.
Often in enterprise technology, product requirements are bespoke to the needs of the clients. Some requirements are not launch critical and can be prioritized accordingly. A good product marketer understands how to prioritize a long laundry list of requirements while also keeping the client updated with the value of maintaining the product roadmap.
The client’s timeline is equally as important as your own release timeline. In enterprise technology, timelines are impacted by factors outside the products organization. When planning your release cycle be sure to set dates that are realistic to the business world. For example, while setting a product launch date close to the Christmas holiday may sound like a great idea for a consumer technology, most enterprises will not agree to a launch before a holiday break.
If someone wanted to emulate my career they would likely be working in consumer marketing and would want to make the switch to enterprise.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
I would love to sit down with Google CEO Sundar Pichai who said AI is “one of the most important things that humanity is working on. It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire,” adding that people learned to harness fire for the benefits of humanity, but also needed to overcome its downsides. Pichai emphasises that AI could be used to help solve climate change issues, or to cure cancer.
I’m an advocate of raising awareness to both the dangers and benefits of artificial intelligence and automation. I am tirelessly working to educate the private and public sectors on the need to regulate and integrate artificial intelligence. As the workforce becomes automated, people are worried about how technology impacts job security. While parts of jobs will be lost, new jobs will be created and will expand the economy despite the change in work.
Yitzi Weiner is a journalist, author, and the CEO of Thought Leader Incubator, a leading business incubator based in Maryland.
Yitzi is the author of five books and is the Editor-In-Chief of Authority Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and contributed to Forbes and The Huffington Post. In 2017, he created the popular, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” series that highlights the lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs and public figures.
Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher, and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.