Editor’s note: I am experimenting with transcribing the actual interview. We’ll see how it goes, OK. Thanks Char’o (see the bottom for her contact information) for all of your hard work.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Today what I thought I’d do is to reach outside of the box. When people say they think outside of the box they don’t actually go outside of the box they try to think outside of the box. I actually went outside of the box and wanted to do something a little different today. Instead of having the usual career expert that has written a book or has a big blog or has insight to bringing someone in that is pretty prolific in blogging online and also has a podcast of her own. Her name is Jaime Broadnax (@BlackGirlNerds) and she has a blog and podcast called Black Girl Nerds. She is the founder of this very prolific blog and when she started this podcast it was last late spring. This podcast influences sub- culture as a voice in large community. She has a day job but for the sake of the show she is a serial blogger and entrepreneur with two Master’s degrees. Wow, very impressive. Welcome Jaime to the show; to the Voice of Job Seekers.
Jaime Broadnax: Thank you, thank you for having me.
Mark Anthony Dyson: This is a quite an opportunity for me to talk with someone who is substantially younger than I am. The reason I asked you to come to the show to represent her subculture nerds and perhaps help to impact their minds to get some career point of views and to exploring Jaime’s career. We won’t get into her day job. What we will explore is her career adventures in her online activities and her blog.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Black Girl Nerds isn’t the only blog you use, correct?
Jaime Broadnax: I’ve used other blogs in the past, primarily Black Girl Nerds is what I use currently.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Your blog and yourself is part of a whole network could you describe that a bit?
Jaime Broadnax: Yes. Black Girl Nerds is a blog site and it’s about women of color and black women especially to be able to embrace themselves freely and express who they are. So, it’s a blog in itself but we also have social networks that are attached blog so we have a Facebook page, a Twitter page, and we also have a Tumbler page, and a Pinterest page. We also have a Podcast which a podcast by definition is actually social network in itself that airs every Sunday night at 7:00pm and because of the social networks that includes the podcast we have sort of been now seen this “brand” or online community and being recognized very quickly as a subculture within a subculture. It’s a very exciting time for Nerds and for women of color especially to be represented in the mainstream.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Now, how does this change your life? Has your life changed drastically since you started the podcast and having the reach that it has?
Jaime Broadnax: I wouldn’t say drastically changed, it’s changed in the fact that I didn’t realize how much of an impact the site is having on people. It’s very humbling. Folks will tweet to me, they will email me, write messages on our comments threads on the blog and just say, “hey, wow, I didn’t know this Blackgirl Nerd existed. I’ve been a Nerd my whole life and I always felt like I was the only one.” So, to kind of hear that feedback from people almost from a day to day basis it makes all of the hard work I’ve put into this sight all worth it. So it’s changed in the fact that wow, there is an impact that is happening; a shift that is happening and it’s exciting.
Mark Anthony Dyson: It sounds like it has been exciting. I’ve been listening to since May and like I said, I just stumbled upon something a little different. I usually listen to a lot of Business and Marketing and of course career podcasts. There weren’t many career podcasts that were active so I said “let me see, if I could find something else some on productivity and others, then I stumbled on yours.”
Jaime Broadnax: (laughs)
Mark Anthony Dyson: I was like ok maybe I will get a chance to hear what young people think these days. I find it interesting I wished this kind of thing was around when I was young. I’m kind of a little nerdy sometimes. I do read a lot, I write a lot and prefer to have minimal personal contact with friends and family at certain times. How about you? What makes you a nerd? What makes you that person to say wow she’s a nerd?
Jaime Broadnax: Since I’ve started the blog and a lot of what I’ve been able to gather being able to listen to what other people have to say their definition of what a nerd is. I never clearly knew what the definition of what a nerd was. I just always thought it was someone who was unattractive, introverted, and awkward; they dressed in funny looking clothes. Sort of that cartoon art type of what a nerd was. It wasn’t until I engaged and became a part of the community that I realized that being a nerd is someone who is not built for conformity, and that’s what makes me a nerd. I don’t follow trends I’m not with the mainstream when it comes to pop culture. I’m just so off from that, so, the lack of conformity that’s just built in me is what makes me a nerd. Yes, I’m in to the cliched’ aspects of nerdiness like comic books and I’m into the culture of video games. When you ask the question what makes you a nerd I think it’s someone who is not built into the status quo of what a nerdiness is.
Mark Anthony Dyson: I understand. When I finished my Masters the next day I was reading a book. Now you know this when obtaining a Masters all you do is read and write. My wife said, “…wait a second, you just finished your degree a day ago you supposed to have a party and here you are you’re reading again.” There was a book I was reading, and I was interviewing the author. My wife is far from being a nerd she is the girl everybody is glued to as soon as she walks into the door. I married someone completely opposite from me. Although, I don’t get into comic books and cosplay, do you find those things you are interested has kind of guided you in some of the career decisions you have made throughout the years or maybe recently?
Jaime Broadnax: Yes, I think which this is another aspect of nerdiness I’m an introvert, even with just doing this podcasting is a challenge for me. I’d rather articulate myself through writing then verbalizing and that aspect of me my introverted self, I use that through my writing and blogging has been a great resource for me to express myself I wouldn’t otherwise been able to do. Having a conversation, doing an interview I’d rather write out my feelings. So, yes I’ve been able to establish an online career path blogging by having that introvert personality.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, there are a lot of us out there that prefer to write rather than to speak. What point did you decide that I’m going to put myself out there a little bit more because when you write you try to leave it all on paper and you prepare yourself to get the positive and negative feedback you may receive or not getting any feedback at all. That’s kind of hard. When did you decide to go with the podcast?
Jaime Broadnax: The podcast was suggested to me by a few twitter followers and I kept saying, I will think about it. I didn’t even know what a podcast was prior to last year so almost this is new to me. I appeared on another podcast his name is Geek Soulbrother when I said ok, I felt committed that this is something I really need to do. We started in March and it’s definitely a labor of love. I really love the topics we talk about, the guest we have on our show but it really is a lot of work. I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I decided to do a podcast and then the commitment on a weekly basis can be overwhelming at times but, It really is a great opportunity and I really enjoy every moment of it.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Have you obtained a different vision since starting the podcast of what you’d like to do in the future? Did that change your vision?
Jaime Broadnax: It did because, when the podcast first started I just did it like ok lets do a podcast. It was random very helter skelter kind of way we had put the show together. There wasn’t any format or any kinds of idea of what topic are we going to talk about on future shows. So, it evolved to now it’s more structured than it was when it first started so it’s something on the lines o f trial and error. We tried it and we saw what worked and what didn’t now it feels pretty structured to have a schedule and be able to book guest. The great thing is now we are 33 episodes into the show and booking guests is relatively easy because folks that do listen to the show if I do reach out to them their interested in certain fields, someone who is a coder who has been listening to the show I will say, hey, do you want to come on the show and talk about coding? They will say yeah, I’d love to be on the show. It’s great to have been able to reach out to people and have an audience that has been so loyal and want to engage and be apart of the show.
Mark Anthony Dyson: What lessons do you think you are taking away from this show, and now I’ve checked your Twitter followers you have 10,000 on your Black Girl Nerds account. What is that like and how is it affecting your decision making with what you want to do in the future?
Jaime Broadnax: I have that many followers because I spend too much time on Twitter. I have an acute addiction to Twitter. I haven’t really thought about what direction I really want to go into and that is something I need to focus in more. I’m really just enjoying the engagement and the community at this point and that’s really my focus. I do want to make this into a business, and I do want to monetize this. Right now, the online community building aspect of it I think, is very much an asset to having it to function as a business but I think that part is what I’ve been focusing on I essentially this is Phase I of doing Black Girl Nerds.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes. Taking your time with it is a smart move because then people with want to catch the wave of growth and try to monetize it when really it needs to be more like a strategy and some time given, intermittent application of those strategies.
Jaime Broadnax: Yes, I have ventured into the business side of things. In addition to Black Girl Nerds I’ve done an LLC. With five other bloggers and we are apart of the Sheep Drive Network online publishing hub where each of these bloggers has their contents feed through this one site. We are now in the infant stages of our business, using that platform and also Black Girl Nerds I am now geared towards focusing on blogging full time.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Do you have a timeline in which you would like to see certain things happen? Have you gotten to that point yet?
Jaime Broadnax: I haven’t gotten to the point of an actual timeline yet, for me everything just has to be in its own natural flow organic. I don’t look at things like by this date I’m going to have this done. I used to have that sort of mentality, and when things didn’t happen and didn’t culminate by that deadline then I’d be discouraged and then for me failure, which has happened that has happened in my history, has discouraged me from picking things back up and starting again. So, I don’t want to think about it that way anymore I really just want things to be natural and go according to it’s flow. Because I’ve have that mentality I think that is what has lead to a lot of success that has been happening with the blog, the podcast, folks purchasing merchandise from our store, being nominated for black web awards, these are things that are happening naturally on it’s own accord. It’s not something that I’m forcing i’m not strategizing ok I want this done by this date its flowing naturally. This is sort of where I’m at in this space.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Talk to me a little about how some of your guests are really helping to shed the light on people making life and career decisions. You’ve had people on there that are coaches, people who are novice who are authors. What kind of impact does that have on your community especially the probably and prominently young people, right? I know you get people of all ages because I listen. Talk a little bit about what people are expressing about their futures and their as it results to hearing guest present themselves.
Jaime Broadnax: Again, it’s one of those things I am humbled by, and I’m honored to have had the kind of guest we have had on our show. There is a girl we met through Twitter, and I can talk about that later her name is Cynthia Lanelle and she started she started the blog bookclub. The very first book that was chosen was Orleans by Sherri L. Smith. and I looked up Sherri information on the web and thought she would be a great guest on the show. I emailed her and told her about the podcast, and about the book club, her book was selected and she readily agreed so, it was at this point that I started thinking about now is the time to look at people who are published authors, people that are eminent in each of their respected fields and having the on; giving folks insight, perspective, opinion about how they have gotten to the success they are in today. A lot of folks that listened to that show gave us so much feedback about writing and how much they enjoy her work as an author and from there I am trying to follow that trend of really great women, our focus is women especially women of color. I’ve had Rosetta Thurman who created Happy Black Women and she is an entrepreneur and consultant and she gave some very inspiring advice. I also have women who have just started a come up that are starting a new venture such as Tiffany Mack Fitzgerald who created this community called Black Girls Golf she is getting women of color interested in the sport of golf, and she is just starting on her own. I just want to present content out there that folks haven’t really heard a lot of before. Yes, it’s great to get people to impact and receive that information and internalize it and make up something either creative of their own or to support the ventures that Tiffany is doing Black Girls Golf. So, it’s great to create that kind of content on the podcast.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Are people kind of looking at you now as the expert of producing a podcast or a role model?
Jaime Broadnax: Oh God I hope not. Do you read what I put on Twitter? (laughs).
Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, I do and I read the last two tweets, but that’s ok because I think people will follow you for who you are eventually and not who you are trying to be. And if you are trying to put on someone who you are not everybody essentially gets it.
Jaime Broadnax: Oh yes, some of the highest amount of traffic as far as each of our blog post that are put on there. I say us because its not just me writing on the blog I have about 15 others that provide their content. When I started early on it was just me, some of the most popular blog post are where I’ve shared my personal experience and just became completely transparent and just put myself out there. That is what people respond to the most. Phony and fake people can detect that a mile away but when you are honest, open, and authentic show that emotional nudity if you put yourself out there people will respond to that, they just want someone they can connect with.
Mark Anthony Dyson: I think people get confused about actually, some people take what we call nudity to a whole another level. We are not talking about going that far, I think you made a great point that really people are attracted to authenticity and honesty. Whether they are or not they are attracted to wow, this person keeps it really real. A lesson for my audience is that employers and people that are really looking they look for that authenticity more than you think. Anybody can put on a show for a few minutes, and you know as being the professional that you are, anyone can put on a show for twenty minutes to an hour to try to get a job that pays thousands of dollars. At the same time, these employers are investing thousands of dollars in you and your training. Of course, they are going to look at the whole person and people get freaked out about that and really if you are just yourself you don’t have to guard your heart or look behind your shoulder it is what it is.
Jaime Broadnax: And that’s what Black Girl Nerd community is all about its about being yourself and being ok with expressing yourself and your authenticity. It’s cathartic I remember those times in high school and even my college years early adult hood I would try to put on this facade and try to be somebody I wasn’t and try to fit in and it’s exhausting. Trying to put on that front even in the workplace they will see that and the folks that get promoted and hired are the ones that are just real and honest. Even though they may have flaws that can be seen, as long as they are authentic and genuine with what their flaws mean to them and how it represents their personality; this is me and I’m proud of that and can’t change that or what have you. People are going to be willing to overlook it and accept you for what you are because you are just honest about yourself and you carry yourself with integrity.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Integrity is very important when you talked about, and we delved into the online community aspect of it. What are your expectations as far as building your community up? Now that you have this community what do you expect people to get out of it?
Jaime Broadnax: I hope we get out of it that we are a people about solidarity and that we represent empowerment. We don’t represent being exclusive or exclusivity that is what people have a knee jerk reaction to when they see the name Black Girl Nerds. So it’s something I write on the site and its part of our mission statement that this is not an exclusive blog. So I hope people understand this is something that can be shared by all people and you don’t necessarily have to be a nerd of our community or look at our content. Share our content to your audience because we represent there are so many things that are encompassing of what we talked about in Nerd culture that it can relate to all things.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, and I see that, and I’ve been educated quite a bit on your show. Not that I need to act like I’m this uneducated square guy. I have a 19 and 17 year old and they keep me educated to a certain degree I don’t always understand. I’m learning the difference between being a square and being a nerd, that another discussion. Do you feel young people really care about how they represent themselves online? Do you ever get concerned about what people say and what people hear for the fear that other people are watching?
Jaime Broadnax: I think being online still has little to no filter, and that’s opportunity just from engaging on Twitter all day. I think we still need to work at that, and it’s not just young people old people too. It’s the whole knee jerk reaction thing the moment something strikes you the wrong way you just say whats on your mind and you don’t really think about it. So I think people do need to watch what they say online, watch what they post online because now your online identity means something when it comes to the workplace. There are companies that are looking at your Twitter account they are looking at what you are posting on facebook, and they are judging your personality, and integrity and your worth to their business based on how you conduct yourself on social media. So we all need to be careful of how we present ourselves on online media. Sometimes it depends on what field you are interested in as far as how you conduct yourself on social media. The things I say on Twitter may not necessarily be appropriate for someone trying to be a Judge. I think you still have to be respectful when you are going to be critical of someone on social media.
Mark Anthony Dyson: And that’s true because it translates to something else to an employer or somebody who is seriously trying to consider you for an opportunity. It may not even be an employer it might be an entrepreneurial opportunity. You just never know how an opportunity is going to come so you should be ready at any particular point. Even if its in private form because once something gets shared it automatically goes public you have broken the firewall sort of speak so now it’s up for scrutiny for anybody. Do you find yourself taking a deep breath more often before you say something or have you mastered the art of saying what you need to and staying with those combined?
Jaime Broadnax: I have I am more careful in ways of what I say and how I say it. Especially as the followers grow and grow and then the type of folks that are following. Because the Black Girl Nerds site we are followed by some pretty eminent people in the media. And to be mindful of the kind of content I put out there. I am somewhat very conservative in how I approach things. I’m not radical in my thinking I don’t say things that are just off the wall or offensive or anything like that. You know you just have to be careful of what you say and how you say it and I’m more mindful of that since this online community has grown.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Now you mentioned on the show a couple of people who are influences and some of them kind of elite influences. Can you mention a couple people so that my audience can get a idea of when you start to become prolific that you do have to kind of watch what you say. Give us a couple of people that start to follow you.
Jaime Broadnax: The first celebrity that started to follow us was Mellissa Harris Perry. Melissa is big on Nerd culture she comes on the show where she uses #Nerdland on MSNBC that airs on weekends. We are followed by Shonda Rhimes the Executive Producer of Scandal and Greys’ Anatomy formerly, Private Practice. Jill Scott follows us on Twitter. Its very humbling and I think that women of color that there is such a disparity when it comes to subcultures in our community being represented that when you see something like Black Girl Nerds its like wow I haven’t really seen some think like that before this is really interesting and intriguing. Its intriguing women like them and they are self declaimed Nerds. When Shonda Rhimes first followed the Black Girl Nerds account she said, “we Black Girl Nerds have to stick together”. She openly admits being a Black Girl Nerd. I’m honored and humbled to have someone who is really a personal hero of mine as a writer. I also went to school for film and tried to work in television at one point so someone like her to be following us is definitely an honor.
Mark Anthony Dyson: We it has definitely was an honor for us to talk to you today. There are some insights here people have gotten as they have been following on along my blog as we talk about online replication standing out so that eventually you can influence others and people can influence hundreds of thousands and people will say hey this person has something or this culture has something. Ultimately, it’s about standing out and standing out for job search and not just ways that are customary or normal, and sometimes you have just got to go outside the box and that’s what you did and you are a great example of that. Thank you so much for agreeing to be part of the show. Which often has nothing to do with your audience however my audience and listeners will grab a little something out of this? Maybe you can come back later, and we will see how your career is turning out.
Jaime Broadnax: Yes, I’d love to come out in the future and thank you so much for having me.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Not a problem thank you so much for coming to talk to us and taking time out of your busy night. (Laughs) You’re leaving to go watch a television show aren’t you?
Jaime Broadnax: Yes I have this thing where I’m addicted to Twitter so I like to live Tweet a lot of shows that is a lot of the community building that I do with Black Girl Nerds so, it’s fun and it also helps the brand and the community at the same time.
Mark Anthony Dyson: Thank you so much for joining us.
Transcribed by: Char’o Safford- Virtual Assistant