Amanda Lannert – CEO of Jellyvision

The girls of FVGCC had the privilege of web chatting with Jellyvision CEO, Amanda Lannert, as we wrapped up our first full year of coding club meetings.  Ms. Lannert generously shared her path in tech as well as providing insight and advice to our high school students.  Here is a sample of our conversation:

Ms. Lannert went to work for Leo Burnett right out of college.  She discovered early in her career that any job and any industry can be interesting if the people you work with are curious and engaged.  Who you work for and with is often more important than what you are doing in your daily work.  When looking for employment, interview your boss just as they interview you.  A good boss can turn your job into a fountain of learning that will lead to your next opportunity.  A bad boss can make even the best career seem awful.

In every position you take, it is important to build your network.  Who you know can often mean more than what you know as you move through your career.  One such contact led Ms. Lannert to a tech startup, Jellyvision, that was producing CD-ROM games. At that time, Jellyvision produced the number one CD-ROM game, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, based off of the popular TV show and the game, You Don’t Know Jack, a trivia-based party game series.  In her first position at Jellyvision, Ms. Lannert was working with future head writers of The Colbert Report and creative types that inspired her every day.  Interestingly, the company even turned down Seth Meyers for a job at that time!  Joining Jellyvision, was important because of the people and the creative work, it wasn’t about the initial position she held, but what she learned from it.  Within six months, Ms. Lannert was Jellyvision’s President.

With this new position, came the challenge of watching Jellyvision’s profit and loss numbers going off a cliff because the company’s main business was producing CD games and the technology around gaming was rapidly changing.  As a result, at the age of 28, Ms. Lannert had the gut wrenching responsibility of shutting down the company, laying off 60 people, including herself.  They had three opportunities to keep the company, but then the tech bubble burst and the company had to close.  One of the greatest takeaways for Ms. Lannert from this experience was that, “Failure is not permanent.  You need perspective and resilience.”

Ms. Lannert’s next opportunity would find her again working with Jellyvision after the company’s founder raised money to restart the company, transitioning from the gaming industry to selling software that talks people through difficult life decisions such as health benefits, insurance, and investments/saving.  The change did not come with overnight success, the company spent a decade going sideways, but through grit and perseverance, Jellyvision now works with just under 1,000 companies, representing 91 billion dollars in insurance premium.  Companies spend significant amounts of money each year to help explain health insurance to their employees.  Jellyvision helps make this process clearer, more engaging, and as an added benefit, easy, and fun!

Ms. Lannert used the latter part of our conversation to take questions and share important thoughts on college and career:

  • She hears from a lot of women “I can’t fail.”  Ms. Lannert says you may have set backs or failures but that should be because you have big dreams.  She told the girls of FVGCC, “I want you to have more audacious dreams.  Dream to have an audacious and brave life.”
  • The girls wanted to know how a person knows how to lead a 350 person company.  Ms. Lannert shared that the ability to learn is the greatest thing you will be taught in college. Through Liberal Arts, you can learn about diverse topics so challenge yourself to take a lot of unusual classes.  In Cultural Anthropology, you can learn why people do what they do.  The skills and knowledge you pick up will lead to understanding when you are in a position to lead a team, division, or a company.
  • Have curiosity and chase what interests you!
  • Developers with great communication skills help to bridge the gap between business and development.  The better you communicate within and across groups, the more invaluable you become.
  • Start-up companies are scrappy – never stop learning.  Pick up Ruby on Rails, Java, Python.  Stay curious.  You will find yourself taking on many diverse roles in a start- up.
  • Ms. Lannert is passionate about helping women gain opportunities.  She will meet with anyone who is female.  But, she advised the girls that it is important to do their part.  Know yourself and what you want both from yourself and others.  Make it easy for people to help you.  Ask for something as simple as an introduction.  There is a world of people to help you, everywhere from Facebook to LinkedIn.  Be clear on where you are and where you are trying to go.
  • Join a Women in Tech Group or view the video series 30 Days of Genius by Chase Jarvis.
  • Most importantly, know that as a girl going into tech, you can, “Join, build, or create a business that will make a difference.”

Thanks Ms. Lannert for your time and insight!

 

 

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October 20, 2017 Meeting

Welcome Back! Let’s get down to it!

This week we are going to:

  1. Quickly introduce and catch up anyone who is new this week – WELCOME!
  2. Make sure everyone has the following:
    1. GitHub Account
    2. Cloud9 Account with our team
    3. Forked the HTML5, CSS and JS book repo at github
    4. Created a new workspace with the github repo in Cloud9
  3. Let’s add a home page for our site – kind of like this: https://youtu.be/ent9dh0dRJg
    1. Add “index.html” in cloud 9 and type in a bit of html (we will talk about this in a bit)
    2. git add .
    3. git commit -m “added index.html”
    4. git push
  4. Enable GitHub Pages in settings (it is probably turned off by default)
  5. Copy the URL in your GitHub settings for your website, once you push your changes, your site is published there! Whoot!
  6. Now let’s add
    1. A title for our index page <title>This is my really great page</title>
    2. A header <H1>This is my really great header</H1>
    3. An image <img src=”myImage.jpeg” alt”really great image”/>
      1. Make a new folder called “images”
      2. Find a great image online somewhere and save as to your desktop
      3. File -> upload local files in Cloud9
      4. push again to git
        1. git commit -a -m “my note”
        2. git push
    4. What happened? Didn’t work quite right? Let’s TROUBLESHOOT!
      1. Can we see what is going on by using F12 developer tools in Chrome?
      2. Can we see if everything got up to git the way we wanted? Check out our git hub repo online.
      3. Use Ctrl+F5 to do a forced refresh of your browser
    5. BONUS: If we have time, check out https://www.favicon-generator.org/
      1. Make a favicon
      2. Add it to the root of your website
      3. Add two lines to your header
      4. Commit, push and check out your site!
  7. Awesome! Share your site URL on Slack so we can all see it!

 

Huskie Hackathon at NIU November 4-5

We have an opportunity to participate in the Huskie Hackathon at Northern Illinois University on November 4-5!  As several members of the Fox Valley Girls Coding Club were enthusiastic and successful participants in the Chicago Hacks Hackathon last spring, the Huskie Hackathon should be an exciting and rewarding experience.

For more details and to sign up, please go to the Huskie Hackathon site.

October 13, 2017 Meeting

Welcome to a new year of Fox Valley Girls Coding Club!

We will meet in the Board Room of 25N at 5:45pm, October 13, 2017.

Meeting Agenda:

Excited to meet our new members and catch up with our returning members! It is going to be a great year! 🙂

bookcover

 

Adventures at Chicago Hacks 2017

Rolling blog… Chicago Hacks 2017

Sunday  May 28, 2017

10:45 am – Train Ride home!

9:30 am – Judging & Demos – want to try the app? It’s called “Snooze, You Lose” and it is an alarm that requires that the user either walk 10 steps or answer a riddle correctly in order to shut the alarm off. It helps people that have a hard time waking up in the morning!

Download the APK for Android!

Search for “Snooze, You Lose 2” in MIT App Inventor

8:20 am – After much discussion and donuts, the decision is made that everyone will stay, Nicole and Nikki will demo the app at 9:30am and we will catch a 10:40 am train home. The last bug is fixed, Nikki takes screen caps, Nicole prepares a final release and completes the online code submission.

7:42 am – Donuts everywhere

5:51 am – We decide to take the 8:40 am train instead of the 12:40 am train. The girls are tired and a new bug has emerged. They want to go home.

5:32 am – What’s my name again? LOL

3:33 am – App is done (more or less). Nicole publishes an .apk and downloads it on a tablet for a quick run. The app icon doesn’t load, but we are done…and tired… 😉

2:24 am  – Formatting alarm dates and time

2:03 am – pedometer and riddles are integrated and final testing is finishing up…Caroline is asleep on the floor. I just heard someone yell “It Works!!” from down the a hallway…

12:30 am – Insomnia Cookies and Henna Tatoos – Riddles are being merged into alarm

Saturday  May 27,  2017

Midnight – pedometer is working, alarm is working – now with custom sound, riddles are working – with help from Jessie – Nikki has an app icon and graphics… but all of the pieces are completely separate from one another

11:30pm – girls run off to record an alarm sound “Good Morning” – they escape to the bathroom to avoid lots of other noisy teenagers!

10 pm stuff is coming together…

8:30 pm coffee & coding

6:30 pm dinner – noodles and company

5:30 pm groups form – Isabella and Rosie on pedometer, Nikki on graphics, Jessie take a cat nap, Caroline on riddles, Nicole on core alarm

4:30 pm gaming class, Nicole builds out the first part of the alarm – comparing the device system time with the date time the user picks

~4 pm Girls use post-its to organize the pieces they needs to build their alarm clock app

2:36 pm

All girls except Nicole and I are at the HTML class… we have the Oculus Rift hooked up to the Alienware Desktop that Caroline checked out now… and Nicole is playing a game with a fox…. courtesy of Major League Hacks! Before she gets too motion sick…. we will see if we can build a unity game and deploy it on the Rift…. 😉

IMG_20170527_142315

11:45am

We were lucky enough to arrive a bit early and have procured a large table with room for everyone!

2017-2018 FVGCC Schedule

Fox Valley Girls Coding Club will meet for the 2017-18 school year on Friday evenings from 5:45 p.m.-7:45 p.m. at 25N Coworking on River Street in downtown Geneva.  This year’s coding projects include web and mobile projects and perhaps some work with IoT.  FVGCC is open to all girls, ages 14-18.  Limited spaces are available so please sign up now!  Contact us at fvgcc12@gmail.com.

Technologies

bookcoverWeb (October – December 2017): We will use Cloud9 online IDE (integrated development environment), GitHub and GitHubPages to build HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript websites. All of the girls will also have a subdomain on which they can deploy websites. This year we will be building web-based games based on the examples in Learn HTML5 by Creating Fun Games by Rodrigo Silveira.

Mobile and/or 3D Gaming (January – March 2018):

Mobile: We are looking at Thunkable for iOS and Android mobile app development. Right now, they only support Android, but they are collecting names of users who would like to be beta testers for their iOS version! As a backup, we can use React Native. If we go with React Native, we may use the book React Native Quickly by Azat Mardan.

3D: We are considering using the Unity Game Engine to get our feet wet and then we can consider future projects, which may involve deploying games to the Microsoft Hololens.

Gadget Month (April 2018): Awesome Shield has a pretty cool Arduino based hardware shield that can be used with their Ardiuno library in Adruino Studio. This might be a good stepping stone to more advanced bread-boarding with Arduino and Arduino Studio if the girls want to go in that direction! In the past, the girls have also used Makey Makeys to play the games they have built. We could take those to the next level and use some of the more advanced keyboard features. Robin also has a Hololens, Ozobot, Rasberry Pis to play with! Also, we can design models for 3D Printing using TinkerCad.

Meeting Schedule

October (Web) – 13, 20, 27

November (Web) – 3, 10, 17

December (Web) – 1, 8, 15

January (Mobile/3D Gaming) – 12, 26

February (Mobile/3D Gaming) – 2, 9, 23

March (Mobile/3D Gaming) – 9, 16, 23

April (Gadgets) – 6, 13, 20

May 4th – Last Class Cinco de Mayo Party!