Co-Founder, Vice President of Marketing
SiteLab International Inc.
Dana Todd has seventeen years of experience in journalism and advertising. She was a journalist and editor between 1983 and 1989 with several local newspapers, including the Savannah News-Press, Lawton Constitution, and Frederick Daily Leader. She then gained four years of advertising agency account management experience, specializing in high technology and biotechnology clientele. She is especially proud of her guerilla marketing successes, including a stunt that inspired a tradeshow daily cover story and subsequent distribution agreements for a small company with a $10,000 budget. She joined Bien Logic, an interactive agency, in 1996 and became one of five founding partners to spin off SiteLab in 1997. Todd holds a BA in Advertising from the University of Georgia.
1. What was your first job in technology?
I came originally from the advertising world, and worked with high-tech and biotech clientele. I discovered I had an aptitude and an interest in technology, and threw myself into learning about each of their specific industries (genomics, peripherals, software, etc.) to make myself a more effective marketing partner for them. So, it was a natural step to move to an interactive agency.
2. Who has been your most significant mentor? Why?
Hiram French, my first client when I started consulting. He believed in my wacky marketing ideas, and let me implement them for the various companies he's worked for over the years. He supported me when we had successes, and even when we didn't achieve our expectations. He's been a great source of business advice for me since he's been in high tech for 40 years, and I trust him implicitly to tell it like it is.
Recently, my business partner Marlene Matheson has been a source of inspiration and wisdom. I always go to her with the tough questions.
3. What has been your greatest challenge and what strategies did you use to overcome obstacles?
My greatest challenge these days has been finding balance in my life. I have great difficulty putting my personal life as high on my list of priorities as work. I'm still working on this particular issue, but I've at least made some strict rules for myself, like no work on weekends unless there's a true emergency. Usually, when I have an obstacle, I handle it head-on. I find that honest communication is the fastest way to resolve most situations.
4. Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
My mother. She is a tireless worker, and very creative. She raised three children on her own, earned masters and doctorate degrees, and built a career as an artist and educator along the way. She always makes me feel so special.
5. What lessons have you learned that would be valuable to women beginning their careers in technology?
Think beyond your little niche. Sometimes it's hard to picture how lines of code are part of a much bigger picture, ending in an application that affects a human being's life in some way, but thinking at the human level improves the daily experience for all of us. Plus, it makes you more a visionary than just a technician, so you are more valuable in the job market.
6. What new technology do you believe will have the most positive impact on the world in the next 20 years? The most negative impact?
Genetic modification will change the way we view healthcare in a big way. We're so close to being able to help end the suffering of millions of people. On the negative side, I think that as technology infiltrates our daily lives deeper and deeper, our quality of life will suffer dramatically. We're so electronically connected, yet we have such trouble communicating in simple ways with the people in our lives who should really matter.
On a lighter note:
1. If you could have dinner with any 2 people (living or not), who would they be?
My great-grandmother, who came to Texas in a covered wagon (now deceased). I wish I had listened to her stories now. Also, Steve Jobs. I think the combination of historical reference and future-think would be fascinating.
2. What was the last book you read? What books do you love to recommend?
Guilty pleasure: I just read Judy Blume's "Summer Sisters" and thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of how much I loved Judy Blume when I was an insecure little girl, thinking I was the only freak in the world who didn't make cheerleader. Blume was the first writer with whom I really felt connected.
3. If you couldn't do what you are doing now, what profession would you choose?
I'd be a writer, ideally on travel beat!
4. What is your definition of success?
Success is the sound of applause, internal or external. Success is a good night's sleep, knowing you've done an honest day's work. Success is waking up the next morning delighted that the whole thing is starting again.