AI & its role in narrowing opportunity gaps in a post-COVID-19 world

Posted by Cynthia Stamstad on Aug 5, 2020 4:55:07 PM

Together, we are all navigating an uncertain path toward economic recovery as governments around the world order lockdowns, re-openings, and sadly, rollbacks of re-openings. When the lockdown began in March here in Washington State, I was already contributing to a story on an AI skilling solution in my work with the business incubation team within the broader Microsoft AI Marketing team. The pandemic has accelerated the need for tech innovation, including AI solutions, to help reimagine the future of work and re-train and upskill workers for a post-COVID-19 world. I set out to learn and share how thought leaders are looking at these challenges.


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Topics: Simplify Series, News & updates, Talent shift

Overcome workplace communication challenges – two-part training series

Posted by Erica Bueno on Jul 22, 2020 12:17:32 PM

Have you ever  


  • Received feedback that you need to be more “strategic” or specific?  
  • Struggled to get your point across in team meetings? 
  • Been frustrated that no one seems to hear you or acknowledge your ideas?  
  • Tried to cope with a rude and insensitive coworker? 
  • Been angry with a team member who always changes their mind?  


Chances are, you answered yes to at least one of these questions. We’ve all been there. Communication can be challenging, especially in the workplace, yet it plays a fundamental role in our daily lives. 


I was thrilled to help organize a two-part training to 1) help leaders break through communication barriers, and 2) provide communication tips for overcoming workplace conflicts. A huge thank you to Julie Schaller, a longtime friend of Simplicity and cofounder of Empower Coaching, for sharing her time and knowledge with our community.


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Topics: Simplify Series, Community

What virtual events can learn from late night

Posted by Melinda Morrison on Apr 16, 2020 10:05:16 AM

On Friday, February 28, I was knee-deep in Microsoft Research’s largest event of the year, TechNext. Hundreds of researchers from around the world were getting ready to board planes bound for Redmond, WA, to showcase their cutting-edge demos—content they’d been preparing for months, even years.

And then the coronavirus hit stateside. Within 48 hours of the tragic first fatality in Washington State—mere miles from the Microsoft campus—all of the company’s large scheduled events switched from live to virtual, and my role as an event and video producer for Microsoft forever changed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what events will look like moving forward. The tried and true keynote & demo video format that’s used by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and more has been obliterated. How will we reimagine live events that fill NBA arenas? How will tech companies showcase their latest technologies? How do we engage 50, 5000, and 50,000 people online? Nobody has this figured out yet.

I’m on a quest to learn as much as I can, as fast as I can. You may recognize my teachers—Jimmy Fallon, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver. I’ve become a late-night comedy addict. They are setting the stage for what will work—and what won’t—for virtual events. We get to learn and laugh at the same time.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the kings of late night.

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Topics: Simplify Series

[Virtual] remote work real-talk

Posted by Stephanie Chacharon on Apr 3, 2020 12:29:51 PM

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been struggling at some level to adjust to this new normal. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home, it’s not just adjusting to working fully remotely—it’s also dealing with headline fatigue and the stress of looming economic uncertainty, trying to homeschool and/or keep your children alive and fed while also working, coping with a friend or loved one who’s sicksupporting someone who’s unemployed or at risk of losing their job, or feeling isolated and alone. It’s A LOT.

We wanted to hear from our community on how they’re staying connected … while staying apart.

Lisa Hufford, our CEO and founder, [virtually] sat down with a handful of our experts—a group with 60+ combined years of remote work experience (!!!)—to talk about remote work in this current environment, from leading remote teams and creating an at-home work environment to communicating with empathy. Here’s the full conversation.

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Topics: Simplify Series, News & updates, Talent shift

Storytelling in the real world: How case studies connect technology, people & sales results

Posted by Robert Heuer on Mar 23, 2020 8:02:53 AM

When I left the world of creative and academic writing for technical marketing work, I vowed to use my powers for good.

I scorned businesses that used showy, shadowy language to manipulate buyers. Even as a software technical writer who worked on admin guides and help files (remember those?), I strove to make personal connections, even if they were only in my mind: Whoever reads this will do their job better. Or at least hate it less. I sympathized with end users who probably read my words through clenched teeth anyway, only consulting documentation when things were already going wrong.

Ideally, I wanted to make them feel better—heroic, even—about their work.

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Topics: Simplify Series

Staying connected while staying apart

Posted by Stephanie Chacharon on Mar 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM


One of my favorite coronavirus Tweets so far reminds us to be gentle with ourselves in these far-from-ordinary times: 

It can be incredibly difficult to concentrate right now—I’m writing this while dismissing news alerts, with a kindergartener doing math worksheets to my left and a 2YO playing with imaginary suitcases at my feet—let alone stay connected.

Now that we’re fully remote, our team has a new ritual: Friday video all-hands to connect, share, and end the week on a positive note. In our first of these v-chats, we each shared our suggestions for staying connected … while staying apart.

We hope that these tips—ranging from tech hacks to self-care reminders—help you weather this storm with your spirit intact. 

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Topics: Simplify Series, Talent shift, Women & work, Community

5 tips for staying productive (and sane!) while adjusting to remote work

Posted by Lisa Hufford on Mar 18, 2020 6:50:59 PM

This post was originally published by Lisa Hufford on LinkedIn.  

A few months ago, I shared five tips for successfully managing remote employees. I also shared some stats on the rise of remote work:  

It’grown 91% in the last 10 years, and 159% over the last 12 years. 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. 

Today, remote work has become an overnight reality for businesses and teams of all sizes as we navigate this global pandemic. Many who have been weighing remote work programs are suddenly rolling them out by necessity, essentially building the plane while in-flight.  

Managers, it’s worth revisiting my tips for the shift to managing your teams while working remotely. And for those who are adapting to working from home for the first time—managers and individual contributors alike—this post is for you.

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Topics: News & updates, Talent shift

Women.Co:The 5 COs of successful women-owned businesses

Posted by Linda Bookey on Mar 3, 2020 6:00:00 AM

When I started out as a business owner, I wasn’t thinking about being women-owned—I was focused on being successful. And I was, for more than 25 years. I built a business to fit my values and my family’s needs in a way that corporations weren’t doing.  

These days, in addition to my work as a consultant with Simplicity, I volunteer as a site visitor with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). I visit women-owned companies to certify that the company is, in fact, legitimately owned and run by women. I’ve sat with female founders, leaders, and bosses—ranging from sole proprietors to CEOs of global corporations. While each leader is different (I think there are as many variances within our gender as there are across genders), I’ve observed the following commonalities.

(Let me be clear: Not every women-owned business adheres to these trends! However, many of the organizations I’ve observed through WBENC or as an employee, customer, vendor, ally, or friend, do.)

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Topics: Simplify Series

Interview tips & tricks

Posted by Markelle Linstedt on Feb 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

This content was repurposed from a presentation that Markelle gave earlier this year to the Women in Business group at UW Bothell.

In my role as Talent Manager at Simplicity Consulting, I meet with hundreds of clients and consultants. Those conversations have given me a front-row seat to what hiring managers are looking for.

Early-in-career job seekers, keep reading for tips and tricks on how to stand out, what hiring managers really want, and what works (and doesn’t!) in an interview.  

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Topics: Simplify Series

Taking ACTION with Women in Cloud

Posted by Stephanie Chacharon on Jan 27, 2020 1:55:59 PM

The morning of the Women in Cloud Summit, Chaitra Vedullapalli, architect of the Women in Cloud initiative, sent an email asking the speakers and organizers to walk into the event with intention. 

She encouraged them to contribute to the power of community and collective action. To be intentional about contributing to economic access for all; seeking out opportunities to serve and partner; and breaking down inequalities and barriers. 

Chaitra shared a Brené Brown quote that echoes the event's focus on collective action:

"At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized." 

That intentional focus was evident throughout the event. Womxn and allies connected around a common goal of changing the industry narrative and create economic access for women in the cloud economy. 

We are proud to sponsor the Women in Cloud Initiative. Here are some of our team's takeaways from the event: 

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Topics: Women & work

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