The Red Haired Madam

Amanda Blum is a whirlwind. That is the only way I can put into words her personality and outlook on life. And our friendship has been nothing short of a whirlwind either.

I really can’t remember how I came to volunteer with Wordcamp Phoenix 2011, but knowing Amanda as I do, I most likely got recommended to her and then she sucked me into being involved in a such a way I didn’t even know it was happening. This is the beauty of Amanda. She eliminates fear and empowers others without them ever knowing they had anything to be fearful of. Well that, and you can’t say no to her.

Which is why six months later when she asked me to be her number two when running the first ever TwilioCon, I didn’t hesitate.

Amanda is a fantastic mentor because she doesn’t realize she’s doing it. All throughout this incredible conference, for which I’m making decisions and calling out orders I pulled out of my ass, she’s supportive and instructive. It’s common for conference organizers to take all the glory and shut everyone else out, but Amanda wanted me in on every meeting and every phone call. She didn’t hide the bad stuff, nor did she sluff it all off onto me or someone else. It was Amanda that taught me there’s no point in freaking out because we can always figure out something.

Of course, I’m still working on this last part.

And while much of her empowerment is subtle, she’s knows when to get in your face and push you too. Most people coddle me – either because I’m cute or they feel sorry for me for some reason. Amanda shoves my mistakes in my face and says, ‘You screwed up. Now we fix it.’

Amanda has given me the confidence to believe I could actually plan a huge conference and survive – though I do hope she’ll be around to help =)

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