Diva Tech Talk was thrilled to interview busy Linda Daichendt, CEO and Founder of the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) (http://gomobilemichigan.org ), CEO of Strategic Concepts Inc., executive producer for Michigan Mobile Musings (an audio broadcast focused on the connected technologies industry), and Board Member for the Michigan STEM Partnership --- a statewide, non-profit collaborative that positively impacts economic development by bridging gaps in educational STEM curricula.
Linda was not an early technologist. “I loved technology as a child but I was discouraged from going into it. It’s not that I wasn’t good at it. They automatically assumed I wouldn’t be good at it! I was encouraged to go into business, which I did.” So, she started out as a marketing leader in the retail industry. “I ran marketing departments for shopping malls and retail corporations for the most part” in her early career. Having worked as a senior consultant at Strategic Marketing Concepts Inc. in the 1990’s, she segued into leadership roles at notable retail giants Roberds Furniture and Appliances, Murrays’ Auto Parts, and BoRics. In 2002, she formed a new MIchigan firm, Strategic Growth Concepts (http://strategicgrowthconcepts.com). The company provides Marketing and Operations consulting services such as marketing and business plan development, marketing plan implementation, media audits, media planning/negotiation, strategic planning, operational audits, systems planning, outplacement, and employee recruitment.
Along the way, Linda found herself falling in love with mobile technology, which was dramatically changing the face of the U.S. economy in the early part of this century. In 2006, she became the national director of marketing for a country-wide chain of wireless retailers (Wireless Toyz). “This was right before the iPhone launched,” Linda said. “I became fully entrenched and learned everything I could about what was going on in the industry.” After Wireless Toyz was acquired, Linda focused solely on Strategic Growth Concepts Inc., and added expertise in connected technologies to her consulting practice. “It set me on this new path. What I found was I ended up doing a lot of education during what were supposed to be sales calls. People didn’t really understand all the mobile and connected technologies that were out there. It became obvious to me that we needed to get information out. And as I was building up my vendor relationships, I couldn’t find vendors in Michigan – that was a problem I wanted to solve.” Finding no connected technology networking groups nor associations in Michigan to fill the gap, Linda decided to start one!
To date, MTAM is unique: it is the only statewide trade association, in the entire country, dedicated to ‘connected technologies.’ It began by gaining the local (Michigan) rights to an international program called MOBILE MONDAYS, essentially meetups for those interested in mobile and all connected technologies. “There was a high demand for it. Nobody else was putting out information on the topic. Attendance was very, very high. We decided we were going to have to establish multiple chapters of Mobile Monday.” Beginning in Ann Arbor, Linda and her team took MOBILE MONDAYS to Detroit, and quickly to 2 other locations for a total, today, of four chapters across the state. After 9 months of fielding MOBILE MONDAYS, Linda saw many other needs that those interested in mobility had. “There was need for referrals, access to training, and all these other things,” she said. So, the non-profit statewide trade association was born, and the four Mobile Monday Michigan chapters are now a subsidiary of MTAM. MTAM helps everyone having interest in, or working with connected technologies, according to Linda. Broad MTAM membership consists of “people who are providing connected technologies, and people in every industry, utilizing the technologies.”
Moving far beyond the cell phone, MTAM is “about everything that ‘connected technology’ means --- from IoT (Internet of Things) to autonomous vehicles to augmented (virtual) reality.” Having worked in the mobility space for a decade, Linda sees much positive upside in the field (“IoT is definitely something that is starting to capture the imagination of companies”) but also some challenges. “We have probably moved too fast in some areas,” she said. “Today, connected technologies are being used in every industry. But companies have not paid enough attention to security. We are taking all these devices into our homes and our businesses, and they are not as secure as they need to be. And we are not educating people about how to update all those devices. Those are issues. They put people in danger.”
Linda is passionate about connected technologies because “I think it can change people’s lives. I think it can change our state’s economy, make it much more diversified. I think it can help Michigan attain a leadership role, nationally and internationally.” She also noted that she and her Board have contemplated taking the association nationwide, in the future due to inquiries they’ve had from other states.
Linda’s personal leadership traits include:
Constancy and tenacity (“I am tenacious.”)
Dedication (“Work is pretty much all I do.”)
Focus coupled with collaboration (“But I don’t always see the forest for the trees. So, I often ask others for their opinions.”)
Linda stays current in her field by “constantly, constantly reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, attending Webinars and attending events. It’s literally ‘information overload’ every single day. But things are changing so fast, there is no other choice.” She recommends both THE MOBILE MARKETING HANDBOOK, by Kim Dushinski, and MOBILE MARKETING FOR DUMMIES by John Arnold & Michael Becker, for anyone who would like to begin their immersion in Mobile Marketing specifically. Linda is also a big fan of “hack-a-thons” which she defines as “creativity marathons.” To support diversification, she advocates hack-a-thons focused on women only.
Linda has frequently fielded a key question about her personal technology and nonprofit leadership: “They say ‘You’re a woman. How did you get involved in leading this organization?’ Because I’m a woman, it’s assumed that I can’t possibly have the interest or the knowledge in technology! That assumption has always kind of fascinated me,” she stated. The good news to Linda is that “It’s not as noticeable as it used to be. There’s a lot more attention these days to the fact that there need to be more women and more minorities brought into technology. But there’s no doubt when I go into the room, it’s still going to be 20% or less women.”
To help further the cause of diversity, Linda observed “We need to focus on bringing people along with us.” To achieve that, Linda volunteers on the board of the Michigan STEM Partnership. “I work on a lot of programs to bring women and minorities into technology.” Linda was fortunate, early in her career, to have a woman supervisor who emphasized how important it was to be a good role model and to groom other women for leadership. “That stuck with me. I have always felt it was very important. So, in every job that I have had, if I could have interns, I would try to make sure I could teach them something, give them responsibilities. Providing opportunities is something we should, all, be thinking about doing, on a regular basis.”
Linda is eager to spread the message to parents and educators: “encourage young women to pursue technology in their education and their careers.” She is thrilled that she is in a technology-driven role now. “Somedays it drives me crazy. But I have said to many people, this is what I was meant to be doing. I have the potential to be able to change the world in some small way. I think girls, when they see the power of what technology can do and how they can use it, have the ability to become someone who can change the world.”
Please feel free to contact Linda Daichendt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow us on Twitter - @divatechtalks
Visit us on Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/divatechtalk
If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast channel.