Tidepool’s success is defined, in part, by those who lead us. We’re fortunate to have a number of women leading Tidepool’s efforts across Support, Training, Fundraising, Marketing, Design, and Product development. Their expertise, experience, and enthusiasm are central to the thriving culture at Tidepool. We asked the women who help lead Tidepool to share their story and offer some advice for women looking to join a nonprofit organization, a software company, a company developing medical technology, or in our case: all of the above!
Izzy is new to the Tidepool team and we hope you will join us in giving her a warm welcome to the community!
Izzy Goodwin, VP of Development. Enneagram 7.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Fundraising?
It was my first internship at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa. That was my first glimpse into the nonprofit world. We were doing events as fundraisers and I got to see the impact of those dollars going back into the organization and I was hooked. It felt like a really amazing use of my time and it aligned with my skill sets which includes talking with people, discovering their passions, and then aligning those passions with a philanthropic goal.
What is your role at Tidepool?
I am the new Vice President of Development which means that I work with Impact Investors - people who love what we do because they are in the diabetes space, or care deeply about technology, or new frontiers in technology and are excited that we are developing software as a medical device. Whatever reason they find us and get excited about our work as a nonprofit organization, I get to have conversations with them about how they want to make a difference, how we align with their philanthropic goals and their investment vision, and take it from there. I am responsible for securing the resources that help us do our work.
What drew you to Tidepool?
What drew me to Tidepool is the commitment to the mission.
Tidepool is this incredible and innovative organization that decided to form as a nonprofit because they are so mission driven.
They said everyone needs what we are going to make and we do not want to sacrifice access for profit, so this is what we’re doing instead. That was phenomenal to me, I’d never seen anything like it in all of my fundraising career. I wanted to be a part of this incredible mission and this team that was so dedicated and committed to those it serves that it is literally foregoing profits to make sure the people who need these products get access. The Tidepool values really stood out to me, especially the choice to fight the default of exclusion. I love that it is an action-oriented item instead of just waiting for something to happen.
Getting to know the team and getting to meet everyone I have realized it is not just talk - it is the way they operate and it is the day to day. The culture at Tidepool has completely swept me off my feet. I have found that being in the weeds, having multiple hats, and working on small but mighty and driven teams really excite me and that’s the kind of opportunity I have at Tidepool.
What excites you about the things Tidepool is working on?
Howard has said it best: “we’re brave enough to tackle things that have never been done before.” Tidepool Loop for example, existed in a way that wasn't accessible for everyone to take advantage of. Tidepool said, “wouldn't it be great if everyone could use this?” This is world-changing, life-altering work and this is all happening at Tidepool.
This team, working like crazy to benefit millions of people, it’s a really humble organization and Tidepoolers are a very unique breed of people. You would think to take this endeavor on it would be a massive organization - but it isn't and that is a testament to the impact the few can have on the many.
It excites me to be a part of something that is going to be changing lives for generations.
What are you most looking forward to learning about what it takes to make diabetes software as a nonprofit organization?
Everything. I am embarrassingly enough the daughter of a software developer and I know nothing about software. I am excited to see it in action - this is a world I have never been a part of. Being a part of the process of something that comes to market - what does that look like, what does it take? The fact that we are a nonprofit is a learning curve and people might assume that we are not because we are a technology company. When people talk about ‘investing’ in Tidepool - this is not a traditional investment. This is an impact investment - your investment is your social return on investment. How much am I getting by helping millions of people take advantage of these tools being built?
I am excited to see everything from the logistical tech standpoint but I am also excited to tell the story to the people who are not expecting it and educate the broader community because our story is so unique.
What other women inspire you - personally or professionally?
On a personal note, I believe you need to have your own board of directors or personal advisors that you bounce ideas off of, that help you grow and that lead you towards your dreams. I have that - a close circle of my best girlfriends. They are so inspiring. They do it all and to watch it in action is remarkable. On days I feel overwhelmed or less motivated, I always pull from them. I see what they are doing on top of their regular lives - children, building houses, travel, building business - it makes me feel lazy. These incredible women who are conquering the world, if they can handle all that, then I can write a few more emails.
On a professional note, I admire Sarah Blakely. She started Spanx with $5,000 and was the first female self made billionaire. She got married when she was 37 and then had four kids. She bucked every single trend and remained authentic throughout. She is goofy and funny and built her own business on her own terms.
There is a stigma that leadership is supposed to look a certain way - previously women were successful by best mirroring men.
They tried to behave more like men because the more you could fit in the more successful you could be. Women like Sarah Blakely said I will bring my entire self to work and there is no right or wrong way for leadership to look. I think that is incredible for all leaders but particularly for young women to see. The more authentic you can be as leaders, the more effective you will be.
What advice would you give to women looking to work in a leadership role?
Go for it! We all know that women wait until they have the qualifications and feel ready to pursue leadership opportunities compared to men who will apply to jobs aspirationally. That’s a big barrier. You are more qualified than you think you are. You are never going to feel ready and it’s never a good time. If you see something you want: Go for it. Odds are, you are where you are because you are exceptionally competent at what you do. We tend to be our own worst critics and hold ourselves back and we tell ourselves no before someone else does.
I would also tell you to just be yourself and be comfortable taking up space. Don’t feel like you’re in the way or a burden. You’re meant to be in that room and in that conversation.
Lastly, I think that having a sense of humor goes a long way. Don’t take things personally or be afraid to laugh. Have a sense of humor about yourself because it’s going to help the hard days be less hard. You don’t have to be positive to a toxic extreme, but you have to be able to find the joy and the small wins each day. Take the small wins and learn from the bad days. Don’t live in the down.
What would you change about the diabetes industry, if you could? What would you change about the broader medtech industry, if you could?
There is an inherent conflict of interest in the fact that the medtech industry is for profit - you are inherently profiting off of people’s medical needs. Most organizations are not working the way Tidepool is - solutions should be accessible to the people who need it. We need to create equity where there is none and not everyone is bearing the responsibility.
Do you find yourself as the only woman in the room often? What do you do differently in those situations?
At Tidepool, no. At previous organizations, absolutely. In those situations I try my best not to become the stereotypical woman in the room. I try my best not to volunteer to take notes for example - small nuances like that tend to feed into the gender stereotypes. I try to be present to my highest capacity by raising questions and bringing up topics that I disagree with. I am often the only woman and also the youngest - I am often reminding someone of their daughter. So I have to bring as much power and assertive authority as I can into the room.
How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
I try to remember that I’m not that good of an actor and I’m here because I worked hard to build and demonstrate competence and the capacity to excel at my work, not because I’m good at fooling people. The first big step for me is identifying when imposter syndrome is speaking out. It might sound different for everyone - ‘You're not good enough. You don't deserve this.’ Whatever you hear yourself saying - develop your own self talk to get yourself out of it.
Once you name it, then you can address it. Imagine someone who is rooting for you - what would they say? I often use my mom’s voice and think of what she would say. No matter how powerful that imposter syndrome voice is - the people in your corner know you best. If you choose to believe them - you don't have to believe yourself.
Believe the good voices around you and they will help those voices recede and have less power.
How do you find work life balance and manage your time while serving in a leadership role?
Being able to work from home with Tidepool’s fully distributed team is such a big help - no commute time or all the distractions of working in an office. A healthy work-life balance involves figuring out what you can accomplish in the time that you’re on the clock so that you aren’t sitting and thinking about tasks at dinner or over the weekend.
It is also important to note that a healthy work-life balance needs to be modeled from the top down. It is much harder to maintain that balance if you are getting incessant emails at all hours that you are expected to respond to. On the one hand, logistical boundaries are important e.g. 5:30 I am done, with the caveat that your leadership team needs to be supportive. But it also has to be a mental game so you can actually enjoy your time with your family because otherwise you're not really with them anyway.
What fills your bucket outside of your work at Tidepool?
I love being outside. I have a dog that is the light of my life - an 85 lb monster that is the best. I am also very close to my family and friends that are family. Being with them and hearing about their days and their lives - I absolutely love that. I am sometimes a runner. I am also a novice baker and I have been able to keep a decently large garden alive for a while now. I love trying new things, being around people and having good conversations. I am not extraordinary at any of these but I have the joy of doing them no matter the outcome.
As a nonprofit organization, we are able to focus on this larger impact on the diabetes community instead of on returns; but we need your help. We invite you to join us along the pathway we’re building to make an interoperable automated insulin dosing system a reality and drive change across all levels of the diabetes industry.
We can Redefine Diabetes together when you support Tidepool with a donation at tidepool.org/donate.