I fired a bully

I fired a bully a few days ago. 

Gig-wise, the summer was a huge bust. Two major projects that I was hoping to win fell through due to budgetary constraints and nothing was happening on the job-hunt front. I was frustrated. So it was a very pleasant and welcome surprise when one evening I got an email from my site enquiring about my services and when we could chat. I googled the individual to make sure she was legit. She was. I emailed her back to indicate when I would be available to speak to her by phone the next day.

First Contact

When we spoke on the phone, we had great rapport. I was able to answer all her questions and give recommendations. I was confident that I had made a good impression and I genuinely liked her. She was ready to give me all her usernames and passwords for her site. I remember saying something along the lines of waiting to meet in person to talk further and to decide if we wanted to work together. She asked me my hourly rate and I told her… she thought it was very reasonable. We made plans to meet in person the following week.

Let the bullying begin!

At the meeting the following week was when the bullying started. After almost 2 hours of going through her site and her telling me all the things she wanted changed or updated she asked how long it would take for me to make the modifications. The work wouldn’t be difficult but it would be time consuming. I said about 20 to 30 hours. Her eyes went wide and she said, “How much would 20 hours cost?” I replied “$ABC” while she calculated a different rate. I said, “My rate is $X per hour”. She looked up at me and said, “No. You told me $Y per hour.” I said no, that my rate was indeed $X per hour. Again she said no and how she remembers these things and that I said $Y. I think I know my rate per hour. I really wanted the job but I knew what I had told her. Instead I said, “Ok… we’ll go with $Y per hour for 20 hours” thinking I was being flexible and client-focused. That was my first mistake and the first inkling that this process was going to be difficult. As we left the meeting, I told her that I would draw up a contract for $ABC detailing the work we had agreed upon. She agreed. Later that evening, I sent out the proposal/contract that we had discussed earlier that day.

By Sunday I had still not received a response so I sent a short email to confirm that she had received it. She got back to me on Monday saying she doesn’t understand how what we talked about would take 20 hours. I was a bit taken aback considering that up until this point she had taken up almost 4 hours of my time. She went on to say that her budget was only half of what the contract was. Why didn’t she tell me that on Friday when she hacked $5/hour off my rate and balked at the time estimate? Now I was feeling intimidated and put upon. I thought about what I could do with her new, much lower budget. Not a whole lot, but at this point I still wanted to work with her. To my own shame and horror, I said that I would do the work at the new budget amount. I thought that I was building relationships and working with my client to meet her needs. I didn’t clue in that I was being manipulated until she told me that she would only pay me when I finished the work. I pushed back saying that I would not start any work until a deposit and the signed contract were received. She said ok. I felt like a schmuck.

Things get nasty

I couldn’t bring myself to amend and re-send the contract. I felt used. I felt intimidated. I felt angry at myself!! It was bad enough that she didn’t value my expertise or the service but it was even worse when I did it to myself for a job I was pretty sure I didn’t want anymore. Instead, I decided to walk away from the project. The amount of work for so little money, the irritation that I already felt, plus the aggravation that would come with working with a bully was so not worth it. I sent a polite, professional “I’m not a good fit for this project” email and immediately felt relief. That, however, was short lived. She called me about 10 minutes after I sent the email. I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to talk to her. Then she sent me an email saying that she has a counter offer that would meet both our needs. As I had gotten my spine back, I thought to myself that the only counter offer I would even consider was my ACTUAL rate for 20-30 hours which was not going to happen. A few hours later I sent another polite, professional reply declining the not-yet-offered counter offer again citing that I was not a good fit. She replied with 2 consecutive nasty, condescending, passive-aggressive emails. 

Lessons Learned

At the first red flag, RUN! It will only get worse! Although I should have tapped out when she argued with me about my rate, I still dodged a massive pain-in-the-butt bullet!

I will never let a client pressure, intimidate or bully me again! No job is worth my self-respect.

First time teaching! Part 2


I led part two of the LLC WordPress workshop on August 25. It went pretty well, I think. I was not as nervous and felt more confident than I had the week before.

One of the best parts of the whole experience was the support and encouragement that I received from my friends Yaa, Joe, Sara, and Jess. They each took time out of their busy schedules to support me and to mentor for me on one or both nights. I’m so close to these people that it’s difficult to comprehend that this time a year ago, we didn’t know each other! This is a testament to the power of community and about how close-knit we “HackerYouvians” become.

Throughout the course, they were quick to offer advice and guidance to the learners. Whenever I scanned the class, I always caught a friendly glance and smile of encouragement from one of them. During exercises or breaks, they’d offer to get me water or come up to me and let me know that I was doing a good job. I can’t even express how much that meant to me. “Thank you” isn’t nearly enough!

I will definitely be teaching again. It was rewarding and fun!

First time teaching!

IMG_2161Yesterday was my first time as a lead instructor for a two-part Ladies Learning Code course titled Intro to Blogging & WordPress.

I was nervous, but once it got started, I felt good. The only negative thing was that I was so under the weather. I had been home from work the previous three days suffering from a migraine. Going to HackerYou was the first time since Monday afternoon that I had left my apartment.

I had a great time!  There were about 25 participants. They were engaged and asked great questions. The mentors, as always, were friendly and helpful. I started to fade during the last 30 minutes as my head was pounding. I don’t think anyone (except Yaa) noticed.

I love teaching and I love WordPress! Even with the terrible headache, I could have gone on for hours! At one point, Jess had to remind me to stop to give the participants a break, lol.

Part two is next Thursday. I can’t wait!

Secrets of a Side Hustler Speed Mentoring Event


thumb_IMG_1577_1024Secrets of a Side Hustler reveals strategies, tips, and inspiration to turn your passion into a paycheque while working a full-time job. Their motto is “Why wait for an opportunity when you can create one?

On Thursday, I attended a Secrets of a Side Hustler Speed Mentoring Event at Hacker You with my good friend Yaa. The evening was hosted by Chivon John, Founder of Secrets of a Side Hustler. Two special guest mentors were in attendance to speak of their own side-hustler experiences:  Nike Onile, Founder of 800 Sq Ft and Danielle Thé, Founder of Devs Without Borders and a Toronto based Googler.

The evening got underway with mingling, chatting, and appetizers (the meatballs were to die for!!!). A lively Q&A discussion with Nike and Danielle followed. They shared details about how they got started, overcame challenges and grew their businesses as side hustlers. After that, we were divided into two smaller groups each getting about 30 minutes with Nike or Danielle for peer-to-peer mentoring and Q&A. This portion of the event was incredible! We each shared our “side hustles” and received valuable advice,  guidance, and support from the mentors and from each other.

During the event we were encouraged to take selfies and post about the event to Twitter  using the hashtag #sidehustlechatlive. Those who did were eligible to win VIP tickets to Side Hustle Week in September. Side Hustle Week is the first and only event of its kind to inspire, inform and connect side hustlers and aspiring entrepreneurs. I submitted the selfie above and won tickets!!

thumb_IMG_1579_1024If you have the opportunity to attend a Side Hustle event, I highly encourage you to go! It is an uplifting, fun, and motivating event! I can’t wait to attend another one.

Mentoring at a Ladies Learning Code Workshop

Today I mentored for the second time at the Ladies Learning Code workshop WordPress for Beginners: Create Your Own WordPress Theme. It was fun especially since my two good friends Joe and Yaa (also talented web developers) were mentoring too.

Mentoring has reinforced my learning. It has taught me patience. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with others. When I meet new people at these workshops, I always hope that my enthusiasm and passion for coding is evident and contagious!IMG_1559

I knew, after taking my first LLC workshop in June 2015, that if I were to continue in web development, I’d want to give back to the community that has given me so much. I’m glad that I am in a position to help others learn to code.

I’ve already signed up to mentor at another LLC workshop. It is HTML & CSS for Beginners: Learn to Build a One Page Website From Scratch on April 2.

Reshma Saujani: Teach girls bravery, not perfection | TED Talk | TED.com

Too many of us use the “all or nothing” approach to tasks…If it’s not perfect, I’m not doing it.

Part of the learning process of everything is taking risks, getting things wrong, and making mistakes. How I wish I had known that in my younger days! At least I get it now.

Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code. In February 2016 she delivered a powerful TED Talk about the importance of teaching girls how to code.