Our Founding BFF Sandy Carter on Failing, Digital Identity and Why You Should Be a Rabbit

Sandy Carter is a renowned author, innovator, and thought leader known for her significant contributions to the business and tech world, particularly in the realm of Web3. As the digital landscape undergoes transformative changes, Carter has positioned herself as a thought leader in understanding and harnessing the potential of Web3 technologies. Carter's insights into Web3 are not only informative but also forward-thinking, providing a roadmap for businesses and individuals seeking to navigate the dynamic digital landscape. Her dedication to bridging the gap between technology and business has solidified her reputation as a trusted advisor and of the most influential women in technology today.

In her latest book, “The Tiger and the Rabbit," this business fable imagines a struggling company facing declining customer satisfaction. To save it, Carter explores how embracing emerging technologies like Web3, AI, and the Metaverse can transform businesses and revolutionize customer experiences. We were lucky enough to talk with Carter about her incredible career as VP of worldwide public sector partners and programs at Amazon Web Services and now as Senior Vice President of Business Development at Unstoppable Domains, her thoughts on digital identity, and the power of failure. Check out her interview here. 

On being a woman in tech

We all know the numbers for women in tech are not robust—26.7% of tech jobs are held by women, with the U.S. having a lower percentage (around 23%) compared to some European countries like Sweden (around 47%)—and there is a stereotype that many women if they do go into the field are only going into it for the money. But Carter says it is possible to lead a purpose-driven career in tech.  “Oh, I don't want to go into tech because it's just about making money or I don't want to go here. I think it's really important to recognize that whatever you do, you can do it for profit and purpose. It doesn't have to be one or the other. It can be both. You can fulfill both needs in one if you really work at it and you really want to do that.”

Digital Identity in Web3 is Going To Open a Whole New World

Digital identity refers to the online representation of an individual's identity, comprising various attributes, credentials, and personal information. The goal is to establish and verify the identity of users in digital interactions, ensuring secure access to online services, platforms, or transactions. But there are some major issues with digital identity in the realm of Web2 when it comes to privacy, inaccurate information, and limited user control. But Carter explains that a lot of that could change in Web3. “Just thinking about having one source of truth, I think is really interesting, right?

It could come into play in so many different areas. You know, if someone has a house and they have that one source of truth with all their documents instead of always kind of searching for everything.” Imagine if you had a block of all the information for your children’s medical records instead of filling out 20 forms every time you went to the doctor. “Having that source of truth where this is accurate and this is like 100% what that person is or what that experience is really neat,” Carter said. 

On her book influencing Pepsi

To write her new book “The Tiger and the Rabbit” Carter interviewed over 400 companies. She was looking at their readiness for emerging technologies like blockchain, digital identity, and AI. The companies that were ahead in adopting these technologies often had dedicated teams focused on emerging tech, and these teams tended to remain intact over time. In contrast, companies lagging typically formed temporary groups, known as tiger teams or SWAT teams, to address specific problems or challenges. Carter noted that that tiger teams or SWAT teams are formed to tackle a specific issue but may not have the same sustained focus on ongoing technological advancements as the dedicated teams observed in forward-thinking companies.  These were companies already focusing on quantum. “You're going to move fast. You're a rabbit. You're not really attacking something. You're exploring it. You're experimenting with it. And so I tried this name, ‘The Rabbit Team.’” When Carter met with Pepsi and told them about these innovation-driving rabbit teams the next day they told her they had restructured a tiger team to be a rabbit team. “So I wanted to have that section in there on the team so that you could always be ready for that next thing.”

For context, quantum computing and AI represent different domains of technology. Quantum computing utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to perform specific types of calculations faster than classical computers, while AI focuses on creating intelligent systems on par with human intelligence. 

On helping people get to the next development

Carter is a master at building powerful teams that help people get to the next level in innovation, development and experimentation. It is all about making sure, for these very new areas of technology, there is an educator on the team. “That's what Boss Beauties and BFF do so well. That's what you're doing right now. You're educating people because it's a new concept. So you have to take time to educate. You need someone who understands how to educate, what the phases are, what people go through, etc. I just think that that's really important no matter what new tech you're looking at.” She also thinks having a gamer on the team is very important. This is something she learned during her time at Amazon. “Amazon hires a lot of people who don't actually have college degrees. But the one thing I found is that most of them were coders and they became coders because they were gamers and that helped them to really understand all the elements of digital transformation and what it took. You need someone who lives in that next world, not someone who lives in the past.”

On the Power of Failure

When she first joined Amazon she made a very visible, big mistake. She corrected it fast but she askedone of her senior leaders how she should handle it, and he asked her to make a big presentation on her failure. She was terrified and wanted to call in sick.. Now she says it’s the most impactful presentation she has done in her time there. “I'll run into Amazonian someplace and they'll say, I still remember that presentation.I learned so much. I didn't make the same mistake you made because you shared that. It turned out to be one of the very best things that I had done. And one of the things I love so much about Amazon is they celebrate the failure, not that you made the mistake, but that you learned from it and therefore you and others now won't make that mistake again. I think it's such a powerful lesson for sure.” Celebrating failure is something we can all work on and learn to trust ourselves more. Carter said, “Manage self doubt or like really learn how to just like trust your gut, trust your instinct. Trust that it was going to be okay walking into that room presenting your failures versus calling in sick.”

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