Musings on Women in Behavior Analysis Conference, Nashville, 2019

Written by, Beth McKee, MSEd., BCBA

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the Women in Behavior Analysis (WIBA) conference, a conference with a mission to highlight the work of women in behavior analysis, provide a space to discuss gender and diversity in the field, as well as connect practitioners with similar interests.

T-Shirt swap

These are some of my takeaways and thoughts:

  • WIBA is a place for the community of women behavior analysts: to exchange ideas, to get real, to be genuine, to share their vulnerability, to share the nitty grittiness of life. A space that is sometimes missing for women in the field.
  • The WIBA conference was cleverly organized, providing an environment for women to grow and connect organically by embedding the space and time needed within the daily schedule.
  • WIBA facilitates female mentorships, the core relationship for the growth of behavior analysts.
    • Women design and print some damn good T-shirts and swag.
  • The WIBA conference brought communities of women together but, there’s still room to grow in its representation of inclusivity.
  • The WIBA conference speakers exemplified women, “daring to lead”.
    • WIBA reminded me of the necessity for women to be part of a tribe.
Dropping Knowledge
  • WIBA showcased females who reminded us our voices need to be heard every day.
  • WIBA introduced us to women who are exemplary models of playing nicely with others for the purposes of the greater good
    • we desperately need more of this.
  • WIBA made me realize we need to vastly expand female leadership represented in our field and the field of technology. 
  • A big thank you to the men who were able to attend this year. We see you.
  • WIBA had my tribe discussing, “Where are the rest of the men?” Women support conferences held and led by men, yet there were so few men at this conference you could count them on one hand.
  • Men in behavior analysis need to #dobetter supporting women.
  • WIBA promoted family, self care, and mothering by providing child care and having the Behavior Momma, AJ Rodrigue, MA, BCBA, LBA speak about balance.

WIBA speakers reminded us to strive, to grow, and become, but that we are also perfect just as we are.

I finished the WIBA conference feeling filled up, energized, and inspired. I made new friends and lots of new contacts. WIBA sent me off refueled and ready to go make things happen. I go happily into 2019 knowing I’m armed with the support of my new tribe.

I will leave you with the powerful words of Carol Pilgrim, PhD, adapted from B. F. Skinner.

“We have not yet seen what [women] can make of [women]”

For information about WIBA 2020 click here

Beth McKee is collaborator, brand ambassador, and friend to BehaviorMe, working with us on all things from beta testing to social media. 
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How ABA Helped My Business Pitch

Clicker training.

Yup, clicker training. The method we use to train dogs to roll over is the same method Annie used to train up my business pitch.

Tuesday, February 19, CoFounder Andrea gave a 5-minute pitch about BehaviorMe technology and business to an audience of judges and attendees, competing against a list of 7 finalists in areas ranging from craft boxes to water purification. This was the final step in a 4-month long business competition for startups in the North Florida area, Start Up Challenge.

We were tasked with talking about ABA therapy for children with autism, using virtual reality, to a non-behavior analytic, non-tech savvy, audience. For the chance to win $10, 000.

In the days leading up to the pitch, the team worked together to create and clean the script. We swapped out unnecessary technical language for terms that are easier to swallow. Replaced the unemotional and objective with words that tugged at the heart strings. We wanted people to connect to our message, so we needed to create a story that was relatable.

The key questions here were: What do we want the listener to go home with? What is the core message of our talk?

There is a story we are telling and if least-to-most prompting is not central to that story, it doesn’t need to go in the pitch.

Clicker training came into play when I was learning the delivery itself. We used the script, the slide deck, a water bottle as a mic, my mouse as the presentation, a clicky pen as the clicker, and Annie’s “good!” praise statements. Also snacks, it was going to be a long night.

The interplay of the language, the tone, the cadence, and the body language had to come together perfectly to result in a “click” by Annie. And did I work hard for it!

We started at the beginning and worked slide by slide, adding each new slide to the long chain of slides already learned.

After three hours, I got it! Smoothly performing the pitch, I was ready to take on the next day.

A little under a year ago, we used this same method to help Andy prepare for the Boomtown Demo Day, the pinnacle of our 12 weeks in a 5 minute pitch delivered to an audience of community members and potential investors.

Although we did not win the final prize, we did learn some things along the way.

Clicker training isn’t just for dogs, it’s for founders and pitches, too.

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Last 12 Months

Hey all,

Welcome to our first blog post!

We’re in a moment of transition right now, with many things coming and many things accomplished, so we figured it would be best to kick it all off with a review of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

We’re coming on the anniversary of the start of Boomtown Accelerator, the first big catalyst for our own growth.

With this, we want to give you all an idea of the highs and lows of the last 12 months, lessons learned, achievements unlocked, and get us pumped for the coming year.

Get ready for a long one.

January ‘18

It seems so long ago now, and thinking back on that time we really had no idea what was in store for us. We were in a time of transition (doesn’t it always feel like that?) and had been rejected by several accelerators. We interviewed with Boomtown Accelerator, and little did we know that this would lead to our biggest move as a company. We were still trying to understand how we fit into the grand scheme of ABA therapy, identifying our goals, and experiencing those growing pains of a start-up.

February ‘18

We got accepted! Half the team moved to Boulder, Colorado for our tenure at Boomtown Accelerator and half the team stayed in Gainesville, Florida manning our home base. This began a several month journey to grow and develop our software, ourselves, and our company into something meaningful and viable. Our mentors were beyond excellent and for 3 months we worked alongside a cohort of hardworking, driven, and passionate people.

March – April ‘18

Still in its baby stages, we started beta testing our program. We conducted over 100 user interviews with practitioners, parents, and consumers of all backgrounds and experiences to ensure we were creating something truly guided by YOU, the people we are trying to help.

May ‘18

Boomtown ended, we pitched at Demo Day, and ended with a bang. Our experiences at Boomtown were beyond valuable. We’ll likely post a (delayed) review of our experiences there at another time.

Later in the month, most of us flew out to San Diego for ABAI and we got to see many old friends and meet so many new people. Connecting with the BA community was an excellent moment to regroup (both with others and ourselves) and remember our behavior analytic roots.

June ‘18

We continued testing, iterating, and developing the program. Acquiring that feedback was quite time- and resource-intensive, but a necessary component for everything we were trying to do (and still is!).

May and June were months of transition, both literally and metaphorically. Andy and Annie moved back to Gainesville and the team was reunited at last. Our time at Boomtown was over, conference season was (generally) over, and now it was time to fly with our own two wings.

July – September ‘18

These months feel like a blur now, they went by so quickly. We continued developing and testing the program as we settled into a routine. We honed our beta testing process and fell into a groove with our group of testers.

For those who were, and continue to be, a part of that group we want to take a moment and let you know that we are eternally grateful for your willingness to meet with us so often and provide us valuable feedback! Thank you for all of your help 🙂

At this time, the real question in the back of everyone’s minds was: when will we be ready to sell? There is a lot that goes into that decision. We struggled with this back and forth, considering the impact it would have on the company, our users and the people they serve. Being pulled in all directions from our mentors (behavior analytic, business, tech, and beyond), we really needed to think this one through.

In the meantime, we attended a couple more conferences and events, including Convergence and FABA, we collaborated with some excellent people in the field and continued to meet with more innovators. Another lesson learned: who you keep in your environment is crucial to your success!

October ‘18

We felt confident enough to launch into our paid beta, offering more practitioners access to the BehaviorMe software at a nominal price. This was our biggest test. As a company, we needed to prove our value to our customers (you!), our investors, and to ourselves.

Funny enough, we never quite feel “ready”. There’s still so much growth to be had. Yet, the only way to grow is to do exactly that; take what we had been creating and bring it to the real world. It was a moment for validation and for the feedback from a harsh reality. A true test.

November – December ‘18

The soft launch had picked up some speed, and inch by inch we started receiving real validation and valuable feedback from the people we spoke to. From those who became valued users to those who kindly refused, every moment held something to be learned.

This time was definitely a rough period for us. Burnout from a lean reinforcement schedule at the end of a very long year, mixed with the coming holiday season and a new year with so many unknowns, we were very unsure what the future would hold. We made sure to take some time off and spend the holidays with our loved ones, we’ve found that having a break from the grind brings us back refreshed and with a new perspective.

January – February ‘19

This all brings us to where we are at now. We’re a long way from where we began, but an even longer way from where we want to be.

We continued applying and interviewing with accelerator programs around the nation. For some it may seem like an odd decision, to go through another accelerator at this stage. Accelerators are not homogenous, and they offer resources for startups at all stages. Some, like Boomtown, specialize in very early stage companies. Others focus on later stage companies with sales and certain boxes already ticked. We hoped to find a program that could not only help us grow, but would also understand our mission and values.

Thankfully, the beginning of 2019 brought us much good news and fortune. We got accepted into Boost VC Accelerator AND to pitch at SXSW, two opportunities beyond our wildest dreams.

We are so excited to hit the ground running and use these as another catalyst for growth.

The murky waters at the end of 2018 have cleared up a bit, and we have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

Let’s see where 2019 takes us.

– BehaviorMe Team

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