Seeing more women in this industry? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Amanda Wildman wants to talk about the “elephant in the room.”
“I come to a CEDIA® event like Business Xchange, and there’s never a line for the ladies’ room,” she laughs.
The crowd she’s addressing laughs, too – it’s obvious: CEDIA still tends to be a dude-heavy universe.
But from Wildman’s perspective, that’s changing. “I think that we're starting to get more confident, we're starting to get our voices out there,” she tells me after her presentation. Wildman notes that CE Pro kahuna/Tech Council Member/all-around tech evangelist Julie Jacobson has helped a lot. “She's a great leader in this, and offering her perspective and her personality, and we're bringing each other into this industry and getting more involved.
“I think it's important for women in this industry and to have a seat at the table,” Wildman continues. She notes that when she’s pitching potential clients, “Women are part of the conversation whether we want to admit it or not. Women are sometimes the ones that hold the purse strings, right? The guys want the tech, that's great, but who's going to control whether it actually goes in?
“Happy wife, happy life, you know?”
The Long Haul
Wildman’s early business experience came in jewelry retail. She had the opportunity to see firsthand the intense concentration that went into watch repair – there were craftsman in the shop where she worked that handled the incredibly delicate work that went into fixing luxury brands such as Rolex.
Wildman realized something quickly: Those repairmen were bringing a lifetime of learned expertise to their gig – and every day, these artisans learned something new.
“It taught me that no matter what you do, it’s always a marathon, not a sprint,” she recalls.
That’s part of her firm’s secret sauce: Her husband and business partner founded TruMedia
as a Dish retailer, then slowly morphed the company into its present form as an integration firm, learning as they went, and building slowly. That’s where CEDIA’s provided growth and inspiration: “Where else do you have the opportunity to walk into a room and be honored by the fact that you're with the people that started this 30, 40, 50 years ago? They're the pioneers and they know so much. Yet you come in and you're this little newbie from little hole-in-the-wall Michigan and they're willing to share with you.”
Their status as a family-owned business is a plus, too: “It brings down a lot of barriers with clients. We're going into their home and we're presenting an experience for their family – for their family from ours.” Losing the Tech Talk
There are two things that Wildman’s downright adamant about: industry outreach and speaking to her clients in plain English. She’s taken the reins in both those areas; to address the former, she’s embraced her role as a CEDIA Outreach Instructor, and her firm works with builders constantly. Regarding the latter, Wildman even conducted a workshop during the “Idea Xchange” portion of the Business Xchange meetup in San Antonio called “Take Out the Tech Talk for Your Customers.”
For Wildman, the point of all of these gadgets and specs is the experience: “Technology is a living and breathing organism in your house. We get to deliver that and make those dreams come true, even if it is on a small scale smack dab in the middle of Michigan.
“Everyone's talking about how technology separates us. We sit down, we're looking at our phones, our kids aren't paying attention to us. Well, if we can create that experience that uses technology to bring people together instead of pulling them apart, man, that's cool.”