Chris: What is up boils and ghouls, and welcome to another episode of Tales from the Script, a podcast focused on front end web development, accessibility, performance, end user experience, with a little bit of horror mixed in. I'm your host, the script keeper, Chris DeMars. Today I have an amazing guest with me, reigning from the mountains of Bellingham, Washington, my good friend Marcy Sutton. What's up Marcy?
Marcy: Hello, what's happening?
Chris: Oh you know, just trying to get through this fall-ish, summer-ish weather in Michigan, and it's killing my sinuses beyond belief. I'm literally dying over here.
Marcy: Oh no.
Chris: Yeah, it's not good.
Marcy: Your own horror movie.
Chris: Yeah, oh, that would be a horror movie that'd sell for sure. For those unfamiliar, Marcy's one of the top influential people in the world of accessibility. For those viewers who may not be familiar with you and your work, where do you work and what do you do?
Marcy: I work at a company called Deque Systems on tools for web developers to help them make the web more accessible to people with disabilities. Browser extensions, APIs, and things to basically help point out to you if you mess something up for accessibility, how to fix it.
Chris: Awesome, awesome, yeah.
Marcy: That's what I do in a nutshell.
Chris: Sweet, yeah. I love Deque, I love that they have an office here locally, right outside of Detroit and Ann Arbor. I'm a full supporter of everything you do as well as all your team mates. Any [inaudible 00:01:50] I give on accessibility I always plug Deque or have Deque stickers, so I'm right there rooting along with you. Cool.
Marcy: Oh, thanks.
Chris: Yeah, no problem. You know I got your back. Today's episode, we're going to switch it up a little bit and we're not going to talk about accessibility. We're going to talk about story telling and how it relates to what we do as a front end developer and as a UI developer, myself, and as well as how that plays along with conference speaking. Storytelling, what is it? The dictionary version, it says that it's the activity of telling or writing stories, so if our storytelling ... Right, exactly.
Marcy: No way.
Chris: Oh that's not what we do, we don't do that any day. We just there to write code, right? This is something we do pretty much every day, depending on what type of situation we're in or what type of work environment we're in. What does storytelling mean to you in our industry, Marcy?
Marcy: Well for me it's about being able to articulate ideas in an entertaining way. My background is in journalism, visual journalism. Using visuals and photography to tell stories. Really the basis of storytelling to me is something that has a beginning, middle, and an end. This can come up in so many different ways in our jobs, either just presenting something to a client, or trying to figure out the discovery phase of a project, to doing a conference talk, to trying to delight your users with something you're building for them to put in front of them. It can come up in so many different ways. When I pivoted away from photojournalism because I wasn't really seeing any good job prospects, it didn't occur to me that those skills would really come in handy later in life. Yeah, that's what it means to me, is just trying to tell stories that are compelling, that they have a starting point and an ending point, and you take it along that story arc. It really comes up in so many different ways.
Chris: Yeah, I totally agree with you on that front. I've been doing web design development for a long, long time and relating that to storytelling and having user stories or personas ... I know that personas get thrown in the mix depending on where you work and what type of person would use the application when doing this and what type of person would use the application doing that. Then I have a writing background, because I write poetry and I'm really good at writing short stories, and I was published as a young child with some poetry I wrote. I've always had that background to write a story and have that beginning, that middle, and that end. The stuff I've always done, it always related to wire framing, and then the whole user experience all the way around. Relating to user experience, I could see how story telling definitely, it shares that same space.
Marcy: Yeah, it didn't even occur to me. Even working in an agile technology space, that the word user story is something that we have to utilize all the time just to capture what is it that the person using the thing we're building would be experiencing. There's a bit of empathy in so many different ways. I mean, we're talking about having empathy of how a user would encounter your product or your website or application. There's also the empathy of writing that user story so that you're communicating something effectively to get the job done. There's all these different aspects of communication that are really helpful to be able to do an effective job as a technologist. It's not always purely about code. You have to be able to talk about code too.
Chris: Right, yeah, so when I ... One of my previous jobs it was definitely a waterfall type of a company, for the website of it at least and the design side. You really don't get a feel for the user. You get the mock up from the designer, and it is what it is. They haven't really gone through what the user's going to go through. I experienced a lot issues with that building these mock ups out. What about somebody with a disability, how would they use it? How would an older person use this? Maybe a young teenager or somebody that's just getting out on their own, and need to start paying bills or do whatever. Personally, I don't really see it in a waterfall situation, but definitely in agile. You have one specific user, or you have multiple users that they need to do one thing, and do it a specific way, how they want to get it done.
Marcy: Yeah, totally. It's helpful to have that empathy. I know not everyone does, and so I always try to encourage that. Who are you even building this for?
Chris: Right, exactly.
Marcy: It's not for you, it's not for me, it's for these people that we don't know out there. We know some of the scenarios they might be in, be it walking down the street with a phone in their hand, or they are blind and use a screen reader or low vision. There's so many different contexts that people could be using the things that we're building, that it helps to sort of put yourself in their shoes while you're taking on this task of trying to create something for them. I guess when I think about storytelling not in technology, there is an element of like, "Well who are you telling the story for?" I think some artists do it as an act of self ... I don't know, doing it for yourself because you ... It's cathartic to you or it's your art and you have a very personal relationship to it. I could see that being valid.
For me, when I'm telling a story, it's always about trying to land with the audience, and trying to resonate with them, and bring them along a journey. At least for me personally, my relationship to story telling is all about the other person. It's all about trying to get through to them in a way that makes them happy and not feel terrible at the end of it. I guess that's my own personal outlook. I know not everyone shares that but I'd sure like to see more of it.
Chris: Yeah, I completely agree with that. Like I was saying, one of the last jobs, when we were writing the code to bring the mock ups and the wire frames to life, the question was always, "Well who's testing this?" The answers we always got were the business. The business is not our user, right.
Chris: Our user is out there. The millions of people that are using the application. It has nothing to do with the person internally that's testing this. I care about how they're testing it and how they're using it, but they're not the user.
Marcy: They probably know too much, too. If you already know all of the ... How the sausage is made, and the all of the requirements up front that a user wouldn't have that context, and so it's doing them a disservice to get that validation from someone who already knows too much. It's pretty painful to watch someone try to use something you've built. I forget who I was talking to but they were like, "Yeah, you try standing behind a one way mirror and watch someone use your thing." Oh, it was someone on the Edge team at Microsoft at the Edge Summit last week. Jacob Rossi was talking about watching people use the Edge browser and he's like, "You just want to help them so bad but you can't." I think we need more testing like that to really get those breakthroughs so that you're not so personally attached to this thing that you've made. You'll end up having a better product if you can decouple your own emotions from the work and really see how people use it.
Chris: Definitely, definitely. I was brought in for, I guess you could call it A/B testing at one of my last jobs, and they wanted to know how I liked the user experience of the application that was going to be built by me, eventually, but they wanted to know how I felt about it and I felt about the UI, the UX, everything. I get it, I know all about this because I've been doing it for so long. I'm not the person you want to bring in for the A/B testing. Then right off the bat, I could see it wasn't accessible, so I said, "Well what are you going to do with a user who has some type of disability? Because I clearly don't, I can navigate this just fine."
What are you going to do with this person that has ... Is suffering from some type of low vision or they have a color vision deficiency, or they're colorblind, or their field of vision is off a little bit? How are they going to navigate this? Can you navigate it with a keyboard? They looked at me like, "Oh, yeah, well we weren't taking them into consideration." I said, "Well you have to, because if not, it only takes one person." I tell people that all the time, all it takes is one person to not be able to use the experience that you're providing them. You're going to be paying a lot of money.
Marcy: Yeah, well they got really lucky having you review it. Someone who has the empathy to think about those people. That's pretty much luck on their part.
Chris: Yeah, I mean it was just ... It was definitely a constant battle trying to sway them away from ... The business is the users, the business is the users. No it's not, the business might not have a disability or they might not use a mouse for this experience. When certain things were released, that I couldn't even believe that they weren't keyboard accessible and they were supposed to be. Right out of the gate, the whole purpose of an application that was released was for people to fill out medical releases and the form itself wasn't accessible to that person that had the medical disability.
Marcy: Oh, yeah.
Chris: It literally blew my mind that this was never taken into consideration. At that point, I was like, "Ugh, I'm out of here, I'm done."
Marcy: Yeah, that's rough. I mean, unless you're doing actual B2B, business to business stuff, that's-
Marcy: That's pretty much a user fail. I guess on that note, it sometimes ... Another way that storytelling might fit into this, is how do you convince those people that it matters? A big part of what I do as a conference speaker is try to persuade. That's a big part of storytelling as well is trying to bring someone around to your position. I often will try to think of ways that are, I don't know, more persuasive to get someone over to the side I'm trying get them over to. Bringing people along to something I use a lot. Just trying not to make someone feel bad, because I know whenever I get called out in a negative way or something it's like your defenses go up and then you're like, "Oh, I don't want to help that person."
Marcy: Part of my approach to storytelling is really trying to bring people along and open that door so that they feel comfortable maybe admitting they were wrong, or opening their eyes to a new idea, or something like that. I could see even just trying to convince someone that accessibility is important can involve some storytelling.
Chris: Definitely. When I was doing that at the previous job and even the current job I'm at now, I gave ... Just recently I did an accessibility analysis for one of our customer facing applications. It was a 60 page document. It stated all the things that were issues and I used the aXe core engine on that, so shout out to Deque, because it's an amazing tool.
Marcy: Woo hoo.
Chris: I use that to run the analysis, I also used WebAIM, so I used them both side by side. The WAVE extension, and then wrote a 60 page document. Then also, documented problems in the industry with other companies like Target and Winn-Dixie. Then what they did and how they fixed it, and the steps they ... The precautions they took to make sure it didn't happen again. In story telling like that I guess you could say I was putting a story together with a document, and it lead up to the ending as to, "Listen, this is what has happened to other companies, you're not hidden behind a wall, it's not like it can't happen to you. This is what else has happened to other companies, you should take the steps to make sure it doesn't happen so you're not experiencing lawsuits or anything like that, or bad press."
Marcy: Yeah, it's sad that it requires that sometimes, but I mean, talk about persuasion. There's risk to not caring about accessibility and sometimes that is very persuasive and powerful. It's nice to not have to go there, but I mean, if we get real about it, that ... Sometimes that's all that people will pay attention to. That might be a tool you have to keep in your back pocket to try and bring people around. I really try to avoid it, but I mean, that's just the way things are sometimes, especially with companies that see it as risk/reward scenarios where there isn't enough reward for them to just do it because it's the right thing.
It's really the absence of getting sued that or that the risk of getting sued might be the thing where they'll go, "Oh, we would lose a lot of money if we got sued," so now it costs ... It's more cost effective for us to deal with this ahead of time. There's all different kinds of clients that fall all over that spectrum of being more proactive or more reactive, and it really just depends on leadership and the history of the company. Yeah, it's much nicer if people are proactive and just do it because it's the right thing to do. Yeah, there's all different scenarios and you sort of have to pick the right persuasive argument for whoever you're trying to convince. If it's a CFO, maybe it is a dollar's argument and a lawsuit risk argument. If it's a design person, maybe you go for the inclusive design angle and try to persuade them, speaking their own language, as opposed to more of a finance risk sort of thing.
Someone asked me recently like, "Oh, well how would you convince a chief financial officer," and I was like, "Oh, well, if it's a business that has customers who buy things, I would pitch the angle of baby boomers getting older." They're aging and so, these people are starting to develop disabilities with eyesight and hearing, and all across the spectrum of disability. Those are people who have dollars to spend. Why wouldn't you want their dollars if you're selling things? That's one angle that you could take to try and tell that story of what would motivate your users to go to your competitor. Well, if they're more accessible, these people who-
Marcy: If these people have disabilities, they're going to go where they can actually complete the transaction. It's pretty simple. I sometimes have to pick what stories I tell and what arguments I make, based on who I'm telling it to, and that's a really helpful skill to have as well.
Chris: It's definitely an art to pick your battles, because me, I tend to just go head first and just try to fight everything I can. I don't care, I want things done. I'm passionate. This is why, A, B, and C. Oh, you don't want to do it? Well, you can face a lawsuit. I'll go directly to that to get my point across.
Chris: I don't like beating around the bush. Sometimes that does get me in trouble, but the passion gets ahead of me before my spear does. I fall into a trap every now and then so I'm learning the art of picking battles and not trying to fight wars, and handling one thing at a time. I'm definitely starting to make more headway at the current company that I'm at, and getting a lot of questions around accessibility. I bring up the fact that if you internalize any of the applications, so let's say they're not customer facing. 20 percent of the population of the world has type of disability. Now you internalize that, 20 percent of your workforce has some type of accessibility. If they're using these applications day in and day out, they can have a problem.
I work with a handful of developers who are color blind. I've worked with them building applications as their UI resource, to figure out different colors that we can use or different color schemes, because colors were running together and they couldn't even make out what they were writing code for. I do, I bring that up in some conversations as well. We do have people on this floor in IT that are suffering a disability. I work with a woman, a great developer, she's completely deaf in one ear. I actually interviewed her, me and another developer of mine ... A friend of mine, we interviewed her just to ask her how, what her struggle is, not at work but just her struggle with the internet and a lot of what her struggle was, is that videos on the internet are not captioned, or don't have transcripts.
Chris: It's good to identify these types of people. I guess when you're in the thick of it, and you're not at senior leadership level, and you're working with your colleagues and your peers, and stuff like that, pick up on these things and you learn things. Then that just adds fuel to the fire and just adds more to your ... Adds more ammo to whatever you're trying to push across I guess.
Marcy: Yeah, totally. I think it's helpful to recognize that there's a whole spectrum of disability and people have different needs. I mean, I've been around someone who had loss of hearing in ear and it was like, you never knew if it was going to go out of the other ear. It could happen in an instant. It's nice to be proactive so that you're helping that person out in the future, or maybe even yourself or the people that you weren't considering who need that feature now. In terms of internal development and applications, you wouldn't want to have to discriminate ... I mean, you shouldn't discriminate against someone at all, but I mean, having to say, "Oh, we can't hire them because our stuff isn't accessible." That's wrong on so many levels. I mean, you're discriminating first of all, but you're also missing out on potentially, a really great hire. Someone who can contribute great ideas and solid work. More perspective that you didn't have before. I think it really doing everyone a disservice by thinking that you're safe to have an inaccessible internal application.
Chris: Right. Yeah, I have to say, because the company I work for, I mean, we hire great people. It doesn't matter what, if they have a disability or not, my company is really, really good company to work for. They take all of that stuff into consideration. I don't know if I could ever work for a company that is like, "Oh well, you're color blind, and our applications use color, so sorry."
Marcy: Yeah, right.
Chris: We can't hire you. Are you serious right now? What is your problem?
Marcy: Yeah, and I think it's ... I mean, no one's perfect, but-
Marcy: If you can get ... If you can experience an openness to make it better and to change it when that stuff is pointed out to you, then that's how you move it forward. Even if it does need fixing, because not everyone's perfect. Then you at least have a way to mitigate it and move forward and not just be like, "Oh, well, that's just the way it is, tough cookies."
Chris: Yeah, right, sorry. Sorry about your luck. That all plays into storytelling. Especially when you start understanding, at higher level, who your users are. Your user could be anybody. You have to adapt to people of all different cultures and non-disability ... People with disabilities opposed to not having a disability. These are all things you need to keep into consideration. They're pretty much the characters that are in your story. Khan Academy, they actually wrote ... It was either by Khan Academy or people came in from Pixar to talk about the art of storytelling. There's a few different levels of it, they talk about characters and structure, and visual language, grammar, and story boarding. These are all things that we do, and we can definitely relate all of this to what we do because the applications we build really, everything we do on the internet is a story. They all have structure, they all have a language whether it's visual or technical, they all have grammar, and it's ... The story board is right in front of our face. It's interactive. Would you agree?
Marcy: Yes, definitely. You're talking about a Khan Academy course or something, what Pixar did?
Chris: I think it's just-
Marcy: It sounds cool.
Chris: Yeah, it's the art of storytelling, Pixar in a box, and it's on KhanAcademy.org/partner-content/pixar/storytelling.
Chris: Yeah, I'll have link for it in the description of the episode today. I think it's a couple of people who came in for Pixar and they talked about introducing what storytelling is, and the perspective of storytelling. I think there's some activities along with it. It might be a course, or it's just a video-
Marcy: Yeah, free online lessons. Oh, that sounds super cool. In a past life, I've considered applying to work there. When I was trying to figure out what I was going to do after photo journalism school, and I was like, "Man, that would be really cool." They're so creative.
Chris: That would be sweet to work at Pixar.
Marcy: Yeah, ultimately I decided to go for web development over motion graphics because I really liked the immediate gratification. The time spent sitting in an editing chair, I just couldn't do it. I really liked being able to respond right away to the things I was creating, and not having that render time. Then I ended up finding accessibility, so that turned out for the best. There are aspects of that medium that I'd like to see more of, like audio description. There's so many amazing visual things out there that even if someone with a vision impairment can pick up the dialogue, they might be missing the rich visual display on this thing.
I guess to pivot back to technology and conference speaking, something I would really encourage anyone getting into that is to describe what's happening on the screen for people who can't see it. That's actually come in handy more than once, particularly I did a talk at JSConf, and at some point in the video they ... I started going off in a tangent, and before that point they've had my slides visible on the screen. Then at some point when I went off on this tangent they panned over to me and went full screen, and then my slides never come back on in the video.
Chris: Oh man, I think I've seen that.
Marcy: Thankfully, I describe what's happening because I was caring a lot about accessibility. It was a talk on accessibility, and so if I hadn't described what was going on on that screen, that video would've been ruined. It can save your butt sometimes. There's so many times when I'll hear a speaker ... They'll have an animated gif or something up on the screen and they'll like, "Oh, and here's the joke." The punchline is the visual and they don't ever say it. I'm like, "You're leaving people out." What's the joke? Tell me the answer.
Chris: I've never thought about it that way.
Marcy: That's a really ... Yeah, the inclusive storytelling is something that's next level that I would really love to put a bug in everyone's ear to consider.
Chris: Yeah, I'll definitely have to start putting the bug in people's ears, too, and then blow up Twitter and be like, "Did you know that about such and such, and this thing, because it's important."
Marcy: Yeah, well, you want to persuade.
Marcy: Trying to get people to be like, "This is so cool, you should be more inclusive in your talks."
Chris: Definitely. Good, that brings us back to the art of storytelling as it relates to conference speaking. This will probably be last thing we talk about. When I first got into web design and web development, oh shit, years ago, 1996. I think I was 11 years old. The only real thing that was ever targeted for accessibility was alt attributes. As long as you had alt attribute on your image, everything's gravy. Accessibility really wasn't looked at whole heartedly, I would say, probably until the last five, six years, definitely with individuals like yourself and Lee Watson. There's a whole slew of advocates out there who I have to say, you brought me into the light of accessibility and it made me see how very important it is. Then I started relating that back to people that I know who have difficult times using certain experiences like my Mom. My Mom can barely turn her phone on, you know what I mean? She had to use a computer, use a smart phone. She would have a hell of a time, because if she doesn't have her glasses, then she can't see. Just a handful of problems.
Marcy: Yeah, even just understanding interfaces. I watched a guy, I think we were ... I was down in Oregon somewhere going mountain biking, and I stopped in a convenience store, and I watched this guy struggle to open a bottle of Smartwater. It was like they had done it to him on purpose. It was such a stressful thing for this guy, and then I walked over and flipped the cap, and was like, "Oh, you just do this." To some people it's so intuitive, but not to everyone. Something as simple as a water bottle cap.
I mean, if you think about that extrapolated to a complicated web application, I mean, there's different ... We talk about personas and there's definitely beginner users, and then there's these, the other end of the spectrum, like the super user. If you think of something like Photoshop, that's more of an expert level tool, if we go all the way to the other end, and think of something like a site where you need to enroll in for insurance or something. We need to, not dumb it down, but make sure that things are labeled and really clear, and that people can figure out how to use the interface without too much trouble. That's where user testing really comes in handy.
Chris: Definitely, definitely. A lot of the talks that I've watched of yours, you are definitely a storyteller in all forms of the word. One that always sticks out in my mind is one that you gave at CascadiaFest last year called Where The Stack is Carmen Sanfrancisco? How you pulled this off in and told this story, blew my mind. You had a beginning, and end, and a middle. You had characters as your gumshoes that were being interviewed. That, in itself, was amazing. Then the other talks I've seen that you've given, you've talked about people that you've met who have some type of disability and related the experience around them and why people should care, and persuading people. That literally, that CascadiaFest talk blew my mind. I know I blew you up the next day, it was like, "This was amazing, how did you even organize something like this? You are brilliant, mad kudos, I'll send you flowers."
Marcy: Aww, thanks.
Chris: What was the experience like, and how did you manage to put that talk together? I know it was stressful, I'm sure, trying to get everybody to get synced up like that, and get it ready for CascadiaFest. How did that whole process go for you, for the storytelling?
Then one night I was falling asleep, and of course, my mind was racing as it does when I have a lot on my mind. It just popped into my head somehow, what about a San Francisco, Carmen Sandiego themed talk? It just sort of like, "Bing," popped into my head. That one, I think, really came to life because it was rooted in my childhood. When I went to go back to look at it, there were so many ideas that just came forth based on that inspiration from being a kid. There was lots of visuals, I played that game a ton, and so I did some production work to create a video phone. It was like, "Oh, well once I'm creating a video phone, who am I going to call?"
Chris: Brilliant, brilliant.
Marcy: Ask some friends and I think, just being creative. Allowing yourself to be creative and inspired can make stuff really fun. Try to make it entertaining for other people, because it's easy to get up there and do a talk, and I think my earlier talks were more like, "Oh, I'm going to talk about what I did on this project, or talk about my work." Then somewhere along the way someone told me, like, "Don't make it about you, make it about the audience." That's how you'll connect with them, because there is nothing more painful than calling someone on the phone and they just talk for five minutes straight and don't let you say anything. My Dad is famous for that.
Chris: Oh, my Dad is too, old school.
Marcy: You're trying to get a word in. I just, my own experience of living through that made me a better listener, because I really value when people ask me, like, "Oh, how are you doing?" I think that that sort of baseline experience translated into the way I tell stories. I can include other people's stories, so it's not about me. It's about getting empathy for people that you maybe don't know, and trying to connect to the human experience on sort of a basic level. That's a pretty deep way to talk about a Carmen Sandiego theme talk.
Chris: It was awesome.
Marcy: It was fun. I had some audio issues that day that I wish I hadn't, but-
Chris: That's okay. That's okay. Especially for our generation, watching the Carmen Sandiego ... I was about to say Carmen Sanfrancisco. Carmen Sandiego TV show and then playing the game. I think there was board games maybe, too. I don't know. We all grew up with Carmen Sandiego. I remember when you were talking to me about this talk, but you weren't dropping me any clues as to what it was. Then when it finally came out, it literally, it blew my mind. I can relate to it so much because I was like a gumshoe when I was a kid trying to find Carmen Sandiego.
Marcy: The game was so fun, yeah.
Chris: It was so much fun.
Marcy: Yeah, the talk was Where In The Stack Is Carmen Sanfrancisco because it was all about, like, "Okay, well, where in the stack are we?" We going to play on that idea of traveling to go figure it out. Carmen Sanfrancisco is a unique take on that that was not trademarked.
Chris: Yeah, right. Neither is Tales From The Script.
Marcy: Yes. Amazing.
Chris: Yeah, so for anybody that hasn't seen that talk, if you do go to YouTube and you just search Marcy Sutton, or search Where In The Stack Is Carmen Sanfrancisco, it'll pop up. It was from CascadiaFest in Semiahmoo, Washington. Is that how you pronounce it?
Marcy: Semiahmoo, yeah that's a-
Marcy: That is in Blaine, Washington, which is as close to Canada as you can get without actually being in Canada.
Chris: Oh, how's she going, eh?
Marcy: It's pretty awesome.
Chris: Yeah, that was from last year's talk at CascadiaFest. A great, great talk if anybody wants to check it out. Definitely check it out on YouTube. All the other talks that Marcy has given, she is the supreme storyteller when it comes to the effort that she puts into her conference talks and the amount of information in them, and the creativity. The creativity really blows my mind. I've adapted the way I do some of my slides from you, so I appreciate the creativity there.
Marcy: Oh, well, thanks for the kind words. I am definitely not the first. I've learned from a lot of other people and I constantly try to refine and look really ... Take a hard look and go, "Was that successful, did that resonate?" It can be sort of difficult, personal growth, because there are ... It is hard to take that feedback sometimes. You want honest feedback, but people are also ... Can beat you up over it if they have some strong opinions. That can be a little tricky. I definitely try to look inward and try to constantly improve and make it better every time. There's lots of amazing public speakers out there to learn from.
Chris: Definitely, well, you know you're doing a great job. There's a lot of people that look up to you in the industry. You're doing amazing things. You're an amazing storyteller, and I hope one day when I grow up, I can be just like you.
Marcy: Hey, thanks. Tap into your own interests. I think you're definitely doing that here with this podcast. It's fun to pull out those childhood memories, or talk about things that you're really passionate about and then put that unique spin on it. What that unique spin is can be hard to grasp sometimes. It can be the thing that really sets you apart, that gets that talk accepted. It's just that little tweak to it to ... I don't know, when I present a talk I think like, "Oh, in an alternate universe, this could be extremely boring." I try to give it that little bit of, as Alice Boxhall called it, panache-
Chris: Panache, nice.
Marcy: Just to make it memorable. I think a good story, yeah, if you think of like, "Oh the same story could be told so many different ways, which way is going to be more memorable and resonate?" That's what I try to do.
Chris: Yeah, I've definitely taken that from you as far as creating, orchestrating a talk or a proposal around a story, and making it very unique with a catchy title, which you've helped me do. You've helped me write conference talks and titles and stuff like that, that have gotten accepted, which if I would've went another route with it, I might not have had as much luck as I have. Even being a writer and a storyteller myself. You're definitely more of a veteran in the public speaking area than I am, so I thank you for that. I appreciate that and all the work you do in the industry.
Marcy: Thanks, you're welcome. Yeah, something to practice, that's for sure.
Chris: Definitely is.
Marcy: Along that topic before I forget, I wrote a blog post a couple months ago called Writing Winning Abstracts.
Chris: I read that, that was a good one.
Marcy: It was in response to people saying that accessibility talks don't get accepted at mainstream conferences, which I think my whole career proves otherwise.
Marcy: Yeah, it's all about how you write it, and try and get it to stand out. You think about from the perspective of an organizer, how many proposals they have to read. Are they going to remember yours? Is it completely forgettable? That's that magic touch that takes practice. I got a lot of nos, so don't get discouraged.
Chris: Oh, I was actually supposed to ... I told you earlier, I was supposed to be in Portland this weekend giving one of my accessibility talks, but things fell through so, no big deal. You win some you lose some, right?
Marcy: Totally, yeah. I had lots of that. I mean, even now I have ones that don't work out. I mean, just have to go with the flow and hope for the best for the next one.
Chris: Hey, words spoken by a true advocate, a true awesome person. All right, well, I think this wraps up the episode. Two things before we take off. One, I forgot to ask you in the beginning, what is your favorite horror movie, Marcy?
Marcy: I'm the worst person to watch horror movies with because I shriek through the whole thing and jump around. I don't know, so that's going to be really irritating to some people. I thought about this, and it's not exactly a horror movie, it's totally not in that genre at all. My favorite movie of all time is part of the grindhouse-
Marcy: Pair of movies. There was, I saw it at the Cinerama in Seattle, it was fantastic, so there's Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez, and Death Proof by Tarantino, which that is my ultimate, all time favorite movie.
Chris: Awesome movies.
Marcy: They kick the shit out of Kurt Russell, and it's girl power, and it's Tarantino. I just love it. It's so great.
Chris: Blood and guns.
Marcy: Yeah, it's brutal. It has great music in it. I do like Death Proof more than Planet Terror, but the two together, and the little commercials in between, was fantastic. Planet Terror is actually what popped into my mind when you asked, favorite horror film.
Chris: Its sounds scary, right, Planet Terror.
Marcy: Yeah, it's got zombies in it, and machine guns and stuff.
Chris: If anything has a zombie in it, it's a horror movie except for I Am Legend. I wouldn't lump that into horror. I actually have a Death Proof, I think I have a Death ... One of the grindhouse posters, and I never put it up, and it's been sitting for years, and years, and years. If you want it, I'll mail it out to you.
Marcy: That would be awesome.
Chris: It's maybe a little wrinkled and crinkly, but I'll probably never put it up, so it'll go to a nice home.
Marcy: Death Proof is awesome. I saw someone call it a flawed movie the other day. I was like, I'm so-
Chris: A flawed movie? What?
Marcy: Curious what that meant. My favorite flawed Tarantino movie, I'm like, "What does that mean?"
Chris: I didn't know any Tarantino movie would be considered flawed, to be completely honest.
Marcy: Yeah, I don't care. It's so great.
Chris: I don't know, there's so many good movies that he's done, people just don't like him.
Marcy: Oh, they're awesome. Yeah, he can be polarizing if you're offended by some of the concepts.
Chris: Yeah, or you don't know what kind of content he puts out there. It might be, oh, it might offend you [crosstalk 00:41:54]
Marcy: Yeah, I just, yeah, he doesn't care. I love it.
Chris: Yeah, put your adult pants on and don't worry about it.
Chris: All right sweet Marcy, anything that you want to plug before we take off?
Marcy: Got a couple talks coming up. SmashingConf, Barcelona. I'm pretty stoked about that. Trying to convince front end developers and designers that automated testing is worth their time. I'm pretty stoked about that.
Marcy: Yeah, maybe CodeMash, I don't know. See if CodeMash people are listening. I think that the proposal responses might be out by the time this podcast comes out, but yeah. I got denied last year, so we'll see if they accept me this year.
Chris: Hopefully this year. Yeah, I submitted three talks, so hopefully we both get accepted and we'll have a good old time at Kalahari.
Marcy: Yeah, I just submitted one. I'm like, "If they don't take the one that's just the way it's going to be."
Chris: You still got to go though. You still got to go.
Marcy: I know, I hope so. If they do accept, I'll be going straight to Munich from there to go to beyond tellerrand, which will be pretty fun.
Chris: You're such a storyteller. I love it. Awesome, cool, well thanks Marcy for taking the time out of your day to chat with me on Tales From The Script. For everybody else, check out Tales From The Script on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play, as well as tftscript.com, and @TalesFTScript on Twitter. Thanks and sweet dreams. Catch you later, Marcy.
Marcy: Thanks, see you.