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Women For the Win! How An Influx of Talented Female Professionals Is Transforming the Domain Industry For Good

By Ron Jackson

Over the past 15 years I've watched the domain business go through changes that have  transformed it from a cottage industry into the multi-billion dollar global enterprise it is today. There was the introduction of the first new gTLDS (think .info and .biz), the birth of domain conferences that allowed us to meet face to face to form new partnerships and lasting relationships, the meteoric rise (and fall) of domain monetization revenue, the mid 2000s domain boom that, for the first time, attracted mainstream media attention and venture capital money like flies to honey, a global recession that made money much tougher to come by, a rebound that included an extraordinary sales explosion fueled by the emergence of China as a market force and a second wave of new gTLDs (this time hundreds of them instead of just a handful) - and that is just a partial list! 

Still, with all of that we've seen,  nothing has changed the industry more for the better than the many talented professional women who have entered the space over the past decade. When I first stumbled upon the business in 2002 I loved everything about it except the fact that you could count the women in domain investing/ aftermarket sales on your hands and have some fingers left over. In my previous careers in broadcasting and music women were critically important contributors in those fields. If the domain business stayed the way I found it, I wasn't sure how far we could get if we weren't drawing on the brain power and business smarts of half of the population. 

Image from Bigstock

 

In 2005, a couple of years after starting DNJournal, I wound up writing a Cover Story about the situation titled .Women Wanted: Our Role Models Rock But the Business Needs More Recruits. Believe it or not, there were only three widely known women in the domain investing/aftermarket sales space that we focused on that time - Donna Mahony, Marcia Lynn Walker and Michelle Miller - and I called on them for that piece (I knew about a few others but they preferred to stay under the radar). All are still on the scene and we will honor that power trio with the last words in this article. 

Given where we came from I was stunned and delighted to pop into the annual Women in Domaining dinner held at the 2018 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas and see an all-time record crowd of more than 100 professional women that took over Robert Irvine's Public House restaurant for the event. There have been decent crowds at the dinner in recent years but nothing like this. It impressed upon me how much women are contributing to every sector of the industry and how much stronger the business is because of it.

Just part of the overflow crowd that stretched as far as you can see at the 2018 Women 
in Domaining dinner
held in January during NamesCon at Robert Irvine's Public House.

To give you a better idea of what drew them into the domain business, what some of their most gratifying achievements have been and where they see opportunities for other women who might want to enter it, I called on some of the best and brightest from every corner of the industry to share their thoughts on those points. They include company founders, corporate executives, successful investors, brokers, consultants and attorneys and I am very thankful to all of them for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their stories. Let me start with introductions to our special guests:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

(You can click on the person's name to jump directly to her commentary)

Row 1
(left to right): Cybele Negris (WebNames.ca), Lori Anne Wardi (Neustar), Jen Sale (Evergreen.com) and Barbara Neu (MERGE!)

Row 2: Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz
(ExcellentNames.ca), Kate Buckley (Buckley Media Group), Nancy Bianchi (Trellian.com) and Susan Lawrence (Tucows).

Row 3:  Kathy Nielsen (DigitalStrategies.Marketing), Karen Bernstein (Bernstein IP), 
Natasa Djukanovic
(.ME Registry) and Jeanette
Söderlund (.GLOBAL Registry).

Row 4: Negar Hajikhani (Sedo), Marie Lanyon (Hexonet), Marcia Lynn Walker (Myrtle Beach Inc.) and Michelle Miller Reed (Consultant).

Domain Investors

Aside from a few introductory comments about each of our guests I will now take a seat  to enjoy and learn from what these inspiring industry leaders have to say.

Cybele Negris
CEO & Co-Founder, WebNames.ca

Regardless of gender, Cybele Negris is one of the true pioneers of the modern domain industry. Years before we arrived on the scene Cybele was already a major force as the Co-Founder of WebNames.ca. Cybele is also known for her advocacy and mentorship of entrepreneurs and we delighted to have her kick off the commentary.  

Cybele Negris
CEO & Co-Founder
WebNames.ca

Well I guess I’m one of the real old veterans in this business as I co founded Webnames.ca 18 years ago," Cybele began. "Prior to that I worked with John Demco who founded the .CA domain registry in 1987. I met John around 1999 at the University of British Columbia where I was doing some contract work at the University Industry Liaison Office (the office that commercializes technologies and spins off companies). I was fascinated by John’s story and intrigued by the work he was doing managing about 100,000 .CA domain names and charging no fees for his efforts. I worked with John and a small team to modernize the Registry and then transferred and sold the technology from UBC to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority which today continues to be the registry for .CA. We then started Webnames.ca as one of the accredited registrars under CIRA in 2000."

"The early years were a lot of fun and really exciting as we grew from three to 30 people in about four months. We had people sleeping in sleeping bags, working all hours in order to keep up with demand. As the initial rush for .CA settled, we continued to build out services like web hosting, email, SSL certificates, DNS hosting, domain privacy and web development.

Each day has been different in the 18 years of business. We’ve seen tremendous growth and the new gTLDs brought another round of excitement in 2013 to now with us launching several hundred new domain extensions. The fast pace and constant change keeps the job exciting. It also gives me the ability to do a lot of other things in terms of speaking at entrepreneurial or technology events, serving on a variety of different boards and writing columns for various media publications."

"I also didn’t let the fact that the industry was male dominated deter me. In the early years, there were events with scantily clad “booth babes” which was what the women at tradeshow booths were referred to, a party at the Playboy Mansion and I remember after one ICANN meeting going for drinks with a pretty big group of all guys and we ended up at a strip bar in Montreal with a few of the guys offering to buy me lap dances. As I was also a co-owner of a construction business at the time, I had been very used to having to hold my own around men and handle uncomfortable situations with grace. The industry has changed a lot since then as society has continued to shift to understanding more about diversity, inclusiveness and what is socially acceptable, especially in work related settings. There’s obviously still room for improvement and I thank you for presenting the opportunity for women in this industry to tell our stories."

John Demco speaking at the 2010 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver conference.

"Over 18 years, there are lots of things to be proud of. Being part of the original .CA Registry was very gratifying especially given John Demco my business partner has been recognized as a pioneer of the Canadian internet by a former Prime Minister.  I’m also proud of how we were able to transition from what was a highly manual service run by a few volunteers into a business with over 600 products. John is more than a business partner but a lifelong friend.

I’m very proud of the culture we have developed at Webnames.ca, one that puts customers first with our core value of “Amaze every customer with exceptional service.” Our customer satisfaction scores are on average 94 to 97%, our NPS (Net Promoter Score) ranges from 54 to 72 which is very high for those who understand how NPS is calculated. We have under 60 second average telephone response times to talk to a live person and a Better Business Bureau A+ rating and zero complaint record. We were even recognized as a finalist in Canada’s Top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures.

It is tremendously gratifying to have a team that has stuck with us for so many years growing together as people and experts in our respective areas. I’ve given out numerous 5, 10 and even 15-year service awards for staff. We’ve also had 20% of our staff leave the company and come back which speaks volumes to the culture we’ve developed.

We don’t work so hard for the accolades but because we truly have passion for what we do. It does bring all of us a lot of pride though to be recognized by industry and our peers for what we have achieved through awards like Canada’s Top 10 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Profit W100, Business In Vancouver Influential Women in Business, BC Business Women of Influence, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award and more."  

With regard to what advice she would give women about learning the business, useful skill sets to have, how to break in and where some of the better opportunities might be today, Ms. Negris said, "In whatever industry a woman is looking at, I always suggest looking at the culture of the organization first and foremost. Profit and hard work are of course the expectation of running a business but not at the expense of treating people and customers poorly. Does the company have a diverse mix of genders, ethnic backgrounds and age groups; as studies have shown that a diverse workforce and board in an organization breeds better results in decision-making including improved financial performance. Are activities in the company inclusive? Foosball tables and beer may not be everyone’s thing so having a variety of team-building activities that everyone feels comfortable participating in is important. Does the company believe in continuous improvement and education for employees so that there’s a path for personal and career growth. For women, there is a huge confidence gap that needs to be closed. We are less likely to put our hands up for that next promotion (studies show that women need to feel 100% qualified before applying while men only need to feel 60% qualified). Women are less likely to apply as we feel the “required qualifications” are all truly needed and that applying means we will fail so we don’t bother and we would waste our own and the interviewer’s time."

Cybele Negris speaking at the 2017 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas.

"Finally, I want women to feel empowered to join this industry. Yes it is still male dominated but start looking at this as an advantage and an opportunity to stand out. When I go to a technology event I’m one of few women in the room, especially in the C-Suite/founder level. There are media opportunities, numerous asks to speak as keynotes and panels as a result. Start to build your leadership and public speaking skills so you feel confident in taking those opportunities. When I was younger I was deathly afraid of public speaking yet I accepted these opportunities anyway. In part because I needed to live outside my comfort zone and partly that I felt an obligation as one of the few female leaders in the industry to actually give us a voice. Feeling fear and doing it anyway is the only way to get over that fear. It sounds hard and it is; but I promise, it gets easier every time. Now I actually get paid to speak at events, something I never could have imagined before."

"I want to make it very clear that although through my long career in tech I have had to overcome some challenges of being a young female in a male dominated industry that I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to build a successful business with the support of many. I honestly feel that we are at a point in society where advocating for one group (eg. female) does not need to mean the exclusion of or blaming of men. The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Women’s Executive Network and Women’s Enterprise Centre were great advocates of mine. There were also many men through Small Business BC, Vancouver Economic Commission and Premier’s Technology Council who have provided encouragement, mentorship and that nudge to put my name forward for boards and other opportunities when I otherwise would not have because I didn’t think I was worthy. If anyone is interested in my article on the Imposter Syndrome, go to Business In Vancouver https://biv.com/author/cybele-negris


Lori Anne Wardi

Vice President, Neustar Inc.

Lori Anne Wardi is another one of the most accomplished women in the domain industry (we shared her life story in the November 2016 DNJournal Cover Story).  Among other things, Lori Anne, who started out as a domain investor, is well known for co-founding the .CO Registry and helping build it into a company that Neustar spent $109 million to acquire in 2014. 

Lori Anne Wardi
Vice President
Neustar Inc.

"I started buying domain names in year 2000 — each name represented an idea I had for a business," Lori Anne recalled. "I didn’t know back then that there was such a thing as a “domain industry” - and I definitely didn’t consider myself a part of any such industry!  I was just a girl with a lot of big, sometimes crazy ideas — and domain names were like like these little magic idea bullets.  Each time I would buy a domain name, it felt like my ideas were that much closer to becoming real.  And so the whole process became quite addictive!  Before I knew it, I had hundreds, then thousands of domain names — each representing a little slice of a dream I imagined one day creating. In 2005, I read an article called “Masters of their Domains” by Paul Sloan.  That’s when I learned about this sub-culture of people who buy, sell, trade and monetize domain names — people called “domainers”…. I couldn’t believe there were others out there like me!  I remember thinking “these are my people — I need to go meet them!”   That’s when I started to go to all the domain events.  I convinced my sister to join me, we made up business cards and called ourselves “Domain Name Divas.”  Vegas was our first TRAFFIC conference in 2005 — and we were determined to meet every single person at 

the event — pretty much all of whom were men.  We  had a blast, and the guys were great.  It was a little awkward being the only women there, but we got used to it. It wasn’t the first business setting I’d been in where I’d been the only woman — so it was really no big deal!  As for why I stayed in the domain industry for all these years, all I can say is, it is addictive.  I’m a true domain junky!"

"The early part of my career in domain names was all about being a domainer," Lori Anne continued. "I learned from many of the best and brightest in the field, and made literally hundreds of friends in the industry. I don’t know of another industry where the people are as gracious!  Going to every domain event felt like reuniting with great old friends.  I enjoyed every second of it.  Then came the .CO years in about 2009 — when I joined the team that launched and built the .CO top level domain brand.  I would say those were the most exciting and gratifying years — taking a business idea from just a seed and building it into a multi-million dollar global platform was beyond exciting.  But the best part was working together as a team with some of the most amazingly talented people on the planet, like Juan Diego Calle, Nicolai 

Lori Anne Wardi in her .CO days.

Bezsonoff, Jose Rasco, Eduardo Santoyo and Crystal Peterson.  Not only did we have fun building the .CO TLD together, we built something special that we are all very proud of to this day.  .CO has truly changed the fabric of the Internet, making meaningful, memorable domain names available to a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. In 2014, .CO was acquired by Neustar, a world leading Information Services company.  At Neustar, we manage and operate close to 300 top level domain extensions — including .CO, .US and .BIZ — and many of the world’s leading .Brand and Digital City domains (like .NYC, .Melbourne, etc.)  Our CEO, Lisa Hook, is one of the most dynamic and powerful women leaders in the business world today.  She is a tremendous role model for me every day.

I love domain investing, and would absolutely love to see more women get involved.  My first bit of advice would be to subscribe to all the key industry journals and blogs so you can stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry, who the players are, what the issues are, and where the emerging opportunities may be.  Some of my favorites are DNJournal (of course!), as well as DomainNameWire, Domain Investing and The Domains.  Next I'd encourage any woman who is interested in the business to get out from behind the computer screen, and attend key industry events.  I know this is the Internet age and all, but I still believe that the best way to forge relationships is up-close-and-personal — in real life!  There is simply no substitute for the kind of special bonds that can develop over of a few drinks with a group of domain investors!  I’d especially urge you to attend NamesCon — and the Women in Domaining event — where you can quickly tap into a community of smart, talented women who understand the ins and outs of the domain industry and can help you get on your feet.  As with learning any new skill, learning how to invest in domain names takes time and money and will involve a whole lot of trial and error.  Have patience with yourself and have fun in the process!"


Jen Sale

Chief Operating Office & Co-Founder,  Evergreen.com

Jen Sale is another industry veteran whose time in the business predates DNJournal as she started 17 years ago. At this year's NamesCon conference Jen was recognized by Escrow.com as one of the world's top 10 brokers in total $ volume sold on their platform.

Jen Sale
COO & Co-Founder
Evergreen.com

"I kicked off my career in the online space in 2001, starting out as a developer for an online casino, before taking on a role in the traffic team with Dark Blue Sea (AKA Fabulous)," Jen began. "My DBS roles varied greatly over 9 years, including development, marketing, sales, product management and business development. However, I primarily brokered sales for the company’s portfolio of 500,000+ domains and managed partnerships for the Domain Distribution Network - the first API to enable retail registrars to sell aftermarket domains in their registration paths. Fast forward to today, where I've been partnered with Adam Strong for the past 7 years, brokering the best 1word.com domain names via Evergreen.com.

I love the domain name space - it’s agile, buzzing with excitement and inspiration, and includes some amazing and creative entrepreneurs. Aside from some cracker sales that we’ve brokered over the years, my biggest accomplishment has been launching my own business while raising two boys with my incredibly supportive husband. It didn’t come without its ups and downs, learning how to juggle countless things at once and finding that

infamous work/life balance, but it’s been worth it and I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished to date.

I’ve also had the great privilege to work alongside some of the best industry vets, including Adam Strong, who is not just an amazing investor, business partner and mentor, but also a great friend with an impressive Aussie accent; Elliot Silver, who consistently supports us in everything we do, and will happily lend his advice unreservedly, any time of the day; and Ammar Kubba, who will volunteer his time to give us honest and invaluable advice when needed - I could go on and on, but I’d be here all day. The point is, there are many interesting, supportive and friendly people in the domain space."

Jen Sale being honored at NamesCon 2018 by Escrow.com as one of the 
Top 10 brokers worldwide in domain sales transacted on the Escrow.com platform.

To other women who aspire to a career in domains Jen said, "Like any business, I believe you need to invest serious time and energy to hone your craft and establish any kind of reputation and recognition - it won’t happen over night, but it can happen, so don’t give up on what you believe in and ignore the naysayers.

To broaden your skill set, volunteer for all kinds of roles and projects - especially when it’s outside of your comfort zone. For example, while I buy and sell domain names most days, I also code and design when/where time permits.

Also expose yourself to a wide-range of people and opportunities by attending as many events as possible. People and relationships are key in niche industries, and I believe that like attracts like. So surround yourself with people that inspire and challenge you to learn and grow every day. With the right skill set, experience and attitude, the opportunities are endless!"


Barbara Neu

Conference Liaison,  MERGE! 

Barbara Neu has played an instrumental role in bringing people in the domain industry together for the past 14 years, starting with the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in 2004, continuing with THE Domain Conference that she co-founded with husband Howard and son Ray in 2015 and now in a supporting promotional and hosting role for the MERGE! conference in Orlando run by Ray and Jothan Frakes. We told her fascinating life story in the July 2016 DNJournal Cover Story.

Barbara Neu
Conference Liaison
MERGE!

"When Howard and Rick Schwartz started T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 14 years ago I immediately became a part of the team, working primarily on coordinating hotel room availabilities and attendees' needs," Barbara recalled. "I also LOVE to take pictures, so I made certain that as many people as possible were included.  We all had our roles to play in making sure that T.R.A.F.F.I.C. was successful, and what made it nice was that it was all family.  My main goal was to make every attendee feel comfortable and part of the "family" of domainers.  The first few shows were very challenging, because no-one had ever met any of the other domainers or sponsors and everybody started out as strangers who then became friends.

As the years went by and the shows became international, there were always new attendees that I made feel comfortable and at home and introduced to their newfound friends from all over the world.  To me, it wasn't a job, but rather my enjoyment in being able to get people together.  If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and I LOVED what I was doing.

I have had the privilege of meeting and greeting

and photographing  almost every person who has been involved in the industry, and as a result,  have made a number of new dear friends along the way, including Ron and Diana Jackson. DNJournal has had the most profound effect on my domain industry knowledge by keeping me up-to-date on what is happening and reading the in depth articles about the fascinating domain investors and sponsors.  The best part is that I know almost everyone who has been written about because I have had the pleasure of meeting them at our conferences.  Mike and Judi Berkens have also become close friends and have influenced me greatly as they are here in South Florida and we are able to socialize and confer on a regular basis, and celebrate many holidays together. 

When asked what advice she would give women interested in the industry Barbara said, "Of course, my best advice would be to come to MERGE! 2018 in September at the Lake Buena Vista Hilton Hotel right across the street from the new exciting Disney Springs in Orlando.  They would meet the movers and shakers of the industry along with learning about cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and more.  The networking opportunities are tremendous and I will personally welcome them and introduce them to people who will change their lives and lead to successes that they never even considered obtainable.  Even thought the conference is now in the hands of my son Ray Dillman Neu and his partner Jothan Frakes, I will still be there registering, greeting and making attendees feel at home. 

Above & below: Attendees at the 2016 edition of THE Domain Conference in Fort Lauderdale showed their appreciation for Barbara's dedication to bringing them together by giving her a standing ovation. Barbara was so moved so took a photo of the audience on her iPhone that provided her bird's eye view of that memorable day in the photo you see below.

Barbara closed by noting, "Friendships have developed that go far beyond just domaining.  My good friend Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz comes all the way to South Florida from Canada, sometimes with her beautiful daughter Natasha and son Gerrit, to have lunch with Mom and me.  I also have such good friends in Michael and Sherry Castello who come down from California and Michael and David's mother Victoria.  None of these friendships would have been possible were it not for the conferences over the years.  Each and every conference feels like a class reunion and the list of friendships goes on and on."


Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz

Domain Investment & Sales,  ExcellentDomains.ca 

Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz has been a domain investor for the past 18 years and she has built up one of the world's largest and most valuable female-owned portfolios. She was profiled in the September 2015 DNJournal Cover Story titled Ilze's Odyssey: How a Daughter of Latvian Immigrants Wound Up Rocking the Domain World.

Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz
Owner-Director
Excellent Domains Inc.

"Without a doubt, my most gratifying accomplishment was being awarded the First (and only to date) Women in Domaining Award by Howard Neu at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference in 2014," Ilze began.  Although I was nominated several times for the Domainer of the Year Awards, as well as Domain Hall of Fame, I never was able to compete with the men in the business.  Another feather in my cap was when I was  the only woman invited to help Roast the King of Domains, Rick Schwartz at his last conference.  Being on that stage with successful Domainers such as Michael Berkens was certainly an honor. 

Several years ago I was also asked to be on a panel to discuss domain sales at conference in Fort Lauderdale by Barbara and Howard Neu.   After that conference, I have been invited to participate in similar panels all around the world, from Dubai to Berlin to Las Vegas. I am grateful that the Domaining Community includes women in these important information gatherings.  However, the community falls  short when it comes to moderators.  I have moderated panels, but I have never seen another woman moderate a domaining related panel.  There are numerous talented women

that could easily moderate any panel...any discussion, but it seems that the comfort zone predominately lies with what is familiar...the male moderator.

Being recognized by my peers is always a honor, but my real accomplishment is having a domain business that continues to thrive and make money.  I created my website, ExcellentDomains.ca, immediately after I purchased my first domain, back in the year 2000.  Making money was predominately with PPC, so that is where my focus was.  Now, with PPC virtually dried up, selling my own domains has become a priority.  With a portfolio of over 3,000 domains, it keeps me very busy. Many of my sales are under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), but there are plenty of sales that are memorialized in the DNJournal.

Buying and selling domains is what I do, and I am not sure why there are not more women investing in domain names.  Off hand, I can only name 2 women that are true Investors - KW Boswell and Anna Bastian.  They are not Brokers, but buyers and sellers of very nice domain portfolios. 

People are always asking me for advice, and like it or not, my advice is always the same.  Start with only a dot COM and make sure it is a good one.  Do your research, save up the 

Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz receiving the Women in Domaining Award from Howard Neu at the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference at Miami Beach.

cash and then market the hell out of it.  Also, if you get the fever, stay in one niche.  It is easier to reach out to the same end-user database over and over.  Think outside the Box, and attend end-user conferences.  If you have a travel related domain, go to a Travel expo, and meet potential buyers.

Finally, buying and investing in a domain is NOT gender-specific.  All Women have the savvy to do what needs to be done.  Just do it!!"



Kate Buckley

Founder & CEO,  Buckley Media Group 

Kate Buckley has spent 23 years in marketing and business development with extensive experience in global domains, brand development, naming, creative strategy, storytelling and social media. Her background includes large branding agencies (Gray and Landor) as well as 20 years experience with premium domains with Castello Cities Internet Network. Kate has been on a domain brokerage roll the past couple of years. She had two of the 20 biggest domain sales reported in 2016 followed by three of the top 25 sales in 2017 (led by Refi.com at $500,000) and she kicked off 2018 with a $335,000 sale of Inspection.com!

Kate Buckley
Founder & CEO
Buckley Media Group

"I was fortunate enough to be recruited and mentored by David and Michael Castello back in the stone age of domaining—1998!—and immediately realized the industry’s endless possibilities," Kate said. "Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, as well as a branding and marketing background, the industry made deep intuitive sense to me, and I’ve been a student of it ever since.   

I love the freedom and flexibility of the domain industry, and that it requires constant learning and evolution. Buckley Media Group combines my passion for psychology, negotiation, business development, branding, sales and marketing to bring about sterling results for my clients, and there is truly never a dull moment!

With David and Michael Castello I learned firsthand how to advance a business that was built on a virtual barren land. Not many people have had that advantage, and it’s one for which I’m profoundly grateful. The Castello Brothers gave me my start in brokerage as well—my first six-figure sales were of their domains: LagunaBeach.com ($600,000) and Rate.com ($725,000). I’ve also learned a lot from my colleagues and clients—Roy Messer, in

particular, is a trusted friend and mentor. I’ve found the vast majority of people in our industry to be incredibly warm and interesting, as well as generous with their knowledge.  

Kate's advice to women who want to enter the field is this, "Educate yourself—there are so many wonderful forums, blogs and podcasts out there by some of the top minds in our industry, avail yourself of their wisdom and experience. Follow domain influencers and leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn, read what they’re reading, learn from their perspectives. Be curious, teachable, passionate and compassionate. Be ethical, tenacious, strategic, creative and the hardest working person you know. “Luck” seems to follow people who cultivate these skill sets.   

Be ethical. Our industry is in its adolescence, thus relatively unregulated and we’ve all heard stories of (and experienced!) brokers, investors and developers who try to take advantage of others. The more we self-regulate and encourage others to exhibit the same ethical behaviors, the faster we can transform the holistic reputation of the industry and move forward in lockstep on important issues. Be transparent, do what you say you’re going to do and become known as a person of integrity and unimpeachable ethics.  

Regarding opportunities and breaking into the business, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. I’ve invented almost every “job” I’ve had out of thin air. Look for a need, identify problems and pain points and come up with creative, innovative and actionable ways to solve them.

I would also encourage those new to the industry to not only learn and absorb the nuances of our field, but to share their experiences with us as well—the more open we are with one another, the greater the flow of information and the stronger our industry becomes. 


Nancy Bianchi

Executive Vice President, Trellian and Above.com

Over the past 11 years Nancy Bianchi has become one of the most widely known and respected women in the domain industry. She is always on hand at major events to represent her company Trellian.com and answer questions about the popular domain monetization (Above.com) and domains sales services they offer.

Nancy Bianchi
Executive Vice President
Trellian
and Above.com

"My first experience with the domain industry happened rather unexpectedly back in 2007," Nancy recalled. "I had recently joined the company in a completely different business unit and unexpectedly found myself involved in the launch of Above.com. I knew nothing about the domain industry but the first conference left a lasting impression. I was fascinated to learn about the value that domain names generated for investors and businesses alike. I saw business being build around a domain name first which was a shift from the traditional business models. I was hooked and wanted to learn more about this niche industry.

But I have to say that the people, the sense of community, family and friendship, is a big reason I have stayed in this industry. No other industry comes close to having this kind of camaraderie. You feel like you are part of one big, global family.

It has been gratifying to work with some of the smartest, most creative, entrepreneurial people in this industry. I have learned a lot and find myself constantly motivated by people who are always looking outside-the-box for new opportunities. It has also been very gratifying to

be part of a company that continues to revolutionized the way that domain traffic was monetized and the way portfolios were managed. And that has never stopped evolving.

With respect to women, today the industry has evolved with greater points of entry that were not available ten years ago. Interest and skills in online advertising, intellectual property, regulation, brokering, business development, IT and global business expansion can find opportunities that didn’t exist years ago. 

For someone entering our industry to be successful, it won’t be surprising for me to say that they need to be professional, know their company’s value propositions and be very good at building relationships. Most women possess excellent listening skills that will go a long way in any type of business.

 

Susan Lawrence
Open SRS, North America Accounts Manager, Tucows Open SRS

Susan Lawrence has probably built up as many contacts as anyone in the domain industry after 13 years spent in key positions with companies like Oversee.net, Trellian, Minds+Machines and the company she just joined with this week - Tucows.

Susan Lawrence
Open SRS, North America Account ManagerTucows

Susan began with how her journey in the domain business began. "In 2004, I had been working in the entertainment industry for a few years after making a change from working for tech/software companies. I had always thought entertainment publicity and event management was my dream job. After a few years in the entertainment industry, I realized it wasn’t for me. I really wanted to get back into the tech industry as there were so many innovative  tech startups in the Los Angeles area where I live. The first company I applied to was a New Media/Advertising/Internet company looking for a jack of all trades for the CEO of Oversee.net. I didn’t completely understand what they did but I was familiar with domain investing as my brother had been buying and selling domains for years.  I interviewed with Lawrence Ng, the co-founder and CEO and we talked for hours.  He discussed domain investing, monetization, lead gen and the vision he and his co-founder, Fred Hsu, had for the company.  After meeting with  employees (they were only at about 30 employees at the time) and seeing the company culture and camaraderie, I was excited for the opportunity to jump on the domain wagon.  I started a few days later and worked for  Lawrence at first. I then moved to the DomainSponsor account team.  We were a close-knit group and I learned so much in the 7 years I was there.

Through my relationships across the industry, I have been presented with some great opportunities to stay in the business.  While it has been a crazy rollercoaster of changes since I started in July 2004, it’s a rollercoaster I love and want to continue to be a part of!  As such, I’m very excited to announce that I am now a member of Tucow’s OpenSRS account management team.  I’ve worked with and have known and respected the team there for years.  I am excited to be onboard and work under another fantastic female executive, Sharlene Dubraj, who is their VP of Sales for Wholesale Domains. 

I am grateful for all the amazing friendships I’ve made with co-workers, clients and industry colleagues over the years.  It’s exciting to see how many of the very young domain investors I managed or knew are now running hugely successful businesses (outside of just domain investing).  It’s great to see the growth, changes and innovations that have come out of this industry.   

I am truly thankful for the amazing female relationships I’ve made over the years and how it has helped me grow.  This started with Oversee.net and Corinne Forti, who came on board not long after me as their PR & Communications Counsel.  Many of the women who worked there formed a strong bond and became much more than colleagues. We would do women’s lunches, happy hours (and even a trip to Rosarito Beach and a wine train adventure to Santa Barbara)." 

Susan Lawrence (2nd from left) and Corinne Forti (2nd from right) 
on an Oversee.net wine train adventure to Santa Barbara.

"Corinne became an amazing mentor to a lot of us and basically became our “Den Mom” and someone you could always go to for advice and help with anything.  That has not changed in the years since.  One of my highlights of the year is an annual women’s potluck brunch Corinne hosts for us every summer.  We spend the afternoon at her beautiful home to eat, drink and share our professional and personal lives.  It is a group of wonderful and talented women who are doing amazing things both in and outside the domain industry now.  Best of all, we know how to laugh and have fun together. 

There is such a sense of sisterhood in the industry that has been cultivated over the years. One of my first accounts while at DomainSponsor was iREIT where I met Lisa Box (now VP Strategic Alliances & Business Development at WP Engine) who managed their portfolio.  That became an instant friendship that I will have for life.  She is such a great example of women mentors in the industry with her involvement with the Women In Domaining event every year, keeping the wonderful tradition that Jen Sale started going strong.  I’ve attended every Women in Domaining event and it’s so fantastic to see how big it’s become since Jen’s OG women’s suite party of about 20 of us!

For women interested in getting into the industry they should definitely look for networking opportunities in our community.  Obviously, attending industry conferences and going to networking events to meet people such as the Women In Domaining dinner at NamesCon., are excellent If you don’t have the opportunity to attend events, I would encourage them to connect with women in the industry via LinkedIn or other Social Media/Networking sites.  I am sure any of us would be happy to talk to women who are interested in learning more about the industry and our experiences in it."

 

Kathy Nielsen
Consultant, DigitalStrategies.Marketing

Kathy Nielsen is another widely respected industry professional who first made her mark in this industry with Sedo a decade ago. She rose through the ranks to Vice President there and now runs her own busy consulting shop. Her client list includes industry giant Neustar who happens to be run by a smart, inspiring female CEO, Lisa Hook.

Kathy Nielsen
Consultant
DigitalStrategies.Marketing

"I was in the online advertising business before I found my way to the domain industry," Kathy began. "There are a lot of similarities with the two and it turned out to be a good move for me. Honestly, I was attracted to a company and job opportunity first.  I didn’t even know about the industry.  My educational background is in International Relations with a business focus and at the time, the international piece was what was missing in my career.  The opportunity at Sedo allowed me to use my online advertising knowledge while working in an international setting, with clients and colleagues from around the world.  It was only later that I learned to appreciate the industry.  There have been opportunities along the way to leave the industry but I could never quite do it.  I think the tight knit and supportive community is really something unique.  It’s in large part because of the people that I have stayed!

One of the biggest accomplishments early on in my domain industry career was fighting for over a year, against tough competition, and wining a big exclusive contract to sell one killer name. That

contract win alone was a huge.  The selling part was interesting to go through as well because the selling process was very unique.  It was a team effort involving a broker, a lawyer and me. It also resulted in a record-breaking sale but it sure was a long road to get there.  But that contract win was my big, personal accomplishment. The name?  I can’t say or it will make me blush!

For women looking to break into the domain business Kathy noted, "I always like to hire people with marketing and online advertising backgrounds.  It’s such a good fit.  

There are so many parts of the business to learn! When I started out, I remember reading a few books that were really helpful. The two I recall being most helpful were, The Domain Game and Domaining for Dummies.  

Today, there are some great opportunities in marketing and development.  Domains as a product are not easy to promote so I always really enjoy working with someone from outside the industry who can bring a new set of ideas to the process. I would say it’s important to really be a savvy internet user though.  If your not, this is just not the right industry.  I imagine that there are some good opportunities for developers as well. Many of the industry platforms, whether registrars, registries, premium platforms, auction platforms, and there are many others, are just old and need upgrading!  With the introduction of all the new gTLDs, many platforms are changing but I think there is a great deal of opportunity now to make some big improvements on the ecommerce side of things.   

 

Karen Bernstein
Principal, Bernstein IP

The growth of the domain industry has attracted an impressive array of intellectual property attorneys who help protect domain owner's rights. Karen Bernstein is one of the best and most experienced in this specialized field.

Karen Bernstein
Principal
Berstein IP

"I started my own law practice in 2007 and ran Google Ads back then to build up my client base," Karen said. "A couple of months into running the law firm, I received a call from a guy named Marc Ostrofsky who told me he saw my Google ad and he loved it.  He then went on to tell me that he sold Business.com in 1998.  Having previously worked for a boutique Manhattan intellectual property law firm whose clients included Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, I had experience in bringing UDRP complaints on behalf of brand owners against “cybersquatters” and that’s all I knew.  Well, Marc set me straight on the fact that there was a real industry of domain name investors who not only bought domain names for their potential value, but also actually built bona fide businesses out of them like one of Marc’s properties located at Cufflinks.com.  Marc said that I needed to see the domain name industry for myself and so he invited me to fly out to Las Vegas to attend the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Conference and so I did.  In Las Vegas, he introduced me to many of the top people in the domain name industry, including Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu, and I never looked back.

No doubt, there are many people I’ve met in the domain industry whom I’ve not only helped out with their legal needs, but also made friends with along the way such as Lori Anne Wardi, Victor Pitts and Natasa Djukanovic of .Me.  Among the most gratifying accomplishments as an attorney in the domain name industry was successfully defending Johnsons.com against Johnson & Johnson back in 2013 in a UDRP and also representing one of the gTLD applicants for .Music, Far Further, in both a Legal Rights and Community Objection.  I also had a lot of fun working with the esteemed Dr. John Berryhill when we successfully fended off a frivolous federal court case in New York brought by one of Michael Gleissner’s companies over the domain name, Workbetter.com.

For women looking at industry opportunities Karen advised, "Read the domain industry blogs and go to industry events to learn as much about the players and the issues that affect domainers.  Don’t be afraid to walk up to people and talk to them at domain conferences.  They are really friendly.  If you're a domain name investor, especially read the weekly sales data on how much domain names are selling for to get a feel of how domain names are being priced.  Also, go to namebio.com or dnpric.es to see what domain names have sold for in the past to understand the buying trends and how high you can price a comparable domain name to an end user."

 

Natasa Djukanovic
Chief Marketing Officer, Domain.ME

Natasa Djukanovic has done of superb job of building recognition for the .ME domain extension. .ME was originally delegated as the ccTLD for Natasa's home land, Montenegro, but it was opened up to domain registrants worldwide to take advantage of the personal meaning of "me" that was a natural fit for individual's wanting a unique base for their online presence.  

Natasa Djukanovic
Chief Marketing Officer
Domain.ME (.ME Registry)

"I joined the industry almost 10 years ago, through an invitation by a colleague, friend and for the last 10 years boss,' Natasa said. "He asked me to help him organize operations for, at that time, launching the .ME domain. Only after a year, I realized how traditional and fast-changing the environment is and that placed a special kind of a challenge in front of us as a team. That constant change and development is what made me stay and personally develop in the industry. 

Some of our ideas from the beginning that were related to the promotion to the end-customers were accepted and supported, but only after some initial opposition and lack of trust. That support meant a lot to me personally as well as to our whole team. I met some really great people in the industry and we exchanged lots of ideas and joint activities. It feels like we've been mentors to each other. That is an influence of a well developed and progressive industry. 

With respect to women, I am never sure why would we have to feel that this industry is any different than another. I came from an airline and then banking industry, who are male-dominated. I have had great carriers there too. The only important thing is that you should not be afraid to say what you think and show your knowledge and ideas, but that advice comes for every industry. 

 

Jeanette Söderlund
Vice President, Industry Relations & Marketing, .GLOBAL Registry

 Jeanette Söderlund is helping one of the hundreds of new gTLDs introduced over the last few years, .GLOBAL, to differentiate itself from what has become a very crowded field. She and her .GLOBAL teammates have become familiar faces at all of the leading industry events and their devotion to the cause (including books about the industry that Jeanette has authored) is helping their TLD steadily gain ground.

Jeanette Söderlund
Vice President, Industry Relations & Marketing
.GLOBAL Registry

Jeanette's that into the business had a different starting point than most. "I actually got into it right after graduating law school," Jeanette noted. "I got a good job offer from a corporate registrar in Stockholm and had some great teachers there (Patrik, Magnus, Jonas and Nils primarily) that walked me through all parts of the industry and business. That job got me a great overview of everything from portfolio management, dispute resolution, understanding DNS records, managing transfers and negotiating acquisitions. I’ve been in the industry ever since, and that was now 8 years ago.

What caught my interest and got me to stay in the industry was the fact that this is such an important global industry, yet somehow it’s something that most businesses have no idea how to approach. Realizing this, together with the fact that it wasn’t even briefly mentioned in law school (hopefully this has changed by now), was what got me to reach out to Norstedts Juridik and Thomson Reuters/Sweet and Maxwell and to ultimately write the books about it. 

There have been many small but continuous accomplishments along the way (such

as finally tracking down a domain owner that a client has spent months trying to find, succeeding in tricky disputes, landing a good marketing deal and so on), which is, at the end of the day, what really makes the hours spent worth it. But among the bigger most gratifying accomplishments, I’d have to say getting the books published and thereby hopefully being able to help some businesses/lawyers/other advisors getting a comprehensible overview of all aspects of domain names and to make more informed decisions when managing their domains.

Another majorly gratifying journey has been to grow and manage the .GLOBAL TLD, basically from the ground and up, together with the registry team. Rolf, Michael, Steinar, Su and Kristian are all wonderful people that are brilliant at what they do, and although we’re working from all parts of the world and time zones (quite literally) the teamwork is remarkable. It just goes to show that trusting in people’s abilities and giving them freedom with responsibility allows for a more genuine connection to the work that you’re doing, and that is something that I firmly believe in. 

.GLOBAL CEO & Founder Rolf Larsen and Jeanette Söderlund 
onstage at the 2018 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas.

For women interested in the field, I’d say just get in it and start somewhere, it doesn’t necessarily matter where or with what. What’s important when being new to the industry is more so to be among open-minded people that are willing to teach you and walk you through the different parts of the industry. It’s a fairly small industry, so it won’t take too long before you get an overview and likely realize how your qualities can be best used. It should be mentioned though, that although it’s a small industry, it’s highly international. So being interested in different people and not being too set in the hours that you work/don’t work (again, time zones) certainly helps. One tip would be to attend one of the many industry conferences that take place in a rotating scheme around the globe, where people take a break from the Skype sessions to actually meet in person and discuss new opportunities. 

 

Negar Hajikhani
Senior Sales & Brokerage Consultant, Sedo

Negar Hajikhani has a long track record of domain brokerage success at Sedo including becoming the first female in the 10-year history of the pioneering T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference to be awarded the show's Broker of the Year Award in 2013 (winners were chosen in industry wide voting). The ability to speak multiple languages allows Negar to personally conduct business on a global scale that few can match.

Negar Hajikhani
Senior Sales & Brokerage Consultant
Sedo

Negar told us, "I came out of business school in Germany wanting to work in the fashion industry. I loved the thought of working in a fast paced, international business setting where my day to day work touches people all over the world. Well, on my way I stumbled into the domain industry and it has proven every bit as interesting a career as I’d envisioned for myself. I’ve now been working in this field for over 9 years and have gained a lot of international experience and expertise. In the same day, I will negotiate a price in Mandarin, close a deal in German, and discuss traffic monetization in English. Since I started working for Sedo I’ve been in the middle of million dollar sales and helped acquire and sell internationally recognized online brands. Moreover, our field is in a constant evolution. Every year is different. Technologies change, the markets change, and our clients’ desires and goals reflect that. Keeping up with this evolution makes our work new and exciting day after day. Looking back, I have to wonder what other industry I could do that in. Perhaps fashion, but the domain industry has its own interesting style and I’m more than excited to be part of it. 

What I have found most gratifying over the years is working along a broad spectrum of clients – from young start-up companies all the 

way to large international corporations. It is fascinating to help start-up companies find the perfect domain name that communicates their brand new ideas to the world and helps them grow. Large corporations, on the other hand, already have their own domain name, but are often looking to add more variety to their product line and web presentation. Using my skills across such a broad spectrum of clients and tailoring my work to their completely different needs and expectations is a fascinating challenge and hugely rewarding. In addition, over the course of many years in this industry, I have met a lot of fascinating people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Several clients and colleagues have now become close friends of mine. Among them, true veterans of the domain industry whose experience and advice I value highly. I would not want to miss them and look forward to every time we meet, at a conference or even outside of work."

Sedo's Negar Hajikhani (4th from left) accepting the 2013 Broker of the Year Award 
from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu. She was the first female to win the prestigious honor.

For women seeking advice on succeeding in the domain world, Negar said, "​The biggest lesson I have learned and would like to pass on is: Stay flexible! I was headed for the fashion industry when I got sidetracked into domain brokerage and I have never regretted it since. This is a highly specialized field and may not be on your radar right from the start. But if you happen to stumble upon it along your career path, seize the opportunity and take a closer look! It is a really fascinating and ever evolving field that has a lot to offer, whatever your individual skill set may be.
For those who are already planning a career in the domain industry, I recommend starting with an internship at a domain brokerage firm, such as Sedo. That way you get a great inside look right from the big central hub where all the diverse branches of the industry come together. There you can test and see which area best fits your particular skill set and interests. If you like to work with international clients, negotiate deals, and become a sought-after expert on domain name appraisals and traffic monetization, then this could be a bright and exciting career for you!"

 

Marie Lanyon
Vice President Marketing, HEXONET

Marie Lanyon, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at NamesCon 2018 in January, arrived in the domain industry less than a year ago, so I was especially interested in hearing from her to see what kind of impression this business makes on someone looking at it with fresh eyes as she is.

Marie Lanyon
Vice President Marketing
Hexonet

"I'm still quite new to the domain industry but that hasn't stopped me from quickly becoming deeply fascinated and impassioned by it," Marie said. "My background is in marketing (private and public sectors and within ad agencies), so I have a variety of experience and exposure in different industries. I have the benefit of knowing something great when I see it.

Two things immediately stood out when I entered the domain industry: its potential to evolve (again) and the people.

Just as all industries have to consider their role and offerings in today's developed market, the domain industry must look at what we are solving for customers today and tomorrow. We are on the cusp of, if not creating, change in the market and that is exciting to contribute to. 

Regarding the people, I've been blown away by the depth of the industry, the helpful and supportive nature of those that I encounter, and the team I joined at HEXONET.  I knew I had found something unique here: a graciousness to share insights, excitement for fresh perspectives, and an industry-wide interest in working together to grow. 

Since joining HEXONET we have reestablished our Mission and Vision statements, updated the brand, rebuilt our website, and are taking on initiatives never done within the company before. I consider it a very exciting time to be a part of the industry and this team.

When I first came on board, Robbie Birkner, HEXONET's CSO, introduced me to a variety of industry leaders. What impressed me immediately was the open and welcoming responses I received during these conversations. Everyone I reached out to made time for a call. I felt an immediate connection to the industry based on the outgoing and insightful thoughts shared with me by a variety of folks. Michelle Hedtke of GoDaddy and Jeff Sass of .CLUB are two people that have gone above and beyond in their time with me, and I am grateful for their willingness to share. They have each left a lasting impression on me - both in their knowledge and easygoing inclusiveness. 

Image from Bigstock

Since Marie just recently made her way into the field she is well positioned to advise other women based on what worked for her. "Like any new undertaking, I advise doing your homework. Be curious, ask questions, read industry news outlets and blogs, listen to podcasts, and reach out to others," Marie said. "The domain industry has many layers and areas of specialization. Make sure you have a solid overall understanding of the business, then dive deeper into the areas that spark your interest. Opportunity-wise, I strongly believe in not only looking for existing opportunity but creating opportunity. As you learn more, see if there is a way to bring your unique skill set to solve an existing industry challenge.  

Throughout my career, I have often been one of the few women in the room, if not the only woman. It's wonderful to see this changing throughout many industries, including the domain industry. Even over the past year as conversations globally are ramping up, I have been asked at conferences on what it's like to be a woman in this industry by male peers. I think this is an excellent dialogue to have and I applaud those asking and actively conversing on the topic. The fewer barriers we have, the more business we can all take care of."

 

Marcia Lynn Walker
Owner, Myrtle Beach Inc.

Now we are coming fill circle. As I noted at the top of this article, Marcia Lynn Walker, Michelle Miller and Donna Mahony (the founder of DomainBoardroom.com) represented just about the entire pool of publicly active women in the investment and aftermarket space when we wrote that 2005 Cover Story about the unfortunate lack of women in the industry. Donna wasn't available to comment for this article but I'm pleased to have Marcia (who runs a video production company in Myrtle Beach) and Michelle back from the original power trio so two of our first female role models can have the final words on this business that has been such an important part of their lives. 

Marcia Lynn Walker
Owner
Myrtle Beach Inc.

Marcia's thoughts went back to when it all began for her. "In the 1990s, I was both a computer programmer and a desktop publisher of full-color ads for magazines, chambers of commerce, and private companies. When the web took off, I immediately realized the cost benefits of having content online, and the ability to instantly change and update content, without the large expenses associated with editing and reprinting full-color ads and changing copy. Living in a tourist area, I began registering domains associated with my area that I knew would be of interest to locals and visitors. I was already working from home, so what attracted me to the industry and kept me in it is the ability to continue working from home and making my own hours.

My most gratifying accomplishments were becoming debt-free and having the time to spend with family and friends. Over the 20+ years I've been involved, there have been numerous colleagues who I've admired and still call friends. I did go a different route, however, right from the beginning, of developing sites for most of my domains, which in the 90s not many were doing, and still today is very gratifying work.

Marcia knows today's domain industry in not the same thing it was when she started but she 

still had some ideas on how a newcomer might want to approach it today. "Yes, it would be a very different path than the mid- to late-90s but I supposed I'd start with purchasing one good dot com where I had interest, develop it fully, and as it began making money, purchase another, and another, repeating the process. For this, it would be helpful to know how to code websites and write good content.  

Domain industry pioneers Donna Mahony and Marcia Lynn Walker 
at the 2007 DOMAINfest Global conference in Los Angeles.

I'm not as active with my business or the industry as I once was, and devote most of my time to growing my own food, reading, and enjoying family, pets, and friends. I haven't been to a convention in years and I certainly miss interacting with everybody. Perhaps one day I'll pop in at another conference and have fun catching up with everyone!"  That is something we would all like to see!

 

Michelle Miller Reed
Consultant

As for former college basketball player Michelle Miller, she is still very active in the industry and things are more hectic than usual these days since she has started a family and has a new baby in tow. Michelle's domain journey began in 2000 with BuyDomains (later purchased by NameMedia) and has included stops with Archeo (Marchex) and Flippa before opening her own consultancy.

Michelle Miller Reed
Consultant

When asked to recall how her long ride began Michelle said, "Wow, looking back it’s fun to think about this... At the ripe age of 22(!) in the year 2000, I was actually headed to San Francisco for a marketing internship opportunity with the X Games.  My inner tom-boy skate boarding, surfing, and snowboarding self was on a mission to find a career that balanced the two things I loved - sports and marketing.  Just a few months prior to the start of the internship, my oldest sister convinced me to attend some internet conference in Boston.  In between seminars, Eric Cantor and I met and started chatting.  He suggested I connect with his brother (Mike Mann) who had some “new idea about domains” he was working on.  A week or so later and after a few phone conversations, I met Mike at the brand new food chain, Chipotle, in Bethesda.  I vividly remember thinking whatever this Domain idea is, it sounds FAST and I had a ton of confidence I could just do it! ... looking back I think it was a combination of my inflated since of confidence and ignorance that allowed me to take off with BuyDomains as fast as we did!  LOL. Overall, I 

think it was the newness and lack of any leaders or known road to take and speed of the internet (booms and busts) that were happening at the time that attracted me to it all.  It was a big unknown...lots of challenges and it was a very exciting time! 

As for why she has stayed in it so long, Michelle answered without hesitation. "By far the people. The team we built and working crazy hours, facing different obstacles together built a level of comrade that holds special bonds.  It was the closest experience to having that sports team environment. I still keep in touch with nearly everyone I’ve worked with and am most proud of those relationships and fact that I can call my former co-workers “friends”. 

Michelle also has some solid advice for women eyeing the field today. "Be bold, confident, strong in what you believe.  Regardless of what industry I think this holds true.  I’ve had the opportunity to work in various internet industries over the years and different size companies - the obstacles women and minorities face are real and can be challenging.  I’m excited to see progress and overall different initiatives across the globe - such as the #meToo movement take place. This will help everyone have an equal shot at being heard, being seen."

With that we say goodbye and send a big thank you to everyone who shared their story with us and to every woman across the industry that has made this a far better business to be in than it was without you!

*****


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