• 02.11.13

From Single Fathers To The Anti-Zuck, The Trickiest Panelists To Track Down

Diversifying a panel is harder than you might think.

From Single Fathers To The Anti-Zuck, The Trickiest Panelists To Track Down

Arranging a conference panel is no easy feat, particularly if you’re looking for any sort of variety among the panelists. Last fall, women’s creative network SheSays underscored the challenge with its cheeky Find a Token Woman widget, but that’s just one of many underrepresented groups. With SXSW around the corner, we asked two panel organizers to describe the most difficult speakers to track down.


The Atypical Silicon Valley Type (aka: The Anti-Zuck)
“Anyone who doesn’t look like Mark Zuckerberg or Drew Houston–typical tech geeks whose standard wardrobe is a hoodie,” says Michelle Zatlyn, cofounder of CloudFlare. “This is a stereotype, but there are many people like that.”

Unbiased media members
“We try to add someone from the media to each of our panels,” explains Karen Fein, director of PR for ThredUp. “Ideally that person is an expert at writing about the subject because they make really good moderators who are unbiased and not going to be self-promotional.”

“They provide a different perspective by showing you that even if you have a two-career family, you can love your job and not compete against home,” says Zatlyn. “Single fathers and people with kids: I’m sure they exist.”

Illustrations by Quickhoney

About the author

Skylar is an Editorial Assistant at Fast Company. He's previously written for Popular Mechanics, Esquire, Dwell and his hometown Chicagoland suburb newspaper.