The Power of Choice

Hosted By Lauren Conaway

InnovateHER KC

See All Episodes With Lauren Conaway

Tammy Buckner

Today's Guest: Tammy Buckner

CEO & Founder - WeCode KC

Kansas City

Ep. #1172 - The Power of Choice

This episode of Startup Hustle is part of the all-week series covering various powers you can channel into your company. Today, Lauren Conaway and Tammy Buckner, Founder and CEO of WeCode KC, talk about the power of choice. Listen to these social impact founders discuss the importance of representation, engaging the community, and giving opportunities. These amazing leaders also talk about the ripple effects of empowering women, children, and marginalized communities.

Covered In This Episode

Exposing the next generation to advanced technological concepts ensures their success in the future. WeCode KC provides the youth with the power of choice.

Listen to Lauren and Tammy explore Tammy’s journey in technology and forming a web development business. Tammy explains the mission of WeCode KC in empowering kids with the ability to choose. They discuss the importance of representation and engaging the community. These founders also talk about the ripple effect of impact organizations, discernment in decision-making, and more.

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The power of choice is yours. Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.

Startup Podcast for Entrepreneurs


  • Tammy’s journey in technology (1:43)
  • Forming a web development business (6:35)
  • Joining a digital marketing firm (8:29)
  • What is WeCode KC (11:25)
  • The importance of representation (13:45)
  • Empowering kids with the ability to choose (15:13)
  • Engaging the community (18:21)
  • Discernment in decision-making (20:00)
  • The ripple effects of impact organizations (25:37)
  • WeCode success stories (28:16)
  • Empower people with the power of choice (31:25)
  • Finding opportunities for other people (34:35)
  • What would Tammy write about? (40:23)
  • Tammy’s essentials for zombie apocalypse (41:33)

Key Quotes

WeCode KC is an organization that helps young adults and youth create. Our goal is to make sure that we create an inclusive and more equitable technology industry. Because if we don’t do that, and we don’t help our youths that are right here in the Kansas City area, get involved with something that’s so fascinating. And something that can truly change their life, we’re going to lose this economic growth path.

– Tammy Buckner

Being a leader, we want to create more leaders. Yeah, I don’t want people, you know, one thing that someone says, well, you know, you’re teaching them how to code, you’re teaching them, and then they’re going off to other tech companies. What? That’s the idea. So, the same thing with our team, our leaders, you know, leaders create other leaders. You know, we don’t want to hold on to them. I want them to make sure that they’re empowering people as well.

– Tammy Buckner

I want to empower women with choice. Wearing a hijab or don’t, as long as nobody else is making you do it. And if it makes you feel closer to your god, then by all means. I want you to have the choice to wear that hijab. But my job is not to tell a woman how to be a woman. My job is to make sure that however you want to be a woman, you can do that freely. The only thing is yourself. Like, the outside forces, the unconscious biases, like, I don’t want any of that stuff to impede you if that’s what you want to do. So it’s all about you.

– Lauren Conaway

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Lauren Conaway  00:01

And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And friends. I gotta tell you about today’s episode sponsor, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Hiring software developers is difficult, but Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team, visit You can also check down in the show notes for a link to learn more. And friends. I’m really excited about this episode there for many reasons, the first being that all week Startup Hustle has been talking about various powers that you can channel into your company. And today we’re going to be talking about the power of choice with one of my favorite, favorite favorite entrepreneurs. You’ve already heard about the power of AI vulnerability and pivoting. And now it’s all about choices. We are going to be joined today by Tammy Buckner, Chief Executive Officer and founder of WeCode KC. Tammy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today.


Tammy Buckner  01:06

Not a problem, Lauren, thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here.


Lauren Conaway  01:11

I am very excited to like when I talk about being excited about talking with venture, I’m always like a base level of excited about talking to founders and entrepreneurs. But this is Tammy Buckner, who is one of my favorite people within the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Kansas City. And so I’m even more excited. Tammy and I have known each other for a while. So I think I know bits of this, but I’m going to pop right in. And I’m going to say, hey, Tammy, tell us about your journey.


Tammy Buckner  01:43

And the journey do I have to tell, ya know, I know. This is so funny. Yeah. Because it’s like we’ve been on different things. But this is the first time that I have been here. And I’m excited. So thank you so much for this opportunity. Wow, about me and about my journey. It’s so crazy because I get that question asked a lot. And oftentimes, I don’t go way back when I really started in technology. Was probably before coding and tech was a real word. It was just, I was tinkering. Yeah, I loved taking things apart. My uncle years ago used to take things apart, and I would watch him put them back together. And, you know, I’d fiddle and fiddle with the wires because he you know, it was all electronics. So I was right there. And that started getting me excited about tinkering. And again, doing things that I knew nothing about at that time. Time is I was continuing, you know, doing them. My parents bought me a computer. I took that apart. No,


Lauren Conaway  02:53

I’m crazy. Like, I imagined that there were there were there was a piece of them that was probably excited. Like, look at how smart or girl is. But at the same time, it’s like quit destroying your stuff.


Tammy Buckner  03:03

Why are taking stuff apart? But I was always the person that fix stuff. Like, you get this new and I’ll she’ll put it together or she’ll 15 Or you know, so that was me, I was the person that was always when we purchase things. I put it together. I set it up. That was me. Yeah, obviously it came in handy. But yeah, that wasn’t always supposed to take things apart. But that intrigued me about the world of you know, electronics and engineering and technology. And even paired with that. In high school, I was the person that, you know, when people would have parties and events, you know, I would put things I would create flyers and business cards. And you know, so that also gave me that way of doing marketing and putting things together. So it was all encompassed in that. Yeah. And that’s literally what started, you know, even working on a computer, I had no idea I was coding or, you know, doing things with way back then gaming, I had no idea. It was just I was tinkering and doing that. Fast forward, getting into college, graduated from high school, back to UCM went to Devine. And that’s when I started learning more and more about computers, computer science. And even today, and this is one reason, you know, I’ll talk about WeCode and why it’s so important that I introduced technology to more women because when I was in college, I didn’t see a lot of people. And it wasn’t just in college and it wasn’t just in my corporate world that there weren’t a lot of women or black people in computer science.


Lauren Conaway  04:47

Around and you were like maybe the space was not built for me.


Tammy Buckner  04:52

Why am I here by myself? But me, I was like whatever and I keep going because I have that attitude of, you know, I like it. So this videos like it and you know, and that’s what kept me going. So when I started getting involved with tech, and I started getting involved with things that I still didn’t see a lot of people, I worked at an organization where I did the very first websites for some major, major companies. Yeah. I worked at the Kansas City Star, and so much so funny that I’ve ran into a few people that, you know, either no longer there, obviously, but was there and we were like, wow, we didn’t even know each other. But I was in the Kansas City when they was first putting the newspaper online. Yeah, way back when was like, a .com. Right? It was huge. It was huge because no one was doing it. No one was doing websites. So that just tell you how long I had been developing websites. But I did the very first website to way back when because someone asks, does anyone know how to build websites? And me, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and said, does that make more money? And I say, well, Garn. So a friend of mine, well, one of my colleagues and co-workers, we were literally building websites before, you know, people really knew what the internet was.


Lauren Conaway  06:23

Yeah. So you were you is that how Techquity Digital was born? Because I know that that is a core part of your story. But I don’t think you were quite there just yet. Right?


Tammy Buckner  06:35

It wasn’t quite there yet. Because Techquity Digital was born when I got, you know, and I always say this, entrepreneurs make the worst employees in. When I got laid off, or downsize, or whatever they want to call it at that time, that’s literally when a form of Techquity Digital, it was back then and was called a totally different name. It was called Virtuous Creation.


Lauren Conaway  07:02

I didn’t even know that.


Tammy Buckner  07:03

You didn’t know that? That was in 2003, 2004, when I formed a tech company, doing web development hosting, but it was called virtuous creations. And back then, the amazing entrepreneur ecosystem that we have today did not exist, right? There was no mentors, there were no KC Source links, there was nothing that I could come together with other entrepreneurs and ask questions. Like, how do I start a hosting company? Or how do I do this? Or who do I talk, there was none of that. So I’m so thankful for organizations that help entrepreneurs now that is why I’m so as such an advocate, and I, you know, mentor anytime that I possibly can to an entrepreneur that wants to get started because I didn’t have that. And I don’t want people to, you know, keep doing that or doing business wrong because they don’t have anyone to help them.


Lauren Conaway  08:08

That’s that’s actually how you and I met. When I was still at another organization. And I it was Mecha Challenge the ocean nation competition, but you were a mentor to high school students, actually. And that is actually how you and I first connected.


Tammy Buckner  08:28

That is my passion. And it always has been because I didn’t have any anyone to help me figure out how to start a business, like, I was winging this thing for real. But that’s how I started doing websites started doing, you know, hosting businesses on, you know, websites, the Stars show, they didn’t want to do it anymore. And I use that as my launching pad of starting my organization, and did that for about six or seven years. And then I went to a digital marketing firm. And again, that also was a strong point because I didn’t have anyone to encourage me to keep doing, you know, software development or software engineering. So I didn’t feel that I could do it. When when I switched my role to basically being a project manager and a business analyst. Instead of doing a software development or software engineer role at that digital marketing firm, that’s getting back into the corporate world. Again, I was in places Microsoft cannot like all these amazing places. And I didn’t see people. Didn’t see very many women, it was majority men in tech. It was great because there was there had there was this almost like a family-type of when you’re in technology, you know, everybody kind of rally around, you know, we basically call it peer programming because we’re helping one another, you know, there Something that I didn’t understand, you know, someone was there to always, you know, encourage at that point in help like, Oh, you want to learn how to do this or you want to learn how to, you know, they were always there so that that digital marketing firm was a huge major step in my career. Yeah.


Lauren Conaway  10:17

So well in what’s interesting. So what has always fascinated me about you, Tammy, is the fact that you are such a dynamic and multidisciplinary leader like I think about, so like, I’ve heard you on panels where opportunity zones were discussed, I remember, like, there was a time where you, you were like a thought leader in the opportunity’s own space here in Kansas City. And then you know, your work now, it kind of speaks to education. And you know, you’ve had your your finger in the education pie for a little while, and you’ve got technology and marketing, and you’re really, you’re the quintessential entrepreneur in that I feel like you’re presented with something that you need to learn and you just learn it, and you you use it to power, future growth and evolution. Right. So you’re, yeah, you’re a very dynamic learner, I feel. But the great thing about you is that you then turn that learning into opportunity for others. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about that. So, WeCode KC, what is WeCode KC, Tammy Buckner?


Tammy Buckner  11:24

WeCode KC is a passion that selected me. I mean, like, seriously, choice. WeCode KC chose me, because I chose the space of tech, like, as an entrepreneur, I wanted to make money. And I knew technology was the space to make money, right? And nonprofit is not, a nonprofit is not something that you start when you want to make money. That is not what you do, you don’t go start a nonprofit because you want to make a profit.


Lauren Conaway  12:06

To be clear, it is not impossible to be well paid. It is not it’s not impossible. But I’m very clear. That’s not why you go into it.


Tammy Buckner  12:18

Let’s that make it very clear, it is not it does not mean you don’t make decent money, it does not mean your employees, it does not mean you cannot have a nice revenue stream, right, as nonprofit. But what there is a huge, but there. I mean, that is not the way to do it. But I mean, I think WeCode KC is a organization that helps young adults and youth create, our goal is to make sure that we create an inclusive and more equitable technology industry. Because if we don’t do that, and we don’t help our youth that are right here in the Kansas City area, get involved with something that’s so fascinating. And something that can truly change their life, we’re going to lose this economic growth path, right. And this is what WeCode is all about, we make sure that we expose youth in the urban core technology so that they can change their lives, their family lives and change the trajectory of their life. And this is what I’m saying, talking about the power of choice, because our kids have the opportunity to grab a hold of son, something such as it big as technology and use it to their advantage to change and create something different for themselves.


Lauren Conaway  13:45

Yeah. Well, and as you were telling your story, like, one of the things that stuck out to me is, like, clearly your parents fostered your learning. They didn’t yell at you for tearing stuff apart. They got you the computer. Like, I feel as though you were probably empowered by choice growing up, but did you even know that technology and coding was a choice available to you?


Tammy Buckner  14:06

I did not know it was a choice available to me. Because again, we didn’t sit around the dinner table and talking about technology. Nobody even in my family to this day, my mother worked at Honeywell, but that was still that was basically an engineering which is more so you know, electrical engineering. Yeah. But as far as technology and coding and things like that, and I know definitely those can go hand in hand. But no, I didn’t see people that look, you know, that’s that’s right in my family doing that. Yeah. And this is why it’s so important. Like I we talked about representation matters, and we use that often, but it’s so true. Yeah. When these kids walk into WeCode and they see people that reminds them of themselves or someone else in their family, the end that they’re these people are either creating games, they’re doing robotics, they’re creating out both. Now, they’re like, Wow, I really can do this. And what warms my spirit when some a young girl come to me and says, so you really mean I can make money doing? And I’m like, absolutely.


Lauren Conaway  15:13

Absolutely can. Absolutely. So you just hit on what I love so much about the code, Casey because of course, like I love the fact that we code teaches those tactical practical skills to students. But I think the more important thing that WeCode KC does is it it opens up the kids minds. Like, hey, not only is this something that you can do, tactically, but we want you to dream about a world where we do have equitable and in just hours and communities, and we you know, and so, by opening up just the possibility in their minds, you are, you’re empowering them for a lifetime. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.


Tammy Buckner  15:56

No, I’m empowering them for a lifetime. Because oftentimes, you know, we’ll get kids come in, and they’re dragging in because a parent or a grandparent or someone, you know, made them come, don’t want to be here. I don’t know why I’m here. But by the end of the class, they’re like, I’m so glad. When is the next one? Can I come tomorrow? Can we do this every single day, he has now, but also, those are the ones that I love. Like they they, you know, mad to be there. And now they’re like, this is amazing, I had no idea. And so we what happens is they get they find something that they can connect to. And we meeting them where they are, because some of these kids that come in the only thing they’ve ever done is played video games. Right? So now I’m going to show you how to create a video game that belongs to you. And now in the long run your game developer, right? To sell this game, once it’s impact, then, you know, package it up, you know, just showing them how to do that. Now they can they believe that they can be their own game developer.


Lauren Conaway  17:06

Right. So so you have, again, going back to that choice thing like you have empowered them with the the ability to choose the kind of kind of life that kind of opportunities that they want to kind of careers that they want to pursue. And there’s all of this choice that before WeCode KC was not open or available to these kids. Well, I love that so much. One of the things that I love about WeCode KC, so you have an incredible team, and your team, like I see you out in the community, I see you active, your organization definitely has a heart. And I want to talk a little bit about that because I mean, you could Tammy Buckner, as chief executive officer and founder of WeCode KC can just hang out in her office and do the the classes and things like that. But one of the things that you do so beautifully, is you involve the community in what you’re doing. And I want to hear a little bit more about that, like how has the community responded to WeCode KC and what you’re doing for these kids and how you activate within the community?


Tammy Buckner  18:12

Yeah, you. Lauren, when you say my team, my team, I cannot do it


Lauren Conaway  18:19

I love your team so much.


Tammy Buckner  18:21

I love my team. And when I boast and brag, like Yeah, I got my team better than your team. I’m so serious. Like, my team is so phenomenal. These people I mean, they’re just as passionate I am. And I can call on any last one of them so that they can just get out and present who WeCode is and calling them out, you know, Nicole, Adrian being clogged all of them, you know, Sean male, they’re all a part of WeCode. And they just just like it’s home for them. And I even talking about our kids because now we’re getting high schoolers are now becoming the the ambassadors for WeCode. And they’re their friends in the you know, in families. So which is amazing, you know, one of the some of the teenagers, Jackson and George, they’re all, you know, part of the team. This is this is what WeCode is all about, because we do get out into the community. We don’t sit in our office, because it’s all about making sure that we’re engaging other kids. They will know nothing about WeCode if we don’t present the voice and making sure that our brand is something that they want to be a part of. One of our tech class, I don’t know how they come up with all these different T-shirts and hats and I’m like, where that T-shirt come from. They because we have to show these kids how important it is, you know, things are brand. Nike is a brand. We see that swoosh and they see that they want a part of that. I want them when they see WeCode that they want to be a part of WeCode.


Lauren Conaway  20:00

Yeah, well, I of course, I love that I just love that about you like you, you have such, it’s, it’s really interesting to me, you have such an incredible heart, but you’re also very pragmatic, like, I don’t correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like you tend to make decisions emotionally. Ever. Everything that drives you is emotional, like it’s your heart, and it’s your feelings. munity. And so you do something really unique as a leader in that, because like, most people I know, are either emotional or logical. Yeah, you are able to apply a logical thinking to a heart problem. No. And the heart problem is that kids don’t have access to opportunity. It is very lucrative, potentially, like, generational wealth generating kind of field.


Tammy Buckner  20:48

In that part, Lauren, is a discernment for me. Yeah. Right. And I know, you know, a lot of people may not be religious, but I really am. I pray about discernment. And this is where you know, I have to lean on something that’s a higher being than I am. Because my heart will get in the way, you know, like x x, Nicole, when it comes time for scholarships for our kids, and I’m like, Oh, just give money to every dumb like, everybody gets in. She’s like, No, make sure certain people that you know, because there’s a financial, you know, and we go through all of this and like, just can’t just everybody, just like,


Lauren Conaway  21:29

Every time I judge a pitch competition, I’m like, can we just give everybody the money? They were


Tammy Buckner  21:39

the one who’s a zombie outbreak, you’ll get the scholarship, you’ll get a scholarship, scholarship, you know, but no, this is, you know, it has to be a discernment, because it’s so important that we make sure that these kids have the opportunity. And the freedom to see, this is something that truly can change my life. Yeah, I want to take a hold of it, just like this person over here did so that I can change, you know, my life. And like you said, generational wealth, because technology is going to be an is that industry, that is billions of dollars. And if you just get a piece of it, no, even a small bit of this great opportunity that you can make great money from? Why not do it at the earliest age possible?


Lauren Conaway  22:33

Yeah. Well, I certainly appreciate that. And another thing that I appreciate is today’s episode sponsor, we love Full Scale around here. They keep Startup Hustle, powered and going. And they know that finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit to learn more. Friends, we are here with Tammy Buckner, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of WeCode KC. And you said something really, really interesting in there before the break, Tammy, and I’m going to bring us back to it. But we were talking about the fact that, you know, we are opening up these kids to a lifetime of opportunity and a lifetime of acknowledgement of that opportunity. Like, there’s so many kids don’t know what they don’t know, they don’t know that it’s even available. But one of the things that I love about your focus on folks who have been historically excluded from the tech industry folks who are marginalized. The fact is, it is a fact you can you can look this up on Google, I don’t have the exact numbers. But there is data that supports the fact that marginalized people, when they are empowered to choice and to change into wealth into all of these things that your work brings about. They uplift the communities around them. So when we’re talking about creating general generational wealth, you are empowering people who will then probably like, I mean, you know, data is data. So most of these people are going to turn around and they’re going to help their communities and they’re going to fund nonprofits and they’re going to reach out to the community around them and bring them along on the journey. Your your work at very much has a ripple effect, like you’re impacting that student. But then, you know, in a we code case, he hasn’t been around for a super super long time to be able to see generations of this, but you’re gonna you’re gonna impact generations in the city kids and the people around them.


Tammy Buckner  22:33

Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Lauren, thank you so much. It’s it’s you know, I think about the career opportunities that WeCode will provide these kids. That they, that the Kansas City community will now be able to use young people in our own communities to fill this tech talent gap right now that we have. And so now not only these kids are getting jobs right inside of Kansas City, all of that money that they’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars, guess where their money is going right into our community? Right back into our economy to build our economy. Now, these young people are able to purchase homes, right in their backyard. And all of that money stays right here in Kansas City. So yes, now they can come back, their mentors, their teachers, you know, they’re now


Lauren Conaway  25:37

They’re gonna be hiring committees. Make sure to prioritize folks who might otherwise deal with unconscious bias, like, you’re creating a pipeline, those things were like, I feel like impact organizations InnovateHer KC, he deals with this a little bit as well, like impact organizations, sometimes it is really, really difficult to see our immediate impact, know that we we positively impact our members, I know that you positively impact your students, but like you and I both know, that’s not the end of the story, that ripple effect is going to reverberate for years.


Tammy Buckner  26:13

For years, and you may not happen next year or tomorrow, it will happen. Yes, we have to take kids through high school. So if you’re thinking two years, and now they’re graduating, and now they’re getting jobs, and now they’re in these jobs. Yes, it’s a ripple effect. And it takes time, but at the same time over time, yes, it will absolutely make those changes. I talk to our kids, and I joke about it all the time. And so when you become the next, you know, huge Forbes, you know, Chief Executive Officer of whatever tech company, just mention WeCode, like, you


Lauren Conaway  26:52

know, major gifts.


Tammy Buckner  26:56

You know, we’re not asking for anything we’re just just mentioned, just remember us, but no, it’s you know, it, to be honest, that’s the truth, like, they will be one of these kids gonna come out and they’re gonna kill it, they’re going to make major dollars,


Lauren Conaway  27:13

They’ll have the potential to be the next unicorn here.


Tammy Buckner  27:15

Anything they want. Tech will touch every single industry. You want to be a, you know, software engineer, or whatever it is, it’s going to touch an industry. So at whatever point, you know, and we know every child is not going to leave our organization, they’re going to get involved with tech. But at this time, we’re also creating a passion for technology. So my generation and older generations are scared of technology. Now we’re just training them. You know what, you don’t have to be afraid. You’re afraid of tech because you know something about it.


Lauren Conaway  27:52

Right? Well, I love that so much do you? Now I’m gonna ask this with the understanding that you may not be able to answer, but I’m gonna do it anyway. But do you have a favorite success story of a student who went through the WeCode program? I know it’s an impossible question to answer it. Like people ask me that all the time. And I’m like, who are you even talking to you? I have like 8000.


Tammy Buckner  28:15

So many. And that’s where I get in so much trouble. Like, you don’t talk about your success stories enough. And we have so many, so many. I mean, I can go down the line like, young guy. He had been working with us and he emailed me and go Miss Tammy, I do apologize. I have to leave WeCode and of course, my heart like everything. Okay. You know, I immediately thought, then he goes, well, that’s because I got a internship job at Facebook. I’m like, wait, wait, wait, wait. And then I just reached out to him a couple of months ago. Now, he’s in New York working with Amazon. I’m like, well. And then I have a young lady. She had been working with us for two years. You know, she’d gone through robotics at our high school. She started working with WeCode as an intern, and she wanted to go off to college with him like, Absolutely. How can we help you get scholarships? So we hope to get a scholarship and now she is in China. Okay, computer science. First of all, I had an auntie. She goes to Duke University, didn’t even know there was a Duke University in China, first of all.


Lauren Conaway  29:29

I have no idea. But I get like a satellite school. All right. Works for me.


Tammy Buckner  29:33

School like she is full. But you know, so think of a 19 year old in China, computer science, young, black understanding. I mean, she’s just amazing. Yeah, so I just think about her that she is so powerful, and she wants to come back virtually to do some mentorships with our young ladies. It’s amazing. So yeah, I could go on and on about so many success stories that walk out a WeCode. Yeah, yes.


Lauren Conaway  30:05

Well, I, you know, I’ve had the occasion to talk to some of the leaders within the week code organization. And like some of the students who have gone through, you know, some of the programming that you put on, and I just, I’ve always been so impressed by not only these individuals, their impressive in and of their own light, but own right, but like how you have been able to, organizationally, propel them forward on their journey. Like, I’ve seen it, I’ve heard about it. Incidentally, you actually had a mentor that I wanted, I swear, Tammy, I wanted to poach her so bad. Like, you’re really really good at identifying talent, you know, putting the people that you need around you. You know, you’re just you’re killing it. And it’s, it’s a really joyous, beautiful thing to watch. What I, I have, what advice would you give to listeners, I love giving, like the tactical practical advice, like, not everybody who’s listening to the show right now is gonna go out and start their own WeCode KC. Yeah. But how, what advice would you give to listeners who want to empower their teams or their families and loved ones or like the people around them who want to empower with choice? Yeah. What? What are some basic guidelines that people should follow?


Tammy Buckner  31:25

I mean, I think it’s so important that when you see, especially being a leader, we want to create more leaders. Yeah, I don’t want people you know, one thing that someone says, Well, you know, you’re teaching them how to code, you’re teaching them, and then they’re going off to other tech companies. What? That’s the idea. So same thing with our team, our leaders, you know, leaders create other leaders, you know, we don’t want to hold on to them. I want them to make sure that they’re empowering people as well. Oftentimes, I get these conversations, though, you know, can you come on to a panel, I will prefer someone else, you know, in WeCode, to go out to these panels, because there’s more of us, there’s more women, there’s more black and brown, Hispanic, Latino in technology. So yes, I definitely push them out. People need to see them as well. It’s not just me, it’s not just about Tammy, because the WeCode is not just about Tammy, this is our organization. Right? I just happen to found it. But this is our organization, this organization belongs to Kansas City community. And I want them to realize that they this is the organization that we’re going to create leaders. We’re going to create phenomenal software developers, project managers, business analysts, you know, in tech, because if we if you cannot grass hold away organization, that’s going to be the leader in staring out, like, what who can you count on? Right? So that’s, that’s so important to me that we’re able to create more leaders in our organization, I that’s what I tell people, just make sure you are encouraging, be open. Help them for the night if they want to be more of a public speaker in tech, okay, help find tech panels for them to be on, encourage them to be on those panels. Here’s your time. And someone said that, well, I want to learn how to be more of a public speaker. Okay, well, I’m gonna go find you some tech panels, and I’m gonna get you on those panels to, you know, to start speaking, but it’s important that we just encourage them to do that. So just being an encouraging leader.


Lauren Conaway  33:30

Yeah. Well, and I love that, like, I think an important piece of that puzzle is, like, be encouraging, but you are you actually proactively go out and find the opportunities, like, let me help you. Because because you’re right, like when it comes to public speaking, something that I’ve learned is like, the only way to do it, is to do it. Like you just got it like you have to practice and you have to try things, and you have to figure out your style. Like, it’s one of those things where having a leader behind you, who is not just saying, Hey, you can do this, but actually finding opportunities for you to do this, like, that’s huge.


Tammy Buckner  34:03

Absolutely, because there’s so many opportunities out there, and we want to make sure that they are focused on okay, this is what I want to do. Now I need to prepare myself to actually become that, you know, Speaker become that the next, you know, person that’s getting involved with that. So yeah, I love finding and collaborating, you know, helping someone else because I do get a lot of opportunities. It’s not just for me. Yeah, let’s share the wealth.


Lauren Conaway  34:35

Exactly. So I want to tell you a story. Tammy, I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this story before. Yeah, so a while back, there was an uproar, and I believe it was particularly kind of focused on France. But athletes who wore hijab were being being asked to take them off because it was not with it. And so, you know, you know me like I’m a very vocal person, I go on to social media and I’m like commenting on things. And at one point, somebody in the comments was like, you know, I had mentioned, I was like, look, I, you know, steward a woman forward organization, like, this is a really important piece of the conversation that we need to have. And so somebody was like, well, if you’re, you know, a women’s rights, rights advocate, and you’re a feminist, then you shouldn’t want women to wear hijab at all. And I was like, no, no, that’s not my role at all. I want to empower women with choice. Wearing hijab or don’t, as long as nobody else is making it you do it. And if it makes you feel closer to your god, then by all means. I want you to have that choice to wear that hijab. But my job is not to tell a woman how to be a woman. My job is to make sure that however you want to be a woman, you can do that freely. The only thing missing is yourself, the only like the outside forces, the unconscious biases, like, I don’t want any of that stuff to impede you, if that’s what you want to do. So it’s all about you. It’s all about it. And so I wanted to share that story with you because I want to ask you, you know, as you have moved through this career, and we’re talking about choice, and you’re you’re offering choice to your team, and you’re offering choice to your to the kids who go through WeCode KC, you know, what are some ways that that we can make sure that we are kind of comprehensively viewing the world through that lens? Through that choice? It’s like, how can we, I guess, interact with the world around us to offer the people around us choice? I don’t know if that’s true. I want to ask that question.


Tammy Buckner  36:45

That’s a good one. That’s good. Because I know there’s going to be so many opportunities, you know, I was just just listening to in regards to the hijab situation, like, how do we encourage them to be themselves? Yeah, you know, in a world of opportunity, in a world of choice, just be themselves. And Lauren, the way I look at that is because when I look at myself as a black woman, and the opportunities that our ancestors or our families did not have, and now I have all of those opportunities. Like now I feel that I’m opening it up for my daughter. Yeah, opening up for her friends.


Lauren Conaway  37:33

Generally is extraordinarily impressive, by the way. You’re not gonna say it, I’m gonna say it. She’s amazing.


Tammy Buckner  37:47

She is amazing. She just graduated with a neuroscience degree but


Lauren Conaway  37:53

Really to, right? Like, did she? Really so I have to tell you, I’m not surprised at all, the fruit of your loins is a high achieving talented individual. But I think it bears mentioning folks.


Tammy Buckner  38:08

That part is the choice part like she made the opportune she made the choice to push herself that hard, right force her. I did not say you have to do this ahead. She had that choice. Yeah. And when you give them the opportunity, and when you nurture a person, and nurture a child, that is where they will realize that they have the choice to do anything that they want to do. Yeah, I say this all the time. If your child is five, she was at five years old, and said she wanted to be a doctor, you nurture that you nurture whatever they say they want to do, until they change their mind, but during the time they’re saying it, you nurture it, that’s giving them the the opportunity, it’s givingn them choices, like wow, I said, I wanted to do this. Well, I’m going to find all the opportunities that I possibly can to help you decide to make that choice. What is this really what you want to do? So that’s, that’s what I feel when it comes to women. And it comes to what we are about, making sure that all those opportunities exist, so that you can make a solid decision, a solid choice on what you want to do. I believe in that and if I can find anything to help anybody else, that’s what that’s that’s, I feel that that’s my calling. That’s my purpose in life, to collaborate, and to find opportunities for other people. It’s not about me, it’s not about finding a job for Tammy and you know, she can work over here making two $300,000 a year. That’s that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to make sure that other people that I find opportunities for other people.


Lauren Conaway  39:58

Yeah, well, I I don’t think it’s any secret that I just adore that about you. And I feel like it’s something that you and I share, like, that kind of community focused lens. So I feel like that is a lovely note to end on. I’m going to ask you the human question now, Tammy. So now, you seem a little nervous, but


Tammy Buckner  40:21

This is the only question that I’ve been nervous on.


Lauren Conaway  40:23

Okay. So well, I’ll give you I’ll give you I think you’re, I really look forward to hearing this answer. If you were an author, what genre would you write in? What would you write about?


Tammy Buckner  40:35

That’s not a good one.


Lauren Conaway  40:37

Oh, okay. Well, I can ask you another one.


Tammy Buckner  40:40

You know, I answered that I’m


Lauren Conaway  40:54

There’s no judgment here. Startup Hustle is it is a brave space. Is a brave space, be brave.


Tammy Buckner  41:03

And I’m gonna go with my second choice. Okay. Likely be something, energetic, something that is very adventurous. Okay. very adventurous.


Lauren Conaway  41:21

Like kind of like a Robinson Crusoe kind of vibe or like, Would it be fiction? Would it be?


Tammy Buckner  41:28

It would be something that’s going to just like the clincher, like, you got to just keep just just a


Lauren Conaway  41:33

Page turner. Okay. Total that and I can see that about you. All right. All right. So I’m going to I’m going to ask you another human question. This before, but the other one that I was thinking in my head was alright, it’s the zombie apocalypse. What three items do you want to have with you? Oh, yeah.


Tammy Buckner  41:51

Yeah, no, are you making me says people gonna, like, is that really, besides my nine millimeter? I mean,


Lauren Conaway  42:00

I mean, you can Yeah, you can be packing. Because I was thinking I was, like, well, like a Swiss army knife and maybe an axe. that at no point did gun ever enter my consciousness. Oh, like, duh.


Tammy Buckner  42:16

Look, you’re here. You saw what I know. I would definitely have my gun with me. I’m sorry. And then, it’s just, it is. And the total opposite here, my Bible. Okay, my laptop and my laptop.


Lauren Conaway  42:34

All right. All three of those things are crucial.


Tammy Buckner  42:38

All those things are very close. I wouldn’t even take the phone just as long as I have my laptop. Yeah.


Lauren Conaway  42:47

I dig it. Well, well, Tammy, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I knew this was gonna be fun. And


Tammy Buckner  42:53

This was fun. Thank you so much.


Lauren Conaway  42:56

Absolutely. Well, and of course, thank you so much to our episode sponsor Full Scale. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. At Full Scale, they specialize in building long term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit And friends, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse a little bit here. But I am going to invite you to check out the other Power of episodes as part of this entire week long series. We should have another one coming up tomorrow. This has been a really, really fun series to work on. And hope that you enjoy it but definitely give us a listen. I think Andrew Morgans and Matt DeCoursey, all of the hosts have weighed in on the Power of something and I invite you to give us a listen. We love that you keep on coming back friends week after week. We are very, very grateful and we are here doing Startup Hustle just for you. We’re just, we’re very glad that you come back and listen to us. We will catch you next time.