Season 02 • Episode 07

Shana Sumers, NEXT Music

A true breath of fresh air and a powerhouse of brilliance, talent, and charisma, Shana Sumers joins Ariel & Louis to discuss how to be authentically and unapologetically yourself, our collective TikTok addictions, and producing her “Bad Queers” podcast. We go get to Talking Nerdy with Shana and discuss Community Management, and how it can help brands!






Ariel: We are here with Shana Sumers, who is the senior community manager at NEXT music. Thanks for-

Louis: Hello Shana.

Shana: Hello.

Louis: You know, Shana was also a keynote speaker of ours in San Francisco.

Ariel: Yeah. That was a great event.

Louis: Actually, how we discovered… Or discovered, not really. You existed before us, but how we came to learn of Shana, we were up here in San Francisco looking at venues and it was a all-female panel produced by FeedMob, and then we saw Shana and we’re like, “She is so awesome. We need to invite her to speak.”

Ariel: Well… and also you were talking about how you got into mobile and it was a different, unique story, as I remember if you want to regale us.

Shana: Of course. I kind of… I’m starting to learn that a lot of community managers get into community management by accident, and mine was fully by accident because I, in the past, was a music therapist. So I was doing music therapy and I was working with kids with emotional behavior disorders, as well as kids and adults with different levels of developmental disabilities. So I had started during my masters, where I found HER online and they had reached out to do ambassador programs and surprisingly during a master’s degree, I had time and was like, “I need to do something that’s not just educational.” And I was looking for a queer community in the area as well, so I applied not knowing what I would get into, and here I was five years later with the company and started off there, and then just went ahead and continued on this community manager train. So yeah.

Ariel: So what does it entail being a community manager? It sounds so lovely of a type… I have this really dreamy idea of what it is. Tell me what you do day-to-day?

Shana: I was like, “I want to hear your dream first before I tell you what I actually do.” I need to know.

Ariel: Well, building community. So it feels you just get to talk to your audience, your users, your, you know, your people, and then hear their concerns or how their feedback on the product or the platform or whatever it is, and then answer that from an empathetic, compassionate space, almost.

Shana: That’s a solid description. It sounds so lovely.

Louis: There you go. Done.

Ariel: But what is it actually? Tell me.

Shana: It is basically what you described. We are the connection between the voice of the community. So you always need to have somebody actively in your product or your space that’s able to create a pipeline between them and your team and whatever they need. And that can come in a lot of different ways. I think a lot of companies still haven’t figured out what they want to do with their community manager, or they think that community management is great, but they don’t know how to buy in, or they don’t want to put any resources to it, and they’re just like, “You’re just here to make people happy.” And I’m like, “No, there’s a lot of ways because there’s a whole customer support team, and then there’s a marketing team,” and there’s all these different spaces.

Shana (cont’d): So as a community manager, you’re bringing people together. You’re providing them purpose for why they’re here and why they’re connecting, and making sure that you implement the things that they need. And as well as hearing about their concerns and things, which typically does come through as complaints and things like that. But if you’re able to open up the conversation, then you’re building out ambassador teams, you’re building out moderator teams, you’re planning content, you’re driving engagement, and there’s so many pieces and it’s a fun, psychological space that you get to work in.

Louis: And how does one… When people say, “Hey, how are we doing with community,” are there certain KPIs that you use to gauge success?

Shana: I mean, it does all depend on the community space. A lot of people fall into the trap of falling for vanity metrics. So liking has become the mass spread thing that we do or commenting is the thing that we do, and that’s not necessarily what you want to be looking at. A lot of people also fall for page views and how many people are coming through. We’ve moved past that, and you have to almost be able to measure quality engagement in the community. And that looks different. So when I was at HER, before coming to NEXT Music, we looked at the value of commenting compared to posting. And that was the ratio.

Shana (cont’d): So we were like, “Okay, in our strongest community, we have a five to one ratio of five comments per one post in that community. Great. That is one of our best-performing communities. We have the highest amount of retention in that community with people who had been there since we launched the community. We had great, valuable engagement. You went in and they were following the guidelines. They were engaging with each other. They knew who the moderators were.” And that was how we set that baseline because we have the tools available to measure that. So there are lots of KPIs that you can go through, whether it’s event focused or whether it’s content focused and how many people will go and engage there, it’s a range. It’s a solid range.

Louis: Because I hear a lot of companies and products saying, “Oh, we’re all about community,” or, “Our community.”

Shana: Oh, they say that.

Louis: Yeah, exactly. They say that. So would you have some quick advice for someone who wants to really go from just talking about, “Oh, our community,” to actually creating one or getting started and going one?

Shana: Yeah, the first thing you have to do is actually talk to your community. I think a lot of CEOs stop and are like, “Oh yeah, we have this amazing community…” It’s the buzzword right now. And I see that continuing for the next few months, especially with everybody shifting to virtual and coming to these spaces, but now that we’re starting to come out of that, you still need to find a pipeline to communicate with your audience. You need to have the company involved in talking to your community and give them space to thrive as well. Those would be the top three things that I would say to do, and not just say like, “Oh yeah, we’re totally about community. We want people to come on,” and then don’t do anything for them. That’s the action. We are right now in such a cancel call-out culture, and it’s really funny to see it trickle onto LinkedIn as well, because then I’m like, “Oh, we got trolling on LinkedIn.” A whole new space that LinkedIn isn’t prepared for, and I could only imagine for the moderators on LinkedIn who were chilling and then the red alerts came on.

Ariel: Yeah, they’re like, “Oh wow.”

Louis: Well they did it to themselves.

Shana: They absolutely did, because we have to hold them accountable now. And your people are going to know if you’re not talking to them, because they’re just going to be out functioning and doing stuff. But companies like Reddit or Yelp or Ethel’s Club, things like that, they walk the walk on what they’re doing and you can see it. You see the community’s voices in their advertising, you see the improvement in product and people aren’t really complaining about it because you’ve talked to them and they want it. So you have to dive into talking to your community first.

Louis: You didn’t just throw ads in an Instagram feed and then deal with the backlash.

Ariel: I just think this is… This is such a hot topic right now.

Louis: Go ahead.

Ariel: Well, I don’t know. I just think that like…

Louis: TikTok?

Ariel: No, I’m not talking about TikTok right now. No, I just think it’s-

Louis: She’s semi low-key obsessed with TikTok.

Ariel: No, I just think it’s really interesting what’s happening and we’ll see how TikTok morphs going forward as a channel, you know what I mean? It’s still too new, but everyone’s out there trying to make it work.

Louis: So what was the thing you were going to say?

Ariel: Well, I just wanted to say that I liked how you said community is such a buzz term right now and it is true. Everyone’s talking about their community, but are they talking to their community, you know what I mean, and really moderating that space and building community, and I think it’s the black belt of true acquisition and retention, honestly.

Louis: That’s true. And that’s literally what people always strive for is engagement and retention, and that’s a successful community.

Ariel: Yeah, that’s what that is, when you’re really…

Louis: If you’ve got a successful community, one would argue you don’t have to spend as much in the other areas because they’re organically engaged.

Ariel: Right, and they stick around.

Louis: That had alliteration. I like that.

Shana: I was like, “Look at that.” And I was like, “The business value right there.” How we found that so quickly and how so many companies don’t look for that when it comes to their community space. If you’re going to build the product, you can build the best product in the world, but if people aren’t committed to the cause, don’t see themselves in the product, then they’re not going to use it.

Ariel: And even seeing when companies have a community team, a community manager, is an indicator of something. You know what I mean? I feel there’s a lot that don’t.

Louis: At least someone’s trying to make an effort. And then you hire someone Shana and obviously, it’s going to be a successful follow.

Shana: So flattered.

Louis: That’s what you do. You come here, you get flattered.

Ariel: Exactly. You know, obviously, everything’s digital now. Given the circumstances in our world at this moment, what have you seen in terms of the impact that’s having on building community now having to do it all digital online spaces?

Shana: Yeah. One of the big things is that people are actually really surprised at how… Well, I say people, I say businesses are surprised at how much people still want connection and that they still are willing to come to these virtual spaces to connect, so a lot of businesses have actually seen a big uptick in what people are after, driving connection. And I was like, “We live in a lonely world, so it only makes sense, honestly.” I think a lot of businesses were surprised, and all the community managers were like, “Yeah, duh. That’s what’s going to happen.” A huge shift to virtual events. People are hosting all types of virtual events, virtual conferences, and still trying to take that in-person effect and put it into the online space and continuing to drive that connection so people still feel connected to your product because you could go and sit and put a conference up in the background all day and just hear the audio, it’s like a live podcast basically.

Shana (cont’d): But when you add in different features that get people to be engaged or encourage them to be like, “Hey, take those two days off still, just like you would go to an in-person conference. Just because you’re here, this conference is still important and valuable for you.” As well as companies, again, the accountability piece that I talked about earlier, companies are starting to be seen, and now that people are online, way more, the call-out culture and accountability culture is in full force because people are wanting to see more stuff, so a lot of companies have been able to coast during this, and a lot of other companies have been massive growth where they’re like, “Oh my gosh, we have to build all of this stuff, and we have to do all of these things.” And the community managers are just like, “Yeah, we’ve been talking about this. We’ve shared this with you. We told you that we should have this.”

Shana (cont’d): But now we’re going to do it. Great. So it’s definitely, again, the buzz word community, as soon as we moved into this, even with all of the movements, even with everything else, everybody wants to drive that. So they’re like, “Oh, what word can we say to bring together community?” And it’s like, “Okay, you’re either going to implement the tools that are needed,” and some spaces are starting to do that. I think software companies that do community products are growing more community manager… I’ve seen way more positions, even though people still haven’t figured out what they want to do with a community manager. There’s like five definitions of what people will want to use them with. But definitely higher amounts of engagement, more virtual events, and more trying to create a pipeline of what the community wants and connect it to the product.

Ariel: It will be interesting what happens, let’s say in a reality in which we can have the option of in-person or virtual, how this will have impacted it.

Shana: Well I think that virtual spaces are not going to go away, and they’re going to have to be able to have a strategy around both because now you’re starting to hit a new window of people. You’re hosting these virtual spaces and somebody who couldn’t have come to your… Say you’re going to host a conference in San Francisco, but somebody lives in China. They’re not typically going to fly over to your conference. Now they’re able to participate. So even when you do go back to hosting in-person spaces, you’re going to have to figure out how to bring in that virtual aspect, so you don’t have that freedom anymore to be like, “Oh, okay, everything’s back to normal. Take backsies. Let’s keep it moving.”

Shana (cont’d): No, you’ve opened up this whole new avenue. If you take that back, it’s going to be a ton of backlash. So companies are definitely going to have to figure out how to keep those online spaces open and available and accessible in more ways than one. And not just, “Yes, you can see it, but…” People are getting called out for closed captioning and for having signers and all of this. You have to step up to what the community needs now, and you’re not going to be able to take back anything that we’re doing right now.

Ariel: So interesting. So how’s life? What’s going on? I’ve heard through a little birdie that maybe this isn’t your first time on a podcast.

Shana: No. I mean, in general, for myself, personally, I’ve interviewed for multiple podcasts and it’s probably my favorite form to interview, but I also do have a podcast that is called Bad Queers, shameless plug. Yeah, it’s called Bad Queers, and it’s basically here to just fuck with everything that you knew. So you come out of the closet and you still get put into a box of new stereotypes in the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s just… That’s not what this community is for. So we’re going and challenging those stereotypes and discussing them in different ways and making it okay to discuss it, because there’s not that narrative right now of just like, “No, I can be a lesbian and not want to move in with my girlfriend after two weeks.” That’s a thing. Or, “I can be bisexual and just be bisexual.” Everybody has such terrible stereotypes against bisexual people.

Shana (cont’d): And we’ve had amazing guests on and we talk about a range of topics between news that you don’t get to hear about because LGBTQ+ community does not get featured in the news. We do a definition every week so that all of these people think that you joined the LGBTQ+ community and then you know all of the rainbow terms and it’s like it’s not possible. There’s too many. And then, of course, we give advice. We give shout outs to people that you need to hear about. And then we give our own bad queer opinions, which aren’t really… It’s just opening up to saying you don’t have to follow the norm and the standard and you can feel this way, and we just hope that people feel seen when they listen.

Ariel: I love the title. Was it from Bad Feminist?

Shana: Ish, yes.

Ariel: Ish, right?

Shana: Yes, because Roxane Gay… It actually was hilarious how that tied in, because on The L Word: Generation Q, their new season on the last episode, Alice’s character was interviewing Roxane Gay, and she was talking about her messy life, and then she stopped and turned to Roxane and was like, “Wait, does that make me a bad queer?” And I was like, “I’m sorry, Roxane Gay is sitting here who wrote Bad Feminist, and then she just said, bad queer.” And I’m like, “That’s the title.”

Ariel: I love that because when I read Bad Feminist, I was like, “Oh, I really resonate with this.” I do this thing that’s not 100% aligned with my feminism, but we live in a swamp of a society. You can only be perfect in so far.

Shana: Everybody can find a place there, and then it’s also just really educational and a way for you to see a new perspective in life that you don’t get to see all day.

Ariel: Wow, there’s some fateful energy around that. That’s amazing. So what have you learned about building your own community for Bad Queers, the show?

Shana: Thankfully, a lot of the natural gut instincts came through in having the strategy ahead of time. It was a lot of stuff that we had learned as we were launching HER and as we’re thinking about launching a community for NEXT Music is what the voice is and how we’re going to settle on that voice and not veer away from it, so then when those messages do come through, it’s like everybody is already on the same page. What type of topics we’re going to talk about and how we’re going to go into it, how transparent we’re going to be, which is just for everybody, be transparent. Because we openly admit all of the times when we don’t know something or if we’ve misspoken or if we are just like, “No, we said what we said, we’re not going to go back,” type thing.

Shana (cont’d): And then making sure that as we grow, we continue to create a space for people to come and engage with us. So we have great ideas moving forward, but it was a lot to do with the voice and the space that we create for people to come and engage with us. And right now that’s on social media, but we’ve just started doing biweekly live shows, virtual live shows, so that people can join us there. And as that grows, then we want to create new spaces for people to come and be able to engage with us. We don’t want to seem like a separate product. We want to be a part of the community.

Ariel: That’s really cool.

Louis: Is your co-host also a community manager?

Shana: No, she’s actually an events manager.

Louis: So look at that. So between the two of you, you can’t fail.

Shana: Hopefully not. I hope not. That’s the energy we put out there.

Louis: One of the things that I think speak for you and that we loved about seeing you for the first time speaking was that you are just unapologetically you. Not in a disrespectful way, but you are just 100% comfortable. You say what you say, and just like you said a couple of times, like, “No, I said what I said.” So many people try to say what they say then if they get backlashed and they’re they try to cover it up or, “No, what I really meant was…” And I just love the fact that Shana is Shana, period. So we need more people like you. There you go. How do you duplicate gremlins? Feed them after midnight?

Ariel: You’re not supposed to feed them. Well no, what is it? You’re not supposed to put water on them.

Louis: Oh, it’s the water thing. So we’re going to put water on Shana, make more Shanas.

Ariel: No. No, no, no, water… No, you’re not supposed to put water on them because it makes them evil. Didn’t you ever watch gremlins?

Louis: I seen it when I was a kid, but…

Ariel: They’re all-

Shana: I was like, “Last time when I was kid.”

Louis: Yeah. Well whatever we do to duplicate Shanas, let’s do them.

Ariel: I don’t remember the duplication process, but I do-

Louis: That’s how they became all of them. They started with that one Ewok thing. Whatever that thing is.

Ariel: No, but it’s not from putting water on them. The whole thing is they’re like a Furby, and then if you put water on them, they turn into a gremlin, which is not the nicest-

Shana: Furbies are evil too.

Ariel: 100% Furbies are evil too. Can I tell a story about a Furby? Just one second.

Louis: Yes.

Ariel: I had a Furby and I swear to you, I triple-checked that I took the batteries out, and I had… Yes.

Shana: You thought you did.

Ariel: There’s something going on with that technology because it was in the back of my closet and I honestly thought I was being haunted because I would hear things at the dead of the night. And then finally, I built up the courage to actually look in the closet for what was going on, and the Furby had short-circuited and was making noises.

Louis: It sounds like a metaphor.

Ariel: I don’t know… There’s something going… Shana’s just shaking her head. She’s just shaking her head right now.

Shana: Nope. My friends had Furbies and we would teach them things and do whatever because we figured out… It was almost the equivalent to hacking at that point, where we figured out how to teach them stuff…

Louis: Oh, these things can learn things?

Shana: Yeah. We taught one of them to curse.

Louis: Oh, okay, so then it was a [crosstalk 00:19:42]-

Ariel: I didn’t know algorithmic learning was a part of the Furby.

Shana: It’s a whole thing. Who knew. But we did it and it was no… Those things would pop… We’d be sleeping over and they would wake up in the middle of the night sounding creepy, and we were like, “Nope, I’m out.”

Ariel: Okay. Let’s ask some fun questions that we haven’t… I mean, this has been… We’ve transitioned already with the Furby conversation, but now I’m going to ask you some fun questions. Okay, describe your worst date ever. It could be just a funny date.

Shana: No, I feel like I have a good one.

Ariel: I feel like you have a good one too.

Shana: There’s something in there.

Ariel: Like a no-show, or maybe they said something weird.

Shana: I definitely had a no-show. Absolutely did.

Louis: If a no show is the worst date you’ve ever had, that’s not so bad.

Shana: Totally had a no-show. There was one that lasted for six hours. Which okay, if I have like… If any queer people are listening, that sounds a normal date, but I had one that lasted for six hours, but it was one of those where I didn’t want it to last for six hours. But she was so nice, and I was just like, “Oh God, I can’t leave.” And then it was like, okay, we had ordered our food, we’ve eaten, and then you’re just like, “Yeah, ready to wrap up.” And she’s just like… Her drink was going down at two sips an hour. So wasn’t going anywhere, and she was just like, “Do you want to order more food? Do you want to this?” And I’m like, “Oh yeah.” And I wasn’t being as… I was saying like, “Oh yeah, I probably need to go soon and…” And then she would just continue.

Shana (cont’d): And I was like, “This is a trap.” She was trying to see if I actually did. So I’m trying to… And I couldn’t sneakily text friends at that point, because it’s like now our phones are way more updated than back in 2012 where I’m like, “Oh God, I’m trying to text and tell somebody and get someone to pay attention.” And all of my friends were working because they worked the late shift and I was just… I could not escape. Thankfully, they were so nice. But it was just like… I’m falling asleep on this date because it was midnight by the time we were done. I was like, “I have to go. I cannot.” So that was probably the worst one.

Ariel: I think that says a lot about you as a person that you put up with that I have.

Shana: I sure did.

Ariel: I have plenty of friends-

Louis: You definitely got some good karma for that one.

Shana: I mean, they were nice. I hate doing mean things to nice people. I just don’t want to do that.

Ariel: Totally. Lou, do you have a question, because I have another one?

Louis: No, I was going to say, so what you needed was maybe Siri to set some sort of an alarm for you.

Ariel: Yeah. What’s your relationship with Siri these days?

Shana: It’s kind of lackluster. Because I have an Alexa in my house, so I kind of stopped seeing Siri, started seeing Alexa.

Louis: Imagine if you dated someone named Alexa.

Shana: I was watching a show and her name was Alexa, so I just kept seeing her pop on and off. And I was like, “No. No shows can name people Alexa anymore,” unless they purposely want to do that, which would actually be brilliant.

Ariel: Well, my relationship with Siri has been ongoing, but I will say…

Louis: Ongoing.

Ariel: Because you have to build it. Actually, I have a friend who claimed… I mean, I think this is true too. I don’t actually know. But the more that you use Siri, the better it gets with the voice recognition and everything. It is a relationship you have to work on if you want her to be really responsive. Because I do get annoyed sometimes that at the beginning of when I really started using Siri, sometimes she wouldn’t listen to me, but then my friend would come in and be like, “Hey Siri,” and then my phone would pop up and I’d be like, “Is there something that you’re not telling me? Do y’all have a relationship?”

Shana: That’s what my Alexa does with my girlfriend when I talked to her on speaker, because she yells at her Alexa, and then she’ll go over to my house and be aggressive with my Alexa. I’m like, “You are not talking…” See?

Louis: See, her Siri just went off.

Shana: Siri popped on. [crosstalk 00:23:24].

Ariel: Oh my gosh.

Shana: I was like, “Mine is on the floor on timeout.”

Louis: Maybe we should play a game of this or that with Shana. What do you think?

Ariel: Okay, let’s do it.

Louis: Shana. Would you like to play a game of this or that?

Shana: Absolutely.

Ariel: No pressure. Imagine if she was like, “No.”

Louis: Yeah, she’d be like, “Nah.”

Shana: I’d be like, “Nah, I got to go. I got plans.” [crosstalk 00:23:46

Ariel: We should make Siri play this or that. No, I don’t think it could. I’m not going to try it.

Louis: We’ll try it after this.

Ariel: Okay, so it’s really complicated. You have to pick one of the two options that I say.

Shana: That’s too many options already [crosstalk 00:24:02].

Ariel: I know. Don’t overthink it. This is not a test, is it? Okay. Software update now or software update later.

Shana: Later.

Ariel: Dude, I have that same relationship with mine? I’m like, “Later, later.”

Shana: I’m like, “I don’t have time for you.” I don’t know how much time you’re going to take.” The times that I have set now, then it turns into 45 minutes of me sitting here.

Louis: And when it shows you six minutes. [crosstalk 00:24:24].

Ariel: And then restarts it. Oh my God, and everything’s lost.

Louis: Yeah. Then if you don’t do it though, they eventually beat you into submission by popping up all the time.

Shana: Yeah. I think I set my thing to do it overnight so that I don’t even know that it’s updating and it’s just already doing it and I don’t have to worry about making that decision.

Ariel: I need to do that.

Shana: It’s in your settings.

Louis: Yeah, it’s in your settings.

Ariel: Hey Siri, can you…

Louis: Hey Siri, can you set yourself to not bug the shit out of me?

Ariel: Oh, okay. Sunrise or sunset?

Shana: Sunset. Nobody’s waking up for that.

Louis: Well maybe you were up all night.

Shana: No.

Louis: You’re like, “No, I’m going to sleep.”

Shana: Because if I do that I’m very mad that it’s the next day and I have no sleep.

Ariel: Okay. City or country?

Shana: City.

Ariel: Work from home or going into the office?

Shana: I don’t know. I’m a work-from-home converter.

Ariel: Really?

Shana: I am.

Ariel: See, this is our new question.

Shana: I enjoy the freedom now.

Ariel: Coffee cups up or down in the cupboard. Face up or face down?

Shana: Face up.

Louis: See?

Ariel: I just think it’s something could get in the… I don’t know. So this was a question-

Louis: Where do you live? Every single episode goes this way. Someone picks face up and she goes, “But there’s bugs in there.” And I say, “Where do you live?”

Shana: And I’m like, “But that’s why they’re in the cupboard.” And then you’d see it immediately rather than being surprised by picking up something and it being in there.

Ariel: Don’t you think that… I know that I have been asking this question all season and it’s tired, so I’m ready for a new question. So my new question is this, it’s work from home or in office, and it’s totally self-serving because I used to be a work-from-home person and now I feel like a caged tiger and I cannot handle…

Louis: La Tigra.

Ariel: So tell me, as a follow-up, what is your work-from-home hack? I’m glad that you’re laughing. I’m going crazy. I pace my apartment and it’s hard. So how are you doing?

Shana: If you had asked me this probably a year ago, I’d absolutely be like, “No, I need to go into work. I focus much better. I enjoy the freedom of going home once or twice a week.” But now I’m just like… My flexibility is so great. The fact that I can roll out of bed and then hop onto a meeting and then have breakfast and like-

Ariel: And then do laundry while you’re-

Shana: Life is great. I have a kitten now. So I’m at home and I get all day cuddles. I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t have my kitten if I was still going into work.

Louis: You can’t bring cats to the office?

Shana: Well, my office has more dogs than cats, so I couldn’t put them through that and all that. I cook way more now. Not a thing that I enjoy though. I just am like, “Good job me for not having to go out to eat all the time,” and things like that. It’s so funny now where I’m like, “I don’t have to go and hop on a train to stand next to a bunch of strangers to then walk down the street next to a bunch of strangers to walk into his building, deal with it, and then have to do it in eight hours again going the other way.” It’s so nice. If I have to go somewhere that night, most of the time, yes, I’m already in Oakland. I don’t have to go to San Francisco. Or I would already be in San Francisco and be like, “Man, now I have to stay late, now I have to figure out how I’m going to get home.”

Shana (cont’d): The amount of money that I have saved is absurd and I’m real happy. But this might be the first time that I could be prepared for a surprise Beyonce concert if it were to happen tomorrow. This is the first time that I wouldn’t be like, “Which credit card do I need to use and which payments do I need to shift?” Right now I’m like, I am in a prime where if she drops her Adidas line, if she drops a new album, anything. I’m prepared. I’m ready. I am ready now. And I think that is my prime happiness about working from home now.

Ariel: See, this is why I asked this question because it does make me realize that I should have… It’s the same for me. I have saved more money than ever before. I have savings.

Shana: I have multiple savings. And I know what they’re for. I’m like, “This is the emergency one, you don’t touch it. And then this is the one that I use for Beyonce. And this is the one that I use for life if my house burns down or whatever else and my renter’s insurance doesn’t cover it or all of it.”

Louis: Two emergency funds.

Shana: I’m ready.

Louis: Actually, you got all emergency funds, nothing’s saving for the future.

Shana: Basically. That’s basically it. I even bought a go-bag. That’s weird.

Louis: I think that’s smart, especially in today’s climate.

Shana: I know. It’s just like, why did I have to go and do this? But now I have it and it’s ready and it’s in an accessible spot in my house, and that’s where we’re at.

Louis: Yeah, I have something in my trunk of my car. I still call it in my own self-branding of weekend bag, but it’s really a… What do they call it? There was a go-bag, but there was… Bug out bag was another term. So things are bugging out.

Ariel: Bugging out. Yeah, I think it’s smart for all of us in California. You just never know.

Louis: Especially it could even help you in an earthquake if you’re shut in or something. There’s a lot of causes for it.

Ariel: Okay. More hard-hitting questions.

Louis: Yeah, because these have been… She’s going to need a nap after this.

Ariel: Symmetrical or asymmetrical?

Louis: Asymmetrical.

Ariel: Louis, answer the question. Asymmetrical or symmetrical?

Louis: I think all of us here will be asymmetrical.

Ariel: I know. I just wanted to see how you self identify, you know what I mean?

Louis: We’re not going to put us in a box.

Ariel: You know what I’m saying. Some people, they want to be symmetrical, but they’re asymmetrical. There’s a difference.

Louis: Oh yeah. They’re trying to be somebody that they’re not? I am unapologetically asymmetrical.

Ariel: I actually brand myself as asymmetrical. I like that branding better.

Louis: See, that’s why you’re here, cause we’re all just rebelling against whatever.

Ariel: Okay. TikTok or Instagram Reels?

Louis: Hard-hitting questions.

Shana: That’s actually a really hard-hitting question because I get on Instagram way more. I’m starting to get into Tik… Because Instagram is my daily, and I’ll hop into reels and do that. And then TikTok is three-hour bursts. Because there’s nothing less. As soon as you start, you’re going to be in it for a minimum two hours. So I’ll do it and be like, “All right, TikTok.” But I’ve just uploaded my first two videos on TikTok, so now I’m like, “Okay, got to actually get invested.” So at the moment I’ll say Instagram Reels, even though it’s really a TikTok, but it’s fine.

Ariel: Wait, can I ask you about… Is it related to your podcast, you’re Tik…

Shana: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ariel: Oh, okay. That’s great.

Shana: It’s been a goal since months. It’s been a couple of months and every time I have it on my goals for each thing, and then I just actively avoid it. I’m like, “No, this will take way too much time, it’ll do this.” But then we put out a few series of videos that were already edited and things like that, so I was like, “Ooh, we can put these out and this can be multiple posts,” and then we already have 12 posts because you can only upload to a maximum of a minute and all of that. It’s great. So that’s what I’ve just started to cut down, and then I might start doing my own acting in scenes and whatever else. We’ll see. I have all of these scenarios in my head. I need to do a whiteboard of all of them.

Ariel: Content, content.

Louis: And then there’s also these… TikTok is known for its hacks, its algorithm hacks. You have to do all these different things in order for it to get into the algorithm and the for you stream and everything. Some of it’s, you could just tell the pattern. “Watch to the end,” or, “Wait until this happens.” You don’t see the full picture right away. You have to still… It’s just enough curiosity to see what’s going to happen, and that’s how they get you. But I’m curious about the Instagram. You said you use it all the time. That you use it more. Are you looking at Stories more, or are you going through the feed?

Shana: Definitely both.

Louis: So you’re just browsing back and forth.

Shana: It’s always searching for content, me generally seeing what friends are doing, checking the Stories. I have an order where it’s like, “All right, I happen to…” Our Bad Queers Instagram, see what we’ve posted on our Stories because between me and Kris, we’ll back and forth, but Kris posts way better Stories than I do. I do more of the grid stuff. So I’ll check out what she has posted to see if I need to add anything for the day. I’ll check out what’s on our grid, see what people are posting that we follow. And then I’ll jump back over to mine, check on my friends’ Stories and see what they’re doing with life, and then scroll through everything else. It’s a whole thing.

Louis: It sounds like you work, you get your food, and then you get a little dessert after.

Shana: Basically, yeah.

Louis: Then you go to TikTok just to get fat.

Shana: TikTok is my late night. So yeah, it’s fully a late-night snack type thing where if I’m just like, “Oh, I’m not going to read tonight. What am I going to… TikTok.”

Louis: If you have something to do in the morning, don’t don’t start TikTok too late.

Shana: Don’t start TikTok.

Louis: Because I was up till 3:00 the morning. I didn’t know how much I was scrolling.

Shana: Because they don’t show you the time. Which is how they get you. You’re like, “Oh, I’m only going to do this for like…” I’ve tricked myself multiple times where I’m like, “I’m only going to do this for 20 minutes and then go to bed.” And then I look at the time and I’m like, “It’s 1:30. How did I get here?” And that’s it.

Ariel: They really just came up with… It is crazy that you can just fall into the black hole of TikTok.

Louis: Yeah, I think that they looked at… Facebook started doing their video stream as well, and then YouTube also. I think YouTube was the first one with their algorithm that it’s like, how did I start trying to look up podcasts and now I’m watching a lion eat a gazelle? How did I get here?

Ariel: Okay. We’ll ask a few more. Nonfiction or fiction?

Shana: Fiction.

Ariel: Analog watch or digital watch?

Shana: Neither. I hate watches. I will not.

Ariel: I like that. I like that. Good. Teacher or student?

Shana: Teacher.

Louis: I would agree. Educating people. Especially at our SpeakHer event. Shana gave an educational, an important presentation.

Ariel: Yeah. And then the last question, tacos or burritos?

Louis: I thought it’d be crazier after that pause.

Shana: That’s a very serious question.

Ariel: I think it is serious.

Shana: I know I only get burritos from one place so probably tacos.

Ariel: You’re usually getting tacos if you’re going to a Mexican place. But then the one place you get burrito, where is it? Is it an Oakland? Is it good? Tell me.

Shana: I mean, it’s not anything exciting. It’s just Chipotle. I grew up in that Chipotle life, and then… I will eat burritos here because there are amazing Mexican restaurants in Oakland and they’re all over the place, but it’s just, I will go to my guilty pleasure of yes… Because they have their own app for it, so you don’t get all of the extra fees that you get from everywhere else, and I’m just like, “Yes, I’m going to pay the normal amount that I would pay if I went to the restaurant, so bring it to my house and I will just treat myself.”

Ariel: So tell me, what’s your Chipotle order?

Shana: I get a chicken burrito with white rice, black beans, lettuce, the mild salsa, extra cheese. And on a good day, I’ll get the chips and guac as well on the side.

Ariel: Louis, what’s your Chipotle order?

Louis: I get a bowl. I get a bowl and it’s brown rice, extra lettuce, because they never put enough lettuce, medium salsa, corn, guac. Yes, I know it’s extra.

Ariel: Wait, what about your meat?

Louis: Oh yeah. I like chicken. [crosstalk 00:35:49]-

Shana: Also mine isn’t complete without a lemonade. That will ruin my day if the lemonade doesn’t come with it, or if there was one time that the machine was out and it was a really bad day. I just wanted Chipotle. And they were like, “Oh yeah, I’m out of lemonade.” And I went and saw that it poured out just water, and I went back to the front and was like, “Please tell me…” And they were like, “Oh yeah, we need to put a sign-up.” And I was like, “No.” I was so angry. I almost drove to another Chipotle to go and get the Chipotle lemonade and then take it home. But yeah, I was very upset

Louis: Sometimes when I eat bad food, if they don’t have a Dr. Pepper, I’m the same way. It’s like, “Dammit.” It’s like, “No, we have Coke.” Or I think even worse is the tease. They give you the Dr. Pepper, but because it’s from the fountain or whatever, and it’s almost running out of syrup, it’s mostly bubbly seltzer water with a slight flavor. That kills me. Then I have to go to the 7-Eleven and get a bottle, because I have to complete the cycle.

Ariel: The cycle.

Louis: Do you want one more?

Ariel: Pancakes or waffles?

Shana: Pancakes.

Louis: There we go.

Shana: 100%.

Ariel: It’s funny because with some of them you were like, “Hmm.” And then others… I guess that’s how it is though.

Shana: It happens.

Ariel: Yeah. Is one of your love languages words of affirmation because you have a podcast and you like to talk?

Shana: Sometimes. I was like, “I think my main love language is physical.”

Ariel: Physical touch.

Shana: Yeah.

Ariel: But there’s a primary and there’s a secondary. What do you think your secondary is?

Shana: Secondary is probably words of affirmation. Or some sort of recognition. That’s the main thing. I’ll get mad at my girlfriend if she doesn’t recognize I did something good. And that’s what I’ll do. And she’ll know. And I’ll be like, “Well, you could say this to your coworker,” and all that. It’s a whole thing. It’s a whole thing.

Ariel: Well you’re trying to build community there, Shana. Always trying to build community. Okay, well thank you so much for coming. This was a great discussion.

Shana: Of course.

Louis: Yeah. Thank you for being a speaker for App Growth Summit, thank you for doing the podcast, and thanks for being in our world and making it brighter by your presence.

Shana: Yeah, thanks for always having me.

Ariel: And everyone listen to Bad Queers.

Louis: Yes. Go subscribe right now, and then look for them on TikTok as well.

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