Building your own Reality, or: How I Changed the Trajectory of my Career After one YouTube Video by Liv Ericson

Automatic Summary

Building Your Own Reality: Insights from Liv Erickson, Senior Manager at Mozilla Hubs

Have you ever thought about how your love for video games can actually shape your professional career? Meet Liv Erickson, senior manager and team leader at Mozilla Hubs. Since 2014, Liv has been at the forefront of Metaverse technologies, developing the next generation of the web that creates open and approachable virtual worlds.

From Developer to Policy Advocate: Liv's Career Path Explained

Erickson's versatile career has been a journey of self-realization and progress, having served as a developer, product manager, and policy advocate for digital 3D experiences. Working with industry giants like Amazon web services and Microsoft, she has strived towards unravelling a career path that aligns with her passion for technology and content creation.

Her mission: Change the trajectory of content creation, thereby democratizing tools so everyone can build safe, individualized online spaces.

An Epiphany Via YouTube: The Story of How Liv Found Her Path

It may sound bizarre, but Erickson confesses that the trajectory of her career massively changed after watching a YouTube video. Being a video game aficionado from a tender age, she identified with the potential of virtual reality and its capacity to create immersive experiences. What started off as a 'literal lightbulb moment' soon turned into a path full of creativity, immersive work which she later integrated into her career.

The Metaverse and Career Development: A Beautiful Analogy

From her decade long experience, Liv holds an interesting observation. She sees career development much like navigating through the metaverse. Here's why:

  • Both require a lot of intentional planning and execution.
  • It's all about making connections and networking.
  • The development is dynamic and ever-evolving, much like technology.
  • Opportunities lie everywhere!

Going Global and Breaking the Rules

In her journey, Liv learned the importance of connecting with others worldwide and finding inspiration everywhere. Most importantly, she realized the necessity of breaking the rules, meaning to listen more to oneself than relying entirely on others’ opinions.

Quoting Octavia Butler, a prominent science fiction writer, Liv concluded with an insightful note: "The self must create its own reasons for being."

Whether you’re a technology enthusiast, a career aspirant, or even someone who loves playing video games, her journey offers valuable insights. Let's all agree that identifying your passion and integrating it into your career trajectory can lead to remarkable professional outcomes.

Loved what you read? Feel free to connect with Liv Erickson on linkedin for further insights into her journey.

Questions from the Session

One interesting question that came up during Liv's talk, was if she ever connected with the lady who inspired her in the YouTube video. Turns out, she did, and she credited her for being instrumental in helping her carve her own space in the technology field.

Another question was about handling negativity in her career, to which she advised focusing on gaining perspective, trusting one’s intuition and reaching out for help when necessary.

Wrapping Up

Liv Erickson’s journey is a brilliant example of how to turn passion into the profession. With continuous evolution in her career, she serves as an inspiration for many aspiring professionals. Remember, like the metaverse, your career is always under development. Gaining strength, stretching yourself, and making global connections, can lead to exciting and fulfilling results.

Video Transcription

And now it's time to share our next speaker, Liv Erickson, senior manager at Mozilla Hubs. Liv has been working on Mata Wars Technologies since 2014. Yes, you heard that right?2014 as a senior manager and team leader for hubs at Mozilla, she leads product strategy and development on the next generation web technologies that enable open, accessible and approachable virtual worlds. Throughout her career, Liv has worked uh has worked as a developer, product manager, policy advocate for digital 3d experiences at companies including uh Amazon web services at Microsoft, aiming towards a goal of democratizing content creator tools so that anyone can build safe individualized online spaces.

Her session today building your own reality, how I change the trajectory of my career. After one youtube video, Lee will share insights and lessons learned from her journey and working on workshop and AED reality that can be used in designing and building out a Korean tech. So I'm very excited about this talk. Hi, Liv. Hello, great to have you with us.

Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.

We too say hi to li in the chat and if you have any questions and we have time for them. We'll take them at the end of her session. Please enjoy your time at the Global Awards today.

Perfect. Thank you. And uh um hey, everybody. I'm liv. I'm really happy to be here. Thank you so much for attending. Um As Anna mentioned today, I'm going to be sharing some insights into how you can approach building your career through lessons that I've learned working in the uh metaverse space. Um For almost 10 years now, every time I say that it feels a little bit weirder. Um And so alongside that, as the title uh does imply, I'll share my confession that my entire trajectory for my career um actually did change after watching um a youtube video. So in addition to the me that you're seeing in front of you right now, I take many forms. I have always loved video games and that ability to try on new identities, solve new problems and explore new worlds was a perfect metaphor for me and how I wanted to build my career. I grew up with games. I played educational games when I was really tiny to learn uh math and reading. I played World of Warcraft in high school and college. Uh And I still love to play games.

This is just a small sampling of some of the different identities um that I sometimes wear when I'm in these different virtual spaces. And despite that, it actually took me a pretty long time before I made the connection that I could incorporate my love of video games into my career. I went to school for computer science and I started working as a program manager at Microsoft after graduation for a team in their cloud division. And I loved my team. I loved my job. But there was this part of me that knew there was really something else out there that I wanted to be exploring more deeply. Um And so one night I was watching youtube and youtube recommended me a video, this video uh to be exact about virtual reality. And it was I call it my literal light bulb moment because in my memory, the room just like lit up as soon as I started watching this video because I felt so strongly that I had discovered something that was really, really interesting for me and uh that my life was about to change in some significant way.

Uh And that's a lot to give to a youtube video. But this really is where it all started. And I was really fortunate to be in a place where I could like within a couple of days connect um via meet up groups with others who were interested in virtual reality technology. So here is this whole new field of technology opening up to me, one with a lot of potential and opportunities. One that was creative. It let me be really embodied in the work that I was doing and it was really personal. I found a community online um of other people who were just starting to get into this medium, some who had been working in this space for way longer than I had realized. Uh VR technology was even around and from there, I honestly never really looked back. Um Oh, that was quick jump. Um My career has had me wearing many different hats or headsets. Um If you will, I have worked at Mozilla for almost three years now. And I lead a multidisciplinary team of developers, artists, product designers, community managers, all working on building Mozilla hubs, which is a virtual worlds platform.

Um And for those of you who aren't super familiar with the idea of the metaverse since it can mean a lot of different things or be defined a lot of different ways. Um Depending on who you ask. Um I'll use it a lot as a metaphor in this talk. So I'll quickly share my definition the way that I think about the metaverse is that it's the future of the internet. It's an overarching term for a technology that's emer so we can go back to some of the things from video games, describes virtual worlds and meeting people online and exploring these new spaces together. It incorporates new hardware like virtual and augmented reality devices and IOT and it's really looking at how we can merge our digital lives and our physical lives together in more ways. Um And for me, it's also a really key opportunity for us to shift how we think about the very way we're building technology as an industry, one where we put people at the center of the product, in some cases, literally as avatars uh to give them more agency and control over the types of experiences that they're having online.

And early in my career, I thought that I really had to know what it was that I wanted to do. Uh I've been extremely excited to discover that that wasn't true. So, um as I mentioned, after starting out as a product manager, um I taught myself VR development, became a VR developer, relations engineer, uh joined a start up as an engineering lead, came back to product management at Mozilla. Um And now my role has so many different hats.

I often lose track of which one I might be wearing at a given time. Uh I am also a product advisor to a start up called KXR and a perpetual student getting my MB A right now at Columbia here in New York and doing my job has always relied on a lot of different responsibilities because I can encompass my wide range of interests into my work. And what I would love to do throughout the course of the next 10 minutes or so, uh is share some of the things that I've learned through my career uh in the hopes that if this sounds really appealing to you and you are also someone who wants to wear a lot of hats and try a lot of different things that you have a little bit more of a road map for how you can do that.

So, uh like a career building immersive technology requires a lot of intentional pieces coming together. Uh This may be a lot of lessons learned kind of quickly. Um But I'll make sure that I'll share the slides afterwards and I'm gonna try to leave a little bit of time for Q and A at the end, but I can't promise because sometimes I ramble. Um So with that, let's jump in. Um It's best when you build your career yourself, this might sound silly. Um And maybe obvious, but nobody actually taught me about the agency that I had in choosing a career path that I wanted until I graduated college. And I, I looked around and just saw that people were doing that. I knew I love computers. I went through school, loving technology. Um But I'd never really sat down and thought, what is it that I want to discover and start doing? Um until after I graduated. But this is really key. So if you've been waiting for someone to give you permission to go like run off and design your career uh around your life, you've got mine. This is true for the products we build in the metaverse. You know, I mentioned, giving users really control over the experiences that they're having and seeing them as a key partner in the process is really key. So having that perspective of always being building and creating is really important. Um And this is important for many different reasons.

One is that you have a completely unique perspective on how things can be done and incorporating that perspective into how you work means that you're identifying where you can make a unique contribution and a connection really own that. It's also an opportunity to be forgiving.

You don't have to love every job. You don't have to beat yourself up if you make a change that you don't like. And you're not committing to a lifetime when you commit to a job path, which was news to me. I actually left Mozilla for a few months to try a different role on and I learned a lot in that role again. I really liked my team, but my heart just wasn't in it the way that my heart was in my previous role. And I was actually fortunate enough to get to be a boomerang and go back. And it was hard for me to see that as not jumping around the internet can sometimes have a lot of ideas about what is the right or wrong amount of time to spend in a job. Um But ultimately, I knew it was right for me and my story to go back. Uh And a big reason why that was, was because of the people and the people really make both a career and the metaverse. Great metaverse technology is all about how you're connecting with others and discovering new communities. So having a close network means that you can have new insights and ask for feedback on different options in your career.

So I highly recommend finding or creating a really close community of people who you trust, who you can talk about your professional development with your network is important because it also unlocks more opportunity for you at a high level. There are two types of networks to think about.

The first is an execution network, which is where you have close connections who all know each other really well. Um This might be a network of people inside the company or the team that you're currently working on. And it's called an execution network because the fact that everybody knows each other helps you be more effective in accomplishing and delivering a particular task or executing on your work. But on the other hand, there's the concept of an opportunity network, which is where you are the unique connector between a bunch of people who don't already know each other, which is a really good space to be if you're really interested in innovation and creativity. Um Neither one of these is better than the other. And in practice, your networks will contain a mixture of both, but it can be helpful to use this framework to think about the types of connections you're building. And I've linked in here, um a nice blog post from the Harvard Business School about these different network types and how you can go about building your online network or your in-person network very intentionally depending what your career goals are at a given time. And this is important because your career like the metaverse is always under development. When you view your career as something that's constantly changing, you can be flexible. You don't have to try and fit into a box that someone else has created for a role.

But instead you can choose when you really want to stretch yourself and where you want to build strength and a skill that maybe you want to develop more of. It's kind of like a workout in that way. And I will confess, I am not usually good about doing this, but I love it when I can try and do yoga uh to start my day off because that reminds me to be tapping into what I'm feeling and what I need on a given day. And so you can actually apply that to the long term as well and think about with your career, what you really need over a period of a couple of months or within a particular team or role. I also really love the metaphor of a career uh being more like a tree than a ladder I like that concept of branching because we can fall into this mindset of our career being really linear. That's not as true as it used to be. And it's never too late to go down a path that you've traveled and try something else. Uh in the metaverse. This means that there's always this really rich ecosystem and environment that you can explore. And I love applying that to our day to day lives as well. Because that active discovery skill building, constantly evaluating how you're doing and where you are relative to where you wanna be um can help you create this really dynamic experience for yourself.

And it doesn't have to go away if you keep exploring, which I definitely encourage because connections are everywhere. The internet and the metaverse are all about connections just like our brains, our brains are really powerful simulation machines, we're constantly responding to and predicting what the world around us is doing. Um And those connections and neural pathways help us make sense of what we're doing and what we're learning and how we're impacting the environment around us. The metaverse is a technology space is all about how we can build more personalized and immersive tools to help us understand that and continue to bring that both to the technology that we're building, but also to our day to day lives. And you can really look for inspiration everywhere in your life and incorporate those elements into your career. An example of that for me is I found opportunities to let my love of theater and performing mesh with my love of technology in giving talks like this one. And that means you can start breaking the rules and going global by breaking the rules. What I really mean is spend less time doing what other people think are best for you and more time listening to yourself and what's best for you.

And the thing that I really love about the internet is that it lets us connect to people all over independent of geography. Now, the idea of the metaverse itself can be problematic depending on the science fiction story that you're reading. But one of the things that's true about the reality of the way the technology is being built today and the reality of the immersive web in general is that it's really, really powerful and affording us new ways to connect with each other. And as we discover new things, the more we can apply to our own unique and individual paths and constantly be evaluating that feedback loop and making new decisions. I struggled to choose just one quote to end on. Um because Octavia Butler's work is so full of wisdom, but this one really spoke to me um through the concept of thinking about, you know, what is motivating myself in my career and the work that I'm doing, um the world doesn't always remind us to look for the places where we have agency and only you have the unique insight of your lived experience and what's really gonna drive you the self must create its own reasons for being something I've only recently leaned into is the idea that my work and my career is one of my reasons for being and it's totally fine if that's not true for everyone.

Um, but I struggled a lot early in my career with being ok with the idea of being ambitious and allowing myself to identify so strongly with my work. But there's another quote that I almost use here, which is if you work hard enough at something that doesn't matter, you can forget for a while about the things that do. And I love this quote. Uh It's a tough quote, but I love this quote because for me, it's true. So often I've thought about hard work as something in and of itself to fight for. But that quote is a reminder that we need to be constantly checking in with ourselves and making sure that we're working hard on the things that matter to us. So encourage everyone here today to reflect on whether or not there's something you can put down. Um, maybe something that used to serve you really well, but doesn't, um, in order to create that space to work hard on the things that do and creating the reality that you want to be in. And so with that, thank you. Um, again, if this resonated with you or you're just interested in staying connected or you're really interested in the metaverse space and metaverse technologies, please feel free to connect with me on linkedin. Um Drop me a note that said you were here.

So I understand a little bit more about how we're connecting. Um And the start of that path that we're going on together and I think we may have a couple of minutes for questions. Um But yeah, looking forward to chatting with you more

that moment when you forgot to mute yourself

every, every day. If

it didn't happen, it's like, you know, I didn't do it. Thank you so much for this wonderful presentation. It was really great to learn more about metaphors about your journey and the video that you shared with us um about the video that you shared with us. Here's a question since you underline the connection so strongly. Have you got in touch with the lady from the videos that inspired you?

I actually have. Yes. Um And she was really, really influential in helping me understand that I could carve out my own space. Um in this new emerging technology field, we talked a bunch on Twitter uh which was really, really rewarding. And then um we were at the same conference a couple of months after I had just started getting into VR technology and it was a really pivotal moment for me, which is why I think having that network is uh let go of something that is bringing a negative energy into my career. And, you know, I'll be completely transparent. Sometimes we have more control over for that than others. And this is still something I am working out um personally because it changes every, it changes from day to day, from year to year, from job to job. Um But I think really focusing on building the trust in our intuition and reaching out to people. If there's something we can't resolve on our own, can be really helpful in gaining that perspective. And the willingness to believe ourselves when we think there's something off about something that's in our lives, but maybe you don't want to let go of it yet.

Yeah, reaching out to other people and asking for help. I think this is a really great advice and I think no one knows it all. So we need to, you know, to reach out to people who know something and done there, been there, done that, been there. So thank you so much, Lee for being with us today and I'm sure many people will drop you a note on linkedin now. Thanking you or just connecting and learning more and maybe doing something in the future. Cool together.

Excellent. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Bye

bye bye.