Angular GDE Todd Motto encourages developers to care for their bodies and minds

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Photo of a man in a wetsuit swimming in the water. He is mid stroke and is taking a breath of air

The second of two interviews with GDEs about mental health, during Mental Health Awareness Month

Angular GDE Todd Motto would love to see people talk about mental health more freely–in tech and in other areas of life.

“Everyone struggles inside,” he says. “I see talking about it a good thing. Our brains are highly complex and need maintenance and good fuel.”

Todd says he silently struggled through most of his life with depression and anxiety, so it has become increasingly important to him to be forthright about it. He says ignoring feelings often makes things worse.

“The thing is, you can go through life just thinking it’s normal to feel this way, and you assume everyone else has bad days like that, as well, but things can slowly progress to become worse, without you realizing,” he says. “It took me a very long time to realize I had mental health issues–some issues were from my past, and I had adapted unhealthy lifestyle patterns to deal with those. I was pouring fuel on my own fire and not realizing it. That’s why it is important to me to raise awareness.”

He sees mental health as a balancing act and believes it’s important to take care of your body and mind every day. He recommends choosing your work projects and responsibilities carefully, if possible, to avoid taking on too much, and to pay attention to your internal thoughts.

“It’s important to be in tune with your body and also how your mind feels,” he says. “We all feel stress, but sometimes we just sit on autopilot and ignore it. This is when it’s time to protect your mental health. Keep an eye on your stress levels, as, at least for me, this played a huge role in the rest of my mental health.”

Todd copes with stress by carefully managing his workload, learning new things away from the keyboard, taking breaks from work throughout the day, and taking down time.

“To cope, I don’t overwhelm myself, and I take regular breaks, even if it’s just 1-2 minutes to walk into the kitchen and grab water,” he says. “Maybe I’ll walk into the garden and research a personal topic I’m interested in for a few moments.”

He also incorporates daily exercise, like running, swimming, and weight training, which he says helps his concentration, sleep, and mood.

“I have been running and swimming for years now, and swimming gives you time out from reality,” he says. “When you get physically stronger, you will unlock new levels of mental strength. That is my guarantee.”

Todd’s version of physical and mental challenges might be running up mountains and swimming in lakes, but your version might be going on a walk around the block, picking up a new instrument, or learning how to cook a new meal. Whatever it is, Todd feels it’s important to make time for these challenges, in order to achieve that balancing act he mentioned. He reminds other developers to keep work, life, body, and mind in balance as much as possible.

“I aim to have regular breaks and not overwhelm myself,” he says. “It’s easy to get stressed and have a bad work/life balance. Take breaks, and keep your stress levels low by doing so. You are more than worth it!”

Learn more about Todd on Twitter @toddmotto

Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler on balancing responsibilities and using coding as self-care

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Photo of GDE Alice Keeler smiling. She has blonde hair and is wearing a violet top. Her image is next to the GDE logo

The first of two interviews with GDEs about mental health, during Mental Health Awareness Month

“I don’t think I have work-life balance,” says Google Workplace GDE Alice Keeler. “I could use some. I’m not very good at self-care, either…my idea of a good time is coding.”

Alice may be humble, but she juggles numerous responsibilities successfully. In addition to her freelance programming work and the books she has published, she has five children, all of whom have various mental health challenges. An educator known for publishing add-ons, schedulers, and Google Classroom tips, Alice teaches math to high school seniors. She says they also struggle with mental health, often due to poverty and family issues.

“I see firsthand as an employer, mom, and teacher how mental health challenges affect people, yet we expect everyone to suck it up and go to work, attend school, and respond to family events,” she says. “I’ve really been thinking about this a lot, as I see the challenges my family and students are going through. I try to offer lots of grace and flexibility to others.”

She points out that mental health is very personal. “Of the 20 people I feel closest to in my life, no one solution would work for all of them,” she says.

Coding as self-care

In Alice’s experience, tech has provided a means of self-care, professional opportunity, and academic support. “I think one of the benefits of coding is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be done at a certain time and can offer some flexible creative options for people,” she says. “I can code at 3am, and no one cares. It’s not very social, which is helpful for people who struggle with social expectations.”

And during those coding sessions, Keeler builds creative solutions.

“You can make really cool things,” she says. “When I solve a problem with ten lines of code, it’s a nice way for me to feel valued.”

Alice has found the GDE community to be tremendously supportive, even though at first, she worried no one would want to hear from her.

“I post in the GDE chat, and people respond with, ‘Alice!’,” she says. “I teach math; I’m not a full-time coder. I’m self taught; everything I do, I figure out myself. I don’t feel like an imposter anymore. I’ve gotten 14 add-ons approved.”

She has realized over time that even “experts” are still learning.

“You think everyone knows everything, but they don’t, and people may be considered experts, but you can put something out there they hadn’t even thought of,” she says. “You realize quickly that it’s not like a tower, and you’ve reached the top, it’s more like scattered LEGOs: I know some of this, and some of that, and you know this, and it’s scattered.”

Alice’s coding expertise grew out of her desire to create technological solutions for herself and other teachers that simplified their processes and reduced stress. She’s enthusiastic about the educational technology tools that help both teachers and students decrease stress and improve well-being.

Educational technology for improved well-being

Alice appreciates classroom technology that makes life easier for teachers and students. For example, she cites the tablet as “one of the best things that ever happened to special education,” because it provides students with learning challenges an alternative way to share their thoughts and demonstrate their understanding of academic material. Alice explains that tablets and Chromebooks make it easy to give students extra time on assignments and assessments when needed.

“It brought in an enormous amount of inclusivity that had been impossible,” she says. “It literally gives some kids a voice; they can submit questions and responses digitally, without raising their hands.”

Alice’s focus, as an educator, developer, and parent, is on using technology to streamline tasks and balance responsibility, which reduces stress, improves well-being, and benefits her mental health. During the pandemic, she appreciated how technology allowed her to teach online, write code, and also be present for her family. She had more time to go to her kids’ events and was able to dial down her stress. Like all of us, she’s still figuring out what comes next, but she’s committed to supporting her loved ones and students.

Learn more about Alice on her website or on Twitter @alicekeeler


Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

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GDE Profile: Danielle Monteiro, Cloud GDE

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

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Cloud GDE Danielle Monteiro seeks to introduce more women and underrepresented people to data and the Cloud

For Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating a few of our Google Developer Experts. Meet Danielle Monteiro, Cloud GDE.

“There are few Black women working with data,” says Cloud GDE Danielle Monteiro, who works full-time as a Cloud Solutions Architect – Data & Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft in São Paulo, Brazil. “Being a Black woman working with data and recognized by Google is a very important recognition, and it helps me bring possibilities to women who share the same origin as me.”

In her almost 20 years of experience in technology, Danielle has worked as a developer, a Database Administrator, a Data Architect, and a Data Engineer, and is now a Cloud Solutions Architect. She holds a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering and is a Microsoft Regional Director, a Microsoft #MVP, and a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. She gives frequent talks and has designed multiple courses and tutorials because she believes it’s important to share technical knowledge with as many women as possible. “We have openings in technology; we have wonderful technologies, but we lack people with this knowledge,” she says. “I believe that technology, combined with shared knowledge and empathy, will change the world.”

In 2019, Danielle was the first Brazilian woman to speak at MongoDB World, was honored with a MongoDB innovation award and named a MongoDB Female Innovator. She has recorded three courses for LinkedIn Learning. Danielle also created the DANI Academy platform to help developers and database administrators deploy, optimize, and propose complex data architectures. Her blog helps beginner developers model and query relational and NoSQL databases. She also participates in communities including Databases-SP, woMakersCode, .NET-SP, and BlackRocks. Currently, Danielle is in the midst of a project focused on inviting people from underrepresented groups to work with data and the Cloud. “I love working with data and the Cloud,” Danielle says. “I believe that I can share my knowledge and bring more and more women to an incredible area.”

Google Cloud has helped her in her work and personal projects, and being a GDE has allowed her to dive deeper into the product. “Believe me, this support is essential,” she says. “I believe in the union of a great company and my ideas of sharing and mirroring knowledge to other women. It’s an honor to be a GDE.”

Follow Danielle on Twitter at @danimonteirodba | Learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn.

The Google Developers Experts program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers, and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies, and tech communities by speaking at events and publishing content.