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“Choose your team wisely.” With Penny Bauder & Carrol Titus

The myth I would like to dispel is that there is a scarcity of positions for women in Tech. The fact is that there is an abundance of positions. But, it doesn’t mean they all equal in pay or appeal. What you need to do is find your 5 star employer not your 1, 2, […]

The myth I would like to dispel is that there is a scarcity of positions for women in Tech. The fact is that there is an abundance of positions. But, it doesn’t mean they all equal in pay or appeal. What you need to do is find your 5 star employer not your 1, 2, 3 or even 4 star employer. Only 5 star employers will value you for all the skills and experience that you bring to them because it’s as if you were made “perfectly” for them and they will be willing to pay you what you are worth.


As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrol Titus of Golden Poppy Inc.

Carrol Titus, Director and CEO of Golden Poppy Inc., is an American businesswoman and former tech Fortune 100 (CIsco, Sun, VIsa) and start-up (Ujama, Intensivate and Collinear) executive. She designed, built and released, The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue, a fast-moving augmented reality game that supports STEM in action learning through mobile outdoor play to rave reviews from Girl Scouts of Nor CAL and local Los Altos elementary school private auction party winners. She established the corporate governance, legal, financial, engineering and marketing and media relations infrastructure. Prior to founding Golden Poppy Inc., as tech executive she secured over $2B sales revenues in product management, venture capture and business model optimization. Instrumental in all phases of technical marketing from field to back-office, from product to service, from strategic alliances to demand generation, from venture consulting to tactical implementation. Expert in wireless networks, cloud, desktop, mobile, e-commerce, security and semi-conductor markets. Ms Titus holds an MBA with dual major in Information Systems and Quantitative Solutions from Santa Clara University and is a Woeffel Scholarship winner. She also has completed post graduate work in Human Resources and Network Engineering from UC Santa Cruz. She is Marketo, Google Analytics and HootSuite certified.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started developing and testing Unicorn Blue in 2018 as a mother of three, former tech (Cisco, Sun, Visa) and start-up (Collinear Networks, Intensivate, Ujama) executive and graduate of Santa Clara’s Graduate School of Business in Information Systems and Game Theory. In 2019 I formed Golden Poppy Inc with offices in Silicon Valley and Delaware, after winning the accelerator prize at Watermark Entrepreneur. Starting this company has been extremely rewarding working alongside psychologists, educators and parents to build an unparalleled community base to nurture our nation’s next gen of tech leaders. As a whole, the Golden Poppy Inc team consists of parents, grandparents, caregivers, early learning experts, fine-artists, innovators and technologists. Golden Poppy’s aim is to make every girl the champion of her own story and to realize the unicorn within. For more information, visit https://www.goldenpoppy.net

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue is a fast-paced augmented reality game where you and your friends work together on a royal quest from Princess Keela to rescue a spell-bound unicorn. Learning to fly, jump and spin like a champion in the 3D enchanted forest is crucial to finding digital clues and golden rewards that the forest sprites have left for you in the 3D and physical worlds. Need a little hint to find a clue? A visit to Mahoo’s magic hint shop will speed you on your way. But how will you survive an encounter with a Devil Donkey at each level? Resilience and cooperation with your friends are your best resources to solve the riddles and find the charms to save Unicorn Blue before it’s too late.

What is amazing to me is all the self-directed learning and inquiry that unfolds on numerous levels through playing the game! Check out 8 year old Teona’s interview at the 1 minute 10 second mark where she talks about how she taught herself how to jump and turn around mid-air in 3D and note that she actually turns her body to mimic the movement of the virtual play. This demonstrates that she is immersed in the 3D play and is intuiting the physics played in the game. What’s more, after watching the exclusive STEM tutorials she was inspired draw a picture of a leaping unicorn, code a cute game of her own and play the game again to teach new friends!

In fact, Unicorn Blue supports standards based mathematics to help students understand concepts of area and volume, build fractions, reason and solve variable equations, analyze proportional relationships to model relationships between quantities. And, Unicorn Blue supports standards based English with balanced informational and literary text, provides a new Celtic fairy tale, nurtures rich conversations and offers insights into the human condition through a classic hero’s journey in an enchanting augmented reality space.

For educational program inquiry send us a message at [email protected]

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Although I designed Unicorn Blue for young girls, I had no idea that young boys would like it too! The lesson I learned from this is that the power of learning through a hero’s journey speaks to our souls, charms and inspires us all to be brave. This is fitting because unicorns have long symbolized the power of innocence over darkness.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Golden Poppy Inc has launched the first Augmented Reality Mobile Outdoor Game, The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue to promote STEM Learning in Action for girls. First of its kind, this educational Augmented Reality (AR) mobile outdoor gaming system combines physical, digital, and social-emotional play to encourage higher-order learning of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for girls.

Three years in the making, The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue has been piloted in Shoup Park, Los Altos, California with several local Girl Scout troops, as well as private auction party winners from Los Altos elementary schools. Golden Poppy Inc., received rave reviews from parents, educators and young children alike.

This highly interactive and endearing Celtic fairy tale, nominated for a KAPi award in STEM gives young girls early exposure to physics, computer science, English literature, reading, critical thinking and satisfies a set of social and emotional needs that the gamer world and engineering curricula have largely ignored.

While at CES2020 as a showcased exhibitor exemplifying the power of play through technology we had a fabulous response from technologists, educators, psychologists and entertainment media alike based on our holistic pedagogy that uses augmented reality and 3D mobile technology to promote active, free, imaginative play for children, the super-foods of a healthy play diet.

We always overdeliver on our promise to accelerate students fun factor as they accelerate their learning. Click on the following link to see live play.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

With increasingly diverse and complex social contexts becoming more frequent, social interaction in support of engineering ingenuity, then, is an increasingly important skill to develop in early childhood. For the most part, engineering curricula have not kept pace to meet higher-order SEL thinking needed for an increasingly connected world. An analysis of one four-year engineering program showed that 2,345 out of 2,952 problems assigned (79%) were lower-level thinking skills-based.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue’s unique combination of collaborative narrative, endearing characters, AR photo booths, instructional videos, tradeable charms, and 3D play supports an innovation disposition within engineering. Future expansion is envisioned to give girls more accelerated learning and fun every time they play.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

Microsoft commissioned a survey of 11,500 young girls across Europe with the London School of Economics. They found that young girls become interested in STEM at age 11 and then lose all interest by 15. This means that governments, teachers and parents need to instill a love of STEM in young girls before they turn their backs on these areas, potentially for good.

We fix this.

Our revolutionary new augmented reality game “The Mysterious Disappearance of Unicorn Blue” is something young K-8th grade girls, parents and educators will not want to live without. Unicorn Blue changes the way that girls learn and play with STEM, it gets them away from the table actively sprinting, leaping and choreographing their own hero’s journey and STEM inquiry. By playing Unicorn Blue girls learn to think and behave like a champion i.e., develop self-awareness, collaborate, negotiate, connect to nature, bond with friends, read, problem solve, code, fly in 3D and spontaneously sprint like a magical unicorn with joyful self-expression. What’s more, Unicorn Blue nurture’s rich social conversations and serves as a model for girls’ own thinking and behavior on what it means to be brave. The game showcases an Enchanted 3D Forest where girls learn to fly, jump and spin like fairy-astronauts. The software also features two augmented reality group and selfie photo booths to discover the magic of friendship and the unicorn within.

The premier box suite includes exclusive STEM videos that not only teach girls how to control their movement in 3D and understand the physics they are applying when playing the game but, also experiment with new narratives and social interactions to create and code a simple game of their own. And, if girls feel they need a little hint to find or solve a clue, a visit to Mahoo’s magic hint shop will speed them on their way!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

I think early exposure to video games with joyful self-expression is a key differentiator. I see that young boys play many more progressively combative first-person-shooter video games with their friends as a means of socializing. However, this narrative typically does not interest young girls socially or emotionally. Girls have an amazing ability to collaborate and are drawn to this super-power in narratives that solve world issues like saving the forest. And, because girls have had to endure much more systemic bias they are highly resilient as well. This is precisely why I designed Unicorn Blue to highlight and celebrate these feminine powers in order to successfully complete the quest and release their inner unicorn. I believe Tech organizations should require the balance of powers just as airlines require weight to be equally distributed across an airplane in order to fly. More women on corporate boards is a step in the right direction. I also believe that we need to develop a corporate mind-set of abundance of talent not scarcity in order for the US to be a world force in Tech going forward.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

The myth I would like to dispel is that there is a scarcity of positions for women in Tech. The fact is that there is an abundance of positions. But, it doesn’t mean they all equal in pay or appeal. What you need to do is find your 5 star employer not your 1, 2, 3 or even 4 star employer. Only 5 star employers will value you for all the skills and experience that you bring to them because it’s as if you were made “perfectly” for them and they will be willing to pay you what you are worth.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Ladder climbing is out. Climbing the corporate ladder is a myth. Nothing will kill a team or your career quicker than deception, mistrust or trying too hard.
  2. You get pulled up the ladder. In fact, you must be pulled up the ladder for winning your boss’ trust and confidence by going above and beyond on a special project that they have pre-approved for you. It is your job to get the team on board and thank them for their support.
  3. Inner circle. If you do this special assignment very well your boss will talk about you and your project to their peers and their boss. This is your golden ticket for an invite into their inner circle and entre into management.
  4. Rinse and repeat. Continue to do this until you run out of bosses, projects or space on your desk for awards.
  5. Cross pollinate. Grow your network through your special project to include management from other functional areas to support and trust you and vice versa. This is your plan B if something happens to your boss or chain of command.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Choose your team wisely and then mentor and inspire. This comes from a mind-set of abundance not scarcity. Remind them that you always over deliver on your promises because you have an abundance of people, tools and customers that are perfect for your business. Show them that by leaning into 5 star clients they will succeed with less work and drama in their lives. 5 star clients love what you bring because your offer is already “perfectly” made for them.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

As board director and CEO my goal is to stack the board with members that help provide oversight and advisory for Golden Poppy for the next 5 to 10 years. I look for people who are highly ethical, trustworthy, organized and know how to delegate. For example, for the Golden Poppy Inc board I chose board members with experience in board governance, start-ups, IPO’s, fortune 100 executive management, higher education, fine-artists, innovators and deep security and networking technologists. These professionals have deep reach into extensive networks and can quickly identify key personnel to move our business fast-forward.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The first name that pops into my head is Karen Ann Lusardi Richards. Karen was the best director, boss and mentor I’ve ever had. She taught me everything I know about structuring and stewarding large corporate relationships. She also taught me how to manage large teams with integrity, grace and an abundance mind-set. Karen was the first person in the history of Sun Micro Systems to receive the president’s award for marketing and sales leadership from Scott McNealy. I am so honored and delighted to be working with her again on the Golden Poppy board.

The next name that pops into my head is Nola Masterson. I met Nola when she was a judge at Watermark Entrepreneur where I first pitched Golden Poppy. Nola founded and successfully brought to market, Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM). She has taught me how to manage bi-weekly board meetings, set the corporate vision and develop long-term relationships with partners and investors. Nola has a keen scientific mind and always see the possible in seemingly impossible agreements. I am so thrilled and honored to be working with her on the Golden Poppy board.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

When I think about all the potential impact that learning STEM through active play can bring to the economic abundance as well as health and wellness of local, national and world community I am truly awed. There are so many additional applications and use cases where this can be applied well past primary and secondary education. We have just scratched the surface with this first release and I cannot wait for what the future holds.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quotes come from Madeleine K. Albright the first female secretary of state in the history of the US. The first quote, “When people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change,” has great significance for me as giving young girls the gift of Unicorn Blue to play with gives them an amulet for change not just within themselves but for the local, national and world economic climate. The second quote, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” again has great significance for me as giving young girls the gift of Unicorn Blue gives a life-long love of STEM and learning through play that is critical to success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

As per my comment above, I would be thrilled to have a private breakfast or lunch with Chairman Schwab as I believe he would understand and appreciate the importance of the work we do at Golden Poppy Inc to accelerate STEM learning in action for girls in the local, national and world economy.

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