August 19, 2017
Grace Gu is a Crunchbase News intern and student at the University of Chicago.
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Amy Widdowson Mains, Vice President of Vrge Strategies, helps tech companies navigate the political realm.

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In addition to working with her clients and making sure that her interns are “well-caffeinated,” Amy is involved with Odd Salon and writes a daily policy and technology newsletter that is popular at Crunchbase News.

Deeply interested in people and community-building, Amy thinks a lot about the role of media and social media in the current political system. Let’s see what more the Proust questions can tell us about her.

What would you otherwise be doing right now?

Academia. I’ve very much enjoyed the idea of reading, writing, teaching, researching, and all of those things. But it’s a tough time for academics right now. I think on Earth II, academia is what I would be doing.

Your main fault?

The fact that I’m a people pleaser. Its one of those double-edged swords where my ability to bring people together has been a career pro, but, at the same time, my desire to make sure that people feel comfortable and excited can sometimes hinder necessary conflicts.

The quality you most desire in a tweet?

Distilling thoughts into such a small package and still being able to get your point across. When Twitter is at its best, it’s a way to share memorable phrases and draw attention to certain ideas.

Your idea of misery?

Isolation, being separate from the community, and not being part of a community being built.

What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Vulnerability. I appreciate it when individuals are willing to open up and show their humanity. I think it’s really easy, especially online, to show your best self and curate this picture of who you want to be. To show vulnerability is to give a little bit of trust to the people around you.

Your chief characteristic?

Resiliency. If there’s anything that my mom taught me personally or professionally, it’s that ability to know it’s not necessarily who you are at your best; it’s who you are when things aren’t going well for you and how you respond to that.

What skill do you wish you possessed?

Sometimes I wish I spoke another language (French) better. Knowing other languages helps how you think.

Your most impactful book?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I first read it when I was in high school. For me, as a young woman who grew up in a generation being told that you can do anything, it exposed me to thoughts and concerns that the older generations have always been raising but that I’d only really known from a hypothetical perspective. I’ve read this book hundreds of times. It’s not only politically relevant but also personally relevant.

What defines success?

Who chooses to work with you. When you look around and see who you are working with, and if those people are making you better and want to be in the trenches with you, that’s a reflection of who you are professionally and personally too.

When is confidence lost?

When I can’t get a read on a room. I do a lot of research and want to know as many sides of a situation as possible.

What virtues do others have that you don’t?

An ability to go really deep on technical matters. I rely on other people to help me understand the super weedy technical issues that we deal with. I’m always in awe of the folks that are able to grasp those things right away.

What’s the biggest problem tech is failing to solve?

Disinformation, and the dissemination of hate. We as an industry failed to predict the impact that mass communications could have.

Editorial note: Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.