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How a 15-year-old coder balances her work and life

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Keila Banks is only 15 years old, but she has a good message on work-life balance, and she’s running with it.

Banks gave a motivational talk on balancing work and life, or more like school and life, before hundreds of women at the Catalyst Conference in San Francisco. The event is expected to draw 1,000 people over three days on topics aimed at encouraging women in technology. Banks was an interesting choice for a speaker, but she is clearly living an accelerated life. And she had some accumulated wisdom to share with the group.

Banks is a coder from Los Angeles, and she has been giving talks since she was 11. She has spoken at an Open Source event before 4,000 people, and she has spoken at a computer science event at the White House. She’s a self-taught programmer and web designer. Her father takes her around to various events around the world.

With a busy schedule, Banks said she still makes time to study and get straight As, socialize, and get things done for her image editing and video editing work. She said her father helps trigger her self-motivation and work past procrastination.

“The best advice I’ve heard is ‘Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life,’” she said. “If you are interested in what you are doing, it’s not that hard to focus on your work.”

Above: Keila Banks says you have to love your work and it won’t feel like work.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Banks said she stays connected to those with similar interests in a variety of groups, like Linux Chix, Girls in Tech, PyLadies, and a number of others.

It’s important to have people who remind you about your motivations, Banks said. Her father does that for Banks. She said that it was her third time at the Catalyst Conference, and her first time as a speaker. And she has been able to see how it has grown over time.

“Girls like me are going to grow up thinking that girls in tech are the norm,” she said.

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