Let’s get rid of International Women’s Day

7 Mar

Tina_Amy copyMarch 8th is International Women’s Day – a day created back in 1908 to honor, respect and appreciate women. I look forward to a day when we don’t have a special day dedicated to women. I hope it happens in my lifetime; however, with the slow progress we’ve made in the two decades I have been working, I am not optimistic.

The US ranks in the bottom 10 performing countries for women in senior management roles.
I am in an industry dominated by women in junior positions.  They are hard working, talented and motivated young women who have something to prove.  They come from great schools, families and communities where equality for women is not even a thought because it is just so.  But why do the number of women in senior positions dip so dramatically?  Our company picks the best person for the job, so it isn’t because the men are better – it’s because the women aren’t there fighting for the seat.

I don’t want to get into a large discussion on if it’s better to say at home vs stay in the work force – enough has been done on this topic and we will agree to respect each others’ opinions.  Especially since mine change on a daily basis depending on whom I speaking with and what the day has been like.

What I do think is vital that we talk about is long before someone is making a decision of what to do in their career that we have the discussion so it’s not so black and white – leave or go.  It’s more grey.  Grey leaves lots more options for doing what feels right.  Working America (it’s not just corporate America) needs to figure out how to accommodate the idea of family units into our dialogue.  It’s no longer black and white.  There is no ‘balance’, there are only choices – I choose to be at work and during that time my children are safe with professional care givers.  I choose to be at home on the weekend and my work is safe until I can make time for it.  I choose to leave for a school play or come in late because of a child’s dentist appointment.  Men and women make these choices everyday and have to figure out how to do it all.

I work in an organization that is far ahead of the national average on gender issues – in fact it’s not about fairness – I am confident that if the women were at the table they would be rewarded.  The conversation is about how to create an environment to keep women in the running.

Google did a very nice video to celebrate the day.  I am impressed by countries who have figured this out.  You’d think the US would be one of them.  Russia is the TOP country for women in senior management with 43% of senior position filled by women.

“It’s no longer feasible for U.S. businesses to adopt a sit and wait policy when it comes to promoting women to senior management roles, particularly when so many other nations —developed and emerging — are more rapidly realizing the benefits of diverse senior leadership,” said Erica O’Malley, Grant Thornton LLP’s national managing partner of Diversity & Inclusion.

I struggle with how to end this post. Do I want to inspire a movement? Sheryl Sandberg tired and got a national conversation going around Lean In and then there was the eventually backlash that comes with a successful person telling us how to live. She definitely created a stir and inspired millions.  Then my friends on Facebook (see the irony) started liking this piece by Rosa Brooks “Recline! Why Lean In is killing us.” This resonated with a wide array of professional and career hiatus women – they were saying ‘thank you’ and ‘this made my day.’  They felt relieved to not have to answer to the giant unrealistic ask that Sheryl suggests.   I don’t have the power or time to start a movement.

I want to start small in my own company to figure out what we can do with our awesome collection of talented women and men. What can we do to inspire change that will help the advancement of women in senior leadership? What can we do to end the need for International Women’s Day?

Just so I don’t take this too seriously my inspiration for today  – live like Elsa from Frozen.  Embrace who you are, don’t fear it.  Live like the women of Saturday Night Live – push the limits of what was once never thought to be possible.

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Some people love shoes. Some love bags. I happen to love Fitbits.

5 Jan

“It will help with your steps,” my 7 year old daughter said to me after asking for a glass of water only after I had already tucked her into bed.

I didn’t notice that my obsession with Fitbit was absorbed by my child.  But I knew my mother caught it when I gave her my Flex in September.  If she doesn’t reach her goal by the end of the night, she is known to pace in the house or go around the block before midnight when the counter starts over.

My love of Fitbit started a few years ago when my good friend told me she was wearing one.  I started with an Ultra – it was a great product right out of the gate – the customized messages, the display, battery life and clip.  After 18 months, I lost it.  I tried to wait it out, it had to turn up somewhere, but it never did.  I then started hearing about the Flex (wristband) and I put my name on a waiting list and waited.  I got it two days before a trip to Italy – which was great because I could track our steps during the trip.  I still haven’t beat the record day where we reached 18,000 steps walking through Venice.

But unlinke the Ultra, the Flex didn’t give me the immediate gratification or messaging – everything that I used to be able to see on the Ultra was only accessible on the FitBit app or site.  But I longed to see it right in front of me on my wrist.  And foolishly I thought it could double as a watch like the Nike Fuel Band, but the Flex was design just showing progress lights.  So I needed to wear both a watch and a FitBit.  I did love Flex’s addition of the silent alarm and sleep tracker, which the Ultra didn’t nail.

In September I gave the Flex to my mom and I bought the One.  All of a sudden the investment I stressed over was not an issue, I no longer ‘wanted it’ I needed it.  The One is really good, but the part that was missing was the personal connection with people (and effective sleep tracker.)  There is a small connection that is made when you see others wearing a Fitbit.  You don’t even have to talk about it, but you just have a something in common. You can’t get that when you wear a Fitbit on your waist under your clothes.

When I heard that Force, was coming out I put it on my Christmas list, knowing that my obsession is bordering ridiculous.  Then as fate would allow, when I was packing for my holiday vacation, I found the Ultra that I had lost so long ago in my suitcase.

My husband did end up getting me the Force for Christmas and it is the BEST one yet.  I now have the One, the found Ultra and my Force gift.  So I will pass on my obsession by finding good homes for the One and the Ultra.

The Force is a wristband and acts as a watch, it celebrates with lights and vibration when you get to your goal, there is a silent alarm, you wear it on your wrist, it tracks steps, stairs, miles and activity level and the battery life is incredible.

I’m looking forward to CES to see where the wearable technology category is going.

Dear Fitbit,
My wishes for the next Fitbit product include:
a pink band
slightly slimmer
ability to customize the display messages
a way to count the effort from a Power Yoga class.
You know I’ll buy it.

fitbit

Flex Your Muscle; Don’t Lose Your Way with Real Time Marketing

25 Feb

Real Time Marketing does not represent the sum of the newsroom. RTM is only one part of what a newsroom mentality has to offer.  Long form journalism is the bedrock for news outlets.  Likewise thoughtful relevant content which engages audiences in authentic way should be the bedrock of the newsroom.  There will always be breaking news, but it doesn’t mean that your brand always has a right to be there.  Stop milking it.

Real Time Marketing, as we’ve seen with the Super Bowl and now the Oscars, is about quickly responding to something happening in a live of event on behalf of a brand.  By the very nature the reaction time is a critical variable.  The quicker the better, if it hits the mark.  If it doesn’t, you can try again – maybe.  Among the marketing community, last night was about seeing how many brands were prepared to activate around the Oscars like the 9 brands who did so during the Super Bowl blackout.  There was even a special # set up to follow and comment on the action #OscarRTM.  As a practitioner in the ‘newsroom’ space, I was struck by the absurdity at some of the pundits who were just waiting to pounce on brands (and their agencies) for the content they were putting out.  I agree with @armano in his blog “How the Marketing Community lost its way last night.”  I do believe the Oscars was beneficial for marketers, it allowed brands to develop new muscles.  It will be needed as Relevance Marketing takes a foothold in our marekting arsenal.  Real time responses are only one point on the content spectrum.

Relevance Marketing is about finding the intersection between consumer interests and brand purpose to create relevance and value.  It’s about using the cues from popular culture to create engaging content.  Sometimes this happens in a matter of minutes like the Tide and Audi posts during the #blackout. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to cultivate the right strategy and content like the 100 days of Oreo.  The point is to lead with relevance, the deadline will be determined on a case by case basis.  It’s about the idea.  You still need to have a great idea. The strongest relevant ideas are unexpected.  Unexpected because they usually show timeliness (unusual in this time of campaign driven marketing across channels), empathy for the audience (a true connection) and they offer real value (smile inducing, time saving, monetary).

disclosure: I am the co-director of @Digitas’s BrandLIVE, a creatively led relevance marketing platform.

My most embarrassing vacation moment

30 Aug

Despite TSA’s best efforts to protect this country by randomly selecting a mother of three with children under six years old sans another adult companion, we managed to make it to Myrtle Beach.

The ticket agent neglected to give my husband his boarding pass. When he gave us the stack of tickets he put them an envelope so we didn’t notice until we got to the lead TSA agent wouldn’t let him pass (righftully so), and it put me in a challenging position. We had two car seats and three backpacks and three kids. Dan left with his backpack to go get his boarding pass, I proceeded to go through security with the gang. We made it through the metal detectors, but the bag didn’t – it was selected for a random screening. At the same time the car seats were being manually searched. The kids were running around the area of the inspection. Another TSA agent took the car seats and the stroller attachment to do a manual screen. One tested postitive for something, so they needed to take the stroller piece off of both to put through the x-ray machine.

Because the stroller had a positive match the TSA agent who had completed my bag and started to give it back to me, grabbed it from me again and took everything out – again. At the same time I saw Dan go through security, but didn’t see him show up at the inspection desk – he didn’t see us so he assumed we went to the gate (because a lot of time had passed.) I peeked around the inspection desk and saw him far down the corridor – I screamed “DAN!” three times and until he heard me. It wasn’t my most embarrassing moment.

He came back, but now the TSA agent needed do a total pat down on me. I can see why there are so many complaints – it was invasive, I guess they do it for real when you are a suspect. Dan took the kids and left me with the two seats, stroller attachments and my giant back pack.

When he arrived at the gate they told him they were shutting the door so he had to get on right away. He explained that I was trapped at security. At security I was dealing with the TSA agent jamming the picnic lunch back in my bag and the other agent who couldn’t attach the stroller correctly. I finally screamed “I am going to miss my flight – give me my things now.”

I ran as quickly as I could with all of my parafanalia. This was not my most embarrassing moment.

When I reached the gate we were all told to get on the plane quickly. I had one of the car seats, Dan had the other with the kids in between us. I was told the car seat would not make it down the aisle on the stroller contraption and that I needed to take it off before proceeding. With great difficulty I was able to get the two apart and had them in either hand, with my backpack on my back and three kids trailing behind me – I went down the aisle saying, “Sorry, pardon me, excuse me, sorry, watch your leg, pardon me, so sorry….” This was not my most embarrasing moment.

As I was going down the aisle I heard, “there is Kyra’s Dad.” I look over and there is Eric Wolin, I said “hello Eric, sorry I can’t talk now.” Still not the most embarrassing moment.

I got to row 19. I put my seat in the middle seat, then the flight attendant came and said it couldn’t go there because it was blocking in another passenger. I had to get the kids to move out of their seats so I could move the seat to the other side. As I fastened it into the seat, I heard the flight attendant announce, “I need the wife back up front.” This was the most embarrassing moment. I had to walk back up the aisle to the front to see why they needed me.

Dan was standing there with the car seat and stroller still attached with the gate attendant yelling at him. He was telling us we were going to have to leave the car seat in Boston because there was no way to get it apart and get it under the plane before we took off. We refused. Then the very nice flight attendant asked the pilot if we could put it in the cockpit, he said “of course. no problem.” We ran to our seats and buckeled up.

The seat and stroller wouldn’t come apart because the TSA agent put it together wrong. He essentially broke it. Luckliy we met my dad in Myrtle Beach who can fix anything.

Every ounce of patience was milked from every person involved – especially the gate attendant.

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Milking Life Lessons from SXSW 2012

13 Mar

This was my first year at SXSW Interactive.  I was unprepared.  I am a planner to my core.  SXSW is different, you simply can’t prepare in the normal sense of planning what sessions you will attend, making dinner reservations, getting the right invitations to the after hour parties, scheduling business meetings with potential partners, etc.

The way to prepare for SXSW is to take classes in mediation and to embrace the theory of going with the flow. Truly – let go!

This post is for my future self and what I will do differently for next year; and it is for my present self – lessons to apply to my everyday life.

#1 Future:
Don’t check the twitter stream when you are in a session that you are enjoying; no matter how good Seth McFarlane is, you will find yourself clenching your fist when you read that Jimmy Fallon is tearing it up at the Nike tent across the street.

Today:
Stay present in the moment you are in.  Don’t check your wall or stream or Instagram, you will find things that may be more interesting that you could be doing – but now you’re not only NOT doing that but you are NOT enjoying what you are actually doing. This concept was actually a topic for a session where the question was asked Is Social killing Social? Good question for the next dinner party – try it especially in mixed generations.

#2 Future:
It’s ok to indulge in the persistent use of devices with screens.  It’s ok to not look up at all during a session even though there is a live person on stage.  It’s ok to check in.  It’s ok to tweet.  All the time. Even if you opt out of being able to tell people back home what Austin topography is like.

Today:
Save that behavior for Austin.

#3 Future:
Don’t go to panels.
But be willing to change your steadfast rule, as you may stumble across an energizing panel on How to Hire the Right People like my colleague did.  He is a technologist (aka geek) and was more energized from that one session than most anything else he saw at SXSW.

Today:
Be open. You may be surprised.

#4 Future:
Stay in town. Book as soon as the dates are announced (even if you pay a cancellation fee if you choose not to go.)

Today:
Don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow.  Make plans, you can always adjust.  Plans, like education, give you options.

#5 Future:
Don’t amble, lead the group. You’ll know when you’ve gone too far.  It’s always better to have colleagues/friends to attend sessions with, but at the end of the day you have to do what interests you and you can’t wait to see what everyone else is doing and if they will get there.  Most times I did change my mind minutes before a session because someone would suggest something that sounded better than what I originally picked. That’s how I saw Seth McFarland with Mark Wahlberg talking about Ted Movie and Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop.

Today:
See #3 AND once a decision is made go for it with gusto.

#6 Future:
Pack an umbrella and two raincoats (light and heavy), then do a rain dance.
If it hadn’t rained Thursday, Friday, Saturday and the morning of Sunday, I would have had a very hard time staying indoors absorbing all the great discussions, presentations and conversation.  On Sunday I went outside the Convention Center for a quick bite to eat at a food truck; it was very hard to go back inside.  The weather had turned from a rainy/windy 45 degrees to a sunny 75 in a matter of hours.
 
Today:
There is always a bright side, it just may take you longer to find it.

#7 Future:
Call Wilson.  Our cab driver.

Today:
Surround yourself with people who will answer the call.

The last thing is just a note of something very valuable for parents to remember and keep learning – let children fail.  It was dimensionalized for me during two sessions about the principles of Gamification.  This builds resiliency and drive to overcome obstacles.  Don’t jump in to stop the error, don’t say “trust me because I have the experience” – unless it is dangerous.  Let them learn and apply.

Aside

Datebook is a window to the past. Facebook is a window to the present.

31 Dec

Datebook is a window to the past. Facebook is a window to the present.

I heard an interesting story on NPR’s Weekend Edition this morning entitled The Simple Joys of an old fashioned datebook. The story is about “holding time in your hands” and being able to see the whole year  come flooding back through your handwriting, ticket stubs and other attachments.

I love(d) my datebooks.  I saved them year after year and then the digital age happened, I got all snarky and during a cleaning frenzy I tossed most of the datebooks.  Oh, how sad I am now.  When I was home for Christmas last week, I found one of my datebooks from college.  It was lots of fun thumbing through it looking at the different activities, but the best part was the address book with all my friends’ phone numbers.

Phone Numbers (no mobile numbers)

Many of the people in the book are now well-known in their field/industry, but when their name appeared in this little book they were just known to their friends and family (some would call this normal*.)  Who knew there would be a critically acclaimed poet, an art director with multiple Emmy’s under his belt, a musician, a film director with an Emmy nomination or two, a few news anchors and investigative reporters, ad execs, heads of studios, accomplished television / movie editors,  media moguls, television news producers, ESPN sports producers and on-air talent, to name a few?  Emersonians knew.  And there are many other people not mentioned above who are responsible for things not in the public eye – running charitable foundations, developing movie scripts, raising families, teaching musical theater, top of the heap salespeople in real estate and media, etc.

I may start using a paper datebook again.  Milking the memories.

And thanks to the digital age –  most of us are tangentially aware of each other through Facebook and try to get together whenever we find ourselves in the same city.

Oscars used to be a whole month later

*No matter what my friends are doing now, none of them is normal.  They weren’t then and they aren’t now.

If I see another crescent roll…

26 Dec

I’ll probably eat it.

My husband is always amazed that my goal of trying to eat well goes right out the window when I get to SC. Between the sweet tea, the chips at the local mexican place, my mom’s cookies and the crescent rolls I don’t stand a chance.

It wasn’t intentional, but we had a few too many menu items made from Pillsbury crescent rolls or grand rolls.  I know this exposes me as more of a semi-homemade person vs Martha Stewart, but it is what it is.

While I wouldn’t repeat four roll items over two days, I would recommend the Sticky Buns and the Baked Brie (links to the recipes below.)  I wish I could give ample credit for the recipes; however, I found them on Pinterest and now can’t find the originator.

Pigs in a blanket (Christmas Eve item) – made for the kids, but always a hit with the adults
Sticky Buns (Christmas morning breakfast) – pre-present opening fuel
Brie wrapped in dough (Christmas appetizer)
Rolls for dinner (Christmas dinner)

addendum on 12/27:  I forgot about the cream cheese squares made with crescent rolls, this is really what pushed us over the edge.  I’m not sure how I could have forgotten.

What was your favorite recipe from this holiday season?

Week One of Vacation and Only One Broken Bone

25 Dec

Tonight is Christmas Eve and my immediate family and I are in SC visiting my parents with my sister and her boyfriend.  I came with my three children a week in advance to have some quality family time (which basically entails chasing three kids around without work to distract me.)

On the last day prior to my husband joining us here, I tripped over my son and twisted my foot in an attempt not to squish him.  The good news is that I didn’t fall on him.  The not so good news is that I somehow twisted my toes inside my shoe and now have a broken toe (self diagnosed).  It’s not an important toe – but my second toe is longer than the big toe which according to Wikipedia I am more susceptible to metatarsal fractures.  I  am more susceptible because I am clumsy and always have been.

After two days of walking around on it like it didn’t hurt, I am finally milking the situation by putting my feet up with ice while the family cleans up after the Christmas Eve  dinner.

Tubes Are the New Norm

19 Oct

We were at MGH at o’dark thirty this morning with our 1.5 year old son Sam.  He has had 10 ear infections in his life and partial hearing loss.  As any mother would be, I was a little worked up over the notion of a young person being put under.  But was calm knowing that it was a minor routine procedure.  Everything went well and we were home by 10am with a relatively back to normal toddler.

The part I found very interesting was that we were with four other families during the pre-op and post-op.  One of the father’s little girl was three and born at 32 weeks with Downs.  This was their fourth time at MGH to get tubes.  He was telling us that she doesn’t speak and ‘they’ say she can’t hear.  But he said, ‘she hears me.  she comes when I say her name from across the room.’  He went onto explain that she wears glasses but he thinks she sees everything.  And if music plays she is a dancing fool!  He said, “she’s normal to me.”

Most times when I hear a story like this I scold myself for too much self pity, but this time I didn’t do that.  I was just happy to hear his perspective.  He seemed to be a great dad working two jobs to support his normal family.  I was grateful for it all.

On a side note, one of the father’s in our group wouldn’t engage with the aforementioned father because he was wearing a NY Yankees shirt. But later he broke down.  It was a good bonding moment for all of us to poke fun and to find out why he wore such a shirt.  He explained he was from Dominican and lived in NYC for a long time.  If he hadn’t added that he liked the Lakers and Jets, all would have been forgiven.  We milked the unimportant chatter while we waited anxiously to comfort our children.

Memory Lane is Going Digital

21 Jul

We are taking a walk down memory lane as we prepare our household for a move to a new dwelling in a month.  Well, Dan is running, I am crawling.  It is so hard to part ways with the multiple spiral notebooks with all my to do lists in them.  Reviewing them for the first time since they went in a drawer when the last page was used, is fun.  Now what will I do?  I use Evernote.  I update the to do list electronically wiping clean all record of what has been accomplished.  The next time I move I can expect to go more quickly, right?

I also cleaned out my stationery bureau. Yes, I have an entire bureau dedicated to stationery, note cards, address books, holiday cards we’ve received (only the ones with photos), invitations we’ve sent, and random stickers.  I think I have an entire bureau full because since I was a child I have been obsessed with paper.   I collected note cards and stationery for a long time, but of course now I use mostly social media and emails to correspond, so I have lots of paper just looking for an excuse.  I will not throw it away.  I will milk the opportunities to send appreciation. Thank you notes are always handwritten.

Today I received an e-mail from FineStationery.com.  It made me pause, will there be stationery stores for my girls when they are 10?  Will they save their allowance to buy paper and stickers?  The answer is sadly – probably not.

Next on the agenda is all the children’s artwork – how much is enough?  I did read an article where people take photos of the artwork and create a Shutterfly book.  That may be more my speed.