Working 9 to 5 (sometimes)

There’s a lot of conversation in the ad world about the role kickass women play.  Our contributions are getting more (rightfully deserved) glory than in the past.  This makes me proud of my industry, proud for my gender, and hopeful for the world where my daughters will grow up.  They will see that Mom has a strong career, and that women are leaders.  I’m on the leadership team at my agency.  I’m a Vice President.  I’m also part time.

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With the arrival of my first child, I wanted an alternative schedule.  I started doing 40 hours in four days a week. The eight hours that didn’t happen in the office were done during naps or in the evening.

When we discovered my daughter had a disability, this became even more important, with appointments to make and therapies to attend.  When kiddo two was on the way, I decided the hour shuffle wasn’t easy enough – it was time to be part time.

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Going part time worried me.  I thought my career would plateau.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

This past winter, I was promoted to VP of Media. I believe there are three factors that largely play into my opportunity to be part time while still growing professionally: ownership, reputation, and communication.

Ownership

It doesn’t matter what “your job” is, we are all responsible for team success.  I’m not saying a search expert should start designing banner ads – but everyone can look at work from a lens larger than what their title implies.

Team up to make each other better.  Complete deliverables and share feedback when there is still time for review or revision.  Make others’ jobs easier.  Speak up when you notice a gap.

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Basically, own your work and be a good team member.  And if you do these things, people will like working with you.  When supervisors or recruiters ask, they’ll say nice things about you.  You’ll have built up a goooooooooood…

Reputation

During my second maternity leave, I had a lot of time during baby feeding or snuggly baby naps, in which to contemplate my next step professionally.  By the end of leave, I had three options: the awesome agency I had been at for the last four years, a client-side gig, and Nina Hale (where I currently work). All three were willing to let me hold a director-level position at three days a week. They allowed this flexibility because they knew I was reliable, due to past relationships and the reputation I’d built.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “well my reputation with my boss isn’t great because he doesn’t know how smart I am…she doesn’t realize that campaign was my idea…” I have two things to say to you:

1) I’ve been there.
2) It’s up to YOU to fix it.

It’s tough but true – perception is reality.  And you’ve got to work twice as hard in the opposite direction to reverse a bad perception.

Communication

It gets frustrating for coworkers if they need me on days I’m not in the office, so I communicate with as much foresight as possible. Both my children still nap (oh what a sad day it will be when this ends), so I hop online when they go to sleep and check in with my client leads and direct reports.  Colleagues know that if they need me, text is the way to go.  I’m respectful about replying promptly, and they’re respectful about only texting if absolutely necessary.

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Thinking and communicating ahead of time is equally important in my personal-life “village” – with my husband, daycare provider, my oldest daughters’ therapists, etc. There will inevitably be the appointment that can’t happen on a day off, or the project that will require a late night. I try my best to never throw anyone a last minute schedule change.

Lastly: find your fit

As proactive as you can be, the three factors I’ve outlined won’t do any good if you aren’t surrounded by people who want to see you succeed and grow.   Strategically and thoughtfully immerse yourself in good company, literally. Seek out leadership and companies that you respect, and whose values align with yours.  This is easier said than done; you can’t change jobs every six months and still hold that good reputation.  But know when it is time to say goodbye to your current company, and ask all the questions, both to yourself and to potential employers, necessary to find the right opportunity.  Own your work, be worthy of a good reputation, and communicate clearly in all aspects, and you will find the fit you’re looking for.

(Because work should be fun, too)

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The Women I Know: A Response to “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.”

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There’s a blog post that’s been shared over the last half a month or so now titled “I Look Down On Young Women With Husbands And Kids And I’m Not Sorry.”  The writer of this post makes a lot of bold statements, many of which I find laughable because they are just so different from the way I think.  But they are her opinions, and she is entitled to them.  I have to address one though – the one that stands out the most to me: “You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids.”
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I feel good offering an opinion about this because I’ve been two types of women.  I’ve been the independent backpacking across Europe.  The 24 year old rolling her eyes at baby shower games and wondering why there isn’t more alcohol.  The young professional willing to leave a job I loved because a different agency offered a better title and more responsibility (and pay).  Before my relationship with my husband got very serious, I honestly didn’t think I wanted to have children.
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I’ve also been the woman I am now.  And regarding her comment about what is necessary for a women to be exceptional, one thing is clear…I know some women she doesn’t know.
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 – I know a woman who is director level at a successful business, has a husband and two kids, and still makes time to volunteer to help those less fortunate.
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 – I know a woman who raises two children.  ON HER OWN.  She also happens to be VP of a company.
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 – I know a woman who is a teacher, a single mom to two children – one of whom has special needs, and the other who has been offered amazing scholarships to prestigious schools, where she’s thinking of majoring in genetics.  Tell me that woman hasn’t done something exceptional. She has touched so many lives, the effects of which will carry on long after she has retired.
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 – I know a woman who had an incredible career, but chose to give it up to take care of her children at home so her husband could follow his ambitions and feed his soul.  If you tell me that “anyone” could put three people in front of themselves, well…lets just say, I’d like to see you do it.
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 – I know a woman who cried a million tears because she couldn’t accomplish what the writer so ignorantly calls the “super easy task” of getting knocked up.  She wiped her eyes, took matters into her and her husbands own hands, and now has now given a wonderful life to a child who needed her through adoption.  Exceptional.
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I think what the writer is misunderstanding most is the meaning of the word “hard” when stay at home moms/parents (or any parent) say it is hard.  Yes anyone can cook lunch.  Yes anyone can do laundry.  It’s not the functionality of these tasks that is hard – it’s the mental application it takes to do it day after day and, as I said, putting someone else before yourself.
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I have a career I love.  I also work a reduced schedule, so some weekdays I can be home with my daughter.  On the days I work, if I want a cup of coffee, I go get it.  If I need to make a quick phone-call, I make it.  If I want to go to the bathroom, I go do it – and no one watches me.  I regularly get the self-satisfaction that comes with a successful campaign or killer client presentation.  When I eat lunch, I don’t have to sing songs to try and bribe my dining partner to eat, and my coworkers can use words to tell me what they think or why they’re upset.  These simple pleasures don’t trump the time I have home with my daughter, but are my work days “easier”? Yeah.
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I also know awesome women who don’t want to have children.  Their life accomplishments will be different than mine, and that is perfectly fine.  I don’t think it’s bad, I don’t think it’s good, it’s just different – we’re all allowed to have our own priorities, and what a boring world it would be if we weren’t.
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That said, the things that make my life the most extraordinary wouldn’t be if I weren’t married with a child (and one on the way).  The smile on my daughter’s face when she comes toddling into our bedroom in the morning.  The feel of her cheek against my lips when I kiss her after getting home from work in the evening.  The contented joy of a glass of wine with my husband at the end of a long day.  The overwhelming feeling of love that washes over me when I watch the two of them dance in the living room.  These things don’t matter to everyone, and that’s fine.  But they make my life exceptional.
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And you know, now that I’ve written this, I find that I’m quite glad the original post was written.  It has inspired me to call out people who I think are exceptional that I might not have otherwise.  I hope they read this.
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Sx Media Thoughts from a Media Enthusiast

For the last two days at SXSW (note: I wrote half of this at Sx, half on the plane ride home), I’ve deliberately done non-media things to broaden my horizons .  Now I’m going to get back to my roots and talk about my favorite ad placements I’ve seen in the past few days.

Also – I’m using the term “ad placements” loosely – so please forgive.

My faves… 

1. Oreo’s bike-trailer signs.  From the moment I got on the plane, I’ve felt like I was going on work spring break (and someone clued me in yesterday that they used to call this portion of SXSW spring break for geeks – so I was close!).  So when I saw this sign, I got kind of excited.  It’s been a long ass time since I’ve had an Oreo – but I liked it so much that I tweeted a picture of it, and I’m writing about it now (hey – 40 readers is 40 readers ;-).  They had a really cool Game of Thornes one too.  And these bike trailers are EVERYWHERE.  We squeezed three of us into one to get out to the Long Center to see Michael Cerra, Sarah Silverman, and Tim and Eric – the dude who took us must have quads of steel.
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2.  American Airlines Brightboxes.  Granted this isn’t a media placement – but it did pull me into their booth multiple times.  I do not have a good perception of American Airlines – one too many snafus at the airport.  But I love how easy they’ve made charging phones at SXSW.  As an advertiser, I feel it is impossible for me to assess what impact these have had on me – but I feel like I’ve softened a bit toward them – these dudes are alright, they’re helping me out.  And since I didn’t want to go far from my phone (you totally could, your credit card is the only thing that would open the locker your phone was in), I spent time with their brand – I got a chair massage with an Am Airlines ipad right in front of my face for 7 mins, I took a picture with their props that they then tweeted out, etc.
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3.  Bates Motel (in your hotel).  This door hanger was on every room’s door in our hotel – and that’s all good and fine.  But  what I like best was that the TV ad was what came up every time you turned on your TV as well.  So assuming everyone turnes on their TV once a day, most Sxers in our hotel saw the message 3+ times – one high impact, one rather passive.  I liked that mix.
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4. The Lean Start-Up – my colleague Lisa pointed this one out to me – it was on the key of her hotel, and there was a lot of signage at the airport.  So first of all, it’s just straight up perfect messaging considering the audience at SXSW – but the double-whammy made an impression on her.
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5. 3M’s Holograph (and I can’t believe I forgot a picture of this one).  This was a life-sized cut out of a woman standing independently, with what seemed to be sticker-pants, but a holograph from the waist up.  She smiled at you, told you her top pics for SXSW that day, and didn’t break eye-contact.  And, as I heard one astute attendee declare, “She’s hot.” (again, sorry for no picture).  I heard rumblings she was at Sx in 2012 as well – but I would be remiss not to call out all the innovative stuff 3M is doing.  I like this gal, who was in the entrance hall, better than the large booth 3M had in the trade-show area dedicated to Post-Its – but both were highly interactive.
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My not-so favorites…
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1. Ray Donovan mobile ad (and I realize I am speaking against my own kind here).  I was served this ad every time I opened the SXSW app, which was far more times than I entered my hotel room or turned on my TV.  All I know from it, is that the dude from Scream is going to be on Showtime (which I don’t have) in June, and that they DON’T USE FREQUENCY CAPPING (pet peeve!).  We in the biz talk over and over again about how users pull out their phones while on the go – so if you’re going to do a mobile ad that isn’t location based, it is my feeling that the user should know enough that they don’t have to research to find out more – in this case, what the show is about.  When I see something on mobile, I want to get the point quickly – not have to look it up later.  I don’t like it as a “peak your interest” platform.
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2. AT&T’s Teleporter.  It was fancy enough to draw me in (plus, if someone ever does invent a teleporter, I’ll put my order in early – no more 4 hour drives to visit the ‘rents!).  But the experience was far less cool than I expected from them – you stood just outside the concave bubble, and looked at sites in and around Austin.  The screens weren’t great quality.  Maybe if they’d had better definition, or if you’d been able to go farther into the bubble (Professor X’s Cerebro style) I would have liked it better.
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3. And lastly, just for the heck of it.  I don’t know what this is.  I was scared to look it up.  But someone wants people to tweet from the toilet – and that’s weird (if you can’t read it, it says #tweetfromtheseat).
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A Noob’s Thoughts on SXSW

It’s Saturday night in Austin, and I’m in my pjs by 10p.  One word about SXSW so far – TIRING.  Mentally and physically – but so, so awesome.  I’m having a fabulous time.  And I received some advice prior to the trip for experienced South by-ers (if you are cool, you refer to it as South by – now I have taught you something!) that has come in handy – comfy shoes, small umbrella, ABC (always be charging).

The flight was funny – every conversation I heard was in the speak of my career…and some did make me roll my eyes a bit (when the dude beside me on the plane told the stewardess that he needed to help them with Delta Sky Magazine’s content strategy).  I flew w/ my ACD pal Alex, we made it with spaceman to get our badges around 2p – which was nice, no lines.

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spaceman getting his badge – here’s his check-in vine

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We started Sx on a high note – Opening remarks by Bre Pettis, creator of Makerbot.  Yes we’ve all heard about 3D printing – but they way they are applying it is amazing!  They made fingers for a kid born without them.  Dollhouse furniture, toys, pieces for broken machines.  And Bre debut the digitizer – he showed how by using a webcam and lazers to measure a gnome, you can print more gnomes.  You could create an army of gnomes.  Maybe this is the end of those crazy Christmas toy rushes…don’t want to get up at 3am for the hottest toy?  Print your own!  And afterward, we got our pic with him (in the food-truck trailer park).

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Alex, Bre and I

I’m going to a party tomorrow night (Crowdtap) that will have demos of their competitor, Cube, pretty pumped for that.

So that good advice I mentioned earlier…one piece was, don’t overdo it the first night.  I failed here.  Went to Spredfast’s party and hung with an old coworker from Bolin, Dane, who is now kicking it at Honeywell.  Then I met up with the fabulous spacers in Austin – Alex, Lisa, Ned, Tim, and old coworker/client/friend Nick. Image

Bliss, me and HHC!  Or Nick and Tim.

Drinks and general merry-making, getting carried away with Vines.  And I was still up and raring to go at 8a this morning. Bikers pulling seats for two people to ride in are everywhere here – a 120 lb dude pulled two of us, I was amazed.  Better for the planet than taxis!  Good times.  Next eye-roll moment – when the Harlem Shake song came on at the bar and everyone was REAL excited.  Maybe I’m just not fun.  But I digress…

First thing I did today was hang out at Google Playground.  Their deal was making everyday objects interactive, and they let you experience this through a shoe.  You could do a variety of activities – watch TV, walk up and down stairs, dance, and the shoe would talk to you based on what you were doing.  It seemed to me like my fitbit was on my foot and could talk smack to me – but fun all the same.

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They’re also partnering with Volkswagon on a project that measures “Smilage” – more or less, how fun your road trips are.  Not sure how this is going to be relevant – but we will see shortly I’m sure.

I went to a session where Matthew May spoke about his book The Laws of Subtraction – rules for winning in the age of excess everything (basically, standing out by simplifying).  Then to one where three experts on creativity and mayhem who like to drop heavily emphasized f-bombs talked about anonymous communities – anon, 4chan, etc – and how they organize, activate, and so on without knowing who each other are, as well as what they decide to protest about and the difficulty of predicting the actions of a community that changes leaders, ideas, and their mind every 5 minutes.  Then was the Elon Musk keynote, where he was interviewed about rockets and cars – everyone I talked to was looking forward to this one, they streamed it in every available conference room at the convention center (I didn’t even try to make it into the one he was actually speaking in) – but I thought it was kind of a snooze.

One thing that has surprised me is the easy of charging your phone down here.  I put mine in a brightbox twice today (like a mini locker – you scan your credit card, pick your type of phone, then a door opens with that type of charger in it.  You close it, and your credit card is your key – it stays locked till you scan again).

Other than that, met with a few reps and contacts, enjoyed dinner with Prizelogic at Eddie V’s. Two good days – excited for the third!