Girl Power

Yes, the title to this blog post is reminiscent of a popular female 90s group. While I may not have much in common with the Spice Girls, I fully relate to this concept and proudly share I am the product of an all-girl high school.

On the South Side of Chicago the majority of high schools are all-girl or all-boy Catholic schools and I couldn’t be more grateful for how my education has helped me grow into the person I am today. The confidence I gained within those four years transfers effortlessly into a public relations career. Communicating effectively and having a desire for knowledge are two of the values I apply every day.

Because of my high school education my ears immediately perk up when I hear announcements like the recent one from Richard Edelman. He is committed to women holding half of Edelman’s senior roles by 2016. He readily admits where the company is lacking in female leadership providing percentages instead of simply acknowledging the company will take on this initiative.   

I was attracted to my company because of the women in leadership roles. I met the agency’s Senior Vice President at a University of Illinois networking event. As a wide-eyed college student I was thrilled to hear about her experience and the daily challenges she encountered at the agency. This excitement only increased when I learned JSH&A was founded by a woman. From watching our CEO it motivates me to think, that could be me one day.

I’m interested to see if other large agencies will follow Mr. Edelman’s lead. Here’s hoping so!

3 States in 3 Weeks

I’ve fallen off the grid as a result of three states in three weeks.

 

– South Carolina – Flocation

New Jersey – client media event complete with a hot air balloon ride and chocolate sampling

California – BlogHer ’11 Conference

 

One of the lines from our hot air balloon pilot has stuck with me. About 100 feet into the air he explained, “Everything in life is planned. Balloon rides are not.” (It’s very true because untethered rides take on a life of their own. In fact, I learned a crew tracks the balloon’s progress and will pack up the balloon wherever it lands, which in many cases could be your backyard!)

 

As a PR person this can cause your hands to shake. I had 25 media attendees arriving via helicopter throughout a morning and evening media activation – planning is what I do. However, this line is a great reminder for a person in any career. There are days you need to ignore the “To Do” list and just be present. Everything will find a way, of that I’m sure.

 

As crazy as the last weeks have been, it further confirms I’m rockin’ the right career. Riding in and watching the hot air balloon provided countless “pinch me” moments. Separately, so much of the work we do centers on the digital space so it was very rewarding to put faces to all the names of influencers I met during BlogHer.

 

Finally, back in action and working to keep up. What have I missed?

Hot_air_balloon_1Hot_air_balloon_2Hot_air_balloon_3Hot_air_balloon_4

Prove yourself right

 

What do you do when someone tells you, “No, you can’t do that?”

This wasn’t the post I expected would result from attending a wedding. But doesn’t inspiration come when you least expect it?

In speaking with a fellow guest, I learned he lived in NYC and previously worked in PR. It seemed only natural to share my dream job with him: to do PR for Broadway.

The said guest eventually asks me to sing for him. Well, I fully admit singing is definitely not my thing (unless I’m in church or driving in my car, alone).

His response? To say I’ve never felt more mocked in my life would be an understatement. His jaw about hit the floor – how could this girl take on a job for Broadway if she can’t sing?

I’m fortunate this instance is the first when someone so blatantly thought I would not succeed. I talked about growing up on the stage and my overall professional goal of always believing in the place where I work / looking forward to going there every day. A few more cocktails on his end and there was no point to argue my case any longer.

This guy obviously didn’t believe in me, but so what? In our futures I expect many people will do the same. It’s how we react to the situations and move forward that matters. We need tough love (or unwanted sass in this case) as we strive to achieve our goals. It provides necessary perspective.

I will acknowledge that he did point out areas for improvement with this goal. For one, I need to continue my research. I may have performed and seen a countless number of shows, but there’s much more for me to learn (and as a “student always” I’m up for up for the challenge).

He also brought to my attention the need for an elevator speech pertaining to my dream job. Everyone should have a go-to description of their background and where they’re headed, but what happens when you meet that one person who can help you land the dream job? Be ready.

 In discussing dream jobs, Arik Hanson asks why can’t you have yours? And although he is currently living a dream job, he still maintains a list of positions. What’s on your list?

Have you had a similar experience? How do you handle the naysayers? Has it made you adjust your goal or only work harder to prove yourself right?

 

Thursday Thankful List

I’m borrowing an idea from a pretty cool gal who shares a list of things she’s thankful for each week. Andi Teggart reminds her readers that among the tough days there’s always a silver lining. Here’s a look at mine…

Friends who motivate you

Aluminum water bottles – I never need to make ice again!

Living a hop, skip and jump away from Chicago’s lakefront

People who share your mindset

Life with fewer migraines – only one lil guy this week!

Dance class

Tears of happiness

Fun PR campaigns – one includes a hot air balloon and another has a rockin’ pitch for Jimmy Fallon

Checking in simply for the sake of checking in (from people, not social networks!)

What are you thankful for this week?

Getting caught… or not

 

If you thought you wouldn’t get caught, what would you do?

After the resignation of Jim Tressel from Ohio State University, this question should be top of mind, not only for those affiliated with the NCAA, but for those in the communications world as well. In the PR industry, we pride ourselves on truthfully sharing the messages of our clients with the media and consumers.

Or do we?

Did the execs at Burson-Marsteller question the decision to facilitate Facebook’s smear campaign? They must have thought they wouldn’t get caught, right?

Take this idea down to personal relationships. I’m confident President Clinton didn’t think he would get caught – who would jeopardize the presidency?

All of these instances have turned into teaching examples. What happened to the people who didn’t get caught – what lessons have we missed?

It’s fascinating how the negative news stories come so easily, but the positive examples, which can provide equally important learning opportunities, may fall under the radar.

Have you taken direction from a client, supervisor or friend for a task you viewed as less than becoming of your profession, or self? Have you given that direction? Take time to reflect on the decisions you’ve made. It could be as minor as inflating numbers or fabricating interest. But the really big errors of judgment had to start somewhere – you can’t go from 0 to “what were you thinking?!”

If you maintain a straightforward position from the beginning, it won’t be a problem when the potentially dangerous opportunities fall into your lap. Turns out, you’ll be the person not in that situation in the first place.

Making post-graduation YOUR time

I’m thrilled to have Jason Mollica provide the VERY FIRST guest post on my blog. My first offer to guest post came from Jason and I felt it only fitting to do the same. We connected through a tweet, but I’ve grown to consider him a mentor in not only my career, but in life. In today’s contribution, Jason shares advice for how to handle setbacks during your journey to the top.

 

Graduation from college can be an exciting and stressful time. There are no more classes, but now you are prepared to take the next step. If you have a job, you have started on that “real world” path. But there are going to be bumps in the road, whether it is two weeks or two months from now. You need to focus your energies and create your own moment. Try these on for size. These are three things I try to do when I hit bumps in the road.

 

Step back

We get so immersed in wanting to get that next job or get that first job, we lose sight of the plan. Step away from the hunt for an hour or a day and clear your head. A healthy perspective on your hunt will help make you more focused and more positive.

 

Make an Opportunity

One of the more important aspects of a job search or even job improvement is seizing an opportunity. What may appear as an insignificant moment, may just be a chance to shine. Never pass up a chance to show what you’ve got. When it comes to the job hunt, follow a prospective employer on Twitter. You just never know when a Tweet could end up being a job.

 

Envision success

The only way to succeed is if you see yourself on top. This doesn’t mean you have to be cocky, but being confident in your abilities goes a long way to how you carry yourself in personally and professionally. What is your plan? Do you even have one? If not, write down five objectives you would like to see yourself reach. Another good resource (if you are a PR minded person) is the Public Relations Society of America. They offer valuable webinars that can often assist you.

 

The late Herb Brooks once told his 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team that, “This is your time. Now take it!”  Take what Coach Brooks said and make it happen.

 

Connect with Jason at oneguysjourney.wordpress.com and on Twitter at @JasMollica. You’ll be glad you did.

What I’m learning from my dad’s stroke

I wanted to share a really important past post inspired by the events of May 19, 2010. Do you have those days where you remember exactly where you were and how you reacted? Here’s mine.

 

I’ve written a few posts (and read plenty) of how certain life events have strong connections to the public relations industry. The thoughts I share here definitely relate to PR, but in my humble opinion, connect to much more than PR alone. I’ve been “unplugged” from my social networks for awhile after a family event and the ensuing work catch up took center stage. The following post originated in an unlikely location, a hospital room.

 

On May 19, 2010 I received one of the calls you hope to never receive – my dad was in the hospital. Dad had suffered what was believed to be a mild stroke. Because I needed to drive straight from work my mom only provided me with minimal details. (That’s almost worse because of the situations I began concocting in my head.) Throughout the days I spent in the hospital, I realized how strong Dad is and how he would never let the likes of a stroke bring him down. I felt the need to write myself notes highlighting his strength and reminders of how this was a learning process for him… and for me.

 

Choose your words carefully – As a result of Dad’s stroke he has the most difficulty with his speech. He’s attending speech therapy and we have seen significant improvement from Day 1 in the ICU. To put it simply, I think we take the act of speech for granted. Dad is fortunate that he has control over his gross motor skills, but his speech exercises remind me to enjoy this everyday activity and be grateful as his speech continues to improve.

 

Speak softly and carry a big wit Dad has always taken his time when choosing his words. Because of this, I find myself listening extra carefully not to miss any of his latest sayings. Considering his situation, I’d score his humor a 10/10. Nurses and doctors loved chatting with Dad because of his jokes and stories. My personal favorite? After a test of Dad’s heart this past year he was told he had “the heart of a 20 year old,” and you can be sure he let everyone on his hospital team know it ; )

 

Don’t think, just smile – Did you know two different parts of your brain trigger a smile on command versus a natural smile? During the first 48 hours Dad spent in the ICU nurses checked in every 15 minutes. Each time they tested his arm and leg strength and lastly, his smile. He started to tire of the smile request and would flash a quick one to appease the nurse. But when Dad made a joke or we laughed, he gave us a glimpse of the smile we all know from him. This fact has been the most compelling for me because of how different forcing an action and letting it occur naturally can be. It’s a reminder to maintain the authenticity in all that you do.

 

Be determined – Within minutes of Dad being in the ICU he turned to my mom once the nurse left the room and said, “Let’s make a break for it.” Now that is the mentality of someone whose main goal is to return home as soon as possible. And he never lost that determination.

 

I’m happy to report Dad is home and continues to improve each day. This post may have started in a hospital room, but its reach on my experiences will extend much farther into the future. Can you share any stories or past posts of how life events have served as lessons for you?