Obsessed with start-ups, coffee, and online marketing.

That about sums me up.
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Oct 06

Life Bitch Slap #7: Be the Plot Twist

Today was a day. A real day. You may have noticed I haven’t written in a while, as I’ve been busy jumping all in with my new team at Porch. In just under three months we’ve seen insane growth, solved really hard problems and made a pretty big promise to the world that I couldn’t be more excited to explore and execute on.

But things have also been a bit crazy. With any new job comes a new schedule and new challenges and adjustments and rhythms. None of it unsolvable but all of it is very real. New perspectives meet with others and hard conversations and big questions are asked. It’s both what is exciting and exhausting about taking this startup road.

One of our co-founders had this great quote the other day. He said, “Lots of people say it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But I don’t believe that. If it was a marathon, I’d be going a lot slower right now. It’s more like a series of sprints, and we are just at the beginning of one.” I loved that. It so perfectly sums up the last few months and what I hope to take on for the upcoming years — it’s like this series of sprints, all of them full of new challenges, each of them bigger and faster than the last.

So today was a one of those “real days” and at the end of it I found myself turning to an old friend…a video I’ve watched dozens of times at this point. It’s a video done by an agency out of Portland explaining their approach to beautiful marketing. You can watch it here. Every single time I watch it I get chills, because I believe it. I believe in that approach to authentic, beautiful, valuable storytelling. No matter how challenging or long a day is in marketing or startups for me, I can turn to that video and I’m reminded why I’m the luckiest lady in the world.

Tonight as I was watching it, I was bitchslapped by a sentence. It happens at 2:37 in the video where they state: “you’re like the plot twist.”

As marketers and storytellers, we are just that. We are the inciting incidents in the story of a company or a product or a brand. We take the storyline and we find the “ah-ha” moment and we find the medium to share it with the masses. We don’t create it, we help uncover it and then we find new and honest ways to help others stumble upon it. So it can shake up their day. So it can take their day from ordinary to extraordinary.

I couldn’t help but think today – what if I took that motto and applied it to life in general? The definition of plot twist is: “A common practice in narration used to keep the interest of an audience, usually surprising them with a revelation.” What if we all approached our days with these goals- to keep it interesting and serve the audience. To keep surprise and delight alive. To help others, through conversation and connection, to grow in revelation. That would some worthy goals.

I started the “Life Bitch Slap” series because they seemed rare…those moments when you are stopped in your track by a thought or a person or a moment (like how we should all be more thankful or that you knew what you were doing). Ironically, they have increased in tempo for me over the past couple of years. I feel shocked by life much more frequently than before. Snap let’s be honest…like all the time. Hell, I kind of enjoy these days. It’s a forcing function to stay humbled and true in many ways.

Today was definitely one of those humbling days, where you are reminded it really is a series of sprints in a long and exciting story. And we all have the opportunity to be the plot twist. We can choose to go along with the storyline as a passive character or we can be the inciting incident and participate in it fully. All in sort of living. Yes please.

Life Bitch Slap #7: Be the plot twist friend.

Aug 13

Perseverance as a Practice

I’ve thought a lot about perseverance over the years. It’s one of those words. The kind that takes on a new meaning every time you feel it, or wish you had more of it, or see it in others.

When I think about it a few things flash in my mind:

…I remember my dad getting up so early to go downstairs and keep the coal fire burning to heat the house and then heading to a job he hated to make sure his family was taken care of and happy – day after day after day…for years.

…I remember my family after my mom passed away and how no one wanted to really get up, or be awake, or do anything- for a long time. But we just did things. Ate meals, cleaned the house, left the house and saw friends. We just did things to move forward.

…I remember my graduate degree and working at the coffee shop in the morning, going to classes, and working nights as a hostess, and just going, until you couldn’t because that is what I had to do to pay for school.

…I remember watching a friend of mine go through so many rough things with her family for years, and just seeing her be the mom and the sister and the aunt and the cousin. She just did it day after day for years.

…I remember all the startups I’ve built and those my friends have built. The ones that made it. The ones that didn’t. Not much difference in the work you put in, the early mornings, late nights, and dreams you dreamt, and sleep you lost. It’s just our way…our days and our nights and the way of things.

When I was younger I thought perseverance was something you either had or something you didn’t. I used to think it was something you were brought up believing in or something you weren’t. Grit, gumption, relentlessness. I thought these were all things that life taught you early or you never learned.

I think I was wrong.

I think perseverance is a practice. Sure some of us learned it early. We were bitch-slapped into it by life. But others…others have chosen to chase it down. I think that is really special. We actually can choose to persevere.

A friend of mine is going through something very hard right now and I was telling her how strong she was and she said “I’m not like you, you’ve always persevered, that’s just you.” and I was taken back. I thought about it and I realized – at every single point along the way I chose. Not to stay in bed. Not to give up. Not to quit. It was a choice. A choice I made enough times that it became a practice. I think it’s easy for people to say “they have more will, that’s just who they are.” It’s harder to admit that grit really could just be a choice, a habit, a practice. It’s up to all of us to bear down or buckle. It’s up to us if we have it, or more importantly…if we could have it.

I like to believe these days that perseverance is just a practice. Maybe I can help be the coach for others by reminding them how supported they are, and how ready they are, and how damn strong they are…intuitively, and in practice. Maybe the point it just to remind people it’s something they can grow into. They can baby step their way into perseverance as a practice.

Thinking back my dad wasn’t born with the ability to get up so early and work so hard for his family all those years…he committed to it, by choice. Bam. Perseverance. Tenacity. Staying power.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

 

 

Jul 15

Joining Porch.com!

Two weeks ago I announced that I had wrapped up my time at BigDoor, a leading loyalty software provider here in Seattle. It was a day of many emotions. I feel so lucky to have spent the past year working with such a scrappy, dedicated team. I was able to jump head first into the world of loyalty and retention and growth work with some of the top brands in the world. I am just so damn thankful for all the lessons I learned and what we built together.

It was hard to say goodbye, but I am so excited about my new opportunity. In a lot of ways it’s the type of opportunity I’ve been waiting for Seattle to have – a big consumer play backed by a brilliant team that truly believes in data and growth hacking. Throw in that it involves the visual web, online communities and actually has real-life value for those that use the service and I honestly couldn’t help but jump all in.

And that is exactly what I’m doing. In a week I’ll be jumping in as VP of Consumer Marketing at Porch.com, the home improvement network, and fastest-growing startup in Seattle. And frankly I’m over the moon excited.

Why Porch?

For about a million reasons to be honest, but let’s start with the big ones.

The Team

If you live in Seattle (or any of the tech cities to be honest) you’ve probably noticed that Porch.com has been snagging up top talent from some of the best companies out there to join in their mission of helping people love their home. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to collaborate with them and learn from them. After sitting down for just one day with their team I could tell this team was rare…passion, kindness and smarts all over the place.

About 6 months ago, I received a LinkedIn message from a woman named Asha Sharma, asking if I wanted to get together and jam on what “growth marketing” really means. I receive messages like this often, so I honestly didn’t think much of it.  After sitting down with Asha, the twenty-something CMO of Porch, I was blown away. She was data-driven, revenue-focused, high on life, and laser focused on building something really special.  Like once in a lifetime type special.

We met up a few times over the coming months over martinis or coffee, and formed a friendship. A previous board member once told me “when you meet someone you are going to build something with you’ll just know.” I had never felt that before Asha, but I just knew we’d do something together someday. Come to find out that something is Porch and that time is now, and I’m honored to be working for her and helping her build this company.

This team is special and our CEO, Matt Ehrlichman, has the heart and drive to build Porch into a household brand that brings value to millions. I can’t wait to help make that a reality.

The Mission

The past few years I was fortunate to spend a lot of time honing on what really matters to me and what I really want from my career and life. Recently I wrote about how I want to have a “beautiful impact” on this world. This to me means I pour my heart and soul and the hours of my day into a product I can get behind, design, share and one that truly makes life better.

Porch.com is that already, in many ways, and will continue to grow into it even more as we share it with the world. It solves a real problem, one that our CEO has talked at lengths about solving. We are helping home professionals do what they love, and homeowners love their home. I mean wow.

Funny enough, I spent a lot of time on my porch as a child. It was the place my family celebrated everything – from birthdays to “ice cream sundaes for dinner” nights, to graduations. My childhood is peppered with family memories on the porch. In fact, before my mom passed away we spent many afternoons on that porch talking about how much she loved it out there. Dad had it built for her so they could watch us grow up in the backyard and play in the pool.

A porch to me represents everything good…family, traditions, laughter, safety, comfort, peace of mind, and spending time together in something you’ve built as a family. Hell I get teared up just think about it.

I am 100% behind spending my days sharing the mission of Porch - love your home. We have very big plans for Porch and the value it will have for homeowners…more on that later, but get excited friends. I know I am.

The Challenge

My journey in marketing has been, unexpectedly, quite funnel like. So meta, huh? I started in performance, moved into engagement, ended up in retention, and fell in love with brand. I’ve gone from running campaigns to launching integrated customer journeys. I went from selling keywords to becoming obsessed with the visual web and what it has to offer.

I am a growth marketer, driven by solving the hardest problems with testing and data. I believe in viral marketing as a practice not a fluke. I believe in using our channels to activate and unlock growth at every turn. I believe that today’s best marketers have the platforms, and the guts required to build bold, beautiful experiences that catch fire and add real value to the consumer.

Porch.com combines so much of what I love. I’m coming on to lead a great team (and looking for a bunch of others to join us…just sayin [wink] [wink]!) and we have the data infrastructure and engineering/design/PR support that most marketers can only dream of. I get to lead the roll out of a product that will combine beautiful images, profiles, valuable features, and community. So.darn.excited.

I think this new challenge will be humbling in many ways as I join the biggest team I’ve ever been a part of and help steer a company through a new stage of growth. I’m not abandoning my startup roots, because Porch is still most certainly a startup in many ways, but it will be exciting to push myself so far out of my comfort zone.

Here We Go

So there you have it. If you haven’t checked out Porch.com, definitely go give it a look through. And seriously – if you are a great growth marketer (specifically in social, email, performance, or content) and feel like joining an amazing company building something really special – be sure to ping me. We’re growing fast and looking for amazing marketers to join us.

First official day is still about a week away. Until then I’ll be finishing up a few projects, sleeping in a bit, and taking in the Seattle sunshine. Iced americanos down at the waterfront anyone?

Before I wrap up, I also just wanted to say thanks to all you crazy cats who have been so darn supportive over the years. The best thing about having a blog and loving social is that I do very much feel like we are going through all of these changes together. Not like fake “together” but like…really together. So thank you.

#letsdothis

Apr 15

Your Decision Making Batting Average

I’m a big fan of moving fast. I feel very fortunate that somewhere along the way the idea of “taking risks” became one I was pretty comfortable with. While I haven’t always been right (obvioussslyyyyy), I’ve become very comfortable with what I call “my decision making batting average.” This isn’t an entirely new concept, but it is one that I have advised friends to embrace over the years and one that I believe has been a huge advantage for me as an entrepreneur.

The gist is this – you won’t always be right. But you will likely bat an average. The sooner you feel out how comfortable you are with that average, the more you trust yourself, the more honest you can be with those that work with you, and the faster you are at making decisions and providing value.

My batting average is 70%. I believe that if given ten decisions to make, I will likely lead us the right direction 7 out of 10 times. Of course this is high some days (say for example — days I am in my wheelhouse in marketing) and low others (like days that I’m out of my wheelhouse on a new product or something).

But over the years I have settled in at .70 and I dig it. I’m all cozy up in there. Getting comfortable with this has helped me so much. First and foremost I let my colleagues know. I’m up front – hey guys, I chill around .70 most of the time, so you can expect I might screw up 3 out of every 10 times. This sort of transparency builds trust. Trust that I’m not pretending to know it all. Trust that if I screw up, I’ll let you know right away and we’ll correct it. Trust in my abilities to lead us [generally] in the right direction the majority of the time.

These are good things.

Additionally, it gives me a place to jump from. You’ll be amazed at how much more you trust yourself when you spend time nailing down your decision making batting average. Some of you might be cool with .50 – you risky little cats you. These people move real fast, and are totally comfortable hitting it out of the park 1 out of every 2 times. Others might need to be closer to .90, which means you might need more information prior to a decision. It might take you longer to make a decision on something but from that you have higher confidence. The truth is there is a job and place for all of us. Continue reading →

Mar 25

A Beautiful Impact

I get asked all the time… “what drives you?” I never really know what to say. I feel like over the years a million things have driven me in startups and marketing and life. I didn’t give the question that much time. The irony, of course, being that I have spent so many hours thinking about questions that really are far less important. Stressing over why I said that one thing, or acted that one time. It all comes back to what motivates us.

The past six months I have had the honor of working with one of Seattle’s most amazing professional coaches – Stacey Sargent, CEO of Connect Growth and Development, Author of a fantastic book on how we all handle our inner critics and brilliant woman all around. The funny thing is – she’d smack me if she saw I called her a professional coach. She adheres to “whole-person intelligence” coaching and believes it’s about helping us bring our life back into work. It’s so up my alley. I couldn’t agree more.

I don’t have work life balance. Never have. I’ve helped build 6 startups, four effectively succeeded, one failed, and one is in the middle of an exciting adventure. I’m a tech advisor, a TechStars mentor, a professor at UW. I’m launching a shopping app, I blog for Entrepreneur.com, MarketingLand, and here. I have been talking, learning, teaching, and doing marketing and tech for over a decade. I’ve traveled the world teaching hundreds of thousands of marketers how to do great marketing. I’m not married, I don’t have kids. Heck, I just got a betta fish, and I have to co-own it, because I have a hard time remembering to feed it. I don’t do balance. 

Or as Stacey has shown me…perhaps I do my balance. And perhaps it is perfectly in balance.

For the past five months we’ve met every other week to work through what I would call “hard stuff.” We talked through my inner critics, my mistakes, my regrets, my weaknesses. We also worked through my strengths, my superpowers, and exercises that showed me just how intense those two camps fight with each other. We worked through what I love about what I do, and where I want to end up. What do I want from all of this? What makes me truly happy?

It all made for a lot of intense sessions of self-reflection, a lot of late nights of reading, and writing, and pushing myself to get at the core of it all. It might sound new-age to you, or cheesy, or even a waste of time, but I can honestly say…working with Stacey has been the best thing I’ve done for myself professionally, hell possibly even personally.

After half a year of us working together, a few huge things came out of it (and a million smaller things). Big things include;

  • I know my core values. I have six core values (on itttyyy bittty notecards) I now carry around with me. I value “passion, acheivement, family, helping others, creativity and humor” more than I value most things. They steer me. They anchor me. They helps me identify when I feel off course.
  • I know where I am easily derailed. Aka, I know why I screwed up so much. Or at least I have some good theories. The first few years of my career were driven by pure ambition. I was very competitive, and not always that empathetic, and I acknowledge that now.  During that time I strengthened some muscles and not others. I now know what I need to work on and where I need to level up.  I can correct for it faster. Especially since the ambition is still so prevalent (and will always be a part of me). There is beauty in a team that is mutually ambitious and working with each other toward a common goal. That excites me.
  • I have words I am comfortable defining myself by. Eeekkk! Okay…here I go. I am an entrepreneur, a business woman, a storyteller, a marketer, a mentor. I am grounded, maternal, and an artist. I’m just gonna throw down on this — most women (and some men) have a hard time screaming “I AM AN ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESSWOMAN…AND I AM GREAT AT WHAT I DO!” So we hide it. We blush. We deflect when someone compliments us, and rarely do we own it. I am owning these words. I am these things. I work hard for them.
  • I have a mantra. We did this great exercise where I got to invite 6 business people to dinner. Any 6 in the world. Then we talked through why them, what would I ask them, what advice would they give me. The common thread between my six people were that they: challenged the status quo, empowered other people, were building a legacy, were driven & focused, and they worked their asses off. When it came down to the collective advice they gave me, I concluded they (in my story at least) said this: “Stop worrying and JUST GO!”  … I mean for real people, why don’t we all just stop worrying and JUST FREAKING GO?!

So those are some of the takeaways that really stood out. But the biggest success after all of this was that I had finally nailed down what really motivates me. I could identify the two words that feel so “me” that I can honestly say I wake up every morning, and work late into the night with this on my mind. I take opportunities based on these words, I pass on others because of these words. These two words are me.

I want to have a “beautiful impact” on this world. A beautiful impact. I want to build companies and brands that want to have a beautiful impact on the world. I want to work with investors that believe in investing in a beautiful impact. I hire people that work hard and build things. I believe in the power of design, and imagery. The visual has always been key to the experiences I’ve built and sold. I love beautiful people. Like really beautiful people – inside and out. Honest, real, full of flaws, that are making a difference. “Beautiful” to me means you have the power to stop someone in their tracks with a moment so real that it encourages a deep breath, a thankful breath…for that singular experience. That experience could be between people in a community, between a consumer and a product, or a brand and a customer, or two colleagues building something together. It could be felt when you see a photo or read a story. Moments of beautiful impact are rare, but to me…it’s what this is all about.

As Stacey pointed out with every superpower comes the other side…it’s called the “light” and the “shadows.” The light of such a goal is pretty obvious. But the shadows include – lack of patience for those mailing it in, a need to move fast and go hard that can cannibalize others. It can be intimidating, my obsession for progress can come off as inauthentic (because what crazy person could care that much about a homepage layout? #raiseshand). I have a high bar for the beautiful which can cause friction with fans of MVPs, baseline experiences, and uber lean approaches. To have a beautiful impact you often have to be bold, outside the box, and you have to often follow your intuition. You have to trust the consumer, hear what they need, put them first. You have to aspire to delight them at every corner…sometimes at the detriment of short-term revenue. This is hard, and frankly…not right for every company. It’s not the goal of every team. With the light, comes the dark.

Mar 11

The Value of Stiletto Networks

I was wandering the web the other day and stumbled upon a post on Entrepreneur.com about the Rise of Stiletto Networks, and I have to admit – I was caught a bit off guard. What is this new trend regarding women in business that I have yet to hear about?

A stiletto network is loosely defined as “a group of power women that meet often and support each other” and apparently it’s like a thing. There is even a book on it {that I admittedly just ordered}.

Honest moment…something about the name rubs me the wrong way. Which is strange because I love both confident women and beautiful stilettos. Hell you all know how much I love shoes. Like a lot. But it feels like a name that goes against the nature of the cause. Like it somehow suggests you have to be wearing stilettos to be powerful, or maybe that you have to be a stereotypical type of beautiful to be powerful. Neither of which is true, obviously. Powerful, confident, world-changing women wear all sort of shoes. They come in all sorts of sizes, styles, and types.

On the flip side…a stiletto is a very powerful shoe. It’s synonymous with bold, beautiful, power. All of those words are exactly how I view the women I know that are leading the way. They are bold, beautiful, and powerful.

It’s what I aspire to be daily…bold, beautiful, and to have an impact on the brands I build, consumers I reach, and technology world in general.

I’m a fan of camraderie between women in business, especially women in tech. In fact, I’m more than a fan. I’ve spent the last few years of my career very much focused on investing in other women entrepreneurs, marketers, and technologists (this focus of mine has come with it’s own challenges, which I plan on writing about at some point). I mentor two women myself, and take any chance I can to get in front of women and remind them how exciting technology is and how perfect a place it is for their unique skills.

My mentor is a woman. My professional coach is a woman. My closest industry liasons are women. Without even knowing it I have created and joined a number of “stiletto networks.” In fact, right now I am actually, intentionally, working with a fellow fashion blogger on building one focused on fashion and tech. We just didn’t know that it was called that. So meta. I find it very interesting, that without having been exposed to the idea, or learning about it’s value, I was actually creating and participating in so many of these.

The value of these networks (call them whatever you want) are so amazing. From them we get professional guidance, personal support, connections, advice, and what I believe to be an “innate understanding” that somehow helps me silence my inner critics, and be my boldest, best self.

I feel very fortunate to have found myself surrounded by so many women I adore and admire professionally. If you are a woman in tech and you find yourself without a group like this, I encourage you to go create one. It can start with just two of you, and see where it takes you. Invite in those with other skills, and similar ambitions and before you know it…you’ll be rocking a Stiletto Network yourself.

And if you really can’t find that second person, ping me. No I mean it. We’ll figure something out. #thepoweroftwo for women in tech can be a very powerful beginning. So go get started already.

Jan 06

The Difference Between Brand Consistency and Brand Coherence

Designing a brand’s identity is one of my favorite things. I’ve grown to love it.

Every brand has a vibe, a form, an experience that is just waiting to come out and be shared with the world. The problem is most marketers aren’t sure where to start when it comes to brand marketing. It combines a number of skills, some of which are less familiar to a traditional digital marketer – things like – storytelling, visual theory, event management, offline experience, and consumer psychology.

One of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make is obsession over “brand consistency.” I bet, you hear this all the time in meetings  - “but there needs to be a consistent brand experience.” It’s an effective way to shut down a number of conversations. Some of those conversations, by the way, are likely to be the most innovative, disruptive ones on the table.

The irony of it is those are the ideas that are at the heart of brand marketing. Those are the ones that keep a brand evolving and growing with it’s consumers.

Instead of aiming for brand consistency, todays’ marketers should be aiming for brand coherence. They might sound similar, but the difference is critical. Brand consistency is when the elements of a brand go unchanged over time. Brand coherence is when all the elements of a brand feel familiar and are effective. Coherence is when all the pieces come together and are intuitive to those experiencing them.

Brand coherence and brand consistency

Brands that center their conversations around “consistency” are committing to a stagnant strategy. I’ve seen this approach used as a weapon to stunt big conversations, big gambles, big ideas.

“We can’t launch that new campaign it’s not consistent with our brand.”
“We can’t explore that design as our social account cover, it’s not consistent with our brand.”
“We can’t test that new mailer voice, it’s not consistent with our brand.”

Oy. The goal is not consistency. It’s coherence.

Continue reading →

Dec 25

My 2014 Style Resolutions

Dear 2013, you were one hell of a year. Full of emerald greens, leather accents, and personal mountains…I must say…just wow.

I am quite excited about the year ahead. Choosing to take the reins more, go after what really makes me happy, care less what others think, and put my time just where I want it to go. Call it my early thirties, being single for the first time in three years, or just good ole fashioned New Year mojo – but I’m ready for you 2014.

I thought I’d throw together a fresh list of my style resolutions. Rather than commit to more work/life balance (meh, no thanks), or to cook more (I’m way ahead of you 2014!) or finally get back to dancing (which I really do want to do) – I decided to come up with resolutions at they relate to fashion, style, makeup, and more.

Last year I challenged myself to learn more about the fashion industry, committed to blogging more, got up my ISITaYES site/blog, and finished up my fashion app (ready to launch soon). So what is the next chapter for me in this stylish ride? I’m not entirely sure, but I think these style resolutions are a good place to start.

1. Wear more dresses. I’ve been drawn to them lately. Maybe because I miss being feminine, or maybe because I feel more free flowing than previous years. But this year I vow to wear more dresses. Long ones, short ones, cinched at the waist, and layered. I went on a date not to long ago and the man picked me up and twirled me and I kept thinking – man I wish I had on a beautiful maxi dress right now, so the wind could catch and this moment could last longer. [Yes I think those things. That's totally normal, right? right?]

Goal: Twirl more.

2. Find the perfect pair of nude heels. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t own nude pumps. Yup. I said it. I know they are the staple, the thing to own. But damn they are hard to find. If I have to dedicate multiple weekends to this adventure, I will [cough] [cough] [willingly] put in the time. Suggestions welcome, as are shopping buddies. I must find them to help me tackle #6, and to also figure out that whole “make your legs look so damn long” thing. With all the dresses I’ll be wearing, it’s a must.

Goal: Find the confidence to show off more leg.

3. Discover orchid accents. Pantone…I adore you. Last year it was emerald and this year orchid. I appreciate you keeping us on our toes. Purple is such a rich, and soulful color. It reminds me of being young and carefree. I’d wear head to toe purple, and bounce around. So this year I will embrace this feminine accent in fun new ways – maybe menswear, maybe jewelry, maybe a pair of kicks if I can find them.

Goal: Lace into my life the softer side of bold.

4. Finally figure out boyfriend jeans and pumps. You might be thinking this trend is “over.” Oh that’s right…I don’t care. I am 5 foot nothing, and I dig boyfriend jeans. High heels and jeans. I’ve been trying to understand the boyfriend jeans and pumps phenomenon for the last two years but with little success. This is the year. I must figure out the right length, drape of the jean, height of the heel, so on and so forth.

Goal: Show up at a happy hour in said outfit, order martini, look fabulous. Repeat.

5. Explore hairstyles & find a signature. Confession: I have absolutely no idea what to do with my hair. I’ve been a blond, a brunette. I’ve cut it short, grown it out, permed it, straightened it. I’ve done bangs, no bangs, back to bangs, back to no bangs. Hell I’ve tried it all. Alas…I am no closer to really understanding how to do my hair. Most days it’s a high bun, or a low ponytail. There has to be more. Tis the time to figure this out.

Goal: Stop pretending a messy bun looks great [caveat: everyday for every occasion].

6. 31 year old professional me…figure that out. I’m 31. I’m 31. Holy snap. I’m 31. I want to start dressing like what 31-year-old Joanna should dress like. What is that you ask? Don’t panic - I have a pinterest board for just this occasion…uhmmm and a Wanelo collection. [Don't judge me!] Clean lines, polished, sexy, bold colors, and layers. Leather, chic, with the occasional “favorite piece.” Oh…and once a while there is a casual -  ripped jeans, meets soft t-shirt, with bulky sweater and chunky necklace look. Anyway. I’ve got a magnet pulling me this direction, so it’s time to get after it already.

Goal: Stop throwing on jeans and a black sweater. For the love of all the others things in my closet – start taking chances. Continue reading →

Oct 15

Know Thy Work Self

I had one of those great catch up sessions with an old boss tonight. You know the ones…where you catch up over old stories and new stories and you laugh because it all makes so much more sense now. It was great and I couldn’t be more thankful for the advice I learned both from my two years working for him but also for the candid responses to my questions tonight. My main takeaway?

Know thy work self.

We spend a lot of time on ourselves. Or we should. The truth is we spend a hell of a lot of time figuring out how we fit into everything else. We obsess over our relationships, our place in a company, our place in an industry, our role in a friendship. And maybe – just maybe – if we aren’t completely exhausted we get to the end of the day and we have a moment where we reflect on whether we are living it all the way we really want to be living it.

Call it grounded. Meditation. Self-awareness. Authenticity. Truth. Boldness. So many words all meaning the same thing — are you doing you?

Tough thing to do these days. I blame Facebook (read “blame” as “thank”) because we have never been more connected to ghosts of yesteryear, and promises of tomorrow. Every day we are faced with choices we could have made, and things we did wrong. Want to wonder what it would have been like if I chose love at age 24 over that second startup? I don’t need to wonder I have a feed full of beautiful families to remind me. Wonder if you made the wrong choice quitting that last gig?  No need to question it, just look at that old team you miss so much. It’s easy to get caught up in. I think the reality of it all is we spend a great deal of time knowing each other. A great deal of time not trusting ourselves that we actually did the right thing.

I know I do. I spend a lot of time “watching others” — man that sounded creepy.

But what about me? Know thy self. It’s a real thing. But even outside the personal reasons for focusing on you – what about work. How well do you know thy work self? Do you know what really drives you? Do you know what that ideal work situation looks like? Those ideal colleagues? That ideal office? That ideal commute? What about that company philosophy? Do you know what the mecca of companies is for you? It doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but you need to know it…to get closer to it.

I bet you spend 1/100th of your time figuring out that, compared to the time you spent on what boots you should by for this fall. Or maybe that was just me. La la la.

Tonight’s chat with an old boss (mentor, great guy, friend) reminded me how far I’ve come in knowing my true work self. I know I love solving business problems that have an impact. I know I get frustrated working for and with people that are anything but passionate and dedicated to the problem we are solving. I know I love beautiful things – websites, campaigns, content, logos, products. I like to build them and be around people that appreciate beautiful things. I want to work for a company that has a real reason for being around. I also like to try my hand at new things and “figure it out” even if that means failing 49% of the time. I like to help my colleagues find out what part of their jobs they love and help them do more of that. I like to empower them to get after bold things…sometimes at the detriment of an immediate ROI. (Yup I just said that).

That’s my work self, and it’s not at every company. Hell, it’s not at most companies. Continue reading →

Sep 18

Marketers as Creatives

I scored better on the math part of the SAT than I did on my verbal. I love analytics. The first third of my career in marketing was spent only in paid search, conversion rate testing and Excel. I am a counter. A calculator. I have been in charge of the budget for most of my career, magnetically pulled to the numbers that make or break companies. On paper (or on LinkedIn, because who really uses paper anymore) I am a numbers woman.

But I’m not. I’m a creative. And, much to my own surprise, the past few years I have found myself identifying more and more with this role of creative. 

There are probably a million reasons for this. The web has steadily become more visual. It’s now a marketplace of ideas, an ecosystem of creative conversation, and an eruption of bold promises in beautiful colors. Or at least that is what it feels like to me. There are classes now to help us marketers learn design, and branding, and typography. Our teams are now heavily dependent on the bar to which we hold our design standards. Brands are built on beautiful foundations, and marketers’ campaigns are expected to deliver more than leads…they are expected to deliver experiences.

If you asked me 8 years ago what an ideal marketing team looked like, I may not have included a top-notch designer. I believed then the design team could live independent of marketing. But no more. Today, when I grab coffees with startup founders they ask who they should hire first on their teams and I say one of two roles – an amazing web designer, or a brand marketer that appreciates design theory. Every single marketing channel now requires a level of creativity that historically was not required for success.

It’s the new norm…marketers as creatives.

I know the school of thought out there around technical marketing. I adhere to it on many levels. I’ve taken Team Treehouse classes, MarketingMotive courses, and learned SQL just so I could hang with the technical cats around me. There is no denying that technical marketers are valuable. But I hope we don’t forget how hard it is to find a true creative. I also hope we don’t shut off our creative sides in hopes of fine tuning our technical skills. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, but given how much there is to learn, it often ends up being the case.

Tomorrow’s marketing will be driven by creativity. We will all be playing in new mediums to a new generation on new devices with new expectations hoping for new outcomes. We will literally all be flailing in a sea of creative marketing campaigns, and the ones that stand out will have put in the time to understand design theory, conversation marketing, psychological theory, and the power of persuasion.

Continue reading →