My background is diverse, my experience deep and my education cutting-edge. I have spent the past 15 years building a proven track record by helping companies create comprehensive and solid marketing plans and campaigns that work and bring results. Quite simply I do what I promise, my follow-through is impeccable and my portfolio is second-to-none.

 

Tuesday
May122015

(Only) 8 reasons moms make better CEOs

This article was forwarded to me by a friend, and was written on May 7 by Perry Yeatman for Fortune.com. It is genius...

The greatest lesson parenting can teach business leaders is that it’s not just about you.

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s a good time to take a closer look at a question on the minds of many working women: Can we have it all — great careers, great marriages, great kids, great friends? I fully understand the question but not why we keep asking it. Look around. While it’s not an absolute prerequisite to being successful, all of these very prominent female CEOs – Mary Barra at General Motors, Indra Nooyi at Pepsi, Ellen Kullman at DuPont, Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard and Irene Rosenfeld Mondelez are married and have kids.

So this Mother’s Day, instead of making our young women crazy trying to decide if they can possibly have C-suite jobs and kids, let’s celebrate what the evidence – and certainly my own experience – suggests: Being a mom (or a dad for that matter) doesn’t have to hurt your chances of getting ahead. In fact, it can help.

Here are 8 lessons I learned as a mom that have made me a better colleague and boss.

Everything is a negotiation

Being a mom taught me how to be a better negotiator — with anyone and about anything. I use these skills daily – on everything from securing favorable contract terms for my company to getting my 11-year-old daughter to wear a dress to church for Easter (it happened this year – but only because she got to pair it with her favorite hot pink Dr. Marten boots).

You don’t have to know all the answers – questions are powerful

Being barraged by endless questions taught me the power of curiosity and to use questioning and probing as a management technique. When you change markets and roles as often as I have, it’s a given that you won’t have all the answers. Early on in my career, that made me feel insecure. But after more than a decade facing a barrage of questions about my IT needs from my tech-savvy Danish husband (I barely know the difference between software and hardware) or inquiries from my then 16-year-old stepson about hip-hop music (do you really think I could enlighten him about people who sing for Death Row Records?), I’ve grown comfortable not knowing all the answers. I can now lead teams and add value even when I have limited direct experience or knowledge of the subject at hand. How? By being clear about what I know and what I don’t know and by probing deeply. You’d be amazed how often you can uncover powerful insights and potential issues just by asking intelligent questions.

 

Different isn’t bad – it’s better

Motherhood also taught me that different is good. Before I had kids, I often created teams of “mini-MEs.” Now I know that it’s far better to pick people that don’t necessarily see things exactly as I do and have complementary – not identical – skills and temperaments. Looking at the world through other’s eyes, like I do through the eyes of my children, helps me come up with new ideas, better solutions and better results.

Coaching, nurturing and role-modeling get you further than lecturing

The best leaders (and best moms) know that it isn’t just about telling people what to do. It’s a lot more about coaching, nurturing, guiding and role-modeling. And then, toughest of all sometimes, it’s about letting them go do their thing without you. At home, one of the simplest but most difficult tests I faced last Fall was letting my then 9-year-old daughter walk the dog by herself. For years, I’d told her all about stranger danger. I’d role-played with her on what to do if someone approached her. I went into detail about how not to fall for the “cute puppy” or “hurt parent” routine. But trust me when she went bounding out the door, down the street and out of sight with our little white ball of fluff of a dog, my heart was in my throat.

At work, it’s more likely that I’m grooming one of my people to become my successor. There, I basically do the same things. I don’t just tell them what to do; I show them. I take them to meetings with me. I help with their content development – not by doing it but by suggesting edits or asking questions. I help them practice their delivery. I do all this and then I send them in for their first solo presentation to the CEO or the Board. It’s nerve racking, because I want them to succeed, but I do it anyway because it’s the only way they can really learn and prove that they are ready to fly without me.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Being a mom taught me it’s not physically possible to worry about or prevent every single thing that could go wrong (believe me, I have tried!). So, now I try to remain laser-focused on what really matters and to let the rest go. At home, the rule is “no permanent damage.” (So for my daughter, blue hair is okay…body piercings, not so much.) With my direct reports, it’s about focusing on outcomes, not outputs. As long as their approach is efficient, effective and in keeping with company policies and values, I’ve given up trying to get everybody to “do it my way.” Instead, I look at what they achieve much more than how they achieve it.

IQ without EQ isn’t enough

Having kids taught me that “EQ” (emotional intelligence) is as important as “IQ.” I was always smart, but I was so driven I wasn’t always connecting with my people. Now I am undoubtedly more empathetic to others. And their knowing that I’m personally invested in them helps not only build better understanding but also trust and team spirit.

Relationships matter

Tied to that, having kids taught me that long-term success depends on building relationships, not just hitting your numbers. I used to be too busy “getting it done” to really invest in others. Now I know you must do both. Relationships aren’t optional; they’re critical.

It’s not just about you

Last but certainly not least, being a mom taught me about how important it is for all leaders to not only strive for professional success but personal fulfillment as well. Early on, it’s so easy to get caught up in your career at the expense of everything else. And I think some years fully focused on work are good. But at the end of the day, the reason I think moms make better CEOs is that they realize that as compulsive as they are about their work (and believe me leading CEOs are all compulsive, in the best sense of the word) they also know that there is more to life than being CEO. Let me share one example from my six years (2006-2012) working with Irene Rosenfeld at Kraft Foods.

During those years, I grew to respect Irene tremendously. I found her super smart, highly capable and utterly committed. But even beyond that, her decision to split Kraft Foods into two separate public companies demonstrated that she could put company interests ahead of her own. It’s more common now, but back in 2011 when Irene announced the split, it was almost unheard of. Back then, not every CEO would’ve willingly “shrunk” their company (and by the prevailing “bigger is better” standard of the time, their professional stature) even if it was the right thing to do. But I think that because of who she is as a person and the fact that being the CEO of Kraft Foods wasn’t the only thing in her life (she has a husband, two daughters and many important commitments beyond her “day job”), it was possible for her to step back and ask herself: what’s the right thing to do here – not for me, but for the company?

This ability to give it your all but also put your ego aside is perhaps the most valuable thing motherhood teaches us. It’s also the greatest lesson business leaders can learn because in the end, leaders must understand that it’s not about us, it’s about them.

Moms know this. Think about the power of that in the C-suite.

Monday
May042015

Costa Ridiculous.

Oh my word, I am a lucky lady.

In just 10 short months I am going on to Costa Rica on a yoga retreat with some of the most amazing women I've ever met.

I've always wanted to go to Costa Rica.

I've secretly always wished for more time with each of the women who will be there.

I've imagined yoga on the beach in a tropical locale to be heavenly.

I've been envious of Madonna's arms for over a decade. I know she does a lot of yoga, and figure that a week of doing yoga in Costa Rica should get me there.

I want to meet a capuchin monkey (and possibly make it a pet).

And, it's happening. It's really happening.

This is- hands down- the most indulgent, self-focused thing I've ever done. I'm overcome by amazement that I get to do this, gratitude for a body healthy enough to allow me to do the ugliest yoga in all of Costa Rica, a team of yogis who are patient, fun, and kind, and a family that damn near forced me to sign up because they are amazingly supportive and knew how much I would love this.

But, I need to have a goal. And, this year my yoga goal is the Peacock Pose. Here is what it i supposed to look like:

As of May 2015 when I attempt this pose, this is what I look like:

I have a long way to go, but I hope to "master" it and bring it out on the beach, at the lodge, by the pool, at the gas station, and, probably at the airport. You know, like a peacock.

 

 

Sunday
Apr192015

Stalk On.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to up my media monitoring game, and as of last week, I'm pleased to say that I am now a stalker for hire.

I have spent the last 4 months courting several media monitoring services, and have finally landed on "the one." I am certain we're gonig to have a very long and happy relationship.

So, here's how this works- if your business ends up in print, online, or in the broadcast media, I will know. And, if someone posts about your business in social media, I will know. If someone mentions you in a blog, you guessed it, I will know. It doesn't matter if it's an obscure online blog in the tiniest of towns, or a major trade publication, I will know. I am drunk with information.

Case in point: last month I had a client host a large fundraising event. We did all the media work you'd expect to promote the event, and as I tracked the publication rate, I knew of 9 sources who had publicized the event and effort. I felt pretty good about that. Then I plugged the criteria into my new media monitoring program, and it wasn't 9 sources who had picked it up, it was 84. And they were all over the country. I felt REALLY good about that.

So yes, it's a bit stalker-ish. And I truly do feel like the proverbial fly on the wall. But here's the deal: the businesses I work with need to- and want to- know what is being said about them. Unless you know what is being printed, said, or posted about your business, your PR strategy (assuming you have one) may not be hitting the mark.

And- this is where I get really excited- I can now compile everything that's been printed, said, or posted about your business in the past day, week, month, or quarter into a super-slick report with all kinds of uber-technical charts and graphs. And I do love a good report.

Interested in hiring a professional stalker? I'm ready- jennifer@jenniferkorfiatis.com

Thursday
Mar052015

Oh, My Word(s).

We Are Wenatchee Part II from Voortex Productions on Vimeo.

I've had the privilege of working on some pretty amazing projects in the past year, but if I'm being honest, I'd admit that writing the "We Are Wenatchee II" script takes the cake. Without a doubt.

The good folks at the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce came to me last summer and asked if I'd collaborate with the crew at Voortex Productionsand write the script to the second installment of the "We Are Wenatchee" series. If you haven't seen the first video, it's nothing short of amazing. It's gone viral and has been watched in over 150 countries. Talk about big shoes to fill.

So, I began to wrestle with it. I love this place for a million different reasons, and I was being asked to sum up what makes this valley amazing in roughly three minutes. I'll be honest and say that I struggled, and not because I didn't know WHAT to say, but because I wanted to make sure I said it right.

I stared at my computer screen. Nothing. I scrubbed my house. Nothing. I went for long runs in the foothills. Still nothing.

And then I went to Maui. And because I had nothing on paper and a deadline, I did the unthinkable and brought my laptop with me. To my surprise, the words wouldn't stop. And because I'm being honest, I will admit that I wrote the entire script in a matter of about 10 minutes while sitting on the balcony of our condo overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I wrote the script to the video designed to capture the essence of my favorite place, from my second favorite place.

And there you have it. Sometimes inspiration strikes at unexpected times, in unexpected places. But thank goodness it did, because collaborating on this project is one of my highlights of recent memory. It has been an honor to say "We Are Wenatchee."

Tuesday
Mar032015

Data Driven.

I'm currently working through a year-long project with AdventureWenatchee to get to the heart of what tourists think of the Wenatchee Valley. This project has been contracted by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, and frankly, I'm ecstatic to be working on this.

For years, I've sat in a variety of meetings where very intelligent people discuss various ways to attract tourists. We make assumptions about who they are, where they're coming from, and what they think of our valley. We've done our best to make sound business and marketing decisions designed to attract these visitors, but it has largely been based our best guesses.

That's about to change.

This project will answer the questions we've been asking for years. By the end of 2015 we'll have answers to questions such as:

Where are visitors coming from?
How long are they staying?
Where are they staying?
What do they do when they're here?
What do they like about the Wenatchee Valley?
Where could we improve?

These answers will be provided to the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and will be used to guide their marketing strategy. There are also potential impacts to business and industry development.

It's a fascinating project, and I can't wait to see what our tourism customers have to say.