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
Aug252015

Nosy Neighbor

For the past 14 years I have lived two blocks from a castle. Though I had never been inside, my curiosity ran wild on a near daily basis. What did it look like inside? What was the history? What does this mean for my property value?

So imagine my elation when I was hired to write the script to help sell the Craigmuir Castle.

I love all things nostalgic, and to put myself in the shoes and price range of a potential buyer, I had to understand the castle. I had to learn the history, architecture, design, and take a peek inside. This castle is full of stories.

And at the end of the day, there was only one way to handle the script- the castle needed to tell its own story.

Once the script was finalized, it was placed in the capable hands of Voortex Productions. Naturally, the finished piece is amazing.

If you've ever wanted to take a look inside, live in a castle AND a great neighborhood, now is your chance.

Saturday
Jul252015

My friends may have saved my career.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but my friends may have just saved my career. Seriously.

I have just returned from 4 glorious days in Napa with 9 of the most amazing ladies I have ever met. The occasion was a bachelorette party. We ran a half marathon and crossed the finish line together holding hands while crying tears of gratitude. We tasted wine. We lounged by the pool. Some did a Body Combat class (not this girl- I sipped coffee and watched). But most of all, we laughed. And laughed. And laughed. And while I was there to celebrate one of the most incredible women in my life, I walked away from the long weekend feeling like I was the one who received exactly what was needed.

The truth is, I was exhausted, exasperated, and on my last nerve before I left. This girl needed a break in a major way. I had not been a good wife or mother, and I had become a liability in my career. As someone who is self-employed, recognizing when you are your worst enemy is critically important. I was snappy and jaded, and for those of you who had the displeasure of speaking with me during that long, last week before I left, I am sorry and a little bit embarrassed.

But, I'm back! My cup is full! I am recharged! And I know this to be true because I have downloaded my emails and feel grateful that my inbox is packed full of great ideas from smart people who value my opinion and expertise enough to ask.

And so, to those of you whom I may have offended, snapped at, glared at, or just plain ol' bitched at, I am forever sorry. I will not allow that to happen again. And to my friends who kept me laughing for 4 straight days, thank you. And since I still have a job because of you, the next round is on me.

Wednesday
Jul152015

Assistant to the CEO

I have "hired" an assistant. Finally.

Well, that's not entirely true. My son is 13 and three short months ago we sat at the dinner table and talked about plans for the summer. I had gathered brochures and information from a variety of camps, clubs, and activities the 13-year-old me would have booked in a heart beat. He could not be bothered.

Instead, he wanted to spend the summer unscheduled, relaxing, and ready to live life by the seat of his pants. We are one month into summer, and so far he's done a bunch of staring at the walls, calling his list of friends (who are all busy with camps/clubs/activities), and wandering aimlessly around our house. He is a boat without a rudder.

Not one to waste an opportunity, I've used this as a "win" for me and have started dragging him (sometimes kicking and screaming) with me to meetings, events, errands, etc. He is my new assistant.

The good news is that I get an extra set of hands to help lighten the load. We're also spending "quality time" together. He's realizing that planning some summer activities is a good thing. And, I hope, somewhere along the way all of this business jargon that he's overhearing is resonating.

And so far, I've gotten away with paying him in milkshakes and the ability to stay up 30 minutes past his bedtime. I fully intend to use these proven negotiation tactics when I'm truly ready to expand and hire.

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.