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LinkedIn’s leading ladies talk PR, tech, and changing the world

As a career professional, can you imagine a world without LinkedIn? It would be like trying to function without a pencil in a one-room schoolhouse. Ridiculous. LinkedIn has essentially replaced the need for business cards, since you can basically use it as a modern day Rolodex. #Connections. Furthermore, if you’ve ever looked for a job, […]


3 Reasons CEOs Should Ditch Individualistic Bravado

Handsome man humor funny gesture in a mirrorIn my opinion, nothing is more unappealing than ego-driven anything. When arrogance and bravado are the core principles of a leadership team, the result is often one of three things, if not all of them:

1. Your employees will despise you.

2. The press will generate negative stories about your company.

3. Your customers will vote with their feet.

The antics of particular CEOs (who will remain unnamed) notwithstanding, this type of behavior is generally bad for business on a variety of levels, not to mention out of vogue. How a leader operates both in and out of the boardroom defines the company culture, setting the tone for inter-employee communication and the expectations for the group as a whole.

The most successful leaders I’ve encountered are armed with empathy, patience, and intelligence while emphasizing trust and strong team bonds. To prove my point, I tapped a few CEOs whom I respect to provide insight on how they lead without raised voices or harsh words, and why it’s a much better approach to leave inflated egos at the door.

#1–Trust is an “inside job” that will lead to “outside success”

Reprimanding and bullying employees for poor performance can often lead to crushed morale for both the person and the people around them; it may scare up immediate results, but it doesn’t create long-term inspiration. Instead, slowing down and talking things through can often be much more effective.

“As a leader, I make a conscious choice to let bothersome things process and settle before bringing them up,” says Dippak Khurana, Co-founder and CEO of Vserv. “When they surface, I try to make it part of a thoughtful discussion in a face-to-face or small group situation. I’ll state my case, listen to the response, and try to see all perspectives, particularly when it involves big decisions. I’ve found that it builds the most important thing any successful CEO needs: trust.”

Not only can you fix a problem at the root cause, employees will feel safe to express their thoughts and ideas. That environment can propel the whole company forward.

Continue reading…


How to Think About Gender Inequality and Diversity in Tech

Last fall I attended the very fashionable and mildly geek-chic Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing event, now home to “Nadella-gate.”

There, I observed a sea of 8,000 women aged eighteen to eighty who were there for one express purpose: to understand the technology landscape and future of computing and how it may affect their respective lives–career and otherwise.

My thinking around gender inequality (in this particular case, with regard to the technology industry) tends to align with GoDaddy CTO Elissa Murphy’s thinking when we sat down at the conference to discuss gender gaps, among other things: “I never got the memo that I wasn’t supposed to go to the computer lab, or play baseball, or do any other thing I wanted to do. Being a girl never had anything to do with it.”

On the flip side, as Erica Lockheimer, Director of Engineering Growth at LinkedIn, pointed out: “When you talk to younger generations, the stereotypes about being a girl in computing still exist: we’re introverted geeks who lack social skills and just want to stare at a computer screen all day. It’s in everything from the things they watch on TV to what they see on the Internet.”

What is the truth about why more girls don’t pursue engineering careers? Is it because men are holding them back? Is it because “the system” (that beast! The thing we blame when we can’t identify a culprit) is sending the wrong messages?

If we put gender aside for a moment, and focus on the benefits of diversity within industries and organizations, the thinking ever so slightly shifts into a solutions-based paradigm. The by-product of this modification is a distinct emphasis on a person’s love for a particular subject matter, area of expertise, or knowledge base that allows them to thrive. Along with continued discourse and a general awareness of “unconscious bias,” I am almost certain that if we focused on the following things, we would see seismic shifts in terms of the number of people (who happen to be female) who pursue careers in engineering and other technical roles.

EDUCATION: Thinking about computing education as art, rather than just science

It’s very easy to get stuck in our thinking that pursuing a degree in computer science means one is only adept with numbers. But the truth is that “coding” is actually very similar to learning a language; a language that happens to be numbers based. When curricula systematically approach engineering from the standpoint of science or math, they fundamentally deny those with a propensity for learning languages or a passion for art the opportunity to pursue this path. We have done a disservice by talking about STEM in terms of left-brains, rather than a creative pursuit that requires a different set of skills, often soft skills, in order to master it.

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Tech Talk With Sir Mix-A-Lot

I get a lot of email. Like, A LOT. My team often teases me that my inbox and calendar look more like an anti-productivity war zone than the carefully color-coded, organized chaos it actually is. There is a method to my madness, people! Back in January, I received an email that basically made my year, […]


3 tips for crossing the PRTech chasm

A few weeks ago AirPR was mentioned in this round up story by Mizzen+Main co-founder Web Smith, which he posted to curated blogging platform Medium.

In that post, Web gave one particularly interesting insight into how the minds of both startup co-founders driven by numbers, as well as engineering-focused brains, tend to look at something as fluid and elusive as PR:

PR equation

The point?

Well for starters, and from my experience making the move from a mostly female driven PR firm to a mostly male driven technology company, if you want to get anything – yes ANYTHING – done in the future as a communications professional it will require major shifts in how you think and operate.

But before we jump into 3 key shifts that I’ve culled for your perusing pleasure, here are some interesting stats from IBM’s 2011 CMO study that give some context:

  • 79% of CMOs expect a high level of complexity over the next five years as data explodes and technology solutions are required for key decision-making.
  • 48% of CMOs feel prepared for this above stated complexity.
  • This leaves a 31% “complexity gap” that needs to be filled with new paradigms, communications strategies, etc.
  • 74% of CMOs will be focusing on customer analytics (aka data) to understand individual purchasing behavior as opposed to en masse purchasing behavior (markets).
  • More than two-thirds believe they will need to invest in new tools and technologies and develop new strategies for managing big data.
  • Likewise, nearly two-thirds believe they will need to change the mix of skills within the marketing function and enhance its analytics capabilities.

In other words: future marketers, PR pros, and communicators extraordinaire – all of whom generally take cues from CMO trends – will likewise need to make relatively significant changes in order to remain relevant.

The bottom line? Well, to keep up you must understand how to work with data as well with those who are responsible for the data (enter PRTech).

I am extremely fortunate to be in an environment where the talented engineering folks I work with don’t write me off as a dumb “former PR girl” or balk at my requests for tech assistance and data insights.

And this DOES happen at companies. A lot. To be frank, it’s an antiquated way of operating, but most organizations won’t catch on for another 3 to 5 years. Possibly 7. Oy vey!

This “open channel behavior” with my tech team allows me to unearth important information which in turn allows me to communicate better (and engage more effectively) with our customers, the media, and other core constituencies.

So whether you’re internal to the marketing team at a company (not just technology companies because most companies have IT or some tech component at this point) or you’re on the agency side, here are a few pointers for engaging those on the tech savvy end of the spectrum.

#1 – Understand their communication limitations

Not to be a generalization-a-list, but the truth is that the majority of those on the “data side” are male. And as anyone knows who has ever known anyone who is male knows…they are not necessarily winning prizes for “best-in-show communicators.” Therefore, it is highly unlikely they will be willy nilly offering up information out of the blue that will make you look like a rockstar.

What do you do? Ask. Figure out 3 to 5 key things at a time, put it in bullet points and support it with data as to why it’s important for you to know the answers. Then ask. And typically over food. Fastest way to a data-person’s heart… Continue reading…