5 Things You Should Never Let Your Boss Hear You Say

office-gossipIf you want to get ahead at work, there are certain things you should steer clear of saying in the office. Even if what you’re saying is true (and everyone knows it!). Every time you want to lash out at an irritating manager or co-worker, take a breath and watch your words. Finding productive ways to work through your frustrations will put you that much closer to landing that promotion. Sometimes it’s as easy as walking away from the situation and taking a deep breath, other times it’s as hard asconfronting the person professionally. (And sometimes it’s as fun as taking a coloring break.)

However, the answer is never to let your boss overhear you say these five things in your moments of frustration. Read all about them in our article on career site The Muse.

How to Lead from the Front: Advice from a Marines Captain

Angie Morgan, Marines Captain and co-founder, Lead Star

Angie Morgan, Marines Caption and co-founder, Lead Star

Jessica recently attended a one-day leadership conference hosted by The Quorum Initiative, a selective group of high-level corporate women devoted to creating more opportunities for women in the workplace. At the event, amongst an impressive and smart group of women across industries–from finance and law to media and academia–she participated in an inspiring workshop given by Angie Morgan, a former Marines Officer and co-author of the book, Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women, along with fellow Marine Courtney Lynch, with whom Morgan also runs Lead Star, a leadership development consulting firm that has worked with companies from FedEx to 3M to Bank of America.

Morgan and Lynch were among the fewer than 1,000 female officers serving in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time — a scant one percent versus, for example, the U.S. Air Force, where nearly 20 percent of the officers are women — and she believes that the leadership training that she learned during her military service is transferable to the private sector, and can help anyone become a stronger and better leader. Below, Morgan shared with us some advice for how to lead from the front both in work – and in life.

JK: I imagine there’s a lot of fear and nervousness when entering the military for the first time, just as there is when you get a new job or position. How can fear stand in the way of success and how can you quell it in order to lead?

As you go through life, you get more comfortable with yourself and more reflective. I can easily recall that one of the biggest fears I had early on was the fear of failure. Up to that point in my life, everything had come pretty easily to me. I had good grades without studying too hard and did well at sports. In the Marines, I had to quickly learn a skill set that I wasn’t socialized learning and it was really challenging. I had never played with G.I. Joe or watched war movies growing up. When I started training, I was very overwhelmed and, on any given day, I felt like I was behind.

When there’s a fear of failure, your ego goes up and you start to get very defensive. I had excuses for my poor performance, but those weren’t helping me. What I had to come to terms with in order to succeed and get out of that place was absolute humility and an ability to ask for help. I never needed help before, so that was humbling. The fear of failure can influence your ego in unhealthy ways. Often you don’t want to raise your hand and ask for help because it makes you vulnerable.

That fear manifests itself in different ways in different people. For me, it was a lack of confidence; for others, it’s over-confidence.  Sometimes it’s even complacency, such as “I’m too afraid to fail so I’m not even going to try.”

In order to combat the fear, moments of self-appraisal are pretty helpful, such as “This is what you’ve done, this is how you’ve overcome this similar situation before.” That’s important for leaders to do. You have to remind yourself that you have the ability to influence your success and failure in pretty powerful and profound ways.

JK: If the Marines believe that everyone can be an effective leader, then who is following those leaders? In other words, can you be effective if you have all leaders? Or can those following a leader also be leaders and, if so, how?

In our society, we tend to see leaders as people who have positions of authority. In the Marine Corps, they teach you to have influence, and anyone can have influence. Someone can be a go-to person at any level. The Marine Corps teaches everyone to be a leader – they teach basic fundamental behaviors that influence outcomes and inspire others. Leadership can happen anywhere. Through Lead Star, we like to go to corporations and help them understand that leadership can be demonstrated at any level of the organization, especially among those who are individual contributors. What we like to do is start with professionals at an early stages of their career so they can develop their leadership skills well in advance of any promotion or managerial role. That way, they are prepared for the people responsibilities when they get to advance.

JK: With Millennials, they often want their superior’s job in six months or have tremendous confidence because they were told by their parents that they could do anything. At that age, how do you show leadership and not hubris?

For Gen Y, it’s important to have a mentor to help them understand that growth doesn’t have to be vertical but can be horizontal. Give them challenges and to help the develop their expertise and experiences – whether they want to start their own business, move into another role or move up. Most companies are faced with a significant percentage of their workforce getting near retirement age and the need to mentor younger employees. You can’t change the way the younger generation operates, so you need to embrace it. I think we’re going to see a lot more mentoring models out there, and it’s a good thing.

JK: I love your story in the book about making cold calls as a manager right along with your staff and how it inspired them and made them work harder. Why is it important as a leader to show that you are not above rolling up your sleeves? 

I’ve been to so many programs that teach leadership and often we gloss over two important qualities – trust and humility. Frequently people get promoted into managerial roles and think about their staffers, “You work for me,” but that’s not true – you really work for them. Sometimes the smallest things can have the most profound impact on your team’s performance or your employees’ performance. Even asking someone “How’s your day?” and sticking around for the answer can really help.

JK: In the book, you and your co-author Courtney give personal examples of when you had to give up or change things in your life in order to focus on succeeding in one area. How do you determine what to give up and how to maintain balance?

One of the things I like to do when I’m making decisions is really reflect upon my priorities and if something in front of me doesn’t fit it to one of my priorities, I say no. The “decision-making lane,” as I like to call it, allows me to stay on my path. In a perfect world, that works great. You can get comfortable doing everything but if you want to succeed at one thing, you have to narrow your focus. You can’t do everything well.

JK: In your workshop that I participated in at the HOW conference, you talked about three critical qualities of a leader: credibility, decisiveness and confidence.  Can you be a leader without all three?  If you lack in one of these areas but want to lead, how do you advise addressing that weakness?

There are many leadership qualities that are interdependent on one another. For example, if you’re confident, but indecisive, that will slow your team’s progress down. Or if you’re decisive, but lack confidence and can’t express this in your decisions, you’ll have a difficult time rallying people to support you. Leaders are well rounded and it’s important to know qualities associated with leadership behaviors so you know what needs to be developed.

JK: As a PR professional, my industry has to deal with crisis management on a daily basis and I love the phrase in your book used in the Marines – “aviate, navigate and communicate” – to handle a challenging situation. Can you explain the three steps?

Consider that you’re flying an airplane and you see the “red light” blinking, indicating an emergency. Your instincts are to panic and freeze, yet that won’t get your plane on the ground. You need to aviate – keep your plane in the air, so keep your hands on the control. Navigate – keep on attempting to get to a destination. Communicate – reach out to others to get the help you need, such as flight crew or air traffic control.

JK: You talk a lot about the importance of accountability in the Marines and in the real world and believe that effort and excuses don’t equal progress. Why is it so important? What if you have a team member who tries hard and takes responsibility for failures but just isn’t getting results?

We define a leader as someone who influences outcomes and inspires others. Results matter. While it’s important to take accountability for personal failures, they next step is identifying what you’re going to do about it to deliver a different, more positive result. An important part of being a leader is being credible – credibility is derived from your character and your competence. If you’re looking to influence others, your results will capture their attention.

If you’re purposefully committing yourself to developing your leadership skills, my guidance would be for you to start thinking about important leadership qualities and assess how good you are at expressing them. Then, after you’ve identified areas of improvement, make a commitment to yourself to pick three things that you’re going to focus on. When you’re intentional with your development, you end up surprising yourself with how quickly you can develop a specific skill or behavior.

How do you lead from the front?  Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter.

Media Chicks Rocked the House

Jessica with XO Group's Carley Roney

Jessica with XO Group’s Carley Roney

There are tons of events geared towards women–from conferences to panels to rallies. While we love the idea of doing something specifically for a female audience, we noticed a few years ago that there weren’t many events with no other agenda than to connect cool women with one another. With that goal in mind, we started a semi-annual cocktail party called Media Chicks Mixer–and, because we live the world of communications, we focused on women who work in media and public relations across industries, from fashion and beauty to finance and design.

Last night, we co-hosted our latest Media Chicks Mixers along with Carley Roney, co-founder of XO Group (which owns The Knot, The Nest, The Bump and other popular websites) at their gorgeous, sleek offices in the Wall Street area of Manhattan. (I ran PR at The Knot back in their startup days and, boy, do I wish they had been in this space then!)

 

Unfortunately, Meryl was sick and had to sit this one out (we missed her dearly!) but we had a great turnout, with attendees hailing from CNBC to the New York Post, Hearst to GoogleAnn Taylor to Lippe Taylor.

Lots of chatting going on at Media Chicks (with one rogue guy...)

Lots of chatting going on at Media Chicks (with one rogue guy…)

It was a night of good champagne and great conversation–those who already knew each other got to catch up and others made brand new connections.

Lots of bubbly, compliments of Meryl's fab clients

Lots of bubbly, compliments of Meryl’s fab clients

Special thanks to XO Group for hosting the event (their amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge were a special treat) and to those who donated great beauty and fashion giveaways and raffle prizes, including Bliss, Boots, FLOWER, Fred Segal, Elaine Turner and Strivectin.

Jessica, L2 PR's Letena Lindsay and Masthead Media's Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich (we all used to work at Hearst together)

Jessica, L2 PR’s Letena Lindsay and Masthead Media’s Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich (we all used to work at Hearst together)

Jessica with CNBC's Jennifer Zweben

Jessica with CNBC’s Jennifer Zweben

 

Google's Andrea Faville and Jessica Kleiman

Google’s Andrea Faville and Jessica Kleiman

Lauren Melone, Dede Brown, Kirsten Segal of the New York Post and NBC's Lenore Moritz

Lauren Melone, Dede Brown, Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post and NBC’s Lenore Moritz

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Hearst’s Lacey Drucker, Google’s PR girls and Ann Inc.’s Sanam Ghanchi

SANDOW's Jessica Kleiman and Misfit Media's Nicole Brydson

SANDOW’s Jessica Kleiman and Misfit Media’s Nicole Brydson

XO Group's cool cafe
XO Group’s cool cafe

 

Marni Raitt of DiGennaro & Partners, BYOBP co-author Jessica Kleiman and Emily Blumenthal of Handbag Designer 101

Marni Raitt of DiGennaro & Partners, BYOBP co-author Jessica Kleiman and Emily Blumenthal of Handbag Designer 101

Tips from the Trenches: Q&A with Social Media Week Founder Toby Daniels

“Be purposeful in what you do. Think about the why of every action you take, every piece of communication you share and every interaction or new relationship you forge.” — Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week

When we met Toby Daniels, founder & executive director of Social Media Week (SMW), and CEO of Crowdcentric, we were instantly impressed with his vision of how the world could be better connected through the power of social media — as well as live interaction – and wanted him to share some of his wisdom with us here.

Since Daniels founded Social Media Week in 2008, it has become a major global conference reaching more than 100,000 people in 26 cities around the world, aiming to connect people and brands around emerging trends in social and mobile media. In order to build SMW into what it is today, Daniels and his small team have done a great job leveraging word of mouth – and, of course, social media – to spread the gospel worldwide.

SMW 2013 kicks off on February 18 in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Lagos, Miami, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo and Washington, DC. Join the worldwide conversation by posting on your own social media platforms with hashtag #SMW13.

 

When you first started Social Media Week, how did you promote it to the world?

Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and outreach through my personal network were my primary outlets. One of the most important things I did early on with SMW was establish an advisory board of key influencers, community leaders, academics and luminaries in the emerging media and technology space. When we announced the conference in early 2009, they were a key factor in helping to get the word out.

Since then we’ve refined our approach, but even to this day, our most effective form of promotion is through our community, which in four years has grown to more than 100k professionals worldwide.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

Two slightly conflicting pieces of advice:  1) No one does PR better than you and 2) Let your community do your PR for you.

[Read more…]

Tips from the Trenches: One-on-One with Emily Blumenthal, CEO/Founder, Handbag Designer 101

“Be aware that the person you are speaking with has no time for you until you prove you can give them something they might need or want, so having your elevator pitch ready is always a must.” — Emily Blumenthal

 

Fashion entrepreneur Emily Blumenthal

Emily Blumenthal never went to design school. But that didn’t stop her from creating a line of handbags that she singlehandedly got into Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Bloomingdale’s and finally to QVC. Add to that teaching Fashion Marketing at Parsons The New School for Design and running a business helping burgeoning accessories designers get their handbag lines off the ground and into major retailers across the country.

In addition, Blumenthal created the Independent Handbag Designer Awards, an internationally respected design competition, runs online resource HandbagDesigner101.com and authored “Handbag Designer 101,” a book to help designers create the next “It Bag” and a viable business to go with it. The woman is BUSY.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we interviewed a number of smart, interesting people on how to build a brand and stand out. Just in time for New York Fashion Week, we recently talked to Blumenthal about how she launched her brand and her advice for other entrepreneurs trying to break through the clutter with limited time and resources.

 

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

The market is so incredibly oversaturated. It is key to stand out since internal competition is fierce, especially in markets that are so sought after. Proving your value is a must as that will translate into more power, responsibility and eventually dollars in your pocket.

 

What’s the best PR advice you’ve ever received?

When I was starting out and wanted to get into television, a buyer pulled me aside and said, “You would never open a clothing store if you didn’t know how to shop.” In other words, make sure you know how to buy before you can sell. I have used this in every step of my career; I try to get behind the mindset of those that I am pitching and to address their needs before I even begin to tell them anything I am working on.

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6 Ways to Build Buzz for Your Brand on a Budget

How to get people talking about your brand.

You have a great idea, a website, a business plan and maybe even some funding. Now what? That doesn’t mean anything unless people are talking, sharing and buzzing about your brand. If no one hears the proverbial tree falling in the forest, how will they know it actually exists — and why would they care?

For most startups, publicity typically falls to the bottom of the expenditure list. Yet, in this day and age, with so much competition for coverage and attention, it can be the thing that connects the dots, raises your profile and attracts consumers, advertisers, partners and investors. The reality: Those who put public relations as the lead horse will likely cross the finish line first. But if you’re bootstrapped and feel you just can’t justify the cost of hiring a PR firm or an in-house communications specialist, you can learn how to be your own publicist — and kick-start the drumbeat about your brand through press coverage and social media buzz.

Recently, Jessica participated in a panel at the Golden Seeds Innovation Summit — a conference run by an investment firm that supports companies founded by women entrepreneurs — called “Building Your Brand: Lessons in PR for Early Stage Companies,” where this topic was discussed. Moderated by The New York Times bestselling author and former Hearst Magazines Chair(wo)man, Cathie Black, the panel also included The Daily Muse co-founder Kathryn Minshew, Business Insider tech reporter Alyson Shontell and Joannie Danielides who runs an eponymous PR firm. Below we share some of the advice that was given during this panel.

  • Know your elevator pitch. Have a great story and know how to tell it…quickly. What you pitch to the media is not that different from what you have to “sell” to potential investors and, similarly, you have a short period of time in which to impress them and gain their interest.
  • Find a news hook. Understand how your business fits into a bigger trend or story. Don’t just pitch in a vacuum. Minshew of The Daily Muse said that she often pitches reporters when new job numbers come out or as part of a story on young female tech entrepreneurs in the career space so they use her as an expert on a particular trend. Shontell advised startups to identify how their company or story relates to a broad audience.
  • Be scrappy and resourceful. Follow reporters who cover your industry on Twitter, then retweet them and respond to them. Also, read relevant media about your industry and stay up on the latest trends. [Read more…]

7 Ways to Bounce Back from Career Mistakes, Missteps and Misunderstandings

Collectively, we’ve spent nearly more than thirty years in the public relations industry, where dealing with crises is par for the course. In fact, in a recent study, PR executive was ranked the 5th most stressful career behind commercial airline pilot, firefighter, military general and enlisted military personnel. Hard to believe that we’d rank amongst jobs that literally have the lives of others in their hands but, as we say in our profession, we’re “paid to be paranoid.” In our book, , Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work,we dedicate an entire chapter to crisis management.

The truth is, we all face difficult situations at work but not everyone knows how to handle them. Often people let mistakes and crises cripple — even paralyze — them, but bouncing back from roadblocks in your career is not as daunting as you might think. We really believe that every crisis is an opportunity. Most errors are reversible, and it’s important to remember that how you respond in tough times shows who you are as a person as much, if not more, than how you are in good times.

Need some guidelines? Here are a few tips for how to handle your next crisis:

#1:  Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst.

  • Go with your gut. When you see a red flag, pay attention. How many times in life have you kicked yourself for not listening to that little voice in your head that says, “Something is wrong here”?
  • Have a plan and a back-up plan. In PR, we try to lay out a strategy and do our best to identify potential pitfalls and problems on the horizon. While we may not always be able to predict what’s coming our way, by doing the exercise and putting a solid plan on paper, you’ll be prepared to deal with it if the issue ever sees the light of the day.

#2:  Be a Problem Solver.

  • Stay calm. In a crisis, people tend to get anxious. Maintaining a sense of Zen will not only allow you to think more clearly but will also set the tone for those around you.
  • Get focused. You want to quickly assess the damage and determine how to move forward.
  • Find a solution. Next, you need to figure out how to address and remedy the situation. Start by considering your end game — what’s the ultimate outcome you’d like to see? — and work backwards from there.

[Read more…]

Tips from the Trenches: Q&A with Nicole Brydson, founder of Brooklyn,The Borough

“Losing a job always feels like a big failure, so in that sense I have failed, but I now know that failure is a precursor to success, and often, being open to failure leads to success.”– Nicole Brydson, journalist, creative strategist, manager, and founder of Brooklyn, The Borough

nbrydson-final-07In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we interviewed a number of smart, interesting people on how to build a brand and stand out. As part of our online series of Q&As, we recently talked to entrepreneur, strategist and blogger extraordinaire Nicole Brydson and got her to share a little about her professional evolution, the importance of being yourself — and  why she believes that you don’t have to start your entrepreneurial path outside of the traditional workplace.

 

Why is it so important these days to stand out in the workplace?

Successful ideas can help you stand out and can mean spinning off entire new companies by yourself or with your employer. I went out on my own to build BrooklynTheBorough.com, but I recently met the entrepreneur Nora Abousteit at a DIY Business Association event. Along with her former employer, the German publisher Hubert Burda Media, she turned their stodgy old sewing magazine into a social media sewing circle phenomenon called BurdaStyle. Then she left to build Kollabora – a site where you can buy materials. She’s proof you don’t have to start your entrepreneurial path outside of the traditional workplace, and that companies who seek to innovate well and invest in their talent will be rewarded for risk taking.

[Read more…]

Multitasking Literally Hurts Your Brain: Q&A with Time Management Expert Julie Morgenstern

Multitasking is actually bad for our health.

In a world of multitasking and constant distractions –from the ping of texts and emails to everyone having to wear more hats at work than they used to– time management is one of the biggest challenges. We might feel like we’re doing more — and, in a way, we are — but we’re actually get less done in the process. So, is it possible in this day and age to streamline your work style, be more productive and get back some time in your day to focus on big picture stuff, strategy and brainstorming, all of which will make you more effective at your job?  Yes, says Julie Morgenstern, a productivity expert and bestselling author of five books including Time Management from the Inside Out. Dubbed the “queen of putting people’s lives in order” by USA Today, Morgenstern has made it her life’s mission to help people get more out of everyday and find focus in their lives, both at work and at home.  This month marks the launch of her new Circa Balanced Life Planner, a paper-based system for the digital age, designed to help people make good decisions about where to spend their time. Sign us up!

Morgenstern spent some of her valuable time talking to us about the email addiction epidemic, why being pulled in a million different directions and always being connected is bad for the brain, and sharing some great advice for how to manage your time more effectively this year.

Why is multitasking ineffectual?

It has been scientifically demonstrated that the brain cannot effectively or efficiently switch between tasks, so you lose time. It takes four times longer to recognize new things so you’re not saving time; multitasking actually costs time. You also lose time because you often make mistakes. If you’re multitasking and you send an email and accidentally “reply all” and the person you were talking about is on the email, it’s a big mistake. In addition, studies have shown that we have a much lower retention rate of what we learn when multitasking, which means you could have to redo the work or you may not do the next task well because you forgot the information you learned. Everyone’s complaining of memory issues these days – they’re symptoms of this multitasking epidemic.  Then, of course, there’s the rudeness factor, which doesn’t help develop strong relationships with others.

 

Have distractions multiplied in recent years and, if so, how?  

One is obviously the smartphone, which has made it so that you cannot get away. There are no safe zones where you can actually unplug. You feel like you’re busy and doing something – it’s a chemical addiction. There are so many things we can do through our screens now – stay in touch with friends, do business, entertainment, watch Netflix, do research, create a Pinterest board.  The volume of tasks in our lives that we can now do through a screen rather than tactilely has increased exponentially. It’s more than just email. It’s all the things we can do on screens.

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Does Anyone Print and Save Thank You E-Mails?

Handwritten notes: a lost art?

In a recent Wall Street Journal article on “The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note,” author Philip Hensher addresses how our increasing reliance on typing and texting is making the handwritten note go the way of the fax machine. He says, “The ready communication through electronic means that has replaced the handwritten letter is wonderful. But we have definitely lost something here, and those Skype, email and text exchanges won’t be treasured in the way that my teenage letters, scribbled journals and postcards have been for years.”

We couldn’t agree more. Recently, Jessica moved apartments and unearthed a shoebox full of handwritten notes from old friends, ex-boyfriends (not sure her husband appreciated that she hung onto those!) and thank you notes from magazine editors with whom she worked for years at Hearst Magazines, including the late, legendary Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown. Had those been sent to her via email or text, she definitely would not still have them — and they wouldn’t have had the same sentimental value.

When people ask us if, after a job interview or informational meeting, they should send a thank you via email or snail mail, we always suggest both.  The speed of an email foll0w-up is great but can get buried in a busy person’s in-box (or even get lost in the “junk mail” folder if you’re sending it from an unfamiliar email address). In this day and age, when sadly we’re getting fewer and fewer letters in the mail, a handwritten thank you note, well-crafted on good stationery, will make a candidate stand out from others who chose not to take that extra, personal step.

In fact, a female magazine publisher we know said that if she interviews someone and they don’t send a real note as a follow-up, she will not hire them, no matter how impressive they were in person. And a media executive with whom Jessica works asks his sales staff for photocopies of the thank you notes they’ve handwritten and sent to clients and prospective clients during the week so he can make sure they’re actually doing it, versus relying on email alone.

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