Lessons from the Media’s Most Powerful Women

This Monday, Jessica had the distinct pleasure of attending the Matrix Awards, the annual celebration of influential women in the media industry by New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), an organization on whose board she sits. But for many years prior to holding a board seat, she sat in the audience at this inspiring event, held in the 1,400-seat ballroom of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The luncheon honored seven icons from across the media landscape–from television and film to magazines and advertising–who have achieved much success in their careers. The Matrix honorees, and their presenters (many of them men), included:

Queen Latifah, a 2014 Matrix Honorees, on the red carpet

Queen Latifah, a 2014 Matrix Honorees, on the red carpet

  • Wendy Clark, Senior Vice President, Global Sparkling Brand Center, Presented by Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather
  • Queen Latifah, Musician, Award-Winning Actress, Record-Label President, Author, Entrepreneur, and Cover Girl, Presented by Mary J. Blige, Singer, Songwriter, Record Producer, Actress
  • Jane Mayer, Staff Writer, The New Yorker, Presented by David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker
  • Cynthia McFadden, Senior Legal and Investigative Correspondent, NBC News
    Presented by Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent, CNN
  • Dyllan McGee, Founder and Executive Producer, MAKERS, Presented by Gloria Steinem, Writer, Organizer, Co-Founder Ms.
  • Eileen Naughton, Vice President, Global Accounts & Global Agencies, Google, Presented by David Gregory, Moderator, “Meet the Press”
  • Jonelle Procope, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Apollo Theater, Presented by Richard Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity LLC

These women shared their words of wisdom with the crowd and, since not everyone had the benefit of being there, I’m including the honorees’ and presenters’ best (tweetable!) nuggets below:

“Women can be bad-ass and beautiful.” — Jane Mayer

“No one’s journey is a straight path.” — Jonelle Procope

“I’ve been saying the word ‘improbable’ wrong all along. There’s a space between the ‘m’ and ‘p’: ‘I’m probable.'” — Wendy Clark

“There will never be post-feminism.” — Eileen Naughton

“Staying put is a bore.” — Cynthia McFadden (quoting her late friend Katherine Hepburn)

“If there’s a place in hell for women who don’t support each other, there’s a place in heaven for those who do.” — Gloria Steinem

“Focus on what matters; don’t get caught up in the minutiae.” — Dyllan McGee

“Great things come to those who show up fearlessly.” — Mary J. Blige

“Women need to lift each other up, not tear each other down.” — Queen Latifah

The two pillars of NYWICI–“the changing landscape of communications” and “helping women at every stage of their careers”–were on full display at the Matrix Awards and if this year’s honorees are any indication, there’s a bright future for women in media.

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

NEWS WE CAN USE: Killer Heels & Killer Instinct are Not Mutually Exclusive

Can’t women in tech have killer heels and a killer instinct?

How much does what you wear in the workplace make a statement about your skills and accomplishments? It depends: While it doesn’t seem to have affected Mark Zuckerberg’s success (we doubt Facebook’s stock price has dropped as a result of his refusal to wear anything but hoodies and sandals), at the same time, when you’re a tech entrepreneur trying to attract funding, partners and press, paying attention to your appearance and wardrobe can contribute to an image of success.

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we talk about dressing the part  and how what you wear can pose a hindrance -at worst, a barrier to entry. It’s like that old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

And, for many women in Silicon Valley, cultivating a personal style has at least earned them and their startups some good publicity, as evidenced by this recent New York Times Style section story on a new crop of women in the tech space who unabashedly dress up in designer clothes.

In the article, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, 42, a former Google executive who now runs a video shopping site called Joyus, said: “Earlier in my career, if I had to choose between a skirt and being taken seriously, I would have chosen being taken seriously. But now I’m at a point in my career in the valley where I’m judged by what I’ve done.”

Considering that the tech world is typically on the cutting edge of what’s new and modern, it sounds a bit archaic to us that a woman who walks into a meeting with venture capitalists wearing a designer skirt wouldn’t be taken seriously. If it was a hot pink mini skirt, perhaps, but dressing professionally and having a signature style should make a positive impression on others and show that you’re polished, smart and can run circles around those male tech geeks in t-shirts and jeans — even if you’re wearing five-inch Louboutins.

How do you think clothing impacts perception of your abilities?  Tell us here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

 

News You Can Use: Generation Sell, Share or Self-Employed? What People Saying About Gen Y

In one day, we read three articles about Generation Y in The New York Times and The New York Post — that covered topics from self-promotion and gossip to whether or not you really need to go to college to succeed. Here are the soundbites:

Millennials Embrace Entrepreneurialism & Salesmanship: On the front page of the Times’ SundayReview section, an article entitled “Generation Sell” by William Deresiewicz, paints Millennials as “polite, pleasant, moderate, earnest, friendly” and  comments that “We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something…we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves as the business, something to be managed and promoted.” Our question is, “What is wrong with that?” In this extremely challenging job market that Gen Y is graduating into, if they don’t sell themselves, no one is going to do it for them. In order to get noticed, as we discuss in our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, you must treat yourself as a product to be promoted.’

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Tips from the Trenches: Six Ways to Further Your Career

Over the last few months, we’ve been asked to share our tips from the trenches at colleges such as Manhattan College, Montclair State, Rutgers (and soon Ithaca College) as well as to professional, creative and alumni organizations including Advertising Women of New York, New York Women in Communications and The Hired Guns.

Last week, Jessica moderated a career panel for her alma mater, the University of Michigan, and the panelists — all successful alumni in different fields, from finance and e-commerce to fashion and food — had some great advice to share on how to be your own best publicist. Here are a few highlights:

 

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Being a Good Manager: Nature or Nurture?

Recently, there was a story in The New York Times‘ business section about Google’s quest to build a better boss, an initiative called “Project Oxygen.” The wildly successful technology company, whose algorithms have changed the way we use the Internet, applied its scientific methods to analyze what makes a good manager and then mapped out a series of tenets called “The Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.”  These commandments, which include “Have a clear vision and strategy for the team” and “Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented,” sound pretty obvious to us — but then again, we’d like to think of ourselves as good managers. Most people, in fact, are not.

In a survey by Business Insider, 41 percent of respondents said that disliking a boss was a driving force in quitting their jobs. And according to a CareerBuilder survey, the top issues managers struggle with are dealing with issues between co-workers; motivating team members; performance reviews; finding the needed resources to support the team; and creating career paths for their employees. No one said managing people was easy. For many, it’s the most challenging part of a job.

So, is Google right? Can simple analytics make a bad manager into a better one or are some people just born to lead and others aren’t? We actually think that the eight guiding principles Google has devised make a lot of sense. (Frankly, many seem like common sense — did they really need to apply deep analytics to arrive at “Be a good communicator” and “Help your employees with career development”?) But even Google admitted in the article that one of their more difficult and disliked managers showed improvement but didn’t become a great manager after following these rules.

So we’ve decided to offer up a few of our own “unscientific” tips for being a good manager that we try to ascribe to when overseeing our own staff:

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