Career

Where Should I Place My Time and Energy?

March 28, 2017

Sarah DurhamFor longtime New York Women in Communications member Sarah Durham, a key question for professional women is Where should I place my time and energy?

It’s a question Sarah answered for herself by launching Big Duck, a New York City-based communications firm that helps non-profits raise money, recruit for programs and increase visibility. Founded in the early 90s, the firm has since built an impressive roster of clients, including the Brooklyn Public Library, Robin Hood Foundation, Columbia University Medical Center and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The question of where to put our energies must not be answered just within the realm of our professional lives, however, as NYWICI members undoubtedly will learn in a Cocktails & Conversations event on March 30, 2017, with serial entrepreneur and sleep advocate Arianna Huffington. 

For Sarah, as Big Duck’s founder and CEO, Arianna’s message of redefining our professional lives to include time for personal time resonates deeply. Here, she shares how she puts that message — and NYWICI — to work for her. 

Let’s start with the basics: How do you get it all done?
You know what they say, if you want it done right, hire a woman. I really believe that. I’m a mother of two, have a successful marriage and manage 15 employees as well as other part-time workers. But I’m able to achieve that with the help of my team. I really do believe that women are the best employees. I’ve found that female employees are able to communicate in candid and transparent ways.

Why did you decide to work with non-profits?
When you’re a woman in communications, you have to choose where you will place your time and energy. At the end of the day, I’m choosing between marketing products — like lipstick or hamburgers — or an impactful non-profit organization.

In many ways, working for a non-profit is more complex than for a company selling a product to customers. In non-profits, there are so many more audiences with competing agendas. It’s more complex and challenging to measure success and the outcomes are varied. For example, did this campaign increase brand visibility, raise dollars, or recruit new employees?

What are you most proud of in your work?
Whenever I’m having a bad day, I think a lot about how certain clients have taken huge leaps forward and how incredibly lucky I am to work with a team of people who can achieve incredible things.

Given what’s going on in the world today, I’m proud that in the past, we worked with organizations like the ACLU. We’re a small piece of their success today. I’m also proud that I’ve built a business that is a positive place to work. It’s an environment where people want to build their careers.

How has NYWICI membership helped you along the way?
I’ve been a member since the early 90s, when I founded the company. When I first joined, I was very green and used it as an opportunity to learn from other women and find my role models. It was a great opportunity for networking — it still is.

As time went on, my responsibilities changed and so did my use of NYWICI as a professional resource. Now, I use my membership as access to fellow members who have expertise in areas beyond my wheelhouse. Other times, it’s an effective network to conduct a job search for my company. Any NYWICI member can take a look at Big Duck job opportunities and sign up for our e-mail updates on our website.

What advice do you share with your fellow NYWICI members?
I know there are critiques of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, but there are so many important lessons to unpack from that book. Women really do put themselves in the backseat. They’ll use qualified language like “I think…” rather than “It’s the case that…” Men will apply to a job without the needed skills for that position, while women hesitate despite being overqualified. So lean in, speak up and have your voice heard.

How can women help each other advance at work?
Tiffany Dufu, who wrote Drop the Ball and formerly ran The White House Project on women’s leadership, is a powerhouse. She always used to tell me that men intuitively know how to network and share resources with other men. If a man sees a position that’s not a good fit for him, he’ll tell his buddy and put in a good word for him, knowing that his friend’s advancement will serve him in the long run. Women need to treat each other less competitively and share resources like men do. Also, if you have to ask, “Will you be my mentor?” then you’re doing it wrong. You have to build solid relationships with other women and help them. Pay it forward.

Because we have to take care of ourselves and each other.
That’s basically it. I’ve read Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive and I think it’s great that a woman of her visibility and success has highlighted the importance of self-care. It’s hard to balance work and your life, but it’s something we all have to figure out.

 

 

Posted by: 
Jennifer Reres

NYWICI Must Reads March 24, 2017

10 Ways to Be Successful

March 21, 2017

Aloud ProIf your life is a constant cycle of cancelled dinners and skipped gym classes as you jump onto the next urgent client project or breaking news story, it’s time to ask yourself a simple question:

Is your drive to succeed professionally putting your personal life on hold?

Arianna Huffington can help you find your answer to that question. She is a remarkable example of a globally successful entrepreneur who practices the art of balance. To hear her advice on moving from surviving to thriving, NYWICI will host Cocktails & Conversations: Thrive with Arianna Huffington from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 30, 2017, at Bloomberg headquarters, located at 731 Lexington Avenue.

Ahead of our discussion with Arianna, here are some tips to get you started on creating the balance you need for personal endeavors in an overly busy work life:

  1. Get organized. Stop wasting time searching old emails and scrambling to meet deadlines you overlooked. Set up an organizational system and commit to it. Consider trying a productivity app for your to-do list, setting up automatic email filing and using calendar reminders to keep you on track.
  1. Put your goals in writing. Sit down with your manager and document measurable goals for the year. This will give you the chance to discuss what you really want to be working on versus tasks that are draining your time and not advancing your career.
  1. Know when to prioritize. No one is going to prioritize your life for you. Yes, think twice about turning down a new opportunity at work because it conflicts with this month’s book club—but don’t sacrifice your mom’s annual visit to volunteer to staff yet another event.
  1. Understand your productivity cycle. Whether you’re at your best at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., plan your to-do list accordingly. Take care of admin tasks during your low energy hours so you can nail that strategy proposal at your peak.
  1. Tune out distractions. When it’s crunch time, don’t get bogged down with distractions. Find an empty conference room, wear headphones, mark your calendar as busy or limit email checking to once an hour.
  1. Learn when it’s OK to disconnect. Unplugging every night may be unrealistic for you, but having a clear understanding with your boss about which projects and clients actually need immediate responses can help limit after-hours emails.
  1. Work from home. Take advantage of any work from home options or approach your manager about this possibility. Cutting your commute even one day a week can help you squeeze in an extra gym class in the morning or guarantee you’ll be home for family dinner.
  1. Build your circle of trust. Create a network you can turn to for help, from a coworker who can back you up when you’re running late to a mentor who can advise you ahead of your performance review.
  1. Know when it’s time to go home. Break your habit of hanging around until your boss is ready to leave. Tell her what you’ve gotten done that day, ask if there’s anything else she needs and head out the door.
  1. Use your free time wisely. Everyone needs the occasional weekend on the couch, but make sure you’re using your hard-earned free time wisely! What activities charge you up after a long week rather than deplete you?

 

 

Posted by: 
Lauren Tran

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Mastering Self-Promotion

February 14, 2017

AloudPro BlogDo you struggle with self-promotion? Are you reluctant to tell others about your success? Women often think that ‘singing their praises’ will be perceived as pushy, and they’re reluctant to embrace their powers. But self-promotion is not taboo — especially if done strategically.  

It is important to remember that society is increasingly embracing women as change-makers and ambassadors for global social issues. On Jan. 21, 2017, millions of women did just that: They made history when at least 3.3 million people participated in the Women’s March in more than 500 US cities and in many other marches around the globe. 

Still, even with women’s success stories on the rise, we are still conflicted with whether or not self-promotion is acceptable. NYWICI tackled the issue in a recent Twitter chat with NYWICI member and Twitter chat cohost Julie Livingston, the founder and president of Want Leverage, a public relations and business development consultancy firm.

Julie shared insights on why women should “sing their own praises,” and strategically promote their way to success.

Should women promote their career successes on social media?
Don’t be timid about promoting ‪[your] career success on social media. Spread the word and form new connections. Actively promote your ‪success on social media using an editorial message calendar. Promote yourself by sharing blogs, personnel news and event photos and showcase your thought leadership. People will notice.  

How should women embrace self-promotion?
Women should reframe self-promotion from negative to positive by asking themselves, “How can I make my work visible?” Instead of “self-promotion”, stress the ways your talents and work are of service. Get excited about having more impact. Ask yourself, “Are my accomplishments visible at work for current and potential clients?” Self-promotion does not equal being pushy. There's power in being known. There’s a difference between empty bragging and confidence that comes from knowing your skills and being optimistic. If you believe in what you're doing, why not tell others?

How does one self-promote without being perceived negatively?
Make self-promotion part of your daily routine. Write down self-promotion goals and set deadlines for achieving them. It's not too late to start! As a communications pro, position yourself as a resource for writers looking for experts. Self-promotion is a powerful tool to gain visibility and credibility. Don’t be afraid to look for opportunities. If you do not take credit for a job well done, guess what happens?

It is important to build networking relationships among coworkers in other departments to increase exposure and credibility. “Show your competency by increasing visibility! Strategic self- promotion is the key.”

 

 

 
Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

NYWICI Must Reads Feb. 10, 2017

Find the Meaning in Your Career

February 7, 2017

Raise your hand if you work in publishing, writing or public relations. Do you care about your work-life balance now and will you care about your work-life balance in five years? These were just a few of the self-evaluating questions raised by Ann Shoket, the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine and author of the upcoming The Big Life (plus the Badass Babes newsletter) at “New Year, New You: A Chat with Ann Shoket” on Jan. 2, 2017, at The Gander. The event was hosted by NYWICI's Young Professionals Committee.

Ann shared her outlook on finding one’s passions, achieving a stellar work-life balance, the intricacies of the dating game and becoming the badass babes that we really are. Throughout the conversation, Ann touched on everything from her years of experience in the magazine industry to finding a partner whose eyes will light up when you talk about the things that matter most to you.

Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

Make what you do, feel like actual living

  • The best bosses want you to have a life. In fact, you’re a better employee when you have a life outside of the office, so carve out time to do things that matter to you.
  • Your career shouldn’t feel like something entirely separate from your life.

Finding your passion shouldn’t be your goal — but rather finding things that give you meaning

  • Passion is a lot about trial and error. Start out by finding the things that are meaningful to you. Ann discovered her affinity for writing for a young female audience after she wrote an article about a woman who escaped from a cult.
  • You need to have a side hustle at every stage in your career, where you don't get to call the shots.
  • Even with all the time demands on you, you still you need to make time for things that matter to you.
  • What did you imagine your life would be like when you were 16? There's often power in that answer, so hold onto that when starting your career.

Continuously mold and rebrand yourself — just like Ann did by transitioning from being a magazine editor to becoming an author  

  • When you move forward in your career, it’s not about reinventing or pivoting; we’re all getting a broader perspective on what our career trajectory should be.
  • Your portfolio career is what counts. It’s not just your current job that matters, but everything you bring into the fold, including your side-hustle. 

 

Slideshow images: Jan Goldstoff

 

 

Posted by: 
Cori Rosen

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