What We Learned From Neha Gandhi

August 30, 2017

Neha GandhiWe're looking back at some of our favorite episodes of Coffee Break w/NYWICI, revisiting the compelling conversations we’ve had with some of the brightest women in media and communications.

Our Episode 12 guest was Neha Gandhi. As of July 2017, she is the Editor-in-Chief and COO of Girlboss, founded by Sophia Amoruso. When we spoke with Neha in April 2017, she worked at Refinery29 as the SVP of Content Strategy and Innovation. Our interview below reflects Neha’s experience at R29, though we’re excited to see her impact at Girlboss! (Episode 12 on iTunes | Episode 12 on Soundcloud).

Before Leaving, Maximize The Opportunities

Neha was at Harper’s Bazaar for four years and looking for a change. In the midst of the waiting game for her dream job, she maximized her opportunities at the magazine. “I got to do a bunch of things there. I assisted the Managing Editor, Executive Editor, Deputy Editor…I did everything from personal errands to pitching ideas to working on the table of contents,” Neha said. The diversity of responsibilities helped Neha learn the full cycle of how magazines get produced.

Maintain Flexibility

Neha was an online editor at Harper’s Bazaar when working for digital wasn’t a hot commodity. Originally, she didn’t want to take the role because it seemed away from the glamour of the print magazine. “[Online] was a marketing tool. It wasn’t considered a place to deliver great content or engage with an audience in a meaningful way,” Neha said.

Soon, digital became the new normal for media outlets. Working online laid the foundation for honing her assignment and editing skills. If Neha wasn’t flexible in taking on a digital job, she wouldn’t have been ahead of the curve in digital’s rise.

Set Short-Term Goals

“Something that I ask all the younger people on my team is ‘Tell me what you want to learn. Tell me the skills you want to acquire in the next six months, nine months, 12 months. Don’t tell me what you want to be in five years or 10 years. The job that you want in five years probably doesn’t exist today.’”

The media landscape is changing so rapidly that you could end up boxing yourself in by focusing on one career path, rather than learning skills that can lead you to multiple opportunities.  

Show Your Worth To Move Up

“Add value. That’s at the heart of it. It’s different than putting your head down and working as hard as you can,” Neha said. “To me, the people who quickly advance are the ones you see their value beyond the job they’re asked to do. These people see a problem and ask how they can solve it.”

Know that you can be excellent at your job, but to stand out for a promotion you have to exceed in areas that aren’t your day-to-day. “You have to do the job you want to get promoted into before you get promoted into it,” Neha said.

Find The Sweet Spot To Ask For A Raise

“It varies by situation but we have a semi-annual process where we look at titles and raises. You have an opportunity to raise that conversation at that time,” Neha said. “But if you haven’t been doing a job for a year, that’s not the right time.”

She mentions that there are always exceptions to that rule, such as moments where you’ve been in a position for eight months and someone leaves and you’re left absorbing all of their responsibilities. That opens the door for talks about promotions, if you’ve managed the work successfully.

When you know that the month for raise discussions is coming up, have a one-on-one with your boss a month prior. Neha said that a good opener can be, “I wanted to share with you some ideas that I had for personal development and I’d love your feedback.” Then you’re planting the seed in your manager’s mind for the following month.


Thanks to Neha Gandhi for being part of the podcast! To hear more, visit nywici.org/podcast.


Posted by: 
Elizabeth Roberts

How to Hone Your Negotiation Skills

August 21, 2017

Aloud Blog ProDespite advances made by women over the last few decades, many women still don’t use negotiation enough, according to authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever in their second book, Ask For It: How To Get Women to Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want (Random House). The book provides actionable tips and sample scenarios, as well as a glossary of bargaining language suitable for a variety of situations. The authors offer a four-phase program of strategies, exercises and empowerment lessons to help determine what you want, what you’re worth and how to increase your bargaining power.  

Although I’m not usually big on self-help books, I found this one to be particularly helpful and as relevant today as it was when originally published in 2008. In fact, I have benefited from taking action on the authors’ guidance, which made me feel ready, confident and more prepared at the negotiation table. 

In the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve summarized below the authors’ four-phase program to help determine what you want, what you’re worth and how to increase your bargaining power — it’s worth the investment! 

Phase I: Everything is Negotiable

Look back and identify changes you'd like to make in your live. Are you stuck? What benefits, promotions, pay raises, career transitions do you deserve? This phase is chock full of suggestions on how to aim higher and push through barriers and fear of rejection. It challenges women in particular it to endeavor for more and get comfortable in striving for what they want.

Negotiation SkillsPhase II: Lay the Groundwork

Preparing in advance for a negotiation is like setting the dinner table with all of the utensils and plates needed for the big meal. It builds confidence and information readiness needed for a persuasive argument. The authors thoroughly explain the basics of negotiation strategy, how to identify the information needed and the best ways to assess and build your bargaining position. This kind of analysis is helpful in myriad ways: It takes the emotion out (a stumbling block for many) and provides a structure so that you can power up an “ask” with facts.

Phase III: Get Ready

Communication style during negotiation is critical and so is pacing. Here the focus is on negotiation fundamentals: How to set the right target, decide what to ask for, make the first offer (or avoid doing so if possible) and identify the best time to “ask.” Negotiation is not always adversarial. In fact, the authors advocate changing the dynamic and working cooperatively to identify mutually-beneficial solutions. This approach can be incredibly helpful in building long-term relationships and collaboration. There’s also discussion about the pros and cons of bluffing, when and how to make concessions, and importantly, how to keep things positive and on track. The authors provide terrific exercises to practice these new skills in a variety of situations. I’ve been personalizing them and applying the techniques to my recent negotiations so I can improve the next time around. 

Phase IV: Put It All Together

The most effective way of alleviating the anxiety that many women feel about negotiation is to role play in advance to build confidence and skill. In the final phase, the authors show readers how to nail down a negotiation strategy in steps. There are tools and techniques to avoid early concession, how to manage disappointment and other unexpected emotional reactions that undermine confidence. There are broader applications beyond the bargaining table.  

Perhaps the best thing about Ask For It is that it helps women see negotiation as an opportunity to benefit everyone involved rather than as an aggressive, adversarial confrontation. In this way, they can set higher goals that lead to more positive outcomes.


Posted by: 
Julie Livingston

What We Learned from Liz Kaplow

August 7, 2017

Liz Kaplow podcastWith the first season of the New York Women in Communications podcast Coffee Break w/NYWICI in the books, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite episodes to revisit the wise words and compelling conversations we’ve had with some of the brightest women in media and communications.

To continue this series, we’re taking a look back at Episode 6 (Episode 6 on iTunes | Episode 6 on Soundcloud). Our guest, Liz Kaplow, is Founder, CEO, and President of Kaplow Communications, and a former President of NYWICI. Liz is a pioneer in the public relations industry, and she had so many lessons and stories to share on the podcast.

Do every job

Liz reflected on one of her earliest jobs in public relations and shared a funny, but meaningful, anecdote. When her boss was entertaining clients, Liz was tasked with doing the dishes in the women’s restroom of the office. “It was disgusting, but what I remember about it is that you have to do every job when you’re starting out,” she said. “The good comes with the bad.”

Liz explained that by embracing a seemingly menial task, she was able to send her boss an important signal about her work ethic. “Some of the things we’re going to be doing we won’t love, but there will be something to learn,” Liz said. “You’ll be impressing the people around you with a can-do spirit, and that power of “yes” is something that helps define your career, ultimately.”

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate

Liz’s public relations practice, Kaplow Communications, is widely known for having a culture that not only encourages excellent work, but is also focused on staff and leadership development and offers flexibility to its team. In fact, the firm was recognized by the Holmes Report on the “Best Places to Work” agency list.

Liz shared her key lessons from building Kaplow’s culture. “I believe in over-communication, and setting up a schedule for what the week ahead looks like,” Liz said. “If you have an open mind about flexibility, coupled with good preparation so that people can be reliable and fill in for each other, I believe that managers can really promote the idea.”

Liz also emphasized the value of building a culture that allows working parents to thrive. “We can keep moms and dads in the workplace where they can see a good career development path in front of them, and that will make this a richer place for others and for our clients.” And it’s paying off. “What we’ve seen is that people who were starting out here have stayed here, and that’s a great thing.”

Learn to bounce back

Liz revealed her advice for handling trying times at work and enduring emotional moments. “We’re people, not technology, and that’s what makes us interesting and nuanced and diverse,” she said. “Sometimes, our emotions get the better of us, and the trick is to be able to turn that into something that keeps us in the game. I believe that the biggest key to success is bouncing back.”

Receiving criticism or working through conflict is inevitable, but Liz emphasized that those experiences can build strength. “Sometimes you need to go into the ladies room and have a good cry, but the important part of it is how you come back into the room,” she said. “We’re not allowed to go and cry for the day. We’re allowed to go cry for a few minutes, and then we have to get into solution mode and think about what we can bring that is going to affect change and help us move along.”

Liz’s advice for bouncing back into solution mode? Consider taking a quick walk to get some fresh air, or call a good friend who’s not connected to the situation and can provide a new perspective.

Find a mentor (or a mentee)

“Mentoring should be a way of life,” Liz shared. “Spend [time] thinking being a generous builder of ideas and a good sounding board.” According to Liz, the mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t need to be overly formalized. “Remember that women starting out need that support and they need the role models.”

Liz also highlighted the importance of mentorship for women in the middle of their careers. “When I see those numbers of women who have dropped out and then struggled to get back in [the workplace]...I think about how if they were able to find someone who was going through that, but managed to stay in the game, they could be mentored around that story and that would help them through.”

And for those who are more advanced in their career, being both a mentor and a mentee can also be tremendously valuable. Liz pointed out that younger employees and more mature employees can share knowledge in a productive way through mentorship. “That is what keeps people relevant, because you’re learning from [people] who have all kinds of new skill sets.”

Be in the present

It’s easy to be consumed with planning ahead and thinking about what the next five to ten years of a career path can look like, especially in the ever-changing communications industry. “It’s good to have a sense of where you want to be, and that’s where relevancy comes in,” Liz said. “But while I think it’s good to have a flexible long-term vision, I believe that it’s even better to be in the moment and look at the signs along the way.”

Thanks to Liz Kaplow for being part of the podcast! To listen to the complete first season of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI, visit nywici.org/podcast.

Posted by: 
Chelsea Orcutt

NYWICI Must Reads August 4, 2017