The S.M.A.R.T. Strategy to Landing Your Dream Job

10 Nov

Screen shot 2015-11-07 at 2.15.58 PMAt a recent University of Hartford event, I had the chance to share a vision that we all want to achieve: landing that dream job. A dream job is something we all want, but is it a pipe dream? For those proactive job seekers, it’s closer than you might think.

We are surrounded by plans in our everyday lives: business plans, marketing plans, even plans for the new mall opening up downtown. Despite the commonplace of planning, we rarely create our own plan for our career. However, with any great marketing campaign, sales growth or new building construction, plans are the backbone that lead to that success story. Here’s a look at how to create a plan that will help you land that dream job. I like to use the S.M.A.R.T. approach: Specific, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic and Timed.


I gave the audience four words:

You are an expert.

We are all experts in what we do. Whether it’s marketing, accounting or gardening, we have a level of expertise that can be shared and used to help others.

You are an authority.

While those reading this post might agree that they’re experts in a certain area, the evolution to becoming an authority is what makes you stand out. Being an authority means sharing and providing information to others about your expertise. It’s sharing those marketing tips or showing someone how to garden. In my last post, I talked about the origami master sitting on the airplane. Not only was he an expert in origami, but he was an authority in the art, as he was traveling back from judging an origami competition.

By focusing on your area of expertise and elevating yourself to an authority, you become a subject matter expert, which is desirable to organizations looking to fill that void. It also helps you focus on the type of job to go after.


Traditionally, the S.M.A.R.T. approach uses “measurable” as the M, however, while metrics and measures are important in a business plan, I believe ensuring a meaningful career is more aligned with this dream job strategy.

Author and speaker, Jim Collins once said:

“It is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”

“Meaningful work” means more than your occupation. Your role in society, your role as a parent, sibling, son or daughter, should have meaning as well. It should be meaningful to you, excite you and get you motivated everyday.

To me, a meaningful workplace is one that is philanthropic. The Salesforce Foundation leverages 1% of Salesforce’s technology, 1% of employee time, and 1% of equity to help improve communities around the world. This integrated philanthropic approach is called the 1-1-1 model, and other organizations around the world are adopting it as well.


Determine your action steps to grab that dream job. Oftentimes, it’s not going to fall in your lap; instead, you have to go after it. Networking is key. Determine the steps necessary to get there. For example, once you see a job of interest, find the hiring manager (often listed right on the LinkedIn job posting), and see how you’re connected. You’ll likely have a second or third connection. As Joseph Catrino mentioned during our session, “Reach out to your first connection and ask for an introduction. Never go right to the hiring manager if you don’t know them. Instead, get introduced by a mutual contact.”

For an #IRL approach, find out when your dream job company is attending or holding a conference. Attend the show to meet their team members. Live blog their event and share it with them. Demonstrate your value long before they hire you so their decision to hire you is a no-brainer.


It’s time to get your head out of the clouds and focus. Sure, we can work toward co-staring in the next Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster (or maybe that’s just me), however, in addition to the job being actionable, it also must be realistic. Ask yourself these questions before you pursue that call to Steven Spielberg.

  • Do you have enough experience? Being overqualified will result in boredom, and you might be in over your head if you’re under-qualified.
  • How does it impact your work-life balance? Consider how your hours, commute, location, finances, etc. will be impacted.
  • Will you enjoy the day to day? While we all have good and bad days, you want that feeling of excitement when you start your day. Interview your future coworkers. Do you get along? If you enjoy writing, will you be writing a lot? Make sure the job taps your interests, and includes people you enjoy everyday.
  • Are you willing to make life changes for the job? Consider your deal breakers. It could be relocation, a change in hours, or the amount of travel.


Whether you’re in the market for a job now, or you’re currently employed and open to the idea, consider timing. When do you want to make a move? If you can take the time to plan out your strategy to approaching your dream job, you’ll be more likely to land it.

When I first got into marketing for B2B tech, I took three months to develop my plan and build my online reputation. I wanted to have great content, a good social following, and a clear vision of getting that first job. Once I landed my dream job at Radian6, I kept moving forward. Now my dream job journey continues at Salesforce. This plan works.

Take a look at my presentation slides below for more information on developing your career plan and landing your dream job with content.

Have you landed your dream job? What steps did you take to get there?

An Origami Master Taught Me These 4 Tips About Marketing

26 Oct

marketing-tips-origamiI had just wrapped up a productive week of work at Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco. I was heading back home. My brain was filled with ideas, my notepad was filled with next steps, and my laptop was full of documents ready for writing, editing and finalizing. I had a long flight to Newark ahead of me, and I was ready to pass the time with work.

As we boarded the plane, an elderly man sat next to me. He had a cane and a small plastic box. Once we were seated and ready to take off, he opened the box to reveal small square pieces of paper, and two wooden tools. One looked like a tweezer and the other reminded me of a small butter knife.

I went about my work. However, curiosity got the best of me, as I kept peering his way to see what he was doing with the paper and tools. He was making origami. He had designed a few ducks and folded various pieces of paper and put them in piles, perhaps to be constructed fully later. Finally I asked him, “Is that origami?” He told me he was an origami champion (he had an origami champion t-shirt on to prove it), and that he had just finished judging an origami competition in San Francisco, and he was on his way to MoMA in NYC to fill a Christmas tree with origami ducks. Meanwhile, as he spoke, he continued to construct his next origami masterpiece.

I learned a lot on that flight. Here are my marketing takeaways from this origami expert.

1. Be meticulous

Hours went by and this man did not stop. He meticulously made 18 origami ducks over the five and a half hour flight, and prepped 30 more for the tree at MoMA. Each one was perfectly folded and crafted. He used the tweezer-like tool to fold, and the butter knife-like tool to flatten the edges. He had a process and it was obviously perfected. Nothing stopped or interrupted him.

2. Share your passion

I wasn’t the only person intrigued by the origami master. A few stewardesses and passengers asked the man about his work. He gladly shared his story, all the while, making origami ducks. He barely looked up as he made a few flowers for me and the stewardesses (pictured above).  We were so appreciative, but he thought nothing of it. He was simply sharing his passion.

3. Don’t completely disconnect

At one point on the flight, I said to him, “You know, all I have is technology to keep me entertained. I have my laptop, my iPhone and my iPad. You are disconnected and yet very much involved. It’s great to see.”

He smiled and laughed a little. “Do you see these headphones?” He asked. I nodded. “Well,” he went on, “I am listening to Audible. I love a good podcast every now and then.”

4. Focus on your end goal

We were nearing the end of the flight, and the man had a good size stack of origami ducks. “Wow, I can’t believe you made all of those ducks,” I said.

“I need 30 by tomorrow,” he shared, “I didn’t get enough done.” Although seeming like he might be a bit perturbed by that thought, he still smiled. He knew he’d get the job done, and he knew he would enjoy the road to get there. If we love what we do, we should always feel the same way as that origami master.

How to Navigate the Path to Your Dream Job

29 Aug

career pathWe often decide what we’re going to do with our lives amidst the wild and crazy college years. Somewhere between sophomore and junior year, when I was growing into my own body and mind, I found marketing to be my passion, however, that was far from my starting point. At three years old, I wanted to be a Broadway actress. At ten, I was going to be a dancer. In my teenage years, I wanted to be a psychologist.

However, as early as I learned my ABCs, I loved writing. I filled blank books with stories about inventions, animals, teenage life, and more. I had many, many diaries.

When I attended the University of Hartford, I started out as a psychology major, but after my first semester, I realized that writing was still my passion, so I minored in English and majored in Communications.

Communications and marketing was where I found my home. I enjoyed the classes in advertising, interpersonal communications, television production, and more. I made friends for life, and met my husband.

The average person changes their career path seven times. I never thought I’d believe that statistic, but there are so many factors that play a role in career change — from personal influences, to professional experiences, to general market changes.

Recently, I found myself at a crossroad. I was in love with marketing and writing. On a daily basis, I was blending my marketing and writing experiences, and that came naturally to me, while still providing me with interesting challenges everyday. However, the challenge resided in where I should focus my marketing experience. I had worked in a corporate environment and most recently, at a startup. Both places offered creative freedom and a support system. So which one should I choose?

I had a great conversation with David Blanke, COO of the innovative startup, Clarifai. We sat in a cozy conference room in NYC on a beautiful weekday in the summer. I asked him about his career path — what should you look for when you’re trying to determine that next step? How can you ensure it’s your dream job?

In my personal life, finding my husband, my home, my dog, etc. were not challenges; the decisions came naturally. I knew the right move by emotional connection. There were no second guesses. In my career, decisions weren’t so easy. There were many factors that aome into play, and emotion certainly wasn’t one of them. After thinking it through and talking to David, I found these to be the best criteria.

1. Product

It’s impossible to successfully market a product that you don’t believe in. It’s not necessary something you must use everyday, but it should be exciting to you. Ask yourself, is it innovative, easy to use, and solving a business problem? Is there a market for it? How does it rank amongst the competition? What are customers saying about it?

2. Team

I like to meet everyone on the team during the interview process. As the potential employee, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. Cultural fit is huge. You want to enjoy working with the people you see everyday. They may not be your best friends, but their personality and approach to work should align with yours. Simple questions during the interview process such as, “Do you enjoy what you do everyday and why?” gives you real insight into their POV. You’ll be surprised how honest people will be.

3. Growth

Not only should there be a growth plan for you, with a clear ladder to climb at your job, but company growth is important as well. Is the company growing in terms of sales, number of employees, number of customers, profits, etc.? The growth pattern will be a good indication of job stability. Promotions, bonus programs and hiring all play a role in how the company is doing overall. If you’re going to a startup or small company, you should still see company growth, but the ladder to climb may not be as clear cut. That’s OK, because great companies carve a path out for you, no matter their size.

4. Balance

The best workers are the ones that are not overworked or burned out. They find a balance between their personal and professional lives. I enjoy working, and could write all day long, but I also enjoy taking time with my son. Offerings such as flexible hours, remote workforce, and more, go a long way for employees. They wind up working harder and stronger when they’re flexibility and trust to get the job done. Find out if your potential employer offers these opportunities.

5. Your Role

Of course, there are other factors, such as the offer, package, benefits, etc., however, it’s important that you enjoy what you’re doing everyday. In fact, I think that’s the most important piece of all. If you’re not happy, why do it? Money and titles only take you so far. The more you enjoy your daily workload, the better you’ll perform. Make sure to ask specific questions during the interview process about the role in order to get a clear picture of a day in the life.

After assessing all of this, most recently, I believe I’ve found my dream job at, one of the fastest-growing software companies of all time, with worldwide presence and a team of forward-thinking, big picture hard workers. I fit right in.

What other factors do you include in your career decisions?



The Key to Problem Solving

7 Jul

problem solvingWhether it’s a toddler who won’t stay in bed, or a marketing campaign in need of a landing page due yesterday, challenges are all around us. There are many ways to tackle a problem, from getting your hands dirty and diving into potential solutions, to asking for help, to throwing your hands in the air and walking away.

No matter your approach to problems (and perhaps your approach is different depending on the situation), you must accept the decision you’ve made. Sometimes it’s tough to determine the right answer to solving a problem, for instance, the right solution might be doing nothing at all. In that circumstance, I’d probably fail, because I always choose to take on a challenge.

I’m about to explain my problem-solving approach, and I’ll include an example to help paint the picture (which is a funny way to put it, because I actually use paint in this story).

For the first three years of his life, my toddler followed his mother’s footsteps in sleeping until 7:30 or 8am. This was bliss…until a few weeks ago. A few weeks ago he started waking up at 6:30am, or 6am, or even (gasp) 5:30am. Now, he comes into my room and wakes me up at a way-too-early hour. This is my version of Chinese water torture. It has to end.

Here’s my approach to solving problems, using this sleep-deprived example.

1. Assess the situation

What is the problem you’re trying to solve? In this case, my son is waking up at least two hours early.

2. Determine the ideal resolution…and a plan B

In this step, think about the best possible solution, as well as a back up. After all, you may not get everything you want at first, or at all, so a partial solution might suffice. For the sleepless toddler, I’d love a consistent 8am wake up, but I’d settle for any time close to it. I also want this problem solved right away, but I’m open to waiting longer.

3. Come up with three ways to solve the problem

Consider the approach mentioned above, i.e. solving it on your own, getting help, or doing nothing. Of course, there might be different options based on your circumstance, but this is a good place to start.

In my case, I started with Dr. Google and then Dr. Amazon. I also asked some friends and family for advice. There were a few ideas that came from my research:

  1. Talk to your child and work together toward a solution
  2. Buy an item to solve the problem, such as clocks or alarms that tell your child when they can leave their room
  3. Do nothing and wait it out, and hope it’s a phase

4. Talk to someone about these options, and choose one

I’m always a fan of talking out a problem, and in most challenges, communication is key to solving any issue. It’s my go-to solution, but I always consult with someone outside of the situation about my challenge and potential options. In the toddler case, communication was attempted, but not really executed…after all, he’s three.

Some of my friends thought the idea of purchasing an item to solve the problem was crazy, and I agreed once I saw the price tag ($50 for a clock!).

I never take the road of doing nothing. I always try to solve a problem by tackling it myself. In a work situation, I needed a landing page to go live. Instead of throwing my hands up, I dove in and taught myself enough Marketo to launch 20 landing pages, including the one that actually needed to launch. The morale of the story? I’m not the type to sit and wait.

5. Solve it

It is typical at this stage to choose one solution and go for it. However, sometimes, you have to get creative. In the case of the sleep-deprived mother, I did not like any of my options on their own, but I did come up with a solution that blended my options.

When talking to one of my friends about the challenge, she said, “Why don’t you make your own clock?” The idea of the clock is good, because it teaches him time, and clearly tells him when he can leave his room. However, it doesn’t make sense to pay for something like that. I liked my friend’s idea, but now I had a new problem: how do I make a clock?

problem solving

After some time on Pinterest, I colored an old clock with green to show the time frame where my son can leave his room. When the sticker (on the hour hand) is in the green, he is free to go. As you can see, I took the challenge to heart and made my own darn clock.

Will it solve the problem for good? Who knows. The point is that I addressed the issue with a solution that I believe will work, and it didn’t cost me any money or sacrifice much time. Best of all, I wasn’t throwing my hands in the air. In fact, I was using my hands to paint the best picture.

What It’s Like to Be a Guest on Marketing Over Coffee

26 May

marketing over coffee podcastThis week, I’m honored and excited to be a guest on the podcast, Marketing Over Coffee. I’ve been a fan of the show for years. I’ve been a fan of John Wall and Christopher Penn for years. Luckily, I’ve had amazing opportunities to meet both of them. Luckily, I was able to get this opportunity. Here’s how it played out.

Since I joined RingLead, John Wall and I stayed in touch. As a past customer of our apps, a fellow marketer, and a continued friend, it has always been easy to chat with John. Our conversations are fluid. He’s funny and openminded, while remaining insightful and tuned in to the latest topics and trends in the marketing world.

John and I recently met for dinner with Zorian Rotenberg, Brian Schwartz and Steve Garfield before the recent Salesforce World Tour in Boston. Over shaved ice and green cotton candy (Lolita’s in Boston is a strange yet delicious place), we talked about the marketing world, the sales world, the Salesforce ecosystem, and how the three worlds intertwine. We each play a role in these ecosystems, and brought different perspectives to a table covered in bottomless chips and rows of salsa.

Before the night was over, John mentioned the idea of me coming on the show to bring our dinner conversation to a world outside of Lolita’s.

John is a man of his word. We planned to meet up again at GaggleAMP’s first user conference, AMPlify 2015, at Bentley University on May 14th.The conference featured many great minds including Lori Ruff, Mitchell Levy and Neil Schaffer. In a small black duffle bag, John brought his podcast recording equipment to the event. During some down time, we walked the halls of Bentley University for a spot to record Marketing Over Coffee. At the end of a long hallway, we found a Starbucks-like lounge area with cushy chairs, small coffee tables and big windows. All we needed was a barista.

John opened his bag and took out two big microphones, a DSLR, and his recording equipment. My mind was buzzing with the questions he might ask, and the answers I might give. At the same time, I had to Instagram the moment (see the picture above), and as a nice icebreaker/necessity, we had to take a selfie.

Now, we were ready.

Once the recording was on, John’s smooth and comfortable approach made me feel at ease. Our conversation was effortless. He asked conversational questions that took me back to our dinners and fun conversations from years past. The structure was very similar to our dinner in Boston (without the Mexican food). He asked open-ended questions which can be determined and answered in many different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to answer John’s questions, and there’s no pressure to be right. It’s about conversation, comfort and covering the topics and interests that marketers care about. He kept it cool and casual in order to get the best content without the nerves interfering.

Before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by and we were done. He made sure we covered everything we both wanted to cover, while still having a great time. He had it edited and ready to launch within a week.

You can listen to the session here. I wish I had a chance to mention all of the people that impacted the stories I shared during the podcast, including David B. Thomas and Jeffrey L. Cohen, who were instrumental in our content marketing success at Radian6 and Salesforce. I also want to credit Jeff for his post on Mark Zuckerberg’s hatred for B2B companies, which was a fun topic during the podcast.

I hope you have as much fun listening to it as I did recording it. I’d love your thoughts and feedback. And ’til next time, enjoy the coffee.

To the Motherless on Mother’s Day

10 May
mothers day

Me, my mother and my brother in 1992.

The majority of us are excited to celebrate on Mother’s Day. Whether you can’t get enough of mom, or she drives you crazy, Mother’s Day is a time to focus on the woman who brought you into this world.

I was lucky enough to have the world’s most dedicated mother for 16 years. She knew how to light up a room, light up my face, and light up the world. She was passionate about everything and everyone she loved, including me.

I lost my mother for as long as I’ve known her. She passed away when I was 16, which is 16 years ago. Taken by mental illness that still surrounds and haunts me to this day, I think about her nonstop, especially on birthdays, anniversaries and, most of all, Mother’s Day.

Since I was 17, Mother’s Day has been a day I tried to forget. It was too hard to think about, so if I just forgot it existed, perhaps the pain would subside a bit. However, now that I’m a mom myself, I can’t escape the holiday. People wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, and I can’t accept it. Yes, I’m a mother, but I’m so new at it. It’s only been three years. The real person who deserves those words is my mother, but she’s not here to hear them.

I know there are other motherless women and men out there like me. Some of us have lost our mothers recently as they become elderly, while others haven’t seen their mothers in years, or ever. No matter how new or old of a motherless experience, it still hurts. It still creates a flood of emotions on Mother’s Day that leaves happiness, pride, hugs, kisses and smiles off the list.

There are ways to make the most of this day, because there are many people in our lives who are mothers, and we care about them very much. Our mothers may be gone, but they wouldn’t want us to cry about it. And so, I think about how to make the most of this day, because not only do those around me deserve to be happy today, but so do I.

Face the emotions

I recently read an article called A Letter to the Motherless on Mother’s Day. If you’re motherless, whether you’re a man or woman, you must read this. I promise you will read it through a cloudy haze of tears, that will cause you to re-read it a number of times to actually get through the piece. After a few deep breaths, you’ll feel better. The words are so true that they cut like a knife. However, it feels good to face the emotions, and experience someone else with the same emotional challenge.

Write about it

We all have our own outlets, and for me, it’s writing. If something is eating at me, whether it’s hilarious or extremely sad, I have to write about it. It could be in the form of a joke on Facebook, or a full blog post like this one. It could even be a private diary entry. No matter what, writing about your emotions gets it out of your head. It helps you make sense of it all, since you have to turn it into words.

If you’re not a writer, try dictating your feelings, or talk it out with someone you know. Heck, even Siri can take it.

Smile and enjoy the day

Now that you’ve faced your emotions, it’s time to enjoy the day. Celebrate someone you love on this special day. It could be a friend experiencing mommyhood for the first time, your sister and her furbabies, your mother in law, or in my case, celebrate you.

Being a mom is a special opportunity that doesn’t come easy. We sometimes take it for granted, and today is a day to celebrate. After all, that’s all our moms ever wanted.

How to Balance Work and Life During Conference Season

19 Apr

conference seasonConference season is in full swing, and I’m excited to see old faces and meet new ones. No matter your role at these events, they begin before they even start. In other words, you’re preparing for your conference days, weeks and even months ahead of time. If you’re sponsoring, you’re creating materials, promotion strategies, and booth swag. If you’re speaking, it’s all about writing and rehearsing a killer presentation. (Always strive for your next presentation to be better than the last.) If you’re attending, you want to make the most of your time, and create your own agenda. You want to find out who will be there, so you can schedule key meetings, register for the best parties, and attend the most relevant sessions.

Preparing for the Conference

Before all of this, you have to determine if you can attend. Is there too much happening at work? Can your significant other hold the fort with a smile? Attending a conference doesn’t just affect you, it affects the people around us. We’re out of the office and need coverage. We’re away from home, and need someone to get the kids off the bus, walk the dog, and mow the lawn.

The decision to attend events may not always be our choice, but when it is, there’s a lot to weigh. I always talk to my husband first, but I have a few key events that I love to attend each year, and we plan them in advance. We have a shared Google Calendar that we block with each of our favorite events — personal and professional — so that we can cover and support each other.

During the Conference

During the show, you’re completely enveloped in that world around you. From expo halls, to sessions, to parties, it’s a whirlwind of people and events. You’re sitting, standing, walking, and walking…and walking. Sometimes you forget to eat or drink for hours, and you can’t remember the last time you sat down, went to the bathroom, or had a drink of water.

With session after session, there isn’t much down time to check in at work or call your family. You could easily go the entire event without contacting either of them. However, it’s important to make time for both. My agenda may be packed with all of my favorite sessions, but I’ll skip one or two to use those 45 minutes to check work email, talk to my coworkers, and make sure I’m touching base.

Typically there’s a small break between breakfast and the start of sessions in the morning. There’s also a small break after the sessions are over for the day, and before the evening activities. I use this time to call and text my husband. I love to hear the voice of my kiddo, and the bark of my dog. I make sure my husband is well, and I hear stories about his day. These breaks are crucial, and while my husband would understand if we didn’t speak for the show’s duration, I truly want to make time for this.

After the Show

Once the event is over and you’re en route home, reality starts to flood back in. Your notepad is full, your iPhone is dead, you’ve got a big bag of laundry to do, and somehow, you have to digest the information overload, also known as your conference experience. Even more, you have to share your insights with your team, and apply them. Hopefully the conference was engaging, exciting and inspiring, so that you’re enthusiastic about bringing all of your new found knowledge to the table.

I use the plane ride home to start crafting my next steps and notes. If I lack WiFi, I draft emails and blog posts in Word docs, and I plan the meetings that I need to schedule, including the agenda and who should attend. After a few hours of this work, I take a look at my phone and scroll through pictures and videos of my family. It psyches me up for the moment I drop my bags on the kitchen floor and open my arms for a running hug from my son and dog. Then, over a glass of wine, my husband I recap the week, sharing pictures and stories. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder, and after a long conference, that couldn’t be more true.


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