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.

To Reach Vacationers, Advertising Needs to Change

28 Feb

advertising vacationersLast week, I escaped the cold New England winter for the warm, sunny skies of the Florida Keys. (Yes, that’s a photo from my stay. Did it grab you, or what?!) While driving on and off of the famous Seven Mile Bridge, I thought about the advertising techniques of the local and big box businesses that reside there.

Billboards plastered the sides of the highway touting everything from fish dinners to sandals to dolphin encounters. Much like any other mainstream vacation spot, this is a common practice, but for how long?

Businesses need to realize that traditional advertising, such as billboards, should not be the next thing around the bend. Change is coming, and in many cases, it has already arrived.

Instead of the construction of more billboards and signage, businesses are — and need to be — moving their messages to the palms of our hands. Today’s vacationer is not reading billboards, but rather searching their smartphones for the information they need. It’s about providing information at the time and place the consumer wants it. I’m not looking for dolphin encounters today, so why is that billboard telling me about it? That is not the right message.

There’s one more shift impacting today’s consumer. Today’s consumer is looking for information from their peers, not from companies. A vacationer wants to hear from other vacationers. Peer review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp are answering all of the questions consumers are asking. It’s immediate. Gone are the days of searching the local paper for restaurant ads. Now I can search for top restaurants in Key West faster than a chef can serve up oysters.

Today we have the opportunity to be targeted marketers with the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Take down the billboards and replace them with nests for the endangered birds. Let consumers do the talking to inform other consumers. Whether it’s cooking fish or selling goods, be exceptional at what you do. Only then will the vacationers come….and tell their friends.



Why True Happiness is the Answer to Life’s Toughest Questions

29 Jan

true happinessIt’s not often that the big questions and challenges in life are clearly marked with a right or wrong answer. Oftentimes they require deep thinking, the involvement of others, and time to debate it on your own.

Since my preteen years, I’ve been making lists to help me make those tough decisions, although back then, the challenges were more focused on which guy to date. Pro: John was funny. Con: John recently dated a friend of mine.

Nevertheless, I created lists of pros and cons, which I still do to this day. It helps me organize my thoughts and determine the most practical route possible. New wood floors. Pro: Pergo needs to go. Con: It’s a lot of money. The list goes on.

As we get older and face tougher decisions, ranging from career choices, to love, to growing our families, lists have a hard time giving us the answer. Perhaps lists never really provided the answer, but rather served as a way to organize our thoughts enough to help us find the answer for ourselves. No matter the case, lists don’t work all the time.

Therefore, I started seeking a new way to find the answers to the toughest questions. Recently, I think I found it. My husband and I used to talk for hours at a time, sometimes until the sun came up. We’d cover topics about our past, our future, and our hopes and dreams. Our conversations were inspiring and helpful and always ended with a smile, except for the sadness I felt when the conversation was over. I couldn’t get enough.

Recently, my husband and I had one of those conversations. It was 2am, a time I typically avoided given that we just recently got our nights back as young parents. However, that conversation was all about us, and it exhilarated all the feelings of love and hope that I’ve felt for the past 14 years that we’ve been together.

Of course, that conversation covered our challenges. And while all of these challenges couldn’t be solved in one night’s conversation, I realized that there was one thing that answered all of my burning questions. The answer was a question. The question: Would this provide true happiness?

I could now apply this question to concerns about career, growing a family, love and even wood floors. The yes/no answer to this question was deep. It came from the word “true” in the question. Would wood floors make me happy? Yes. Would wood floors provide true happiness? No. OK, off the list.

The answer to this question will not always be as easy as the wood floors answer, but it will come. We all know deep down whether what we’re doing, or not doing, is making us truly happy. Does your day-to-day job make you truly happy? If it does (like in my case), then smile and know you’re where you’re supposed to be. If you have major doubts, then maybe you need to take a second look.

True happiness is not always about us. If you want to move to a new city, but your spouse does not, or your kids have friends and a great support system where you are right now, would you really be happy with the move? True happiness, for me, is about the happiness of others. When my husband, son, brother or best friend is happy, then I am, too.

True happiness came to me at 2am. If someone asked me if my life equates to true happiness, I would shout, without a doubt, yes.


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