Sharing is Caring & Helps Avoid Management Mistakes…Ramble

As Yahoo!’s incredibly dysfunctional management skills are all over the news, I can attest it is not an easy place to work. As a former Yahoo! I’ve had my share of challenging situations, including a boss who compared his getting pushed out of the company, to my dear, larger-than-life friend, movie critic Anderson Jones passing away, while watching “A Mighty Heart, “(Andy loved Angelina) to a heart attack at 38-years-old. “I hope it won’t add to your pain that I’m leaving.”  As Andy would have said, “OUTRAGEOUS!”

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I have lead teams ranging from one person to ten. Sometimes managing one is the hardest, so when I saw the Girls in Tech breakfast topic was “Managing A Growing Team,” I signed up immediately for a refresher, part of my own personal belief that you can always learn something new.

Highlights included Facebook manager, Eric Sun, saying he prioritizes monthly one-on-ones for everyone on his team. It’s something I did with my team at Yahoo! and found it invaluable, sometimes what is not said is the most telling. Eric starts by asking his reports what is going on in there life and ending with asking what he can do to help them.

Here are the seven behaviors of a good manager according to Eric and Facebook:

  1. Find people who car about people. For instance, if you are just applying to be a manager because it’s a pay raise, but you’d rather write code in a dark corner, that’s it’s not helpful to anyone to make you responsible for managing a team. Facebook recognized this issue and made two tracks: one for engineering and one for management. A move to management would be lateral.
  2. Provide opportunities for growth tailored to the individual.
  3. Set clear expectations and goals. Performance reviews should not be a surprise.
  4. Give frequent actionable feedback.
  5. Provide helpful resources for growth.
  6. Hold people accountable for success.
  7. Reward people for success.

The second speaker, Karen Law, a director at Medallia, our hosted space, was fascinating.
She discussed second level thinking. Instead of asking an interview candidate directly “do you work well with others,” try asking “what does your ideal team look like” and then have a candidate describe when they had to deal with a challenge to those believes and the result. She recommended reading “Surely, You’re Joking Mr. Feynman,” by Nobel Prize Winner Richard P. Feynman to get into more of the interesting way of looking at situations past the surface level.

The Q & A afterwards revealed there are a lot of managers struggling with the politics of start-up teams and several dealing with cultural issues at international companies. Eric shared Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, implemented, which was talking through the “Unconscious Bias” test, where decisions are made based on instinct, which are often wrong, instead of using analysis. It’s explained below. The test results are to help you acknowledge and be aware, which is a good way to bring difficult conversations to light.

My advice to those who haven’t been a manager, consider your boss most likely has  information about projects and priorities you do not, before assuming the worst. They are usually too busy to plan to torment you. I had an indirect report who was capable, but slow. The first conversation we had one-on-one, that person told me their main issue was how to prioritize. I tried to work with them on the issue, but that person was often on another floor, complaining, instead of doing work, causing many delays and angry senior management. After I left, a management spot opened up, my co-worker could not understand why they had not been promoted, and went on their daily complaining route.

Take a step back, ask what you can do to improve, set expectations going both ways, on what is a priority for you and the team. Managers are there to help, but you have to take responsibility for your success and actionable items.

What to Watch: Winter Movie Round-up

Oscar season has folks running to the movie theater. Is this the year Leo DiCaprio finally takes home that golden statue? Will he ban it like some members of the African American community think he should in order to support the black community or take after Marlon Brando, have someone else accept and then reject it for him? Either way, Leo deserves to win.

Office politics on a global scale are aside from the point, here are some of the films I’ve seen this winter:

  1. The Revenant: no one is laughing. The White Walkers would be no match for Leo’s depth of spirit and determination to get justice served. There was no snickering or leaving the theatre for this battle of the elements, man and the politics of the era. Never has Tom Hardy been so revile. We also got to see my quiet crush, Domhnall Gleeson as the sweet, yet naive captain.
  2. Joy– now before you join me in the when-is-Jennifer-Lawerence going to be likable, haven’t we had enough of her for the time being table, let’s say I watched this one because my family wanted to watch it. I was reluctant, aside from J.Law, the trailer didn’t wow me, and I kept thinking really? Bradley Cooper, DeNiro & J.Law? Ugh. We’ve been there…with the same producers. However, I watched it and damn. Shazam. I was wowed. It was damn good and inspirational. Everyone who has had an idea or a dream they left on the table due to a misstep in their youth, should watch this film.
  3. Train Wreck– There is a spoiler alert in here. It was more enjoyable then any other Judd Apatow-involved film. Amy Schumer was great, to a point. Then, it reverted to the same devices any other rom com uses to resolve, with a charming ending, but still why must we always find that the only way for a woman to be happy does she half to be half-naked? Is that a distraction for eating humble pie or just another distraction showing the character hasn’t grown that much, just enough to make everyone in their life who always forgives them, love them enough to go another ten rounds.
  4. Hateful 8 – was a snowy, miserable, painfully slow bloated Tarantino film. My boyfriend loved it. I tried to not fall asleep. If only he wasn’t as indulged, there could have been half an hour less to this movie, no intermission – the last time I remember hearing about one was vaguely as a child, Ghandi had one. This is not Ghandi, it will not give you inspiration but some of the acting is excellent. The overuse of racial slurs towards Samuel L. Jackson, were a bit much to take. We got the point Quentin. If you want to see Channing Tatum be horrible in a charming way, the second half will reward you, but when the break came I was ready to leave.
  5. Brooklyn – thought this one would speak to my Irish heritage. Instead, her millennial indecision annoyed me to no end. I kept waiting for something to happen, so did she. Don’t let life make your decision, make them for yourself. I would rather sit through the uneven, should-have-been-an-SNL sketch, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler  comedy “Sisters” again, then watch this. Perhaps I was annoyed she left my ginger crush, Domhnall Gleeson, to believe she was interested when she was being selfish. What I didn’t like about this film was that there were no consequences to the characters lies by inaction. She left a wake of tears, but she was happy. Well, isn’t that uplifting? No.
  6. In The Heart of The Sea– swoon hard, swoon in 3-D at Mr. Chris Hemsworth, but don’t expect a lot of plot in this one. Ron Howard expressed his excitement at using 3D, inspired by the film “Life of Pi,” which was an excellent film. Mr. Howard, you abused 3D in this film, as if you were an NYU film student learning how to use a camera. There was a serious lack of character developement but oh Thor, you are handsome and you have beautiful blue eyes.

RENTALS: This is winter. Finally.

  1. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – all the banter and fun that was missing from James Bond, can be found in this great romp of a movie. Two thumbs up, a little sad I missed this one in the theaters, but it was gone fast. It’s definitely worth watching over say The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  2. The Women in Gold – another film, but smaller that I had wanted to see in theaters. The story of the rightful owner, Maria Altman, who fled the Nazis in Austria seeking the Klimt’s painting of her Aunt Adele (pronounced A-dell-ee, not like the singer), which was claimed by the Austrian government and placed in their museum. It’s a wonderful film starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. I love when a film showcases a relationship and determination of two people, who are unlikely to come together, thinking neither party will teach the other one.
  3. Everest – another true story. Why climb it? Because it’s there. I can’t imagine what would make me want to climb Everest after seeing this film and what you could happen to you as you climb, your body literally dying with each step. This film showed some of the worst and selfish parts of humanity. It showcased ego wanting to triumph over nature, and then getting ego’s ass being thrown off a mountain by its pure arrogance. The hero of the story for me was Peach, the wife left behind in Texas who rallied her minions to get a helicopter for her dying husband to get him off the damn mountain, where he had been left to die by people he paid $65,000 to be there.

NETFLIX & CHILL:

1. Jessica Jones – (series, not a film) Turn it into a drinking game by taking a shot every time Kristin Ritter pouts or there is some serious hot sex…so maybe you can have some too. Not something I could power watch because of all the pouting. Still, love a deviant, reluctant superhero- yes, that means I’m going to see “Deadpool,” despite how awful Ryan Reynold’s Green-Film-He-Got-Blake-Lively-From-As-Well-As-Paid. Ritter pulls it off and manages to pull back my interest just when I think I can’t take her pouting anymore. Great plot twists.

2. The ReWrite – this is a charming film helmed by Hugh Grant. Hugh plays a washed-up rogue writer and does it well. If you are looking for a fun film with banter insert Marisa Tome. Add reluctance, social missteps, a few literary quotes and Hugh Grant and you’ll be laughing with this one.

TV (Bonus):
Tyrant – I loved the first season. They went so far in each episode it was truly well-timed with all that is going on in the Middle East. The second season started off the same, then got quite annoying, so much so I started going back and catching up with British reality TV like “Come Dine With Me” and the ever-entertaining “Don’t Tell The Bride,” which is a great concept and never disappoints for awkwardness and dreadful “oh, hell no, he. Did. Not. Do. That! She can’t marry him!” But, after the holiday season, I caught up on the last episode and it’s back to a place where I can be intrigued again, leaving out a lot of the soap opera and focusing on the action of political decisions. This series explores the tricky lines of moral compasses, with less cursing and jazz than “Homeland.”

Music (Bonus):

X-Ambassadors “Love Song, Drug Song” may be Brooklyn’s answer to The Kings of Leon, and I love it.

King Charles–  one of my favorite artists I’ve ever worked with, is also extremely talented. I’ll never forget how all the women in the office found a way to come to my office when he was in there for two hours. He is highly entertaining. He was an absolute dream when we trekked through the living hell that SXSW can be to manage and gave his full KC charm to a small room of people at his showcase there. A true talent.

Hope you enjoyed that. Note, as much as I love film and TV, I am reading two books about product management and a novel called “Smoke,” which is riveting.

Dog Stylist Officially Added to My CV…Ramble

I met the incredible bright spirit that is Suzanne Donaldson, aka Mrs. Sizzle, at a pop-up shop for Love Thy Beast. I was a fan of their reversible gold puffer jacket, and had read The Dogist was going to be there. I took my French bulldog, Elle, and we head to the LES to try it on her. Thus, we set out on a dark winter’s night.

Walking out of the gloomy night, into the Love Thy Beast (now permanent) shop, this blonde spark plug extended her hand, “Hi, she is gorgeous,”she said pointing at Elle. “I’m Mrs. Sizzle!”

I thought, ‘Damn, what have I been doing with my life? I want to introduce myself as Mrs. Sizzle! Who is this amazing lady?’ I spoke with Suzanne and her interns while The Dogist slipped out the door, never to return. (All good because that story ends with Elle in the center of the “Sassy” section on page 127 of his book. Stage mom moment out….)

We went on to join Mrs. Sizzle for a Santacon shoot at Penn Station. She teamed up with street photographer, Jeff Mermelstein, quite a character in his own right, renowned for his New York images.  I love this noir photo Jeff got of Elle for Mrs.Sizzle.com which included our dear friend @chloekhardoggian.

mrssizzle.jpegFast forward to this past April. We say goodbye to our NY dog friends at a charity event including Suzanne. We stay in touch on Instagram. Get asked by another friend of Mrs. Sizzle’s to part take in a London Fashion Week street style shoot, that wound up not happening, but gave me the idea to pitch Suzanne a few ideas to showcase the Best of British Dog Designers with our London dog friends, Winny & Noodle (who unfortunately couldn’t make the shoot due to scheduling issues, but we love quite a bit.)

We discussed fashion pieces – once we both admitted to being obsessed with Ware of The Dog’s Pink Bobble jumper, we knew we were aligned in aesthetic and Suzanne said “let’s go for it.”I have to admit being let loose in Mungo & Maud was a styling dream come true. Elle crawled up into one of the dog beds, snuggling toys while I picked things out for the shoot.

The result has been an incredible collaboration and curation with British designers including the aforementioned Mungo & Maud as well as rising stars Ruby Rufus, Hiro + Wolf and Fetch & Follow.

It was wonderful my very talented friend photographer, Rachel Oates brought the vision to life with her photography. Rachel’s muse, her wonderful Pembroke  @Winnythecorgi and Elle brought the clothes to life alongside our pal, Bodhibulldog.  Thankfully we were quite focused, when recapping as we left the location, otherwise how would we have survived a freak hail storm, Winny’s paw bleeding, and me face planting while trying to keep the designer goods from hitting mud? All in the name of producing incredible fashion moments like those below, which you can see on Mrs. Sizzle.com right now. A huge thanks to everyone involved.

The world is a strange and dangerous place these days, so it gives us the further kick to be able to add some color and fun into this holiday season.mrs+sizzle+rachel+oates-1.jpg

How I Would Recast The Role of James Bond’s Q…Ramble

SPOILER ALERTS CONTAINED

As I walked out of Spectre last night with two friends, we recast the movie. While we enjoyed different aspects, it became clear that while classic Bond in many ways, when setting up characters of the past in this current franchise, there was a lot to be desired.

I tried to shake my head of internal quips about the appearance of Grumpy Cat’s cousin popping up and ten other camp moments in the film. It’s Bond, but it was lacking intentional jokes in one key area, which always added charm to Bond’s character.

Q – a classic role, which always led to great, cheeky banter, looks laughable when standing next to Bond. The jokes fell flat- he orders Bond a detox drink, then doesn’t even get to stay in the scene while Bond tells the server to skip a step and throw it down the drain.

When Q is faced with two dangerous men from Spectre, an organization which encourages members to present their resumes by killing one another, Q evades them rather than engages them entirely. Previous Quartermasters were older, but all would have had to go through combat training. How about we stop with the stereotypical nerd who has to hide in a closet as he method of self preservation? Instead, add some diversity and gravity to the role by casting Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes; Covert Affairs).

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It would be a lot more interesting if Q and Bond physically sparred with some of the cool toys (*quite devoid, due to the ‘department merger/cut’ battle faced as part of the plot line.) Let’s envision a boxing match between the two of them, Q chastising Bond about plummeting another car off a mountain/river/speedboat, etc. – now I’d really want to watch that. Q could have at least used his laptop to smack one of the bad guys in the head- mind over matter.

Let’s hope the next Bond film will “get the 007 program out of the Dark Ages,” the way the evil C (as in careless, not C*nt we were all thinking, come on now, M leaves the crud quips to Bond) intended by giving a little more meat to the supporting cast.

P.S. Applause to the wink-nod-homage to  ‘Jaws’ when Bond takes down the new Jaws character with four barrels. High five for that moment Sam Mendes.

Top Ten Reasons To Hire Me…Ramble

I’ve been in London for six months. I am staying and building a great life, all that’s missing is a job. I’m open to start ups and established brands. Here are reasons to hire me:

  1. I break down a project and process so you can understand it.
  2. Tailor unique brand and story ideas for your platform – there’s no repeated formula.
  3. As a generalist, I’ve worked with the global brands and household artists who go by one name, so your temper tantrums won’t scare me.
  4. There will always be a choice of paths to take
  5. Data is fun. I worked at Disney and Yahoo! Numbers are my friend.
  6. You get a digital marketing expert who has worked for global brands like Sony Music, MTV and Universal Music, Tribeca Film Festival, American Express and travel, food and fashion clients.
  7. I’m a writer. Words are my friend. I have interviewed artists, authors and local business people. You can read some of my five question interviews with a diverse group of people from Internet legends to Dog Trainers.
  8. Legally here as an Irish citizen.
  9. I will program your social media feeds.
  10. My dog, Elle. Two interviewers told me at the interview they wish I had brought her with me.

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Miley Remains A Contradiction…Ramble

Miley recently told Jimmy Kimmel it’s hard to be “an asshole when you’re naked.” Poor Jimmy was so befuddled by her breasts hanging out, he had to ask where he should look. 

The statement stuck with me (as anyone who has ever dated a scoundrel would immediately contest it) and because immediately following it, Miley put down other people as well as the nudist community- with plenty of yucks & hahas. She went on to tell The New York Times Bitchy, I mean, Nicki Minaj wasn’t a nice person. (Note: Miley may be friends with Snoop Dogg and Kanye, but that doesn’t give her a pass and I wouldn’t turn my back on Nicki any time soon.) 

These days folks are tired of behaving, which makes it more interesting for us, but Straight Outta Nashville isn’t going to be able to take down Straight Outta Her Mind, who’s anacondas one out up with any of Cyrus’ naked bs, which lead to the awesomeness of at MTV’s Video Music Awards last month -worth another view for the uncensored version:

If Miley isn’t about being an asshole, why doesn’t she stop deflecting and calling out other artists? She seems to be over-trying again like she did on the video for “Wrecking Ball.” Still, Cyrus is a huge musical talent and watching her reveal the next iteration of her Madonna-like new personas minus faux British accents, is hugely entertaining. 

Her new song “Hands of Love,” is another killer ballad (off the soundtrack of the Julianne Moore & Ellen Paige film “Freehold”), showcasing why we still have any interest in Miley as she struggles to settle on an identity and adulthood. Guess she’s just being Miley

Burberry + Apple Music: A Natural Fit…Ramble

Why is anyone surprised Burberry has started a music channel with Apple Music? Angela Ahrendts, the SVP of Apple’s retail and online stores, was the CEO of Burberry.

Ms. Ahrendts, with Christopher Bailey, were very vocal about taking the heritage brand, and modeling it on Apple’s cohesiveness to make Burberry cool again. They launched the Burberry Acoustic Series, which will be included in the channel.

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This is a natural and logical fit. I personally love it. The marriage of music and fashion is well-documented, with my own former boss, Ian Rogers, recently turning heads (as he does), leaving his role as CEO of Beats to take fashion powerhouse LVMH to the next level of digital innovation. Note: Yes, as much as we have seen digital be integral to many fashion brands, overall the industry still needs to innovate in the area. Don’t get me started on the fragrance industry (I used to cover it.)

My personal hope is now Burberry will create a stand alone app, where customers can live in a Burberry world, which will of course, include the music. *Yes, I wrote that request a few posts ago, you’re not imagining it. I love Burberry.

Now where’s my Burberry trench coat? I’m going to go outside and take my swagger back to Golden Square to wrap up my London Fashion Week experience.