Writing About Career Reinvention

Advertising is competitive, and coming into the game late can be tough. For Ad Age, I wrote about people who changed careers–definitely not an easy undertaking. I’m fascinated by reinvention stories, especially when the careers in question are wildly different (professional-level fencing to creative director is one example). There’s a lesson there, too: if you’re really good at something and you want to give it a shot, you should do so. It might add life experience and layers of invaluable perspective that others don’t have, preparing you for challenges and hurtles down the road.
Read here.

Brands on Snapchat: Ephemeral or Impactful?

Snapchat is the new hot sharing tool for brands and celebrities who want to share their unique perspectives and experiences. The question is: will the impression last longer than the 10-second image, or will it disappear forever?

IMG_5198
The Broad City ladies were on The Cut’s Snapchat story! I felt compelled to take a poor quality screenshot on my phone.

During New York Fashion Week, I gladly used Snapchat for access to events I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Behind-the-scenes makeup applications, stunning couture gowns and high-profile fashion parties were enough to suck me in. The best part? It was all conveniently available on my phone. Refinery29and The Cut were my main sources for NYFW Snapchat moments. Other NYFW Snapchatters included “Man Repeller” blogger Leandra Medine, Lucky Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Eva Chen and luxury label Opening Ceremony. Michael Kors has plans to test his Snapchat game as well.

The “Story” feature isn’t the only hot topic relating to Snapchat. Snapchat made headlines as it unleashed the new “Discover” feature which allows users to sample content from Vice, Cosmopolitan, People, CNN, ESPN and others. Additionally, they added “Snapcash,” allowing people to send and receive money on the app.

It seems like everything is coming up Snapchat these days. I’m interested in where the app goes next–I don’t think it has peaked just yet. Here are a few articles to get you up to speed on recent Snapchat developments:

10 snapchat accounts you should follow via The Verge

Snapchat wants to break into the music business via BusinessInsider

Snapchat said to seek up to $19 billion value in funding via BloombergBusiness

VProud offers troll-free talk on health, sex, politics and more

I recently became involved with a startup called VProud, a “video-driven conversation platform, built for women by women.” I’m working as a contributing editor with the site, and I’m really excited to get involved. The site encourages conversation about issues involving health, politics, sexuality, feminism, parenting, education and a whole host of other topics.

Here's a still showing VProud. The site launched about 10 months ago.
Here’s a still showing VProud. The site launched about 10 months ago.

On Tuesday, I wrote about an unretouched Cindy Crawford photo that was recently released on Twitter. What I find most interesting is that the photoshoot outtake was released without her knowledge–sparking debate about whether Cindy even wants to be the poster-child of the body acceptance movement. Commenters on the site vary in opinion. Some find the photo inspiring and honest, and others don’t think one photo will change how the media presents aging women. Bottom line: head over if you’re interested in discussing relevant topics in a troll-free forum. The site has attracted around 1 million unique visitors and counting, and it’s sure to create more buzz as it grows.

You Should Read: Sheryl Sandberg’s Latest

Sheryl Sandberg wrote another editorial for the NYT with Adam Grant, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor and author of “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.” It’s called “Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee,” and it definitely deserves to be read on your coffee break today.

Here are some highlights that I found most thought-provoking:

“When a woman declines to help a colleague, people like her less and her career suffers. But when a man says no, he faces no backlash. A man who doesn’t help is ‘busy’; a woman is ‘selfish.'”

This is basically the thesis of the article. Recent studies show people generally think worse of women who don’t volunteer for office housework. Men who don’t volunteer aren’t judged as harshly. Have you ever felt these kind of sentiments in the office? I can think of a couple of times when this rang true for me or colleagues. It’s almost like there’s fine print on the volunteer form that reads: “Go ahead and sign up for this, ladies. We know you’ll eventually do it when no one else volunteers.”

“Someone has to take notes, serve on committees and plan meetings — and just as happens with housework at home, that someone is usually a woman.”

I think this sentence hits the nail on the head. Gender norms trickle into every part of life, especially the workplace. There’s an expectation that women want to help or be “communal” as Sandberg says in the article. Taking notes, planning or dealing with smaller administrative tasks are some of the responsibilities expected of women. If women are always volunteering and being communal, when do they actually do the important work?

“These activities don’t just use valuable time; they also cause women to miss opportunities. The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.”

And here it is: the takeaway. People who are focused on the bigger ideas at work often don’t have time to volunteer for the smaller tasks. Sandberg argues that administrative tasks should be assigned to employees instead of volunteered for. I agree–it could be an initiative that encourages individual responsibility for office housework across the board.

Of course, it could be argued that assigning the work is just a bandaid on a larger societal problem of deeply embedded gender roles. The problem isn’t that women are volunteering for these tasks more than men; the problem is that everyone expects them to do so. This is true, and I fully support a huge overhaul of societal views on gender. Until that happens, I would be more comfortable in a workplace that asks these tasks of everyone instead of using a volunteer system.

Reporting + Social Media

After dramatic cuts at newspapers and magazines in the past ten years, journalists are getting creative. How do you make yourself absolutely indispensable to your workplace? You create a following. A social media following, to be specific.

Twitter bird

Media people are getting craftier and more innovative to secure their jobs, and for many, this innovation comes in the form of social media use. Tweeting from court rooms, interacting with readers via Facebook and Instagraming from the field is more popular than ever.

Still, social media platforms aren’t necessarily the savior of journalism. In fact, these platforms are often at odds with journalistic values. For instance, the thirst for information on Twitter demands quick pacing–something that isn’t conducive to fact-checking and accurate reporting. And how many fake news stories or rumors from Twitter or Facebook can you remember in the past year? There were a whole bunch, even some fake video footage was scrounged up. (For more on this, I recommend Slate’s “How to not publish baloney”)

With those startling examples in mind, here are some rules I stand by as a social journalist:

  1. Keep your writing tight. Even if the platform allows you to spill over 140 characters, your readers might not focus past that mark. Keep it tight and link to the longer story.
  2. Steer conversation with readers in a productive, civil way. Sometimes they ask great questions that reveal where you could’ve gone further with your reporting. Sometimes there are trolls that want to get your goat. Don’t give in to the impulse.
  3. Remember you’re representing yourself and your publication. Everyone has a social policy nowadays, so familiarize yourself with it. Just do it.
  4. Find your rhythm, and stick with it. Readers appreciate a regular flow of posts, and you’ll get a larger volume of high-quality followers this way.
  5. Give context whenever possible, and take every measure to confirm that your posts are accurate, even when speed is a priority.

Backpacking Summer 2014: Paris Part II

We packed a lot into our Paris stay. It was Brian’s first time in the city, so we did some basic tourism to start.

On our first day, it was hot enough to bake cookies outside. We walked around the base of the Eiffel Tower and had ice cream along the banks of the Seine. There was a densely-packed tennis watch party going on at the Champ de Mars, so we took a break to watch Maria Sharapova play on the colossal screen.

Paris offers so many sweet, detectable foods. We came from Belgium, a country famous for chocolate and chocolate-covered pralines and beer, so it’s hard to tell which county offered more opportunities for decadence. Let’s say it was a tie. Crepes, chocolate, ice cream, cheese, wine, and bread were daily staples. When in Europe, right?

The next day, we took a regional train to Versailles and toured the apartments of French monarchs, capping the long day off with a nap on the lawn. Taking a nap at Versailles is great; there are plenty of entwined lovers, giggling children and wistful, wandering teens creating an idyllic scene perfect for snoozing.

Brian and I did other exploring: we visited the Musée Rodin, payed €20 for haircuts at a place called Space Hair,  visited the bookstore where Henry Miller, Alan Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin and Ernest Hemingway used to hang out, and saw “Maleficent” with French subtitles (we were hoping it would be en Francais. C’est dommage).

The Airbnb apartment where we stayed was near the lovely Canal Saint Martin. A favorite moment of mine was on one of our last nights. There was a thunderstorm, and Brian and I sat by the window as Paris lit up with lightening. People in neighboring apartments opened their windows to watch. What a sight!

IMG_2518
Delectable Parisian fare.
Tennis watch party
Panorama showing the tennis watch party.
versailles
The Versailles lawn spot where we napped.