10 Timeless Tips From Women At The Top

This week, The New York Times published a "corner office" interview with four successful female executives. What follows is just a sampling of their wisdom.
  • Dress with intent. "Presentation matters."
  • Make your boundaries clear. "There is a line that people need to understand."
  • Give yourself a break. "You're expected to be everything to everybody....and all the while, you’re not given support."
- Dara Richardson-Heron, Chief Executive of the Y.W.C.A. USA
  • Be articulate about your accomplishments. "Humility is a really good trait, but I also think that owning who you are and owning it big are important.”
  • Talk positive, not negative. "What I realized with a group of men is that they always stated things very positively....a sort of we-can-do-this attitude."
- Sharon Napier, Chief Executive, Partners + Napier
  • Focusing on gender is largely a waste of time. "Let’s stipulate that women are apples and men are pears. You still have to find a way to succeed in the world."
  • The higher you go, the more vicious the competition. "The air is thin at the top....People will use whatever tools they have to try to prevail over you."
  • Focus on your abilities not just your credentials. "Women are much less likely to view themselves, and to be viewed by others, as being capable of a stretch job." (This point was echoed by Jenny Ming, Chief Executive, Charlotte Russe.)
- Jody Greenstone Miller, Chief Executive, the Business Talent Group
  • Women's ability to make business decisions is often underestimated. "I think most people underestimate that women can do that....I actually find a lot of men have a hard time making tough decisions. They’ll say to someone else, 'You do it.'"
  • Success in a meeting does not necessarily mean talking. "You have to balance listening and speaking." (Dara Richardson-Heron made a similar point, that your value as a speaker comes from your track record of accomplishment.)
- Jenny Ming, Chief Executive, Charlotte Russe
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity and does not reflect the views of her employer or the U.S. government as a whole. Photo credit: Wendy Longo via Flickr

The Open Letter Your Employees Won't Write

I don't know if I can trust you.
I'm not listening to your speeches or reading your blogs.
And I skipped the town hall as well. It's true.
Your official emails are very long. But they don't say too much.
Did you know that your eyes dart back and forth in conversation?
Most of the time you're hard to get, if at all.
What is it you're hiding? Where are you when something is going wrong?
I'm the one who's out there all day, busting my butt to get the work done.
I literally have an impossible job.
Would you throw me under the bus?
Sometimes I feel like I'll never know.
Until I feel like you've got my back, I'll be keeping my options open.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity and does not reflect the views of her employer or the U.S. government as a whole. Photo by Oli Young via Flickr.

Never Again Is Happening Again

We interrupt this blog for a short public service announcement. Please share if you care about stopping the rise of antisemitism in America and worldwide.

 

The One Emotion To Avoid At All Costs

They tell you to "feel your feelings" and it's true, you have no choice.
But some of them are really unpleasant:
  • Fear
  • Jealousy
  • Grief
  • Shame
  • Anger
  • Hate
Like many people I try to bypass all this crap and medicate with food. Ice cream and french fries work well. Or, I just get dizzy. 
One day I looked in the mirror and saw rivers of early gray.
Other people have less of a problem with negativity. They can admit: "I'm afraid," or sad, or jealous or even self-hating. They can talk about it with friends. All of that is good.
But there are some people who like the dark side a bit too much. They are haters, and almost any pretext will set them off. 
Sometimes it seems like hatred has a justification. But when you indulge in this feeling, the only person you're really hurting is yourself. Because you're binding yourself to the target of it, forever.
And the reason you feel hatred, if the truth be told, is more personal than external.
  • I've hated others, and learned that the emotion masked my own discomfort with a part of myself.
  • There have been people who have hated me because they didn't understand things. But you can't explain yourself to the entire world, and frankly people often don't give a shit about revising that judgment once it's done.
  • I used to feel justified in hating those who are antisemitic, until I realized that the real issue was feeling powerless on my part. The Nazis and the radical terrorists seem to have a strength I don't possess.
Hatred is always, always, always about you and never the target.
The spectrum of so-called negative emotions is good for us to feel. It lights the way forward. It's a signal that some important boundary has been disturbed, that right and wrong need fixing, that we have unresolved conflicts from the past.
Dwelling in hatred, however, is never a good idea. It throws your inner compass off. It stops your brain from working. Blocks you from learning. It binds you to the very object of your hatred, in ways you never want.
Hatred keeps you at the junior level of consciousness, when you want to be a spiritual CEO.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Photo credit: U.S. Army / Flickr

Knowing Your Audience Makes All The Difference

"Why didn't we go see Eminem?" one might have asked. On Veteran's Day here in Washington, DC, there was a massive concert downtown, every name-brand singer under the sun.
But I wanted to be right where we were: the "Tribute to America's Veterans Concert" the Silver Spring Town Center. Because Lisa Martin, executive director and the organizer of the event, focused her efforts brilliantly.
It wasn't about the music. It was about making a meaningful, enjoyable and appropriate gathering for locals to celebrate and learn.
What made this event masterful was Martin's focus on who would be attending, that is Matures and Baby Boomers. She aimed principally to make the event work for this crowd. That is:
  • Personalized confirmations that we had seats - from her and not an assistant.
  • Multiple accessible entryways and wide aisles in the concert area.
  • Tasteful food artfully displayed, white wine and hors d'oeuvres.
  • Talks by diverse veterans and their children. There was not a sound as one woman told us how her father was completely molded by World War II. "He taught us order and respect," she said, "literally, 'no rotten apples in our backyard.'"
  • Music that spoke to the '60s and '70s.
  • Welcoming, non-overwhelming open areas to encourage even the older and less limber among us to dance.
There was one other special feature of the event, also one Martin must have known would be appealing: unveiling a bright new talent in the world of music. Her name is Vanny, she is 17 years old, and she sings with the soul of a much older and more mature person.
Remember Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier?"
Here she is singing The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back":
Vanny sidled onstage so humble and unassuming. I almost didn't believe she was "the talent." And then she took out her guitar, and flipped through several sheets of music, and broke into song.
I went totally nuts when she did "Lean On Me":
...and of course the rest of us sung along.
It was beautiful to witness history last night. To be a witness, for people who came home from Vietnam and weren't treated as well as they should have been. To honor them decades later and say, you know what, you did that for us and we are grateful.
To witness the birth of a new age, new thinking, new talent.
It was a beautiful event because of the masterful planning and focus of one marketer.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Screenshot is from the event flyer.

How To Discover A Brand: Chloé Valdary

The dream is always the same. I am nine years old and running.
They are faster than me; I'm shot, not once but maybe twenty times. I'm glued to the ground. I'm dead.
"Huh! Huh!"
It's 3:00 in the morning and that was no dream.
It's hard to tell people you believe in reincarnation. Much less that you believe you were a Holocaust victim in World War II, that you think you know who you were and what you looked like, even. That you dream your death again and again.
But I do, I do, and I do.
In this life I live with the remnants of all whose lives were taken. We have this silent shadow hanging over us all the time: Never again, never again, never again. Our eyes are hollow somewhere very deep.
And then Chloé Valdary gave this speech. Who is this person? I thought. Why does she care about Jews, about Israel, at all?
My lost little girl, the one killed in the forest, wants Chloé to win. I friended her on Facebook and asked her to give me a call (she did). Then made her this website and plan to promote it.
G-d has blessed this young woman. All I want is the merit of being a part of that. I'm not letting her pay me a dime.
But it is also a learning opportunity from the perspective of marketing. I want to tell you how I identified Chloé as a brand.
1. Substance: I talked to her for a long time. Chloé knows her facts. Her mind is encyclopedic.
2. Emotional appeal: Her message is pride in being Jewish. We're so used to being self-hating, feeling shameful, and being scared.
3. Beauty: She belongs on the cover of Vogue. She could easily just be a model. Packaging is half the product.
4. Uniqueness: It is not every day that a college student from an African-American Christian family takes up the cause of Israel with such oratory brilliance. You watch her and you just sit back in awe.
5. Focus: Chloé knows that it's not about her. She has zero ego. That makes her able to focus totally on the cause.
If you want to learn more about Chloé, read this powerful article she wrote forTablet. Also check out their profile of her.
To book her for an appearance, click here and follow the "Contact" button - your email will go to directly to her. I am just a microphone, not the middleman.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. I have not been able to locate the original source of this photo; author Lori Lowenthal at Tundra Tabloids claims it is from Facebook.

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