Happy Friday!

It’s Friday, and I’m ready to kick-off the weekend with some links! I’ve been an exercise fool the past day or two, and I’ve got boot camp schedule tonight, a baby shower for my cousin, and then a business trip next week. It’s a fast-paced and exciting weekend in preparation for a fast-paced and exciting week.


For the female techies and the controversy-inclined, via Forbes: Why Women Shouldn’t Go To Tech Conferences (this article might get it’s own blog post next week, so stay tuned for the response!)

For the business-minded, via ERE blog: Price and Value (again, great inspiration for a post, particularly on how branding changes up the price-value relationship)

For those who care about professional appearance, via Corporette: Is Curly Hair Professional?

For those considering living abroad, via Thought Catalog: Oh, It’s Okay, Everybody Speaks English Anyway


Like the links? Follow me on Twitter for links and blog posts every day!

Acronyms and Industries

I learned something new in class last night… apparently, in some industries, CRM means “Customer Returned Material”. Essentially, a customer is returning some material that you sold them because it is broken for some reason. I learned this from a classmate who is an engineer, and we were discussing projects at work. I mentioned that I was working on a big CRM project, and he replied, “Oh, so lots of customer returned material?” Wait, what? Clearly, we’re not on the same page, as I think CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. I’m wondering if there are other meanings for CRM that a marketer and an engineer wouldn’t know? This happens a lot across industries, so I’m interested to hear if any of you have acronym mix-up stories to share!

Is This Real Life?

Kileen, Ashley (Me), and Angeline (thanks to Angeline's husband for the photo!)


I had the pleasure of meeting some bloggers this weekend in real life, so I thought I’d post a picture. Angeline, from The New Professional, is taking a cross-country adventure to make the move for her husband’s new job, and she and her husband stopped in the Dallas area for a few nights. Kileen, from Cute and Little, joined us for some coffee and conversation. This is my first blogger meet-up, and it was really cool to meet both of these ladies in person. It’s definitely a little odd, because you feel like you know them from reading their blogs, but you haven’t actually met. We had some great discussions about world travels, job opportunities, and housing options. It was great to connect with these two talented bloggers in person, and I look forward to more meet-ups in the future!

Finally Friday

It’s been a good week, and I’m making lots of progress on a huge project at work! Here’s a few links to kick off the weekend!


For the brand protectors and copyright lawyers:  Apple rip-off stores in China

For the aspiring entrepreneur, via Exile Lifestyle: People Still Pay for Value

For all corporate workers, via Corporette: How to Get Over a Professional Mistake

For those giving a presentation soon, via Forbes: How to Quiet Your Presentation Anxiety


Like the links? Follow me on Twitter for links and blog posts every day!




The Right Tools


Jewelry and a pencil skirt dress up this plain white t-shirt

Skirt: Ann Taylor Loft

T-shirt: Target

Necklace/Earrings/Belt: Forever 21

Shoes: Sam and Libby, via DSW

Like the outfit? See more details here!



These photos were taken after a long day at work and class. When I asked my husband to snap a few pictures of my outfit, he went into photographer mode, and ended up pulling out his fancy studio lights because the “natural” light from the overhead fixture made the photos look terrible. He also switched out his lenses and played with different flash diffusers. How did he end up getting a few decent photos? He used the right tools! There have been several personal and professional situations recently that have further re-enforced my belief that success is partially dependent on the right tools.

Be selective. We’re working on a huge CRM project at my company, and there’s a lot of features of the system that we just won’t use. There’s a lot of phrases and headers that we haven’t defined, so they haven’t been used in the past. Basically, we’ve got this huge tool that we’re not using effectively because it’s not the right tool for our job yet. Sometimes it seems like having all the tools that anyone, anywhere, could ever need is the perfect way to ensure that you have the right tools for your job. I think this is incorrect, and that often times a select number of the most heavily used tools will serve you better. Think about how much time you have to spend organizing and sifting through all the extra tools that you have, when all you really need is one specific tool. In our case, we don’t need to move inventory through the same sales cycle as service events. Thus, we are better served by eliminating the excess menus, phrases, screens, and keystrokes than we are by keeping tons of unused tools around “just in case”. Be selective in which tools you choose to keep handy!

Know the job, know your audience. I’m an avid scrapbooker (when I’m not in school, of course!), so I’ve accumulated a lot of tools and tricks to use with those tools that help me make my designs “better”. I found out just how much my designs are based on my use of tools when I’ve agreed to create scrapbooks for other people to put pictures in later. Basically, I have to remember that other people don’t have the same tools that I have, so my design can’t be dependent on use of the fancy tools. The same is true in business. You’ve got to know the job and design the solution in such way that special tools aren’t necessary for people to implement the solution. If you require that they use special tools, you may be complicating the job to the point that it can’t be accomplished. For our CRM project, I’m working with our sales team and management team to find out exactly what information they need, and what tactics they can use to retrieve this information. If I just went in and designed it from my own perspective, I would be giving them a tool they couldn’t use.

My husband knew which tools to use to make these photos better… do you know which tools you need to make your business better? Like the outfit? Like the outfit? See more details here!

On Fluff and Intimidation

I was talking about ways to improve my blog with my husband, and he was trying to find the best way to tell me that my site a little…. shall we say… boring and a little intimidating. It doesn’t hurt my feelings for him to say that, but it does make me wonder how I can make it less boring and intimidating. Basically, he lands on the site and there’s a giant block of text in front of him, which just screams “boring” and “WOW, that’s a lot of text, I don’t have time to read all that!” So, readers, do you feel this way too? I’m open to suggestions here, as I don’t write solely to see my own words 🙂

I think the first issue, is that I don’t want to write fluff. I want to provide some background, insight, thinking points, etc., and I guess I feel like a lot of short writing often turns into fluff. Then again, I read Seth’s Blog, and his concise posts are always pretty informative. However, his posts also tend to be very abstract and high-level, and sometimes I like to get down into the nitty-gritty heart of things. I think I need to find a way to better allocate my words, so that I don’t lose the meat of the message and turn into fluff, but I don’t intimidate or bore my readers with huge walls of text!

One solution to the “many words” problem, is to use more pictures. I commented several months back that I wanted to add more pictures to the blog, and I’ve been successful with the outfit posts. However, I never include pictures on “regular” posts, and I’m not sure why that is. Part of me doesn’t want to post a picture just for the sake of posting a picture, and so I avoid pulling stock photos just to put something up. Then, I don’t use original photos because those take time to snap, upload, edit, etc., and I guess I just don’t see the point of all that work, just to say that I’ve put a picture on the blog. These reasons appear to be a question of value… apparently, I don’t think pictures on the blog add value. The marketer in me would scoff at this suggestion in any other context, as I truly believe people much prefer imagery to copy. And yet, here I sit, typing away, without any pictures (yes, I realize the irony of this post being a little long and sans pictures!) My husband pointed to this deodorant post as a perfect example of a time that a picture would’ve been much more useful than the block of text I used to describe the situation, and I completely agree that this post provides great motivation to start adding pictures to provide background or context.

In short (again, with the irony), I need to avoid BOTH fluff and intimidation! It appears I’ve substituted one problem for another in my attempts to provide meaningful, thoughtful, and compelling content. So, I’m open to suggestions… what would you like to see?

Am I a Bright Girl?

This is another post that’s been sitting in the queue, unpublished. In my continuing effort to have transparency and credibility on the blog, it’s finally coming out to the world! Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about pay equity and glass ceilings for women. When I first started noticing these articles, I generally brushed them off as, “This doesn’t happen any more, women can definitely rise to the top without a problem!” But, the more I read, the more I started looking at myself, and noticing that I display some of the traits mentioned in the articles. This post is not about “discrimination”, but about self-reflection, and realizing that if you don’t at least consider the issues at hand, you might be part of the problem. So, which issues really hit home for me?

Women are too nice. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois Frankel is on my to-read list, as every article that mentions this book seems to hit home for me. Basically, Frankel argues that being “nice” won’t help you get the corner office. She’s not talking about common courtesy, but rather the niceness that comes across as weak or less than confident. The day I realized I might be too nice: I was writing a bullet point list of action items that needed to be completed in order for me to submit a large purchase order. I’d already written, “please” in the instructions. I then proceeded to write “please” in front of every single bullet point! Now, I know that saying “please” is generally a good way to do business, but before every sentence on a bullet point list? People don’t have time to read all those extra words, and I’d already set the tone of polite but necessary at the top of the form, so there was no need to write “please” 10 additional times!

Women don’t ask. I’m coming to realize that I need to work on my negotiation skills for myself. I tend to do well when negotiating on behalf of the business, but poorly when it comes to myself. This article talks about negotiating first salaries, and many of the articles I’ve read discuss negotiating raises. Study after study shows that women leave money on the table at every stage of their career, and that most assume, “My performance speaks for itself, my bosses will give me a raise because they know I deserve it for all my hard work and achievements.” This really hit home for me, because every time I think about my review, I think about my achievements as either “standard” for my job, meaning they don’t equal a raise, or I think my bosses will get angry at me for asking for a raise. See point #1 about being too nice… I don’t want to hurt the working relationship by asking for a raise, and thus, I’ve now failed on two of the points that contribute to hitting the glass ceiling. I need to “man up” about negotiating for myself!

Women give up too quickly. This article discusses a point that slaps me in the face daily: women are too quick to give up if a task is difficult for them. The article cites a study showing that women are just as capable as men, but we’ve been taught to believe that abilities are innate. Thus, if something is difficult, we can’t change it, learn it, or overcome it, because our abilities just are what they are. Young girls are praised for being “good” or “smart”, while young boys are told, “If you just focus, you can do it. If you just worked harder, you could solve this problem.” I think back on my school years, and that’s the truth. I was always just smart, plain and simple, smart. It wasn’t that I’d studied hard or paid attention in class, I just WAS. My husband has actually been a big part of me realizing that I have the ability to do it, and “smarts” have little to do with my ability to accomplish a task. Particularly regarding technical acumen, he’s always trying to teach me how to do it, instead of just doing it for me (he’s a software engineer by trade, so manipulating WordPress is a walk in the park for him). I think I’m actually making progress toward overcoming this trait, as I’ve started to fiddle around in the code when I need to change something on the blog (note to the engineers, I recognize that WordPress doesn’t really constitute “code”, but there’s syntax and tags that make it look like code to me!) . I’ve started solving problems on the website at work, instead of always running to our IT person to make the changes. Sure, it takes me longer… but I’m reducing the time it takes to complete the steps each time I perform the task. What does this mean? It means I’m LEARNING, putting in the hard work and frustration to learn. I completely agree, at least for myself, that it’s been detrimental for me to attribute my accomplishments to being “smart” over being “persistent”.

I truly believe women are just as capable as men, and that we do possess the intelligence and work ethic to move up the ladder. However, I’m finding out that for me, I’m reluctant to take the step up to the next rung for fear that I’m being pushy and greedy, or that I don’t possess a particular skill set. I’m working on changing my contribution to the glass ceiling for myself, are you?

Resume Rules

I had the opportunity to comment on some resumes recently, and the request for feedback warrants a post. I noticed significant differences in the style, information included, and length of the resumes of these candidates than resumes for candidates more similar to myself. I attribute these differences partly to generational differences, and partly to career tracks. Let’s a take a look, shall we?

Long resumes. Each of the resumes was 4-6 pages in length! This, to me, was pretty surprising, as the latest standard that I’ve heard is a 2-page maximum. Prior to the 2-page maximum, they told us in high school that our resumes should be a maximum of 1 page in length. In college, most professors explained that executives and hiring managers don’t have time to “waste” reading your 8 page resume, so you need to treat it like any other business proposal: short, concise, value-proposition. They wanted us to make sure our resumes were “executive summaries”, versus a “life story” of our career history.

Repetitive Information. Several candidates included repetitive information, which contributed to the extra length in the resume. Instead of only including their additional duties in a new position, they would copy and paste all the duties from their past positions. If they’d made a lateral move that included the same duties, they simply wrote down the exact same list under each position and company. To me, it makes more sense to organize a resume by skill-type if most of your positions fall under a broad set of skills. For example, my resume is broken down into Marketing and Customer Service, Project Management, and Presentation and Public Speaking. I then list each position and the specific accomplishments, versus the broad description, “created Marketing material” under 3 or 4 different companies/positions.

Full history. It was also interesting to see that these candidates included career history that did not relate or contribute to their qualifications for the position at hand, which, again, contributed to the additional pages on the resume. Many of these candidates have been in the industry for 20-30 years, but their first position in the industry isn’t really relevant to their ability to do the position we’re hiring for. The candidates also enumerated education and courses that were not applicable for the position. It seemed that many of the resumes were not tailored for the position, but just a running list of the last 30 years their career. I suggest tailoring your resume and including only the relevant experience and education, even if you have experience outside the description. For example, my theater resume includes my height, weight, hair/eye color, and sizes/measurements, as well as past shows, and vocal and dance training. The personal details are illegal to ask about in a professional interview for a corporation, and the vocal and dance training are irrelevant to my ability to do marketing. While they may show dedication to perfecting a skill, they don’t contribute to the skills in question.

Broad descriptions. Many of the resumes used broad descriptions like, “improved sales” or “handled customer complaints.” Today’s resume gurus stress using hard numbers or specific accomplishments. Instead of “improved sales”, today’s resumes require, “increased sales from $1,000 per day to $1,200 per day”. “Handled customer complaints” would become, “reduced customer complaints by 20%” or “increased monthly customer satisfaction score by 10%”. Since many people work in positions that require soft skills, there are too many ways to interpret these broad terms. A lot of people “manage” or “improve” an area, but specific examples will set you apart.

References. Each resume either included reference names, or included “references available on request”. From what I’ve heard over the past 3 years, “references on request” is out. The assumption is that if someone wants references, they know to ask, so there’s no need to tell them, “it’s ok to ask”. Further, with technology today, many companies can run a background check to verify much of the information on your resume, so they are less dependent on personal references than in the past. These days, if you want to know if someone is worth their salt, you can probably just go to LinkedIn and take a look at the “recommendations” on their profile! Also, today’s laws prevent employers from providing a lot of information, so references are not as useful as they once were. Some companies still check references, but many do not ask. I have not been asked to provide references or letters of recommendation outside of academics for any of my past positions.

Experience track. I noticed that many of these candidates have experience versus education. This is not a bad thing, it’s just different than myself and my peers. I think this is partly a generational issue, in that 20 years ago, a college degree was less important than it is today. Many of my parents’ friends don’t have college degrees, and they’ve been quite successful. This is almost unheard of among my friends, as we all attended college, and many are pursuing or considering graduate education. These candidates worked their way up from the bottom over the last 20-30 years, whereas younger candidates seem to emphasize education early in their career. From what I’ve seen, the education does appear to fast-track people, even if they’re older. For example, most executives in my company are in their 40s, and possess at least a Bachelor’s, and many, an MBA. These executives have held Senior positions at various companies with only 10-15 years of experience, instead of 20-30 years of experience like their less educated peers. They’ve moved higher in the organization and at a faster rate than those with less education.

Overall, this was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of how hiring in my industry occurs. It was also interesting to note how times have changed in resume style, and in experience/educational requirements. All of these candidates appear to be well-qualified for the position we’re offering, but it took a deeper look at their resume to figure that out. How have resume rules evolved since you’ve been out of school or interviewed for a position?

The Numbers Don’t Lie (Or Do They?)

I’ve been on a data-gathering mission since I started my position, and now grades are up for my MBA mid-terms. In short, I’ve got numbers running out my ears! I’m probably the least numbers-conscious person you’ll ever meet (seriously, ask my husband about the calculus study incident where the book, pencil, and calculator somehow managed to fly from the table to the other side of the room), but I’ve been particularly interested in the numbers lately. Most people who like numbers say that their affinity for numbers stems from the single answer they provide, and the “truth” shown in the numbers. Us marketers know better… hence the reason we tend to hate the numbers, because the numbers don’t actually provide the data we’re looking for. So, the numbers don’t lie… or do they?

Let’s start with grades and GPAs for the MBA. In theory, everyone answers a certain number of questions correctly on the exam, and receives the empirical percentage associated with those correct answers. Except, there’s a curve… and you’re not technically graded against yourself or the exam, but rather, the rest of the class. Thus, if everyone flubs the mid-term, you could end up with a decent grade by just being better than the average. That was my strategy in Economics, to make sure I wasn’t the dumbest person in the class. In reality, I managed to do really well on that mid-term, only missing a few questions, even without the comparison to the rest of the class. This example generally backs up what many people seem to think: grades and GPA are really not a strong measure of a person’s intelligence or work ethic. By “not being the dumbest”, someone could end up with at least a 3.5 GPA. This is probably somewhat off-set by the fact that a high GPA indicates that they weren’t the dumbest person in every class they took, which might give a semi-accurate measure of the person’s intelligence and/or work ethic.

My latest struggle deals with sample size and statistical significance (I know, marketers everywhere are coiling in horror at those words, as am I!). I’m trying to determine our referral lead sources for the business, so I’ve asked the sales reps to survey their customers when they go on a sales call. On one hand, I’ve got a really small sample size, so my results aren’t actually statistically significant, meaning I can’t really draw worthwhile conclusions. On the other hand, it’s a survey that is directly targeted to and answered by our customers, meaning that if what they say is true, it’s a good representation of how our customer base actually behaves. So, now I’m back to the marketer’s dilemma: WHY? Why do people read this magazine or that magazine? Why does this ad appeal to one segment but not the other, and how influential is segment A over segment B? Should I start re-allocating my advertising dollars if a publication suddenly sky rockets in the survey results? I’m much more leary of changing the spending, since 1 or 2 responses can “significantly” change the data.

Last, I think survey numbers in general are a little fuzzy. Did you control for different factors, like lifestyle, age, product-type, etc.? I’ve seen a lot of studies that quote statistics, but statistics are easy to skew. I’m currently trying to aggregate data to determine the “real” response to our ads. What is the best way to change them to improve our numbers in the survey? Is the survey sample really indicative of our customers’ thoughts and behaviors? I think the aggregate data is very telling, and the moderators also give you real comments from real participants, which helps immensely. I’ve found the comments to be much more helpful than the numbers in determining why our ads did not score as expected.

So, while I’m currently chasing the numbers, I still think the numbers need to supplement comments, conversation, and human observation. I think the numbers do their best to tell the whole truth, but nothing but the truth… the numbers are gathered by people, so it’s going to have some slant from someone!

Happy Friday!

What a wonderful 4-day week, and almost the weekend. I’ve got some errands planned, but other than that, it shouldn’t be too eventful… and I’ve got links to kick it off!


For those aspiring to be a leader, via Derek Siver’s Blog: Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Man

For the academics and philosophers, via ERE Blog: Musings on Postmodernism and Ignorance

For the ambitious networker, via Corporette: How to Network When You’re Junior

For the history buffs, via TIME: Grand Finale (NASA launches the last space shuttle mission)


Like the links? Follow me on Twitter for links and blog posts every day!