Last Post of 2011

I can’t believe this is the last post of 2011! This year has flown by, and December has been a blur. I’ve starting reflecting on the past year, and contemplating my goals for 2012. A few of my education and career highlights from 2011 include:

– Completing 20 hours for my MBA degree, with a current GPA of 3.8

– Managing 2 website overhauls at work, presenting at two different sales training sessions, managing the allocation of the 2012 ad budget

– Writing elsewhere on the internet 11 times! (I realized this when I updated my “As Seen On” page the other day, didn’t realize I’d put myself out there so much in the last half of the year!)

It’s been an exciting year, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I hope you have a Happy New Year, and I look forward to your readership in 2012!

Grades Are Up

I finished my 3rd semester at UTD in early December, and grades are posted. I ended up with an A in Global Business, an A in Management of Information Systems, and a B in Statistics. The B in stats pulled my GPA down to a 3.817, which is slightly below my final GPA in undergrad, so I’m not terribly upset. I’ve budgeted a B in Finance, and As for the rest of my degree, so I should end up just under a 3.9 when I graduate.

I was not impressed with my Global Business class or my MIS class. I feel like both of them could have had some interesting things to discuss, but they both just rambled on with no point. In today’s globalized society, it would have been helpful to talk about different business customs and expectations around the world, and business “norms” in other countries. Instead, we talked about standard models and the history of the soviet union. My MIS class consisted of reading a Harvard Business Review case each week, and discussing it in a painfully boring 4 hour session. I was under the impression that this class would go into spreadsheets, project management software, and even some coding, similar to my information systems class in undergrad, but that was not the case. My stats class was actually pretty good, and the professor made a point to include applications for different areas of business, including marketing. I was pleased to see several examples that dealt with comparing the effectiveness of different advertising mediums, promotions, and atmospheres, and I can see how using statistics would be helpful in allocating my marketing dollars.

This semester of my MBA was purely required, and I don’t feel that my business acumen increased as a result of the semester. The MBA is supposed to be a well-rounded degree for future managers, but if you have your undergraduate degree in a business function, you’ve already taken most of these classes. Thus, if I was doing a graduate degree for the love of learning, I would choose the Master’s in Marketing, not the MBA. Because I felt my classes added no value to my knowledge, I was ridiculously unmotivated to do anything more than show up to class and submit my slides for the group PowerPoint. I’m generally really aggressive when it comes to academics, and group projects in particular, but this semester just didn’t strike me. However, it’s a good indication (and somewhat comforting) of how I will perform “at my worst”. I can’t be 100% all the time, so it’s nice to know that my 75%-80% is strong enough to get me through.

I’m taking 9 hours next semester, and two of my classes are electives. I’m hoping that these classes will bring back the creative stimulation of my Buyer Behavior class from my first semester of grad school!

A False Dichotomy

Boots+belt+necklace = trendy and fashionable
Boots are "in" this season, and so are brains!

Black pants: JC Penney

Ruffle Tank: Old Navy

Cardigan/Bracelet: Target

Necklace/Earrings: NY & Co.

Belt/Boots: Charlotte Russe

Like the outfit? Click here for more details!


Do you want to competent or fashionable? I feel caught in this false dichotomy sometimes, and I think it’s possible to be both competent and fashionable.

I wore several “cute” outfits to work last week, and a couple of my co-workers commented that I looked trendy, fashionable, and otherwise “cute”. Now, “cute” is not what I’m going for in the workplace, I’m going for smart, hard-working professional. It’s interesting, because I think my colleagues were trying to give me a compliment, but it made me wonder if I was dressed appropriately.

And, that’s the problem! I’m still the same smart, hard-working professional in trendy clothes as I am in boring clothes. I’ve talked before about my style always leaning toward function over form, but I recognize that many women are able to combine the two. I can dress up a plain gray dress with something other than a plain black cardigan. I can wear a necklace without it meaning that I’m too “girly” to do my job. I think it’s all about the perception that trendy equals incompetent. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but it’s also partly due to my experience. In high school and college, all the people that dressed in trendy clothes were not nearly as smart or hard-working in academics as all of us dressed in boring clothes. And yet, I see plenty of smart and successful women in trendy clothes all over the web!

I think I’m changing my mind about the dichotomy. I can show up to work in a colored dress, instead of a black dress. I can wear fashionable boots, instead of plain black pumps. Do you ever feel constrained by this false dichotomy? Like the outfit? Click here for more details!

Dr. Pepper “Ten” Marketing Strategy

A classmate of mine directed me toward the Dr. Pepper “Ten” campaign, and it’s definitely an interesting review! The campaign is centered around promoting the drink to men, while the men do “manly” things like watch action movies and go on safaris.

The pros: The “Ten” campaign is an attention-getter, and it stirs up some controversy, which, as we know, makes people remember you. The commercials are obviously tongue-in-cheek, and the strategy has warranted press mentions and viral videos all over the web. I think Dr. Pepper hit the mark on getting people to talk about their new low-calorie soda.

The cons: However, once again, a company has chosen to go with stereotypes and an overly obvious message that their drink is “manly”. I don’t think this campaign has as much creativity in reality as they thought it would have during the brainstorming session. “Men being a stereotype” has been done, “men exclude women from stereotype to sell more stuff” is pretty juvenile. The premise is that men don’t want to drink “diet soda” because it’s “girly”, and yet men drink diet soda every day! There’s no inherent gender stereotype for wanting to look good, and diet drinks are always marketed as a way to indulge your taste buds without indulging your waistline. The product is not obviously geared toward men, so the advertising is a little over the top.

My take: I think determining whether this campaign is “good” depends on how you define success. Some ad agencies and PR professionals define it as the number of press mentions, video shares, or awards the campaign merits. But, as a marketer, I define success as growing sales profitably, and I’m just not sure this campaign will have that effect. Part of this, is because I think “Ten” will cannibalize market share from “Diet”, meaning that overall sales may flatline. It’s great that you got people talking, but did you get people buying? I also wonder how sticky the customers will be, as many might be willing to give “Ten” a try, but end up sticking with good ‘ole diet in the end. This seems like it could be another New Coke failure, where the original was preferred. I don’t think the controversial ad campaign will affect willingness to buy, as it’s obviously meant as a joke, with a pointed message that they are distinctly trying to get men to buy the product. They don’t mean to say that Dr. Pepper is not for woman, but rather, women already have a product from the company, so now, they’re making sure men have one too. Equality, right? 🙂 In short, I’ll be interested to see how “Ten” fares in the market, but my guess is that it won’t make quite the mark that the ad execs intended.

What’s your take on “Ten”?

Merry Christmas Weekend!

I’m enjoying my time in Florida with my husband’s family, and I’ll have some new posts after Christmas. I’ll be unplugged from the blog, but I’ve got a scheduled post or two coming your way. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!


For the marketer, via Forbes: The Most Unforgettable Ad Campaigns of 2011

For the corporate culture, via Seth’s Blog: The Difference Between a Failure and a Mistake

In case you missed it, my latest post on The Daily Muse: Five Love Languages: Business Edition


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


Lessons From The Stage: Behind the Scenes

My husband and I backstage after the show.


This is the final post in my series about lessons from the stage. I’ve talked about the director and the ensemble, and now I’ve got to talk about what goes on behind the scenes! We’ve been rehearsing for weeks to create the perfect show, but let’s be honest, nothing’s ever perfect, right?

Late nights and payoffs. I’ve talked before about payoffs and satisfaction, making sure that the hard work is really worth it. To me, there’s no better feeling than the adrenaline high of opening night, standing backstage, listening to the overture, just before you hit the stage. When the night is over, and you go back to “real life”, you really evaluate how the rest of the “rushes” stack up. I think the same is true in business, particularly for those of us that like the spotlight! I always feel energized after a big presentation in class or in the boardroom, and pushing the button for a website go-live makes the insanely long email chains and multiple meetings worth it!

Support structure. Our set stands about 30 feet off the ground, so I definitely want some good nuts and bolts to hold that thing together! And, somehow, my props and costumes ended up in their proper place prior to the show, every night. These things are the support structure, and the show can’t happen without a lot of people manning their places, hidden in the darkness in all-black attire. I can’t help but think of our IT staff as the men in black. These guys keep the computers running (and, let’s be honest, who can do any work without their computer?). But, it’s not just about the literal support staff, but the culture as a whole. We have what’s called a “stumble through” during rehearsals for our stage productions, and it’s the first time we put all the elements together. Usually, it’s a crash-and-burn-freak-out-we’re-not-ready kind of rehearsal… weeks in advance of opening night. Companies need to let their people fail, and they need to build it into the structure! If people don’t have time, support, or feedback for failure, new innovations and ideas will stay buried in their heads, buried by fear. The structure to hold up to the abuse of pounding feet, crazy ideas, and rabbit-holes may be the key to the next big thing for you business. It’s not just about the computer infrastructure, but about the people and the relationships that run behind the scenes.

Respect, civility, and modesty. Things get crazy backstage, with people running to hit their next mark, shedding costumes as they walk during a quick change, and generally cramped spaces prior to a full-cast entrance. The bigger issue, is how you handle all this stress. It’s tempting to push past people, to make a rude comment, or generally make things difficult, but respect and civility are key. How often do we let the office pressure turn us into monsters? If we’re all gunning for a promotion, grabbing a bigger piece of the budget pie, and finding reasons to undermine co-workers for a leg up, how are we going to actually make the business grow? Your attitude and actions under pressure are much more telling than the shiny resume or interview mask, and I think people sometimes forget that their worst self often counts more than their best self.

I enjoyed my role in “A Christmas Carol”, and I love performing in general, both on-stage and off! I’ve found that it’s the behind-the-scenes work that really counts during performance (review) time.

Posting at The Daily Muse

I’m on my way to Florida for Christmas, so check out my latest post on The Daily Muse, “The 5 Love Languages: Business Edition”. I’ve written several articles for The Daily Muse, and you can check them out here.

The Daily Muse is a site that offer career advice to professional women, with tips on style, interviews and career advancement, office politics, and travel. I highly recommend taking a look at the articles written by the other talented contributors!

My final post on “Lessons from the Stage” will be published tomorrow!

Lessons From The Stage: The Ensemble

One place in the show where I put myself on the ground, instead of being thrown! (I'm the one in the brown, facing backward)
My cast mate preparing to fling me to the ground and flip me head-over-heels!


This is the second post in a 3-part series on business lessons from my recent stint on-stage. Yesterday, I talked about the importance of the director, and today’s post discusses aspects of working in an ensemble. This show had a cast and chorus of about 100 people, so there were a lot of moving parts! Most of my “big” scenes dealt with only a handful of people, usually 1-3 additional cast members. So, what’s my takeaway from all this ensemble work?

You gotta trust your cast mates. During one scene, I was flung to the ground, flipped head-over-heels, and thrown across the stage, such that I spun pretty well out of control for several seconds. That takes some trust! I have to trust that my fellow actress wouldn’t flip me off the stage, and she had to trust that I knew how to fall, flip, and spin without hurting myself. There’s a huge give and take in a stage production, with each actor relying on their cast mates to say the right lines, move to the right spot, and generally hold up their end of the bargain. This is so true in business, particularly in large companies where projects progress in phases. I have to trust that my colleagues will finish their portions on time, that they’ll give me accurate information, and that they’ll use the marketing pieces I give them properly. Without trust, the whole thing just falls apart.

Cohesion. Cohesion is closely related to trust. There’s a level of bonding that takes place when you spend several nights per week with someone, sweating and missing cues! Being on the same page when you step onstage for a performance is often the difference between stellar and mediocre. I’ve found that presenting a united front at the office makes a huge difference. I’m often the most junior person in the room, and many times, the four or five senior people are not on the same page when they come into the meeting. This makes for a confusing set of project requirements for me, and often requires additional meetings and time to finish the project.

Energy. You know how a yawn is contagious? That’s not what you want circulating around before the curtain goes up on a stage performance or a business performance! Energy is not just about “pep”, but also about the genuine excitement, passion, and belief in what you’re about to present. It’s not about getting enough sleep or eating a ton of sugar, but the ability to keep going when you’re “tired”. I think energy comes from the top down, and I’ve definitely seen both sides of this while attending tradeshows with my company. Some members show up and mope at the booth, because they were out late last night… and that’s infectious! It makes me feel more sluggish than the person who shows up, ready to walk the show, shake some hands, and make some sales. Energy is contagious, so don’t be a yawner, be a go-getter!

I’ve grown to enjoy ensemble (or “group” work as we refer to it in school and the office) work, and I’ve found that having the right partners can make or break a project. What have learned in out-of-office group settings that translates directly into your professional environment? Stay tuned for the series conclusion in tomorrow’s post!