Thursday, March 26, 2009

Movie Review: Duplicity

I took a mental health day yesterday. I was, quite frankly, wiped out from our Savvy Geek Chix event on Tuesday night. The event was great but doing the Resume Clinic and moderating the panel, all after working a full day - well suffice it to say I was tuckered out. So after lunch with one friend, a little shopping at Michaels for crafty goodies, I headed to the movies with Marina to see Duplicity.

I'm not sure I can even do a summary of the movie and do it any kind of justice without giving away all the intricate plotting. From the commercials you know Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are former spies plotting against (or perhaps with) each other and working for rival companies (or is it the same company)? Suffice it to say that the twists and turns of this movie are what make it really entertaining and engrossing. I will confess that at one key point Marina and I turned to each other simultaneously and said at the exact same time - "I'm confused". Then we both laughed and kept on going. And yes at that moment all I could think is "What????" But if you stick it out all is made clear at the end. And along the way you get an incredibly well acted and entertaining movie. Julia Roberts was good - still the movie star with the mile wide smile though I couldn't help but wonder if she'd somehow had her lips done - they looked a little over inflated and less well defined than they used to. And since they did A LOT of closeups of her you did spend a lot of time seeing her mouth.

Clive Owen on the other hand was a revelation. I've had a passion for all things Clive ever since he first appeared on the screen in Godsford Park. He's a lovely lovely man who only gets better with age. He looked equally good in impeccable suits or jeans or a towel. And he's funny, charming, and gorgeous throughout. People Magazine's review nailed it in one line - Clive Owen is sex on a stick.

So I give this movie a big definitely go see it. And yes, take your significant other - they'll like it too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is the very definition of a viral happening. No one sent out a mailer or spent any money at all, but women connected around the world by facebook pages, blogs, websites all chose to write today about technical women.

In my 18 months with the Anita Borg Institute I've met many incredible women. Their incredible enthusiasm for their studies, their jobs and technology itself is inspiring. It's very hard to pick just one person to blog about. I would like to recognize Jean Bartik, one of the original ENIAC programmers. I've learned a lot about the ENIAC programmers in the last 18 months, how they were the ones who actually physically programmed the first computer, how when they had the celebatorydinner when the computer was launched all the women were left behind while the men went out to eat, how they have struggled for recognition. Jean impressed me the most when I went to hear her speak at the Computer History Museum. At the private reception I was sitting having a snack, not knowing anyone in the room, and she came and sat down with me and started to chat. She was a delight. And on stage she was a riot - sharing how she went from being raised on a farm to moving to Philadelphia on her own to take on the job as an ENIAC Programmer - back in a time when women just didn't do that.

But most of all Jean inspired me with her statement about herself and one of the other Programmers - we are Work Horses and Finishers - we get the job done. That is how I have always viewed myself - someone who gets the job done. Cheers to Jean. And Cheers to Ada Lovelace Day.

The cure for a fear of public speaking - 250 little old ladies

I am moderating a panel tonight at our Savvy Geek Chix Event. We'll be discussing strategies for keeping your job, and what to do when you are job hunting. I used to be petrified of public speaking. It would take all my nerve to get everyone at the dinner table in college to clink their glasses so that I could stand up and make a one minute announcement about the next day's flag football game (yes I was team captain). I could lead meetings and group discussions. But put me in front of an audience and I would tense up. I remember rehearsing my thesis presentation (which was presented to basically all the senior science majors and faculty in a large auditorium), and my best friend pointing out to me that I was systematically tugging at my dress skirt. I refrained during the presentation and basically was doing fine during the regular presentation until someone sneezed in the audience. They tell me I jumped about a mile in the air, turned and screamed god bless you, then smiled and went back to presenting. I remember none of it.

Somehow I avoided large auditoriums and audiences for the next 5 years, except for one very memorable presentation to the New York State Telephone Association. My boss told me that it appeared I took one deep breath and read the speech without ever pausing or breathing until I finished. I don't remember it.

Then my boss Bill Hammond, one of my favorite people in the world, decided that part of my objectives was public relations events. I was Regional Marketing Manager for the State of Pennsylvania and based at Enterprise Telephone Company. And so he sent me to do a presentation on understanding your telephone bill to the Sunshine Senior Group in New Holland PA (the name of the group has been changed due to my inability to remember names). He told me how could I be afraid of 15 little old ladies and assured me I'd do fine. I walked in and instead of 15 ladies at a table I was confronted by an enormous room packed full. I quickly counted - 25 tables, each with 10 seats. 250 little old ladies. I was doomed. I had, yes it was the old days, transparencies and my projector which I carefully set up as I was scrutinized closely. I easily topped each of these women by a foot and I think I was the only one in the room who was not wearing a Mennonite cap on my head. To top it off I had an extremely curly perm in those days and my hair was naturally very blond. I was in my very favorite teal suit and pumps - the very picture of the 80's business woman confronting little ladies that had all been farmers wives during the depression -not necessarily my constituency.

I was terrified. I'm not sure what I was afraid of more - fainting or somehow having all these women attack me for my lack of a cap.

I was introduced and got up and began my talk - careful to avoid eye contact. I could hear people in the back talking and I was completely unsure what to do so I just talked faster. I suddenly realized that one of the little tiny ladies in the front row had stood up and was tugging on my jacket. All I could think is "this is it, she's going to throw me out",even though I could have easily picked her up with one hand. I stopped and looked at her. She held out her hand for my microphone. I gave it to her. She turned to the audience and into the microphone she said, "This little girl came all the way from the phone company to tell us about phone bills. And I for one want to hear it. So all you chatterboxes in the back," she paused, "SHUT UP". She turned back to me, handed me the microphone, patted my cheek and said- "You go ahead honey."

Well I just had to laugh. And the audience laughed with me. With that I turned back to the audience and said - I have just a couple of slides but I'm going to forget about them and let me just answer your questions. With that my 15 minute talk turned into an hour long Q&A. The ladies were great and I actually was able to use my slides when answering their questions. It was great.

I'll never forget that little woman. She taught me that an audience won't be in the room unless they want to hear what you are saying. And yes, over the years I've had people walk out on talks - but I don't take offense anymore. And I love it when people raise their hands and ask questions - I prefer my talks to be interactive. So I'm not nervous about tonight. Well not too much. I may give my skirt just a couple of tugs as we get started.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Marketers Week in Review

I'm all alone in the office - the rest of the team is either on vacation, out at meetings working from home or headed out to start their weekend early. I realized I hadn't posted since early this week and I thought perhaps y'all would be interested in what I worked on this week. Here's my list:

  • Finished the scripts for our 3 Women of Vision Winner videos and met with my producer. They will do a rough narration and start laying out the footage. In about two weeks I'll be editing videos.
  • Created an Ad for Women of Vision for the Silicon Valley Biz Journal
  • Created an Ad for GHC for Diversity Careers
  • Edited a new datasheet for GHC Academic Underwriters
  • Wrote and published a press release on GHC Scholarships
  • Laid out our ABI Newsletter - including editing or writing articles, etc.
  • Updated our newsletter distribution - we had 63 new people sign up to get it in less than 2 weeks!
  • Created 3 handouts for Savvy Geek Chix and met with the members of the panel I'm moderating.
  • Tracked the articles that we published this week
  • Coordinated two press interviews
  • Helped my CEO rehearse for her upcoming speaking engagement at HPCC next week
  • Posted two Fast Company Posts this week
  • Attended a lot of meetings

So it was a busy week but many of our weeks are like that. I guess you might say its the typical week of a Non Profit Marketing Director. Who is now going home to a weekend of knitting, reading, visiting with friends, hiking and finalizing the newsletter. Cheers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Marketing Yourself: Your References

One of the most important things you can do during a job search is have an organized set of references. Companies today are doing even due diligence than ever on their new hires - so here are few tips for your references:

1. Ask people to do references for you on LinkedIn - they are endorsing you for all the world to see and you want that visible since prospective employers are connecting on LinkedIn. Be sure to get references on Linked In from peeers, your manager (past and present), subordinates, customers, colleagues from volunteer organizations, etc. You can also make the decision not to post a reference or ask people to edit them so you are assured of supporting the image you want to convey.
2. When you are walking into a job interview it's good to carry in a nicely designed reference list. Be sure to include their name, their past relationship to you -i.e. My supervisor at Company X, my customer at company Y, their phone number(s) - office and cell, and their email address.
3. Be sure to ask people in advance if they'll agree to be a reference. Be sure to make surethey are comfortable doing so and that they'll make themselves available to do the reference. And include them in your job search - people who know and like your work are more likely to hire you again.
4. Be courteous to your references after the interview - let them know that they will be called, and be sure to send them your current resume and a copy of the job description and why you think you are a good fit for the job. It doesn't hurt to give them speaking points - i.e. remember how I did project y and we increased revenue? Be sure to let them know about that. I had a friend who asked for a reference and for the life of me - ten years later - I couldn't remember a thing that we'd done together. I asked him to tell me what to say and what the job was - nothing. Not my shining moment as a reference.
5. Do not give out your reference's home number. I had someone call me for a reference at 8 am at home on a vacation day - I was not a happy camper.

And if you are the one giving a reference - Only give references to people you believe in. . It is your reputation when you give someone a reference - if you can't say something honestly - don't say it. If you don't know something about someone - don't say they can do it, just say you don't know .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Marketing Yourself: Your Online Collateral - Facebook

I receive an email three times every day that includes reporters requests for input to stories - anecdotes, expert speakers, has this ever happened to you? And I pitch to them. Lately I've seen a number of queries on the same topic - how does Facebook help you find a job? This is my answer: Facebook on its own won't help you get a job. Facebook will however help you stay connected to your network. And it is via your network that you'll find your next job.

However, what I have been hearing is that Facebook (and your blog) can cost you a job. Here are a few of the stories I've heard. One hiring manager told me that she'd interviewed a very eager candidate - bright, well educated and probably a little too experienced for the job. But she needed the help and she wasn't about to tell someone in this economy that they were over qualified. Until she checked out his Facebook page. And there in his Facebook page where he had been posting all the details of his job search was the line - I've got this job in the bag. I'm just going to use it to get some money and then as soon as I find something else I'm outa here. Suffice it to say he didn't get the job.

Or the woman who was hiring and was able to get a look at her oh so serious candidate's facebook page which was filled with pictures of the candidate drinking, partying and posts about how she was so wasted. Not exactly what you want your potential boss to see. She moved on to the next candidate. And yes, it's true, everyone has fun on the weekends. You just need to take a moment and stop and think about what you are putting online. While we'd all like to think that our potential bosses only know what we tell them - our resume, our interview, our oh so carefully screened references - in fact our online life is pretty open to the universe.

So my suggestion - stop and think before your post whether you would want your potential hiring manager to see this.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Movie Review: Watchmen

My boyfriend is, for lack of a better word, a fan boy. He has a massive comic book collection, has read numerous graphic novels- appreciating them for both their literary as well as artistic aspects, and he has a copy of Spiderman #1. So over the years he has spoken frequently about Watchmen. And over that time I've garnered the basics of the plot - a collection of superheros who are sociopaths and lunatics band together one final time to confront the apocalypse of nuclear devastation threatened by the Cold War Russians in 1985.

Now my approach to the movie, which I assumed we did have to see, was a little different once I discovered Jeffrey Dean Morgan was in the movie. Yes, I am a Grey's Anatomy fan and I was a fan of his character Denny, who died way back in season 2, but yet has recurred frequently in various ghostly forms. Then I discovered that the first scene in the movie was the death of his character, The Comedian, and I was crushed. But he lived on in flashbacks.

So I approached the move somewhat concerned, though being a long time fan of Lost I know I can handle flashbacks. As we settled in for a long movie - 167 minutes according to the paper, I felt as prepared as I could be without having actually read the book.

I found the movie to be engrossing, confusing, visually dark with some real dazzling moments and starring a very large naked blue man. I enjoyed the movie a lot -more for the fact that it was unexpected at every turn, that the story did not follow any plot I'd seen before, and that the characters were intriguing.

I can't really explain the movie without giving too much away - it really does need to be seen and experienced. I will say that it had some moments of extreme violence - especially with the character Rorshach that had me covering my eyes and cringing. It is also most definitely deserving of its R rating. And if you are a superhero fan it may make you give a few second thoughts to some of the behaviors of your favorite superheros - think X-men run amok. And for Jeffrey Dean Morgan fans - he's in the movie quite a bit - even though he dies in the first five minutes. My only hope is that at some point I get to see him in a movie where he actually survives the whole movie.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Innovation Panel of Experts

I've been lucky enough in the last week to see not one but two different sessions on Innovation. The first, held here at HP, was a talk by Judy Estrin on her new book, Closing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy. The second was a panel discussion at the Churchill Club which included Judy Estrin as well as Josephine M. Cheng (IBM), Rick Rashid (Microsoft), Sue Siegel (Mohr Davidow Ventures) and the moderator-Michael Mandel from BusinessWeek.

Both were great talks and really had me thinking about the lack of investment in Innovation and pure basic science in the last 8 years. I remember when I was a biochemist, there were months where we would obsessively write and rewrite grant applications to help fund our lab. And the requirement that we tie our research to a hot topic -since it was the early 80's the first year it was cancer, the second year it was Aids. But once the grants were done there was something about doing pure science that was extremely satisfying - endlessly refining the processes and protocols, becoming better and better at replicating results, and the days where there were actual breakthroughs that were thrilling.

I can't imagine how it has been for scientists in the last 8 years as the last administration literally closed the doors on areas of research, barring them from moving things forward. Hfrustrating for the scientists, and how horrifying that we've delayed finding cures for diseases by 8 years. Having lost both my parents to cancer, my dad when I was just a kid, the thought that some other child might lose a parent because of this 8 year delay is extremely frustrating.

But from these talks it's become clear that Innovation has been thwarted in many directions - not just the biological sciences. I'm enjoying reading Judy's book and last night's session gave me a lot to think about in terms of the need to embrace and promote pure research. And also about the need to find the time to think and be creative is critical to all our futures.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stitches West: An update from the world of tradeshows

Annually knitters and purveyors of all things knitting gather from around the country (and even beyond our borders) in the Santa Clara Convention Center for Stitches West. Ok, I'll admit it - some crocheters show up as well. Since I am an avid knitter of scarves and afghans I love to go and see everything they have to offer. Mountains of yarn dazzle the eye - from tiny skeins of beautiful silk bamboo yarn that cost $42 to huge mounds of cotton at $1 per skein - there is something for every knitter. And there is something incredibly satisfying from running your hand over silky soft alpaca, lovely organic cotton and sleek silks. And yes I did shop.

I also took some time out for a foot massage at a friend of our's booth. As Ellen got her back rub I giggled (yes I have ticklish feet) and chatted with the booth staff about the show. The results were surprising - there had been a morning meeting of the vendors and the first two days numbers had been calculated. The show had seen a 10% increase in attendance over 2008 but sales themselves were down 10%. We brainstormed what that meant. Here are our theories:

1. Stitches West is a better value than almost any other event out there for pure entertainment. The tickets were $8, $6 if you had a coupon which almost everyone did. That's $2 less than a movie at the AMC Mercado and it lasted longer. We were there over 4 hours. And the food was less expensive than the Mercado- for another $7 I had a diet coke and a sandwich for lunch - less than a soda and popcorn at the movies. So for a total of $13 I had a full tummy and 4 solid hours of entertainment. Throughout the day there were also demonstrations and if we'd gone on Saturday there would have been a fashion show - all included in the price. And where else do you get to talk to a woman who is knitting with yarn made from cat fur?

2. Knitters just can't resist running their hands over yarn. But people, including myself, were definitely shopping more carefully. All I can say is everything I bought has a target recipient at Christmas time. The yarns were gorgeous but I did refrain from indulging in that $42 skein of bamboo/silk blend though I actually dreamt about it last night. So people may have quelled their urges and stayed on budget.

3. You could see the impact in the difference from last year - several of the aisles that had been full last year were a bit shortened - and the first aisle contained only a single booth - a coat check run by the girl scouts who let you check a bag or a coat for $2 and managed to sell you cookies when you did the pickup. So some vendors may no longer exist or did not want to make the expensive journey to CA for the show.

4. Speaking of the girl scouts - it seems the price of cookies has actually gone down - through boxes that used to be full now only hold 15 cookies for $4 - so the boxes are more affordable but you get less than you used to.

So the lessons learned from this event - keep the quality and entertainment value of your event high and be sure to have some good bargains in your booth.