Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Work

“What’s Your Ideal Job?” and Other Recruiter Questions

Posted on Jul 7, 2011 in Featured, Silly, Work |

“What’s Your Ideal Job?” and Other Recruiter Questions

As most of you know by now, my company Threxy has closed. After six extraordinary years, I’ve decided to go in-house again. Why? Because I miss collaboration, I miss the startup feeling, the long-vision roadmaps. I miss the ability to see a project through instead of just advising others how to. I’ve been the Annie Oakley of outsourced marketing long enough and I can’t wait to begin working with a team again.

In the past few days, I’ve spoken with some fantastic companies and, as you’ve probably experienced yourself,  I’ve been asked the same battery of questions by almost every person I’ve spoken with. What do you say we make it easier on all of us? I’ll just go ahead and answer the questions now… then we can move onto the fun stuff like experience and interest and cool technology.

To the recruiters who are seeing my blog for the first time (welcome and, um, happy-ish reading), this, like most of my writing, is just plain silliness.

Q: What is your ideal job?

A: Well, I could be snarky and say, “Not having one,” but that’s not true at all. I love to work on projects I can wrap myself around. My ideal job today would be a VP Marketing role in a smaller size company that is building out or rebuilding their marketing initiatives. My ideal job would involve working with smack-down-smart brainypants, because, well, that’s what I call fun. I’d throw in a tasty product that is actually exciting to market and one that could benefit from my experience. I’d like to learn from my colleagues. Mama always says, “Learn and teach, learn and teach to keep the balance of work just right.”

Q: What is Threxy? It sounds a little dirty.

A: Threxy is not an adult business, although I’ve made sales programs for enough of them to know more than I should about it. Threxy stands for “Three Ex-Yahoos!” and it’s a company we started in 2005 with three ex-Yahoos (product, engineering and me, the marketer). We had a product idea that we incubated and took through the funding stage. A killer VC told me to scrap it, take the assets and create something new. He was right. From the bones of FamilyRoutes came a six-year business that built online products, developed product and marketing strategies and knocked back about $1 million in revenue. Not bad for a true cottage (like, really, in.my.cottage) startup.

Q: What are your salary requirements?

A: Now, really. Etiquette says to never talk about money, sex or politics and we’ve already covered two of the three. My consulting rate is about $150/hour. That would be over $300,000 per year if I applied the same metrics to a 40-hour work week. I’m not asking for that much, not even in the same ballpark. So there you go.

Q: What makes you a good fit for this role?

A: See, this is a trick question. No one is the perfect fit. It doesn’t happen. It’s about having the right skills to apply to the right company, at the right time, with the right team. Stars have to align — that or a great recruiter. Which is why I’m on this call anyway. So tell me, what makes me a good fit for this role?

Okay, maybe not the way to answer that one. I know people apply to hundreds of jobs online. I’ve known friends and colleagues who click Apply to every job with their keyword search results. That’s not my approach. I’m looking for a company to call home, a place to sink my brain into, and a place to enjoy watching a company grow and develop. I’m only applying to companies where I think I’m a good fit. That said, I’ve had two calls already where the job description and the job offered were different things. Thank goodness for great recruiters who can navigate it with me.

Q: So you graduated from Syracuse University in 1992?

A: <<Crickets>>. Most people don’t know that I didn’t ever receive a degree. I left Syracuse University in 1992 with a good education and a lot of life lessons, but no, I did not graduate, despite my genius IQ. Did I just say that out loud?

Q: Are you willing to relocate?

A: Nope. San Jose to San Francisco is about the max I’m willing to shift. I have too good of a life to consider anything else.

Q: Do you do SM, SEO/SEM, CRM, UGC, SCRUM or PCP?

A: Yes, I have been doing social media since before SM was a catchphrase and I’ll be doing it long after it is called by another name. Social media to me = customer engagement where customers are. SEO/SEM are in my planning and management suite but not my day-to-day job. There are people a lot more skilled than I at executing on SEO/SEM. CRM is old fashioned lead generation and customer retention. So yes, I’m a marketer to customers and CRM is about customers. I earned my chops building, monetizing and growing UGC. I’d consider myself well versed. I know the SCRUM philosophy because two of my clients are using it and because I try to follow what product and engineering are doing. After all, the whole reason you have a company is for the product, right? PCP, nah, but thanks.

Q: Tell us something unique about you so that your resume will stand out!

Are you telling me my resume doesn’t stand out? Okay, fine. Here you go: I once spent five minutes alone with Michael Jackson. There you go. Does my resume stand out now?

Q: It must be hard closing your company and going in house.

A: Not really. I’ve been looking forward to it for a year. This step was planned and I’m literally thrilled and like a kid waiting to open birthday presents over finding just the right company to work for. I am very proud of the company I built, but I’m also proud to say that phase of my career has finished and I’m onto this next one.

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My latest iVoices: Traveling with Kids

Posted on Mar 8, 2011 in iVoices |

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V-Day: The Worst Holiday Ev.ah

Posted on Feb 7, 2011 in Holidays, iVoices |

The worst holiday ever? Valentine’s Day, of course. Watch fellow iVoices reporters and me chat about our most, um, memorable Valentine’s Day gifts. Love, hearts and twinkles. Blech.

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The Manners Police

Posted on Jan 15, 2011 in Featured, Motherboard |

The Manners Police

Maybe it was over-the-top, or maybe I’m just from a bit of a different generation that my kids, but my childhood was filled with a mix of wild fun and play dotted by perfecting manners and etiquette from the age of 8. I spent endless weekends learning to pour tea (pour from the right, eldest/most senior woman served first) to working on my punch-drinking skills (take white gloves off, lay in lap, keep your head up). In retrospect, it seems a little intense, but I gots me some Emily Post skilz. I want to teach my kids manners that will help them navigate conversation and environment, and demonstrate grace when not nailing each other with Nerf darts.

Four tips I learned in finishing school (HA! DID I JUST TYPE THAT?!), that I’d like to pass along to my kidlets:

1. Ballroom Dancing: The Ode to Commander Unander. Every Friday night my brother and I would go to a hall with other kids in my neighborhood in our dressy clothes. I’d say it was itchy and uncomfortable, but actually, I liked wearing the dresses (below the knee), having my hair done nicely and wearing tiny high heels. The only thing I didn’t really like was the gloves. White gloves aren’t really becoming on anyone, especially on a girl like me with hands like Shaq.  Over several years we learned to dance ballroom with a strict, old, washed-up ballroom dancer. “Commander Unander” and his shiny black tuxedo shoes swept me across the room like a feather. I loved it. Learning to dance ballroom was a wonderful gift — I can still walz and foxtrot my way through any wedding reception without wrapping my arms around my date like a drunk prom girl.

2. Table Top Knowledge: AKA Why do I have three forks? I can remember sitting at a fellow manners freak parents’ house for table training. It looked like a dishwasher exploded in front of me, but in truth, it was pretty easy to decipher after just a few times of practice. When in doubt, work from outside by course with your utensils, unless you don’t, then the waiter is likely to save you. Just don’t use the same utensil for multiple courses or take it off the plate and put it on the table (that was the kiss of manners death). It was more than napkins on laps though. A lot of what we learned here was subtle: don’t push a plate away from you, use the butter knife to put butter on plate not on bread, drinks go on the right. So far we’ve got the kids setting the table for dinner as a first step.

3. Host Management: Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds. As a kid, my parents took me everywhere — from dinner parties to galas. There’s only one whale at any soiree: the hostess. Once you get the gist that it’s all about paying respect to her, you’ve got it made. Bring a gift (Not flowers or food, but instead a small gift  like a homemade card from kids or special soaps); look in her eye, give her a compliment about her home or food; and most of all, don’t do anything without the hostess doing it first. By that I mean don’t put any food in your mouth until she has. Neeeeevvver.

4. Food: Not See-Food. I don’t think I ever chewed a piece of food with my mouth open. I never remember doing it, anyway. My son, Thing 1, has never breached the open mouth gap, either. My dear Thing 2, however, is a see-food eater. Oh man, the battle. One thing I remember learning was a sure-fire way to help curb this food nightmare was to tell the kids to take very small bites. It helps, but it’s not full-proof. Counting to 10 while chewing is another trick. I’m all about learning opportunities, but this one I have no tolerance for. Chew with your mouth closed or don’t sit at my table.

I’ve come to understand that it’s not popular to teach etiquette to children in 2011 — I guess it comes off as snobby or wanna-be high class. I see it differently than that. I spent eight years as a kid going through manners training and in the end, I apply more of it today than most of high school classes put together. I want my kids to grow up with tools that will carry them from the house down the street to The White House and every little cottage along the way.

This post was inspired by the smarty pants team at the Yahoo! Motherboard. (#ymotherboard)

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Gas Station Stalking and Other Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 in Featured, Giving, Motherboard |

Gas Station Stalking and Other Random Acts of Kindness

We sat quietly in the corner of the parking lot — inconspicuous as we could be, staking out the Rotten Robbie gas station. We watched people come and go, and waited patiently to pounce. Who was the next target of the day going to be? We wanted unsuspecting citizens — unaware of our stealth plan.

Inside the car, the four of us whispered, sitting low in our seats and diverting our eyes from suspecting passersby. How we’d pull-off the job was thoroughly discussed. And then, our opportunity arrived: a white Ford Explorer, driven by a 50-something woman. As we gave the O-K sign, I crouched down low and ran from our car into the gas station and shoved $20 into the attendant’s hand:

“HER!,” I whispered, “We want to pay for her gas! Now! Pump 4! Go! Go!”

I put my cap down and walked unsuspectingly back to our car, quietly closed the door and started the car. Next it was time for LaGringa’s part of the job. The woman walked into the station to pay for her gas and we peeled out of the parking lot, whipping an illegal u-turn and zooming up to the woman’s car. La Gringa jumped out and put our calling card on her car door. Then we took off, finding shelter, parked stealthily across the street and waited.

The woman came out of the gas station looking around in both directions — she was clearly suspicious of our actions. She walked carefully to her car and picked up the card on her door looked at both sides of it before reading what it said:

You received this act as part of Yahoo!’s effort to spread joy around the world. We hope this inspires you to make the ripple grow by doing something good for someone else. That’s how good grows. Share it at kindness.yahoo.com

Our car exploded with excitement. We pulled-off the job! Slowly, we creeped our not-so-stealthy red SUV out of the parking lot in cheers.

Back at the lair, we surveyed our booty: we secretly had hit three gas stations paying fo gas for unsuspecting citizens, bought bagels for two senior citizens who’d just gone for a run, and given out Lottery tickets to strangers on the street throughout San Jose. We were high on the thrill of secret giving. The feeling of giving a random act of kindness was not only contagious, but addictive. We piled in the getaway car and headed south, casing out our next target.

As part of my role with the Yahoo! Motherboard, I was given $100 in cash to pass-on random acts of kindness during the holiday season. You can learn more at: How Good Grows, Start a ripple of kindness with one simple act. kindness.yahoo.com
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The Plate

Posted on Nov 29, 2010 in Featured, Holidays, Motherboard |

The Plate

I’m a family girl. For all the good and bad of it, that’s who I am in a nutshell. This means that every tradition, every person, every meal prepared has meaning to me. I crave Irish Nachos from Rosie McCann’s pub on May 6 each year to celebrate a romantic meal La Gringa and I had years and years ago. I play Barbara Streisand’s Christmas album all the way through because it reminds me of my parents dancing in the livingroom when I was a child spying on them playing Santa. I make tamales around this time of year too because it reminds me of my cousins and grandmother and her tiny kitchen with the vinyl seats and fake wood. I love tradition, and, until one fated night in Rome ten years ago, I still do.

I was traveling in an Eastern direction around the world in 2010, hitting nearly 30 countries and loving every single minute of my travel. My mom met me in Rome for a magical week in early October. It was set to be the last time I’d see her before Christmas eve. We decided to have Thanksgiving in Rome at a beautiful restaurant on the Vio Veneto called Cafe Veneto, an Argentinian restaurant at the Spanish Steps. The night was something I could never write about, filled with symbolism, music, food and love. It was Thanksgiving. That night, we bought the plate we’d eaten from and brought it home. To this day, I use the plate. That darn plate is one of my greatest family treasures.

I spent that year away from my family for the first time on Thanksgiving. I was 29. That’s a lot of years of Turkey with the same turkeys. Since Thanksgiving in Rome, I’ve let go of my turkey day traditions and opted for a new tradition: No Tradition! Each year, we pick something different to do. Last year it was LegoLand with our dear friends and tacos at the border on Thanksgiving, the year before we joined both of our families together for an eclectic celebration and the year before that we had 50 people to dinner complete with a serious game of flag football. Next year? Who knows! The tradition began in Italy and stays with me today — Thanksgiving is about a feeling, more than a series of rituals. Come over any night, you’ll find chatting, laughing and likely eating from The Plate in our daily thanksgiving.

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