Thursday, April 10, 2014

Forget the "What Ifs"

Last night  I saw my first Broadway show in over a year, and for those who know me probably can't believe that it's been so long. Since my last show, I've been in London, poor, in Boston, in Ithaca, and unemployed -- all of which are reasons that kept me away from my beloved Broadway. Though I saw numerous shows in the West End, and saw lovely productions at school, nothing quite felt as magical as last night did. When the prelude began I literally sat at the edge of my seat like a child and didn't budge until intermission.

If/Then, a show written by Next to Normal creators Tom Kit and Brian Yorkey, was absolutely the best choice for my Broadway reincarnation. The show told the story of Elizabeth, a brilliant woman who moves back to NYC  to launch the career of her dreams and find true love after an unsuccessful marriage. At the top of the show, Elizabeth is faced with two simple choices, both of which could change the entire course of her life. From there, two plot lines unfold as you follow alter-egos Liz and Beth, stemming from each choice Elizabeth could have made.

The music, the characters and the performances creatively develop the inspiring notion that in a single moment one could make a decision that determines the direction of their entire life. The show asks the audience to think about fate, destiny and true love. The message of the show, in my opinion, is to stop getting wrapped up in the "what ifs" of life. We can all look back at moments in our life and think about what if we had made a different decision, then  we wouldn't necessarily be where we are today.

Not only was this such a "feel everything" musical, which I absolutely loved, it had a story line and characters that I could relate so much to. I connected with Liz and how resistant she was about falling. Between her track record, career aspirations and fear of heartbreak, I knew exactly how she felt. I also connected with Beth who sacrifices her relationships for her career but is still fulfilled by her contributions and success. I connected with that idea that even though heartbreak is painful, if given the choice to love that person again you wouldn't even hesitate.

So many people have asked me why I love theater and seeing shows like If/Then remind me why. Theater has the power to make me laugh, cry, think, and smile.

If you can, go see If/Then. You won't regret it!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Intern Who Cried Wolf

I can't believe it's been over a month since I started my job. It feels like just yesterday that I was attending new-employee boot camp and orientating myself to my account teams. Now I truly feel like a real working woman. Each day is a unique learning experience and I truly feel privileged to work with such friendly and talented co-workers.

So far the biggest obstacles I've faced have been establishing my position on the team and keeping myself busy. When you take on a new position on-boarding can be difficult. It is necessary to not just feel accepted by the people you work with but also to take on a role that contributes to the team's goals.

Being a part of a program like the brand new trainee program, there is no precedent in regards to what role an account trainee fills on their assigned account team. It is up to the account team and the trainee to really mold what that looks like -- something new to both myself and those I am working with. This is both a opportunity and a challenge. 

My first instinct when I didn't have work to fill my day was to wait and see what my supervisors would give me. I figured if they had work that they need to have done and I was qualified, then they would offer it to me like a present.  I waited and waited and waited. Soon I realized that wasn't going to work.

My second instinct was to go and talk to someone about the fact that my days were unoccupied and I felt very disconnected from my team. I consulted other trainees about my decision to speak up and went as far as drafting an email. Even though I had their support regarding my decision to speak up, I ultimately I decided not to send the email.

It occurred to me that a helpless intern with no courage would do that. I was no longer an intern and that was by far what I wanted to prove to my teams. Running to upper management could have solved my problem but would have dropped my teams confidence in me. I am better than that. I'm stronger than that.

After having this epiphany, I made the conscious decision to make the effort to stay more connected to my team, check in regularly and be proactive. The only one being affected by my lack of gusto was myself. Since making this small change I've already seen a great difference in my teams confidence in me, handing me more work than ever. Their confidence in me has ignighted confidence in myself.

Don't be the little intern that cried wolf. Instead be the confident full-time employee that demonstrates her interest, availability and commitment. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Journey to Health, Fitness & Confidence

March 2009
To many, I'm perceived as a confident young woman with a strong head on her shoulders. My face rarely wears anything but a smile and I enjoy spreading optimism.

Many are unaware that below the superficial confidence once was a somewhat fragile teenager who battled with self confidence due to such issues as her weight since
age 13. Puberty was not kind to me and as I entered my teenage years my weight escalated. I was left alone to deal with the issue and instead of seeking out help I turned to food as a comfort. I was trapped in a sick cycle. The more weight I gained, the more depressed I was, and the more I ate. At one point, I quickly ended a high school relationship when I couldn't justify why someone would even care about my "fat self."

My eating habits got worse and ultimately I was lying to myself. I wanted so badly to be this healthier person, but I wasn't taking the necessary steps to get better.

July 2013
College is what really saved me. Leaving home and my previous lifestyle behind me, I was able to begin my transformation. I loved everything about my new life. I loved my major, my classes, my friends, and even the person I was becoming. Soon the gym became my liberator. Spending an hour there revived my spirit. No matter what kind of day I was having, when I walked out of the Fitness Center I always felt better. Since starting college back in August of 2010 I've lost almost 30lbs. I'm proud of the progress I've made.

January 2014
Now I'm starting another chapter in my life, and I know that long work days and an hour commute will put a strain on my motivation to visit the gym. Personally, I'm a goal setter. If I set a specific goal with defined stipulations, I'm bound to achieve it. So I'm launching my "Journey to Health, Fitness and Confidence" starting on February 24th. My journey will be a pledge to go to the gym 5 times a week until Senior Week (May 12). Each gym visit will be for at least an hour in which 30 minutes are dedicated to cardio. Each missed workout will result in no drinking for a week. Additionally, I plan to cut approximately 7,000 calories per week. I will maintain my vegetarian diet while trying to cut out any unnecessary snack consumption.

I could easily attach a weight goal to this journey but honestly I want to achieve true confidence and a healthier lifestyle. I want to break bad habits and create fun new ones. I just want to feel good and be happy with myself.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Happy Ending to My Cinderella Story or Just the Beginning of My Fairytale?

Me as a Disney Princess
Once upon a time, in the east coast village of East Brunswick, New Jersey, lived a young maiden...

Alright, so here is how my Cinderella-story of a job search ensued...

After I got back from my trip to California, life was kind of a bummer. My friends were all away at school, and my dream job appeared to have vanished into thin air. I decided to relaunch my job search, in hopes of finding another opportunity. As each day passed I kept telling myself that "everything happens for a reason."

Almost 3 weeks into my new search I stumbled upon this stellar job opportunity for recent grads on LinkedIn, and immediately applied. Within the hour I had an interview offer, definitely a new record. After postponing my interview for snow, I was a ball of nervous energy when I sat down with my first of 6 interviewees. Each interviewer spoke so highly of the agency, and just beamed with absolute pride for what they did. I've never heard so much genuine positivity while in an interview. Each moment I spent there I relaxed more and more and had no qualms about being myself.

When I left the interview I immediately called my dad with frustration. I had been doing so well with not getting too emotionally attached to any of the positions I'd been interviewing for, in fear that I would not get an offer. But something felt so different about this interview. For the first time I actually believed myself when I said, "everything happens for a reason." I believed that I was meant to get this opportunity. 

On my commute back home I rethought every question and answer and for once I didn't feel too ashamed or embarrassed by what I said. I was able to be myself through the entire interview process and ultimately felt like that was all I needed to be. My jokes were laughed at and my experiences were commended. I put myself out there and did everything I could to prove that I was ready to learn.

I'm not sure if it was just everything going on around me, but I was more relaxed when waiting for my verdict. Maybe it was because I knew there was nothing more I could do. Ironically, I was at an advertising career fair when I received the call with the offer and almost peed my pants (well, dress) with excitement. 

And that's how the fair maiden of East Brunswick, New Jersey lives happily ever after... or does she?
I would like to think that this is just the beginning of an even more exciting fairytale to come! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Favorite 2014 Olympic Commercial

It is no secret that I LOVE the Olympics. It doesn't matter whether its the Summer or Winter Games, once the opening ceremony has kicked off I'm always glued to the TV watching every single event from snowboarding, track, hockey, water polo or even curling. During the Olympics more than ever, I spend the most time watching Primetime television live and have the opportunity to sit and catch each commercial break.

Amongst the saturation on BMW, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and Citi Bank commercials, featuring olympic athletes, and sentimental stories of overcoming adversities, I found this adorable Samsung Galaxy spot and instantly fell in love. The commercial caught my attention and I enjoyed it so much that I watched it twice, demanding my parents look up from what they were doing to watch it too. 

Not sure if it's the boys in the bath tub, the dad doing slope-style on the roof or the co-workers talking about Jason Brown's Ponytail's Twitter, but I just ate every moment of this ad up. It was refreshing not to see just another Olympic athlete endorsing a brand, or something cheesy about America. The ad felt authentic, which I must admit in advertising can be rare. Good job Samsung! 

Honorable mention: The 2015 Chevy Tahoe spot

Monday, February 10, 2014

Great Advertising Sets Trends, Defies Norms and Exploits

During my last job interview my interviewer asked me a simple questions, "So why do you want to work in advertising?" I'll admit that I gave a pretty stupid answer for a question I should have nailed. I've written blog upon blog about the industry, yet I could barely gather a true reason why I want to do it. My answer included, "I like the story telling" and "I enjoy transforming a brand's impression in its consumer's mind." A pretty average answer.

After the interview I analyzed each question and answer, thinking about how I could have answered better. This question stuck with me the most. I just spent 3.5 year studying advertising/marketing and now I'm working my butt off to get a job in the industry and I don't even know why? I reflected on ads I've been most fond of in the near and distant past. That's when I realized that I love advertising because it can set trends, defy norms and exploit current events. 

Here are three examples:.

1. Old Spice setting a trend

This campaign not only spiked sales for Old Spice but brought back an older brand was not selling to a younger audience. I remember speaking to older women I knew who had teenage sons that specifically asked for Old Spice after this campaign launched. They were smart to refresh the brand, placing it into a position to compete agains other popular men's body care brands like Axe, Nivea, Irish Spring, Dove, etc.

2. Cheerios defying norms

I love these ads but hate how controversial they have become. I applaud Cheerios decision to use a biracial couple for their last 2 spots, including their 2014 Super Bowl commercial. Interracial marriage has been legal in the U.S. since 1967 and the backlash that this ad has experience is incredibly embarrassing. By now we should be so much farther in the area of tolerance and acceptance. Honestly, I'm so excited for the brand that features a same sex couple because I think advertising in a great space to continue to push the boundaries and defy social norms.

3. Audi's Fake Ad exploits current events

Although this is not a real ad, it's a great example of use of a recent event exploited perfectly to a brand message.

Aso this great Las Vegas ad from 2012 which poked fun at Prince Harry's arguably unfitting behavior during this trip to the city. It brilliantly used the famous British "Keep Calm..." slogan.

Yes, television and film can push the envelope and offer intense or risqué subject matter but require audience "consent" to be viewed. Advertising is often not by choice (unless you are watching TV via DVR or change the channel). Viewers are exposed to hundreds to thousands of advertisements every day, sometimes without even knowing it. Advertising is unlike any other medium, art form or entertainment outlet is capable of bringing different messages to viewers.