Friday, December 19, 2008

Social Marketing: how to ca$h in

Well, according to South Park, you can always try...

That's the Youtube age! What will the next social phenomenon be? Sometimes, I look at "Share this" pages and almost fall over. We have so many ways to share our opinions it's almost hard to figure out if things you blurt out are your own thoughts or just a pre-chewed version #300 of someone else's chewed version of rehashed news...

As shows this page I was offered when discovering the South Park Episode:

Is our attention that fragmented? Do we all have ADD, to the point that all these social media tools cater to our mosquito-length attention span? At first, blogs, social media, were all pitched as freedom of speech, as the expansion of rights, rights which would now extend to the average citizen. But has it, really?
If the Balkanization of our information sources doesn't stop, we'll just have prolonged migraines from staying in that gigantic weblike echo chamber. It feels like people only Twitter with other like-Twitter people, other like-minded individuals (or sometimes, Twitter-bots). As information has flown freely, you wonder if it hasn't just flown off somewhere we can't reach or find anymore....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If you had a plane and 5 days, where would you go?

Here's my entry for

12challenge: If you could get on a plane and fly anywhere for 5 days where would you go? on

Participate and submit your entry on!

Vote for the 3D Minoru!!!

This is the BEST webcam EVER. I'll be getting it in the mail in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait to start shooting with it. I nominated it for Best Gadget 2008 - gadgets under $100!

Vote for it right now!

For more information on the great 3D webcam, visit their website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The election? Sure, I followed it (gulp)

Don't know how to fake your interest in political issues? Be thankful, the Onion is there for you with practical advice on how to fake your "I'm political savvy" image:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

An impressive cast (Allison Janney - that's C.J on the West Wing, Jack Black, Kathy Najimy, etc) set up this wonderful 3mn play:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Soon to come in a community college near you!!! (or should we cut to the chase and just stone our daughters?)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Banning Freshmen from great sidewalks

I came across this great initiative through a friend on Gmail... I believe UC Berkeley should pass this initiative as well...

From some wonderful students at Princeton:

11/24/08--Princeton, NJ

A group of students at Princeton University would like to eliminate the right of freshmen to walk on campus sidewalks. Stating that they would like to "preserve traditional sidewalk values" that define a sidewalk as a "pathway for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community," the group, which is acting in support of a measure termed "Princeton Proposition 8," is now entering its second successful week of demonstration.

The students emphasize that they are not "froshophobic" and that some of their best friends are freshmen, but they maintain that freshmen on the sidewalk degrade the sacred institution of sidewalks, and jeopardize the validity of upperclassmen's own perambulation. It also makes some of them uncomfortable. They are very excited that California's Proposition 8 has set a clear precedent for a majority to eliminate a minority group's civil rights, and they see it as a perfect opportunity to utilize this development for their own gain.

The demonstration, which has featured signs, chants, and original music, has collected almost 500 signatures for a petition in support of Princeton Proposition 8, including those of many professors and even University President Shirley M. Tilghman. A video report of the protest produced by the University's 'Daily Princetonian' has received 21,000 views on YouTube in just two days. It has also been featured on dozens of regional and national blogs including Campus Progress Action's Pushback, DailyKos, and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. The organizers of the demonstration have also begun outreach to other universities.

The demonstration will continue at the plaza in front of Firestone Library on the Princeton campus between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday 11/24 and Tuesday 11/25.

The Princeton Proposition 8 campaign aims to secure the definition of Princeton University sidewalks as a means of pedestrian transit for sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students, faculty, staff, and other members of the university community, but supports the elimination of the right of freshmen to walk on sidewalks.

Only walking on sidewalks by sophomores, juniors, and senior students is valid or recognized at Princeton.


Contact: Christopher Simpson

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tightening the belt

After reading "Canada Gives Obese Flyers an Extra Seat for Free" by Dave Demerjian, forwarded by a follow Twitterer, I was wondering... isn't obesity relative? What is "spacious", and has that "spacious" shrunk (and will it continue shrinking)?

Space in the numbers, space in our minds

Anyone who's traveled on an airplane in the last ten years knows that seats have gotten smaller and smaller. The Independent Traveler shows that industry standards for leg room have decreased from a 33-34 inch standard to 31 inches (that's almost 10%) - sometimes 28 inches for short-hal charters - while seat width has gone from 18.5 inches to 17.2 inches. But Ed Hewitt put these numbers in perspective very well:

"The Numbers Game
Airlines like to think their seats hold up in comparison to office and theater seats. I wasn't so sure, so I took out a tape measure.

It took some measurements of my own:
- General: 6'1", approx. 180 lbs.
- Width, A: Distance across hips: approx. 15"
- Leg pitch: Distance from small of back to end of knee while sitting: 25"
- Height: Eye level sitting in my office chair: 48"
- Width, B: Distance from elbow to elbow while standing: 23 inches +

It's that last one that looms largest when it comes to confronting the Middle Seat Factor. It's no wonder that I don't want anyone next to me - there's five or six inches of me that I need to gather in and put somewhere else when I'm sitting in a middle seat next to two strangers so not to elbow them the entire flight.

Office Chairs:
For these numbers I measured my own office chair, as well as those of several colleagues. All were very similar.
- Width of office chair seat cushion: 20"
- Width of office chair seat back: 17.75"
- Distance from seat back to end of knee when sitting comfortably, maybe slightly slumped: 26.5"
- Distance from seat back to end of knee when sitting in a position in which I might be able to doze: 31"

My local movie theaters:
Theater 1 was stadium-style, with seats that curved with the shape of the room, making the seats wider in the back than in the front. Theater 2 was aligned in straight rows.
Theater 1:
- Seat back width: 20"
- Seat front: 18"
- Elbow-elbow: 23"
- Seat Pitch: 37.5"

Theater 2:
Seat width: 18-20 inches (alternating by row)
Elbow-elbow: 21"
Seat pitch: 36"

All told, my research indicates that a minimum 34" seat pitch would do the trick for most folks. On most airplanes, this would require the removal of only one or two rows. Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

While I was measuring one of the theaters, the concession stand worker who let me in told me a story of a recent coast-to-coast trip when she could barely walk after sitting in her tiny seat the entire flight. And I thought, coast-to-coast; that's six hours."

Obesity in the numbers, obesity in our minds

So is the question of obesity a valid one? In the interesting world of media and how it influences us readers/voters, it surely is.
When you read comments on the article, one of the primary gut reactions is "Well people eat too much, that's their problem." This is clearly a question of limits and perceptions - what happens once the seat is 12 inches wide? What happens when the average height of a person is over 6 feet (we're getting there!)? When you think about it, it's a simple problem: some seats are too small for some people, and chances are, seats are going to get smaller (airlines making money) for more people (people getting bigger).

For the hell of it, let's look at the obesity question:

The Obesity in America Organization states that "It is estimated that 25-70 percent of the difference in weight between individuals is hereditary or genetic," then qualifying the statement with "However, it is important to remember that genetic predisposition only impacts an individual’s tendency towards obesity".

I have known, from experience, people who had a genetic disease that made them go over-weight (it certainly seemed like saying the word "oreo" would make her gain 1 lb). So I find that it certainly qualifies as a category, which just means "obese" is too wide of a category (no pun intended). An other interesting thought is that under California Labor Law, pregnant women are also obese - and I could see how they could benefit from a little extra room (although I'm not sure they'll qualify). However, and interestingly enough, all these considerations don't pop when the word "obesity" is uttered in the media.

The bottom line

I once read that people don't feel sorry for other people who have lung cancer. Why? Because they assume that they're guilty. That they've smoked. That they deserve it. Is obesity in that category as well?
The other side of the story is that airlines, in fact, are making seats smaller, cramming up airplanes even more, are delaying more flights than ever, and are very happy to just let you live with it while average plane ticket rates go sky-rocketing, as MSNBC reported just 1 month ago.

Here's a completely different question: what are limits to profit? Do not doubt it for a second, the airlines would have you standing for 6 hours on a flight if that wasn't deemed too dangerous. And that's where you'd have to watch out for how tall you are, and how much of a beer belly you've accumulated during the holiday. It's not sci-fi; not so long ago, there were considerations on making passengers pay according to their weight - and again comes the question of: how much weight? What if, like seat width and depth, these numerical values were to lower over the years? And should we also charge for height? (taller people, on average, are heavier)...

Let's hope the next destination for companies isn't a Welcome to Gattaca...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

UPS = "I'll give it to you tomorrow"

So I ordered a few books online last week, with Barnes and Nobles promising "Free and Speedy delivery". You'd think with that, that you'd get your books pretty fast?

In fact, I was pretty excited when, last Thursday, I received an email claiming that the books were already on their way. Of course, they charged my credit card immediately.

Yesterday, I check the tracking information, and oh goodness, the books were coming tomorrow! This morning, I check... and see it's due this afternoon...

Our UPS driver came by twice today, and no sign of the package. I call in, and the nice representative says "I'm sorry Ma'am, but your package is being held at the UPS location. It'll be delivered tomorrow"...

I guess that in these economic times, good service is also just a thing of tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'll be back... with Lip Service

After seeing the "He Lied to Us" headline on the GOP website, I got to thinking about the incredible marketing campaign the GOP has run since the 80s, and the one take away message that has made the 20-55 white male segment of the population consistently vote against their self-interest. What is that? Oh yes, that's right, it's the party of No New taxes ... rather, it's the party of Alzheimer (no offense to my great-aunt).

Because unless you've just passed the age limit to drink, you'll remember that William Clinton ran on "Watch my lips: no new taxes" that had gotten George Bush Sr the presidency. Bush Sr had said the phrase, promised millions of middle-class Americans that he wouldn't take from their pockets. And what happened next? New taxes. Reminding millions of Americans that the GOP was all about Lip Service gave Clinton the office. And in contrast with Reagan doubling the national debt, and George W. Bush tripling the national debt and driving us in the chaotic economy we're now drowning it, the Clinton administration came out with a surplus. That's right. A surPLUS.

Last night was another great example of Lip Service, this time by our great Republican ambassador, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who made the headlines of local news everywhere in California with new Budget Reform proposal, saying he wants to increase Income Tax by 5%. That's right. In this economy, with unemployment rising daily, our Gobernator, so adamant about democrats and taxes, wants to raise your taxes.

So yeah, the GOP will be back... with more Lip Service. But it's OK, because by then, you'll have forgotten...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

California, you disappoint me.

I'm not your mother. I'm not your father.
And yet, I have to power to tell you who you can, and can't marry.
Who am I?
A California voter.

And I'm thinking: What the hell?

Proposition 8 debates are emotional. They're personal.
You can give your friends the most rational arguments, and they won't budge. I do understand why this is an emotional, private issue. But it's about someone else's private, personal life. Not mine. Why do I get to decide how someone feels about the person they love? How do I, a complete stranger, get to decide on someone's love life, on their emotional future, on the decision that all of us take years to take?

Why do I get to decide on a complete stranger's commitment to the one they love? Isn't this worse than having your parents, your family, your church, decide of your marriage? A bunch of complete strangers will get to decide on an individual's private decision to commit their love and effort to their better half. And that's precisely where I feel disappointed in California. California's all about fulfilling your dream, your hopes; it's about becoming you... at your best. And that proposition, and the intrusion in someone else's life, is a huge let down for me.

I am proud of being able to know what's best for myself. I live in an apartment I rent thanks to wages I earn through long hours of hard work. I pay my bills. I don't have debt. I pay taxes. So why wouldn't have the same right to happiness?

I'm not going to tell my friend to get married or not to get married.
I'm not going to tell my family members to get married or not to get married.
I'm not going to tell YOU to get married or not to get married.
And I don't think I should even get to decide on a total stranger's right to get married or not to get married.

Thoughts? Comments? Email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Why I'll vote NO on prop 8 next Tuesday

We're one week to turning another page of history. One page I don't want to see turned is a page of personal freedom.

I will vote No on 8 next week, California.

California labor law protects against discrimination. The list is actually pretty extensive. You can't discriminate based on gender (Women staying in the house and cooking with the kids, that's a thing of 100 years ago), on national origin or ethnicity (that's a thing of 60 years ago), on age, on religion (and yes, that protects extreme catholics, extreme protestants, extreme muslims all alike), and lastly, on sexual orientation.

That's right. In your public life, no one can hire/not hire you because of what you do at home, in the apartment/house you rent or own. Why? because that doesn't hinder your ability to deliver good work. And that doesn't prevent you from paying taxes and contributing to society.
One could argue that other categories do (like religions that ask you not to work on certain days). But taking away the right to your beliefs is wrong. It's a direct attack on your basic right to freedom and to happiness.

If we allow all to be protected under California law for employment, in someone's public life, then why would it be justified to publicly rule on someone's private life? Why would be Ok to deprive a minority from basic rights to freedom and happiness?

I hope that you will comment on this post. And I hope you understand that Church and State are separate, and for a very good reason. The State services are not Church services; they shouldn't be. So I believe religious arguments are erroneous, and are not valid when it comes to matters of the State.

Looking forward to your thoughts... Caroline.
carolineblogs at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Give it your best shot: 5 tips to make your photos memorable.

I've been taking pictures for 5 years now. I've shown in a gallery, restaurants, cafes... so my friends ask me: how can I make my photos better? Here's my 2 cents:

  • Use your feet
    Sounds strange, huh? I mean, walk, kneel, stand on your tip toes, go up the stairs, under the stairs, up in the middle, lean, bend. In short: try different angles. What would this look like if I was a mouse? What would it look like from the top? How about from an angle? Take several shots of the exact object from different angles to see how it changes how that object is perceived. Take an object from far away, take it up close, even closer. Try. And try. And try again.

  • Start Black and White
    Photos "like" contrast. Almost any shot will look good provided that it high contrast. To train your eye to contrast, start taking photos in black and white (all digital camera have that option). If everything looks like one shade of grey... there's not enough contrast. Try taking shadows, dark over white, cars, cutlery... whatever. Look for contrast.

  • Start outside
    Unless you're lucky enough to have a high-end DSLR, chances are, your camera doesn't like inside. Most indoors settings are too dark to practice in; they often have mixed lighting, low light conditions, so that many shots will be very blurry. Start outside, in the daylight. Around noon, the shadows are harsh; early morning and early evening provide for softer, gentler light on objects. Try both and see what difference it makes... especially when taking portraits.

  • Start digital, but...
    ... don't touch Photoshop! We all want our photos to look the best. But to get better, practice is the way to go. And spare yourself the cost of film by using digital. Use the full potential of your digital camera: take lots and lots of shots. I find that I learn faster when I don't leave myself a safety net (oh, yeah, I'll edit that later). The more you try to make it perfect on the spot, the more you'll learn. I got better with that method: try, fail, try again, fail again, try again. Trust me, you'll get better faster than you think.

  • Don't collect electronic dust.
    Now that you've gotten started on taking tons of photos to practice, you need to check them out, and let them live. Go on Flickr or Picasa (getting an account is free), and post some of the shots you like best. In the title or the tag line, ask this: how can I make it better? Also go on Flickr and look for other pictures of the same subject. If you took a black and white of a plant, then type "plant black white" and see what comes up. Compare. Which photo appeals the most to you, and what did they do differently? More contrast? Different angle? Perspective? There is a lot to learn from other photographers, and the knowledge is out there. Ask for feedback. Connect with other photographers and talk. And most of all - have fun!

Hopefully more to come soon... enjoy!

For questions or comments, email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Comcast, I hate your "Protection Plan" that only protects YOU.

Dear Comcast,

I hate that you almost have monopoly in my neighborhood. You try to sneak exorbitant fees on me every few months (have you guys turned on any of your own TVs and watched the economy collapse recently?).

I hate that your website changes every week, only to make it more complicated to figure out where my bill is, what the hell it means, and how to pay it.

I hate that you play cash flow on me. You're one of the very few services, in my daily life, that I have to pay for BEFORE I know whether or not it'll work. 1 month in advance to be exact. I am not your bank. I'm your customer. I should pay only if you're provided the service.

And most of all, I hate that you try to sell me a "Protection Plan". What is a "Protection Plan", you say?
A "Protection Plan" protects Comcast. It does. Comcast tries to tell you that it's for your own good; that if your cable box, or your TV signal, doesn't work the way it's supposed to, that you will have paid this monthly fee for years so that the technician won't charge you $100. Well, that's because they don't charge you (yet) just for making you wait at your house for 3h before that same technician shows up.

The "Protection Plan", you see, is in case Comcast services DON'T WORK. And that's precisely what kills me. I'm sorry for assuming that I was paying for service THAT WORKS. I guess that comes with an extra fee these days.

What's next? A "Life Insurance Plan" in case my cable box doesn't make it through the year??

Questions? Comments? Email carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Friday, October 3, 2008

5 atypical questions YOU should ask at your interview

When you interview for a new job, do you ever consider if that company is a good fit for you? Or are you so caught up in just trying to find "something" that you'll settle for "anything"?
As I'm sitting at my desk and pondering over my last "very successful" review, I have to wonder: what do I expect from my job? what are MY goals and needs here? And are they being met? what is my breaking point? How much twisting and turning of the initial agreement am I willing to put up with?
Here are some questions to ask for YOUR next interview, that you should review every 3 months. Hey, if the company is doing a review of YOU, why shouldn't you also do a review of THEM?

  • Who will I be working with? Can I meet them before finalizing our agreement?
    Definitely not a trivial question. You spend minimum 50% of your awake time or 30% of your overall life working with a handful of people. Don't you think it's essential to see if you can work with them? Google that person. Google your boss, your coworkers. See what their presence is. What their interests are. What they write, how they write it. Get a feel of what it'd be like to work with them.

  • Do you have any team building/ personal enrichment programs?
    If you're hopping on another train, you want to make sure it actually takes you somewhere. If there is a great manager you can learn from, it's a plus. If the company has a form mentoring program, it's a plus. If the company has company outtings, that's a plus. If they have none... think about it. How will increase team building? And how will you grow in your position?

  • Do you have a copy of your HR policies?
    Ok this one may seem weird at first... until you realize that you may work 12h/day and get zero outcome. No raise. No time off. No promotion. You may end up looking at empty cubicles of coworkers who "work from home" but somehow don't answer their phones or their emails. So ask: what are the formal procedures of evaluation, and what are the rewards and punishments? Unless there is a formal system, it won't be applied. You're moving into the dangerous territory of political games, where someone can be part of the "boys' club" and pass the work off to you - a win-win for them, a lose-lose to you. So ask. Read. And think it over.

  • What is the typical path of someone in your position, if they do well?
    Aha. Didn't think about that one, huh? Ask frankly to get that direct answer: if you do well, and fulfill everything they expect out of you, then what can YOU expect? You're spending your life making that company a success. You need to know as early on as possible if they'll give back. If the people in your position end up quitting or getting fired before they get promoted, the company gets a red flag. Get out of there! If you are filling a new position, ask for an example of how high some other position has gotten - ask for a story of personal success from an employee that worked at that company. If the interviewer freezes... red flag!

  • What are some atypical benefits to working for your company?
    If you haven't opened a can of worms with the previous questions, this one may open your eyes to benefits you hadn't thought of. Maybe they offer free food? Discounts at local gyms? Internal contests and awards? Maybe they all shut down for 2 weeks at Christmas so you know you can count on going home at that period? You may be surprised at the array of benefits small and big companies have to offer their employees.


Questions? Comments? email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Monday, September 29, 2008

Get yourself a mentor!

You're not alone in this world. And you couldn't be. If you drive, someone needs to have designed a car; someone needs to have made it; someone needs to have paved the road. Same goes in your career: others have paved the road before you. And you need to talk to them. Here's a few tips from Tech Women's meet up at Apple last Thursday:

  • Why would someone want to be my mentor in the first place?

    Mentoring is a rewarding experience, and the mentor will grow from it too. Thing about it - how many times will you have the opportunity to directly influence someone's life? To be able to say, that person is succeeding, and I had to do something with it? Done right, mentoring is a win-win. So go ahead - find a mentor!
    And remember:
    For you: an opportunity to learn.
    For them: an opportunity to share knowledge.

  • So how do I find a mentor anyway?

    The short answer: Just Ask!
    Most mentorships are informal, and mentors usually accept when they see a fit, and see someone who is committed.

    If you are in any big organization (and that applies to if you're still in college), ask someone at a higher level. The worse they can say is "no". It's better if you find someone outside of your team, but consider that as an option too. If you want to change fields, learn another skill, you can go outside of your "Title zone". Cross-functional mentorships are mutually beneficial as well: you both get to learn something complete different that may open new opportunities, give you a better insights, etc.

    If you're in a small company or on your own, find someone through LinkedIn! LinkedIn is a great resource to find advice. Use the search tool to find people in the desired field; email them through LinkedIn and ask if they could mentor you. Or, go to the "Answers" questions and ask if someone in your area would like to mentor you. Also consider local Chambers of Commerces as great resources. They usually have weekly or monthly meetings, most are free, and you can meet with people who you already know are near you. If not, ask around, someone may know someone else!

  • When in a first meeting, come prepared

    What's the secret of a great mentor/mentee relationship? Concrete goals. So come with these goals. It can be short term, as in "I have this big presentation to do and I don't know anything about presenting. I have 26 days" or it can be "I want to find a job as in Marketing at a creative company and I don't know where to start", or even "I'm petrified when speaking in public. In 5 months, I'd like to be comfortable speaking with notecards". The more concrete the goal (it can be a $$ amount you want to make, a number of years you give yourself to reach X position, etc), the better.
    Also on the first meeting, it's better if you bring something concrete with you, a palpable object, to break the ice, and get the conversation going (this is my resume, this is the object I have to present, etc).

  • Get the details down

    The things that break relationships would surprise you. Break it down: is it ok for me to call you on your cellphone? or email? or is it better face to face? Are there certain days/hours that are out of boundaries? How many times week / month will we talk/see each other? And will this be a short-term or a long-term mentorship?

  • Follow up

    You need a mentor. You have a mentor. So it's your job to keep your mentor. Don't expect your mentor to chase you down. Your mentor is probably very busy, so even if they're committed to mentoring you, sometimes, other things may make them forget. It is up to you to drive and manage this relationship.

    Once you're done: Give your mentor an update. It's OK to say, it didn't work, I still need help. Coming back to a mentor is an acknowledgment that it worked for you. It's great to have feedback, and if you did well, it'll be priceless for them to know they had a direct role in your success.

Questions? Comments? Email carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why I want to be on the cover of Fast Company some day

This is for Kate (@khobbie on Twitter), who asked why I wanted to make the cover of Fast Company.
By now, I'm sure you've noticed I love lists. For the kicks of it, I'll list why I love lists one day. But for now - here's why my dream is to make the cover of Fast Company some day (sooner rather than later!):

  • Success is sexy
    When I was growing up, I didn't want to be Barbie. I wanted to be President. Of course, back then, I wasn't denied a job because I was in my 20s and "a risk to get married and have kids". I didn't know yet that when I'd go into a car shop with an exact idea of what I wanted fixed, the mechanic would talk to my male friend, who knows as much about cars as he does about his bra size. But I knew this: that all grown up, I'd be a Nobel Prize of Literature, or I'd flat out become President (and yes, that was my 2nd choice). The best way to put it? Success is sexy. I take much more pride in my brains than I do my body. And I shouldn't have to be ashamed of being ambitious or successful. So if I can get there, I can also go to a 12 year old, and tell her: you'll find many obstacles if you want to succeed. But Success is Sexy. And I, like many people around you you don't know, can help you get there. I can show you the way. We can share stories. We can share the pain. And we can share the glory.

  • I hoped. I sacrificed. I'm still hungry.
    When I left my family, my friends, my I-know-where-everything-is-around-here in France, and decided to stay in California in 2003, I was nervous. I was scared. I spoke the language fluently, and could easily pretend I was from South Carolina; but my heart, my culture, my memories... they all screamed home. I couldn't have the career I wanted back home; there truly was no hope there. The thought of becoming a wife and mother as the only achievement drove me crazy - I wanted it all. The career. The inspiration. The family. France, to this day, does not offer that dream: to cry it out loud, I'd gone to too many interviews where I was told "You have a degree in English, but we're looking for people who can speak business English". Really, a Masters in Linguistics and a thesis co-sponsored by a Linguistics Professor at UC Berkeley with business classes at Haas Business School won't cut it for you? You'd rather go for the dude whose parents paid for an expenseeeve beeznesss skool? I wanted to go to a land of opportunity. I wanted to prove I could do it. To this day, I'm still hungry. Hungry to fill the void that was created when I left home to pursue a dream, 6,000 miles away. And I've learned that to succeed, you must get yourself a very concrete goal, and visualize the path that will get you to it. So here's mine: I want to be the cover of Fast Company.

  • I am what I believe
    I strongly believe women and multi-cultural (or at least, culture conscious) leaders are the future of any country. This is the truth of globalization: understanding, looking up to, and marketing to, the 20-wanna be white techie dude won't cut it in the near future. Global markets to be reached can (and have to) be segmented, but they are increasingly complex. Melting pots are everywhere; Americans don't like to be boxed in (one ethnicity, one "type" of personality,etc). If you want to reach a new breed of consumer, the one that is influenced by a world of information, you need key executives who are (or are open to be) multi-cultural. If your company already has that, congratulations: your company already has an edge. I also believe, from experience, that women, because they have encountered many a challenge and obstacle; because they're second-guessed every time they express themselves, are perfectionists, they're over-achievers, they're get-it-doners. Why wouldn't that be seen as the success of today and tomorrow? I speak 3 languages fluently, am acquainted with another 2; I'm learning Chinese; I'm driven, dedicated, and I'm a reader of Fast Company. Good fit, don't you think? ;-)

  • Ultimately, I just want to make a difference
    Whether it's French or American youth, or the world's girls, I want to demonstrate something simple: that if you work hard, you, too, can get there. It may be naive. It may be cliche. But that hope - the one to influence and inspire others, to keep them going when they want to give up - that's what I want to do. Because it's the inspiring people around me that keep me going. By showing me that integrity and hard work get you results. I'd love for some other 20-something year old to look at the cover and go: "Huh. How did she get there?" Open it. Read it. And find out she could do it too.

Comments? Questions? Email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Why I won't give out my full name

This is in response of Bob's excellent comment on my "5 things to do to get your career started": I give all this advice on how to network, and then I hide my identity. Bob, this is for you.
Why I don't reveal my full identity in my posts? because I'm me.

  • Self-defense only works on people you see coming
    Being a woman teaches you that: the world isn't that safe. If I give my full name, you're just a few clicks from knowing what I like, where I go, who I know. In short, you can easily stalk me. As much as I like getting my opinion out there, I don't want my safety to be at risk. I do therefore also advise other women to use a pen name.

  • I don't have that many wrinkles
    If you're a young woman trying to build a career, this will instantly speak to you. For the rest, try to understand. I have not yet, in over 5 years working, been able to say "I just think that". Every single argument I give has had to be supported by numbers from official publications I can link to; "reputable" sources. This has made me a much more methodical, analytical, much more driven individual, so I'm grateful for the challenge. However, I'm not grateful for the frustration: even after presenting my case as the fruit of days of research, I'll be over ruled by another guy just saying "Nah.". That's it. The screen of anonymity really plays in favor of people who usually don't get heard. My opinion is here, bare, out to be tested, to be judged. No make up.

  • Work politics make it hard for me... to be me
    I'm striving to find a company that will embrace my liberal feminist views, but right now, it's not the case. So I can't afford to have 8 months of hard work come down to flames because some Product Manager in charge of the software in Taiwan finds this blog and uses it to say I'm crazy. This shouldn't be news to anyone: there are political games being played in any size company. The advantage of being in a small company is that you have the potential to make a real difference - but the drawback is that when political games are played, there's no anonymity, and political damage lasts a very long time.

  • I'm not anonymous. I'm me!
    Yes you don't know my full name, but people who read my resume do. And I can definitely include the blog address, the twitter name, the LinkedIn to anyone who I trust as safe, put it on a separate business card, email it to my friends, tell people I meet a networking events, etc. I'm in control of closing the loop!

Questions? Comments? Email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Common cents

Ok I don't get this.
Everyone has values. But don't we have some kind of ranking system? Here's a couple of questions to consider for this election.

What's more important to you:
a. being able to have a job and putting food on your table
b. if someone else can get married

What's more important to you:
a. If your tax money creates jobs and gives you a retirement
b. that it provide a golden parachute to Billionaire CEOs that sank our country's economy like the Titanic.

What's more important to you:
a. A leader that will take all powers, keep everything secret and prevent any trace from being found, that will take your money and give it to his billionaire buddies
b. A president that believes in democracy, that elected officials have to represent the majority that elected them (even if he/she disagrees), and that will answer questions (even when they're tough), keep records of what is being said and done (so that others in history can learn from challenges and opportunities of our times), and invest in today and tomorrow's economy

And let's be real.

If someone who is running for the office to REPRESENT the people of a nation refuses a debate with his opponent, will that person, once elected:
a. Be accountable to the people, respond to inquiries from the press and from control systems in the democracy
b. Take the executive power to be a form of monarchy, where the ruler decides to his/her own will (and let's face it, not represent the people or the people's will)

... These decisions are why I vote.

Why I'm learning Chinese

I know 3 languages fluently (French, English, Spanish), and am acquainted with another 2 (Italian and Dutch). You'd think I've had enough. But I really don't. I'm taking on Chinese and even though it's hard, I'm loving it.
Here's why I'm taking Chinese:

  • I'm not getting younger. Neither is my brain.
    I believe in challenging yourself. And I couldn't just sit there and let my brain slowly degrade. Since I was a linguistics major, I decided: how about a new language? I'd always learned languages I was vaguely familiar with, and most have Latin roots (and I studied Latin for 7 years. Don't get hyped though: I couldn't say a word even if my life depended on it). I thought it was time to reshape my brain and fire neurons I didn't know were there.

  • My social life should be better for it
    All my friends are from China or Taiwan. And I want to know what they say about me behind-my-back-in-front-of-me. Plus, they gave me my Chinese name, Ou Mulan (European name). Here's my policy: if you have a name, you must be able to introduce yourself. Well that, and argue about that point at volleyball (those arguments go on for 10mn sometimes, and I'm really curious what's preventing a "Oh, never mind, let's just play" from keeping them from arguing so long - I guess we'll find out once I can say it correctly!)

  • My professional life depends on it.
    There's 10 of us in the US Office. There's 60 of them in the Taiwan office. Who should speak what language, huh? I want us to collaborate more, and I know from being a translator that intent doesn't get sent with the standard translation. So here I go: I'm trying, guys!

  • I'm hoping I'll be more creative
    Did you know? taking on a new task also helps you be creative because it creates new "pathways" in your brain. Since this is totally foreign to me, I hope it'll help me imagine new things. New angles for products, new approaches, new names. Creativity.

Have a question? Comment? Post a comment or email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5 things to do to get your career started.

This afternoon, I pick up a copy of Fast Company, Oct. 2008. Look under National Boss Day, and find that women don't really get to the top of the food chain:
"More than 11 million people are employed in management occupations. 40% are women, but of the Fortune 500, only 12 companies (2.4%) have female CEOs. "
Surprising? No. I'd picked up an issue of the Advertising Age and counted: of the top 50 CMOs, 6 were women. Yet flipping through the magazine makes it clear that the target audience is women - i.e most employees in advertising are women.
Girls, let's not get beaten down so fast. We still have options:

  • Blog
    It's free. It's clear. It gets the word that you're out there, and think.

  • Be social (online) and promote yourself
    . That can be free too. Twitter. Follow women entrepreneurs. Respond to their questions, give your feedback. Add people with shared interests to your "Following" list. You can achieve that by doing keyword searches, like "sailing", "photography", "Mac", whatever you're interested in. Keep up the posts and reply, reply, reply.

  • Be social - professionally.
    Sign up for LinkedIn and invite anyone you meet professionally or socially. Be part of groups that correspond to you, and contribute to the questions and answers. Expand your network through the groups you're in, and the people that answer your questions/whose questions you answered. You'll see a world of people there to help when you have a question, be it professional or personal. These people will also help you get you jobs.

  • Be social - in person.
    We need to do this more. Seriously. You can go to your local Chamber of Commerce, attend Flickr Meetings, join the women's business association, Women 2.0, any women's group in your area, go to sailing races, local events, volunteer. Go prepared: have a business card ready, and test your 20 second elevator pitch on anyone who'll hear it. "Hi, my name is Caroline. I'm in Marketing. I have a blog, Zero Zero 2. It gives my 2 cents to anyone who'll hear it. Send me an email to suggest improvements, give me some products to test out. Let's follow up and talk about how to promote young people". Say whatever you want... but say something.

  • Find a mentor.
    You're not alone out there - and think about it. Steve Jobs has a full company of creative people giving feedback. He's connected to people who have over-arching views of the industry (CEOs that can see trends). Learn from someone else. You can't just sit there in your corner and hope someone will find you. The Prince Charming idea, that was nice. But seriously. You have to go banging on other doors. Give your Zero Zero 2 dollars, and you'll find many people will give back.

For all:
Follow up. I can't say this enough. Your career is not a sprint, it's a marathon. You'll have 1 st winds, you'll have 2 winds, you'll be tired, but you'll have to go on. Willingness to keep going can, in fact, get you far. So add people to your LinkedIn, recommend coworkers, email back when you say you will. If you can't make it to an event, reschedule, and show up the next time.

Have a question? I'll try to answer. Email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com

Acknowledgment: Thank you Phil Wolff for getting me to start blogging. You're an inspiration, and I am grateful for your insights.