HOW TO SET GOALS FOR 2020 THAT YOU’LL ACTUALLY ACHIEVE.

By Saquonna Duncan                  

 

2019-career-goals

If you are like me, you see the end of the year as a chance to examine yourself, your career, life, etc.  Some goals did not get started; while some were accomplished so flawlessly, I had to pat myself on the back.  Last year as I approached 2019, I was returning to work from three months of maternity leave, a new baby, three other kids, a husband, a full-time job, and responsibilities as a Navy Reservist.  There were many goals I had set for myself, and to accomplish everything was highly unrealistic and overly optimistic.  This year I want to share my process for setting more realistic goals for 2020.

 

Take Everything into Account

If you choked a little at the description of my family life above, it’s okay.  I’m used to the wide-eye expression I receive when I tell people about my life.  It’s taken me all year to figure out this one.  Everything goes on one calendar.  Work, personal, spouse’s activities, kid’s activities, appointments, etc.  I must think about all facets of my life and the amount of commitment the goal will require in addition to everyday life.  If the color-coded calendar is already busting at the seams, something will have to go to make room, or the goal will have to be downsized or eliminated.  I have learned that it is okay to say no.

Be Patient with Yourself

This one really hit me at the last WICT Speed Mentoring event.  Kia Painter was one of the mentors, and her guidance was so relevant and motivating.   The main takeaway that I got from her was to pace myself.  Sometimes we may tend to want to achieve all our goals by a specific time so we can move on to the next one, check off that block, etc.  It’s okay to take time off, refresh, and then revisit the goal.  No goal is worth your health and getting all in a frenzy because you did not achieve the target by a certain time.

Ask for Input from Support System

Yes, your goals are your goals.  Your support system will be there to help you achieve those goals, so reach out and consult with your closest supporters.    My husband is my biggest champion, and he is supporting me in my goal of applying for law school in 2020.  I kept putting this off until he expressed his support and laid out how we, as a family, could make that goal happen.  They may be able to help you see what you can’t or suggest a goal that you hadn’t even considered.

 

We all know that our goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.  So, for 2020, take care of yourself and put some serious thoughts into your goals.

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WICT Southeast blogger, Saquonna Duncan is among all other things a devourer of books of all genres (in spurts after the house is quiet).  She is the Subpoena Coordinator at Cox Communications, Inc. in the Legal department, aspiring lawyer, and soon to be retired Navy Veteran.

 

5 Questions for WarnerMedia’s Laura Dames

“If you have a goal work towards the goal, otherwise it’s actually not your goal.”

An Interview with Laura Dames

 

Laura Dames
Laura Dames- Executive VP & General Manager Turner Studios

WICT Southeast and WarnerMedia are hosting a panel event on Storytelling in November and I’d like to begin with your story. How did you get to where you are now? Is your life/career story developing in expected or unexpected ways?

I feel like my career, in so many ways, is a series of paradoxes. I studied communications. I wanted to work in media. I didn’t want to be poor in New York, I didn’t want to move all the way to L.A. so, I picked up and moved from Massachusetts to Atlanta right after college thinking that I’d be here for 5 years. 27 years later I’m still here. I did not study Marketing yet worked in Marketing for the first 10 of those years. I really knew nothing about operations and yet ran operations for our biggest networks here at this company and really have no production background yet was put in charge of an entire production resource. My career has taken a lot of twists and turns but, at the time it all made total sense. In retrospect, when you’re looking in the rearview mirror, you think, “how did that happen?” Did I think I’d ever be where I am now? Absolutely not. When I set out, I just wanted to work in media. But I’ve always loved my jobs. I’m very fortunate that this company and these brands and this business are constantly shifting and changing and I’ve been lucky to change and shift with them. I’m someone who gets bored very easily so that works in my favor. I haven’t had to leave the company to have different jobs every few years with different expectations and new opportunities and challenges. It’s been very fortuitous and along the way, I’ve just found people who have really supported me and put me in a position to be able to succeed.

Do you seek out that uncomfortable growth position or have they just come your way and you’ve said yes?

I’m a naturally aggressive human so I’ve always been one to seek out new opportunities and I tend to be very frank with my bosses when I’m bored and I’m ready for something else. I’m a person who likes solving puzzles and complex challenges where technology and creativity meet. I tend to like things that other people don’t like. Lots of people gravitate towards the creative side of things or towards the marketing side of things or things that seem sexier and I want to create the infrastructure that makes that possible. I find it fun. To me, there are more challenges and opportunities in those areas than in all the ones that you have to scratch and claw and fight to have a voice. I’ve been able to have a strong voice in the areas I’ve worked in.

The teams you lead here at WarnerMedia are instrumental in helping all the Networks to tell their stories. WICT’s theme this year has been “Inspire and others will follow.” What would you say is a piece of advice or a strategy that has helped you inspire them to take risks and find ways to tell stories in creative and innovative ways?

Turner Studios is a wonderful place. It is an amazing collective of artists and craftspeople; I am very humbled to work here and support them in doing what they do. My biggest role here is to create a culture where they feel empowered and enabled to do their best work.

There is nothing more frustrating than having an idea and not being able to figure out how to execute it. My job is to make sure they get those things and that they’re supported technologically so that when an idea comes to them, they know that they have what it takes to get it done. That’s hugely important. Of course, you can’t make someone who is not curious or capable or creative be so. Hopefully, we’re finding great talent, we’re helping them communicate with each other, giving them time to spend time with each other and learn from each other. I was shocked when I got here that artists that did the same thing but for different brands had never even met each other. So, we’ve created little tribes of people who do the same thing. We’ve also created opportunities for people at different stages of the creative process to communicate where the pain points are and how it might be able to be helped or fixed by earlier parts of the creative process. I want people to feel like they have a voice throughout the whole process. When people feel heard and that they are not constantly banging their heads against the same brick wall, their creativity increases. We’ve created the apprentice programs so there are young people constantly asking questions which also inspires the senior more seasoned veterans. I found that they all are inspired by the new thinking of these kids who are straight out of school or new in their career and so it’s a nice relationship. We have also done some larger things across the entire Turner Studios group, things we call “Food for Thought” and Studios X which are learning opportunities. Opportunities for our artists to teach classes and opportunities for all of the artists to take classes taught by their peers so that they can really learn from each other and inspire each other. And they are artists. When I first got here, they were referred to as operators, but they are artists and craftspeople. They use technology and manipulate it at their whim. The most important thing I changed when I got here was the language. We stopped calling them operators and we started calling our internal clients our partners. I had a boss who used to say, “everything communicates” and I believe that the language you use to describe what people do does communicate, the language you use to describe your relationships with each other communicates and the effort you put into making sure people feel appreciated matters.

I want a line out the door of partners that want to work with us and a line out the door of employees that want to work here and in order to create that I feel that it all begins with culture. It begins with creating an environment where people are inspired to do great work, they go above and beyond because they care and they’re enthusiastic and responsible and professional.

What advice would you give people who want to make/or pivot into a career as a storyteller? What would you say are the skills they need to develop in order to become a good storyteller?

The thing I find with most storytellers is that the biggest challenge most of them have is that they are shy or reticent to start just telling stories. There is no barrier to entry anymore! Create, make, and stick it out there. Everyone can! There are so many opportunities, just put your stuff out there. Do it! What’s the worst that can happen? Nobody looks at it or someone hates it. Guess what, that’s going to happen to you a million times when you do it professionally. Practice now. You have to learn to take all of that with a grain of salt. People have to find their true voice and the only way to do that is to practice, and there’s never been a better time to do that. For me, the most important thing to think about is, “what are you more afraid of, failing now or never getting to the place where you want to be?” If you don’t practice, if you don’t take the first step, you’re never going to end up on that journey so, you gotta go. The sooner you go the sooner you’re going to figure out your path and you might realize you don’t even want to take that road; you might want to take a different road and that’s ok too. But go forward, just keep moving. Always keep moving. The same goes for life, career, creative endeavors, if you have a goal work towards the goal, otherwise it’s actually not your goal.

There are so many digital venues for storytelling nowadays. How has new media changed the way you approach both storytelling and managing the business of storytelling?

There’s such a vast level now. For so many years in this industry, there was quality and there was everything else; and, if it was anything else you probably didn’t have a venue for it. It probably wasn’t’ going to be seen by very many people. It was considered not as good. That paradigm shifted with the internet and now anyone can publish anything. And, oh, by the way, kids prefer low production value with good storytelling over high production value and bad storytelling. There is so much opportunity for any kind of story to be out in the world. From the time I got to Turner Studios, I’ve been saying that we have to change our concept of what content is and what quality means because the biggest challenge we’ve had in making the transition to the new media world is our legacy snobbery about quality and about large scale production. I actually think it’s one of the things that has prevented a lot of large media companies from being as successful as they could have been because they didn’t move fast enough with stuff that was, quite frankly, in their minds, beneath them. And I think that’s a missed opportunity if we have a broad aperture when it comes to what content is and what quality means we are far more likely to be successful in this media world.

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WarnerMedia and WICT Southeast are partnering together on Tuesday, November 19th in Atlanta. Please join Laura Dames and our esteemed panel of “Creative” thought leaders as they share their experiences and expertise in storytelling!  Learn how storytelling can be used by all levels of profession or in any industry to influence and engage.  For more information and to register, click here.

 

WICT Southeast’s blog interviewer, Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words creative director, writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

Bootcamp Fellow Winners Share Experience

Lisa Farmer and Lizzette Tarver were WICT Southeast’s lucky chapter members to win the 2019 WICT Southeast Inspire to Innovate Fellowship to attend the CableLabs Innovation Bootcamp held on Oct. 15 – 18, 2019 in Colorado.

This year’s Bootcamp was an immersive three and a half days of learning experience designed to transform the way participants think about and use innovation. Attendance was limited so that attendees could put their inspiring ideation to practice in real-life situations.

We asked Lisa and Lizette about their experience, and this is what they had to say:

Lizette Tarver: Thank you again for this great opportunity. The CableLabs Innovation Bootcamp was most insightful, and I was truly inspired to be a confident innovation leader. Everyone (peers, coaches, panelists) that played a focal role in this experience provided for a true growth mindset as it relates to innovation. The experts, coaches, and tours provided for a well-rounded experience where relationships were fostered by way of breakthrough innovation. Many of the key learnings surrounding how we might solve for universal, ubiquitous broadband stretched my thinking and took me out of my comfort zone, which I was thrilled about. I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to tap into a more holistic way of identifying key problem-sets that truly impact our customers. There was great value in bringing together like minds in an effort to truly assess as much as understand the needs in our marketplace by bringing forth new ideas and then actually supplying them through innovation.

The F.I.R.E. (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, and Execution) framework has allowed me to understand that ideas must continually be improved from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. I am most eager to take back my key learnings to my leader, team, and organization, given that I am better able to focus on structured innovation efforts by the application of the F.I.R.E. methodology. After attending the CableLabs Innovation Bootcamp, I am able to see how we each can be more creative and make greater impacts by generating new ideas. The content was digestible and can be easily applied across a host of industries as much as in our personal lives. This opportunity assisted in debunking the myths/mysteries of innovation, allowed me to build innovation skills through a fresh new perspective, and to rid oneself of innovation antibodies which stifle the creation of new ideas.

Lisa Farmer: Thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback and special thanks to the team at Cisco for funding the boot camp.

Overall, the CableLabs Innovation Bootcamp was extremely rewarding. The speakers, coaches, and staff were extremely knowledgeable, and the diverse group of innovators provided unique perspectives for solving the challenge statement (i.e., ubiquitous broadband).  The key learning for me can be summarized in three categories – content, impact, and application.

I found the content regarding the model for innovation (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, and Execution) to be easy to understand and practical to implement. Throughout the camp, I was able to really engage and build muscle in those areas where I lacked key strengths. Additionally, the parallel exercise of using the FIRE model for personal innovation helped to ignite more creativity for the professional challenge.

The two field trips from the CableLabs Bootcamp were very impactful in both sparking my creativity and helping to understand the value of doing ‘deeper-dives’ to understand customer problems. The volume of innovation occurring in adjacent industries, such as the facility we visited in the energy sector, was such an inspiration and a testament to the value that can be created through partnerships to solve problems. Furthermore, those same partnerships can be used to leverage solutions for the same types of customer problems related to equal and affordable access while also considering the larger ecosystem/planet.

The opportunity to apply what I learned, both personally and professionally, from participation in the CableLabs Innovation Bootcamp is a simple translation for me. In my organization, there is a separate team for ideation. Still, boot camp has encouraged me to advocate for innovation even in my area through more strategic collaboration and brainstorming, which can be applied to any project without major upheavals to current processes.

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WICT Southeast graciously thanks our partners Cisco and CableLabs for making this opportunity possible.

R.E.A.L MAN OF WICT: Greg Madsen

A conversation with UpTV’s Greg Madsen

WICT SOUTHEAST BLOG WRITER, ANA ADLER SAT DOWN WITH GREG MADSEN TO ASK HIM SOME QUESTIONS AND GET HIS TAKE ON WHAT HAVING A WICT MEMBERSHIP MEANS TO HIM.

Greg Madsen

Name: Greg Madsen

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?
Vice President of Multiplatform Distribution and Strategy at UpTV

Why did you join WICT? What inspired you to look past the W in the name?
I first joined WICT and started going to events only because I was in affiliate sales. Cox and other affiliates were always going to these Red Letter Awards so it was more of a “go where your clients go” sort of thing. So, at first, it was a business necessity that I attend these events and now, after years of being involved, I’ve realized the value. I wish I could just say it was this beacon of wanting to join and be a trailblazer, but it was the reverse. I did it because I had to and then realized what a great organization it is.

What is it that you find most rewarding about being a member?
I think, I know it’s an easy low-hanging fruit, but going to the Red Letter Awards and other mixers and hearing these incredibly smart accomplished women talk. As open-minded as we try to be, I think we are still, deep down, inherently subject to unconscious biases. Even though I’ve had plenty of women bosses and incredibly smart female colleagues it still helps to be involved. Being a member helps me pay attention and be inspired.

In thinking of the theme of this series REAL men of WICT (Rewarding Equality and Leadership), how has membership in WICT influenced your thinking, either personally or professionally?
Membership helps get me past these inherent societal biases I mentioned. I was raised in a certain era at a certain time, my mom was a stay at home mom. Things have progressed a lot but it helps to continually reinforce the importance of what women bring to the table. Whether women or men, in this case it happens to be mostly women getting these awards, just hearing their stories is inspiring and it reminds me, frankly, that I probably take for granted that I’ve had an easier road. I haven’t had to break that glass ceiling or be the first woman to do this or achieve that and it’s important to remind me to help continue to take down those walls. I have an employee who is a fantastic account manager and I love that because of organizations like this, and me keeping an open mind, she hopefully won’t have to work harder than her male counterparts to get her foot on the next rung of the ladder.

Our theme this year is Inspire and others will follow. What has worked for you in inspiring others?
This is interesting because this is not a conscious thing. The way I’ve always managed people and worked with people that I collaborate with is more like a hard-wired behavioral thing. When I was leaving HBO, I had our coordinator tell me that she always enjoyed working for me because I don’t just ask her to do stuff, I ask her to do stuff and then I tell her why it’s important. It was never a conscious thing but I’ve found that the benefit of not just assigning tasks, but assigning tasks with the context of why it’s important to the project or the deal helps people learn, take ownership and buy in. I think ultimately that leads to having them be more inspired: They’re not just working on a task; they are working on a piece of the larger puzzle and they understand how it fits in. I think helping people and team members learn why what they are doing is important serves all of our purposes better because they’re more motivated, they’re more inspired and it allows folks to learn. I may, and I love it when it happens, go to one of my employees and say, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish so I think you need do x, y, and z.” Because they know the larger picture they often say, “Well I can do what you’re asking but I think if I do a, b, and c instead it might even be better for achieving that goal.”
Truthfully, I don’t think of myself as some sort of dynamic inspirational leader, I just treat people with respect. I don’t play the cover your ass game. I’m the first to admit when I’ve screwed something up, regularly because I screw up a lot. We were recently having trouble getting some of our content onboarded with Roku and it turns out I’m the one who dropped the ball in getting something to them and our operations team was getting thrown under the bus. I had to admit it was on me. They were so appreciative but I was just being honest. Being willing to admit when you’ve made a mistake yourself engenders a lot of respect and buy-in from folks too.

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Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words creative director, writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

4 Questions for the 2019 Red Letter Recipients

Congratulations to Tina Simmons, Marilyn Altman, Angela Cannon, Susannah Balish, Shana Keith, and Sarah Cheatham, WICT Southeast’s 2019 Red Letter Award Recipients

We recognize these women for their outstanding achievement and leadership and believe they personify the WICT Touchstones of Leadership and actively enhance the perception of the cable telecommunications industry through their community and professional involvement.

Leading up to our Red Letter Awards, WICT Southeast blog volunteer, Ana Adler asked these six women four questions so you can get to know them better. It’s not too late to get tickets to the 2019 Red Letter Awards, click HERE for more information.

#wictse_rla

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“I never lose, I either win or I learn”
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Tina Simmons.

T Simmons '18 Headshot

Name: Tina Simmons

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?SVP, Human Resources, Central Division, Comcast Cable

 You are the recipient of the Inspiration Award Woman of the Year. What does getting this award mean to you?

First of all, because I was involved with the vetting of candidates for these awards last year, I’ve realized how tough the competition and I was absolutely blown away by winning this myself this year. It is such an honor and I say that because WICT, particularly the WICT Southeast chapter, they’ve really got their act together. They have incredible programming; they’ve got incredible leadership. So, I’m excited about it and I’m tickled pink to have this opportunity.

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected to receive this award?

I think I was selected because I do live the Inspire touchstone. I really do open up my day, open up my heart, open up my mentorship to mentees far and wide. I do this every day. I don’t have a day where I’m not connecting to at least one mentee to talk about their career, to talk about their family, to talk about their health, to talk about whatever happens to be weighing on them, and to give words of encouragement, to give words of counsel, to give words of correction sometimes, and to give words of affirmation. People will tell you my mentee network stretches far and wide. I am humbled by the award but I’m not surprised because I strive to do that every day.

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation, piece of advice one moment in time, that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

It’s probably multiple conversations I’ve had with one of the nomination writers, a senior female leader here at Comcast. Throughout my career she has always been very honest with me and, even though I think the word transparent is overused, she has been. She is one who has given me counsel when things aren’t going so great and counsel when things are going great. This leader has always been consistent and someone that I can depend on and I’ve always appreciated her honesty regardless of the situation.; and she’s inspired me to do the same. With my mentees and direct reports and teams I get the opportunity to say, “Wow, that was a phenomenal job you did!” But sometimes I have to talk about another way a situation could have been handled, and this leader that I’m thinking of is one who modeled that behavior to me and she inspires me to do the same. I’ve learned you don’t gain anything by being dishonest or not sharing feedback. She’s taught me that it’s how you deliver the feedback that matters. Whether it be good or bad. Over time she’s emulated the behavior but each time there has also been some specific advice or some counsel that helps me become not just a better leader, but a better human.

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

I have to give myself a pep talk. Number one: I start with, “If things go left what’s the worst that could happen?” Number 2: “What do I have to lose by trying?” At least I can feel better that I took action. Because I’m action-oriented anyway, doing nothing isn’t an option for me. Thinking back on my career, my life, every time I took a big risk it was scary as hell but there was something good on the other side of it. A friend of mine encapsulated it for me: I never lose, I either win or I learn. And it’s true. I’m not going to say that every situation turned out exactly the way I wanted it to, but I sure as heck did learn something from it. And when it did turn out the way I wanted it to turn out, I won. It seems simple but it’s true if you open up your mind and open up your heart and if you are going to try to continue to have a better life, I think it works. It’s how I continue to encourage myself to make those kinds of decisions.

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“We all have to take that first step sometime. You never know what the ripple effect will be.”
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Susannah Balish

SusannahBalishheadshot.jpg

Name: Susannah Balish

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? Senior Director, Cox Communications

What does getting the Mentor Award mean to you?

Mentoring, helping others to develop their potential, is a real passion for me. Receiving the Mentor Award from an organization like WICT SE is a recognition that what I’m doing matters, and that, in turn, fuels my commitment. It’s also an opportunity to share what I believe, which is that mentoring is a change agent for our experiences, our impact, and our legacy.

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected for this award?

I am motivated and excited about helping others succeed. It’s important to me to connect in with others and help them take that next step. I work to bring this into all I do, and I think that approach stands out in an industry that is going through so many changes and challenges right now. Stepping out to drive change and taking risks are threads in my story. I think that commitment comes through in my day-to-day, whether it’s as small as sharing words of encouragement or as big as leading changes into the business.

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation/piece of advice that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

When faced with challenging decisions, I always go back to the mission or business purpose. Is my choice aligned with the purpose?  If so, I take advice from my first mentor, Suzy, and ask myself “If not me, who? If not now, when?” With Suzy’s guidance, I learned I can do so much more than I think. We all can! We will learn along the way and we are not in it alone. We all have to take that first step sometime. You never know what the ripple effect will be.

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

I believe career pathing today is like author E.L. Doctorow said, it’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights… but you can make the whole trip that way. I remind myself that I am the headlights for my career path. If I don’t stop to look around every so often and step into something new, I could miss the best part of the trip. You might not know where that next step is ultimately going to lead you, but it could be the one that takes you down the path to amazing, unexpected opportunities.

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“And also smile.  It’s harder to turn someone down that’s smiling”
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Sarah Cheatham.
Sarah Cheatham headshot.jpg

Name: Sarah Cheatham

Location: Knoxville

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? Director, Marketing Strategies, HGTV l Food Network l DIY Network l Cooking Channel l GAC

What does getting the Rising Star Award for Emerging Leader mean to you?

I’m grateful to be recognized as a Red Letter Award recipient.  And even more honored to be in the company of Shana, Susannah, Angela, Marilyn and Tina.  It is exciting to be nominated by my peers and awarded by WICT for my efforts. Receiving this award serves as an inspiration to me to continue my path of trying to inspire and mentor those around me in the workplace.

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected for this award?

I’m passionate about empowering women in the workplace and I have always been a cheerleader of WICT.  It is easy to be a fan of an organization that promotes women to realize their profession and personal leadership potential.  I was proud to serve on the southeast board recruiting memberships the past few years.  The experiences I gained during my board work with WICT inspired me to launch Discovery Women’s Network in the Knoxville office.  I’m constantly encouraging peers and teammates in the workplace to participate in events put on by both organizations.  And when they’re ready to take the next step towards leadership in their careers, I really enjoy recruiting for committees and future board members to join the club!  I know that my efforts and continuous ambition to drive my colleagues towards reaching their fullest potential are a valuable asset to the entire team.

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation/piece of advice that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

I was raised to always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS do the right thing.  To my teammates, I’m known as a “rule follower”.  They also know that they can come to me for advice when they are unsure of the best way to proceed in any situation.  I believe I’m known for this because I lead by example since I can hear my mom in my head reminding me, “do the right thing, Sarah.”

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

Definitely be yourself.  I don’t think I’m being my best self if I’m not being my true self.  You’ll be more comfortable and more likely to succeed.

And also smile.  It’s harder to turn someone down that’s smiling 😉

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“I wouldn’t have a career I enjoy without my tribe, past, and present
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Shana Keith

Shana-headshot.jpg

Name: Shana Keith

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role? Director of Public Affairs, Cox Communications, Inc

What does receiving the Rising Star Award for Emerging Leader mean to you?

Honored to receive this award.  For me, it’s a reminder of the people that have helped me be successful.  I wouldn’t have a career I enjoy without my tribe, past, and present.  Receiving this award has allowed me to reflect, and it goes back to the people that have shaped me, guided me, mentored me and sponsored me through the years.  I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for those people.  I’m excited to acknowledge some of them at the Red Letter Awards!  

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected for this award?

I was selected because I work hard, and love to innovate in my field.  Most importantly however it’s because I’m authentic.  I’ve learned that to get things done and build a career it’s best to be my true authentic self.  People like real. People like real human connection.  Once you build relationships, getting the work done is easier, and more fun.

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation/piece of advice that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

I learned from a leader earlier in my career that if you feel valued and empowered, you’ll work harder, be confident and strive for results.  I felt that way in my career from the beginning, and I try to make everyone I work with feel the same.

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

Personal growth comes with discomfort.  In order to achieve and push boundaries, you’ve got to take every opportunity to step outside your comfort zone.  You may fail and that is absolutely fine!  I’ve learned so much in my failures and always remember that when times get tough, I’m learning and growing.

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To be considered for more responsibility, you must lift up your head, raise your hand, and say “I’ll do that!”
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Marilyn Altman.

Marilyn Altman-0714-web

Name: Marilyn Altman

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?  Vice President Technical Services Contracts at CommScope

What does the Catalyst Award mean to you?

It’s a wonderful honor to receive the Catalyst Award. Women are so often working hard and contributing but are hiding (or being pushed into) the background. It’s lovely for me, and all the other winners, to be recognized. It’s a tremendous validation of the work we do, and the commitment we’ve made to our companies and our industry.

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected for this award?

I’ve been around a long time! I’ve had almost 20 years in the cable business to meet people, push projects and revenue forward, and make an impact. I think, since I’ve lasted a long while in a fast-paced and rapidly consolidating industry, some women may look to me as a role model. I take that responsibility very seriously.

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation/piece of advice that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

Many years ago, I volunteered to pack meals for a homeless shelter alongside a woman from my church in Orlando. As we chatted, I learned that she was the editor who created the title sequence for Disney’s original, animated Lion King movie. Wow was I impressed! I asked her how she learned her craft and got her job at Disney, and I was surprised to learn she studied animation at the local community college. Huh? I asked this beautiful, well-dressed lady why she chose community college. She did so, because it was all she could afford. She had fled an abusive husband in the Pacific northwest and driven as far away from him as she could…to Orlando! She had nothing but her clothes and her young son… no money, no friends, nowhere to stay. She and her son lived in a homeless shelter for six months, and she worked odd jobs, until she was able to enroll in community college. She was lucky enough to be tapped for an apprenticeship at Disney and the rest, as they say, is history. What’s the moral? Never make a decision based on someone’s title, how they look, or what you’ve “heard” about them. Try to understand the facts and the underlying motivations of customers, internal and external, then work as hard as you can to get the best result for everyone.

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

Just because you don’t know how to do it TODAY, doesn’t mean you can’t LEARN how to do it. Many times we are asked to create something brand new. If we wait for someone else to define everything for us, we’ll never move forward. We have to listen, listen, listen then bring about consensus and implement change. No one will take notice of you (offer you a promotion or a raise) for doing your job well. That’s expected. To be considered for more responsibility, you must lift up your head, raise your hand, and say “I’ll do that!”

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“My advice is to jump in head-first to whatever makes you uncomfortable.”
A conversation with Red Letter Honoree Angela Cannon

Angela Cannon1Angela Cannon -VP-Content Distribution & Marketing (Intl)2

Name: Angela Cannon

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work and what’s your current role?  Vice President, UP Faith & Family.

What does getting the Horizon Award mean to you?

Mae Douglas was being awarded the Woman of the Year award the first time I attended a WICT Red Letter Award Dinner.  Although I don’t know her personally, I remember feeling proud to witness another woman’s, better yet, black woman’s accomplishments and seeing her being celebrated by her peers that are just as accomplished.  That was near the beginning of my career here in Atlanta and it impressed upon me womanhood, celebrating and supporting each other and the importance of organizations like WICT and NAMIC for our industry.

I haven’t missed many Red Letter Award Dinner’s since then, and every year, I continue to be proud to be in a room full of accomplished and admired women.  Being named Horizon Woman to Watch Award for 2019 is not only an honor, but I’m humbled to be counted among such an esteemed group of fabulous women.

As women, we often find it difficult to give ourselves props for our accomplishments so I’m going to ask you to do just that. Why do you think you were selected for this award?

Ahh, great question.  I asked myself this very question when I received the news of the WICT Horizon Woman to Watch nomination.  The more I thought about it, I realized that over the years, I have worked to continuously break barriers due to my gender, my race or my experiences, worked intelligently with passion & compassion, built empowered teams and surpassed goals both personally and professionally.

If there was an area of expertise, I was unfamiliar with, I enrolled in courses to build my skills sets.  If presented with a challenge, I tried diligently to step up with viable solutions that sometimes actually worked.  The word “no”, does not register with me.  I find that all it does is motivate me to find another way.  Someone once told me, “Constraints Drive Innovation” and I live that more than most.  Not complaining – just recognizing that at independent networks, there are specific challenges larger companies do not have to consider.  Over the last 15 years, working for UPtv, aspire and now leading our streaming service, UP Faith & Family, thinking out of the box and working with limited budget & staffing resources, have driven some of the best and most compelling and innovative campaigns, promotions or national initiatives this industry has ever seen.

Most importantly, I have led my team with the intent of always operating in a spirit of excellence, fostering accountability and pushing them to take on challenges and pursue dreams greater than they ever thought possible.  I love what I do, I love the people I’m fortunate to work with daily and I love that we inspire hearts to be better every day!

This year’s theme is Inspire and Others will Follow. Is there one conversation/piece of advice that you go back to that inspires the decisions you make as a leader?

I grew up with a mother who taught me the importance of our faith. She would always say, “Only what we do for Christ and others will last”. She taught me to have a servant’s heart, to give, teach, listen & encourage everyone along our journey.  In my career, having the ability to lead with integrity, passion and compassion have oftentimes lead to Inspiring others.

What advice do you give yourself when you are taking a risk or stepping out of your comfort zone? Why is it important to do so?

My advice is to jump in head-first to whatever makes you uncomfortable. Be open and transparent about our weaknesses and work to make them strengths. Taking risks and stepping outside of comfort is not easy.  It requires a level of constant commitment to better ourselves, our situations, our teams or our companies.  It requires us to be intentional in our strategies and confident in our vision to reach the end goal.

It’s important to embrace the unknown because you will never reach a new height without climbing a new mountain and conquering the best of ourselves. Just Do It! No, Nike, you will not receive compensation on this answer.

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WICT Southeast blogger, Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words creative director, writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

What’s It Like to Be on the WICT SE Board

Are you looking to take your career to the next level? Do you want to network and collaborate with the best and brightest in the cable and telecommunications industry? Are you an active member of WICT Southeast? Well then perhaps joining the WICT SE board is what you’re looking for. The CALL FOR CANDIDATES for the WICT Southeast 2020 Board is officially open and we need some great candidates to run for the open positions. 

For those of you who are thinking about running and want to know what it takes to run and serve, we’ve asked 3 current board members, LaShaun Solomon (President), Jamie Miller (Immediate Past President), and Renita Griskel, (Vice President) some key questions that may help guide your decision making.

What made you decide to make a run for a position on the WICT board?

Lashaun Solomon (LS): My WICT Board experience began in 2012 when I joined the Greater Texas Chapter Board as Sponsorship Chair.  In 2014, I experienced a career change and was seeking to reconnect and build my network in Atlanta. Given my previous years of WICT Board experience, I found it more than applicable to pursue an opportunity on the WICT Southeast Board.

Renita Griskel (RG): I’ve always enjoyed attending WICT events and helping out behind the scenes. At the time when I submitted my nomination, it was after talking with friends who were on the board. Those conversations nudged me out of my comfort zone and into a board position.

Jamie Miller (JM): At the encouragement of my supervisor, I joined WICT in 2007 and had been attending local events, then started volunteering to help with them (rounding up door prizes, helping with event sign-in, selecting the catering, and working up to co-chairing events). I believe in WICT’s mission and the impact that this organization has on women in the industry, so I decided to step up and run for Director of Membership for Tennessee for the 2013 board. That led to a couple of years on the Programming team, then running for Vice President (which is a 3-year commitment for VP, President, and Immediate Past President roles).

How did you prepare for the campaign?

LS: I sought out to volunteer at local WICT events and get to know the existing Board members.  The connections I made were instrumental in my joining of the WICT Southeast Board in 2015 as the Senior Director of Partnerships.  I served in this role for two years and was elected Vice President in 2018, which led to me serving as President for 2019.

RG: I did some research about the position and then determined what I would do in that role to add to the success of the chapter if I were to be elected.  

JM: Being involved as a volunteer and participating in event organization calls, I already had a feel for the kind of commitment that was required, but if you’re interested in running and not sure, please reach out to Renita Griskel and have that discussion. I worked with a couple of close friends to prepare a personal statement that incorporated my previous WICT volunteer work.

After you were elected, what was your commitment (meetings, conference calls, events, etc.) on top of your day job?

LS: WICT Southeast is a working Board of dedicated professionals.  Each role is critical to our success as a multi-state chapter. My commitments have consisted of several weekly committee calls, monthly Board meetings and attending WICT SE events across GA, TN, and AL.

RG: The commitment ebbs and flows. There are times when I’m on call’s multiple times a day and multiple days a week. There are also times when I may not have a WICT call during the week. There are always emails or slack messages daily, but there is also help available when needed for an event or program. The board is very supportive and understanding that there is work, WICT, and life balance.

JM: This is my 7th year on the Southeast board, and the time commitment has varied, depending on the position I’ve held. Membership positions have a heavier commitment in the first quarter, as that is when the annual renewal period is. That said, you are always looking to have a touchpoint with your membership via mixers. Positions in Programming require more time when you are organizing an event, up through the day of the event. As Senior Director of Programming, I was leading a four-member team that was providing in-person and virtual leadership development content in 3 states. The previous 3 years were my busiest on the board, with chapter-wide travel and responsibilities that sometimes include lunchtime calls or staying late at work to make sure those duties are completed by their deadlines. I’m lucky my work schedule was flexible and, more importantly, that my supervisor was very supportive of my board service, which allowed me to make the most of my board position and my job.

What impact has the WICT Southeast board had on your career?

LS: Serving on the WICT Board has been one of the most rewarding opportunities for me!  My involvement in WICT has inspired me to pursue new challenges and has provided me the opportunity to develop and grow my leadership skills, formulate a robust and diverse network, and expand my scope of the complex industry we work in. 

RG: I have had an opportunity to connect one on one with executives at my own company and other companies which has been helpful from a networking standpoint.

JM: WICT has had a very positive effect on my career. I’ve gained a broader knowledge of the cable industry. I’ve enhanced skills, like public speaking, marketing, and creating PowerPoint slides, as well as leading 32 talented and hard-working board members. What is most rewarding, though, is having an impact on our members. Whether it’s hearing how someone was able to use a takeaway from a panel discussion or a workshop we just held for their own benefit, or that someone was glad that you encouraged them to participate in our mentoring program, it reminds me that the time and energy we put into our board service matters.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to run for the board?

LS: Simply put, just go for it!  If elected, serving on the Board is an opportunity for you to learn a new skill in a safe and supportive space or master a current one.  If possible, start volunteering at events and meeting other Board members – this will help you gain more insight on the responsibilities.  Lastly, be honest with yourself about the commitment your willing to make to serve on the Board.

RG: If you have a passion for WICT and what it stands for and want to channel that passion to help continue the successful impact that WICTSE has had on its members for nearly 40 years, then the board is for you! It is hard work, it takes up some of your time and some of your energy, but the tradeoff is what you’ll remember the most. The work you do on the board is rewarding, far-reaching and allows you to offer the membership base multiple developmental and professional growth opportunities.

JM: Talk to your supervisor about your desire to run for a board position, including what’s in it for them/your company. Whether it’s learning new skills, forging beneficial connections or leadership growth, make sure they understand the commitment of your time & resources, as their support is beneficial in your success as a board member.

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WICT Southeast is currently looking for enthusiastic, organized, and dedicated members who would like to run for the 2020 Board of Directors! Serving on the Board is a great way to expand your leadership skills, connect with a diverse group of professionals, and make a positive impact on the industry. Click here for more information.

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Kenya Brock is a WICT volunteer and the Director of Digital Operations and Marketing for The Katz Networks/The E.W. Scripps Company. She is a marketing, partnership, media and e-commerce professional with over 15 years of experience in developing and executing multi-platform marketing campaigns and B2B/B2C partnerships for national and local brands.

Is Joining a Board a Game-Changer?

You’ve likely heard that a board role can benefit your career. Whether it’s for a non-profit or an organization like WICT Southeast Chapter, serving on a board can provide professional growth opportunities and strengthen your personal brand. But since pursuing a board role may require a big investment of time and effort, is the payoff worth it? Absolutely. Here are some ways a board position could be a game-changer for you.drew-beamer-Se7vVKzYxTI-unsplash

Strengthen your professional credibility.

 Being tapped for a board position shows that an organization trusts you with a vital, visible, and high-impact role. It’s a public endorsement of your expertise and value. This affiliation is one you can promote, and it can raise your professional profile.

Grow your professional network.

 Board roles provide an incredible opportunity to meet influential and well-connected people. As you meet new people, be sure to connect in meaningful ways and cultivate relationships. As with anyone in your network, these relationships can be valuable when you’re ready to pursue the next step in your career.

Sharpen your skills.

 Serving on a board will help you to strengthen a variety of professional skills. Key among them is a collaboration, particularly how you work with other board members and leaders. A board role can also strengthen your leadership skills, especially if you are heading a committee. And, if the committee is spread out geographically, leading them can also help you brush up on remote management skills.

Increased visibility.

 Using your expertise to contribute to a board role will elevate your professional reputation. You’ll be seen as a dedicated, strategic, go-to person with great insight. Your visibility and value within the organization and with other business leaders will grow. These leaders, as well as your board colleagues, will see the benefits of working with you firsthand, which can be helpful as you pursue future opportunities.

 

Serving on a board is a great way to showcase your capabilities, no matter what type of board you serve. It will help broaden and sharpen skills, grow your professional network, and gain exposure to new areas of business that will drive professional growth. Joining a board will elevate your reputation and strengthen your personal brand, which are key elements to fuel career advancement.

For more information, check out this article from Ellevate.  Also, WICT Southeast is currently looking for enthusiastic, organized, and dedicated members who would like to run for the 2020 Board of Directors! Click here to find out more on how you can expand your leadership skills, connect with a diverse group of professionals, and make a positive impact on the cable industry.

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Lisa Conklin is on the internal communications team at Cox Communications in Atlanta (by way of Kansas), where she focuses on executive and employee communications. She describes herself as a triathlon junkie, solo traveler, and accidental hippie.

 

R.E.A.L MAN OF WICT: Corey Prince

WICT Southeast has lots of R.E.A.L Men in our chapter. These are our male members who personify Rewarding, Equality, and Leadership.   In this new interview series, we have five compelling Questions to get to know these R.E.A.L Men of WICT.

WICT Southeast blog writer, Ana Adler sat down with Corey Prince to get his take on what having a WICT Membership means to him.

Corey Prince

 

Name: Corey Prince

Location: Atlanta

Where do you currently work, and what’s your current role?  Senior Director of People Solutions at UpTV

Why did you join WICT? What inspired you to look past the W in the name?

Many years ago, I was invited to the Red Letter Awards. I was new to TV and hadn’t heard much about the organization at that time. But being at the gala and hearing the stories of all of these accomplished women, blew me away. I was so inspired. I remembered walking away saying to myself, “Wow, I need to be better, I need to do more.” Part of me just wanted to be a part of this success.  I wanted to learn from all these women. So, when I heard they accepted men as members, I jumped on it and joined. Months later, I connected with their Membership Director and asked them to come by the office to do a presentation on the benefits of becoming a member. Because the employees loved it so much, we decided to fund their WICT memberships in January each year. If you are interested, we will cover it. And to this day, we are still doing it.

What is it that you find most rewarding about being a member?

I think developing professional relationships with people is key, but it’s also about giving back.  It’s a great opportunity to learn about people, assess their needs, and then determine how I can help. I just like being inspired by the people I meet and I interact with.

In thinking of the theme of this series REAL men of WICT (Rewarding Equality and Leadership), how has membership in WICT influenced your thinking, either personally or professionally?

For me, it’s a reminder of the work we still have to do, particularly in my role in HR, around ensuring that people are working in environments that allow them to be successful. Making sure we bring people’s attention to unconscious bias and calling it out when we see it. Even as HR professionals, despite being trained not to let biases influence our decision, we still have to check ourselves and ensure we embrace people for who they are and what they bring to the table from a skillset standpoint.

Our theme this year is Inspire, and others will follow. What has worked for you in inspiring others?

Leading by example, not being afraid to show my vulnerability as a leader.  Being open to doing what is needed regardless of my position. It also means not being afraid to let people fail and supporting failure in a good way, by asking, “What would you do differently?” “How do we learn from it?” versus making anyone feel incompetent. That’s the last thing on my mind. That’s not how you do it. You just help them realize that part of their learning is figuring out what they would do differently. What you find is that people start doing it for themselves and you don’t have to prompt them anymore. That’s when you know you’ve hit it because now, they are walking themselves through that thought process.

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WICT Southeast Blog writer, Ana Adler is a tri-lingual freelance content creator whose mad skills include the words creative director, writer/producer, video editor, project manager, copywriter, and mamá.

 

 

Be Fearless and INSPIRE Others

Contributed by Kathy Oakes

Eleven years ago this fall I got a new boss. In one of our first one on ones, she suggested I join WICT. I told her that I didn’t think I had the time. As a single mom of a nine-year-old daughter, I was already working 40+ hours a week. She played on a travel soccer team, so all my free time was spent at her practice or tournaments. My new boss very gently turned the suggestion that I join WICT into a line item on my Individual Development Plan. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to check things off my IDP like a NASCAR driver likes to go fast. I thought fine, I’ll join, but it will be a waste of money. I don’t have the time or energy to juggle anything else right now.

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. I look back now and almost find it hard to remember a time that I wasn’t actively involved in WICT. I attended my first WICT event a few months after that initial conversation with my boss. It was a lunch that included a panel of brilliant and successful ladies. I very quickly realized that my stubbornness was not going to win this time. I wanted to learn more. My local chapter sponsored an essay contest for the chance to attend Cable Boot Camp in Denver. I entered and won!! Long gone was my resistance. I jumped in with both feet. A few years later I joined the WICT Southwest board as the Programming Director. I enjoyed planning events and seeing them come to fruition. Two years later I was elected President. Me! The girl who swore there weren’t enough hours in the day. Through WICT I learned about the Touchstones of Leadership. Leigh Woisard showed me how to know myself, what I stand for and where I am headed. Maria Brennan taught me how to communicate with passion and poise. Fran Mallace showed me how to connect to my peers, my industry and everything around me. Nancy Murphy showed me the beauty of being a catalyst and how to set the wheels of change in motion. I’ve attended the most amazing leadership conferences in NYC. Being selected to participate in Rising Leaders in 2017 literally changed my life.

Just over a year ago I got an awesome promotion at work. I relocated from Phoenix to Atlanta and joined WICT Southeast. Immediately, I had an amazing, brand-new network of fellow leaders and friends. I joined the board as the Director of Social Media. I settled into my new role and life was good. Better than good. Queue the dramatic music…

I connected with a friend back in Arizona who was recently divorced. We had been friends for years but had lost touch. As we rekindled our friendship, a wonderful and unexpected thing happened. We fell in love! He asked me to marry him, and I said YES. We navigated a long-distance relationship with monthly visits. He shares custody of his two small boys with his ex-wife, so moving to Atlanta was out of the question. I had been in my new role for less than nine months. I wasn’t ready to pack up and move back to Arizona. So, we decided to wait it out.

My entire career I’ve coached my direct reports about the importance of having a work-life balance. But candidly, I never felt like that applied to me. I was a single mom. I needed to work harder. I had something to prove. It sounds silly to say those words out loud. But that is the tape that’s played in my head for almost twenty years. A few months ago, I had my thyroid removed. Dave flew to Atlanta to help me recover. When it was time for him to return to Arizona, I asked myself what I was doing. Here was the love of my life, living 1800 miles away from me. When would I be brave enough to put myself first? It turns out the answer is now.

I’m moving back to Arizona. We’re getting married. I’m leaving a job I LOVE to start a life with the man of my dreams. My boss is graciously allowing me to work remotely through the end of April. After that, it’s up to me. I have a few leads, but it’s scary!! Being fearless and confident in your convictions as you take risks is no joke. I have zero doubt that WICT helped me get here. It will continue to help me as I discover what’s next.

That nine-year-old girl I told you about before is now a sophomore in college. It will be nice to be a two-hour drive away from her once again. Telling my story is scary. But just maybe I can inspire someone in the way others have inspired me.

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Kathy Oakes is the former Director of Social WICT Southeast. Chuniq Power, Brand Manager at Aspire TV, will assume the role.

3 Questions for the Taste of WICT – Knoxville Panelists

The Taste of WICT – Knoxville is today! Food, wine, and networking make for an exciting evening. Elianna Carlton, Kim Kanary, and Kenley Smith Early are our three amazing panelists and we want you to get to know them. We asked each panelist 3 questions leading up to the today’s event. Read all of their INSPIRING answers below. Still need to sign up for Taste of WICT- Knoxville? Go HERE to register.

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ECarltonElianna Carlton

Vice President, Human Resources Comcast

Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?

EC: My father has been a huge inspiration throughout my life, specifically in my career. He has been in business for himself over 40 years. I have watched him masterfully handle situations with exemplar diplomacy. He is a man that has had significant challenges both professionally and personally, through adversity and perseverance, he overcame significant obstacles and is a renowned expert and author in his field. He has inspired me in my career (and in life) to learn from my mistakes, and continue to keep moving forward, while treating others with dignity and respect – regardless of the situation.

The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?

EC: 1) Challenge yourself to meet 2 to 3 new people you have not met before.

2) When you meet new people exchange contact information and look to connect at a future date after the event.

3) If you are attending the event with friends and colleagues, invite those you do not know into the conversation, especially if they are by themselves.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

EC: WICT has helped me network and meet others that I would likely not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. WICT has also helped me stay relevant on what is occurring in our industry and has opened my mind to new ideas.

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KKanary 01 (1)Kim Kanary

Vice President of Community Development & Engagement
Jewelry Television
Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?
KK: Many people have inspired me throughout my career. I believe inspiration can come in moments big and small, positive and negative. I look for behaviors in others that I’d like to emulate, as well as those which I’d like to avoid. I’ve had some amazing mentors and supporters that have helped me get to where I am today. I’ve also had some detractors which I’ve been able to overcome – finding inspiration in less than desirable circumstances or interactions can provide some of our most significant lessons and growth opportunities, so when faced with this type of situation, I try to turn it into a positive – into a motivator and lesson. So, overall, I’d say that I really look for inspiration in all I do and have been fortunate to have been inspired by many over the years.
The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?
KK: 1) When networking, look to make genuine connections with people. Building a network requires time and diligence, but stick with it – what you get out of it will be proportionate to the time and effort you invest into it.
2) Seek out people you admire in roles to which you eventually aspire. Request an informational interview so you can get tips and advice. Be sure to send them a genuine thank you card or email and maintain contact with them. Keep in touch with your network when you don’t need anything from them. This will enable you to establish genuine relationships, and then when you do need help, you’ll have more of any emotional bank account established with them from which you can withdraw.

3) Pay it forward. When someone asks you for advice or an informational interview, be sure to take the time to try to help despite your busy schedule. Remember all the people who helped you along the way and seek to do the same for others. You’ll find this to be very rewarding in return.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

KK: I am actually new to this group, but it’s certainly beneficial to develop camaraderie with people of similar backgrounds, industries or professional interests. Being part of groups that empower peer-to-peer learning and collaboration can be beneficial throughout one’s career.

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Kenley Smith Early

Director, Brand Marketing and Partnerships
Discovery, Inc.

Our theme for WICT this year is INSPIRE. Who has INSPIRED you throughout your career and why?

KE: It’s interesting to think about who’s inspired me over the past 20 plus years of my career. There are some people who stand out for positive reasons and some who stand out for not so great ones. Regardless, you learn from all experiences. It may not feel like that when you are in the thick of a situation, but someday you’ll look back and realize that you take something from every experience. I’ll start with someone who has always inspired me professionally…Shannon Driver, General Manager, US Brand Marketing, Discovery. I’ve worked with Shannon for several years in different capacities. However, in 2013, Shannon became my supervisor. At that time, I was a marketing manager and had had some professional challenges. Everything changed once I began reporting to Shannon. She believed in me and treated me as an equal. All those doubts I had about myself started to disappear and my professional confidence returned. Later that year, I was promoted to director. All I needed was someone to inspire me and guide me down the right path. Even though I no longer report directly to Shannon, she still inspires me. I’ve learned so much from her about the colleague, supervisor, and friend that I aspire to be.

Now let’s talk about personal inspiration. I’m incredibly fortunate to have a group of eleven women that I’ve been friends with for over 20 years. We met in high school and college and are still incredibly close to this day. We often use the following hashtag on our social media posts and text exchanges – #notnormal. As I write this, I think about the fact that our friendships really aren’t normal. Who has that many close friends that they see regularly for game nights and take girl’s trips once a year? Recently one of these ladies was diagnosed with breast cancer. The way this group has pulled together to support her has been incredibly inspirational to me. You see we’ve all had challenges – losing parents, divorces, work challenges, etc. but thru it all this group remains strong. I’ve always known they were special but the evening that I was at my house putting together a chemo basket for our dear friend and seeing all the care and effort that had gone into this, I was even more aware of the awesomeness of these ladies. They inspire me to be my best every day and for that I am truly thankful.

The Taste of WICT is a signature event and a great way for people to network. What three tips can you give our readers on the best way to network at these type of events?

KE: Let’s be honest networking is not easy for anyone. I’m an incredibly outgoing person and can talk to almost anyone, but I still find it challenging. The three tips I would offer are…first, you are not alone. Everyone in the room feels the same way…nervous. So bear that in mind when you attend events, do your best to chat with someone new and remember they are just as nervous as you. Second, come prepared. If you want to speak to a specific person, research them a bit and find something to ask them about, that always helps to break the ice and you never know what you may learn. Third, and this applies to situations where alcohol is being served, always limit yourself in professional situations. I will never forget being at a networking event many years ago and a colleague had entirely too much to drink. This person was slurring words and could not stand very well. Those are things people never forget and you don’t want to be judged on something like that later on.

How has WICT helped you throughout your career?

KE: WICT has played an important role in my career. Everything from attending the local networking opportunities, participating in conferences and seminars, and being a Rising Leaders graduate has helped build my professional confidence. As I said earlier, I’ve had some professional challenges in my 20 plus year career. However, my WICT involvement has always given me a sense of renewal. I love hearing about colleague’s career paths, their positive experiences, and challenges. It always makes me realize that I’m not alone in any situation and I have a very large group of women who can provide advice and guidance when needed.