Speed Mentoring Perks

Contributed by Susanna Hoskins, Supervising Producer, RIVR Media

Ever heard of an “elevator speech”? This phrase means a short spiel that you could give at a moment’s notice, to kind of “sell yourself” to a prospective employer if you were ever given the opportunity. If you were stuck in an elevator with him/her for two minutes, for example. What would you say? How would you make yourself sound good, without appearing to be bragging, in such a short time period? On the flip side, how could you best use that time to learn as much as you could about someone else in the elevator with you? A higher-up, your career idol, a company CEO, President, or department head. A “speed mentoring” session is the perfect place to practice and perfect the skill of quick, efficient, polite, useful information exchange with people who work in your desired industry.

“Speed mentoring” is a quick, interactive, topic-driven mentoring sessions in which attendants take turns speaking with various mentors and peers. Mentors give tips and pieces of advice. While mentees receive constructive feedback for reflection and future demonstration. It also helps build relationships and with your networking. This is a great way to practice one’s social skills in a professional environment while getting helpful counsel at the same time.

If you want to make a good first impression, always look the person you’re meeting right in the eye, smile, give a firm handshake, and introduce yourself. Quickly state your position or field of interest and your past work experience or current employment/student status. Then ask the other person about him/herself. “What is your job title and how long have you held that? What’s your day to day like?”

Once you have the essential information, you can move to more detailed questions later, if there’s time. Like how the person got his/her start in the industry and their career path since then or their favorite aspect of their job. You want to try to glean as much information from this more experienced person as you can in the allotted time. Speed mentoring can help with your nerves and teach you valuable skills, like how to interact with people who are above you in your field. You realize that they are people too, and they also put their pants on one leg at a time. Speed mentoring will also give you the opportunity to practice making a good first impression. Hey, you might even have fun and make a friend, or at least a career contact. Plus, you get it over within such a short time, so if you’re nervous, what’s not to like?

Want to practice your speed mentoring skills? Sign up for the WICT Speed Mentoring event in Atlanta on Thursday, June 14 from 7:30-10am at The Wimbish House here: https://wictse.org/speed-mentoring-atlanta/ or the event in Nashville in July.


Stop Keeping Your Head Down and Continue Being Curious – An Interview with Nikki Heise, Chief Learning Officer at Ridgeline Coaching

NHeiseNikki Heise, Chief Learning Officer, Ridgeline Coaching, Atlanta, GA

With 20 years of experience in corporate information technology (IT) leadership positions, Nikki Heise understands the language and challenges of both business and technology leaders. She thrives on building connections between leaders at any level and their teams, customers and partners. Creating workplace environments where people enjoy coming to work, are productive and feel like they are making a difference is her passion. She wants people to have more of what they want in their careers.

To help kick this interview off, what are three easy ways someone can identify their strengths?

  1. Ask somebody close to you. People around you see things that you’re awesome at, that you probably take for granted, as superpowers.
  2. Think about what you love to do. When you get lost in an activity or when you are doing something that feels really meaningful to you, what are some of the talents or strengths that you’re using in those moments?
  3. Take an assessment. This will help put language around your strengths and help see them from a slightly different way.

Can you share the best and worst pieces of advice you’ve received?

The best piece of advice I’ve received is to be curious – have a beginner’s mindset about everything and continue to learn. If you’re willing to see things from a different point of view it can open so many doors and help you gain a new understanding on any situation.

Opposite of that, the worst piece of advice I’ve received is to keep your head down, continue working and don’t speak up. I think it’s well-intentioned advice and I don’t disagree that you should do a good job. However, when people see you’re doing good things with your head down, you risk being so good at that thing that they won’t promote you because they can’t imagine anybody else doing it as well. If you keep your head down and assume that what you’re doing is the right thing, you’re not looking around and learning something new. Often this is when people get stuck and when they finally do look up, it’s twenty years later and their life doesn’t look anything like they were hoping it was going to.

What’s the most common thing you see people not doing, that you think they should be?

Too often, people don’t test their assumptions and interpretations about situations and don’t ask for clarity. We are storytelling machines and make up stories about what that tone just meant or what the comment at the meeting meant or what the people across the room from us are saying about us. So, especially in situations where there are miscommunications or when there’s tension at work, I wish people would ask for clarity or see if there’s a more generous interpretation of the exchange.

What are the benefits of having a professional coach?

As far as benefits, it is having a safe place to work out your thoughts, have a really good sounding board and support. There’s a lot of power in having a conversation that is just about you, where somebody is holding a safe space for you to think about your life and your career and is only focused on you. In most conversations when you’re talking with a good friend or a colleague you’ll start to talk about something and then you hear, “Oh yeah, me too. I had that happen” and the conversation shifts. But a coaching conversation is special because that doesn’t happen. A coach holds that space for it to be about you. So, whether I’ve had the exact same experience that you’ve had, as your coach you won’t know that because this is not about me. This time is about you. That kind of conversation is rare, and it is powerful.

At what level in your career should you engage a professional coach?

Typically, in larger organizations it seems to be, reserved for upper levels of management, but I don’t think that necessarily needs to be the case. The closer you are to the front line the more people you’re impacting in their day to day. Working with a coach to improve yourself and how you communicate and how you work with other people can have a pretty big impact on the front line. I don’t know that you have to cross a threshold at a certain level, but you have to cross a threshold of mindset to be open to learning more about yourself and willing to shift and work on some things and to be open to change.

This year’s WICT theme is “Be a Catalyst.” Why do you think being a catalyst is so important?

You can’t even anticipate the benefit and the ripple effect that can happen from you taking the step and being a catalyst for somebody, but there will be one.

Looking for more information about Nikki Heise or Ridgeline Coaching? Visit https://ridgelinecoaching.com


Top Five Reasons to Have a Mentor



Contributed by Courtney Madson

If you ask any professional or look for the “top 10” pieces of career advice, one common tip is to have a mentor. Someone who can guide you, fight for you and help you become a better version of yourself. While this is truly invaluable advice, the mentoring process can seem overwhelming and at times may appear like more work than the return.

Here are our WICT blog volunteers top 5 reasons why having a mentor or being a part of a mentoring circle can be an extraordinary experience and worth the time devoted to the relationship.

You Receive Impartial Advice

“Having a mentor has allowed me to seek advice, both professional and personal, and confide in someone who is impartial. Their expertise and coaching skills to help guide my decisions and often times get a different perspective. Over the years, my mentors have been essential in helping me grow personally and professionally as well as providing encouragement and giving me the confidence to be my best self.”

Kenya Brock, Director of Marketing, Brown Sugar

You Are Introduced to Different Areas in the Company

“Having a mentor was an amazing resource because he taught me about other departments here at the company that I would otherwise not have been exposed to. He was able to introduce me to people for informational interviews, so I could get a better glimpse at what executives in other departments are working on and make valuable connections. I even approached him with some challenges I was facing in my daily tasks, and he gave me excellent advice on how to raise a flag to my boss when I needed help, made suggestions on how to improve my own workflow for efficiency, and provided me with resources for furthering my education so I could be an expert at my job.”

Cheyenne Perry, Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Coordinator, Discovery Communications

You Gain Perspective

“One of the things I value most about my mentor is her perspective. I can present her with a scenario and she can then help me see that there is always another way to approach a situation.”

Jenny Oberhaus, Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Specialist, Discovery Communications

You Both Grow

“When you have a mentor it doesn’t necessarily mean that you now have a therapist, it’s a two-way street where you both are able to grow. While it took me a second to clue into this, having a mentor to share my work situations, learn from and about his work, and have an open communication has been such a priceless experience. We both learn from each other, me more than him, and have grown because of it.”

Courtney Madson, Home Category Brand Creative Associate Writer/Producer, Discovery Communications

You Can Ignite Change in Your Career

“A mentor isn’t there to coddle you- He or she can help push you out of your comfort zone, ignite new ideas, or open up new opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to find someone who may not be in your department or has a different personality because they might offer insight that you have never thought about”

Valerie Carrillo, Home Category Brand Creative Senior Writer/Producer, Discovery Communications

While everyone has a different experience, there is overwhelming support to have a mentor. So how should you go about this? Join WICT SE’s award-recognized Mentoring Circles program as we embark on “Being a Catalyst for Change in My Career and Community”. This year’s Mentoring Circles will provide an interactive approach to intentional career advancement, led by Betsey Magness instructor LD Bennett.

Circles are small groups of mentees led by mentor pairs through a guided six-month program. The program kicks off in June and completes by the end of the year. Step it up in your personal development, equip yourself to ignite change in your career and community, all while building relationships with like-minded women! Apply at the below links through May 18!

Application to be a mentor: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DLB7WRS

Application to be a mentee: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DFFM36Q

Why Join a Business Book Club?

Contributed by Jenny Oberhaus

We’ve all listened in awe as the most successful people in our industry nonchalantly reference how many business books they typically devour – one per week, six per month, 100 per year – the numbers are staggering and often intimidating. “I’d be thrilled if I could finish one every few months,” we think to ourselves and then rarely happens because life tends to get in the way.

Enter: A Business Book Club.

A book club-generally speaking- is a great way to connect with friends, meet new people, hone public speaking skills, learn to appreciate others’ opinions and, most importantly, read more books. For all the same reasons, the book club model translates well to a professional setting.

And now you’re thinking, “Great! Now if someone could just magically stop time for an hour each day, I’ll have the time to read.” While-trust me- I’m with you on that, there are actual, logical ways to fit reading into your busy schedule.

  1. Set a timer. Physically defining a span of dedicated reading time will help keep you focused. Situate it directly in front of you so you can snap back on task if your thoughts to wander to your ever-present To Do list.
  1. Make it a priority. Does that mean watching less TV in the evenings? Perhaps. Does it mean getting up a little earlier? It might. But when something truly is a priority, we find a way to make it happen.
  1. Reach for a book instead of the phone. How many times a day do we find ourselves passing idle moments by looking at our smartphones? What if we reached for a book and read a few pages instead? Bill Gates, arguably one of the most success (and undoubtedly busiest) people of our time always has a book with him and reads every chance he gets. If Bill can do it, surely we can, too.
  1. Join a book club. Yes, I realize this is a post about why you should join a book club, so it rings a bit redundant- but bear with me. Accountability to a group is a powerful incentive. The act of committing to a book club will help you carve out time to read. The club meetings will give you a timetable to plan for and, the commitment will help to keep you accountable.

With some planning, a firm commitment and healthy dose of focus, you’ll be checking off titles and feeling more accomplished in no time. If you’re interested in joining the WICT Southeast Book Club, check out the one in Knoxville on April 24th. Visit our WICT events for more information on how you can get involved.


Jenny Oberhaus works at Scripps Networks Interactive as a Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Specialist, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She originally became a member of WICT in 2007 but has recently rejoined after a hiatus from the industry to spend time at home, raising her two kids. She is a lover of travel and any competition cooking show- especially “Chopped.” She would love nothing better than to eat her way around the planet with her husband of 16 years, Jason.


The Importance of Volunteering Outside of Work

Contributed by Susanna Hoskins, Supervising Producer, RIVR Media

Even though many of us love our jobs, working in TV can sometimes feel like it might not be the most rewarding thing in the world—for our hearts and souls. In that, we (usually) aren’t giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, or aiding the sick in our day-to-day work lives. We also might not get as many opportunities at work to hone our leadership skills or utilize our “hidden” strengths. We are not just our jobs. These are all reasons that I think volunteering outside of work is vital to our personal fulfillment, our mental/emotional wellbeing, and developing our leadership skills.

When I find myself hoping for something unfortunate and dramatic to happen to perfectly nice people so I can have a cliffhanging “bump-out” to commercial, I tend to feel slightly shallow or even malicious. I don’t actually want anything truly harmful to occur to any talent on any show, of course. But there is that hope, whether we as reality TV producers admit it or not, that something interesting will happen, to create an amusing show that will hold an audience for the full 22 or 44 minutes. So I need to put some good karma out there into the world. I choose to do this by volunteering!

Another great reason to volunteer is to develop or enhance leadership skills and have experiences that you might not get at work. Volunteering takes initiative. Since it’s not “required,” it takes the enterprise to even offer to help with an organization in the first place. What else can you gain from volunteering?

  • You can learn useful skills like organization, responsibility, & leadership.
  • You can practice event planning, public speaking, managing, and budgeting.
  • You get to work with others, use teamwork, and learn to delegate tasks.

“Where do I volunteer?” you ask. Maybe it’s following your passions and searching for local groups that affect issues you care about, or maybe it’s reaching out to your company to see what organizations they may be connected with.

For me, volunteering my time at a local nonprofit, The Junior League of Knoxville, makes me feel like a better, nicer, more helpful human being. I get to directly help less fortunate Knoxvillians and actually feel like I’m making a difference. We do things like donate clothes to women at the YWCA and the Helen Ross McNabb Center. It also allows me to meet people and even make friends outside of work. In fact, one of the bridesmaids at my wedding was actually a girl I met at the JLK.

Plus, as the prior chair of both the Social Media and Spring Fundraiser Event Committees, I’ve gained experience with communication, event planning, cold calling to ask local businesses for donations, delegating tasks to fellow committee members, and leadership – skills I couldn’t have gained with my current role. With my social media experience at JLK, I was able to become “social media manager” at my company. So volunteering can definitely positively affect your career.

Do you want to take your career to the next level through community volunteer opportunities? Discover tips on how you can build new skills and have great experiences by checking out the “Own Your Project: Creating Leadership Opportunities” webinar, presented by WICT Southeast, WICT Greater Memphis-Jackson and Comcast.

Adaptive Capacity – What is it and Why is it Relevant?


Contributed by Courtney Madson

Many times, in business, natural phenomena are referenced to help answer our toughest questions. No, unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a feed of those inspirational posters plastered around your office. This is how we can learn from nature to become stronger change leaders and enable our business ecosystems to flourish.

Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes, of Time Zero Enterprises, are proponents of this theory referenced as biomimicry. Working with companies across various industries, they’ve helped organizations perform like highly productive ecosystems. To do this, they’ve not only looked at specific organisms but at the conditions needed for a successful ecosystem.

One property that they’ve heavily study is adaptive capacity. So, what exactly is adaptive capacity? It’s the idea that the same strategies used to deal with change in nature that can be implemented in business. In today’s industry, change has shifted from isolated occurrences to a daily constant – especially in the media industry. To cope with this, Sally explained, “you have to start it off by completely reframing or re-perceiving change in an organization.” Being agile and adaptable to the conditions of the desired change will not only help you to become a stronger change leader but become a better professional and less stressed. And don’t we all want to be less stressed?

Along with change, Sally and Argerie have examined how ecosystems in nature have deployed strategies to deal with crisis or fear. They explained that while it is in our nature to react to the unknown or fear, the key is to be attuned to your surroundings. By having this understanding helps us to better prepare and know how to respond in a fearless manner.

Interested in learning about a living systems model or how principles in nature can help improve your organization or help with your professional development? Join Sally Breyley Parker and Argerie Vasilakes in Knoxville, Thursday, March 22nd for an interactive workshop with individual and small group exercises. Want more information? Seating is limited, so REGISTER NOW for this exclusive event


Courtney Madson works at Discovery as an Associate Writer/Producer for HGTV, DIY and Great American Country. She is based in Knoxville, Tennessee and has been an active member of WICT since 2015.

“You Have to Want It” – An Interview with VP of Marketing for Turner Sports, Emma May

WICT Southeast Presents

You Have to Want It: An Interview with VP of Marketing for Turner Sports Emma May

Sponsored by:


Interviewed by Courtney Madson

Growing up in Nashville, Emma May spent most of her time playing any sport that involved a ball and was heavily involved with the film industry, auditioning along the likes of Reese Witherspoon – yes, THE Reese Witherspoon. While she may not have gotten every part or gone on to become a professional soccer player, she’s become one of the strongest brand marketers for passionate fans of brands like Red Bull and most recently, VP of Marketing at Turner Sports. With the WICT and Turner event Women in Sports: How to Play the Game upcoming, I had the pleasure of speaking with Emma on the importance of sports and its direct correlation to business.

Q: As a professional in the sports industry, I’m sure your knowledge of great sports quotes is extensive. Will you share with our readers your favorite?

My favorite sports quote isn’t really a sports quote at all – but it hangs in the San Antonio Spurs locker room and speaks to me when it comes to how our team approaches every day:

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it — but all that had gone before.”

Q: What do you feel are three lessons or principles learned in sports that you feel apply to business?

To me it’s pretty simple, it’s teamwork, never giving up, and learning how to fail.


Teamwork is definitely number one. It’s understanding that you’re part of a team and what you do and what you say matters. That’s from your work product to the attitude that you bring to being humble to letting other people shine.

Never Give Up

So often in sports, you’re taught, you play until the very end and hard work really does count, and I think that’s absolutely true in business as well. I have so many folks ask me, “How did you get to where you are?” “What’s your advice?” There’s no secret other than just work really, really hard, care and never give up.

Learn How to Fail

I probably think the most important lesson is learning how to fail or to make mistakes. Growing up playing soccer, I lost a lot. I mean we won a lot, but we lost a lot as well. Learning what it felt like when you lose, how do you deal with that, and what you are going to do differently next – those skills are absolutely interchangeable with business

Q: Why do you think it’s important for women to be involved in the sports industry?

I think women make phenomenal team members, phenomenal leaders and they bring a diversity of thought that you don’t necessarily see as much in the sports industry – and we need to see more of it! Women bring grit and integrity and the immense capacity for hard work and passion. They truly do make the sports business kind of go round.

Q: What advice would you give women who are entering the sports industry and/or the entertainment industry?

It would be the same advice probably for both, and I would say it’s really kind of two-fold.

Work as Hard as You Can Possibly Work

There is no nine to five in the sports or the entertainment business and it’s important to know that coming in, that both are lifestyle type industries. There will be nights. There will be weekends. And that’s okay because that’s how you really cut your teeth coming into any industry is being okay and doing what needs to be done.

Find a Mentor

A mentor can be a man or a woman, but I certainly recommend women reach out to other women leaders within their industry. Introduce yourself, buy them coffee, and ask them questions about who they are. This isn’t a mentor that’s going to help you find your next job; this is a mentor that’s going to help you figure out who you are and how you can be most valuable where you’re currently working. The power of networking and mentorship is really important.

Q: This year’s theme for WICT is “Be a Catalyst.” How does this resonate with you and why do you think it’s important to always push the envelope?

Being a catalyst is about bringing a spark somewhere, and we need as many sparks as we can possibly get. We need women who are willing to really step up, take calculated risks and follow through. The more we have women who feel comfortable to do that and who work in environments where that type of thinking and approach is welcomed, the more you’re going to see women succeed in our industry.

Emma and I wrapped up our interview with a memory of her high school soccer coach and a message that is relevant long after the grueling practices and games. “He would repeat, ‘You have to want it. You have to want it. You have to want it.’” She explained that this same desire to “want it” directly translates to business. “I work with some of the most passionate people in the world, who are really some of the best at what they do, and there’s no doubt that every day we come in thinking, “You have to want it.” And I think that’s pretty cool.”

Are you curious about career paths in the sports industry? Join us in Atlanta on Tuesday, February 27th for the WICT and Turner Women in Sports: How to Play the Game to hear from industry experts on how you to navigate the industry and gain valuable insight on the future of women in sports.

Networking 101: Ways to Step Up Your Networking Game


Contributed by Courtney Madson

For some, networking can seem more like a task than an opportunity. While others, count the days until their next chance to meet and mingle. No matter your feeling about it, networking is key to both professional and personal growth. With these tips, you’ll be on your way to developing lasting business relationships and becoming a stronger networker.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s easy to stay within your comfort zone, but by showing up for this event, you’ve already taken a small step out of it. Use this opportunity to meet new people. Feel free to start by networking with people you know, but don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to those you don’t. You never know, that one step out of your comfort zone could be one step closer to your dream job.

Be Yourself

Networking events are the perfect opportunity to make new connections and strengthen existing business relationships. With any relationship, it’s important to be yourself and sell people on what makes you-you. So, rather than say what you think they want to hear, be genuine. This way you’re guaranteed to start authentic, lasting relationships, plus you won’t have to pretend to be someone different the next time you see them.

Stay Engaged and Present

In a world where it’s critical to stay connected- this tip may seem out of place. However, it may just be the reminder that we all need. Avoid checking emails, posting #Networking to your Instagram story, and updating your LinkedIn while at the event. Set down the phone, listen to what each person is saying and work to make individual connections. Remember, remain engaged and stay present.

Come Prepared and Ask Questions

Whether you signed up for the event three months ago or your coworker convinced you to go to the mixer during the lunch, it’s important to come prepared.

Research the Event

While you may not know all of the attendees, research the event to understand the theme, speaker, and purpose of the gathering. Having this understanding will help create a common ground when talking to others at the event.

Bring Materials

Have business cards on hand and don’t be afraid share. If the event has a speaker or panel, don’t shy away from bringing a pen and paper to take notes.

Ask Questions

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to ask questions. By asking thoughtful questions, you’ll be able to learn about someone and will help you better plan for the follow-up.

Follow Up

You had a great event, and you’ve made some great contacts. Now what? The next step is to follow-up with more than just a LinkedIn invite. Send a follow-up email or even a hand-written note. If you can, thank them for the specific insights they provided or mention something that you may have discussed.

The thing to remember is that the more you network, the more comfortable you become with it. Seek out networking opportunities and network with everyone! Join WICT Southeast for Taste of WICT on Tuesday, January 30th in Atlanta and Thursday, February 15th in Knoxville to test out these new tips and hear from our dynamic keynote speakers. Watch our calendar for Nashville and Birmingham dates.


Courtney Madson works at Scripps Networks Interactive as an Associate Producer, based in Knoxville, Tennessee and has been a member of WICT since 2015.





How to Set Useful Goals


Contributed by Jenny Oberhaus

So how do you set a goal? I mean, where do you even start??? Allow me to make what might sound like an unconventional recommendation: start at the end. What is your ultimate goal? Where do you want to be in 3-5 years? Determine the answer then work backward to plot the stepping stones that will get you there. Setting smaller, more manageable goals that lead you to your bigger goal is a smart strategy that will keep you encouraged and motivated along the way.

For example, let’s say your ultimate goal is a promotion. It’s helpful to break down the things that will help you earn that promotion. Which areas need growth? What things do you struggle with that you could improve? Perhaps you need to be more effective in giving presentations and could use help with your public speaking skills. That’s a great small goal that will contribute to the larger goal.

Then establish a timetable. Be realistic but not lackadaisical in setting an appropriate amount of time, given the goal. It could be three months, six months or even a year. Anything that takes longer than a year may need to be broken down into separate, smaller goals.

Next, identify the activities that will help achieve each goal – in this instance, to improve existing public speaking skills. You could find a group – such as Toastmasters – that exists entirely to help professionals gain experience in public speaking. Or, perhaps, volunteer to lead meetings. Or be the one to introduce a speaker to a large group meeting or conference call. It’s not a new concept but “practice (eventually and with a lot of hard work) makes perfect,” or at very least, leave you in a better place than when you began.

So, how do you know your goals are good ones? The three questions you can use to evaluate them are:

• Is the goal desirable?
• Is the goal feasible?
• Is the goal measurable?

You must be able to answer yes to all three questions. If you can, you know your goal is solid. And, if not, refine your goal until you can answer yes to all three.

Finally, check in and re-evaluate your goals and your approach regularly. Think internally: Are the activities I’m doing working? Are they getting me closer to my goal? Is there anything I can change that would be more effective?

Also, it helps to establish an accountability partner. Whether it’s a peer or a mentor, having someone whose opinion you trust to check in with periodically is especially valuable in the process. They can guide you to stay on task, making it more likely that you’ll achieve your goals.

So is it worth it? Absolutely! While—yes—it took me some time to get around to setting goals for myself, I’m so glad I did. It’s given me focus and drive to go for the things that really are important to me.


Jenny Oberhaus works at Scripps Networks Interactive as a Digital Ad Sales Marketing Activation Specialist, based in Knoxville, Tennessee. She originally became a member of WICT in 2007 but has recently rejoined after a hiatus from the industry to spend time at home, raising her two kids. She is a lover of travel and any competition cooking show- especially “Chopped.” She would love nothing better than to eat her way around the planet with her husband of 16 years, Jason.