Executive Special Edition: Expert of the Week: Kim Richmond

Kim Richmond

Passionate Marketer | Speaker | Author

What is your professional background?

I am a passionate marketer and have had the honor of marketing some of the best known brands in the world. I have held marketing positions and worked on some awesome brands including Sears, Kraft Foods, Charming Shoppes and FAO Schwarz. I also worked on brands such as KFC, Tenet Healthcare and Rita’s Water Ice at an ad agency. I'm currently a principal in the marketing consultancy I founded and work with major global B2B brands like Caterpillar, Thomas and Betts and Vishay as well as some consumer brands.

Also, I made an addition on this answer and added a missing comma after Yahoo Finance. What books/blogs/materials about advertising would you recommend?


What inspired you to choose this as your career path?

I realized that when I worked in the Advertising Department at Sears that I was really inspired when I saw customers come into the store because of the advertising that I helped plan and create. That’s when I realized that marketing has the power to move people to action.


How did you decide it was time to form your own agency?

After I worked for several years at different companies I realized that I had the experience and scope to provide senior-level strategy to select companies. It’s the collaboration with clients that motivates me. I really enjoy the challenge of working on different businesses and brands and with a lot of very smart people. The diversity of ideas and challenges is exciting to me.


What’s your average day like?

As with any marketing role, there is no such thing as an average day. Every day is completely different and that’s one of the things I really enjoy.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at richmond marketing+communications?

What has been most gratifying and satisfying is helping companies connect with their customers in ways they didn’t consider. The proof is always in the numbers so it’s always great when strategy is well executed and generates results for the company and the customers.


What trends in business do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

Today we’re all about social media and mobile marketing. Those platforms and others will certainly evolve as will consumer habits and preferences. We’ll see AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) become more common place as the prices come down and brands figure out how to best use them. The bottom line is that technology is just a tool for brands to connect and communicate with their customers.


What books/blogs/materials about advertising would you recommend?

I’m a huge fan of staying current with “traditional” online media such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, CNN, Fox News and Fox Business News, CNBC as well as local media such as Philly.com, 6abc, NBC 10 and industry websites like Ad Age, AdWeek, PR Daily, PR Week, Mashable, Yahoo Finance, Inc. and others.

I also get news from social media, too.


You are a very active member of the Philly Ad Club. Could you talk about your experiences within the Club?

The Philly Ad Club is a great way to be involved in the industry and give back, especially to students that are considering pursuing a career in the industry. Attending events and participating in the Mentoring Program are excellent ways for students to see if they might want a career in marketing, advertising or communications. It’s fun to serve as a gateway to the industry.


You are an adjunct professor at Rutgers-Camden. You teach Advertising + Promotion Management. What kind of jam-packed agenda can your students expect?

There’s never a dull moment in my class! Since students develop an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan for a real client over the course of the semester, there’s so much material to cover so that they are prepared to present their plans to their clients at the end of the semester.


What advice would you give to aspiring marketing professionals?

Get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Everything you want is outside of your comfort zone so get yourself out there. It’s not as scary as you think.


Find Kim on LinkedIn. Learn more about the Philly Ad Club.


Steve's Commentary

I'm convinced that Kim has some sort of a super-capacity battery. She is full of energy. When Kim says, "We've got a jam-packed agenda!" you had better believe it.

It was thanks to her, that I joined the Philly Ad Club.

Expert of the Week: Dennis Barber III, PhD

He's back! You might remember Dennis from this Thursday Throwback.

Dennis Barber III, PhD

Assistant Professor of Economics and Small Business Institute® Director at Armstrong State University


“My teaching and research interests include applied microeconomics, behavioral economics, entrepreneurship and small business management.”


What is your professional background?

After completing my undergraduate degree in Business Management, I worked in the staffing industry for two years. I then decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics focusing on public policy issues with small businesses. While working on my degree I founded three firms each with a different focus but all offering support services for small and medium sized, technology and engineering firms. One of my companies I operated out of Brazil when I was completing my research in the capital city, Brasília.


As Assistant Professor of Economics, what’s your average day like?

I work for balance in my day. My days start with a good meal, a meditation practice and a bike ride. Once at the office or in the community, I focus my efforts in three main areas. One is teaching and improving my efforts in the classroom. Secondly, I focus on academic research. At this point, I am working on projects regarding entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic and India as well as using entrepreneurship as a policy tool to combat income inequality and poverty.


What are the most common mistakes that small business owners make with managing their firms?

This is anecdotal; I must say. But from my experience the most common mistake is not having a clear but adaptable strategy from the beginning stages of the firm.


What trends in business do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

The Census Bureau estimates that 1 in 10 of businesses with employees are new firms (less than two years old). Also, a larger percentage of new firms are minority and women owned firms. There have been recent efforts at the federal, state and local levels to incentivize firm creation among these demographics. With new support for veteran owned businesses, there may be an uptick in these types of new firms.

Over the past 10 years microbusinesses (less than 10 employees) are providing a smaller share of jobs than in the past.


What books/blogs/materials about entrepreneurship would you recommend?

Well, my recommendations would depend on to whom I am making the recommendation. There are great places to look for information for scholars, financiers and entrepreneurs. Some of those places include The Kauffman Foundation, the Small Business Administration, SCORE, your local Small Business Development Center, the National Venture Capital Association, Thomas Reuters, Dunn & Bradstreet and Intuit.


What advice would you give to someone looking to open their own business?

My most often given piece of advice is to find a mentor. Whether this is a formal or informal relationship does not matter. There are great services, such as SCORE, that offer free mentorship for small business owners.


Find Dennis at the Small Business Institute, on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expert of the Week: Brian Holtz, PhD

Brian Holtz, PhD

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Temple University

What is your professional background?

I earned my PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from George Mason University. Prior to accepting my first academic position I was worked as a research associate for a consulting firm in the Washington DC area. My work at that consulting firm largely focused on helping to develop/improve performance management systems for large public-sector clients. Subsequently, I have been a faculty member at several institutions including the University of Calgary, Purdue University, Rutgers-Camden, and most recently at Temple University.


What inspired you to choose this as your career path?

As an undergraduate student I learned about the field of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology in one of my introductory psych classes. I was very interested in the potential of working in a field that attempts to use scientific research to better understand human behavior in the workplace. As an undergraduate student, the goal using psychological research to potentially improve organizational practices that seemed like a very interesting and challenging endeavor (and it still does!). I was fortunate that a professor at my undergraduate institution (Portland State University) allowed me to get involved with his research lab and those early research experiences got me hooked on this career path.


What’s your average day like?

My average day during the week involves meetings, teaching classes, answering e-mails and hopefully carving out a few hours to work on research projects. Depending on where I am at with a particular project, I might spend significant time reading journal articles, designing a new research study, analyzing data, or writing a manuscript. I enjoy that my job presents a significant amount of variety in the types of work tasks that I engage in on any particular day.  


What has been your greatest accomplishment in academia?

I feel that my greatest accomplishment to this point has been earning my PhD. Completing reputable doctoral program take a great deal of work (it is also a great deal of fun). I know many people who are a lot smarter than I am who entered a doctoral program, but for a variety of reasons dropped out, or were dismissed. My parents do not have college degrees and it was not necessarily expected that I would earn a college degree. In fact, shortly after high school, I was very close to dropping out of community college to accept a full-time job. With this in mind, I always feel that prioritizing my education and working hard to accomplish my educational goals has been my most important accomplishment.


How does trust between employee and employer impact business?

Many scholars have described trust as a critical “social lubricant”. I’ve always liked this phrase because trust is simply a necessary ingredient for efficient and effective interpersonal relationships in work settings. Without sufficient trust a lot of bad things happen. For instance, employees who don’t trust others in their workplace are unwilling to take risks, are skeptical of the motives of others, and are generally less cooperative.


What can students expect to learn from your courses?

Aside from gaining an understanding of the core concepts associated with any of my particular courses, I hope that students gain an appreciation for the complexity of human resource management issues. There is very seldom any simple “one-size fits all” solution to personnel-related problems (e.g., poor job performance, absenteeism, etc.) faced in organizations. Thinking critically and trying to get at the heart of why a particular problem is occurring is necessary to develop effective interventions. 


How can they apply lessons to their lives outside of school?

In my classes I frequently discuss principles of organizational justice. Simply put, organizational justice research demonstrates that treating people fairly, with respect and dignity, is a low cost way of fostering an effective workplace environment. I would suggest that these ideas extend to all areas of life – treating people fairly and respectfully is a great way to avoid problems and build fruitful relationships with others.


What trends in industrial psychology do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

In the near future, I foresee greater emphasis on trying to understand and deal with widespread feelings of insecurity that are associated with increased employment uncertainty. In the long term, I think our field will see increased emphasis on trying to understand the implications of technology, particularly artificial intelligence, for how people work in the future.


What books/blogs/materials about industrial psychology in business would you recommend?

The Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP.org) is a great source of information.


What advice would you give to your students?

I would suggest that students cultivate their intellectual curiosity and strive to continue learning throughout their careers.


Find Brian Holtz at Temple University.

Expert of the Week: Caroline Dubois-Legast

The grand finale of 2016 will help you get a jump start for next year!


Caroline Dubois-Legast

Image and content expert supporting women entrepreneurs for What Color is Your Communication LLC.

What is your professional background?

I have 15 years of experience in the field of communication in Belgium. I worked as a freelance journalist and also as part of the communication department of a private company. I had many opportunities to explore different areas of communication : internal and external, strategy, PR, copywriting and the transformational changes brought on by to social media.


In layman's terms, how does one become an image and content expert for women entrepreneurs?

In my previous job, I had to present a TV show. I was not comfortable with my image realizing it is a key part to enhancing ones confidence and credibility. I was lucky to meet an image and color coach, which became a true eye opener. I moved to the US in 2014 and based on my personal experience, I developed a global approach for French speaking women entrepreneurs, mixing image, content & web marketing. I narrowed my target to focus on more impactful messages and test my approach. Now, I only work virtually.


What’s your average day like?

I share my time between clients and marketing. Thanks to my virtual Skype meeting room, within a single day I can travel from Philadelphia to Brussels, and stop by Montreal! From time to time, I organize workshops among the French community in Philadelphia and soon in Washington DC.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at What Color is Your Communication?

The company is still in its infancy. One of my biggest challenge and therefore part of my greatest accomplishment is the ability to effectively connect with the “unknown” client,  one who was not previously in my known network. When you work from a distance it is amazing to realize that you can effectively and efficiently work without ever meeting physically the person. Overall, helping my clients to gain confidence and visibility is my day to day greatest accomplishment. 


What are the most common challenges that women entrepreneurs encounter?

Women entrepreneurs are dealing with a career and a family which leaves little time to get organized with their communication. Also those who work alone, being too focused on getting things done, potentially miss the ability to leverage external resources and constructive advice. 


What should entrepreneurs know before setting out on their own?

Entrepreneurs should know that starting a business is fun but it also requires courage and determination. It is also sweeter if you are surrounded by allies. A group of people you can leverage to ask for advice and have interactive discussions. And of course, entrepreneurs, especially when they start, should not underestimate the importance of effective communication


What opportunities are now becoming available for businesses to take advantage of?

In a way, the technology brought new rules to the game. The rise of social media brought countless opportunities for businesses in diversifying their ways to communicate. It is ’s an ongoing process of trial and error and learning from these various experiments. But at the end of the day, customer service and word of mouth are still the cornerstones of success.


What do you foresee in the near future?

Let me have a look at my crystal ball! Joking aside, I think there will be more and more women entrepreneurs willing to lead their own ship, making a living from their passion. One just needs to look at the current trends, according to a Forbes article of January 2016, they was a jump of 30% of women entrepreneurs in 2007.


What books/blogs/materials about entrepreneurship would you recommend?

There are so many great inspirational speakers in the US. I recommend to read Robin Sharma (The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari), Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) or to follow Fabienne Fredrickson and Gary V. The Zen of Social Media Marketing, by Shama Kabani is a good start, regarding the importance of social media.


What advice would you give to women looking to becoming entrepreneurs?

I would advise them to get all the help they need. Their overall enterprise will only be strengthened. Personally, my business coach was instrumental in getting me going, otherwise, I would probably still be thinking about my business plan! As an entrepreneur, you cannot possibly know everything on everything. You have to rely and trust others who have been there before, who know how things get done effectively. And beyond the planning, the hard work, you have to believe in yourself, in your concept, this can make such a difference!


Find Caroline Dubois-Legast on LinkedIn.






Small Business Showcase International Edition - Tribal Meetings

Muhammad “M.K.” Khan

 Owner, Tribal Meetings

What is your professional background?

I have been working for myself and have been an entrepreneur for the last 40 years. I have a Diploma in Business Management and Accreditation from the Academy of Advanced Training.   


What is it like owning your own business?

The most important thing about being my own boss is that I have always owned my own time. Owning my own business gives me the freedom to explore opportunities and take advantage of situations when they present themselves without concerning myself with the problem of someone else owning my time.


What inspired you to go into tourism?

When I returned to the country after Apartheid, I recognized Tourism to be the most buoyant industry at the time. South Africa was ready to welcome the world after being a pariah state.


How did you get started?

My point of entry was qualifying as a Tourist guide first before I did anything else. This gave me the knowledge of the environment into which I would operate my business.


How many employees work at Tribal Meetings?

We currently have four full time employees and this swells to 20 or 30 when we do a conference or a tour.


What do you like most about your business?

When everything comes together and people are thrilled with our service and go home knowing that their life will never be the same again!


What challenges do you face?

We are always faced with the problem of exchange rates and international factors that we have no control over. Unfortunately, people view Africa as one country and if something negative happens in one part of the continent we are affected.


Where in South Africa do you go?

We go to all Southern African countries


What is your favorite destination to visit?

The Kalahari desert in winter.


In 2016, Rutgers University Camden and Tribal Meetings celebrated twenty years of friendship. How did two decades of partnership come to be?

It started with baby steps, first Tribal only did some of the logistics, then the hotels, then the meetings and within a few years we were doing a turnkey service. We have maintained and improved our service levels year on year and have a philosophy of delivering consistent good service to existing clients before expanding our client base.  


What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Identify what you want to do, then do a due diligence, be frugal in the beginning, grow organically, and never expect instant gratification.


Steve’s Commentary

I studied abroad in South Africa with Rutgers-Camden. MK and his family were simply wonderful! From the top of Table Mountain, to Cape of Good Hope and into the African Savanah, I had such a magnificent, life changing experience.


Book your next visit to South Africa with Tribal Meetings.

Expert of the Week: Laura Morrison

Laura Morrison

Digital Marketing Manager at Richardson

What is your professional background?

I have served in a number of different roles in my professional career. My first jobs were administrative in nature.  During the 2008 recession I lost my job as an administrative assistant at a large law firm and decided that I never wanted to be expendable again so I made the decision to earn an MBA from Rutgers University in Camden.

After earning my MBA, I entertained a brief foray into the world of retail management, and, while the opportunity to lead a large team was valuable, I learned very quickly that retail management was not a good fit.

Following that I was fortunate enough to find an opportunity to serve as a content manager for the website GradSchools.com. This was a great role for me as new player in the digital marketing field, content marketing is regarded as the cornerstone of most digital marketing plans, the role puts you in the mix of virtually everything that happens on a web site.

In this role I learned about SEO, user experience design, marketing budgets, web development, social marketing and so much more.  After working for GradSchools.com for about 4 years I started looking for opportunities to expand my digital marketing horizons by working with new products in new verticals. 

I started working at my current organization, Richardson Sales Training, in June of 2016 as a digital marketing manager.  Richardson is a B2B company with over 37 years of experience offering professional sales training services to large to medium sized organizations across the globe.

As Richardson’s digital marketing manager I get to work on super cool projects like branding and improving the lead conversion funnel.  The best thing about my professional path is that if you had asked me 10 years ago where I would be today I would probably not have told you digital marketing, but now I could not imagine working in any other field (except as a rock star, but anyone who has seen me Karaoke knows that is not a real option).


What inspired you to choose marketing for your career?

I have always been interested in what makes people tick, so marketing was a natural choice. As a marketer you get to spend every day thinking about the way that other people perceive your brand/product and try to find ways to improve it by creating new offerings, changing your messaging, or doing research to gain insights into the minds of your customers.

In a lot of ways marketers are social scientists that are good at turning customer insights into revenue for the companies they work for.  Plus, marketing is so awesome, because you get to test new ideas and hypothesis’ almost constantly which means that every day is an opportunity to learn and grow professionally while adding value to your organization! I am admittedly biased, but, in my opinion marketing is definitely the most exciting and fun department in any organization.


In layman's terms, what does a digital marketing manager oversee?

We make sure that the organizations we represent are visible to customers and potential customers at all times, connect that audience to the services and information that they need in formats they are comfortable with, and grow business opportunities by presenting the value of the service provided in honest and compelling ways that help potential customers become long term business partners.


What’s your average day like?

I usually work 9-10 hours a day and some weekends, but I do make it a point to set aside time for play (in digital marketing this is easier said than done, because I cannot take a shower or cook a meal without my mind wandering into thinking about new things that I want to accomplish – and there are endless possibilities for improvement to explore).  Typically, I spend time reviewing website performance and updating reports, attending meetings both strategic and process focused, performing general website maintenance and updates, and then working on strategic projects.  Right now I am working on gaining a more widespread local search presence for our company, building out a website for Richardson’s international sales training team, and researching strategies to engage new audiences through digital channels.


What software programs have you found to be effective with digital marketing?

For inbound digital marketing a user friendly email and social media solution is key. I actually really like HubSpot because it is an integrated system that allows you to automate many daily activities like social posts, landing page creation and performance reporting, and RSS driven email updates.  For outbound marketing reporting tools are super important for gaining insight into opportunities for SEO improvements and user preferences. I am currently into Moz Pro, it offers a number of robust and sophisticated tracking and reporting tools and also provides competitor data which helps you keep a pulse on trends in the market.


What do you foresee with digital marketing in the near future? What about the long term?

In the short term, mobile is going to continue to be HUGE, if your digital channels are not optimized for the mobile experience then you are not delivering information or services to your audience in the way they want to consume it.

Long term, I predict that personalization of the digital experience will be paramount – everyday there are more and more solutions emerging that enable digital marketers to bridge the gap between highly interactive in person interactions and the traditionally more generic online experience. 


With regards to management, what are the most common mistakes that can occur with managing employees?

When you fail to listen to your people you fail them. Sometimes your day is so busy that you don’t really hear the things that people are saying to you, or you are so overwhelmed by emails that you skim through them and respond without thinking about them or asking follow up questions for clarification.

Taking time to silence the noise in your mind when you are engaging with your people it’s worth it because (1) it’s polite, and (2) it saves time in the long run because you avoid making careless mistakes.  The other challenge that I have is that as a millennial I sometimes tend to forget that leaders must sometimes be formal in order to build trust. 

As a generation millennials are not typically focused on formal business conventions, we want send emojis and smiley faces in our emails and use slang when interacting in person, but when you are in a leadership role, I think it is important to know how to speak and write professionally and understand when the situation calls for a more formal professional approach.


What books/blogs/materials about management would you recommend?

To be completely honest I don’t read that many books or articles about management. I tend to reach out to leaders that I encounter in real life for advice and guidance.


What advice would you give to someone looking to aspiring to attain a managerial role?

Be brave, if there is an opportunity to shrink into the shadows or step up and show your leadership capabilities choose to step up and take the risk associated with being in the spotlight. 


Find Laura on LinkedIn.

Expert of the Week: Christine Kochevar

Christine Kochevar
Division Director, The Creative Group

What is your professional background?

I graduated with a Liberal Arts major with a concentration in Graphic Design and prior to working for TCG I was a Graphics Manager in Chicago.


As a Division Director, what’s your average day like?

An average day at TCG is usually a crazy day :) 

Starts off with a meeting with the team first thing in the morning and prioritizing the jobs that need to be worked and reviewing the candidates that we have met with that day/week.  After that it is just being on the phones and working to make that perfect match for our clients and candidates.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at The Creative Group?

I hit my million dollar milestone in April of this year!


Do you utilize any recruitment software? If so, what have you found to be most effective for your needs?

Outside of our database I utilize LinkedIn the most but I have been working more with other social media platforms lately which I feel has been successful.


What trends in talent acquisition do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

The trends are dictated by the market and right now it is great!  Top talent in the market right now can be a challenge to retain because companies are hiring, which means the talent has options.  However, when the market is not as strong we retain more talent but companies are less likely to hire.


What books/blogs/materials about job search would you recommend?

I would recommend following relevant groups on LinkedIn which typically has great articles that are regularly posted about topics such as: resumes tips, interviews suggestions and general job search best practices.


Among job seekers, what are the most common mistake made with their search?

People will start applying to jobs that they are not qualified for and I strongly urge people to not do that.  People will look at a job description and think “Oh, I can learn that” or “I could do that” when employers are not going to hire someone that doesn’t not contain the skill set that the company needs.


What advice would you give to job seekers?

It is so important for job seekers to make sure that their resumes are relevant to their actual work experience and the position they are applying for.  Employers don’t want someone who has been all over, doing all different things. They want someone who has an area of expertise and not a jack of all trades.  Job seekers that have multiple skill sets should cater their resumes to the position so it highlights their areas of strengths that are relevant to the jobs they are applying too.

Check out this interview by Christine’s colleague, Samantha Hopkins.

Contact Christine through any of these channels:







Expert of the Week: J.D. Brown

J.D. Brown

Author of The Ema Marx Series

What is your professional background?

I am the author of The Ema Marx series, which you can find on Amazon.com/author/jdbrown, and I have a BA in Fine Arts, which basically means I do my own cover art designs as well.


What sparked your interest in writing?

I’m a book lover. For as long as I can remember, I would devour anything written on a page. As a child, my favorite place in the world was the local library. I spent hours there just browsing all the beautiful spines, wishing I could check them all out at once. I never considered being a writer when I was younger, even though I often wrote poetry and kept a journal in my youth. Thinking back, though, it feels like it was just a matter of time before I wrote my first fiction novel. I realize now that being a writer is what I was meant to do. It feels so natural, I can’t imagine doing anything else.


How do you, “get in the zone,” when you are writing?

There’s no fool-proof method. For me, it’s just a matter of discipline. I need absolute silence. I can’t even listen to music. I have to be free to daydream, to be completely inside my own head where I become the characters and watch the scenes unfold. Real life often gets in the way, as it should. It’s not healthy to daydream and write 100% of the time, or so they tell me. So I think it comes down to balance. Have the discipline to make yourself write a little each day, but also refuse to feel guilty when you can’t.


What do you like most about being a full-time author?

I’m my own boss. I’m 100% in control of everything. I get to work at home, keep a flexible schedule, talk to my fans as much as I want, and do the things that I love most in the world, which is writing and reading books.


What is the most common mistake you have seen others make when it comes to communicating in the written form?

Passive voice is my biggest pet peeve. It takes skill and practice to really understand the difference between active voice and showing (vs. passive voice and telling). Most beginner writers don’t know the difference between active voice (which deals with sentence structure) and showing (which deals with scene and setting details). You really need both to write the kinds of books that come to life like a movie in your mind instead of words on a page.


What books would you recommend for improving one’s writing skills?

Read as much as you can, but I don’t think reading a book about writing will ever help as much as actually writing. Write a lot. Write about everything. Take a class or a workshop, because there you will be forced to examine your own writing under the scrutiny of a teacher and your classmates. Nothing will teach you more than peer revisions and critiques.


What else have you found to be useful for your art?

Trusting myself. This comes with time and experience, I think, because you do need to be open to constructive criticism, but there comes a point when you have to stop trying to please the critics and listen to your gut. Confidence goes a long way in the art word.


How are you leveraging social media to promote your books?

I post daily on Facebook and Twitter for organic reach. I’m trying to be better about including Instagram too (I’m more of a desktop person). I’m very, very active on Facebook. I host group events with authors in similar genres, run monthly giveaways, do ad campaigns, and participate in a number of promotional groups.

I also run my Street Team and Review Team out of private Facebook groups. It’s such a great platform full of like-minded people and potential. I don’t think enough authors realize everything they can accomplish on Facebook. I’m something of a tech lover too. I want to spend some time learning more about videos in the near future – not just Live Streaming, but YouTube ads and things like that too.


What advice would you give to someone looking to become a writer?

Sit your butt down and write. Just do it. Don’t worry about the quality, that comes later. Just get it done. I’ve written five – going on six – books and trust me, I’ve tried every method out there to make it easier. At the end of the day, there is no short cut to just doing the work.


Awards Won

May, 2012 - Nominated for Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards in Speculative Paranormal Fiction.

June, 2012 - Nominated for EPIC's eBook Awards in Paranormal Fiction.

January, 2013 - Predators & Editors Readers Poll Top 10 Winner (#4) in Sci-Fi & Fantasy Novels.

June, 2013 - Awarded Reader's Favorite Five Stars Seal by ReadersFavorite.com


Check out J.D.'s site. Buy her books. Like her page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter.

Expert of the Week: Kevin Schoenfeld

Kevin Schoenfeld

Marketing Representative at Lacas Coffee Company and Student at Temple University

What is your professional background?

Currently, I am a student at Temple University. I am a marketing major and management information systems minor with the intent to graduate this May. Professionally, I work as a marketing representative for Lacas Coffee and Insomnia Cookies. As part of my role as a marketing representative, I am responsible for the coordination and execution of promotional events. I also have previous work experience as a digital sales and social media intern at iHeartMedia and as a digital marketing consultant at Post Advisors, a Philadelphia-based marketing, and brand development consulting firm. Additionally, throughout my college career, I have been working as an on-air personality for the New Release Show, a new music centric radio show that airs Sunday nights from 8-9PM on Temple University’s online radio station WHIP.


You wear many hats: Marketing Representative at Lacas Coffee Company, Marketing Representative at Insomnia Cookies, On-Air Radio Personality and Social Media Coordinator at W.H.I.P. What’s your average day like?

My average day varies depending on the exact day of the week it is. I have a pretty set schedule in regards to school and work, which is nice. Thankfully my jobs are pretty flexible with scheduling, so I always ensure that I never overbook myself on any given day. I usually work in the morning, go to class during the afternoon, and spend my evening doing homework or some other work on the computer. Both of my jobs are part time, so I usually work two days each week at each job. In regards to my position at the radio station, I usually do the planning for my show during the weekend, after the new music drops for that week, which typically occurs on Friday’s. My preparation for my show includes downloading music, researching topics to discuss, writing up relevant articles, and scheduling social media posts for the next upcoming week.


How do you manage to balance your time?

Managing my time is one of my biggest challenges. I am able to accomplish all of my goals despite my busy schedule by staying organized and focused. I rely heavily on my school agenda, the calendar application on my phone, and the notes application to keep track of what I need to do and when I need to do it. I prioritize my time based on the importance of what needs to be done and how significant that work is in the scheme of everything. I also try to accomplish some work, especially for my radio show, in my down time such as while I’m on the train or waiting for an appointment. Moreover, using social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite enable me to post content regularly for the radio station and my radio show without constantly having to stay connected.


Between your numerous roles, what have you managed to learn and leverage?

I have managed to learn many things between my numerous roles primarily time management, customer service, and crisis management. As I mentioned before staying organized is key to leveraging a harmonious work-life balance. Likewise, one other major lesson that I have learned during my college career is to expect the unexpected and be prepared always. When being live on the radio, there is absolutely no time for errors or mistakes; you must always have a backup plan in the case of technical issues. I always save my work on multiple platforms (flash drive, cloud computing, etc.) in order to avoid any potential issue.


What trends in social media do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

In the near future, I see Snapchat as continuing to be one of the largest social media platforms with untapped potential. It is astonishing to me how innovative the app has become in such a short period of time. The users on the platform are very loyal; almost every person I know under the age of 30 uses the app daily. Doing something as minor as including a geo filter at a business or an event could go a long way in terms of building brand awareness and generating buzz. While Snapchat may not be relevant for all types of businesses, those with a target market that includes millennials should definitely develop a regular presence on the platform.


In the long term, it is hard to determine exactly what will be the next big thing, since social media platforms come and go relatively quickly. I think live streaming will definitely become a significant social media feature in the years to come. Additionally, I think that popular location-based dating apps, such as Tinder, will provide greater potential for brands to create unique promotions to their specific target audience. 


What books/blogs/materials about social media would you recommend?

I typically read HubSpot, Marketo, and Sysomos blogs to keep me informed on what trends are going on in the digital marketing industry. I also find some LinkedIn articles to be very enlightening. One of my favorite LinkedIn bloggers is Brynne Tillman, who regularly publishes articles on how to enhance one’s LinkedIn presence and how to leverage social media effectively.


What advice would you give to better engage with consumers?

As part of my role as a marketing representative at both companies, I have learned from experience some of the best practices of engaging with customers in order to truly make them interested in your product and promotions. I have found that customers will be way more responsive to your pitch when you speak to them on a personal level, almost as if you were a friend, not as a salesman. Digitally, responding to and engaging with people immediately on social media is also an effective way of having your customers develop a personal connection to your brand. To me it is almost exciting when large corporations respond to your tweets or posts that you mention them, it shows they truly care about their consumers.


Find Kevin Schoenfeld on LinkedIn. Tune in Sunday nights from 8-9PM to WHIP!

Small Business Showcase: Envoute Magic Burlesque

Envoute Magic Burlesque

Adam I., Producer of Envoûté

What is your professional background?

I am actually a History major. Worked in archives and depositories all my life. However, I dabble quite a bit in theater and am a magician on the side. I always appreciated the appeal of Vaudeville, Penny Dreadful, Victorian theater, and (of course) burlesque so a lot of this is not only visible in the way I dress and act but also in my performances and design styles.

Marion St. James, my amazing co-producer, is in neurology but, like myself, has a background in theater. We actually met during a production of an independent musical that I hired her for to perform in.


It’s pronounced En-Voû-Té. What’s the story behind the name?

It is the “you plural” of the verb that means “to spellbind”. We wanted something French to fit with the classy venue at L’Etage and also the Belle Epoque/Art Nouveau elegant aesthetic we strive to achieve.


What made you inspired you to create this unique show?

As I said before, I have always been enamored with the vaudeville style and have dabbled in theater and magic my whole life. During the indie production I mentioned above my friend and I came up with an idea to spruce up some of the scenes in the show so added a little bit of burlesque here and there. As magicians, he and I came up with the idea of mixing this newfound interest in burlesque with our passion for illusions and, thus, the seed for was Envoûté planted.


What has been your favorite act?

You are asking me a very hard question. We have done so many acts with so many performers and so many different themes over the past years. Ugh.

Okay, so, our first act ever was a three-girl chair tease which was just a stunning opening to our first show ever. That, or Marion’s umbrella routine that we worked on for months where she does a striptease and makes umbrellas appear from nowhere. Those two just have a special place in my memory.

As for a show...maybe either of our Midnight in Paris shows or the Addams Family show. Those were both legendary performances.

If we are going for a performer, I have to be biased and mention Envoûté’s headliner: Tesla Tease. She is, honestly, one of the most talented performers I have ever seen. Deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.


What has driven growth behind your business?

We are extraordinary networkers. Since Envoûté has a speakeasy-like appeal we tend not to go crazy with advertising and yet we still pull large and dedicated crowds. We are also a very inviting group. We welcome virgins and veterans to the burlesque scene alike both in our audience and on our stage. Nobody should feel left out. Instead we push for deep immersion into our themes both for performers and onlookers. We welcome new performers as well which tends to bring big crowds of people looking to support their new career choice.

Our other channel for growth comes from our immense ambition. We are always looking to mount and defeat a challenge. One day someone said “hey, wait to do a whole show in black and white?” and we jumped to it, collecting body paint and building set pieces with bold contrast in light and dark and thus a Film Noir show was born! That’s just how we work. Continually working on better, more interesting, and more innovative experimental styles in our shows. It keeps things fresh and exciting.


What challenges do you face?

Getting the word out about our troupe, being such a face-to-face kind of promoter, was very hard at first. We have to always balance that boutique-y, speakeasy theme while still keeping our audiences coming back. it took a few years but, eventually, our saving grace was a dedicated audience that we had a great rapport with and, also, getting the whole troupe involved in promotions and passing the word around.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Push yourself, be stubborn, and never stop doing new and more interesting things. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I don’t know if this is appropriate for the blog, but, our motto before going onstage each night is “Don’t fuck up!”


Book your reservation with Envoûté. Find their shows on Facebook.

Small Business Showcase: Tinlizzy’s Trinkets

Tinlizzy's Trinkets

Melissa Teta, owner and artist

What is your professional background?

I am a photographer and editor, I also make props and costume accessories for Live Action Theater groups that I am involved with. 


What made you decide to handcrafted art?

I have been involved with art since a young age. My grandfather was a painter and photographer, and the president of our towns Art Club. When I was four years old I got a hold of my grandfathers Nikon camera and took some photos with it. 

My grandfather had his own darkroom in our basement and he developed them. He was surprised at how well the photos came out! For my firth birthday he got me my own camera! I continued doing lots of different arts throughout the following years and took some classes in high school about photography and edition. 

After high school I worked a few retail jobs and took photos for fun. I got into hand made Jewelry in September of 2015. I was involved in a car accident and have been in a few sub-acute nursing centers for physical therapy. While there I learned how to make beaded wire jewelry. 


What types of artwork do you make?

I take photos, create graphics, and I create beaded jewelry. My main thing I do is memory wire bracelets. They are really fun to make and can go with any outfit! They can be causal or formal.


What has been your favorite piece?

My absolute favorite piece is a pink bracelet with a pink rose charm I made for a woman I met this summer in a nursing home. It is a beautiful piece for a beautiful woman.

 What has driven growth behind your business?

Word of mouth, and social media


What challenges do you face?

I was on my way to work at the end of August of 2015 and someone made an illegal turn and my life was turned upside down. I shattered my tibia, my fibula snapped in half, and I crushed my ankle joint. This type of fracture is known as a Pillion fracture. I have had four surgeries to repair the damage done to my right leg. I can finally walk a little bit but it is with a walker and not for long distances but progress is progress and I am happy that I am alive.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don't give up! If someone else does not think that your art looks good there is someone that will love it as much as you do! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

Find your next accessory at Tinlizzy’s Trinkets

Expert of the Week: Yujin Lee

Yujin Lee

MS in Customer Analytics Candidate at Olin Business School

What is your professional background?

I studied business at Ewha Womans University, in Seoul, South Korea. In my junior year, I enrolled in Marketing Research. I found marketing science to be a very interesting field. Since then, I have always had an interest in Marketing.


I was inspired by Forbes' list of successful international businesses. I wanted to study abroad in the United States. I was accepted into Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. I was so excited to see and experience a truly international marketing environment.


During my time as an undergraduate, I completed three marketing internships in US and Korea. I accomplished this through online courses.


After graduation, I worked as a consultant for Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) an international organization aiming economic and environmental sustainability. My main job was to conduct cost analysis by researching energy reports and research on smart-cities projects of IBM and Cisco for future collaboration with GGGI.  


Currently, I am pursuing my master’s degree in Customer Analytics at Washington University in St. Louis - Olin Business School. I’m learning how to combine my passion for marketing with an analytical skillset.


What sparked your interest in analytics?

During my three internships, I realized marketing could not be effective in the digital age without thorough research, appropriate strategy, and state-of-art tools.


My internship for UN World Food Program (WFP) demonstrated that meticulous use of extensive data (Google, Facebook) could lead to enhanced results. For example, awareness of global hunger could be raised by utilizing social media and analytics. This would alleviate the inefficiency of food distribution. Food scarcity could be enhanced by utilizing big data analysis.


This is, however, just the beginning for international organization use of big data, and I was fascinated how business decisions and results could be enhanced by using analytics rather than relying on intuition and know-how. That was how I decided to continue and pursue my career in Business Analytics.


In layman's terms, how does United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) operate?

WFP, a part of United Nations System, is voluntarily funded from governments, private companies and individuals, etc. WFP utilizes this fund to bring food assistance to more than 80 million people in 80 countries. WFP gets food to the hungry fast by applying their knowledge in nutrition and food procurement and logistics.


Not only does WFP deliver food to the hungry, WFP operates programs to contribute to long term benefits for environment and livelihoods. School Meal program is a great example. WFP provides meals and take-home rations for the students. Students come to school to eat and study. Basically, the school meal acts as a safe place for children with reliable access to food.


This program not only feeds students, but also feeds students’ mind. Secondly, WFP helps vulnerable people by having them build or boost assets that will eventually increase community’s resilience in the long-term. While assisting food might be temporarily method, helping them to grow their own food and infrastructure is a long-term, so that they can escape from hunger by themselves.


Can you tell us about the High Energy Biscuit?

High Energy Biscuits (HEB) are wheat-based biscuits. They provide 450 kilo-calories of energy. WFP sends high-energy biscuits to help families survive.


As a marketing intern at WFP Seoul Office, I found high energy biscuits as an eye-catching item. I decided to use it to segment my target audience within South Korea. Then, I initiated a marketing project “Do you know about High Energy Biscuits?” My goal from this marketing campaign was to promote the importance of small biscuit HEB and raise awareness of global hunger.


First, I surveyed 250 people to find out how Korean people perceive HEB as in its taste, calorie count, and I also asked what other biscuits taste or look similar in the market. The campaign was successful; the biscuit was quite effective to gain attention. People seemed surprised after knowing the power of such a small biscuit.


Based on the data I got from survey, I published web and mobile friendly blog posts about HEB, as well as on magazine. The collaboration with South Korea’s dominant search engine NAVER was also helpful to gain nation-wide attention from more than 200,000 people. It was one of the most successful online marketing campaigns.


What should businesses know about the WFP?

 WFP seeks to catalyze change through innovative partnerships in the fight against hunger. Companies are helping to solve zero hunger problem together through raising funds, sharing of equipment or access to knowledge.


By partnering with the WFP, companies can make a real difference in the fight against hunger. This is accomplished in conjunction with corporate social responsobility and business objectives. Major global companies such as Unilever, DSM and MasterCard have already started to do this, joining with governments and civil society in the quest for zero hunger.


What do you foresee in the near future about marketing analytics?

I think this question would be more suitable for whom has more experience in marketing or analytics. However, from my humble perspective, I believe the trend in marketing analytics would be a shift from web to mobile. Smartphones have become a small computer, and more than half of digital traffic online now comes from mobile devices and through mobile apps.

I believe this figure seems likely to only rise in successive years. Advertisements are shifting to target the audience using mobile, which has reduced the advertising cost used other channels. So I believe marketers will be able to get massive consumer data from mobile apps, and utilize this data to find consumer insights and hence to deliver customized messages and products.


What about the long term?

In the long term, I see myself as a consultant or project manager in the internet, consulting or health care industry. Specifically, I am interested in finding patterns in data and using these patterns to deliver enhanced decision-making.

In the very long term, I want to apply my expertise in analytics for the public well-being.


What do you plan to do after graduate school?

I plan to apply my knowledge and skills in industry such as consulting, internet and health care industry.


What advice would you give to someone looking to become involved with marketing analytics?

I think my advice could be helpful for people who are curious about analytics but concerned if they are not qualified enough to pursue career in this field. I was not confident even when I was applying for master’s program in analytics and decided to pursue my career in analytics.. I just thought I don’t have a strong analytical background. But I decided to do it because I had a deep curiosity and passion to learn big data and analytics.


In this sense, I recommend you to figure out if marketing is really what you want to do. It’s about passion and fit in marketing. Although analytical mindset and programming skills are important in marketing analytics. At its core, it is marketing.


However, analytical and programming skills cannot be ignored. If you are unfamiliar with programming/analytical skills such as R, Python, SQL etc…Don’t be afraid! Because I had no background in programming skills especially. All you need is aspiration to learn. There are so many free online lectures. I highly recommend to get your hands on free courses provided by educational technology companies such as Coursera.com. Coursera also offers a set of data science specialization courses. You could also apply to schools that are highly focused on analytics.


Go ahead and learn skills you think you are lack of, and try to apply your knowledge and skills at your work :)


Connect with Yujin Lee on LinkedIn.

Expert of the Week: Jennifer Kaplan

Jennifer Kaplan

Graphic & Web Designer at Devon International Group


What is your professional background?

I like to think of myself as a problem solver. I’ve been working in graphic design professionally for over three years and at a more scholarly level for five or six. The work that I do usually encompasses a broad range of desires from an even broader range of clients. So far I’ve acquired experience in pre-press production, branding, advertising, web design, web development, project management and several other knick knacks I keep in my back pockets for a rainy day.

Although I currently work for a medical device company in the lovely suburbs of Philadelphia, I also do freelance work at a pretty consistent basis so it’s hard to pin down any one place as my jumping point from a career standpoint.


What sparked your interest in graphic and web design?

Typography. More than anything I will ever do, I find the concept and implementation of typography fascinating. As I’ve been given a little bit of a platform to speak on it, let me explain. To me, type isn’t simply words on a page used to convey meaning. It’s an entire story. Each letter of each font family has a breath of life in it that allows it to work with the others around it.

Making sure they get along is why I love my job. Regardless of what kind of work I’m doing, it usually involves making sure the type “plays nice”. I think it’s great when I find that layout that’s perfect. It’s always one of those “ah-ha” moments, where you can look at the page or website and say “Yes, that’s it. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”


What software programs would you suggest people become familiar with for either graphic or web design?

The current industry standards are anything in the Adobe Creative Suite. I work very heavily in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, in that order. Lot’s of companies do also use Dreamweaver, but I prefer Sublime Text as a text editor, or really anything that isn’t image-based when working with code.

It’s also okay to struggle a bit at first. The programs provide about ten different ways to do just about anything, so in the beginning it might seem overwhelming, but slowly you’ll begin to find shortcuts. That’s when the real magic happens. The more you learn, the more that becomes possible and the less you limit yourself and your ideas and creativity on a project.

Never stop learning either. Just last week I learned a new trick in Illustrator and it cut my workload in half. There is always something to pick up and improve upon when it concerns your technique.


For people who are not familiar with design, what would help them better understand what it is that you do?

Seriously, the answer that I like to give is that I make things look good. Sometimes it’s a little difficult to see it, because these days people are bombarded with so many advertisements and packets and websites, but if you show them something really beautiful… something really well done, it’s obvious. You can just see how refreshing it is to look at. It doesn’t bog you down like a mailer covered in gradients and low-resolution photos of staff members. (You know what I’m talking about.)

If you’d like a slightly more technical (albeit playful) answer, then that would be that I sit around at a computer and play with typography and photoshop all day.


What do you foresee in the near future about your craft? What about the long term?

I think it’s great. I think it’s ever changing. The web is becoming a really versatile beast and the way that people consume media is changing as well. We need to adapt and provide great experiences. The future is sort of always changing in this industry, it really depends on the trend at the moment. Way back in the beginning of design we had Swiss design trends, like Bauhaus with its sharp lines and color. We moved away from it for a while and the last couple decades were all drop shadows and hip-funky layouts. But recently we’ve seen an influx of returning to Swiss origins. And that’s great you know? It’s always changing.

In the long run, I know a lot of my peers are concerned that print will die out and be 100% replaced by web, but I’m not sure that’s true. We said the same thing about books and e-books, but the market is returning to printed books now. I think if people like a thing, they’ll always like that thing. Sometimes the most effective method of communication is handing out a flyer face to face, or sending a printed letterhead to your business partner. I’d like to believe that won’t change.

It’s important to keep an open mind as well. To realize the web isn’t just going to disappear, and we have to double down on our work efforts and provide whatever we can for the web as well. More importantly, for mobile devices. Everyone is on the move lately. People like to telecommute or contract out work. It’ll be really important to be able to provide concise and easily understood web experiences for this trend.


You turned a passion into a career. What has that been like for you?

It’s been a serious roller coaster. Nobody tells you how much upkeep is involved, or how long the days will be sometimes. But I’ve always loved every second of it. I think the experience I’ve gained has been really rewarding. I look back sometimes, at some of my first flyers or brand experiments way back in 2007-2008 and go, wow. I came from that. I came from just making things for fun, to having fun for a living.

I’d be lying if I said some weeks weren’t really tough. Sometimes work has to go out and it isn’t your best, but the deadline matters and you’ve got to meet it. And sometimes the projects are really boring or not what you wanted to work on, but you have to. At those times, it’s been helpful to remember that even if I’m not thrilled about the project, I’m still doing what I love for a living.

Sometimes it’s hard to find any work at all and you take whatever you can get. Like I said, a serious roller coaster. Even when it gets me down, the fact that talking about design still fires me up means I’m not done yet. As long as I can still get excited about laying out a brochure or designing a logo, I’m happy.

And that’s important to me. If you ever become less passionate about something that used to be your passion, then you need to move on to something else. I started with flyers and books, but over time I’ve moved to web and logos and code to keep it interesting. You spice it up and stay positive. I want to keep moving forward, no matter how many more ups or downs I come upon.


What advice would you give to someone looking to become involved with graphic and web design?

Learn. Take classes. Do research. Find a mentor. Keep as up to date as you possibly can. Lately our roles are very broad and nonspecific. But you have to be multipurpose. You can’t just limit yourself to mocking up sites in Photoshop or laying out brochures in InDesign. Sometimes you’ll need to work front end. Sometimes you need to make a logo. Sometimes you need to even get your hands dirty with server maintenance.

Do a little bit of everything and never sell yourself short.

Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn.

Small Business Showcase: Bree Krafty

Brittney "Bree" Becker

Bree Krafty

What is your professional background?

My professional background includes creating my own art business where I can be contracted to do pieces for others, and freelancing work/being a paid contributor for the tv show Hitrecord.


What made you decide to handcrafted art?

I have always loved the uniqueness of all homemade art. You can make 100 of the same piece, but every one will come out different.


What types of artwork do you make?

I mostly create paintings, sketches (hand drawn or graphic design), Photoshopped pictures, and flower pen bouquets.

For Hitrecord, I have created mini animations, photography, Photoshopped photography, sketches, paintings, gifs, cinematography, graphic design, and written poetry and stories.

 I do challenge myself to try everything at least once and usually love it.


What has been your favorite piece?

I don't have a specific favorite, but I definitely love creating silhouette paintings the most or cinematography.


What has driven growth behind your business?

Word of mouth, social media, and contributing for Hitrecord has helped grow my business.


What challenges do you face?

The biggest challenge that I come across is that there are so many creative and talented people out there. It makes it difficult when you have to compete with thousands of artists who you view as so much more creative. Also, you have to put in so much time to create something, but people want something cheap. What people don't realize is that you're really paying for the hours the artist put into it.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

Believe in yourself and keep going. The more you put yourself out there, the more success you'll have. It won't happen over night, but if you work out you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Contact Brittany.L.Becker@gmail.com. Check out her art HitRecord and on Facebook.

Executive Special Edition: Expert of the Week: Alan McLenaghan

Alan McLenaghan

CEO: Saint-Gobain, SAGE Electrochromics

What is your professional background?

 I trained as a scientist, gaining a PhD in a narrow field of Polymer Physics.

 I moved into industrial research in the field of polyester film and enjoyed many interesting roles and challenges with I.C.I. (no longer in existence) and DuPont before being recruited into Saint-Gobain in 1998.


As Chief Executive Officer, what’s your average day like?

 Is there such a thing as an average day? :)

 Let’s give it a try….

 It is a balance of relatively immediate issues / spending time with as many people within our organization as possible and the longer term issues of planning the future of the business.

 I try to get out in front of potential customers regularly. This involves global travel and significant internal (US) travel. It helps me close jobs, it allows me to share my passion for the company and experience their passion. It helps me personally experience the PAIN POINTS they experience when dealing with SAGE and our people. Then I can create plans to eliminate those pain points.

 I support our commercial teams by attending tradeshows.

 I host events with architects, building owners and influencers in the glass, glazing and controls industries.

 Days are always long but never dull.

 I don’t start super early but I do work late. (We all have to find our rhythm and companies need to be able to adapt and flex in order to get the best out of people.)

 My day starts around 7am. I check incoming mails and calls over breakfast.

 During the “normal” working day I like to spend as much of my time with SAGE team members before commencing more focused work after 6pm when the hours in my day haven’t been organized by my “super – efficient” EA ( Executive assistant), Laural.

 I spend most of my week days away from home.

 This is true even when I am at the SAGE HQ. It is in Minneapolis and my home is in Indianapolis. (Long story!)

 So my week invariably starts at 4am each Monday – catching the 1st flight to MSP at 7am. AND it ends with me catching the 7:30pm flight out of MSP on Friday night back to Indy. The time zone change means I get into my home around 10:30pm.

Sunday’s are my day to prepare and send out my weekly message to the >250 SAGE team members globally. I call my message PERFORMANCE ONE and it is part business update / part personal experiences of the week. Members of my senior leadership team also write a PERFORMANCE ONE once or twice per year – giving me about 10 weeks off and giving our teams a different leadership perspective.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at Saint-Gobain, SAGE Electrochromics?

I haven’t accomplished anything!

 That is not a “soundbite” – I believe it.

 If I ever start to think I have “achieved” something then it will be the beginning of the end.

 I am motivated by fear of failure.

 And that is a completely different discussion. :)

 One best had with a psychologist I think.

 We are ONE team.


Together, as a team we can be rightfully proud of 4 things:

 The culture of excellence and “amazing experiences” that we strive to deliver.

 Amazing experiences for our customers, for our partners and for each other.

 The growth in acceptance of electrochromic glass and SageGlass in particular.

 Achieving 250% to 500% growth each year and with the next 2 years on track for the same.


Entering into new countries with the SageGlass product:

 USA, Brazil, Canada, France, Switzerland, UK, Nordics, Germany, Australia, South Korea, the Middle East, China, Japan

 The improved manufacturing performance and focus on the customer from EVERY member of our team.

 Reduced lead times, improved OTIF, reduced costs, improved quality, the welcome a visitor gets when visiting our establishments – WOW!


Conducting our business with a true CODE OF CONDUCT.

 Clear code: Principles of Conduct and Action in all that we do.

 Principles are long term – not today’s fad!

 They don’t change every week!


What are the most common mistakes that CEOs make with managing their firms?

 I honestly don’t feel qualified to answer that.

  I am not a fan of CEO’s who lecture others on what to do and how to behave.

 All I know is that, as a part of the Saint-Gobain Group, SAGE has a clear and well articulated vision.

 A key part of what I do is to “walk the talk” on that Vision and those behaviors.

 Our product is “soooo cool” and improves the experience and comfort that we, as occupants of buildings, can have in our indoor spaces. I never want to reach a situation where my team members or I take our amazing product for granted. I want us to feel proud and excited about it every time we talk about it.

 We have it installed throughout all of our own facilities – so that we get the benefit from it.


Except in some areas ( such as my office) where I use blinds and shades so that visitors can get a comparison as to how much better SageGlass is at managing heat, glare and light without compromising the connection to the outdoors.

 When orders go through our facility – they don’t go through as numbers, characters or barcodes – they go through as building names.

 The name of the actual building that we are helping create.

 The image of the building is displayed on screens throughout the facility as the SageGlass for it is being made. Months later when the building opens, we share photos of the finished space that we helped create. We stay connected to why we are here and what we are delivering to our customer and to the people who will occupy or use that customers building.


Do you utilize any management software? If so, what have you found to be most effective for your needs?

 Lots of management tracking tools for the various parts of our business.

 I particularly like SALESFORCE for our CRM.

 But I always try to keep the KPI’s simple and aligned to the “raison d’etre” of the business.


What trends in business do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

 I am always interested in the global megatrends.


Saint-Gobain strategic planning does an amazing job on these.

 Water scarcity and cleanliness


 Population age profile changes

 Emerging technologies


It is my role to marry the mega trends with the macro trends that might affect my business

 Energy saving

 Comfort in buildings

 Human productivity and wellbeing

 Digital and connectivity


And focus our resources on being ready to address these issues just before they become main-stream. Not long before – JUST before :)

 Eg LEED building certification. Wellbeing standards, changes to legislation


Longer term – we face the challenge of welcoming an additional 2 billion people to the planet over the next 30 years. Housing them, helping them out of poverty, ensuring they have access to clean water and abundant nutrition and ideally allowing them to feel valued, respected and equal.


Inequality is a huge issue that, in my opinion, is at the heart of most conflicts – local, national and global.


As you travel internationally, what is your favorite country? Do you have any favorite locations you like to visit?

No favorites! I find there is always something fascinating about most locations. There are certainly many things fascinating about all cultures and people. I enjoy the tiny details more than the macro’s.


I am so fortunate to be able to travel so much, meet so many different people with different challenges, skills, agendas. But when I show them a SageGlass sample darken and clear under control from SageGlass app – I get a universal response: WOW!


Seeing a video or a photo today means nothing. Amazing CGI and cinematic effects numb us to everyday miracles. When a person see’s and feels SageGlass cut out heat, light and glare and then let it back in – all under their control – it is so cool to watch even the most hardened individual smile, sit forward in their chair and utter “ WOW”.


 What books/blogs/materials about leadership would you recommend?


GENERAL: Find the influencers you respect and follow them on linked in and their blogs.



Nancy Duarte http://www.duarte.com/blog/

Guy Kawasaki http://guykawasaki.com/blog/



Why Smart Executives Fail (Sidney Walter Finkelstein)

 Multipliers (Liz Wiseman)


Most important for me: The discussions with, and guidance of, my wife. Now it might be hard to get hold of that material if you aren’t me :) – but I have learned so much from her about leadership and management throughout our life together. She is invariably the 1st and last person whose perspective and opinion I seek.


What advice would you give to a rising executive who wants to become a CEO?

 Treat people fairly.


 Never start to think you are better than anyone else.

 Get results.

 Be seen to be a “go-to” person.

 Give credit where it is rightfully due.

 Regularly take a look at the future. Your future!

 Think 3-5 years out.

 Write down exactly what your life looks like.

 Describe every aspect of it.

 Share it with your manager / your mentor / your partner / whoever you feel is important to you.


These are two Halloween images Alan shared with me.

Steve's Commentary

In speaking with Alan, I learned he is incredibly humble and generous.

Expert of the Week: Taylor Wenner

Taylor Wenner

Art Director at ab + c creative intelligence

What is your professional background?

I am still fairly new to the professional world. I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2013 with bachelor’s degrees in both Marketing and Advertising. Shortly after graduation, I was offered an internship on the creative team at Brian Communications.

After two months of interning, I was hired full time as Junior Designer. Since then, I was promoted to Designer, followed by Junior Art Director, and most recently, Art Director. About a week ago, I started a new gig at ab+c creative intelligence as Art Director. 

Not only do I feel extremely grateful to have secured a position in creative advertising, but it’s also been very exciting to experience such positive career growth over the last three years. 


What sparked your interest in graphic design?

Art and math were always two areas at which I excelled in school and two of my passions growing up. I’ve always loved expressing my creativity, but I’ve also always been very methodical and organized. I love the sense of accomplishment I get from problem solving, which is what graphic design in advertising is all about.

I should have realized I was passionate about graphic design when I took Computer Arts I & II in high school, but it took me a little while to really understand that I could build a career in the field of graphic design. As soon as I took my first creative advertising course my junior year of college, it was like a light bulb went off.


Your passion turned into a career. What has that been like for you?

Honestly, it has been amazing. When I finally had the realization that I wanted to pursue creative advertising, I was worried it was too late in my college career to build a portfolio and get a job as a designer. Now that I’ve been lucky enough to turn my passion into a career, I can’t imagine my life any other way.

I actually had a full-time job offer in New York City as a Junior Media Planner, and I turned it down for my internship at Brian Communications. I was so dead set on making it in creative advertising that I opted for an internship over a job, which was a very difficult decision to make as a recent (and poor) college graduate, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Most days, work doesn’t feel like work – it feels like play. In the wise words of Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


As a member of the Ad Club 2.0 Leadership Team, what are you involved with?

As a member of the Philly Ad Club 2.0 Leadership Team, I have the privilege of working with other talented young professionals to plan and organize various events hosted by the Ad Club 2.0 committee. As one of the only graphic designers on the leadership team, I am typically responsible for designing all of the promotional materials associated with each of our events. I also help out with running the Philly Ad Club’s social media channels, so I’m usually the one snapping photos at the 2.0 events – anything for more social content!

I was always involved in multiple organizations throughout high school and college, so it’s been really exciting for me to have the opportunity to get involved with the Philly Ad Club. I’ve met so many wonderful advertising professionals in the region through my involvement, which I’m incredibly grateful for. 


You were awarded Philly Ad Club’s Movers and Shakers 2.0 Award in April 2016. What was that experience like for you to be recognized by your industry?

That experience was a whirlwind. It was so rewarding to be recognized among so many other talented and impressive professionals and young professionals. Just to see my name next to the names of the others recognized that day was such a cool feeling. It also felt great knowing that I was nominated by two of my colleagues at Brian Communications. Our agency has close to 60 employees, so to be the one employee nominated was pretty awesome. It’s always a great feeling knowing your hard work isn’t going unnoticed.


What advice would you give to someone who is starting out their career in graphic design?

Have confidence in yourself and your work. It’s a crowded, competitive space, but I guarantee you that you are your own biggest critic. Graphic designers can be very vulnerable, but it’s important to develop thick skin. It’s easy to get attached to your work. Learn not to take feedback from clients and colleagues too personally. Don’t let anything discourage you from designing and sharing your work – it’s all part of the learning and growing process. Keep sketching, designing, reading, exploring and sharing your work with the world. And never stop improving. Keep that ego in check.


Send Taylor an email: taylor@taylorwenner.com. Find Taylor on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Expert of the Week: Christopher Gibilisco

Christopher Gibilisco

Campaign Analyst at CMI/Compas.

What is your professional background?

Out of college, I worked as a social media coordinator for various corporations. I did that for about a year until I became a Business Analyst for a privately owned international merchandising business. After that, I worked in a healthcare setting at a local non-profit as a Marketing Coordinator. It wasn’t until my current position as a Campaign Analyst in pharmaceutical advertising that I was able to utilize my whole skillset.


What inspired you to choose advertising for your career?

Originally, I had chosen Advertising because it was such a big field with many different job types (e.g. media, creative, accounts, etc.), each with unique responsibilities. It was a perfect major for me to choose in college since I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do professionally. After enjoying working as a data analyst/student researcher, I discovered that data science was becoming a sudden "hot" field, especially in advertising. So I’d say it was partially research I did both in school and on my own on different types of work in advertising- combined with my experiences as a part-time data analyst for my community college- that inspired me to pursue a career in advertising.


In layman's terms, how does campaign analysis work?

If I had to break down good campaign analysis into parts, they would be: defining goal[s], measurement planning, data collection, and generating insights for optimization recommendations. I think the best way to explain how campaign analysis works would be to explain how these parts work:


Defining Goal[s] (Think: Why are you advertising?) - First and foremost, it is necessary to define what you are trying to accomplish with your advertising (e.g. selling more products, raising awareness, increasing market share, etc.). You can then usually break down your overall goal into objectives that need to be achieved in order to accomplish your goal[s].


Measurement Planning (Think: Is your advertising succeeding?) - After you’ve established what objectives need to be completed in order to accomplish your goal, you must work with all parties involved to come up with how you will measure the campaign’s success. The publisher partners, creative agencies/personnel, and the technology you have at your disposal all factor into what is measurable. For example, if you are trying to increase awareness, you may want to track and optimize your advertising’s reach frequency. If you are saturating a relatively small audience, optimizing to a smaller frequency will allow your advertising to reach a larger audience. It doesn’t end there, as you will want to optimize your impression pacing with your publisher partners (businesses you work with who publish your ads to their media such as websites, journals, emails, etc.) as well to make sure your campaign can evenly cover a month with little to no dark spots.


Data Collection (Think: What can you measure in the campaign?) - This plays a key role in being able to measure the success of your campaign. If the path to your goal involves specific actions you want to see in your audience, you will want to make sure you have the right tools at your disposal when you’re still on the planning phase of how to measure your campaign’s success. The data collection step also comes into play for delivering insights for how to best optimize your campaign, as you will likely have multiple sources of data reporting on various dimensions of the campaign (e.g. spend, reach, actions, visits, audience behavior, etc.). Which brings us to the final part…


Generating Insights and Optimization Recommendations (Think: How can you improve your advertising?) - This is the part of the job that differentiates the human workers from the computers. After successfully launching a campaign, you will be responsible for guiding your client’s business by presenting them with actionable insights of how to increase the effectiveness of the campaign. Say you have a few months’ worth of data, and you just aren’t seeing any progress toward reaching your campaign’s yearly goal. It may be time to communicate to your client that you may need to revisit goals, or redefine which metrics are invaluable to the success of the campaign. You may find that the campaign itself is not capable of reaching the original goals as predicted, or the strategy must be revised.


What’s your average day like?

My average day has somewhat evolved into more of a leadership role among my CA colleagues. Most of my client-facing work involves monthly reporting of campaigns, while my "behind-the-scenes" entails trafficking ads and working with publisher partners to optimize campaigns. Between reporting and trafficking (and I’m quite happy that my company heavily supports this), I’ll teach internal classes, usually on how to use specific technologies we have at our disposal and the best practices for said technologies. The technologies would usually support our reporting and trafficking efforts. Our department has bi-weekly meetings to discuss new business, praise colleagues’ accomplishments, and discuss upcoming events that are usually optional, but are typically relevant to our professional development in the industry.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at CMI/Compas?

I will always believe that the greatest accomplishments I’ve had at CMI/Compas have been when we make a client really happy. Something as simple-on-paper as successfully setting up a campaign on schedule and maintaining positive momentum for said campaign is actually a relative rarity in the industry, and ensures customer satisfaction and allows for the possibility of all other endeavors (e.g. white papers, networking, new studies in digital landscapes, etc.).


What are the most common mistakes that can occur with campaign analysis?

One mistake that I find is somewhat common specifically when conducting ad hoc analyses is coming up with only one hypothesis for a theory. Whether it be digging to find out why or what in a campaign is succeeding, failing, or anything in between, it is the best practice to have multiple hypotheses about what the answers could be. People in general who have a single hypothesis about any given situation will always seemingly be able to prove their hypothesis to be true. This is not because people generally always make correct guesses about any given situation, but because usually the situations they are analyzing have several variables, dimensions, and metrics. This will almost always result in any one being able to create the "correct" parameters to make their single hypothesis true. The moral of this story is to always have multiple hypotheses when developing insights, troubleshooting campaign problems, or really on any data driven endeavor.


What software programs have you found to be effective?

My company’s standard software for reporting is quickly becoming Tableau. It’s a relatively new database managing tool and is always updating with new features. While there is a free web-based version available to anyone online, the paid version keeps your data private, which is usually necessary when doing client work. We have yet to find a database Tableau has not been able to manage.


What opportunities are now becoming available for businesses to take advantage of?

Technologies are evolving seemingly daily to measure the once immeasurable. Experts and specialists who master one specific platform, audience, method of measurement or, really, any combination of these are in high demand. At CMI, we consider ourselves leaders of the digital buying landscape with cutting edge technology on the programmatic buying front, as well as the means to measure the once unmeasurable (Ad Verification, Viewability, Non-human traffic, user behavior, healthcare professional deep dives, and more). Over the past few years, CMI has grown exponentially, nearly tripling our staff. That said, we are always looking for the best talent to lead our media planning, analyzing, and operative efforts. We’re serious about maintaining the highly talented staff fostered over the years, which is why the majority of our new employees are referrals. Even supervisors, directors, and VPs have come from referrals. Speaking of which, if you are reading this and believe you may be interested at pursuing a career at our fine pharmaceutical advertising agency, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at cgibilisco@cmimedia.com, and I’ll be sure to follow up with information about our industry leading positions.



What do you foresee in the near future?

I foresee further increases in accuracy for targeted advertising, as there always seem to be new, improved methods of tracking users’ actions in digital landscapes. And with increasingly accurate targeted advertising comes more ways to track and measure the success of said advertising. We do, after all, live in a digital age.


What about the long term?

Who knows? Perhaps we’ll discover a way to serve ads that are completely tailored to every single individual in your targeted audience.


What books/blogs/materials about campaign analysis would you recommend?

I’ve always been a fan of Advertising Age when it comes to general news in the industry. For updates in the pharma advertising industry, MM&M (Medical Marketing & Media) is my go-to site.


What advice would you give to someone looking to becoming involved with campaign analysis?

My long-term advice is to keep studying in the field of data science. My short-term advice would be to learn commonly used tools of the industry such as Tableau, DoubleClick, Google/Adobe Analytics, Javascript, and to keep an eye out for relevant white papers to learn from.


Send Christopher Gibilisco an email, find him on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.

Expert of the Week: Samantha Hopkins

Samantha Hopkins

Senior Creative Recruiter at The Creative Group

What is your professional background?

Prior to working with Robert Half International I worked in Sports Marketing. I enjoyed the fast pace culture, relationship building, and the corporate culture. I realized here my strength was in relationship building. From here I decided I needed to get into the technology field in some way since it is booming. That is how I ended up at Robert Half and inevitably TCG. My job is really spent building relationships. I do not get to know people to place them in a job today (as much as I wish I could) I want to place them in a job today, 5 years from now, and 10 years from now.


As a Senior Creative Recruiter, what’s your average day like?

HAHAHAHA! Like any job I do not have an average day. Typically my days are long I get into work around 7:30 and get home at about 7PM at night. My mornings are spent building relationships, finding new talent, and setting up interviews. Interviews are imperative for me. This is 30 minutes of undivided attention on a candidate to really understand them and how we can develop a plan of attack for them in this job market. In the afternoon I typically spend it on these interviews. Throughout the day, I receive in orders from clients which derails my original plan, but that’s secretly where I thrive. I love the challenge of making a match for client and candidate at the drop of a hat. I take pride in my relationships which assists me in making this match even faster.


What has been your greatest accomplishment at The Creative Group?

I don’t think I have one major accomplishment at TCG, every day is made up of little accomplishments that culminate as one large one. Every day I am challenged to assist people in finding them a home in their next role. It is a HUGE weight to take on.

Yes, I know I am only a third party resource and I cannot place everyone, but we take it very seriously in assisting people to the best of our ability. So when you finish a day and you were able to assist someone either find a job, streamline their search process, or even congratulate them on finding a job on their own, it’s an accomplishment.


Do you utilize any recruitment software? If so, what have you found to be most effective for your needs?

Robert Half has a proprietary database in which we use. It is amazing! Everyone we talk to goes into this database for future use. However, my next go to resources are LinkedIn and Twitter. Since I specialize within digital marketing most of these candidates have a very strong presence.


What trends in talent acquisition do you foresee in the near future? What about the long term?

The market is only getting better for people looking for jobs within the creative/marketing space. Clients are heavily investing in this space, and the talent pool is limited.  Now is the time to passively look for roles because clients are willing to pay above market value for top talent.


What books/blogs/materials about job search would you recommend?

Our TCG Blog is definitely one of the best. It will cover hiring advice, new roles, and market trends. I also follow the Art Directors Club of Philadelphia and Philly Ad News. Both of those organizations are great resource for local information.


Among job seekers, what are the most common made with their search?

The most common mistake with job seekers is they do not realize they need to brand themselves. People are not just looking at resumes. They will look at your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, portfolio, resume, affiliations, etc. Everything that a candidate does needs to stay cohesive. There is also a fine line, you cannot do every form of social media and be great and be a brand ambassador for yourself. Candidates need to stick with a few forms, be really good at it, and hide the rest. For example, I have a strong LinkedIn and Twitter presence @SamIamTCG. That is my brand and when people are directed to me they can definitely find both of those two social media accounts and cohesively see what I am about. When candidates do this they complete the package of what companies are working for.


What advice would you give to job seekers?

Connect with a recruiter!!! They are not just valuable to find you a job today, they will give you market information to assist you in planning your career path. They can answer questions like, when is the best time to make a move? What do you think of this company? They are an invaluable relationship to have.


Steve's Experience

I've worked with Sam for over two years now. I can personally attest to her thoughtfulness and customer service excellence. She keeps me in the loop and helped me through tough times. She's fantastic.

Find your next awesome employee with Samantha Hopkins on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Expert of the Week: Brian McKinLey

Brian McKinley


What is your professional background?

I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to put words together on paper. There was never a time when I didn’t have a story in my mind that I was writing or working on. Ironically, aside from high school English and creative writing classes, I never got much formal education in writing. It was something I learned by reading others and by doing.

My only “professional” writing job was a brief stint writing costume descriptions. Every other job I’ve had has been to pay the bills. Though, when I worked overnights as a security guard, I did use the time to get a lot of writing done.


What sparked your interest in writing?

As I mentioned above, I always seemed to have a desire—even a need sometimes—to entertain others with stories. I made up stories as a child to show my family and friends and writing them down seemed the best way to preserve them. It’s hard to explain any other way, the desire has just always been there.


How do you, “get in the zone,” when you are writing?

I try to go out somewhere like a restaurant or café where I don’t have the distractions of home around me. I have playlists that I make up for different characters and so I usually put in my earbuds and listen to music in order to put me into my characters’ emotional space. Other than that, it’s really just making myself do it.


What do you like most about being a full-time author?

Sadly, I’m only a full-time author right now because I’m unemployed elsewhere. My goal is to get to a point where I make enough from my books to live on, but I’m not quite there yet. I do love being able to set my own hours and work on my own schedule.


What is the most common mistake you have seen others make when it comes to communicating in the written form?

The most common mistake is passive voice, which I think happens a lot because it sounds more “literary” to new writers and they want to sound sophisticated. Unfortunately, it makes writing dull and saps energy from your story without you (or the reader, most times) from being aware why. It’s hard to master writing actively, and even I still accidentally slip into passive sometimes, so it’s good to have your work looked at by an editor who knows what they’re doing.


What books would you recommend for improving one’s writing skills?

The best two books I ever read on the subject are still Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Stephen King’s On Writing. Both are short and packed with practical, no-nonsense advice on writing clear, engaging, and concise prose.


What else have you found to be useful for your art?

Read as much and as widely as you can. Stop worrying about originality, just express every idea you use in your way. I look at everything in my life as potential inspiration for a character, a scenario, or even just a way to express a feeling.


How are you leveraging social media to promote your books?

I’m on Facebook almost obsessively, I’m trying to use Twitter again with the help of a marketing genius named Steven Byrd, and I have a website and blog. I give just about everything a try, but I tend to abandon certain sites and outlets if I don’t see any results.


What advice would you give to someone looking to become a writer?

Don’t do it! It’s a trap! Seriously, it’s a path filled with disappointments and blows to your self-esteem. The only reason to be a writer is because you feel that you have to, that you are driven by the need to share your stories and characters with the world. There’s no quick money to be found here, and even those who succeed often can’t sustain a career. So, if you’re not committed to the point of obsession, I would reconsider.


Check out Brian's site, buy his books on Amazon, like his Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.  For aspiring writers, Brian recommends Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Stephen King’s On Writing.