I’m sitting in my room at the Westin getting ready to meet with two POWERHOUSES on the topics of women and money. (See more below). Interestingly, NEITHER of these connections are because I went to Harvard Business School. Here are my two cents on what it REALLY takes to make the connections that will change your life and business: Continue reading
The Hot Mommas Project has no business model. Is that wrong? Okay, maybe that is not totally true. We have 5 out of 6 parts of a business model. The clincher: We’re missing the economics. So, to rationalize this – I have decided there are two primary ways to look at business models. This can be summarized as:
A. What I teach my students at GW.
B. The “Because it would be cool” theory.
A. Okay, let’s first start with what I teach my students about business models. One of the best business model tools out there is a 6 part process constructed by a team at Syracuse led by Michael Morris.
The 6 parts of the business model – in layperson’s terms – according the the Michael Morris paper are:
1. How we create value – what you do/make and put out there in society
2. For whom – okay, this one is self explanatory
3. Internal comp advantage – operational efficiencies or processes that make you better
4. External com advantage – how folks outside the company know you’re better
5. Economics – how you make money
6. Exit strategy – what is your exit from this business, is there one?
This is an incredibly back-of-the envelope description of the paper by Mike Morris and his team, but, you get the general idea. There is a grid at the back of the paper I have students fill out using various business examples. First, we start with a seemingly non-businessy example. Mine is Lord of the Rings. I hand out a summary about the filming, the tax advantages they gained filming in New Zealand, how they filmed it all at once, how they locked in the stars for all three in doing that, the rights to the book, the cult following, and some other stuff. Then, using information we just know – because we walk upright and have cable – the students talk about how the movie makes money. That’s fun. That’s when they realize they know more than they thought about business. Last, is the exit strategy part. This is a zinger. LOTR really shows students how movie makers put in a TON OF MONEY for something that they HOPED would make a ton of money back in a relatively short period of time. There is, however, no way to be sure. What does this sound like? Uh? Venture Capital? So, the movie industry has been doing this for a loooooong time before VCs became the Britney of finance. Mark Ordesky was one of the LOTR producers and we have talked about collaborating on this curriculum, which would be cool. Which gets me to my next point.
P.s. Don’t confuse business model with business plan. Here is a good piece on business plans.
B. The “because it would be cool” business model.
I started the Hot Mommas Project because it was needed (See first post, and blog brief or about page). I also thought it would be cool. People had, and continue to have, all sorts of ideas for how the Hot Mommas Project can make money. However, I am pretty much just forging ahead with what fills a need in women’s education. Exposure to role models correlates with women’s professional success. So, we provide role models on paper so the stories of those leaders can be read anywhere, anytime, free. (Side note: We used to sell the cases, but, that was a pain.) Family and work life balance is a HUGE issue globally impacting the supply and demand side of employment. So, Hot Mommas Project cases address the personal lives and backgrounds of case protagonists are discussed along with business lessons such as the 4 Ps of marketing and what have you. All of this is geared to be taught in a classroom, so educators are preparing the next generation of workers with the toolkits that research – and reality – shows they need. I am not sure how we are going to make money to be honest. I’ve thought of a coaching network with exclusive access to our data. I’ve thought of workshops and conferences. I just don’t know. All I know is I’m doing the right thing by starting this initiative and I’ll let the case readers tell me what they need.
I am intrigued by the term “CLOG” – which I made up the other day – since what we are producing is a hybrid between a case study and a blog. So, maybe we’ll be the inventor of CLOGS, but, a clog we can all be proud of and not just associated with bell bottoms and unattractive hair styles. Here is a sample CLOG (the kind we are building).
Others who I perceive have a “because it would be cool” business model:
Both of these guys are successful and intelligent. My guess is they don’t get involved in much of anything that won’t ultimately make scads of money. However, at the outset they appeared very personally connected to their ventures and doing it because they though it would be cool….not just for money. Is this true guys? I would love to know and will forward you this post. Clearly there are big markets for both areas in which Guy and Peter are involved. Ted Leonsis, friend of the Hot Mommas Project, won’t get involved in a market under 10 million clients.
The Hot Mommas Project is involved in the education market, specifically written products which is a $15 billion dollar market globally. Can you help us brainstorm a financial model for the Hot Mommas Project?
The Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition has launched (what is this? See our blog brief.) Now, it’s time to get the word out. One of the ways to do that is search engine optimization and other social media tools. Lessons learned from BlogHer DC yesterday are the subject of this post. It took a while getting there, however.
Pictured here: My shower running.
Rather pathetically, I am in my bathroom typing so I don’t wake up my husband. This is pretty indicative of the weeks/months I’ve been having which is detailed in a different post for those schadenfreude-inclined individuals.
Monday October 13, 6.52 a.m.
Location: Inside my head, in my house in DC…Which is – as my son says – “In the world” and “not make-believe.”
Today, the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition launches. I am getting ready to go to BlogHer Reach Out Tour in DC to promote the competition.
Last and this weekend were a severe flurry of emails between Dave our developer, Achin on our team (see earlier post), our testers, and me. Now, we take the BETA site live and wait for complaints, hopefully some praise.
7.52 a.m. Now it’s time to go to the conference with Esther. We’ll see how it goes. Wish us luck.
8.48 a.m. The BlogHer conference started 18 minutes ago. I still haven’t left the house.
……..Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails. Flurry of emails……..
…….Fix sign in process at http://www.HotMommasProject.org………
[Music starts again]
10.02 a.m. I am finally at the conference. I walk in directly from the garage into a really exciting environment. Cool exhibitors and SWAG. Tons of friendly, smart women. What’s not to like?
10.15 a.m. Attend a killer presentation on “Online community building as a natural promotional tool” moderated by Elisa Camahort Page. All panelists amazing. They ask for social media success stories from the audience. I am called upon:
“My name is Kathy Korman Frey and I run a women’s leadership called ‘The Hot Mommas Project’ housed at the George Washington University. We started a blog just over a year ago, and got on Twitter this summer. The increased interest we’ve received due to this foray into social media led to funding for our venture. With that money, we built a software program where women come online and tell their own story to serve as role models for women and girls around the world. We actually are launching TODAY.”
The entire room, filled with hundreds of people, claps. Yay.
12.30 p.m. – I exit presentation and look at my blackberry. We just got our first hate mail.
12.38 p.m. – I get another email from a SUPER POWER interactive education guy who has agreed to be a judge for us. (We are not revealing our judges until after the beta, but, I am psyched and so is the team!)
[Music starts again]
12.38-8.30 p.m. – I attend the rest of the conference, meet some amazing people, get fabulous reactions to the project, Esther and I hand out every last case competition postcard. We wrap up the night being interviewed by @dcconcierge for a cool women’s telecom blog and we also hear from @yoga_mama that she’s already started her case.
FINALLY…THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION TAKEAWAYS or, as I like to call it, “A list of everything I’m doing really badly.” Is badly a word? Geeeeezzz this blogging and reading and writing thing is soooo complicated! (Said in Napoleon Dynamite voice).
(Note: I am trying to be cool and load a Napoleon Dynamite clip using www.killerclips.com, but, WordPress is like the Gestapo w/ foreign HTML so, my apologies if it’s screwed up. Use “Napoleon Dynamite” link above. Is worth it.)
From Charlene Prince Birkeland at Yahoo’s Shine Magazine:
1. How to organize your site/blog. Think – Usable, clean, organized, one click away. What does this mean? No clutter. All key items “one click away” not buried.
2. Research key words. Do this at www.freekeywords.wordtracker.com. Use key words strategically in headlines and in your posts. What does “strategic” mean? For example if 1500 searches coming in for your term, you know your post will get buried/lost. The lower you go (e.g., 300, etc.), the better the chance you’ll have at winding up at the top of search results. Use the words in categories and tags. Tag photos. Rename photos (vs. “IMG5762139”) and put on Flickr so there is a better chance of it showing up in a search.
3. Know your current audience – I am not sure how to do this. I seem to have missed/zoned this part of the presentation. From the earlier panel moderated by Elisa Camahort Page, I picked up the following:
– Poll your users (BlogHer has used Zoomerang, Micropoll, and Survey Monkey). Your blog company may offer a polling function, too, for free. One audience member suggested Google Forms as the “the stupid easy lazy way to do it.” More on Google Forms.
What do you monitor?
1. Page views – How many. What are most popular?
2. Time spent – How much time? You want people to get lost in your site.
3. Search terms – What terms are bringing people to your site?
4. Links (and reciprocate with link love) – Who is linking into you? Remember to reciprocate and give some “link love” meaning post on their blogs).
How do you monitor? Use a mix of the below:
Stats from your pubisher’s tool (e.g. “stats” button on WordPress)
Blog ranking sites (Here are a few: http://www.blogrankings.com/, http://technorati.com/pop/blogs/, http://www.blogpatrol.com).
Think about publishing in new venues like:
BlogHer (not sure about dudes here)
Web circles – considered an oldie but goody (some competitors listed too)
Shine – Cannot figure out how to publish there at quick glance, but, they said you can publish there.
Don’t forget LINK LOVE and to post on other blogs when they post on yours…and so on…and so on.
If you get “the opportunity” with millions of hits, remember that you have a window of time. Keep the content coming, and keep it fresh, to hold onto those new readers.
6. Don’t “Spray and Pray.” This was not in the Yahoo presentation, but, is useful. Flipping the Funnel by Seth Godin talks about social media marketing. It is not about the MOST eyeballs, it is about the BEST eyeballs. Well, actually, it is about MOST – but the way you get there is by having ambassadors, fans, etc. willing to endorse your cause/product/idea/thoughts/words. “Find your 1000 true fans, have them make asks on your behalf…Tell a friend, put a widget on your site,” was the advice of a panelist. “People trust each other, not the media.” This is essentially the social media hybrid version of Malcom Gladwell’s connector, maven, and salesperson concepts from The Tipping Point.
Summary of tools used commonly by bloggers/social media folk: Blogging (wordpress, typepad, yada yada), Twitter (here I am on Twitter. Here is Esther. Here is Achin. We are currently peer-pressuring Kaitlyn – stay tuned.), Facebook (here is Hot Mommas Project on Facebook), Friendster (not on this), Flickr (not on this, yet), Ning (for creating communities) some YouTube (not on this) and video stuff mentioned, but have a feeling that is in a bit of an “early adopter” stage. Some LinkedIn – not a ton. Then, do all that other stuff mentioned above (meaure, monitor, link love, etc.) and then use the below to try to keep your brain from exploding.
TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN FROM EXPLODING:
1. In Google Reader – Star article at top left corner to save for later
2. http://www.zotero.com – Good for academic research and tracking citations
3. http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=browser_toolbar_download – Linked in Toolbar for Firefox
4. http://www.yoono.com/ – Gives you access to Facebook, Twitter, etc. all at one place.
5. http://www.digsby.com/ – Another tool a blogger just spoke about (learned about it from her son. cool.).
6. http://www.rescuetime.com – Analyzes your internet usage each day. Eek! You can set timers, goals, alarms.
P.s.s. As I mention almost EVERY FREAKING TIME – Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) and Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) are good folks to monitor re: all things social media. In this realm there is also Shashi. We can’t forget our man Shashi (Shashi Ballamkonda). He took the picture here of the three of us.
P.s.s. Here is Kimberly Wilson at BlogHer.
She is an ORIGINAL Hot Mommas Project Case Protagonist (the ones published before we opened up this competition). She has a yoga/clothing/publishing empire but is super chill and unassuming. We love her. Check out www.hiptranquilchick.com for more.
Among other things, The Hot Mommas Project needs to do a better job of: Posting more freqently and doing link love. So, those are a couple of goals. Shorter posts would help me accomplish this. Feel like I’m writing a book here.
For whatever reason I cannot post a comment to my own blog, which I find highly annoying – so, I am making a Q&A post. Here are two questions people have asked me in emails/tweets/and posts.
1. Is your mom okay? (From many).
I was really touched by this question. Thanks, so much. Yes. She is a new woman. (As some of you may have seen, my mom had a near-death experience due to truly weird complications after knee surgery.)
2. Any ideas on VC resources? (From Brent in Hawaii)
First of all, your site www.greencollartech.com is cool. Okay, re VC resources…
Brent, Without knowing more detail on what kinds of VC resources you’re looking for (e.g., finding avenues for deal flow, etc.) I make the following assumption: You’re LOOKING for financing.
Below are some general links for learning about and connecting with VCs. Pardon the “square 1” discussion if you already know all this. Of course, the #1 thing is usually a connection into the firm, so asking around is key. The #2 thing is understanding what stage they invest in, as well as their “personality” to make sure you all will play well together. If you are the CEO, prepare to get ousted and lose control if you bring in a VC. That is the worst case scenario aside from failure. (Is that very doomsday? Sorry if so. But, gotta put on your big boy/big girl Underoos to play with VCs.) I would go to a VC for two things:
A. Money (a lot) to get big fast, and
B. Expertise and connections.
If you have B, you could go to an angel. Most entrepreneurs start with FFF first (friends, family, fool hearty). RE: debt – this is a tough market for debt, as many know.
Here are some places I would start for VC info:
1. Guy Kawasaki (since you got to us via his Twitter stream) http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/09/venture_capital.html (good link from his blog, there are many others).
2. The people at Angel Soft: http://www.angelsoft.net/ “The ecosystem for early stage investing”
3. The people at NCVA (National Venture Capital Association) http://www.nvca.org/
4. The people at EMPEA (if you’re into emerging markets) http://www.empea.net/
5. The MIT Enterprise forum – http://enterpriseforum.mit.edu/. Don’t see one in Hawaii, but, if you know a motivated MIT alum, maybe you could start one there. Otherwise, just try to get in on the CA ones (if they’re any good). Here in DC, they seem to be one of the most visible entities for bringing investors and entrepreneurs together.
6. TAG (The Accelration Group) – http://www.acceleration-group.com/.
Connecting angels and entrepreneurs when I last spoke with them, always looking for deal flow.
EXTRA BONUS RESOURCE for WOMEN: Springboard Enterprises
7. UNIVERSITIES – always a good locus for VC activity. E.g., Any local business plan contests at universities near you in which VCs are involved. For instance, when I search for “Hawaii University Venture Capital” many relevant links come up, particularly the following:
You will also be in an interesting situation due to your location because my guess is:
A. Lots of pretty well-off VCs and Angels have homes/retire in Hawaii
B. They didn’t get rich by sitting on their tush, and are probably looking for an occasional venture or cause with which to involve themselves part time, even if they are “retired.”
Hope this helps!
P.s. Here is my basis for answering your question (about VCs, not my mom):
1. Hanging out with entrepreneurs
2. Hanging out with VCs
3. Raising $8 from New York Life with a sr. mgt team (of which I was a part) for an aging/health venture (after speaking w/ many VCs)
5. Being taught (e.g. going to these forums – and even back to my MBA – and getting the scoop from VCs…which, theoretically, is #2).
P.s.s. And, BTW, just when you think $2 or $5 or $8 million is a lot, talk to someone who invests tens or hundreds of millions in ventures. In a strange way, it can make things less intimidating. We know someone who invests only $50 to $500 million! Ha! Asking for $5k or $20k sponsorships seemed less intimidating after learning that.
P.s.s.s. Feel free, everyone, to comment on your favorite resources or push back on my assessment. This is just a quick and dirty.
The alternative title to this post is, “How to fake like you’re a big company” or “Running it lean and mean.” Let’s get right into it since I’m on vacation in Vermont. One little story, then onto the top 7.
(Note: See past posts for our long-standing, co-dependent relationship with coffee. Nintendo recently rejected a sponsorship request from us. Starbucks MUST be involved in some way. WE ARE SOLICITING ANY AND ALL IDEAS FOR SPONSORS FOR OUR CASE STUDY LIBRARY, KICKED OFF BY OUR COMPETITION OCT 13.)
Hey everyone, welcome Achin to The Hot Mommas Project! He is a George Washington University MBA student. Here, he holds the Indian equivalent of Starbucks. He is in India right now and will join us in the fall.
INTERLUDE [Samba music plays, rudely interrupted by “You are My Friend” the horrific Barney themesong]
Setting: The Posh Frey Honda Pilot (recently downgraded from an Acura MDX as Kathy has a gripping phobia of investing in depreciating assets).
Location: Driving from Lake George (our rainy-day plan) back to Vermont (our vacation location, where there is nothing to do in bad weather).
Josh (my husband): [Seeing a shirtless, blonde Grizzly Adams looking hitchhiker] “Hey! Let’s pick him up.”
Kathy: “Ha! Yeah.” [Pause] “Well, we do need to start looking for a new au pair.”
Josh: [After passing shirtless Grizzly Adams] “He could have been a good one.”
Kathy: [Feigning “interested friend” voice] “Your new aupair is so great! Where did you find him?” [Feigning response] “Oh, we found him on the side of the road one day on vacation.”
Josh: [Feigning response] “Yeah! Just south of a federal correctional institution in New York! No problem.”
And so goes the cost-effective search for a new au pair for the Frey family.
END INTERLUDE [Barney Theme song ends]
P.s. Did you know there is a full-on anti-Barney trend? Riveting.
This is a really odd, tangential method of transitioning into the Top 7 Low/No Cost resources for businesses (no, we will not suggest you pick up Grizzly Adams hitchhikers for subsidized staff members):
1. Advice. Advice is the best free thing you can get. How to get good advice:
– KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW. If you are someone who thinks, “Oh, I’ll just figure it out” you’re in trouble. I’ve noticed the willingness/ tendency/ propensity in certain people to spend 5 hours on the internet searching for something versus 5 minutes on the phone solving the problem. I make sure my interns don’t do this (see item #7). I have a list: “STUFF I DON’T KNOW THAT IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF THE HOT MOMMAS PROJECT.” Then, I search for smart people who can help me with those issues (see next item).
– HOW TO GET A NETWORK: Social media allows for relationships never before available to folks outside of the right schools or social circles. Go to www.Alltop.com to see who the players are in your industry. If they’re blogging, you can reach them. I have also seen entrepreneurs benefit tremendously from EO (forum) and like groups. Personally, I have relied on all of the above plus I have specifically sought out role models/business luminaries I admire and am in varying stages of contacting them/working with them. For example: Ted Leonsis, Bob Prosen, Guy Kawasaki, and Stewart Friedman. The latest are Tim Ferriss, Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble, and I am trying to get in touch with Gina Bianchini who co-founded Ning with Marc Andreesson of Netscape. Based on this, Esther – my right hand woman – approached Senator Lieberman (whom she idolizes) at the movies, told him about the Hot Mommas Project, and is emailing with him. Go Esther!
– EXAMPLE: I posted the following on Twitter the other day
how atrocious is our website? We need free help for exposure. anyone? www.hotmommas.org
2. Low Cost Web Templates. I thought I was all cost efficient using the $5 GoDaddy template when I first took the Hot Mommas Project online. Good: It’s cheap. Bad: It sucks. As we became more tech-savvy, I realized: a. It was pathetic-looking and b. It was incredibly slow (shared server, not dedicated server). Here are some resources suggested by Frank Gorton (fgorton on Twitter), who is a social media expert and worked with AOL and Monster.com, among others, during his career:
– http://www.wordpress.com – Good templates, says Frank. Even though I am doing our insiders blog on wordpress, I didn’t realize that you could use a wordpress template for your whole site (click here for Hot Mommas Project non-insiders blog). Frank recommended this to us based on our needs at this stage of the project (Nutshell of our project: Building world’s largest women’s case study library. Kicking off w/ case study competition launching October 13, 2008. Read more here.)
– http://www.templatemonster.com– Frank told us about this, and Achin (new intern) had heard of it too. I have zero time (as I am doing this part time, have two kids, and yada yada) and really need to rely on others to cut through the mess and act as the social media Consumer Reports for me.
– http://www.ning.com. Everyone thinks Ning is awesome (“awesome” word count from past 2 blog posts: 3). You can start a community for free using their software (with a Ning address), and for a nominal fee use your own address. It was founded by Gina Bianchini and Mark Andreesson. Here is a cool video c/o Robert Scoble.
3. Low Cost “Other Stuff” for Our Site. Aside from the basic “how to pimp out your blog” items (see first post reference to Seth Godin’s article on this), Frank specifically noted the following beyond the basic widgets and RSS stuff:
– www.Vimeo.com – get a free account and build video content. Frank suggested we film our Hot Mommas Project case study protagonists to connect people with our educational tools and take “role models on paper” to “role models on film.” We had dreamed of doing this for a long time, and were even approached by some Hollywood folk, but this is quick and does the job.
– www.Brightcove.com – Here are some syndication products from Brightcove (think “Alliare” – inventors of ColdFusion software). This could be useful if the above (Hot Mommas video case studies) are a hit or there is other content we want to syndicate (like our research on best practices in work life balance).
–http://www.Twitter.com – Twitter – it’s everywhere. Frank suggested having a Twitter widget on our site would, again, humanize it and help connect people with our cause: Providing academic tools to serve as role models for women and girls (Cool Daddies beta – too!).
If you’ve ever gotten an email from Guy Kawasaki, here is something he uses that he lists as part of his signature: SpinVox(will convert voicemail to email). You can also usually find lots of fun widgets on Guy’s blog.
4. Low Cost Developers and Designers. Achin, our newest addition, found a developer in India to convert our whole site onto a blog template if we don’t have the fortitude to do it ourselves. Frank uses a developer who charges him about $12 per hour. Contact Frank (fgorton) if you want to know who this is. Here is who Achin found for us: http://www.compose.co.in/.
P.s. Re Designers, I’ve heard of folks using eLance. I use Brad Imburgia who developed the Hot Mommas Project logo. I also used our interns to do some work. (see #7) I’m sure India also has designers.
6. Low Cost and Professional Looking Printing. Big fan of Vista Print. If you plan far enough in advance, can be UNBELIEVABLY cheap.
7. INTERNS. This is a biggie, so, if you do not care about interns stop reading now. When thinking low or no cost, my personal favorite is interns. My favorite place to list them is at GW’s career site. You can also integrate your post in with NACElink which lists nationally. I also have friends who have used Craig’s list (under part time or your industry). In 1 or 2 years, these interns are going to cost someone $40,000 to $70,000 plus benefits. So, why not receive help from their fabulous brains NOW. I have had to learn to do the following to be successful with interns:
– LIST AT THE RIGHT TIME. Think student. When are they looking for internships? Post in between January-April for the spring semester (by May you’ve probably lost them to finals). Post by early August for Fall. Post in the Fall before Thanksgiving for the Spring semester. I cannot tell you how many business owners contact me during finals in May and say, “Can you tell your students about this internship?” I give it a 1 in 100 chance at that point.
– BE GOOD AT TRAINING If you suck at mentoring, or don’t have the time or interest, don’t bother.
– HAVE AN “IT” or specific thing they can do. There is no such thing as too much definition or clarity. Consultants, project managers, and individuals who think this way can usually easily get their brains around this.
– HAVE A WAY TO MONITOR the “it.” I discuss this in an earlier post. It is easier if you have done a good job setting a clear goal or “it” (mentioned above). I am CONSTANTLY adjusting this based on what I see in the person’s performance (e.g., If I sense they are overloaded, I stop sending lists of things to do and re-focus them a la “HERE’S WHAT WE MUST DO BY TODAY.” I will ask them to tell me, with hours by tasks, how they are spending their day…in this way, we work on time management together).
– HAVE SPACE FOR THEM. I have had experience with the student population through teaching. One thing I’ve learned is: It is HARD for most to work on their own and deliver what they say unless they are EXTRAORINARY. So, ixnay on the virtual/independent working.
– SELECT GOOD ONES. I try to select interns where I see a minimum 1/4 ratio. That is, for every 1 hour I spend with them, they can do 4 hours of work. If I can combine several interns into the one hour, great, that is an exponential amount of work being done when everyone goes on their merry way to do a project. A list of questions I ask is below:
HOW TO INTERVIEW INTERNS:
Interview #1: Phone interview. Min = 15 mins, Max = 1 hour
a. What drew you to the Hot Mommas Project? (Desired answer = They are interested in/passionate about the project. This is KEY.)
b. Tell us about _______________. (Ask about several items on resume to get a sense of responsibilities). We ask about GPA if there is a problem. Below a 3.0 is a red flag (see “e” and “f” below).
c. What are your top 3 strengths? Draw from group projects, other internships? (We like to see social sophistication and a drive to succeed. If this is not apparent, we ask another question later).
d. What is something on which you’d like to work or improve. (We like to hear them admit a real weakness vs. some B.S. At this point we figure they are an over-achiever type anyway, a couple chinks in the armor show self-awareness which is ESSENTIAL for self-correction).
e. How do you organize yourself? Explain an example – beginning to end – using a major assignment or work project. (We like to see someone with an actual process for organization. If they suck at organizing themselves this means your tasks will not get done, as much as you may like them in the interview. You can turn a B+ into an A, you cannot turn a C or D into an A is our experience).
f. Do you tend to overextend yourself? (This is BEYOND CRITICAL for students who are doing MANY MANY things and often will get into the semester, freak out, then bail on you. Ask this up front. Dig a bit.)
g. What questions do you have for us? (We like smart questions, but, many are overwhelmed so we assign it to them for the next interview. We say, “Come with three questions to the next interview” if they proceed to the second round.)
h. Of the items I’ve described, what sound the most interesting to you? (If you have some flexibility and can match the intern’s interests to specific functions, you’ll have a greater chance of a happy worker.)
Interview #2 (if we ran out of time, but had a good vibe about the person, we’ll send some of the above questions for them to answer via email in between Interview 1 and 2).
a. What additional questions do you have about the project? (They should have been assigned 3).
b. What ideas do you have for the project? (They were assigned a “task” of coming up with 1-3 ideas to make sure they “get” the project).
c. Are you interested in the project (usually already apparent by end of first interview and email interactions in between interviews 1 and 2)? (If we like them) Rate your interest from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. If not a 10, what would make it a 10? (Take notes to integrate into their job during the internship to – again – create happy workers).
d. (If we like them) We’d like to formally offer you the __________internship. (Discuss start date, weekly schedule, their ability to continue beyond one semester, confirming they understand the internship is unpaid, making for-credit arrangements, other logistics. WRITE THIS DOWN and make sure you EACH HAVE A COPY.)
PARTING THOUGHTS: Gotta run, on vacation, need to go look for hitchhikers.
Let’s continue our discussion of how to do marketing and pr, shall we? Especially since Esther and I spent all %*$#i day organizing our email folders since we are so overwhelmed by the response to our project (good) and seem to have had the email-organization part of our brains partially lobotomized (bad).
Left, please find the metaphoric “Rock Holding Steamroller.” It is the visual representation of how we are feeling right now. I am not sure if we are the rock, or the steamroller, but I think we are the rock.
Here are things we’ve learned about PR over the past couple of months which is a mix of:
1. Stuff we’ve read
2. Stuff we’ve done
3. Meeting with experts, namely Hot Mommas Project case protagonist Susan Apgood who owns one of the nation’s largest radio PR companies (News Generation) and Racine Tucker-Hamilton at the George Washington School of Business communications office. Also, White Trash Mom from the BlogHer conference says she’ll help us. Note: PR is completely new for me as my background is in nerdy service-type businesses where no one cared what we did (see “pre-steps” section of older post for more on background).
INTERLUDE [Samba music plays]
First, let’s start with a quick story about how MUCH we had to learn about PR, buzz, and getting the word out there for the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition.
Setting: Bus on the way to Guy Kawasaki’s party.
Esther and I are sitting toward the rear of the bus and the women in front of us learn, through Twitter, that another bus is lost. Esther and I were about to learn we were WAY behind in the social media department.
Women in front of us: “Hey! Are you all up front on Twitter?”
Voice from front of bus: “Who’s NOT on Twitter?”
Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]
Women in front of us: “Hey driver! The people on Twitter on the other bus just told us they’re lost.”
Bus driver: “What’s Twitter?”
Me and Esther: [Blank stare. Silence]
With social media tails between our legs, Esther and I immediately sign up for http://www.Twitter.com on our mobiles. I am “chiefhotmomma” and she is “hotmommasintern.” I had not gotten on Twitter before thinking it was sort of stalkeresque. However, in Silicon Valley I felt like Bert – my father-in-law – when he said he “couldn’t be bothered with all that email mumbo jumbo” and that his grandkids could, “pick up the phone so he could hear their beautiful voices.” (Sorry to out you Bert.) I am happy to report now Bert is on email…and we are now on Twitter….”Tweeting.” Feel free to “follow” us as ChiefHotMomma and HotMommasIntern.
END INTERLUDE [Samba music ends]
Now, on to our PR takeaways:
1. PR is the cheapest form of marketing. If what you’re doing is newsworthy, work it. And, if you THINK you are creative, think again. Esther and I thought we were creative. We developed this press release titled “Hot Mommas Project Produces Role Models on Paper for Women Across the Globe.” Ha! We were totally delusional. Look what Racine Tucker-Hamilton came up with: http://business.gwu.edu/news/archive/2008/0703.cfm
2. Develop a media plan.Racine shared a one-page media plan with us that articulated the following:
– GOALS: What is the goal? To increase news coverage, create awareness, all of the above? Articulate these goals in 1 to 5 bullets.
– AUDIENCE: Who is the audience? For us, it could be women, but, we’ll probably also be targeting their husbands, partners, and leaders in education and policy. Articulate this in 1 to 7 bullets.
– MESSAGES/PITCHES: Write out the message points in 1 to 5 bullets. My friend who has a long history in PR used to say, “Focus on 3 message points max.” So, my guess is that we will draw the 3 best points from our list depending on the conversation. Make it clear how you are different. Click here for some sample what, where, when, why message points I am going to run by Racine and Susan along with the following:
Exposure to role models increases one’s sense of self efficacy, or the feeling of ‘I can do that.’ The Hot Mommas Project approach of providing role models on paper hits the nail on the head and fills a void that exists in women’s leadership education today.
-MEDIA TARGETS: This can be as big as one needs it to be, however, Susan recommended we target folks like Working Woman, Pink, etc. News release service providers like Cision, Vocus,and MediaMap (which was acquired by Bacon’s, which merged with Cision) can help as well.
-PLAN/KEY ACTIONS: These are action steps that will be taken based on the above goals. 5 or so bullets.
-TIMELINE: These are dates associated with key actions, like creating a press release, creating media lists, distributing press release, pitching, and follow up (to include thank yous to contacts).
-MEASUREMENT/KEY NUMBERS: Susan also mentioned being very clear about what we want to accomplish (e.g., x media impressions, or x placements in certain types of magazines or newspapers). We need to have a way to measure hits (aka coverage).
3. Develop a press kit. Again, we consulted Susan Apgood of News Generation on our story angle. We had it completely reversed, so, were glad we had spoken with her. Here is a pretty concise article on developing a press kit. If there is no interest in the story, Susan says you can sometimes resort to a “what’s in it for you” approach (e.g., we are targeting professional women and you will have exposure).
4. Distribute the press kit/press release.
4a. Push the story out through press releases or Hot Mommas-initiated contact. Here are a couple of resources: Peter Shankman’s “Help a Reporter Out” which is AWESOME and FREE. He sends 3 emails a day on stories reporters are looking to write. Michelle Woodward, who is a master-certified life coach (sort of like the Mr. Miyagi of life coaches) put us onto this. Also, you can distribute mass news releases in a targeted fashion with Cision & Vocus.
Note: This same method can be used with organizations (see #5 below) where you might want to promote something to their membership or employees.
4b. “Pull.” For instance, George Washington University School of Business did a newsletter piece on the Hot Mommas Project. Then communications for the entire university put it out there. Then the story was picked up by newswires. People started calling. We just sort of sat there. It was awesome.
4c. There may be some other way of which I’m unaware, so, adding “c” in here.
Side note: Make it easy for the reporter. A year or so ago our cases were being used at Western Michigan University and we wrote a press release, looked into media outlets, and followed up. At the end of the day, it failed miserably because we were making the reporter work too hard to figure out the story. So, being clear on our story is key, as is running it by some PR experts (as to whether it is a good story…or, whether it totally blows). We have our facts, figures, quotes, and sources teed up.
5. Interviews and Appearances.
– INTERVIEWS: Susan says before meeting with anyone, have a media training session and prepare for potential questions. Have fun facts memorized, and learn how avoid answering certain questions. I am still working on this and talked with a really amazing reporter the other day who gave me some great feedback.
– PRESENTATIONS: Know audience and practice. For example, I delivered a presentation recently at an Entrepreneur’s Organization retreat (formerly YEO, like YPO but funner. Yes, “funner” is a joke people): “What Women Want: 3 Secrets to Attracting and Retaining High Performing Female Employees.” I thought the presentation went pretty well, and was right in the sense that the presentation received one of the top scores. (Here are the presentation notes eo_what-women-want_61108.) However, I recorded it with my video camera and realized I said “uh” a bunch of times (hence, the practice concept mentioned at the top of this paragraph).
6. Whatever works in your industry. The ultimate caveat of caveats: Remember to adapt any PR or marketing strategies to your industry. For instance, friend and Hot Mommas Project Host Committee Member Richard Barney said that in his former industry (real estate), the company tried tons of cool stuff and events and giveaways. But, it all came down to referrals, referrals, referrals. Whatever works in your industry, do it. We are figuring it out right now. I have some creative giveaway ideas with which www.OnSalePromos.com is helping us. (OnSalePromos on Twitter).
7. Create buzz. To create buzz, we are largely relying on the world of social media and membership organizations. To the extent that it links in with coverage in press, great. So, what are we doing?
– Now: Blogging. We are not sure if this is working, but then we get out to BlogHer and people say, “Oh! We’ve heard of you!” Maybe it’s because we’re listed on http://moms.alltop.com. Sample research and role model series posts. As you read in the vignette above, we’ve also gotten ourselves wrapped into Twitter.
– Now: Twitter.Twitter is like the “what are you doing now” application on Facebook. That’s it. I’ve heard some folks say it drives traffic to their blog, their site, or whatever they’re posting in their status updates. See our last post mentioning Chris Brogan’s ideas on how to use Twitter.
– Now: Partnering with bloggers. For instance, really cool bloggers from the BlogHER conference – like White Trash Mom and Your On Ramp – are blogging about us in September and October near the time of the Oct 13 Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition launch.
– Now: Partnering with organizations. For example, Women’s Presidents Organzation, SBE Council, WE Inc, and the American Mustache Institute (this second one for our Cool Daddies beta section of the case study competition). They work with us to communicate with members about the competition in exchange for formal recognition as a marketing partner.
– Now: Partnering with connectors. There are some folks who we call “connectors” (like Malcom Gladwell discusses in The Tipping Point). They are people with extensive networks who are enthusastic about the Hot Mommas Project Case Study Competition. Many of these will become marketing partners, like Julie Lenzer Kirk. Others will become Host Committee Members like Michael Goldstein of Content Now or Brian Scudamore of 1800GotJunk (host committee members will email their networks for us). Also, in a major win, Guy Kawasaki of www.Alltop.com (we’re listed here) is going to advertise the competition for us.
Future: More press. Will also ask Susan at News Generation if our stuff is radio worthy and see if she can help us get on some talk shows, etc.
Future: Facebook group, cause, or “fan.”
Future: Group on LinkedIn…if this can be done…someone told me they could put me in touch w/ the founder and that hasn’t happened.
Future: Search optimization/Google. Shashi is the man on this.
PARTING THOUGHTS: So, at this point it’s probably pretty easy to see why I am overwhelmed and very behind on my sponsorship contact goals. Time to pick that baton back up and run with it. (Click here for sponsor post).
Esther and I are in San Francisco for the BlogHer 2008 conference. Okay, to be totally honest, we came out here for a party being hosted by Guy Kawasaki’s venture www.alltop.com along with Kirtsy (as part of the BlogHer conference). We decided to do this just last week. (Side Note: If you want to see why we like Guy Kawasaki, click here or here. Here is the link to the Alltop page where we’re listed http://moms.alltop.com/).
Cheating on the third angel – note: ginger ale in hand
Click here to learn who the third angel (and business partner) is.
THIS IS HOW IT ALL STARTED:
From: Guy Kawasaki
Sent: Saturday, July 05, 2008 2:03 PM
To: Kathy Korman Frey
Subject: Re: Shashi, AllTop,
Are you coming to BlogHer? If you are, I’d love if you can make the Alltop/Kirtsy party at my house on Thursday night. Invitation is below.
All the best,
From: Kathy Korman Frey
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 4:08 PM
To: ‘Guy Kawasaki’
Subject: RE: Shashi, AllTop,
I am seriously thinking of flying out. You’ll be there, right…you’re not just volunteering your house as a party house?
From: Guy Kawasaki
Sent: Monday, July 07, 2008 5:20 PM
To: Kathy Korman Frey
Subject: Re: Shashi, AllTop,
I’ll be there for sure!
BEGIN INTERLUDE [Samba music plays]
1. Conversation with Esther “Uh…yeah…you know how this internship is Tuesdays and Thursdays? Okay, skip that. And your LSAT class. Do you want to go to San Francisco? Oh, we’ll be staying in the same room. My husband says I snore.” Esther is 100% game. CHECK
2. See if we can book tickets to San Fran with miles. There is room in steerage! CHECK
3. Ask hubby if this works for him/fam. 100% okay with this. CHECK
BTW folks, this is an example of having a supportive spouse which is one of the TOP FACTORS in being able to “Do it all.” Keep checking back here for more on our research (preliminarily discussed in Hip Tranquil Chick podcasts with The Hot Mommas Project – new podcasts to start launching July 19. Click here for original podcast)
END INTERLUDE [Samba music ends]
THE RESULT [Blog themesong starts]
Note: If you have not read the first post,or the second post or the third post(I forget which)the blog themesong is “Everybody’s Got Their Something” by Nikka Costa. (Click music samples on left side of page at the link).
From: Kathy Korman Frey
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 5:55 PM
To: ‘Guy Kawasaki’
Cc: ‘Esther Leff’
Subject: We’re flying out just for YOUR party! RE: Shashi, AllTop,
My intern (Esther) and I are flying out JUST for your party! We didn’t even know about the BlogHer conference! We just got on the waiting list.
During the trip, Esther proceeded to tell me that I look younger than I am. As my father says when my kids do something cute, “Get out the checkbook!”
HNL. We thought we were networking before, having meetings and doing podcasts back in DC. Meeting with the folks enveloped in social media at the BlogHer conference was an HNL (HOLE.NOTHER.LEVEL).Whatever you’re doing, what are ways you can kick it up a notch to an HNL? This was an eye opener for us. For example, everyone is on Twitter (another story for the next post). Here is a good article by Chris Brogan on how to use Twitter.
Grow a set. For me, it was pretty a-typical to drop everything and drag my intern to CA. It was worth it, and has set a new standard for us now. We are literally overwhelmed with contacts, information, and inspiration (more on the awesome people we met in the next post). Here is a link to suggestions for driving traffic to your blog…just one of many sessions we didn’t attend (because we weren’t registered) but, alas, these are bloggers! All the sessions are covered in detail online.
Be different. Be clear.
Different – We’re called The Hot Mommas Project. We are out of a university. We research best practices in work life balance equations.
Clear – We are having a case study competition launching October 13. Women will write their own case to be used in classrooms around the world. The winners will be published in a top Prentice Hall textbook. Please consider submitting your case. Here’s our card.
Develop partners. Make asks. Before the trip to California, we had done some podcasts with SBTV and Kimberly Wilson from Hip Tranquil Chick. We had also gotten some really incredible press out the George Washington University School of Business’s communication office(see links below). This gave us some momentum.
Press out of GW – Hot Mommas “Sizzling New Research Initiative” (These are examples of how the first link – out of GW – led to the story being picked up by different wires because of the great writing of Racine Tucker-Hamilton who consults for GW).
PARTING THOUGHTS: More later sports fans…time to catch my flight back to DC.
Here…today….it begins: The journey to build a million-dollar enterprise. This is a beta blog chronicling the growth of ‘The Hot Mommas Project’ – a women’s leadership endeavor focused on helping women to balance it all. Click here for main blog.