Be Yourself Online and Off
It's all about relationships. Yeah, you gotta have your skillset. Yeah, you gotta have your ambition and drive but if they don't align with the relationships and who you've been, you know, you're gonna hit that wall. Before I dive into all this digital, we are gonna address the shoe issues. We're gonna address the shoe issue and again I want to tell a story because I think it fits in will all of this. So yes, I am shoe-obsessed. It is my, I want to say it's my persona. It's what I'm known for. But let me tell you a little story 'cause it's one that really strikes me and has really been sort of a guiding moment with me when I think about our careers and our relationships and why we do things and yes the fashion hits in on this. I was at a very traditional as we would think of it power networking breakfast event in New York City. It would have been probably early so post the Wall Street crash, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, all of that. We're at this breakfast. It's at the 21 Club, midt...
own. So you know, yeah a few smirks and smiles, we're talking your power networking event. First thing in the morning, 7:30, 7:45 in the morning. Of course, New Yorkers, New Yorkers, we are known for wearing our somber colors, particularly black. I think this was sort of spring. There might have been some gray in there. Perhaps someone went crazy and wore beige but we were in the black. The big thing was it was post all this economic chaos so there was no embellishment. Very serious. So Glenda Bailey, the editor in chief of Harper's Bizarre Magazine walked in. As I already said, it was 7:30, 7:45 in the morning. She is in a jewel tone cocktail dress with a whole lot going on and someone said to her like that's a fantastic dress. And her response was is 'cause the telling of the story, there's two lessons here. One's a career, well both are career lessons. The first lesson from Glenda when she commented to the compliment on her dress, she looked at the person, she said I always dress ready for cocktails and I thought golly, where was this advice my entire career? I don't have to worry about what's casual Friday. Can I go out and have a drink in this outfit? Like you don't have to worry anymore. So that's why I think about what's my wardrobe, what's my persona, what am I known for and it's the shoes and I don't fret about what I pack, what I travel, what I do anymore, it's like this is who I am and that's my thing and this is what I'm known for and unabashedly so. It makes shopping easier, hours in the shoe department, buy me some Gap jeans and a t-shirt and I'm good to go. All good to go. Here's the second lesson from Glenda and it really sums up all of this. And it sums up as we step into this next part where we really dive into the digital. So she was asked what her greatest career accomplishment was. And here she is, the editor in chief of Harper's Bizarre Magazine and she's had an entire career in fashion. First part of her career was over in the UK and with British and European magazines and now in the US. And you'd think someone in that role, they're gonna talk to you about oh I don't know, finding a supermodel, discovering a new trend, whatever. Instead, she told this story. When she took the job at Harper's Bizarre, it was the first time she worked for a US publication. And no sooner had she taken the flight across the pond and resettled her family in New York City, she's gotta fly across the pond a.k.a. the Atlantic back for London Fashion Week. And it was still in an era where the front row, my front row of London Fashion Week, were editors in chief of magazines. Not celebrators, not bloggers, not influences, the editors in chief sat in the first row or the first two rows and at London Fashion Week at the time, so a runway, on one side of the runway, editors in chief of magazines and publications from the UK and Europe. US and the rest of the world is over here. So the first time in her career, Glenda Bailey's sitting on this side and she looks across. She recognized, as she said, she recognized a face, a colleague she hadn't seen since she had moved to New York. So she waved. And it takes my breath away every time. The two rows, everyone, waved back at her. And then it hit her, her career hit her in the face at that moment. Her greatest career achievement? She had mentored every single one of those people. So when I think to people when you say what do you want to achieve in your life with your business, with your career? Think about Glenda Bailey sitting on the other side of the runway from your career. And when you sit down here and you look across that runway that has been your career and you wave, it's waving back at you. I was a lawyer. I got a lot of deal toys. They don't wave back. Zero's on structured finance deals don't wave back. Summer intern from DLJ days waves back. People wave back. You can have a really accomplished, wonderful, successful career by being kind and good to other people and helping them get to where they want to go. It's not going to take away from your success. If you build your life that way, that career success is just going to follow you as well. I'm going to jump ahead and then jump back. We're gonna do this fast because we've got another guest and this whole thing of how you work online and off and I'm going to delve into, I hinted in the last section about what I think about Twitter. So we're going to dive into a Twitter conversation. I am going to talk more on how I use all the other platforms but because we are sitting here in San Francisco and this guest, Elena Rossini, is in Italy and I'm keeping her up because she wanted to be part of this we are going to jump to Skype so you can meet the fabulous Elena Rossini who is an Italian filmmaker. She's a producer, she's an activist. Her mission is empowering women and girls and this quote that she gave me in the book. Over 80% of her job opportunities have come because not of social media, because of Twitter, but her use of that platform and her use of social media and the generosity that she brings to it, I thought no one better than to keep up late at night than your wonderful friend who happens to be home in Italy. So can we pull up Elena on her Skype. (screams in excitement) I just want to like dive through the screen. (laughs)
So good to see you.
Oh, you are amazing my friend. Absolutely amazing. And I was remembering and I put this here in my notes 'cause I love it when I was emailing with you with the outline of our conversation today and I received your out of office. Elena does a really good out of office. We were talking out of office before. You included in your out of office, to see what I'm up to, there's always my Twitter feed and her Twitter handle. So I thought that was absolutely brilliant.
And Kelly by the way, I learned how to write a really good out of office reply because of you. You've been my inspiration for that. I think you have the been out of office so I just learn from the best.
Two points, you see, you're not alone Maxi McCoy in what you said about my out of office and that puts the pressure on. I'm gonna have to up my out of office game again. Okay. I gave people really like brief in terms of filmmaker, producer, activist. I'm pulling it from your Twitter profile. Mission empowering women and girls but just give us a little filler of what you do and what you're up to and then we'll dive into the Twitter questions.
So my most notable project is The Illusionists which is a feature length documentary on the marketing of unattainable beauty and how advertising disseminates these images of ideal beauty everywhere and makes women and increasingly men and children feel really insecure about the way that they look. And I took the film on tour all around the world and it's been really incredible in terms of responses. In addition to that, I created a website called No Country for Young Women where I've interviewed over 120 incredibly inspiring women across seven decades and dozens of professions. And I've done a lot of freelance projects with companies that are really aligned with my values when it comes to again empowering women and girls. And my latest project, it's a little side project that I do for half an hour every day. I celebrate the visibility of female directors. I created a series on GIPHY so everyday, I publish a new animated GIF with a different female director.
And we're going to talk about more and what has happened with that. So let's talk Twitter because it has been so impactful for your project and creating projects. I've talked about it before. I mentioned I think of Twitter like the cocktail party. So let's talk about how you're using Twitter, describe your approach. I know you have various accounts so talk us through how you use it, how you approach it, what you post, and why.
And I think something interesting to point out is that Twitter is the only social network that I'm using right now. I am no longer on Facebook or on Instagram but I'm absolutely devoted to Twitter. It's like oxygen to me. If you take it away, I don't know what I would do. I began using Twitter about 10 years ago and what I loved about it was that it allowed me to access and to reach out to people that I found really interesting and I love how it really democratizes access to anyone in the world. At the time, when I began using it, I had just moved to Paris. I didn't have that many friends. And I loved the fact that I was able to connect with like-minded activists, artists, and a lot of like really interesting people and it really allowed me to expand my network and I will say that the way that I use Twitter is very particular in the sense that I don't typically talk about so much like my personal life but it's all about celebrating other people that I found to be really interesting and that are doing incredible projects. So 90% of my Twitter use is like all about reaching out to amplifying the voices of people that I admire and 10% is talking about my own projects.
Nothing's changed since I published the book. That's good to know. Not that I'm cross-checking your answers at all or any of that. So 80% of your work opportunities have come through some connection made on Twitter. Talk about that in particular in terms of how celebrating other people and your values has led to work and yes, I do want you to talk about your ongoing relationship with, and I know it's a case study in the book, but your ongoing relationship with Lottie and the Lottie doll company and how that started and what that has led to now.
Yes, so through Twitter, I've really been, basically Twitter has given me this voice and this platform and has really amplified what I'm doing and I have been noticed by people that run conferences, that notice my tweets and notice my projects through Twitter and that invited me to speak at conferences or to do projects like for instance there's a journalist from the leading Italian newspaper living in Paris and I remember one day, I recommended on Twitter that he check out one of my videos and he immediately wrote a tiny article about that video for the paper and he also asked his bosses of the paper to hire me to be one of his filmmakers for really high profile interviews that he did in Paris because he noticed on Twitter that I lived in between Paris and Milan. And one of my favorite stories is my collaboration with Lottie dolls that was the result of Twitter. I was a speaker at this conference called Inspire Fest which is my favorite conference in the world. In the goodie bags at the conference in the green room, they gave me a gift and a Lottie doll was included in the goodie bag. And I had heard of Lottie dolls because of my previous work that was all about empowering girls but I'd never seen one in real life and I was so excited to finally have one for myself that I remember that as soon as I arrived back home, I took a selfie with it and I posted a tweet saying thank you so much, Inspire Fest and Lottie dolls, for this beautiful present. I'm going to keep Lottie on my desk. And I tagged--
I'm gonna pause you there so if anyone might have seen some of my tweets and my posts, you'll see a picture I post with my book and there's a little doll doing like the power pose. And that's the Lottie doll and they are inspired by and designed after little girls. So this is not an adult version of what a doll should be and what she should wear and what her interests should be, these are dolls that have been created and inspired because some little girl has had that interest. I wanna say they're just absolutely delightful. Anyway, back to you posting--
They are, and as you said, they're based on the body of a nine-year-old girl. They don't have any makeup, and each Lottie doll has a different interest so they're really pushing girls to get interested in STEM and a lot of different activities which is why I adore them. Anyways, so I took a selfie with my Lottie doll that was dressed as a superhero and I remember that that evening, I was on the phone with my mom and she checks my Twitter feed daily. I'm an only child so she always likes to see what I'm up to and she said to me Elena, you're an adult woman. What are you doing posting selfies with dolls like for everybody to see on the internet? (laughs) She wasn't very happy about that but as a result of the tweet, because I tagged the Lottie doll company, they replied immediately and completely out of the blue, two months later, the CEO and founder of Lottie sent me an email. It said I checked out your website. We had been looking for a filmmaker to do a project for us and I wonder if you wanted to talk on the phone about this project that I have in mind. I think you will be perfect for it. And so we got on the phone the next day and all he had to say was we made a doll inspired and designed by a six-year-old girl who loves astronomy and it's going to be the first doll traveling to the International Space Station. Are you interested in making a documentary for us about this? So of course I said yes.
No negotiating on what you should get paid or anything else, you're just like yes, let's do this. You're also hitting on a point that we've talked about earlier today and throughout this class is how all of those pieces, the first impression that Ian Harken, the CEO of Lottie, had of Elena was a tweet. So then he's looking at her profile. He's probably looking at your Twitter stream. He's going there after your website. He might have looked at a LinkedIn profile. This is when I say all these pieces need to fit together because there could have been a perfect tweet and then oh, that's great, no, that doesn't really fit in. How has that first impression been enforced or reinforced?
And you're touching upon a great point because one of my strategies back in the day when I was reaching out to journalists on Twitter to see if they were interested in writing about my projects, one of my strategies was follow high profile people and make sure that my latest five tweets are something that I would want them to see. Nothing that's a little bit controversial. I mean I never post anything controversial but I really curated always the latest tweets that I posted before reaching out to somebody influential, knowing that they would probably look at my top Twitter messages, at the latest ones.
'Cause we all get lazy after a certain point. (laughs) Sort of like a Google search. I'm always saying to people, manage the first page of a Google search 'cause after that, we all get lazy and ridiculous, anyway. So you did that first project but you know, can you tell us anything more in terms of what's happened. You've got a really great ongoing business relationship with Lottie dolls now.
I do and so we did that video at the end of 2015 and then last year, I made a whole campaign over the summer time, I made videos for them to show the stories behind some of their dolls that were inspired by real girls and that have been absolutely incredible like in terms of the inspiration. And one of the videos premiered at Inspire Fest. Another one went viral because the actress, Yara Shahidi, she tweeted about that. So it's been a really building momentum and I'm now in touch to do new videos for them later this year.
I can't wait. I'm excited for them. I won't say anything more. Go back to your latest project. Tell us what's happened with your this is what a film director looks like. Tell us how that originated and how that has now built connections and promoted what you're doing because you've put generosity and using digital first.
Yeah, so one of my biggest frustrations throughout my career has been the fact that it's really hard to be taken seriously as a female director in the business because the most visible film directors have a tendency to be male and probably in their 40s and 50s so for my entire life, every time that I introduced myself as a film director, people do not believe me. So the followup question is always oh, are you a film student? Or what little videos do you make? And it always irked me and so I followed the same modus operandi that I usually have which is when something really bothers me, I turn that into a creative project, hoping to find a solution. So in the case of the visibility of female directors, I had this idea. I thought GIFs have become so popular online. On Twitter, they're used very often as reactions. They're used on slack all the time as well and on other messaging platforms. So what about populating GIPHY which is the largest directory of animated GIFs in the world, how about populating that with images of female directors. So first off, I ran search in GIPHY and I looked up film director to see if maybe they already had women. But actually it was all male directors, all in their 50s. One of the top ones was of the filmmaker David Lynch removing a pair of pink panties from his mouth which I found really disturbing. So I was like Elena, let's get to work. (Kelly laughs) So I drew up a list of about 20 female directors that I wanted to spotlight and I began to create one different animated GIF a day. And the project really took off in terms of response. I would publish again, on Twitter, one GIF a day and the support from people has been really overwhelming to the point that one day, I couldn't figure out why I had so much traffic to my website and I noticed that the Huffington Post Australia had written like an entire article about the project. And I thought at the beginning that I would only do maybe but it's been such a joy to discover a different female director every day and to celebrate her that now I am at 120 almost and I just keep going. And the best effect from this has been that because I tag the female directors on Twitter, they discover me and it wasn't intentional but I've become friends with a lot of directors that I featured and I am feeling this like real sisterhood of female directors like helping each other and advising each other and so I accidentally built this like new community for myself through this project that was all about, again, celebrating the visibility of film directors. So it's been absolutely a delight.
The positive outcome of a frustration but you've also had another outcome with this. You've changed the search results, haven't you?
I have and for certain languages, because I make sure so when you're about to post a new GIF, you can add keywords to it and since the very beginning I added the keyword for film director in French and Italian so now when you search for film director which is a regista in Italian, all that you see is my images. You don't even see any images of male directors. It's like all my GIFs. (laughs)
See, be strategic and intentional and deliberate. There's a reason. Being a little bit self-promoting and machiavellian has really good outcomes. But also, too, I mean I'm laughing 'cause you haven't said it yet, when you search female film director before your project, do I need to say it?
Yeah, it was all men. But also if you search woman and like female film director, Barbie came up.
The first result, the first female, yeah.
Barbie. I'm glad Barbie's got a job but I don't know. Not how that all happened. So you probably touched on this a little bit. How does Twitter in particular now, how does that download in real life for you?
So I've always made sure to translate my Twitter interactions into real life interactions as well and like real life relationships. And the relationship that you and I have, Kelly, it's definitely like a result of Twitter. We initially met on Twitter. That's how I reached out to you and I feel that a lot of my favorite people in the world and people that I consider to be close friends, mentors, and inspirations, I initially reached out on Twitter that whenever I would visit the city that they lived, I always made an effort to essentially suggest to them that we meet up in real life for coffee and that has really cemented our relationships. And I always feel that that is the extra step that you need to take to really take full advantage of Twitter and to build your dream network.
Amazing. And I get to see you in a couple of weeks in New York.
Counting down, counting down. Alright thank you. Get some sleep. So incredible for you staying up and doing all this and Elena's at her parents' home in Italy 'cause if she was in Paris, we would have had Lottie with us, to your mother's horror. Anyway, thank you my friend. Have a great night.
Thank you so much, thank you.
Bye. (audience claps) (sighs)
She makes me so happy and it's also, too, like when I was talking before like the idea that these platforms democratize access but they all give us the same way to enter the room. You create a profile. We've all got the same tools but how and where you choose to use them and when I think not only of the relationships that she has built, but think now how she's changed people's perceptions. You search film director now and what do you find. Now, you don't find filmmaker Barbie when you look for a woman film director and that's pretty powerful and that project, she's like oh it's just half an hour a day, and what that has had this beneficial consequence. Her idea of taking frustration and responding to it with creativity, another person I interviewed in the book who I mentioned earlier, Tina Roth Eisenberg, that's been her way of dealing with the world as well. Tattly, her company that started, the beautiful temporary tattoos. Her daughter came home from a birthday party and there was a loot bag and they had temporary tattoos in them and Tina's Swiss aesthetic was deeply offended as she's applying these horrible things to her four or five-year-old daughter's hand or arm and just going oh, she said Tina, live by. I must live by my ethos which is if you don't like something, change it or shut up. So she said I wonder if I could do something about this. You know, maybe someone should start a company like I wonder if anyone's thought of canvas as, you know, the human skin as a canvas to do art on and design and maybe someone should do this and I should maybe just suggest this to my network. So she emailed her network and the next morning, she had designs in her inbox and all these people say it's a great idea, Tina. When you start it, we're on board. And her company started because her friends were like, this is a brilliant idea, you're the one to do it and by the way, I'll be one of your designers. Here's the designs. Let's make this happen. Alright so we had, let me go back a slide. There we go, and you've seen this beautifully from what Elena has said in terms of how online and offline, how these things should work seamlessly. It shouldn't be one thing or the other. Here's how I think about social and I'll focus on the big platforms and we have a variety of them and let's not forget email is social, right. It's part of our digital. LinkedIn, that's the office. I swear to God, I put the suit on. I am 1991, 1992, 1993 back to the office. That's why no one on LinkedIn knows that I am obsessed with shoes. Not the place for the conversation. They want things that are going to help further their work, what makes them better at their job, maybe it's stuff about the community. Maybe it's a not for profit. Maybe it's something that showcases my leadership skills. Maybe somewhere else people are gonna make the kinds of relationships but I'm not a chef so I'm not talking recipes. People don't need to know where I had dinner. They don't need to know what I'm wearing because I'm not in the fashion business. It's about work and that persona that is there and that is truly and authentically me. Facebook, Instagram for me, that's more, Instagram's probably more of a mix but when I think about Facebook, that's friends and family. Think about a promotion that you may get or you win a new account or you start your startup. How do you describe it with your colleagues? How do you describe it with your peers in a coworking space? That would probably be how you describe it on LinkedIn. And how do you describe the same success point around the Thanksgiving table. The same information. Same outcome. The audience is different. How do you talk to them? And that's why when people think they can post the same thing on every site I'm like time out, time out. We don't talk to all our relationship the same way and I sure as heck don't do an LOL when I'm over on LinkedIn. I save that for Twitter. So I've already mentioned, I think of Twitter as a cocktail party. It's the great coffeehouse. When you think of the disruption not only in terms of the technology but what it's done with conversations and access, that's the same I want to say agitation that back in the day, the coffeehouses that were these democratized spaces where anyone of any class could go and sit in in London and in Europe. You didn't have to wait. You could sit in there and not have to be the duke or the duchess or the hierarchy. Everyone mixed in together and people worried about coffeehouses when those first started launching up in London because oh, we're gonna have turmoil. People are gonna exchange ideas freely. Shit, right? That's Twitter. And you can make these great relationships with the dialogue and the conversation. So go back to the idea of some success point in work or career. How do you describe it at the office? How do you describe it with your friends and family? If you were walking into a cocktail party with your girlfriends or your guy friends? Or how do you describe it when you're standing around having a glass of wine or a cup of coffee? Your conversation's different because the environment is different. So for me, any of those, I think about walking into a physical space. I think I'm talking to a human being. And yeah, there's people who are, take Twitter as an example, there's people who run onto Twitter the same as someone runs into the bar screaming at the top of their lungs. We don't want to talk to them in the bar. We don't want to talk to them on Twitter. How do you come back and have conversations? And yes, I do use some tools to auto-post when I'm not around, but I use tools like buffer and write them as if I was writing it in the moment. I don't have anyone else. The question was mentioned earlier, do I? I do my own social. Why? Because I can't send somebody else to a cocktail party for me. That's why. I would rather show up truly, genuinely, authentically myself, imperfectly, than think oh no, here's how you use social media. But also remember, you've heard how Elena uses this and some of her use is very different than the mix I use on social media. We all have the same tools. Post your headshot, this many characters, here's the sections you have the choice of to fill out your profile on LinkedIn. But how we choose to use it varies because all of us are different and that's one of those things to remember.