August 27, 2012

A Shoe Report

Filed under: Style — Emily Reeves @ 9:30 pm

After another day of wearing uncomfortable, yet cute shoes, I have come to the following equations for determining whether to keep shoes in an already full shoe closet:

Painful + Cute+ Expensive (and looks it) = Keep

Painful + Cute + Expensive (and doesn’t look it) = Trash

Painful + Cute + Cheap (and looks it) = Trash

Painful + Cute + Cheap (and doesn’t look it) = Holding Pattern

Comfortable + Cute + Expensive (and looks it) = buy in as many more colors as affordable

Comfortable + Cute + Expensive (and doesn’t look it) = Holding Pattern

Comfortable + Cute + Cheap (and looks it) = wear, but only that pair

Comfortable + Cute + Cheap (and doesn’t look it) = buy in every color

This equation should only be applied for cute shoes. If the shoe falls into any kind of “not cute” category, it goes in the trash. Why would you keep an ugly shoe?

What is your shoe threshold?

August 26, 2012

Book Review: Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google

Filed under: Book Review,Tips — Emily Reeves @ 11:15 am

After reading this book, I hope I never have to interview for another job. If these are the types of questions interviewers are asking these days, I am scared. To be fair, the book focuses on Google and other technology companies hiring for engineers and programmers. To that end, it makes sense that the logic questions in this book as examples be heavily math-based.

The book, “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” by William Poundstone is equal parts narrative with embedded logic questions and answers to those logic questions as the second half of the book. It reminded me of one of those logic game books you buy because you think it will be fun, but that fun is short lived when the games get hard.

The author and the people he interviews acknowledge that the series of questions and tests that some companies put their job candidates through still can’t accurately predict a new hire’s success at a company; it is merely a way to narrow the field a bit. Some of the best pieces of advice from the book are:

Some questions test “something rarer than education–the capacity to ignore what you learned when it isn’t helpful…Google doesn’t want people who instinctively do things the hard way because they can. They want those with a knack for intuiting simple solutions that work.”

“Google likes answers that scale up.”

“One of the oft-cited mysteries of creativity is that revolutionary ideas often come from non experts with an outsider’s perspective.”

“Logic puzzles are like poems or code: the good ones don’t contain the inessential.”

“Like jokes or golf courses or haiku, logic puzzles aspire to a certain form of cleverness and play by certain rules to achieve it. By reverse engineering this structure, you can come up with a three-part process that applies in broad outline, to the solution of most of these puzzles. It goes like this: (1) Distrust the first answer or line of attack that pops into your head. It won’t work because if it did, the puzzle would be too easy. (2) Decide what feature of the question’s wording doesn’t ‘fit’ and take that as a clue. (3) Look for a solution that’s surprising in some way.”

If you are stumped: “…it’s better interview etiquette to keep trying to answer the question until the interviewer cuts your off. Interviewers ought to know that innovation takes persistence, intuition, and luck. You can at least show you’ve got the persistence part covered.”

The bottom line is that the book has some good interviewing advice and is worth a review (maybe not a cover-to-cover reading) for those currently in the market for a new job. My key takeaway from the book was to be passionate about the company, products, services, and position for which you are interviewing, and if it is truly the right fit, things will work out for you.

August 21, 2012

Shoes and Content and Video – Oh my!

Filed under: Digital Strategy — Emily Reeves @ 2:38 am

If Carrie Bradshaw taught us anything, it is that women are passionate about shoes. I am definitely passionate about shoes–looking at them, talking about them, buying them, wearing them–all these things make me happy. Nine West is tapping into this passion with their new online video channel dedicated to shoes: Channel 9.

This new channel has original content with topics centered on shoes, but covering fashion, make-up and life events (like Prom). Nine West says they will be producing 10 hours of content over the coming months. From NY Times:

“We are aiming to offer great stories, amazing personalities and practical information for every woman who loves shoes and fashion,” said Michael Rourke, the company’s chief.

This is a smart campaign because:

  • Cliched as it sounds at this point, content is king. The brand generating content that keeps consumers engaged, talking and coming back over and over again is going to win. And just because the content is about shoes doesn’t mean women will automatically build a community around it. At first blush, this content appears to be interesting, diverse and fresh. Time will tell if Nine West can maintain that.
  • Consumers want more video content. I reference that stat about 90% of online content consumed will be video by 2015 a lot, but it is just so overwhelming to think about until I realize how much video content I consume in a day and understand that prediction is probably pretty accurate. Brands like Nine West are recognizing that trend and jumping on the wagon to make sure they are left behind.
  • It is about shoes. And who doesn’t want to talk about shoes? (I am pretty sure I should be interviewed for the “Shoe Hoarders” series they are planning.)

Shoes and content and video – oh my, indeed.

August 20, 2012

Book Review: The Four Hour Workweek

Filed under: Book Review — Emily Reeves @ 6:20 pm

Maybe I am just jealous of the author, but I didn’t love this book, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I have heard good things about this book for years and finally got around to reading it over the last few days. I would sum up the thesis of the book as this: outsource busy work. There is a lot more to it, of course. And there are many good tips for de-cluttering your work life and in general living lighter, many of which I may employ. Ultimately the goal of the book is to get you to a position of full productivity with less office time so that you can essentially travel full time.

Ferriss is obviously brilliant and amazingly talented, but his tactics for achieving his success are less than admirable, in my view anyway. Perhaps I am just jealous and can’t get past that to the value of this book.

August 17, 2012

Video: Digital News Weekly 8.17.12

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:30 pm

A quick update on the digital news this week.

Digital News Weekly 8-17-12 from Emily Reeves on Vimeo.

Dressing with Purpose

Filed under: Personal,Style — Emily Reeves @ 6:30 pm

I am girly. The name and design of this blog would tell you that without knowing anything else about me. If you saw my “What’s in that bag?” post, you know I love make-up and hair. Because I am so girly, I also love clothes, shoes and all the accessories that go with fashion.

I am also a professional, working in an office environment. So I take great care in how I dress for work each day: I want to be professional, always ready for an impromptu presentation to a client (even if I happen to be wearing jeans that day), comfortable (we have a laid back and creative office), and attempt to be stylish. How a person presents themselves in dress says a lot about them; most days at work, I want my dress to say “confident.”

Here is a glimpse of this week’s outfit choices. As you can see, heels, blazers, pencil skirts, dresses and button down shirts are my go-tos for making casual and jeans feel more professional and dressed up.

Getting the Work Done: Top 12 Work Apps

Filed under: Technology — Emily Reeves @ 5:30 pm

I tend to work across multiple devices throughout the day–computers, iPad, iPhone–but I use the same applications across all the devices. I try new ones constantly, but here are the ones that are tried and true, that I always return to and typically always have open on my computer or in my browser:

  1. Chrome: This is the web browser I use for work. We use Gmail and Google docs and it just seamless to use those within Chrome.
  2. Evernote: I’ve talked about this app time and time and time again. I love it. I don’t know how I existed without it. It is on all my computers, my phone, my tablet and it all syncs perfectly so I have my notes with me all the time.
  3. Reeder: I read a lot of blogs and news sites, every day, all throughout the day. This app pulls in my Google Reader RSS feeds with the settings/categories. From within the app, I can share the articles/posts I find interesting through a wide array of social choices: email, Twitter, Delicious, Evernote, etc.
  4. Delicious: I’ve used Delicious for four years for bookmarking and tagging online finds, mostly articles, that I want to be able to reference in the future as a resource. It is my online library.
  5. WordPress: This blog is in WordPress. Our Waiting for the Elevator blog is in WordPress. We use it for many of our client website projects. I am always in WordPress. It is easy to use.
  6. Keynote: Presentation tool alternative to PowerPoint. Graceful and beautiful.
  7. Google Docs/Drive: We do a lot of collaborating on documents at our agency. Google Docs is a great way to do this, track how everyone is contributing and bring a project together without a lot of meetings while still allowing us to share responsibilities.
  8. Garage Band: I use it for our podcasts on Waiting for the Elevator.
  9. iMovie: I use it for our video interview series on Waiting for the Elevator.
  10. Spotify: Background music throughout the day. I like that I can create custom playlists and share them with my friends and see what my friends are listening to when I need new music.
  11. iTunes: Podcast-listening.
  12. Twitter: The Twitter app is open on my desktop all day, every day. I re-arrange all my other windows so I can see the constant stream of news throughout the day. It is how I keep up with the world.

What applications to do you like for getting your work done?

What’s in that bag?

Filed under: Personal — Emily Reeves @ 4:30 pm

I like to be prepared for any situation. So I carry a big bag with everything I could possibly imagine needing during the day or while traveling (and I travel a lot). And when I say my bag is big, I am not exaggerating.

As a result, people comment on its size and ask me almost daily “what’s in that bag?” My answer is usually, “my life.” I answer that way because it is easier than detailing the contents of my bag, but I am going to quell the suspicions here today!

What’s in that bag?

  1. Computer and accessories. 13″ MacBook Pro in fushia BuiltNY sleeve, VGA adapter, power block with PlugBug extension.
  2. Lacrosse ball in orange. It belonged to my brother and I like to have it with me for luck, for use as toy, for use as a weapon, etc. It always confuses TSA.
  3. Technology accessories. Mophie for charging a dead iPhone when no power is available, wall and car charger for iPhone/iPad, screen cleaning cloth, iPad stylus, Maglite flashlight, Fossil zip pouch in hot pink.
  4. Spectacles. I can’t see across a room, so I always have at least one pair of glasses with me. These are special because they are Warby Parker, an organization that gives glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased.
  5. Cards. I have business cards, personal cards and social media cards. In a J.Crew zip pouch covered in dots.
  6. Energy. Kind bars, Cliff bars, Starbucks VIA Refreshers, lemon ginger tea, and gummy bears. My favorite koozie is always with me, too.
  7. Embroidered handkerchief. Made for me by a friend and embroidered with my name, I always have it with me.
  8. iPad. Reading, writing, note-taking, entertaining. It always comes in handy. In a DoDo case lined in pink linen.
  9. Sunglasses. A necessity. These are Ray-Bans, Original Wayfarer in black.
  10. Foldable flats. I am usually wearing 3″+ heels and long days are not friendly to my feet. These are Tieks and I love them.
  11. Bag full of personal items. Herban Essentials antibacterial wipes, Excedrin Migrane, Colgate Wisps, various make-up and hair tools, all in a Saltbox zipper pouch.
  12. Bag full of liquid personal items. Kept separate for ease in security lines at the airport. Lip glosses, scents, hair needs, etc. In a Vera Bradley clear zipper pouch.
  13. iPhone. In white.
  14. Necessities bag. I use this as the bag of items that comes from the big bag to a satellite bag when a big bag would be awkward. Small sized: mints, hair bands, earbuds, eyeliner, lip care, concealer and lotion. Fossil zip pouch in hot pink.
  15. Secondary necessities bag. Travels with #14. Kleenex, mirror, hair stick, lots of lip care options, mints, wallet. The zipper pouch was a gift from a friend.
  16. Notebook and pen. For times when technology fails or during air travel. I use Moleskine notebooks and pens.
  17. Sleep mask. Dream Essentials. I keep it in my bag all the time, but it really only gets used when I travel. And I usually grab any opportunity to sleep because it doesn’t happen that often for me.

Now you know.

August 15, 2012

Read More at Waiting for the Elevator

Filed under: Stone Ward — Emily Reeves @ 9:19 am

Several weeks ago, we launched a new blog for Stone Ward called Waiting for the Elevator. I am doing some regular writing and curating over on that site, so be sure to check it out occasionally. You can also read content and opinions from the rest of our Leadership Team and some of our staff. Interesting discussion topics popping up over there several times a week.

August 10, 2012

Video: Talking Starbucks & Square

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,That's Just Cool,Video — Emily Reeves @ 10:57 am

I visited with KATV this morning about the new Starbucks/Square mobile payments partnership. You can check out the interview here:

KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

A Giant Leap Towards a Cashless Society

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 6:35 am

Earlier this week, Starbucks and Square announced a partnership. This was big news for the future of mobile payments. While Square has been around for about two years now, it is mostly used by small independent business owners. Partnering with Starbucks means that the Square mobile payment technology will now be exposed to more people and larger retailers may start using Square based on the learnings from Starbucks. And Starbucks has had mobile payments for a while, but it is linked to a Starbucks account that you have to reload with money to spend, making it a bit limited (though super easy and fun to use; I love it). The partnership signifies a big move towards major businesses adopting mobile payments:

“Though smartphone payments have a long way to go before they replace wallets altogether, Starbucks’s adoption of Square will catapult the start-up’s technology onto street corners nationwide, and is the clearest sign yet that mobile payments could become mainstream.” – New York Times

What is Square and how does it work?

Square is a mobile payment technology with two branches: one for business owners and one for consumers. The business owner can download the Square software to their iPhone or iPad, request a Square device from Square to plug into the top of their iPhone or iPad, then accept payments by swiping cards through the device.  Or, if a customer is also using Square for payments, the business owner can see the customer through the Square software and allow the customer to pay just by saying their name.  For the consumer, it is just a matter of downloading the Square app and linking a bank account or credit card to the app. It is much like PayPal, except mobile.

Why is a cashless society a big deal?

According to The Atlantic:

“(1) Innovations that save time, even just a little bit of time, are real innovations, because in any advanced economy time and attention are currency and creating more of them can make us all richer; (2) What’s important about Square isn’t just the transactions it makes more efficient but also the cashless world it pulls closer to the present. As Slate investigated in a fabulous series, a cashless society can make us richer, healthier (dollar bills are dirty!), and smarter.”

I am looking forward to more efficiency in payments and not having to carry around anything but my phone.

I did an interview with KATV this morning talking about the Square and Starbucks partnership. I’ll post the video as soon as it becomes available.

August 7, 2012

Best Invention Ever: AquaNotes

Filed under: That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:52 am

I am at that point in my life where I have enough going on (and of course, I am getting a little older), that my memory doesn’t work like it used to. I have to write things down almost as soon as I think of them. I usually do this on my iPhone using one of my favorite apps, Evernote, or in my Reminders app. But I always have a pen and paper nearby, too for those times that my phone is dying (it happens too often), I am on a flight during take-off or landing (great ideas happen then!), or when paper is just quicker because it is already in front of me.

But none of these things work in the shower. Enter AquaNotes, the waterproof paper pad and pencil with suction cups to hang on your shower wall. This is brilliant and it works really, really well. I have a tendency to think about my upcoming day, the things I need to accomplish, the things I want to accomplish and ways to accomplish all of that in one day. Inevitably, I have things I want to remember, but by the time I get out of the shower and to my phone or paper, I have forgotten. This is why AquaNotes is so great: you can jot those ideas and thoughts down right away before you forget. I love them. Best invention ever.

August 6, 2012

I Love GroupMe

Filed under: Research,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:25 pm

GroupMe is a text messaging app that allows you to create groups of people in your contacts and create ongoing conversations via text with the people in those groups. And I love it. It has cut down on the continuous string of emails I get when my friends and I are planning events, nights out, trips or just generally sharing our lives. It has almost become a mini-Facebook where we post pictures, share where we are, “heart” each others’ posts and ask for advice. The messages come through like texts, but are compiled in the app, so if you are out of commission for a few hours, you can easily catch up on the conversation documented in chronological order with an avatar representing each person next to their response. It is a beautiful tool. You can create as many groups as you would like–a project team, a department, family, different groups of friends, a travel group, etc. and keep all the conversations organized, accessible and immediate.

And GroupMe keeps getting better. I’ve noticed that I can integrate GroupMe into Foursquare so when I check in on Foursquare, I can now automatically share my location with a GroupMe group.  Then there is an “Discover” feature where the app recommends group types and features brand-sponsored group opportunities. For example, featured groups include: Olympics, The Sea Wheeze (a Lululemon sponsored race, and one of my absolute favorite brands!), Oprah Book Club and Vans Warped Tour, among others. And now, they are introducing “Experiences,” a feature that makes it simple to organize and pay for the experience, alleviating the usual hassles that individuals might encounter when trying to organize a group outing.

“Experiences” isn’t available in all markets yet, but promises to hold even more opportunities for brands. Ideas so far have included:

  • Branded VIP “experiences.” For example, this could be a brand-sponsored trip in which cyclists get to ride with a celebrity.
  • Brand-underwritten “experiences.” Here the brand would foot the costs, and in return gain access to the participants for opinions and other research. The company’s goal would be to unearth consumer insights from highly targeted social groups.

As a research junkie, I am loving the second idea as a new approach for gaining qualitative insights as opposed to traditional focus group research.