July 29, 2014

Working Girl: Modern Day Trapper Keeper

Filed under: Business,Girl Gets Geeky,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:40 pm

I come with a lot of baggage. My daily tote bag. My travels. And even to meetings. I say that I am high maintenance, but that I can maintain myself. And usually can maintain all the people around me with all the stuff that I carry with me. Over the last several years I have tried to lighten my loads, but that each attempt barely lasts: I start gradually adding the things that I might need. Or have needed in the past and don’t want to be without.

In a 40-hour work week, I spend, on average, 15+ hours sitting in meetings. In meetings, pens run out of ink, tablets run out of power, my lips get dry, I realize I need my glasses, notebooks run out of paper. Any number of things can happen. Since my motto is “always be prepared,” I want to be prepared for these situations. This means I don’t have to leave the meeting to find a pen, or paper or a charger. I like to believe that it makes the meetings more focused and productive.

Walking into a meeting with a stack of stuff balanced in my hands is distracting and makes me feel (and look) unorganized. Walking in with a tote  bag is overkill and embarrassing. I found a couple of pouches that worked for my purposes, but my stuff wasn’t organized inside making it hard to find the things I needed when I needed them.

After a friends posted a picture of the Mod Mini from This Is Ground on Instagram, tagging it as a “modern take on the Trapper Keeper,” I knew I had to have one of these. Sophisticated and stylish. A variety of inserts to fit my specific needs. Organized and easy to carry. Everything contained and just as I need it.

I have only had my silver Mod Mini for a week, but I believe I have found my perfect meeting companion.


July 21, 2014

Dogs Make Office Work Better

Filed under: Business,Getting Healthy — Emily Reeves @ 9:37 pm
Bea's corner in my office.

Bea’s corner in my office.

In April, a new member joined our family. Another four-legged member, to make three dogs in our home. My two older dogs are large Labs named Betty and Blanche. This new dog is a petite Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Beatrice.

I love all my dogs equally. But Beatrice gets special privileges because her size and demeanor allow for her to accompany me places. And the office is my favorite place to bring her.

There is not an official pet policy at our office. I am sure one would quickly be invoked should too many animals start appearing and distracting frequently. But for now, Beatrice comes in about three times a week and I like to think she has become our unofficial office mascot.

I like to call Beatrice my service dog. She makes my day more enjoyable and less stressful. But she also helps reduce the stress of those who work with me and around me. I am not alone in this observation. Studies show that dogs in the workplace may lower stress, and make for a more productive-and enjoyable-company environment. While national polls indicate that less than twenty percent of all workplaces allow pets, well-documented evidence points to the benefits of animals in the office.

The specific ways that pets can improve health and wellness in the work place:

  • Stress reduction. Research that has shown the positive effect that pets can have on cardiovascular health, autonomic stress responses, and blood pressure.
  • Forced breaks. Dogs need potty breaks and walks during the day, and their humans are required to take them out. Without this trigger, too many of us would stay at our desks for hours on end. Studies have demonstrated the value of taking frequent, short breaks as a way of increasing productivity, and pets make us do just that.
  • Friendlier environments. The same instinct that leads you to spontaneously break out into puppy-talk around your pooch may lead you to be more amicable to your colleagues and your customers. In pet-friendly workplaces, employees reported feeling friendlier to one another and finding that customers had a more positive impression of the company.
  • Improved staff morale and worker productivity. People don’t mind working longer hours when they don’t have to run home to walk their dogs. Happier employees result in enhanced job performance.
  • Increase in sales reported by store owners who take their dogs to work.
  • Dogs can serve as a crime deterrent.
  • Source, source, source

I never thought I would be the “bring-your-dog-to-work” person. And though I sometimes feel a bit like Dr. Evil as Beatrice sleeps in my lap and I stroke her back as I sit in meetings, I hope that I will always be a “bring-your-dog-to-work” person.


July 8, 2014

You Should Apply For The @ARKChallenge TODAY

Filed under: ARK Challenge,Business,Startup & Entrepreneurship — Emily Reeves @ 10:52 am

Today is the last day to get your application in for the central Arkansas ARK Challenge 2014. If you have a business idea, good partners and a desire to work hard to make your idea into a business, you should apply for the ARK Challenge. Don’t let your age, your current job, your naivety or your fear get in the way. The experience is life-changing.

Last summer, I participated in the NWA ARK Challenge 2013. I was the oldest one there, held my full-time job, had no idea what I was getting into and was a bit nervous about being able to do it at all . While the business I worked on didn’t “win” and I exited the business shortly after the program, I learned so much about operating a business, made great friends and feel better for the experience. And I felt like I left with a mini-MBA after 14 weeks. In short, it was worth it. If you are interested in learning from my experience, scroll through my weekly updates shared on this blog. If you want to get some of my startup advice, head over to my posts on the Innovate Arkansas blog.

Here is a video to inspire you (and you’ll will hear from me here, too):

December 1, 2013

Presentation Ready: The “Magic” Cord Bag

Filed under: Business,Girl Gets Geeky — Emily Reeves @ 6:47 pm

Over my years in the agency business, I have learned the hard way how embarrassing it is when you don’t have the proper cables and equipment to give your presentation. As a result, I have built up a collection of equipment that stays in my computer bag at all times so that I am always presentation ready. People know that I have this perfect back of cables and connectors, therefore they frequently ask to borrow it. While I am always happy to help a colleague out, this is my personal stash. Too many things get lost of misplaced when 50+ people have access to it. To help my fellow agency presenters, here is what is in my “magic” cord bag. Maybe it is time you started building your own.

Image 11-27-13 at 10.58 AM

Power brick extension cord, Thunderbolt to HDMI connector, Thunderbolt to VGA connector, retractable audio cord, retractable HDMI cord, Retractable VGA cord, USB flash drive, extra batteries, USB remote, old iPad to VGA connector, old iPad to HDMI connector, new iPad to VGA connector, new iPad to HDMI connector. (Click photo to enlarge.)

photo 2

All those cords, connectors and equipment fit in this cute Kate Spade bag.

photo 1 (1)

A portable speaker that projects enough sound to make your videos sound good even if you forgot the big ones or the room in which you are presenting doesn’t have audio.

photo 3

My computer, my “magic” cord bag, the speaker, my meeting bag (notebook, pens, business cards, etc.), and the power brick for my computer all fit in this fabulous Sseko tote bag.

April 2, 2013

Style Tips for Working in a Creative Industry

Filed under: Business,Culture,Style — Emily Reeves @ 7:51 pm

Working in a creative environment can mean a lax dress code where anything goes. Shorts, flip flops, torn t-shirts and jeans dragging the floor are not uncommon. But just because creativity can sometimes be hidden behind cubicle walls, that doesn’t mean that your clothes can’t both express your creativity and give a professional appearance. Here are a few tips for those working in a creative industry but needing to present well:

  1. Your appearance is your first impression, before you open your mouth or show you portfolio. Recognizing that simple fact is the first step. Make a list of adjectives and traits that you want people to assume that you have when they see you. For example: approachable, creative, professional, serious, fun, etc. Knowing how you want people to perceive you will help drive the clothing and accessory decisions that you make.
  2. Consider your audience. If you are going to a conference of creative professionals, you attire will be different than if you are going to present to the marketing department of a major brand to sell your creative services. Dress to reflect the how the audience will be dressed, while still incorporating your personal style. For example, if you are going to business meeting, you might wear a pencil skirt and heels. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a grey skirt and black heels. Instead choose a colorful patterned pencil skirt and strappy wedges that might be more reflective of your personal style, but still fits in within the environment. If you are presenting at a conference of creative professionals, you will not want to wear a suit if everyone in the audience is in ripped jeans and Converse sneakers. Instead, you might wear dark denim and hip low-heeled booties that show you care about your appearance but fit in more with the audience.
  3. Don’t be uncomfortable. Dressing for an audience doesn’t mean that you have to be stiff, uncomfortable and wear shoes that you can barely walk in. If you put it on and it doesn’t feel comfortable because it is not “you” or because it pinches, pulls or squeezes–even just a little bit–take it off immediately.
  4. When in doubt, choose a monochromatic black outfit and accessorize to make your personal statement. Solid black with a bold necklace and a colorful handbag can make you look both creative and professional.

March 9, 2013

#SXSW 2013: Brainstorming Technology First

Filed under: Business,Digital Strategy,Marketing,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 8:49 pm

One of my favorite SXSW sessions today was “Brainstorming Technology First.” It was presented by an agency and they provided real examples with actionable steps for implementing a technology-first approach to brainstorming projects. R/GA created this process to counter the consistent problem they were encountering where an idea was generated then the question “is this possible” was asked to the technologist. Their desired outcome was to know that something was possible and that it was possible to do well as the idea was generated.

Tech First Brainstorming Framework

  • Still start with creative brief. But choose a technology that is relevant to the audience and hardcode it into the brief. It should be a technology that is specific to your audience. The more granular you can be, the better. For example, not “mobile apps,” but “Passbook for iOS.”
  • Time box brainstorm session at one hour. Get everyone on the team at the same time in the room. Present the brief. Then give them 5-8 people to silently write their own answers to the questions in the brief. It is really important to let them work silently first.
  • Spend next 45 minutes sharing their ideas and encourage creative riffing.
  • Then the senior leadership team should take the ideas and distill them and craft them into something presentable.
  • This is an efficient process because 90% of ideas that come out are feasible because we have embraced the constraints on the front end and we don’t have to ask if this is possible.

Examples of Approaches

  • Fill in the blanks: give people a grammar and a framework to tell stories.
  • Magnetic poetry: provide a list of descriptors and a list of technology, then mix and match to get creative.
  • Branded magnetic poetry: same as above, but brand specific.
  • Social media API roulette: pick two very specific API points from two different networks and ask what can be created by combining the two.
An example of the "magnetic poetry" approach to tech-first brainstorming sessions.

An example of the “magnetic poetry” approach to tech-first brainstorming sessions.

As technology is integrated more and more each day in our activities and communications, thinking about how an idea can be executed as part of the technology rather than being retrofitted into the technology is increasingly important. This approach to brainstorming can help agencies and brands make the transition in their thinking about technological communications.

 

July 4, 2012

Talk Business Video: Productivity Apps Discussion

Filed under: Business,Talk Business,Video — Emily Reeves @ 8:10 pm

This week I talked to Roby Brock of Talk Business about apps that help with efficiency and productivity. Check out the video here:

January 9, 2011

The Value of Groupon

Filed under: Business,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 12:40 pm

Organizations today are thinking about how to take their business local, mobile and social in an effort to reach consumers where they are spending their time and money.  Using opt-in tools like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Gowalla, businesses are attempting to gather followers with relevant messages in hopes of generating new business.  These tools are fantastic for businesses with an existing dedicated fan-base that is interested in helping to spread the word.  However, as technology continues to evolve, new tools are becoming available for businesses to reach out to new customers that may never have heard of the business.  One such tool is Groupon.

Groupon leverages the collective power of consumer interest by making a deal available only when a certain number of people agree to make the purchase.
“This creates the incentive to share the deal with friends and family, until ‘the deal is on.’ It’s great for local businesses because they can set the parameters for the offer and they know a minimum for how many offers they will have sold in advance.”

As a consumer, I love Groupon: discounts for items I might buy anyway or otherwise wouldn’t buy due to high cost of entry and introduction to brands I’ve never encountered before.  As a communications adviser, I can see the benefits of Groupon: introducing new users to instigate trial, driving traffic and encouraging frequency of existing users.  However, I can also understand the hesitancy of business owners to engage with Groupon for fear of losing money and never seeing results.

The Groupon site has over 35 million registered users. (Source: Mashable)  This is how small businesses can reach a large bank of consumers that might never have heard of them before.  It can be a source for lead generation.  However, “Groupon offers such a wide variety of products (spas, restaurants, and all sorts of weird local businesses)…This attracts a certain type of customer (people who want ‘deals’ and aren’t focused on business quality or returning) and encourages a certain type of behavior (namely low retention because of the deal volume).” (Source: Quora question/answer)

Determining the value of participating with Groupon takes a series of calculations and guesses, which this New York Times post sums up nicely.  To start, consider that Groupon takes a percentage of every coupon sold.  According to The New York Times, “The members who buy the coupon get 50 to 70 percent off on a product or service, and Groupon splits the proceeds with the retailer — usually leaving the retailer with about 20 to 25 cents on the dollar of retail value….Groupon is advertising….It costs money. Instead of writing a check for an ad, you are choosing to lose money on sales.”

There have been many documented complaints from businesses when it comes to their individual Groupon results: minimum purchases, single visits, poor tipping, etc.  However, there have also been success stories: new customers, sales increases, etc.  Groupon may be successful for some businesses and a risk to large to take for others.  Regardless, it is a great opportunity to reach new users and it is the business owner’s responsibility to deliver service and product that encourages repeat visits.  Businesses interested in using Groupon should prepare for impressing new customers and gaining their future loyalty.

While poor performance can’t be solely attributed to the Groupon model, there are ways that Groupon might improve the experience for business-owners (disclaimer: they may already offer these things, but I can’t find any information about it):

  • Hyper-local targeting, by zip code or neighborhood.
  • Provide opportunities for business to re-contact those that bought and/or redeemed the Groupons they offered.
  • Provide additional incentives or rewards for consumers sharing their purchases.
  • Connect with review sites like Yelp and encourage users to share their experiences using their purchased Groupon.