Emma’s 4 Tips For Starting a New Job

Starting a new job can be scary for anyone. There are so many things that can go wrong that first week! When starting something new, the trick is to take those feelings of fear and uncertainty and use them as fuel (Bobby Boucher aka: Adam Sandler in ‘The Waterboy,’ would call this “tackling fuel”). This driving force can lead to a wealth of untapped potential. My four simple tips will help you tackle your first week.

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 11.00.33 AMMake a great first impression.
We’ve all heard the saying, “first impressions are everything.” Well, in the case of starting a new job, the first impression can make or break your first week experience. One of the best ways to ensure a favorable impression on your new boss and fellow employees is to have a positive attitude. Your passion and enthusiasm for your new position can infect those around you and make the entire environment more productive. Show your new comrades you are a safe bet when looking for collaboration and teamwork. Who doesn’t want to work with someone who brings enthusiasm to the table?

Ask questions and ask for help.
Usually, the first week is meant for orientation. This is the first (and sometimes the only) time someone will work hands-on with you. Show them you are paying attention by asking questions about procedures, company policies, filing protocols, etc. Communication is the key to any relationship, especially a work relationship. Start your position right by opening strong communication lines with your supervisors and colleagues right off the bat.

Take initiative. 
In the beginning, tasks will be assigned few and far between to allow for adjustment. It is during this period where your time management and organizational skills can shine through. Be proactive with your assignments and get them done in a timely manor, and with some gusto. A little competition in the workplace can be constructive to productivity. Show your co-workers you can take the initiative necessary for success. Don’t wait for assignments to come to you, be a go-getter.

Set goals.
Jobs are a time for new growth. They allow the opportunity to develop as professionals and as an individual. By setting goals, you will be able to track your progress and gain the appropriate skills and experiences necessary for furthering your career. What you would like to gain from this job? What impression do you want to leave on your boss and team? What skills do you hope to gain? What professional characteristics would you like to develop? Goal setting is the perfect way to ensure a successful week that will translate into a successful career within the position.

Go out and show your boss how much of a #boss you can be.

Emma roundGood luck!
Emma

Photo courtesy of @allysonconklinpr

20 Questions With: AJ Cosgrove

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AJ Cosgrove is the 50 year old Director of Sales & Marketing at Barbara Cosgrove. The Kansas City based executive is an alumni of Ohio University (B.S. Communications) who started her dynamic career in media (think film, music video and commercials) in Los Angeles. After a decade in the business, she was presented with the unique opportunity of running sales and marketing for Barbara Cosgrove, a fine lighting and home accessories manufacturer, and one that just so happened to be her husband’s family’s business! Naturally, she said yes. And since then she’s been responsible for the sales, marketing, public relations, market strategy and positioning, strategic partnerships, and general brand management of the business (yes, she’s a busy woman!). AJ is well-connected, witty, a hard-working #MomBoss, and best of all, a total treat to know (and someone you definitely want in your corner). From sharing what she thought she’d be doing today when she was in college to how she stays healthy, we’ve charged AJ with 20 of our favorite questions. 

1. What was your first job out of college?
I was a sales associate at a high-end shoe boutique on Michigan Avenue called Charles Jourdan. They were the original designer pumps for ladies. This was unknowingly my entree into luxury sales. My shoe collection was killer!

2. When you were in college, what did you think you’d be doing today?
I thought I would be a news anchor or working as a news producer. I was a child of the 80’s, so Diane Sawyer and Holly Hunter in Broadcast News were the “it” careers.

3. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s who you know.” I say that to be cheeky because I used to live in LA…but Barbara Cosgrove is my mother-in-law. On a serious note, I love, “play to your strengths.” It is very productive advice, and I use it often.

4. Can you recall the moment you felt like you hit a groove in your career?
I just hit it! With age comes a great sense of confidence.

5. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
Check my e-mails.

6. What’s one thing you do daily to stay organized?
Consult my old-school paper day planner, then check my e-mails.

7. How do you sign off emails?
Short n’ sweet, with a heartfelt, “Best, AJ”

8. What’s the one character trait that’s vital for success in what you do?
I believe it is vital to be authentic. If you are true to yourself and love what you do, it resonates. Great product is also a silver bullet for success.

9. Can you share a career goal for 2017?
My goal is always to expand and elevate the brand. Each year I start by identifying new retailers, designers, editors, or places where there may be growth opportunities and then I work toward those relationships. The people in the home decor industry are lovely (and super fun), so it has been a rewarding journey and I have made many amazing friends along the way.

10. What’s your favorite magazine?
I love all of the shelter publications and browse them for work, but when I want to escape it’s W magazine. I love the oversized format, the photography and the edgy editorial. My mother always had a subscription to W when I was growing-up, so it is near and dear to my heart.

11. Do you have a can’t-live-without beauty product?
Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream.

12. What’s your go-to cocktail?
Red wine. I’ve found myself recently gravitating towards blends and Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley.

13. Do you have a wardrobe staple?
Jeans. I live in denim.

14. Do you have a spirit animal?
Dogs. I love their happy-go-lucky, loyal spirit.

15. Do you collect anything?
I collect 70’s Dansk pieces. I love their mid-century vibe. I started with some really cool cutting boards and serving pieces from a local antiques mall and my obsession grew from there. I was recently gifted some pieces, wonderful enamel bowls and a set of big white salt and pepper shakers, by a dear family friend, which makes them that much more special.

16. How do you stay healthy?
A positive mental attitude is essential. Plus plenty of sleep, daily vitamins, a little kickboxing when I can.

17. What’s the best hashtag of all time?
My new favorite is #ladyboss. My other favorite is #barbaracosgrovelamps.

18. What’s your decorating style?
I call it “beg, borrow & steal.” My home is filled with things that I have collected over the years, and everything has a story about how I acquired it. Much of the art in our home is Barbara’s work from grad school that she allowed us to take out of her basement when we moved to Kansas City. I, of course, have many gently used lamps from the warehouse (I serve as the Barbara Cosgrove lamp archivist). I have traded friends in the industry lamps for furniture, rugs and more art (a diptych of Anne Austin Pearce’s work is a prized possession). I inherited beautiful carved tassel chairs from an estate sale when Barbara built her lake house. I love every piece—or it does not come home! That is my rule.

19. What do you eat for breakfast most days?
Coffee if I am lucky.

20. Favorite Pandora or Spotify station to listen while working?
I am all about my iTunes library. It has a diverse mix of The Beatles, The Who, Marvin Gaye, Amy Winehouse, and Joni Mitchell. All I have to do is hit shuffle. I absolutely love The National and am currently grooving to the new Solange Knowles.

The Best Podcasts for Every Moment of Your Day

Every working girl (or guy) knows how important the perfect playlist is. Whether you’re throwing on some Morning Commute to get the day started, or finishing strong with a Blink-182 playlist, what you’re listening to can set the mood. But sometimes you’ll find yourself skipping every song that pops up, unhappy with what you’re hearing. In these trying times, it’s important to have something to change the pace. My personal favorite? Podcasts. I’ve found my favorite podcasts to turn on no matter the situation. So here it is folks, the official listening list for every moment of your day!

On your way to work: The Lively Show IMG_9156
This is the ultimate #inspo podcast. Jess Lively, the brain behind it all, interviews entrepreneurs and women who are killing it in the business world, all while talking about living with intent. Authenticity and finding your purpose are a huge themes in this podcast, which is a main reason I love it so much. Not only does it give you insight into the brains of some of the biggest lady bosses out there (while inspiring you to be one, too), but it brings home the idea that working in an environment where you feel you’re making a difference or fulfilling your purpose should be the motivating factor behind your career choices.

Before taking on a big project: #girlboss Radio
On the lady boss topic, #girlboss is perfect for anyone who loves Sophia Amoruso and her GirlBoss brand. It dives into the lives of successful women and talks about the journey they took to get there. You’ll glean amazing advice from women who have “made it,” and you might just find some useful advice when these women talk about their challenges and solutions. It’s the perfect way to get inspired before tackling something you’ve been putting off all week.

When you feel like nerding out: StarTalk
No, this isn’t about celebrities. This podcast is hosted by an astrophysicist who brings on weekly guests to chat about stuff like space, physics, and astronomy in a palatable and super entertaining way. It’s my go-to when I’m looking for something that I don’t usually read or hear about on a daily basis. It’s undeniably informative, and if you’re interested in space (or if you’ve ever seen Interstellar and wanted to know what the heck a tesseract is), it’s the perfect podcast for you.

While you’re making dinner: Lore
You might want to skip this one if you get creeped out easily. Lore is a podcast that talks about the true stories behind some of the most famous folklore and superstitions (think Slenderman and the hotel with a never-ending maze where people were murdered), and it’s not one I would recommend listening to in the dark, or alone. But if you like learning about historic incidences that affect some of the modern ways of thinking, this is for you!

bailey-roundHappy listening,
Bailey

Photo courtesy of Urban Safari Photography

How to Gracefully Leave Your Job

What’s awkward, nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at the same time? First dates? Yes. Speaking to a large group? Well yes, that too. But I’m talking about something else entirely: Leaving your job. Whether you prefer to call it resigning, moving on or just plain quitting, it can be one of the scariest experiences in your career. And for good reason! There’s a lot riding on how you leave things with your current employer. By now you’ve come to realize that throwing up your hands and exclaiming “I quit!” to your boss (a la your favorite rom-com where you know that they’ll inevitably end up either: 1. Working there again or 2. Falling in love) will never suffice. When emotions are running high, it’s hard to do everything perfectly. But if you want a positive reference and, even more importantly, a continued relationship with your boss and colleagues, there are some things you should plan on doing. Here’s how to gracefully (keyword: gracefully) leave your job, from someone who has left many jobs.

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 6.20.40 PM

Schedule a proper sit down
No one likes to be ambushed. Be mindful of everyone’s time and schedule a meeting. Your boss will likely ask you about the purpose of the meeting, so be prepared to give an explanation. Most times a “I’d like to sit down with you about something important” will suffice. They’ll probably know what’s coming, which not surprising. Above all, resign in person. Never, ever, ever quit via email, text, phone, or Skype (not even video!) if you want to show your face again.

Be aware of any company protocol
Some companies will require written documentation, like a resignation letter, for your file, while many won’t. Some might even request you give your notice to multiple people. Before your big meeting, make sure you’re aware of any protocol that your company has in place. This is a good time to pull out your trusty employee handbook. Always err on the side of being too formal. Go prepared.

Be honest, but not too honest
The first question you’re going to be asked is: “Why?” Be ready to answer this. And be honest. Explain why you’ve decided to move on and share where you’ll be moving on to, but don’t go into too much detail. Keep in mind that everything you say will be noted and likely channeled through the hierarchy of your company. So now is not the time to air your grievances about your boss or the company. It can make for bad blood while you’re wrapping up. And no one wants an awkward departure.

Give ample notice
Two weeks is the going standard for leaving a job. While it may feel like an eternity for you, it often isn’t enough time for your company to find your replacement. If you can offer to give more time, especially if you have a long history with the company or know that it’ll take considerable time or effort to fill your role, do it. They may or may not need it, so be ready to follow their lead. It’s always going to feel a little weird for a day or two after you’ve given your notice, and this is unavoidable, but your boss will appreciate your willingness to be flexible on your way out.

Thank them profusely for the experience
Recognize that it was your current job that helped you land your new job. Don’t forget that! Now’s the time to show how grateful you are. Thank your boss for investing in you. Acknowledge how far you’ve come during your employment and how your experience at the company will carry you through your life and career. Don’t go overboard, but be genuine with your feelings and words.

Help your employer prepare for your departure
Your last few days on the job might prove to be vastly different than your typical day-to-day was. Sure, you may be asked to wrap up everything you’re working on (no use starting something that you can’t finish), but you also may be asked to step in to help your boss with other tasks, tasks that you may feel are not within your job description. These are tasks will help to fill the void after you leave, so just do them, and with a smile.

Leave things better than when you arrived
Things may have been totally hairy when you started your job. You worked tirelessly to turn it into a well oiled machine, making your life and the lives of those around you easier. Now’s the time to pay it forward. Take time to thoughtfully prepare for your predecessor. Clean out and organize your desk. Leave a sticky-note with any key passwords. Alert the receptionist to your departure. Ensure your boss and team are up to speed on everything. And if you have time, consider creating a one-sheet that might help the next person sitting in your chair.

Allyson roundBest of luck,
Allyson

Photo courtesy of Cassie Rosch, Photographer

 

 

What We’re Reading – Week of January 23, 2017

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How to Create the Kind of Office Space PR Girls Dream About on PR Couture

Renew: Healthy Greek Shrimp, Quinoa & Avocado Salad in Under 3o Minutes on Waiting On Martha

Follow This Simple Rule to Improve Your Memory and Productivity at Work on My Domaine

Why The Most Productive People Do These Six Things Every Day on Fast Company

This Traditional Japanese Treatment Might Be Just What Your Skin Needs on Refinery29

Three Ways To Become Tech-Savvy in 2017

There’s no denying that technology plays an integral role in the world of PR. So whether you’re currently in a PR position or looking to break into the industry, brushing up on your skills and ensuring you’re using the apps, software and even your chosen email platform as intelligently and efficiently as possible is an essential step. But this is sometimes easier said than done, right? Here are three ways you can earn that “tech savvy” title as we head into 2017.

1. Learn new skills.IMG_7165
There are a host of incredible resources out there dedicated to teaching new skills within the tech realm. And the best part? Many of them are short, informative classes that are relatively inexpensive! For example, last year, ACPR had Enrichment Wednesdays where we would take a new Skillshare class (at just $.99 a month!) on something that interested us within our industry. I was able to gain knowledge in everything from HTML coding to stop motion videos, which proved to be both incredibly interesting and useful. But Skillshare isn’t the only resource out there, Brit + Co provides classes on software like InDesign and Illustrator (a PR girl’s best friend), and fun classes covering topics like calligraphy and embroidery. But don’t forget webinars! Cision and PR News (among others) frequently host webinars on everything from social media and SEO to email marketing.

2. Do your research.
Social media is large slice of the technology pie when it comes to PR initiatives. Though you might think you’re a pro when it comes to Instagram, Twitter, and beyond, there’s a lot more to it than snapping a photo and writing a clever caption. Do your research and keep up-to-date on social media trends (your clients will thank you). Just last year, Instagram implemented a new algorithm that exposes your posts to followers based on how much you engage with other users. In short, you can have the best photos in the world, but if you’re not liking, commenting and adding other users, no one will see your content. And Facebook users are now able to share live videos from any device (including via web browser), at any time. These are game changers within the PR industry that affect everything from your brand’s reach to the platforms you use. It’s time to check yourself – how up-to-date and informed are you?

3. Protect yourself.
I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s important to protect yourself online. And I don’t just mean refraining from sharing your personal info where everyone can see it (though that is important). I’m talking about safeguarding your online image from content that could give you a bad reputation. This means everything from inappropriate Snapchats, tweets that might be offensive or could even get you fired, or accidentally hitting reply all on an email. It’s time to take a hard look at the things you’re posting online and sending around the office (or worse, to clients). Ensure you’re protecting yourself and safeguarding your job by being as polished and poised as possible. I love this article on Fast Company that outlines three digital decisions you’ll regret someday.

Casey roundHere’s to a tech-savvy 2017,
Casey

Photo courtesy of Urban Safari Photography