Hilton Worldwide Celebrates Women!

March 25th, 2014   •   3 comments   

photo2Today I had the honor of serving on a panel with incredible women from Hilton Worldwide as well as a few women in “high gear.” The lovely and talented Mearl Purvis from Fox 13 Memphis was on hand to facilitate and entertain and as usual–she did a fabulous job and I promise you Mearl gets more gorgeous every time I see her! As the room filled with women from Hilton’s Women’s Team Member Resource Group, we took our seats and introductions were made. In honor of “Women in History” Hilton’s theme today was “Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment.”  Program leaders, Denise Carpenter and Sherry Smith made introductions and soon we were underway talking about key issues women face in business. Tweets were flying as well with a hashtag for the discussion: #HWWCelebratingWomen (you can see some of the tweets there).


photoKey messages for the panel included the importance of finding mentors as well as avoiding the “chip on the shoulder” attitude. One of my favorite messages of the day came from Roquita Coleman, Solutions Manager, CN Railroad who said that “instead of trying to be smarter than everyone and trying to prove it…often it is better to try and get along with other co-workers in order to get things done.” She described a tough lesson she had to learn the hard way and that added so much value to the discussion. Without the problems and challenges, we cannot learn and grow.


photoI had the honor and pleasure of meeting Kathy Beiser, EVP, Hilton Worldwide Corporate Communications who is definitely in “high gear” and told the group that sometimes in a career you have to make hard, deliberate choices and sometimes that means really having to “gut it out and work hard” to get ahead. I loved her remark about never wanting to be the mom that baked cookies for her kids’ school. I totally relate to this and appreciate her tough-minded, high gear will and iron clad belief in herself. Another favorite comment she made was that women shouldn’t tell men things like “I have to go run the carpool but I’ll be back…we give them too much information sometimes that isn’t necessary.” Very good advice from someone in the executive suite!


Another Hilton Worldwide executive on the panel is a fellow Texan named Judy Christa-Cathey, VP Hampton & Hilton Garden Inn Brand Marketing. Judy is an inspiration and example of a woman in high gear who has been given a real red cape for her superpowers in the corporate world. Today she gave that red cape to a woman in the audience who commented on the difficulty and pressure on working women to be all to everyone and do it all. A very awesome moment and I need someone from Hilton to email me that photo so I can add it to this blog! Judy is someone I will be following up with and hope to get to know better. Plus, she’s from Texas and likes cowboy boots!


photo3Finally, it was awesome to see my friend Felicia Suzanne Willett, chef and owner of Felicia Suzanne’s Restaurant who trained with Emeril Lagasse–a fact I had once known but forgotten! Felicia told us she knew she wanted to be a chef by the time she was 7 years old and would read food magazines and cookbooks as a teenager. Her passion for cooking and her depth of experience is reflected in her wonderful food and what I find even more exciting is her ability to continuously re-invent herself and her restaurant. She told me she has just re-vamped the patio to include farm tables in front of the fountain to accommodate family style dining or groups of 10 and 12. Not only has Felicia become a famous chef, but a savvy restaurateur. Congrats on your high gear journey Felicia!


photoThank you Hilton Worldwide for supporting women, celebrating success and commitment and for hosting such an important panel discussion. I also appreciate the purchase of our book, “Women in High Gear” for those who attended and hope I have the opportunity to celebrate with you all again soon! Cheers to your high gear journey!

#BanBossy Campaign is Not High Gear

March 17th, 2014   •   4 comments   


WiHG_Front_HighResAs women business owners and co-authors of Women in High Gear, we invest a lot of time and attention in writing, speaking, and encouraging women to “Find Their Voice” and “Tell Their Story.” Our own stories represent a tapestry of experiences, and that makes us each unique. We have benefited from the examples of strong men and women in business, and we challenge women to discover and reach their own high gear.


Last week the Girls Scouts teamed with LeanIn.org to launch a #BanBossy PSA campaign. Using celebrities like Beyoncé and Victoria Beckham they make the case that “bossy” is a pejorative, a disparaging term, and as such should be banned (yes, you read that correctly) in reference to girls. Their assumption: if young girls are called bossy, perhaps they will be disinclined to pursue leadership roles. We haven’t seen data or Pew Research stats to quantify this claim, and Googling the term “bossy” to see what images appear based on gender is not scientific evidence.


Women will never advance by telling others—men or women—how not to perceive them and what language to use to describe them. As children, we were both called bossy—by our siblings and classmates. Our parents probably called us bossy too. Why? Because we were. We had ideas and weren’t afraid to share them. Amy D. Howell


The idea that we women will get ahead and reach new career heights, or see new doors open, because a word is banned is disingenuous to our gender and our individual leadership capabilities. Are we that sensitive? Is our emotional resilience that tenuous and delicate?


Just because someone is considered powerful, influential, politically connected, successful, or entertaining doesn’t mean we jump on a bandwagon to sign a petition to ban a word in the English language. The idea of banning a word like “bossy” is silly and a waste of our greatest resource–time. While many have asserted that this campaign has been positive for raising awareness, we believe it further isolates women from achieving the skills and experiences necessary to reach the C-suite. We all want opportunities for women to advance at work. We need women to open doors, to mentor, to advocate, to introduce young women to CEOs, to help connect the dots for success. This campaign belies the strength of women.


In fact, it’s condescending for an influential and elite group of women to create a video telling us what to do. Words are words. Actions speak louder.


Anne 2012 FINALAt @WomenInHighGear, we want to make sure young girls and women celebrate what we can become. We need strong women who can boss (Margaret Thatcher), women who can nurture (Ruth Bell Graham), women who can lead with courage (Marie Curie), women who can explore (Amelia Earhart), and women who can negotiate (Condoleezza Rice). We need every type of woman who can recognize her high gear potential and take action. That won’t happen by telling others what words to use.


In an interview on Fox news last week, Penny Young Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA) said, “True strength is being bossy in a way that empowers others to greatness, not to degradation.” Well stated.


In our experiences as mothers and women in business, High Gear means working hard and smart at the same time and not being afraid to tell your story, to rise to a business challenge, to recognize opportunities for professional development, and to seek support to reach goals. We believe that leadership, success, and profitability know no gender. The #BanBossy campaign diverts our attention from the more productive conversations of women in #STEM, Wall Street Journal Women in The Economy Task Force, and many other national women’s initiatives.


Being bossy can be a positive character trait. Bossy need not hold a negative connotation. We have known many men and women who are great at being bossy while leading others to success and high performance. Women in High Gear understand that our gender differences are also our strengths as we work together on teams. There are times to be assertive and there are times to be attentive. High gear means knowing the difference.


Finally, High Gear means selecting role models that possess the character, integrity, wisdom, and intelligence that young girls and women are seeking to learn from. It’s ironic that we would listen to an entertainer –who sells lyrics using profanity and intense sexuality –tell us what not to say to young girls. We do need real examples of everyday men and women leaders who work to help others, provide for their families, and care for aging parents while raising children and working.


We don’t need censorship of silly terms; we do need more high gear women and men to demonstrate confidence, courage, hard work, and emotional resilience–even to #EmbraceBossy if need be. The fortitude and productivity of future generations depends on it.


Co-written by Amy D. Howell and Anne D. Gallaher



#LukeBryan Concert Tickets for WINGS

March 10th, 2014   •   no comments   

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Recently, my firm started working for The Wings Cancer Foundation in Memphis–a non profit that provides services to help with physical, emotional and psychological needs of cancer survivors and families–and we decided to beef up their Twitter following with a fun contest to give away 2 Luke Bryan tickets to a lucky tweeter!

We announced the campaign early Friday morning and using Twitter only, and not only did we gain a great new group of followers, but we we were also able to give away tickets to a very creative tweeter, a student at St. Agnes. Congrats Jessica!

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We loved Jessica’s creative tweets!

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4 Social Media Lessons from 2013

January 8th, 2014   •   1 comment   

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Guest post by Stacey Waxman

Social media and online marketing have become increasingly intertwined to the point where most brands are using social media marketing as a primary method for gaining exposure. Throughout 2013, there have been several emerging trends and lessons that marketers can apply for 2014 and beyond. Here are four of the most important ones.

1. Visual Content is In
People responding positively to visual stimuli is nothing new. However, it’s become more and more important to take this into account when running a social media campaign. By looking at the success of visual based networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, it’s clear that most marketers can benefit by using eye appealing images. This is further evidenced by the fact that the owners of Twitter launched Vine, which allows users to upload video clips that are up to six seconds in length. Also, the majority of blog posts and Facebook posts contain at least one image to capture the attention of an audience and drive a point home. Understanding this phenomenon and placing an emphasis on visuals in 2014 should help marketers win over a larger percentage of their demographic.

 2.  Cyber and Content Security is Crucial
The threat of having one’s social media account hacked or sensitive information leaked to the wrong party has become an unfortunate byproduct of the technology revolution. An example would be an industry competitor intentionally hacking a rival’s Facebook account to create posts that damage the rival’s reputation. Another case would be hackers breaking into a company’s cloud-based infrastructure to attain information about their social media marketing campaign. Accordingly, it’s becoming critical to implement adequate cyber and content security measures. This can include training employees on information safety, choosing strong passwords and using a content security app.

3. Reputation Management Should Be Taken Seriously
While social media can definitely improve a business’s brand equity and portray it in a positive light, it also has the potential to do harm. Therefore many companies are using reputation management to ensure that consumers aren’t hearing the wrong things. Companies are now using software that tracks social mentions across major networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

If something negative or slanderous appears, a company representative could immediately address it and take the necessary steps to deescalate the situation before it becomes more serious. Another example would be having an individual or team assigned to handling customer complaints via social media. Say a disgruntled customer left a nasty comment on a company’s Facebook page. A representative might apologize and find an effective resolution so the problem doesn’t persist.

4. Google+ is Here to Stay
At the end of 2012, many marketers failed to take Google’s social network, Google+ seriously. Although there were several million users, not many accounts stayed active. Things have changed considerably over the course of 2013 and Google+ has become a major contender in the social media realm. According to Marketing Land, this network reached 540 million active users in October of 2013.

One interesting feature this site offers is the Authorship Program, which allows users to sync their website or blog with their Google+ account and claim authorship for content they contribute. This is also thought to have a significant impact on SEO and overall exposure because an author’s head shot appears next to links in Google search results.


Stacey Waxman is a freelance writer with a focus on marketing. She can be found typing away on her laptop in cold Cleveland, OH. Stacey welcomes your feedback at staceywaxmanwrites@gmail.com.


Positivity, Planning & Production: 3 P’s of Success

December 10th, 2013   •   4 comments   

I love the holidays for many reasons including the fact that it is a time for me to reflect on my business–look at the numbers and review new and existing client accounts. It’s a time for evaluating what is working and for thinking about next year’s goals for my business. Fortunately I have a great accountant in Patrick Accounting and they help me make good decisions based on my financials and how healthy I am. My banker, Dana Burkett of First State Bank is also my trusted advisor who helps me think through successful financial strategies for my business. Along with wise counsel, you must also possess what I call the three P’s: positivity, planning and production. One might also add “profit” to this but I believe if you are practicing the three, then profits come as the result. How do you stay positive when negative forces abound? How do you plan for a successful next year? How can you produce better and more work in the next year? If these are questions you have, I hope my tips below are inspirational.

Positivity: Wouldn’t it be great if every news segment began with the top positive stories of the day? Don’t you prefer to be around people who have positive things to communicate? Sure, most of us migrate toward positives. We reward positive outcomes and promotions often come to those who are positive. I am convinced that being successful in business is directly tied to being positive and optimistic. Sometimes we all have negative experiences but those should be used to create lessons learned or “teaching moments” (as a friend of mine often says) to promote positive outcomes in business. Here are some things I have learned and observed in business about positivity:

1. People who are positive are more likely to influence others: Positive people are optimistic and think they can do whatever job is at hand. This “can do” attitude is contagious and often adopted by others around them.
2. Being positive creates a successful image. Have you ever heard the phrase, “everybody loves a winner?” This is so true in business. The C-suite wants positive, winning employees.
3. Positivity allows you to look at problems and negatives in ways that create solutions. Negatives aren’t necessarily a bad thing in business and they certainly exist daily. The positive person will view a negative in a constructively critical way to find a solution.
4. Clients and customers want positive. You cannot own and run a business and stay critical and negative. When faced with difficult client challenges or problems, my team must always solve the issues in positive, professional ways. Sometimes it is not easy to stay positive but you must. My co-author Anne D. Gallaher and I share stories about “emotional resilience” on this topic in our new book, “Women in High Gear.”
5. Positive breeds more positive. I don’t know about karma, but I do believe that if you surround yourself with positive people in business, you get more of the same at every turn.

Planning: I know this word is overused and under appreciated but it is so important. I love the phrase “plan your work and work your plan.” If we do that, we succeed. So many businesses don’t have a plan. They have an idea or a concept or a product but no plan. Strategic planning is the lifeblood to any successful organization. It is the roadmap to where you need to go. Without it you will waste time and resources trying to find it. So here are my points on planning:

1. A plan doesn’t have to be a complicated, lengthy process or document. It just needs to ensure that the organization’s time and resources are going to yield results. This could be as simple as this: Our company needs to generate $100,000 in sales of service X and here is who will buy that and here is how we are going to get them to. Pretty simple but very critical.
2. Planning forces you to stop and review and analyze facts and figures. If you have to do a plan for your business, you cannot do it without asking these questions. The questions help you develop strategy for the planned outcomes.
3. A plan is something you can cross check throughout the year and see if you are on track. It helps you measure your progress.
4. Plans can be (and should be) altered and changed based on events and things that impact a business.
5. A plan becomes the organization’s ongoing report card, updated yearly and can be valuable during a potential merger or disposition of a business. There’s not an investment banker I know that doesn’t value business plans.

Production: I love this word. Productive people create production in businesses. There is another phrase I have heard and like “if you need someone to get it done, ask the busiest person.” Busy and productive people get a lot done because they can and they know how. Production also requires that the right tasks/jobs be done first. Here are my five points on the value of production:

1. Productive people can be hard to keep up with and irritating or intimidating to others so their challenge is to help others become more like them. Good producers will know how to leverage other’s skills.
2. Producers get better compensation and more promotions because they identify and secure more revenue/work for their organizations. “He (or she) who has the gold makes the rules.” Most effective executives have had to earn their places by rolling up the sleeves and producing at whatever level tasked.
3. Clients and customers like people who can produce. Results matter and I think organizations are looking for people who want to make positive impacts to the bottom-line everyday.
4. Producers are usually those that can handle many things at one time. I used to work with an attorney who was a top producer for the law firm and he would pace in his office, talk on his land line and answer his cell all at the same time and never miss anything. They have this ability to listen to more than a few conversations at an event and can network across a room faster than most.
5. Not everyone is a producer and that is fine. It takes all types of people to make an organization run–if you are not a producer you might consider helping one. I saw a sign I liked that said “if you aren’t serving a customer, find somebody who is and serve them.”

What would you add to this list of tips and observations?

Why Facebook “Opt Out” Posts Are Useless

October 18th, 2013   •   1 comment   

photoYet another privacy scam is going around Facebook News Feed. Yes, this is indeed a scam. When signing up for a Facebook account, you are accepting the legal terms, including the privacy policy as outlined by Facebook. Those legal terms state that, “you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

You cannot alter your acceptance of that agreement, nor can you restrict the rights of entities who are not parties to that agreement, simply by posting a notice to your Facebook account.

If you would like to opt out of Facebook using your photos in their advertising, you’ll have to delete your account. The only way to manage your privacy settings while keeping your account is through the “Privacy Settings and Tools.”

Sites like Facebook and Google are permitted to use your likeness because you agreed to their terms of service when opting in and creating an account on the site.

“The terms of service for Facebook, Google and other internet companies include a clause that give them the right to modify their terms from time to time. When you receive an “update,” that’s what is happening — the companies are letting you know the rules have changed and, if you don’t like it, you can quit.” [Source]

Read more about the Facebook privacy scam, here.

Post contributed by Kiersten Bagley.

A Message from Jack Sammons #MEMfly

October 10th, 2013   •   no comments   

Nice to see good news on flight choice and additions to our Memphis International Airport! Here is an update from Jack Sammons that I wanted to share. I am also excited to see Southern Airways Express (our client flying out of local FBO’s) expanding to other markets such as Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans. If you are reading some of the local magazines around town, you may notice some of their route ads. I have flown on their planes several times now and can tell you the experience has been awesome. No bag fees. No TSA security screenings. No arriving at the airport an hour+ early. No parking fees. Flying on their planes is like flying first class with eight other passengers. There is not a bad seat on the plane! For more information, visit www.iFlySouthern.com. Now, here’s an update from Jack…

“This weekend I attended the 2013 ROUTES Conference which is where all the major airlines and airports around the world gather for two days of “speed dating.” Our new President, Scott Brockman, and I had an opportunity to meet with the network decision makers of every airline we are soliciting service at MEM. The meetings were very productive. The challenge for all airports is a shortage of aircraft. The older, less efficient planes have been retired to the desert in the current high fuel cost environment.   

After years of courting Southwest Airlines, our friends from Dallas finally arrives MEM in three weeks. We are on a mission – relentless pursuit of frequent affordable air service to MEM. Stay tuned.”

Jack Sammons
Chairman, Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority

Why ‘Likes’ on Social Media Sites Matter

September 24th, 2013   •   no comments   

Blog_LikeHave you noticed a pattern in individuals who actually ‘like’ your content on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, etc.? I have and I’m sure Facebook has, but what is intriguing to me is the psychology behind this now common and almost daily activity. When I see someone who likes my link or photo, I stop and think about them for a second. That’s pretty powerful. If you are honest, you think, “Oh, hey there’s Dana again, liking my stuff.” Or, “Oh, that sweet Molly.” You get the drift. My point is that when you take the time to click like on someone’s post, it means you will cross his or her mind that day—hopefully.

There are users that are so active on channels or of some notoriety that they get so many likes, they may not have time to think about their community of friends and followers. I have been thinking about this now for a while, and it is fascinating to me what people will like and, more intriguing, who will like it. Do you have some really close friends in real life that text you and call you but NEVER acknowledge your stuff online? Do you have friends who will only like or comment on something if it strikes a cord with them? Do you have friends who you can count on to like just about everything you post? If you said yes to any of these, you are not alone. read more

A message from Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority’s Chairman, Jack Sammons

September 4th, 2013   •   10 comments   

image003 This week, Delta Airlines announced further cuts in flights at Memphis International Airport and thereby “de-hubbing” Memphis leaving our Airport Authority and regional passengers hoping for friendlier skies ahead. I have written a lot about this topic over the past few years and feel strongly that vibrant cities with robust economies have strong airports and air services to their respective markets. For Memphis to remain a competitive city, capitalizing on key economic development opportunities and attracting talent and young people, we must have more choices and more airlines serving Memphis. Jack Sammons, recently appointed to lead our MSCAA’s Board is working diligently—and doing the best he can to stay positive—to court other carriers and demonstrate the willingness of the community to support them.

Here is a message from Jack I thought I’d share here… Please get on board with promoting both Southern Airways (a client of mine) and Southwest Airlines (a huge opportunity for us). read more

7 Pieces of Advice for Upcoming PR Graduates

August 21st, 2013   •   no comments   

koalifications-meme-animals-zonePost by Kiersten Bagley

As a young professional, I have been asked countless times about how and why I entered the field of public relations. I am always humbled to tell my story and do hope that it offers some type of assistance to soon-to-be graduates. With the fall semester ramping up, here is some advice to undergraduates on their way to public relations and communications careers: read more

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