Our New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again! Time to make resolutions for the new year that we’ll forget in two months. But this time it’s different for us, this time we’re putting our resolutions out on the internet (with a million other people) in the hopes that we’ll actually keep them, or inspire someone else. Oh, yes, this is breaking one of our “Social Media Pet Peeves” (see the blog here), but screw it, we’re allowed to break our own rules!

Ok, so here goes:

  1. Eat Healthy, Work Out, Feel Better About Ourselves Obviously we’re jumping on the New Year’s bandwagon for this one, but it’s a good goal. We’re aiming to tie on those running shoes more often, start thinking about what we eat, and get bikini-ready. I mean we live in San Diego, we pretty much need to be bikini-ready all year long. A few apps that will spur our momentum for this goal are: MapMyRun, Nike Training, MyFitnessPal, Pandora, and Songza.
  2. Join Relevant Clubs – There MAY have been some monetary gifts given this Christmas (the “curse” of being our age – too young to not get gifts but too old to think of something original). What better way to spend our new found cash stash than join a few clubs in our area. This is an opportunity to stay engaged with people in our professions as well as receive some discounts on networking events!
  3. Attend Networking Events Once a Month – So, now that we’re joining these clubs and receiving discounts on events, we better be going! Whether they’re free or fee-based we’ve historically had great times at these events and want to make sure we keep attending (even if we’d rather be chillin’ in our PJs)!
  4. Read Books That Will Help Us Grow as Young Professionals – After finishing grad school it’s really difficult to want to read another book about market research or engagement tactics, but we need to stay fresh! School gave us the insight to see the “ideal” way to act in our professions. It may not always be that way but it’s good to remember the basics, and be given some new insights on a regular basis. Our goal is to read one professionally focused book between pleasure reading. A girl can only get so much insight from Cosmo or the latest trendy read.
  5. Become More Engaged With Co-Workers – We both have some great professional  changes coming in the new year. Our goal is to be more engaged in our new work environments than we may have been previously. We’ve seen the power of “knowing someone” and our goal is to get to know the people around us and learn anything they have to teach us.
  6. Plan Upcoming Blogs Further in Advance – We have become very bad at this. In our first months we had blogs lined up for multiple posts. Being able to write with no pressure and having ideas and written blogs on hand made posting easy. Our resolution is to have at leas 2 pre-written blogs on hand in case there was no inspiration in any given week.

Well, those are our goals. In the coming months, we’ll see how successful we are at them. What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you been successful at keeping them in the past?


My Summer Research on CEOs and the Media

Over the summer, I spent six weeks at PRIME Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. thanks to the Grunig PRIME Research Fellowship. Although a wonderful opportunity, splitting up the Blake and Nicole bestie duo was difficult! I was able to get over the short separation and, as part of the fellowship, I did a research project on CEOs and media relations. Below is a snippet of a column I wrote for the Institute for Public Relations about it. Click through to read more, it’s short and written for practitioners, not academics (a.k.a you’re going to understand it and it may be useful!):

Me with my award in my living room since the Nor’easter a few weeks ago cancelled my flight to NYC 😦

CEOs are often the face of a company, but having a visible, or even well liked, CEO may not help a company’s reputation in all situations. This is a topic I explored over the summer with PRIME Research thanks to the Grunig PRIME Fellowship. Specifically, I looked at how the tone and visibility of CEO media coverage is related to the tone and visibility of overall organization coverage.

The first big takeaway is not all publicity is good publicity… {Read more.}

If you want to dive into the numbers and check out the full paper, you can download it here.

A Recap of Be Business Awesome

Despite being busy and poor, we’ve been trying to get out on the town to attend fun and informative events and expand our networks. Last week, we attended A Night at the Cotton Club at the San Diego Symphony and on Tuesday, we attended Be Business Awesome: An Evening With Scott Stratten (aka @Unmarketing). The Be Business Awesome Event was put on by Social Media Club San Diego and hosted by San Diego REP.

Going into the event, Blake had an idea of what to expect since she had listened to a couple of Scott’s webinars ( “The Business of UnAwesome: How to Avoid the Flipside of Awesome Business” &  “The Business of Awesome: How to Make Your Business Boom”) and already had his book,  The Book of Business Awesome sitting on her coffee table (even if it was unread). Nicole, on the other hand, was following Blake’s demand that we attend this event and had no idea what to expect.

After getting our complimentary drink, signed books, and forced Scott to get up and take a photo with us, we headed into the event. It was at this point that we noticed Scott was wearing jeans, a t-shirt and mandals that clearly said, “IDGAF” – we even had an intense Twitter debate about the mandals (see the Tweets below).

Here’s a few of our favorite takeaways, in both text and Tweet form:

  • Passion + Knowledge=Profit
  • The best way to improve your bottom line is through your frontline
  • Twitter is a conversation, not a dictation
  • Viral=unconditional sharing
  • Marketing is not a task
  • We don’t define our brand – our customers do
  • Hire based on personality, not only the “experience” on a resume (REJOICE fellow new professionals! Scott’s out there spreading the word!)
  • Ask customers & clients what your business should “Start, Stop, and Continue”
  • It would take 4,500,000 “pigeon craps” to damage a Smart Car’s tridion safety cell*

*Info taken from one of the webinars, see the infographic here

All in all it was a great night and we even got to see our good bud, Katie Rowland!

Must-Haves for New Pros

So, you are embarking on your journey as a PR or marketing professional. You have your education and business attire, but there are a few other things that every new professional must have. While none of these things are particularly expensive, if you don’t have the extra cash, tell mom and dad you’d like a new pro starter kit for Christmas. It’s one gift they’d probably be happy to give!

My handy dandy padfolio containing my generic business cards!

  1. Business cards. When you are first starting your career, there is a good chance you will move from internship to internship for a while. During this time, the organizations you work for probably won’t make business cards for you and if they do, they will be outdated as soon as you are on to your next position. Until you are settled with a company that you know you will stay with for a while, I suggest having some generic business cards made with your name, industry and contact information. There are plenty of online printers that make it cheap and easy like Vistaprint.
  2. A padfolio. These things are great for conferences, interviews and on the job. Great for keeping your resume, business cards, a pen and whatever else you may need all in one spot. Mine is similar to this one at Staples and it has had a ton of use in the last few years.
  3. Thank-you cards and stamps. Never under-estimate the power of a handwritten thank you. Always send a thank you note after an interview, informational interview, the end of an internship, or sometime someone just helps you out. Don’t wait until after one of these events to go buy thank you cards and stamps, keep them on hand (perhaps in your padfolio)! For interviews it is especially important to get your thank you delivered as soon as possible. Write that note in that in the car, stamp it and stick it in the mail before even going home. For the actual cards, you don’t have to spend a lot on them, it’s about the content, not how fancy the card is. I’ve even bought some at the Dollar Tree. My one suggestion is to buy ones that look professional and appropriate regardless of gender.

I’m sure there are other things, but I think these three are biggies. What is your favorite career accessory?

My 1st Work Conference

This post may be making it up a bit late today but I’m still in a New Orleans-work-conference-hangover-daze. Basically, this is the first week back from a week stay in NOLA, exciting right?

The backdrop for our conference.

To say the least, I was pretty stoked. This was the first time I was invited as part of a job to leave the state (AND BE PAID FOR IT!). So, off I went to the ASBDC 2012 Conference in New Orleans to learn about all things marketing and how to apply it to help my organization. While attending various sessions (and getting tons of free swag) I learned a few things about conference attendance:

1). Make your presentation INTERESTING!

Especially if your session is scheduled for 8 hours (*Ahem*, Google Training Day, *cough*) no matter how cool your swag is, I will fall asleep and resort to scanning my social media channels if your resonation is not interesting! If I can learn more about how to apply your product by Googling you, you’ve failed.

Free food and swag can keep me interested for a while but not forever!

However, I will give shout-outs to Eric Spellmann (@ericspellmann) for his fantastic presentation on the “12 Mistakes on Small Business Websites” and to Herb Lawrence (from @asbtdc_asu) who presented on how to utilize social media to engage both consumers and businesses.

2). Don’t bring up the main competitor.

If you are presenting to a national organization don’t use their main compeitor as an example…I would’ve thought that was common sense.

3). Network!

The entire time. I met a new co-worker that is stationed at one of my office’s satellite centers who I connected with and had so much fun with – I even gave her a mini Twitter schooling (follow @katienino and get her up to speed on all things Twitter!). I met incredibly helpful people that I will be in contact with regularly.

Networking even allowed me to be mentioned on a different blog, check out my little mention here and as a plug for Jimdo and their SmallBizRocket initiative, if you need a website, these boys can help you out!

4). Get out of the “Conference Mode”

Of course I had to hit Bourbon street and go on a few tours! This is the time where I really connected with coworkers and met a few nice people along the way (some of which even invited me back to visit their home in the future).

Baby alligators are somewhat squishy. Hold one if you have the chance!

Yes, there was a baby goat on the street that I got to hold. This is the face you make when the baby goat you’re holding tries to jump from your hands.

Random Business Acronyms

So, out and about in our semi-professional lives we have heard people spewing out random letters. We believe that most of these acronyms are made up by professionals in order to sound cool and important, rather than to actually serve a purpose. Regardless, when those around you are speaking what seems to be a different language, it can cause some confusion or the feeling that you are being left out.

Initially, when we heard or saw these random letters, our faces looked something like this:

Curiosity rather than necessity has driven us to look up some of these silly acronyms and others we figured out on our own. Here are some we’ve heard over the last few years that may help you out:

  • MOU – We’ve looked this up 5 times to remember while writing this blog…short and sweet it stands for Memorandum of Understanding. Still lost? So are we. Let’s dumb it down further. Wikipedia enlightens us with this description: “a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between parties.” Glad we cleared that up.
  • EOD – “The delivery is expected by EOD.” Hhmmm, does this indicate a time or location? Not to worry, we’re here to help, your package will get to you by the End of Day.
  • COB – Kind of like EOD, you can tell this is a point in time because when you see COB, it is usually in an email that says, “I need this by COB” (yummmm, corn?). Those context clues should help you out, but just in case, COB=close of business.
  • Random “J” in emails – Oh yes, finally, that perfect employee made a typo on their email! Nope, yet again she’s perfect and sending you a smiley-face to “emphasize” her point (some email systems would turn the smileys into this awkward J so many people have simply reverted to inserting the letter)…damn her 🙂   J
  • TB – Oh, here’s one that sounds familiar! I’ve definitely heard TB before… Oh wait, they couldn’t possibly mean tuberculosis. Nope, TB is not the disease. So, if your manager says she wants to “TB” you have nothing to fear. She just means she wants to have a chat or get an update on something, but likes to say it in a cooler biz jargon way therefore she uses “touch base”.
  • KPI – “Let’s get those KPIs up or we may lose that client!” WTF?!?!? I’m going to lose a client based on something I don’t even understand! Well, they’re Key Performance Indicators, so get those metrics up and keep your new-professional job!
  • OOO – You will see this in an email or automatic reply that says something like, “I’ll be OOO Friday.” Sounds like a good time right? It could be, but it just means out of office.
  • V/R – This one is a formal email signature meaning “very respectfully”. They may respect you, but you aren’t tight enough to get a “thanks”, “take care” or even the semi-stuffy, “best”. They couldn’t at least write it out?

Now that we’re all on the same page we’ll TTYL!

Not Writing a Thesis

So, last week in my blog post I talked about the decision to go back to get my MBA, in this post I’m going to write about how I FINISHED the process!

In my MBA program at SDSU we had the option of writing a thesis or partaking in a business consulting project coupled with an exam. Affectionately known as BA795, I chose to participate in the business consulting capstone project. My decision was partially based on:

  1. Unless you plan on going into academia, a thesis is seen as somewhat worthless to many in the business community.
  2. Hiring managers like to see “results,” a project was more likely to give me that over a theoretical research paper.
  3. I like to give my opinions (one reason a blog is a fantastic option for me) – I like it even better when people listen!
  4. I one day would love to pursue a career as a marketing consultant and this was a nice mini-start.

For BA795 all participants were given a list of participating companies and the help they needed. The companies and projects ranged from huge hotel corporations needing a diversified marketing strategy to start-ups needing to know if their idea would pan out in the marketplace.  Each member of the upcoming graduating class ranked which project they would like to participate in, we were then assigned a group and a company to consult with.

So, here lies the crux of the situation. As groups were announced we all sat around like elementary school kids getting picked for dodge ball, “Will I getting picked for the ‘cool’ project?” “Will my group be a bunch of slackers?”


It’s the risk you take when you opt in for a group project rather than a solo thesis!

I ended up being assigned to a client that needed help with developing a branding/rebranding analysis along with three other MBA candidates. I knew one of the girls, Kari, personally and as much as I hate to admit this to her I knew she would make a fantastic group member 😉 (I have to keep up the teasing relationship we developed – Kari is actually one of the most dedicated and hardworking people I have had the pleasure of working with).  I had not had the pleasure of working with Adam and Melissa in my MBA career but I am SOOOOO glad they were my other group members! The four of us never had any issues with each other and everyone produced spectacular work ON TIME!

Once we jumped through some hoops and touchy issues with our two assigned advisers (who I still refuse to accept we needed) we were on a roll. Unlike other groups that had issues with difficult clients, our client was FANTASTIC! We met with a representative for our client’s organization who was understanding, compassionate of our time restrictions, incredibly accessible to any questions that arose, and warned us up front that even if our suggestions were not acted upon they were appreciated – dare I say it, they were the perfect client we’ll probably never see again in our consulting careers.

On the client side, I believe most of the companies came out of the experience with applicable real-world direction and information they could use to enhance their business – at a great cost! I reached out to our client representative to see why they considered coming to SDSU MBA’s for help: “I went with the SDSU MBA student consultant group not only because I was familiar with the program as a past participant, but also because I would get a fresh perspective and analysis based on techniques and applications the group had learned during their time in the MBA program. I’ve found the group’s final product to be a great road map and guideline to what the tribal development can be.”

Basically, our group was able to help our client with a fresh perspective and apply the education we had received. Along with our 200+ page report (that cost about $100,000,000,000 to print at Kinkos) we left this experience with applied knowledge and a group bond that we still have (even if these guys blew me off for happy hour this week 😉 ).

50 Shades of Business Ethics

I am striving to become a marketing executive. I need to know all things new, hot, and in the public eye to try and determine how to entice the public to buy the next “big thing”. With that justification, I jumped on the bandwagon and read Fifty Shades of Grey… I swear I did it only for the advancement of my professional career.

Anyway, after wishing that E.L. James had a thesaurus to help her explain Grey’s “long fingers,” I determined this was not a novel that should be going down as a “classic” of our day. However, after flipping the pages and reading about the BDSM contract that the two main characters were in the throws of negotiation over, I realized: this is not a smut filled novel – it is a case of business ethics! Is this contract, and what would transpire after the agreement, ethical? I delved back into my notes from my business ethics course to analyze this situation further.*†

Justice Theory – UNETHICAL

Rawls outlines in his theory that what is ethical is what gives the greatest benefit to the least advantaged. With regards to 50 Shades it obviously depends on how we view advantaged and disadvantaged. Grey is getting his sexual kicks and he pretty much has everything else to be desired: wealth, good looks, long fingers, business power…. But, Anastasia is getting a free wardrobe (if she likes it – I assume in the second instillation we get to see if she does or not), a car, a laptop, fancy dinners, trips in a helicopter and a glider, a room in the nicest apartment ever, a pretty good sounding sex life, and I’m sure a ton of other stuff that I have forgotten. She keeps harping on the whole relationship-love thing, but since she didn’t have that in the beginning, I feel we can’t factor that into the Rawlsian picture.

Rawls’ theory also outlines Distributive Justice – how things should be distributed in a just society (wealth, money, power, etc). Based on this idea, I see ethical and unethical portions of The Contract. Ana will be receiving money and objects (distribution of wealth) but she is giving up her sexual power – which it seems Grey has plenty of. We can imagine behind the Veil of Ignorance many risk averse people would not agree to operate under a contract such as that between Ana and Grey. They would be worried they would be the ones experiencing the pain.

Finally, the theory provides us with the Principles of Justice (I am using the Principles prior to some of Rawls’ revisions):

  • Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others. There are five basic liberties: freedom of speech, thought, etc.

Immediately, I see a huge issue. The Contract takes away Ana’s basic rights – no speaking without permission, being told what to wear, and no direct eye contact. Since the rest of the Principles are in lexical order and the first is NOT MET, we can stop here and conclude that under Rawls the contract is not ethical.

Rights Theory – ETHICAL

Nozick describes his what is ethical under his Rights Theory as anything that is free from force or fraud. He does not consider all threats to be force. Force is only physical (or the threat of physical) harm or outright deception. Based on the story we know that although Ana and Grey both threaten to back out of the “relationship” if certain aspects are not met, these threats are not considered “force” by Nozick. Even though there may be “force” that occurs in the “Red Room of Pain,” this pain does not have anything to do with forcing Ana to sign The Contract and would occur only if she agrees. Also, both Grey and Ana are extremely forthcoming in their dealings with The Contract and what they would like added/subtracted.

Therefore, The Contract is ethical under Nozick’s view.

We can even use Nozick’s theory to say that all of the gifts Ana has received from Grey were received in an ethical manner. According to Nozick, “you deserve whatever you have received if force or fraud have not come into effect.”‡ Meaning us ladies all need to find a Grey-type figure to willingly give us things (if we are Nozickians).

Utilitarianism – UNDETERMINED

Under this theory the option that maximizes common good, wins. For Utilitarianism, we will look at the two options Ana and Grey have: to sign, or not to sign.

We would have to employ the Hedonic Calculus that is outlined by Utilitarianism to see which option wins, obviously this would weigh differently for each person:

  • Intensity (of pleasure or pain) – I think we see in the book that even though physical pain may occur once The Contract is signed the mental pain for Ana is stronger when she leaves Grey. Grey obviously has more pleasure if The Contract is signed.
  • Duration (of pleasure or pain) – If The Contract is signed this factor is continually negotiated, if it is not, the pain of loss is forever (man that was sappy).
  • Certainty/Uncertainty (probability of pain/pleasure occurring) – I think here we have a tie. 100% pain will occur if signed and 100% will occur if not.
  • Fecundity (amount of pain/pleasure that will continue to occur) – I think we can say that either way the pain will end. If The Contract is signed and either party doesn’t like it, it can be stopped at any point. If Ana or Grey walk away eventually the hurt will stop.
  • Purity (how pure is the pain/pleasure – not mixed) – I think on both ends it would be mixed, there is pain and pleasure associated with both options.
  • Extent (number of persons being affected) – Immediately, only Grey and Ana are affected. However, I can see Ana’s circle of friends being negatively affected if she signs.

According to the math it seems there is a tie, except with intensity, which seems to lead to the opinion that they should sign, and extent which leads to the opposite conclusion. Ana and her wavering soul would really have to sit and think about this one.

Objectivist Theory – UNETHICAL

Ayn Rand developed the Objectivist Theory. Under this mode of ethical determination it is essential for a person to sit down and ask themselves, “What’s good for ‘me’ in the long run? How can I be rational, use reason, and be the best I can be.”

Rand requires a little more detail than the plot tells us. At this point Ana wants to become the best publishing house intern she can be (really, the girl needs some higher aspirations), Grey wants to basically be the best controller of the universe and end world hunger (now, THERE are some goals). I’m not 100% sure about how a sex contract works into either of these two ambitions. So, if there is the possibility that it could hinder these goals it would be unethical – but Grey has seemed to manage just fine with similar contracts in the past. However, Rand claims that happiness is a by-product of virtue and one of the Three Cardinal Virtues is Pride. To gain and maintain Pride you must act to gain Self-Esteem. To me, through the book it does not seem that Ana gains as much Self-Esteem while experiencing “Red Room of Pain” exploits as she does “Vanilla” exploits. That leads me to believe she could be happier and more ethical if she does not sign The Contract.

Integrative Social Contract Theory – UNETHICAL

To determine ethicalness under ISCT we must determine:

  • Does this violate a hypernorm (the global test)?
  • Does this violate an authentic norm (the regional test)?

Although there is no set way to determine a hypernorm the two that are outlined are:

  • Core Human Rights: including those to personal freedom, physical security and well-being, political participation, informed consent, the ownership of property and the right to substance.
  • The obligation to respect the dignity of each human person.

A norm is authentic if:

  • Compliance is approved.
  • Deviance is disapproved.
  • Almost everyone does it.

If the situation violates either of these norms you stop because the situation is unethical – I think it’s pretty obvious from both a hypernorm and authentic norm analysis that The Contract would be deemed unethical. Unless I’m missing something and these contracts ARE the norm – then I guess I’m abnormal :/

Did I get these right? Do you see the analysis in the same way or differently? Please leave some discussion points below and don’t forget to follow Masters of What (it’s that little button over there on the right hand side)!

*Disclaimer: I have ONLY read 50 Shades of Grey, no further into the series…Don’t be mean and spoil all of the salacious details! Plus I’m sure MORE contract negotiation occurred in the other 2 books.
†Another Disclaimer: I did get an A in my business ethics course but I will not lie and say I 100% understood all of the intricacies in all of the theories, I maintain my right to have interpreted some things wrong – This is a big deal because I NEVER admit I could be wrong 😉
All quotes (and CORRECT knowledge about the subject) are attributed to my fabulous professor of my MGT 722 course: Seminar in Business Ethics and Social Institutions, Dr. Lori J. Ryan. Any INCORRECT information I managed on my own.
My Business Ethics Folder

I still have my Seminar in Business Ethics and Social Institutions folder, and love it. So much hard work was put into this folder.