Tag Archives: Atlanta

My First Boss

I just found out that my first marketing boss, Kris Hart, died four years ago at the young age of 48. Somehow I hadn’t heard, and I’m processing. I want to tell you about what she meant to me. While I’m late in the sense of her passing, I’m right on time from a career vantage point.

I met Kris in August 2009. I had graduated from Michigan a year before and moved to Atlanta on a whim without a job. We connected online and she invited me to Murphy’s on a Thursday morning to interview me to be her nanny. After a year working for the Institute for Social Research, I wanted to work a couple part time jobs before committing to another 9-5.

Being on a budget and unfamiliar with the city, I declined her ride offer and volunteered to meet there. I walked what turned out to be two humid miles in 90-degree weather from Midtown, arriving sweaty and hopeful. Thanks, MapQuest. The literally messy nature of our first impression due to a lack of smartphone maps and Lyft makes this memory sweeter and more real. I remember falling in love with Atlanta a little bit on that walk as I hurried, checking my watch, and admiring the lush tree-lined streets and varied architecture of the homes.

house in Atlanta
Argonne Avenue NE

It was 11am and quiet in Virginia Highland. Kris ordered us mimosas and we began an honest conversation about my background and her needs. I liked her immediately. Afterward, she told me I was bright, educated – not a fit: she wanted someone to take care of her toddler and new twins for years to come. I agreed and moved on. I also stored the memory of Kris in my nascent vision of whom I wanted to become: a very together woman – successful, magnetic, beautiful, kind yet firm, and seeming to have it all.

Kris Hart photo
Kris Hart

Eight months later Kris emailed to ask if I still lived in Atlanta and wanted a job. She was the new CMO at an entertainment company and offered me a marketing role reporting to her. For me, the rest is history. We lost touch but I’ve thought of Kris many times since.

Kris had poise and smarts and cool. She had an impressive resume, too. In 2007 as VP-brand management for Harrah’s Entertainment, she oversaw the historic $5 billion merger of Harrah’s and Caesers, creating the world’s largest casino company. Despite all her accomplishments, Kris was approachable and humble. You never saw her stress personality and she handled office politics, swinging dicks/male egos in the boardroom, and entitled consultants all with class and efficacy. Kris never micromanaged. She gave me autonomy even though I hadn’t earned it yet. She gave me public praise. She listened to my ideas. She asked great questions instead of instructing. And she was fun. I loved many things about working with Kris at Premier Exhibitions. And I learned a ton, which set me up for the next decade of navigating companies.

Among other sexy brands like BODIES: The Exhibition, Kris handed me the reins on social media for RMS Titanic Inc., the Salvor in Possession of Titanic. This was a few months before Expedition Titanic, a major dive that our company sponsored with an oceanographic dream team. I helped publish dive footage and launched social around it in partnership with History Channel, National Geographic, Woods Hole, and others. I was 23 years old with almost no experience. What an opportunity.

Titanic The Artifact Exhibition logo
One of the properties we marketed

Kris saw something in me over a drink discussing babysitting, and I’m so grateful. I think she saw my potential because she had the gut for it. Working with her launched my marketing career, a field different from my psychology and academia plans. Her encouragement was instrumental in building my confidence in an area I had never studied, a craft I learned purely from books, blogs, podcasts, and paying attention at work.

I’m lucky to have had such a strong, competent, and kind woman as my first marketing boss. She empowered me. Thank you Kris. Sorry I’m so late. You were great.

Kris Hart obituary

map of Atlanta Midtown
Walking to meet Kris

How to Choose Where You Live

The city where you live can hugely impact your happiness. Some people say it doesn’t matter where you live, that you make your own happiness wherever you go. I beg to differ. The energy of a city is so important to your ability to thrive there. The weather is important too, more for some people than others. I really dislike being cold. I grew up in Chicago, went to college in New York and Michigan, and moved to the south primarily because I knew warmer weather would make me happier. It really did. So did other things about Atlanta.

Why I Moved from Atlanta to Austin

After eight years in ATL, I got the itch to try out another place. I wanted to get rid of my stuff and get rid of my 9-5 and make Beetle Moment Marketing my main job. I wanted to move somewhere with a greater focus on outdoor activities and a stronger sense of community, a place with less tension — without giving up my fantastic network and clients in Atlanta. So I’m splitting time between Austin and Atlanta. Semi-dual residency is my experiment for the next year or so. Airfare can be cheaper than bus fare if you know a few travel hacks.
people kayaking on Ladybird Lake
Ladybird Lake in Austin

My research

Who’s Your City,  though getting older and not the absolute answer to the question, is still a solid skim on the topic of choosing a place to live. Richard Florida has devoted his research to cities and what makes them and their residents prosper. Penelope Trunk did the same thing and after a year of thorough city happiness research moved from NYC to Madison, Wisconsin.  I examined the attributes of several U.S. cities and picked the one with the most pros for me: Austin, Texas.
page from Who's Your City
How do you like the place you’re living now?
It’s easier to move when you don’t have a mortgage or a job that requires you to be in one place. But if these apply to you, it’s still possible to rearrange your life to make a change or even become nomadic. Sell it, rent it, request remote work, quit, freelance…

And remember: jobs come and go.

We place too much emphasis on work in this country. No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked more. That said, I like working — more accurately, I love working for myself.
Emily at FBO looking at jets
Wheels up

What to do with all your stuff

Own a home? Rent it out. Have too much stuff? Sell it ALL. Inherit an old boat recently? Hire Captain Ron to help you sail it from the Caribbean to Miami, then decide to just keep sailing. The internet has made all of this easier than ever.

Downsize to joy items

Start to downsize early, then moving becomes much easier mentally. I sold or donated all my furniture and came to Austin with only boxes containing things like my InstantPot and Himalayan salt lamps and Casper pillow and rollerblades. Stuff that brings me joy: ditch the rest. Buy newer models of what you sold.

A chance to upgrade

When I move again I will pare it down even further. I’m excited to be lighter than ever. All those blazers and Brooks Brothers shirts and high heels from my corporate days are just taking up room in my closet. I’ve been thinking more about this since seeing the YouTube trend of young people living in their cars. Eileah Ohning from Columbus lived in her car for several months, motivated in part by wanting to save money to pay off student loans. That is a travesty, but student loan debt is a separate topic. The point is that it’s possible to be happy living really lean. Here are more moneysaving tips for your twenties.
I couldn’t downsize into a sedan like Eileah did (impressive) but I did embrace the discomfort of starting over from scratch. It’s a chance to upgrade things.

Oakland Cemetery

I took these photos at Atlanta’s historic Oakland Cemetery. This place is a trip into Confederate and Southern history while also demonstrating the oddity of gentrification, urban decay, and evolving zoning and land use trends. Depending on where you are standing, you can see the some/all/none of: the downtown skyline, a rusty industrial railroad, a field of identical soldier tombstones, a crowded Jewish section, phallic headstones, gargoyles, mausoleums, heralded magnolia trees, and nature’s insistence that tombstones move over so roots can spring up.

[postcasa]http://picasaweb.google.com/data/feed/base/user/emily.bind/albumid/5562489403056007473?alt=rss&kind=photo&hl=en_US[/postcasa]Oakland Cemetery Atlanta GA