Tag Archives: career

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

The Budget Keeper: Three Money Saving Tips for Your Twenties

This advice is geared toward your early twenties but is applicable to any stage of life. Whether you’re a recent college grad or a bit older, these tips will save you and make you the most money, based on my experience and calculations as a woman in my latest of twenties.
TL;DR:
  1. Used car
  2. Low rent
  3. Imbibing on a budget
They don’t teach these tips in school, but they should.
Set yourself up to be in a better place financially in ten years like so:

1) Buy a used car

Don’t buy a new car and don’t buy a flashy car to seem rich. You want to invest in your appearance for your career? Invest in your clothing. Dress at least one pay grade above where you are now. A sleek wardrobe that fits is a smarter investment than an automobile that spends 95% of its life parked.

cars parked in a full lot
A car spends 95% of its life parked. Good investment?

Keep your car payment as low as possible (or non-existent). $400-$500 a month will go further invested in stocks you believe in, in industries that you understand, than getting flushed down a motor finance drain. Buy a perfect black suit and a versatile cocktail dress that will pay for themselves, not a luxury car in which to sit alone in traffic. It’s for the birds – who cares about your car? (So millennial, I know.)

2) Keep your rent low

You’re young, you’re renting. Renting is okay. Renting is smarter than owning in many ways. A home is a liability, not an asset. Don’t feel pressured to own. Rent til you know. Enjoy your freedom. You can pick up and move to a new city anytime. You don’t need to mow a lawn or pay property taxes or acquiesce to an HOA.
house keys and Tile and Michigan keychain
The Tile is for when you lose your keys after a night with the Budget Keeper.

(Bonus tip: buy a Tile so you can save time and money finding your lost keys or anything else you frequently lose. It’s a GPS tracker connected to an app. I’ve sworn by Tile for years. They make great office gifts, too. It’s $24.99 for 1 or $62.93 for 4 on Amazon.)

While renting, bargain with your landlord.

2a) How to lower your rent

A) Offer to post reviews in exchange for reduced rent or at least two years of controlled rent.
B) Offer to pay three or six months rent in advance for a discounted rate or 1-2 months free.
C) If you’re in marketing, offer to do some social media promotion for your residence in exchange for reduced rent. Don’t use your personal brand for this – spell out a contract defining the promotion.

2b) Another renting tip: document

Whenever an issue arises, politely document the hell out of it via email, and make sure they know that you have kept track. Don’t be a nuisance or threaten anyone, and be lavish in your praise for what these apartment managers do right. But whenever you do email about a recurring issue, simply point out that you have documentation of the same thing having happened before, listing the dates and/or attaching the details as a PDF or email attachments. Maybe you have no issues with your landlord, property manager, or neighbors – consider yourself lucky. Keep renting until buying truly makes sense for you, your career, and your goals.

3) The Budget Keeper

This one is a little controversial 🙂

Don’t do this on a first date.

Do be discreet.

When you go out, pack a hip flask. Some people will judge you and think you’re cheap. You’re not, and who cares what they think? You’re young, trying to save money, and you just cut your bar tab in half. Bars mark up liquor an average of 300-400%. Restaurant owners are the only employers who don’t pay their staff living wages and expect customers to foot the bill. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a little sauce to top off your drink, considering how expensive going out can be. Especially if you have a high tolerance.

Sugar Kane

Think of this as a backup plan / accessory. This tip allows you to control your spending without ending the night early. You’re busy being fabulous, maybe networking a bit, you go-getter! You may even make some new friends or impress old men who retired from the railroad.

Notes:
Do buy something.
Don’t stiff the bartender.
Don’t get drunk.

Credit for the Budget Keeper goes to RickM. It’s not only a money-saver; it’s a throwback to a better time.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful. I’ll post more soon, hopefully in video format.