Talking commodities, consumer credit and Capital One.
Three weeks. Likely four.
That’s how much time I estimate I’ve “lost” to migraines. Time spent curled up in the dark, in a fog of pain and nausea. And that doesn’t include the days I’ve spent merely impaired - composing emails with one eye squinting shut, wincing at any noises louder than a whisper - and not wholly incapacitated.”
- From the latest edition of the Galavant Times, to which you can subscribe. If you’re into supporting (random) people’s writing habits, etc.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time “having coffee”, where “having coffee” involves discussions around social media strategies, product launches, presentation tips, CV polishing and so on.
Some of these are ongoing, quasi-mentor/mentee relationships; others are ad-hoc or one-off; not all of them actually involve coffee. Sometimes I leave these meetings exhilarated (which is saying something, given my introvert tendencies). And sometimes I leave these meetings irritated or frustrated, or with a strong sense of having had my time wasted.
Sometimes this disappointment stems from having been kept waiting (5 minutes – understandable; 15 minutes – piss take; 20 mins – I’m out) or from an obvious lack of preparedness by the other party (“so, what do you do again?”).
With that in mind (and inspired by Ty Ahmad-Taylor’s brilliant guidance to his mentees around email introductions), herewith the first version of the Galavant Guide to Not Pissing Off Your Mentors and Advisors:
Confirm the meeting and give at least 24-hours notice if you need to reschedule
Confirming the meeting the morning of the day before you’re due to get together isn’t just polite; it also acts as a reminder to your mentor/advisor and gives him/her an opportunity to reschedule or change the venue if needed. If you’re no longer able to make the meeting, give at least 24 hours (and ideally, 48 hours) notice if at all possible, and suggest specific dates/times for an alternative meeting (avoid open-ended statements like: ‘when is good for you?’). And above all, don’t be a chronic rescheduler.
Here’s a real example of how to make a less than positive impression (names and details changed):
- Send an email with the subject line, “Not sure what happened this morning”
- Get the date and location of the meeting wrong, suggest it was a mix-up on the other person’s behalf: “I’m sorry I think I must have had either a miscommunication or brainfart; I thought today at 9 we were meeting at the XXX offices. May I suggest we perhaps reschedule for another day this week at the same time?”
- When corrected as to the date/location of the meeting, manage to first be very late and then completely miss the actual meeting by getting lost in NYC
- Fail completely to email or call the other party after having missed the meeting
Don’t be late, but don’t be too early
Respect your mentor’s time. Plan your route well in advance and give yourself enough time that traffic or a transit snafu won’t completely derail your arrival. If you’re going to be late, let your advisor know. On the other hand, don’t arrive too early – especially if you’re meeting at your mentor’s home or office. Alex Taub of Dwolla has a solid post on why earlier is not always better (but late is never good).
I’ve had meetings with people who’d obviously forgotten my name. This is…not a good look. Always have a clear objective for your meetings with your mentors and advisors, and make specific requests. Avoid: “I’d really like to meet people and media”. Prefer: “Would you be able to introduce me to XXX editor at YYY newspaper? I’m interested in an internship there over the summer.”
Offer to pay for the coffee or meal
Your mentor or advisor will appreciate the gesture, even if s/he declines. But always offer. And be sincere.
At the very least, send a thank you email within 24 hours of the meeting. Ensure you send your mentor any information or details s/he requested – like a PDF of your CV. And if the interaction involved career advice or introductions, keep your advisor informed of your progress .
Here’s a real example of how to fail at following-up:
- Ask your mentor or advisor to recommend you for an internship.
- Secure an interview for said internship; fail to let your advisor know of your progress.
- Secure said internship
- Allow enough time to elapse that your advisor first hears that you’ve started the internship from a third party
- Entirely fail to send your advisor a thank you note or update of any kind
Don’t embarrass your mentor
When you asked your mentor or advisor to introduce you to someone, you are effectively asking him/her to trust that you will not abuse the privilege. You can bet that if you annoy the person to whom you have been introduced (or, and sometimes worse, if you fail to follow-up on an email introduction, for instance) you will undermine your relationship with your mentor.
Don’t embarrass yourself
Spell check your emails. Get names right. Don’t show up for a meeting hungover. Etc.
Have you had an excellent or awkward mentor/mentee relationship? Weigh in with your suggestions for avoiding embarrassment and ensuring good relations in the comments
Manoush Zomorodi is a freelance reporter, moderator, and media consultant. Her multimedia ebook CAMERA READY: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online is the definitive manual for anyone appearing on camera, and will be released on Tuesday, June 12.
From 1995-2006 Manoush reported and produced for BBC News, with postings in Washington, Berlin, Brussels, and New York. As a freelance reporter and anchor, she covered business and technology for Reuters Television in New York from 2006-2010. She is a media trainer and is piloting a new public radio show about how innovation is changing New York. Follow her @manoushz.
So I have this newsletter. It’s full of win. Don’t take my word for it - how about these other people you don’t know but should listen to because don’t we all take it for granted that people on the internet know what they’re talking about, surely?
Here’s why I always look forward to and read the Galavant emails It’s always been interesting so far so until proven otherwise, I know it’s time well used It’s good value. Definitely better than Vogue (and I do mean that as a compliment) Your hyperlinks always lead me to discovering new things I like the format. I like the idea of a blog-like email Your logo and title rock
Am enjoying the Galavanting. And very keen to see where you find the next intersection of the geeky + interesting + inspiring…$2 a month. At least two people say it’s totally worthwhile. What more do you need? Oh, links: Paypal Amazon
This is the second in a series of posts distilling various lessons I’ve learnt while working on various projects, etc
My fellow fellows at the CUNY / Tow Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism program are gearing up for their pitches, and over the past weeks I’ve been helping several of them refine their spiel. Herewith some notes on how to deliver more effective pitches and presentations:
- Don’t forget to breathe. Take 30 seconds before you head ‘on stage’ to take slow, deep breaths. This calms and relaxes you, and makes it much less likely you’ll start the presentation by taking shallow, gulping breaths (leading to that ‘running out of air’ phenomenon).
- Pause. Silence is a powerful way of emphasizing a point, connecting with your audience and giving them a change to digest the awesomeness of what you just said.
- Maintain eye contact, but don’t stare. There’s a fine line between engaging with someone through good eye contact and creeping them out. Stay on the right side of it. Remember – don’t just focus on the judges, you want the room to pay attention to you, too.
- Don’t read your slides. Just don’t. You waste time and bore the audience. Slides are your *supplementary* materials; you are the primary attraction.
- Tell me what you’re going to tell me (“Now I’d like to talk about”; “let me me tell you” etc); tell me; then tell me what you’ve told me (“to recap”; “as I’ve explained”; etc)
Ashley Milne-Tyte is a New York-based writer and reporter. Ashley produces radio pieces for Marketplace, NPR, and Voice of America, writes for print/online and teaches radio boot camp at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Ashley is currently a (fellow) fellow at the CUNY/Tow Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism . Her entrepreneurial ‘project’ is a podcast: The Broad Experience.
Below is the latest episode of The Broad Experience, all about men, equitable relationships and sex, plus the keys to being a good leader.
He’s also the executive comment editor at the Financial Times, a longtime friend of Galavant Media and an early supporter of the Galavant Times.
Below, he offers some advice to aspiring writers.
1. Write about what you care about. To some extent, any writing is good practice, but you should write on your passions. Life is too short to be writing on China if that’s not what gets you going.
2. Know who you’re writing for. Reading this piece, I wasn’t clear. It’s nicely turned in places but what is it trying to do? Entertain? Great, then entertain who?
3. Avoid rococo writing. Foreign words, adjectives, adverbs and cute metaphors should be used sparingly. Cliches never at all. It’s hard to be breezy and persuasive at the same time.
4. You should be able to summarise your argument in one sentence. If not, there’s something wrong.
5. Start small. Practice writing “perfect” sentences. Sentences should comprise a complete thought; no more, no less. Then move on to paragraphs, and so on. This is not meant to patronising: it’s where most creative writing classes start.
Finally: Read Orwell on Politics and the English language, Strunk & White on style, and everything by Waugh and Fitzgerald. And write. A lot. Don’t give up.
Oh dear, my dad is following me – John McDermott, FT
Step inside the mind of Willem Buiter — but tread carefully – John McDermott, FT Alphaville
Users don’t engage with major media companies because they don’t feel like they influence the voice or the brand – Kevin Kearney, Hard Candy Shell
This may or may not be the first in a series of posts distilling various lessons I’ve learnt while working on various projects, etc
I’ve spoken to several people recently who are in the process of setting up their own companies. Some of these small businesses have already attracted quite a lot of press and attention; others are deep in stealth mode.
But almost all of the founders and co-founders have either hired or are considering retaining the services of a PR firm or professional. Whether such a move is the best use of cash for a small company may be the subject of another post, but I’d argue that no one should even think about ‘PR’ until s/he can answer the following questions:
1 – How will you define and articulate your company’s ‘voice’ across different platforms?
2 – How will you effectively use those platforms to achieve particular goals and reach a desired audience? What are your benchmarks for success?
3 – How will you ensure you are consistent in terms of the substance of the messaging (“what do you want people to think of when they think of your company?”), if not necessarily the style?
4 – What’s your voice (or indeed, your brand)? Are you snarky, wry, post-hipster? Funny, witty, sarcastic?
5 – How will you engage with your audience? Who is your audience? Why? How big is that audience? What do they care about? Why should they care about you?
6 – Who will you follow? Will you follow everyone who follows you?
7 – Will you be blogging? If so, what about? How often?
7a – Will you allow comments on your blogs? Will these be moderated? Will you be replying to comments?
8 – Will you be on Tumblr? Why?
9 – Will you be on Facebook? Why?
10 – What’s your colour scheme? What’s your aesthetic – design-y? Tech-y? Arts-y? Etsy?
11 – Will you post videos, or mostly quotes? Are animated gifs a thing for you? Can you haz cheezburger?
12 – What are the issues you care about? How will you tackle these?
13 – Who will be running the comms on each of your chosen platforms? Will you have one “official” account or will you allow members of your team to “represent” you? If you have one official account, who will have posting rights? Will you be taking a real-time or moderated/edited approach?
14 – What do you want people to talk about when they talk about you? What do you want people to think about when they think about you? What are your key messages?
15 – Do you want to highlight invididuals, causes or just “the brand”?
16 – Who gets to go on TV? Who gets to do panels? Who has the final say in whether something is “on-message” or not?
17 – How will you deal with criticism and feedback? How will you deal with a crisis or a public backlash?
These aren’t questions anyone outside your company can or should answer for you; they have to come from the founders and the founding team. And they have to be discussed, debated and then applied, consistently.
So, what’s your communications strategy?