Judith Coley

Marketing. Strategy. Leadership.

My Career in a Cloud

What’s best about your business/social network, is that it is a living, breathing amalgamation of the energy of you and your connections as you move together through your careers and your lives. You can picture these contacts like constellations moving from company to company, location to location, sometimes shifting together as colleagues re-group at a new organization, sometimes spinning out to pursue new solo activities.

This network has been the backbone of my career success: pretty much every job I’ve got, has come through a personal connection in the form of an introduction or referral.

I’ve just discovered that an organization called Socilab offers a similar free mapping service if you allow them access to your LinkedIn network: http://socilab.com/#home. My map has significant clusters for my connections from Apple, Adobe, Macromedia, and those master connectors the PayPal mafia!  Smaller nodes map out connected expatriate friends, who, like me, have hopped from country to country. And then, one of the smallest but most intense areas of proximity, my Book Club.

This infographic has stayed in my mind’s eye as a symbolic snapshot of my career. I’m very grateful for this living network and in retrospect I think there are some good ideas to learn from my experience building it.

Be Strategic – Know What You Want

If and when people offer to help you, it’s important to know what you want, and be able to package your requests into simple ‘asks’. Make it easy and quick for people to help you, and most importantly do thank them afterwards and let them know what happened – it’s the most gratifying thing to learn when an introduction has borne fruit.

Find your People

As social animals, humans love to gather – and a shared interest or culture is one of the most relaxed ways to meet people. I met one of my closest friends at a Mac User Group in Singapore many years ago. We were fish out of water compared to the programmers but forged a fast friendship that still prevails. Think about all of your interests and experiences and see how you can plug back into some of them – for the joy of rediscovering that hobby as well as the fun of meeting those birds of a feather.

Listen and connect – wherever you are

Pretty much anywhere you go, but particularly if you are outside your normal places and routines, you are bound to meet people. Why not strike up a conversation? You’ll sense if someone doesn’t want to engage; but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how open most people are. At business networking events this is precisely why you are present, so take business cards and if you are with friends, please split up. You can swap notes later, but you’ll miss out if you are already joined at the hip with someone you already know. Conversational openers don’t have to be complicated, but I would also caution you not to try to ‘close’ the conversation too fast, or at all, on the first meeting. For now, just map out some general areas of mutual interest and have fun. You never know what you will learn from these conversations and how a mutual connection may serve you both in the future. Please don’t ignore those younger, older, or different from you – everyone has value.

The ‘Don’ts’ of Networking

A few years ago I was at a big advertising industry party in New Delhi. It was a noisy, dark, crowded space where business cards were pushed into recipient’s hands and any introductions could barely be heard above the din. I’ve been to events in the States where the introductions are more akin to speed dating and you leave not feeling like you had a single authentic conversation, it’s never good when you sense peoples’ eyes are grazing the room behind you.

What’s Next for LinkedIn?

Back in the world of online networking there’s also the risk that LinkedIn may have ‘jumped the shark’. I get requests to connect every day from people I have never spoken with and with whom I have little to nothing in common, and they offer no context or common ground. On that note it’s now a common sales tactic to invite a target to connect directly via LinkedIn rather than making an effort to take the time to build a relationship.

Now that LinkedIn has been bought by Microsoft, it’s going to be interesting to see whether it holds its dominant position or whether Facebook or some yet-to-be launched social network will supplant it.

My Network Today

In the meantime, I cherish and support my thriving, busy, inspiring network of colleagues and friends – we map our movements via LinkedIn, but connect and celebrate via Facebook. Some of the top connectors in my network are also my closest friends, they are the people I trust for a candid opinion and for honest feedback about my latest goals and projects. They are solid gold.

Let’s connect soon!

Careers: What I’ve Learned (So Far)

Golden Gate University thumbnail logoThis is to accompany a panel session at my alma mater GGU – Women in Leadership. Wednesday November 5th 2014. Topics I cover here include Career Planning, Integrating Work and Life, Negotiating Salaries and Effective Communication at Work.

It’s very exciting to be invited to participate on this panel.  Since it was set up a month or so back, there was the fire storm around Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s remarks at the Grace Hopper Conference, and that same week I went to a conference at Google about the future of PR – and there wasn’t a single woman speaker or panelist at an event tailored for an industry with so many fantastic female practitioners. What’s going on?

I hope the session on Wednesday night will act as a think tank for all of us and give us renewed vigor and confidence to get out there and rock our careers, our personal lives, and support the network of women around us.  A tall order? Maybe – but I am very hopeful.

Here are some of my notes based on the Q&A we have been preparing for the panel session.

Career Planning

Keep in mind that a career plan is only as good as its execution and you can’t hold yourself hostage to a plan that no longer works for you.  As John Lennon observed “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Having said that, if you don’t have a plan at all then you’ll be denying yourself the opportunity to pursue your dreams, reach a bit further, achieve a bit more. There are a lot of books out there to help you identify your core skills and motivators and from there, you can decide where you want to go.  Two favorites of mine are “The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work” and “Strengths Finder” – a book that is also an online quiz. And for overall life planning I believe the Grand Daddy of them all “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” is good at explaining why you should begin with the end in mind, and for an excellent study in happiness I would recommend checking out Gretchen Rubin’s website.

Integrating Work and Life

Don’t underestimate the power of your home team – whether or not you have a family, you have people around you who can help and support you, and you can help them too.  When you are snowed under with work, sometimes it’s good to work with a friend, while she works too.

Most of my challenges in this area have been to do with international travel where a business trip can last weeks at a time. It’s important to keep up some personal activities even if you are on extended business trip. A good rule of thumb is to carve out 30 minutes a day for yourself, it doesn’t matter too much what you do.  As a sporadic jogger I find it’s great to use Walk Jog Run to map routes in the places I am staying in. Also use Podcasts to keep up with your favorite audio, and Skype to keep up with your loved ones.  Running allows me to snatch a little bit of sightseeing or local color before the day begins.  Take care and ask for advice, but you’ll be amazed how memorable these excursions are.

Another area of integration is working out how to have good boundaries with work, when you are on vacation. My family would tell you that I am not very good at this, but what I do try to do, is to use my cell phone to check email first thing and last thing, rather than opening up my laptop which just drags me into the email swamp.

Negotiating Salaries

How to Ask for a Raise” by Jocelyn Goldfein is really thorough, fresh and informative. Salary.com is your friend. Also ask around and work out all the little details that could make a difference to how you feel about your overall compensation. Agree milestones in advance which can trigger a compensation review. Keep asking.

During the hiring process you will have to negotiate your salary. “What did you Earn at Your Last Job?” by Liz Ryan will help you stay strong as you are questioned and cajoled to reveal your previous salary. Do not cave!

Effective Communication at Work

Think about what you say, how you say it and when you say it.  It’s important to put yourself into the conversation, do speak up and when speaking, hold your space, maintaining strong eye contact will help avoid interruptions. And when you are interrupted, do make sure the rest of your comments are heard.  Work on your voice and tone – do you have a lighter, higher, or abrasive tone that does not communicate gravitas or intelligence?  Learning to drop your voice, speak slower will pay off enormously. Get a speech coach, I highly recommend Eugene O’Reilly at Contemporary Speech and Voice Services, in a few weeks he can transform your voice, greatly enhancing your personal style. Check yourself on the number of times you say um, sorry, like, God, yeah etc etc – they do not convey authority or persuasion.

Make your emails worth reading! You can build your reputation by sending concise emails that have a relevant subject line and clearly call out action points and who is responsible.  Do bother to add salutations and sign offs, Carson Tate’s recent post sums this up perfectly (No Subject); How Sloppy Emails Ruin Your Productivity.  When possible use direct communication with your colleagues – in order of precedence there’s face to face, then phone, then Skype or instant message, texts and then email.  You can’t build relationships over email, so take the time to get to know people.

Finally there’s the thorny subject of appearance.  Books, magazines, YouTube will give you an avalanche of how to look – I think the most important thing is to make your appearance work for you, but then leave it be, “Set it And Forget it”. The last thing you need to be thinking about while you are working, is your appearance.  Be mindful of the industry and company culture you are in, and dress accordingly, it’s good to take it up a notch or two, but that can be difficult in the Bay Area’s casual climate.






Blowing off steam – GGU MBA 2008


Take Another Piece of my Heart Dr Hosseini

KhaledAnd the Mountains Echoed is a fabulous book.  Days after finishing it I am still moved by the interwoven plot lines, and I keep thinking through the ‘what if’s’ of the characters.  Khaled Hosseini is the master of a good yarn, and the king of drawing his characters with fast confident strokes – within a few paragraphs you don’t just get a feel for the personalities, you start caring for them.  He ups the ante with his ability to turn the plot on just a few words; most of the time the story is shaped on the basis of lies served up as affectionate truths, or more sinister half-truths some of which play out over decades, which makes it all the more heart rending for the omniscient reader.By the end of the book we have traveled together to Afghanistan, Paris, Greece and California hopping decades and regimes without getting bogged down for a minute. You leave the book with a satisfying feeling that there are enough good people in the world to ensure that the truth will, eventually, set most of us free.

Let us say Grace

Grace CoddingtonImagine you are invited to a dinner party with a group of glamorous people who you know only by sight but find utterly intriguing. The women are beautiful but snooty, the men have florid complexions and are a little over-sunned and over-banked. Over the course of this evening you will listen intently to one anecdote after another, the locations for these stories reading like the cities on the side of a designer store carrier bag: New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, …..and Anglesey?  Because here’s the thing – Grace Coddington is in many ways an outsider sitting right on the front row of the catwalk that is world of glossy magazines, and watches it all with the observance of someone who was not born into this world. Her breezy book reads just like the best dinner party story telling – revealing, intriguing, exclusive and memorable – and to quote Kenny Everett ‘All in the Best Possible Taste’.

Coddington grew up in a decaying hotel in North Wales; her family was at the poor end of an upper middle class family and lost out in family inheritances.  But her beauty (and I would guess her wit) got her to London and into the world of modelling.  After suffering a car accident which resulted in plastic surgery on her eye, and she transitioned to life behind the camera to enormous success, working as creative director at British Vogue, Calvin Klein and American Vogue.

If you saw The September Issue, or The Devil Wears Prada, or wondered how Princess Diana bloomed into a fashion forward icon, then “Grace” will unpeel the onion a few more layers and you’ll learn a lot more about how a magazine like Vogue has developed over the years.

I particularly enjoyed Coddington’s tales of her upbringing and the early days of modelling in London in the late 50’s and early 60’s when models were expected to do their own hair and make-up and would cart all of their tools and accessories around to every shoot. Her experience in the fashion world spans more than fifty years and reflects changing times and culture. Coddington uses the book to stick it to a few people like Eileen Ford who wrecked her eyebrows, but speaks very affectionately about difficult characters like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld.

This is worth reading in the hardback edition as her pen illustrations are cute, and the book itself is beautifully designed and printed.  Just what you would expect from someone as passionate about the details of art production.

I FitBit, Therefore I Am

fitbitNine months of FitBit ownership and life has definitely changed.  In fact I think it’s heralded one of the biggest changes in behavior in recent years as I have become very aware of my physical activity levels or lack thereof.

Strange things you do when you have a FitBit or other personal fitness device:

  1. Plunge into bushes and other shady spots when out running or hiking to see your screen to find out how many steps you’ve done.
  2. Check your FitBit during social events and meetings, perhaps this is replacing texting as the new distraction?
  3. Rummage around your bra strap to secure said FitBit, or to remove it for items one and two.
  4. Forget to take it off for airport security and end up having to submit to a pat down search.
  5. Walk vigorously round your living room to clock the final steps of the day to get to goal.  I once did a thousand steps this way – it was odd but rewarding.
  6. Checking your overall dashboard online numerous times a day.

But the best thing of all is realizing the hard truth that a day at home shuttling between desk, sofa and kitchen table does not make for an active lifestyle. And that you don’t value steps that you take without the FitBit.

Hardest of all has been conquering the ‘active minutes’ goal (60 minutes in my case) which I have only managed to reach once in the last few months, and that was with my friend Graham who is a very fast walker. On a chilly December afternoon we tramped back and forth between Soho, Piccadilly and Westminster, admiring statues and monuments at high speed.  Much easier has been reaching the ‘floors’ goals as I live at the top of a steep hill so any trip outside will log at least a floor or two. Also I’ve learned that a browse around the shops can clock up a lot of steps just as well as shivering down at the park. In fact I can now say that I am exercising, even while at Westfield.

I’d recommend the FitBit to just about anyone, you can tailor the daily goals to your own needs and it has removed all of the guess work from jogging and fitness sessions at the gym.

Right, I need to pace around my office a bit more I am behind on my daily goals.



Color Tricks for Marketers

analogic color sampleThis week I needed to create a color scheme for a company and approve a print job for metal tags.  I don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator so needed to find some work-arounds. I found a couple of websites that were very helpful and I hope they will be useful for you too, if you don’t have access to a graphic / web designer and need to use specific colors for a project.

There are some acronyms that you will come across as you dabble with color. Screen based colors are usually communicated as RGB (Red Green Blue) which was the light system behind the cathode ray tube of TV and Computer monitors.  For many years you could see little chips of red, green, and blue as part of the BBC logo. Nowadays designers work with Hex or web-safe colors which are expressed as a number/letter combination starting with a hash and will work consistently across different browser and device types.

If you have to choose complementary colors to go with a logo then head straight to Color Scheme Designer – either pick a fresh color from the wheel or enter the color reference you already have, and the site will also highlight the exact complementary shades or additional colors that go with your first one.  It’s fun going through the different options on the dial – from a single shade, to complementary two shades, triad, tetrad (gives you four shades as complementary twin pairs), analogic – your shade and two sibling shades on the same side of the color wheel, and then finally accented analogic where a final shade from across the wheel is shown to give you an accent color.

Further clicks will show you your color scheme as it would look used as a color scheme for light web pages and for dark pages.  Very fast, very easy, very classy. If you are creating something for another screen or print format then Color-Hex will help you translate web safe colors into RGB or other formats.

A trickier format to work with is PMS or Pantone Matching System for physical printed items.  If you don’t have their physical PMS swatch cards then signing off a print job can be difficult when judging the tones from your computer screen.  I recommend trusting an experienced printer who understands the effects that ink will have on different printed surfaces, when combined with your desired shades. To get the best results you may need to sign off something that is a good bit lighter or darker than the exact corresponding number codes.

If you want to learn more about the acronyms of color – RGB, CMYK, PMS, HEX etc etc then there are numerous websites that explain them separately.  Marketing D.I.Y. has a quick summary too.

Coca-Cola Red Example

red tableHere is an example here’s how Coca-Cola red is coded across the different color standards. To do this I found the RGB number for the color by using the DigitalColor Meter built into my Mac, and then plugged the RGB number into the search box on Color-Hex.





polar bearsHere’s Coca-Cola red in all its glory, here’s the USA Coca-Cola website featuring the famous red, popping zestily against the #028f98 of the Arctic waters.





There’s a New Hugh Grant,
and He’s a Foxy Ginger

Domhnall Gleeson

First of all, the San Francisco Chronicle hit the nail on the head when it described Richard Curtis movies in general as “a reliable blend of clever banter and emotional manipulation” and it rightly gave the latest one, ‘About Time’, a positive review. When it’s out as a DVD, About Time will definitely be on the shelf at home as a comfort film. The best thing about this film is that the syrup has been dialed a long way back and the plot has a lot more spirit, avoiding the emotional overload of ‘Love Actually’, Continue reading

Hallowe’en Humbug

pumpkinIn general I don’t like Hallowe’en. It’s a strange holiday which dominates the retail calendar for a few weeks pushing candy and costumes to kids; parties and costumes to adults and as Dan Savage says it’s become a bit of a ‘Straight Pride’.  Being British curmudgeons my roommate and myself batten down the hatches, turn off the front lights and ignore the festival. Or nearly ignore it.  My one piece of Hallowe’enia every year is to go down Cole Street in my neighborhood to see what display is on at the modern house in the middle of the block.  The second floor’s glass wall makes a great spot for dancing displays.  One year it was a dancing zebra and giraffe, this year it was an homage to Monsters Inc.

Next stop: Turkey Day which is much more up my street.

dancing monster

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