Monday, September 21, 2015

SECOND ACTS: Back to School!

Who woulda thunk? Back to school after 35 years? SL is all about second chances and second acts, but jumping in to late-night papers and burning the midnight oil, wasn't exactly what we had in mind for a "Second Act." But lo and behold, a semester teaching bright young things at a local, heavily endowed, private university and SL gets hooked! University life was energizing. Inspiring. Being on campus brought back memories of the best years of my life. And the fashion on campus wasn't that different from when I left it back in the late 70s!  Oh yes, as an adjunct professor you will make about the same as you would flipping burgers, even with 35 years running your own successful business in a field in which you now teach. And yes, the Bachelors Degree is being quickly replaced by a required Master's for anyone from Millennials to Boomers who want to advance in their careers. 
Universities need as many letters behind your last name as they can get to justify putting you on staff. It's understandable. After all, you don't want your little Ashley or Preston being taught by someone without "credentials" after shelling out those thousands upon thousands of dollars in tuition each year. Those letters do matter. Perhaps more than ever as the cost of higher education becomes harder for many parents to afford. 

Armed with a mere Bachelors--including a double major -- but still just those two letters BS (no pun intended here!), yours truly headed into high-gear research mode to find the best online Master's program in PR around. The caveat, no GRE--graduate school exams. Why? SL gets test anxiety -- smart, yes, but when it comes to tests, the brain goes into freeze-mode. Nothing in, nothing out! Serendipity strikes when Kent State University pops up among the top 5 schools for online Master's programs in Public Relations. What a coincidence that SL's own daddy graduated from this historic school (yes, you might remember Kent State demonstrations of the early '70s). 

Once applications were filled out, recommendations received from my industry pals, and an essay that I hadn't written since the first time I applied to college, I was in and rolling by January 2015. 

Here's what I've learned after four grad school classes. Online is great if you've got ADD. You can get up and walk around as much as you want. You can study when you want--and you do have to study A LOT! And more important, the world of public relations is not the much maligned field it was when SL opened her PR shop in the '80s.  It's a more complex, sophisticated, management-driven and in-demand field than ever before, thanks to the explosion of digital and social media. Good PR people score salaries now in the mid-six figures -- unheard of back in the day! 

No way SL plans an encore return to her agency business...that's PR history. She's headed back to campus in 2017, more letters behind her last name, and ready to pass on sage wisdom, real-world experiences, and new theories to the next generation of PR pros. But first, she's got to get back to her homework. She has a paper due this week...and next week, and next...

Wishing you all spex-tacular second acts of your own!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CAREER WOMAN: Forging New Paths

Back in the "day" when SL was tromping the streets of Dallas in search of the perfect post-graduation job, career options for women were pretty much "old school." Admin? Check. Nurse? Check. Secretary? Double-check. Retail sales clerk? Check.

But not one to follow the rules or the road, SL took a different tack. Journalist? Maybe. PR? Glorified baby-sitter, they said. Entrepreneur? Who are you kidding? Go home and go to lunch with your friends, "he" said. Not!

Today, the advice and career choices are endless for women. I didn't say "easy." I didn't say "automatic." I didn't say "without a few sacrifices." In 2015, times, thankfully, are beginning to change.

Civil engineer? You bet! Jet pilot? Of course! Plastic surgeon? Absolutely! Biotech researcher? Yes, indeed! PR Agency Owner? Been there, done that, and SL's has the rarified Seven-Figure Club badge and battle-scars to show for it. And "baby-sitting" was what SL did with her two fabulous babies after the nanny called it a day at 6.

While there are plenty of young women opting out of the job market early to raise families, there are legions of women of all creeds, cultures and faiths who are leaning in (to borrow high-tech maven Sheryl Sandberg's phrase) to forge new career paths in Boys Club fields.

In SL's storied agency history -- suitable for a soap opera in some cases -- we sought out the courageous women entrepreneurs who were blazing trails. A female plastic surgeon who was among a handful in the state of Texas. A civil engineer whose company played a key role in Dallas light rail construction. An African-American woman-owned cosmetics company, one of the first in DFW. They inspired our team, as well as the community of women in our city.

Now we pay it forward to encourage, and coach the next crop of pathfinders who will do the same some day.

To learn the latest top careers for women and to see how far we are coming...yes small steps in those stilettos, ladies, but nonetheless forward...check this out:

Have a spex-tacular day! And remember, please pay it forward!

Saturday, March 28, 2015


It's easy to think "Oh, I'll just start my own company." After all, we see how "easy" it seems to be for all those tech-savvy Millennials to dream up great ideas that end up as IPOs. Entrepreneurs are a different breed of cat. They view the world differently, seeing possibilities, where others might see obstacles. They see opportunities where others might see road blocks. They possess an uncanny ability to survive on little sleep. Even those with ADHD seem to be able to hyper focus on their idea and dream.

(photo courtesy of

New technology has opened up worlds of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Virtual offices are no longer an experiment in flex-schedules of the '80s and '90s, but an every day reality. Yes, my entrepreneur wannabe's, it may seem like starting a business is a walk in the park. Grab a clever domain name. Set up a slick Wix website. Park yourself in front of your computer for hours on end at your local Starbucks. Or maybe on your patio.

For every brilliant idea that succeeds, there are hundreds, if not thousands, that end up on "the cutting floor."

If you're an entrepreneur waiting in the wings, learn as much as you can about business basics before dropping a dime on that big idea. SL learned it the hard way, losing plenty of big bucks, before learning that she didn't know it all. Check out your local campus continuing ed classes on business. Gather your team of advisors, supporters, influencers, and by all means, learn this: You don't know it all. You can't do it all. It takes a team. Hire smart, not hire for friendship. Hire to fill in your weaknesses. Hire to nurture talent. And if you're hiring Millennials, learn what turns on this much-maligned group.They are your future. They are THE future.

If you're already a successful entrepreneur, SL shares your pain, and your joy at being your own boss. But yours truly knows that it is lonely at the top. Only another entrepreneur can truly understand what it's like to lose a big account, and worry about making payroll. Only another entrepreneur can truly understand the heartbreak of pouring your energy and support into a valued employee only to lose that employee to a competitor.

Surviving at the top of the Entrepreneur's Everest requires sharing the oxygen with other climbers. Reach out. Engage. Let go of the ego's temptation that only you have the answers to the ascent, or you'll join the climbers who slipped off the mountain into oblivion.

Wishing you spex-tacular success in sharing the top with other climbers!