I'm a former startup consultant turned digital media planner based in Brooklyn, NY. Here, I share opinions on the digital workplace, my love for food and travel, and crowdsource advice/lessons for valuable discussions.

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Questions on Growth

Even the most seasoned professionals burn out sometimes. 

With only a few months til my one year anniversary at my current job, I am facing that familiar “now what?” debate of where I stand. I have discovered I go through phases in any position I’m working, and perhaps you do too:

First three months = the honey moon phase. In the beginning, everything is the best thing ever. Processes are fascinating, people are fun, it’s all about observing and learning, and you’re the new kid on the block who gets to use the “but I’m new” excuse to pass over the big projects that come in. 

Six months = crap, this job is hard. Here’s where you roll up your sleeves and join your co-workers in the trenches. Changes happen more times than you can count. But it’s okay, because you love your job, and you can reap the rewards soon enough.

Almost one year = question everything. Is this really what I want to be doing? Is there a better way? Do I really want to keep working with these people? Am I just a lost soul again? Can I stay afloat while everything and everyone is whizzing by? Should I shut up and deal with the fact that this is just the industry we’re all in?

I’m currently in this last phase. Anyone who knows me personally or professionally knows I march to the beat of my own drum. My Twitter bio best sums it up (h/t Louis C.K. for the quote) -

I don’t like when I’m prevented from doing things the way I think they should be done. 

So it’s no shock that I struggle to get beyond the daily grind to keep the bigger picture in mind. With that, three big questions have been on my brain, and I present them to you all to think about and answer as well:

1) How do you conquer the speed vs. efficiency challenge at work? Today’s digital-centric career calls for creative ideation and execution at an insanely rapid speed — from client responses to project deadlines, I’m having a really hard time finding a balance of producing quality work at shorter timeframes. How can we better manage these expectations?

2) What are your favorite examples of great office/work culture? What do you look for in a team? Do any companies stand out? How can us “little people” (i.e. low/mid-level employees) shape better culture in our own offices?

3) How do you hide your personal attitudes in the workplace? If/when you find yourself in disagreement with a coworker or client about something, how do you (literally) save face? I always joke and call myself the ”Larry David” of the office because I can’t fake nice and can’t hide my emotions. However, this is not good for professional development. What practical tips do you use in the workplace to get through these situations?

4) What’s the key to longevity at a company? As I mentioned before, I seem to grow out of my honeymoon phase after a short time, then I get stressed out, battling to maintain that happy, positive outlook anymore. How can we stay in the game for the long term and not throw in the towel?

Best of luck to all of us navigating these waters. 

Stay relevant

Now that you’ve done your homework and practiced my tips (hopefully) it’s time to keep your name in the game. This can mean a few things:

  • write, write, and write some more
  • create an online portfolio
  • go to events or host your own
  • meet new people, always

I just happen to do all of the above. It’s crucial to my career that I constantly do these so that I always have new opportunities knocking at my door. 

We females are experiencing an interesting time in the digital age. The feminist movement is pretty much back in full effect (reasons why I wanted to write this post) which means our voices are ever so important. Now it’s up to us to take back media time from the dudes, create our own work, and make things right, or at least fair and equal. One way to do this is to write about it. Keep up that blog, pitch more pieces, write in your journal, or start a newsletter. Express yourself and make it known what you value, what your goals are, and what matters to you as a professional. However you want to write - via pen and paper or digitally, get it out there.

With that, you should also have an online hub. I’ve always and will always vouch for Flavors.me as a great website to build upon. And of course I have Tumblr to vouch for. Seek out what platform makes sense for your work. Create a home online, build upon it, keep it updated, and make it grow. People will find you and connect with you from there. 

Once you’ve got a good site/blog/portfolio going, meet people in your field. I have hosted many networking sessions, panels on technology and media, and career workshops because I believe in the power of being a connector. I like connecting people of value, who can exchange skills and ideas, and collaborate on mutual goals. It’s important that you seek out people who are friendly and genuine and who can be your buddy as you carve out your own career path. Never take advantage of that

This concludes my lessons in lady biz careers. Hopefully I was able to help you navigate the waters of our modern work places. 

Have a question or topic you want me to discuss? Shoot me a note on Twitter @makeshiftalisha or send it here

Write it down

If you’re like me, then you are an organization freak who wants to know what’s going on in all facets of your life. The same is true about my career. I am one to document just about everything I’ve ever worked on and made it known the value that I bring to the table when I enter a new gig. I would advise you do the same.

One small step you can start at: create a document (or write this in a notebook) called “What is my job?” List out everything you do on a daily basis, no matter how big or small or mundane or complicated it is. Then compare this list to the job description you’re applying to or already working at. Are you doing more than what you’re being paid for? Less? What are some new areas of expertise you’re building? What do you need help conquering? Communicate these things to peers, friends, and colleagues you trust. Get their perspective and decide if it’s time to approach your supervisor/boss/manager about a promotion or raise. Or, perhaps it’s time to change directions entirely.

Are you a freelancer juggling multiple gigs? Get a tool like Evernote to organize and prioritize your projects. Start a log with all your clips. Create templates for your portfolio that you can always use when something new has to be submitted or updated. Know what you’re working on and what’s down the pipeline at all times. This will help you clarify your role in future employment. 

Tomorrow’s tip: Stay relevant.

Have a question or topic you want me to discuss? Shoot me a note on Twitter @makeshiftalisha or send it here

Get a Mentor

I really really really wish while I was wrapping up my college days that someone told me to stop for a second and think about the impact of my decisions.  I was ever so confident about my game plan when I graduated, I even lucked out with securing a job only a few weeks after I left campus. i took so many internships and went after so many freelance gigs so quickly, I didn’t stop to think financially and professionally what my future would be. I wish I had been smart enough to take the time and seek out guidance and advice from a mentor at that time. 

Looking back at my professional career, I can see so many mistakes I could have avoided had I had a mentor or a career coach. I’ve learned my lesson though - I’ve made mentorship a top priority in recent years so that I can always have people surrounding me with positivity, encouragement, and a shared connection that has guided me to making better decisions. I view my mentors like my fairy godmothers: I treat them with respect, admire their work ethic, and show the love back for they will watch over me every step of the way as I climb the ladder. Even more so, get a mentor that will be honest with you and present facts about opportunities you’re pursuing from a research and experiential standpoint. 

Mentors can be people (get a woman on your side!) you work with. Is there a co-worker who really stands out for you that’s always super helpful or goes out of their way to welcome you in every project? Reach out to him/her! Mentors can be someone you know through your online universe. For me there are plenty of people that I consider mentors who I only know from their online identities: be it their Twitter feed, their blog, or articles they share. The content they are constantly pushing resonates with me and I can always go to their sites for more advice. However you find one, grab them and never let them go. 

Stay tuned for my next tip: Do your research.

Have a question or topic you want me to discuss? Shoot me a note on Twitter @makeshiftalisha or send it here

Lady Biz Lessons from a Career Hopper

If you have been following my Twitter feed in recent months, you may have noticed a stronger tone of opinion. I’ve become openly vocal about practices, policies, and experiences in the work place and beyond that have deeply affected not only my own career outcomes but many of my peers and colleagues. Many of the issues I’ve faced are directly related to being a gender and race minority in this industry. But instead of focusing on the negatives, instead of coming from a place of “no”, I feel inclined to pay it forward to those of you who perhaps are entering the workplace or looking for a new way to up your career game. Really, I want this post, like many others to be words of wisdom.

Before I begin my advice piece, I want to personally thank these two women for fighting by my side as I continue to climb the career ladder. I have worked in just about every role in digital and it’s through their mentorship that I grow into a stronger place in my career. 

Below are my tips and lessons for career-focused ladies:

  1. Get a mentor
  2. Do your research
  3. Write it down
  4. Stay relevant

I will be posting one tip a day over the next 5 days so make sure to check back for more info. 

Next up: Get a mentor

Have a question about lazy biz lessons? Tweet me @makeshiftalisha or submit your question here. 

Now go conquer the world!

Every professional should have his or her own website or contact page online. If you’re not the kind to build out a full-on website, though, check out services like Flavors.me or About.me, which enable users to create quick and beautiful home pages. Digital sales planner at publisher Dennis Publishing, Alisha Miranda, lends a perfect example of flawless execution with her Flavors.me profile. Her profile features an engaging bio and headshot alongside a roundup of her social profiles, including LinkedIn. By

8 Creative Ways to Promote Your LinkedIn Profile

Thanks to OPEN Forum for highlighting my LinkedIn and Flavors.me pages! I can’t believe how many compliments I still receive for my online portfolio, it’s incredibly flattering and a testament to the payoff of my constant effort to be relevant and resourceful to others. 

Questions about starting your own online portfolio? Book a consulting session with me here

Flipping the Switch: Who Is Responsible for Getting Employees to Take a Break?

This Knowledge article from UPenn speaks to the need for more downtime, breaks, and off switch in the work place. Though it’s not rocket science what the authors point out, in fact many of these tips are pretty obvious, there’s still a great divide in office culture and employers’ understanding of the benefits of taking time off. We (American employees) still don’t even get that much vacation time, which to me, is insulting. Here’s some excerpts I wanted to share with you in hopes that you’ll make small, but significant improvements in your daily work flow:

Radical idea: 

staff at Volkswagen will be limited to only receiving emails on their devices from half an hour before they start work until half an hour after they leave for the day, and will be in blackout mode the rest of the time.

From Stewart Friedman, a Wharton practice professor of management,

we are starting the process of learning how to create useful boundaries that allow us to pay attention to the things that matter, when they matter. Organizations and schools need to help people learn how to manage those boundaries [between work and home] themselves, and train people to stem the deluge of data that threatens to drown us. People can learn to shut things off. It’s not easy, and it requires dedicated effort.

This means better communication both internally and externally in the office. 

Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton management professor continues, 

People feel this constant need to be connected. There’s no priority structure. Everything is urgent. Everything is red flagged. Yes, there are advantages to having these technologies — we can work more flexibly, and we can respond to crises more speedily. But there are disadvantages that we are underestimating.

How many times have you been glued to your Twitter stream reading tweets from the night before because you’re afraid you’ve missed some huge news or important article? We need to take a breather from these processes, rest our minds and create better work flows that keep us stimulated and engaged without becoming overwhelmed.

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone, assistant director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, talks about disconnecting,

Being able to disconnect from work has great benefits to your health and productivity. The issue is not so much the calls or emails after hours: It is whether or not you have control over your time. If you do not have autonomy about when you are able to switch off and on, it causes stress.

Or, you could just move abroad:

Last month, Brazil introduced a law requiring companies to pay overtime to workers who make or receive work phone calls or emails outside of office hours.

Who’s responsible for making sure we take time off?

It’s the boss who should be saying: ‘We’re better if we are not working all weekend long.’ Companies should say: ‘If we give people their weekends, we get their weekdays,’” he says. “Part of the solution is figuring out how you approach work, and how you approach integrating family. This is where the importance of ground rules — and sticking to them — comes into play.

The point I want to get across in sharing this article, especially for those job searching and the others who are self-employed like me, is that your work environment is critical to your productivity and happiness. Read these tips from WECREATE on keeping focus, taking breaks, and being creative:

Winter Blues / The Posture for Creativity / Learn to Hurry Slowly

Happy working!

Reality Check: Your “Networking” Sucks

Based on observations of people making too many of the same mistakes, and those mistakes affecting my own personal network (and sanity), I feel compelled to throw up a “how NOT to network” post in hopes that the social awkwardness and aggressive behavior comes to a stop. Before I get into a rant, I want to backup my reasoning by giving you a quick background of the kind of networker I am and how it’s helped me win big.

I consider myself a connector, an “ambassador of awesomeness” if you will. I thoroughly enjoy being that person that people come to for help if they’re searching for something in their career or business - whether it’s pointing them to a site, an event, or a professional, I’m in this to help others. I appreciate two-way communication, a give and take, appreciation, generosity, and especially those who return the favor. I like a simple thank you, though I prefer a free meal or free drink! It’s these kinds of actions that show me my thoughtfulness, the time and effort I took to help YOU out was worth it. I think that’s a fair request.

It’s unfortunate that over the years, people I’ve let into my life one way or another (either through work or becoming friends), have abused this request. I can’t tell you how many leads I’ve given people, how many jobs I’ve helped them land, or even a couch to crash on while they get on their feet. In total I can remember - maybe - 5 people who’ve said, in person, to my face, “Thank you.”

Perhaps it’s an overlooked gesture or perhaps people are flat out greedy, but reciprocating a good deed like this should be encouraged more. And when it doesn’t happen, that abuser should be called out. Being nice is just one part of networking, but it’s a major part. 

What is networking, even? To be honest, I hate the term. Networking to me is a couple of things:

  • connecting people through genuinely exciting ideas
  • being social and attending social gatherings
  • fostering meaningful discussion
  • building a community of friends, peers, and leaders who will shape your goals
  • helping people help you achieve said goals

Networking is not the following, if you ask me:

  • blindly handing out business cards
  • steering conversations to be self-promotional
  • upselling your skills or expertise
  • faking your role in your industry
  • talking buzzwords and schemes to make yourself look good
  • stalking social media users online
  • going to happy hour meetups all the time to score free food & drinks

The above list of actions is just a small example of what I’ve seen in networking that really rubs me the wrong way.

Recently, I’ve experienced new “friends” taking advantage of networking opportunities by being aggressive, insensitive, and flat out creepy. It’s strange to me that these people don’t get the memo on proper social etiquette. Here’s some examples of how NOT to network:


One of my biggest pet peeves is being disingenuous. I can understand that we’re in an age where job hunting is now all about personal branding, but when you’re feeding into the hype by changing your bio every week to attract employers, there needs to be a line. Sure, you spend a lot of time using Twitter and Facebook and blog, but are you really a “Social Media Expert”? Think of other professionals who have been doing that job for years and would be insulted to have you title yourself as such without the evidence to back it. Be realistic with your bio and your professional headline - what can you prove in that line of work? 


I never was a firm believer in business cards as I had more fun telling people to simply search me online if they wanted my contact info. It was a great test to see who really wanted to connect, and who just wanted to collect emails for their address book. Even now that I do have my own set of business cards, they’re not something I give away all the time or to anyone. I like talking with people first and trying to figure out who they are. Are they just talking about themselves and the work they do? Or are they asking me the right questions back? Is there a way we can work together? Is this person just a good contact to have or could I carry on my life without knowing them? That’s how I determine who gets a business card. Additionally, being that person who can’t wait to give out a card before you even get to talk 5min to them makes you seem desperate. Take a deep breath and hang back, it’s not the end of the world if all 250 of those cards don’t get used in one night.


This is a big one for me. I have a love/hate relationship with social media, I take it very seriously but I also understand it can be such a silly, over-saturated industry of so called “professionals” that I sometimes need to laugh. But, I happen to treat my list of social media contacts as I would PR contacts. For me, with everything I do, it’s all about the relationships I’m able to cultivate. So whether I follow you on Twitter, talk to you on GTalk, friend you on Facebook, or heart you on Tumblr, you are someone I put through a process of selection. Here’s some of the biggest ways to piss off not only me, but prospective contacts:

Adding them on Facebook WAY too fast - as in immediately after you met for the first time at a party where you were drunk. It’s just not cool and again, makes you seem desperate. In fact, you really shouldn’t add anyone on Facebook unless you consider them a person you value in your private life. You don’t need hundreds of friends to build a reputable network, believe me. 

*I just realized this rule could be applied to LinkedIn as well. You DEFINITELY don’t want to piss off people there

Harassing HR folks and employers with too many follow ups - golden rule of 3 people: don’t go beyond 3 reminder emails if you haven’t heard back from someone. I know it can be quite frustrating to receive little or no reply, but let it go and save your energy for the next round of email pitches. Also don’t show up at their door unannounced, this isn’t the 80s where you print out your resume, put on your finest suit, and just go door to door asking for a job. Same goes for cold-calling, that’s just not the procedure these days. Make sure you have an in first. If not, move on.

Mass following people on Twitter - you don’t want to become a spambot do you? I didn’t think so. Sure there’s tons of people we want to chat with on Twitter, but sitting there and going through someone’s list (EH HEM, MINE!) of followers and clicking FOLLOW one by one is practically theft. Why? Again, you took no time to get to know these folks yourself. Want to piss them off even more? Pretend you’re their new best friend and start mass tagging them or replying all in conversations randomly. That person’s list you just stole is curated, which means they follow those people for a reason. So you stalking out who they’re talking to and just following blindly is bad practice. Cut it out and get your own followers!

Stop lying about your location - cool, you just moved to a new city, congrats! Got your own apartment yet or are you just bumming around town? Before you go off telling the Internet that you’re from New York City, settle in like an adult. Be honest and tell people you’re in transition or in between HQs, because if you get an interview and show up late because you haven’t memorized the subways yet, you’re going to look like an ass. I know, NYC is so exciting and everything is so new and fantastic, but I can bet you a buttload of money that telling a New Yorker you’re one of them when you’ve been here for a week will make them hate you instantly. You need to earn your place in this city.

Don’t ask her/him out - networking isn’t your gateway to scoring a date. Keep it professional. Just because you shared a beer with a cute girl while talking about work doesn’t mean you have the approval to make a move. Relax those hormones and remember you’re in a professional setting. Ask for those digits at some other place. 

Pay up for that consultation - have a friend who’s super smart that you want to pick their brain all the time? Make the time and offer up compensation to ask them those questions. If you truly value their opinion and want guidance, treat them to a meal as if you were paying for an actual consultation. Sure, coffee chats are nice, but giving away advice for free when they could have made $100 isn’t. Asking them for favors (even through a text message!) and then not accommodating to their schedule is also not nice. 

So, youngens (or old-ens) the next time an opportunity rises to get your “networking” on, remember these rules of thumb. Don’t be that person. Please.

Your Reputation Is Your Résumé

I wanted to quickly share some insight from last week’s post on TechnologyReview.com which presumes today’s online presence is a bigger factor in securing a job than that dry, boring resume you send out. I completely agree that having a proactive strategy to showing who you are, what you do (or want to do), and your values in a creative way using the web is far more interesting and successful than cleaning up a dated resume. Personally, I’ve landed more gigs through my Flavors.me webpage and Mashable mentions than through a resume email attachment. So can you if you take advantage of opportunities through the social web. 

Here’s what TR had to say:

"The résumé is vanishing as a way of representing who you are," says Launa Forehand of Jobspring. Jobseekers…are proving their value through participation in online communities, and employers are increasingly using those venues to find and vet candidates.

One of the most important qualities as a jobseeker today is having a genuine interest in participating in relevant conversations. Find topics to talk about your passions, and connect with like-minded people. Those communities will do wonders for contact leads and resource exchanges. 

"Being willing to share things you don’t know and seeking help in solving problems you’re working on are enormously powerful ways to attract people who share your interests."

Ask, ask, ask. Never be afraid to speak up if you don’t know where to start or are stuck on getting to that next level. Just remember to be nice, return the favor, and know your boundaries.

Earlier generations might view such naked exposure as a double-edged sword. After all, answering a question online can reveal ignorance as well as expertise. In the emerging online ecosystem, though, it may be more important to contribute to the community than to demonstrate individual mastery.

I often work with both young professionals and older-generation businessmen and women who need a boost of courage when it comes to making a digital footprint. The best advice I can offer is experiment. In the beginning, the online world is very much a trial and error system. One way to gain confidence is to map out a SWOT analysis: your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Discover a community of thought leaders, peers/friends/colleagues, and mentors around those questions to develop a support system. The more you contribute, the better your reputation.

"Community isn’t just about relationships—it’s about becoming smarter and better at what you do," says Jonathan Reed, an enterprise staffing consultant.

As a community manager to over a dozen sites in recent years, I can tell you that the most successful communities have emerged through cultivating relationships. Providing intelligent conversation starters and encouraging feedback is one of the best ways to attract audiences, whether you’re a company or a single professional. Don’t abuse those relationships.

MORE: Your Reputation is Your Resume.

For my tips on careers and business, read my contributing articles here