IWIM21v2

Two Engaging Ideas: A Program Celebrating Women Leaders and a Popular Member Forum 

I’ve written about Putman Media’s wonderful Influential Women in Manufacturing (IWIM) before, their innovative program that honors women who are effecting change in manufacturing and industrial production. But when I check back every couple months, there’s always something new and positive. This time it’s an eBook.

Now in its fourth year and run by the amazing Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman, IWIM succeeds in many ways—celebrating key Putman customers, amplifying the voices of women in a field where they have been under-represented, creating a new speaker pool for podcasts and webinars, and now offering advice to the next generation.

In that eBook that Hallstrom put together, she asks each of the 20 honorees this: What advice would you give to women entering the field of manufacturing?

A couple snippets:

“Never stop learning. Even after being in the industry for over 25 years, I’m still learning new things. Manufacturing is an ever-changing industry full of complex processes and procedures that will challenge you to leave your comfort zone. This is where a strong network of diverse thinkers will prove invaluable.”
Cindy Jaudon, Regional President, Americas, IFS

“Don’t be afraid to ask for the roles you want. Be prepared, though, to co-invest in your future by accepting the positions that will get you there. That may mean embracing risk by taking tough positions—the ones your peers are afraid to accept or the ones that move your family across the world. In other words: the roles you never imagined taking!”
Joanna Garcia Sohovich, Chamberlain Group

“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Hallstrom said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”

She also runs the judging, which had to go through almost 100 nominations last year. In the past, they’ve received a formal proclamation from the governor of Illinois, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote a commendation. “…we just wanted to honor women making a name for themselves,” Hallstrom has humbly said.

When we talk about customer engagement, what can be better than recognizing—and energizing—an entire faction of your audience that has mostly gone unnoticed? If a publisher or media company can hear from women like Garcia Sohovich and Jaudon, then beneficial outcomes will take place.

A post this week by Matt Cipriani on the ASAE site led me to AACP Connect, an online community platform for members of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. It’s impressive. Right up top there’s an excellent idea: “Submit a Poster Abstract for Virtual Pharmacy Education 2021.” Involve your audience in your big event. That’s followed by two recent discussions: Order Oath of a Pharmacist and Upcoming Free Training Webinars.

“Our members began using AACP Connect at higher rates than ever before when we all locked down in mid-March [last year],” writes Cipriani. “Why? Because they had an established virtual community they were already using for the past few years. Our members were able to jump right into a familiar place with familiar people to discuss new challenges and gain insight and knowledge from each other about how to navigate this new reality.”

Even though it is tempting for those of us who do not have such a vehicle to jump quickly in, Cipriani urges patience. It’s much better to first assess your member needs and then build something that addresses those and avoids any clunkyness. Here’s more:

First define your online community. Do you need one community or a few? Will Person A in Company B want to hear from Person C from Company D? “Consider surveying your members or holding online focus groups to determine what it is your members need in an online community,” he writes.

Define your metrics. Is it the number of people in the group, the number of conversations, the quality of those conversations, the ideas that come out of it? “Set up a reporting system early to capture metrics that identify member usage of the platform. By creating a set of categories to monitor such as total discussions and replies posted, logins, and email open rates, you can track usage of the platform.”

Publicize and market it. Give it a build-up. Offer an incentive to join—perhaps polls, surveys, quizzes, contests, discounts. “You want to generate excitement around the platform so that when you launch, members will eagerly log in for the first time, browse the platform, and begin contributing,” Cipriani writes.

I would add to join a couple groups on your own to see how they function so you can take the best out of those.  Joanne Persico of ONEcount has been holding Wednesday evening virtual get-togethers called Stay Connected – Bold Minds Mixer for several months now. The one I attended was informative, fun and well-run. Email Persico to join in.

“The way our members network, connect and share will forever be changed by this experience,” Cipriani concludes.

Chemistry

Recognition Programs Energize Members, Bring in Revenue and Add Diversity But Must Be Followed Up

“One of my favorite events is on the day we have our symposium—hearing the TED-style talks of the Talented 12,” Bibiana Campos Seijo, VP of C&EN Media Group and editor in chief, C&EN, American Chemical Society, told me this morning, recounting their 2019 fall meeting and the program that celebrates young chemists throughout the world. (Pictured is that group from 2019.)

“I got to the room and was talking to Paula Hammond”—head of MIT’s Chemical Engineering Department, a member of the C&EN advisory board and was guest editor for C&EN’s special Trailblazers issue last month—“and in walks Frances Arnold, the 2018 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry and only the fifth female ever so honored.

“‘I know you didn’t invite me, but I’m here,’ she said,” Campos Seijo continued, recalling her delight. “I think she stayed for two of the four hours. Someone asked her later, ‘Did you enjoy it?’ She said yes, and that she’s part of a foundation that gives awards and put forward one of the names of the Talented 12—and that person eventually won! So she was sourcing us.”

The excitement in Campos Seijo’s voice is palpable—even virtually, more than 1,000 people watched those talks last year. When done right, member recognition programs such as the Talented 12—and two others I expand upon here, Putman Media’s Influential Women in Manufacturing and ASCD’s Emerging Leaders—can be huge win-wins for organizations. And as C&EN demonstrates, the publications departments can either run the whole program or at the least play a vital role.

But the “done right” makes all the difference. What these three organizations do so wonderfully—exemplified by that in-person (remember that?) anecdote from 2019—is that these programs do not just move on to next year once the people are selected and recognized. They are integrated into publication roles, TED-style talks, podcasts, webinars, advocate and leadership programs, and other organization-sponsored activities. Given that the people selected are a diverse group in all facets, they will also provide new voices and viewpoints to those activities.

The Talented 12 “identifies and celebrates young chemists working in academia, industry, and government, who are just beginning to put their innovative and transformative ideas into practice.” Campos Seijo believes it is important that the 12 represent those three areas, and are diverse globally as well as the more obvious ways. Each selectee gets an excellent profile written about them by the C&EN staff. Here’s an example:

Mireille Kamariza wants to make a difference in neglected diseases around the world. As a first step, she developed a quick and cheap test for tuberculosis (TB) while still in graduate school. Kamariza was 17 when she moved to the U.S. from Burundi in search of the American dream. But even then, she says, ‘I don’t think that I had quite an understanding of where my career would take me.’”

And while nominees—there were more than 500 last year, including some sent in by other Nobel Prize winners—do not have to pay to enter, revenue comes in through an established sponsorship with Thermo Fisher Scientific. “They’re one of the largest instrumentation companies in the world, so they really like the idea of reaching younger members globally,” Campos Seijo (pictured here) said. “They love [the program]; they don’t interfere at all.”

The people selected also love the program. “There was one winner from a few years ago,” Campos Seijo said, “who told us that before winning, ‘nobody knew me last week. Now I’m sitting at my lab getting all these applications to join the lab.’”

And as mentioned above, the relationships continue. There are collaborations between the Talented 12 winners, sometimes even ones from different years. Winners are invited to give talks, be emcees at events, and serve as associate editors for some of the ACS journals.  “I’m obviously very proud of what we have achieved here not only because it recognizes young, global talent in the chemical sciences but it also attracts [that] considerable sponsorship package,” Campos Seijo said.

Putman’s Influential Women in Manufacturing

“Don’t be afraid to ask for the roles you want. Be prepared, though, to co-invest in your future by accepting the positions that will get you there. That may mean embracing risk by taking tough positions—the ones your peers are afraid to accept or the ones that move your family across the world. In other words: the roles you never imagined taking!”
Joanna Garcia Sohovich, Chamberlain Group

That snippet comes from an eBook put together by the amazing Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman Media, to celebrate the 20 2020 honorees in their Influential Women in Manufacturing (IWIM), an innovative program that honors women who are effecting change in manufacturing and industrial production.

Now in its fourth year, IWIM succeeds in many ways—celebrating key Putman customers, amplifying the voices of women in a field where they have been under-represented, creating a new speaker pool for podcasts and webinars, and offering advice to the next generation (which the eBook focuses on).

Hallstrom asks each of the honorees this: What advice would you give to women entering the field of manufacturing?

“Never stop learning,” advised Cindy Jaudon, regional president, Americas, IFS. “Even after being in the industry for over 25 years, I’m still learning new things. Manufacturing is an ever-changing industry full of complex processes and procedures that will challenge you to leave your comfort zone. This is where a strong network of diverse thinkers will prove invaluable.”

“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Hallstrom said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”

She also runs the judging, which had to go through almost 100 nominations last year. In the past, they’ve received a formal proclamation from the governor of Illinois, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote a commendation. “…we just wanted to honor women making a name for themselves,” Hallstrom has humbly said.

It’s also important to get support from the top. “I am proud that Putman could play a role in shining a light on the extraordinary work being done by so many women in the manufacturing field,” Putman Media CEO John Cappelletti has said about IWIM. “Our hope is that their achievements will inspire other young women to join this dynamic industry and be a part of creating manufacturing’s exciting future.”

The program has changed lives. “Not only the honorees, but our own,” Hallstrom wrote in a past year’s blog. “We saw the profound effects of amplifying women’s voices and connecting an alliance of women who were impacting the world in their manufacturing careers… IWIM was born out of a need to amplify and connect, and I’d like to continue that pursuit.”

She has. When we talk about member or customer engagement, what can be better than recognizing—and energizing—an entire faction of your audience that has mostly gone unnoticed? If a publisher or media company can hear from women like Garcia Sohovich and Jaudon, then beneficial outcomes will take place.

ACSD’s Emerging Leaders

Often, good photography and design can make a page and program shine. ACSD’s 2020 Emerging Leaders Directory looks like it came straight out of central casting. But then you read who these esteemed people are and learn that they are so much more than pretty faces. Here are a few:

Sabrina Claude McGahee, superintendent, Old Redford Academy School District, Detroit.
Carrington Faulk, marketing teacher, Newport News (Va.) Public Schools.
Chanel Gaither, president and founder, Minorities Achieving College Success, Wilmington, Del.
Alejandra Garza, fourth grade head teacher, Latin American School, Monterrey, Mexico.
Damion Lewis, senior administrator of professional learning, Wake County Public School System, Cary, N.C.

“Elevating educational leadership is the heart of what we do at ASCD, and our emerging leaders exemplify leadership at its best,” ASCD CEO and Executive Director Ranjit Sidhu said in a September 2020 press release. “These educators strengthen our community and our organization. We are excited to welcome our new class and look forward to working together in the years to come.”

Again, that last phrase stands out—this is a partnership that will continue. The ASCD Emerging Leaders program features educators who have been in their field for 5-15 years and who have made an impact as leaders in their schools, districts and communities.

They are enrolled in the program for two years and invited to participate in multiple opportunities, including, when circumstances allow, attending the invitation-only Leader to Leader convening, writing for ASCD publications, and hosting the ASCD podcast. There are also avenues for leadership opportunoities in the association. ASCD adds that “alumni from the program have become ASCD authors, faculty members and board members.”

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How to Shine Brightly During the Pandemic (But Not Too Brightly)

“I’ve been a Toastmaster for roughly two years now and up until March, I never had to worry about what the picture window in front of my desk did to my round, cherubic cheeks. In the last eight months, however, I’ve added pro at lighting, make-up, and background-interior-design to my ever-growing public speaker toolbox.”

 

That’s from a terrific Working Wit blog post by Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman Media—and a great follow. Her column earlier this month was titled Lights, Camera, Work: A Non-Influencer’s Guide to Virtual Meetings. Her main point is that as much as we like to play down virtual meetings and joke about our wardrobe choices and blank walls, they do matter.

 

“As much as my mother told me growing up that looks didn’t matter, the fact of the matter is, they do. What your clothing, your home, and how well the light reflects off of your tired, low-hydrated skin can say a lot about you.”

 

Here are some suggestions from Hallstrom and others on improving your virtual meeting experience:

 

Adjust how your Zoom call looks. Instead of trying to focus on everyone in a Zoom meeting at once, shift from gallery view to speaker view so you only have to focus on one person, Fast Company’s Elizabeth Grace Saunders suggests. Cover up the portion of the screen showing your face with a Post-It note so you’re not distracted by yourself. “Research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face.”

 

Go all in on your background. How many Zoom calls have started with someone commenting on a background or two? There are many places where you can download the virtual backgrounds. But perhaps you want to hang something behind you that you’re proud of or passionate about. I have a French aqueduct with Tour de France cyclists riding over it in the 1920s! Of course, bookshelves rule—makes us look smart—so that could give you some incentive to find that book you put down five years ago because you didn’t have time.

 

Avoid the default to Zoom. A Harvard Business Review article suggests switching to Slack. Lesley Ellen Harris of Copyrightlaws.com, who preceded us all on Zoom with her Zoom On Ins, did this. “One thing I did in my last class this spring was a Slack Live Chat…similar to a Twitter chat but private,” Harris wrote to me. “My students really liked it and what’s great is that there’s a record of it and people can continue to discuss the issues… It worked for that group of students. We’ll experiment with it further this fall.”

 

Light up your life. “Four different light fixtures, one screaming match with a mini-blind cord, and dozens of YouTube videos later, I found the precise angle and diffusion to keep me looking my best, no matter what time of day or night,” Hallstrom wrote. She also mentioned something I know well, the reflection of your glasses. “Nothing says ‘hey, I’m reading off of my screen’ quite like the illumination of your screen in your glasses… There’s a lot to be said for a well-placed lamp and a perfectly-angled camera.”

 

Say yes to dressing up (a bit). “Since people would only be seeing me from the shoulders up, I concentrated on shirts that had a flattering color, neckline or (and this was a new one for me) shoulder silhouette,” Hallstrom wrote. “This all sounds extremely egotistical, but I definitely noticed an uptick in the number of people who paid attention when I talked once I paid attention to what was on my outside.”

 

Choose a workstation. If you have a desk at home work from it. Or a room with a door that you can close (for the times that you do want to keep the dog or cat out). Though I was told (on Slack) this morning that Oct. 29 is National Cat Day—seems a little broad for the niched days we get now—and we should send Marketing our cute photos.

 

Limit your direct eye contact. If you’re uncomfortable with how you look on video calls, take some time to adjust your camera settings or the lighting in your house, said Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Or change your view. “What we’ve done inadvertently is design every default on every videoconference system to increase the amount of direct eye contact you get from very large faces constantly,” he said at the recent Fast Company Innovation Festival. “If you think about your real life, when somebody is very close to you and looking you in the eye, one of two things are going to happen. You’re going to get in a fight—or maybe you’re going to have a meeting experience.”

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Putman Media’s Hallstrom Engages Audience With IWIM and Podcast

“[Taking that leadership role] really was the most important moment in my career because I was able to prove to other people, to myself and to other women that you don’t have to know everything or have grown up in a certain function to take a new job. If you surround yourself with experts and establish yourself as credible professional, you can move forward and lead.”
That quote comes from Joyl Silva of Pfizer—she is a 2020 honoree in Putman Media’s wonderful Influential Women in Manufacturing (IWIM) program, now in its third year of honorees—in a blog post on the IWIM site.
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IWIM is run by Erin Hallstrom, digital and content strategy director for Putman Media. She will be speaking about this successful program and all of the other roles she takes on at Putman—including their Food for Thought podcast that she created and did the whole set up for—at our Editorial Council Meeting, Thursday, Oct. 15, at 2 pm Eastern. Register here.

“I went to Best Buy and ordered a mic, talked to people to set it up. I do the editing, post-production, transcripts, interviews,” she told me. “You name it. I’m the one who likes to dive in and get involved.”
IWIM succeeds in so many ways. I went to check the site today and found that new blog post. They’ve been featuring a different honoree each week—sometimes two—all in excellently written posts. Hallstrom writes most of them but did get some help with Silva’s from colleague Meagan Parrish. It’s a great idea—20 companies get to celebrate the accomplishments of one of their own.
“I feel small when I look at all [these women have] been doing and all they do for their companies,” Hallstrom said. “You can see how excited their companies are. I just get excited that someone enjoys it.”
Hallstrom runs the judging, which had slightly under 100 nominations this year. As someone who coordinates the SIPAwards judging, I can say that is no small feat. They’ve received a formal proclamation from the governor of Illinois, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) wrote a commendation. “All of this… we just wanted to honor women making a name for themselves,” she said.
In fact, IWIM won a SIPAward for Best Product Launch/Relaunch Success in 2019. When we talk about member/subscriber engagement, what can be better than recognizing—and energizing—an entire faction of your audience that has mostly gone unnoticed? If a publisher or media company can engage women like Silva, then good outcomes will take place.

“I’m writing the e-book compilation now,” Hallstrom said. “We’re giving [the honorees] a treatment that we haven’t done in the past… We had a sponsor the first year. Last year a lot of companies were interested. We’re not sure. All the parts didn’t quite come together.”

As for the twice-a-month Food for Thought podcast, Hallstrom said that all the Putman brands were encouraged to start their own. (Because she still had a couple hours to fill in her day, she even started a personal podcast as well.)

The podcast “gave all of us who worked on it a taste,” she said, pun perhaps intended. “It’s a different avenue for people to hear us. The food processing vertical is where I’m most involved. Everything this year has imploded and exploded [in that vertical]; there’s so much to talk about. We launched in early summer; the original intent was for the senior editor and I to hop on a call once a month to chitchat [but then] people have become more and more interested in it. We publish a story, then this is the story behind the story. It’s still building audience.”
There’s no stopping her now. “We’re going to produce a lot more podcasts because we’re going to be stuck inside again this winter.” Hallstrom checks the clicks that the podcast gets so she knows what resonates. She said that “adding the transcripts became a huge thing.” (I’ve been preaching that for a long time.)
“We’re definitely using all the different routes” to engage their audience,” she said. “People can hear about or learn about us through so many avenues now. SEO is my strong suit. I usually try to optimize [everything]. This has been a lot of fun.”
What hasn’t been as much fun is not seeing all her colleagues in person occasionally. “The people I’ve been close to, we haven’t seen each other. ‘I miss you guys.’ We still have conversations, of course…”
She didn’t have to finish that sentiment. Register for the Oct. 15 Editorial Council Meeting and ask Hallstrom how she does all of this. Personally, I can’t wait. Maybe she’ll even tell us the name of her personal blog then.
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Doesn’t Take Harvard to Tell Us We’re Working More, But They Can Help

In a conversation I had with Putman Media’s Erin Hallstrom a couple weeks ago, she talked about the Influential Women in Manufacturing program she runs, a business podcast she puts together and hosts (Food for Thought), a personal podcast, a book she’s writing, plus all her daily SEO and digital duties, etc.
How can you do all these things, I asked?
“I’m training to be a lockdown Olympian, doing all these things,” she said, both proudly and with a bit of incredulousness. When her sister got married in July, she was maid of honor, and for the two days she was taking off, her boss made her promise not to check in. “I wrote a blogpost about how anxious I was for being off for two days,” she said.
Erin, you’re not alone. A new Harvard Business School study says that we are working longer hours with more emails and meetings than ever before. Not surprised, I take it. Okay, let’s delve in a little deeper.
That’s a lot of extra minutes. “An analysis of the emails and meetings of 3.1 million people in 16 global cities found that the average workday increased by 8.2%—or 48.5 minutes—during the pandemic’s early weeks. Employees also participated in more meetings, though for less time than they did before COVID-19 sent many workers home.”
Remember when Zoom used to just be a kids TV show. “There is a general sense that we never stop being in front of Zoom or interacting,” says Raffaella Sadun, professor of business administration in the HBS Strategy Unit. (She spent the spring advising the Italian government about how to reopen its economy post-lockdown.) And that has an effect on us, she added.
9-5 workday? Where? Shifting to remote work took away whatever was left of the “elusive 9-to-5 business day and replaced it with videoconferencing and ‘asynchronous work,’” Danielle Kost, senior editor of Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, writes. She reports that “at least 16% of Americans plan to keep working from home part of the time after COVID-19 abates.” That sounds low to me, from the conversations and non-scientific surveys I’ve seen and done.
No office, no… ? “The role of an office is to congregate and help people work together,” Sadun said. “For us, the question was, ‘What happens when you cannot have that physical space anymore?’ How do people adjust their work patterns?” Three results:
  • Employees sent 5.2% more emails a day.
  • Emails had 2.9% more recipients.
  • About 8.3% more emails were sent after business hours. (That’s a big number when you consider all the emails we send.)
We’re becoming a meet market. They also analyzed meeting invitations—the quantity, duration and number of attendees—and observed that:
  • People attended 13% more meetings.
  • Each meeting was 12 minutes—or 20%—shorter.
  • The number of people invited to each meeting rose by two, or 14%.
Boundaries are needed. The longer workdays result from there being less boundaries. Most of us don’t really have to be anywhere anymore. “Unless you really are able to create distinct boundaries between your life and your work, it’s almost inevitable that we see these blurring lines,” Sadun says.
Who are better off? “This is one of those things where it’s hard to make one statement for everybody,” Sadun says. “If you have a large house, life is good. If you have to combine your bedroom with your office, it’s not as good.”
Too much screen time? “The issue with Zoom is that you’re always on there. You have to show a concentrated face the whole time,” Sadun says. “It’s very unnatural to be constantly looking attentive for hours.” I’ve conducted interviews on Zoom and it is strange that when you aren’t looking at the screen, it looks like you’re not paying attention—as opposed to in-person where it’s awkward to stare at someone for too long.
Three pieces of advice to leaders of remote workforces:
  • “Empathize with workers’ unique circumstances. Managers need to know what their employees are juggling to provide the right professional support.”
  • Focus on output and quality, not hours.
  • “Expect wide differences in productivity across employees, for now.” Some may find working from home energizing while others crave that in-person interaction. (I’m in the latter and I cringe at friends who tell me how much they are enjoying the lack of a commute, their pets around all the time, etc..)