Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Tips for Working Mamas on the Road

I’m sitting on a plane. This is my 23rd flight of the year and I’ve logged in 22,700+ sky miles. While I love my job and traveling for it, I’m a mom too and there is always some level of guilt associated with being away from my son and husband. I especially feel bad because my husband doesn’t ever travel for work, so he’s always playing single dad, while I’m jet setting.

I know I’m not alone in the juggle and hustle of being a working mom, so I wanted to share some tips on how I parent from afar and stay connected with my family.

  1. FaceTime, Not Just Phone Time

Thank you, sweet baby technology. What would working parents who travel do without you? But seriously. We are so incredibly lucky to live in a time where a video phone call is possible. I can’t imagine traveling as much as I do and not being able to FaceTime with Westley. A FaceTime call is so much more special and it makes me feel like I’m part of his evening routine. I can hear about his day, make silly faces and see him in his PJs before he goes to sleep. He gets to see my face and I get to see his and give the screen kisses. It’s my No. 1 way to stay connected and close to Westley. I also get to see Sam, which is a bonus J

  1. Pics on Pics

This may just be me, but I LOVE a photo. A photo of Westley is worth its weight in gold. I already have thousands of photos of him in my phone (current photo roll count 6,762 and at least 5,000 feature W), which I scroll through on the regular while traveling. During my travels, Sam keeps me pretty up to date with all of Westley’s adventures with action shots, videos, etc. One of my favorite pictures I’ve ever received (a series really) was W eating my baked ziti, stuffing his face with a big ole smile and literally licking the plate. It brought me so much joy to witness him enjoying a meal I made especially for them to have while I was away. So a steady stream of photos and visual updates is a must to keep this working mama happy.

  1. Wake Up Call

No matter the time zone, I always start every day with a morning call with Sam to hear all about how Westley did the night before, his morning, etc. We time it so I call Sam right as he is leaving daycare and on his way to work for a full report. Some times it’s a very early morning, but to me it is the very best way to kick off my day.

  1. Digital Daycare

Westley has a phenomenal group of teachers at his daycare and my little charmer has definitely stolen their hearts. I’ve always made it a point to get to know all of his teachers because let’s be honest, he spends more time with them during the week than he spends at home. I feel very confident leaving him at daycare because the team there truly cares about the kids. So much so, that when they know I travel, they are more cognizant of Westley’s behavior, if he is spending longer hours there or coming in earlier because of my husband’s work schedule, their main priority is keeping W happy…and they succeed. I also keep in touch with his teachers via Facebook Messenger – they send me updates and photos. It’s awesome and makes me feel more connected.

  1. Just Say No

Once becoming a mom, I have set certain rules up for myself to keep my travel in check. Sometimes I fail miserably and have back-to-back travel, but for the most part I try and stay away no more than three nights in a row and try and avoid trips that stack up. I’ve also learned to say no more than I did before having a child. Sometimes a trip is not feasible and will be an issue for my family, so in that case I have to say no. Luckily, I have a great work family with a lot of moms who get it and clients who also are mindful of my work life balance attempt.

  1. Digital Detox

I rarely travel on weekends, so weekends for me are all about family. There is honestly nothing else and no one else I’d rather be with than Sam and Westley. So part of my being present is disconnecting from emails on weekends (I check once a day for a quick skim to ensure no client crisis have occurred). I also try and put my phone away as much as possible, although I still use it for photos and to check social media because it’s something I enjoy. Being present and not spending time checking email makes my weekends feel more free and 100 percent focused on my little family.

As my good friend Heidi Floyd put it, it’s all about the work life integration. And at the end of the day, it’s about making it work for you and your family – whatever that may look like. Would love to hear from you with any other tips!

XO,

Ivette

Advertisements

The Law of the Modern Jungle

When we were kids, we were in a huge rush to grow up, thinking adulthood was where we wanted to be. And now that we’re here, it doesn’t involve nearly as many jet skis and margaritas as I was hoping it would. It’s cold in these streets, but here’s my top 5 list of pointers for making it work:

  1. Be mindful of how you occur in social media.

Going viral isn’t always a good thing. It can sometimes mean this or it can mean blowing up your life with a stupid tweet. Just ask Justine Sacco.  Accidents can happen, but the consequences of making bad choices- especially after a few cocktails- can linger.

  1. Talk to your children about how they interact in the digital world.

It’s not just a matter of cyber safety, which is still a real issue. Your children’s conduct online can affect your entire family in more ways than one.

  1. Watch your side hustle.

Look at your own social media feed.  What would a stranger see?  Is it all MLM sales pitches?  Are all of your “friends” just contacts for skin care, essential oils, and body wraps? Is your side hustle kosher with your day job?  Many employers have secondary employment rules.  Did you clear that up front?  If not, you could be subject to disciplinary action. Stories like thisthis, and this are embarrassing and could negatively affect your reputation, if not your career.

  1. Whether it’s personal or not, it’s all personal.

Declaring an account to be “personal” doesn’t immunize you from the consequences of your content. A County Councilman in Maryland ran his mouth off on Facebook.  He then had to learn a hard lesson about boundaries in public.  Then he had to issue a very public apology.

  1. Make good choices when it comes to textual intercourse.

Just because a photo of an intimate nature is locked in your password protected phone doesn’t mean it’s safe.   You may remember this story of the massive phone hacking which resulted in hundreds of celebrities’ nude photos being leaked on the internet.  The perpetrator in that case was caught, but it took two years to bring him to justice. Shared iCloud accounts are a new frontier in catching cheating spouses, handing divorce lawyers all the ammunition they need to take to court (including one iconic couple for those of us of a certain generation). Whether you’re married or single, it’s worth bearing in mind that 1) hacking happens and 2) you lose control over these photos once you send them to someone else.   Remember the “Cookie’s cookies” incident on a recent episode of “Empire?”  We can’t all bounce back as easily as she did.

Alexis Lambert is an attorney, endurance athlete, and curator of funny things on the internet. Her hobbies include power vinyasa yoga, SoulCycle, PureBarre, and GoRuck.  Her fantasy girl squad would include Morticia Adams, Ouiser Boudreaux, Emily Gilmore and RuPaul.

“Keys of Hope” – Extended Stay America Donation Positively Impacts Cancer Patients

One of my favorite parts of working in pr is the opportunity to meet so many different people, learn about numerous subjects and help raise awareness about important programs.

A couple of years ago, our client, Extended Stay America wanted to connect and support a charity their 10,000+ employees across the country could feel proud to support. They surveyed their employee base and overwhelmingly American Cancer Society rose to the top. Not surprising as cancer affects and touches so many people’s lives. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find anyone these days who doesn’t know someone currently battling cancer. Whether it’s a family member, friend, colleague, acquaintance – this disease touches most people in some way, shape or form.

Rather than write a check, Extended Stay America wanted to find a way to make a more meaningful impact via its CSR initiative. One of the many reasons, I love them. They launched the Hotel Keys of Hope program, which donates free and reduced rooms to cancer patients who have to travel away from home for treatment. To date the program has donated 47,000+ room nights, impacting 6700+ cancer patients. The even better news is that the program has been renewed and ESA is donating even more rooms — 50,000!

What started as an idea, a “what if” during a brainstorm in November of 2014, blossomed into a full fledged event that came to life over a June weekend. Our team hosted 11 families who have stayed at ESA during their treatment for a Cancer Survivors weekend in NYC, taking over one of the properties in Secaucus, NJ. The weekend was an opportunity to celebrate these incredible people who immediately made a connection and lifelong friendship. From dinner and a movie to a special keynote from GMA’s Amy Robach to a Broadway show and celebration dinner, it was such an amazing honor to have been part of what I hope will become an annual event.

As a cherry on top, because we spent a few days really getting to know these families and their stories, we were able to pitch and land a significant news story on The TODAY Show as part of its “Hope to It” series. Love seeing an idea come to fruition, meeting amazing people and getting a national news story! Life and PR win.

What Social Media Means to Me

In honor of social media day, I decided to write a quick post about what social media means to me. I was always on the Facebook bandwagon and have had an account since it premiered in 2004, but in the last year or so I’ve really gotten into social media – learning more about it and participating in more platforms.

I resisted Twitter for a long time and now I can’t imagine not being able to tweet. I have to thank Deirdre Breakenridge who was a speaker at our local FPRA chapter meeting and really got me thinking about Twitter. I decided to look into it and gave it a try. I have met so many interesting PR professionals through Twitter, made connections with people in my own community, made great friends (shout out to Niki Pocock!) and have learned so much from 140 character postings.

A lot of people who are not fans of social media argue that these types of platforms make it easy for people to disconnect with reality, staying away from connecting with people in the “real world.” But I must say, Twitter, LinkedIn, Brazen Careerist, Foursquare, Facebook – all of these sites have allowed me to connect with a much larger network than would have been possible without them. Even locally, I have met so many people through Twitter and then turned that into lunch meetings, face to face conversations, new business and new friendships. If anyone thinks social media is not powerful…think again!

Starting this blog also has been an amazing experience. I love being able to share my thoughts and ideas with a global audience and connect with other people through my posts. My blog and Twitter lead me to find Brazen Careerist a career focused social networking site that connects professionals and allows us to discuss countless topics. It’s amazing what you can discover and who you can meet through social media.

For me, social media has been a new education and a place for me to share information and insights with others. It has given me an online voice and has helped build my personal brand. I’m excited to see what new networks and ideas emerge in the coming months or year…I love that it’s so fast and transformative that you can’t keep up. Social media keeps you on your toes and for that I’m grateful.

So what does social media mean to you?

Waterworks

So this is a post I’ve gone back and forth about…so I decided to go for it. I’m a woman…I’m emotional sometimes…I’ve cried at work. There I said it.

Then I ran into the bathroom, tried to fix my makeup and get my act together. But once I start, I feel like I can’t stop the waterworks. Sigh. Sometimes I wish I was a man…they never seem to cry or if they get upset or hurt, you don’t see it all over their face.

It’s those times when I’m happy I have an office to hide in. I’ve talked to my female friends and colleagues and at least I’m not alone. It seems that many of us have had mini crying sessions at work. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better about stopping the waterworks…but every now and then something happens and I can’t help it. They haven’t all been bad tears…during the annual Thanksgiving luncheon I got teary eyed talking about what I’m thankful for, including my family who was dealing with some health issues.

But I guess the lesson here is that we’re all human. We have bad days and our feelings can be hurt. Crying reminds me that I have a heart, I have emotions and embracing those emotions and feelings makes me who I am.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on tears. Has it happened to you? How do you feel and how do you deal with the waterworks?

A Different Perspective

One of the benefits of being part of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) Capital Chapter is getting to know a wide range of PR and communication professionals.

Aside from my days as a TV reporter (another blog all together) — when I crossed over to PR I came to an agency. It’s what I know and what I love. Even though it is my passion and I’ve never worked for a government agency, a non-profit or an association, I’m a big believer that it is beneficial for all of us to step outside of our sandbox and play with the kids in the other box. You learn so much and improve yourself just by listening to someone else’s perspective. After all we’re all PR pros no matter what side of the fence we’re on.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned from talking to my fellow PR pros who are not at an agency:

1. Listen – An agency has a lot of resources and big ideas, but it is important to listen to what the client actually wants and needs. Work with the client to identify their priorities and come up with ideas and strategies that are in line with that vision.

2. Collaborate – This is especially important if the client has a communication staffer in place who will be working directly with the agency. It can’t be one sided, form a true relationship with the communication staff and work together to meet the goal and objectives of each project or campaign. Having the communication staff’s buy in and approval is key to keeping the client happy and continuing a long term relationship.

3. Research – Read up on a new or potential client. Know the issue. Know what is being said in the media. Know what you’re walking into. This ties back to listening and being proactive. It is critical to be educated on a client before you meet with them. You don’t want to walk in and propose a clever contest or fun campaign when the organization is in the midst of a crisis unbeknownst to you.

4. Option, options, options – It happens with every campaign…you have your favorite logo, tag line, messages, look, feel. However, sometimes our favorite is not the client’s favorite. Always offer options and take a client’s input and feedback into consideration. It’s important to NEVER make the client feel like you’re forcing them to go with what you want and not taking their ideas, wants and needs into consideration. Always empower the client! After all the project is for them and a client should always play a role in the development of a campaign or project. Sometimes it’s not about us. 🙂

These are just a few things I’ve learned from my non-agency peers. What are your thoughts on working with agency folks? If you work for an agency, what have you learned from clients?

What’s in a name…

A lot! This is coming from a girl whose name is not exactly simple. My Cuban parents wanted a fun, French name, but didn’t like the original “Y” spelling of it, so they went with Ivette. When I was little, I would dream of having a more common name and for a while I made my mom call me Kim because I loved the character from “Different Strokes.”

There have been a lot of articles lately about names — CNN asked “Does your name shape your destiny?” (http://bit.ly/ddBPRw) I’m not sure, but I know that loving yourself and loving your name play a big role in your life and your level of confidence. As I got older, I learned to appreciate having a different name and have embraced it everyday since. I can’t imagine having any other name.

My other big thing is making an effort to remember people’s names and get the pronunciation right. This is a huge pet peeve of mine because so many people get my first and last name wrong ALL the time. I’ve learned to laugh it off because some of the pronunciations people come up with are hysterical. But I try my hardest not to be that person who massacres everyone’s name, even if they’ve met the person a million times.

So I’ve made it a priority when I meet someone to learn their name and then use it as many times as possible while I’m around them to ensure it’s ingrained in my mind. I especially make it a point to learn the names of servers at restaurants. I’ve never waited tables, but I can imagine how annoying it would be to have someone yell “hey you!” or “lady…” instead of asking for me by name. I find that learning a server’s name and actually using it equals better service and more enjoyable dining experience.

What are your name issues? Do you like your name? Do you think a name can affect certain aspects of your life? Let me know your thoughts.