Featured on Ladies Lunch Guild: Sarah Hill

Find the original interview here: Sarah Hill.

I am honored to be included as an inspirational woman on the Ladies Lunch Guild blog. Here is the Q & A below copied from: https://ladiesguild.wordpress.com/spotlight/sarah-hill-2/.

 

SARAH HILL

Sarah Hill

Q& A WITH SARAH HILL

Director of Content & Product Strategy at TheReadingRoom in NY, USA

What qualities do you feel you possess that have helped you reach career goals to date?

This is a tough one. I think perseverance is a quality of mine that is up there. There have been a dozen or more people sprinkled throughout my career who have told me in various ways that I wasn’t going to be successful. When I was in news, it was, “If you’re lucky, you’ll be a really good producer in your home town, but you won’t be able to branch out.” When I was younger and still looking for a foot in the door, negative feedback really caused me to doubt myself. I’m glad I didn’t believe them, and instead I used those negative experiences as fuel. I have also heard a lot of “No’s,” and without perseverance I believe I would have given up or settled. To keep trying is the hardest part.

I used those negative experiences as fuel.

As for other qualities, I would say integrity. It has helped me and hurt me, but it only hurt me when I was at the wrong place with the wrong people.

Do you have any memorable or career ‘wow’ factor moments that stick out in your mind?

One time I received an email from Desmond Tutu (on his iPad), it was a pretty big wow moment for me.

I was also fortunate enough to do social media for Super Bowl XLVIII – that was pretty exciting. I thought I would never be successful. It doesn’t take much for me to be wowed.

Who do you think the next generation is looking to for inspiration? Are they looking in the right places?

I have no idea who the next generation is looking to, although I wish I did. If I had to guess, I would say fashion designers or tech women like Sheryl Sandberg, actresses turned entrepreneurs like Jessica Alba, or the women of Shark Tank. There are still very few role models for women and minorities in business, however it’s growing. Whoever it is, I hope the next generation continues to seek out and find people from around the world who inspire them.

I hope the next generation continues to seek out and find people from around the world who inspire them.

What advice would you give yourself 5/10 years ago?

I would say something like this, “You’re going to fail, but you’ll be okay and better for it. Keep going.” I’d also tell myself to fight for what I want, and to not let go of the experiences I’ve earned.

Looking back, what would you have done differently?

Nothing. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but I think it has all bettered me. The ups and downs and wins and losses have made me better. I have worked hard to get where I am and I respect myself for it. A part of me wishes I had my Masters in business, but with the way student loans are today it’s hard to justify that move. I also think if I had a Masters under my belt, I would not have struggled as much. I think the failures and struggles I’ve encountered helped me build a strong foundation for myself, and I wouldn’t change it.

The ups and downs and wins and losses have made me better.

What in your life gives you the greatest satisfaction and fulfillment?

Helping other people. I say that knowing that it’s just as selfish as saying I want to sip champagne on a rooftop all day or buy 20 cars (although that sounds lovely too). At the end of the day though, it is genuinely satisfying for me to help someone. It is really fulfilling to look at the comments from people on our social sites at The Reading Room. People say we bring so much joy to their lives by doing what we do. We have people from all over the world write to us and tell us about their lives and about the books and authors who have made their existence more meaningful. I hope we can always do that for people. There is a lot of hurt in the world, and if I can do something to help someone else experience that less I will be happy.

Where do you look for inspiration and support?

I look to female and male mentors in my life. Kim Anderson and Leslie Bradshaw, among many in my career are beyond inspiring and supportive. I look to my parents, friends, partner, and coworkers. I look at the people before me who have left little seeds of wisdom in random places. I look to the news and think about the people in the stories and what I can do to help those people.  I think about the women before me who weren’t able to get the opportunity they deserved, and I think about the people after me who I will want to encourage. Somewhere really far down the line, I look to all the people who said I couldn’t. But they are very far down the list, and I usually don’t get to them by the time I’m feeling inspired again.

Sarah Hill 
https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahehill

To view more inspiring women click here

My First 9/11 in New York City

This is a cross post, originally posted on Twenty Something NYC.

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Although not too many people are talking about it, the days leading up to today were somewhat stressful, especially when you remember what happened in Boston. People are so conscious of the rise in anxiety; the news wasn’t even talking about it. I don’t know if it’s always like this, or if this year things were different, but there is a tension in crowded areas—then again, maybe it’s just me.

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The presence of police could be felt this week since Saturday. The subways are usually somewhere you will spot police, but this was different. On Sunday I saw one officer step onto my subway train. He was dressed head-to-toe in gear. I saw his hand-sanitizer dangling from his belt. Compared to everything else he was warding off, I remembered in New York we all have to ward off colds as well—even our boys in blue. His demeanor nice, but his eyes quickly darting underneath seats and toward large bags. He stayed on for one stop and then got off at Times Square. A little boy sitting next to me who was probably 5 years old looked at his mom standing in front of him, “did you see that mommy?” She replied, “did I see what?” He answered back quietly, “The police man… that was cool.” She knew why he was there, and he was too young to understand.

It’s a scary thing when you move here. My first week here back in June, I remember talking to my friend about how lonely it was. I had no friends here yet, and in typical twentysomething drama I was telling her how scared I was that something was going to happen to me, like getting run over or being pushed onto the subway tracks. She was like, “isn’t your first fear an attack? That was my first fear when I moved here.” She lives in L.A., and my response was like well yeah, actually that came across my mind too.

A week or so after that happened, the NYPD started running tests on the subway system. They were trying different ways to see our vulnerabilities if someone were to attack the system with poisonous gas. I saw the report on the six o’clock news. At first it freaked me out until a girl my age came on the TV and said she was happy they were doing the tests, because we need to know what to do in case something happens. She made the point that that was the only way to prepare ourselves.
It’s not just police on the lookout; the residents here too are taking extra caution. Everyone is looking around, scouting you out. I walked on a train this morning with a man who was facing the entrance and visually scanning everyone who walked through. Then you had another guy on the other end, scanning the guy scanning the people. It was a little much, but I felt a sense of pride and safety. We’re all looking out for each other here. Although I haven’t even been here that long, that so far has been very apparent.

It wasn’t too long ago, about 3 weeks ago, that I took my parents to the September 11th memorial. We took a tour guided by two men who had both been personally affected by the attack. One of them a firefighter, and the other an employee who was late to work that day. They both looked about retirement age, and there they were, volunteering their weekends to tell my family and me about this horrible tragedy they experienced first hand. I heard their stories, and I saw their loved ones’ pictures. I heard about the lives lost and wanted to thank them a million times over for continuing to tell their story. A little over a decade ago, I imagine they thought that something very different would be capitalizing their time at this stage in their lives.

I talked to a few people at my office, and one of them I asked if I should take the subway or not. I’ve heard of people not taking it on 9/11. He said, like the majority of people here would probably say, that he still takes it. To keep going, to trust, and pray. He then went into his recount of the attacks, and how, long after watching the coverage of the events that day, he realized that his office in Times Square might be a target that day. He said it took him a while to think about his safety, because everyone at his office was glued to the TV witnessing the chaos happening just a few blocks south of them. He said people were crying. They were all in shock. Without thinking, I flashed back to my memory of the crying. I remember on the night of the attacks I sat in my room and prayed for the victims and the families. I was in Texas, far, far away from those hurting so deeply… but we felt it. We all felt it. I remember watching George W. Bush’s speech. In my childhood my family knew the Bush family because of some work my dad had done with the Texas Rangers. I flashed back to those memories of him, and then back to the screen and remember feeling so incredibly sick that someone I knew or even met was going into history this way.

I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring New York City is. This place is magical. It remains strong in its character and its diversity. Its American spirit hasn’t faded, just like the memory of 9/11 will never fade to those who experienced it.

In New York, it’s hard to walk around the city and not feel grateful to be here. By here I mean the city, but also, the United States. It’s only my opinion, but I think our society’s freedoms and our recognition that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental and essential makes us the luckiest people on the planet.

It was announced today that a UN probe found 8 massacres have occurred in Syria in the past year and a half with thousands of civilians killed in the bloodshed. If you compare the headline to 9/11 reporting on our thousands lost, you are left with an eerie feeling. It is a travesty what we do to one another for power. And although we have a memorial today to turn to in order to honor our loved ones lost, I feel for all those families who have lost someone because of a terrorist attack and have no where to reflect the lives of loved ones.

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For more images, see BuzzFeed’s report or this special report I saw on Upworthy.

To College Kids Seeking Internships…

Before you read the post below, watch the video. Because, this is more the most important question, what do you want to do? And when you figure it out, do it well.

 

My former writing professor, Mel Odom, asked me how our internship hunt was going… and I unleashed. My response he turned into an email he sent around to his classes. Whoops. Well, anyways, I figured I might as well share. What Mel said is in italics – and a few spots at the bottom that are not in italics. The email was somewhat of an impromptu collaboration I guess you could say. If you know any students that need a fire to be lit underneath them, this might help. Cheers!

Mel: Impressions on prospective employers is important.  You don’t get a do-over on that.  Also, just starting out, you have to learn to be hungry.  You’re not going to get everything you want.  People who get that “wow” job right out of college are only in books, movies, and television shows.  Not real life.  Something else to keep in mind, sometimes a person does get that “wow” job only to find out the job sucks on levels that are not truly understood.  Then that person is caught flat-footed, doesn’t know how to go out and look for another job, doesn’t know what other job might be remotely interesting.

This is why internships and part-time jobs are important to you guys while you’re in college.  Think of internships and part-time work as dating.  You’re out there looking around, seeing what’s there to be had, seeing how it fits in with your personality, finding out how your limited skills fit in with it, then deciding which other skills to add to your arsenal.  That’s what experience is all about people.  That way you don’t fall for that good looking person that sweeps you off your feet and then proceeds to suck the life out of you for years.

If your momma hasn’t already told you, let me be the first:  shop around.

And now words from a PW grad out in the real world who’s been looking for interns at her job.  I got this second week of school and decided to share.  Colored areas are mine.  I guess the real question is whether you want a job, or whether you want to step out there after college and get hit by the unemployment bus and working at the car wash blues. 

Me: Most of the kids we’ve interviewed seem interested in getting writing experience, but don’t seem interested in the other work that comes with it – including blog work like resizing photos and such. Pretty much everyone we have interviewed is kind of like “I am inquiring about this, but don’t know if I want to commit to the whole internship.”  Very on the fence. However, we are desperate for help with blog content. So it works out and we will probably end up having a few of them just write blog content for us – as a ghost writer for staff members, and as themselves too (one problem, the kids don’t like the idea of ghost writing – even though it can be the bread and butter of a writer’s employment… great for their portfolio… and so on… you know, lol). Because I want them to get experience, and think I can swing managing that if I can convince my boss, but on top of it –  we still need a solid intern who can commit 15-20 hours a week and who is interested in growing their capabilities in the writing/blogging/pr/ad world. I’m just venting here, but it’s crazy to me some of the interviews we have had. One person went home and then emailed us like 20 questions about position expectations and what exactly they will gain from working here – wanting to know if she will get the kind of professional experience she is looking for as opposed to doing “intern” work.  So I had to spend an hour answering her questions selling her on the internship. Needless to say, and unfortunately, we weren’t impressed. I would have killed to have an in-depth internship, because in the life-after-college world all of the capabilities, and knowledge you’ve soaked-in just from being exposed to the real world environment is huge and could land you a pretty nice job.

The truth is most don’t want to dedicate 20 hours to it, and although there is tons of writing involved with what they would be doing, they would also have to be resizing photos and other tedious tasks, which has kind of turned some people off. Also, a lot of them aren’t familiar with social media (which is crazzzzzy not be on the up-and-up with social media).

I’ve discovered the industry looks at writers as “producers.” The industry wants to make money, and in order to do that they have to have a product to sell.  Writers create/produce the product. Them being on twitter and tweeting and blogging shows they are capable of producing things like… I don’t know… words (sorry for sarcasm here but, really). If you aren’t creating a product then you aren’t a writer. Some of our interviewees even aren’t writing at all out of class. Along the same point, and one I know you get frustrated with as well is they aren’t reading. If you aren’t consuming ideas/ content/ general knowledge you aren’t a writer either. Craziness. Even if it’s not a book, they should have websites or a newspaper or a magazine or something- multiple things – that they read every day.

Now, I think some of the problems we have encountered is due to a lack of experience and lack of drive/enthusiasm, only because they don’t understand the importance of it all yet. It might hit them when they graduate and start looking for jobs, because even if they want to write books they will need to make a living before it is published. But I do know there are college kids who get it, our last intern was amazing – so there is hope.

In Case You Missed It

In case you missed it, see some of my latest blog posts for JESS3.com.

Other favorite JESS3 blog posts written by others include the list below, but there are so many awesome posts by such brilliant people,

I’d recommend you taking a look at them all the next time you want to sit back and just be entertained:

Hello iPhone 5! by Chris Marple
From Lite to Dark: A Heavy Look at the Design of Microbrew Packaging by Lane Kinkade
Paris vs New York: A Tally of Two Cities by Florencio Zavala
Beyonce and Jay-Z Bust-a-Move for Obama by Brandi Jackson

While you’re at it, check out my boss’s awesome site. It won’t disappoint. And I mean that from a non-employee perspective (boo-yah).

Really, she’s inspirational. Surf around it for a while and you’ll see what I mean.