Producing “She’s The Boss”

I’ve been super busy lately because I have been in the throws of producing  an original web series for a client. I’ve reached a milestone (the series debuted!), so I figured I would weigh in with some thoughts and an update.

Have I produced a web series before? No. Since high school, I’ve made small video projects over the years but nothing with a budget, an idea, and a team of people to work with to make it happen.  After a longtime client asked me to help oversee his production studio, this web series landed on my desk and I did my best to make it work.

I like challenges.

Enter She’s The Boss

The overall concept of the series She’s The Boss was semi-packaged by the time I stepped on the scene: it would be a series profiling NYC’s Black businesswomen and industry leaders. 20 women, 20 episodes,  5-7 minutes each and sponsored by General Mills. There were some big challenges though: we did not have any guests confirmed, the creative aspects of the series hadn’t been finalized, the client had just bought the show and it needed to go up ASAP. It would be a hustle to get this project up and going. We could do this, right?

Right.

The series debuted last week, and it’s been an exciting few weeks to say the least. We’re still booking guests, but the guest list and shoots have been awesome. We shoot almost every week and every shoot day is different, with its own set of challenges and personalities. The other day I was on set tearing up a bit by just how inspiring and awesome our guest for Episode 3 was. I did a walk through on location with the guest for Episode 5 today and she had the best energy. It’s an exciting time to be working on projects like this.

Episode 1: Ericka Dotson, Indique Hair

This was our first shoot–ever–and Ericka Dotson was great. She has awesome energy and her team is very well put together and fun to work with. I was nervous about the shoot but it went well. It’s not 100% perfect, so you know my inner perfectionist is uncomfortable, but overall I am happy. I look forward to our other episodes building on top of this one. Check out Episode 2 over here, featuring my soror Michelle James.

Being A Boss Lady

She’s The Boss is an aptly named series for my first project in this role as I get comfortable with being “the boss” of a team of folks.  I’ve worked for myself for the last 3 years, so it’s been a while since I worked with a team, let alone worked in a leadership capacity. I’m still growing, learning how to lead, getting my stride together, etc, so being on set with these phenomenal ladies has been a a great “learning on the job” experience. These interviews keep me grounded and reinforce to me what it means to a woman and a leader. It’s okay to be confident, it’s okay to be “aggressive,” it’s okay to be a perfectionist, and it’s okay to delegate.

I can’t wait to finish shooting this series! For now, you can catch a new episode every Thursday on MadameNoire.com/ShesTheBoss.

My Totally Awesome Interview with Tristan Walker

Soooo. I’ve been trying to work on my “writing career” slowly but surely. The latest chapter in this walk is my interview with the totally awesome Tristan Walker of FourSquare: “Square Biz: The Silicon Valley Hustle of Tristan Walker, VP of Biz Dev at FourSquare” I pitched this interview to The Atlanta Post months ago, and I finally finished it! Tristan is great, he really gives off a very inspiring vibe, and you can tell he really loves his job (I would love his job if I were him too!) Anyway, below is the intro, check out his story it’s really interesting for anyone pursuing a career in tech. I also asked him about diversity in tech and it was good to get his thoughts on the matter.

If you haven’t heard about mobile social startup FourSquare, then you must not be paying attention to the news, your TV or your local Starbucks. A location-based application for your phone, FourSquare is seen as the frontrunner among the crop of location-based services vying for your attention. In charge of business development over at FourSquare is Queens-bred Tristan Walker, a recent graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and former Wall Street oil trader turned tech shot-caller. Walker leads FourSquare’s partnership development with media, brands and retailers such as MTV, Bravo, American Eagle, CNN, The New York Times, Louis Vuitton, and VH1.

Walker talked with The Atlanta Post about what it’s like juggling a full-time exec-level position at a hot startup while simultaneously finishing up his MBA at one of the leading business programs in the country. Find out how he landed this position, how he became interested in the Silicon Valley hustle, and what he thinks about diversity in technology.

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3-Hour Champagne Diet: AtlantaPost.com Launch Party

Atlanta Post

Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of attending the exclusive launch party for AtlantaPost.com, hosted by Armand de Brignac champagne. You may know Armand de Brignac champagne from rap videos and Jay-Z songs, as the product is encased in gold bottles with the Ace of Spades on them.

If you didn’t already know, The Atlanta Post is a brand new site that “provides original and aggregated content on personal finance, business, media and politics” for the higher-income African-American community.

This was the first event being held by The Atlanta Post, and they came out the gates pretty strong, by honoring a group of Black professionals across various areas:

Atlanta Post and Armand de BrignacBusiness

  • Randal Pinkett, businessman and entrepreneur of “The Apprentice” fame

Personal Finance

  • Ryan Mack, popular personal finance expert and frequent commentator on CNN’s business segments
  • Carmen Wong Ulrich, personal finance expert for CNBC and previous host of “On the Money”

Entrepreneurship

  • Miko and Titi Branch, founders/CEOs of the well-known “Miss Jessie’s” hair line

Media

  • Michaela Angela Davis, critic, writer, and the last editor-in-chief of Honey Magazine
  • Karen Taylor Bass, CEO/President of TaylorMade Media and a national leader in public relations and empowerment

Politics

  • Derrick Ashong, a political voice whose YouTube fame earned him his current show on Oprah’s Sirius network
  • Farai Chideya, award-winning author, journalist, and commentator on politics and media for NPR programs including, The Takeaway
The Atlanta Post Launch Party Honorees
Ryan Mack (far left) and Randal Pinkett (far right). Also pictured, Atlanta Post editor China Okasi (right) and guest.

I was very impressed with the selection of the honorees, and even talked to a few of them (fellow MIT alum Randal Pinkett was really cool, and Miko & Titi Branch were such sweethearts!). Not only were the honorees an awesome group of people in their own right, but the guests I chatted up were also an interesting and accomplished group. Honestly, I had fun getting to know some new faces in NYC. I was a bit taken aback when a few people recognized me from the Internets, or said they had heard of me before….but the world is small, and that’s bound to happen. It freaks me out a little bit, but I should get used to it, no?Armand de Brignac

As for the champagne, it was quite luxurious. The event took place in SoHo at the loft of Armand de Brignac. When I exited the elevator, I was greeted by someone from the company who briefed me on the champagne. I was impressed, although I’m a champagne n00b, so some of the details went over my head (I’m still trying to get a grasp on wine!). As the night went on, we learned more about the Armand de Brignac selection of products via the sommelier who explained what we were drinking, and how the menu of hors d‘oeuvres complemented the tasting.

All in all, I had a great time. I think The Atlanta Post planned a good event to help spread the word about the new site, but also managed to touch some influencers within the community. It was a solid attempt to get on the radar of their audience, as well as a great partnership with a strong and relevant brand. As someone who observes and works in the space, there are many new sites that pop up to serve this demographic, but have poor execution in connecting with influencers or their audience. It’s an uphill battle if all you do is plan to sit behind your computer and talk at an audience, rather than engage with them in real life. Well played.

Slideshow of more photos from the event:

Choosing The Right CMS for Your Blog Site* – MT vs WP vs Drupal

Last Monday I had the honor of sitting on a panel for the Introduction to Online Communities class for the Online Communities program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. That’s a mouthful. If you’re paying close attention, this is the program where I earned my master’s degree (I was in the 2007 cohort).

The topic for the session was Online Community Tools and Platforms. At the end of the program, all students are given funds to launch their own startup or online community. Back in my day *crotchety old man voice*, we built our startups from scratch: we product developed a concept, hired a developer and designer to create it;  we also did all the marketing footwork, etc. We were reinventing the wheel in 12 weeks. It was tough, somewhat miserable, and frustrating. Not because of the work, but because of the time constraints and our naivete. Anyway, in later years the cohorts got smart(er) and started using open source solutions to create their (alpha) startups. Not a bad idea.

The discussion took a few different forms. We discussed “reinventing the wheel” versus using WordPress, Buddypress, Movable Type, Ning, etc. In the end, I tried to make it clear that whatever decision you make, make sure it is an informed decision and make sure it helps you achieve your goal. I have seen people choose a platform like WordPress, and not understand that it requires frequent updates. Sure,  WordPress evangelists will tell you to use WP all day everyday, but if you are in a situation where you can’t support frequent upgrades, then WP is not the tool for you.

That being said, I would like to go over a few pros and cons when using Movable Type, WordPress, or Drupal. People ask my opinion on this topic out of curiosity, or due to my line of work, so I thought I would share! Continue reading “Choosing The Right CMS for Your Blog Site* – MT vs WP vs Drupal”