With the first season of the New York Women in Communications podcast Coffee Break w/NYWICI in the books, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite episodes to revisit the wise words and compelling conversations we’ve had with some of the brightest women in media and communications.
To continue this series, we’re taking a look back at Episode 6 (Episode 6 on iTunes | Episode 6 on Soundcloud). Our guest, Liz Kaplow, is Founder, CEO, and President of Kaplow Communications, and a former President of NYWICI. Liz is a pioneer in the public relations industry, and she had so many lessons and stories to share on the podcast.
Do every job
Liz reflected on one of her earliest jobs in public relations and shared a funny, but meaningful, anecdote. When her boss was entertaining clients, Liz was tasked with doing the dishes in the women’s restroom of the office. “It was disgusting, but what I remember about it is that you have to do every job when you’re starting out,” she said. “The good comes with the bad.”
Liz explained that by embracing a seemingly menial task, she was able to send her boss an important signal about her work ethic. “Some of the things we’re going to be doing we won’t love, but there will be something to learn,” Liz said. “You’ll be impressing the people around you with a can-do spirit, and that power of “yes” is something that helps define your career, ultimately.”
Don’t be afraid to over-communicate
Liz’s public relations practice, Kaplow Communications, is widely known for having a culture that not only encourages excellent work, but is also focused on staff and leadership development and offers flexibility to its team. In fact, the firm was recognized by the Holmes Report on the “Best Places to Work” agency list.
Liz shared her key lessons from building Kaplow’s culture. “I believe in over-communication, and setting up a schedule for what the week ahead looks like,” Liz said. “If you have an open mind about flexibility, coupled with good preparation so that people can be reliable and fill in for each other, I believe that managers can really promote the idea.”
Liz also emphasized the value of building a culture that allows working parents to thrive. “We can keep moms and dads in the workplace where they can see a good career development path in front of them, and that will make this a richer place for others and for our clients.” And it’s paying off. “What we’ve seen is that people who were starting out here have stayed here, and that’s a great thing.”
Learn to bounce back
Liz revealed her advice for handling trying times at work and enduring emotional moments. “We’re people, not technology, and that’s what makes us interesting and nuanced and diverse,” she said. “Sometimes, our emotions get the better of us, and the trick is to be able to turn that into something that keeps us in the game. I believe that the biggest key to success is bouncing back.”
Receiving criticism or working through conflict is inevitable, but Liz emphasized that those experiences can build strength. “Sometimes you need to go into the ladies room and have a good cry, but the important part of it is how you come back into the room,” she said. “We’re not allowed to go and cry for the day. We’re allowed to go cry for a few minutes, and then we have to get into solution mode and think about what we can bring that is going to affect change and help us move along.”
Liz’s advice for bouncing back into solution mode? Consider taking a quick walk to get some fresh air, or call a good friend who’s not connected to the situation and can provide a new perspective.
Find a mentor (or a mentee)
“Mentoring should be a way of life,” Liz shared. “Spend [time] thinking being a generous builder of ideas and a good sounding board.” According to Liz, the mentor-mentee relationship doesn’t need to be overly formalized. “Remember that women starting out need that support and they need the role models.”
Liz also highlighted the importance of mentorship for women in the middle of their careers. “When I see those numbers of women who have dropped out and then struggled to get back in [the workplace]...I think about how if they were able to find someone who was going through that, but managed to stay in the game, they could be mentored around that story and that would help them through.”
And for those who are more advanced in their career, being both a mentor and a mentee can also be tremendously valuable. Liz pointed out that younger employees and more mature employees can share knowledge in a productive way through mentorship. “That is what keeps people relevant, because you’re learning from [people] who have all kinds of new skill sets.”
Be in the present
It’s easy to be consumed with planning ahead and thinking about what the next five to ten years of a career path can look like, especially in the ever-changing communications industry. “It’s good to have a sense of where you want to be, and that’s where relevancy comes in,” Liz said. “But while I think it’s good to have a flexible long-term vision, I believe that it’s even better to be in the moment and look at the signs along the way.”
Thanks to Liz Kaplow for being part of the podcast! To listen to the complete first season of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI, visit nywici.org/podcast.