How To Demystify Big Data

May 28, 2015

Big Data“What is Big Data? What can I do with it? What does it mean for my company?” In an effort to answer these questions, NYWICI presented a Digital Salon “Demystifying  Big Data,” featuring Natalie Lee, senior partner & director of Digital Analytics, for MEC, one of the world’s leading media agency networks. 

A self-proclaimed “data nerd,” Natalie followed in the footsteps of her dad, who is also a statistician. But even he admits he doesn’t understand a lot of what she’s talking about. The fact is, Big Data is growing and changing at warp speed — the amount of it doubling every 18 months. How do you keep up? How can you even process the idea of a “brontobyte” of information? (Don’t know what a brontobyte is? Don’t be embarrassed, data miner Google has you covered: "The only thing there is to say about a Brontobyte is that it is a 1 followed by 27 zeroes".)

The good news is, you can get a handle on how you can make Big Data work for you, by always keeping a clear focus on the core of your own business. “Think of it like a reverse bulls-eye,” says Natalie. “Start from the core, start small, and then work your way out from there.”   

Here are four key pillars to keep in mind as you approach Big Data:

  • Know what you want to do with the data

Since different companies have core missions — retail or e-commerce will be very different from pharma — the collected data will need to be aligned with your core mission. It’s important to understand the time horizon for the use of your data. Data storage doesn’t come cheap. If you’ll be using it this year, you’ll need to store it in an easily accessible way. If you’re archiving it, you’ll need to consider not only storage costs but how you format it. And you’ll have to try to predict how your company’s needs may evolve into the future, and access/store your data accordingly. 

  • The “Bigness” of the data is (ironically) due to the “smallness” of the data

It used to just be about reach; now it’s all abut the granular detail that you can analyze — not just the number of people on a given website for example, but what they’re doing when they’re there, where they’re clicking, when they convert to make a purchase and what other touch points influenced them to get there, etc. 

  • The complexity of Big Data is getting to connect it to one another

CRM, social media, demographics, TV, direct mail, psychographic, brand, retail, sales, transactional data, online sales, competitive… these are all data points. It may make sense for you to connect some of these to analyze the data yielded; other connections may not be useful to you. Don’t get sidetracked trying to figure them all out. Remember, keep your business’s core mission in mind and use that to guide the selection of data points that you’ll seek to connect and analyze.  

  • Having the best of Big Data doesn’t mean anything unless you have the right talent to interpret it

In order to get the results you’re looking for, you need the right people — statisticians, programmers and visualization experts who can present the information to others. Some of their skills overlap, but to find one person who possesses all the skills necessary to analyze and then explain Big Data is “a unicorn”, says Natalie. Other challenges you’ll face in mining Big Data are privacy and legal policies, which may prevent you from accessing or using certain data points. There’s also the element of human error. For example, crowd sourced metadata, such as hashtags, are bound to include misspellings. And the fact that Big Data is constantly evolving means it’s a moving target.  

So… where does this all leave you, except feeling a bit overwhelmed? Natalie keeps up on Big Data by reading Mashable and AdAge. Like anything else big and seemingly scary, try to focus on the positive: For marketers, Big Data can open up amazing possibilities. That said, remember your core mission, start small…and keep an eye out for that elusive unicorn.

Photos: Jan Goldstoff

Posted by: 
Susan Schulz

NYWICI Must-Reads May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015
Posted by: 
Davida Arnold

Make a Good Speech Great

May 23, 2015

When you think of famous speeches given by a woman — who comes to mind? Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington and J.K. Rowling are just a few women who, in my opinion, have delivered great speeches. A great speech captures my attention when it contains elements of conversation, paired with confidence, poise and an organized line of thoughts.

How does one deliver a great speech? Corporate communications writer Cynthia Hanson was a recent Twitter chat cohost and she offered insight on “How To Make a Good Speech Great.” Cynthia is a speechwriter who has written speeches for executives in some of America’s leading companies and universities, as well as for individuals giving TED Talks.

When asked, what makes a good speech great, Cynthia’s first response; “Storytelling!” She insists to include “a clear beginning, middle, and end and a sense of urgency, expertise, and truth.” There is a difference between a good speech and a great speech. A good speech is “meh,” Cynthia says. “A great speech is memorable, life-changing and exhilarating.”

Cynthia shared the followings tips on how to deliver a great speech:

  • Good preparation: “Map out all the points that must be made. Circle the most important then flesh out the major points. Be very clear about the beginning, middle and end.”
  • Grab audience attention: “Invent a great title. Ask an uncomfortable question; seduce your audience with truth. Speak the truth and you will gain the audience’s attention. The first 10 seconds of a speech are critical and people can sense from the beginning whether a speech is worth their attention.”
  • Challenges of Giving a Speech: “Command attention from people addicted to digital devices.” It is best not so save the best points until the end. Season sentences with Today! Right now! At this moment! Punctuate with urgency and the audience will stick with you.  Another challenge is delivering bad news. No one wants to hear it. Therefore, acknowledge it and personalize it by including statements such as: I am sad, or I am disappointed.”
  • How to Conclude a Speech: Conclude by conducting your own Q&A. “What did I learn from XYZ?” “This is what I learned!” Conclude with something provocative.  “How did XYZ change my life?” “This is how it changed my life!” Think about good old-fashioned children’s stories. Beginning, middle and an ending, where we learn the moral of the story.”

Know your topic, and speak from a place of knowledge. “We are fine-tuned from our earliest days to pay attention to great stories,” Cynthia stresses. “Speechwriters are storytellers. Tell the story as the best ever told.

Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

Women, Careers and the Future of News

May 14, 2015

Future of News“Journalism has benefited women. But there are prestigious jobs still not occupied by them.” In a recent NYWICI-hosted conversation, Norah O'Donnell (@NorahODonnell), co-host of "CBS This Morning" and contributor to "60 Minutes" shared her personal and professional insights about the profession she loves with The Wall Street Journal’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Rebecca Blumenstein (@RBlumenstein). Talking about her achievements always circled back to the one question on everyone's mind: How to accomplish it all. Norah's approach: with wit, grit, planning and teamwork. And don't neglect your self-esteem.

Norah is a news junkie. She reads six newspapers and has modeled herself after Barbara Walters. Ben Bradley taught her (in a lecture she attended) how to read a newspaper, to recognize why the stories are placed where and what the editors think ought to be the top news of the day. “Papers inspire me,” she beams. “I highlight and encircle what interests me. Newspapers spark new ideas to report and develop further.” And those ideas have taken her to every continent to report from — except Antarctica — and have earned her an Emmy.  

Twitter is her daily news feed and broadcast is her calling, especially working for CBS. “We have a good sense of identity. News is what we do best. Our viewership went up 24% from last year. We don't do the Kardashians. We cover the news. If you want the fluffy stuff, pick up a magazine.”

To Norah, women are both drivers and consumers of news. And she is quick to admit that her life, which has her living miles apart from her husband and children most days of the week (she in New York and they in Washington), is not made possible by “balancing” but rather by blending. Norah had three kids in 13 months – twins plus one. “I don’t like that phrase balancing career and family; it suggests the scales of justice, equal weight. But sometimes that shifts.”

Many women feel pressured to reach for that elusive balance and shy away from the top jobs because they think they can't manage it all. “Get started and don't limit yourself!” Norah urges the audience. “Most importantly: Develop an expertise.” Her own broadcast career got started because she knew Washington inside out, covering the White House, the Pentagon and Congress for more than a decade.

Future of News“One of the first good decisions is whom you marry. You need a strong support system at home. Successful women employ other women to make it work — but they don’t want to talk about it. Surround yourself with supporters and cheerleaders. We can’t do everything perfect; be comfortable with that.” That said, Norah stresses that presentation is important: “Women are judged unfairly by their appearance.”

To the question whether there is a future in news broadcast, Norah has no doubt. “Facts are facts: The morning and evening shows still are dominant news sources. Morning TV is the crown jewel of broadcast journalism.” But the medium evolves. “For the next big event, we may not be in front of the TV. We are on our phone, watch video on demand. We consume entertainment on demand. News will be like that.”

Initially, Norah found the transition from behind the camera difficult, but she persevered. “Knowing things makes you important and invaluable. Develop a thick skin and see negativity as noise. Believe in who you are and what you want to achieve.”


With reporting by Linda Levi and Susan Soriano. Photos: Jan Goldstoff



Posted by: 
Tekla Szymanski

NYWICI Must-Reads May 15, 2015

Turn Passion into Career

May 12, 2015

Twitter Chat​Do you ever see people who have successfully built a career by doing the very things they are passionate about? Some of the most established entrepreneurs and businesswomen are living their passion and making money from it. It may sound easy, however, it’s often easier said than done. The most affective way to begin the journey is to know what it is we’re passionate about.

During a recent Twitter chat "How to Turn Passion Into Profit", Julie Livingston, NYWICI Board Member and founder/president of Livingston PR, shared insights into how to not only find your passion, but also how to cash in. Julie’s motto: “Love what you do — or don’t do it. That’s where turning your passion into profit comes in.”

Julie took her own advice when she built on her love for nonprofits and launched a PR consultancy that is serving nonprofits. Below are some useful tips on how to achieve happiness by getting paid to do what you love.

How can you find what you're passionate about?

The best way to discover your passion is to look inside yourself. What are the things that matter most to you? Discover your passion by writing down daily activities for one month. Look for trends and repeated activities. Look for trends and start a short list of these items. Study this list and search online to determine demand, and with your passion list, make a short list of the sites that resonate with you.

What steps should you take to turn your passion into profit?

Get a business mentor from NYWICI or use SCORE to help guide you. It often takes a village; so don’t be afraid to seek help. Subscribe to Entrepreneur and Success magazines to read about role models who turned passion into profit. Try turning passion into profit by finding an apprenticeship. Take full advantage of the NYWICI network. Connect with members in your passion field and ask if they will speak with you by phone or in person.

What does "grit" have to do with your passion?

Grit is an early indicator to success. It is your internal motivation, what drives you forward, sometimes into unchartered territory. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.  It is sticking with your future, day in and day out, not just for a day or a month, but for years to come.

We all have a purpose in life and it is up to us to discover what that this. “Allow your passion to become your purpose and one day it will be your profession," Julie urges. Don’t let money be your motivation. “Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. Know your passion. Follow it, dream it, live it.”


@NYWICI invites you to our Twitter Chat Series every other Tuesday — 8-9pm EST about career, life and success. Check the calendar for our next chat date.



Posted by: 
Rodeena Stephens

NYWICI Must-Reads 5/1/2015

May 1, 2015
Posted by: 
Davida Arnold