8 Lessons Learned from Successful CLE Businesswomen

Friday, April 20, 2018

I had the honor of attending yesterday's Next generation of women in leadership event yesterday, hosted by Engage! Cleveland & Sherwin-Williams & held at the stadium where the Cleveland Browns play. It was a beautiful day for views of Lake Erie, & inside, the view was even better: The 200+ young women in attendance heard from six of our city's successful businesswomen, who each spoke on a different topic that impacts young women in our personal & professional lives.

Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from throughout the event.

1. "Be the CEO of your life."

This was my favorite line of the day, from Kim Jenkins Manigault, EVP & chief diversity/inclusion officer at KeyBank, who spoke about finding your tribe & your support system. The full quote was, "Be the CEO of your life. Demote or fire people who don't deserve to share your space." Amen, right? Give yourself permission to be in charge of your mental, emotional, & physical space, including who is allowed through the doors. If someone deserves to be fired from your life, so be it.

2. Your personal brand is who other people think you are.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it's something I never really thought about: Liza Zone, managing director of Dix & Eaton, pointed out that your personal brand isn't the image you want to convey; it's the image you do convey. What are your blindspots? What don't you realize you're doing? Whether it's Resting Bitch Face, a lack of eye contact, or a haughty attitude, you could be contributing to your personal brand in a way you don't realize - & don't mean to.

3 It's OK to cry. Just do it behind closed doors.

Micki Byrnes, president & general manager of WKYC, spoke about having difficult conversations at work, from discussions about harassment to navigating maternity leave to asking for a raise. It's hard to believe that a badass like Byrnes has ever cried at work, but she admitted that she's sobbed after firing people - key word being after. Take your lumps (or give them out, depending on your position) & then feel free to be emotional about it... when no one is watching. 

4. Women who use conversational "hedges" have lower professional status.

Amy Shannon, president of Pinnacle Leadership Solutions, shared a handout titled "10 Common Things that Undermine Women's Speech Habits." I already knew to be wary of words like "just" & "actually," which indicate a tentativeness & a lack of professional confidence, but I didn't know they were called "hedges" - or that the women who use them are almost always in lower positions than women who don't. Trim the hedges!

5. Seek organizational investment in your civic engagement.

Teresa Metcalf Beasley of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP has her hand in a million projects, including motherhood, volunteerism, & being a partner at her law firm. She spoke about the need to discuss your volunteer work with your superiors in order to get buy-in from them - which gives you more wiggle room to participate in that work. Instead of simply being seen as leaving half an hour early one day, you'll be seen at leaving half an hour early to go serve on a board to help better your community - which makes a world of a difference to higher-ups. 

6. Yes, your personal brand can evolve over time - for better or for worse! 

Lisa Zone 's two examples of this were Snoop Dogg (who ever expected him to become BFF with Martha Stewart?!) & Bill Cosby (who ever expected him to fall from grace so very hard?) - talk about a change in perception! Not every brand evolution is so drastic or identifiable, but you can change the way you're perceived - whether it's by doing something major or just by chipping away at a better version of yourself.

7. Pauses in conversation denote confidence. 

It's no secret that people who ramble usually do so because they're nervous (hand up over here!) Amy Shannon taught us that women who are able to speak slowly & to take deliberate pauses while speaking (especially when presenting) are seen as confident & knowledgeable. It's one of those things you know but don't realize - that if rambling indicates nervousness, not rambling indicates that you're cool, calm, & collected. Something to strive for!

8. Almost no one says no to a genuine request of "Can you help me?"

Another no-brainer, but it was somehow impactful to hear this from someone at the top: KeyBank's Kim Jenkins Manigault said she never turns down a request for help & is willing to mentor anyone who asks - to some extent. How much you get from her depends on how much you put into it & the level of support you're willing to offer her in return. 

"Lift as you climb, but you're under no obligation to carry," she told us. Deep.

Disclosure: I was offered a complimentary ticket to Next Generation of Women in exchange for the creation of promotional content in advance of the event & recap content after the event. All opinions are my own. Truly, it was a great event!

You Can Be a Successful Instagrammer without also Being a Massive Jerk

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mike & I recently visited Pittsburgh, where two of his closest friends live. It's only a two-hour drive, & visiting is a great excuse for us to get out of dodge for a weekend & explore another city.

I'd long wanted to visit The Mattress Factory, a modern art museum & incubator located in Pittsburgh Mexican War Streets neighborhood (how's that for the coolest neighborhood name you've ever heard?), & our friends kindly obliged. In particular, I was excited to see the permanent installations by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, whose Infinity Mirrors exhibit is soon coming to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

We showed up around 1pm on a sunny Saturday & were relieved to find that the museum, while heavily populated, didn't feel particularly overcrowded. It seemed like we'd be able to take our time & really enjoy each of the exhibits.


We happened to be on exactly the same touring timeframe as a group of three girls around the ages of 16-20 (I'm 33, man, I can't tell from youth anymore). They were all very dressed up, hair done & wearing full faces of makeup - not your standard museum fare, but whatever?

I first started to get annoyed with them in the Solar Grow Room, artist Meg Webster's exhibit representing "replenishment to [the] ecological threat" of the destruction of bees' habitats. In other words: It's a room full of plants under purple lighting, with cool, shiny, Mylar walls.

The girls were staging a photoshoot in the room, posing behind plants & with plants covering their faces, etc. One of them, holding a professional camera, guided the shoot: "Oh, that's gorgeous. Oh, move your hand & look to the left a little. Oh, this is going to be great with a hazy filter." I purposely walked through the middle of their shoot because I wanted to get to the other side of the exhibit, & they showed no signs of moving or acknowledging that people needed to pass.

I laughed it off because I thought that'd be the last we saw of them, but oh, how wrong I was.

When we crossed the stairwell to get to the next floor, they were taking photos against the Pittsburgh skyline. When we crossed between buildings, they were taking photos on a dilapidated porch. When I finished using the restroom, they were taking photos in an old chair right at the bathroom entrance. At the museum's second building, & we all but begged the docent to hold them back for a few minutes so that we didn't have to encounter another one of their photoshoots.

The worst, though, was encountering them in the Yayoi Kusama exhibit.

The Kusama exhibit is two small rooms, both full of mirrors, so that the dots painted on the floors appear to go on forever (hence the name Infinity Mirrors). It's an amazing photo opportunity, but the more people in the room, the more difficult it is to either enjoy the depth of the reflections or take good photos (because every photo includes, like, everyone who's in the room with you).

The three girls entered ahead of us & claimed the exhibit as their personal photoshoot space.

They monopolized the space in both rooms, laughing & chatting & art-directing. They took sultry selfies with the mannequins in the Repetitive Vision room. They laid down on the floor & shot a series of group selfies, lips puckered & boobs out, that seemed to take forever, effectively barring anyone else from exploring the exhibit.

There was no way to enjoy the exhibit with them in there. Just no way.

My friends & I did, re-enter the exhibit once they'd left so we could better appreciate the art - & take a few quick, unobtrusive photos of our own before leaving so that the looooong line of people behind us could enter. Still, I was livid.

Later, my husband sent an email to the Mattress Factory about our experience, politely suggesting staff monitoring of the museum's most popular exhibits. I'll tag them when I share this post on social media. And I continue to check Instagram to see if those girls have posted any of their photographic masterpieces, if only so I can see if the end result is in any way worth the way they ruined our museum experience.

But it's not about the Mattress Factory, is it? This is a problem everywhere, a problem of people who believe they are above others, above politeness, & above rules. It's a problem of people who believe that getting X amount of likes online trumps being a decent person IRL. This was a particularly egregious example of Internet-driven egotism, but it is, overall, all too common.

Here's the bottom line: If you are taking Instagram photos at the expense of the convenience, enjoyment, & sanity of the people around you, you are being an asshole. Period.

There are so many chill ways to take photos. You can, for example, wait your turn in busy spaces & be cognizant of the amount of time you take up - even if it means you don't get your perfect shot.

You can be kind, respectful, & apologetic of those individuals you interrupt, if you must do so, allowing them the space to go about their day without you right in the center of it. This means not giggling loudly or art-directing at top volume, & allowing people to pass by without holding up lines & experiences.

You can choose less-busy times to stage photoshoots in busy public places (for example, maybe not at noon on a Saturday). You can even - gasp! - take pictures in places that aren't in other people's way at all.

As we repeatedly encountered these three budding viral stars </sarcasm>, I kept thinking about a photoshoot I recently witnessed in Cleveland's Fifth Street Arcades. A dapper young guy, around my age, posed on the seats of a shoe-shine business that was, at the time, closed for business. His friend snapped professional-grade photos of him, stepping out of the way as others passed by. Most of the shops in the arcade are closed on the weekends, so this was a perfect time to stage a shoot that wouldn't interrupt or affect anyone else - & it looked like the photos were going to turn out great.

That is how you do it. And I wish I could find his photos online to tell him so.

Because, look, I'm not saying don't take photos in public ever. On the contrary: Take lots of photos! Show off your city & your self! Be proud! Have no shame in staging public photoshoots! Look damn good on the Internet!

But for the love of God, & everyone else around you, please don't be such a jerk about it. While you're trying to nab the perfect shot, other people are trying to live their lives, to experience their surroundings, enjoy art & scenery & the hustle & bustle of every day life.

And if you are unapologetically in the way of everyone around you? You're doing it wrong.

Sip, Savor, Social: Where to Feast Like a Queen in Tremont

Monday, April 16, 2018

One of the things I love most about my neighborhood is all its great restaurants & bars. Thrillist even named it one of the best neighborhoods in Cleveland for food - second only to nearby Ohio City, which, in my humble opinion, has actually been eclipsed by Tremont in the last year or so.

Just about a mile & a half from downtown Cleveland, Tremont offers a more laid-back vibe with the same level of upscale & creative dining options as you'll find in the heart of the city. In fact, just last month, I had the opportunity to interview Chef Rocco Whalen, owner of Tremont's Fahrenheit. He raved about his fellow Tremont chefs & what a great neighborhood this is for food & drinks - & I couldn't agree more.

Just a few days after that interview, I attended "Sip, Savor, Social," a ladies'-night-out event hosted by Tricia of Edible Cleveland. Tricia's friend Natasha Pogrebinsky is the chef at two Tremont joints: The South Side, a trendy restaurant/bar with one of the best patios in the area, & Hi & Dry, a bar & duckpin bowling spot that also has a great patio. With patio season fast-approaching (God, I hope), Natasha & Tricia hosted a special event to show off the restaurants' evolving food & drink menus.

I don't blog much about food, but I do Instagram it a lot, & I was thrilled to attend this event alongside some of the city's best foodstagrammers, like @eatlocalohio, @clevelandfoodiegirl, & @clefoodies. I had no idea how much food we'd be served, so unfortunately I did eat before attending - which was a terrible idea, because we were served so. much. food. 

Cue up "These are a few of my favorite things..."

My Big Fat Greek Salad

This isn't your standard olive-heavy Greek salad. It's watermelon-based! A big slab of watermelon is topped with a big slab of feta, plus cucumber, tomatoes, onions, & basil. If you're not familiar with this combo, get familiar, because it's ideal for summer.

Kielbasa Kebabs

I always think I'm not a fan of kielbasa, which is ridiculous because who doesn't like kielbasa? (Except you, vegetarians, pipe down.) I think I confuse it with bratwurst (ew), but I won't now that I've experienced the delicious joy of these kebabs, skewered with tiny potato pancakes.

Steak Tacos

These tacos are to die for: big lettuce leaves filled with thin-sliced sirloin with slivered carrots & red onions, & drizzled in a sticky-sweet soy sauce. I like to take them out of the shell & eat them as lettuce wraps instead.

Tuna & Avocado Salad

Mike's hates the smell of tuna, so I don't make or order it often, but I'd make an exception for this dish. The tuna is mixed with the avocado, giving it a creamy, smooth, not-mayonaissey taste & consistency. It's served in scooped-out avocado shells & served with tiny toasts.

St. Louis Pork Ribs

Uhhh, these are coated in South Side's special Bloody Mary BBQ glaze. Do I need to say anything else about them? They're sweet & spicy & tender & tasty. Done.

And that doesn't even begin to cover half of what we ate - or drank! After we gorged ourselves at The South Side, we headed over to Hi & Dry, which is only a couple blocks away - an easy walk for bar-hopping around Tremont, especially in nice weather.

There, the general manager served us all of the cocktails from their drink menu - & there wasn't a bad one in the bunch (though I didn't try the one made with pickle juice). Amusingly, they all have hashtagged names; the one below, for example, is either the #Blessed or #AboutLastNight, I can't remember which. Like I said: all delicious, all boozy,

Hi & Dry serves food, too, though their menu has a much for "something to supplement my drinking" vibe. We didn't eat there - too full! - but Chef Natasha still whipped up a Spam & pineapple sandwich to show us. I've never had Spam, so I'm pretty interested in trying this one sometime - though I'd definitely have to split it with someone because damn, just look at it.

Hi & Dry has been one of my go-to spots since it opened (though I've yet to bowl), but after this experience I'm definitely bumping both it & South Side to the top of my neighborhood dining list!

If you live in the CLE, have you tried these two spots? And if you're not local, what's your favorite place to chow down in your neck of the woods? 

Disclosure: I was invited to attend this event, including complimentary food & drink, hosted by Edible Cleveland, The South Side, & Hi & Dry without any expectation or agreement to share online unless I so desired (which I did, as you can tell). All opinions are my own.

Life in the Fast Lane: 24 Hours in Columbus, OH

Friday, April 13, 2018

When The Eagles announced their latest round of tour dates, they didn't include a show in Cleveland. Instead, my mom bought two tickets to the Columbus show & asked me to join her told me I was coming with her. It was a Sunday-night show, so I took that Monday off work & we planned a little weekend getaway.

We got into town at noon on Sunday & left at noon on Monday. So what did we do with our 24 hours in Ohio's capital city? I thought you'd never ask.

Boozy Brunch: CBC Restaurant

When we got into town, we went straight to the CBC Restaurant, part of the Columbus Brewing Company, for brunch with my Aunt Joan & her partner, Alvarez. I thought about going healthy but instead went straight for the chicken & waffles because who can resist chicken & waffles? Not me. I also ordered the Gold Mine, a bourbon brunch cocktail. I'm not a Bloody Mary gal, but theirs almost tempted me!

The Great Indoors: Franklin Park Conservatory

That was the extent of our plans with my aunts, but they were free for the rest of the day, so we all headed to the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. I was admittedly cranky - I did not want to go - but unsurprisingly, it turned out to be a great decision. Bonus: The conservatory is full of Chihuly glass, which my mom absolutely loves.  

The best part of the conservatory? Petting a penguin & meeting an armadillo. OK, with no offense meant to BJ, the armadillo (who looks like a real-life Pokemon or a basketball come to life), petting Wahoo, the penguin, was actually the best part of the day. I've wanted to pet a penguin my entire life! Who knew penguins were so soft?! I'm not usually a squealy, excitable person, but I was, like, the most excited person in the world after petting this dude. So happy.

The other best part was the Field exhibition, described as "a 46’ long ecosystem projected on the gallery walls, where grasses and flora grow based on [bodies’] position and movement in the space." Basically, it was this big, long, screen wall, & when you walked past it or moved in front of it, it reacted to your movements.

Livin' that Hotel Life

My mom & I didn't want to have to deal with parking before the concert, so we booked a night at the Hampton Inn by Hilton, just half a mile from the arena. They upgraded us to a suite, but instead of sharing the king-sized bed with my mom, I slept on a (very comfortable!) pull-out couch, in total silence & darkness. It was freaking glorious.

Dinner Fit for a Foodie: The Pearl

We walked just a few short blocks to The Pearl, a restaurant I'd been to a few years earlier. It's an oyster bar with a seafood-heavy menu (which is not my fave), but we both found options that were right up our alleys. 

My mom got the pub burger with homemade tater tots - OMG, that tomato jam! - & I got a grilled cheese with brie, bacon, butternut squash, & pesto - to die for. I also got a bourbon apple punch, which was the perfect combination of lightly sweet & boozy - & far too summery for the snow falling outside in April.

Welcome to the Hotel California: The Eagles, Live

My mom first saw The Eagles in 1973, when she was attending Kent State University (yes, we share an alma mater). Though I never considered myself much of a fan, the show proved that I knew far more of their songs than I'd ever realized - & as I said multiple times on social media, this was easily the best concert I've ever been to. I loved the addition of 24-year-old Deacon Frey to replace his late father, Glenn Frey, & country legend Vince Gill was the perfect sixth member. What. a. show.

Buy Local: North Market 

Our hotel overlooked North Market, a food-and-farm market that opened in 1876, so we wandered through on Monday morning before we left town. If you're familiar with Cleveland's West Side Market, throw out the image in your mind; North Marker is much closer to Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market (though smaller & slightly less hectic), with more restaurant kiosks than grocery stands. 

Ready-made lunch options from Pastaria

Mouth-watering desserts from Omega Artisan Baking
Gorgeous, brightly colored Gerber daisies from Market Blooms
Spices galore from North Market Spices

Grabbed a soy latte from the fabulous Stauf's Coffee Roasters
Those chaiiiirs from Coco Cat Bakery & Chocolates

How beautiful is this giant cinnamon roll from Destination Donuts?

Move aside, Auntie Anne's, you ain't got nothin' on Brezel

Black Radish Creamery's cheese case is what dreams are made of.

These Destination Donuts creations are the most delicious-looking donuts I've ever seen.
My mom bought two big bottles of flavored balsamic vinegar from Green Olive Co., while I bought a mini bottle of their pomegranate-quince balsamic to put over salad this summer. In anticipation of warm-weather cookouts, I grabbed this peppery BBQ sauce from CaJohns Fiery Foods, plus some spice rubs for Mike from North Market Spices. Spring, we're ready for ya! 

Not pictured: the butterscotch & sea salt donut we split from Destination Donuts. *heart eyes*

The Drive Home

We headed back at noon - almost 24 hours exactly since our arrival - & my mom requested that we listen to more of The Eagles on the drive back. "Take a selfie of us singing!" she requested; don't worry, there was no one else on the road, & her eyes remained firmly facing forward.

Overall, it was a great weekend & a fun excuse to go on a mini-trip with my mama. I love living so close to her (but not too close - sorry, Mom), & this was one of our best adventures to date.

Have you been to Columbus? What do I need to see next time I'm in town?
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