The 2018 How-To Track: Key Takeaways

December 24, 2018

Shameka Brown Barbosa

Shameka Brown Barbosa is a creative director/writer by trade and a woman in the midst of a reinvention. After an unrequited, 17-year love affair with advertising, she’s now working smarter and on her own terms. Although it was unbelievably nerve-wracking at the offset, she has found a way to work remotely, fuel her passions, be present for her family, and dream bigger for herself. Highlights in 2016 have included co-leading the 3% guest blogger effort (thanks for reading, by the way,) contributing to the ADCOLOR Social Media Collective, picking her kids up from school at 3pm, and turning her love of travel into a legit business. When she can find the time, she also really enjoys spontaneous naps. Peruse her storytelling skills at and connect with her on Twitter.

This year, the How-To Track served as an opportunity for attendees to receive some peer-to-peer advice. It touched on a wide variety of topics: overcoming bias, balancing parenthood, understanding the blockchain, and so much more. Everyone left each session inspired and empowered to take action within their own lives and careers.

Bystander Intervention Masterclass

Speaker: Karla Talley, Manager, Talent Engagement & Inclusion North America Digitas
Karla Talley began the day with a quick introduction and some housekeeping: what’s said here stays here, but what’s learned here leaves here. She promised a highly interactive workshop and she definitely delivered.
Talley outlined and educated the room on how to mitigate difficult conversations in the workplace. Sometimes, being silent (aka a bystander) in the midst of inappropriate comments is simply unacceptable. Here’s the difference between action and inaction:
-Bystander: A person who is present or witnesses an event or incident, but is not taking part.
-Active Bystander or Upstander: A bystander who takes action.
Talley outlined four actions you can take to speak up and become an ally in a sticky situation. She named them the 4D’s:

  • Direct: Intervening in the moment to stop harm from happening.
  • Distract: Taking attention away from the situation at hand.
  • Delegate: Talking with someone to figure out the best way to intervene and figuring out who would be the best person to do so.
  • Delay: Checking in later with the person(s) who was harmed and/or the person(s) who caused the harm.

During her session Talley also led two interactive exercises in empathy to introduce those in the room to their own unconscious bias, identify microaggressions, and demonstrate how to take appropriate action. By the end, the room was buzzing and everyone was ready to step up and into conversations they may have avoided in the past.
Key Takeaway: There’s always an opportunity to be an ally. Find the ways that work for you and stand in your courage to stand up for someone else.


Lunch & Learn: Bake Positive Psychology Into Feedback

Speaker: Jen Ostrich, President/Co-founder, ostrich coaching + consulting/Shift Positive 360
After nearly 15 years in advertising, Jen Ostrich shifted gears and started coaching professionals in the ad industry. And two years ago, she co-founded a new way to give feedback: Shift Positive 360.
According to Ostrich, feedback should be considered a “gift,” something that you’ve been waiting for and are excited to receive. It’s rarely that. Shift Positive 360 course-corrects that broken feedback model. Feedback is, at its best, when you trust the intention of the person saying it; there’s context to the feedback given, you understand how to improve, it’s timely, and you have social support to reinforce your improvement.

Fortunately, you can improve the quality of your feedback. All it takes is a shift in your approach:

  • Strengths Perspective: Operating in our strengths at the optimal balance between skill and challenge called “flow” and countering the negativity bias.
  • Solution-focused Inquiry: Focusing on the positive, pivoting away from the bad behavior and toward the desired behavior.
  • Desired Outcomes: Avoiding unintentional blindness (not noticing what we’re not looking for.) You must name the new desired behavior or you may not notice it when it happens.

You should also add in support for those receiving the feedback:

  • Ally Support: Change doesn’t happen alone. We can accomplish more when we know someone has our back.
  • Two-way Accountability: Everyone thrives within a system of allies. If you’re willing to give feedback, commit to helping others succeed in changing their behavior.
  • Openness vs Confidentiality: Confidential feedback helps no one. Deliver the feedback in a more constructive way and be willing to follow-up and reinforce it. 

In closing, Ostrich encouraged us all to become active participants in our colleagues’ development. When we all feel like we’re in it together, we all succeed. 
Key Takeaway: If you look at the positives in people and are willing to be part of their growth, the culture of your organization can shift for the better.

Be a Parent in Advertising

Moderator: Tasha Gilroy, Global Director, Inclusion & Community, VMLY&R
Speakers:​ Daisy Tinsley Barnett, Head of Media Productions Strategy, LinkedIn - Jarrell Fudickar, Freelance Creative Director - Bernadette Rivero, President, The Cortez Brothers, Inc. - Reza Rostampisheh, Associate Director Strategic Planning, Campbell Ewald


Ever wonder how working parents in advertising do it all? This session provided a myriad of tips and tools on how to keep your head above water. It began with introductions of the panelists’ qualifications: 13 kids and 2 grandkids in all! 

Each panelist shared insights from their adventures from parenting in Adland. For instance, Jarrell Fudickar and his partner adopted their son within a 3-week span while he was in production for one of the biggest shoots of his career.  And Bernadatte Rivero, mother of 5 and owner of a production company, has always worked with at least one child in the office.

When it comes to top parenting tools, Daisy Tinsley Barnett, a mother of 5, manages her teenagers’ time through the use of a master calendar, which introduces accountability and ownership to her kids. Rostampisheh, father of 1, introduced his daughter to podcasts to help her pass the time in the car and avoid the dreaded question: Are we there yet? And Rivero relies on a Crock Pot to get one “hottish” meal on her dinner table at least once a week.

With no family in the area, Rivero has also set up a supply chain of babysitters and recommended the apps, Urban Sitter and Bambino. She also advised that even some hospitals offer emergency childcare for sick kids in a pinch. And both Barnett and Fudickar relocated when their children were young to be closer to their families.

Perhaps the most challenging topic was raising teenagers. After a deep exhale, Barnett remarked your patience changes as you go from “hero to zero.” But she said you’re doing a fantastic job if you’re loving them and listening. Rivero added that there are only so many weekends that your teenager will want to hang out with you. While you can’t make everyone happy, you can make every day a little better. And when in doubt, they do come back around! Eventually.

As for being a parent in advertising, all of the panelists acknowledged how times are changing. Today, one’s experience largely depends on where you work. Some even have a checklist of sorts when assessing which agency cultures to join. It certainly can help when senior leaders are parents, too. But, there needs to be an overall level of trust given to know that the job will ultimately get done.
Key Takeaway: Parenting is trial and error. And while certain agency environments may add to that stress, in the end, we’re all just doing the best we can.

Ask Like an Auctioneer

Speaker: Dia Bondi, Communications Catalyst, Dia Bondi Communications


After a 20-year coaching career spent helping leadership speak from the heart, Dia Bondi took a sabbatical. Upon examining her bucket list, she decided to go to auctioneer school. Now, her evenings include fundraising auctioneering for non-profits that positively impact the lives of young women and girls. And she’s using her newfound skill set to empower women to ask for and get more – whether it’s money, responsibility or visibility.
“You will be too much for some people… but those are not your people.” As an auctioneer, Bondi’s approach to money is unapologetic and it’s very different from how many of her female clients’ approach conversations about money. They only “ask to get a yes.” In other words, many women limit the amount of money they’ll ask for, based on the amount they think they can get.
But there’s an interesting relationship between courage and making an ask. If you ask for a BIG number, it lives in the “Zone of Freaking Out” aka the ZOFO. How do you know if you’re in the zone? If you just might puke when you say the number, you’re there.
The key is to shift your gaze to see the possibility that exists out there in the ZOFO. So, how do you do it? You set your sights on a number at the higher end of the spectrum - like an auctioneer. Just go for it. Once you do, you can rest assured that you’ve left nothing on the table.

  • Empower the Ask
  • People are irrational – Stop telling stories about why people may not say yes.
  • Know your reserve – Know the minimum that you’ll say “yes” to.
  • Increments matter – Make some discerning choices that can get you closer to your goal.
  • Are you in or out? – Accelerate the conversation, so you know you can go. 

Bondi went on to drop some other gems related to the ask, including:

  • Price is a measure of value, not your worth.
  • Your market is bigger than the room.
  • Your number is the beginning of the conversation, not the end.
  • Purpose drives courage.

In closing, Bondi advised everyone to gain some distance from the ask while you’re in the ZOFO and become an agent for your own purpose. In doing so, asking big can also have the added benefit of raising the standard of whom you’re asking. Lastly, Bondi mentioned her upcoming course available on:
Key Takeaway: We often limit ourselves more than anyone else ever could. But if you muster enough courage to enter the ZOFO and fairly reflect your value, others may see your worth and say “yes.”

Entrepreneurship 101: Insights into Building Your Own Business

Moderator: ​Susan Gotham, President, NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners), GOTHAM Professional Services
Speakers: ​Jennifer Ricciardi, President, Interior Garden Services, Inc. - Polly Gaza, President, Chicago Raw LLC - Lee Kalotta, Vice President, Senior Small Business Banker, Bank of America


Surprise! This panel featured two local, female, small business owners and a “manbassador” from Bank of America’s Small Business Sector. It also provided real insights into what it takes to run a successful business. But first, a little about the panelists.
After a number of business ventures, Polly Gaza followed her passion around health and nutrition and launched a raw, vegan food company, Chicago Raw. Jenny Ricciardi, who never intended to enter the family business, became a second-generation owner of Interior Garden Services after seizing the moment when her mother decided to retire. Lee Kalotta from Bank of America rounded out the panel with his extensive experience as an advisor to small businesses. Lastly, the moderator, Susan Gotham, began her journey into entrepreneurship when she was recruited by a client for several projects before her own business was even formed!
On Obtaining Business Loans: Until October 25, 1988, when HR5050 legislation was passed, women couldn’t get a business loan on their own. Both panelists had never personally experienced any gender bias, but they did advise everyone to speak to a banker to get an understanding of the things you don’t know.
On Managing Finances: Gaza has had experience managing finances and offered the room great advice like, pay with cash when possible and keep your credit spotless. But Ricciardi also cautioned that decisions may become more emotional once you start managing your own money vs. playing with someone else’s. Kalotta added that a good banker can build an ecosystem of advisors to help open doors to ensure your success.
On Handling Failure: When it comes to failure, it’s relative. Under certain circumstances, failure isn’t an option. So, you should always be prepared with solutions on how to push through. It may also help to imagine the worst-case scenario (which rarely happens) and problem-solve from that new perspective.
On Brand Envy: Advertising and marketing seemed to be the most covetable areas. From a fellow panelist’s website to a competitor’s marketing strategy, ways to differentiate in-market mattered the most.
On Cumbersome Legislation: With varying enforcement, mandatory sick days for employees are hurting small businesses in Chicago. In addition, the health department inspections required within the food service industry are always high-touch. So, make sure all of your financials are together and don’t get discouraged!
On the Best Business Advice Ever Received:
Ricciardi: Know what your ego demands and be okay with that.
Gaza: Just start the process – all of the other stuff required to run the business will follow.
Kalotta: An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.
Gotham: Just get out of your own way.
Key Takeaway: There’s never been a better time for women to become entrepreneurs. If you have a dream, there are resources out there to help make it come true.

Blockchain: What it is and Why it Matters to Advertising’s Future

Speaker: Kelsey Cole, Co-Founder & CSO Adbank


As the Co-founder & CSO of Adbank, Kelsey Cole is a woman on a mission. During her session, she demystified the blockchain, took the conversation beyond the hype and gave every advertiser in the room reason to explore it. 

So, what is the blockchain? Cole defined blockchain in the simplest of terms: When a value exchange takes place, a “block” or piece of data is filed onto a chain. Once created, the chain can never be edited or changed, bringing immutable transparency and accountability to all types of businesses. The result? You can better track and understand anything in your business that has a value exchange. 

The blockchain system is based on decentralization from banks. “Nodes” represent everyone participating on the network and 51% of the nodes must reach consensus before new data goes on the blockchain. These checks and balances ensure the accuracy of the activity listed because the majority of the network has to first verify it as true. If no consensus is reached, the data or block doesn’t get added.
So, how does this apply to advertising? In two words: advertising fraud. Each year, $50 billion is wasted on digital ad fraud and a staggering 56% of all website traffic is robots. In fact, only drug trafficking is more profitable than ad fraud. It’s a huge problem and it’s eating away at the profits of advertisers. 

At Adbank, Cole and her team apply blockchain to fight ad fraud. She even showed a comedic ad from her firm, which outlined how they leverage the blockchain and remove the middleman. By using blockchain, firms like AdBank, help brands gain transparency into the “walled garden” where shady transactions can occur. 
Most notably, Mark Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of P&G recently started a revolution by pulling all of the online ads spend from the “big guys” to better understand where the money was going. As a result, an investigation was launched into the “walled gardens” and change has begun.
But there are other challenges that must be overcome before blockchain and the resulting transparency can “rock our world.”

  • Scalability – CryptoKitties broke the blockchain due to the overwhelming demand
  • Perception – Negative perceptions abound of those involved in cryptocurrency
  • Hard to Explain – It’s difficult to succinctly put the industry into words
  • Visibility – Ultimately, blockchain should feel invisible and just work
  • Time – Development doesn’t just happen overnight

There are also great opportunities when blockchain is combined with Artificial Intelligence. It can be used to help with fraud detection, identity verification of ads, value transfer, payment remittance, payment transparency and by removing the middlemen.
During her session, Cole also touched upon the complexities of BitCoin. She provided an overview of its history and a peek into why it’s become so valuable. But in the end, she encouraged us all to spend a few hours on YouTube to get a true understanding of it.

Did you know?
Only 3-6% of the leadership in cryptocurrency is female. Cole acknowledged that a bit of the problem has been created by bringing the worst of tech and finance worlds together. And if innovation is going to go to the next level, everyone needs to be at the table, especially women.

Key Takeaway: The blockchain is still in its infancy. If you’re interested in its possibilities, dive in and learn as much about it as you can – right now.

Figure Out What to Be Known For

Speaker: Joanna Bloor, Founder, LADYBADASS


Did you know that every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in? Joanna Bloor blew everyone’s mind with that statement at the top of her session. So many of us get stuck thinking our resume or bio is getting the job done when the truth is they’re failing us. We are more than our job title and where we work. And luckily, she’s here to help.
Bloor’s mission is to change the way people react to you by giving you an introduction makeover. How? She helps you craft a new statement that’s so compelling, the person you’re talking to wants to stay in touch.
But first, Bloor demanded that we all immediately remove some overused language from our vocabularies, words like “passionate,” “strategic” and “gets sh!t done.” She encouraged all of us to avoid becoming the “get sh!t done” girl because you will always be given the sh!t to do.
The interactive portion of the discussion kicked off with an audience volunteer, Amanda. Bloor demonstrated her technique by asking her to introduce herself. Bloor then broke down her response, asked a few probing questions and stripped her response to its core. Next, she crafted a new introduction from the ground up, using key parts of the initial responses. And the transformation was astounding.
“My name is Amanda and I’m an Art Director at [insert agency] on [insert brand.”]
“There’s something amazing that happens to people when they react to art. Something beautiful. Because when they react to something that they see, you can be part of their world or change their mind or light up something inside them that they didn’t know existed. And I like to light reactions inside people using imagery and art. And I do that today as part of the team at [insert agency] for [insert brand.”]
The room erupted into applause at the instant transformation. Bloor then broke down the characteristics of what she was looking for when asking her probing questions:

  • Authenticity – What were you good at when you were 8 years old?
  • Unique – What is so “you,” that no one else can say it?
  • Compelling – Don’t sell features, sell emotions

Bloor told the room to turn the conversation into a problem-solution statement:
I have that problem -> I want that solution -> I want you.
You’re not selling you, you are teaching people how you think. And you should save it for just the job interview phase. This is something you should do all the time. You should become consistent in what you’re known for – while being authentic, unique and compelling – and you’ll truly make a lasting impression.

She went on to liken us all to robots when we talk about ourselves. A job description has become a requirements document and resumes are now spec sheets. But, we all still have a Human Value Proposition (HVP) that we can share with others.
So, what’s yours? Ask 5 people who know and love you professionally for 5 positive words to describe you and 5 positive words that don’t describe you.
Bloor also urged those in leadership roles (or aspiring to them) to emulate their favorite boss because chances are that boss saw them for who they uniquely were and supported them. She also warned that if you don’t understand the HVP in people from their perspective, you’re missing out on the most powerful leadership opportunity in the world. 
Bloor left us all with a homework assignment: Change your LinkedIn headline from “what you do” to “what problems you’re great at solving.” I’m going to take her up on it and you should, too. Maybe you should get in on the homework, too.
Key Takeaway: There’s magic inside each of us that's going untapped. And when we find it, we can change how we view ourselves and the way we present ourselves to the world.

What a day and what a collection of speakers. I was continually reminded that when it comes to personal and professional development, peers are incredible resources. With conversations that ran the gamut from actionable info to advice to put up on the shelf and take down when needed, my knowledge cup runneth over. But perhaps the greatest moment of the day was the general sense of women helping women, session after session. That feeling never got old.
If we all consistently share our knowledge for the greater good, what a force we could become. It was an honor to be present and bask in its amazing glow, at least for an afternoon.