January 7, 2018

Catherine Eccardt

Catherine Eccardt is a senior copywriter and SVA alum who’s been working in the ad industry for 10 years. After years of being the go-to scratch track voice at multiple agencies, she is now also pursuing a career in commercial voice-over work. As a native NYC-er, she prides herself on her ability to navigate the subway, imitate a Queens accent, and know what a bagel should taste like.

Tracy Brady, SVP Communications & Corporate Marketing, Hill Holliday
Stefania Pomponi, Founder, President & Chief Evangelist, CLEVER
Aubri Qian, Talent Associate & NY Culture Lead, Digitas LBi

What happens when you task a speaker to share 20 images that automatically advance every 20 seconds? You get storytelling that’s crisp, concise and visually compelling. These speakers tackled ageism, transgenderism, and youism (building your personal brand).

It’s almost impossible for your mind to wander during a PechaKucha style presentation. 20 slides, 20 seconds each. With such limited time, it forces the presenter to speak clearly and concisely. No boring, unnecessary details welcome here. 

It’s also incredibly hard to take notes when the time is so limited. The presentation is so captivating, you can barely take your eyes off of the slides and the presenter. However, everything piece of information is so pertinent and digestible that the details were easy to remember and the key takeaways were loud and clear. 

The first presentation was given by Tracy Brady, SVP, Communications & Corporate Marketing at Hill Holliday, who also gave a quick introduction to PechaKucha and the presenters we were about to see. 

Entitled “Building Your Own Brand,” Brady’s presentation was a step-by-step guide on how to build a personal brand and why it’s so important. 

Brady explained that strong personal brands, like strong consumer brands, have 3 things: Clarity, Character and Consistency. The slide advanced and there was a picture of Cookie Monster… a perfect example of a strong brand. He has the three Cs. But it was easy for him because he’s a dude. And he’s blue. 

Brady pointed out that as marketers, it’s easy for us to build brands, but as women, it’s much harder. Women often put themselves last, after everyone else they take care of. Building your own brand takes years of work. And the older you get, the better your brand’s clarity, character, and consistency get. 

She then jumped into the explanation of the three Cs. 

Be clear about who you are and what you have to offer. An easy way to help figure out “who you are” is to do a bit of homework. Brady suggested having a 1 page, 1 paragraph and 1 sentence answer prepared for when someone asks you to tell them about yourself. It will help you clearly define who you are. And in your answer, remember to sell yourself like how you would sell your best work. Wherever you’re at in your career, you’re good at something. 

She added another question to ask yourself: What are you better at than everyone you know?
It’s hard for women to brag because we often under sell ourselves, but Brady advised the audience to own your talents, oversell yourself and, “Act like a man.” 

Next up was Character:
Never compromise your character, it’s the best thing you have. She encouraged us to embrace flaws and scars, not hid them. People remember the unusual, so be proud of your story and tell it every chance you get. 
She continued, “Your character is yours and no one can take it from you, unless you let them.”
Ask yourself what makes you unique and tell a story. Stories illuminate our character and make us human. Find your mistakes, turn them into stories and celebrate them. 

And the final C was Consistency: 
She advised to maintain your brand’s consistency across every opportunity you have. Every time you can, present. And if you don’t have opportunities to present, make them. Successful people make their own opportunities. Then she added a bit of social media advice: Tweet, comment, follow, and repeat. Because when you build a following, your brand builds value. 

In closing, Brady recapped (concisely, of course) and asked the audience to: think about your brand, does it have the three Cs, who are you, what are you good at and what you better at than everyone else. 

She then instructed everyone to turn to the person on their right, look them in their eye, and tell them something they’re good at. 

To which the audience cheered, and many people turned to their right and smiled.
Stefania Pomponi then walked on stage. Because of the quick paced nature of PechaKucha, she jumped right into her presentation with a smile, introducing herself. Pomponi is Founder, President & Chief Evangelist of CLEVER.
Her presentation began. She asked the audience to picture a 40-year-old woman in our head. Who is she? What is she about? What are her hobbies? She then pointed out that if you’re over 40, you’re thinking of someone different than someone under 40. 

Pomponi has been interested in challenging the notion of what it means to be 40+ ever since she turned 40 eight years ago. 

She explained that when she was younger, people over 40 were invisible to her. They were her parents, teachers, bosses. Her friends thought similarly too, citing a word cloud with terms like “Ancient” and “Don’t you retire in your 40s?” Pomponi asked her millennial colleague the same question and there were similar results. She explained that this concerns her. 

Mainstream media portrays women over 40 as unhip, not cool, and ridiculous. We’ve been sent messages that we can get older we just can’t look older while doing it. But Pomponi pointed out that there’s hope. There are older women in some skin care ads. And some older women have partnered with beauty and fashion brands for products that have nothing to do with age. 

But for the most part, when she looks at ads, she doesn’t see herself anywhere. And Hollywood is even worse. Pomponi continued, “The vibrant 40 year old woman that I feel that I am, I don’t see.”

But there’s one place she does see herself. 

The next slide featured 3 covers of AARP magazine. The images showed fabulous over 40-year- olds kicking ass. Pomponi stated that she relates to these people. And would bet money that the people making the creative decisions for that magazine are over 40. And know exactly what we’re about. 

Thankfully, things are starting to change because of platforms like Instagram. She pointed out that the ads she’s served are relevant to her interests, rather than her age. 

Pomponi wants to continue to challenge the notion of what it’s like being over 40. Because when a creative team lacks diversity, you get disastrous results (She referred to a photo of Kendall Jenner.)

In closing, Pomponi challenged all of us to point out ageism and to hire older women when we’re managers, and said, “When I talk to my friends now about what over 40 is, they say it’s about never stop never stopping. It’s about living a f*ck yes life. It’s about challenging assumptions and it’s about changing the way people think about people over 40, and hopefully you think differently now, too.”

The audience gushed with applause and cheers.

Next up was Aubri Qian, Talent Associate and NY Culture Lead at Digitas LBi, who walked up on stage and immediately started talking. 

Qian began by correctly assuming that everyone in the audience was a human being and that we all know about the little dance everyone does after drinking too much coffee in the morning. She then pointed out that for most of us, using the public restroom is a fairly forgettable experience. Most don’t worry about what they’re wearing or how they look. They go in and they do their business. 

But for members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities, using a public restroom can be one of the most anxious moments of the day.

She explained that the increase of transgender visibility in the media has thrown the community right in the middle of the culture wars. And transgender bathroom usage has become the central battle that’s fought over. 

Bathroom bills have been popping up across the country, and they say that you can’t use the bathroom that aligns with your own gender identity. Qian then stated simply and powerfully, “This is bad.” and added that the most sinister part of the situation is the story that is told, which equates transwomen with men that are mentally ill predators who are here to attack your sisters and daughters.
Qian firmly stated that it’s a complete myth. It’s never happened before. No woman has ever been attacked by a transgender person in the bathroom. Transgender people are much more likely to be harassed in bathrooms. She then explained that the reality is, it’s never been about bathrooms. Trans bathroom legislation prevents trans and gender non-conforming people to exist in the public space. They say that if you don’t fit into what we think you should look like, you can’t use the bathroom.

She then reminded the audience that policing how people should look has been prevalent throughout history and showed a cartoon from the women’s suffrage movement that depicts a woman wearing trousers being denied access to a woman’s restroom. Trousers are for men, everybody knows that. 

But Qian then dropped a truth bomb, “If you’re thinking, ‘wow people in the past are so socially ignorant,’ Senator Barbara Mikulski fought for the right for congresswomen on capitol hill to wear pants on the Senate floor. She won this right in the 1990s.”

It’s ridiculous, she proclaimed. And added that there’s no way to enforce the bathroom legislation. No one’s going to be at the door checking IDs. 

People are going to say, ‘Hey, you don’t look like what I think a woman should look like… I’m going to call the cops on you’

Qian continued, saying that trans bathroom legislation falls on the intersection of not only transphobia but also misogyny, and encouraged that we’re all in this fight together. Transgender women are women. Intersectional feminism needs to move beyond just looking at gender. We cannot win equality for all by sacrificing equality for some. 

Qian’s ending was quite powerful, “As we disperse from this conference… I implore you to fight for equality for all… The only way that we’ll ever get justice and freedom and equality for all of us is if we persist, resist, and fight together in support of all women. 

So, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go pee.”

The intense, fast-paced nature of PechaKucha caused a surge of excitement in the crowd. 
Each presentation was informative, invigorating and inspirational, the topics were fascinating, and the presenters were wonderful… 

Who knew all that could happen in only 400 seconds?