On Giving Back

by Samantha Simon

Lately, the routine of waking up and checking the news can feel like too much to handle. It’s enough to make us want to crawl back in bed. But our beds can’t save us (trust us, we’ve tried) no matter how high we pull up the covers.

This month, our team volunteered with Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger through New York Cares. We had the opportunity to help out at an urban farm that brings fresh produce to the community. We planted daffodils, pulled weeds, moved compost, and cleaned out the chicken coop for some very happy chickens. It was cathartic, especially post-election, to be able to give back to a local organization that helps people gain access to healthy food. We can’t wait to go back.

A few of us here in the office have been watching HBO’s Westworld. To take a cue from one bad-ass android, Maeve, who hatches a plan to take back control of her life, “Time to write [our] own [expletive] story.” Today on #GivingTuesday we’re compelled to ask you to find the causes you’re passionate about and get involved.

Here are a few organizations our team is passionate about:

Claire: I like to give to The Foundation for AIDS Research in honor of a friend I lost years ago.  Clinical trials helped add years onto Chuck’s life so I always hope my donation helps to extend the life of others.

Gerry: I’d love to mention The Centenary Institute – a world-leading independent Medical Research Institute that focuses its efforts in three key areas: cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

Ongoing research into these prevalent diseases is vital in making advances to overcome them, and hopefully ensuring families, like my own, don’t lose anymore loved ones to these illnesses.

Alanna: My organization is Planned Parenthood. My reason is simple they have the best motto : Care, No Matter What. I have been donating to them lately and so has my family! Wonderful organization!

Colleen: I started Watson's Pet Pals Fund, in honor of my dog and best friend, Watson, who passed away earlier this year. My goal is to assist pet owners who can't afford life-saving treatments for their pets. For details on how you can help, please like and visit https://www.facebook.com/Watsonspetpalsfund/

Sam: I donate to Planned Parenthood because every woman should have access to affordable reproductive health care, though many people want to take away that right.

What causes are you passionate about? Share below in the comments.

The One Thing Every PR Professional Needs to Keep on Their Desktop

by Samantha Simon

I might be the messiest person in the world — just stop by my desk and see how many 6-month-old newspaper clippings are sitting there because “I’m going to read them one day.” But no matter how messy my desk looks, even I can keep an organized folder with an up-to-date collection of accomplishments that I can whip out at the right moment. When the time comes to ask for a promotion, throw yourself a lifeline, brief clients on what you’ve done for them lately or simply to quickly update your resume, there should be one place on your computer you can hit up: your Brag Folder.

This folder can include praise from your co-workers and clients in the form of emails, completed projects, wrap-ups and recent coverage you secured. Quite literally, everything in this folder should be brag-worthy.

Kara Beussink over at career guidance website, The Muse writes, “Even if every compliment or activity isn’t necessarily resume-worthy, scrolling through a folder full of flattering messages may get your gears turning on other achievements. Plus, knowing there’s one place to look makes the entire process feel much less daunting.” Browsing through this folder can be a nice motivator and self esteem booster, which we all need sometimes. Even better, it keeps all your accomplishments in one spot so it’s all in front of you, no digging or private investigator needed.

Is it narcissistic? Um, yeah. But in the workplace (and in life, if you really want to get philosophical) YOU are your biggest advocate.
If you’re looking for advice on how to organize your Brag Folder, call up Marie Kondo she wrote a whole book on organization and personifying socks. If you need me I’ll be over here, stitching my newspaper collection into a quilt.

How to Own Up to Your Mistakes

by Samantha Simon, Assistant Account Executive

Everyone makes mistakes in and out of the workplace. If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Well, duh.” To the duh-sayers: Your point is valid and I hear you, but do you remember making a particularly egregious mistake? One you weren’t sure how to fix? You suddenly go into a panic and lose all ability to reason (if you haven’t experienced this yet, don’t worry, it’s coming). You wish you could disappear or just walk out of the office and never come back.

Unfortunately, you can’t pull a disappearing act. What you can do is respond in a swift and graceful manner. Owning up to the mistakes we make is just as important as taking credit for our good ideas for the sake of integrity, growth and the reputation of your team. Here are five crucial steps for damage control.

 

1. Confess (and apologize) as soon as possible.

Your first instinct might be to pretend you never made a mistake. I’m here to tell you as much as you might want to sweep your errors under the rug, it’s a bad idea. Think about this — when it’s time to peel back the rug, that mess is still going to be there. In fact, that mess might have begun to fester and smell. What if someone pulls back the rug before you get a chance to clean it up? What if it’s an area rug? What if this analogy doesn’t make any sense?

You get the point (hopefully). Conflict doesn’t go away on its own. The faster you address the mistake, the faster everyone can move on. Plus, it makes you look humble and human. Remember that fake story about George Washington chopping down his dad’s cherry tree? He got a hug when he fessed up because his dad appreciated his honesty. You *might* get a hug for your honesty (probably not, but one can still hope)!

2. Hold yourself accountable.

Don’t make excuses or try to shift the blame. Take responsibility for your actions. You might not be fully at fault but it doesn’t show great character to drag other people’s names through the dirt. Let’s be real: No one likes a snitch.

You can however, explain your thought process, without the excuses. This allows your team to empathize with you while allowing them to give you guidance to prevent this kind of error from happening again.

3. Propose a solution.

If you can come up with a solution, do it. This is part of showing you’re accountable and even great at thinking on your feet.

If you don’t have a solution in mind, watch how the damage control is handled and jump in wherever you can. This might mean putting in extra hours or making sacrifices which you must be willing to do.

4. Accept the consequences bravely.

This might be the scariest part of admitting to a mistake but it is crucial. Keep in mind that this goes hand in hand with confessing your mistake. The quicker you own up to it, the lesser the consequence for you AND the cleanup team. Good luck.

5. Don’t dwell on your mistakes.

You know the old adage: You can’t beat yourself up over spilt milk. Okay, so that’s not the saying, but it still holds true. Your mistakes aren’t all there is to you. The most important part of any blunder is how you recover and move on. As Britney Spears says you’ll be “stronger than yesterday.”

 

We can’t think of mistakes as failure — otherwise we’d never try anything new. Think of them as reminders that there’s always room to improve. Consider the valuable lessons we can learn from our mistakes. If you forget to walk the dog and he has an accident on the carpet, you’re going to remember to walk the dog next time, and you’re going to be a more thoughtful pet owner. Remember: Sh*% happens, but someone’s gotta clean it up.

 

How the Coaction Girls Jump Into Spring

With warmer days not too far ahead, we thought we'd share our rituals for preparing for a new season. 

Stephanie Fields Brown, Account Supervisor

Photo: Stephanie Fields Brown

Photo: Stephanie Fields Brown

"In high school I worked for a huge greenhouse and landscaping company. To this day it’s my most favorite job I’ve ever had (sorry, Coaction). There would often be leftover perennials that no one wanted to buy because they were malnourished and just kind of ugly. So I made a habit of rescuing them and planting them at home. As a result, my mom and I had some beautiful perennial gardens!

It’s been over a decade since I’ve had access to a real garden, but this is the second spring that I’ve had my very own roof deck. I always keep lots of houseplants and I usually start some seeds on my windowsill to keep throughout the summer, but this is the second year in a row that I can go GANGBUSTERS on the roof with real plants! It’s my new ritual! I like to plant mostly flowering plants and a few herbs. No veggies though, this is strictly aesthetic. ;) I like to lounge among the beauty, it’s like my own little paradise as the F train barrels on by. In the next two weeks, I’ll be making a trip to my local nursery to pick up an assortment of annuals to scatter among my existing perennials — assuming they decide to come back this year. I just checked on them and so far everything is looking good."

Colleen Jezersek, Company President

Photos: Ikea

“Back in the day when I was a living in the suburbs my spring ritual would be cleaning up the veggie garden and prepping it for the new growing season.  Fresh Jersey tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and even corn all grew in our backyard.  Now that I’m a city-dweller living in an apartment I need to make the most of my small balcony.  Today, my garden consists of a variety of herbs that are easy to grow and care for.  There’s nothing like the flavor of fresh basil, parsley, sage or thyme added to our favorite meals or smoothies.  I just read about a new Hydroponic Gardening Kit from IKEA, I might need to jump on the ferry and visit the Brooklyn location – sounds like the perfect apartment herb garden!”

Alanna Kramer, Assistant Account Executive

Photos: The Container Store, Amazon, All Modern

"Spring is my all-time favorite season mainly because my birthday falls right smack in the middle of it — yay for turning 24 this year!

My spring ritual is actually pretty basic but it is a tradition in my family. It is the classic switch from winter to spring/summer clothes. It is so nice to pack up those bulky sweaters and heavy boots and take out spring dresses and light weight items! Every year my dad would go up to the attic to retrieve our storage containers for my family and I. It was a nice time to just open up the windows play some music and prepare for the Spring Season.

This year will be different as I have moved out of my house and now live in my own apartment with well no attic and barely any storage. As a result,  I currently clutter my closet and draws with winter and summer garments — it’s a seasonal mess! This spring, I'm on a mission to tactfully store my seasonally inappropriate belongings in some kind of under bed or wall mounted storage. Wish me luck! Any recommendations are greatly appreciated ;)"

Claire Femiani, Accounts Director

"After ending a relationship, I feel the need to refresh my life, starting with my home which is my sacred place. I consulted Apartment Therapy for a few tips on a cleansing ritual for my home. Here are the steps I plan on taking to turn over a new leaf. I’m looking forward to it!

  •  Clean and declutter my apartment. Apartment Therapy says, “Whether it's a new space or a reinvigorated space, make sure it's clean and free of clutter so that the energy can move freely around.”
  • Create new intentions for my year ahead; what do I want and what I want to accomplish in my life.
  • Burn sage in each room. The ritual of burning sage will help clear any negative energies in my home and start anew.
  • Allow the energy to circulate by opening all the windows. With the shades up and windows open, I can let the new begin!

Namaste, y'all!"

Samantha Simon, Assistant Account Executive

Photo: One Kings Lane

Photo: One Kings Lane

"I'm one of those secretly messy people who look like they have it all together on the surface but behind the curtains, they're a wreck. At least I hope I give off an air of being put together (I probably don't). That being said, I don't have a spring ritual but I'm hoping to make a new one this year. 

I've been thinking a lot about Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up — without even having read it. She's all about decluttering, purging and treating the belongings you do decide to keep as if they were animate. I got the gist of it from numerous articles like this one from One Kings Lane

Living in a tiny 'one bedroom' that is actually the size of a studio with my boyfriend, Kondo's philosophy is something that could save my life/sanity. I'm constantly trying to think of new ways to maximize space like hanging pots and pans on the wall and committing to a loft bed. Currently, I have six garbage bags filled with the contents of my purge that I need to take to Goodwill, and I know I'm just getting started. So, who's driving?"

What spring ritual officially signals spring time to you? Share yours in the comments!