Staying on Top of the Executive Changes

The other day I had a close professional call.

My team and I have been working on software that connects recipe sites to grocery stores and with that, I have been working both sets of partners, recipe sites and grocery stores.  Months ago, I approached a large media firm in hopes of working with them and their millions of recipe sites to partner with us.  The meeting went well and was attended by no less than seven internal executives.  We all decided we should come back in six months time to review the project and discuss a start date.

I called my main contact who, was gone.  I called the next contact, gone. A third contact, he’s gone.  I called the fourth person and it was his last day on the job. All seven executives had moved on.  Graciously, the last hold out provided me a contact with the appropriate executive to start the conversation … over.

This was an eye opener to showcase the immediacy of professional movement in the media companies these days when one is NOT an a brand owner. The transiency of the digital world is alarming and stuns executives like myself who years ago prided themselves on loyalty and dedication to building out a brand regardless of the avenue that the brand took to grow.

For many of these executives, I have their personal email and for some, having to reach back to LinkedIn to get back on the radar was the next step to see if whatever they are working on next could in fact suit my business now or perhaps in the future.

Make sure you know where your main contacts are within mid to larger sized companies every 30-45 days.  You want to ensure your top of mind where ever they land next!


Meet Paige Herman Axel ….

Hi, I’m Paige…

Welcome to Chat and Hum! I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled to be here… And if you’re wondering why you’re being subjected to my career (and life) musings, there actually is a reason. I’ve managed to customize a career for myself doing something I absolutely love. Yup, I’m a freelance beauty writer and I also created a beauty product. I work for myself out of my house, I make my own hours and I have the flexibility to be an almost-full-time mom to my four-year-old son. (And I play with a lot of beauty products.)

The funny thing is, I never set out to do this. When I started college I was pre-med and fully intended to become a neonatologist (then organic chemistry happened). From there, I set my sights on business (but then an older, long-distance boyfriend happened—long story). Finally I decided to study what actually interested me, and I graduated in 3 years with a major in sociology and minor in classical studies.

Unsure of where I wanted to go from there, I figured graduate school was the way to go. I took what should have been my senior year to prepare for the GRE and work while living at home. I landed a job at J. Crew (I had to support my shopping habit), studied, and got into the sociology masters program at Columbia University in NYC. But something didn’t feel right and I decided not to go. (Yes, some people do turn down an Ivy League school.) In an obvious effort to avoid figuring out what to do with my life, my best friend and I went backpacking across Europe for 2 months. Sure, we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I knew I had to get it together when I got home so I hatched a plan…

As you get more familiar with Chat and Hum, you’ll find that chance meetings and relationships can have a major impact on your career and its path. I met one such person while working at J. Crew. One particular woman became a client of mine, and she always talked about her daughter-in-law who did PR for Ocean Drive magazine. For whatever reason, I was drawn to the idea of working for a magazine (Sassy was my first love), so I called her when I returned home. After a few interviews, I got hired by the magazine’s offshoot in Palm Beach—and so my career began.

Over the next 10 years, I lived in New York before heading back to Florida, climbing the mastheads of various magazines. I achieved my goal of being the editor of a beauty magazine and that’s when I made a bold move… I quit my job while pregnant and decided to give the freelance thing a try. I was lucky that I have a husband who was both emotionally and financially supportive, but regardless, it was scary.

Fast-forward 5 years and my OWN business (actually two businesses) is booming. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. Today my clients include doctors, major skincare companies, e-commerce sites and women’s interest sites—and all I write about is beauty. And then as if I wasn’t busy enough, I got an idea for a self-tan remover and made it a reality. Now I’m seeing my product (and not just my words) in magazines and all over the Internet.

Are you impressed? (Heck, I am.) That’s why I’m here. I’ve been lucky to have wise, influential mentors along the way, and I’m looking to pay it forward—TO YOU. So shall we Chat and Hum? 

The Ipad – We have a Personal Relationship

The title of this entry is a bold one.  I love my ipad. I do. I know there are many options to the ipad like The Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble Nook, ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700….and they seem pretty nifty also. I can’t wait to try a few of them.  Ethan, my 10-year-old son, is beyond capable of mastering these devices in a few days. It’s worth having a few variations in the house with smart kids who truly will teach me how to use the electronic tools.

But this story is about my current ipad and the outside holder.  The other day, I presented a pretty fabulous (if I do say so myself) presentation to the CEO of a large supermarket chain.  I had to use both my laptop and ipad as part of the demonstration.

One of my partners who couldn’t make the meeting in person was SKYPE on my laptop.  I placed the laptop on the chair next to me as if he was there.  Very 2013.

I used my ipad for the presentation part. The all business type (translation: no small talk, no smile and get to the point ASAP) CEO took a look at my ipad holder, which I bought at Brookstone two years ago, and noticed the small shred in the fold of the holder.  The conversation went like this:

CEO:    Is that an Ipad 1 or 2?

Me:      The ipad 2. I love it.

CEO:   Did you see the holder has a shred? I like the color tho. It matches your phone case and your computer sleeve. (He looks up from his reading glasses here)

Me:      Thank you for noticing that I tend to ensure my world is connected in all ways.

CEO:    Interesting.

Meanwhile, you can imagine that I am dying because I knew my ipad holder was starting to shred and I hadn’t taken care of replacing it. A CEO who I am hoping will do a big deal with me noticed my error.  I wasn’t flawless (and btw, never will be) but my accessories should be.

So.. I went to and found this bag.  I picked orange as I combine it with grey for all my work accessories. Paid for it, hit send and I have an affordable presentation case moving forward.

Fabulous option for ipad holder

It’s important that you have a stand for your ipad if you use it for presentation purposes versus just a holder.  The holder may look fabulous but if your actually holding the ipad then you can’t write anything down or use your hands.  I often think I’m from Italian decent because I use my hands so much—but I’m not. I just wish I was.

And for today…That’s the bottom line.


That Magic Moment

Have you ever met someone you instantly liked at work? I have many times.  There is an easy decorum and conversation is second nature.  

I clearly remember first meeting Ann Wilson Heinl on the Drexel University campus in 2006 after my book, The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work was initially released. She had contacted me for one of my first big speeches to a university.   I was so impressed with her professionalism and thoroughness. Given that she has her Masters in Education and brought me to campus, it was evident that she has a genuine desire to teach and help people learn…in real, practical ways.  She had me on every corner of campus in small and large groups with departments, students, staffs, and even a invitation dinner for female student leaders.  All through that day, her staff was in and out, and eagerly tending to their own professional development.  They were ALL prepared for my visit, having read my book, asking relevant questions for themselves and their students, and assuring my needs were met.  They had done their homework and were fully engaged.  Ann and her colleagues made the day dynamic and energizing…for EVERYONE…including me.  How could I not notice? 

Mind you, I have had hundreds of people work for me in my career and you KNOW when someone with a true clue is standing in your presence. To top it off, she was funny. And, funny gets me every single time. Just ask my first husband and current partner.  I had asked her to work with me immediately but the timing wasn’t right.

Fast forward seven years and out of the blue, I got an email from Ann who asked me if I would I consider speaking to a group consisting of young ladies from five college campuses in the Chicago area. The group was a total of 500 women who were looking for direction in navigating office politics.  The kicker was the group requesting me was my sorority, Delta Gamma. They were celebrating their annual Founder’s Day and they needed a keynote speaker. Sigh. Cough. Happy. Humbled. Cough again… Yes!

After I spoke, I asked Ann again if she would join me in launching a platform to help people work all things related to office politics and her answer marks the beginning of Chat & Hum.  She’s is a teacher, an idea generator, and a connector of people.  Ann will be blogging and creating the valuable programs and products moving forward! We all couldn’t be luckier!

Now, you know us, the first women of Chat & Hum.  More to come and now..let’s go!

And that’s the bottom line for today…



We’re sisters (or brothers) from different misters (or mothers)!

I’m just like you. I grew up in a family with parents who knew nothing about office politics (one was a doctor and the other a teacher). I dove head-first into New York’s competitive working world without one piece of know-how or understanding how office culture can affect performance. I didn’t know how to “manage” other people, how to ask for a raise or how to ward off negative people who wanted my coveted job. Eventually, I got the hang of it and lots of girls starting asking me what do about their office dilemma. I was only too happy to share my experiences and opinions. People liked what I had to say, and did I mention I wrote well?

How do and did I know? Well, truth is, I failed. I succeeded. I was fired. I fired people. I hired people and other people hired me and…I write well. I have been working (and earning money) since I was 8.

I was a young suburban know-nothing girl who rose from a twenty-something know-nothing to a top-level player for Big Important Media Companies by the time I hit my 30s. And guess what? You can do it, too regardless of where you are in your professional cycle. 


The Chat and Hum Project

Hey there! Welcome to Chat and Hum community, where we’re going to chat about everything young women like you are humming about. But why am leading the chatting and humming? Here’s the backstory…

I co-wrote this fabulous book, The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know, and Simon & Schuster published it in 2005. The book proposal was bought by Simon & Schuster one week after we submitted it, and the day S&S editor, Doris Cooper, called our agent to say it was the best book proposal she had ever read in her career goes down as the best day of my life! (Visualize: A woman jumping up and down with hands over mouth and eyes WIDE open then reaching in the air with both hands. Damn, I was happy). Ultimately, every single word in that book was written exactly as it was meant to be delivered. It took a full year to write and we started just one week after giving birth to my son, Ethan. Oh yeah, baby.

The book was written to help smart people like Y-O-U navigate the work world. I spoke to many corporations and women’s groups and was interviewed many times. It is still an amazing book packed with key information and recommendations that can help anyone get their reputation in order, work well with co-workers, navigate the bad behaviors that keep women back, and develop a long term plan to ensure you are actually productive and HAPPY at work. (Yes, you really can be happy in the workplace.)

Simon & Schuster promoted the book on the Jumbotron in Times Square. We received a Starred Review by Publisher’s Weekly and were featured in magazines and newspapers like Elle, USA Today, Miami Herald and The New York Times. I was featured on radio and TV shows and a million websites. Major companies (think Kraft, Simon & Schuster and Viacom) asked me to speak about office politics. I spoke from coast to coase for women’s business groups, colleges and universities, and even my beloved sorority, Delta Gamma.

We rocked and I have to say, I thought I was going to be starting a women’s movement, be a star, and buy a new car.

Here’s what I know (and sometimes I learned the hard way).

It was painful.
It didn’t HAVE to be as painful as I made it.
I worked harder than sweatshop girls.
I didn’t have to work as hard as I did.
I took risks.
I could have taken even more risks.
If I can manage to maneuver my way into several dream jobs, you can, too.