Reap All the Rewards: Develop a Mentoring Program

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Sometimes I get lost — even with the help of my iPhone GPS blaring in my ear. Siri shouts “Turn right!” at the exact moment I take a left onto the interstate. And while it’s tough getting lost on the way to work, its worse when you feel aimless and adrift at work.

Luckily, there are mentoring programs to provide direction and support to lost employees. To keep your organization at tip-top shape and to ensure your employees are doing what needs to be done, think about developing a mentoring program. Sound difficult? It can be. But I’ve got some tips for you to make your life a whole lot easier. And I’m putting the tips into a list for you — because, in my opinion, lists make info easier to digest.

So grab a pen and write the list down, why don’t you? Or, better yet, take a screenshot. Oh, technology. How you’ve simplified everyday tasks. Anyway, let’s move on to that list I was talking about, shall we?

How to create a successful mentoring program: Define your objectives.
* Why do you need a mentoring program in the first place? What are your business goals and how can this program help you accomplish them?

Structure your program.
* How do you want this program designed?  Would an online program or an in-person program be more advantageous? Consider the pros and cons of each — make a list! 

Who are your leaders?
*Build leadership roles within the program. Your mentors need to act like leaders — define their role and allow them to lead the initiative.

Promote your program. 
*Outline some rewards or benefits for your employees.  They need some incentive to do this program as well.  And make sure your employees know how to enroll in the program — don’t overcomplicate it!

Oh, and don’t forget to properly train your mentors. If they don’t know what they’re doing, the program might lack success.
*Get some feedback. Allow mentors and mentees to provide comments or critiques.  What better way to make sure your program is reaching its objectives?

Mentoring programs can be beneficial for everyone within your company — both for mentors and mentees.  It’s up to you to figure out how exactly you want to design your program, but by following the list above (and formally structuring your program) will allow you to reap all the rewards within your company. At DFSCC, it’s what we do – and find our mentoring program to help us immensely. Try it out!


Don’t Let Your Personal Brand Consume You

You must read this article I found in the New York Times. After having just finished Joshua Meyrowitz’s book No Sense of Place (nerd alert!), I’ve been really interested in how today’s media market, particularly social media, emotionally and interpersonally affects us.

It seems counterproductive for a blog post from a marketing/public relations firm to be preaching about the potentially damaging effects of social media and the wrong kind of personal branding. But, I feel that it is also our duty at DFSCC to educate and guide our clients (and our readers) towards healthy relationships with social media. Knowledge is power, and if we can be upfront about the no-so-pretty aspects of personal branding, the more time we have to rule the world. Can I get an “amen”?!

Anyway, after several recent conversations with peers about this topic, I have learned a lot about how social media can easily dictate how we view ourselves and our relationships. And, consequently, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how we can prevent putting too much stock in that little number next to that little heart under that little picture on that little app.


The Social Media Monster

Again, I’m not here to undermine the awesome and powerful ramifications the world has experienced since the emergence of social media. Social media has brought us awareness, inspired innovation, facilitated tough conversations, and connected friends, old and new. Social media is not inherently bad. It is a really, really great thing. But only if we treat it for what it essentially is: an accessory for who we are, not entirely who we are.

My first encounter with the sad realities of social media was in the middle of nowhere in western Pennsylvania. I was a camp counselor to 10 precious young girls who were sitting on their bunks as we talked about self worth one July night. I did not expect the before-bed conversation to last longer than twenty minutes, so I opened with “Alright, where do y’all think you put your self worth?” Without hesitation, one of my campers piped up and said, “My social media presence.” Immediately, the nine other eleven-year-olds nodded in agreement.

My heart broke for them.

These girls, much like Clara in the NYT article, put their contentment and satisfaction with who they are at the mercy of their followers, 75% of whom they probably don’t even personally know. If a photo does not get enough likes in 15 minutes, they delete it out of embarrassment. If they want to post a selfie because they know it will get a lot of attention, they slap on an irrelevant quote from an author they’ve never heard of but found on Google to give it some justification. And they post photos of their lattes because it gives that urban, cool girl vibe, even though they truly don’t like coffee.

In particular, Instagram has become a vehicle in which we can display our pseudo-selves. We so carefully can edit and tweak a photo-and-caption-combo to give an impression of who we are. And, all too often, we are not entirely truthful out of fear of appearing worn down, disappointed, and honestly human.


The New News Feed


Since middle school, I have followed tons of bloggers. (Talk about perfect social media presence…) They have made careers out of using social media to brand themselves, and I admire them for that.

One of my favorite “media trends” that rippled through bloggers a few years ago was “The Story Behind The ‘Gram” (or something like that). Basically, the bloggers re-posted an Instagram and told the “true” story of what was going on in their lives when the photo was taken. I was in shock at some of the things I read. Jobs were lost, family members were ill, and hearts were broken while so-and-so was posing pretty in a gingham dress on a cute bike in a tropical place. These posts reminded me of the inescapable humanness we all possess, and I think this should be celebrated.

Our obsession with likes and follows and mentions has revealed a deeper issue our society is facing: we long for affirmation. But we are finding it the wrong places. Social media is so fleeting. Before you know it, the accounts on apps we’ve slaved over will fall to the next big thing. It’s the natural life cycle of today’s media.

So, I propose that we keep using social media. Use the heck out of it. Brand yourself as best you can and work hard on your websites/photos/profiles. BUT, do it for you. Let it wholeheartedly reflect you. You don’t have to outline every shortcoming or dilemma in your posts, but do not ever let your social media “success” define how you feel about yourself, or, in reference to Clara’s NYT story, define your relationships.

You, my #GirlBosses, are worth so much more than your likes. You are so full of power and ambition that cannot possibly be contained by an Instagram account. So, go ahead and post away knowing your followers are not the boss of you. YOU are the boss of you. You, after all, are a #GirlBoss.


#GirlBosses Break Rules (In a Good Way)

I recently read one of those so-good-you-rip-it-out-and-fold-it-in-your-agenda-for-later articles in InStyle’s March 2017 issue (also, one of my favorite #GirlBosses, Amy Schumer, is on the cover so I was immediately sold). Titled “Dress to Unimpress,” the article by Lena Dunham (another great #GirlBoss) eloquently satirizes fashion’s golden “rules” and gives her top five tips for breaking them. Regardless of your stance on age-old fashion restrictions, it’s worth a read for a good laugh.

Inspired by Dunham’s good-natured humor, I thought I would take a stab at my top five workplace “rules” I think are worth breaking (if you can). I’m not nearly as funny as Dunham, so keep your expectations low.


  1. Don’t bank on your degree.


It’s super awesome that you graduated summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude from your liberal arts college no one has heard of. It really is. But, if you can’t problem solve on the fly, take direction quickly, or be nice, no one will care. Even worse, if you keep reminding people of your summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude degree, you likely will not get invited to the office holiday cocktail party.

Good grades don’t make friends for you, and they don’t get you promoted, either. They might get you a good job, but they don’t mean you will do a good job. Keep working hard and tell yourself you did not peak in college. Your mountain-top moment is yet to come!



  1. Do wear clothes that make you happy.


This is the 21st century, people. Times are not that tough. You can now buy office-appropriate clothes that reflect your fun personality. No, you do not need to look like you are a member of the CIA. No, you are not required to look like Anne Hathaway in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada and give off the scruffy, I-haven’t-slept-or-bathed-in-three-days-because-I’m-so-committed-to-my-job look. No one is asking you to do that. Unless you are a Deal or No Deal case girl, you can freely choose your own work uniform. Wear clothes that reflect who you are. Work feels way more fun that way. (And if you are Dorothy Self, you will wear camo skinny pants with cheetah stilettos. And she gets stuff done in that outfit. Case. In. Point.)



  1. Do ask a lot of questions.


I completely understand the desire to appear like a know-it-all on your first day. I also understand the fear that accompanies approaching your boss because you truly do not know how to complete your task. It’s the worst. But, even more awful is Googling how to do something and proudly showing your boss your work, only for them to go, “Oh, nope. That is not what I meant.”

Asking for help/clarification requires vulnerability and humility. But it is so worth the five seconds of awkward. Ask away. I promise your boss would much rather you do it right than try to prove yourself and do it wrong.



  1. Do build up your coworkers.


If you haven’t caught on to the words of affirmation theme on the #GirlBossBlog, you must be new. Dorothy and I thrive on words of affirmation (in a major way, we’re kindred spirits). And something I have picked up from Dorothy is her tendency to text me after a day in the office to follow up on a conversation we had or a difficult situation navigated together. Knowing that she thought of me while driving home, making dinner, or catching up on emails means the world. Wash, rinse, repeat on that one. Great buildings were never built from materials working against each other – but rather with each other. And the people building had to work together, too.

Don’t fall into the trap of gossip or petty talk. It gets nothing done. You can read more about how much I appreciate encouraging work environments here, here, and here. Oh, and here.


  1. Do become friends with your boss.


In my previous jobs, there was a major “us vs. them” mentality when it came to boss/employee relationships. I think that’s how we are conditioned to approach work since childhood, thanks to the ever-present “us vs. them” attitude toward our teachers. The boss is the bad guy and the employees bond over how much they can’t stand the dull meetings, invalidation, egos and lousy memos. (Think about those side interviews in “The Office.” They are so funny because they are so accurate.)

Dorothy once told me to pick the boss, not the job (her first boss was Melissa Cabocel of the Consumer Bankers Association, and I am headed up there to meet her soon – can.not.wait to meet the very first link in the chain of DFSquad #GirlBosses). This idea might sound counterintuitive – being friends with your boss – but after building my friendship with Dorothy over the past nine (I mean really!) months, I realize how right she is (what else is new). The right boss, if you let them, will inspire, encourage, and push you to be better. They will find your strengths and magnify them. They will want to teach you. They will want to be your friend, and friends build up friends. They will care, and they will see the strengths that God has given you, and they will honor that. And I can say that I’m 100% sure she appreciates me every day! That’s a freeing feeling, and empowering too. No filing of emails for me – she believes in me full stop. She trusts me with her friendship and her business she started from the ground up. That’s no small responsibility, but that’s what friends do. So forage that good relationship with your boss. You might just learn from them, and benefit along the way.

So, if you get in trouble for committing a classic workplace faux pas, you can blame me. But, in my experience, some rules are worth breaking to enhance the work experience. And if you really want to go wild, wear white heels before Easter. *gasp*


New Job? Now What?

Picture this. You walk into your new office on your first day on the job. Suddenly, you realize how nervous you are. Who do you talk to? What do you say? How should you act? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed while going through a new transition in your life, so here are some tips of things not to say on your first days. Take it from us at DFSCC, we live by these tenets.

  1. Don’t talk about what you learned at your previous job

Yes, you may have learned a lot from your former employer, but constantly questioning the new things you are being taught is a surefire way to come across as a know it all. Chances are that things are done differently depending on where you work. Embrace the change and stay open to learning.

  1. Never ask about office drama

Odds are if you’re anything like me, you will want to get involved with the new social aspect of the office. However, it is important to never ask new co-workers about gossip, because this can reflect poorly on you. There is a difference between making friends with your co-workers and gossiping, so make sure you steer clear of the latter.

  1. Try not to complain about your old boss

Okay, so maybe the boss you left behind was blind in one eye and would yell whenever you made a minuscule error (I really hope not). Even so, you shouldn’t be complaining about it at your new job. This will make you seem like you talk behind peoples backs, and will leave your new employer wondering if you will say the same negative remarks about them. These kinds of comments can also make you seem like a negative person rather than the ray of sunshine you truly are!

  1. Stay away from everyday complaints

Things like, “I’m so tired!” or, “I’m ready to go home and nap!” are usually not well received from a new employee. You may be attempting to be facetious or just make conversation, but try to avoid things that make you sound lazy. Chances are, you’re not the only one to think those things, but just because you think them doesn’t mean they need to be said!


Stand and Deliver

Public Speaking. It’s like a middle-school relationship. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and it leaves you with sweaty palms (side note: What’s with the excessively damp glands of 6th-grade-boy hands? Asking you WebMD writers out there).

But let me tell you something about public speaking and young-love, you can improve both with a few tips from those who are more experienced and with lots of practice. Luckily for you, I’m here today with vast knowledge from my Public Speaking-101 course and a little help to help you ease those big-crowd-jitters.

Confidence is Key. A saying that is true in pretty much all aspects in life, and is no exception when it comes to the delivery of your speech, presentation,  or elementary wedding proposal. Your confidence level affects your audience’s attention, participation, and ability to connect with what you’re saying. So say it loud and say it proud.

A huge component of your audience buying into your confidence level, even if you’re totally faking it, is your body language. The way you present yourself will arguably do more speaking than you will. So here are 5 tips to looking more confident.

  1. The Box: Imagine that there is a cardboard box in front of chest and confine your arm movements to the inside of that box. It turns out that exaggerated movements are interpreted as “untrustworthy” to an audience.
  2. Hold the Ball: Pretend you’re holding a basketball while speaking, it will subconsciously suggest to the audience that you are literally holding your idea and thus exude more confidence.
  3. Pyramid Hands: Shaking hands giving you away? Not anymore. This idea comes straight from those sturdy Egyptian pyramids to settle your trembles. Those babies have been around for about 5000 years and haven’t flinched. Not once. Mimic our model by clasping both hands together in a relaxed pyramid. Now you’re calm, cool, and collected.
  4. Wide Stance: Channel your inner Beyonce (minus the leotard) and stand proud with your legs shoulder distance apart. This will exude control the whole way through
  5. Palms Up or Down: If you occasionally gesture with you palms up,  it indicates openness and honesty. While if you gesture palms down, it can be viewed as a sign of strength and authority. Either is a win! Just make sure to use them intentionally and that your gesture matches your mood.


I’ve feathered your wings and you’re ready to fly! So fly, my child, fly! *I say with a wide stance, with my palms down as I gently flap my “wings” with in the box, obviously*.




6 Ways to Being a Better Listener

Being a #girlboss can sometimes be exhausting. The constant grind, working to get it done, and staring at a computer screens can really drain your energy. When we finally have human interaction, it can sometimes be hard to pay attention and listen to the other person.

Do you ever zone out while talking to someone and allow you mind to drift off to a project that’s due in three days, or a meeting you have to be to in an hour, or maybe a tropical island with a delicious drink in your hand? (Okay, the latter of the three might come to mind more often than not…) Of course you do! We all have been there. It’s hard talking to people and listening to what they have to say. It’s one thing to talk to someone and respond to them, but it’s another to really absorb what they’re saying and relate to it.


Here are 6 tips to help you in future conversations so that you can really allow yourself to listen.


Tip one: listen to learn, not to be polite. Sometimes we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in a conversation out of generosity, not curiosity. Instead of feeling like we are gifting someone with our presence and conversation, we should instead engage in conversation in order to truly listen to what the person has to say. We should be learning something about the person. Each day we should ask ourselves: what we are curious about and what we are wrong about. Editor Steward Brand says that this allows our ears to be opened and it gives us a beginner’s mind-set when walking into a conversation.


Tip two: try to quiet your agenda. Instead of thinking about the meeting you have in an hour and the project due in a few days, you should try to quiet your mind while in a conversation (meditate that mind). Keeping your mind clear helps to allow new information to flow. Instead of blocking out the conversation, you are allowing it to take hold in your mind.


Tip three: more questions! As my former high school literature teacher frequently said “the more questions you ask, the more you learn.” This couldn’t be more true. When someone asks questions of another it builds trust, allows one to be open and honest with you, and it shows people that you care about what they have to say (and who doesn’t love that).  Not only does it show you care about what they have to say, but you allow yourself and others to become more open.


Tip 4: Pay Attention! Always remember the 2:1 listening to talking ratio when in a conversation. As much as we want to share things about ourselves and dominate the conversation, we should allow others to talk more and we should try and engage on the subjects they bring to the conversation.


Tip 5: Repeat back what you hear. I am currently having flashbacks to zoning out and having an undergraduate professor call on me, “Can you explain to the class what this passage we just read means to you?”… Well, no I cannot; I am exhausted and was dreaming about chocolate fondue. (Sorry.) Unfortunately, in the business world, you can’t afford to zone out in a conversation. The response “I’m sorry what page are we on?” does not work. Be alert and attentive when listening to others and be able to repeat what was just heard.

Tip 6: Let the other person finish talking! As much as we want to input our thoughts into a conversation, we have to remember that the other person wants to do the same. We must remember that one important thing about listening is patience. As difficult as it may seem to find the perfect moment to formulate a response to what someone has said, it can be done.


The Face Behind the #GirlBossBlog: Caroline Tucker

As Caroline has been writing about everyone else in the office it occurred to me that through the nature of this project, she has not written about herself. Which should come as no surprise, due to her unassuming heads-down-computer-screens-open attitude. So it’s my turn, actually honor, to write about the originator of the #GirlBossBlog.

When she first came to me with the concept, I was wary. “Will I need to ACTUALLY do anything for it?” I asked. After her marketing presentation, selling me on a dream and an idea she had, I couldn’t very well say no. (I mean really, you can’t say no to Caroline. You just can’t.) The result has been wonderful for DFS Creative Concepts in numerous ways. A lot of self-evaluation, introspection, analysis of what we do and how we work. . . It’s all come about because of Caroline.

So get to know the REAL face behind the #GirlBossBlog. The one who keeps it going, in essence and perseverance. You won’t regret learning more about our very own ray of sunshine.

1. What is your morning mantra?
Oh, man. Considering I’m the usual Monday Mantra contributor, my arsenal of mantras is pretty extensive. But growing up, my parents were big on telling me and my siblings: “Your best is always good enough.” I love that a whole lot. My best might not look like my brother’s best, or my best friend’s best, or Dorothy’s best, or that really picture-perfect fashion blogger’s best. But thank goodness we don’t all have the same “bests,” right? What a boring world that would be. 
(I think this mini rant was the birth of an upcoming Monday Mantra…. stay tuned.)
2. Who is a #GirlBoss you admire? Why?
My dad’s mom, my Nan-Nan, was THE #GirlBoss. She was a writer, mother, fashionista, and devoted lipstick wearer until her dying day. She was a huge believer in women building up women through words of affirmation. She encouraged me to give out at least one compliment a day, and she looooved retail therapy. 
3. What draws you to PR/marketing?
I get to be whatever I want to be – it’s a total chameleon job. One day I’m writing articles (my favorite), the next I’m walking through a venue for an upcoming event, and then I’m at a round-table meeting talking marketing strategy. It’s fast, it’s creative, and it’s ever-changing. 
4. Thoughts on where you’d like your PR/marketing experience to take you?
I’d love to marry my love for writing with the fashion/PR world. . . Maybe to write profiles on really cool people for a really cool publication in a really cool city.
5. You’re favorite office snack:
Dorothy’s leftovers from GB&D. 😉 Their hushpuppies are to die for. 
6. Your go-to office outfit:
An easy swing dress. It’s the best trick for looking like I have my life together regardless of the reality. And then I’ll throw on a long necklace or two and some booties if I reallyyy want to fool people. 
7. Best piece of advice Dorothy has given you:
“Don’t apologize for anything you didn’t do wrong.” Maybe it’s a generational thing, or maybe it’s an unfortunate tendency for young women in general, but it’s my instinct to say “I’m sorry” to everything. Dorothy once heard me on the phone with a vendor who confused an order, and after I apologized and hung up, she goes “Now stop right there.”
This goes for both professional and personal situations. There’s no need to degrade myself for the sake of others. 
8. Describe your experience working at DFSCC in one word:
Undeserved. I don’t know why or how lil ol’ me got this amazing opportunity but I am grateful. It’s fair to say Dorothy and DFSCC have changed my life for the better.
9. Favorite thing about the Village:
There is so much good happening in the Village. I think my favorite thing is the variety of initiatives going on to grow the Village to be a really special place. I’m particularly fond of Mill Community Ministries. I got to listen to the founder, Dan Weidenbenner, speak at a conference and was totally captivated by his vision. I can’t wait to see how it grows in the coming years.
10. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Black. Or a good chai tea if I’m not that tired (but, really, when is that ever the case?).
So there you have it. Isn’t she lovely? We think so.

Understand Customer Relationships. . . Better

Customers are the driving forces behind your business, and nothing is more important than developing excellent relationships with them. The only problem: we do not always know everything about our customers, and often, they do not always know what they want. So, how then can we begin to satisfy them?


Form relationships with heavy users

There are three types of consumers: Early adopters, repeaters, and heavy users. Aim for the latter of the three. These are people who use your product in high amounts—making them the most valuable. It is very important to keep them happy! In addition, you must figure out what they love about your product and why they always come back. This information could be the difference between another consumer sticking with your brand or opting for someone else’s.


Close the space between being adequate and extraordinary

Consumers may desire something great, but are willing to settle for “alright” if there are no other options. If they are simply settling for your product, then they are easy targets for you competitors. Once you learn to fill the space between satisfaction and longing, customers will continue to stay loyal and others will be drawn to your brand. People don’t want things that are just okay. They want something that fulfils their desires, yet this is not always available to them. It is your job to make sure they always have this option. Create your product so that it is as close to what your customer wants as possible. This way, they will never have to settle for less again. 

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Influencer Marketing: Strategies to Improve and Succeed

Influencer marketing has made serious traction over the last few years, causing companies to begin to turn their heads in its direction. We live in a new era where certain bloggers and people’s personal brands (not to mention companies’ brands) have more following than traditional print media does – changing the game of marketing all together. Luckily, there are certain tips and tricks your company can utilize in order to make you influencer marketing campaigns more effective and successful!


Evergreen content is a must

For those of you not familiar with this term, it essentially means a piece of content that does not expire in a short time frame. In turn, it helps a business establish major credibility and gives customers great information.


Build and nurture relationships with influencers

Once initial connections have been established, make sure you maintain these relationships over time. This way, if you decide to launch a new product or idea, you can use influencers in a focus group or involve them once again on your campaign. If the influencer starts Incorporating your products into their daily lives, you can expect positive reactions from others.


Don’t be afraid to use an agency (cough, DFS Creative Concepts, cough)

Agencies are a great way to connect with the right people for the specific need you have. It can take a lot of time to find the perfect influencer, and even more time to reach out and develop a connection with them. Instead, sit back and let and agency do the work for you.


Reuse your campaign in cross promotions

Don’t let people forget about what you’ve done just because your campaign has ended! Promote it on websites ,blogs, and other social media channels. The paid tool of a Facebook promotion post is also a way to ensure your post reaches more viewers.


Allow creative freedom

Influencers are popular for a reason. Clearly, their lifestyle resonates with their followers. Let them have some creativity with how they market your brand—odds are, they know what they are doing! 

#DFSquad: Get to Know Megan


Photo Creds: Angela Cox Zion

Happy weekend eve, #GirlBosses! We are back with another #DFSquad bio on a girl who is equal parts sassy, fabulous, and hardworking. Megan Womble has a particularly special place in my heart because she introduced me to the DFSCC world, so I am eternally indebted to her. Megan is a workhorse and always has a positive attitude. Read below to find out how she does it all:

What is your morning mantra?

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Basically, IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER! We have to go through the motions to get where we are supposed to be. We go along a journey with our clients to help them reach their goals. In life, we have to take each day as it comes! 

Who is a #GirlBoss you admire?

I admire the #GirlBoss that pushes herself, the #GirlBoss who is an inspiration to others, the #GirlBoss who works hard, and the #GirlBoss who is the best version of herself.

What draws you to PR/marketing?

I love this type of work! It’s constantly growing and adapting to changes in trends/audiences/platforms. I love the challenge it brings. 

Your go-to office outfit:

Booties are a staple piece in my wardrobe– DFS has taught me how to mix patterns and textures to spice up my daily work outfits while being polished and professional. No tight buns and pantyhose here! Outfits are an extension of our personalities– look good, feel good!

Best piece of advice Dorothy has given you:

“Divorce it from your life.” Do away with what is negative in your life. Only surround yourself with the best!

Describe your experience working at DFSCC in one word:

Indescribable. I LOVE my job and everything/everyone/every experience that comes with it.

Favorite think about the Village:

Greenville’s little hideaway is constantly growing, plus The Village Grind is a staple in my work routine. The Village has its own personality!

Coffee or tea?

COFFE over tea, always. Caffeine is a must for the life of a #GirlBoss. 🙂 I have been experimenting with a pump of mocha in my usual morning cup and I 100% would recommend.