Food Swap: Coworker Edition

One of my favorite things to do is spend an evening cooking in my kitchen. I love thinking about recipes and trying new things. I even love grocery shopping (hi, Aldi!).

The (not so) downside of cooking

Cassidy Shearrer - Graphic Designer - Columbia Marketing Group

The only thing that I hate about cooking is when I let food go bad. I hate wasting things so much that I rarely buy greens because I know I’ll never get to the bottom of the bag before they spoil. Such is the dilemma of cooking for one. I don’t always cook for one, but most of my adult life I’ve prepared meals for one or two. If you’ve been in this boat, you know the frustration a whole gallon of milk can bring. And how is one person supposed to eat an entire bag of radishes before they go bad?

I’m becoming an expert in preservation techniques. I only buy vegetables with long shelf lives (thank you, spaghetti squash). I pawn off extra celery on my boyfriend. Sometimes, I just eat the same meal for like five days straight. And by day five, I have lost all desire to eat the amazing New York Times cooking blog recipe I was so excited about.

Co-worker food swap meet

So, when COMO magazine’s editor-in-chief, Emma, said she wanted to eat more vegetables, I got an idea. I knew Emma probably had similar meal frustrations, and I also knew that she brings her lunch to work most days, so I proposed a lunch swap. Maybe I could pawn off some of my extra meals on her! Okay, and maybe bond a little with my coworker ?.

She agreed, and with the not wanting to disappoint, I made an old standard of mine. Rice noodles and zoodles with steamed veggies topped with a peanut tahini sauce and sesame seeds. I made it for dinner the night before, brought in lunch for Emma, and ate it for dinner the next night. And then it was gone! Nothing went bad!

The only issue I hadn’t foreseen with this plan was that food brings out my competitive side. And Emma totally brought her A-game. OMG, some kind of delicious Asian turkey lettuce wrap (I immediately asked for the recipe). Plus, she gave me sides! Grapes, a mandarin orange, and chocolates. I’m feeling the pressure for our next swap. I’m over here fangirling and writing blog posts about it, and she still hasn’t asked for my recipe! We are swapping lunches again next week. I need to go read some food blogs…

Erica’s Recommended Reading List

This is one of my favorite quotes: “You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you meet and the books you read.”
― Charles Jones

I often get credit for the culture we have at our company or the way we cultivate the relationships with our clients, but the truth is that I have learned everything I know from a couple of great mentors and the things written in the books I’ve recommended below.

These authors have served as great inspiration for me and given our team direction when we needed to strengthen our foundation. May they serve the same for you.

If you ever want to chat about the concepts represented on this list, feel free to make an appointment with me and we can chat over coffee.

On the Road Again

Ever feel stuck in a rut? Lacking in creativity and innovation?

It’s so easy to come to work, stare at our computers, and execute the same tasks day after day while losing sight of the bigger picture. Our work can become boring and lifeless – for us and our clients.

That’s why I’m a big advocate for getting out of the office to learn and brainstorm with my teammates. My most recent opportunity was a road trip to Minneapolis with our editorial team to attend the City and Regional Magazine Association’s annual conference.

More than 350 magazine professionals from around the country gathered in the Renaissance Hotel on Third Street to learn from and encourage each other in our craft.

The highlights included hearing from Bob Love, editor in chief of AARP magazine, David Stillman, author and expert on bridging the gap between generations, and David Granger and David Curcurito, former partners in crime at Esquire magazine. 

Did you know AARP has more than 38.6 million readers? They are a lesson in intentionality. According to Bob, mission is their superpower. They are the industry leader in audience segregation, publishing three unique magazines, each targeted toward a different decade of reader. They also stay faithful to reader engagement, ensuring content is focused on their three main priorities – health, wealth, and self.  

Did you know that Generation Z will comprise 40% of all consumers by 2020? According to David Stillman, this generation is a misunderstood group and very different than their millennial counterparts. Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z grew up during the recession, has a “Hunger Games” mindset, is competitive with their peers, and is incredibly price-conscious. They are digital natives, our future employees, and unlike their millennial friends, only 8% prefer an open-concept workspace.

What’s the craziest, most creative thing you’ve tried recently? Two former members of Esquire’s editorial team shared example after example of crazy stuff they tried looking for new ways to tell a story. From hand lettering a cover to sending an amateur photographer across the country, they were never afraid to think outside the box. Their talk was a lesson in what can come from letting your wordsmiths and visual artists play.

As for the rest of my takeaways, well they’re staying with me. I can’t give away all my secrets!

Wrapping Things Up: A CMG Internship Anecdote

I remember exactly where I was when Columbia Marketing Group called me about an interview for an internship. It was nearing the end of my winter break and I was stuck in the Dominican Republic, unable to fly home due to torrential downpour. By the time they called me, I had been waiting to leave the airport for four hours. Needless to say, a phone call for an internship wasn’t on my radar at that point. It was only a few months ago, but I look back now and I couldn’t be happier they called me in that airport.

Growing Those Digital Chops

It was clear to me from the beginning that CMG had confidence in me to complete real-world work for actual clients, and that’s something I really appreciate. I wasn’t going to be running and grabbing coffee for the team. I wrote blog posts. I helped run the CMG social media accounts. I became familiar with web analytics and wrote some digital reports. I helped on email campaigns. I even got to create and edit some web content. That’s a lot on the plate for a kid who hadn’t worked in an agency before.

Getting this full, hands-on experience from CMG really helped me grasp some of the abstract concepts I had been learning in my classes. This semester, I’ve primarily been focused on building a skillset linked to client account management and digital strategy. Learning about things like click-through rates and search engine optimization in a classroom can be confusing, so getting to apply the concepts to my internship real-time completely boosted my understanding of those concepts.

Though the foundation of digital marketing knowledge that CMG laid out for me is invaluable, my time at CMG and The Business Times Company gave me an even greater experience – working with people in an agency. Even if I were a whiz kid with all the digital advertising knowledge in the world, I still wouldn’t know how that knowledge applies in a team setting, where people are counting on you to deliver good work. CMG gave me that opportunity, and now I can be as confident as ever walking into any gig with any agency.

Before I Go

Heading into CMG, I was just an advertising undergrad treading water, not sure what I wanted to do or where I was going. In a few short months, I’ve developed a foundation of professional experience and digital knowledge that has launched me into a digital marketing intern role this summer at a company in London called MintTwist, and a digital strategy role with Mizzou Journalism’s MOJO Ad this fall. These are both incredible opportunities for me, and neither would have happened without my time at CMG.

Having said that, I want to thank Crystal, Jamie, J.J. and Tay for welcoming me aboard and allowing me to leave my mark on CMG. You all made it very easy for me to feel like a part of the team, and for that I am truly grateful. Whether it was talking about music, daydreaming out loud about exploring the world, or coming up with cringe-worthy text acronyms parents could use that totally don’t exist, I’ll never forget my time here! TAFNTS. (That’s all for now – talk soon.)

Great Company: BTC Culture

At The Business Times Company, culture is our foundation for success. Our culture is our DNA. It is what guides, inspires and motivates our team.

At our very core, we exist to cultivate community.

What does that illustrious alliteration even mean? Our benchmark is building our beloved community based businesses. Our cornerstone is connection. Connecting with the myriad of businesses in our area and then connecting our connections cohesively (It’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds and we have a lot of charts and graphs for reference). The cultivation of that connection is friendly competition. The strength of the business owners in this community serves as the backbone. And as they say, iron sharpens iron.

That connecting cornerstone within the community has produced some unique benefits to me as an employee. In my daily routine I always ask myself, “What does success look like?” Excluding some of the boring details (like font sizes and click thru rate) every day the answer is the same. Success means connection. A deep, sincere and personal connection with these prolific business owners. In the process of learning about their needs and “difference makers” in order to establish an effective advertising campaign I find that I am also learning a lot about entrepreneurship.

It’s just another event to be in a room with former coach Norm Stewart and Mayor Brian Treece, listening to the movers and shakers in our community jest back and forth. Our products allow us to connect people in our community and foster growth. We get to meet the movers and shakers of businesses and the worker bees. From the owners of Lobgoat to the administrative staff at Columbia College, we are here to help people through the utilization of our products and talent. We don’t just write awesome content, take cool pictures, and design pretty graphics – we form partnerships to benefit our community.

At the end of the day, we’re all chasing a dream – whether it’s making a magazine or making beer. The best part about working for BTC is that the opportunities for employees are the same that we put before the community. It’s more than a job, it’s a career. It’s more than a way of making money, it’s a way of making people happy.

When I lay my head down to go to sleep at night, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that we do every day at The Business Times Company matters to Columbia.