How Female Bosses Made It Possible for Me to Live My Dream

I’ve been ramping up my speaking schedule over the last year, and in 2017, I’ve been traveling from coast to coast speaking at events of all sizes and shapes. I enjoy it because it’s such a strong corollary to the work that I do in the classroom with my graduate students, as well as with my clients.

Recently, I led a workshop at Innovation Congress, where I was also interviewed by the awesome Paige Wilhide of NYC-based video company Paige Media. I love talking to other women about entrepreneurship, mentorship, and how I got lucky enough to do what I love doing every day of the week. I also got to see the amazing Cindy Gallop speak about diversity in the workplace, and she was so incredibly kick-ass that I can’t cover all of her speech here, so bop over to my Twitter feed for some of her best quotes.

What I’ve realized as I’ve built my own company, taught dozens of graduate students, and worked with brands big and small is that having role models who are strong, smart, female leaders has made me feel like it’s only natural that I could and would do those things too. If we can keep bringing young women into workplaces to see what’s possible for them, mentor them, and lift them up, we’ll get to a world where gender parity in the workplace will just be expected.

If you missed my events this spring, you can still catch me at Connect to Convert or Content Marketing World later this summer/fall.

The CMWorld link is an affiliate link, so if you purchase a ticket, I get a small percentage of the sales. 

Submit Your Best Work to the CMAs!

As we head into February, I’m starting to look forward to spring, and with that comes the annual Content Marketing Awards from Content Marketing Institute. I’m excited to be a judge for the second year in a row, and I’m always psyched to see what creative concepts my fellow marketers bring to the table.

The Content Marketing Awards honor the best projects, agencies, and marketers of the year and include 92 different categories from distribution to editorial.

If you’re a content marketer, I hope you’ll submit your work, and I hope to read it in a few months’ time.

And if you’re not ready to submit yet, but you’re looking to hone your marketing skills, I hope to see you at this year’s Content Marketing World, where I’ll be presenting a lab.

Good Things Come in 3s: Retreat, Podcast, Webinar

I love the beginning of the year because I always feel energized to take on new things and look ahead to new projects. In 2017, I’ll be teaching for the fourth year in a row at the City College of New York. I’ll be speaking at events across the country (look for me in March at Social Media Marketing World). And I’m excited to be working with new clients through my marketing agency, Media Volery.

As always, lots of things are in the works, so here are a few quick takeaways from the last 7 days.

Make Time to Grow

Earlier this week, I spent a couple of days with the crew at Convince & Convert. It’s always incredibly invigorating to be in a room with savvy marketers, content producers, social media gurus, business development specialists, and writers—all working towards one goal.

Working with them reminds me that we have to make time to take ourselves to the next level. Even if you’re busy with your nose to the grindstone, you have to systematically make time to get better, analyze where your deficits are, and make a plan for the future.

(And you should also make time for a little fun.)

Shout It Out

This week, I had the pleasure of sharing my thoughts on content marketing as a pillar of thought leadership on the Platform Giant podcast with Shane Purnell. It’s a great reminder that thought leadership is built upon creating content that people benefit from and building a community who trust you and your story.

In other words: To build thought leadership, you have to tell your story in a compelling way, build content for them, and create a space for others to connect with you and each other.

Don’t Just Make Content; Get the Most Out of the Content You Create

Finally, I’ll be speaking for the Mutual Fund Education Alliance next week on content marketing and best practices for distributing content. Instead of creating lots more content, spend 2017 focusing on how to get the most out of the content you already have.

Join me at Wednesday, January 25, at 1pm for this discussion.

Click here for more information.

3 Books to Become a Better Business Person

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I’m busy to a fault—which in 2016 meant that I didn’t as much reading done as I might have liked.

But of the books I did manage to read*, there are three that truly stand out as great resources for anyone looking to become a better business person, a more effective marketer, a more comfortable presenter, and just a better and more empathetic person in general.

Thank You For Arguing by Jay Heinrichs

We all need to make our case at work, at home, with our friends and loved ones, and with clients/customers. If you’ve ever found yourself having trouble persuading people or you just want to be a more effective communicator, be sure to check out this funny and enlightening book by Jay Heinrichs.

With a combination of Aristotelian methodology and pop culture references, it should keep your attention and teach you a thing or two.

Steal the Show by Michael Port

I’m pretty comfortable in front of a crowd. My earliest memories of speaking in front of 100+ people was at the tender age of 5. But even so, I found that I learned quite a few useful techniques from this book by Michael Port.

From structuring speeches to working on your vocal techniques, there are lots of specific skills for even seasoned speakers.

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

As a professor and as a consultant, I constantly have to give and receive feedback. And as we’ve all experienced, sometimes there are miscommunications or misunderstandings. This book shares some great frameworks for how to better reframe conversations. And it also shares advice on recognizing communications issues so that you can head them off.

This is definitely a book that just about everyone can benefit from—from parents to business people.

As we head into the new year, I look forward to reading lots more books. I hope that you’ll check out my 2017 picks. Do you have book recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments! 

*I did manage to read both Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Hamilton: The Revolution…so you can see what might have captured my interests this year. Other books I read included some Neil Gaiman, the helpful Locavore’s Handbook by friend Leda Meredith, and the excellent Hug Your Haters by friend Jay Baer.

This post contains affiliate links; when you purchase one of these books, I get a small commission. 

Join Me at Social Media Marketing World in March

Looking ahead to 2017, I’m already psyched for upcoming events. One that I’m pleased to announce is that I’ll be presenting within the Analytics track at Social Media Marketing World this year. I’m excited to share useful tips on how metrics should be the key to your content marketing planning process.

Join us March 22-24, 2017 in sunny San Diego for three days of learning from industry experts.

Click here for more information and to book your pass!

My Session: Create Content by the Numbers

Zontee Hou at Social Media Marketing World 2017Like most marketers, you may be busy creating a ton of content for your social channels, sales teams, website, etc. But are you creating the most useful content for your company? Does your content align with your business goals?

In this session, we explore the key metrics that you need to understand and track in order to create better content. Find out what to measure in order to plan, publish, and track your content more effectively.

Why Attend?

In the words of Levar Burton: Don’t just take my word for it.

Disclosure: As a speaker and affiliate, I get a cut when you purchase a ticket via my link. 

The Alchemy of Content Marketing – October 12 in Buffalo

In the last few months, I’ve been all over the country talking to people about digital marketing and content marketing. It’s always fascinating to learn what are the challenges they face and find out how they can use these concepts with their own professions/fields.

With that in mind, I’m excited to be the first speaker in the AAF Buffalo’s new Spotlight Speakers series. If you’re in the Buffalo, NY area, I hope you’ll join me for this engaging evening of learning and networking.

Marketing Your Customers Want: The Alchemy of Content Marketing

Content marketing can help you build your reputation, establish your expertise, and keep your clients coming back for more. In her talk, digital marketing strategist Zontee Hou will give you the low down on how to develop blog posts, videos, ebooks, infographics, and other materials to make your clients’ business sound more exciting than it really is. She’ll also go over ways you can use social media and email marketing to milk those content pieces for all they’re worth.

October 12, 2016
Networking happy hour: 5:30- 6 p.m. | Presentation begins at 6 p.m.

Learn more and get tickets. 

Events, Interviews, and Features: Oh My!

My life has been a whirlwind of activity these last few weeks, and there’s still more to come (brother’s wedding is almost here!).

Before I get swept up in the next swirl of busy-ness, I want to take a few minutes and just share some of the highlights.

Zontee speaking

Incredible Attendees at Social Fresh and Content Marketing World

At both Social Fresh and Content Marketing World, I had the opportunity to present in front of world class marketers who are interested in achieving more in their daily digital marketing efforts. Whether it was about social media measurement or creating engaging content in a regulated industry, I had great conversations with attendees who were eager to put my concepts to play in their own companies.

I also had time to hang out with friends and colleagues like Jay Baer, Daniel Lemin, Lisa Loeffler, Christin Kardos, Ann Handley, Tim Washer, Phil Mershon, and many many more. It’s always a pleasure to be in a room full of people that you can learn from.

Creating Conversations Online

Following Social Fresh, I was gratified to find out that LinkedIn’s marketing blog picked up my slide presentation from that event as one of their “Top Trending Content” pieces.

I was also delighted to be interviewed by Kate Volman for Convince & Convert’s “Talk Digital to Me” series.

Coming Up…

I’ll be heading to Buffalo next month to speak at the AAF Buffalo. If you’re in that area, I hope to see you at the event!

Sign Up for My Upcoming Webinar: 6 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Blogging

I want to take a minute to thank you for making my 2015 webinar on content marketing for SCORE their most popular ever! Because of its popularity, I’ve been invited back to talk about another topic I’m passionate about.

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be once again be joining SCORE, the small business association, to present a FREE webinar: 6 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Blogging on August 23. If you’re interested in building your reputation, supporting existing clients, or generating leads through blogging, you’ll want to check out this webinar.

Learn more »

6 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Blogging
August 23, 1pm EDT

Upcoming Workshops & Events: Social Fresh, Content Marketing World

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be speaking at two great events this summer: Social Fresh and Content Marketing World. I’ll be presenting workshops at both events—details forthcoming.

Social Fresh: August 18-21, Orlando, FL

A great event for social media professionals, community managers, and digital marketers, Social Fresh features 4 days of hands-on workshops and case studies.

Content Marketing World: September 6-9, Cleveland, OH

With a wide variety of breakout sessions, keynotes, and workshops, CMWorld showcases the content-first approach to marketing, in action.

Stay tuned for additional summer and fall events.

Reading List: 3 Business Books on My Shelf

I seem to have an ever-growing pile of books to read. Luckily, I happen to love reading and learning. Often, my grad students ask me for recommendations on further readings related to our lectures, and so I am forever pulling together reading lists. Here are a few books that I’ve gotten on my summer list.

To Sell is Human

by Daniel Pink

I’m a big fan of Daniel Pink’s books (and his appearances on the excellent Hidden Brain podcast), and this fast-paced, practical book is one that I’ve not only read–and plan on rereading, hence its appearance on this list–but also teach in my classroom.

Content Everywhere

by Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Most marketers face the challenges of creating enough content for the ever-expanding universe of websites, portals, and apps that exist. However, the battle isn’t just to create more content, it’s also to use our content wisely. Enter this book, which tackles the structural questions as well as the overall strategies.

Learning to Succeed

by Jason Wingard

As the new dean of Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, my alma mater, Jason Wingard has already enacted bold new strokes in the short time that he has been there. I’m also excited to read his book on a new, integrated approach to corporate education. I’m also intrigued by his vision of corporations as “learning organizations.”

I received free copies of Content Everywhere (from the publisher) and Learning to Succeed (from Columbia University), but received no compensation for the above. All of the above thoughts are my own.

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