Sunny Stars

Sunny Star: Jodi Womack

I went to a motivational weekend hosted by Kristi Blicharski and I left with a new sense of motivation and inspiration. There was one woman in particular that really gave me a rejuvenated perspective. Jodi Womack, founder of No More Nylons, is an entrepreneur, a speaker, a networker, and most importantly as a woman, a friendly and kind-hearted person. She plans networking events for women founded on friendship rather than competition. So many women can get wrapped up in the rat race but Jodi focuses on the human component–the essential desire we have as women for camaraderie and support. I just had to share her advice with you. Enjoy!

Here is Jodi’s website so that you can be apart of the next No More Nylons event: http://nomorenylons.com/

1. You have started your own company, No More Nylons, which gathers women together to network in a fun and social environment. How does this twist on networking add more happiness to not only your life, but the women who attend? 

Everything about No More Nylons is meant to be lighthearted… from the name itself to the Snooty Lady logo to the nametags that say, “Hello, my name is… and I’m really good at…”  I want people to smile and enjoy. That’s what running my own company is all about: getting out of the work you HAVE to do and into the work you LOVE.

One reason I started my own company is to have more freedom in my life.  I surround myself with people who love what they do, and who are inspired and engaged with the world… I realized when I started attending other business networking events, that those people weren’t having fun. They attended out of obligation. It was depressing. Everyone I know is extremely busy. So to add something to your schedule that you don’t enjoy is crazy! The Socials are an opportunity to relax, socialize, and really connect with other women authentically… We are all so much more than our titles and companies.

2. What do you think are some pitfalls women encounter while networking?

The biggest mistake I see women making is NOT networking. For example, eating lunch alone at their desk everyday, skipping the after work gatherings to get home or waiting to attend a conference or meeting until they know exactly what they need before they start asking…

I make an effort to have one networking appointment per week. It can be as easy as inviting someone to coffee before work, or taking a walk on a lunch break. I estimate I have 5 opportunities a day to network: (1) morning coffee, (2) lunch, (3) afterwork walk, (4) happy hour drinks/appetizers and (5) dinner/evening event. If I do one networking meeting a week, for 50 weeks a year, that equals 50 times I’ve focused on my personal and professional development.

1/wk x 50 wks = 50 opportunities/ year

And obviously, the more you do each week, the more those opportunities add up over the course of a year. Time flies, especially when you’re busy! So building in networking as a routine will ensure you actually do it.

If you feel shy about attending an event alone, recruit a friend. Sometimes when that’s not possible, I’ve reached out to the attendees and coordinators on Twitter before the event to introduce myself and coordinate meeting up with others who are attending alone. By taking the initiative, I become a leader within the group.

3. You have an entrepreneurial spirit. How do you think young women can capture this spirit and apply it to their own lives?

Do something you really care about. Make a project. Organize an event. Write a article. DO something. It doesn’t have to make money. What it does is give you the confidence and credibility that you are someone who makes things happen in the world. So many people are sitting and waiting for someone to tell them what to do with their life. Their energy. Their gifts. That’s what school prepares us for: an authority figure assigning a project with parameters and deadlines. In fact, that’s the work we need to do for ourselves! Focus on what projects have meaning to us, then design what the outcome should be and prepare a schedule when we want to achieve it by.

Surround yourself with positive, outgoing, uplifting influencers. This includes people, media, environments… I subscribe to Springwise newsletter which reports innovative global business ideas; I watch TED talks (www.ted.com) and I attend conferences like SXSW, World Domination Summit, Wisdom 2.0. Build and carefully design the input you influence yourself with. For example, I stopped watching TV news years ago. I find other sources to receive input, without the fear and shock factors.

4. Once you’ve made a connection, what are some suggestions you have for maintaining that relationship?

Start building your personal database. Connect to the actual people, not just the company email and phone numbers that may be on a person’s business card. People change jobs so often that those business cards may be irrelevant within a few years. I personally use an electronic address book as well as Linked In for my business contacts. Any time I can make a note about when and where I met someone, and if a mutual friend introduced us, I know that helps me remember people better. I use the social networks as a way to remember peoples’ names and faces, like virtual flash cards.

Stay in touch, even when you don’t need anything. Many people start networking when they’re looking for a job or when they’re “making an ask.” That strains the relationship before you’ve built it. Send birthday notes. Forward relevant articles that you find. Share inspirational resources. Be someone that contributes.

5. So many women fall in to the corporate bubble for security’s sake rather than pursing their true dream. What advice do you have for women who want to take that leap of faith yet are holding back?

Build your network. Keep your overhead low! Surround yourself with entrepreneurs and those that are pursuing their dreams.

My husband and I started the Jason Womack Company from a home office by purchasing two Apple computers. In the first weekend, we built our company website, designed our workbook and started reaching out to prospective clients from our LinkedIn networks. Within 60 days our company was profitable.

6. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Keep seeking mentors. Find someone who cares about your personal journey, not just your linear career path to advise you on money, strategic alliances, and connecting to influential partners. No one does it alone.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Sunny Star: Gretchen Putnam

I met some incredible people during my time at E! News. One of my favorites being the producer, Gretchen Putnam. We had an instant connection when we learned about our mutual love for animals, particular owls and hummingbirds. Gretchen is one of the kindest people that I have worked with and it inspires me to see someone so genuine and compassionate interviewing some of the world’s most well known celebrities. Here is what she has to say about happiness and how she’s been able to find it working for the leading entertainment channel.

1. You are a Field Producer for E! News. What part of your job brings you the most happiness?

The part of my job that brings me the most happiness is making a connection with the people I interview. I think of the interview as a conversation, which makes it more interesting for me and the subject, I hope.  The conversational style of interviewing also elicits good soundbites which is important for my job. A lot of the interviews I do are very brief, so there may not be a real connection. On the rare occasions when I do feel a deep personal connection, I feel very happy!

2. What has been one of your happiest memories from your job?

One of my most recent happy memories was an interview I did with the rapper B.o.B. He came into the E! offices for a sit down interview to talk about his new album. I knew of him, but didn’t know much about him as a person and or his music. I have to admit I didn’t expect to have anything in common with a 23 year old hip hop artist. We sat down and started the interview. As I talked to him, I was impressed with how articulate and aware he was. We talked about his new album but also about a lot of other things. He opened up about his early years and his dreams and aspirations. At the end of the interview, I told B.o.B. he was very philosophical and that I felt like I could go on talking to him forever! He hugged me! Then gave me another hug before he left and said it was a great interview. I saw B.o.B.’s name on the list for an event I was covering a few days later. When I was researching him for the interview, I read that he got his start making mix tapes – I realize mix tapes in the music world are different than the mix tapes I make with itunes, but I was moved and inspired to make a mix tape CD for B.o.B. I put a mix of some of my favorite songs from the past as well as some contemporary – everything from Jimi Hendrix to B.B. King to Pitbull! I wrote on the CD “mix tape CD for B.o.B. from Gretchen” and gave it to him at the red carpet event. He was SO touched and gave me another hug and said no one’s ever done that for him before. Feeling that I had connected on a personal level and shared something of myself that he responded to was an amazing feeling.

3. You’ve met a lot of celebrities. Who strikes you as some of the happiest people in Hollywood?

It’s hard to tell who is truly happy – especially here in Hollywood, but there are a few that come to mind. Tony Bennett is in his 80’s and still going strong- doing what he loves which is singing. I remember interviewing him once and he said people ask him if he ever gets tired of singing “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Tony said he’ll never get tired of it because it’s the song that he’s known for and people love it. He was so gracious and appreciative of everything in his life. He also has a generous spirit when talking about other artists- really an admirable person who seems to love life. I recently met an actress named Teal Shearer who was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 14. She came into E! to talk about her new web series. I was struck by how incredibly positive she is about her situation. What is so amazing about her is that she is living life to the fullest and enjoying it. She has a beautiful warm spirit and it was a pleasure to meet and interview her.

4. What kinds of stories bring you the most happiness?

The stories that bring me the most happiness are the ones that don’t just entertain but also inspire, like Teal Shearer whom I mentioned above. I recently got to interview the two men who created the puppets for the stage version of War Horse. I also met the puppeteers who bring the horse to life and the lead actor.  I read the book a few years ago and was so moved by this story about a boy’s love for his horse set during World War I. The boy and the horse get separated but eventually find each other again. Getting to see a preview of the stage version was beyond moving- I got teary when I saw the horse puppet for the first time.

5. We have a mutual love for animals, especially owls! What has been one of your favorite animal stories that you’ve covered?

Almost all of my animal stories are favorites, but one very meaningful shoot for me was the Genesis Awards, which is the annual awards show from the Humane Society. They honor TV shows and movies which raise awareness and promote animal protection issues. I was on the red carpet with my camera crew and really enjoyed talking to actors about their animals and the issues they are most passionate about. I also got to interview the host of a program on Nat Geo Wild called “Deadly 60.” The host Steve Backshall had an Eagle owl with him for the interview. It was such a thrill to see this magnificent bird up close and also do a story on a show that promotes awareness about animals. I did another shoot earlier this year at an animal shelter. Pedigree donated something like 10,000 pounds of dog food to this shelter. I got to hold one of the puppies whom I wanted to take home, but didn’t! It’s great when we do stories about people and companies doing good things for animals.

There is one other thing I would like to add regarding happiness.  Every time I interview someone and hear about their successes, struggles and dreams, I am reminded that in the end we are all human beings trying to find happiness in the world.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Sunny Star: Veronica Sperry

New York. Fashion Week. What girl wouldn’t want to go right? Well Veronica Sperry, Chi Omega, Vince Camuto Campus Rep, and fashion extraordinaire got that opportunity. She shared her experience with me here but what I love about Veronica most is that she takes her passions and puts them in practice. She loves the fashion industry so what does she do? She goes for it, full speed. Some might buckle their knees and stay at home for fear of rejection but not her—she doesn’t let fear hold her back. I think we should all take that same mentality with our own particular passions. Go for it. If you want to be extraordinarily happy, you have to be brave and bold—and having a brilliant fashion sense doesn’t hurt either—but it looks like Veronica already has that covered.

1. You just got back from a trip to New York for your position as a Campus Rep with the fashion designer, Vince Camuto. Tell us about your trip and what you learned while you were there.

Last weekend I went to NYC with the two other UCLA reps, Diana and Alice who are both in ADPi, to attendVince Camuto’s market week. I learned so much about how market week works and the process of getting styles from the showroom to the stores. I got the opportunity to meet people on the Vince Camuto team as well as four other Vince Camuto reps from all over the country. It made the trip even more special getting to explore NYC with other girls who share my same passion. The last day of our trip we got to meet Vince and his wife, Louise, who is also the creative director of the line, and both were very nice and down to earth. I loved that they were clearly interested in our opinions and even asked us to pick out our favorite shoes from the upcoming fall collection. Meeting the people responsible for the shoes I post about on Facebook every day made me feel so much more connected to the brand. After I got back, I wrote a blog post about the trip which the Vince Camuto team posted on their national Facebook page moments after I published it. It shows that they are paying attention to what we’re doing here at UCLA and that they support us.

2. What has been your happiest memory as a campus rep for Vince Camuto? 

My happiest memory doing this program is by far the trip to NYC. However, our Fall Trunk Show was a pretty incredible milestone for me as well. I’ve never put on an event, let alone one of that magnitude, so its success was a major accomplishment for my team and me. A few people from Vince Camuto and a marketing team they are working with flew out to LA from the east coast just to attend the trunk show, and it made the event that much bigger. There was a great turn out of both boys and girls and by the end of the night our whole team was high on fashion success.


3. It’s clear that you love fashion and it’s inspiring how you took that passion and put it in to a potential career. What advice do you have for girls who want to pursue the fashion industry?

Especially after meeting people in the industry and Vince Camuto himself, the overall message I’ve gotten and feel I should relay is that if you’re passionate about something, go for it. Vince started off as a salesman and now is the creator of this year’s brand of the year. He proves that if there is something you want to do, there is absolutely no reason to give up on it. My passion is fashion, and I’m working towards that every day, though at the moment I’m hardly where I want to end up. My advice is to start with an internship or campus rep position and chase every opportunity that comes from it.

4. Why Vince Camuto?

First of all, the Vince Camuto brand fills a niche that no one else has been able to reach. They provide high-end designer quality and style at a price point that even college students can afford Secondly, their college ambassador program is infinitely more advanced than any other on campus. We’re sent purses, shoes, sunglasses, and even clothes that are still in stores to give to students for free. Yes, we have awesome pens to give away too, but no other rep on campus is giving away this kind of quality merchandise in these quantities. Vince Camuto’s purpose for this program is to give college students something they’ll actually enjoy, and that is the kind of goal I can get behind.

5. How does working in the fashion industry add to your happiness?

Working in fashion is what gets me excited and motivated every morning. Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to work in fashion, and now that I’m beginning to break into the industry, the future is that much brighter. I’m loving my time at UCLA, and wouldn’t cut it short for the world; but now that I’ve gotten a peek into the fashion industry, I know the best years of my life won’t be limited to my college experience.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Like us on Facebook! Every time you see that “Vince Camuto at UCLA” posted something, that’s me, and I take every comment and “like” to heart. I love to hear what types of things students like or don’t like on our page, so any feedback is much appreciated.

Thank you so much Veronica for sharing! I hope this motivated you to go to your own “Fashion Week,” whether that’s a triathlon, an audition for a musical, or taking the MCAT. Every time you show up, you are setting yourself up to achieve your goals. Go for it!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook