Business leader showcase
In an effort to improve our own professional lives, we often look to business leaders for inspiration, as knowing how they tick can help us to understand what makes a great leader. Amy Vernon is the GM of Social Marketing at Internet Media Labs, and is a well known industry leader in the social media field. A former journalist, Vernon is known for her keen insight, her wit, and for unveiling problems most people never even see.
She has over 67,000 subscribers on Facebook and over 20,000 followers on her personal Twitter profile, but in the interview below, it is heartwarming to see how a real social media expert keeps her focus on her family.
Tell us about yourself and your work.
I’m general manager of social marketing for NYC tech startup Internet Media Labs. That means I deal with overall social marketing strategy for our company and our clients, as well as day-to-day operations on some accounts. I coordinate our blog and relationships with other companies that provide services and resources we don’t. I do hardcore QA on our own products, as well. I tend to work the tools I use very hard.
Walk us through a typical day in your life.
I wake up about 6 a.m., usually when one or more children is bouncing on me for “Operation Wake Up Mommy.” After herding two boys around to get ’em ready for school and they’re dropped off, my husband drops me off at the train and I head into Manhattan. In between, I’ve already begun checking my social accounts and the resources I use to find content I share – Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Triberr and Plugg.io. I start scheduling shares of some of that content, otherwise I’d barrage my followers with a dozen links all at once. I prefer to spread them out throughout the day.
Once I get into work in Chelsea, I’m basically going back and forth between my social accounts and client accounts all day, as well as writing or editing blog posts, meeting with current or potential clients, and putting our products through their paces. SeeS.aw, which is in public beta, visualizes your social feed and enables you to find the best content from it. oneQube, which is in closed beta, helps you find relevant people and conversations.
I’m a pretty hardcore product tester, so I tend to surface unexpected problems, as friends of mine can attest to. I once got an error message on a friend’s product that said merely, “Oh, crap.” The engineer knew exactly what it was, but said I wasn’t supposed to be able to get that particular message.
On days when I don’t have an evening event, I try to get out of Manhattan by 6 p.m. or so, so I can spend some time with my boys before bed. After bedtime, I have my laptop on and continue working while I watch TV with my husband. If I have a nighttime event — which can range from New York Tech Meetup’s monthly showcase to a social event with Girls in Tech or New York Tech Women — I may be in the city until 10 or 11 p.m., take a train home, stay up a bit longer working and then go to bed.
Where were you raised? Where all have you lived?
Born and raised on Long Island, went to school at Northwestern University in the Chicago suburbs, then lived in South Florida, outside of Phoenix, Az., and in Westchester County, NY. Now I live in Elizabeth, N.J.
How did you get into your current career?
I was laid off after 20 years in newspaper journalism. I’d gotten into Digg, StumbleUpon and other social media sites to help drive traffic to our newspaper’s blogs, and that set me up well for a post-journalism career. Basically, the day after I was laid off, I had my first contract for consulting.
What is something unique that you do to balance work and life?
That’s tough. I feel as if I don’t do a particularly good job at that. But if I had to point to something, it would probably be that every night that I’m home before the boys’ bedtime (I have two young sons), that time until bedtime is “family time.”
What keeps you up at night?
Oddly, I sleep pretty well. When I do have problems, it’s usually work-related. Something I forgot to do, or something I just thought of doing that I’m really excited about.
If you could spend one day in the life of another industry leader, who would it be?
At age 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A newspaper reporter.
What about you would most people not believe unless they knew you?
I was SUPER-shy as a child. Had major problems talking to people I didn’t know. Sometimes even people I did know.
What inspirational quote has stuck with you the longest?
I tend to dislike “inspirational” quotes. Most of the quotes on my FB profile, for example, are from Midnight Run or 24.
So, in lieu of that, here’s a quote I really liked when when my first child was a toddler: “Our job is to civilize them, to teach them to say please and thank you, don’t spit and scratch and don’t pee anywhere you want. These are the jobs you have with a toddler.” — Dr. Harvey Karp
The reason I like that quote is because it oversimplifies, but in a way that isn’t oversimplified. At its core, that IS the job one has with a child. Sure, it’s not as simple as that, but it is, also. And I think we tend to overcomplicate most things in life and should step back sometimes and figure out what we really need to get done and do that. And that applies to a lot of things in life.
What tools can you not live without?
Actual tools/gadgets – my smartphones. I have an iPhone and an Android. I like each for different things, though my actual Android is a horrible phone (Droid X2). Between the two, I’m able to do most things I need to while I’m mobile. In terms of platforms/software/apps – Twitter app, Google apps that enable me to email from 6 different addresses via one mailbox, Card Munch, which enables me to scan a business card and then connect with that person on LinkedIn, and GeniusScan, which eliminates the need for a scanner.