Michelle Obama Lesson in Executive Feminism

Michelle Obama Lesson in Executive Feminism

Executive Feminism Begins with Education

Celebrating International Women’s Day,  the First Lady of the United States spoke on behalf of Let Girls Learn and teaches us a lesson in executive feminism: you can’t get there if you can’t go to school.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps have formed a powerful collaboration to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world.  62 million girls are not in school: in some countries, fewer than 10% of teenage girls complete secondary school. There are parts of the world that believe girls are not worthy of education.

I’ve included excerpts below from Michelle Obama’s speech below:

” . . . And like many of you, as a woman, I take all of this personally.  While I’m thankful that I’ve never faced anything like the horrors that many of these girls endure, like most women, I know how it feels to be overlooked, to be underestimated, to have someone only half listen to your ideas at a meeting — to see them turn to the man next to you, the man you supervise, and assume he’s in charge — or to experience those whistles and taunts as you walk down the street.


And I’ve seen how these issues play out not just on a personal level, but on a national level in our laws and policies. You see, in my lifetime -– and I’m not that old -– it was perfectly legal for employers to discriminate against women.  In my lifetime, women were not legally allowed to make fundamental decisions about their bodies –- and practically speaking, many still can’t.  In my lifetime, domestic violence was seen as a private matter between a man and his wife rather than as the horrific crime that it is.


And today, it is so easy to take for granted all the progress we’ve made on these kinds of issues.  But the fact is that right now, today, so many of these rights are under threat from all sides, always at risk of being rolled back if we let our guard down for a single minute.


These issues aren’t settled.  These freedoms that we take for granted aren’t guaranteed in stone.  And they certainly didn’t just come down to us as a gift from the heavens.  No, these rights were secured through long, hard battles waged by women and men who marched, and protested, and made their voices heard in courtrooms and boardrooms and voting booths and the halls of Congress.

And make no mistake about it, education was central to every last one of those efforts.  The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at that table — all of that starts with education.  And trust me, girls around the world, they understand this.  They feel it in their bones, and they will do whatever it takes to get that education . . .

. . . Every single one of us has a role to play on this issue.  And you can start today by going to LetGirlsLearn.gov and find out how to get involved right now.  No contribution is too small, as you can see, because in the end, that’s how we’re going to solve this problem –- one girl, one school, one village at a time, with folks like all of you — particularly our young people — leading the way.

And no, it will not be easy.  And it will not be quick.  But make no mistake about it, we can do this.  If we can make this kind of project — progress in just a year — in just a year — if we keep putting in this effort and this investment that these girls deserve, we can get this done.  I know we are all up to the task.  I know we are.  I see it in your eyes.  I know you feel that burning sensation, that sense of unfairness.  Turn that into action.  Turn that passion into something real.  Those girls will be so grateful, because they are all of us.  They are my daughters, and they are you.”

As we think about diversity and women’s efforts to break the glass ceiling, the First Lady of the United States reminds us that parity for women around the world begins with a girl’s right to learn. Because they are all of us.  It’s crazy that there are so many parts of the world that think girls do not deserve to go to school.  The First Lady, the Peace Corps, and corporations  around the world are pitching in to change that. If you are moved to donate to Let Girls Learn, please do. If you can help in other ways — by getting your company involved, as a for instance — please join in their good efforts. Our collective equality begins with access basic education: Let Girls Learn.

Beyoncé Slay Diversity

Beyoncé Slay Diversity

(Updated 22 Feb 2016)

Okay. So Beyoncé detonates a video the day before the Super Bowl:  Formation.  Ka-blam. Why do I care? I recruit technology executives for a living. And at the senior executive level: diversity matters. So when the Queen B weighs in with her vision, I pay attention. I bear witness to the viral effects that reach across the media landscape. For the many reasons detailed below, I believe her message will help shatter the glass ceiling.

She is Beyoncé: she will be heard.

While it may not be obvious, the ripple effects of media messaging in general are felt at the senior executive level. That’s what study after study demonstrates.  Having spent the first half of my career in television news, I’ve witnessed the power of the mass media first hand. As Red & Black notes:

Super Bowl 50 was the third most-watched program in U.S. history, a number that proves that the Super Bowl is not just about the sport, but the spectacle. And no one delivers more of a spectacle than Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z run a $1 billion entertainment empire. When you are talking that much money, you have influence. When you entertain in the public eye, your every move can change the world.”

I have updated this post to attempt to answer concerns raised by a reader:

So confused. I honestly see zero correlation between a pop star and her choreographer, and the day-to-day realities of being an executive of color and glass ceilings in the a business environment. #worstcomparisonever”

While the hashtag stung, the criticism seemed valid and called for further explanation:

Throughout history, artists have been outsiders. While they have entertained royal courts and today’s version of royal courts — multinational corporations — they remain on the outside looking in. Beyoncé does not hold the power to affect change directly. She neither legislates nor writes regulations to change the diversity status quo. So the reader makes a good point. But as an artist, Beyoncé does hold the power to change how we feel, and in turn, how we think.

Having spent the past couple of decades married to a man who has performed with the most renowned rock stars in the world: I know pop icons hold the power to move people in ways that politicians do not. Music bypasses the thinking brain and goes straight to the the heart. Music enters the body through the hypothalamus, a portion of the emotional brain layer that receives stimuli related to emotions, sensations, and feelings. That’s what makes the seemingly innocuous creative commentary by pop diva Beyoncé relevant.

Artists are not literal beings. They speak in metaphor. And when Beyoncé speaks, people listen. Formation has set off a chain reaction of diversity consciousness-raising that extends from the Formation debut to a New York Times review to an SNL sendup The Day Beyonce Turned Black  to a freakin’ brilliant Formation dance routine created by choreographer WilldaBeast Adams. Reaction continues to this day.  For the most part, that’s a good thing.

Beyonce Knowles Formation



My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama. I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros.

I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils. Earned all this money but they never take the country out me. I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag “



The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica weighs in with his review:

In “Formation,” she returns to that city [New Orleans]; this time, she’s in scenes that suggest a fantastical post-Katrina hellscape, but radically rewritten. She straddles a New Orleans police cruiser, which eventually gets submerged (with her atop it). And at the end of the clip, a line of riot-gear-clad police officers surrender, hands raised, to a dancing black child in a hoodie, and the camera then pans over a graffito: Stop Shooting Us.

This is high-level, visually striking, Black Lives Matter-era allegory. The halftime show is usually a locus of entertainment, but Beyoncé has just rewritten it — overridden it, to be honest — as a moment of political ascent.”

Given the power of Beyoncé video, SNL pushed the diversity message further.  If we need to learn to talk about racism — to talk it out — what better classroom than Saturday Night Live?  Comedy, by definition, calls out racism for all its absurdities and contradictions. It is ripe for the pickin’.

And today’s lesson brings us back to  . . .Maya Rudolph. The daughter of soul  producer Richard Rudolph and singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton who was African-American. Rudolph rose to prominence as a cast member on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. On SNL, Maya not only does Beyoncé. She is Beyoncé.

Ultimately, Beyoncé’s message is embodied in Willdabeast Adams’ choreography that her Formation inspired. The dance routine, filmed and edited by Tim Milgram, was uploaded to YouTube just days ago. It already has 4,912,206 7,260,813 (updated) views.  The dancers slay it.

Beyoncé’s ripples wash across the media landscape. Her mashed up racial imagery  — Black Panthers,  #blacklivesmatter, Katrina —  speaks to oppression born of slavery, segregation, police brutality and racial inequality in the criminal justice system, and the poverty cycle. Beyoncé went there because she can.

Spike Lee also went there  — #oscarssowhite — in his boycott of the Oscars over lack of nominee diversity.  A New York Times article covering the boycott referenced a study that showed how television lowers the self esteem of children with the exception of white boys.   “Television was linked to lower self-esteem among black and white girls and black boys; white boys, however, reportedly felt better.” A Los Angeles Times investigation found academy members — the people whose votes decide who wins the Oscars —  skew heavily older, male and white. In fact, 94% were white. As a result of Spike Lee boycott — joined by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith — The Academy is changing its rules on which members will be eligible to vote. The jury is still out on whether those changes will have an effect when voting has nothing to do with what movies get made, who gets cast to play starring roles, or who gets hired for other vitally important roles behind the scenes.

Again, what does this have to do with the day-to-day realities of being an executive of color and glass ceilings in the a business environment?

Good question.

I consider myself and executive feminist and diversity advocate. I do a lot of work helping companies boost diversity at the senior executive level. Still, somehow I failed to notice women are insanely under-represented in crowd shots in films, as detailed in a McKinsey video interview with actor Geena Davis. How could I have missed something so obvious. MS. Davis leads an organization that studies gender bias. She teaches us that we all carry unconscious bias.  We can’t help it.  So this isn’t about blame.  The solution lies in becoming more aware of the biases within and outside ourselves. To that end, Formation is part of the solution.

Formation has sparked myriad conversations about racial parity. Despite what you think of the artist or her commentary, Beyoncé’s video cannot help but be heard in the C-Suite. She may not lead a Fortune 100 company, but she comes in at #29 on the Forbes 2015 Celebrity 100 . That’s Forbes, mind you, a magazine all about business.  While Beyoncé does not hire senior executives to a traditional boardroom or C-suite, when she does hire she features an all female band because role models matter.

She holds the power to spark conversation,  if not controversy. And in this long-tail world of ours, that’s saying something. Her super-stardom signal breaks through through all the “white noise” out there. She is featured in myriad TV advertising campaigns — representing highly regarded consumer products that range from Pepsi to Samsung to L’Oréal.  In other words, Beyoncé has coin and she makes coin for some of the most successful companies in the world. You and I know that’s the kind of power CEOs everywhere recognize. That is why, inevitably,Beyoncé will be heard. It is why what she says has influence at the highest corporate levels.

Beyoncé gets that. She told us so:

Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay
Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation
You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper”


How to Support Women Colleagues Like Bradley Cooper

Actor Bradley Cooper has a way of taking a woman’s breath away. But now he’s topped himself. LennyLetter is reporting How Bradley Cooper Is Helping His Female Co-Stars Negotiate Higher Pay.

The newly launched newsletter was founded by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner who write, direct and produce HBO’s hit series, Girls.  The newsletter already had captured the nation’s attention by publishing an essay written by actor Jennifer Lawrence about unequal pay for female actors in Hollywood. (News flash: it isn’t equal.)

Then Bradley Cooper weighed in.

The American actor and producer has been nominated for four Academy Awards, three for acting and one for producing. He has a Tony Award.  People magazine has named him the “Sexiest Man Alive”, rounding out his collection of honors. What makes him sexy to women is that he gets us. He sees us for who we really are. Better, he knows our true value.

LennyLetter has reported the following:

To support Lawrence’s efforts—and those of all his female co-stars—Cooper is planning to take preemptive action by leveraging his own salary in favor of theirs for all films he’s considering. According to Reuters, the actor “has begun teaming up with female co-stars to negotiate salaries before any film he is interested in working on goes into production.”

In other words, Cooper did to Hollywood’s male-dominant status quo what he did to Christian Bale’s comb-over in American Hustle.

Way to go, Coop!

As someone who heads a retained search firm that does I lot of work in diversity recruiting at the board and C-Levels , I wonder what kind of impact Bradley Cooper’s equal pay advocacy will have.

Will senior executives (who happen to be men) support their colleagues (who happen to be women) in similar fashion? Women certainly don’t need permission to stand up for equal pay for themselves. But allies like Cooper do help. Yet in order for men to help us, first we must help ourselves. Women must know their true value before men can recognize it and advocate for it.

In this  particular case, first Sony was hacked, leaking internal documents that revealed the wage disparity between Jennifer Lawrence and her male co-stars. (You can review the Sony hacks documents yourself on WikiLeaks.) Sony hacks was Jennifer’s wake-up call:

When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself.”

In her LennyLetter essay entitled Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?, Jennifer reveals she had to come to terms with standing up for herself. She believes she failed as a negotiator because she gave up too early. The reason? She wanted to be liked.

I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.”

Jennifer’s  worries are not unfounded. She suspects her male co-stars were likely “commended for being fierce and tactical”, while she was “busy worrying about coming across as a brat”. In fact, there is evidence men and women are viewed differently at the bargaining table.

Again, this might have NOTHING to do with my vagina, but I wasn’t completely wrong when another leaked Sony email revealed a producer referring to a fellow lead actress in a negotiation as a “spoiled brat.” For some reason, I just can’t picture someone saying that about a man.”

I bet she also didn’t picture a man like Bradley Cooper stepping up to champion her equal pay cause. But he has. In doing so, he has made it okay to advocate for being fair.  Bestill my heart.

My Toolbox: Genius Apps That Wrangle Information Overload

We live in an era of information overload. You have to find a way to handle all that data or it will crush you.  So today I am sharing a few basic Rules and a Toolbox — my curated lists of apps — that should help you keep up with all that information and to manage it so that it doesn’t manage you.

The first step to mastering too much information is understanding where most of the data is coming from. Our every transaction with a company, our every move in an online game, our every message that we make creates data.  Increasingly, we communicate in zeroes and ones and it is changing us. When we communicate in social media, we talk much more (80%) about our own experiences — me, me, me — than we do when we meet face-to-face (40%).  Social media is the soap box upon which we stand and over-share. And all that over-sharing is creating a huge amount of data that speaks volumes to who we are.

It has put the Big in Big Data.  It is so vast it is virtually impossible to wrap our minds and arms around. Moreover, it is so distributed that that there is no one place we can go to get current contact and profile information.  As General Manager for Cloud Management Strategy at Red Hat Alessandro Perilli has pointed out, though it is 2015, the address book is still broken

Social networks have been doing everything in their power to keep it that way. They engineer their pages to render them unscrapable. They shut down API access. And by rewriting user agreements, they have us licensing our contact and relationship data to them into perpetuity. As in forever.

[shareable text=”Social networks are the Hotel California of our data. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”]Social networks are the Hotel California of our data. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.[/shareable]

This year, Facebook turned off the Friends data and Hashtag APIs. Twitter throttled API access. LinkedIn cut off access to rich profile APIs. LinkedIn even took away our ability to export our own contacts, but reversed itself after enough of its members made it clear they were not pleased.

The social networks are doing it to monetize their business models by forcing users to go to the websites to access our data. That means more work for you and me.  We surf from LinkedIn to Twitter to Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and back again to stay connected and to communicate. The sheer volume of messages coming at us through every conceivable channel is increasing exponentially as hundreds of emails hit our inboxes each day.

So what’s an executive recruiter to do? For that matter, what is any executive to do?  There is no simple answer because, my friends, no one tool exists that easily and consistently rolls up all our relationship data into one centralized repository.  It takes a plethora of tools  — and, if you’re lucky, a designated social media posse —  to wrangle this omnichannel world of ours. Because at the senior executive level, seriously, who has the time?

I can’t even.

What follows are the basic rules I follow to manage the crazy amount of information we encounter in our work lives. I invite you to share your favorite rules and apps right here so we can all learn from each other and keep the best options available right here for all to enjoy.

Bradford Rules of Data

Rule #1 He/she who has the data has the power.

Make sure you hold the keys to your data. I recommend building and maintaining a CRM database so that your company owns its data. It can be costly and time consuming, but for now, remains the best way to stay in control of your most important relationships.

Rule #2 Find a place to put your data.

If you’re parking data in spreadsheets in a folder on your desktop, please stop.  That habit keeps you from sharing the knowledge. The low-tech solution would be to use collaborative spreadsheets in the cloud.  We use Google Sheets for that.  But generally we use shared docs as worksheets to message and analyze data after exporting the data from our CRM database.

Rule #3 Keep your data in the cloud.

We migrated to Salesforce for a couple of reasons.  I used to host my own SQL database on my own server in my home office. It meant anytime we experienced a power outage or other grid interruption, off-site workers couldn’t access the database. Because I’m technical enough to be a little dangerous, I served as my own database administrator and IT department.  I found I wasted far too much time worrying about backups on site and off. And when I did experience a hardware failure, restoring the OS, installing all the apps on the server, and then getting the data restored was a time-consuming nightmare. I’m talking a week of hell. Salesforce is more costly.  But they worry about our database’s uptime. For the most part, they are our IT department. Better yet, migrating to Salesforce made it easier to get information into the database, which brings us to Rule #4.

Rule #4  Avoid importing and data entry whenever you can.

I can easily sync company and executive information through the Salesforce apps InsideView and ZoomInfo. That is huge. But our work developing current and accurate contact information doesn’t end there.  Inevitably, the contact and career details these services serve up are out-of-date or incomplete or both.

I would use Data.com, formerly Jigsaw until Salesforce acquired it. But, when I drilled down, Salesforce fields didn’t play nicely with Data.com when syncing. (Data.com’s Email field was devoted solely to work emails while Salesforce’s Email field held work and personal emails. You could dedicate another field in Salesforce for work emails and sync Data.com with that instead, but that’s not the default field Salesforce uses the send emails. The other one is.)

Rule #5  Backup. Backup. Backup.

Your CRM database records are your crown jewels.  Your client, customer, and relationship insights live there. Do not risk losing that asset.  Invest in automatic backup.  Make sure your copies are available for at least 3-to-6 months. With large databases, you may not notice data missing until you got to find it and discover it is not there.

The Big 4 Social Networks (What I Do Where)


LinkedIn is the default business networking site. But I use it as a data point for our own research that we build out in our CRM database. I rarely, if ever, ask someone I’m connected to to make an introduction.  If I want a referral, I’ll do it outside of LinkedIn. I rarely use LinkedIn inmail. Most of the time, I communicate directly with the person using work emails, phones, and other means. I’d never use LinkedIn as a candidate tracking system.  The primary reason why I avoid doing all these things is because I want to maintain control of our data.  There is a risk to being data-dependent on LinkedIn — they can turn off access to certain kinds of data, turn off your ability to export your data (as they tried recently), and force you to pay increasingly higher amounts for access to the very data you created.


When I have something witty to say, I do it on Twitter, not in a Facebook update. I also turn to Twitter when I want to track (or report) breaking news, and when I want to share something or otherwise connect with other social media savvy leaders in our sector.


Facebook is for friends, people I actually know in the real world.  I recently pared down my Friends to so that Facebook offers me a curated list of my people.  I’ve notice a number of uber-powerful colleagues use Facebook as the network where they hang out because it is private and they can create their own exclusive club out of public view.


Google+ is a social network that builds off of your Google Account. I use it to connect with colleagues who prefer to hang out there.  Google makes it easy to create Circles of friends and acquaintances and follow people. Circles offer you a way not to have your feed clogged up with personal stuff that can take over your Wall on Facebook.

My ToolBox

My toolbox consists of apps and services that make my work easier.


Google Calendar

Because we use Google Apps, Google Calendar is what we use for individual and team calendaring. It syncs nicely across platforms and you can easily turn emails into Tasks that are for scheduling.  Google Tasks do not sync with Reminders on iOS or Apple OS X.  So if you want to view tasks on those platforms, you’ll need to find an app to help. (See Calendar5)


Calendar5 bring events and tasks together in your schedule. You can see task along with meetings and events to better plan the day. It has a custom-built task manager that syncs with iOS reminders and with Google Tasks, getting my Google Tasks them onto my iPhone and iPad.


If your work involves scheduling phone calls, TimeTrade can help you get your life back.  It enables people to schedule calls directly onto your calendar, eliminating the mind-numbing back-and-forth in emails attempting to nail down a time.  You control when you want to make yourself available for calls.  The app looks at your latest availability and offers up times.  In our recruiting business, it gives candidates and clients instant gratification by enabling them to schedule a meeting directly on your calendar for an optimal executive search experience.

Customer-Relationship Management

Salesforce Enterprise

Though The Good Search is a retained search firm and though Intellerati our recruiting research brand, we do not use a typical candidate tracking system or executive search database. We opted for Salesforce Enterprise because it is much easier to get data into Salesforce and saves us from having to do a massive amount of data entry. (Getting data out is a whole other matter.) We also like it because we can add custom objects and fields as required, which allows us to tailor our CRM for our clients and to harness the power of a wide array of data. I do not recommend the JobScience recruiting app that sits on Salesforce for reasons I detail in my review in the AppExchange.


The app enhances the workflow and functionality of the Salesforce User Interface.  Salesforce’s native UI is famously unintuitive and click-intensive, and it is often hard to see the information you want to see all in one view.  Skuid helps solve that problem.  If you’re not very nerdy, you’ll likely need a consultant to help implement the solution.


Another way to reskin Salesforce for a better UI experience is to use one of the many Salesforce apps that are available. It’s not practical for data entry, but it works well for other database activities. I often pull up an app to use as a second view of my data, to spin through my To Do list for the day.


Bringing people up to speed on how to use Salesforce can be frustrating and time-consuming. Enter  SweetProcess.  It enabled me to set up step-by-step instructions complete with videos. Our training modules have made onboarding  new workers a breeze and by providing the same training experience for everyone, it has increase the quality and consistency of our work.


The Salesforce app enables us to sync Company and Contact information so we don’t have to enter or update records by hand.  The contact information often includes social media profile URLs and biographies.  The one limitation is that they list the headquarters address for ALL  employees — even those working at branch offices. The service also aggregates, curates, and delivers inside information and intelligence about companies and your target market.


When we need direct dial information and proper email addresses, ZoomInfo is our go-to-tool. It’s great for getting emails for companies that have no discernable email address formula or who have set up their email server to give ambiguous “maybe” answers when we test email addresses.

Conga Composer

It is one thing to get data into Salesforce. It is quite another thing to get data out and to have it be visually appealing. Conga allows us to do that.  Conga allows us to build very complex reports that include profile photos of candidates.  Compared to other reporting software like Crystal Reports, Conga is much easier. Most of the time we can build the reports ourselves. That’s huge. It make us much more nimble.

StrikeIron Email Verification 

In our workflow, we always develop and verify contact information. StrikeIron helps us do that.  It gives us definitive Valid and Invalid results for a majority of the emails we test.  It gives us Not Definitive results when the email server is configured to demure. We then use other means to verify the address.  Bottomline, StrikeIron speeds confirming that an email is valid.


Do not rely on scheduled Salesforce exports of your data. The reports are missing one critical thing — relationships between your objects. Use Salesforce’s native scheduled exports and you’ll get an export of all your Contacts but have no idea what Company records they connect to. So if humpty dumpty breaks, you will be unable to put him back together again. That’s insane. You must backup your data so that restoring your database is actually possible. We chose Spanning, the first and only backup-and-restore solution delivered directly within the Salesforce interface that automates backup of our CRM and enables granular, on-page restores.


Data Wrangling


OpenRefine is a free, open source tool that helps you clean up messy data. Formerly Google Refine, the tool helps you clean, standardize, append and transform data  from one format into another. It can handle huge data sets — the kind that are so massive they blow up spreadsheets. Yep, OpenRefine can go there.


Import.io is an easy-to-use scraper, free of charge. You can use the tool to build APIs for all your favorite websites with just a few clicks of the mouse. There are some websites that you’ll discover are design to be unscrapable by basic tools.  But for the rest, Import.io does the trick.

OutWit Hub

OutWit Hub is a great tool to master, particularly for websites that are not coded in such a way that makes them easy-to-scrape. It explores the depths of the Web for you, automatically collecting and organizing data and media from online sources. It extracts information elements and organizes them into usable collections.

Google Custom Search

There are times when Google hits you with “are you human” pop ups, if you are doing a lot of web mining. One work around is to set up a custom search engine that targets or filters for whatever you are seeking in your search results. You avoid annoying popups and the risk of Google throttling your access to its search results because it incorrectly concluded you were a search bot and not human.

Email Management

Google Apps Gmail

Born of the Cloud in 2007, Gmail quickly rose to prominence as the leading free email application. And while other apps and solutions offer more features, it offers secure and user-friendly experience that includes many extras.

Cirrus Insight

Connecting Gmail to Salesforce, Cirrus Insight allows users to instantly view leads, contacts, activities, cases, opportunities and more from within Gmail. You can log emails with a click, create new contacts, tasks, and events. You can also sync contacts and calendars.


Mailstrom does a very good job of organizing your email so you can quickly identify the messages you want to delete or archive. You can quickly view messages by sender, subject, time, and size, as well as those from certain mailing lists and social networks. I use this tool to weed-whack, ridding my inbox of hundreds of messages at a time so I can focus on what’s important.


Quickbooks Online

In the cloud, QuickBooks Online offers me an easy way to check our financial position at any given time.  I can pull up our P&L, Balance Sheet, and an assortment of other reports in seconds. It is easy for our CPA and bookkeeper to access and it is backed up. It’s a bulletproof way to manage our finances.

Social Media Management


Buffer enables me to schedule posts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can configure your browser and mobile devices to enable you to forward content you want to share to Buffer for posting. For a while with when buffer would post on LinkedIn, the photos didn’t quite make it through. But now it appears that issue has been resolved.

CrowdFire (formerly JustUnfollow)

I curate my Twitter followers in CrowdFire. It gives me insights that allow me to Unfollow those who have unfollowed or never followed me back. It allows me to focus on relationships that really are a two-way street.


The app allows you to roll up your favorite publications into a single magazine that you can flip through, much like pages in a magazine. FlipBoard is the app I use at night and weekends to catch up on reading and to tee up articles to share.


When I want to engage in 2 way dialog in social media, Hootsuite is the place I go. From there,  I can schedule messages as well as engage with my followers and clients in the field.


When I do research online, I save articles, blog posts, and other goodies to a handy app called Pocket for future reference. When I’m ready to write, I pull up the Pocket app and the articles I saved are all right there to serve as inspiration for my next blog post.


ThinkUp gives you insights into your social networking activity on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and beyond. I’m testing the app and will let you know more what I think about ThinkUp after I’ve gotten a better feel for it.


Content Creation


If you haven’t had the time or patience to master Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Dreamweaver and need to come up with eye-candy for your social media, Canva can fix you right up.  The free tool enables you to create graphics in a flash. With social media becoming increasingly reliant on images, Canva is an important tool to add to your toolkit.


Whenever I need a photo for a blog post or social media graphic, iStockPhoto is my first stop.  I prefer to use photos that don’t show the faces of models. Having come from the world of journalism, using photos of people pretending to do work seems much too cheesy. Most of the time, I find abstract and minimalistic images a better, more authentic choice.


WordPress is my preferred platform for blogging and for our for our retained search brand The Good Search and our recruiting research brand Intellerati.  If you’re technically adept, it is easy enough for you to manage the sites yourself.

Divi Theme by Elegant Themes

The theme we use for both our corporate websites (The Good Search and Intellerati) is Divi.  Having previously used Genesis framework and themes,  I find Divi much easier to manage because it offers more flexible and robust functionality. I can do things in Divi that previously required coding or the addition of a WordPress plugin, which can slow website performance.


Monarch is a social sharing WordPress PlugIn created by Elegant Themes. It enables you to add Sharing Buttons in different locations on pages and posts have different social sharing needs. You can select a floating sidebar, have the displayed above or below a post, or on images and video. Pretty neat.

GetNoticed! Theme by MichaelHyatt.com

I chose the GetNoticed! WordPress theme for my KristaBradford.com site because, like Divi, it comes with additional functionality right out of the box. It comes pre-configured to play nicely with social media. The theme is designed more for personal branding, which is why I use it for my personal blog.


WPEngine offers hassle-free web hosting, fast servers, and services that are tailored just for WordPress. They offer automatic security updates, daily backups, one-click restore points, automatic caching, one-click staging area. And because they devote themselves exclusively to WordPress, technical support is a breeze.  That was not the case for the 3 web hosts I tried before using WPEngine.  If you use WordPress, WPEngine is a no-brainer.

Disqus Comment System

Disqus Comment System is a WordPress Plugin that  makes commenting easier and more interactive, while connecting websites and commenters across a thriving discussion community.

Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms for WordPress is a full featured contact form plugin. It enables us to create forms that website visitors use so that we can get their information into Salesforce. To do that you also need the Gravity Forms Salesforce Add-On.

Gravity Forms Salesforce Add-On

This plugin integrates Gravity Forms with Salesforce, allowing form submissions to be automatically sent to your Salesforce account.


VaultPress offers real-time backup of our WordPress Sites, enabling you to recover any page you inadvertently messed up. VaultPress functions as secondary backup system to our web hosting service WPEngine which doesn’t nightly backups.

Google Analytics

If you have a blog, set up a Google Analytics Account. It’s free and allows you to track the growth and interests of your readership. Once you setup your account and add your domain, you’ll get a code to add to your website that allows you to track unique visitors, page views, bounce rate, and a slew of other metrics across your social media footprint.

Yoast SEO

If you have aWordPress blog or website, the Yoast SEO plugin offers just the tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It analyzes your page and helps you figure out what you need to do to tune it to make Google and other search engines happy.


An Experiment in Longevity

Elysium Health Basis

Nerd Vitamins

As the CEO of a technology executive search firm, scientific experiments hold a certain “shiny object” appeal.  As a result, my husband and I have started taking the Elysium Health nutraceutical Basis as an experiment in longevity.

Elysium Health has turned chemicals that lengthen the lives of mice and worms in the laboratory into the over-the-counter vitamin pill that people can take to combat aging. Only thing is there can be a huge difference between what works in the lab on other life forms and what works on live human beings. So, my friends, while this may extend our lives — while it is possible — it is, by no means, certain.

MIT Technology Review put it this way:

This means there’s no guarantee that Elysium’s first product, a blue pill called Basis that is going on sale this week, will actually keep you young. The product contains a chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, a compound that cells use to carry out metabolic reactions like releasing energy from glucose. The compound is believed cause some effects similar to a diet that is severely short on calories—a proven way to make a mouse live longer.

So why take longevity vitamins that may not work? Hmmm. Well, the company has five Nobel Prize winners advising it including neuroscientist Eric Kandel, biologist Thomas Südhof, origin-of-life theorist Jack Szostak, and the 2013 laureate in chemistry Martin Karplus. I’m taking a flyer on their collective intelligence. If it doesn’t work, all it costs me is the $60 per month cost of the supplement.  If it works, well, we’ll be making history.

I will keep you posted on how the experiment goes.

The Art of Deception

The Art of Deception is a brilliant book written by legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick. In it, he details how we are the weakest link in any cybersecurity system.  In stunning detail, he shares how social engineering works — how he and other hackers con people into giving up passwords, account numbers, and social security numbers. Deception is how hackers acquire the keys to the kingdom. Published in 2002, it remains a cybersecurity classic.

Mr Robot Must-See TV for Cybersecurity Search Firm

Mr Robot Must-See TV for Cybersecurity Search Firm

Mr. Robot is the hot new technology drama of Summer 2015 that is changing the way hackers are portrayed on television. To quote, a review by of TV.com, the series has “made hackers human.”

USA Network’s Mr. Robot was created by Sam Esmail who was, himself, a hacker — though not a very good one as he shared in a recent interview for Talks at Google.

There’s a reason The Good Search is a cybersecurity search firm.  I’m a long time nerd and have hung out with  hackers since I brought home my first computer (an Apple IIe.)  Subsequently, I reported on cybersecurity  for the nationally broadcast television news magazine Now It can Be Told, a story produced by Cindy Frei.

Yet it is the innovation driven by cybersecurity that keeps me coming back for more.  Software security firms are forced to innovate, as one cybersecurity leader recently explained,

It is the only technology area where you have an active adversary riding against you. Not only do you have your own competitors, but you also have black hat hackers out to get you. That pressure cooker drives innovation. If we do it right, it makes a difference in people’s lives. It is actually securing the way in which we live.  I am really fighting bad guys. That appeals to me.

The cybersecurity bad guys force software companies to be better. But who are the bad guys, exactly?  If you ask legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick, he’d tell you not all hackers are the same,

Some hackers destroy people’s files or entire hard drives; they’re called crackers or vandals. Some novice hackers don’t bother learning the technology, but simply download hacker tools to break into computer systems; they’re called script kiddies. More experience hackers with programming skills develop hacker programs and post them on the Web and to bulletin board systems. And then there are individual swho have not interest in the technology, but use the computer merely as a tool to aid them in stealing money, goods, or services.

I met and interviewed Kevin during my days as a journalist while he was on the run for 4 years as one of the FBI’s “Most Wanted”. By then, he had hacked his way into the FBI, NSA, and more than 40 corporations. He never stole for profit. Rather, like many hackers, he did it just for fun. Yet he paid a heavy price for that form of entertainment – 5 years behind bars.

Kevin would tell you he never was a malicious hacker.  I believe him. And so, too, does Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who wrote the foreword to Kevin Mitnick’s book The Art of Deception. In the book, Woz points out,

We humans are born with an inner drive to explore the nature of our surroundings. As young men, both Kevin Mitnick and I were intensely curious about the world and eager to prove ourselves. We were rewarded often in our attempts to learn new things, solve puzzles, and win at games . . . For our boldest scientists and technological entrpreneurs, as well as for people like Kevin Mitnick, following this inner urge offers the greatest thrills, letting us accomplish things that others believe cannot be done.

Hackers like Kevin Mitnick — as well as Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak, for that matter — hack to explore and to learn. It was more an expression of their passion for the computing. It was how they clocked the 10,000 hours that author Malcolm Gladwell says is necessary to become an outlier who is truly great. Hacking for a computer scientist is like gigging for, say, The Beatles.

Kevin Mitnick’s book reminds us that the most prone-to-hacking operating system of all is OS Human Being. Yes, we are the weakest link.

Enter Mr. Robot, a series whose time has come.


Cybersecurity Search Firm Picks Top Silicon Valley Scene

Cybersecurity Search Firm Picks Top Silicon Valley Scene

As a cybersecurity search firm, The Good Search, recruits top cybersecurity executives and technologists. We are cybersecurity headhunters. That’s what we do.

Because we conduct senior executive and technology search in the software security space, I spend a lot of time talking to the most brilliant engineers and executives who keep this Internet of ours up-and-running.  It isn’t easy and often, it isn’t pretty.  But the Gilfoyles of the world get it done and, for that, we salute them.

Gilfoyle is a character on the hit HBO television series Silicon Valley. Actor Martin Starr plays Gilfoyle with nerdy precision and the requisite expletives. In this scene, he details exactly what Gilfoyle does.



Top Technology Recruiting Scenes on HBO’s Silicon Valley

Top Technology Recruiting Scenes on HBO’s Silicon Valley

As an executive search firm that revels in recruiting technology talent of the highest caliber, we find the HBO TV series Silicon Valley filled with insight and delicious nerd humor. True, we wish the show’s bro-grammer cast featured more female characters, just as we wish the real Silicon Valley featured more women senior executives. To the show’s credit, it does tackle the issue in scenes with the startup’s lone female engineer.


I highly recommend the show to anyone in technology recruiting or to anyone who has lived, breathed, and worked in software at the intersection of venture capital. That pressure cooker attracts brilliant people who are often eccentric or a bit awkward. Most of the time, I find the quirks endearing, though they do present challenges in job interviews.

The show’s tech dialog and plot come across as believable for a number of reasons — the actors are nerds off the screen, the imaginary formulas have been concocted by serious computer scientists, and well known technology luminaries put in cameo appearances on the show. The following clip details how committed the show is to making the technology details real.

The Good Search is a technology search firm for a reason. Passion. Technology luminaries provide an intriguing glimpse into the future because they are the very people shaping it. Since the dot.com bubble, I have recruited senior executives to the hottest startups backed by top-tier venture capital firms that include Kleiner Perkins, Benchmark, and Sequoia. For the past decade and a half, I have had the good fortune to have mind-blowing conversations with some of the most brilliant technologists of the century. Not everyone gets to do that. Like many of those we recruit, my imagination was captured by my first computer (an Apple IIe). I haven’t looked back since. That is why I look forward to the next episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley.  May it live long and prosper.


Social Media Gurus Fallon and Timberlake Get Twitter Hashtags

Social Media Gurus Fallon and Timberlake Get Twitter Hashtags

Social Media Gurus

Social Media Gurus Jimmy Fallon and  Justin Timberlake  get Twtter hashtags  better than most social media marketing professionals who get paid for their expertise. That is why The Good Search’s has included them among the Things We Love.  They’re our favorite combination platter. When it comes to social media optimization, no one does it better. The Good Search is a retained search firm that specializes in social media. Doing what we do, we have the good fortune to rub elbows with and vulcan-mind-meld with the thought leaders of the digerati. But if anyone gets it, these two entertainers do.

At a Timberlake concert I attended at Madison Garden, the pop star had his fans send him tweets while waiting for the show to begin. Timberlake now has 30 million followers on Twitter — that’s million with a capital M. Not to be outdone, Fallon serves up weekly Late Night Hashtags. On Twitter, he weighs in with a respectable 11 million followers. But when the two get together is when the real tweet-magic begins. Check out the genius of their Hashtag video.


Of course, Justin not only gets social media, he starred in the motion picture.  The Social Network written by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin tells the story of how Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg created the social network that became known as Facebook. However, Timberlake puts his social media savvy to use in marketing campaign promoting his work, as this blog details as marketer Stephanie Frasco’s blog details.  In fact, he’s invested in social media, putting up a major stake in the purchase of MySpace from News Corp.

Social media serves as regular fodder for Fallon’s comedy bits. Fallon unearthed rare footage of The Beatles after their Ed Sullivan Show performance proving the Fab Four were really, really ahead of their time.

Amber Whiteman blogging for the digital marketing group Metia Group this month highlighted 5 social media trends of which we should be aware. Hashtags, complete with Fallon’s and Timberlake’s hashtag video, made the top five.

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