New York, New York
“We never set out to “fix” the diversity problem in the influencer industry but instead to lend our platform to those voices already fighting for their rightful seat at the table.” – James Nord
Can you believe the holiday season is already here? This year flew by and what a wonderful year it was. I’ve been traveling quite a bit, having just returned from a whirlwind week in NYC. I was absolutely over the moon to have been selected to join the Fohr Freshman Class with a luxurious stay at the Four Seasons Downtown NYC. A bit of a step up from my teeny tiny dorm room at Vanderbilt back in the early 80’s!
The coolest part? Only 10 of us were chosen to take part in the very first Fohr Freshman Class and the honor was based on making a difference in the world with our message and platform. James Nord, one of the co-founders of Fohr, shared that his team received over 16,000 testimonials! He also let us know that, technically, it was harder to get into the Fohr Class than it is to get into Harvard! That was quite an accomplishment for a 57 year old. You may be wondering what exactly is Fohr and how can my experience as part of the Freshman Class benefit you? Glad you asked. Let me introduce you to Fohr.
What is Fohr?
Fohr is an Influencer Marketing Platform which allows brands to find the right influencers for its campaigns. The platform goes beyond the typical metrics and utilizes software designed for more transparency and authenticity. It is also a space where the personal connection is everything. It is the brainchild of James Nord and his partner, Rich Tong. There are many influencer marketing platforms. Fohr is different … unique … and refreshing. They have assembled a dedicated team with an intention to create seismic shifts in the world of influencer marketing. James and his team have set out to restore authenticity and open up diversity in the influencer space. In their own words, “We hate buzzwords and bullshit.” So do I!
What is the Fohr Freshman Class and why was it started?
The Fohr Freshman Class is a pilot program that’s designed to provide mentorship, access and networking opportunities to influencers who are underrepresented and have gone relatively unnoticed in the industry. The idea began as a way for Fohr to use their platform “as a leader in the space to amplify that message for more diversity and help provide opportunities for underrepresented voices.”
This year’s class was a beautiful and talented tapestry of creatives from a multitude of backgrounds and interests. My classmates included: @talesandturbans, @pretaportkate, @alihelmsley, @chasingdenisse, @damericano, @readytostare, @a_nnabae, @carpe_dmg and @yvettercorinne. They are an ambitious and impressive group of young leaders, each using their voices to highlight a message of diversity.
Make sure to sign up for the Fohr Newsletter. The coolest ticket in town is James Nord’s well known “Drink with James,” sent straight to your inbox each week. Keep an eye out for next year’s applications. Stay tuned as I plan to share my tips and strategies to help you stand out in the selection process in a future post.
Let me take you along with me during my stay in NYC and the most important things I learned from my time at Fohr. The 10 of us were flown into the Big Apple and whisked away to the contemporary Four Seasons Downtown New York City located in the heart of lower Manhattan. I was paired up with a fabulous roommate to share a luxurious suite. Aicha is the Founder of Tales and Turbans. She’s a Midwestern young Mom (with a little one on the way) living in Indianapolis, an ideal fit with my Chicago born roots. We hit it off right away and got to work getting to know one another and making sure we maximized our experience at Fohr.
The first night, we were treated to a delicious dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s “The Cut,” a 5 star steakhouse that’s part of the Four Seasons Hotel. It was our first opportunity to meet James and his team up close and personal. And, yes, James is as dapper and charming in person. He looks like he just walked out of a GQ Shoot. He’s a no holds barred kind of fellow with a wicked sense of humor. James was accompanied by two of his lead team members, Tim Jeffries and Angela Dizon, who did a beautiful job coordinating the Fohr Freshman Class. We met up in the lounge and quickly got to know one another as our mentors began to arrive. I was paired with Grace Atwood (yes…Amazing Grace!), the creator of The Stripe. Grace is one of the original bloggers, who began before long before Instagram was a thing. She’s refreshing, down to earth, gracious with a natural, all American beauty. She’s also 37 which means there are two decades between me and my mentor. I find that empowering as I love learning from younger generations. It’s a modern style mentorship. I quickly learned that Grace is one of the hardest working and dedicated bloggers, posting a record-breaking 6 blog posts a week! She left the dinner that night only to return home to finish a couple of hours of work for the upcoming holiday posts. Now, that’s an impressive work ethic. I’m looking forward to a year of picking her brain and sharing the wonderful things that I learn.
The next day we were delivered to the Fohr offices in the midst of a surprise snow storm. This Chicago native, spoiled by the last 8 years in LA, was a tad unprepared! I have been obsessively watching “A Drink with James” since its inception. I tend to live on the “405” in LA in my car and I’m usually riding side saddle with “A Drink with James” playing on my passenger seat while I’m driving! It was so fun to hold our “learning sessions” in the exact boardroom where James shoots his famous videos with a cult following. Grace Murray, Vice President, and Jillian Netzel, Account Director, led the sessions. I loved their no-nonsense approach to what makes a great influencer. Their lessons focused on getting back to the basics and the importance of strong communication skills.
Here are the 6 most important things I learned from the sessions:
- The notepad feature on your phone is an invaluable tool to create powerful relationships: When meeting someone in person, make sure to have a list of personal questions to ask them such as, “Where did you grow up?” or “Where have you traveled recently?” Have a series of 10 questions ready to ask to strike up a conversation. Use your notepad to jot down notes about this person. When you see them again, check your notes and make sure to bring up these personal details in your conversation. People love being remembered and the personal touch is everything.
- Remember that Email is a language and your words carry significant weight. Make sure to respond to emails within 24 hours. Be conscious of how you communicate. It’s vital to remember there is a real, live human being on the other end of that email. They have feelings and emotions just like you. They also have good days and bad days. Every email you send is an opportunity to make a significant impression. Begin an email with an intention to make a good impression along with a personal connection.
- Think of every email as a mirror. Make sure to “mirror” the energy of every email that you respond to. If the person sending the email is short and to the point in their communications, email with the same energy of brevity. If the sender is more effusive and personal in their style of communications, use a similar style in your emails. Email their energy, not yours.
- Never ever start an email with “Hi” or “Hello.” Always use a person’s name in the email. Begin with “Dear Nancy or Dear John and Peter.” Start with a personal connection to the sender.
- Thoughtfulness creates relationships and bonds. Show interest and create a sense of collaboration and partnership. Do some research on the individual or individuals you are about to meet or send an email to. Is there something special about that person you can share with them to create an instant bond and connection? Make sure to be precise in your communication. Decide in advance what it is that you want to achieve?
- Always remember that email can make its way around. Be discerning in what you put in writing. Once you hit send, that email is no longer in your control. It’s a small world. Don’t put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want others to see. Assume that it will be shared and live on. Your words matter. Words create impressions. Lasting impressions. Make an impression. A positive one.
James and his team had a surprise for us following our sessions. We were going to the offices of Instagram for an official tour! Entering the offices was vastly different than my corporate days in the 80’s where we far more buttoned up and serious. The scene was hip and cool, as you might expect, with vivid neon lights and an atmosphere that was relaxed with a fun vibe. Kristie Dash showed us around the offices and took us into a private conference room for a meaningful Q & A. In a future post, I’ll share the secrets we learned from Kristie and the sweeping changes coming in the world of Instagram. One hint…being authentic is everything! She dispelled some of the myths and patiently answered a litany of questions from the class.
It was time to hit the road and head back to the hotel for a Gala Event and formal presentation of the Freshman Class that evening. The snowstorm was in full force as we made our way to Paul’s Cocktail Lounge. Located in the heart of Tribeca at the Roxy Hotel, the lounge was started as a kind of “Anti Bar” by Chloe Sevigne’s brother, Paul. Small, intimate, ornate, the decor was colorful with walls covered by vivid graffiti. Just like Fohr, it was hip, cool, modern and a lot of fun. It was the perfect night to cap off our adventure in NYC. Dancing, music, delicious libations with an open bar and lots of new faces with many Fohr team members and clients in attendance. The piece de resistance was the presentation of the Fohr Freshman Class, including our very own letterman’s jacket. We were like a bunch of excited school kids to don our new jackets, displaying our enthusiasm and pride to be part of the very first Fohr Freshman Class.
I am delighted to be able to pass on what I learned during my “mini-semester” in NYC! These tips are now part of my routine and I hope they become part of yours too! Cheers, Beauties! Stay Fierce.