Kate Bradley Chernis Lately Co-founder & CEO
What was your first media industry job?
now referred to as a hostile work environment. We didn’t have that term back then. While I didn’t have the understanding of exactly what was happening, my body did, and started screaming at me, surfacing an endless list of ailments. I fell down the stairs and tore a ligament in my ankle, which continued to re-tear. Then, I had a mystery rash on my torso for six months that no doctor could explain. And I acquired epicondylitis and tendonitis throughout my hands and arms, to the point I could no longer use a keyboard. I was terrified. Suddenly, I couldn’t do what every person in the world seemingly could: type, tap on a phone, move a mouse. I was finally diagnosed with a partial permanent disability. Forced to move on, I went to a new company, which was yet another boys’ club. Here, I was an exceptional pain in the ass for even requesting an accommodation. To be honest, I was also a crummy person to be around, crying all the time, scared, in a ton of pain and trying every bizarre or not-bizarre medical remedy I could uncover. I used to smoke back then, too (I am an excellent smoker), so I was a big, toxic ball of misery. One day, my father had enough and very lovingly shook me by the shoulders, saying: “You can’t work for other people. And there’s no shame in that.” LIGHT BULB. Two other major turning points then happened in the same week. The first was that my boyfriend (now husband) had the wisdom to buy me Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start .
I read the first few pages and stopped at the point where Guy writes: “Don’t make a plan, just get started.” So I closed the book and tossed it. And started! The best? The second was that two guys wanted to hand-deliver a product for my work which normally would be mailed. Turned out they were big fans of mine at XM and wanted to meet me. It also turned out they were angel investors. So, at the conclusion of our lunch, they offered to give me $50,000 to start my first company. What has been the biggest change in the media industry between when you first started and now? Butts in seats – meaning, advanced promo for a single event – that’s out. You have to instead think of marketing the same way we think of everything else. It’s not live. Like the way we digest content... we don’t listen to live radio or watch live TV. But it still operates like we do. Instead, we must shift to what I call ‘binge marketing.’ You can get infinitely more eyeballs on any piece of content if you focus on the after-the- fact, or long tail marketing. Covid-19 helped accelerate the shift, but it was already underway. If you could fix one thing about the way people work, what would it be? It’s the way that people who work anywhere – not just the media industry – talk about work-life balance. It’s nonsense. Your life is balanced if you love your work. If it’s a grind, it will kill you. What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the media industry? You’d better learn how to write your ass off, if you don’t know already.
I used to be a rock ‘n’ roll DJ. My last gig was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day for SiriusXM. How many different job titles have you had in the industry? A zillion? But the best ones are owner/founder – because everything else was just a ‘job.’ Did your education prepare you for the work? Not at first blush – I have a degree in English, with a concentration on creative writing. Back then, that degree only got you two jobs – teacher or author. I did write hundreds of radio commercials... but you’re always learning on the role. If not, what’s the point of being human? It is in our DNA to evolve. If you’re not learning on the job, time to make a change! It depends on what arena of the media industry, but if you’re smart, you can learn anything. That’s the most important component to any hire. We go for intelligence first, then culture fit. I couldn’t care less about experience. That said, if there’s one skill that can improve any role, it’s writing. If I could send all of my employees to regular writing courses, I would. What was the worst day at work you ever had? Day? More like a couple of years… At one job, the sexual harassment was beyond – but that was normal. What wasn’t normal was that the sexual harassment started to be used against me as a way to invalidate my work – what’s
YOU BETTER LEARN HOW TOWRITE YOUR ASS OFF, IF YOU DON’T KNOWALREADY
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