People who are truly living an authentic life inspire me a great deal. It takes a lot of balls to take the mask off and just be who you are.
Emily Scherberth is the Founder and Chief Connections Officer of Symphony PR & Marketing, Inc., a marketing and PR consultancy focused primarily on the technology and digital media industries. Symphony works with both established brands and startup companies who prefer to outsource their entire marketing and public relations departments to senior–level strategists who can also “do the work.”
Emily has more than 15 years of experience developing marketing strategy, branding initiatives, product launches and media relations campaigns for digital media, technology, automotive, CPG, travel/hospitality and sports companies. Prior to launching Symphony PR & Marketing, she was the vice president of the consumer technology practice at Allison & Partners. During her tenure, Emily grew revenues by more than 400 percent and led the company’s competitive pitch for YouTube which became the company’s largest client in September 2006. In addition to designing the reactive media relations response process for the online video leader, Emily provided internal communications support, strategic counsel and spearheaded major stories such as the “Best Inventions of 2006” and the “Persons of the Year” in TIME magazine.
As a senior member of the country’s most respected agencies, Emily performed award–winning work for high-profile brands such as Yahoo!, Citysearch, Match.com, Nike, Nestlé, General Motors, Ford, Mitsubishi Motors, Automobili Lamborghini, Hilton Hotels Corporation, Boost Mobile and SBC (now AT&T). In addition, she received a 2007 PRism Award, a 2003 IABC Gold Quill Award, a 2003 LACP Magellan Award, and is WOMMA-certified in social media marketing.
Emily is also a part–time professor at Loyola Marymount University (her alma mater) where she teaches two upper division courses on public relations strategy and social media.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on helping a couple startups get ready for their launches – my favorite part of the job! I also just wrapped up my 4th year of teaching PR and social media at Loyola Marymount University and am getting ready to go to grad school in the Fall for my M.A. in Communication Studies with an emphasis in rhetorical theory. So far, 2011 has been a great year for my company and for my clients. I feel like there’s a great energy and optimism swirling around all of us right now – I hope other people feel it, too!
3 trends that excite you?
First, the critical mass of people who are trying to find a deeper purpose in life is truly inspiring to me. Probably related to #1, we’re seeing huge growth in entrepreneurism. I love that more and more people are leaving their corporate jobs, following their passions and starting their own companies. Entrepreneurs are my favorite people to work with because they’re hungry, passionate and extremely dedicated to realizing their vision – that’s why I’ve focused my consultancy on helping the tech startup community. And #3 – we’re finally understanding that treating employees as human beings can have a positive, financial impact on business. Say what you want about ‘em, but I think we have Generation Y to thank for that bringing that influence and sensibility to the forefront.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I tend to let ideas kick around my head for a while until I can find an actionable hook for them. For me, it’s all about connecting the dots. Consider that ideas are dots. There are a lot of ideas (or dots) out there that need other dots to connect to in order to become full-fledged, living, breathing things. I think many of us carry around lots of these dots –and when we meet other people or have new experiences, new dots are revealed to us. The real magic happens when we make those connections, combine them into new ideas and then make them a reality. It’s important to always be on the lookout for those dots because you never know what they might lead to.
What inspires you?
People who are truly living an authentic life inspire me a great deal. It takes a lot of balls to take the mask off and just be who you are. Heck, some people fight their whole lives to figure out who they are and what will truly make them happy. But I think we’ve all been inspired at some point by someone who just seems inherently comfortable in their own skin and makes no apologies for who they are, yet they’re making these incredible contributions to the world. I think living an authentic life means you’ve figured out your purpose here on earth. To me, that’s the way to find peace and happiness – living authentically, with a clear purpose.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
It’s actually a mistake I’ve made quite a bit – meddling when I should have left well enough alone. I’m a take initiative kind of person and a problem solver so I tend to want to jump in and fix things when they go off course. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that practicing “wu wei” – the Taoist art of “not doing” – is a much better approach, more often than not. In wu wei, you let things take their natural course. You have to learn to trust the universe and be ok with whatever outcome, but it’s a much healthier way to live (for me at least).
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I just got back from two weeks in Paris, Rome and Florence, so I’ve been really focused on the experiences that travel provides. I would love for someone to create a personalized travel service that took into account the type of experiences that an individual could grow from. For example, let’s say someone was really wealthy, yet feeling unfulfilled by his or her material possessions. The travel consultant would outline travel options that would help that person find a fulfilling experience such as funding and building a school in India. Or if a person just wanted to explore their ancestral culture, the consultant could hand-select specific cities to visit that best encapsulate the essence of their people. There are a lot of adventure-based travel companies, but I’d love to see one centered around personal growth, and making travel more accessible to the masses.
What is one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. First off, it changed my life – and gave me the inspiration for starting my own company (which is actually named after the chapter on “Symphony”). And second, it articulates (in a very clear and entertaining way) a lot of the “macro-trends” that are emerging in both society and business. When you read it, I guarantee you’ll have a lot of “aha!” moments like I did. (Check out our interview with Daniel Pink).
What is one gadget or piece of software that helps you bring ideas to life?
Oh gosh, as some who works in technology, I’m about to “out” myself as an old-fashioned kind of girl, but, I can’t live without my spiral notebook. Nothing beats a plain piece of white paper – so many possibilities! Plus, when I write something down in my own handwriting, it’s instantly committed to memory – it’s just the way my brain works!
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Since you’ve already interviewed my personal guru, Daniel Pink, I’d have to say either Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook) or Hanna Rosin (contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly) based on two of my favorite TED talks (below). They both provide interesting and refreshing perspectives on women in the workplace.
If you weren’t working in PR and marketing, what would you do?
Besides being a full time professor (which is where I might end up in the long run), I’ve always wanted to go to culinary school and then open my own events & catering company. I can totally see myself moving to a small town in the Midwest and planning everyone’s weddings, birthday parties and celebrations. Helping people make happy memories on a daily basis would be pretty rad!