Aliza Licht is one of those unicorn people: a funny, super smart, actually sane person who worked their way to the top of the fashion industry food chain. A former neurology and physiology major at University of Maryland, she left the potential medical career behind and embarked boldly and bravely into the world of style. After a string of starter jobs and internships she landed at Donna Karan in 1998. In 2009 she took over the brand’s social media and the rest is, as they say, twitter history. This year she published Leave Your Mark, a book she calls “a mentorship in 288 pages”, and a can’t-miss for anyone looking to “land their dream job, kill it in their career and rock social media” (which sounds like just about everyone reading this too).
She will be at Bethesda Row Front Row tonight to talk about her book, and we figured this would be as great of a time as any to catch up with her (online, naturally) and test drive her “If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask what I think” life philosophy. Below: thoughts on job interview strategies, selfies, general live and work advice, and yes, her very own must-read social media list.
BYT: Many think you have a dream job: walk us through your typical day? (even if there is no typical day)
Aliza Licht: I am always connected before I go to bed and when I wake up, so I never walk into the office unaware of what I am dealing with. My day ranges depending on the time of year. During fashion week and awards season all bets are off. It’s crazy!! Otherwise it’s hours of email hockey mixed with meetings (social/business) and sprinkled with Twitter. As a publicist in fashion it’s imperative to be ahead of the curve. You can’t neglect your communication stations even for a day.
BYT: If someone told you back when you were starting in fashion that social media would be an integral part of your success, what would your reaction be?
AL: It would have been what is social media? Is that a new TV show about the news?
Having said that – it is a crucial component of one’s outward messaging: what are some of the don’ts you keep seeing people do on twitter, your social media pet peeves if you will?
I don’t like to see people get into fights on Twitter. It’s not a good look and you can never win. When I see those exchanges (especially between celebs) I always have to hold myself back from jumping in and saying, “Stop! It’s not worth it!!”
I don’t like when people tweet the same exact message to fifty different people. It’s disingenuous and it makes your timeline spammy.
I am not a fan of name dropping or pretending to have connections that you don’t.
BYT: And a few examples of some must dos?
AL: Share other people’s good content. They will like you for it.
Curate an eclectic timeline that you are proud of. It should be a mix of original content, other people’s content and your replies to tweets that come in.
Answer “why am I posting this?” before you post. That will save you from social mistakes.
BYT: How do you feel about selfies?
AL: Selfies are proof of a good outfit, but only in moderation. To be honest, I am concerned about the selfie epidemic as it relates to young girls’ self esteem and self-obsession. Developing that constant need for adoration is a bit scary!
BYT: How do you feel about twitter vs facebook vs instagram as platforms: do they serve specific goals for brands (both personal and global) and what would those be?
AL: For me, Twitter is all about real time conversation and expanding your network. Nothing is better for live events! Instagram is more like a store window. You dress your window and your friends stop by and admire your display. Facebook is a known walled garden filled with people you already know.
BYT: What is the most tangible way you would say social media has changed the fashion industry and how does that reflect how work is done at Donna Karan now vs say, 5-10 years a go?
AL: It has made a once very closed industry an open book. It has democratized fashion in various ways- some good and some bad. The content beast is difficult to feed.
BYT: It is internship season, what is the kind of experience you think is most valuable for a young person looking for a job?
AL: Any experience that can expand your skillset or network and relates in some way to your ultimate goal is worth your time and effort.
BYT: Social media CAN get your foot in the door – what do you feel is necessary for your people to know before that IN PERSON interview / next step?
AL: Everything!! Do the research- not just on the company but also on the person you are meeting with.
BYT: Any foolproof interview outfit tips?
AL: Do dress for the company, but try to keep it objectively tasteful.
BYT: Any foolproof outfit tips in general?
AL: Don’t let the clothes wear you. If you’re not comfortable don’t wear it.
BYT: Who are some of the people on twitter and instagram you personally LOVE TO follow – give us the Aliza Licht social media must read list?
AL: There are so many!
Do you ever need to decrompress/get completely offline? And when that happens – what do you do to relax?
LOL, not really. I actually find Twitter relaxing. Alternatively I love my TV shows and One Kings Lane.
Any finally – any last words of general-sane-advice you’d like to push out there?
Be a kind person and help others succeed. If you do, you will amazed at what you get back. Karma is not a bitch. Karma knows what she’s doing.