Shelley Zalis Creates A Networking Community For Professional Women With The Ipsos Lounge

When I saw Shelley Zalis speak at Advertising Week and found out she was the person responsible for The Ipsos Girls’ Lounge, I knew I needed to interview her. She has been able to take this idea to have a place for women to congregate and network at male-dominated conferences and events and built a community of encouraging women from it. It was an inspiring story that I wanted to share with Social Media Week. Here is what she had to say:

I first came across the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge at Advertising Week, but this idea has been around almost two years. Tell me why you think this idea has become so successful.

SZ: I had no idea that The Girls’ Lounge would become so important to me and to so many other women in our industry. It all started so spontaneously as a last minute sleepover with a few girlfriends that I knew were attending the Consumer Electronics Show in 2013. By the end of the week our little party of 5 had become a party of 155.

Today, more than 3,000 women have connected in The Ipsos Girls’ Lounge and it has become the go-to destination at some of the largest industry conferences in the advertising, marketing, media, research and technology spaces. There is power in conversation and we are seeing first-hand how really good ideas come about when women get together. Women come into the Lounge as ‘women in business’ and leave as supportive and generous ‘girls’ girls.’

Do you feel that the power of social media has helped you spread your message?

SZ: Absolutely! We just wrapped a national tour with our #ConfidenceIsBeautiful Bus and the response has been amazing! We were a featured activation at Oprah’s “The Life You Want Weekend” and at New York’s Advertising Week – where we brought an awesome 40 foot bus to women at these conferences and set up a social selfie station where they could express their unique ‘confidence signature.’ The #ConfidenceIsBeautiful message became a movement overnight and was shared on digital billboards across the country, including New York’s Times Square!

There are so many conferences in a year, how do you decide where the Girls’ Lounge will be most useful? 

SZ: We saw the power of connecting women in technology at CES, so we decided to connect women in marketing, media, research and advertising. Once I heard that the CTO needs to be best friends with the CMO, we decided to connect female executives in related industries. We now have CEOs, CMOs, CIOs, CTOs, COOs… and guess what? They’re all women! We created Girls’ Lounges in all the major conferences that these women attended so that over time they would develop relationships of trust and authenticity. Today, we are energizing self, soul and sisterhood. It’s becoming a corporate sorority!

What is on your wish list for things you’d like changed in corporate culture?

SZ: I believe it’s our responsibility as women in leadership to opt in to create the changes we want to see. We need to break the rules that never made sense for us as we were rising the ranks and create new rules that will allow people to have a better life at work. We need to change the corporate game from rules of rigidity to rules of generosity. We shouldn’t have to work to live, or live to work, work should be a dimension of life.

What’s the best story you can remember coming out of the Girls Lounge thus far? What show was this at?

SZ: There are so many that we capture in something that we call “the rose file.” We all inspire each other and it’s just a remarkable feeling when you actually leave The Girls’ Lounge and go into a conference and see women just wanting to be together with their pink streaks of hair and pink(y) swear rings. My most recent favorite was the pajama party we threw on our #ConfidenceIsBeautiful Bus at the ANA Masters of Marketing. Women marched through the hotel lobby in matching Girls’ Lounge pajamas to go hang out together on the bus. We did what girls do: laughed, cried, talked…and of course, ate lots of chocolate. It was unbridled fun, incomparable bonding and power deals were done.

What’s next on the horizon for you? Any new projects?

SZ: One of my favorite expressions is, ‘If we could have done it alone, we would have by now!’ Building this network of women who champion, support and mentor each other is critical. The more we advocate for each other and do good together, the better business and life will be for everyone. So, while the next ‘official’ stop for us is CES in January – conversations for other pop-up experiences and surprises are actively underway!

 You can read more about Ipsos Girls’ Lounge and Shelley here.



Stephanie Carino has spent over the past 10 years working in the city in the Fashion, Food and Event industries. She also currently writes event coverage and reviews for, Socially Superlative, a NYC-based event website, covering predominantly food, travel and entertainment stories. Connect with Stephanie on Twitter.

#eprdctn – Digital Publishing Professionals Collaborate on Twitter

Creating digital books takes a fair amount of knowhow and patience: ebook developers have CSS and HTML skills, and they put in long hours designing, coding, testing, and running quality assurance checks on each title that they build.

It’s a specialized — and potentially lonely — niche in publishing, not unlike copyediting, in its level of nuance and behind-the-scenes mystique. Some publishers and content creation teams employ a number of developers in-house. But many industry professionals work on teams of experts in related fields or remotely as independent consultants and are, in essence, isolated from their eProduction peers.

Along with that comes the challenge of a swiftly evolving digital publishing world, where there are frequent software updates, numerous tweaks to vendor specifications, and each new device launch means new rules and new creative opportunities for developers.

Hashtag Community

hashtagFortunately social media, and the #eprdctn hashtag, make it possible for eProduction pros to keep up with those changes, stay current, stay connected, and stay sane while working independently. “#eprdctn is a large community of ebook developers who discuss technical aspects of their day-to-day work. We share advice and resources as we find ways of improving workflows,” explains Iris Amelia Febres, an Ebook Developer at F+W Media who also teaches electronic publishing for Emerson College.

#eprdctn is a community that “is most often [engaged in] a loose conversation about current issues. Once in a while we…have a ‘dumb question amnesty,’ during which time anyone can post any question — no matter how simple — to #eprdctn and get an answer from an industry leader. These are always very popular,” notes Laura Brady, Ebook Developer and Principal at Brady Type and an occasional leader of the #eprdctn group.

Flocking To Twitter

In 2011, Lindsay Martin started the group by contacting professional in the field who already used Twitter to share insights and encouraging them to include the hashtag with their posts, explains Ebook Developer Colleen Cunningham (@BookDesignGirl).

A valuable group of established experts, regulars, lurkers and drop-ins, “the #eprdctn community on Twitter is far and away my favourite co-worker. These people lighten my load with humour, tech support, news and information, and collaboration,” says Brady. Beginners are always welcome, according to Febres, who describes the community as both “a job board and a Q&A session.

Twitter makes it all possible. Some people have tried extending the group “to other social media platforms but Twitter seems to work the best because, there, it’s truly organic and of-the-moment. No moderators are necessary,” notes Cunningham. #eprdctn hosts a nicely structured hour-long weekly chat too; a “roundtable discussion, where it’s a bit of a free-for-all in terms of what to talk about. Sometimes major events of the week will form the session [or] guests lead talks and people will ask them questions,” says Febres. You can join the conversation each Wednesday at 11:00 am EST.

In Real Life

#eprdctn comes together in person, too! Febres organizes a casual meet-up of developers as time allows and points out that the community also tries to “get together if we’re attending a conference, like Digital Book World. It’s great to have that face-to-face time to connect with colleagues on a personal level. We trade stories and tips, network, and just have a good time. It’s part networking, part therapy. Making ebooks can be tough!”

Women’s Workforce

The group is doing work, beyond the day-to-day tasks at hand, by empowering women in tech to continue making great strides in the field of eProduction. “Ebook development seems to be a good gender mix, the leaders in the field are also a healthy mix. In fact, there are so many whip-smart women in this tech-focused space that it makes me a hopeful feminist ebook developer. The most outspoken members continue to be men but that is certainly shifting,” says Brady who strives “to mentor women trying to find work in ebooks.” And who, in planning the ebookcraft conference, “managed to get about 60% female speakers.”

Febres agrees that gender parity is important in the world of ebook production: “There’s a pocket of us female developers….we complain and challenge and wonder [and] we can be pretty vocal about it. I always try to share different ‘pro-women in tech’ networking events and resources, like the monthly Boston Girl Geek Dinner.”

You Can Too

As talented women-in-tech in their own right, Febres and Brady share a few suggestions about how you can launch your own social media lab-style community:

  1. Pick a day and time.
  2. Be consistent with your meetings.
  3. Posit questions to the group and share links.
  4. Invite others to participate.
  5. Have a hashtag!

Regularly scheduled chats can quickly turn into an anytime resource network. “Think of building a community as a collaborative tool, not a community with leaders and followers… #eprdctn is not a place to say and tell. It is where you go to figure out, to help, to ask for [help] and to find fellow travellers,” advises Brady.

Does your industry host useful social media conversations? Share your wisdom and community hashtags in the comments. Then, make sure you check out these related events this SMW14!

Deanna Utroske is the Social Media Brand Director for New York Women in Communications and writes on women’s career issues, lifestyle topics and more. Follow her on Twitter @DeannaUtroske.

Reading Between The Dots: A Story for Well-Rounded Digital Kids

Digital natives flourish in the online world. But what of those just getting the hang of their multi-media playground? What skills and practices will help a first grader get off on the right foot when it comes to tech? Randi Zuckerberg’s picture book Dot. recommends a balanced regime of digital and physical recreation.

Dot, a fashionably-sketched tech savvy young girl, is first seen as an all-digital all-the-time type: “She knows…how to tweet and to tag.” She’s fluent online and unprejudiced in her choice of devices. Digital knowhow keeps Dot well connected and endlessly adventurous. In this way, Dot is in lock step with her creator-author Zuckerberg, known for her roles as Facebook’s first marketing lead and now CEO of the Zuckerberg Media production company.

Dot has a dog — a conceit perhaps for Dot’s spirited side — and the two can’t stay put. The loyal and expressive dog loses patience waiting for Dot and bounds out of the house for a little recess. Not long after, Dot becomes thoroughly exhausted with her digital life. And, she’s shooed outside, thanks to a cameo appearance by her mother’s clapping hands.

Immediately, Joe Berger’s illustrations suggest that life now is much more colorful and visually boisterous than it was online. Once outside, Dot is all about DIY and hands-on and interactivity, playing with her peers. And in the end, she seamlessly blends her digital life with her in-person interests.

Dot is smart, well-rounded and a nifty poster child for tech-life balance. And without being cautionary or saccharine, Zuckerberg’s first picture book nudges young readers toward an idyllic childhood in the digital age.

It’s not just children that need this balance. Make sure you join SMW NYC this SMW14 for a host of events on how tech can help bring you back to a balance. Also read our previous post: Social, Mobile, Digital, Livable: A Review of Randi Zuckerberg’s Dot Complicated

Deanna Utroske is the Social Media Brand Director for New York Women in Communications and writes on women’s career issues, lifestyle topics and more. Follow her on Twitter @DeannaUtroske