Yesterday, I got a $2,500 check in the mail from my alma mater, the University of Southern California. It wasn’t the kind of check you’d like to see from your university, like funding for a scholarship you earned or financial aid. It was my portion of the $215 million settlement in the case of George Tyndall, a USC Student Health Center gynecologist accused of sexually assaulting and harassing many women over 27 years.

When I heard about this case, I was — and continue to be — disgusted, angry, and sad. I feel hurt not only because this so-called health…

When founders look to build out their early team, they are under a few key constraints. One, they don’t have a lot of money. Two, they may be confined by a small network unless they’ve built multiple successful startups before. Three, they can only bring on people who have a high tolerance for risk because there is no guarantee this venture is going to work out.

As a result, founders tend to hire smart, scrappy people who will figure things out and iterate quickly in the early days. They likely already have a personal connection or one degree of separation…

She isn’t so scary after all

When you join an early stage startup, the company as a whole is the most important thing. There are no this department’s or that department’s goals. You just need to get shit done, ideally the right shit, as quickly as possible.

Because you’re fighting for your existence, every decision is critical. Debates are vigorous. All sides are raised. Inconvenient truths are welcomed because each new piece of information could tip the scale one way or another, and everyone desperately wants the company to succeed.

I call these unwelcome yet fairly evident realities the elephants in the room.

I’ve noticed recently…

Breaking down my favorite campaigns of 2016 so far

When I was a kid, I always paid attention to the commercials. What made them funny? What if I remembered the spot but not the brand? Was that still a good use of their money?

These are kind of odd questions for a 12-year-old to be thinking about, but that was me. Eventually, I grew up and started doing this stuff (communications / advertising / marketing) for a living.

In that time, I’ve never stopped ogling at well-done campaigns, particularly because now I think about how I can apply their awesomeness to my own work.

These are my favorites from…

It all happened so fast

For some reason, I always thought I’d turn into my mother when I was 40. Or, you know, at some far-off time when I had kids of my own and saw myself in a similar role that she played in my life.

At 25, after putting together a series of clues, I realized I already made it here.

The first clue was a coffee cup.

One morning, I looked down at my mug and noticed a lipstick stain on it. I didn’t remember when I started drinking coffee or wearing lipstick, but I knew someone who’d done both for years…

Lessons from a seriously passionate community about relationships, art, business and marketing

If you asked me 10 years ago what I’d be doing now, PR and marketing for the games industry wouldn’t have come up. When I was in high school, I dreaded hang out sessions that would have me horribly failing at Mario Kart or wanting to shoot myself as I watched my friends shoot online foes in Halo. I grew up with a sister, we didn’t have a console, and I was NOT coordinated as far as twitch reflexes go — just ask my old softball coach, who was more than happy to see me focus on ballet.

Despite my…

With the f-words and curiosity

In fifth grade, my parents enrolled me in an eight-week sleep away camp about an hour away from our house. My mom had been to similar camps when she was a kid and convinced my dad that it would be a good experience for me to come-out-of-my-shell and learn-to-be-independent.

My dad warmed up to the idea, but he was nervous. He wanted to make sure I would be okay on my own. He thought teaching me how to make friends would help.

“Diana, when you meet new people in your cabin you need to remember the…

It’s in the tenses

The problem with eulogies is in the tenses. It’s too soon to speak in the past tense. It’s too hard to believe what’s happened even though that’s the whole point of the speech.

I want to say she is our Georgia peach. Was just isn’t right.

Maybe it’s easier after the thud of the dirt on the coffin, making it final with the noise of eternity. Maybe then I could write in the past tense. Maybe not.

The motions don’t make it real either. Flying home, greeting my mother’s tears with more tears, hearing my uncle’s kind, devastated words. …

Diana Smith

Curious. Park wanderer. Devil’s advocate. Learning every day. Marketing at, previously Segment.

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