Category Archives: Career

Tweens to senior citizens can always think or rethink what they want to do next. Gennifer Birnbach’s career blogs provide thought-starters, actionable steps and encouragement.

Gennifer with a G Blog – My New Normal After 9/11

Like many other New Yorkers, I have a 9/11 story to tell.

It started out a normal work day. I took the subway from my Brooklyn apartment in Cobble Hill to my copywriter job at MTV Networks located in Times Square. It was my 11th year commuting into that building, pushing past crowds of slow-moving tourists and an occasional celebrity (I once rushed Eddie VanHalen through the revolving doors because I just wanted to get the fuck home).

As I emerged from the subway in Times Square, I noticed a giant crowd looking up at the screen above the Good Morning America studio. I assumed the Backstreet Boys or someone was in there for a live show and swam upstream into 1515 Broadway. I got into the elevator and pushed the button for the 42nd Floor, removing my headphones to overhear someone mention the towers.

Still oblivious, I got to my desk where people seemed frantic. One of our views was downtown and a small crowd was gathered. It was early for our office (most did not arrive until 10 or even 10:30am most days) and those standing in disbelief were frozen or even scrambling around like ants in distress. One of my co-workers pointed to the rising smoke and said her cousin worked there. Still unable to process what was happening, I assumed it was a fire or a bomb and went to my desk to drop my things off. My message light was on my phone and as I retrieved several back-to-back messages from my brother (still in Brooklyn who witnessed the first plane as he too was headed off to work) desperately trying to locate me and many others whose subways may or may not have traveled near or below the World Trade Center during the crash.

We weren’t attached to our cell phones back then and I had left mine at home which wasn’t really a big deal normally.

I was able to locate Philippe and Stephanie and, with my co-worker, Sheldon, we agreed to meet at my cousin’s apartment near NYU Medical Center on 30th and 2nd. I felt so vulnerable walking towards that apartment. Because, as you know, Manhattan is littered with landmarks and not really knowing what could happen next it was unavoidable to pass by or near the United Nations, the Empire State Building, Grand Central and more.

There were lines of people at pay phones since those with cell phones couldn’t use theirs. As we got closer to the apartment, there were groups of dust-covered individuals all walking in disbelief towards the hospital. It honestly looked like we were on a movie set and these were the extras. 

We took a little time to call our respective parents to let them know we were safe and to watch the news before continuing onto Brooklyn where we all lived.

Somewhere around the East Village, I had to stop to buy band-aids because of the shoes I chose to wear that day. They were low-heeled sandals but not the type of shoe you’d want to wear while walking from 10036 to 11231 (over 8 miles / 3 hours).

We found ourselves walking over the Manhattan Bridge. As we stepped into the Brooklyn side, we were greeted and cared for by a long line of Hassidac Jews who were distributing cups of water to every single person. It was one of my first of many glimpses into New Yorkers coming together as one to help each other out. Our group arrived at the subway and we took our respective trains to our individual stops.

Our apartment was located at 29 Tiffany Place. We were near the water. We were 3 miles from the World Trade Center. Our neighborhood was covered in debris not to mention what appeared to be office items like work documents which may have traveled over from the towers to our cobble stoned street. We had left our windows open because of the nice weather. Much of that debris had blown inside our apartment. There was a distinct burning smell in the air. It lingered into November.

The first couple of weeks, I was on my couch watching non-stop news footage and surviving on pints of ice cream (mint chip mostly). 

I don’t remember when it was agreed that we’d all return to our office. But I do remember this turning point being our “new normal.” There was hesitation and fear returning to the subway, back into the heart of Times Square and back into a large office building that stood tall and could be targeted next.

I remember standing on the subway platform waiting for a train and a young man running down the stairs. Everyone on the platform began to run thinking something was wrong. He was just running to catch the incoming train. It was like watching gazelle take off as a group even though most didn’t know what they were running from exactly.

I remember the West Side Highway lined with people from all over, applauding the first responders.  Chelsea Piers’ ice rink where we’d go for fun was keeping bodies refrigerated until they could be identified and/or given a proper burial. For no reason, restaurants and businesses that I had loved were shutting down due to racist attacks and fear because the owners were “some sort of Middle Eastern descent.” It was maddening and upsetting to watch.

Over time the “new normal” became the actual normal. We surrendered to having to remove our shoes at the airport (but not train stations or other public gatherings). The Emmy Awards still aired (with Ellen DeGeneres giving one of my favorite opening monologues ever, “what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews”). 

And for me, my “new normal’ meant that starting 9/12/01, I would only wear shoes to my office in the city that I could run in. – What Kind of Bird Are You?

Published 8.18.20 –

Whenever the topic of middle school comes up, just about every adult I know swears they’d never go back to that time in their life. It’s kind of a dizzying moment in everyone’s life where navigated puberty at different speeds, transitioned to become more independent and having to change classrooms and teachers several times a day — each one accompanied by the teacher’s individual teaching styles and rules to abide by.

And now we have a pandemic thrown on top of it, forcing teachers, students and parents to get through this already challenging time with an extra layer of anxiety thrown into the mix.

As an adult, I took a handful of Human Resource Organizational Psychology courses to help in subjects like “time management,” “working relationships” and even once took a class called “dealing with difficult people.” I can’t tell you how many times I had thought about how much these programs and the self awareness that I experienced it would have saved me when I was in middle school. 

One of the assessments still used today is called DISC. The letters represent four different styles of working, reacting to stress and communication. The letters stand for Dominant, Interactive, Supportive, Conscientious and each sits in its own box that forms a quadrant. Above the line are fast-paced, verbal individuals while below the line are more reserved and even-paced people. If you fall to the right of center, you are more people oriented. To the left of center, you are more task oriented. Many times, we are a combo of 2 or more.


A quicker way to understand these is through a website called which presents the DISC styles as birds (eagles, parrots, doves and owls) to further demonstrate the four styles and characteristics. 

Read on to see if you can identify your child, yourself and think about how these styles will behave in situations like sitting through a class in person or online or following through on homework assignments, studying for a test or general socialization in unfamiliar settings. 

Once your child becomes familiar with these personality types, check back in to see which teacher is which bird and use that knowledge to help when subjects are challenging.  This is something you can also use to help with communication in families and at work.

So, what kind of bird are you?:

D (dominance) are eagles. 

They see big picture and are focused on solving problems

Under pressure they may:

Become impatient

See things in black and white

Exceed authority

Get tunnel vision on accomplishing a task

Best ways to communicate with them:

Be prepared and organized

Be clear, specific and to the point

If you disagree with them, focus on the facts

I (influence) are parrots.

They are interested in how we relate to people.

Under pressure they may:

Become frazzled and unorganized

Not listen 

Become even less interested in details

Verbally attack

Best ways to communicate with them:

Ask about their ideas and goals

Allow time for relating and socializing

Help them get organized and put details in writing

S (steadiness) are doves.

They desire calm pace and energy level

Under pressure they may:

Resist change

Nod even when they disagree

Worship status quote

Become fearful and hesitant in changing environments

Best ways to communicate with them:

Don’t force them to make a quick response

Break the ice with some personal comments

Listen and be thoughtful and inquisitive with your responses

C (compliance) are owls.

They are focused on rules and procedures.

Under pressure they may:

Fear making mistakes

Go into “analysis paralysis”

Get stuck in set way of doing things

Prefer to work alone

Best ways to communicate with them:

Ask if they see the issue the same way as you do

Provide them with info and time to make unrushed decisions 

Recognize they may be uncomfortable speaking to large groups


Anxiety is often ignited by feeling powerless or not having control over the future. However, if a child knows and understands his/her/their DISC style everything becomes more clear especially when they learn to identify the style in their classmates and their teacher too. 

DISC style can help with work tendencies, desired environment, motivators, communication tips and best approach to handling conflict. This kind of awareness can really help a student thrive more at school if they understand themself and those they are having to work with and communicate with on a daily basis.

So while your child may or may not have to deal with remembering the locker combination, getting to the next classroom in a timely manner, submitting homework through a portal or learning how to adapt to their ever-changing world, they will at least have a better understanding of what motivates them and where they may want some support so that they can really soar above and beyond.— Published on August 18, 2020 – Career Changer Starter Kit

Why rewriting your internal narrative
should come before redoing your resume.

As published on Arianna Huffington’s THRIVE GLOBAL

I love reinventing myself, learning new things and taking off-roading adventures.

In my career I have successfully moved from publicity to marketing to advertising among other professions. Each role gave me incredible new skills and the ability to bridge gaps between teams since I had walked in their shoes.

During that time I also completed Floral Design, Positive Psychology, Project Management and Reiki Master certificate programs. I enrolled in those courses to try things out when my current job began to grow stale.

Walking this untraditional path, I have been approached by people of all levels who wish to do the same. Here is what I tell them.

Everyone knows what they are meant to do next but often there is a fear of moving forward. Good news, you can and will make it happen. Annoying news, this is not going to be an overnight process. Similar to doing stomach crunches to get beautiful abs, you will be sculpting your thoughts.

You’ll have to bury tired, low-energy stories that no longer serve you. You’ll have to nourish your brain with new beliefs and language. You’ll have to trust your intuition that you are on the right path. And you’ll have to do it daily until you are ready to go out in a crop top.

Here is my suggested Career Changer Starter Kit to help you dig deep, reconnect with your authentic self and figure things out. Let’s get started!


I prefer to do this in powerpoint and seek out photos that evoke what I want or what makes me happy. For years, I included stuff for myself and my family (vacations, better communication, home improvements).

In 2019, I only put my photo and surrounded myself with images of people who inspired me, whose energy I’d want to be around or who I wanted to emulate.

It includes Oprah, Awkwafina, a very young Mother Teresa, and more.  The nice thing about doing it in PPT (vs cutting and pasting) is that it is easy and you can swap images in and out as you transform. By summer, I had made some edits to better align with my own evolution. A board that can change as you do is a very powerful tool.

From left to right: Oprah, (me), the 2019 Pantone Color of the year (which I found hopeful and motivating), Awkwafina, Hoda, Ellen, Michelle, Mother Teresa, Iyanla (who midyear replaced someone else when I outgrew her), SisterShani, my soul sister, Noreen O’Donnell, Jen SinceroMaxie McCoy, and Brene Brown.


You must start rewriting the narrative in your head and replace it with new statements, beliefs and thoughts. Listening to others’ stories of resilience and grit may resonate with your own fire and remind you of who you are and what you are determined to achieve.

My top place to pull from is Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast and one of my favorites to start with is an episode called “the difference between your job and your work.”  I am a subscriber to this podcast and find myself listening every Monday morning to rally for the week.

A friend suggested one particular episode of TheRobCast (Rob Bell) which gave me a tidbit that I tried and found helpful when I was feeling stuck in my career. He said to put Post-Its on my computer “Show Me How To End it Well” and “Show Me Some Options.”  Soon I was able to see the opportunities unfolding before me as a whole (vs parts).

Another podcast that’s decent is called On Purpose with Jay Shetty. All of these are spiritual (not religious). I find having some kind of spirituality is important because without it you cannot trust the unseen or that things are happening as they should. So if they start talking about religion, and you’re not interested, just zone out a little. Either way you’ll find the majority of it is inspiring, insightful and, again, helpful to change the narrative in one’s brain.


THE POWER OF NOW I got the audio book. It was powerful and transforming. I would listen to his weekly interview with Oprah in (you guessed it) her Super Soul Sunday podcast where each week they’d dissect one chapter of his other book NEW EARTH .  This is helpful for rediscovering your true self and can help with anything from career to relationships and more. The podcasts ran in January 2019 and together really get you up to speed!

YOU’RE NOT LOST Hands down one of the most powerful things I did for myself when I got quiet was read this book and DO THE WORK in the exercise sections. It absolutely shifted my mindset. 100% buy it and do it!

BIG MAGIC I got the audio book. It felt like the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, was giving me one-on-one coaching. This is especially helpful if you work in a creative industry or if you want to.

YOU ARE A BADASS was given to me as a gift by another curly-haired friend. It was humorous and helpful. The author, Jen Sincero, has written variations of it since (money, weight loss etc) and sells one-a-day calendars, organizers in case you’d like expand her advice in other ways.

REINVENTION ROADMAP I liked this book but I did read it at a time when I was in desperate mode so I’m confident I wasn’t ready to hear what it was telling me to do. I still liked it and found it helpful (it’s a workbook so the exercises help you think things through).  I’ve revisited what I wrote a few times and I can actually see what I had hoped to come true materializing. It’s great to have a tool to guide you and to refer back to for a pep talk as needed.

Reading about people you feel connected to or are inspired by is really a great way to open  your mind to your possibilities. Audiobooks are a great way to ingest this info too.

I personally loved listening to Michelle read Becoming to me via this audiobook. It was not just inspiring but it felt tangible because I could hear how she chose to share these words. Seek out someone who fills you with good vibes and provides inspiration around resilience.


Find places you’d enjoy learning something new OR applying your best skills to the greater good of something you believe in. It’s a nourishing act, you are surrounded by like-minded people and can build an experience that reminds you of your talents or unearths ones you weren’t sure you had.

I volunteered in many NBCUniversal Employee Resource Groups and was asked by my peers to lead the Asian Pacific American ERG (very flattering and exciting). I am also on the board of Future Now Media Foundation and served on the Promax People & Culture committee, led a team within NBCUniversal’s Erase the Hate initiative and did some marketing communications for WICT-NY. I met so many great people and was able to share what I know and receive mentoring from others.


I’ve tried many online courses but COURSERA is the one I liked the best. I studied Positive Psychology when I wanted to help coach people but felt imposter syndrome because I didn’t have a degree or certificate (even though I’ve been coaching people to make career changes for years).

It’s great because they often have a free month special and then after that it’s a very reasonable monthly charge. You pay based on how fast you can get through the course. If it’s $75 per month and you can do the course in two months, it’s $150. If you can jam through it in one month, it’s only $75. So that’s up to you and your commitment to moving through it. When you are done, you can easily apply the badge/certification to your LinkedIn Profile or other.

Also looking into things in local schools is great. That’s how I ended up studying and completing a Floral Design degree at Parsons and became a Reiki Master at NYC Open Center. When you feel stuck, finding a new outlet to feel challenged and see accomplishments of completing levels is really inspiring.


I collected anything I felt was a good luck charm, a sign or whatever all in one place building a Lucky Savings Account. Mine has found pennies, bird feathers of all kinds, fortunes from cookies and even 2 Sweet & Low packets (which my grandmother used to use in that quantity) that randomly fell onto my hand one day while I was fixing my coffee at a bagel shop. Hi, Mema!

Seeing those found items piled up gave me a sense of security that things were moving in the right direction and that I had something greater watching out for my well being.

Feathers, fortunes, 2 Sweet & Low from my Mema and protective stones to anchor it all in a dish that says LOVE

You’ve heard it all before, change starts with you. Simply getting promoted, landing a new role, making more money or moving to another city is not going to bring everlasting happiness.

Before you start redoing your resume and applying to online jobs like you’re playing Supermarket Sweeps, you must first align with your authentic self. And to get there, you can start with these tools or use them as a guide to find your own gurus, workshops and messages to help you along your way.
— Published on March 11, 2020

Gennifer Birnbach, Writer and Branding Specialist at Gennifer with a G, inc.

Gennifer Birnbach is an award-winning writer and branding specialist. Her 25+ year career includes launching TV Land, rebranding Bravo and ghostwriting for individuals like Roberta Flack. She has been providing intuitive, career-change coaching to professionals of all levels for over 20 years. – Hate in the Age of Multiculturalism

Local Students Share Stories of Intolerance and Search for Solutions at Sen. Harckham Panel

Gennifer Birnbach — March 11, 2020

*I am not a reporter for this paper but was asked if I could cover this event because of my passion and commitment to D&I. Please note, this article was edited and I do not agree with some of the language chosen by the publication. It is important that you, the reader, have that context.

Click here to read the story.

Gennifer with a G Blog – Hair I am with my authenticity!

There are many reasons I somehow found myself out of touch with my identity.

I grew up knowing I was different. I didn’t feel that I fit in at school because I was one of a few Jewish kids in my grade. Class picture day was held on Rosh Hashanah (school was open, I was absent). I was asked to sing “Ave Maria” in the school holiday show which only had Christmas songs. I went into Manhattan a lot with my family and wore clothes that others announced were weird. I was even accused by multiple kids in my class that I was lying when I said I had been on an airplane.  

I didn’t feel that I belonged at Sunday School either. There the kids were mostly from a different district and knew each other from their zip code. I also didn’t seem to wear the right clothes there or be into the right things.

For years, I’d toggle between trying to conform with hopes of building friendships and feeling accepted. Or at least to fly under the radar from any teachers or other authority who let me know in a subtle way that they didn’t appreciate what I brought to the table.

It wasn’t until high school that I felt more relaxed about my uniqueness. I met others through a shared love of music explore, pushing fashion-norms and expanding beyond my suburban bubble to meet others who were also considered “others.”

Throughout those years, one of my biggest struggles was with my hair. It was curly and was tough to “feather” or “straighten” or look more like “permed curls.”  When I was little, I gravitated towards the black dolls because their hair looked more like mine. I connected more with Donna Summer. My imaginary friends were the cast of The Wiz (on Broadway with Stephanie Mills as Dorothy). 

I had a hard time finding a hairdresser up in my parts who knew how to cut and/or style curly hair so I went for styles that were punky or trendy in a way that I could style with my fingers. Pulling my hair straight and strapping it down with hairspray and gel. I started going to Astor Place in Greenwich Village for cuts and then following it up at a local Barber Shop for upkeep.

When I got to college, I was encouraged (for the first time ever) to let my hair be curly. I found an amazing stylist who was great with curly hair. Celebrities like Maria Carey began to surface and finally I started to see women who looked more like me and were considered beautiful. It felt good.

Flash forward to the mid-2000s when I began working for a company that was more conservative than I had been in years. It was creative too but sort of in-the-box (at least that was my perception).  It didn’t feel quite right and in hindsight I realized how much of it brought me back to unresolved feelings of reporting daily to a place where I didn’t always feel like I belong.

I would get occasional comments about my outfits. I was once in a meeting where my favorite color to wear was described as “lowbrow” by an executive when seeing it in a potential ad. Color and fashion are choices, I suppose. But when I received unsolicited suggestions about straightening my hair, I felt personally attacked and judged. 

I know many people go through this sort of thing (and far much worse than I, a white woman, will ever experience first-hand). One day, I felt pushed too far and explained how my curls were my ideas growing out of my head. My hair was my power. My hair was one of the only things that no matter how I cut, dried, brushed etc, it will always keep coming in as it was 100% intended to. Curly. Unruly. Unpredictable. I loved how that also mirrors how my thoughts flow.

Getting back to authenticity and what that meant for me in the workplace, I knew it was time to cut bait and be my own thing. I had a beautiful image from a co-worker who wanted me to get back to who I was and now I needed a tagline to go with it. My brain shot off dozens of options. My hair and I agreed upon, “every curl on my head is an idea” because it is true and I am true.

For further discussion around being authentic, listen to my guest appearance on Your Practical Magic Podcast. – Ghosting Busters: Removing the “Professional Ghosting” Slime in 4 Easy Steps

A funny thing happened to me (and millions of others) in the past few years, I got “Professionally Ghosted.” Not just once and not solely tied to a job inquiry. It happened in a few work situations.

If you are unfamiliar with what “ghosting” means or feels like, please keep carrying around that lucky penny. Ghosting is the practice of disappearing while in the middle of a professional conversation or interaction without any explanation.

Sometimes it is innocent, an inbox casualty impacted by the recipient’s busy week. Other times the recipient may be struggling with and avoiding delivering bad news or feedback. And once in a blue moon, it’s personal.

No matter the reason, it leaves the recipient feeling disappointed, isolated and with a negative slime energy all over.

The good news is you can remove that grossness right off of you in 4 easy steps. Let me show you how:


Do you remember in The Wizard of Oz when Glinda the Good Witch told the Wicked Witch of the East, “you have no powers here, be gone” and waves her away like an annoying mosquito? Do that.

Whatever emotion you just gave your power to (anger, anxiety, heartbreak), please let it know that you are in charge and you get to decide where your thoughts and energy will go today. 


All conversations, experiences and relationships have energy. You know how it feels when you’re surrounded by good Glinda energy, the kind that feels powerful, protective and validates your confidence that you know what you are doing.

On the flip side, negative energy has the consistency of a spider’s web. It’s a subtle stickiness that sometimes feels like it’s hard to find and remove.

You’ve heard the phrase “brush it off” right? Well this is physically brushing off the ghosted experience and it’s super easy to do.

Start with your right hand on top of your left shoulder and with pressure brush your hand down from shoulder to hand resulting in pushing that energy off that arm.

Do it again but with opposite hand and shoulder.

Return to right hand and left shoulder.

Then raise your hands over your head and throw your hands down to the ground with force.

Repeat this series two more times. Then take a moment to feel how that shook things up and off.


You cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react.

Most of the damage we do to ourselves is through the stories in our head, the ones we then share out to others. If you don’t have actual facts about why you didn’t hear back and are fabricating a story arc complete with villain and victim then you are giving your power and your good Glinda energy right back to the situation.

Let’s assume innocent until proven guilty. We may never even know why it happened But attaching to the drama (whether it’s real or imagined) will not serve you well and will tangle you up in more spider webs vs allowing you to move forward towards something better.

Sometimes you have to rewrite or reimagine the story. “They had me jump through hoops going through several interviews and then radio silence” becomes “They juggled many schedules to get me in to meet as many decision makers as possible but it didn’t go further than that.”

Cliffhanger ending: “it didn’t go further than that.” That can mean you were not the best fit or headcount was killed or maybe they didn’t want someone who was smarter than them ; -) 

Who knows? Who cares? Boy, bye!

Take a beat and get some nourishment. Go read Dr Seuss’ Oh the Places You Will Go or listen to LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out. Just spitballing here and giving you some ideas.


Last step in removing the slime is to hold your own post-mortem on how this all went.

First you were afraid, you were terrified (to lift from Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive) .

Next, you put on your F.U. socks and reclaimed your power (these are my favorites if you want to purchase yours today).

And finally, you reminded yourself and others that “you had the power all along my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

Remember, you ain’t afraid of no ghosts.

Published in Thrive 10.30.19 and discussed on the Your Practical Magic podcast released 1.9.20

Grown& – I got a D in marketing and became an award-winning marketing executive

Published by “Grown and Flown” on 10.18.19

It was 1990, I was attending University of Kansas (my 2nd stop in my college career after Emerson College) and I was taking a course in my very favorite subject, marketing. My teacher was excellent, the other students were engaging and inspiring and I looked forward to each and every class.

The teacher loved my ideas and thoughts on various marketing problems he asked us to solve. He thought I had tremendous talent but at the end of the day I received a D because of my low test scores. I remember speaking with him directly about my final grade and learning that he was as confused as I was.

Around 1991, I had transferred to my 3rd college, SUNY Purchase which had an incredible career development team ready and able to help students secure their dream internships. Completely ready for dozens of interviews ranging from The Joan Rivers Show to MTV Networks, I went from office to office marketing myself in hopes of landing the coveted internship the following semester.

To be honest, my heart was set on MTV Networks as I was a die-hard fan of Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite. My interview with the human resource rep seemingly went well, at least in my head. But Ms. Hall said to me, “I’m sorry but you are not MTV Networks material” and passed on me right then and there.

How I Got a Dream Internship

I was determined to get into MTV Networks and to enjoy a successful marketing career because despite what I was experiencing, I knew deep inside that that was exactly where I was supposed to start and marketing was precisely what I was supposed to do.

My parents always told me, “don’t take no for an answer.” That was not coming from a place of always getting what you want. It was coming from a place of knowing myself the best and not letting others tell me who I am or what I should do. I’m fortunate to have had parents who gave me that pep talk and drilled into me that I had the power to make things happen even at times when I felt powerless.

I located some executives’ names (pre-internet thank you very much) and reached out to them directly with a passionate letter about why I wanted an internship on their team. It resulted in an interview at Comedy Central Publicity which was an MTV Networks channel.

My work at Comedy Central was crucial. It was their first year of existence and they were trying to grow their audience and distribution on cable channels. My project was to single-handedly pitch a show they had called Mystery Science Theater 3000 to college newspapers and radio stations nationwide. I did well and quickly my reputation led to MTV Networks’ channels and departments recruiting me to join them. I held internships with Nickelodeon Animation (just as Ren & Stimpy was finally debuting it’s 2nd season) and with Nickelodeon Programming where I helped plan marketing sponsorship opportunities that they sold to advertisers. I was runner-up for employee of the year.

As my career continued, marketing was always a major part of what I did each day. Over the years, I’ve won marketing awards for my work at brands like TV Land and Bravo. I’ve been recruited for think tanks to come up with new ideas. I serve as a mentor and coach in many organizations because branding oneself is also marketing.

I’m sharing this with the Grown & Flown readers because sometimes people get caught up in grades, other’s opinions and sometimes they choose paths out of fear. That kind of energy is sticky and won’t allow progress to be made.

Walt Disney’s newspaper editor told the aspiring cartoonist he wasn’t creative enough. A Baltimore TV producer told Oprah Winfrey she was “unfit for television news.” Thankfully, neither listened to naysayers and continued forward living their truth. There are tons of these stories and while all of us are not necessarily going to become a household name like Disney or Oprah, our success is no less important to the work we know we are meant to do.

What parents can do to help their student find their career path:

1. Space and Time 

The number one thing you can do for your student or young professional is to provide them with unlimited space and time to know who they are. There are many exercises they can engage in if they are feeling stumped such as the career assessment tests they take at school or through books like StrengthFinders and What Color is Your Parachute. Those answers do not need to be a perfect hit. They can be used to explore further. There are so many careers one might like and so many we don’t even know about yet.

2. Be Less Literal 

Next in importance is helping your student or young professional be less literal about what they’d like to be. For example, a young child may have dreams of being a New York Yankee and maybe the talent makes it seem possible. But just in case it doesn’t happen that way, what other avenues can lead your child to the New York Yankees in a role they feel enriched by?

Are they talkative? Maybe they aim for the NY Yankee publicity department where they will be paid to talk enthusiastically about their favorite team. There’s a difference between saying “that will never happen” or “you should absolutely go for your dreams and see where it takes you.” Because who knows where a path might take someone. Maybe right to the dugout and maybe to the press team that gets to be right by their side cheering them on.

3. Encouraging Them

Encouraging people to aim for what they truly feel determined to do can only lead to good things. Jobs will come and go but knowing your true self and knowing that you can and will find your way is the ultimate in determination, resilience, problem solving and a success story in itself.

My name is Gennifer Birnbach. I got a D in marketing, and was told I was not MTV Networks’ material. Despite that, I became an award-winning marketer for MTV Networks and beyond.

Gennifer Birnbach is an award-winning writer living in Yorktown Heights, NY with her high schoolers and husband. She spent the past 25+ years working on brands including Nickelodeon and Bravo as well as smaller businesses in her own backyard. Her company Gennifer with a G, inc affords her the flexibility to see her kids more. But now their doors are locked so it’s a case of bad timing. – Future Now Media Conference 2018

FUTURE NOW Media and Entertainment Conference by Gennifer Birnbach for WICT-NY Chapter

Oprah Winfrey once said, “a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Nobody appreciates this sentiment more than Margaret “Peggy” Kim, award-winning Executive Producer and Founder & CEO of iSTANDtv and the FUTURE NOW MEDIA FOUNDATION, a 501(c)3 educational nonprofit and leadership incubator in media and entertainment.  

Peggy recently produced the second annual FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference, of which WICT NY was a proud returning sponsor, and it was an amazing example of what happens when you connect the next generation of leaders with mentors who can guide them.  

Of the 177 students who applied to attend, 127 of those accepted came from across the country to New York City for the opportunity of a lifetime.  During the two-day conference, students heard from some of the media industry’s top executives and professionals and had opportunities to network with and be mentored by them during the networking luncheon, mentoring sessions, and on media tours the second day where they got a close-up view of what it’s like to work in the industry.  

In a recent conversation, Peggy shared, “Many of the executives were so impressed by the quality of the FUTURE NOW students, that they welcomed them to connect and meet with them one-on-one even after the conference.  The feedback has been phenomenal.”

“Amazing amazing amazing event! In the next 5 years this event is going to be THE event to go to if you want to be in media. This conference has so much potential Thank you again!” – Deanna

FUTURE NOW was born out of Peggy’s love and passion for the industry, recognizing its needs and challenges, and her keen desire to see change.  “FUTURE NOW is about building future leaders NOW, leaders of integrity and excellence, providing equal opportunity, and opening the space for more diverse perspectives and stories to be seen and heard.  And, the way that we do that is by opening the doors, educating, equipping, connecting and empowering future leaders in the media and entertainment industry.”

“I had a life-changing experience this past week…I gained so much knowledge, learning from some of the best in the media industry…and I am inspired more than I have ever been. Thank you.” – Joshua

Peggy served on the board of WICT NY from 2008-2015 and continues to be an active member, and credits WICT NY for helping to prepare her for what she is doing today.  “I have learned so much from my 10 years so far with WICT NY. I started out as a volunteer, joined the board, served on the Prime Access executive mentoring committee, and led and organized the Executive Women’s Luncheon for many years.  And, I have made life-long friends. So much of what I have been able to accomplish with the FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference and establishing the FUTURE NOW Media Foundation has been due to my experience as a member of WICT NY.  And, that WICT NY would stand with me and FUTURE NOW, not just in word, but with its time and treasure, I am touched and deeply grateful.”

In fact, several members of WICT NY participated in the conference as speakers, mentors, and two of them also serve on the board of the FUTURE NOW Media Foundation, including Meeka Jun Bondy, HBO’s SVP of Legal Affairs, and Anjali Walter, a consultant with Tone Networks.  WICT NY’s Melanie Ashley and Kari Ickert also gave out ten (10) free one-year memberships to the students in a special drawing at the event.

“One of the things that makes FUTURE NOW unique is that every single speaker and mentor is not only extremely talented and successful, they all have a sincere heart and desire to give back.  We all recognize the critical importance of helping the next generation succeed,” said Peggy.

“I loved the energy everyone brought to the discussions and panels. Every speaker was motivated to teach us something about the industry and they were very inspiring to people that are about to start their careers.” – Marta

Peggy continues, “Also, these executives and professionals are themselves coming from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and areas of the business.  They are also at different levels and stages of their careers. By providing visibility and speaking opportunities not only to C-Suiters, but also to emerging and mid-level managers, FUTURE NOW is elevating their profiles, so that they can advance and reach their pinnacles of success.  Let’s help people break through. It’s time!”

The dates for the 2019 FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference have been set for May 30-31 and will be held in New York City.  The FUTURE NOW Media Foundation will be extending its programming throughout the year with quarterly and monthly meetups, educational talks and events.  If you and/or your company would like to get involved, please contact Peggy Kim at