Empowered — RV’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women — strives to foster a community that inspires, supports, empowers, and educates all women-identifying folks and allies of all gender identities. And one of our favorite ways to inspire and empower our community is simply by sharing the wisdom of the amazing RV women we get to work with every day.
In this month’s Empowered leaders feature, we talk to CNET Senior Vice President of Content Connie Guglielmo and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central Faye McCray. As both women transition into their roles as new executive sponsors of Empowered, we wanted to get to know more about the career journeys that led them to leadership roles at RV, and what inspires them to advocate for women in the workplace. Check out their conversation with EDU copyeditor Victoria Lurie below.
Victoria Lurie: To get us started, we’d love to know more about what you both do. Please describe a day in your work life:
Faye McCray: The vast majority of my day is spent content planning, building relationships with potential partners, meeting with stakeholders, and checking in on projects that are already in motion. My team is in five different time zones, so my meeting schedule varies day to day!
Connie Guglielmo: In addition to check-in meetings with the team, starting with our daily 7:45 a.mm edit call, my day includes talking to companies and convincing them to give us scoops and exclusives, plotting out new editorial projects and stories, and editing and writing (when I can). I’m also lucky to co-host a podcast called I’m So Obsessed and talk with interesting creators and thinkers.
Victoria: Is this where you thought you’d be in 2021?
Connie: I’ve always worked as a journalist and editor in and around Silicon Valley, but if someone told me I would be the editor in chief of the world’s oldest and largest consumer tech news and advice site, the answer would definitely be no. And in these interesting times, where the battle for diversity, equity, and inclusion in media and other industries continues, I can’t tell you how much I love telling folks that CNET picked a woman to lead edit years ago because they just appreciated my background and experience and not because of any quotas.
Victoria: And Faye, is this what you thought you’d be doing today if someone asked you fifteen years ago?
Faye: Probably not! Fifteen years ago, I was just beginning my career as a young lawyer. Coincidently, I had also just started a personal blog and would very shortly thereafter begin my freelance career. Although I wouldn’t have guessed I would have ended up here, I had already begun to plant the seeds.
Victoria: Connie, it sounds like your job is pretty fast-paced. How do you find pockets of wellness or sanity throughout the workday?
Connie: I love that my Apple Watch reminds me to stand up. I thought that was the most ridiculous feature when I got it, but now I appreciate it reminds me that I’ve set (modest!) standing goals. I also like to take short breaks, walk around and listen to a favorite song or short YouTube videos. One of my favorite silly videos is this commercial (Trust me: It has a happy ending).
Victoria: And for you, Faye? What keeps you focused?
Faye: Luckily, my office faces my backyard, so I spend a great deal of the day being able to look out on the wooded trail behind my house. If it’s a sunny day, it’s hard for me to resist scheduling time to take a quick walk — even if it’s just 10 minutes! If I find myself stuck or even just feeling fatigued, a walk is my go-to pick me up.
I also love discovering other people’s Spotify lists. Good music in the background makes even the most tasking day more palatable.
Victoria: In addition to being leaders for big teams at RV, you are both joining the Empowered ERG as executive sponsors. Faye, what’s your advocacy origin story?
Faye: I was raised by a single mom who made the decision to go back to school at forty-one. She and my dad were recently divorced, and she had been largely a stay-at-home mom. Everyone told her she couldn’t do it.
At nine years old, I would trail behind her from class to class at Queens College in New York (where she attained her BA in Political Science cum laude!). She even went on to get her Masters in Public Administration.
Her decision and example created possibilities for my life I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Since that moment, I’ve wanted to live in a way that inspires possibilities for other girls and young women.
Victoria: And Connie, did anything in particular galvanize you to step up and speak up?
Connie: My mother was born and raised in Italy, married my father (born and raised in Brooklyn), and moved to New York. As a kid, I became sort of her voice — lots of people dismissed her because she spoke with a heavy accent, and so she asked me to intervene on her behalf.
I saw firsthand how people treated her, and it drove me to have a sense of fairness and justice – and also helped me cultivate my reporter’s “voice” from watching movies, TV, and news shows.
Victoria: How do you feel either the glass ceiling itself or our approach to it has changed over the course of your career?
Connie: Well, at least today, we don’t have to debate whether a glass ceiling exists, which I think generations before us had to do. Women have made progress, but not enough. Also, I’m not a big fan of “Lean In” – Sheryl Sandberg was one of the most leaningest women in the tech industry, and Facebook still went out with an all-male board before they went public. If she couldn’t convince them that was a bad move, it shows how much more work needs to be done.
Faye: We’re talking about it now. Coming from the legal profession, it wasn’t always easy to feel optimistic. Depending on your field of practice, it’s still common to be the only woman in the room; there was a sense that you should just be grateful you were in that room.
What I love about today’s climate is that we realize being in the room isn’t good enough. We need to be at the head of the table. The conversation feels bolder. It makes me hopeful for the change that will follow.
Victoria: Is there anyone who inspired you or shaped your occupational journey in a pivotal way?
Connie: I’ve wanted to be a reporter ever since I was a kid watching Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) in those “Superman” movies with Christopher Reeves.
There are many journalists I admire: Molly Ivins, Oriana Fallaci, Margaret Bourke White, Ida B. Wells, and Edward R. Murrow. But I was also very, very inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg after studying constitutional law as an undergrad.
Faye: Taking Connie’s lead, I was so inspired by Freddie Brooks on the late eighties college comedy, “A Different World.” She was this curly-haired, outspoken, hippie force of nature. She was a writer but also aspired to be a civil rights activist. Seeing someone who looked like me and had so much duality and agency really informed the type of woman I wanted to become.
I have also been inspired by Toni Morrison, Elaine Welteroth, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah, and of course, Michelle Obama. These women have had inspiring journeys full of setbacks, pivots, and triumphs.
Victoria: What would you tell young women just starting out in their careers?
Connie: Treat every day as an adventure. Some days are going to be better and more interesting/fun than others, but if you think of your journey toward whatever goals you’ve set as an adventure rather than work or a hardship, you’ll just feel better about things — and handle complex or frustrating situations with a healthier mindset.
Faye: Stealing this from Jeff Bezos, but it has been my north star throughout my career: “Be stubborn in vision but flexible on details.” Life rarely goes the way you plan it – take that from a reformed planner. In retrospect, every failure and closed door has led me to my biggest triumphs. There is more than one way to get there. Don’t be discouraged when it doesn’t happen the way you plan.
A few fun questions for Connie and Faye:
- What was the first album you bought with your own money?
Connie: This may not count since I didn’t actually buy it, but I was at Apple the day they introduced the iPod, and Steve Jobs sent us all home with a bag of 20 CDs. It was the first time I’d heard Yo-Yo Ma, and I also listened to a lot of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are.”
(Jobs included “Nevermind” in the list, along with “Bob Dylan Live,” The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” Ella Fitzgerald’s “Cole Porter Songbook (Vol. 1),” and Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.”)
Faye: Yes to “Nevermind,” Connie! My older brothers are ten and twelve years older than me, and they introduced me to Prince. I remember sitting at the bottom of the stairs in our house and listening to them blasting his filthiest lyrics from their rooms in complete delight. As soon as I could, I bought Prince “The Hits/The B-Sides,” which was a three-disc set of all of his biggest hits. I was working as a camp counselor at the Y and listened to it on the way to work that whole summer.
- Is there any connection between a song off that first album that helps you tackle your day?
Connie: I was hooked on the iPod from Day 1 and the ability to have that many songs (“1,000 songs in your pocket” on Generation 1) at the touch of a scroll wheel. Whenever I need a break or get away from the noise in the world, I hit shuffle and listen to whatever because it reminds me of how amazing the world is that someone could create those sounds (I’m not musically inclined, and I definitely can’t sing.)
Last listened to on my playlist: Regina Spektor’s cover of “While My Guitar Gently Sleeps” from “Kubo and the Two Strings.”
Faye, are there any songs from that Prince album that became a personal mantra?
Faye: “Let’s Go Crazy” remains my fight song. “If the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy, punch a higher floor.” Sometimes you just have to go for it.
- What technology are you bummed 2021 doesn’t have that back in 2006 you would have expected by now?
Connie: As a Star Trek fan, I’ve been waiting for a true universal translator that allows you to understand and communicate in any language. And as a Calvin & Hobbes fan, I’m still waiting for the transmogrifier.
Faye: Quicker, safer car travel. I thought we’d have safer self-driving cars and underground tunnels.
- What discontinued food do you miss the most?
Connie: Wait, what? I will say I miss eating Yodels and Devil Dogs – snacks I used to eat as a kid that are just massive sugar bombs. Not because they don’t still make them (they do), but because I’ve wised up to what’s inside of them.
Faye: I don’t know if I miss it, but the sight of a Sparkling Mistic or Clearly Canadian bottle makes me very nostalgic!
Loved this Empowered feature? Why not have another? Click here to meet our Chief Diversity Officer, Khemari Cook.