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2017's Brangelina Break-Up: Donald Trump and The Media

Politics

Donald Trump has been a money maker, story breaker and career-defining media sensation ever since he became the Republican candidate for the 2016 election back in July of last year.


He has provided a litany and seemingly inexorable torrent of stories, material and retweets for the media that have been invigorated at a time when the very notion of media was becoming a blur. With subscriptions waning, print presses shutting down, and a very dismal outlook for journalists and writers alike because of blogging sensations, pre-President Trump, has Donald saved the media as we know it today?

Courtesy of Raw Story

If he has, he probably won't ever recognize his contribution publicly, as currently the two are going through a very public and nasty break-up, leaving nobody unscathed.

The five stages of grief for a break up of this magnitude would usually read 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. Only, this is not your typical break-up. And perhaps neither party is suffering a loss to grieve from - they are however suffering a collapse in a relationship that will have ramifications throughout the world and will cement Trump's presidency (if it isn't already) into presidential history as one of the most torrid since the conception of The United States of America.

It's no secret that this relationship has been tested before - it is one that is constantly fraught with difficulties, deceits and betrayals. It had its ups and downs, breaks, and has needed outside counseling - but somehow, through thick and thin, the media and the White House have always emerged on the other side - a unified whole, a well-oiled working machine. The relationship is one that, like many, depends on honesty, communication and a deft belief in one another to provide substance, care and sometimes even some love, for the other half. The two have been known, like a regular couple, to celebrate each others achievements, and chastise (even berate) each others downfalls. Perhaps the media is the more critical of bodies in this particular love affair - but hey, there's always one.

It was Nixon's presidency when last the relationship was as tenuous as it is now, ironically, being that he was the president that gave the media their very own room in the White House - the briefing room, a move that in a regular relationship would term "moving in." It was Roosevelt who first initiated an office for White house reporters, but it was the man with whom (before Trump) had the most difficult and sensational relationship with the media that allowed them into his house and gave them let's say, some wardrobe space - room for a toothbrush, even though they were always fighting and he too called them liars, at the end of the day - he made the first move.

Nixon assumed a similar language to that of Trump's in the past week, calling on media outlets to reveal sources - disavowing 'leakers' and really tearing into the core values of his other half in this equation. He of course was eventually brought down by the infamous duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their confidential informant 'deep throat' and some would propose this is why the current president is calling for sources to be revealed - because he's arrived there's a scandal afoot of watergate proportions. In order to hide or deflect from this worry, he has used abusive language, publicly defamed the media and chastized individuals for their Washington reporting.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the media has been hurt, by their companion's words - they have a thick skin. It's the president who has been the more vulnerable and easily moved by taunting matches - you might go so far as to say that in this relationship, he resembles the stereotypical 'hysterical woman.'

His reactions are volatile, presumptuous and completely out of control. This week, members of the media were left out of a gaggle(a short, off camera press briefing) in an unimpressive and belligerent show of force from the White House, in what appears to many and myself to be the president resigning himself to the fourth stage of grief:

Depression

Keeping some members of the press out of the gaggle - kicking a news agency or two out of a White House briefing has absolutely no effect. It's a sad and frankly disturbing tactic and I would go so far as to say it's an indication that Mr. Trump is deep into the depression stage, now remaining a recluse from parties. He has decided to opt out of the Correspondents' dinner - an event at which the pair usually shine; dance together; make fun of each other publicly, and well, parade themselves as a happy couple even just for one evening. Trump's refusal to go could be read as a sign of anxiety, a symptom of depression - knowing that on the night in question he would be the butt of perhaps one too many jokes.

It's difficult to pinpoint at what stage of grief the media are at in this particular break-up. They are indeed a much larger and more multi-faceted body than the president; their personality and intellect on an entirely different scale; their ability to digest a loss or grievance, significantly superior to that of their White House companion. I would say, they reached acceptance at Fake News and are currently past the stages of grief and into the rebound phase, or, point of attack. While there may be no reasoning with the gruff secretary Spicer or talking Ms. Conway down, there is someone that can be reasoned with, that will listen. The lovechild of this pugnacious pair...

For me, it's the most important factor in this break up - as in many. The child. Who gets the child?

The child here of course, is America. It is temperamental, wild, oftentimes outrageous, and in need of a stable, competent parent at. all. times. Over the next weeks and months the break-up will no doubt continue to tear the two parties asunder until under duress there will perhaps come a tipping point, similar to that in 1974. History determines that it is the media - the free, outspoken and imperturbable press that come out winning in this particular scenario.

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Fresh Voices

My Unfiltered Struggle of Introducing a Product to a Neglected Market

Sweaty Palms & Weak Responses

Early spring 2018, I walked into the building of a startup accelerator program I had been accepted into. Armed with only confidence and a genius idea, I was eager to start level one. I had no idea of what to expect, but I knew I needed help. Somehow with life's journey of twists and turns, this former successful event planner was now about to blindly walk into the tech industry and tackle on a problem that too many women entrepreneurs had faced.


I sat directly across from the program founders, smiling ear to ear as I explained the then concept for HerHeadquarters. Underneath the table, I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants, the anxiousness and excitement was getting the best of me. I rambled on and on about the future collaborating app for women entrepreneurs and all the features it would have. They finally stopped me, asking the one question I had never been asked before, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".

Taken back by the question, I responded, "I just know". The question was powerful, but my response was weak. While passionate and eager, I was unprepared and naively ready to commit to building a platform when I had no idea if anyone wanted it. They assigned me with the task of validating the need for the platform first. The months to follow were eye-opening and frustrating, but planted seeds for the knowledge that would later build the foundation for HerHeadquarters. I spent months researching and validating through hundreds of surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

I was dedicated to knowing and understanding the needs and challenges of my audience. I knew early on that having a national collaborating app for women entrepreneurs would mean that I'd need to get feedback from women all across the country. I repeatedly put myself on the line by reaching out to strangers, asking them to speak with me. While many took the time to complete a survey and participate in a phone interview, there were some who ignored me, some asked what was in it for them, and a few suggested that I was wasting my time in general. They didn't need another "just for women" platform just because it was trending.

I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve. I became irritated. Just because HerHeadquarters didn't resonate with them, doesn't mean that another woman wouldn't find value in the platform and love it. I felt frustrated that the very women I was trying to support were the ones telling me to quit. I struggled with not taking things personally.

I hadn't expected pushback, specifically from the women I genuinely wanted to serve.

The Validation, The Neglect, The Data, and The Irony

The more women I talked to, the more the need for my product was validated. The majority of women entrepreneurs in the industries I was targeting did collaborate. An even higher number of women experienced several obstacles in securing those collaborations and yes, they wanted easier access to high quality brand partnerships.

I didn't just want to launch an app. I wanted to change the image of women who collaborated and adjust the narrative of these women. I was excited to introduce a new technology product that would change the way women secured valuable, rewarding products. I couldn't believe that despite that rising number of women-owned businesses launching, there was no tool catered to them allowing them to grow their business even faster. This demographic had been neglected for too long.

I hadn't just validated the need for the future platform, but I gained valuable data that could be used as leverage. Ironically, armed with confidence, a genius idea, and data to support the need for the platform, I felt stuck. The next steps were to begin designing a prototype, I lacked the skillsets to do it myself and the funding to hire someone else to do it.

I Desperately Need You and Your services, but I'm Broke

I found myself having to put myself out there again, allowing myself to be vulnerable and ask for help. I eventually stumbled across Bianca, a talented UX/UI designer. After coming across her profile online and reaching out, we agreed to meet for a happy hour. The question I had been asked months prior by the founders of my accelerator program came up again, "how do you know your target audience even wants this product?".

It was like déjà vu, the sweaty palms under the table reemerged and the ear to ear smile as I talked about HerHeadquarters, only this time, I had data. I proudly showed Bianca my research: the list of women from across the country I talked to that supported that not only was this platform solving a problem they had, but it's a product that they'd use and pay for.

I remember my confidence dropping as my transparency came into the conversation. How do you tell someone "I desperately need you and your services, but I'm broke?". I told her that I was stuck, that I needed to move forward with design, but that I didn't have the money to make it happen. Bianca respected my honesty, loved the vision of HerHeadquarters, but mostly importantly the data sold her. She believed in me, she believed in the product, and knew that it would attract investors.

From Paper to Digital

We reached a payment agreed where Bianca would be paid in full once HerHeadquarters received its first investment deal. The next few months were an all-time high for me. Seeing an idea that once floated around in my head make its way to paper, then transform into a digital prototype is was one of the highlights of this journey. Shortly after, we began user testing, making further adjustments based off of feedback.

The further along HerHeadquarters became, the more traction we made. Women entrepreneurs across the U.S. were signing up for early access to the app, we were catching investor's attention, and securing brand partnerships all before we had a launched product. The closer we got to launching, the scarier it was. People who only had a surface value introduction to HerHeadquarters put us in the same category of other platforms or brands catering to women, even if we were completely unrelated, they just heard "for women". I felt consistent pressure, most of which was self-applied, but I still felt it.

I became obsessed with all things HerHeadquarters. My biggest fear was launching and disappointing my users. With a national target audience, a nonexistent marketing budget, and many misconceptions regarding collaborating, I didn't know how to introduce this new brand in a way that distinctly made it clear who were targeting and who we were different from.

I second guessed myself all the time.

A 'Submit' button has never in life been more intimidating. In May 2019, HerHeadquarters was submitted to the Apple and Google play stores and released to women entrepreneurs in select U.S. cities. We've consistently grown our user base and seen amazing collaborations take place. I've grow and learned valuable lessons about myself personally and as a leader. This experience has taught me to trust my journey, trust my hard work, and always let honesty and integrity lead me. I had to give myself permission to make mistakes and not beat myself up about it.

I learned that a hundred "no's" is better than one "yes" from an unfit partner. The most valuable thing that I've learned is keeping my users first. Their feedback, their challenges, and suggestions are valuable and set the pace for the future of HerHeadquarters, as a product and a company. I consider it an honor to serve and cater to one of the most neglected markets in the industry.