#SWAAYthenarrative

Why I Pivoted from 8 Years at a Hedge Fund to Becoming a Voice Industry Expert

4min read
Career

Being an expert in the voice space wasn't always my calling - I was previously in the finance world as Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Strategy at a global alternative investment firm where I spent eight years.


I had been on the sidelines of emerging tech for many years because my husband is in the tech space, and I saw a huge opportunity in the voice industry. I believe it's the next frontier in tech and will be as important as web and mobile and as a way we interact with technology -- after all, speaking is the most natural way that we communicate. Voice is one of the fastest adopted technologies ever -- just 5 years after Amazon first introduced the Echo in 2014, 1 out of 4 adults in the US has a smart speaker. It's also on the cusp of a huge wave of monetization as smart displays with screens get in the hands of more consumers. Voice commerce is where mobile commerce was, not that long ago!

As a consumer, I also noticed the disconnect between, on the one hand, the fast adoption and remarkable capabilities of smart speakers with built-in voice assistants like Alexa, and on the other hand, how people were using their smart speakers. Half of smart speaker owners have never even tried a third party voice app (that's like saying half of iPhone owners have never downloaded an app from the App Store).

It was clear to me that the millions of people with Alexa in their homes are not unlocking the full potential of Alexa and other voice technologies -- and that they needed a trusted third party resource to help guide them. That's why I started VoiceBrew as the first-ever digital media company fully dedicated to helping people get the most out of Alexa. We're a one-stop shop for everything you need to know to get the most out of Alexa.

VoiceBrew offers comprehensive guides on a range of Alexa features and devices, advice for users, and a variety of simple and insightful tips & tricks for unlocking Amazon Alexa's full potential - and it's a great resource for busy female professionals.

Here are VoiceBrew's tips on 4 easy ways Alexa can help boost productivity:

#1. Alexa flash briefings provide your daily news in just a few minutes

Why?

If you find that your mornings are crunched for time, but still want to hear the latest news before starting your day, you'll love listening to your Alexa flash briefing.

Alexa flash briefings are short, 2-4 minute clips from your favorite news sources. Whether you prefer to listen to NPR, BBC or even your local TV station, there are thousands of briefings to choose from! And since the clips are so short, you can easily enjoy a few as you go through your morning routine.

How?

You can easily start listening to flash briefings with one minute or less of set-up.

To add your favorite news sources' flash briefings to your personal flash briefing list: Open your Alexa app, tap the hamburger icon in the upper left corner > tap "Settings" > (scroll down and) tap "Flash Briefing" > tap "Add Content" > search for a flash briefing by tapping the magnifying glass in the top right corner > tap "Enable to Use" > repeat for additional briefings.

To listen: Just say "Alexa, play my news" to hear your daily briefing.

#2. Linking your calendar to Alexa enables hands-free time management

Why?

Need to add a new event to your calendar? Put your phone down and give hands-free a try! Gone are the days of picking up your phone, opening the calendar app, creating a new event… you get the idea. Alexa integrates with all popular calendars, making it easier than ever to hear your daily schedule or even create an event.

How?

To link your calendar to Alexa: Open your Alexa app, tap the hamburger icon in the upper left corner > tap "Settings" > (scroll down and) tap "Calendar & Email" > tap "Add Account" > tap your calendar service name (Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) > toggle "Calendar" on > tap "Connect Account" button > follow simple linking instructions.

To get or add calendar info: For a birds-eye view of your schedule, ask "Alexa, what's on my schedule today?" And the next time you need to schedule an event, just say "Alexa, schedule (appointment name like lunch with Kathy) on (date) at (time)."

#3. Let Alexa guide you through a five-minute workout

Why?

Crunched for time, and finding it hard to sneak in even a short workout? Alexa can help. Whenever you're ready for a small burst of activity, use Alexa's Five Minute Workout skill for five minutes of fat-burning fun.

The best part? These exercises can be done in a small area, making it perfect for a 3pm pick-me-up at the office — or even a morning workout in your hotel room when you're traveling (you can always access Alexa via the Alexa app on your phone).

How?

To enable the skill, tap/click here > tap/click the "Enable" button.

To get started with your workout, just say "Alexa, open five-minute workout."

Pro Tip

When you're ready to step it up a notch, set an automatic Alexa reminder by saying "Alexa, remind me to exercise every day at 3 pm."

#4. Calm your mind and increase focus with a meditation led by Alexa

Why?

Exercising the mind is as important as exercising the body. Research has shown that meditation can help you make smarter choices and increase your ability to focus by 14%. Even a short meditation equal to the time it takes to grab your afternoon coffee can work wonders.

And if you're new to meditation, don't worry: the Headspace Alexa skill has everything you need to get started. The first time you use it, Alexa will walk you through a brief demo to bring you up to speed.

How?

To enable Headspace, tap/click here > tap/click the "Enable" button.

Then, just say "Alexa, open Headspace" to get started.

Pro Tip

To unlock more meditations, create a Headspace account (or connect an existing account by following Alexa's prompts).

3 min read
Culture

Please Don't Forget to Say Thank You

"More grapes, please," my daughter asked, as she continued to color her Peppa Pig drawing at the kitchen table.

"What do you say?" I asked her, as I was about to hand her the bowl.

"More grapes?"

I shook my head.

"Please?"

I stood there.

"I want green grapes instead of red grapes?"

I shook my head again. I handed her the bowl of green grapes. "Thank you. Please don't forget to say thank you."

"Thank you, Momma!"

Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children?

Many of us are busy training our young children on manners on the other side of the Zoom camera during this pandemic. Reminding them to say please, excuse me, I tried it and it's not my favorite, I am sorry, and thank you. And yet somehow simple manners continue to be undervalued and underappreciated in our workplaces. Because who has time to say thank you?

"Call me. This needs to be completed in the next hour."

"They didn't like the deck. Needs to be redone."

"When are you planning on sending the proposal?"

"Did you see the questions he asked? Where are the responses?"

"Needs to be done by Monday."

Let me take a look. I didn't see a please. No please. Let me re-read it again. Nope, no thank you either. Sure, I'll get to that right away. Oh yes, you're welcome.

Organizations are under enormous pressure in this pandemic. Therefore, leaders are under enormous pressure. Business models collapsing, budget cuts, layoffs, or scrapping plans… Companies are trying to pivot as quickly as possible—afraid of extinction. With employees and leaders everywhere teaching and parenting at home, taking care of elderly parents, or maybe even living alone with little social interaction, more and more of us are dealing with all forms of grief, including losing loved ones to COVID-19.

So we could argue we just don't have time to say thank you; we don't have time to express gratitude. There's too much happening in the world to be grateful for anything. We are all living day to day, the pendulum for us swinging between surviving and thriving. But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?

If you don't think you have to say thank you; if you don't think they deserve a thank you (it's their job, it's what they get paid to do); or if you think, "Why should I say thank you, no one ever thanks me for anything?" It's time to remember that while we might be living through one of the worst recessions of our lifetimes, the market will turn again. Jobs will open up, and those who don't feel recognized or valued will be the first to go. Those who don't feel appreciated and respected will make the easy decision to work for leaders who show gratitude.

But if we don't have the time to be grateful now, to show gratitude and thanks as we live through one of the most cataclysmic events in recent human history, when will we ever be thankful?

Here's the question at hand: Do we have to retrain our leaders to say thank you like I am training my children? Remind them with flashcards? Bribe them with a cookie? Tell them how I proud I am of them when they say those two magical words?

Showing gratitude isn't that difficult. You can send a thoughtful email or a text, send a handwritten card, send something small as a gesture of thank you, or just tell them. Call them and tell them how thankful you are for them and for their contributions. Just say thank you.

A coworker recently mailed me a thank you card, saying how much she appreciated me. It was one of the nicest things anyone from work has sent me during this pandemic. It was another reminder for me of how much we underestimate the power of a thank you card.

Apparently, quarantine gratitude journals are all the rage right now. So it's great if you have a beautiful, leather-bound gratitude journal. You can write down all of the people and the things that you are thankful for in your life. Apparently, it helps you sleep better, helps you stay grounded, and makes you in general happier. Just don't forget to take a moment to stop writing in that journal, and to show thanks and gratitude to those you are working with every single day.