All Posts in Events

July 23, 2018

Interview with Product Gym on Product Manager Soft Skills

Product Gym, a company that provides tools for people looking to transition into product management, invited me to speak at their event highlighting Women in Product Management, and interviewed me on crucial soft skills that make for effective product managers. The interview, originally posted on their blog, is pasted below:

 

PRODUCT GYM: What is your definition of Product Management?

NICOLE LENZEN: Product Management involves the definition, build, launch, and iteration of a product. In terms of the role itself, I think what you said about product management being so different depending on the organization is really key. Maybe you’re very technical, or design-oriented, or have a strong business mind. However, there are some general areas of expertise that overlap whether you're working for a product-based startup, doing digital transformation within a large company, or working within the growth hacking space.

I think one of them is being able to communicate at all levels to all different types of backgrounds. It’s really having that right brain/left brain thinking to understand either a designer, engineer, or business person and communicate and translate the ideas and concepts of each of those various groups to the other. There’s also a lot of communication up and down, so at one moment you may be working in the weeds and the nitty-gritty, and the next moment at a very high level with executives and key stakeholders, so being able to again translate and communicate with the right fidelity is important. Does that make sense?

 

PRODUCT GYM: Absolutely.

NICOLE LENZEN: That's just one thing. There are other things too that I can quickly tick off. I think one of them is just being generally super organized and the source of truth. Being great at planning, documenting, and getting people on the same page to ensure they're all tracking towards the same vision is another that comes to mind. It’s making sure everyone is motivated towards achieving the same objectives and goals, which may be short term or long term depending on whether you're looking at an MVP, a pilot, or a really long-term calendar.

That kind of leads me to another one which is focused around leadership, and being able to really nurture your people. You're in a position where (as everyone always says) you manage product, not people. So you don't necessarily have a hierarchical position. You may not be above the people who are working on your team. However, you own the deliverables and the success of the product, and in many ways, the culture of your team. To that end you have to keep everyone engaged and feeling like they are individually contributing and growing, and that their voices are heard.

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August 1, 2017

Changing the Narrative: Girls Who Code Today Become Women in Power Tomorrow

As part of the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, I organized a day of activities for 20 Los Angeles area high school girls at BCG Digital Ventures headquarters to learn about various career paths in the digital innovation space. Throughout the day, Girls Who Code participants took a tour of our Global HQ in Manhattan Beach, saw rapid-fire presentations on what each of our cohorts do in their day-to-day jobs, had an informal Q&A with women in leadership over lunch, and participated in a design thinking workshop to help ideate products that help girls figure out “what they want to be when they grow up.” 

In the post below based on my keynote speech, I discuss the importance of women in the workforce–not just in technology, but across all industries.

Programs like Girls Who Code didn’t exist when I was in high school. As one of the few females in my computer science classes, I was used to being an outlier. But it was incredibly difficult to figure out what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” As a result, I ran a lot of experiments in real-time. After working in Silicon Valley for a stint, I pivoted my career and went back to school to study fashion design. I went on to run a number of businesses, including a consultancy in the digital space, which led to product management at BCG Digital Ventures.

The specific set of challenges women in tech face are front and center right now–and for good reason. The number of women graduating with CS degrees now is even less than when I was in school. In order to continue to make progress, we must keep this topic in the forefront.

From my experience, there is no direct path for any individual. You can play many roles in your lifetime and you don’t need to climb any particular ladder in any particular order. I believe that we should continue to introduce opportunities for young girls to explore what they enjoy and discover what they’re naturally good at doing.

As digital becomes part of everything we do, technology and new job growth are becoming synonymous. You don’t have to work at a stereotypical “tech” company if you have tech skills, and you don’t have to be a full-stack engineer to have an amazing career at a “tech” company– building game-changing products requires input from all disciplines. Within the next few years, we will see the demand for skilled workers outpace supply. There will not be enough qualified people to fill the jobs created–let alone enough female talent.

Women are typically the early adopters, accounting for–by far–the majority of spending decisions in the US. If women are the ones using the technology, then shouldn’t we be contributing to its design and development? Recently, a friend of mine working on a women’s health app noticed that every single team member (including him) was male. Something is wrong with this picture! We need balanced viewpoints and actual end-users guiding key product decisions.

When you consider that companies with women founders perform three times better than the S&P 500, and that female-operated, venture-backed companies average higher annual revenues and use less capital, it’s of paramount importance that we increase the amount of women in prominent, influential roles. Ultimately, we need to create an environment where females are securing positions of power not just in the corporate world, but as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, politicians and beyond.

It is my hope that we will eventually come to a place where gender roles no longer exist–no labeling or discrimination by race, sexual orientation, or otherwise. But the only way we are going to get there is to flood the workplace with diversity, open-mindedness and amazing talent. That’s where organizations like Girls Who Code come in. The more girls we get excited about technology, the more women we will have in the workforce in the coming years.

November 17, 2015

Recap: Pioneer Mode 2015

Last weekend marked the very first Pioneer Mode conference—two days full of inspiring conversation, problem solving, and designing. A lot of people contributed to Pioneer Mode’s success—our amazing group of speakers and workshop leaders, all of the attendees, the volunteers. Instead of hearing how great it was from us, check out all of the tweets shared using the #PioneerMode2015 hashtag throughout the course of the event.

February 11, 2015

Event Recap: Re-Live Nicole Lenzen’s Stories & Style on Twitter and Instagram

Photos by Joseph Gonzalez

Photos by Joseph Gonzalez

It doesn't get much better than a night of dress-up accompanied by two hysterical—and touching—story sessions from two empowering ladies, wine, delicious finger foods, and good company. The Nicole Lenzen team had a great time at Stories & Style and can't thank you enough for making it such a successful event. Hopefully, you've seen the photos, and maybe even found yourself in a few! (Feel free to tag and share them with your friends—you know you looked fabulous.) If you didn't make it out to the event or missed our pre-event Twitter chat, you're in luck. While social media is great for, say, sharing photos of your favorite outfits and ultra-artsy landscape shots, it's also wonderful for catching up on events you may have missed out on. We pulled together the Twitter and Instagram highlights from the #StoriesAndStyle event and conversations for your browsing pleasure.

Take a break from whatever you're doing and spend a few minutes re-visiting #StoriesAndStyle—don't forget to keep sharing your style stories and shots. We'd love to see them!

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February 9, 2015

Event Photos: Nicole Lenzen’s #StoriesAndStyle at Bene Rialto

Ophira Eisenberg, Nicole Lenzen, and Elna Baker - photo by Joseph Gonzalez

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

"One safety pin is safe. Many safety pins is fucking dangerous." - Ophira Eisenberg

If that's not a worthy motto to live by, we don't know what is. It's shared pieces of wisdom like this that made the Stories & Style event at Bene Rialto a complete success. The night was anchored by two storytelling sessions from two extremely empowering women—thanks to Ophira Eisenberg and Elna Baker for providing the laughs and all of the feels—and only made better by wonderful company and some wine-fueled dress-up. We've got photo proof of all of the beautiful faces that came by and shared the night with us. Keep following along for a few of our favorite shots, but make sure to check all of our photographs on Facebook. Tag yourself, tag your friends, tag all of the fashionistas in your life! And if you didn't get a chance to try on your favorite piece, head back on over to Bene Rialto to find the perfect Valentine's Day outfit—we hear a little red dress is the quickest way to your sweetie's heart.

Photo by Abby TKTK

Photo by Jenny Rubin

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

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January 20, 2015

Stories & Style: Comedian Mad Libs

NL-MadLibs-Header

Our Stories & Style event is coming up quick—have you RSVP'd yet? (Better get on that—the list is filling up!) We've told you all about the night's storytellers: Ophira Eisenberg, Elna Baker, and Sara Benincasa. While a bit of background information is always a good thing to have in tow when you're off to meet someone new, we wanted to give you a deeper look into the personalities and humor of these fine ladies, including our very own Nicole Lenzen. We gave them a throwback assignment of sorts, one that will look very familiar if you grew up with those handy-dandy packets called Mad Libs.

Sit back, read on, and get to know these four empowering ladies:

Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Host of NPR's Ask Me Another

Ophira 1

I  can’t leave home without red lipstick.

My go-to clothing item is a sequin top. Unless it's dirty, then I wear a dirty sequin top.

When I feel most confident I look in the mirror and say, it's better than I thought.

My best beauty tip is to smile, but never ever fake laugh.

When I wanna dance I listen to Prince. When I need to cry I listen to Joni Mitchell.

Ray LaMontagne keeps me sane.

The strangest/best compliment I’ve ever gotten was, "I've masturbated to your voice on public radio. If you're looking for something less dirty: "I can tell by looking at you that you live in a fifth floor walk up. Keep it up."

My favorite thing to do for myself is cancel everything on my schedule.

Rachel Maddow is the most empowering woman I know.

Fedora, Beret, Beanie, or Top Hat?  In this order: Beret, Top Hat, Fedora, Beanie.

When I’m looking for a pick-me-up, strong espresso, little milk (or icy vodka) is just what I need.

Purse, Backpack, Fannypack, or Pockets? Purse, Pockets—If I never see another backpack or fannypack again, that would be great.

At parties I try to stand right next to the cheese cubes.

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January 12, 2015

Stories & Style: Get to Know Writer/Comedian Sara Benincasa

Sara-Benincasa

If you haven’t already heard, we’re hosting an exclusive event at Bene Rialto in Manhattan on Thursday, January 29th from 6:30pm-9pm. Aside from meeting Nicole and having the chance to try on pieces from the Eva and Candy Collections, we’ll have delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine for you to enjoy while taking in fashion-focused, personal, storytelling performances from three amazing women—NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara BenincasaWe’re going to be sharing a little background on each of our guests over the next couple of days.

Sara Benincasa: Author, comedian, proud father, and grandfather—in her own words. Let's start by describing her as the author of this empowering body image story on Playboy.com. Whether she's sharing the power that is a boudoir photo shoot or working on her podcast In the Casa, there's one thing you can't deny: She is one refreshingly honest woman. Take this story she penned on Jezebel, for example:

I'm sorry my vagina is so sensitive.

There's a moment at which every junkie hits rock bottom. I think that was mine. I'm an apology addict. Most women I know are similarly afflicted. We think our value as females is dependent on being literally and figuratively pliable to the point of contortions that would make a pretzel or a porn star jealous. And in so doing, we not only devalue our actual important and genuine apologies ("I'm sorry I slept with your brother.") but posit ourselves as being ever in error, constantly over-speaking, overspending, over-laughing, over-crying, overeating, over-existing.

Men fear not being enough. Women fear being too much.

Sara is the best of both worlds. She can take on a powerful topic (see above), but she also knows when to keep it light. Here's proof:

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January 9, 2015

Stories & Style: Get to Know Author/Comedian Elna Baker

ElnaBaker

If you haven’t already heard, we’re hosting an exclusive event at Bene Rialto in Manhattan on Thursday, January 29th from 6:30pm-9pm. Aside from meeting Nicole and having the chance to try on pieces from the Eva and Candy Collections, we’ll have delicious hors d’oeuvres and wine for you to enjoy while taking in  fashion-focused, personal, storytelling performances from three amazing women—NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara BenincasaWe’re going to be sharing a little background on each of our guests over the next couple of days.

Meet Elna Baker. She's a published author, comedian, and "This American Life" storyteller. That tells you something, but the fact that a headline describing Elna reading "Imagine Carrie Bradshaw as a Mormon" pops up on the first page of her Google search results says a lot more. Her amazing book title alone—"The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance"—is a great indication at what you're treating yourself to with Elna. Here are a few words from others that dig a little deeper:

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January 8, 2015

Stories & Style: Get to Know NPR’s Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira 1

If you haven't already heard, we're hosting an exclusive event at Bene Rialto in Manhattan on Thursday, January 29th from 6:30pm-9pm. Aside from meeting Nicole and having the chance to try on pieces from the Eva and Candy Collections, we'll have delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine for you to enjoy while taking in  fashion-focused, personal, storytelling performances from three amazing women—NPR's Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara BenincasaWe're going to be sharing a little background on each of our guests over the next couple of days.

Without further ado, meet Ophira.

Aside from having one of the most beautiful names we've ever heard, she's the host of NPR's trivia/puzzle/game show, "Ask Me Another" (a "half raucous pub trivia, half comedy talk show with witty banter, celebrity guests, and live music blended in," to borrow some of Ophira's own words). Aside from her gig as a podcast personality, she's also a published author and stand-up comedian (with plenty of written accolades to boot). Her debut memoir, "Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy," is—according to Esquire—"a history of her bed-hopping adventures, including, among others, a one-night-stand with a cat doll fetishist and bathroom sex with the lead singer of a U2 cover band." If that doesn't reel you in, I'm not quite sure what will. (Maybe the fact that we'll be giving away a signed copy at the event.)

She has appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central, VH-1, the E! Channel, CNN, and more. Her comedy album, "Bangs!" was released last October—one lucky person will also get a signed copy at the event. Here's a peek at what you've got to look forward to on the 29th:

December 31, 2014

Event: Join Us for ‘Stories & Style’ at Bene Rialto on January 29th

Stories-and-Style-NL-520

Mark your calendars—you won't want to miss Stories & Style. Every piece of clothing and style comes with a story, whether it's something that happened while you were wearing it or the very inspiration behind the design. At Bene Rialto on Thursday, January 29th, we're joining forces with three storytellers to bring you a night of entertainment and fashion.

Come hear NPR's Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Comedian Elna Baker, and Author/Comedian Sara Benincasa recount fashion-focused tales—we guarantee you won't leave without having a laugh. You'll also be able to meet the designer and try on pieces from the Nicole Lenzen ready-to-wear collection, browse the other apparel and accessory brands featured throughout Bene Rialto's multilevel retail marketplace, and snack on some yummy appetizers and wine.

An RSVP will be required to enter, so get your name on the list for this free event quickly!

STORIES & STYLE
When: Thursday, January 29th
Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Where: Bene Rialto, 13 W 38th St. New York, NY 10018
RSVP

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