Scrolling through Luz Plaza’s Instagram account is like peeking at the ultimate inspiration board. Mantras reading “Do No Harm (But Take No Shit)” and “Supporting Another Woman’s Success Won’t Ever Dampen Yours” appear next to artfully crafted photos of lattes, colorfetti foods, and of course, her shiba inus! In short: It’s often where the I Want Her Job team goes for a burst of inspiration before a monotonous Monday.
It should come as no surprise then that Luz devotes her days to crafting content. Specifically, for Dermstore, a dermatologist-backed online shopping destination owned by Target Corporation offering honest and thoughtful guidance for its customers. As director of content for the brand, Luz drives the overall content-marketing and execution for the site. From blogs and newsletters, to partnerships and social media, Luz and her team have created a beautiful and engaging source for the conscious skin care shopper.
Previous to her current role, Luz served in content positions at Demand Media’s Livestrong.com and Beachbody. She’s also the curator of If I Could Only Share 5 Things With You – a monthly email of can’t-miss links to useful, interesting and cool stories on content, career and life.
What was your first job out of college?
My first job out of college was actually two jobs. I had a paid internship with the National Council for International Visitors in D.C. (a nonprofit that works with the Department of State) and I was waiting tables — all while looking for my first “real” job. But, my first official job was as a grassroots events coordinator for a multicultural advertising agency.
What has been your career path from this job to your current role at Dermstore?
Soon after I was hired as an events coordinator, the job evolved into something more: events coordinator and junior account executive. When you work at small agencies, you become a bit of a MacGyver due to limited resources. When social media started playing a bigger role in the business world, I pushed to incorporate it into our workflow. Keep in mind that just 10+ years ago, online content marketing and social media were not on everyone’s priority list. But the last agency I worked with allowed me to play around in that space, and for that I’m thankful.
How do you organize your day?
I’m a huge fan of blocking out time on my calendar and doing the thing I want to do least first. Prioritization is key, and when you work with a team of people, it’s crucial to not be the bottleneck. I also try to handle external calls and meetings in the morning in case there are action items that need to be addressed.
What types of responsibilities fall under you as director of content?
I drive the overall content-marketing strategy and execution for the site. That includes on-site content (blog, content-driven resource centers, newsletters, etc.), content distribution and partnerships, video, social media, influencer management, community and SEO.
What qualities do you look for in those you hire to be a part of your team?
A strong work ethic really tops the list for me; that’s something you can’t teach. I also look for resourcefulness. You can’t expect people to know everything, so the ability to figure things out fast and independently is key. And finally, I would say the ability to execute ideas. Plenty of people can come up with ideas, but if you can’t see them through, they really don’t have much value.
Do you feel that you have a good work/life balance or do you have more of a work/life integration?
I do have a good work/life balance, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve found that it’s much easier to have a good balance when you like what you do.
What is an accomplishment on your resume that you’re most proud of?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say “everything.” It’s a bit like building blocks — one accomplishment really couldn’t have happened without the others.
What types of content stand out to you?
Content that is useful, entertaining and speaks clearly to the target audience. I love theSkimm newsletter; it gets tone and voice right to resonate well with their audience. Goop.com does a terrific job of being unapologetically themselves. Nyx has done a fantastic job using user-generated content to build its brand. I’m also a fan of LinkedIn: Getting professionals to promote themselves by writing and building a robust library of content for themselves is pretty smart. Another company who uses content wisely is Houzz. From visual shopping, to a mini series with Ashton Kutcher that showcases the site’s functionalities, to leveraging their own community of experts to generate content (much like LinkedIn) — really kind of brilliant.
What are three pieces of career advice you wish everyone knew and understood?
1. If you are not happy at your job, leave as soon as you can. You’re not doing yourself any favors by sticking around.
2. Stop looking for a mentor. Really. Focus on building relationships and the mentorship piece will fall into place naturally. Walking up to someone you admire and asking them to be your mentor out of thin air doesn’t always work out. People with whom you have a relationship are more likely to dedicate time to you – plus, they’ll know you better and be better suited to mentor you.
3. For interviews, dress up and over-prepare. A neat trick a recruiter taught me once was to put together a “They Need / I Have” list. In one column, you break down all the requirements for the job and on the other, you match your resume to their needs. I know it seems like something that is too simple to qualify as “great advice,” but I promise you it works. In the process, even things that are not on your resume but are related to the job will probably come to mind. You’ll not only be super prepared for the interview; you’ll feel it too.
Regardless of your career path, what do you think makes a good manager?
Managing people isn’t easy and in order to be good at it — like with many things in life — you need practice. Sure, there are probably some folks who are just naturally great at it. But that’s not the case for most, and it definitely wasn’t for me.
I had to work at it; I made mistakes and now I know better. If there’s one single thing that has helped me be a better manager, it’s this: If my feedback doesn’t improve the outcome by at least 10 percent, I save it. Nitpicking everything because it’s “not how I would have done it” only disempowers employees and kills team morale. Here’s a great interview with Jonathan Klein from Getty Images in which he makes that precise point.