Friedman was welcomed into the Kids & Family unit last summer and was soon elevated to her current role, overseeing the creative and strategy for kids and family programming on all of WarnerMedia TV and streaming platforms, including HBO Max, Cartoon Network and Boomerang. She helped drive the launch of WarnerMedia’s new preschool programming block “Cartoonito,” which represents WarnerMedia’s biggest commitment to preschool in 100 years. Having re-entered the workforce twice after a hiatus, Friedman has a lot of advice for those getting back up on the horse. “Mostly, embrace that unique combination of deep expertise and beginner’s mind,” she says. “I like to approach a new work culture as if I am an alien interpreting it from afar. How do people communicate? Dress? Do meetings?”
Do you have an example of male allyship that made a difference to you?
Yes! While I make it my business (and my hobby!) to mentor women, my own mentoring came from two incredible male allies, Scott Webb and Tom Ascheim. Both showed me, by example, how to mentor others.
Scott was my first boss and mentor. He taught me the importance of always being on a mission for kids. To do well by doing good. He helped me, and many others, find our own unique, fearless creative voices.
Without a doubt, my deepest and most long standing ally-mentor-friend of 25 years has been with Tom Ascheim. Working with and for Tom is like taking a master class in humanity, vision, strategy, creativity, and integrity. He attracts eclectic people who are the very best at what they do, and then somehow manages to bring out the best in them with a unique combination of true kindness and refreshing honesty. To share an example, our Noggin executive team Tom built still meets multiple times a year for breakfast…12 years after we last ran the company together. Tom has taught me everything I know about authentic leadership and that continues to be the most important lesson of all – in work and in life.
Best advice for someone looking to re-enter the workforce after a hiatus?
Re-entering the workforce after a hiatus is something I have done.. twice! It is both exhilarating and exhausting, affirming and humbling. It’s also kinda’ fun!
My best, and totally non-scientific advice would be:
- If you are lucky enough to land a re-entry job that combines some real familiarity with some real newness, as I have here at Warner Media, (for example, adding the global perspective to my 30-year creative base) it puts you in the zone that combines expertise with beginner’s mind. A nice place to be!
- Even if you’ve read it before, pick up “The First 90 Days” by Michael D. Watkins. At the very least it will help you understand why you are so damn tired those first three months!
- Make time to make relationships. Work is about the humans and it’s hard to do good work without good relationships. Take notes during “meet and greets” to avoid onboarding blur and do them all year, not just the first three weeks. Some of my freshest ideas come during those open-ended conversations, when I’m not bogged down in the day-to-day.
- I try to ask that my welcome note to be delayed by a week or so after my arrival to get some context under my belt before answering all those lovely welcome emails, filled with acronyms.
- Mostly, embrace that unique combination of deep expertise and beginner’s mind. I like to approach a new work culture as if I am an alien interpreting it from afar. How do people communicate? Dress? Do meetings?
- It’s a cliché for a reason. Set boundaries! However you start is how you’ll likely continue. If you work 70 hours a week the first three weeks to “get the hang of things, “you will end up exhausted and burnt out. Not only is that hard to shake off once it’s taken hold, it sets a questionable example and an impossible standard.