SPEAKER INTERVIEW: Tereza Nemessanyi

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This is a series of interviews with the speakers of Digital Family Summit, June 29-July 1.
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Tereza NemessanyiTereza Nemessanyi is Co-Founder and CEO of Honestly Now, the website and apps where your friends and smart strangers give you advice on all your burning questions. A seasoned media and tech entrepreneur, she was the first employee of CETV, which IPO’d in 1995. Tereza has worked at senior levels with dozens of companies including PwC, The Walt Disney Company, Unilever and Interpublic. She was named one of Forbes’ “Top Ten Female Entrepreneurs to Watch” (2011), and gained wide acclaim with her Reuters Op Ed proposing an “XX Combinator”, to overcome the barriers which keep women out of venture-grade tech entrepreneurship. She has an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania; however, her deepest inspiration comes from her mother, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia who restarted her own career at age 40. She lives in New York with her husband and two young daughters.

twitter: @TerezaN
website: Honestly Now
session: Becoming An Overnight Sensation, Saturday June 30, 8:45 AM

How did you get involved with blogging?
Well, it’s part of my talk — but basically I started reading venture capital blogs, and realized on some of the best ones the best part was actually the comment section. I started leaving comments, which led to blogging, tweeting, tumbling….and building my own platform for asking and answering great questions.

What’s your favorite technology to help you blog/write/tweet/edit?
Sorry for the #shamelessplug but I have to say, my site HonestlyNow.com! You can ask and answer really interesting everyday questions and access experts of all kinds — college admissions, relationships, parenting, social media, finance — anything. It makes for great sharable content that’s worth tweeting, sharing and pinning. And if you are someone building your online profile, you’ll want to be an expert there and get our Ask Me widget on your own site or blog — so your growing followers can ask you questions anytime.

What blogs do you read regularly?
It’s not family-related but he’s a family guy — I have to say Fred Wilson at AVC.com, for what’s going on in the web industry. And then there’s Jerry Colonna at www.themonsterinyourhead.com. We’re all trying to push the envelope and create new things. That is scary sometimes, and Jerry’s wise posts help me keep even keel. Finally, my friend Whitney Johnson, author of recently published “Dare, Dream, Do” writes at http://whitneyjohnson.com. She was recently named one of INC’s top 12 people to follow on Twitter and her posts always get me thinking.

If you could travel back in time and send yourself a message, what would it be?
A: Dear 13-year-old Tereza,
I love you, but stop letting worry over what other people think keep you from getting your voice out there. Say what you mean and say it early and often. People want to hear it. By all means darling, spend a bit less time trying to please others. When you let your creativity fly, great things happen. So let them. Never be ashamed of putting yourself out there. You’re awesome.
Love, 41-year-old Tereza

I structured this on purpose, using a trick I learned in the back of my mom’s car listening to Mary Kay sales tapes. The wise Pink Lady herself used to say‚ “handle criticism carefully, in a sandwich of praise. Pay a compliment, then give the criticism, and then pay a new compliment.”  They never taught us this at Wharton, but it is probably the best piece of business advice I ever got.

Any advice for young bloggers?
Just do it! it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get it out there and iterate.

What’s the biggest danger facing digital teens & their families today?
I think the biggest risk is isolation from each other. And the best antidote to that I know is, every evening, to step away from the screens and eat dinner together. Make eye contact, have real conversations. We have to access each others’ 3-dimensional selves to know what’s really up.

What are you going to talk about at the conference?
I’ll share the secrets of my overnight success — which took me from my house in the woods to the center of the tech scene. I call it my “100/1000” strategy — and it works!

What’s next for you after the Digital Family Summit?
I am very focused on rolling out our fantastic new product called Honestly Expert (www.honestlyexpert.com). I believe that everyone has an Expert voice which can be revealed and used to grow your personal brand and push out great content, every day. We are working with major sites to install Ask Me widgets on their sites for their top experts. But we are available to unknown and rising experts of all topics as well — whether it’s about college, art, social media, fashion and beauty, sports. If you know a lot about a topic, you can be an expert and hold court for questions.

Anything else you’d like to tell us?
Nope, just that I’m so excited to join you. To me, it all starts and ends with Family. So I can’t think of an event I’d more enjoy being part of. See you soon!

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 Adam Gertsacov is the co-founder and co-organizer of Digital Family Summit.  He wears many hats, including those of a professional clown, an author and publisher, an artist/educator, a non-profit administrator, a P.T. Barnum impersonator, a flea circus impresario, and the esteemed hat of the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Maryland.  

In his copious freetime, he blogs at http://www.clownlink.com and http://www.dadapalooza.com, as well as a few other places.
You can find out more about his clown work at http://www.acmeclown.com

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