Episode 1: The Sweetest Side of a Digital Marketing Industry Editor with Tobi Elkin

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Tobi has written about everyone, and now Susan gets you to the heart of Tobi. Long-time digital marketing reporter, Tobi talks to Susan about print magazines shedding brand cred on online journalism, the best and worst things about trade reporting, the "PR Rookie Move of the Century," and who might be her pet publicists. Tobi and Susan discuss shirking the Capricorn "shackles of discipline," why Tobi will always be a New Yorker, her immigrant neighborhood, her favorite Yoga move and her newest venture: content consultant for a social network targeting divorcees with a brilliant Broadway tie-in. Tobi is exploding with creativity...from blogging to Flickr-ing to TriBeca Film Festival reviews on Huffpo to polishing short fiction, she's a hot, smart, single "catch" on fire. See new sides of an industry legend in this intriguing and soulful interview.

Transcript

The Sweetest Side of a Digital Marketing and Media Industry Editor with Tobi Elkin

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by personallifemedia.com.

[Music]

Susan Bratton:  Welcome to ‘Dishy Mix’.  I'm your host Susan Bratton and on today’s show you'll get to meet Tobi Elkin.  Tobi is currently a freelance editor and a content consultant for an online social network startup. Yup, we'll get to hear about another social network startup.  We're also going to talk about Capricorns and creativity, liquor and yoga, Tribeca films and Huffpo, of course social networking and blogging and what it's like to live in an immigrant neighborhood.

So stay tuned.  We'll get Tobi on the lines.

[Music]

Susan Bratton:  I'd love to hear what you think was the most asinine PR move that someone has done on you in recorded time.  What was the biggest goof?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, you know, I don't know about the biggest goof but I think a lot of times people will pitch things that have won elsewhere, like a day or two or three or four.

Susan Bratton:  Oh yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And they have not owned up to it.  And then you have to do the research on it.  A lot of times you'll get an e-mail that was meant for someone at another publication.

Susan Bratton:  Oh yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  That happens.

Susan Bratton:  Sure.  I bet everybody listening has thought, “Oh, I've done that in some way, you know.”

Tobi Elkin: And that is actually hilarious.  It's kind of funny.  And then you find out what someone else is doing and that's always kind of a fun little moment of camaraderie.

Susan Bratton:  So if I could give you the time to do a story, I would say to you, “Tobi, I'm going to pay you $300 an hour.”

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs]

Susan Bratton:  “And I want you to take all the time that you need to turn out the best story that has happened this year in our business.”  What would that story be?  What would you write?

Tobi Elkin:  That is such an excellent question.  That is a very open ended, creative question.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  I think sometimes one has to ‘be’ versus ‘do’ and I am a real doer.  So you have to quiet your mind in order for yourself to just be and sit with your ideas or sit with nothingness so that something will come.

Susan Bratton:  Are you dating anybody or are you looking?

Tobi Elkin:  No.

Susan Bratton:  Oh.

Tobi Elkin:  I would say I don't know if I am looking.  I think it just needs to come from the sky.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm not chasing.

Susan Bratton:  Right.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm not a chaser anymore.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, but you keep your eye out.  There's nothing wrong with that, right?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I hope that it will happen.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  Oh, it will happen.  There is no doubt that anyone as beautiful and smart as you - it is just a matter of the right guy.

Tobi Elkin:  Is this a commercial?

[Music]

Susan Bratton:  Hi Tobi.

Tobi Elkin:  Hi.  How are you?

Susan Bratton: I'm great.  You know it's funny; you just recently left MediaPost.  Probably all of our listeners know you from your job as Editor-at-Large at MediaPost Communications.  You were the editor of MEDIA and OMMA magazines and you wrote a lot of content for those publications.  As well I think you handled all the online media for the ‘Online Media Daily’ and the ‘Just an Online Minute’ column.  You cranked out a ton of work there.  Is that why you left?

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs] Well, I did get tired of the daily grind.  But more than that, I think that prior even to MediaPost and working at Ad Age and Brandweek and really covering the business of digital marketing in media and advertising, I decided that instead of covering the business I really wanted to do the business and be immersed in the business and apply some of the learning and observations that I have had covering this business to really applying that knowledge and being immersed in it in a different type of way.  I also want to pursue other types of consumer writing.

Susan Bratton:  Well, so you want to get your hands dirty?  Good for you.  What area of digital marketing seemed the most interesting to you when you were behind the desk writing about it?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, you know, that's really a good question because the field has changed so much.  I remember a few years ago you couldn't get arrested with trying to write about Google in 2003 even, 2004.  And all of a sudden everything exploded.  I really think there is a lot of excitement going on.  I think social networking applications, the way that information is shared and the way that it is monetized; the business aspects are still very interesting to me.

I think that video and basically web video is going to come de rigueur and it is really going to be like TV.  I really feel that.  And I think that there are just so many little things.  Everybody is a content producer and creator and distributor.  I think that there have been more seismic shifts in the media landscape and online has been driving all of it.  So that sense, I think that there have been so many exciting things to cover and observe.  It's interesting now to stand away from it just a little bit.

Susan Bratton:  Well, before we move on to what you're doing next, I do want to cover some of the ground of what you have been doing the last, I don't know - how long has it been since you've been doing Ad Age and MediaPost?  Like 10 years?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, even before that I was freelancing for technology publications and also had worked for Brandweek briefly.  It's several years, probably almost 10 years.

Susan Bratton:  That’s what I was thinking.  It had to have been about that long.

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah, covering the business of marketing and advertising, whether it is in the tech sector or online, it all sort of morphed.  But it has been awhile.

Susan Bratton:  So what you think are the, if there are any, the journalistic peculiarities of the ad trade?

Tobi Elkin:  Oh my gosh.  That's kind of a loaded question Susan.

Susan Bratton:  Is it?  Good.  I'm glad because that's what I'm supposed to be asking.

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah I don't know that I could tell all the little secrets.

Susan Bratton:  Well give us just one at least.

Tobi Elkin:  What do you mean by peculiarities?

Susan Bratton:  Well, you tell me.  What came to your mind that you were just afraid to say to me?  Just say it anyway.

Tobi Elkin:  Well I think, as in all media and all journalism, what even makes a story, what even becomes a story is so much a judgment of the reporter and the editor you talk to.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And why they pass on things, it sometimes incredibly, incredibly arbitrary and capricious.  It's totally subjective.  It depends on the day.  It depends how busy someone is.  It's incredible.

One of the things that has really, since MediaPost is really all about the daily e-mail newsletter, we didn't do dynamic news coverage but we really had to fill this hungry beast of these newsletters.  It really was all about content, content, content.  I think that sometimes with online, any online journalist, which is all of us now, is so busy feeding the beast that the analysis and critical thinking and the ability to question something really just isn't there because you don't have time to stand away from it.  I think I have seen that over time.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  That makes sense.  And you were the Editors of the print publications MEDIA and OMMA magazines.  Do you think there is a place in the world for those now?  Were you just doing your job?

Tobi Elkin:  No, absolutely no.  I think there is a place.

Susan Bratton:  Good.

Tobi Elkin:  There is a place for not only print trades but print magazines, consumer magazines.  This is a debate that we have had endlessly with my colleagues and my former colleagues and friends.  Absolutely.  People like to touch and feel and read.  They are tactile.  It's not just people in the commuter hubs of New York City where you take trains and stuff.  Everybody likes to carry along.  They carry all their magazines along with them on their trips, air trips, and air travel.  Magazines are always going to be there.

In the case of MediaPost it's really interesting.  That is a young company.  Of course you know that it was founded by the founder of Ad Week magazine, Ken Fadner.  In that case, he was founding an online company that he needed print magazines to legitimize his brand.

Susan Bratton:  Interesting.

Tobi Elkin:  So it's quite the opposite.  MEDIA and OMMA have burnished MediaPost brand.  They are really nice showpieces and I was really proud to manage them and to provide editorial leadership.  I can honestly say that in over three years that I did almost every editorial job and some marketing too.

Susan Bratton:  What was your favorite?  What was your least favorite editorial and marketing job?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I think that my least favorite was - and it is really an essential component to every editorial publishing organization now - but my least favorite was conference planning and programming.

Susan Bratton:  Hey, that's what I do! [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah.

Susan Bratton:  You don't like that huh?

Tobi Elkin:  You certainly did it.  You hit it big time with Ad Tech.  But in terms of putting out daily publications and being a daily columnist, doing monthly magazines, arranging and lining up things, while it's really important, everybody wants editorial guidance for conferencing and conferences.  It's really important.  It was really a hard juggling act.  You're also arranging all of these kinds of arrangements when these people are your sources and you don't want to burn them out.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  So there is that.  But my favorite I think was, you know I am always a really curious person.  I like to interview people.  I like to talk to people.  I like to find out what motivates them.  And I'm a writer.  I do like to write.  I like to analyze.

Susan Bratton:  I have to say I have been very lucky in that you have never turned me down.  When I have called you up and said, “Hey Tobi, I'm doing something new.  I would like to tell you about it”, the welcome mat has been out for me with you.  I think that's probably because I have never brought you things that were not newsworthy.

But what I have always been amazed about is when you interview me you get so much content out of a very brief conversation.  It's like we talk for five minutes and you pick up every single thing and you add to it from your background.  You are really a good journalistic reporter.

Tobi Elkin:  Yes, I like the art of the interview.

Susan Bratton:  Yes.

Tobi Elkin:  I like the questioning.  I like the listening.  But also, I get so much more than I can possibly use.  This is across the board for every reporter.  You get so much.  You go really deep and then you realize, “Oh my God, I can only use like 25% or 15% of it.”

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  No, I really also respect the stories that you brought me.  I respect your ventures and your savvy.  I think also actually when I see that there is credibility and legitimacy to what someone is doing I am definitely - and also I respect you.

Susan Bratton: Thank you sweetie. [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  So I am definitely going to have more of an open mind.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  That makes sense.  A track record is an important thing for an editor - to have a track record with people who are in the industry.

I have a question for you too.  PR working move of the century - you are not currently an editor.  You are a freelance editor now, right?

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah.

Susan Bratton:  So you get a little more latitude.  I would love to hear what you think was the most asinine PR move that someone has done on you in recorded time. What was the biggest goof?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, you know, I don't know about the biggest goof but I think a lot of times people will pitch things that have won elsewhere, like a day or two or three or four.

Susan Bratton:  Oh yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And they have not owned up to it.  And then you have to do the research on it. Which is so unacceptable.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  You know, there are certain things.  We know what the pecking order is.  And that's one of the hardest things about working in trade journalism and that is one of the reasons why I needed to do something else because I don't want to be at the bottom of that pecking order.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And I think that people will resell leftovers.  That is just disrespectful at some point, at some level.  Then also, when you get pictures from people that obviously don't know what you even do or what your publication is.  It's like, “Have you done your homework?  Have you read this to see where this fits in?”

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And as far as stupidity, I really can't think of anything really that stands out.  A lot of times you'll get an e-mail that was meant for someone at another publication.

Susan Bratton:  Oh yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  That happens.

Susan Bratton:  Sure.  I bet everybody listening has thought, “Oh, I've done that in some way, you know.”

Tobi Elkin: And that is actually hilarious.  It's kind of funny.  And then you find out what someone else is doing and that's always kind of a fun little moment of camaraderie in the office.

Susan Bratton: What about publicists or PR professionals or corporations with in-house PR people that you think are really good?  Is there anybody in the industry when I say that that comes to your mind that you think, “Yeah, they do an excellent job”?

Tobi Elkin:  Well I definitely don't want to call out names on a podcast.

Susan Bratton:  OK.

Tobi Elkin:  I think I probably shouldn't do that.

Susan Bratton:  OK.

Tobi Elkin:  But yeah, there are some really good people.  I mean this is always a tricky sticky wicket, your relationship with the people who are providing the information.  Old-fashioned journalism with shoe leather used to be done and would uncover the stories.  You would have the time, which we don't have.  Some reporters at very elite publications have that time to investigate but usually what's happening is you have these relationships that are built up over years with PR people and communications Council.  It's in dribs and drabs and you build something over time or it's basically given to you.  And you have to decide what to do with it.

But I basically think that it is kind of hit or miss.  There are a handful of people who I trust.  I would want to specify names or anything.  But I think that I respect that they are trying to do their job.  They have an agenda.  I have an agenda.  And they are not always going to meet in the middle.

Susan Bratton:  So if I could give you the time to do a story, I would say to you, “Tobi, I'm going to pay you $300 an hour.”

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs]

Susan Bratton:  “And I want you to take all the time that you need to turn out the best story that has happened this year in our business.”  What would that story be?  What would you write?

Tobi Elkin:  That is such an excellent question.  That is a very open ended, creative question.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  Right now, I probably can't even think what my response would be.  I think it would probably have to do with the nature of speed on the web and creativity and who is a creator, who is an author and how everybody is now an author.  Everybody is a writer.  And everybody is a photographer.  Everybody is a director. [Laughs]

So what does that mean for craft and for art, for writing?  The fact that words are so - images will become that way too, very perishable.  What do you do with all this stuff?  With Flickr, what are they all going to do with all this?  What is YouTube going to do with all this ridiculous video?

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  You know what is that going to be for?  Nickelodeon 50 years from now?

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, good.  That was a very, very good answer.  I would like to know that.  One of the things you keep mentioning is the word creativity.  I know that is a very vital part of your personal process.  I sense that about you.

I am actually also a big believer in invoking one's native creativity.  All humans are incredibly creative animals.  What do you do, as a personal practice, to tap into that native creativity of your own?

Tobi Elkin:  Well that's something that I'm working on.  I think that's a work in progress.  I think it's really hard.  I think when you are in the service of many masters, whatever your jobs are I think that you are in service to other people's ideas.   You have to put your own personal stamp on things.

I think that is something that I working on.  I think that I do that.  I think I can invoke creativity in the choice of the assignments I choose to work on now.  I can do it in terms of writing short stories, which I work on.  Whether it is taking photographs, it's usually some type of art or even some kind of approach to a problem or helping someone with a problem or thinking through something, it is all creative thinking.  It is all creativity.

I think ultimately we all want to put something enduring in the world, so to me that's like art or writing or visual something.  To many people it is children or something that is going to endure.  And also to what extent the commercial successes attest to that.

[Music]

Susan Bratton:  We are going to take a short break to think my sponsors that I dearly appreciate and love.  When we come back, I want to talk a little bit about your creative explosion.  I see a creative explosion happening in Tobi Elkin’s life.

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs]

Susan Bratton:  So, stay tuned and we will be right back after this note from our sponsor.

[Commercial]

[Music]

Susan Bratton: We’re back and we are with Tobi Elkin.  She is a freelance editor and content consultant for an online social network startup, which of course we are going to talk to her about.  You probably know Tobi, as she was most recently Editor-at-Large at MediaPost Communications.

When we left for the break we were talking about creativity.  So Tobi, when you and I were prepping for the interview today you told me that you love taking photos, you enjoy Flickr, you have just started blogging, you're working on some video news releases where you are shooting the video yourself.

Tobi Elkin: Yeah, learning, learning.  I have to learn how to do that.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, you want to learn how to shoot and edit digital video reports.  You are writing short stories.  You're doing consultant for a social network.  You are in some massive creativity explosion.

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I hope so.  Again, it's really hard when you are in the service of other people's ideas, which I feel for most of my career I have really been focused on that stuff.  I think it's really particularly hard; it is for me I don't know about other people, to really believe in and try to cultivate the time and the space, mostly the time for your own ideas to grow. 

I think that we are living in such a sped up world.  We have so many obligations to people, to our job and to outside things that I think it is really hard, especially for women to put themselves first.  It's always sort of a struggle for that.

But yeah, I think sometimes one has to ‘be’ versus ‘do’ and I am a real doer.  So you have to quiet your mind in order for yourself to just be and sit with your ideas or sit with nothingness so that something will come.  I think this is the challenge for many people who are like me.  You are busy with yourself, busy in the world.  I think yeah, definitely I hope that I am in a creative explosion because you have to change and evolve, right?

Susan Bratton:  Absolutely.  Evolve or die.  That's what Darwin says.

Tobi Elkin:  You have to challenge yourself.

Susan Bratton:  So when you left MediaPost, right now do you have some other freelance opportunities in addition to this consultant work you are doing?  Or did you just say, “Fuck it.  I'm leaving because I need some space and this stuff will happen for me”?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, the social networking gig is a couple of months and might be longer.  I arranged for that.  I did really try to scope around for other magazine jobs and things like that.  I was at a point where I did not see - there were not any good fits.  And it was kind of like, “Wow!  I'm going to have to create my next job.”

Susan Bratton:  Good.

Tobi Elkin:  Which I believe is going to happen anyway.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, yeah.  You should do that.  That's right.

Tobi Elkin:  All I had to do was arrange for this linchpin.  I also have other freelance writing.  I like to do journalism and I think also to do arts and entertainment.  I have been doing a bit of that for APA/ASAP, which is a younger reader service for 18 to 34 year olds.  They do tons of video and they are open to a lot of interesting ideas.

Also a digital magazine called LVHRD.

Susan Bratton:  What is that LVHRD?

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah, well basically LVHRD is a social organization.  It is kind of like a creative salon that draws together people from various professions.  A lot of them happen to be in graphic design and in writing and art and that kind of thing.  But they are in science.  They are in technology.

It was basically started as this underground thing where people are alerted to these gatherings.  They are usually parties but they are also competitions.  Teams of architects will compete to construct some green project out of cheese.  That was a recent one.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs] Is it moldy cheese?

Tobi Elkin:  You are alerted by text message.

Susan Bratton:  Funny.

Tobi Elkin:  So it uses technology.  You are alerted by text message to the location of the event.  You only get that the day of the event.  So there is always a social aspect to it and there is always a challenge aspect to it.  And also there have been other events, competitive acting, comedy, creating fashion apparel out of tinfoil, all kinds of creative - they are always creative endeavors.  Sometimes they are just informational, like about a graphic artist talking about his approach versus a musician or something like that.

So they have a quarterly magazine.  It comes out on a PDF.  And obviously it is tied into sponsors.  There are sponsors for these events.  It has been spearheaded by a boutique digital agency that I know of.  That's how I got involved.

Susan Bratton:  And it's LV-

Tobi Elkin:  It’s LVHRD, which is short code for ‘live hard’.

Susan Bratton:  I like it.

Tobi Elkin:  L-I-V-E H-A-R-D.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  And it's www.LVHRD.org.

Susan Bratton:  OK.

Tobi Elkin:  And you'll see its online presence.  It is only in New York right now but I think that there are discussions about spreading it.  There have been karaoke duels.  There has been competitive eating.  I just attended a green living event where there was a fashion show of eco-friendly fashion.

Susan Bratton:  Oh, that's very hot right now.

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah. 

Susan Bratton:  Do you have any eco-fashion yourself?

Tobi Elkin: No, I don't make clothes.  I wear them.  I'm not a huge fashion plate.  I know what I like and it's pretty basic.  It's fun.  I think in New York there is so much experimentation.  You get so much inspiration just on the street.  That's why a lot of designers like to be here.

Susan Bratton:  Well, speaking of New York, you live on the lower East side, which was originally an immigrant neighborhood.  What is it about the lower East side that you like?  Where is that immigrant flavor still manifesting?  I hate to use that word because it sounds so Californian, but that's the word that came to mind. [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  It is totally pervasive.  It's pervasive still even though it is gentrifying something fierce.  New York just keeps turning over and over and over and over, every pocket of it.  Right now this neighborhood leads into Chinatown, Little Italy, the lower East side, parts of the East Village spill over.  Where I live, my pocket of it is very much a lot of families, multiethnic, multicultural, lots of Chinese spoken.  There is Hispanic and all different kinds of ethnicities and lots of hipsters.  It's all very much in the vicinity.

I think there is a lot of change going on - a lot of older, Orthodox Jews here, Hasidic Jews.  We see in this neighborhood a lot of luxury condos going up.  It's happening a very short distance from me.  So change, change, change.

Susan Bratton:  How would other people describe you?  Would they say she's a nice Jewish girl from the lower East side?  What would they say?

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs] I'm not that tribally Jewish really.  I'm like the non-Jew Jew.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  Actually I spent more time growing up with Catholics than anything.  I went to Catholic school because it was the best school.  I totally, totally assimilate and relate to non-Jews actually, more profoundly in some ways.

How would they describe me?  I really don't know.  Probably pretty intense.  I'm very curious.  I probably ask too many questions.  I'm very, very engaged with people, curious about the world, curious about people.  I like to experience new things.  I am pretty adventurous.  Overall I try to be present, you know?

Susan Bratton:  Hmm, that's nice.

Tobi Elkin:  I try to show up.

Susan Bratton:  Mmmhmm.

Tobi Elkin:  I think I am very, very - you mentioned Capricorn, which I don't know that I said that I was one.  I don't know how you -

Susan Bratton:  Well it's on your blog profile.

Tobi Elkin:  Oh!  OK.

Susan Bratton:  I think you are very Capricornian.  Capricorns are stable and serious but ambitious with a lot of discipline.  That's you.

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah.

Susan Bratton:  You are that.

Tobi Elkin: I would like to have a lot less discipline.

Susan Bratton:  Right.  You have to struggle against that.

Tobi Elkin:  I am very - I would like to jump off the discipline mobile.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  I did that when I turned 45.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm not there yet but OK.  [Laughs]

Susan Bratton:  Now you have told me you are 251.

Tobi Elkin:  Right.

Susan Bratton:  How old are you really?

Tobi Elkin:  I'm 19.  I say I am 96.  I am 96 on my MySpace.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  I am 96.  My grandmother is 96.  She is a Capricorn.

Susan Bratton:  Mmmhmm.

Tobi Elkin:  She is still putting one foot in front of the other.  But I think, you know, I think that what you are doing with your network is really interesting.  It is all about empowerment and reinvention.  Nobody is tired of that message.  People want to hear that message.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  Look at that movement - that book ‘The Secret’.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  I know.  What do you think about that?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I think it is sort of a reinterpretation of what we kind of already know from so many other places, self-help literature.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  Chopra and all the other authors.  But listen, if it can be packaged, promoted and marketed in a really easy accessible, palatable form –

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  I think it's fine.  People need to hear that this is not all there is.

Susan Bratton:  Right.

Tobi Elkin:  They can make some change.  I think everybody is looking to make a positive impact and to change.  I think it hit the cultural zeitgeist.  And of course, it didn't hurt to be on Oprah.

Susan Bratton:  I would love to be on Oprah.  How about you?

Tobi Elkin:  I don't know that I really have anything worth talking about on Oprah.

Susan Bratton:  Oh God, I do.

Tobi Elkin:  If I had a book or something.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs] Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  Then I would be on Oprah - or if I was in a movie or if I was making a film or something, then I would say, “Yeah’.  Or if I was part of a team of people doing something very worthy for humankind - but right now I think I have to work my way onto her.  But I think you could be on Oprah.

Susan Bratton:  I am ready to go.  Hook me up Tobi.

Tobi Elkin:  Well, get to her Booker.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs] I should.  So you have talked in this interview about how hard it is to ‘be’ versus ‘do’.  You have mentioned to me that you are taking yoga.  I am hearing a bit of the California happening in my nice New Yorker friend.

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs]

Susan Bratton:  What is your favorite yoga move?  What is your posture?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I'm not really very good at it.  I’m just taking the classes that are at the gym right now.

Susan Bratton:  Good for you.

Tobi Elkin:  Until I decide that I can really commit to a real studio kind of thing.  I don't know.  I like basic things like sun salutation and downward facing dog.

Susan Bratton:  Downward dog?  I have a funny story.  I asked David Herscott, he is the president of MEA digital out in San Diego - I interviewed him.  He is a lovely, lovely man.  He does yoga.  He is big into surfing and yoga.  He is a gorgeous, tall, handsome California boy.  I could just eat him up.   I asked him what his favorite yoga pose was.  He told me shevasana.

Tobi Elkin:  Oh!

Susan Bratton:  I was like, “David, that's the one where you just lie down at the end, isn't it?” [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  How about the child's pose?

Susan Bratton:  And he said, “I like the one where you lie down at the end.”  He said, “It’s more than it looks like because you're supposed to be integrating all you learned.”  I was like, “Get out!  You're just lying down at the end.  I can understand why that is your favorite yoga posture.”  [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  How about child's pose?

Susan Bratton:  I like that too.

Tobi Elkin:  But I think that yeah, I always liked California.  I love coming to visit.  As for staying, I would need to have a damn good reason to stay.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  I love coming there though.  I really do.  I love the area where you are.

Susan Bratton:  So now what's happening in the dating scene?  You are single right?

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah.  Oh God.

Susan Bratton:  Are you divorced?

Tobi Elkin:  Is this for public consumption?  This is a little too out there.

Susan Bratton:  Oh no.

Tobi Elkin:  Thank God I'm not still at MediaPost, right?

Susan Bratton:  [laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  Yes I am a free agent in all aspects.

Susan Bratton:  Now have you been married before?

Tobi Elkin:  No.  You are.

Susan Bratton:  So you are waiting.  I am very happily married.  About 15 years into our marriage we crashed and burned.  It was horrible.  Then I went all these marriage, intimacy, and transformational things with my husband.  That's what got me into the whole Personal Life Media deal.  It was like, “Wow, these people are incredible!”

Tobi Elkin:  Well, you have to be doing it.  It's applicable to you and everyone.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  To everyone, right.  Yeah.  So now are you dating anybody or are you looking?

Tobi Elkin:  No.

Susan Bratton:  Oh.

Tobi Elkin:  I would say I don't know if I am looking.  I think it just needs to come from the sky.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm not chasing.

Susan Bratton:  Right.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm not a chaser anymore.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah, but you keep your eye out.  There's nothing wrong with that, right?

Tobi Elkin:  Well, I hope that it will happen.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.  Oh, it will happen.  There is no doubt that anyone as beautiful and smart as you - it is just a matter of the right guy.

Tobi Elkin:  Is this a commercial?

Susan Bratton:  No, not at all dear. Not at all.

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs]

Susan Bratton:  You really have so much happening.  So I think it is just waiting for the right guy.

Tobi Elkin:  So it's ironic that I am working to help cultivate content for a divorced social networking community.

Susan Bratton:  Right.  I love how you changed the subject.  And I'm going to allow it.  [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs] You can change it back.  It's your show.

Susan Bratton:  [laughs] That’s true. [Laughs]  No but I do want to talk about that and we don't have much time left so let's go there.  Let's just go right there.  But I'm going to post that beautiful picture of you on the ‘Dishy Mix’ blog, so if anyone is listening who has been as captivated by you as I am, maybe they'll look you up.

Tobi Elkin:  That’s a self-portrait.

Susan Bratton:  It's really pretty.  I like it.

Tobi Elkin:  The one you like it is a self-portrait.

Susan Bratton:  That's the one I'm going to put up.  You're very soft and beautiful there.

First Wives World - this is your social network.  Tell us about it.

Tobi Elkin:  It’s a work in progress.

Susan Bratton:  OK.

Tobi Elkin:  Basically I have been contracted by the producers of a new Broadway show that is going to come to Broadway.  The projected timeframe is September 2008.  They have the right to First Wives Club, the book by Olivia Goldsmith and the movie and they are producing a Broadway show, which will be very high profile.  One of the major elements of this enterprise in addition to them building the musical, which is going to be scored by Holland/Dosier/Holland - they are famous for all the Motown hits and for being behind the Supremes and writing all those wonderful songs - they are building an online community for divorced women in all various stages, whether you're thinking about it, whether you are two years out of it.  The effects if you have children, you are basically divorced, for a very long time you have to go through the children marriages and everything.

It's going to be a community that exists online.  It's going to have web video, an online blogger and a lot of off-line tentacles.  It will live on.  It's not just for the purposes of marketing the show.  It's going to be a vibrant community that is designed to live on beyond that.

Susan Bratton: It sounds like a lot of fun.  I think that it's really smart to have a community around that issue. Have you seen - I like this new website Spire - S-P-I-R-E.

Tobi Elkin:  I’m not familiar with that.

Susan Bratton:  OK. Check it out when we're done or whenever you get a chance.  It's a new social networking site and it sucked me in.  Somebody send me an e-mail, maybe Mark Dorff or somebody – ‘Hey, check this out.  It's a way you can get in early and see this before goes live.’

I'm not sure if it's live or not.  I don't even know if they have launched yet.  But I went into it and like 45 minutes later I reemerged into my life.  It was people asking other people for personal help.  It was like Yahoo Answers apply to things like, “I have to go to Beijing in August and I'm thinking about taking my kids.  They are 7 and 10.  Should I do it?”  It's like, “Oh yeah.”

I answered of course, and here's what you should do.  Those are great ages.  You should take your kids to Beijing.  There's plenty of great food and these things to do and you've got to climb the Great Wall and go for it, you know.

There are so many people asking for vertical information that other people can provide to them, especially around divorce.  Wow.  What a great application.

Tobi Elkin:  Right.  Well you know, legal, financial, there is all of -

Susan Bratton:  Yes.

Tobi Elkin:  These content areas.

Susan Bratton:  Well and there are so many different courses of action a person can take and it's so highly individualized.

Tobi Elkin:  Yeah.

Susan Bratton:  Based on your morals and your situation that it's really actually nice to hear 10 different women who have solved a single question in 10 entirely different ways.  So I think having it move from experts to individual practitioners, people who have just had an experience, being able to relate to each another, is such a powerful application for beyond social networks, just connection.

Tobi Elkin:  Right.  Yeah.  Right.  And people wanting to share and relate experiences, be mentors to one another, help each other out - there is a lot of potential.  And there is certainly a lot of off-line potential for people to get support.

Interestingly, the subject of divorce is just always, always there.  There are more divorces - there are 40 million divorced women in the US.  Half of all marriages end in divorce and it's not just the women that are profoundly affected but I know that USA Network is premiering ‘The Starter Wife’ on May 31.  That's sort of a pop-culture item.  I don't know if you know that book.

Susan Bratton:  What is that?  Is the first wife the starter wife?

Tobi Elkin:  The Starter Wife is a book.  It is a six episode series starring Debra Messing and Joe Mantegna.  It's going to start on May 31 on USA Network.  The book was written by Gigi Levangie Grazer who is the wife of the Uber producer in Hollywood, Brian Grazer.

Susan Bratton:  Oh, right.  Right.

Tobi Elkin:  She has been up close and right in front of the battle lines of all kinds of high profile Hollywood divorces.  So she wrote this book.  It is sort of a beach read.  But she wrote this book.  I think it was a bestseller.  And they made this mini TV event out of it.

The story is about - it tells the story of a character who is played by Debra Messing where she is basically 41 or so and she's kicked to the curb for a younger edition, of course.  She's got a child, one child at least I think.  It's about how, in that culture of that sort of very elite LA culture, she is sort of expelled from her groups of friends, the friends that they had together.  There is a social stratification that occurs.  It's about her journey from Brentwood to finding her own sense of self and empowerment.

She ends up at a friend's beach home in Malibu, which there could be worse places.  The friend is played by Judy Davis.  But anyway, it is sort of divorce in popular culture.

Susan Bratton:  You know, it's funny, you've never been married.  I am married and I do not want to get divorced.  And here we are talking about divorce.

Tobi Elkin:  I know.

Susan Bratton:  Divorce is like cancer to me.  I don't like to read about it.  I don't like to think about it.  If it happens to me I will Google the shit out of it and deal with it, you know what I mean.  [Laughs]

Tobi Elkin:  Right.

Susan Bratton: I don't even like to read it.

Tobi Elkin:  It's so ironic that the girl who has never been married is doing divorce things now.  But you know it doesn't really matter.  I think that people are coming from all different points of view working on this venture with me.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  Definitely.  We are all totally coming at different things.  I am working with a branding agency in which the person, the principal has been divorced twice.  That helps form things.  But you know everybody brings a little something.  It's like well what is someone looking for?  They are looking for basic information.  They're looking for solace.  They're looking for basic information, legal information.  They're looking for how to get a mortgage.  They're looking for how to deal with the emotional problems of children.  There are just so many factors to it.  It is just another kind of life stage.

Susan Bratton:  Well, and it's probably a nice break for you from search engine marketing and e-mail marketing and rich media and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Tobi Elkin:  [laughs] You said it. You said it, not me.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  I'm still doing some of that stuff.

Susan Bratton:  Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  So –

Susan Bratton:  Well, you're good at it.

Tobi Elkin:  But it's a break.  A nice break.

Susan Bratton:  It pays the bills.  All right, so my last question - we are going to wrap up here - I would love for you to ask our listeners for anything that we can do for you.  You are now a freelancer.  If there is a particular job you would love to have or something you would like to do, ask us.

Tobi Elkin:  That’s a great question.  Well, I think my next job I will probably create.  I will probably try to create something but yeah, just in general I am moving into the consumer media space.  I think that one of my little journalistic dream jobs would be to be like Teri Gross on NPR and interview all the arts and entertainment people, that kind of thing.  Or the Charlie Rose roundtable –

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Tobi Elkin:  He gets all the important thinkers and the movers and the shakers.  I think that would be awesome.

Susan Bratton:  It sounds like you are interested in moving into entertainment.

Tobi Elkin:  Maybe.

Susan Bratton:  So anybody out there who is listening to ‘Dishy Mix’ who has connections in the entertainment industry for a fabulous writer, call Tobi.  How's that?

Tobi Elkin:  That’s good.

[Music]

Susan Bratton:  [laughs] Well we wish you all the best.  We can't wait to see First Wife's World.  We can't wait to see your name in print all over the place.  And we will have you back in six months to a year when you have all this new stuff going on and we will find out what is up with you.  How's that sound?

Tobi Elkin:  Great.

Susan Bratton:  That sounds great to me too Tobi.  Thank you so much for being on today.

Tobi Elkin:  Thank you.

Susan Bratton:  It was my pleasure.  I am your host Susan Bratton and I will see you next week.  Have a great day today.

[Music]

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