Sarah Cooper: Behind the Scenes with the Creator of "10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings"

Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpris a writer, comedian and creator of satirical blog The Cooper Review, which attracts more than 500K page views per month. Her work has appeared on The Washington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider, and Huffington Post. Sarah has over 15 years of experience in the corporate world including Yahoo, Google, before leading to her first viral article, “10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings” and my personal favorite, 9 Nodding Strategies for Your Next Meeting. Her first book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings, was released on October 4, 2016.

Discovering Sarah's work and interviewing her on Feisworld was a journey on its own. From a job at a graphic design agency as a receptionist, to a designer (at a different agency), to 3 years at Yahoo before transitioning back to an acting career, to 20K in debt before a friend referred Sarah to land a good job as a design manager at Google, where she met the love of her life.

That's precisely why I enjoyed talking to Sarah and have her share the not-obvious stories of her upbringing. Sarah's mother is half German and her father is half Chinese. Her family moved to Washington, DC when she was three. Due to medical struggles of her two sisters, Sarah had to be strong, who paid close attention others' feelings and needs before her own.

This trait enabled her to discover and pay attention to things that most people experience, but can't grasp easily.  I think that's why Sarah is successful in what she does, why she can read and walk in between the lines, and why she effortlessly finds humor in boring topics.

Show Notes

  • [05:00] How was the experience of being interviewed by Srini Rao (on the Unmistakable Creative Podcast)?

  • [09:00] You are becoming really popular, with thousands of subscribers and a book just released. How did all of this happened?

  • [18:00] When you released ‘10 tricks to appear smart in meetings’, why do you think it went viral? Did you have a large audience?

  • [20:00] Are your content popular on (a professional network) such as LinkedIn?

  • [21:00] What types of feedback have you received from LinkedIn?

  • [25:00] What is your feeling about our tendency to take our jobs more seriously than we should?

  • [28:00] How would you recommend friends, or people outside of your field, that they could have a career like yours as well?

  • [30:00] Did you transfer any knowledge from previous corporate experience to your life as a consultant/freelancer?

  • [34:00] What was it like to grow up in such a multicultural environment (Jamaica to the United States)?

  • [35:00] What was it like to move to the US, comparing other experience of yours in Jamaica?

  • [39:00] Can you tell us a little bit more about your family, and how did they instill your values and influence your persona?

  • [42:00] How do you manage exploring new types of humor, given that your audience expect more corporate humor [48:00] Sarah’s comments on comparing the creative work vs. the corporate work lifestyles

  • [49:00] What are some of the things that people don’t know about you?

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Favorite Quotes:

  • [23:00] In the business world, where people do have careers, the context of [my humor] can be off-putting. Sometimes it pisses them off.

  • [25:00] I almost feel bad that I couldn’t take my job that seriously. I couldn’t take those meetings seriously, it was so awkward, there was so much passive aggressive stuff going around...

  • [26:00] People wanted to be in the meetings with me because I was always cracking jokes…

  • [29:00] Do as much as you can while you have a full time job.

  • [33:00] In Jamaica, people are mixed already but here (in the US), people do want to know where you are from and [...] that obsession with what I am is what I was really surprised when I moved here.

  • [36:00] What can I do to fit in this tech world? What can I do to fit in in this meeting and make people think that I know what I’m talking about?

  • [37:00] That’s been the heart of my comedy, that set of unspoken rules that these societies have, because as an immigrant you are coming into it from a different perspective…

  • [48:00] It is just so hard to start from zero but you have to remember that everyone starts from zero. You have no idea what other people are going through (have gone through).

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