Red Chair Event (Much Better Than a Redrum Event)

This is it, gentle reader.  The last blog of 2013 and well…the last blog for me.  I hope you readers have found it to be a lot of fun, very educational and more than a little bit wacky!  I know that’s how I feel about the last two years.  I’ll see you all at a CMA event on the other side of 2013!  Happy holidays and may the new year be prosperous for everyone!  So say we all!

At last month’s Red Chair, Amy Friedman sat down with President of Nickelodeon Cyma Zarghami for an informal chat about life at the slime time network.


Cyma got her start at Nickelodeon as a scheduling clerk and became General Manager after 10 years, 10 years after that she became president.  Cyma’s job as president is to coordinate all the different departments.  She bridges digital and TV and every other department you can think of.  Cyma said when looking for a job it should be at a company you like and respect, that makes a product you like and/or a company with people that you love and respect.  She was fortunate enough to find all three at Nick.

So what was it like in the early days of the network?  Well, for one thing there was only a small conference room, it was a scrappy place where they made up rules as they went.  And they’re pretty much still doing that today.  Nick has to change when kids change and with the right amount of data and observation you can convince people that change is a good thing.  The role of Nickelodeon is to make kids laugh and the millennials sense of humor is different than the generation before.  They adore their parents, are more protected and so they like safe, good, random fun…and cats.  But really, don’t we all like cats?


Cyma was even kind enough to delve into the dreaded ratings crash of a few years ago.  It came suddenly and was also the year the iPad came out.  (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about that.)

Just look how sinister.  Is that Camp Crystal Lake?
Just look how sinister. Is that Camp Crystal Lake?

They found that heavy viewers were tired of the old content and not crazy about the new content.  The audience was turning over and competitors were hitting it hard at the same time.  Talk about a perfect storm.  Internally, Cyma had gotten a new boss who had a very calm approach that she adopted.  “Own it and make a plan.”  About a year after the crash they saw improvement and now it’s been about 3 years since the whole hoopla happened.  So how do you inspire employees when things may be looking bleak?  Cyma says to always celebrate great work.  They have a Friday morning show and tell meeting to show off new work.

And they’re always looking for new ideas.  Now they’re bringing back some original show creators to work with up and coming creators and when the interns did a presentation on the Nick shows of the ‘90s that inspired “The ‘90s are all that” which you may have seen on-air.

The_'90s_Are_All_That_logoWe then got secret sneak peeks at new shows.  I’d tell you but then my top secret security clearance would be compromised.  Geez people, stop trying to make me look bad.

Main Takeaway:  So how to succeed in business without really trying?  Nope, you gotta try.  Cyma credits her success to adopting great parts of people she admired into her work style.  She took her time and moved up.  A strong work ethic and experience can never be underestimated.  I like that.


Personal Takeaway:  As a pending mom, I was interested to hear that on her first day as president Cyma threw up.  But it wasn’t the pressure of the job, she was pregnant.  She said motherhood was good practice for execs as a sense of humor for both roles is key.


Inappropriate Takeaway:  I am totally having a kid just so that when Family Double Dare comes back, the LaRoses can compete.  Watch out world!

Everything about that looks awesome.
Everything about that looks awesome.