But I Don’t Wanna.

Too bad.  You have to. Choose, that is. You have to choose. I spent most of my adult life thinking that I could not only be everything to everyone, but that I could also do everything that my little heart desired. Here’s reality:  You can’t. That’s absolutely not pessimism. It’s reality. The good news is that you can still be a lot of things to a lot of people and you can still do plenty!

Here’s a little story about me.  I didn’t know (and quite frankly, still don’t) what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had passion for so many things in life and it was hard to nail down ONE.  When it comes down to it, though, is life really supposed to be about what you want to BE (your occupation) when you grow up or is it supposed to be about what you DO (how you experience life)?  I’m going to have to cast my vote for “do.”  And that’s how I landed where I am today.  Yes, I still work for other people, but they don’t dictate my schedule.

You see, when it comes down to it, I can do pretty much whatever I want to do.  I’m a quick study and I take great pride in doing my work and doing it well.  I could be a janitor, a drummer for a band, a surgeon – any number of things.  I have absolutely no doubt about it.  Here’s what I know though:  Any one of those occupations, while fulfilling in their own ways, would nail me down – geographically speaking.  After much contemplating about what am I passionate about in life – it boiled down to one general subject: Culture.

I. LOVE. PEOPLE.  I love learning about the cultures of other people.  I love learning about their history, their faith(s), their traditions, customs, fashion, food…. and then there’s their language. *SWOON*  I’m a language FREAK. I love it, I pick it up quickly and I just feel this sense of community.  So it was then that I understood that it wasn’t what I did for a living that was important. It was that I needed to do something with my life that not only paid the bills, but allowed me to connect with people of all races, cultures, languages, etc…  No desk job will EVER allow for that.

My laptop and I can travel anywhere we want though.  We can engage audiences globally. We can post on behalf of clients no matter if we’re in London, Dakar – or even Alaska.  Do you need to like what you do for a living and be good at it? Yes, absolutely.  If you’re stuck behind a desk and want out, find a way. Your life is entirely too short to waste wishing you were somewhere else or doing something else. Get creative.

Warning:  This will NOT be easy.  I was having a conversation with a friend on Saturday after doing the Shamrock Beer Run.  I mean – what fun is running if there’s not beer 1/4 mile away?? Anyway, we were talking after the run.  She’s involved in martial arts. That is something that has always intrigued me.  Is it a passion? Nah. I’d like to do it for the fitness aspect and for self defense purposes, but it’s not a passion.  She told me that it wasn’t too expensive – blah blah blah (not to discredit what she was saying – just don’t want to bore you with the details.)  Truth is that I pay $20/month for my gym membership.  I train with a personal trainer 3 days a week.  I don’t NEED to fork out more money to anyone else for fitness reasons.  Not when I have goals of traveling globally.  That money is best put toward my goal. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to say NO a lot more frequently than you’re used to most likely.  There WILL be reward though.  I personally find one of the best rewards is having that ah-ha moment when you realize you’ve grown professionally and just as a human.

Find out what it’s going to take to start that bakery and make it the best damn bakery there is.  Find out what it’s going to take to get yourself to be a certified personal trainer so you can start impacting the lives of those around you.  Whatever it is that you want – staying in that chair, making the same decisions day in and day out is only going to keep you… in. that. chair.  So move.

Skinny Jean Hell

I hate skinny jeans. I’ve hated skinny jeans from the first time I tried them on thinking they were … well… not skinny jeans. As if I didn’t have enough body image issues before that little episode.  Ha. As IF! I seriously thought I’d magically gone up 2 pant sizes over night.  And THAT, ladies and gentleman, was my first experience with skinny jeans.

Oh – did I happen to mention it’s Face Your Fear Friday?  I didn’t? Well, as some of you know – every Friday ’round these parts is Face Your Fear Friday. I talk about fear, face some of my own – and in time – have guest bloggers talk about some of their fears. Today is no exception. Today – I faced one of my body image fears.

My friend, [Polina Osherov], had a conversation with me about a week ago. She’s one of my oldest and best friends and is HIGHLY aware of my body image issues. She pulls me aside and tells me there’s no reason not to update my wardrobe, so she’s ordered me some skinny jeans AND tops with horizontal stripes. O_O  She completely expected the reaction she got. She practically had the paper bag in hand, just waiting for me to hyperventilate. And then it happened. I struggled for breath, my pulse went bananas and I felt all of the blood drain out of my head. WOOZY!!! You probably think I’m exaggerating here and that no one could possibly be this frightened of clothes. I hereby do solemnly swear… it doesn’t get any more real than this.

She explained that all I had to do was try them on.  TRY them. The clothes hadn’t even arrived yet and I was panic stricken. Yesterday she warned me that the clothes were arriving (that day) and that I was going to DEBUT them at the Speakeasy to watch [Jay Baer].  Oh. God. Feeling the heart speeeeed back up.  They never arrived.  Well, they didn’t arrive yesterday at least. Whew!  Bullet dodged.

Today was an entirely different matter.  Today, I got the word… they have arrived.  In all their anorexic glory. Let me just say that I don’t think everyone who wears skinny jeans is anorexic.  It’s just that I felt like I needed to look that way in order to appear like I fit in a pair of them.  I walk into her kitchen where the nice little white box from [Forever 21] was sitting on her table.  She gave me the eye.  Ya know… the one that said, “Ohhh yeah.  THIS is gonna be fun.”  She got to play dress up with me for the next 15-20 minutes ordering me to try this shoe or that shoe – and then ultimately telling me to buy different shoes.  Then she dragged me up to her full length mirror in her bedroom in all my shameful agony to show me … Me.

A woman. Nearly 40 (oh god. another panic attack.  jk – I don’t care about that so much.) with curves. And while yes, my struggle to take weight off has been one nightmare of a roller coaster, my personal trainer told me today that I’m only 6-7 months away from being exactly where I need to be. That’s no time in my world. And so, bring it, baby. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy my curves. They’re not goin’ anywhere. It’s the way I was built – and my new skinny jeans hug them in all the right ways.

What are you waitin’ on? Get out there and face a fear or two. You just might like it.

What Does The Fox Say? YouTube and Your Business

I’ve heard the question asked over and over again.  Why would I want to use YouTube as a channel to market my business?  I’m going to take the unconventional approach here.  I might get my throat figuratively slit by a few social media gurus when I say this.  You don’t necessarily have to.  Now wait.  I didn’t say you SHOULDN’T.  I said you don’t necessarily have to.

Lemme ‘splain myself.  If you’re a social media professional and your target clients are tech based, gamers, musicians, artists, etc… Then yes.  You should absolutely have a YouTube channel and you should actively use it to market your business.  Maybe you should consider that – even before you should consider blogging.

My target client is altogether different though.  My focus is on the mom and pops.  The small, home-grown, local businesses of Indianapolis and the surrounding towns/cities.  They don’t spend copious amounts of time browsing YouTube for Flula’s latest misunderstood colloquialism or Hannah Hart’s latest episode of My Drunk Kitchen – although they’re both two favorites of mine.  They’re busy making sure that stack of bills dwindles to zero, only to watch them stack back up tomorrow.  MY clients are on Facebook.  Why?  Let’s be honest:  They have little to no time to maintain relationships with people face to face.  Sometimes, this is all they’ve got.  Small business takes a TON of time to manage and run.

Now… ALL that being said:  If you do, indeed, find yourself with a little spare time on your hands, that time would be wisely spent on YouTube.  Here’s why.  What’s the #1 search engine in the world?  You betcha.  Google, baby.  So popular it’s now a verb.  “Google it.”  What’s #2?  Any guesses??  Most people don’t consider YouTube a search engine because of the content it displays – but it is.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.  Now I’m going to weave a tapestry of mind-blowing goodness.  Who owns YouTube?….. (It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to Google it.)…………. (hint, hint.)

Yep – GOOGLE owns YouTube.  So what does that mean?  Adding your videos from YouTube to your website (of course with proper tags, etc…) is perceived integrity in the eyes of Google. Perceived integrity then moves you up in the rankings of google (aka – SEO – Search Engine Optimization)  In other words, this gets you one step closer to being on the front page of Google when people search for your product or service.

Then of course – there’s the opportunity for your video to go viral. And let’s be honest. We all know what the fox says, right? :-/

What’s Your Poison?

Hi.  My name is Amber and I’m a prisoner to my schedule.  I’m also something of a social media addict.  I don’t know which came first: the job or the addiction to be quite frank.  Neither here nor there, truth be told.  There’s something I’ve noticed as a trend with social media pros.  Our job is also our entertainment.  While there are times that I definitely enjoy just breaking away, the reason social media has exploded the way it has is because we love being connected with others, right?

I don’t have a family, but I do know myself well enough to know that I’m a workaholic.  Workaholics often get their priorities all sorts of screwed up.  I wake up at around 7.  Immediately, I pick up my phone to check my morning schedule, see if I’ve missed texts, emails or social media messages from clients.  Return said calls, texts and emails.  Some days, I’ll then reach over, pick up my laptop and start working right there in bed before even getting up to brush my teeth and start my morning routine.

We live in a world obsessed with technology.  It feeds our never ending narcissism.  The more we get, the more we crave.  In the meantime though, what we’re doing is alienating the very people we’re trying to stay connected via a multitude of social media platforms.  We’re so sucked into our computers and phones that we fail to recognize the beauty of the person that’s sitting right in front of us.

I’ve found that what I have to do (as bad as I know it sounds) is schedule alone time.  I said at the beginning of all of this – I live by my schedule.  If I don’t set aside 30 minutes to step away and go for a walk, I’ll end up a vitamin D deprived mess.  If I don’t schedule time to spend in prayer or meditation, my spiritual walk goes straight down the toilet.  If I don’t schedule time to be with friends, I end up alienating them.

I know this isn’t much of a “how to” guide to making your social media more effective – but sometimes we have to take care of each other.  Give one another a gentle reminder that there’s more to life than the monitor we sit in front of 12-14 hours a day.  Hopefully I’ve given you a swift kick in the butt to push back that chair, open the front door – and appreciate the life we’re helping other people live.

Allodoxaphobia and other (not so) Wonderful Things.

I’m kind of excited to write this.  I don’t pretend to fully understand this phobia because I am on (close to) the polar opposite side of the spectrum.  You may have realized that I’m not really your conventional professional blogger.  On Fridays, I veer off on this weird tangent about fears.  Then, Monday-Thursday, I just … talk.  Not techie jargon.  Not hard to understand information.  I try my best to put things in a way that is easily understood.

There’s a method to my madness.  I think, for reasons sociologists would only be able to explain, as a society we are scared stiff by one another.  More than that, though – my personal observation that it’s more about us being afraid of ourselves.  Why would anyone want to listen to us?  What makes our opinion valid?  Ummmm…. YOU make your opinion valid.

So what is this [Allodoxaphobia]?  Well, I’ve hyperlinked it, so you can click there to get more info – but the part I’m going to focus on is the fear of confrontation.  Ok, so, sad as it is – I guess that here’s the part where I divulge that I’m not a medical expert.  If you need mental health help, seek a professional… blah, blah… legal jargon… blah. (I’m not making fun of anyone here.  Just think sue happy people are ridiculous.)

This problem – the lacking of ability to speak things the way they are – has many of us literally living in fear every day of our lives.  I should divulge here that I used to care MUCH more about what people thought of me than I do now.  Here’s what I thrive on now:  Open, Honest, Communicative, Genuine relationships.  If we can’t have open dialogue – then we absolutely can’t be friends.  Seems closed minded, maybe, but I just don’t have time to waste trying to tiptoe around you.  I have been given (?) days on this earth.  That question mark is HUGE!  My last day could be tomorrow.  Who knows?  You think I want to spend it with all this negativity building up in me because you pissed me off and I’m too afraid to say so?  Ummmmm…. No.

So how do I approach it?  It’s not all that complicated, really.  I’ll give you an example.  I won’t change her name to Bob but I will change it because I want to respect her privacy.  I used to work with a woman.  Her name is Tenisha.  Tenisha was (and maybe still is, by some) easily misunderstood.  She just came out of a horrid marriage, had raised all of her children and had been out of the traditional workforce for a number of years. Divorce left her job hunting and she landed in my department as a department head.

Now, when I say she’d been out of work for a number of years – we’re talking over a decade.  I can’t begin to wrap my mind around how much has changed professionally in over 10 years.  Her mindset about how things were supposed to run was kind of old news.  And to be honest, having a business degree, it wasn’t easy on my ego watching a noob with no degree take a leadership role.  I’m self-aware enough to know that sometimes I have to get out of my own way to be productive.  I did get out of the way.  I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I was open at least, to her direction.  Tenisha and I had a few moments when I had to call her out on issues.

So what do you do? Now – here’s the “guide”, if you will, to confrontation.  Do not approach someone in a combative fashion.  So:

  • Cool down.

Don’t you dare move until you can do so in an open, calm, approachable way.  If that’s tomorrow – then it’s tomorrow.  (disclaimer – don’t wait too long because then you’ll just talk yourself out of it.)

Next:  The ever dreaded “We need to talk”…

  • Find an entry statement.

Mine was, “Hey Tenisha, so you have a couple of minutes to chat?”  Chat indicates friendly, right?  I don’t say it with laser beams of hatred piercing her heart or through a locked jaw because I took time to???  That’s right.  Calm down.

The rest is kind of a cake walk.  Once you make your entry statement, you’re fully committed.  If you’re a highly emotional person, make notes about what you want to talk about so you don’t leave anything out.  Please don’t make it a grocery list of everything he/she has ever done wrong in life.  You won’t get your desired result that way.

So the last and most impactful confrontational talk Tenisha and I had went like this:

Tenisha:  Hey Amber, Did you know this (fill in random assignment) was here on the printer?

Me:  Oh, yes.  I did.  I’m sorry, I’m happy to take care of it.

Tenisha: Hey, I know your mind is probably occupied with a lot of other things since you only have 2 weeks left to work here, but maybe next time one of these is printed you could put tape around your finger so you remember to do it?

Me:  O_o  *Biting tongue*  *Biting Tongue Harder* *Tongue MAY be bleeding.*

Tenisha exits to complete task that I  miserably failed to do.  Commence cool down period.  I gave myself about 20 minutes, fuming for at least 10 of those minutes.

Then it dawned on me.  Maybe she just doesn’t know how to communicate with me.  I’m kind of an in your face, please for the love of Pete, would you just SAY WHAT YOU MEAN kind of person.  After mission cool down, I went to find her.  Conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hey Tenisha, do you have a minute?

Tenisha:  Sure!  What’s up?

Me:  Let me preempt this with the fact that I’m a very direct communicator.  I don’t like backbiting or any of that so I’m bringing this right to you. Remember what you said to me a few minutes ago about the task not being complete?

Tenisha: Yes

Me:  Here’s what my brain interpreted through that conversation.  I’m telling you this because we need to have understanding and not discord: My brain interpreted that this is an ongoing problem if it’s so bad that I have to tape my finger in order to remember.  That’s #1.  #2 – If that’s the case, then I NEED TO KNOW IT!  Don’t pussyfoot around an issue and treat me like a child by telling me to tape my finger.  Tell me what the issue is so I can fix it. I am a very proud person.  I take an immense amount of pride in my work.  If I’m doing it incorrectly, I want to know so that I fix the issue.  That leads me to #3 – like I said, I take great pride in my work.  While I’m employed here, I will work my tail off as I always do.  The fact that I have 2 weeks left to work has nothing to do with it, so please don’t insinuate that because I have a limited time here – I feel it ok to slack.  That’s not the case.

Tenisha’s eyes filled up with tears.  I questioned her.  Her response was that no one had taken the time to question her statements like that so as to understand where she was coming from.  It touched her.  It did what?  Yes – people LONG to be understood.  She told me exactly what the problem was.  Directly to my face.  I fixed it.  I kept it fixed.  The conversation ended with a hug, her crying on my shoulder and telling me that she loves me.

That’s what communication does.  Yes, it makes you vulnerable – but it opens you up to being understood and understanding others.

The Marriage of PR and Marketing

I skimmed through an article today about the importance of making sure your social media team is also well versed in public relations.  My first thought was, “Well, crap. Someone else got to it before I did.”  It’s alright though.  It just lit the fire under my butt to write it myself.  Every person’s experience is different, right?  Right.

Names and company names will be changed (or eliminated) here to protect the…. less than innocent.

I offer my social media services in different ways.  I can be the person who hovers over your different social media platforms and pats you on the back when you do something great.  I will also tell you when you’re wrong.  But in this role – I’m pretty much hands off.  Merely a consultant.

Then there are the clients that I do everything for.  All of their marketing.  I look for trade shows that would be good for them.  I’m the voice at the end of their client’s line.  I do all of their social media, including engagement, etc…

Well – I do all of it until they decide they want to muck things up a bit. And here’s where the fun begins.  Social media is…. well… it’s social.  And so, it involves many things – one of which is emotion.  There’s something to be said for being transparent (some of the time.)  However, when being attacked by what seems to have been coined as “haters” – you HAVE to let that slide (to a certain extent.)  There’s a lot of ambiguity in the last two sentences so let me clarify by using an example.

One of my clients was recently targeted by a group of people.  They claimed his business practices were less than ethical.  Let me start by saying I wouldn’t work for such a client.  While he may not always be the brightest crayon in the box (hey, I keep it real) – he’s not morally or ethically inept.

So let’s call my client “Bob” – because that seems to be what I like to call my clients  (ADD moment:  All clients, male or female, from this point forward – will be called Bob. I like Office Space.  What can I say?)  Bob used to do business with another entity – a not-for-profit.  This group and he parted ways in one of the least amicable ways possible.  I knew things would blow up – and they did.  An anti-Bob Facebook page was started.  The anti-Bobs started harassing the Bob fans on his Facebook page.  Bob was called a thief, a liar, all sorts of nonsense.  It was a PR disaster.  It got so bad that it warranted being addressed, in a non-emotional, only the facts, ma’am sort of way, on his Facebook page.  And so, I did.  I gathered the facts and I wrote the letter.  I knew Bob was far too emotional to do so himself.  The letter was working exactly as it was supposed to.  It had a reach of over 15,000 people by the time it was all said and done. His following, at the time, was only around 4,500. About 95% of the comments that came as a result to that letter were positive, uplifting messages about how Bob helped them or someone they knew. Woo-hoo! Success!!

And then Bob’s family and marriage started coming under (written) attack from the anti-Bobs.  Keep in mind, this whole time, Bob was replying back to their hateful posts, then I’d call him and tell him to take them down.  Down they came.  Next day – same thing.  It was like babysitting a toddler for a week and a half of my life.  “Bob, ignore them.  They’re trying to get a response out of you and you keep feeding them exactly what they want.”  “Ok, Amber.  You’re right.”  Next day – any guesses?  Yes.  Same game.  I was one worn out shit storm stopper by the end of that week.

After a long conversation with Bob about what PR is and how his fans were viewing him because of his emotional outbursts toward the anti-Bobs – he chilled.  He got it.  Finally!

If I had been someone else, say just a Facebook poster… this story would have a much different ending. He’s called and thanked me more times than I can count – telling me that if it weren’t for me, he’d be out of business. Thirteen plus years in Marketing AND PR prepared me for what I handled.  If you’ve hired someone that can post on Facebook and Twitter and make it look nice, but doesn’t have any sort of background in marketing or PR, please… PLEASE…. for the love of….. well, Bob….. think about switching it up.  It’s not all about the posts.  It’s about being knowledgeable, implementation, engagement, staying one step ahead of the game – and if worst comes to worst – putting out fires.

Signed,

Fire Marshal Amber…. “Let me show ya something.”

#HashTagCampaign

^^Clever, no?  Haha – sometimes I amuse me.

I’ve covered it before, but I feel like I should again.  What is a hashtag and why should I use it?  Well, here’s the [definiton].  Why should you use them?  Well, a number of reasons, really. They can boost your [SEO], target your audience with better precision, make it easier for your potential clients to find your content… and the list goes on.  Use them – but do so wisely.  Whatever you do, please don’t hashtag every word in your post.  That’s going to land you a spot in [Hashtag Hell].

Now on to the title of this blog – a Hashtag Campaign.  You’ve seen them before and may not have even realized it.  On Twitter, specifically, hashtag campaigns have become one of the most effective marketing tools a company can use.  For Nike, however, their #MakeItCount campaign was used through Twitter, Instagram and Pintrest.  Their campaign started in 2012 and was so successful that it continued into 2013. After watching this video – maybe you’ll understand why.

So what are the rules for this hashtag campaign?  Make it easy to remember and most importantly – make it something that is intimately related to your business.  Maybe your business’ tagline?  Be creative, but wise when choosing.  If you’re doing product promotion or a short term promotion, make it something unique (that’s key), catchy – and something your audience will be excited to promote.

If you’re looking for further examples to help get those creative juices flowing – here are a hand full to help out.  [Hashtag Campaigns via Mashable.]  As always, collaborate with other great minds.  I have no doubt you’ll wind up on the road to #success <—- See what I did there?

The Never Elusive MLM

Pick a product.  Any product.

Perhaps you’d like to lose 20 pounds in the next 60 days. Well – post it on Facebook.  I dare you.  Within a day (depending on the size of your network), I’d guess you’ll have private messages trying to sell you the latest, greatest product. You’ll likely get messages from people selling [Advocare][Herbalife] or [ItWorks].

No?  Perhaps, instead, you’d prefer a handbag.  Or jewelry. You know they have MLMs (Multi – Level Marketing Companies) that sell [Jewelry in candles]?  They have MLMs for … I think… nearly everything.  In fact – you can [click here] to get to a list of the 7 most Hilarious Products sold through an MLM.  Apparently not even our galaxy is the limit, let alone the sky.

Am I here to say all MLMs are scams?  Heck no.  I’m not an MLM pro, but I am a professional marketer.  What I do know is what works and what doesn’t work in marketing.  I’ve seen three posts just today on people being fed up with spam from people who are involved in MLMs.  I, too, have been turned off from pushy, spammy people.  The truth is that the product that many of these people are quite literally pushing – is good!  If they’d do subtle marketing and let the product speak for itself, their results would show it!

Instead, often times what happens is this person… let’s call him Bob… sees a product from a friend.  He gets really excited about selling it because of the benefits he’s seen personally.  That excitement gets harnessed by Bob’s “up-line” and is used to fuel his way to the top.  That’s all great so far.  No rules broken.

Until now.  Bob has asked each of his family members three times each if they want to be a part of this business. No?  Friends? No?  That leaves Bob feeling like he’s going to fail so he starts coming up with what he sees as creative ways to reach people (aka spam.) *sad face*

Not only that, but he also starts bullying people into joining.  “I just got a check for $350 and you’re over there whining about how you can’t afford show choir for your daughter?”  Oh yes.  This stuff gets slathered on thick – and on social media.  Do people actually think this is effective?  Do they think this represents their product and/or their company in a positive light?  Cyber bullying sucks no matter what mask it wears.

The moral of the story is this:  If you are part of a MLM, your company likely has marketing guidelines,  it may even have hard and fast rules about what you can and can’t do on your own, including on social media…FOLLOW those guidelines.  Your company spent good money to hire marketing professionals that know what you should be doing – and likewise, what you shouldn’t be doing.  Listen to them if you want long term success.

Who Am I To Be….

 

I read this every day… And without fail, I get goosebumps and a lump in my throat.  I know it to be true.  Our deepest fear is often uncovering the greatness that we were intended to be.  What he had Akeelah read in this clip is by [Marianne Williamson].  You can [Click Here] to find it in print.  Print it out.  Read it every day. Be encouraged – and inspired to uncover the wonder that you are today.