Thursday, October 27, 2011

The FlatLorri Project

The only thing about me that could ever be described as flat is my hair. Yet as I write this, my image has started on a new adventure called The FlatLorri Project.

A little history:

FlatLorri is me in the image of Flat Stanley, an activity done by elementary students who send a paper cut out of a boy out into the world to be photographed and have his travels documented.

Last February I was unable to attend the International Franchising Association Conference so my friend, co-worker, and boss, Deb Evans took me with her in her purse as FlatLorri (giving traveling Coach a whole new meaning). We even set up a foursquare account so that FlatLorri could check into the events.

Fast forward to this past weekend. FranCamp, a social media seminar, was held in Nashville - and once again - I couldn't attend - so FlatLorri was off on another adventure.

This time BJ Emerson and AK Stout got a hold of my image and I had my picture taken with the waitress at The Waffle House and posted to Facebook. BJ and AK (I may change my name to initials...sorry *something shiny moment*), wondered what would happen if FlatLorri interacted with other brands via social media (had pictures posted and twitter shoutouts). Are those brands listening? Would they interact and have a little fun? The FlatLorri Project was born.

If you would like to follow along and see how far a bunch of social media geeks can take a community based case study the blog can be found at

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let the Sparks Fly!

Sometimes when you are an overly efficient multi-tasker, things fall through the cracks. For me, it’s my Google Alerts. I see them in my inbox, but usually they get deleted because I just don’t have time.

Google+ has added a feature that will help monitor your company or your favorite topics – SPARKS.

The Spark option can be found on the left hand side of your Google+ stream. Click it…go know you want to…Type into the box whatever “stuff you’re interested in” and voila! Search your name, your company, your industry – and then when you have time, you can look at that stream and no longer suffer from ‘I deleted it’ guilt.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Google +

Just starting out on Google + and as always am a little lost. One of my first and only posts thus far has been “Early Google+ reminds me of FB when I had 2 coworkers, 2 classmates and my sister as friends.” I love Facebook, but sometimes I do not see information or posts that I would like to see because they get lost in my newsfeed. There is a time when I want to see the pictures of my nephews at the playground, and they there are the times I want to see if my favorte website have published new articles.

With G+, you sort people into circles (groups). Then you can sort your stream (newsfeed), by group. I have missed this on Facebook – would love to click and see just posts from my family, or click and there are posts by the pages on technology education that I follow. That feature alone is great…or will be great, when more of the people whose content I depend on, are there with me.

It will be interesting to see how it changes or becomes useful once the business pages are made available.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simplicity is not that Simple

Do you ever feel that the world is banging you over the head with a message? That has been happening to me lately.

It started quietly after Hurricane Katrina. There were piles of stuff everywhere. We saw all of the stuff from people’s homes on the news. There were piles of stuff all over the city that we were all able to donate to those who had lost all of their stuff.
The TV show ‘Clean House’ was on TV – people with loads and loads of STUFF, making their lives miserable.

With this sort of message all over the television, it is no wonder that there are those around the globe that think Americans are disgusting. I see this stuff and I think we are disgusting. Consumerism run amok.

As a result a few links have been caught my eye on Twitter as of late are about simplifying. These are a few of my favorites:

Project 333 – The point is to break your wardrobe down to 33 pieces that you were for 3 months. I might be able to do this – Its worth a shot – mine might be more like 40 but I think the spirit is still there. ….no one needs to trip over a pile of clothes in the morning only to decide they have nothing to wear. AND you don’t have to count your PJs and unmentionables in the 33..(WOOT! Honest I sleep in that pashmina)

100 Thing Challenge – Trying to pare your belongings down to 100 items. Things not included are:
• Stuff that’s shared between him and other family members. (Good, I can just see me asking princess to give up her flatiron so that I can have another purse)
• Non-personal stuff, like dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. (thank goodness! I really don’t want to give up something shiny so that I can have an assortment of frying pans)
• Books. (YAY!!!!)
• Tools.
• Collections count as one item. (is jewelry a collection? Is wardrobe a collection?..I hope so)

Tiny Houses - very cute, I love them –They are affordable and a great idea to reduce your footprint and live simply…but where are the closets? Where do you put your Christmas decorations during the off season? Where does the washer and dryer go?

The Burning House - if your house was on fire what would you take with you? Contributors take a picture of those things and post to this site. It’s a thought provoking idea. What would you save?

My electric company sent me reusable shopping bags. Great idea – but I haven’t developed the habit of taking them with me yet. It’s not that I don’t want to do my part for the environment – I use those horrific light bulbs that ruin your eyesight, but it is difficult to change from being a poster child for consumerism to something else. Maybe I will just follow my mother and Buddah’s advice and think moderation in everything.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love You Forever, Like You for Always

BFF – Best Friends Forever – who doesn’t have that written in a yearbook somewhere? It is a lovely, though a bit of a naive sentiment. Friends come and go out of our lives over the years. With facebook now, we can at least connect and send out happy wishes and look at pictures of graduations and births of our one time BFFs. Or even give a shout out when you remember something you did together. This sort of connecting is great, I honestly feel that I have connections with some family, who I may have gone the rest of my life without talking to again were it not for facebook.

I spent some time looking at a couple Facebook memorial walls today. These are walls put up when someone dies so that family and friends can share memories and pay respects. As I was reading messages about two young boys taken away too soon a year ago, I wiped my tears, and it struck me, the amazing part is what happens after the funeral. Ongoing wall posts – “I had a dream about you”, “ I miss you” “We talked about you today” and my favorite kind “Hey dude you won’t believe this but…”

How incredible is it that we now have a tangible way to reach out and say “HEY Guess what”. Instead of a whispered word on the wind to our loved ones, laughs and memories are still shared. These kids live on in a way. Long after the flowers have wilted and the tears have dried – they can be an active part of our lives. …Though I think I would still recommend reaching out and saying “Hey Guess what? I still love you" when our friends can write back.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hatpin or Linchpin?

Author Seth Godin wrote about being a linchpin. Linchpins are thought leaders and influencers. Being a linchpin is a good thing as they keep the wheels from flying off. But I think of myself as more of a hat pin.

A hat pin:
Stays on top of things
Without it a hat could get lost
Can be decorative or utilitarian depending on the circumstances

In the early 1900, laws were passed in the US limiting the length of hatpins. There was a fear that they would be used as a weapon by suffragettes.

Yes – I am a hatpin – Just as important as a linchpin, doing basically the same job – yet somehow under-estimated and fear inducing at the same time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm not dead yet! Marketing to Grown ups

I received an email from a financial planner the other day that said “Do you sometimes think about leaving work? Many of us do as we get older. We want to try something new or maybe just relax for the rest of our lives. “

My answer…SHUT UP!

I understand that I am not getting younger each day, but is this really the way to reach out for customers? My number one rule for marketing is ‘Know Thy Customer’.

Reaching out to 40-somethings with ‘as we get older’ is a terrible idea! We are having mid-life crisis’s, not thinking about retirement. Maybe we should – but that is not the point. How about “Are you ready to live your passion?” “Is it time to change things up?” So many other things they could have done to build on the first question about leaving work, and left off the phrase “for the rest of our lives” all together.

I wonder if this company didn’t know anyone in their 40s. Or maybe the marketing plan was written by a 15 year old – because we look half dead to them anyway.

The tiara wearing marketer knows to proof and edit and then proof and edit again. Let someone else read it. Let someone with the same demographic as your ideal customer read it.

Either way, I hit delete on this email –they won’t be helping me plan anything.

Please hold my tiara while I blow my nose

The last few days have been hard for me. My son has headed off to his new duty station half way around the world. As always, I am more than proud of this young Marine, but my mother’s heart doesn’t know how to deal with not seeing his face for a year and a half. I take solace in the fact that he is not heading to a war zone, but that doesn’t ease the missing him.

Yesterday, when he called to say I love you from tarmac, prior to lift off I did OK, but as soon as the good- byes were said – the water works started. As Oprah says – I was ‘ugly crying’. I turned to a friend, I sat in her office, she hugged me as my body shook with sobs, told me she loved me. She listened to me. There was nothing else she could do – but it helped.

Today, I talked to a friend as she was leaving the hospital. She has yet another appointment with an oncologist tomorrow, to find out if any treatment plan is available to her. She has been running her own business for 5 years, just as long as she has been fighting cancer. I wonder how she has managed to do this. How has she not given up? Then it struck me – she wasn’t afraid to reach out for help either.

Some days being tiara worthy means not being afraid to ask for help.

Holding out a hand of support does not mean having the answers or a solution. Sometimes it means handing over the tissues.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dirty Dishes are NOT a Sin

As we come upon Judgement Day Eve I find myself thinking about the saying “no one thought on their deathbed ‘I wish I spent more time at the office’”. Well that’s a no brainer. What about the other stuff that we stress out about?

I realize there are silly people who get joy from the vacuum cleaner marks on the carpet or a made bed in the morning. I get more joy from staring at the morning through the window while drinking my coffee, or even getting my AM news and deciding if the world it so crazy to join for the day. I will admit to the occasional zen moment of the hot soapy dishwater – but that is not a state of mind I can attain daily.

I see people running around, I HAVE to do this and I HAVE to do that. Try just once asking yourself ‘really? Why? What will happen if I don’t?’

I have heard of people who can’t relax and take a nap if something is out of place. I say, get help! You aren’t trying hard enough! – I mean really, your mind is on your dust or your laundry. There are many more pleasant things to think about.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Are you a soul-sucking co-worker from hell?

Do your co-workers:

• Always have lunch plans that don’t include you?
• Seem to always be engrossed in deep conversation when you come around the corner?
• Have strange frozen smiles when told you are on the same team project?

If so chances are that, yes, you are a soul-sucking co-worker from hell. The good news is you can fix it.

Realize that not everyone is spending their work day doing what feeds their passion either. They are paying the rent and buying groceries, just like you, they are just doing it with a smile.

Quit bad-mouthing the company that you both chose to work for. While putting it down, you are also bad mouthing your coworker’s decision to work there.

Unless you are talking to the person responsible for making you feel underpaid and unappreciated…to put it bluntly “shut it”.

For heaven’s sake, quit constantly ringing your own chimes. Unless you have the ability to fly and turn yourself invisible – you are not the only one with your knowledge base or talents. Get over yourself.

The question “How are you?”…is really a greeting. No one really cares about your cat’s hernia and your great Aunt Lucy’s colonoscopy.

Stop and think about what you bring into someone’s office with you the next time you walk through the door. Bring a smile, a genuine compliment, and offer to reduce their work load or a good feeling about the work they are doing.

Remember Maya Angelou said “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make them feel good and they will feel good about you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tiaras on Mechanics

It’s that time of year, so I spent some time Saturday morning sitting at the garage waiting for my car to be inspected. No sooner was I out of my car and guy #1 (Bobby) asked what he could do . I said inspection please. He was very accommodating, checked my paper work and sent me inside to wait. I hadn’t even made it inside when guy #2 (who I later found out was the owner), met up with me to ask if he could help. I told him I was fine and he thanked me.

I thought to myself, “Self, these people are way nice and definitely into customer service”.

As I was sitting in the surprisingly clean waiting room, the owner came in and was doing owner stuff, when guy #3 came in and finished up with a customer. As he was heading back into the work bay, the owner thanked HIM…I knew at that point I had a blog post.

So Alex Barocio at the Castrol Service Center…whether he knows it or not wears his tiara to work – and so do the two men that were working with him on Saturday.

Bobby: “Ma’am, you need your brakes serviced, would you like me to show you”
Me: “You could, but I wouldn’t know what I was looking at”
Alex: “Come with me, I will show you”
Me: “I can’t take care of this today”
Bobby: “ I can get you 15% off when you are ready”
Alex: “Here is my card, call when you want to come in.”

Yes! Saturday AM, everybody and their brother needs an oil change. Houston is in the middle of a drought and record high temps ..garages are typically not air conditioned. It’s hot and busy and this place has it’s tiara on…with a clean garage, two mechanics that didn’t treat me like a stupid woman who would not understand, an employer who thanks customers and his employees and a low pressure atmosphere. And all three smiled!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Don't Throw your Project Manager out with the Bathwater!

At one point earlier this year, I was not allowed to talk directly to one of our vendors. I admit I was getting a wee bit sarcastic in some of our interactions, but that happens when I get frustrated. In the current economic climate people are trying to do more with less (staff) and there are new start ups. Both have growing pains and those growing pains can irritate the bejeezus out of your clients.

From what I can tell, there is a school of thought that a project manager is not needed. You may think that a team member can handle the ‘to do’ list and maintain the customer relations. It really can’t be done. Customer priorities change, not always because of poor planning on their part. They may be responding to customer or stockholder needs. They need a point person. A person who understands them and their business, not someone who is trying to get the nuts and bolts of the job done and can answer the phone while doing it.

A good project manager:

• Can see the whole picture
• Builds relationships in all directions
• Can prioritize on the fly
• Can change direction without an act of congress
• Has the ability AND the permission to make decisions

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Looking at the Bright Side

When you look at this picture do you see the sunshine or the dirty window?

This tweet showed up on my tweetdeck this morning:

@Chris_Eh_Young Wednesday mission: Make a positive impact on someone around you. Tomorrow we put a dent in the universe. Start small.

It seemed like a good idea. I re-tweeted and said I was in.

Now I am wondering how to do this.

I looked at the bright side and was told thank you for always doing that. Is that all it takes?

A smile?
A hug?
An attitude?

You know the story that school kids tell “if everyone in china jumped at once it would knock the world off its axis” What if everyone on the planet tried to be nice for one day? One hour? Would we knock starvation and violence off the map?

Does being nice and having a positive attitude make a positive impact?

I’m going to try. Will you?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social Media Savvy? maybe not...7 steps to getting started

I read an article yesterday equating social media savvy franchise systems with facebook fans, friends or likers (for the purpose of this post I am using the terms ‘fans’). They were trying to draw a correlation between them and the ranking of the system in the Entrepreneur Magazine top 500 franchises. The idea was interesting, and the fact that I don’t think the idea holds much water is not sour grapes. I don’t believe that the number of fans equates to social media savvy.

There are some franchise brands that are so well known , and so large that they will garner a facebook following without even trying. McDonalds, Subway and the like have huge advertising budget s, they are everywhere and everyone knows them. More power to them, they use their facebook pages to offer specials and coupons. AWESOME! I love a deal on a Big Mac as much as the next girl. But the question still remains “Does a well fanned facebook page equal a social media savvy franchise system?” No.

• If you go to a local branch with your Foursquare check-in and the staff has no idea they are suppose to honor a special, that is not a savvy system.

• If the social media strategy consists of one person posting updates on a facebook page that is not a savvy system.

• If a customer looks for a Facebook page of their local store only to find there is no activity, or only a corporate page, that is not a savvy system.

So how do you build one?

1. GIVE UP CONTROL! When it comes to social media, the corporate office has never had control, the customer has, and all you can do is monitor and interact.

2. Webpages: Does the franchisee or someone on their team know how to update and keep their site current? Is there a facebook Like button? Newsletter sign up? If not question how much your web designer knows about the current marketplace.

3. Google Places & Merchant Circle: As long a s Google is returning business locations front and center of searches, these sites need to be claimed, updated and tagged. If you don’t know how to do it, ask a reliable service like AK Stout at Saying It Social or Thomas Scott at Brand Journalists.

During the next steps your job as a leader is to guide, monitor and support.

4. Email Signatures: If a franchisee doesn’t get social media, yet maintains email contact with their customers, they will need links in their signature to corporate maintained sites.

5. Blogs: IF and only IF a franchisee is a fairy good writer and understands the corporate mission, blogs are a wonderful way to build brand understanding.

6. Facebook: Building & maintaining a local or regional page with other franchisees. If they are unsure of what sort of things to post, encourage repurposing corporate postings or those of other franchisees

7. Twitter: If a franchisee is too verbose, I wouldn’t encourage it. However, if they are very social and understand the tools available to use it with ease then tweet on! I believe that twitter is a great tool for potential new franchisee to see the personality of the system and the interaction between team members.

Once these things are in place and you can see the entire thing working as a whole, then you see a social media savvy franchise system.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Cleaning With a Little Help from your Friends

As I got ready for bed the other night, I tripped over a craft project knocking beads all over the floor, followed by knocking over an OPEN bottle of antacids as I tried to set my alarm. It’s time for spring cleaning. Now my cleaning habits have been entertaining one of my friends for years, she loves to watch as I move something to the room it belongs, to then pick up a magazine that needs to be put away, realizing I haven’t finished reading it – I then sit down to read. Needless to say, I never get ahead. I know I need someone in the room with me as I tend to these horrible tasks. I don’t want them to do the work AT ALL. But in order to not be overcome with the desire for a nap, or the urge to watch a 15 year old romantic comedy. I need a friend to help me focus. And that friend is visiting me this evening.

What does it take to spring clean your business? Is your website up to date? Is your inbox spilling over? Are you tripping over equipment? Are you just having trouble getting out of your own way? Maybe you need a cleaning buddy too? Sometimes admitting the issue to yourself isn’t enough. Maybe it is time to admit your organization issues to a friend. By friend, I mean FRIEND, someone you won’t judge, has no vested interest other than your success. Let them in, let them help you. Let them move the shiny things so that you are not distracted.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Perspective: AKA Quit Whining

It’s been way too long since I posted. I was having trouble coming up with a post topic. So I asked my network, and was more than a little please with myself for thinking of crowd-sourcing the issue. However, it wasn’t the crowd that brought me the answer. Once again, life handed me my lesson for the day.

That lesson is “stop bitching and be grateful”.

I went to lunch with a friend who has just lost her mother. She isn’t just strong, this woman is superhero strong. The only reason she is not wearing a tiara, is that I have not found one special enough for her yet. While at lunch we discussed a new acquaintance, who we realized, does not even own a belt. I can’t even find all my belts! Earlier this week I was uncomfortable with a new outfit because I didn’t have what I thought was the ‘right’ belt for the dress. Yes, I feel like a schmuck - my unworthy belt was needed purely for aesthetic reasons. This guy needs one to hold his pants up! He is using a makeshift piece of a t-shirt. PERSPECTIVE

Last night I poured a cup of coffee way too late, and so was up too late and today I am tired. Sucking it up and getting things done, but tired none the less. I returned from lunch, to an email from a friend who has beat breast cancer, only to run into one complication after another since then, and now it looks like the ugly disease has returned. She says she is afraid to ask for a break for fear that it will come in the shape of a broken bone! This woman has got to be exhausted! Tired day after day for years! PERSPECTIVE

Please today, take a step back and put your problems into perspective.