Friday, October 18, 2013

Did You Know? Stories That Should Be Told

There are fascinating things on the internet! Stories that, if I were an author or film maker I would completely research, devour and bring to the masses. Alas, I am neither of these things, I am just a fan of the obscure, and I will share with you.

Sister Juliette was a sharp shooting nun who left the order to join the French Resistence during World War Two. I looked all over and could not find a book about this woman.  This has got to be a great story. Why did she become a nun? Was her decision to leave hard? Did her faith interfere or enhance her drive to kill Nazis?

If anyone knows of a biography about her please leave the title in the comments below.

I am a huge fan of the golden age of Hollywood. I love black and white movies. One of my favorite actresses is Hedy Lamarr. Not only was Ms. Lamarr beautiful she was courageous and smart too. She escaped her controlling Austrian husband, who was selling arms to Germany by drugging her maid at a party and jumping a train!

As if shocking European audiences with her provocative role in the film Ecstasy and a mad cap escape were not enough, she was also the co-inventor of a technology that is still used today by cell phones and GPS. She understood frequency, sound and light waves, and how these things move...I'm still trying to figure out how the asprin knows where you hurt.

We should stop complaining about the lack of girls studying science and technology and tell this story...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pet Peeve: Lessons Learned, 5 Blog Post Ideas and the Government Shutdown

Coming up with new blog posts ideas can be hard. The "experts' will tell you that titles with numbers (lists) and tying your business into a top news story will help drive traffic. With the end of the government shutdown I am bracing myself for a slew of blog posts with titles like What CEOs can learn from the Government Shutdown and Top 5 effects of the Shutdown on Your Business.

ARGH! At this point, these kinds of posts show a lack of creativity. If I read a post I want to know what you really learned...

Instead of going on a rant, let me make some suggestions:

·        What Politicians can learn from watching Scandal

·        Tips for Congress from Seasoned Circus Freaks

·        My Top 10 Road Rage Hand Gestures to use in Washington

·        Real Housewives Budgeting Lessons for Congressmen

·        The Care and Feeding of Your Constituents

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Value your Customer Service with Social Media

As part of my unemployment induced insomnia I have found myself listening to podcasts in an attempt calm myself to sleep at night. In the inaugural episode of Scott Stratten and Allison Kramer’s Unpodcast they make a point that I have been seeing in action in my job search. The under-valuing of customer service in the business world.

Though I am not only looking at social media jobs, I see that most companies treat the use of social as only a marketing tool to be used by interns. I am not arguing the validity of this mind set, but social has a few more uses than SEO. The social contribution of SEO is in content, organic search and the ability to add new content to your website. It works in conjunction with Ad Words, keywords, meta-tags and other back end magic.

The real value of social comes when you consider its use from the viewpoint of your customers. You remember customers, the people who provide you with their hard earned cash so that your business can survive. How do customers view your social media platforms?

Your customers see your social media platform as an extension of your sales counter, your phone line, your info@email account. Yes you are posting content so that you are seen as a thought leader and to drive engagement, but are you responding? Businesses want to be the rock stars of their industry, but only rock stars can stand on a stage and perform to earn a following. If a customer was standing in your store asking about your widgets and your staff ignored them you would fire your staff, yet many times you see customers asking questions on social platforms only to be ignored or answered after a long wait.

You cannot fix your Yelp reviews by continuing to mistreat and mistrust your customers.

You cannot hand out a brochure and expect a customer to hand back a credit card.


Train your social staff in your key messaging and product knowledge.
Train your sales and customer service staff in the monitoring and use of your platforms.
Implement monitoring and social engagement as part of your everyday sales process.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Analyzing the Analytics

As much as I enjoy writing and researching sharable content for my social media platforms, I also like to take time to look at the analytics to this blog. Mostly I find it amusing that Russia, Germany, Ukraine and France round out the top five countries of my readers after the US. This morning I was taken aback by the top referral sites for the past week…porn sites.

Now, I guess it would have been a brilliant move for me to post links on these sites to build SEO…maybe if I had researched the search behavior of those who visit such sites – but alas I have not done such a thing. Though I guess I should have known given that my top post of all time is the one I wrote about employee engagement titled Are Your Employees practicing the World’s Oldest Profession? Or maybe tiara wearing is more tantalizing than I ever knew.

Digging further into the numbers, I see that I need to re-activate my Tumblr account. This is something I never should have deactivated since people I respect liked the page and decided to use the same template I chose. I let it go because it was just one more platform, and it didn’t always pull from my other sites. I hope they have improved this feature.

Networked Blogs has always been a good traffic driver, for me I attribute it to the Facebook integration and the resulting support of family and friends. is an old favorite, that I am going to try for a while to see what the results are – I have been using it for a while. It’s great for curating and searching content, the site also makes it your posts visually appealing. They have added Newsletter creation to their features. You can export your content to MailChimp, email directly to yourself or download the file.  This is an example of what the freebie generated newsletter can look like.

What are your favorite referral sites?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fun with SPAM!

Over the last two months of “looking for my next opportunity” aka unemployment I have been busying myself with some consulting and working on a business plan for my own organization.

Last night I wandered into my SPAM filter to see if any valid emails had found their way there by accident. I found that I have just been wasting my time! I had at least 3 offers to interview to sell life insurance, as well as a couple offers to talk about buying a franchise(are they selling franchises for what unemployment is paying?)

As it turns out, I do not need to worry my pretty little tiara wearing head over anything as silly as a job!
Not one but two people have been trying to reach me to send me money that has been set aside for me on ATM cards – one for 10 million dollars and one for 6 million. 

As if I cannot live comfortably on that the Office of the Senate President of Nigeria wants to send me my share of 35 billion dollars for foreign oil something or other.

It also turns out that I am an Heiress! – Yes – some unknown relative in a foreign country has died and I am the only living relative….I guess my Mom, children and cousins don’t count.

Best of all! All that time on Facebook as not been a waste of time! I have won $950000 from a Facebook lottery….did you know that Facebook has its claims department use Yahoo for email?

 Now that I don’t have to worry about money, I think I will see if that Russian bride organization has grooms…

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Adventures in Job Hunting

I have been job hunting for almost a month now. I want to join a marketing team where I can put my social media skills to work (researching, posting, e-Newsletters and podcasts), while learning more about building strategy and branding. But my skills are not the topic of this blog. The topic is some of the weird stuff I have seen listed in job postings.

“Submit resume and photos” – Huh…this particular one was for an administrative assistant to a marketing department. Why pictures? And what sort of pictures? As if this request isn’t strange enough, they also did NOT include an email address, so I am not sure how you arecsupposed to submit said photos.

Please submit examples of Facebook pages you have grown to 100k REAL fans. They are very clear that they do not want FAKE fans – which is cool, no one wants fans generated by black hat techniques.  
This particular one makes me a bit crazy – I am considering emailing them and asking "what are you doing to generate 100k real fans?" Are they providing awesome customer experience?  Have they fully integrated their website, Facebook, and other social media into their marketing plan? How much money are they putting toward their marketing plan?

Are these questions appropriate for a cover letter? I’m thinking that it is a bit aggressive, but someone needs teach these people some things about social media and communications in general.

Side note: Employers – your software is not so technical and hard that it cannot be learned, if it was you wouldn’t be able to use it – so please stop saying that experience using “blah diddy blah software”  is required. You are missing out on some amazing potential employees. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

If LinkedIn Says I Speak Fluent Swahili, Do I Need to Buy the Rosetta Stone Software?

While I am in my current position of "Waiting to Help Unknown Company Be Great" aka unemployed and looking, I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. Today in my update feed on the site I saw that someone endorsed one of my contacts for skills. Does this person have those skills..yes..well he did...he passed away a few weeks ago. I wondered if the endorser was unaware of my contacts passing or if it was a way of memorializing my contacts contributions. Mostly I think its creepy.

Of course I tweeted a question about this act. I heard back from a follower who mentioned being endorsed for skills she did not possess and a "why bother" comment.

I am grateful for every endorsement I receive, though at times I have stopped to think "do I know how to do that?" I generally chose to believe that my endorser knows more about what the skill entails and if they believe I know how to do it that I must know and once again my lack of confidence has reared its ugly head.

In defense of the erroneous endorsement LinkedIn makes it easy to do by loading group endorsements on the top of your profile page when you visit your profile.

If you have inadvertently accepted a skill that you do not possess it is easy to delete it from your profile.

Click "edit profile' then scroll down to your endorsements section.

It should look like the picture below, Then just click the X next to the skill you want to delete then click "save".

Monday, August 26, 2013

Unemployment: Finding a New Tiara

You cannot always assume that you will be employed at the end or the probationary period of your new job.

This is the position in which I now find myself. This is a terrifying place for me. My DISC profile will tell you I am motivated by security, and as a single mom this trait is only amplified. Truth be told, the new job, though looked like a fit from the outside, was not a fit, and I wasn't happy. Part of me is thrilled that I no longer have to get out of bed each morning to do something I do not enjoy, the other part is obsessing about the due date of my electric bill.

12 years ago (2001) I was in the same position. I was unemployed for a year and a half, I became very very depressed. because my children were young, I was able to financially take a part-time minimum wage job, which then grew into a fabulous job, with an incredible team with whom I was able to grow and learn.

I am now in a different position, only the princess is still at home and I have a degree. It seems I am hearing only horror stories: 9 months of unemployment, companies not hiring full-time for fear of the new Healthcare Act.

My mind is running through all of the "shoulds" I have heard over the years.

Reach out to your network - check, did this first thing
Get out of bed - check, but in all honesty it was to take the 1st day of school photo
Stay busy - check, 2 webinars scheduled this week and a networking event next week, and apparently updating my blog.

I am keeping a spreadsheet of my efforts: 14 jobs applied for, 1 rejection email.

At this point, I don't know if I should formulate my perfect job in my head, or keep my mind open. Advice?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saying Good-bye

Last Friday I left the company that I have worked at for the last 10 years. It was a bittersweet good bye. It was time to leave, and I was offered a great opportunity. But the people...I had to leave the people. These were people who I laughed and danced with, people who wiped my tears and listened to my rants.

One of my co-workers who shall remain nameless (because he is a bit overly cautious of internet privacy), started pulling away from me the moment I told him I had given my notice. Then he virtually disappeared my last two days.

I asked him on Monday via Google messenger "what the heck?" He said he didn't like good-byes.

Aaawww - virtual hug sent.

Then he went on to say - "but in this day of social media we never really say good-bye"..then he gave me permission to use the tagline in a blog post. He is right.

I cried writing my good bye message to the franchisees with whom I had worked. I bit my lip many times so as not to get tears on my co-workers.  In the past few days I have continued to receive messages from them  - they are now my friends.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lean In to the Tiara

I am currently reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. It has been touted as a feminist manifesto. I don’t know about that, I think there are as many versions of feminism as there are women.  I agree with her basic premise that men and women are different and that women will never move forward until they take responsibility for their own success.

Sandberg mentions something at the end of chapter 4 that caught my eye.  Anyone who has read the book and knows me has probably been waiting for this blog post.  She mentions that women fall victim of “Tiara Syndrome”.  According to the book this phrase was coined by Carol Frohlinger and Deborah Kolb, founders of Negotiating Women, Inc. This syndrome is basically the “believing that good job performance will naturally lead to rewards.” “Women expect that if they keep doing their job well someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head.”

Sandberg says to not sit around waiting for power, because like the tiara it may never materialize.

I think Sheryl needs to come hang with me. Yes, women need to seek promotion and believe they deserve it…but if there isn’t recognition in your immediate future, not everyone is always in a position for upward mobility or a new opportunity..

 …put your own damn tiara on your head!

Sandberg, Sheryl (2013-03-11). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (p. 63). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adventures in Driving

A couple years ago a friend left me with her Mini-Cooper for the weekend. Since it was the same size as the princess, I took her to an empty parking lot and we tried it out. This was her first experience behind the wheel.

Fast forward two years, she has her permit. She is 16 and isn't playing anymore. Tonight, I pulled into a church parking lot (I should have prayed first), and let her take the wheel.  She did a really good job. The only real danger was maybe driving off the right hand side of the road, and my fingerprints may be permanently embedded in the handle on the passenger side of the car.

I may need a prescription for valium...or maybe investing in Driver's Ed isn't a bad idea. .....Why why why don't they teach it in school here?...Mama doesn't need anymore gray hairs.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Don't Close the Door by Opening a Window

Pet Peeve Alert:

When I click a link from a website and it takes me to a new page in the current window - sending me away from your site, it makes me feel unloved. I  think you do not want me to actually visit your site, learn about your products and services, use them and then tell my friends about them.

Links should open in a new window.  Why? because I may see something shiny, get distracted and never get back to your website.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Join My Tribe: Technology is a Learning Tool

In his book “Tribes”, Seth Godin defines a tribe as “ a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” has taken the concept and built a site that combines the ideas of tribes and making money.

When one joins Kumbuya, you can join and create tribes around an idea, a hobby or an industry. Members join tribes around topics they enjoy. If a member then has a product or service that relates to the a particular tribe, they post a link, and people with an interest in the product or service will see it. For example, if you sell hand painted wine glasses, posting a link to a wine tribe would be good for business ;)

I do not personally sell a product or service, but through my work with Computer Explorers,  I have developed a passion for all the technology that is now available for students and teachers. So I created a tribe called “Technology is a Learning Tool.” If you have a product, service or interest in Technology Education - Join me and let’s share some stuff.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shut Up and Kiss Me: getting back to the basics of social

Have you ever tried to guide a newbie through using social media for business? It can make you crazy. 

Blogging has been around for a long time...not Great Wall of China long time...but a long time ( I don't feel like digging through Google to find the right answer - so I am embracing vague here.) I forget that not everyone has been hearing the same things over and over for years like I have. I feel inspired to address the basics again. To quote Uptown Girls "the fun is in the fundamentals" (again, they may have been quoting someone else, but I still don't feel like Googling).

Know your audience - unless your audience is full of Ph.Ds, don't use words like "pedagogy"...because they are the only people I know who use that word - and others will have to look it up. 

Keep it Simple (KISS..and you thought I was being forward with my title of this post) – there is no rule on how long a post needs to be – there is no reason to agonize over each post like it is a novella.  If that is what you want to do, then write the novella. My favorite blog is The Burning House, it is completely crowd sourced and is made up of photos and lists, pretty simple.

Stop selling - no one is going to read your blog, watch your video, or listen to your podcast if you are just talking about how awesome you or your products/ services are. ...That is what late night infomercials are for...let the experts drone on for hours.

Let your ego take a nap - no one wants to hear you ring your own bells all the damn time. (It’s ok to talk about a class you took to give back ground discussing the alien on your face)….I mean go ahead and talk about yourself but people are going to talk about you behind your back and not in a flattering way, #JustSayin.

Over sharing – You do not have to share a link to every possible article relating to your industry, no one has time for that. Some of us need to file our nails and stuff.  Share what strikes you and listen to your audience. Actually that is the best advice I can give – listen…just listen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Care and Pheeding of your Teen

Three days ago Mashable posted  Pheed: The Next Social Craze for Teens.  Then three days ago I face-palmed myself HARD.

My daughter asked me two weeks ago if I had a Pheed account. She explained it as an app that is  combination of Twitter and Pinterest. I joined (AK Stout was already there), I haven't done anything with it yet....but shoot!...If I had listed to my teen - I could have scooped Mashable..I would have been able to say - gee thanks for telling me what I already know.

But...I failed to poke around enough to really give anyone a good idea what it is.  I can tell you it launched last October and is a way to share video, pictures, audio...I think what the platform is trying to do is be the Twitter for those who communicate better through audio or visual creation.

So If you are looking to be one of the cool kids or to keep an eye on your teen's online life - give the app a look-see.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is that an Alien on my face?

I am 3/4 of the way through the Certified Franchise Executive program. I spent February 16th and 17th sitting in day long sessions that will give me credit toward this certifiation. Session one was Strategic Thinking and Planning. Session two was Achieving Higher Performance for Yourself and Your Team Members. The main speaker for the Achieving Higher Performance was motivational speaker Bob Davies.

Davies has his Masters of Education degree in Psychology, so he tied a lot of the "why we do things the way we do" to how our brains work. Since we weren't a room full of shrinks he put concepts into more down to earth ways than synapses and electromagnetic waves.

The thing that rang true with me was the little voice inside your head that tells you not to do something. The little voice that says "no, what will people think?" or "I can't do that." The coach relayed this to the Alien in the Alien Movies. Picture it attached to your face...saying NOOOO!!!! - our job is to pull the alien off, say thanks for caring and throw it away. ...for the rest of my time at the conference I became aware of my alien.

I like my alien. If you knew the things that pop into my head, that the alien says no to...I didn't wolf whistle that young man and release my inner cougar. I didn't tell those young girls to get some self respect and go put some clothes on (we were in Las Vegas.) I didn't tell the people asking silly questions of Condoleeza Rice to sit down until they had something good to contribute to the conversation. I didn't tell the guy monopolizing the panel discussion to sit down or to please take note that the audience was falling asleep.

I am happy to be aware of my alien and in the future I may be more willing to pull it off my face and say "thanks for caring", but I think I will keep him around a little while longer.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Me: The Good, The Bad and The Eccentric

Last week I attended my third International Franchising Association conference. For the first time, I was recognized by my online persona. The first reason was for doing this live streamed Google+ Hang Out offering tips for first time attendees: 

Great! right? well once you get past the part where I am looking at the wrong computer screen and the fact that the cuss word didn't come out of my mouth in an audible manner. So yes - it fulfilled its purpose and I look great in turquoise. 

The other thing that was a conversation starter, from no less than 3 people,   Followed by a suggestion that they friend me so that they too can be entertained. This post from my Facebook page: 

I decided to run to Walmart - threw on my jeans, bra and hoodie...standing in line at the check out I look down and my hoodie isn't zipped all the way's just a matter of time before I end up in a People of Walmart email.

Yup - people asked me if I was all dressed...It's a good thing I embrace my eccentricity.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Four C's of Social Media

As any good tiara enthusiasts will tell you the four C's normally stand for color, cut, clarity and carat. I am finding that the four C's apply a little differently to my social media efforts. 

I was listening to Deb Evans and AK Stout Social Geek Radio and their interview with Jason Falls, They were talking about creating content to increase visibility for your personal brand. I was struck by the this bright idea. I was also struck by my own obstacles. 

  1. Content -What are you about? What do you share? 
  2. Curate - I'm great curator I write newsletters based on curating articles. I find awesome things to share on social media and I share a lot. 
  3. Communication - Connecting takes time. Working full-time can hinder this effort. It's on par with trying to hold 100 conversations at once. Just as in real life you need to prioritize your connections. Family and friends first, followed by the ones that are always there for you - then the ones you find interesting. 
  4. Create - Falls, though not the first or even only social media enthusiast to say so, says we should focus on creating content. I have been called creative (among other things - but that is another blog post) frequently. When it comes to creating content, I get stumped. 

I decide to stop and think  "What are my talents?", "What can I create?"

I can paint but it's hard to share that digitally and  I haven't bothered to look up copyright laws, and I don't really want to be in the position where I have to sue the  pants off anybody. (The picture above was painted my me and you CANNOT post it as your own!)

I can write.  Thiblog has historically sort of been mostly around my work, Every interview I have seen with a successful writer has included the advice "write everyday.' As a result of looking at my content, I think it's going to become more about whatever happens to be inspiring me on a particular day.

I can brainstorm - not the normal, sit around and throw out ideas, but in a way that makes people seek me out, to help them make their ideas better.  I don't know what to do with this.  How do you create content by being a brainstormer? And why can I do it for others and not myself?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It Takes Two, Baby

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately.  Long-term relationships, Short-term relationships (AKA my love life), business relationships – and even those really short term relationships in the form retail transactions.

The customer-service, social sector will tell you to be nice, listen, be aware to build relationships with our customers…and yes we should all do that – our cash flow depends on it.

We should also be aware that when we are on the consumer end of things that we participate in the relationship too.  I have come to the realization that getting crappy service when I am in a bad mood isn’t necessarily a coincidence. I probably did not inspire that cashier to smile and offer me a cookie, with my surly PMS attitude.  (though a cookie might have helped…keep giving cookies)

When a relationship fails to thrive is it totally the other guy’s fault?  If you came home, handed over your paycheck and did nothing more to nurture your relationship…I would say that marriage is doomed to fail. I’ll be the first to admit there can be a level of sanctimonious joy in playing the “I gave everything” martyr. …but what does that get you?  A spot on the fainting couch?  That spot can be passive aggressively comfy, but is a long-term path to emotional or financial bankruptcy.

He isn’t talking! She doesn’t fulfill my needs! – ask yourself, are you talking and fulfilling? Are you reaching out? Are you making an attempt to build a relationship?   Are you making the other guy read your mind so that you can be the wounded party when the relationship YOU failed to build collapses?

It takes two, Buttercup! Are you doing your part?