Posts made in September, 2010

nostalgia

This weekend was my alma mater’s annual Homecoming weekend.  I went to Emory University where we have no football team and our sports are D3.  As you can imagine, this made for a bit of a tough time in finding a communal reason to exude school spirit.  But, even with these hurdles, certain groups like Greek organizations, Orientation leaders, Student Programming Council and Residence Life, those who were involved (as the majority of the campus was) created an overwhelming buzz of school spirit.  Like many young people who graduated relatively recently, you miss the camaraderie and social network that the confines of your college offered.

Being back this weekend for all the festivities was so energizing!  It reminded me of all the fun I had and how many wonderful people I was lucky to know.  It also made me nostalgic for those days, wishing we could all get together like we did back then, but recognizing those days have past and we will all never be in the same room together again.

It was great to see how far people have gone in only a few short years.  It was even better to snap back into comfortable conversations with people who I’ve not seen since graduation.  It’s rather amazing how deep the bonds are to those with whom you’ve shared similar experiences.  I saw firsthand how this even correlates to those who span generations. My aunt was in town for the events as well, as she was honored as a distinguished alumni, and even with the years that span our experiences at Emory, we shared similar sentiments, having many of the same fond feelings for a place that apparently has a character so strong that it’s left a similar indelible mark  on both of us.

There is something truly overwhelming in the power that nostalgia holds.  Whether it’s a song, an outfit, a person, or a place, when you’re snapped back to another time, it’s rather incredible.

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shiny objects

Have you ever noticed that the characteristics that are attractive when we date are oftentimes those that make for the most problems in a marriage?

Ladies, imagine this:

A guy picks you up for a date in an expensive foreign car.  His outfit looks new and straight from the racks of Bloomingdales.  You jet off to a nice restaurant where the bill is certainly more than you’d foot for a dinner out on a Tuesday.  Fast forward a few months and Mr. Wonderful is still picking up the tabs, and perhaps has even bought you a nice piece of jewelery.  You’re loving the wining and dining and all that he has to offer.  Now, fast forward to when you’re looking to settle down.  Suddenly you’re concerned that you’re a saver and Mr. Wonderful’s lifestyle is completely different from how you’d spend your own money.  Perhaps he even has a ‘bad boy’ attitude that initially attracted you.  You loved his mystery and that you could seemingly ‘tame’ him.  Now you’re thinking about your future and wanting stability and maybe even kids. Can you trust that he’ll stay committed and interested when things get mundane?  Suddenly Mr. Wonderful-to-date seems like Mr. Not-so-marriage-material.

Guys: I’m sure I could draw out a similar story about women; how you look for women who will shack up with you early on, who are always primped and looking polished, and who aren’t ‘clingy’.  Then, as time goes on and your ‘boys’ are getting married one-by-one, you look around and see that these women were great for about an hour, or maybe a couple months, but certainly not ‘bring home to home’ or ‘wife-up’ material.

Why is it that we fall time and again for the people who are so far from the things we really want and need to have a successful long time relationship?  At what point do we begin to look past those shiny surface factors and let people in enough to see the qualities that have staying power?  And how often do the two really work in harmony?

As a guilty party myself, I don’t necessarily have answers to this.  I’m just throwing it out there, perhaps asking those on either side of the coin (in successful long-term relationships or still picking the wrong partners based on similar reasons) to weigh in.   I’m sure some of you have stories of Mr/Ms Wonderful also meets Mr/Ms-marriage-material, but I’d like to know if he/she was such a shiny and attractive package from the get-go.

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why do i blog?

I’m double-dipping with this one as it’s an article I wrote for my community’s online blog/newspaper.  Fitting, though:

I run a business and am launching a second one. I’m 26 years old and am attempting to have a semblance of a social life while also juggling some volunteer commitments.

Add to the list my blog which gets updated a couple times a week. Your mental imagine is either of a crazy person who doesn’t sleep and/ or is masochistic, or perhaps of someone who has too much on her plate. I’d say it’s neither, actually, but from the outside it can look that way.

With that in mind, I ask: What motivates an already busy person to blog? Might it be the exhibitionism of putting yourself out there for the world to see? Could it be a taste of celebrity? Perhaps it has something to do with the inner desire to journal and record our personal histories?

I can’t say for everyone it’s the same, but for me, it was a simple interest in creating a forum for my specific audience, quarterlifers, to have a sounding board. I take guest bloggers and encourage commentary, loving that my peers are able to discuss issues and topics that are specific to our stage of life.  Additionally, I really enjoy the opportunity to be creative, more so than I do in my day-to-day activities running numbers for businesses on how to reduce their costs on credit card processing. It’s a great outlet to let loose through writing and share about experiences, get feedback, and synthesize life as it happens to and around me. That’s what keeps me writing.

The question was brought to my attention more generally about the pervasiveness of younger people blogging and their knowledge of social media.  More so, the question asked if these skills could directly or inadvertently help to keep them employable.

My answer is maybe. While these skills certainly can’t hurt, I also don’t think they are always marketable. If I weren’t self employed and was writing a resume, I can’t imagine adding my blog as it’s too personal at times. Furthermore, I wouldn’t mention my knowledge of LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Twitter for fear it would seem unprofessional. If I were going for a marketing or social media position, I’d hope I’d have enough experience professionally to quote those successes rather than these personal ones. Perhaps if employers are looking at online profiles, you can demonstrate your abilities based on how your pages reflect you, but I wouldn’t put my eggs explicitly in that basket.

On the flip side, there certainly is the possibility of gaining an online audience and being ‘discovered’ by possible employers in your field. If that’s one’s goal, I’d say go for it, but recognize that alone would likely not be your best bet: stick with your day job and blog on the side.

What’s odd is that some of what may motivate people to blog is precisely what can prevent them from being employable. Putting yourself out there, airing your opinions and/or personal life, and seeking notoriety could all have the opposite effect on making oneself more attractive in the job market, dependent on your blog topic and industry. Unless your aim is to target a market, make yourself an expert, and then parlay that into career success, there certainly can be pitfalls to putting oneself out there by blogging. I do hope, though, as an optimistic young professional, that perhaps that worlds of business and personal lives could blend in a healthy manner, addressing the fact that the two worlds are not as separate as we’re oftentimes led to pretend.

Blogging or not- it’s just a fact that the younger generations are accustomed to communicating online and will do continue to do so, for better or worse.

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Time to Suit Up Coach

I think this guest blogger may be the first who comes from a similar perspective as me (now I don’t feel so alone!), so it’s interesting (personally) to hear his enthusiasm mixed with nerves…how I know both of those emotions well.  Please meet Brian, newborn entrepreneur and 20-something:

So here it is…time to show that I can walk my own talk.  After spending the majority of my 20’s managing the sales performance of others in the corporate world, the site for my new business is up and running (www.GreenTechBuyer.org), and it’s on me to prove that I can create sales in a new market armed only with the tools of my trade; a phone, inbox and internet browser. Gulp! Let the fun begin.

About a year ago I came to the realization that my entrepreneurial itch couldn’t get the scratching it needed relying on others to bring in the deals while enduring tedious meetings, so I found an industry I’m passionate about, reigned in my assets and decided to give it a shot.  A few gut checks and skipped paychecks later, I’m an entrepreneur, and it’s just as scary and invigorating as the books say it will be, only more so.
OK, OK. Let’s go through our pre-sale checklist:

–  Quality product that’s in high demand. CHECK.

– Well defined target customer base. GOT THAT TOO.

–  Marketing plan and the tools to pull it off. DAMN RIGHT.

– Clear and differentiating messaging. THE COMPETITION IS GOING TO HATE ME.

–  Price point that reflects value. FEELING GREAT ABOUT IT.

I’m a sales pro. I write a blog and consult about sales best practices. I’ve come on board as the third hire at a startup that turned into a 100+ headcount industry powerhouse before I left. This is what I do best! Yet I can’t seem to shake a dull sense of lingering anxious tension, urging me to head back to the land of salaries and employer-provided healthcare coverage.
Everybody says “good luck”, but they’re tone and demeanor feels more like a dire warning than well wishes.  I know, I know. They just want me to be safe, which some confuse with being happy. But safe was boring, and the chip on my shoulder weighs heavier than the strain of a bank account that (temporarily…I hope) keeps going backwards. It’s time to get selfish and self-absorbed. Websites don’t drive traffic, convert it to action and sign up vendors on their own. The internet is a big place without much respect for newcomers that don’t go out and earn it. Time to sell!
Selling is persistence, goal setting, staying positive and constantly refining a strategy that rarely goes as planned. It’s the thrill of a yes, the hope of a bite and the refusal to accept no. Selling is a blast, and man do I miss it!

All the clichés about failure are true. You don’t know what you don’t know, and most new businesses don’t last even a few years. Everything takes longer and costs more than you think too. So what? That’s got nothing to do with me. There’s also a ton of success stories from entrepreneurs no brighter or motivated than myself who put on the blinders and focused on creating the business and lifestyle they set out to achieve. Nothing happens in business until somebody makes a sale, and I’ve got just the man for the job staring back at me in the mirror.
I may not have the flashiest site or biggest budget, but I’ve got the best sales team in the industry. Watch me prove it.

* Sorry Brian, the site wasn’t participating with your preconceived spacing, so my regrets for that!

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‘how i built it’

I spent the morning at a fancy schmancy event at the St. Regis hosted by the Wall Street Journal called ‘How I Built It’, featuring 5 impressive entrepreneurs who went from nothing to huge enterprises (one of whom invented the French manicure).  I went for two reasons: 1. I always enjoy learning from those who’ve already taken the journey or are successfully on it now.  And 2. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, was there, and not only do I admire her, but she has a foundation that funds projects by female entrepreneurs.  Since I know one such person pretty well who’s seeking funding for a project (cough- kids books- cough), I thought it was worth trying to shake her hand (which I did). (And 3. You can’t beat a free breakfast!)

Aside from noting that of the 5 panelists, all the males were Jewish and both of the females were blond (looks like a good formula for me and my genes), that they all really harped on some things I’m learning in my day-to-day entrepreneur experience.  First, trust your instincts and don’t let every one’s opinions sway you.   Some even went as far as to say to keep your idea quiet from those close to you for at least a year so that your ego doesn’t get involved and you can plug away and work on it before they can ask you to defend it or add their two cents.  Secondly, they all seemed to drive wholeheartedly towards something that motivated and excited them, and that they were willing to ride the roller-coaster of extreme highs and lows to make a reality.  Seems obvious, but think to all the ideas that pop into your head and perhaps you start but never finish because you’re not willing to completely throw yourself in.

Interestingly enough, 3 of them, all of whom own multi-national companies, still own 100% of it.   It was encouaraging to hear Sara Blakely say she started with $5,000 and aside from a one-time 60 day loan of $50,000 from her grandparents, she’s never taken money from anyone.  If you’re familiar with the Spanx brand and their 200+ products, that may amaze you as much as it did me.

No lesson from me here, just thought it might be valuable to hear for other Betwixter entrepreneurs.

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