I’ve Been Spoofed!

I don’t think you’ve really made it until strangers begin to poke fun at you. And I think you’ve really made it when you have a Twitter account that someone with too much time on their hands created to mock and/or harass you.  Fortunately, I grew up with two brothers and a father who poked fun at me incessantly, but certainly hadn’t “made it” at that point.  I still haven’t, but I do have my first satirical spoof of one of my recently published articles on ways to improve your reputation.  And since I think it’s hilarious I wanted to share it here. Thanks Peter Alan for sending this my way!

Reputation:  a 4-syllable word that can either rhyme with termination or “give that girl a big promotion” give or take a few syllables.  That’s right people, it is kind of a big deal so don’t screw it up.  And I am not just talking about how you present yourself mano y mano.  I’m talking about hashtag drunk selfie over here too!  You don’t think your boss has Instagram and Facebook?  Man they are on you like white on rice or brown on brown rice.  But… follow my 10 guidelines and you will be taking them checks to da bank!  Poppin’ Cystal like it’s H2O and buying jets with pictures of cats on the side.  Hashtag living the dream!!

1:  Do what you say you’ll do.   Sounds easy right?  But then you are talking to this customer and you are all, “Yeah I can do that.”  But you know for reals that A:  you probably can’t do that and B:  even if you could it’s after 3 on a Friday so it ain’t gonna happen.  But check yo self!  Nobody likes a liar, nobody likes a punk, and nobody likes a narc.

2:  Go out of your way to help others reach their goals.  I know what you are thinking here.  What people?  What goals?  Remember in Kanye’s song, “Gold Digger” when he says “this week he’s moppin’ floors next week it’s the fries”?  Yeah those kind of goals!  A wise man once said, “do good stuff to others and good stuff will happen to you.”  Boom.

3:  Make other people look good.  Most people don’t like ugly people.  Enough said!

4:  Go a step beyond what is expected.  If someone asks you for 1 beer give them a 40oz not one of those tiny Coronitas (I think that is Spanish for tiny Corona).  People don’t like liars, punks, narcs, ugly people, or cheapskates.  This list keeps getting longer – don’t be on it.

5:  Look the part.  When you are going on a job interview pretend you are going on a date.  Not like try to look hot because you are hoping to get some but like you are meeting your girl’s parents for the first time.  Nobody likes a liars, punks, narcs, ugly people, cheapskates, or sloppy people.   Unless you are Daniel Day Lewis rocking some Method Acting for a role as a sloppy person and then probably people would probably still like you but mainly just because you are Daniel Day Lewis and not because of your dress.

6:  Consider your body language.  Ok remember the scene in Clueless when the teachers are sitting next to each other on the bench drinking coffee and their legs were crossed towards each other and then Cher (Alicia Silverstone not the singer) is like “that’s an unequivocal sex invite”?  That’s right!!  So, point your feet at people and get your work on!

7:  Be consistent.  I get’s hard remembering all your lies right?  Do I have an Australian accent or was I pretending to be British?   Was it proper British or more like Cockney?  Did I say I went to Yale or Harvard?  Pretty soon you are walking around like an idiot with a bogus accent and multiply Ivy League degrees.

8:  Act with Integrity.  This should be number 1!  Why is it number 8?  Because I wrote the article and you didn’t!  Get off my back already.  If you think the value menu is a crap value then don’t sell it.  If you know you aren’t going to call someone back then I guess don’t tell them you are going to.  If someone flat out asks you “hey when will you call me back?”  Then pretend you are on your cell phone going through a tunnel and hang up the phone!  But don’t forget to turn your phone off right after then change your number.  Integrity for the win!!!

9:  Get engaged with your community.  Kind of like that Mormon show “Sister Wives” but with your office.  Get all up in their business.  People love that crap!  “Did you hear about Susan?  Oh snap…”

10:  Be likeable.  Not sure I even need to say anything here.  Don’t be stupid.  Just be yourself, unless the real you is a liar, punk, narc, ugly, cheap, or sloppy.  Because remember nobody likes those people!  If you happen to be one of those people then learn the Australian accent and pretend to be a big wave surfer.  Everybody loves Aussies.  Call everybody mate.  Eat out at Outback like a champ and ask people if their babies were eaten by dingos.  Fake it until you make it!!!

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5 Years in Business!

I’m about to celebrate my 5 year benchmark as a self-employed person on Feb. 8th.  I got an alert today that this article I wrote was published on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor and I thought the timing was fitting.  It’s called “20 Things People Won’t Tell You About Starting A Business”.  It does a fine job of helping me recollect the ups-and-downs of this path over the past 60 months. While I’m displeased with their poor editing as they changed some of my wording to make what I think are no longer adequate sentences and oddly deleted some numbering and kept others, you’ll still get the point. Happy 5 years to me!

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Snowmaggedon and Forbes…

It’s a declared State of Emergency in Atlanta due to winter weather and I’m feeling grateful to be safe at home unlike so many others who have been stuck on the roads for up to 24 hours.  It’s actually been beautiful to hear stories of people coming together to help strangers in need. While I stay safe and cozy at home, I was able to enjoy something that seems silly in comparison to what people with no food, water, or warmth are dealing with currently, but I wanted to share nonetheless.

Yesterday I had an article of mine published on Forbes.com and am sharing it here in case the tips might be of value to any of you.

If you’re in the Southeast, stay safe, warm and off the roads!



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What Happens When You Combine Reading and Shopping?

Answer: You get the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com.  I read this book over the weekend and really loved it.  It was a great example of the well-known but often forgotten fact that the majority of people who find success were first met with a lot of failure. It also incorporated some evidence from studies on the science of happiness. So, it basically combined fashion (shoes), business, and psychology, so all in all, a great read for me!

As many of you know, I run a networking organization called Network Under 40. There were many things I took away from the book, but one of them motivated me to write this blog post for that organization. I trust it could be relevant to others of you since the concept of networking is universal and plays out for each of us daily in it’s own way. I hope you’ll take a read and even consider picking up this book!

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Sayonara 20s…

I recently turned  30.  To many females, this number equates with a coming-of-age.  A number that we’ve had in our heads since childhood as a benchmark by when we’d like to hit certain goals.  For many, those include getting married and having kids. For me, those were never the goals.  It’s always been things like becoming financially independent, finding and developing a career that utilizes my skills, learning to be present in the moment, accepting a compliment when given, and being there for the milestones of my loved ones.  So, as this day approached, I felt nothing but excitement about the fact that I got to start fresh with a new decade, one that I hope will exude the mantra I’ve chosen on which to focus: wholeness.

For me, my twenties felt frenzied.  Not at every moment, but certainly in many.  So much self-doubt, criticism, and yearning for definitiveness, meaning and answers.  While I know there will never be an extended stage of life that is “easy” and in which all things are working smoothly (when I say “things” I mean health, relationships (friends/family/romantic), housing, spirituality, work, money, etc), I do feel that I’ve created a strong enough foundation for myself during my 20s whereby I have the strength and self-awareness to better handle the inevitable challenges that will come.  I also feel that I’m better suited to now approach my day-to-day life from the perspective of wholeness.  To simply be less less hard on myself.  To be gentle in the moments where I was once so self-critical. To find time for things that often get pushed to the bottom of the priority list, but make me happy. That is my aim for wholeness.

Each year it’s become my tradition to use my birthday as a moment of reflection. To give myself this time to look back over the occurances of the year and pat myself on the back as well as count any battle scars.  It’s become a practice I love and would recommend to others because I’m learning that as we age, time feels as though it passes more rapidly (although clearly time passes at the same speed) and as I get busier, it’s more challenging to remember or take time to appreciate the progress, the moments that mold me, and the things that felt like hurdles at the time, but now are just another story to tell, or better yet, a vague memory.

I kicked off the year with the typical review of my previous year’s goals and was pleased to tweak them for the new year. I chose the following words to be my themes for the coming year: clarity, success, happiness, peace, love, abundance and positivity.  Soon thereafter, I jetted off to Davos, Switzerland to participate in the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting, having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rub elbows with the powerful, rich, famous, and genius, as well as was able to form relationships with 49 other young people (“Global Shapers”) from around the world. I felt inspired by the collaboration and innovation that is happening world-wide, reminded that we are a part of Global ecosystem.  I was also motivated by the level of energy, enthusiasm, and capacity of the other young people I met.

I flew to Baltimore to surprise my mom for her 65th birthday, drove to Charleston to celebrate my one year anniversary, headed to San Francisco to reconnect with my favorite US city, then stopped off in Austin to see my twin and his then girlfriend (now fiance’) and check out South x Southwest EDU and got to hear from Bill Gates.  Visited NYC, Sacramento and San Francisco again.  Went to the US Open in Philly, took a relaxing weekend in Pensacola, headed north to Chicago before the cold came in, at which point I migrated south to Ft. Lauderdale to celebrate the reigning in of the 30th birthdays of 10 of my best friends from high school, drove to South Carolina to celebrate a great example of true love at a friend’s wedding, then to Nashville to step out of my normal course of study at a digital marketing conference, then Charlotte for a baby shower, and lastly, closed out my 20s in Orlando with 12 wonderful friends. (Intended run-on sentences to make you feel as tired as I do.)

watched someone I love get hit by a moving vehicle and subsequently took my first ambulance ride. I saw a rainbow the next day. I remembered to be thankful and have hope.

I welcomed many “nieces and nephews” (not bloodline, but those of close friends) to the world.

29 required me to say some important goodbyes.  The first to my older brother, sister-in-law, and nieces as they departed Altanta to move to San Francisco. The second to my  boyfriend of almost two years.

At the start of 29, I faced a huge upset with one of my businesses, realizing that the trust I’d placed in our primary vendor partner had been broken. Yet, I also accepted the single-largest check I’ve ever deposited as a result of that. I had a byline in publications like Forbes and Little Pink Book, and was quoted in or written about in everything from Inc, to The Huffington Post, Mashable, and Amex Open Forum.  I even conducted a video interview with the BBC.  I vowed to better learn the ins-and-outs of my accounting. After a lot of headache, I am now proficient with Quickbooks and it’s enabled me to begin strategic planning for the ‘franchising’ of one of my companies.  I celebrated a 4 year business anniversary, now almost at 5!  Learned a lot about marketing, social media, and public relations.

I continued to follow the intersection of my skills and passions which center around people (primarily connecting them and bridging gaps), travel, efficiency, and creativity.  I often felt blessed (and continue to feel that way) that I’m able to independently work and make a living by utilizing and tapping into these skills and passions each day.

I read a lot. I even read a couple fiction books which is a divergence from my love of non-fiction. One of the books I read had my name on the cover. I read it to lots of kids from pre-K to 5th grade. I even signed them for 200 kids and once for some parents (in the rain).

I lost a roommate and for the first time as an adult, intentionally lived alone with no plans of getting a future roommate.  After years of banging my head against the wall with mortgage lenders, I finally refinanced my home and was pleased to find that I’m less up-side-down than I once was.

I reaffirmed the belief that people are people, regardless of title, wealth, or power.  This lesson was reenforced not only in Davos, but again this summer when I was invited to speak on a panel on behalf of Millennial entrepreneurs for Coke’s senior leadership and dine with them that evening.

I tried going gluten free for two weeks. I decided that I like gluten and gluten likes me. I continued to practice yoga and tried to take in the small moments, reflect on my gratitude for things big and small during the day, and learn to breathe. I  worked to focus on the things I can control, rather than focusing on the things out of my control like how others act or what others think of me. After years of saying that “therapy shouldn’t be stigmatized and everyone could benefit”, but never doing it myself, I finally took the leap and starting going. I also committed to visiting a holistic doctor.

I auditioned for Shark Tank.  And no, you won’t be seeing me on the show, at least this season… 

I attended my high school reunion…and had a blast!

I sought to find a female mentor and realized that the best way to find one was to organically let relationships develop.  Without even realizing it, I found an incredible female business mentor who has challenged me yet gently encouraged me. I made mistakes and failed. Some more publicly like expanding a business into other markets unsuccessfully (so far) and others more privately. I started going to church online. I worked on loving myself, inside and out, rather than pick myself apart. I helped several people find jobs, significant others, and customers for their companies. Did my first “mind-mapping retreat” and when I saw my brain on a whiteboard, understood why I’m always so tired.  I became more confident in the kitchen, actually being told I’m a good cook, which is a far cry from my early 20s when cooking consisted of heating up a can of soup. 

Did several home improvement projects which included a bedroom redecoration, garage organizational system install, and kitchen backsplash. Made an ‘old college try’ at gardening. Grew a couple baby tomatoes and some basil. Killed some thyme and cilantro.

Had a flattering article written about me by my alma matter’s magazine. Also sat my first full year on the board of said alma matter.

Perhaps saw my last Brave’s game since they decide to quit the city of Atlanta so I plan to quit them going forward.

Congratulated my parents on 44 years or marriage. Wished my nieces a happy 2nd and 4th birthday.

Was reminded that some people are takers in this world. Makes me grateful that most people I know are givers.

I’ve always said that my biological age felt decades behind my mental age, so as I’m getting older, I look forward to it (so far).  It’s really wonderful to have moments to reflect and remember. To see the changes over one year, but more so, over the last decade. 10 years ago, I was in college. I had no idea what my professional life would look like. No clue that “networking” was a skill, that entrepeneurship was a viable way to make a living, that I could own a home at 23, and make a name for myself in the professional community in Atlanta.  I also had no idea what lives my friends would lead or how great it would be to watch their growth and divergent paths.  To visit them around the world, celebrate their successes, and be there for each others challenges are all pieces of the memories that will mark my 20s.  It was a wild ride, one I won’t get to do again, but one of which I’m certain has set me up to be exactly where I need to be to enter into my 30s.  I truly believe we all take the courses in life which are necessary for each of us to learn the proper lessons that we need (and we each have different lessons). For that reason, I’m grateful for the turmoil of my 20s and in turn, anticipate the journey ahead. Thanks for taking the ride with me. 

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Back In Forbes

When I was a kid, several teachers told me I’d be a writer. I didn’t pay it too much mind but now that I look back, I realize that while it’s not my profession, they were right!  I’ve shared some articles here in the past that I’ve written and I’m really proud of the latest published in Forbes yesterday.  I love connecting people and apparently that carries the name “networking” so I wrote this piece originally about my 8 networking pet peeves. Leave it to editors to change that, but we landed on “8 Signs You’re a Terrible Networker“. Very polite. Hope you enjoy it and don’t see yourself in any of them!

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Reality Bites.

My guilty pleasure is reality tv.  It often comes as a surprise to people who either think I don’t have any free time so certainly couldn’t spend it watching reality shows, or that, like with my reading, I’d prefer educational topics. Nope. I love me a good brain-turn-off show, the more the merrier.

So, it may also not come as much of a surprise that over the years I’ve auditioned for 4 such shows myself.  The first was The Apprentice, back in 2008, I think.  It took some convincing to go, but ultimately, I was at a career low point then and figured why not? While I knew I wouldn’t be dramatic enough or be a big enough character, I went.  I spent about 7 hours in a hotel ballroom waiting for my turn with 8 other people in front of a producer.  We sat around a “boardroom” table and were told we’d be given a conversation topic to discuss.  We were reminded that this show is seeking truly talented people, but it is still tv, so it needs to be entertaining.  The topic was “Why are we in a recession?”. When the first woman spoke, her response left me dumbstruck.  While I am a registered Independent, she boldly stated, “The Republicans!”…and that was her entire remark.  It only got worse from there when others began to chime in. I couldn’t believe how quickly the conversation was spiraling downhill so I put my hand up and exclaimed, “NO!”.  Then I proceeded to talk about personal responsibility and education around financial literacy. (I’d yet to pen my kids book on these topics, but maybe this was a subconscious seed planting.)  The conversation shifted but still couldn’t stay on a rationale course. I ended up getting the last words and could tell that the group respected my opinion.

The producer told us she’d then point at us and ask whom we’d hire or fire and why.  One by one, I was hired, never fired.  Only one other guy was hired by anyone in the group. I knew that sealed my fate as someone they would not call back. As we exited, everyone congratulated me and said, “You’ll definitely make it to the next round” to which I replied, “Thank you but I doubt it. I didn’t cause any drama or say anything so off-the-wall that they’ll even remember me.” Whether I was right or that I created a self-fulfilling prophecy, I never heard back.

About two years later, one of my idols, Oprah, announced that she’d be casting for a reality show where the winner would get their own show on her network (OWN). Again I thought, I could do that! The ironic thing to note is that I’m pretty terrified of being on camera. I’m super self-conscious about my appearance so the idea of having cameras in my face at all times, especially when the purpose of most of these shows is to get you out of your comfort zone, doesn’t sit well with me.  But, like with most things in my life, I saw an opportunity to potentially get close to this person whom I greatly admire, so again I figured why not throw my hat in the ring? I’ll certainly not get it if I don’t try.

So, along with a friend who was equal parts courageous and naive as I was, we drove to the cattle call early on a Saturday morning about 45 minutes away. It was a hot summer morning in Atlanta, and we had to get in line and wait for our number.  Fortunately, we were assigned a time to come back after less than 2 hours of being there and got to come back at 6pm.  At that time, we were divided into groups of 10 and sat with a producer (this seemed to be a theme). We each got 30 seconds to pitch our idea of what our talk show would be if we won.  I talked about doing something like The View for a younger audience.  Apparently both I and my idea were not a hit because I never heard back. Neither did my friend. I watched that show and was surprised that neither of the winners ever had a show air.

(Please let me take this intermission to remind you that it has never explicitly been a goal of mine to be on a TV show. I simply continued to see opportunities and grabbed them.)

So, back to my normal life I went.  One show that has become a favorite of mine over the last couple years is Shark Tank. As someone who is always trying to learn more about running my businesses, I became addicted to this show and look forward to it every week.  So, when I was watching an episode this spring and saw an ad that they’d be coming to Atlanta in a few weeks for a casting call, I got nervous.  I knew that meant I had to consider it.  I went back and forth each day leading up to it. I had 2 attorneys review the 14 page contract. I talked in circles about why I wasn’t ready yet and the timing was wrong, but that if I didn’t give it a try, I’d never know.  So, I spent hours the night before the casting talking with a former ad exec to help hone in my pitch and writing out answers to the list of questions.

I went with a friend the next morning to wait in line.  They promised to see the first 500 people.  I was number 420.  They told us to come back later that day so we did.  After a couple hours of waiting in the holding area and getting tired of hearing potential contestants wanting to pitch their idea to the audience (us) or asking questions that were answered in the application packet, the highlight was hearing from the head casting director about how the process works and all the steps one goes through before hitting the air. Also interesting to learn how many people get filmed, but are not air-worthy and never make it although they may have cut a deal with the “Sharks”.  (Also a good time to note how hilarious it is to tell people you are auditioning for a show called “Shark Tank” who have never heard of it.  They immediately begin to think you’re auditioning for some crazy and dangerous show where you literally swim with sharks! ).

As my number drew nearer, we were placed in groups of 5 in a room where there were 5 tables, each with 1 producer. Each group was assigned a table and got “60” (really more like 20-30) seconds to pitch to the producer. I was fourth in my group and the ones before me seemed to bore the producer. She then locked eyes with me as I gave my condensed pitch. She smiled and nodded her head during it. Then asked me a question and said, “Great job!”. Hadn’t said that to the others so I suddenly felt encouraged.  Wasn’t nervous all day because I didn’t think I had anything to lose. Suddenly she gave me a glimmer of hope. Yet, I never heard back so thus, you will not be seeing my on Shark Tank, at least this season!

I really thought after that that my days of random reality show auditioning were over. Wrong I was. A Facebook “friend” of mine (a woman whom I’d met online through a mutual business contact) announced she had her own show that was a hybrid of The Apprentice and Shark Tank.  I wasn’t going to do it, but again thought, what is there to lose? So, I studied up on the people on her panel, her, and any information she sent around. I’d learned from my other experiences how unprepared people come to these things without any of the paperwork, finishing 14 page contracts and questionnaires in line.  To my luck, the questions on this application were identical to Shark Tank‘s so that was easy.  Also to my luck, the auditions were tiny since no one knew about this show.  There were no more than 20 people at the one I attended.  Probably to their benefit because it was so poorly run. The people behind the scenes arrived after those of us trying out.  It took a couple hours to get through which was ironic compared to the huge productions I’d seen and how much more efficient they were. This was the first one that filmed while you presented so that was unnerving a bit. Certainly not my best pitch but the panel of 13 judges all were engaged and I was told after that I got a lot of great feedback and yes’.  So, again, left feeling optimistic.  When I later saw the contact on Facebook post that they’d wrapped filming, I knew I’d also not been cast. I look forward to seeing this one on TV to see how it pans out and where it ends up airing. Will be interesting to be on the inside of something before it’s even a thing.

I share all of this in part because it’s fun to go back and remember and draw parallels to things that seemed so random at the time.  It would be even neater to tie it all up in a package if I’d been cast at some point. Maybe that’s in the future and maybe it’s not. I don’t really care either way. I look back and I’m proud that I went out of my comfort zone each time to try. That I never let my fears, insecurities, and doubts stop me.  That I was able to remember that if I don’t take chances on myself, who else will? And more importantly, if I don’t try, I will absolutely fail, so I lose nothing if I try and get nowhere further, but still have things I can learn along the way. I was more comfortable at each audition because I’d been there before and it was no longer completely unknown.  It’s a great takeaway for every area of my life and I hope for yours too.




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