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Yvonne
Colorado
Professional blogger and consultant. I work with companies interested in learning how to use social media tools more effectively.
Interests: daydreaming. in daydreams, one can soar into the clouds and feel the shimmering warmth of the sun, no matter how dark the world below may seem.
Recent Activity
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by Yvonne DiVita I hear folks are overwhelmed by technology today. Too much of this, too much of that, cringing when they hear, "There's an app for that!" Information overload, in the form of technology that is always on, is ruining our lives. When everyone at the bus stop, the airport, the grocery store, the stoplight (in cars and not in cars) is glued to their cell phone, it's a clear indication that we, as human beings, are tuning out the wrong things in a misguided effort to tune in the 'right' things. Let's decide what the wrong things are, up front. Your Facebook page. It's fun to be on Facebook and share. I learn a lot about my family and friends on Facebook; where they are today, how they feel today, what they've got planned for the weekend, and more. I discover new videos and infographics, on Facebook. But, when Facebook becomes my mode of conversation, as if getting face-to-face is just 'too hard'... it's a bad thing. A very bad thing. Your cell phone. We need cell phones. I can't image not having a cell phone. Without a cell phone I wouldn't be in easy touch with my pregnant daughter, who lives a thousand miles away. Without a cell phone I wouldn't be able to call for pizza on the fly when I'm just too exhausted to cook (we no longer have a landline). Without a cell phone I wouldn't be able to text my granddaughter, which is the only way to get her attention. When cell phones become the most important part of your daily attire ( as if you'd ever leave the house without your shoes, pants, jacket if it's raining and your cell phone), that's a problem. When you sweat because you accidently set the phone down and walked out the door without it... and you are in a panic at not having it for a whole day...that's a problem. Because, being without your cell phone is NOT the end of the world. Really. Seriously. Your blog or website. I know you check it several times a day. Or, if you have a tool that alerts you when folks comment on your blog, or when folks visit your website, and you check it hour after hour, hoping for better results, that's a problem. Because, regardless of how often you look at your blog or your website, it will perform as you designed it to perform. One should be creating online property with careful thought to allowing it to perform and run without you. Let it do the work you created it to do, and check it routinely, but not that often. Your laptop. Oh yeah, your laptop. I have a laptop...it sits on a rolling desk by my bed. I take it out once a week when I'm not so tired and look at Twitter. I also take it on trips. Otherwise, it sits there and... hums. Because, it's a tool. It's not who I am nor is it what I am. It's for my convenience... not the other way around. It doesn't run my life, any more than my cell phone or Facebook page or blog. All of these things are bad, bad, bad if you allow them to dictate your life and who you connect with. All of these things are good if you put them in their place and use them appropriately. Here are the right things, the things that really matter: Your family. You can connect with them without a cell phone or laptop or Facebook page. It's call a picnic or a cup of coffee. Your pets. Oh, those poor pets. They are there, at your elbow, begging for a walk or a cuddle, and you're blowing them fake kisses or patting them on the head, while you eagerly turn back to some tool or mechanical device, clicking the Like button on a new shelter post... Really? Take care of what's there in front of you. They were shelter pets once, too, I bet. Your friends. Where are your friends? Oh, I hear you... on social media. On Twitter. On Instagram. On Pinterest. LOL You see them there, you like them there, you comment on them there... but, you don't SEE them, HUG them, COMMUNICATE with them as friends, by being on those online sites. Be a friend. Have coffee. Go on a shopping trip to a REAL store... stop and smell the roses. Oh, I could go on. I could remind everyone who feels overwhelmed that the truth is, you're not managing your time or your tools correctly. Step away from the computer. I'll see you at BlogHer, this week, or WIPIN, next month. Yes, IRL. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Lip-Sticking
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Guest post by Georgina Stewart We all have a sizeable personal network, which can be made up of family, friends, neighbours, ex-work colleagues, or fresh acquaintances. While, in terms of a successful application, networking will often play a vital role. If an employer is uncertain about employing you, then a ringing endorsement from someone in your network can be the decisive factor. "It's not what you know, but who you know" is a general truth for a reason. It often happens to be true. Networking has always been important. In the age of social media it's also possible to build up contacts extremely quickly, but, in terms of furthering your career, it's not about the quantity, but the quality of your contacts. How Networking Can Further Your Career Who you know, and their level of influence, can have a massive impact on your career. For instance, if you are as good at your job as a colleague, but they have better connections, then they can have an advantage in several ways. Within a company people may comment favourably on their abilities, and if their network also consists of people outside of the company then they can exploit better opportunities. Not every good job is advertised, and one way you can find out about an opportunity is through good networking. If you're on good terms with people in your network, then they can also think it's in THEIR interests that you apply for a specific job, because they will want to work with someone they know, like and trust. Be Generous To People In Your Network Networks can be built both online and offline, through face to face meetings, telephone conversations, social media and email. Always remember to be generous with people in your network, as they won't be so inclined to help you if you're not. For everyone in a network there should be a willingness to offer mutual support, advice and information. You can also help others, thanks to the knowledge you have acquired via your network. Create a Plan Firstly devise a plan, then start building your contacts. Next, organise your network. One way of doing this is to create specific groups through an email program (the groups should be for contacts not linked to your existing job). You should then arrange how often you intend to contact particular individuals. Once your network plan has been created, your network and plan should be updated a minimum of once a year. Networking should always be a continual process. Contacts should be added throughout your working life. Set targets regarding your network, aim at how you can reach your goals, and don't be afraid to change things if they're not working as well as you would like. Networking Etiquette You should display tact concerning the people in your network, respect them, and don't take them for granted. If you intend to use a contact's name in connection with a job, ensure that you have their permission to do so. Be reliable and appreciative, and never pester people at times that may be convenient for you, but not for them, such as very early in the morning or very late at night. Once you've found a good contact the last thing you want is to then make them regret networking with you in the first place. Author: Georgina Stewart is an important member of the team at Marble Hill Partners and spends a lot of her time focused on how she can encourage others to fulfil their potential as both executives and leaders. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Lip-Sticking
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Yvonne and Susan at BlogHer by Yvonne DiVita "There she is! Oh my GOD! It's really her!" I wasn't the only one throwing my arms up with loud cries of excitement as I rushed across the gleaming lobby of the hotel, that fated day back on the ancient history days of that initial launch of the great BlogHer community. Women of all sorts flung themselves across the lobby, roaring like wild waterfalls, cascading into each other, full of sincere passion and delight, that morning. The rush was never ending, each woman eager to make sure she could find the right 'her' and 'her' and 'her'; so many friends of the blogosphere, friends known but not really known, soon to be pen pals of a new order. Yes, the many faces of BlogHer. I remember it well. Next week I'll be off to San Jose for the 10th Year Anniversay of BlogHer and the memories keep flooding in, daily. Memories of Jory and Lisa and Elisa and this marvelous thing they had created. Memories of the sessions, learning skills I hoped to hone to perfection. Memories of the people... the women... the many, many faces of Eve, who came for the same reasons I had come... to MEET my BFFs in person and to try and understand this thing called blogging. As I prepare for this year's anniversary event, I can't help but wonder... where are they now, the women I came to call friend and who still light up my world with their emails and phone calls? Celeste Lindell was one of the first women I remember meeting. I'd been reading Average Jane for some time and when Celeste approached me (knowing ME from Lipsticking), I admit I was confused. "Yvonne, hi! I'm Celeste," she said. Her bright warm smile was welcoming, one friend greeting another, and yet I remember thinking, "Wow, this girl is so young!" I shook her hand but... clearly, she could tellI was confused. My face must have held that look, "Um... who are you?" Yes, I was wondering 'who' Celeste was. Sigh. Rock Star Celeste - Hope I get to see and hear her do this, someday! "Average Jane," she said, with an even bigger smile. The hotel lobby was so LOUD - yes, BlogHer conferences can be LOUD, it's one of the things we ladies do - we screech and laugh and howl, because...well, we can. Why not? Happiness knows no bounds when it comes to meeting your BFFs in person. You shout out for the sheer thrill of it, sometimes. And, you don't even know you're shouting. I laughed, hoping Celeste wasn't upset that I didn't 'know' her immediately, and she wasn't. Then, as now, she was a pretty laid-back, quiet person. A dynamo underneath her bangs, however. We've stayed friends for these past 10 years, through many conferences (including BlogPaws), and I don't think I have ever let Celeste know how much I treasure our friendship. But, there you have it... I am blessed to know her, and I love her blog even more now, and the world is a better place for having her in it. I cannot imagine the blogosphere without the chatty, witty, funny, Average Jane. I met Susan Getgood at that first BlogHer conference. This woman is like a sister to me. I don't Susan, and her great smile think I've ever told her how important she is; how that first meeting, at a BlogHer party, seeing each other from across the room, and her jumping up to hug me with abandon, made not only my day but my life. Me, little blogger that I was... hardly more than a kindergartener among the high school kids... was being greeted as an equal. As someone who mattered. By someone with far more experience in life and business than I. It took me aback, just a bit. I truly couldn't imagine why someone as talented as Susan would give me the time of day. (she will likely tell you I hid it well... truth is, I held that insecurity close to my chest...and over time, with the hlep of people like Susan and Celeste and Toby, who I will talk about soon, I came to see that I was smart, and talented and worth the attention! Oh the wonders of good friends and their unwavering support!) Susan and I were immediate friends of the highest order. From her days as the Marketing Roadmaps blogger, to her launch of Blog with Integrity, to her book, Professional Blogging for Dummies, to her work with BlogHer, we've stayed in touch, we've stayed close, we've laughed and cried together, and reminded each other, "You're top notch, girl friend! You're the best of the best. You're destined for bigger things..." with that deep look into each other's eyes to make the point. Because, real friends want you to be successful and do what needs doing to push you ahead, when you're ready to stop or fall back. Real friends never stop loving you and believing in you. Toby Bloomberg doing a selfie What can I say about Toby Bloomberg? Toby who asked me to moderate a conversation about marketing to women, in an AMA group she was in charge of. ME... author of a book on marketing to women online, with the fun and catchy title of Dickless Marketing... you may laugh, but remember, it's about Dick and Jane...not 'dick'. LOL Toby reminds me to keep creating, keep inventing, keep your eye on tomorrow, Yvonne. Toby who created such a dynamic, innovative group called All the Single Girlfriends, which has not yet seen it's power come to full fruition, has influenced me beyond anything she can imagine. I will never forget the pride I felt when I moderated that chat group and answered questions and talked with Toby about marketing to women and came to love her blog, Bloomberg Marketing. It was a turning point in my career. I had made the grade, so to... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Lip-Sticking
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Bloom Shopper diva blue by Yvonne DiVita *I received a free bike bag as compensation for this post. I received it because I wanted to test the bag out - I told the folks who sent it that I'd do an honest, genuine review. So, these are my honest thoughts on the Basil bag... I do a good bit of traveling, as, I expect, do many of you. We travel for business and pleasure and generally bring that obtrusive laptop along because...well, we want to stay connected. Until recently, I had not found a good laptop bag, one that was easy to carry, attractive (yes, I care about that stuff), and roomy. I was using some good old bag I likely bought at a discount store, and it was adequate, but I never liked it. I would sigh loudly at the start of each trip, wondering why I hadn't taken time to find a new bag. And then, out of the blue, Taylor from Ghost PR wrote to me about Basil bags*. I was immediately struck by the vibrant colors and neat construction. Then I read the note more carefully and realized the bags are for bicycles! Even more intrigued, I wrote to Taylor and said I wanted one, if she was offering. Mind you, I don't bicycle. I can barely walk, for heaven's sake! But, I live in Colorado and everyone else bicycles! Oh, if only I were 20 years younger... you bet I'd be out there on a bike, every day. With over 300 days of sun every year, Colorado is perfect for bike riding, to and from work, and on recreational trips, too. But, back to now. Yes, the bag called to me. Even though I wasn't going to use it on a bicycle, Taylor sent it to me. Am I tres' lucky, or what? And, it was everything the description said it was! "Water repellent polyester, artificial leather details, zip fastener, outer pockets, carrying straps, hook on-system [for your bike], reflective stripes" and... those vibrant attractive colors! It almost made me want to get a bike! And, honestly, I'm not too old. I could still get back into biking, in limited amounts of time. Tom would like it, I'm sure. However, since I don't bike right now, I decided to use the bag as a laptop carrying case. I was off to Nashville for a business trip and this bag was going with me. Love my new Basil bike bag There I was, strutting through the airport with this bag on my shoulder...and proud of it! I was and am in love with the style, the way it looks (it speaks to me... all the colors shout that I'm someone to be reckoned with!), and the way it feels. It fit well on my shoulder, the computer wasn't too big or heavy for it, and I was happy, finally, happy that I had a bag of substance. Like me, a woman of substance. Here's the one drawback - since this isn't a laptop bag, it's a bike bag, it did end up causing me a bit of trouble in the shoulder area. I am rethinking the use of it as a laptop bag. Until I get a bike, though, it will be my bag of choice for travel. It fits well under the seat on the plane, and it's roomy enough for whatever I need, during the long wait at the airport. IF you bike, I recommend these bags. They're so sturdy and attractive, they do the job with aplomb! Oh, the company also has bike bags for pets. So, if you take your pet on your bike, consider these because every time I see a pet on a bike with no restraint, it makes me shiver. What if you're in an accident, folks? Even a minor accident? That pet is a goner, unless it's in one of these great bike bags, designed just for pets and bikes. If you see me tooling around the airport with this bag on my shoulder, sans laptop - still have to find a good laptop bag - stop and say hello. I won't mind if you rave about the bag. I'll even let you touch it. Maybe. Now isn't that just like a girl? (since I am a girl, I actually like it when folks say that to me... just like a girl is a powerful statement in my book; it deserves the presence of a beautiful and powerful bag, doesn't it?) Pet carrier basket/bag Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Megan Totka Despite the fact that women now account for nearly 60 percent of the U.S. workforce, just 4 percent of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are female – and women make up just 17 percent of Congress members and 12 percent of state governors. But why? A sttudy recently released from Florida International University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte doesn’t have the answers, either. Researchers set out to find the “why” behind the lack of women in leadership positions by looking at data from several previous studies and analyzing it. Some factors considered were level of education and skill sets for particular jobs. In all areas, there was no significant difference between men and women. Well, in all areas but one. When men were asked to rate their own capabilities they consistently gave themselves higher marks than women gave themselves. Is the answer to the lack of women in workplace leadership roles contained inside this interesting sliver of data? Could it be that the reason women aren’t in higher positions is because they aren’t trying to land them? Of course the true answer to skewed ratios of men and women in power, and the troubling wage gap between the two, is more complicated than one study or self-evaluation can encapsulate. Women who do not ask for more money are unlikely to receive it. Women who do not apply for promotions cannot receive them. Women who believe themselves to be less effective than they truly are can easily convince others to believe that too. So how can the tide be turned? What will it take to equalize the workforce playing field – once and for all? I think the answer starts in childhood and that there are already many strong programs in place for today’s young women. Organizations like the National Girls Collaborative Project and the STEM Education Coalition work closely with young women to get them interested in learning and obtaining a higher education. These groups, and others like them, empower young women to be smart and strong leaders. I believe colleges and universities are doing an exceptional job recruiting and educating young women and that enthusiasm must start to boil over into the post-college years. From there, the workforce must respond. Fortune 500 companies should create equal hiring practices that extend leadership opportunities to women. It should become a standard policy that when a man and woman are hired for the same position, their paychecks are equal. If it seems that only males are stepping forward to apply for promotions in a particular area, continuing education programs should be put in place to bring all employees up to speed on how to step up in the company. Workplaces should offer greater flexibility and look harder at employee performance over number of hours sitting behind a desk. This point goes for men and women – though women still tend to be the ones who stay home with children when family responsibilities dictate it. It will take a generation, at least, to reach the true heights of leadership for women in the workplace but with some concentrated efforts, I believe it’s possible. What do you think the workplace needs to be more female-friendly? Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons: Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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And a child shall lead us... to step away from the dull, to be silly and outrageous, to live the poetry of our lives by Yvonne DiVita I've been recommending folks step away from their business books and their seminars, from their social media and their conferences; step away and find a quiet corner to read... something inspiring. A classic novel. A story about life gone wrong, saved by a child or a dog. And, poetry. Yes, even poetry. Poetry, so says Wikipedia, "...has a long history, dating back to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. Early poems evolved from folk songs such as the Chinese Shijing, or from a need to retell oral epics, as with theSanskrit Vedas, Zoroastrian Gathas, and the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey." I say, there is much art in life and business, but one seldom sees it or allows the experience of it to be a part of their daily doings. There is much creativity in writing a story about yourself, and it needn't be a true story. Embelish - add details you are sure are not real - invigorate the plot with great dialogue, words you are confident you never spoke, but perhaps should have. And, in your efforts to move away from the buzz words of business, step aside from your narrative ... to lay your words on paper, scattered like leaves in the summer wind... to discover the poetry within, then whisper it out loud. "My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed - my dearest pleasure when free." ~ Mary Shelley We live in poetry, though many of do not acknowledge it. Our lives, both personal and business, revolve around the poetic. The birth of a child is so wrought with poetry, in its very uncertainty and joy, its fascination with the unknown, wrapped in expectation, the birth of a child begins in poetry. The birth of a company, very similar; it comes with great pain and great fear, spilling hope like a cascading waterfall, to a pool of wonder below. I propose that a rainbow of colors shine on all births, whether human or business, whispering of the poetic, and we, as humans, choose to embrace art it offers us, or we choose to move on, as if it holds no place in our lives. Unfortunately, as we move ahead in business, we relinquish our poetic selves, assuming the stance of a stale imposter. The businessman or woman inside does his and her best to crush those flowery words, the lilt of a poetic phrase, the vibrancy of an imagination bursting with emotion. We deny these things because we feel they will hold us back in our business success. We must be focused, our goals are concrete, our purpose is stalwart; and so we newly adopt words that crush the artist inside. Let your inner muse emerge. Throw off that business cloak, chaffing at your elbows. Talk to Edgar Allan Poe, if you dare. Read Elizabeth Barret Browning. Uncover your soul with the great Maya Angelou. Open your eyes to the world of art pulsing in your heart, tickling your memory. Because the child you were is still there, and her desire to bring art into her business should not be denied. It's the art of listening and learning, the art of doing, the art of looking deep into the human condition. Be artistic, today. Be one with your birth, no matter how long ago. Ask yourself, "Why does the caged bird sing?" "The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom." ~ Maya Angelou Learn a poem by heart and bring it with you, to your next meeting. Instead of checking email on your phone, recite the poem, and let it lead you forward. I leave you with Walt Whitman.. whose verse in O Me! O Life! offers a challenge... are you up to it? "Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish, Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd, Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, The question, O me! so sad, recurring- What good amid these, O me, O life? And the answer, "That you are here- that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse." ~ Walt Whitman And she will contribute a verse... a million times over. Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess How did you sleep last night? I would love to wake up some morning, have someone ask me that question and be able to answer, "Fantastic!" Unfortunately, it has been a long, long time since I have had a restful night's sleep. I sometimes wondered if I really was as restless as I'd always felt and once I won a FitBit in a blog writing contest and started wearing it at night, my suspicions were confirmed. On average I am in bed eight hours a night and on average I am restless 21 times and am fully awake and out of bed two times. No wonder I am tired and listless on some days. My sleep has never been particularly good, but when you add cancer medications and the fact that my surgeries pushed me into menopause and that means nightly hot flashes and it's become a, well, nightmare trying to get a good night's sleep. I've talked to many of my #babyboomer friends and discovered they are in the same boat. What's a woman to do? I have a couple of tricks I have tried in my quest for a good night's sleep and maybe some of them will work for you: Are you anxious? Why? If you lay in bed and have worries dancing around in your brain, you won't be able to nod off. I suggest keeping a journal by your bed and when you've popped awake, take a few minutes to ponder what's on your mind. Worried about paying the bills? Write it down. Worried about an upcoming doctor's appointment or job review? Write down your worst case scenario. Too much on your to-do list? Spend some time writing down those items, get them out of your head and down on paper and you just might be able to forget them until the alarm clock goes off. The National Sleep Foundation has found that half of all people who experience insomnia say the cause is stress and worry. While writing it down won't eliminate it, it will get it in a tangible form and you can address it in the light of day. I'm awake, now what? For some people once they wake up they check out the clock and notice they've only got seven hours to sleep, then six, then five... and so on. Worrying about when you have to get up and the fact that you're not sleeping and will now likely have a bad day ahead will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For this, my only advice is to get up if you find yourself wide awake. Don't let your bed become the "enemy." Your bed should be a place of comfort and welcome. If I find myself this wide awake, I grab a book that isn't all that exciting and curl up into a chair and read for a while. When I start feeling tired I crawl back into bed and hope for the best -- most times it works and I only have to read for about a half an hour before tiredness takes over. Medical conditions, medications and alcohol can contribute to a restless night sleep. I know that one of my cancer meds leads to restlessness -- therefore I take it in the early afternoon. I used to take all my meds at bedtime but found it wasn't conducive to a good night's sleep. I talked with my oncologist and she confirmed that the one med can disrupt sleep so we changed my routine of when I take it and it solved many issues. Some medical conditions such as arthritis, hot flashes (been there, doing that!) and even sleep apnea will cause you to sleep poorly. I am on meds for the hot flashes, they don't completely eliminate them, but they have diminshed them somewhat. If you've been told you snore or stop breathing during sleep, perhaps you have sleep apnea and should have a sleep test? Remember, alcohol is not your friend when it comes to bedtime rituals. It may cause you to be drowsy at first, but eventually it will metabolize and lead to fragmented sleep patterns. What's a person to do? Here are a few bedtime rituals that may help: Be consistent with your bedtime. If you go to bed at 9 pm during the week and get up at 5 am -- keep that schedule on the weekend, if possible. Train your body to be ready for sleeping and waking at the same times. Television watching in the bedroom is said to be bad for sleep patterns. I admit that I fall asleep to the television and then turn the radio on once the timer has turned the TV off. Personally, I cannot sleep in a quiet room -- I've tried but my thoughts get to whirling around and all bets are off for sleep. Even when I wake up and write down the thoughts in my head, I've found that a radio at low volume is just enough to engage my mind but not enough to keep it fully engaged so that I can't fall back to sleep. If you have a hard time sleeping at night, resist the urge to nap during the day. Napping will cut down on the sleep you need at night and you will be in a cycle of interrupted nighttime sleep. If you can't get back to sleep, get up and leave the bedroom. Don't watch television though as that could just add to your restlessness. Do a boring task like balancing your checkbook until you feel sleepy. Again, your bedroom should be a place of restful relaxation and if it's not, then go to another room. Write it down. A worry, in tangible form, is now taken from your thoughts and put on paper and this could truly help you stop worrying about it until the bright light of day. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Has it gotten worse as you've... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita As a young girl in high school, my notebook was always bulging. The papers it contained had many a scribbled note or poem or story I'd started the day before, on it. The print was smudged, because I insisted on using pencil, in those bygone days of my youth. Oh the lure of a freshly sharpened pencil, in all its pointy glory! Dare I admit that I would open that small pencil box, full of 12-15 newly sharpened pencils, and gaze at it in longing, all day long, as I trudged through the halls of my high school, never noticing much, so focused on getting home to work on my 'story' or poem, or ... my novel! No Starbucks for me. Starbucks did not exist. Perhaps there were coffee shops I might have frequented, perhaps there were diners where I could have slipped unnoticed into a corner booth, bought a cup of coffee for .25 (yes, .25)... or a Coke for a dime, and scribbled away to my heart's delight. But, I was not aware of any near my small suburban home. And, I had to be 'home' anyway. Oh, let us not get into that! Instead, let us get back to the pen and paper, or rather, my pencils and my paper. Woe be it to any blank sheet of paper, whenever I was near...and had access to my pencils. I was never at a loss for the written word. I craved books and stories and poetry and I took each sunrise as an indication that I should rise to write, and then write some more! And... then... somewhere along the way... in some universe I know not of, the world changed. It took away the paper and the pencils. It introduced computers. I found myself tapping keys to create my words. I found myself checking a software program for grammar and spelling mistakes (though I have never relied on such programs... I still do my own checking and I still have my Thesaurus at my side); I lost the wonder of those pencils, those hundreds and hundreds of new, white pages, waiting for my voice... the very touch and feel of pen in hand. One cannot blame computers entirely. One must own up to the fact that she got married and had kids and lost track of her writing. And, she got used to working on a 'tool'... so much so, that it became foreign to grasp pen in hand and use it properly. The girl she was, the girl obsessed with writing, was buried beneath years of 'other stuff'. It has been many, many years since I gave writing the devotion it deserves. I spend time these days creating business content and sharing marketing skills, for women, primarily, yet, of late... in these early mornings when the grass shines with dew, and the sun slips over the treetops, peeking in my office window to welcome yet another Colorado day; when the quiet hugs my brain, tickling me to do something productive, I find myself wondering if I could return to days of old. I imagine holding pen in hand. I imagine that blank page waiting for my scribbles. I feel a smile on my face, a song in my heart, a peace that does not come with typing on a ... machine. Can I do it? If so, what will it be? My muse enters and tells me to start by writing a letter. One letter. Not one letter of the alphabet. Rather, a letter to a person. A handwritten letter, a personal note, on stationery, perhaps. A note to say, Hi, I'm thinking of you. Placed, at last, in an envelope and mailed with a stamp, the contents a page or two of my inner thoughts, shared with someone important. How quaint, one thinks to herself. As this note on Buzzfeed says, there is an "emotional immediacy" to the handwritten, old fashioned letter. And yet, in her heart of hearts, she knows this is necessary. The lure of an old fashioned letter is so strong, it must happen. It must be created. It will open up marvels lost to the ordinary world of computing. It will bring back the art of writing. It will connect people to people, and not software programs to people. It will inspire sharing. Oh the joy of it! Written words that build memories with a flourish, a flair, a soul. I will do it. Will you? Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Guest Post by Ali Lawrence. In a digital world becoming ever more digital, tapping into online marketing is a business must. Almost every demographic uses the Internet and can be influenced by web marketing, so why not tap into that? Many campaigns target specific groups, and these niche strategies can be quite successful. The below social media campaigns targeting women were among those that succeeded in winning over their audiences. Dove Real Beauty Sketches When Dove launched its Real Beauty Sketches campaign in April of 2013, the company was prepared to win over its widespread female audience. In less than a month after its launch, the online film became the top viewed online ad of all time. It still holds the record for most shared video ad ever. The campaign targeted the female tendency to be one’s own worst critic. The basic principle of the ad: How does your view of yourself compare to the way others see you? Combining this question with common women and an FBI sketch artist unveiled some pretty amazing material; Women focus on their own physical flaws while their acquaintances overlook them and see the beauty within. The relatable female-versus-self battle and message to look within has been somewhat of a revolution, receiving lots of media attention and reeling in millions of eyeballs. Weight Watchers Simple Start Weight Watchers’ Simple Start plan effectively tapped into many women’s desire for weight loss. The program smartly uses a glowing, thinned Jessica Simpson as its spokeswoman — her commercialized testimony the ultimate bait. Simpson just seems to sparkle in the campaign. She beams about her amazing body, having birthed two children and her pride in its current, slimmed state. The beautiful celeb’s message resonates with the experiences of many women — business, motherhood and other obligations stand in the way of diet and exercise. Women could relate, and they took the bait. In addition to the televised commercials, Simple Start uses web-based channels. Online, Weight Watchers Simple Start encourages users to engage via social media, highlighting members’ posts and throwing hashtags into the equation. They posted or reposted creative user meals and spread positive acknowledgment to participants. The online platforms also featured video chats and webcasts to help people navigate. The program’s December release also coincides nicely with New Year’s Resolutions. The research and implementation of feminine understanding is quite obvious throughout the marketing strategy. #YesAllWomen This social media campaign never intended to sell products or services. Instead, it brought together a huge community of women — and some men — helping them to relate with one another. #YesAllWomen was born in the aftermath of gender-based California killing; it left women tweeting about their personal encounters with discrimination, harassment and worse. It marketed an idea that all women still deal with these issues, and it was successful. It triggered a dialogue that spread far and wide. Why? Women could relate to it. Many companies, even ones that you wouldn’t think target women like RBA, are following their example to relate to issues women go through in life and try to encourage and help solve that problem. The three listed campaigns featured in this article have that in common: the message relates to countless female viewers. Connecting with the audience is of the utmost importance when marketing — online or otherwise. If you don’t understand that women are their own worst critics, that they may want to lose weight or that they suffer encounters with gender-based discrimination, for example, you’ll have a very unsuccessful campaign. Indeed, in the world of marketing toward women, understanding is a must. Related articles Five Ways to Market Your Small Business A Quick & Dirty Guide to Setting Up Twitter Ads Campaigns Do It Right The First Time Weight Watchers Simple Start Package Giveaway - Woman's Day Black female officer from Met's elite gun unit suffered campaign of bullying, tribunal rules Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess How many times a day does someone pose the question, "How are you?" I've been asked that countless times and even in the midst of recovering from breast cancer surgery and treatment, I'd typically answer, "Great. You?" If a family member or close friend would ask me that, I'd answer honestly. If I am out in public and the question is asked by a cashier, believe me they don't truly want to know how you are. They're making small talk and you shouldn't feel free to unload your personal issues on this individual -- true story that I have heard that numerous times. Don't go thinking I am Miss Merry Sunshine, I'm not. I have bad days. I have worse days and I have days when I am so thrilled to simply be alive and thriving. What I have discovered as a two-year breast cancer thriver is that you need to embrace every moment and try to look for the good even in the face of the bad. What can you do to honestly answer, "Great. You?" Here are some steps I've found to be helpful in my quest for positivity: Count your blessings. I try to take a few minutes at the beginning and the end of every day to take stock and give thanks. Even if I have had a horrid day I can find at least three things to be grateful for; my continued health, the love of my family, and the fact that the grocery store was carrying my favorite donut -- hey, sometimes that is as far as you can go with a gratitude. Don't be a faker. If your day is going horribly and you can't see light at the end of the tunnel reach out to a friend or family member. Talk it through. Ask for help. Vent. Sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on and then you're able to move forward with a clearer head. Don't close yourself off from those who want to help. It was not easy, when I was recovering to accept offers to come and clean my house, walk my dog or cook me dinner (actually that one was easier than the rest!). Your friends truly want to help -- let them! Take a break. Sometimes you just need to throw your hands up in the air and take a break. Get away from what is bothering you. Take a walk. Scream into a pillow. Developing a positive attitude won't happen overnight, but give it time and give yourself a break. Don't isolate yourself. I work from home and am inherently a solitary person. I'd prefer a conversation with Henrietta, the diva Poodle, to most other people on any given day, but I know that staying home and not interacting with humans isn't healthy. Some days you may only be able to handle the casual interaction with a cashier at the local coffee shop, and that's all right. Getting out and connecting with people is necessary to good mental health -- online interaction cannot replace that no matter how active you are on social media or how many friends you have on Facebook. Make it happen. When I used to teach at a local literary center there was a person who would come to my classes and truly bemoan the fact that no one had ever asked to read her novel. "Did you tell people about it or submit it to an agent?" I asked. Her answer was, "No. It's in my drawer at home but people know I am a writer!" WHAT?! Just as no one was going to come knocking on her door to ask about her hidden manuscript, no one is going to come knocking on your door to offer you happiness. You need to get up, get out and seek it out. If no one is inviting you to go to the movies or on a picnic in the park, then you need to be the one to issue the invitation. What can you do today to make the answer to the "how are you" question be, "Great!" Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Me and my brother, who taught me to be who I am by Yvonne DiVita On some level, I firmly believe that women rule the world. The saying goes, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world," and it's so true. But, many women don't rock cradles, and they rule just as effectively as Moms and Grandmoms. Truth be told, all women have the genes for nurturing, and that's what makes them stellar leaders. I find the continued discussion, which is being kind, over whether (a) women make good leaders or not, and (b) whether work at home Moms or stay at home Moms are lesser because of their choice to be at home, troubling. Why are we still discussing this? Why is gender and choice so challenged, in this day and age? Granddaughter Miah, Daughter, Chloe, out to rule the world Some folks I love, brand reps, mentors, colleagues, friends and relatives, buy into the belief that women are their own worst enemy. As if feminism is a bad thing. As if it means man-hating and woman-hating, and just ornery females everywhere asking for a handout. The news points out that we belittle ourselves and others, those loud tabloids and fashion/entertainment websites, which do little to uplift the cause of women, I agree. But, then, I disagree. Women as a whole are kind and supportive. The women I know are. Not that I haven't known the 'other' kind. In my life, everything is 'woman owned'. So, in a sense, even my relationship with Tom is woman owned. What does that mean? It means he enjoys my leadership focus. He allows me to 'own' those parts of our life that I enjoy owning. He recognizes my skill and talent for working with people. He knows I am not in this for me, I'm in it for 'us'. Oh yes! That's my Tom! On the other hand, I also recognize his skill and talents. And I more than willingly allow him to claim stake ...in the car, for instance. I do not care to drive, if I don't have to. I get lost going round the block, so he drives. He enjoys it and does it far better than I! I allow him to teach me about investments and where to put our cash for retirement. Could I do it on my own? Probably. With help from the daughter, Chloe, who is a math whiz. But, Tom enjoys that, too, and I am thrilled that he is patient with me as he explains why we are investing as we are. I love that he is good with his hands, that he can build things and loves running with Emily, on our dog walks. In some sense, I own everything we do, because, Tom wants me to be happy. And, in that happiness, he knows I want the same for him. Woman owned doesn't mean women claim a dictatorship to life and living. It means, we are strong, we are purposeful, we are focused. It means we look at the big picture, for ourselves, our families, and our friends. It means we know we exist in a bigger world, a global neighborhood, if you will, and being aware is just a sliver of what we are. Woman owned means friendship and caring. I have a large group of women friends, some from this blog, others from BlogPaws, and others that I am happily related to. I wish all of them much success and happiness and if they need me to help achieve that success and happiness, you bet I'm going to be there for them. Woman owned means embracing the diversity in our lives. It means embracing the people who come to us for comfort and advice. It means wanting to be a better person... today, than I was yesterday. It means being in the moment. Let us turn our backs on the long discussions over where we do what we do - at home or at 'work'. Let us admit that some of us want that corner office, and should have it. And some of us, don't. Let us give each other a chance to make a difference - in our own lives, in our kids' lives, in our spouses lives, in our neighbors' lives. Let us not hold each other back and let us refuse to let the news or gossip columns change us into ... the housewives of social media. Let us be us. A budding entrepreneur ... 4 year old granddaughter Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita I'm a big fan of pen and paper. Pencil and paper. Crayons and paper. It harkens back to my youth when I literally carried a full pencil case around with me, with 10 -12 sharpened pencils in it. Accompanying this must have case of untapped imagination and creativity waiting to be exposed, was a notebook. A notebook of writings - fiction. I started writing fiction at a young age and had to have a clean, sharpened pencil (not pen) to use for each page. Color me superstitious, if you must. Over the years I've discovered that some people are born writers - the way some people are born athletes, able to run faster and farther, or shoot better baskets, or hit the ball harder and farther, with what seems like little effort. The born athletes put far more time in practicing their craft than meets the eye. In writing, folks who create new worlds of imagery, and pen detailed prose that takes readers out of the world they actually live in (dispels the 'disbelief'... makes the content so real, it becomes part of the reader's world), are few and far between. Yes, there are talented folk who do it easiy, with what seems like little effort, but... in truth, even these people edit, edit, edit. And then there are the rest of us. We who struggle to put pen to paper day after day, attempting to bring our dreams to life, to share a message, aimed at someone in particular, know the challenges of using the wrong word, making the sentence too long or complicated, and... worse yet, the despair when you allow someone to read what you've written only to be met with a, "Nice." ( oh, the term pen to paper is a phrase borrowed from my early days of writing, it merely means 'to write', however that happens for you). Nice? The very word is an insult. Nice? A polite way to say, "Don't like it much." ? As a writer, it's far better to hear, "This is crap. I don't get it. You need to revise." Because there is feeling there. Because the writing upset the reader enough to actually admit...it isn't working. Nice...just tells me the writing is... beyond boring. Oh the pain of it! All writers learn their craft by reading and by practicing, even the talented ones. Born storytellers have an inate understanding of the need to study the complicated world of writing. One does not come to the table, or desk, pen in hand, fingers to keyboard, without some trepidation. As if the blank sheet of paper or empty document mocks us - "So you have a story to tell. Tell it. If you dare... one word after the other... if you dare... without reserve... if you dare." Mockery notwithstanding, the empty page hides the story we wish to tell. In a tiny corner of our brain, the words we need to share, the prhases we need to string together, the phrases that must grow into paragraphs, and paragraphs into pages, are there whispering... like small children moving their lips behind fat fingers, eyes ever alert to an invading parent. We know the story. At some level, we ARE the story. It's a story that begins and ends among the pages of all the books we have ever read, and loved. That empty, white, pristine page, sitting there challenging us to put our mark upon it, while we hesitate in terror, pen gripped in white knuckled fingers, waits with infinite patience, because...after all, where would it go? And then, we do it. We put that first word on it. We mar its perfectness with our desire. We put the next word and the next and we have a sentence, a paragraph, a beginning. I went many years in the solitary pursuit of the best story I could write. In the desire to be published. In the ache of longing the surrounds every writer who merely wants to be recognized as such. It wasn't until I began taking classes, studying the classics, reading for the purpose of learning as well as for entertainment, that I came upon my "Aha!" moment of lucidity. The moment I finally understood what "show, don't tell" really meant. This was after many reviews from family and friends, "Nice, you tell a good story," said with a false smile, as if I couldn't see through their fake praise. Am I done now? Faced with a blank page, can I whip out a story without so much as a breath of hesitation? Hardly. As in any craft, the craft of writing is on on-going learning process. There is so much to learn, no one person can do it in just one lifetime. There is so much that remains a mystery - show, don't tell is just one little part of the process that still eludes even me, at times. I have such clear memory of sitting at my electric typewriter, cradling my latest rejection in my hand, reading the editor's words, "Practice show don't tell. Send something else for me to see"... elated at the offer to send something else, deflated at the advice. What, I remember thinking, does she mean? It's all show, don't tell! And, of course, it wasn't. After a time, I realized that I had to stop comparing myself to the other writers in my creative writing class. I had to be me, write what I needed to write, and work at it until it became the stuff of respect. "Did you write that story about the woman losing her baby?" the girl in my journalism class asked me. She sat behind me. I didn't know her name. The tap on my shoulder was so slight I barely felt it. But, I did feel it and I turned to hear what she wanted to say. "Oh, yes," I said, describing the story in a bit more detail for clarification. "Why?" "Professor Judith shared... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Guest post by Joan DeMartin We all want to make a good impression when we speak and write—whether it’s a condolence note to a dear friend or an email to a work colleague; what we say matters to us, and even more to others. Our written or spoken words represent us, and to a large extent, our abilities. This is particularly true for our business communications, because what we and our employees say to our customers, for example, is paramount. It can easily be the difference between keeping a customer happy and losing them. And in today’s bumper-to-bumper marketplace, no business can afford to lose even one customer, because one disgruntled customer taking to their social media channels can mean a lot of disgruntled customers. So how do we, as both business people and customers, impress on business owners, the direct impact their communications can have on their business’s bottom line? I learned from my years as a college writing instructor,that lecturing, or “telling” isn’t the best way to make a point or get an idea across. It took the snores of only a few students to wake me up to the use of real-life examples to engage my students’ intellect and their practical natures. It comes down to telling a story -- an anecdote -- to illustrate a point, and I happen to have one I think we can all relate to: listening to a businesses’ voice mail messages. Although there are a few employees who occasionally pick up the phone, hearing: “Hello, how can I help you?” is as rare these days as, dare I say, standard business etiquette. And yes, each employee of a business and their individual voice mail messages represent that company or organization, just as if the CEO herself had recorded each message. I was in a calling mood one day, in an attempt to get some answers quickly, and first tried to reach a representative of my local bank. After the usual factual information, her message said: “Please leave your name and number, and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.” Huh? Your earliest convenience? I thought my hearing had failed me and called again. No, this employee of a major bank was going to return a customer’s call when she damn well felt like it, which is what the words “at my convenience” meant to me. Well, to her credit, she did say “earliest convenience.” I was dumbfounded but undaunted, and placed my second call, this time to an employee of my law school alma mater. Of course, I was routed to her voice mail, and her message said: “Please leave your name and number, and I will return your call at my earliest opportunity.” I don’t know about you, but this made me feel much better. The substitution of one word, “convenience” for “opportunity” changed the entire meaning of the message. I was actually on this employee’s “to do” list—as soon as she was free, she’d call me back! She wasn’t going to do some light shopping, have lunch, chat with her sister-in-law, book her winter Caribbean cruise and then return my call. This employee would return my call as soon as she possibly could, and that, to paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, makes all the difference. Although I didn’t get my answers quickly that day, I did get a fine anecdote to share with my students. And each time I told that story, the students actually gasped at the brazenness of that first voice mail message. I’ve been on high alert for voice mail faux pas ever since, and I’m sad to report that this was not an isolated example of, say, the arrogance of the banking industry. This same voice mail message can be found across the business spectrum, from schools to major corporations to non-profits, and it continues to astound me—not that individual employees can be careless in their communications, but that businesses don’t more closely monitor their outgoing messages and insist on simple business etiquette. Yes, one word can make a difference, and that difference can be to a businesses’ bottom line. Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess Okay, okay, I admit there are no secrets to success! If there were, we'd all be successful, right? There are, however, steps you can take to be more successful than you are now or more successful than your competition. In my job as a blogger and copywriter I have found ways that have made me successful enough that I can work from my home office (whereever that may be!) as long as there is internet I can work. In my business I have implemented all three of these "secrets" and have found my success. While our levels of success may be different, here are the steps I've taken toward growing my business: Put your action plans in writing. Having your action plan aka goals written down helps you stay focused. It’s also been shown that those who write down goals are more likely to have them come to fruition. I heard somewhere recently that a "plan not written down is a daydream." If you don't have a road map, a plan an ultimate goal, how will you know whether you've reached it? Focus your dreams and visions. Be clear in your goals and visions for your business success. You can's simply say, "I want to be a successful business owner." You need to be specific. "I want to be a successful enough business owner that I can earn six figures (or whatever works for you), work from home, keep my pets in the manner to which they have become accustomed and have a work/life balance." Write your goals as a large, overarching summit and then write down the steps you will need to take to scale it. Celebrate successes. If you have a goal that will require myriad milestones to achieve it – celebrate those milestones and continue your forward momentum. Rewarding yourself for a job well done is a great way to keep your eyes on the prize. Finishing that to-do list may be the milestone you've set for yourself today and if at the end of the day, everything is crossed off, then by all means celebrate! What are your secrets to success? Do you have your goals and milestones written down? I'd love to know! Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita I'm talking storytelling and communication, of late. I am putting my focus back on my core passion - writing, sharing, supporting women who want to succeed in business in a digital world. It all involves communication skills that get tangled up in 'social media' - when they should stand on their own. You must learn how to write well. You must never believe you know how to write well enough. You must to learn how to write well over and over again. You must not think you write well enough to stop learning how to write well. You must consider publishing, whether online or in print, to be taken seriously. You must read. And then read some more. In fact, put down the business books and read the classics. I'm talking Hawthorne, Virginia Wolfe, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Tolkien, even the not yet classics by Stephen King and others who invent entire worlds out of thin air. Yes, even Harry Potter. There is a wealth of learning in fiction. And then, you can, if you are inspired, write your own book. Share your expertise. Become a sought after speaker and professional in your field, contributing the kind of content people will share. Publishing is your promise to your audience that you not only took the time to become a good writer, but that you will continue to study writing and improve, and by that purpose, help them become whatever it is they are striving to become. Publishing opens up a multitude of options and questions. People are still confused over the idea of self-publishing, traditional publishing, and print on demand publishing. The first and third are closely connected relatives; the middle option is still out there, but not doing so well. In my brazen opinion, you understand. Many traditionally published authors may disagree with me. Amazon, the big gorilla of bookstores (and a whole lot of other stuff, these days, but remember they started out as a bookstore), has a vision of publishing in the future where self-publishing isn't the ugly step-sister to 'real' publishing. In the article linked above, on self-publishing, they shared this, "Best-selling hybrid author Hugh Howey shared the stage with Fine*. Howey could be an author from Fine’s future. He has self-published ebooks and audiobooks, traditionally published print books and translations, and has no definite plans in the future as to how he will publish his next title." [*Jon Fine, director of author and publishing relations at Amazon] When looking at books and sales, Publisher's Weekly reported in 2013 that "sales of print units slipped". The story reports a drop of 2.5% according to Nielsen's retail and club channel. Other reports I searched online show similar results, indicating a rise in ebooks, and in self-publishing, in general. As a former print on demand company president, I knew this day was coming. I watched more people flock to self-publishing, via print on demand, and I secretly cheered as giant publishing firms began to recognize the value of this publishing model. What I didn't like was the lack of professionalism I was seeing in the industry. All to often, someone decides she will write a book - because books give you credibility and respectability - book as business card we used to say, but she will fail at her endeavor because she thought writing a book was not only simple, but easy. Being able to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard does not give you license to write a book. I receive a good many self-published books to review. In too many instances I have to put them down after the first chaper. Occasionally, I put them down after the first page. Why? Because the writing is so poor. Not necessarily 'bad', just poor. The writer clearly did not pay attention to flow, syntax, grammar, punctuation, spelling, or the fact that she was writing for someone else, not for herself. She, or he, forgot the 'story'. She, or he, did not hire an editor. I'm not even going to get into the need for a cover designer. Sigh. If you decide to write a book, my best advice is to take a few writing classes first. THEN you can start to explore the world of publishing. Here is a short list of MUSTS: 1. Study books. Understand the purpose of chapters, titles, subtitles, and how the BOOK communicates the message. 2. Your options are wide open on what form of publishing to use. Understand... a. self-publishing is an option, it is not free, it exists to get your book in print, it will not stand on its own once the book is in print b. print on demand is popular because you can print one copy, two copies, a dozen, a hundred, whatever you choose; and if you update, the book itself is updated at next printing c. traditional publishing still considers itself the Board of Directors of the publishing world... but, consider this: no one, at least no one I've asked and I've asked a lot of people, looks to see who published a book before they buy it - your book needs to stand on its own, and you need to be its biggest fan... traditional publishers require it, you should also require it 3. You need a cover designer. An editor. A proofreader. No, editor and proofreader are not the same. 4. You need to be dedicated to the book. You can't start it, put it away for a bit, return to it, and think the content in it will be relevant. Things change overnight today. If you are determined (be determined, please) to write a book, do it. Consistently. 5. You must begin marketing the book well before it's done and in print or made into an ebook. 6. You must not believe friends and relatives when they say it's fantastic. Find a disinterested person to review it ahead of time, and demand she offer real feedback. Take... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita "We went out past the trees on Ridge Road, I think it was almost to Buffalo!" I said, full of the excitement I'd experienced on a Sunday drive with my family. The other kids at the lunch table were half-listening. They were, after all, more interested in their baloney sandwiches. "My Dad," I continued... only to be interrupted by the one girl who could never abide my stories. "Which one?" she snorted, sending the question sailing through the small lunchroom so that everyone in it was now looking our way. "You have so many!" It was a crushing question and it silenced me. I had no comeback. I didn't have 'so many'. I had two. One that I lived with and called Dad though he was my mother's second husband. And, one that I barely knew that I called Dad because... well, he was my Dad. The crushing blow of that question twisted in my heart like barbwire. Back in the early sixties, the concept of a step-Dad and a 'real' Dad was still foreign to a lot of folks. In my intimate circle of friends, it was unheard of. It meant I stood out from the crowd, and not in a good way. The other girl sat there, staring at me, snickering. I don't believe I ever finished that story. In the retelling, I will admit that I probably only imagined the entire lunchroom turning to stare at me. But, perception is reality, isn't it? Today, on Father's Day, I want to thank BOTH of my Dads. I want to say, Dad's Matter. All of them. A friend of mine on Facebook, Dave Taylor, mentioned a book review yesterday. The book, "Do Fathers Matter?" by Paul Raeburn, is a look into the science of Fatherhood: "What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We've Overlooked", it says. I haven't read the book. But, I have read the review by Bruce Feiler several times. Why do we even have to ask the question, Do Fathers Matter? I wonder. The book, according to author Raeburn, as quoted in Feiler's review, is a "...clear-eyed march through the history of family studies and a helpful review of the new generation of research devoted to identifying the impact of dads. “The discovery of the father is one of the most important developments in the study of children and families,” he [Raeburn] writes." Whew! "the discovery of the father"... that took me aback a bit. I mean, 'discovery'... why are we discovering fathers, now? I'll have to get the book because now I'm intrigued. Before then, let me say this, Fathers matter a lot. They always have. I don't need science to tell ME that. Do you? My step-Dad, George, was the only father I knew for many years. He loved me. He fed me, took me for donuts on bowling day (Saturday), brought me books to read, and shared his enormous talent in art, with me. Oh, if only I could draw as well as he could draw! I miss that he is not here now, to be part of my life and my kids' lives. The only one who probably remembers him is Chloe. SHE loved him to the moon; and he loved her to the stars. My Dad, Ross, is in a veteran's home these days. The shell that is his earthly presence is not him. It's an old, shriveled up person who is a stranger to me. And I to him. But, the memory of my Dad as a strapping Marine, as a strong, funny, loving person, will never fade. The memory of summertime and picnics and family gatherings where my Dad and my uncles played horseshoes and drank beer, and ate potato salad, while we kids amused ourselves playing tag and running through the sprinklers and doing the things kids do, yes, even today, kids do those things... is still as strong as ever. That Dad is the man who lives on in my heart. I wish I'd had the smarts to hold my Dads closer. To love them more. To appreciate them more. I wish I'd been less into ME back then and more into the world around me. I will testify to the words Dads Matter over and over, if need be. I will tell you that as an adult, I think Dads get a bad rap, too too many times. Because, they are part of the fabric of every kid's life and no matter how active or inactive they are with that kid, everything they do matters. Feiler shares this about the book, Do Fathers Matter: "In the arena of early childhood, Raeburn looks at research on children’s language development in middle-class and poor families. There, fathers are not only important — they are more important than moms. How so? Mothers in these families typically spend more time with the children, which allows them to use words the kids already know. Since fathers are less attuned, they use broader vocabulary, which stimulates learning. The same holds true when dads put kids in unfamiliar situations, encouraging creative problem-solving." Well, it's surely ONE way Fathers Matter. There are dozens more. I bet those of us with fathers, could tell Raeburn how Fathers matter. Without the science. I bet we kids of those ancient days of "Father Knows Best" could tell him a few stories that would help him write his next book. Still, it's about time someone took that challenge and provided substance for my firm belief that Fathers are as vital as... food and water. Yes, folks, Fathers Matter, because they are not mothers. Kids need both but often, Dad can be that bigger than life figure you admire, love, strive to be like, and remain in awe of... all the days or your life, to a kid. Happy Fathers Day, to my Dads. They are both bigger than life to me. I remain in awe of them. The love I have for them pulses... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita Is it social to "like" someone on Facebook? Is it social to "follow" someone on their blog or on Twitter? Is it social to attend webinars and listen to podcasts, even when you share a comment? People today equate 'social' with 'media' and have assigned a false sense of camaraderie to that phrase. It's as if social media is all you need be part of, to succeed online or in business. As long as you have social media, you're good. As long as folks like you on Facebook, and talk about you or share you, you're social. As long as you're on Twitter - tweeting about your latest program or sharing an uplifting quote, you're good, cause that's social at its best. I submit that none of that is social. I don't know who - what expert or person of importance - labelled these tools as social - but I do know that the label is misplaced. You're reading this post on your computer, most likely. Perhaps you're on your cell phone. For all intents and purposes, you're engaging in social media. Because this is what social media is - a way for large groups of people to connect and communicate online. But, it's not social, not in any real sense of the word social. Despite 'relating to activities in which people spend time talking to each other'... online engagement is not social. Let me refer to a dictionary meaning of social. I found this one on Merriam-Webster online and it speaks to my point: : relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other : liking to be with and talk to people : happy to be with people Social is getting face-to-face with people. It's attending events, meetings, coffee shops, parks, any number of places OUTSIDE of your own home, to connect with like-minded folks. Generally, these meetings take place at an agreed upon location and there are refreshments served. Often, these meetings revolve around business purposes, so the like-mindedness is about business issues. Sometimes, the meetings are politcial. Or, personal. Indeed, you can meet to chat about knitting, or pets, or cooking, or any number of topics. The goal is always the same - to connect and talk with people, to share, to tell a story or two. Phones are not social. I don't suppose anyone would disagree with that. You're not really being social when you chat on the phone. Websites are not social. Most websites are like empty offices. There is a lot of information shared, even some visual stimulation, and an invitation to comment, but...there is no social interaction. Blogs are social in that they invite comments and stimulate conversation. But it's not real time and you don't actually KNOW the person commenting. Unless you've met that person elsewhere, on the web or in person. So, the thread of 'social' attached to blogs is minimal at best. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram all purport to be 'social media'. The word media is attached to them because they are part of sharing, generally by a group. That group can be two people or more, it can be mixed company, professionals or friends, or both. And the engagement can be quite purposeful. But, it's not social. It's just... exchanging text and pictures. It's a way to communicate. You might find this interesting - according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, again, this is the meaning of 'media': The singular media and its plural medias seem to have originated in the field of advertising over 70 years ago; they are still so used without stigma in that specialized field. In most other applications media is used as a plural of medium.The popularity of the word in references to the agencies of mass communication is leading to the formation of a mass noun, construed as a singular <there's no basis for it. You know, the news media gets on to something — Edwin Meese 3d> <the media is less interested in the party's policies — James Lewis, Guardian Weekly>. This use is not as well established as the mass-noun use of data and is likely to incur criticism especially in writing. Where does that apply to the concept of social, I ask? When we use media, or have it thrust upon us as happens in sales and marketing, is it being social? Are we engaged in something we like, with people we like, doing enjoyable things? Maybe on a Google+ Hangout, where you DO see the person and might be able to converse with the person, sharing stories and ideas. But, on Facebook, Twitter, etc? Those are tools and they are one-sided. You share, someone else shares, and the message makes it rounds. It's not social. It's... just sharing. One of my biggest pet peeves is the way people bounce the idea of social about, as if writing a message in a box online somewhere, or sharing a funny picture, or adding exclamation points to your comments, makes it social. Get out of your chair. Go the door. Make sure you have your keys (cause even if you live in a neighborhood, you'll likely have to drive to the location I want you to go to), get in the car and get social. Get social at a restaurant. Coffee shop. Park. Someone else's backyard. On the sidewalk in front of your house. Look someone in the eye and say, "Hey, good to see ya! What's new?" Yes, that is what social is. I hope I'm wrong that it's a rapidly fading art. Lost in the myriad tangles of the new social, wrapped in something called media, designed to separate us, not to bring us together. Grab it - that social experience you're avoiding. Grab it and hold on for dear life. Without it, human beings are not...human. We're just beings. Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess Do you understand the fine art of productivity? There are some tips that, as an entrepreneur, may seem counterintuitive, but they work. Because I am an entrepreneur, I understand that, unlike an employee who may just show up, punch a clock and play around on Facebook for her eight hours, I need to produce or my clients will notice that I am not producing. If I am not productive when I set foot inside my office in the morning, I don't get paid! What can you do to enhance your productivity? Here are my tips: Hear me out on this one... take breaks! If you are overwhelmed and stressed you can't function at peak capacity. Take a break. Focus mentally and physicall and come back refreshed. When you take your break, take a walk or meditate if that's your style. When are you most productive? Take some time to figure that out then create productivity cycles. These cycles are based on your personal times of productivity. If you’re a night owl, then tackle the most difficult tasks then. If you’re an early bird, make certain you are ready to jump into the tasks you find most challenging at that time of the day. Knowing yourself will help you understand your more productive times. Determine a metric to measure your productivity. Simply sitting in an office for eight hours doesn't mean you're productive, it just means you showed up. Business owners don't typically measure productivity by counting the hours spent in the office. Business owners measure productivity in the amount of new clients contracted, the number of issues solved for a client, the number of cold calls made, or the number of blog posts written. Your productivity measurements are as unique as your business entity. How do you mark productivity? What can you do to be more productive while still having a life? Let me know! Bio: Robbi Hess is a Social Wordsmith. She crafts content and writes copy for clients who know they need to blog or be involved in social media, but who simply don't have the time! Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita You'll get no argument from me about the power of a good story. I lived in never-never land growing up. The world was all around me but I only saw the parts that I wanted to see. I constructed worlds that existed in my mind, populated with happy people, lots of pets, and homes that were warm and inviting. The pets were a focus. As a small child, we didn't have pets and I wanted a dog so very badly! Today, we're learning the power of a story to pull in customers and clients. Rather than loud, annoying ads, the brands I buy tell me a story...about the product. In each TV spot today, we are treated to a 30 - 60 second story about the people we see, and how the product being advertised affects them, good or bad. Bad in the sense that you should buy it to prevent the 'bad'. Social Times tells us, "The brain processes images 60 times faster than text, and 92 percent of consumers want brands to create stories around ads. Because of this, marketers should be delivering linear content with clear narratives and using images to tell their stories." They're getting into the 'science' of storytelling. I submit that it doesn't hurt to read up on how the science of storytelling can influence us, but if you're a brand, or a startup, or someone struggling to bring in new customers, you can rely on the action of storytelling. You can share your services by talking about the reason you do what you do. You can show clients and customers that you care, by giving them insight into who you are, via stories you have to share. There is no doubt that images play a role in storytelling. It's not like writing a 300 page novel. How important did you feel as a child when you graduated from picture books to novels; great tomes of imagery, with no pictures? Did you secretly cheer, as I did? Did it make you feel grown up? Not that you dismissed picture books entirely. After all, back in the day, we all read comic books regularly and I know folks today are fond of graphic novels, just another word for comic book. Today, we have a powerful tool that helps us share our stories, spin our tales, bring the viewer into a world that is not part of the chair or sofa they're sitting in; a world that many times has to compete with the moving pictures on the TV in front of them, or with whatever is happening around them. That tool is called the Internet and the opportunities to tell your tale with moving pictures, still images, text, and even sound, has never been greater. The Internet offers YOU control of what your client or customer will see... what she will learn... what she will believe, about you. Business professionals sometimes stumble, when it comes to telling stories. They think they don't know how to tell stories. The invitation to do so often sends folks into a panic. "What will I say?" they think. "What SHOULD I say?" they worry. The words get tangled up in their brains like old Christmas tree lights left in the attic too long. (how do they do that? you put them away so nicely and when you get them out the next year, what a mess!) Many people think storytelling is a craft best left to the likes of Stephen King or Nora Lofts or Shakespeare. We fool ourselves into thinking a 'story' is a complicated tale that requires big words, detailed descriptions, sharp memory... when, the reality is quite different. Yes, a story does have a beginning, a middle and an end. In cases like this, for business, it shouldn't be too long. I once had a friend who knew how to stretch his stories out for long, desperate minutes that seemed like hours, to those listening. Mid-way through, we'd look at him and say, "Howard, is this gonna be a LONG story?" And, he'd laugh good-naturedly and get to the point. “I like a good story well told. That is the reason I am sometimes forced to tell them myself.” A story does need credibility. Storytellers are allowed to borrow from memories that may not be so sharp, as long as the truth is not stretched too far. In business, you can take a personal memory and craft a business story around it. It serves to show your customer that you're human, just like she is. Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. He was a master at storytelling. A story needs to convey emotion. You will not keep my interest if you do not involve me in the story by pulling on my heartstrings, or tapping into my search for happiness, or touch upon my need for better health. Whatever it is that you 'sell', it must solve a problem for me and your story must not only show me that, it must make me 'feel' it. Notice what I just said... your story must SHOW me. That's a talent that is not easy for everyone. As humans we tend to TELL people things. We tend to go into great detail that describes a situation; the table was red, it had four settings, each setting was a different color, with napkins made out of burlap. Nicely told. But, showing is different. "I touched the anicent wood with tentative fingers. How well I remember days gone by, meals of chicken and beef, steaming soups with carrots and potatoes, eaten at this hand-carved table, every evening. Why these strange settings today? I nudged a purple ceramic plate with my thumb. The grainy burlap napkins were insulting. Even the chairs were wrong. Would my feet dangle if I sat in one? I wondered. Would I be able to sneak treats to the dog, unseen?" Showing puts you in the story. All of this takes practice.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Guest post by Georgina Stewart Previously we discussed reasons as to why more women have not been given leadership positions and executive roles. In this article I am going to explain how women can overcome these barriers and work towards obtaining executive roles within their current company or by moving on and obtaining a position elsewhere. This advice will apply to both types of women looking to progress in their career. Natural Skills Improving your natural skills such as using your initiative and following your intuition are essential if you want to progress to a leadership position or move on to an executive role elsewhere. By improving your natural leadership abilities you will be able to command respect and authority more easily than if you were to become lax in your position. Showing Commitment Another step in showing that you are committed to your career rather than your company is to dedicate your own time to improving your CV and your personal qualities. However, you need to be seen making these changes and spending your own time in work when you could be relaxing at home with a glass of wine. Ensure that others see the work that you are putting in and that you are making progress. Assisting Others A good leader will take the time to assist those around them whilst managing their own workload; an excellent leader will be able to command loyalty and respect from these individuals as they do so. Ensure that whilst you lend a hand to those around you that your kindness is not being exploited and that the person that you are helping understands that you are doing so as you have seen them struggle. Don’t let others take advantage of your kindness. On the other hand, if you’re looking to obtain an executive role or move a step on your chosen career path you need to do more than improve yourself and the way that you are perceived by others. Creating Authority If you’re keen to advance to an executive position or gain this position within another company you need to make yourself an authority within your industry. You need to learn as much as you possibly can about your industry, and if you want any chance of succeeding in your endeavours you’d do well to learn as much as the CEO of your company knows, possibly more. By making yourself an authority within your chosen industry you will gain trust much easier and others will look to you for answers and advice. Networking and Contacts As you reinvent yourself as an authority within your chosen industry you must also work to extend your network and obtain contacts that are able to help you on your journey to becoming an executive and a successful leader. There are many ways in which you can network, you can use sites that allow you to social network, you can visit trade exhibition shows as well as attending networking events for businesses and significant individuals. These are the primary ways in which you can overcome obstacles that prevent you from becoming a leader or progressing to an executive role. Do not give up until you have overcome each obstacle standing in your way; you’ll thank yourself for doing so. Bio: Georgina Stewart is a creative member of the team at Marble Hill Partners and spends a lot of her time focused on how she can encourage others to fulfil their potential as both executives and leaders Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Mom, are you done tweeting yet? by Yvonne DiVita Social media isn't the be-all, end-all marketing tool it's often depicted as. Most professionals today realize that. Most professionals today treat social media channels with the proper respect and consideration. This means being careful what you post and when you post. It means checking yourself at the door - never click publish without careful thought about how that message will be received. At a recent conference where I spoke on 'voice' - sharing the belief I have that voice is everything - I got the feeling most of those in the audience are still so wary of social media, they prefer silence. It's protective. If you don't say anything, you can't be held accountable. Which is far from reality. Because if you don't say anything, you're broadcasting your fear of me - your customer. How does that make you feel? The 'voice' I get from you is one of mistrust, fear, ignorance, and down right unfriendliness. Wow. Bet you didn't want me to feel that way about you! It got me to thinking. Are there ever any times when you shouldn't use social media, in business? Maybe. Here are some... 10. When you have nothing to say. PLEASE don't go round posting useless chatter. That's for folks who are related or connected personally, not in a business setting. 9. When you're angry. OKAY, ranting has become a popular social media activity. But, it's reserved for people who are thoughtless and foolish. You can complain on social media, but only politely. IF you are the business professional, save your rants and complaining for a well thought out email. 8. When your favorite politician is getting slammed with bad press. DO NOT fall into this trap. Politics is best left at home...or with close friends and family. And, even then, there are likely rages against one party or another. Using social media, via your business, to support a politician or party is risky. Be careful...if you choose to do this, accept the backlash that comes with it. 7. When you're tired. SERIOUSLY, do not write in social media when you're tired. You'll make spelling errors, syntax errors, other errors. You can always go back and explain that you were tired, but really... even if you delete the post (and 'post' refers to any channel, not just a blog), people saw it. It will live in infamy, as they say. If you have a schedule and you missed posting, but now it's midnight and you can barely keep your eyes open, say so. "We missed our posting today. Sorry about that. We'll be back on track tomorrow." 6. When you really, really, really don't believe in it. YES, WE CAN TELL when you're doing it just to 'do it'. Authenticity is the foundation of all social media. That means, you must be yourself and if you're not... I can smell it. I can taste it. I will know you're pandering to me. Don't do it. 5. When you cannot devote the time to it. TIME is everything. It takes time to write a post, share a Tweet, reply to a comment. Time that should include thoughtful repose. If you have 10 minutes a week, forget it. If you have half hour a week, forget it. There is no consistency in half an hour a week on one or more social channels. You might be able to manage ONE channel in half an hour a week, but your audience will be looking for you when you're not there and over time, they will abandon you because your half hour isn't their half hour. Either find the time, or don't do it. 4. When you're hung up on ROI and numbers. OH BOY! Did that hit a nerve? We all want a return on our 'investment'. But, when we don't understand the VALUE of that return, how can we measure it? What's the ROI on your new business suit? It helps you look more professional, right? It MAKES you feel more professional, right? It shows a measure of success...that you care about your appearance and you invest in it to make the right impression. How do you quantify that? Same with social media. It gives you connections to people you wouldn't otherwise meet. It opens doors to relationships you otherwise wouldn't make. It gives people the impression you care about them. It provides a way to have a conversation that can be the start of a beautiful beginning. Don't get hung up on the numbers. They are important but they are not the ONLY reason to do social media and if your numbers aren't as good as you'd like, don't give up. Figure out why and keep at it. It WILL work. 3. When your regular social media team is 'out' or unavailable and you think you should step in. THIS could work, if you understand the personal way social media works. But, if you have a team, or even one person, handling your channels, a sudden change in 'voice' could disrupt things badly. The best way to handle this is to become part of the team. Participate on a regular basis. Add your 'voice' so you can step in, in an emergency. 2. When you just don't have anything to say. IT HAPPENS. You run out of content. Your brain isn't working. There it is...your Facebook page, Twitter, your blog... Instagram... Pinterest... and your audience is expecting content but you're blanking on what to put there. Move on. Wait for inspiration. Don't post any little thing. A good way to head this off at the pass is to have a folder with great content you can use in instances like this. Keeping content fresh and original can be challenging, I know. That's why you should spend a little extra time on an editorial calendar so you know what needs posting where, and when. In to keep things on schedule, you amass content that works. It... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita The meme going around social media these days asks people to share what they would tell their 22 year old self. For some of us, that's a hard task. I was not a happy person when I was 22... but, as I look back, I do remember the good times and I finally figured out what I would like my 22 year old self to know. Dear Me, at 22, You look too much inward. You feel small among others because important people in your life have made you feel that way, but you are not small. You are a giant. It is not your height or weight - goodness gracious, you're of average height and a little underweight, after all. It's not your good looks. Oh, you don't think you're good looking? Those around you would disagree. But, that's not important. Good looks are reflected in a person's additude, and you have a good additude...about other people. Your giantness comes from your ability to connect to other people, when you allow yourself to do so. If you would worry less about how smart you are (or aren't; so you didn't pass chemistry... it's no big deal, you won't suffer for it down the road); and how long your hair is (you should have cut it long before you did); and whether or not your make-up is on right, you'd be able to shed the fear you carry on your shoulders, wrappped about you like a wool coat; hot, itchy, unbearable at times, but there... always there. You'd be able to stand tall and be the giant you were meant to be. You always felt drawn to the underdog. Animals and people alike. I wish you had cultivated that more, when you were 22. I wish you had figured out that the ability to feel great empathy is a positive part of your life - one you should pay more attention to. Listen to the people who compliment you and realize they are sincere. You are smart and talented and if you use your brain and your talent to their fullest potential, you will accomplish great things! You are destined to be a voice for others - start now! Shed that wool coat of fear and crippling shyness! Stop trying to be someone else because being someone else is easier than being yourself! Ah, if only I'd heard this quote from Judy Garland, "“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” ― Judy Garland" And that's what I would tell myself at twenty-two. I wonder, if I had been able to throw off the wool coat of 'suffering' that I wore - if I could have been stronger and figured out that I was the one who made that hot coat and I was the one who continued to add weight to it by refusing to shed the past - would I have become the me I am today, sooner? I wonder. And then, I wonder if it matters. Because I am, today, who I am...and proud of it. All that worry years ago contributed to this, the person I am now. At some point, I threw that horrid coat off and trampled it... until it broke into a million pieces and ceased to exist. Because I woke up and decided TODAY is a GREAT DAY to be...ME. ME, ME, ME... a person I exhault in these days. What would YOU tell your twenty two year old self? Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita This past week I had the pleasure of attending a conference for pet health insurance groups. It was illuminating in so many ways! Did you know that pet health insurance only reaches 1.5% of the American public with pets? I was pretty surprised by that stat. Surely, I thought, prior to attending the event, EVERYONE knows about pet health insurance! Sad to discover I am wrong in a big way - too many pet parents out there are either woefully ignorant of this option for the health and well-being of their pets, or... they misunderstand it. I spoke at the conference. My presentation was on voice. How to use your voice in social media, with purpose, to be exact. The main point was to tell a story. Here are some thoughts I've had since the conference, on how to tell a story. It's not as simple as some folks think, and it's not as hard as other folks think. 1. Be yourself. It has to be your story. Something you've done, dreamed of, experienced, or contributed to in real life, that is relevant to your audience. This means you must know your audience. Who are they? How do they use social media? What's their purpose in visiting your website or blog? Your story is important to them because everyone loves a good story. 2. Leave the boasting at home. It's okay to talk about something you've done successfully. Just don't boast. You show success by telling a story about the project or campaign. In this case, for pet health insurance, you might share a claim (without invading the pet's or the pet parent's privacy)... and even show pictures. Ask for permission if you use pictures. It's seldom that folks will not allow you to use a picture, as long as you provide proper citation. 3. Feature stupendous pictures. Pictures and video are not only entertaining, they're engaging. People prefer a video or a picture to just words. As a wordsmith, I love writing and I challenge myself to use the right word, in the right way, every day. But, I also acknowledge the high power of pictures and video. Short and to the point works best. If your video is over 2.5 minutes, think about breaking it into a series of videos. If your picture has too much in it, if it's too 'busy', think about ways to convey the meaning using just part of the picture. 4. Study writers. This is imperative to good writing. I write all the time, daily, and yet, I still read books on how to do it better. I am all about good writing. Don't think you have to be Stephen King or Nora Lofts or a Huffington Post reporter, to be a good writer. Be natural and authentic and check your spelling and grammar. Study how other writers do what they do. 5. Challenge Yourself to Write daily. Even if it's a letter to your mother. Write about your day. Keep a journal. Talk to yourself, with your pen. Re-read everything you write and take time to say it out loud. You'll discover a myriad of 'issues' when you read your writing out loud. Some will be blatant confusion..."Did I write that? I don't even know what it means!" Some will be spelling and grammar problems. Others will just inspire you to edit your work and make it better! 6. Don't agonize over the content. This may seem to go against much of the previous advice but it doesn't. Here's what I mean: write your story, review it, edit it if necessary, and let it go. Like a child that's grown and ready to meet the world, your story must go out on the web and stand on its own merit. If you've taken the time, if you've let it set and reviewed it carefully, if you've added the right pictures and supporting facts, it's ready to go. Waiting too long makes it irrelevant. Some of us can go back and redo a story a hundred times, and still not be satisfied. Don't be that someone. Give it one or two edits, no more. If it needs more than that, it's not a story for you or your audience. Set it aside and revisit it in a week or two. Then, write a new story. 7. Use verbs. Not adverbs. Greater minds than mine will tell you to review your story and remove these words, if you've used them: Very... few things are 'very' anything - they either are what they are or they are not; That - try it, remove the word 'that' and see if your story is better off. Most words that end in "ly"... adverbs are crutches, for the most part. Give your story a chance to stand on its own ...merit. If you've used the correct verbs, you will find adverbs unnecessary. 8. Craft a great title! Titles are your first introduction. Many people will not click on a story if the title is boring. Copyblogger says to "create a benefit:, "ask a question"; "create a debate", along with several other suggestions. Titles should also be SEO supported. Use power words - strong verbs work best. Here's a link to a list of fantastic power words! Use them wisely! (the greatest thing about power words is that you can write your story and then GO BACK and add the power words you forgot to use!) w00t! 9. Offer solid information or advice. A story is not much use if the reader can't learn something. Every bit of information we share, whether in a group setting, one to one, or privately, on the phone, is shared to convey information for the listener's use. Think about that. If all we do is blah blah blah, like a Charlie Brown cartoon character, what use is the story we're telling? As your listener, or reader, I need to receive value from you. I need to walk away with information... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita "This is Google's killer app," Tom said last year when he returned from Social Media Marketing, a conference for business professionals in the social space. He was clearly excited. His eyes were bright, his smile was lively, there was a hint of laughter in his words. Good laughter. The kind of laughter that escapes you when you can't hold back your excitement. "Ok," I said, without turning my attention away from what I was doing. I think I was wiping the kitchen counter. My lack of enthusiasm couldn't have been more... apparent. To be completely honest, I am not a fan of Google. Google, in my opinion, is a big bully. But, that's a story for another day. Back to hangouts. Undeterred by my lack of enthusiasm, Tom began to schedule and arrange Google+ hangouts for BlogPaws. We did several leading up to the conference. I was even in one of them. As I participated in these online video events, I began to see the power behind them. I began to understand Tom's commitment to them. Their ease of use and their ability to reach the audience in ways other tools do not, became more apparent as I attended more of them. We had already engaged Denise Wakeman to come to the BlogPaws conference to talk about hangouts, so I had early on decided my 'feelings' of "stupid Google" were wrong, and I couldn't let my prejudice against the search giant keep my community from learning about this new form of connecting. Since the conference, I've changed my tune about hangouts. It's unfortunate, to me, that they're part of the Google world... I have not changed my opinion of Google, I still think Google bullies people all over the web... but I have to admit that hangouts just might be their 'killer app' as Tom said last year. For instance, Tom and I got to meet Mia Voss via Denise and Google+ Hangouts. Who is Mia Voss?Just about the most dynamic, fun, intelligent, and approachable business woman I've met in a long time! She reminds me of Shawna Schuh - another dynamo who inspires me daily! Mia does a hangout on her Mia Connect, weekly. Wait... more than weekly. She's just immersed herself in this effective use of online video and she's making waves across the web! Not by being smarter or more talented (which she is, regardless), but by showing up. And doing the work. And demonstrating how easy it is to build audience when you take the time to know who your audience is. Just yesterday, I attended her Food & Booze show on a hangout and it was so engaging and fun, I was sorry when it was over. I also can't wait to go to Denver, now, and visit The Denver Tea Room and Coffee Salon with friends. As I learn more about this tool, especially how Mia gets that tiara on her head at every show, I'm becoming a fan. I'm beginning to realize the power behind this tool and I can't wait to start my own hangout, for Lipsticking. Will you come? Let me close with this - Tom and I met Mia in Denver on Thursday and we had one of the most delightful meetings of the year. This woman is vivacious, full of energy, lovely to talk to, and a great listener. She told us about Bob, her tripawd cat. She told us about her passion for pets and shelter/rescue. She told us about her work in Google+ hangouts. And she let us tell her our story, in its many varied forms. The connection was apparent well before this face-to-face meeting. But, once we got face-to-face, we formed a bond that is going to grow stronger over the coming months, I have no doubt. Because this woman is a go-getter. Her work involves many of the same things our work involves - helping other people achieve success. And, when I say 'other people' I generally mean... you. Women. We like to include the men who love those women, don't get me wrong, but our focus is on helping women in the social space, find, use and dominate the tools that spell success in a world of complications. Google+ hangouts are one tool I am recommending to you, now. Get familiar with it. Attend some of ours - at BlogPaws. Attend Mia's, weekly. Watch for Denise's hangouts and attend those. Then, go out and test one for yourself. Let's take charge of the rest of this year, ladies. Let's show the world who we are! Let's not shy away from something because it means being on camera. You can't be social... if you sit at your desk and write blog posts all day. You just can't. OH... cannot forget this part... Mia's tagline... #batcrapcrazy and #getyourlearnon Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita with Ally E. Machate I am privileged to receive a good many books in the mail, often unsolicited. As someone who finds books one of the best resources for business learning and success, in the world, I welcome most books with enthusiasm, as they come through my door. Occasionally, a book turns out to be a disappointment. I reserve my right not to cover those books on this blog - I see no reason to embarrass an author in social media. My good luck, however, gives me access to many books I thoroughly enjoy, and some I actually learn from. Today, I want to talk about a book I am still learning from, and share some of the thoughts the co-author of the book shared with me, as we continue to discuss the business concepts in said book. The Way of the Seal: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed may not seem like a relevant book for women in business. How many women are in the Navy SEALs, after all? The answer is: none. But, truth be told, there is so much to learn about conducting yourself in business, from the concepts in this book, and there is so much to contemplate about what the military can teach us, men and women alike, that I had to write about this book. You'll see more on this topic over the summer, also. My first best take away is the way Mark Divine, the Navy SEAL who wrote the book (with Ally's help) is forceful on implementing the lessons shared in the book. He says, "The irony is that we don't learn leadership from books or siminars - that is, until we embody the lessons through experience." Nothing can be more true, and while we all know it, we tend to spend our time day-dreaming - too much, "If you believe it, you can achieve it," kind of thinking, which isn't wrong, it's just a crutch if you spend so much time on it that you don't actually get the work done. I asked Ally, a successful woman in business, and someone I admire, what she could share about the book, as a co-author. Here's what she told me and it hit me right between the eyes. I hope it will hit you as hard... "Though THE WAY OF THE SEAL is flavored by expert author Mark Divine’s military background as a Navy SEAL Commander, the advice he dispenses is certainly not restricted to those who want to join the military, or even those who are military enthusiasts. "Instead, we used the term “elite warrior” deliberately to connect Mark’s philosophy and approach to an honorable lineage of traditions like the Samurai—soldiers and fighters, yes, but also something much more. These traditions emphasized the development of one’s mind and spirit as well as their physical prowess. And yes, historically these paths were for men only, but that doesn’t mean they offer nothing for the modern woman. A sense of purpose, living in alignment with our deepest and most cherished values, the discipline to pursue our goals to victory and make hard choices along the way, the ability to put the team or community before the self…these are aspects of the warrior path that are every bit as valuable and effective for women as they are for men. "And perhaps more so, because as women we are less likely to have grown up with warrior role models and, sadly, some of us were taught that a high level of ambition and achievement is unattractive in a woman. That’s less and less true with younger generations, thankfully, but it still exists in our culture everywhere you look." As women, this should touch you in several ways. You should be inspired, because the reality is - women can be warriors, also. We don't have to fight with swords and guns; we need to use our brains, our intellect, our intuition, to discover the Navy SEAL inside - the part of us that insists on excellence, focus, and accomplishment. The 'never turn back' concept appeals to me. I whole-heartedly believe that you MUST always move forward. Just last weekend, a TV news show did a story on an elderly man who went back to college to get his degree. He joked that he was too 'stupid' to do it the right way, as a young man in his prime. But, he said, looking directly at the camera, "The world is not behind you, it is in front of you..." and that's why he didn't let his age stand in the way of what he wanted. Do you feel that way? Can you embrace the challenge? Your world, your success, your hopes and dreams, are out there - in front of you! Will you make them real? Will you take on the challenge of a warrior, as Divine teaches, or keep dreaming, imagining what can be? "Keep your eyes trained on the front sight and your front sight trained on the target," Divine shares. I say, get your copy of the book and share with me... because I plan on making this book my daily reading, and it will help all of us, if we do it together. Stay tuned for more on The Way of the SEAL, as I tap into Ally again, while I push you to embrace ambition and accomplishment as part of your daily activity, and as I find ways to make this MY mantra, for 2014. Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2014 at Lip-Sticking