Category Archives: Blog

How to Banish Your Inner Grinch

Tis the season for goodwill toward your fellow man and counting your blessings! The holidays are in full swing and we are called to be festive around the office and at home. Operation Secret Santa has launched, cards and decorations have descended upon desks and homes, and everyone is jubilant about family visits, holiday parties, and merry making.

Yet for some, festive is not a natural state of being and holiday glee is more akin to holiday chores: last minute shopping, frenzied cooking and cleaning, hosting the perfect party for your Stepford family and friends, decorating the house, dressing the tree, and all that wrapping! Not to mention the extra few pounds that will be hugging your waist as you try to find the perfect little black dress for New Year’s Eve. Feeling grateful in the midst of it all? Easier said than done for some!

But not to worry, here is the official guide to staying in the holiday spirit through the stress of gift giving, family strife, tree decorating (read: keeping the cat out of the tinsel and the pine needles off the floor), party throwing, your kids’ never-ending Santa lists, ugly Christmas sweaters, post office backup, school vacation, food comas, and mall parking lot brawls.

How to turn your Gripes into Gratitude

  1. It could always be worse.  

Perspective is vital to many areas of Life.  For those who always see the glass of eggnog half empty, a little pivoting of perspective can help build the habit of viewing life with thankfulness.  And just as with a muscle, the more you flex and tone your ability to see things through grateful eyes, the stronger your gratitude grows. For instance, when you draw your marketing boss’ name in the gift exchange and your natural reaction is for your stomach to tie in knots, sit back and brainstorm on why this is a blessing, and not a potential for a giant career misstep (you get chocolate and he’s allergic, or you give a gift certificate to a steakhouse and she’s a card-carrying PETA member). For example: It can be a convenient opportunity to get in good with the boss’ executive assistance, and we all know that the admin holds the key to access, and thus influence. Approach your boss’ right hand discretely, admitting that you are shopping for the Head Cheese and would love to know if he or she has a favorite candy, a preferred wine or a Starbucks addiction. You can bond over your shared secret and use it to form a powerful connection that will serve you well the next time you want to schedule a meeting. Perspective is powerful and looking past the clouds to the silver living opens up a world of opportunities you will miss if you aren’t in the right frame of mind.

2. Help those in Need.

There’s no better way realize your blessings than to be around those that have none. Your good fortune is glaringly apparent when you come face to face with true hardship and tragedy. It will be difficult to bemoan all the preparation, work and clean-up of a large Thanksgiving Dinner if you spend a couple of hours serving meals to families that do not have an oven, cannot purchase groceries, and have no table around which to gather with their loved ones. It’s less satisfying to sneer at the unruly mall crowds and complain about your lengthy shopping list when you spend a few hours delivering winter coats and shoes to those for whom the gift of a jacket or rain coat is more than they can expect to receive all winter long.

3. Take 10 minutes a day to reflect on positive things, people and experiences in your Life.

It’s easy to be hyper-focused on the additional errands and expense of the holidays as we’re running around trying to accomplish everything while our time and funds are being stretched to their limits. In fact it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and over budget that we have to remind ourselves to take a breather and pull back to look at the bigger picture. Remember why we are entertaining our out of town family? We miss having them around like when we were growing up, and we want to catch up with the younger generations as they pass through birthday parties, graduations, and Justin Beiber infatuations. If we focus on the good that Life is bringing us, we can avoid falling into the trap of holiday stress.

The holidays are a wonderful time to create lasting memories with friends and family. Don’t become so wrapped up (pardon the pun) in the desire to purchase the perfect gift or cook a flawless bird that the joyful times pass you by. Stockings, pumpkin pie, and tree ornaments come and go with the holiday season, but love and gratitude can live in your heart all year long.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones! As I count my blessings, here are a few of my favorite things:

What are you grateful for this year?

What Does it Mean & Why Should You Care?

It’s hard to believe Klout has been around for less than 5 years. In that time, the social platform built to “empower everyone to unlock their influence” inserted itself into the social media lexicon and climbed into the role of the measuring tool of social influence on the web.

Social Media has leveled the influence playing field.  Communication, engagement and social power are available to anyone with an internet connection and the time and ability to create great messages. It used to be the sharing of the message that kept influence in the hands of a few, those with access to the means to mass distribute their content. But in our hyper-connected, digital age, the sharing is the easy part. Influence has become democratized and clout is now klout.

There is debate about the structure of the algorithms, do they advantage Twitter engagement over Facebook, or is LinkedIn weighted heavily enough, should Pinterest be added to make it truly valid and relevant, but essentially,:

“The Klout Score, a number between one and 100, is a representation of your overall social media influence. The science behind the Score examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends. It looks at who is engaging with your content and who they are sharing it with.” (What is Klout?)

In other words, your Klout score is your social influence credit score. And just like a credit score, it can affect how people see you, be used as criteria for employment, and result in perks.  Jobs in Online Marketing and Social Media sometimes require a minimum Klout score for consideration. If your job is to influence people to follow, like, and eventually become a customer of a Brand, then it follows that a higher social influence score signifies you possess the ability to reach, engage, and persuade others online. A low Klout score reflects a person’s inability to influence the actions and emotions of others via social media and the web, a vital skill set for a digital marketing professional.

And just as those with high credit scores receive the “perks” of low finance rates and easy access to borrowed money when they require it, those with high Klout scores get Klout “perks”.  Perks are “rewards given to you from brands in recognition of your influence”, with the intention, but not the requirement, that you will share your experience of the products and services you are awarded with your social networks. Since a Klout score reflects a person’s social capital, the higher the score, the more the leverage, the better the perks! The type of Perks offered are also based on the “influential topics and location” of the User. Klout not only tracks how influential you are, but what issues and subjects you are influential about. They pair those specific topics with products and services that match. For instance, my Klout score of 71 made me eligible for a Fair Trade Perk. I was offered a variety of goodies that are made with products certified to be purchased from “farming families in 70 countries that earn fair wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment and keep their kids in school,” since I tell my networks about healthy and sustainable food and promote Social Good causes. (fairtradeusa.org). This being #FairTradeMonth, it was ideal timing for the Fair Trade Certified organization to reach out to the top Influencers to spread positivity and awareness about Fair Trade products. As I sit here sipping on a mug of my @AllegroCoffee (the beans harvested by Northern Malawians who were paid a fair price for their labor and product), I am thinking about the benefits of purchasing from ethical companies that encourage social justice and economic sustainability. And yes, I will tweet about it—using the #FairTradeMonth hashtag of course. And I’ve already “liked” their fan page and become a follower on Twitter.  A win-win? I’d say so.

Just as the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects consumers credit information, your social credit is protected with Klout’s Influencer Code of Ethics (ICE).

The Influencer Code of Ethics dictates:

  • Klout will never sell or give away your contact info.
  • Participating (or not participating) will not change your Klout Score.
  • If you accept the offer you are not required to do anything. You are welcome to share your opinions on the products and experiences on your social media accounts, but it is not mandatory.
  • If you decide to talk about the Perk on social media, Klout asks you to disclose that you received a sample. Klout will send you more information about this when the product is shipped.

Those who are resisting Klout because they don’t want a third party tracking and analyzing their moves on Social Media, or are disgruntled over the lack of transparency regarding Klout’s algorithms; resistance is futile. Your online behaviors are already being tracked by a number of companies and sold as marketing research data. There must have been people that resisted financial credit scoring at one time too, that felt that consumer credit reporting agencies were invading their privacy by applying their creditworthiness a score and sharing it with others. More than a few people must have become enraged when they found out they were passed over for a job because of bad credit. But despite the objections of many, our credit scoring and reporting system is not only alive and well, but central to our personal and national financial system.

Craft CTAs that Pack the Juice to Make Consumers Move!

Inbound marketing is essential for attracting people to your website, building their trust, and creating a relationship that leads to life-long customer acquisition. A marketer worth their salt understands the power and necessity of great content to drive inbound marketing. But where some marketers still miss the mark is overlooking the final, and most vital, step in their content creation process: the Call to Action.

A Call to Action is a banner, image or text hyperlink which leads the viewer to the next step they should complete. Common CTA’s instruct to “Buy Now”, “Call Today” or “Sign up for our Free Trial Offer”. Once the content has hooked the reader with valuable information, entertained the viewer or engaged the consumer in some way, then the follow up is to guide him or her through the conversion tunnel. The effectiveness of a CTA is measured primarily in two ways: by amount of clicks and by actual customers acquired. Someone may click on your CTA button, download your free demo, but fail to purchase your product once the trial expires. This signifies your CTA was enticing enough to influence the behavior of the viewer, but not to convert into a paying client. Likewise, if someone is lead to click on your CTA and takes the guided tour, and later makes a purchase, then the Call to Action was powerful enough to drive behavior change in the most significant way for your brand—into becoming a paying consumer.

The best way to determine if your CTA has the juice to make your viewers move is to test it out. Keep track of click through rates and conversion statistics. There are few ways to increase the marketing power of your CTAs that work every time.

Here are the 4 Best Tips to Supercharging Your CTA’S:

1Use Verbs:

Just like your English teacher told you, verbs are “action” words. There is no better way to direct someone to action than by using a clear command that begins with an action word. “Contact us today to find out about our Holiday discount” or “Save a child’s life for the cost of a cup of coffee” strongly dictate the action the reader should take.

2. Be Clear and Concise: 

If after reading your CTA there is still ambiguity about what to do, how to do it, or why to do it, you are creating a reason not to click your link.  If your CTA explicitly details what to do and how, “Click here to save 25% on your next online order”, you are removing any obstacle from the viewer. They know exactly what you are advising them to do, how to do it, and in what ways they will benefit from accepting your offer.

3.Place your CTAs above the fold and in a visible location: 

This is often overlooked, but crucial. Your CTA is the grand finale of your content piece. Whether it be a video, seminar, podcast, blog post or SEO article, the objective of your content is to engage the viewer with your brand. The CTA is the final step in the process, bringing the viewer into direct contact with your product or service. Why would you then make the viewer play hide and seek to find it? Keep it visible, with a bold and enticing graphic and above the fold where it can be easily spotted.

4.A/B testing:

Also called Split testing, it is another way to tweak and refine your Calls to Action. Try changing one feature of your CTA at a time and then seeing if it impacts the rate at which people click your link or are converted. Sometimes a mere color, font or word change can make the difference if, and how, people respond.

Clear, concise, powerful CTA’s and Landing Pages take your marketing content to the next level, from trust and validity building, to interaction and acquisition. If you want viewers to take the path toward becoming clients you have to guide them. After all, they are called “leads” for a reason. Don’t forget to lead them to your current offer or promotion.

4 Ways to Kill Procrastination (Don’t wait, read this NOW)

There are so many distractions in our daily lives. Multi-tasking is now a necessity. The stimuli overload we are bombarded with as we go about our everyday lives makes prioritizing more and more difficult. When you add our various responsibilities to this intense barrage of White Noise vying for our attention, it’s no wonder we tend to procrastinate when we have a pending project. Between family obligations, social commitments,  personal errands, career tasks, and trying to stay healthy and fit, I can easily feel overwhelmed, leading to the temptation to put off the projects that seem most menacing. To cope, I have adapted tactics to battle the urge to postpone until tomorrow what I should have started yesterday.

4 Simple Ways to Fight Procrastination:

1.  Break up a project into smaller parts.

It’s easy to find ourselves intimidated by a complex project that involves a heavy time investment. The trick is to avoid looking at the project as one massive task that needs to be tackled in one sitting.

Here’s an example of how you could break down a presentation into smaller, more easily digestible, pieces:

    • Research: get on the net and start diving into the topic, jotting data, bookmarking relevant sites and reading published papers and articles.
    • Outline: Begin to include questions that arose during your reading, reach out to resources you encountered in your search. Jot down your own ideas as you begin to mull over the who, where, what, and why of the topic you are investigating.
    • PowerPoint: Now it’s time to bring in the software and technology to create visual aids to illuminate the story you are telling and the questions you are posing.
    • Practice: Give the Presentation to a co-worker, friend, spouse, kids, the dog, or in the mirror.

2.  Make a deal with yourself to put in an hour of work to “earn” a break. 

We all have our guilty pleasures that make us happy. It’s tempting to say, “I just want to play one game of Call of Duty and then I’ll start” or “I’m going to get to work right after this episode of Game of Thrones”. You can use your guilty pleasures to motivate you out of procrastination mode. Sit at your workspace and make a deal with yourself. You must first work for an entire hour and then you get that macadamia nut brownie, or you can go to that event your friend offered you a free ticket to, or you can watch an hour of your favorite shows on Hulu.com. The point is, you are turning that which distracts you into your motivation for digging into your work.

3.  Set an incremental goal.

Smaller goals seem less daunting. Replace your overbearing To Do List with a series of smaller, easier steps. A small goal may be to not get up from your desk (so make sure you have a glass of water handy before you sit down!) until you have the first paragraph of your speech written or have sent all the emails you need to send. Then once that is done, you will already be in motion, and motion begets motion. You will begin feeling energized by a sense of accomplishment and realize that the work at hand is not as bad as the thought of starting the work. It is easier to keep going than it is to fight the inertia and get started.

4.  Schedule parts of your project with other people. 

It will not always be possible, but when you can, schedule the parts of your project that require collaboration with others ahead of time. This will keep you on track. It may be easy to rationalize our procrastination to ourselves, but we definitely don’t enjoy looking like a flake to other people. If the idea of cleaning out your closet drowns you in anxiety, than arrange a pick up from a local charity. When you know that your local non-profit is stopping by tomorrow at noon, you will be forced to dive into your closet and begin the process of going through your clothing to separate what you wear from the items you want to donate.

Procrastination is a formidable adversary. But you can defeat him! The four tactics mentioned in this article are powerful weapons.

What strategies do you use to slay the dragon of Procrastination?

Community Engagement as Brilliant Marekting and PR Strategy

Tami Belt, Owner of Blue Cube Marketing Solutions in Las Vegas,  represents businesses of all sizes.  Over the many years as a leading professional, she notes one major change in the Public Relations and Marketing Industry:

“The channels of distribution have transformed into much more social means. Online and social marketing have made marketing a conversation; it’s no longer a 1-way message. PR and marketing is now more about building relationships and the ability to listen as much as you talk.”

The social trend in marketing invigorates Tami who loves a “company who gets it….that it’s a 2-way conversation and not a commercial.” Years in the fast-paced, connected world of PR and marketing, hammered into Tami the importance of a reliable, trusted network. Now that networking has largely gone digital, the ability to connect and interact is not only important—but crucial to a company and professional’s success. And with the social nature of today’s online marketing world, companies must feel at ease interacting on a personal level with their customer base. They cannot afford to shy away from being accountable and relatable online and on their social networks. If they do, they will sink into oblivion amidst the Content overload on the net and become obsolete. “That’s why I believe in community engagement…When you can connect on the level of a shared passion, it is one of strongest ties you can make,” notes Tami.

Tami believes the success of companies like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream prove that a company built on the premise of doing social good can be wildly profitable and well loved. There is no better PR than actually caring about those that purchase your products and making a positive impact in the world we share. Locally in Vegas, Carter Powersports is a motorcycle shop that uses social good to effectively market their company. They brought Ride for Kids to Las Vegas 8 years ago, a popular motor cycle ride that benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. After raising over $64,000 this year for kids fighting brain cancer, it’s easy to see community engagement is a powerful strategy. Carter Powersports proves a company can highlight a social cause they care about, be involved in the community, do good, and be profitable.

Tami founded Blue Cube Marketing Solutions with the intent to “transform the way companies approach community engagement and communication strategy”. “Communicating without a plan is risky business, you wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint”, she says, “So why would you communicate with the world without a plan?”

Her biggest obstacle to improving the lines of communication on behalf of her clients is their fear that if they start a public conversation people can say bad things about them. Tami is continually advising cautious clients that if a consumer is going to say something bad about their experience with your product or service, they are saying it regardless if you are a part of the conversation or not. She asks them if they would rather have an opportunity to fix a problem. Let’s face it, every company will make a mistake at some time, “but if they make good on that mistake, that’s how they create loyal customers and shine in eyes of the public”.

For a well-seasoned professional like Tami, it’s a no-brainer that it’s exceedingly preferable to know there is a problem than to have no clue something went wrong and people are bad mouthing your brand. She adds, “Sometimes the issue, once recognized, should be handled offline of course, but if those lines of communication are not open to begin with, you are unable to take a first step toward remedying the situation.” Basically, online marketing, is a “conversation and the rules of engagement that would apply offline, still apply.” For example, “You wouldn’t leave someone hanging on the phone all day; likewise, you have to give the same standard of customer service on your social networks and website.” She also advises, “Provide something of value, your followers and fans don’t want to be sold or told—they want you to engage”.

The most common mistake Tami sees businesses commit is failing to realize that engagement is a 2-way street. “Go onto your follower’s pages and comment too, it’s not all about you.” When pitching Bloggers, don’t “Go at them cold, follow them for a while, comment on and share their content you find interesting and then ask.” The revolutionary change in PR and marketing is that it is now “Permission based, not persuasion driven.” Those brands that still “don’t get it” need to hire someone that does, or they will be left in the dust of the Pre-Digital Age.

Connect with Tami Belt and Blue Cube Marketing Solutions:

LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter

Big Deadline and your Creative Mojo is Missing?

When I sit down at my computer desk, adjust my posture, take a deep breath, and begin tapping the keys with focused intensity, I soon enter “the zone”. When I’m in it, I don’t hear the dogs barking, have no idea how much time has passed, and often won’t hear the phone ringing or someone calling my name]. I’m deep in my groove and there is little else that happens on the periphery of my screen that will distract me.

But every now and then comes a time when I smack into that brick wall us creative types call “Writer’s Block”. When I need to get my groove back, sitting in my front of my computer is the last place I can find it. I need a change of scenery. I have a list of places and activities that work best for summoning my creative mojo. In the hope that it might prove helpful when your creative juices evaporate, I’ll share a few of mine. I have to leave the computer and not take anything to write with. You may want to bring your smartphone or a little digital recorder in case your mojo returns in a tidal wave of thought, forms an idea monsoon, and you need to document it before it washes out to sea. Personally, it helps me to empty my mind of whatever I’m working on, and let it simmer in my subconscious.

  • Walk the Dogs.  I’ll be bending over to scoop some poop and WAM…an idea will hit when I least expect it.

 

  • Get a pedicure. Maybe it’s because I’m so relaxed that my writer’s anxiety dissipates, but I’ve become “unstuck” while my toes are getting some love in the chair at the nail salon on too many occasions to count.

 

  • Working out. Whether it’s on a  cardio dance workout, yoga, or lifting weights, when I get out of my head and focus on my physical movements, I often get unstuck.

 

  • Hiking. When you’re out in nature with no distractions it can be the perfect place to reconnect with the channel through which inspirations flows from the universe into the vibrations of your thoughts.


  • Shopping. If you’re into mall shopping, take a stroll through your local mall. If you dig trendy boutique shopping, go to the fashion district in your city. Shopping is the perfect combination of relaxation and walking for me. When I turn my creativity to hip outfits, funky accessories, or art for my home it often ends up firing up my writer’s mojo in the process.

Where do you go looking for your inspiration when your muse is playing hide and seek?

The Pros and Cons of Going Freelance

To be or not to be, freelance? That is the question for many people. Life is full of trade-offs. Economists refer to these as “opportunity costs”.

According to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, opportunity costs are defined as:

“…the value of the next-highest-valued alternative use of that resource. If, for example, you spend time and money going to a movie, you cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you cannot spend the money on something else. If your next-best alternative to seeing the movie is reading the book, then the opportunity cost of seeing the movie is the money spent plus the pleasure you forgo by not reading the book.”

When weighing the pros and cons of freelancing versus corporate employment, there are a number of factors to consider.  I’ve highlighted a few of the core trade-offs you should evaluate when deciding which path leads to your career promise land. 

  • Steady stream of income vs. the ability to make more money without the need to climb a corporate ladder

Entrepreneurs and freelancers are a particular breed of people who are able to live without the certainty that they will be receiving “x” number of dollars, bi-monthly, every month, without interruption. Not everyone can handle the sporadic flow of revenue that often comes with the territory in freelance work. If you are the type of person that needs to know what the exact balance of your bank account will be on the first and last day of every month, the unpredictability that freelancers experience will drive you insane.

On the flip side, for freelancers the sky is the limit. You are able to give yourself raises and promotions according to the amount of clients you can bring in. There is no waiting for your 6 month supervisor review—you know how you are progressing by what you are bringing in every month, and the more you are willing to hustle the faster you can increase your paycheck and accelerate your career track.

  • Freedom from punching a clock and playing office politics vs. the comfort of structure and a social network.

While you give up a certain amount of security (and I would argue that even a corporate job does not offer the security it once did, just ask those that were let go or lost a major chunk of their 401K during our recent financial crisis) you do receive some freedoms in the exchange. Freelancers don’t punch a time clock, can often work from a home office or space of their choosing, and are exempt from the drama of office politics. They have the ability to set their own hours and can have more flexible lives.

I often go to the gym in the middle of the day, take a break to hit the ballroom floor for a dance class, and can take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. This flexibility is especially beneficial for parents with young children. The explosion of mommy bloggers and mompreneurs are an example of women with children taking advantage of the best of both worlds by working for themselves from home.  Freelancers have a unique autonomy that those in the corporate world truly envy. How would you love to go for a jog, see a movie, or run errands during the day (the lines at the bank and post office are much lighter at 10am then after 4pm!)? For some people, this alone makes it worth the extra hustle and uncertainty. For others, the social atmosphere of an office is a plus. It can be lonely to work at home. But there are ways around this too. You can join a co-working space, participate in entrepreneur or freelance organizations, or rent a space in a busy office complex.

  • The ability to vacation whenever you choose vs. being told when, and for how long, you can travel. 

As a freelancer, I can work wherever there’s a wi-fi connection. If you love to travel and can’t imagine keeping yourvacationing to a week or two a year or having to tailor your travel to the approval of your HR manager, then you may love the freelance lifestyle. Sure conference calls and client meetings are often necessary, but virtual meeting services like gotomeeting.com, and free video conferencing technology like Skype and Google Hangouts, make it possible to meet online. Sure there is no replacement for face time, but as a freelancer you can greatly minimize the amount of time you have to be an exact physical location at an exact time and date.  For others, traveling is not a priority and thereby not enough of a lure to counter the unpredictable revenue stream of freelance work.

  • Health benefits and retirement income vs. not being beholden to a corporate culture and rules. 

Braces for the kids, medical costs accrued from accidents and illness, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have an employer matched  401K or Pension to fall back on when you can no longer work, are by far the strongest reasons most people resist going into business for themselves. While the volatility our economy has experienced over the last decade proves loyalty to employees and retirement funds are not as stable as we once thought, for many the idea of going it alone is too daunting, especially for those who have families to feed and support.

A smart freelancer has an economic plan in place. Enlisting the services of a financial advisor or planner is key. If you possess the discipline to follow a well devised financial strategy it is possible to manage your money, provide for retirement ,and fulfill your financial obligations. But it’s true that not everyone is equipped with the financial skills and self-restraint required to put revenue aside to cover taxes, retirement, and medical insurance. Once again, freelancers have to be comfortable with, and well equipped, to take a hands-on approach to every aspect of their financial lives.

There are tempting benefits to going freelance in your career.  If you fantasize about doing your job in ways that are innovate, but management and corporate culture stifle your creative input, you may be a good candidate for self-employment.

There are drawbacks as well, opportunity costs, remember? While you may become frustrated and depressed when raises or promotions are given by favor and not by merit, or when a shady boss when takes credit for your work, or by that co-worker who strives to make your work life miserable, you will have to please your clients if you want to keep them.  Although, as a freelancer you will have more leeway in choosing the types of clients you want to work with. There’s those trade-offs again.

Depending on your current financial obligations, what you value most out of Life, and which circumstances you thrive best in, the decision to freelance comes down what you are willing to exchange for more flexibility, autonomy, and freedom. Also keep in mind, you are the first, and last, line of defense for your business as a freelancer. It can hinder some of that flexibility and freedom you become a freelancer to enjoy. If you are on vacation and there is a crisis with a major client, there is no co-worker to cover until you return. As a business owner you are never fully “off duty” because the buck always stops with you, even after hours, on holidays, and weekends.  If you are still on the fence, test it out by freelancing part time while keeping your career position. Let me know how it goes.

10 Lessons From The Gym That Led To Success in Business

You may have heard the maxim: How you do one thing is how you do everything. The truth this saying encapsulates is that your worldview and underlying beliefs influence the way you navigate the world and go about accomplishing your goals.  Let me go all Oprah on you for a moment. No matter what you seek to do, strategy can only get you so far. To create a major reset in your Life—whether it is in your family life, career, physical fitness, or spiritual well being—begin by changing the way you see the world and your corresponding beliefs about what is possible.  I’ve learned to embrace change, open my heart, and expand my trust in myself through my dedication to Fitness.

10 things Fitness can teach you to living a more fulfilling, successful life.

  • You have to have Heart. Yes, beliefs are held in our heads, but sometimes the best way to change them is by opening our hearts. When you’re running hard and your legs are jello and the simple act of taking in a breathe causes sharp pain, your head will tell you to stop. When you are lifting weights and your muscles begin to mutiny, your legs about to buckle from underneath you, your mind will tell you to stop. Then BAM! The runners’ high kicks in and you jam to the finish line, enveloped in waves of euphoria. Or Wham! You focus on your breath, breathing in deeply and pushing up on the weights as you breathe out—and it takes you through the rest of your reps.  I can guarantee your mind will tell you it is impossible to continue before your body is actually tapped out. Heart will get you to the finish. In fact, it’s when you push past that, “I can’t do it anymore” juncture that the real growth as an athlete or fitness lover happens. Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking what is possible is out of your reach.
  • The only way to win is by taking giving-up off the table.It’s tempting to make deals with yourself during a workout. “I can stop 10 minutes early and jog for 10 minutes later.” “I worked out extra hard yesterday; so if I miss today, it’s not a big deal”. “I’ll do an extra lap tomorrow to make up for it”. Sound familiar? Versions of these conversations play out when we’re wiped from a long day and tempted to decide our presentation will be just as effective without those killer graphics we planned to include.  We planned to work on them, but that was before dinner and the kids and Life collaborated to soak up the last 4 hours of our day, and now hitting the bed sounds too heavenly to resist. Dead these conversations when they begin to seep into your consciousness. Stomp them out by overriding them with a willful: I will do today what others refuse to do, so I can do tomorrow what they can’t.
  • Success is about getting up and getting it done, even when your head isn’t in it. Sometimes that alarm goes off and your head on the pillow seems highly preferable to your feet on the pavement. The best thing about that 6am hot yoga class…is walking out of there at 7am feeling like a champ. Get up, get dressed, and get going, even when it’s the last thing you want to do.  Go through the motions if that is all it is at first, because after the first lap, as your favorite song starts pumping through your ear buds, and you’re finding your groove, your energy will kick in. Get up an hour early to write, even if you hate it at first. Devote an hour a day to work on a long term goal that is outside the scope of your daily job and has nothing to do with your day’s “to do” list. Once you get past the first 10 minutes you will wonder why you tortured yourself by resisting in the first place. Too often we talk ourselves out of doing the things that will be most rewarding to our spirits, our careers and our health. Starting is the hardest part. To keep going comes much more easily.
  • Perspective is everything. Learn to love a good challenge and take joy in the feeling of working hard. If you are working out, it’s tempting to want to “get through” the toughest parts of your workouts, those areas that beat you down mentally and physically. This is the worst attitude to have. What you resist, persists. Change your perspective and your physical experience will change with it. Start welcoming the burn as proof that you are getting leaner, fitter, and stronger. Embrace that opposition your body is giving you by letting out a hefty grunt and pushing through it triumphantly. The adrenaline will kick in and you’ll feel victorious instead of weak. The same strategy works when you hit a wall with a big project. Instead of seeing a barricade, see a puzzle you are excited to solve. Where you once saw an overwhelming enterprise, see a giant maze that you will walk through, exploring each corner and as you continue to be surprised, until you make it out the other end—wiser, stronger, and more focused than ever. 
  • When your routine starts becoming easy is when the real work begins. The biggest trap in fitness is when you’ve past the initial introduction phase. You’ve been sore every day for months, but your muscles are now less tender. You are able to complete your entire workout without experiencing that “I’m going to die” feeling. You are able to walk out of the gym, off the court, or off the track, without your legs quivering beneath you. You are fit! You feel marvelous. But in order to keep your body changing, to continue to feel new benefits, you have to keep pushing harder. Increase your weights. Run an extra half mile. Your body has become accustomed to your workout and if you want to continue to see results you have to thrust it to new limits. The same is true with your skills, with your talents, and with your creativity.
  • Sweat equity beats talent that doesn’t put in work. It’s not always the most gifted person that goes the the farthest in life. In fact, if a Picasso or a Michael Jordan are not obsessed with honing their abilities and mastering their innate talents, they will be beat by those with less ability and more dedication. Talent will only take you so far, sweat will carry you the rest of the way. As the talented Stephen King famously said, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
  • Trust in yourself. Having the support of a network can be critical to success. But there will come a time when even you’re biggest supporter will not be around, or will be convinced your latest innovative idea is outside the realm of possibility. There will be a split second decision in the game and your coach and team captain cannot make the call, it’s now or never—it’s your move. In either situation, it’s essential that you can fall back on yourself. Win or lose, it’s your game and you can’t play it as someone else’s pawn.
  • Teamwork motivates you and can bring out your best. Having people you can trust and work with that have your back allows you to shine. A power team can energize you when the going gets tough. When you’ve taken the ball as far as you can and need to hand it off, they can deliver it right into the end zone and spike the hell out of it.
  • The only way to lose is not to try. Trying and not succeeding isn’t failure, it’s a learning opportunity. Refusing to journey outside of your comfort zone and expand your experience is a surefire formula for mediocrity and regret. When I’ve pushed myself to add 10 more pounds to my squat weight or finish that last 10 minutes of my cardio routine at full intensity (when I’ve been going for 50 minutes and feel like I have nothing left to give) is when I come face to face with what I am fully capable of doing. The real magic happens a few laps past your comfort zone.
  • If you’re working hard and not getting far, it may mean you haven’t found your sport. I used to think I hated cardio. Weight training was where it was at for me. I was in the gym every day sweating it out, pumping heavies. But running? Not my thing. I loved nature, being a California girl, so hiking was fun. And I was a competitive swimmer since high school, so in the pool was the only place I wanted to do laps. I had always loved to dance, but never considered dancing a legitimate “work out”, only a fun pastime. Then I tried Zumba. Zumba is a  high intensity, high impact, butt kicking, cardio dance beat down! My love of music and dance carried me through the most intense cardio I had ever done…and it was a blast. I had been convinced that I didn’t like cardio, when the truth was I had not found the type of cardio I enjoyed—until Zumba. Turns out I even like jogging, but it has to be outdoors. Running on a treadmill zaps any motivation I have to keep moving. Running outdoors is a refreshing experience. Moral of this little story: if you haven’t reached the success you’ve been chasing than maybe you haven’t found the type of cardio that energizes you. Explore your passion and maybe you’ll find you’re trying to be an all-star pitcher and falling short because you were born to be a championship-winning quarterback.

In the race of Life, the finish line is unknown. We never know when that final lap will appear and who will be with us as we cross into whatever is on the other side of that yellow tape. So, however you run your race, don’t forget to enjoy the scenery, take pleasure in the feeling of the wind at your back, and the sunlight on your face.

Limited time and budget for Social Media? No problem!

I am repeatedly asked two questions about Social Media: Why do I need to be on Social Media? Where is the “best” place on Social Media to be?

I’ve covered the first question in numerous blog posts. Thankfully, even the die-hard, marketing traditionalists are starting to get that if they aren’t on Social Media, prospective consumers will find their competitors who are—and they will lose business. In other words, they cannot afford not to be on Social Media.

The answer to the second question is more complicated. Many business owners, freelancers and professionals have limited marketing resources. While understanding that to remain competitive in the marketplace they need a Social Media presence, they lack the time to conduct a comprehensive Social marketing campaign that covers the many platforms currently popular. In order to get the biggest bang for their buck, they want to know where to concentrate their limited time and budget.

For those tackling this question, here are 5 steps to determining where you need to be on Social Media:

1. Ascertain on which social networks your target demographic is most heavily concentrated.

Where do your costumers hang out on social media? You need to be where your consumers are if you want to be found. If you are a B2B company, then LinkedIn is a must for your social media campaign, as many economic decision makers of companies all around the world are active on LinkedIn. If you are a comedian, your fan base is not searching for comedy tickets on LinkedIn—but Twitter’s 140 character platform has proven a great fit to showcase jokes and many comedians are developing a large fan base through its use. In fact, four comedians with a combined Twitter following of over 150,000 created the 140 Tour—which takes their “140 Characters or Less” comedy show across the country. You need to be where those who are interested in your brand are spending their time. When “Twitter Comics” Travon Free (@Travon), Eli Braden(@EliBraden), Halli Borgfjord (@HalliB), and Pauly Casillas (@PaulyPeligroso) were doing radio interviews for their upcoming Vegas show, talking about fans they gained and career making opportunities they stumbled upon from tweeting jokes, I realized that knowing which platform best highlights your content and speaks to your audience are vital to using social media most powerfully.

2. Do your research. Where are your most successful competitors and what are they are doing right?

Competitive intelligence is a great way to get started when deciding where to spend your time. There are brands in your market that are already doing Social Media with powerful results. While Social Media is about telling your own story and showcasing your unique personality, it is smart to do a pulse check on what is working—then determine how you can improve on it, or what you have to offer that is not being fulfilled by your competitors.

3Decide which platforms make sense for your type of business.

If you own a restaurant, then foursquare and Yelp! can be valuable in driving consumers into your venue. Foursquare recently announced a partnership with OpenTable that allows customers to make a reservation with their mobile app, without having to go to a website. Foursquare users who are checking trending locations, can check your menu and discounts you are offering, and book a table with extraordinary ease. Why would you not be on foursquare?  Yelp! is free advertising to consumers interested in dining out. They have a mobile app as well, making it convenient for food lovers who are out and about and looking for their next meal. Why would you forgo free, inbound leads?

4. Match the type of content that best showcases your brand to the social platform that supports it best.

If you sell clothing, jewelry, etc, it’s a no-brainer that Pinterest is an ideal platform to post enticing photos of your products to fashion lovers that will then “repin” them. If you offer local plumbing services, you are better off on Facebook where you can target ads by geographic location, age, income, gender and more.

5. Create a presence across a few different platforms and see which yield the most engagement and highest conversion rates for your business. 

With marketing, trial and error remains a great way to test how your strategies are working. You may find after creating a Twitter account and tweeting for a few months, that you meet some great clients and initiate valuable conversations with key players in your industry you would likely never have linked with any other way. That is big. Maybe Linkedin generates inbound leads that you would have had to work 10 times as hard to get without a Linkedin strategy in place. Conversely, if there is a platform where your efforts are falling short, and after switching up tactics a few times and trying paid ads, you continue to see no benefit, your time and money are better spent elsewhere.

Many businesses and professionals have shied away from social media because they feel overwhelmed at the scope and breadth of it. They have yet to understand that they can have a successful social media marketing strategy that results in more awareness and increased sales without needing to invest in every network. Tackle the 2 or 3 most relevant social sites to your brand first. That may even be all you need. Create a profile and start engaging.

7 Ways Social Media Fuels Collaboration and Interaction

Media and Marketing have gone Social. It’s no longer “them” talking at “us”. A conversation has begun. And I love it! I see some brands and thought leaders using the potential for interaction brilliantly, but many others are stuck pumping out their passive, one-way messages and missing out on a remarkable opportunity.

Here are 7 ways Social Media fuels collaboration and interaction:

1. Crowdsourcing

Companies in the know are taking full advantage of crowdsourcing to gain consumer input and valuable, yet free, marketing research. They are asking followers for their opinions on which logo to use for their rebranding campaign or what deals they want to see offered. Artists, Production companies, and Entertainers are utilizing crowdsourcing to fund their projects. Instead of going to investors or turning over their projects to studios or labels with big pockets, they are going straight to the fans through platforms like Kickstarter and Indie a gogo. Companies are even using crowdsourcing as way to engage people with their cause marketing campaigns. Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program allowed followers to vote on which non-profit organizations they would donate a car to support. Toyota gave away 100 cars to the top 100 vote-getting charities.

2. Cooperation

Organizations and social movements have used Twitter to coordinate cooperative relief and Social Good efforts. The response to the catastrophe caused by the Japanese Tsunami was a prime example of how the Red Cross and other Relief efforts used hashtags to disperse information and orchestrate donations. The English Hashtags #JPQuake #prayforjapan #japan #TSUNAMI and #jishin_e were used to disseminate information and bring people together in the wake of the destruction and confusion. Japanese hashtags were used to coordinate efforts on the ground. General earthquake information: #Jishin, Requests for rescue or other aid: #J_j_helpme, Evacuation information: #Hinan, Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.: #Anpi, and Medical information for victims: #311care.

3. Collaboration

By its very nature Social Media facilitates collaboration. People share and connect through Social Media. We engage in conversations with content producers about their work, we talk to brands with our comments, retweets, likes, +1s and pins. This interaction has lead to collaboration between people who would likely never have crossed paths and to companies improving their products, customer service, and procedures in response to follower and fan feedback.

4. Interactive conversations

Tweet chats, Google Hangouts, and Threads (whether on Facebook, in Linkedin groups or via hashtags on Twitter) are all ways that Social Media is bringing people together over shared causes, interests, and events. On Social sites we are talking to people all over the country, and across the globe, every minute of every day.

5. Community building

Communities are forming and thriving by using Social Media in effective and collaborative ways. On Twitter the hashtag #VegasTech keeps the Tech Start-up community in Las Vegas abreast of the latest news, upcoming events, and pertinent information. #DigitalVegas is doing the same for the social media and online marketing community in the city. Las Vegas’ Project 150 organizes its team of volunteers and manages its homeless youth outreach across the Valley via its Facebook Group. And it works brilliantly.

6. Journalism

Whether its disseminating information about social uprising in repressive countries with no free media, or blowing the whistle on child labor illegally used to make Nike shoes in Third World sweat shops, it is getting easier to keep the actions and ethics of our governments, companies and leaders more transparent with the viral power of Social Sharing.

7. Networking

Social media users are reaching out through social platforms to ask questions, make comments, begin friendships, and initiate business relationships online. Never has it been easier to bypass traditional Gatekeepers and communicate directly with the people, communities, and groups we want to engage with.

Social Media has revolutionized how we communicate, how we build communities, how we do business and even how we help one another. And its power has yet to be fully realized. It’s an amazing time in our history. Join the conversation!