Dividing My Mind Time

I suppose that sounds like a silly title, but this is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. From September until the beginning of May I was a contractor (Marketing), who turned entrepreneur/business owner, and a graduate student. My clients are a restaurant group (three restaurants) and a software company start-up in the “events industry.” 

Every time I attend a Webinar, or a face-to-face conference, or read a blog, I’m constantly struggling with where my mind goes and how to apply what I’m hearing! My personal business is different from both of my clients and they are very different from each other. Add in that little thesis project required for my Masters Degree graduation and it was a very challenging bunch of months. 

Perfect example: Listening to a podcasting speaker at 

Social Media Day, and I wrote myself a note to write this blog!

I hear a great idea and my mind explores how to apply it for a certain situation, but then I stop and wonder—what about the other client? What about my business? People have suggested I “carve out a niche” client-base, which would help solve this problem a little bit, but I love the variety. Just as my career has been a potpourri of duties and industries, that’s also how I would like my consulting business to be. 

Being able to apply my expertise in a variety of industries to help solve my client’s business needs is part of why I’m so enjoying having my own consulting business. 

SO—I think this is the first blog I’ve written where I don’t have a (potential) resolution. I would love to hear comments / suggestions for how we can all “divide our mind time”… 

Any tips or tricks? Let’s hear it! 

Showing Up – A Lost Art

I’m going to try and write this without sounding bitter. But I’ll be honest – I’ll probably have to spit out the lemon by the time I’m done. 

There’s so much chatter (be it written or verbal) about how people aren’t actually talking to each other any more. Everyone, even in the same proximity to each other (at a bar, at a restaurant table, etc.) seems to be on their phones. We also aren’t actually talking on our phones anymore. Phones are primarily used for texting, email, taking photos, and social media. 

As someone who makes the bulk of my living from social media, I get it. I am 100% guilty of all of this about 98% if the time. But, why are people responding to a voice mail with an email or a text? WHY are people RSVP’ing (or not RSVP’ing at all) to a real-live, in-person event and not showing – with zero explanation? 

Here’s a suggestion: SHOW UP. 

I haven’t had a wedding. I haven’t had any babies. But I have shown up for most of the showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, baby showers, “sprinkles” (have to admit – that one is lost on me), and milestone birthday parties (or weekends away) I’ve been invited to. Do I do that because I feel obligated? Do I always have nothing else to do on those days? No, I do it because I value the human interaction and celebrating milestones & achievements with those who are important to me. And I understand it is important to them.

I suppose there’s a pecking-order for what people consider significant life events. My milestone birthdays are important to me. My master’s graduation party was important to me. I don’t think people didn’t “show up” because they didn’t want to be there or that it had anything to do with me personally. They prioritized something else over my celebration and I get that happens from time-to-time. 

It should be reasonable to want people to show up, right? Especially when they said they were coming?

Here’s a suggestion: If you don’t show up, make an effort to let the host(s) know. 

And, finally, take a minute to think about the occasion and whether you really need to skip an event because of the reason you have before you… and know that simply showing up can really mean THE WORLD.

Now What?

Photo credit: Gonzaga University

I have graduated. Again. The consistent question I’m getting from people who learn that I’ve just earned my master’s degree is “Now what?” I have to say, it’s a question I didn’t expect to be asked so much! For the most part, my answer is “More of the same, I suppose… with some more letters on my resume.” Having my own marketing consulting business has been invigorating in many ways. I very much enjoy being able to choose who I want to work with (who knew turning down business would feel so good?) and making my own schedule is amazing! I enjoy the variety and the flexibility more than anything.

What I think I’m most excited about in finishing (though, if I’m honest, it hasn’t really set in yet that I am DONE!) is having more time to get organized and sort of re-set… Deciding how many new clients to take on and truly figuring out how many hours I have to give is the next task at hand, and I have given myself a couple of weeks for that.

But! An unexpected side-effect of sending out my thesis survey is that I may have potential job opportunities because of it! It got me thinking how much I also love being part of a team and how putting brain-power together to strategically support clients in their business endeavors is also very satisfying. I have commitments to my current clients… So how could I get the best of both worlds? Could this new opportunity also be a consulting client of sorts? I’m both excited and nervous about what the future holds!

I pursued a masters degree because it’s something I’ve *always* wanted to do. I did it with the intention of getting out of sales and into marketing communication again… which was a windy road, but one I accomplished before I was done. Through the MA program at Gonzaga I grew and learned so much about myself, about communication, and how to apply the learning within the different business environments I’ve been working in and that is like gold

Graduating with a 3.92 – summa cum laude – is extra icing on the cake!!

So, what is next? I’m considering pursuing a PhD… Dr. Powers sounds pretty darn cool, doesn’t it? I’ll figure it out and continue having the philosophy that 
I’ve tried to instill in every person I’ve mentored – it’s not about the destination, but the journey! 

What a journey it has been and I am thoroughly enjoying it… Bring on NEXT.

Communicating VALUE – A Study of Tradeshows Face-to-Face vs. Online

In a class early on in graduate school the question was posed whether computer mediated communication (CMC) is a “richer” form of communication than face-to-face. At the time I was working in sales for an audio-visual production company, and I’ve worked within the tradeshow industry in one way or another since 1999, so the value of face-to-face meetings is close to my heart. 

I discovered I was a “relationship” sales person through those face-to-face experiences. I built relationships through these encounters at tradeshows/conferences/conventions and from those experiences I got the opportunity to bid on business. What resulted from that was 80% of the RFPs I received were from people I had met in person and about 90% of my business came out of those relationships–$2.5 million in booked business my final year there. One client in particular was known as one that was “impossible to get a chance at”—I sat with this client at the final luncheon at PCMA in New Orleans and later received an RFP that truly changed my career. 

Photo credit: sxsw.com

I’m sure that I am a better person both professionally and personally because of the relationships I’ve developed as a direct result of attending events face-to-face. At the same time, I’m earning my masters degree online and making my living right now, mostly, from strategic social media marketing—an online environment where relationships are also developed and fostered. Clearly, I see value in both, so I set out to study whether CMC, face-to-face, or a combination is the solution.

As we all know, conventions, conferences, and tradeshows are held for a variety of reasons. The study developed for this thesis focuses on the relationship-building and commerce that occurs at tradeshows in particular—where both buyers and sellers have the chance to speak face-to-face in social and professional environments about the potential of working together. 

Very little research has been done to study how we communicate in the face-to-face environments of tradeshows, so I felt compelled to focus the spotlight on what the value is of the two options. 

Participation in my thesis survey will help us understand the opinions of those who participate in tradeshows—to understand the importance of the relationship-building and commerce that occurs in person and/or online. The results will inform what we can and cannot accomplish in these different environments. 

Due to time constraints I need to close the survey at midnight tonight (PST), 4/12/13. 

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tradeshow_thesis

Why I Walk

This blog post is the speech I gave at the San Diego Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kick-off breakfast this morning. They asked me to talk about being a “Pacesetter” (one of the top San Diego fundraisers for the walk) – the why and the how. 

Ruth, Eleanor, Joan, Janet, Rosemary, and Carol—Each of these women fought breast cancer. They are my mother, my grandmother, three aunts, and a first cousin. Each of them fought and won, with the exception of Cousin Carol. Diagnosed at 35, she died at 43 after it metastasized in her bones. I walked for Carol in 2007. 

Linda, Gail, Annette, Maria, Melodie, Andi, Lisa, Vivian, Stephanie, Samantha, Joane, Kim… Each of these women also fought – they are either my friends or my friend’s sisters or mothers. Melodie fought for twelve long years—she was the definition of a warrior, having received a terminal diagnosis several times over the course of many years before she died. I walked for Melodie in 2011. Kim fought breast cancer and won, only to learn her medical team had missed a spot in her knee—in the bone—that had been there for more than three years. It was there when she was first diagnosed. She is now living with bone cancer and has a brand-new adopted baby boy. I’ve walked for her more than once. Vivian is my boss who has battled it three times—currently in remission for the past nine months, but has a rare, aggressive form of breast cancer about which very little is known. I walked for her last year. 

I could go on and on. Thankfully, I don’t have someone new—or a repeat offender—to walk for specifically this year. So, this is why I walk. These people are why I walk and raise money for ACS through Strides each year. 

But if I’m being honest? I’m also selfish. I walk to save myself. I have this feeling that it’s inevitable that I’ll end up with cancer, so I’m also fighting for my own life, even without a diagnosis. 

I’ve been a Strides Pacesetter every year since 2006. I think my seven year fundraising total is around $25,000. I shouldn’t tell you that it’s been easy… but in the whole scheme of things? It’s been easy. It’s quite easy for me to send email to friends and family and post on Facebook on a regular basis. Does it take some time and effort? Absolutely. And it’s 100% worth it. The feedback I get isn’t that I’m bothering anyone, but that they appreciate the reminders. Not everyone is ready to give at the moment they get your e-mail, but they may be at a later date. And if they don’t give this year, they might the next. 

Every year I begin sending my e-mail someone new replies telling me they have a family member who has been diagnosed in the past year—and they give for the first time. You never know who you will touch with your e-mail. 

I don’t put on events to raise money. I’ve sold “hope” bracelets and other costume jewelry here and there, but for the most part, I send email through the Strides Web site and from my personal e-mail. I post my progress and donation requests on Facebook and Twitter. I personalize my letter each year, explaining a different reason why I walk—personalizing is a key to success. I also send a personal, hand-written thank you note to each and every donor no matter how much they gave, right after the walk, letting them know how much I raised, what my team raised, and the estimate of the overall walk if I have it. I make it clear that they’re helping to make a difference. The personal touch shows greater appreciation. Remember – we don’t reach 100% of the goals we don’t set, so set a PUSH goal for yourself. My goal this year is $5,000. 

Each of the speakers today!

This year I will walk in remembrance of those lost, but more than anything I’ll walk grateful for the successes in research that ACS and other organizations have achieved. I’ll carry with me the thanks I have that Kim lived to be blessed with an amazing little boy. And I’ll hold close the HOPE that I stay healthy and that my friends and family do also. 

I wish each of you luck with your fundraising and I hope each of you will reach Pacesetter status—if I can do it, you can too.

Channeling a Non-American

Outside St. Peter’s Basilica

As I set off to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica yesterday, I was wearing a long, black halter dress and had my hair pulled up in a bun. 

A guy sitting on the sidewalk yelled out to me, “Senor!” As I kept walking, I thought, that’s odd – why would he say that? He said it once more and then as I was about 100 yards away, he yelled, “Senora! Senora! Senora!” It seemed he thought I was Spanish, and realized he had the wrong gender with the word he used. 


Later in the day I asked for the “bagni” (how it was written on the door at school), and the security guard replied, “Bagno?” To me, that sounded like the Spanish word, which left me thinking, do I have it wrong?

Am I channeling my inner-Spaniard today? 

That evening I ordered white wine… I said, “Vorrei vino blanco, per favore.” The server replied back by saying “Bianco?” Now it seemed to be a conspiracy! I had been saying blanco for almost two weeks and just realized in Italian class today that white in Italian is, indeed, bianco. 

Sistine Chapel Dome


I realize these confusions happened for various reasons. 

But what sticks with me, is this might be the first time I’ve traveled abroad and I wasn’t assumed to be American. For a moment I felt a sense of relief about that, but not because I’m not proud to be American. 

I am proud, but there’s something to be said for being stripped of that stereotype (if only for a moment… or a day).

Travel – My Love!


We learn every time we travel. We learn about ourselves and we certainly learn about differences in cultures—both how American culture is different from others and how countries are different from each other. I don’t think I manage to embarrass myself all that often in my travels, but there is one particular situation which has caught me off-guard here in Cagli, Italy. 

I’m on a study abroad program for graduate school in this small mountain town in the Appennini Mountains, between Florence and the Adriatic Sea. This is my fourth time in Italy and it’s the first time I have had any issue with paying… As an American, if I am at a café without table service, I’m used to ordering my food or drink, paying, and taking it to a table. Here in Cagli, you do so at the counter and they bring your goodies out to you. Somehow everyone manages to remember what you have ordered, on a sort of honor system, and you pay when you are finished. 

Despite knowing this, each time I order I have my money out and ready to go. For the most part, this befuddles the person behind the counter. They speak a bunch of Italian to me which I’m not able to understand and I either end up paying right then (typically) or I put my cash away and sit. Is it an instant satisfaction we American’s have culturally? Is it about wanting to just take care of it right then because we will eat/drink and quickly move on to the next thing? The Italians take the time to eat while there, taking in the morning and visiting with their friends and neighbors. 

Of course, part of me wishes they would just do it my way, but I’d rather not make them uncomfortable! And I sure would like to “fit in” as much as that is possible in this little town (they certainly know who the Gonzaga Americans are), so I am adjusting. 

It will assuredly take some reminding from my new friends, but I will consciously not expect that instant satisfaction. It’s only day two here in this village, so I have time to make up for it!

Today Sucked. Tomorrow Won’t. Right?

As I sit and watch a hazy, but still beautiful sunset in San Diego this evening, I can’t help but think of my brother Terry. He would have turned 53 today if he was still with us, and would have loved this. In fact, I’m pretty sure he would have sat on my roof for hours on end if given the opportunity. 

He was an artist and very much appreciated the little pretty things in life… and a good tan– let’s be honest! I’m pretty sure he is the only person in northern California who could keep a natural tan year-round. It makes me sad that he never came here. That we were never in “that place” in the last years of his life. 

I sure do miss him and especially more on his Birthday and the anniversary of his death. But what saddens me even more, I think, is the thought of how much more loss I’ll have in my life. This is the downside, I suppose, to being the youngest in such a large family and having so many friends… I cherish the time I get to spend with them, but I am also super bummed out at how busy we all are. Often too busy to just pick up the phone and have a real conversation like we used to. Facebook is absolutely a blessing and a curse. We sure aren’t “talking” like we should.

This seems like a pretty morose post, I know. Today really did suck on so many levels. But I know tomorrow will be better… And hopefully it will bring real, live conversations with the people in my life. The truth is–as terrible as it is–that we should not live or die with regrets and none of us knows how long we have. 

I’ve said it before and I will say it again – LIFE IS SHORT! Pick up the phone. Tell the people in your life that you love them. And do your very best to live life without regrets.

2013 – The Year of More

I think there’s a difference between being optimistic and when it’s something you really feel in your bones to be true. I truly feel deep in my bones that 2013 is going to be a special year in many ways.

Every new year brings with it re-assessment of the previous year and thoughts about what we want from the year ahead. This year was no different in that respect, but I truly feel like I’ll meet my goals for 2013. Resolutions have a bad rap because most people are no longer sticking to them within a matter of weeks (as evidenced by how un-busy the gym becomes by the end of February). Because of this, I chose this year to focus on three areas: my heart, my soul, and my health – I will do more of what’s GOOD for me in each of these areas. I even took it a step further and laid out things to tackle every month that relate to these three areas. Goals you can see are more attainable.

I’ve been told by many that “romance comes when you least expect it”… implying that you can actually try too hard to find the person who is right for you. So, sitting on my couch on Friday night – that’s gonna work? I don’t think so! I will make a concerted effort to put myself in situations where I can meet people that might just be right for me. So many things are food for the soul – spending time with good friends, going to church, reading more and watching TV just a bit less, self-reflection, and so on. And, I’ve done a pretty good job over the past 18 months of eating well and exercising regularly, but I can do more—I can do so much better—and mixing it up is a good thing.

SO – I wrote a list of things I want to do more of… actually speak to friends and family more (vs. email, text, FB), draw more, sing more, sleep more, WRITE more 🙂, meet more new people, save more, etc. Just about every item on the list could be placed in the heart, soul, or health category, so I’ve set reasonable—and attainable—goals month-by-month! Part of the reason people fail at their resolutions or other goals they set for themselves is because they seem too big. If you break them down and think about things bit by bit, it becomes easier.

As my friend Sean Croxton shared in his blog today, those little things are also easy to NOT do. But, the little things will add up over time, so if you think of it in terms of laying bricks, every step you take matters and will add up, all making a difference.

My birthday is on the 13th and this is the only year of ’13 I will experience – bonus year! Will this year be a platinum birthday? I intend to make the most of the year… Making each day count, which includes taking those days to do NOTHING! Sleeping in and lazy days are not only earned, but good for the heart, soul, and health!

Cheers to all of us for an amazingly lucky ’13.

MORE Change… The Only Constant in Life

I’m realizing more and more that the only thing constant in life is change. And I think that’s a good thing!

People have their opinions about employment and how long you should keep a job… It’s funny because I think some of that perspective comes from “the olden days” and perhaps some of it also comes from a place of envy because they might be “stuck” where they are. I would never be a proponent of job-hopping, but I’m even less a proponent of sticking with something just because “you should” according to others.

I’ve written before about following your heart. It might not end up being the path you thought it was going to be, but at least you tried, and you won’t have to wonder “what if?” I think we do make some decisions based on what we hope the end result will be and I am guilty of that for sure. Sometimes my gut and my heart don’t totally agree, but I don’t realize it until later. The heart typically wins!

Well, “what if” an opportunity presented itself where you could combine a philanthropic effort that you have already been involved with (as a volunteer) with your professional experience in a job (as a paid employee)? Sounds pretty amazing, right? Two worlds colliding! I’ve often thought about working in the non-profit world… Of course, knowing it is still a job, with its own set of challenges, but doing something in my work that affects the greater good has always sounded appealing.

I’m a Delta Gamma(yes, I said “am” and not “was” because we make a lifetime commitment!) and our philanthropy is “Service for Sight” – supporting vision-related charities and organizations with our same mission to help those who are blind or visually impaired through services or research.  Each collegiate and alumnae chapter throughout North America and the U.K. is dedicated to supporting this through service and fundraising efforts. 
In 2005, together with my San Diego Delta Gamma alumnae chapter, I founded a charity event called Race for Sight, with the beneficiaries being our DG Foundation, San Diego Braille Institute, and The Vision of Children Foundation here in San Diego.

Well, my worlds have collided because the founders of Vision of Children (VOC) have asked me to be their Director of Development & Communications… And I have accepted! I couldn’t turn down the chance to couple an outside interest (with such profound meaning) with my professional experience. VOC funds research with the goal of eradicating genetic eye diseases and vision disorders. Through the research they’ve helped fund, there has been successful gene replacement and there are people who were born blind who now have vision—pretty amazing stuff!

They’re looking to me to help them step-up their numbers and outreach so we can get to the end result—curing these diseases—FASTER. And I can’t wait to get started. It really was amazing timing, despite having been at my current position for just about six months… I had to go for it!

I read an article recently that said “passion is the secret ingredient to success.” Are you passionate about what you’re doing? Why not? Take some time and write down those things you are passionate about—what you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it—and then seek out ways to follow that passion.

So, more change… Bring it on!