Sunday, February 28, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, Nov 2:
PR Newswire Social Media Panel at the LA Times building
Caught the second half of a PR Newswire panel presentation on social media strategies after getting dreadfully lost in downtown Los Angeles. I was too disoriented to take notes but listened from the back row to all kinds of terms that make me think I have a lot still to learn about social media: TweetSheep, crowdsourcing, pre-tweeting...it was too early to get much out of this and without coffee all those new words gave me a headache. I'm not a morning person and made a mental to note to avoid early morning downtown meetings when I live 40 miles away. Sat next to a cool woman though who had the same phone as me but in a different color and with a picture of a dog instead of a cat. She runs a PR business and I posted about her on my CraterCom facebook page.
10:30am Had the most amazing meeting ever and felt like a superstar when I got to go upstairs in the LA Times building and meet with John Corrigan, Nancy Rivera-Brooks, Marla Dickerson and Sharon Bernstein. I was just expecting to say hello to John, who thanks to PRSA and facebook I had been chatting with over the past two months, but to my pleasant (and nervewracking!) surprise, he took me into his office and had the other three editors join us for a conversation about green story angles and happenings in Los Angeles. I rattled off tons of talking points I had been preparing my clients with over the past couple of months and was so excited to be there talking to them. Got to pitch the Opportunity Green conference in person and hear that green stories are the ones with the most hits on their website. I hope I made a good impression and didn't sound like a babbling idiot ;) I'm pretty sure I didn't though, as they did send a reporter to cover the conference and came out with this piece on Monday: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-green9-2009nov09,0,5234850.story I'm thrilled because this is my first really big media placement for a client. The other major placement was the Houston Business Journal article back in August: http://houston.bizjournals.com/houston/stories/2009/08/24/story12.html
I loved the book "Escape from Cubicle Nation" by Pamela Slim and starting cyberstalking her a couple of months ago, which was how I heard about her workshop in LA. She did an amazing job inspiring and connecting a group of entrepreneurs in various phases of their businesses (including yours truly). The starting point for her workshop was defining the kind of life you want and then modelling your business around it. I loved how we began by visualizing our ideal day and then thinking about the ideal kinds of people we want to work with. She had a really useful framework of being in business; a circular process usually sprung from a catalytic event such as a layoff or health scare:
Square 2: Dreaming & Scheming - all possibilities are open. I felt I was in this one today when I started visualizing this dance production I intend to make happen for an event next year. MANTRA: "There are no rules, and that's ok"
Square 3: Hero Sage - a journey in which you become different through all that you go through. There are many challenges and mistakes; it's best to have a mindset of curiousity and observe yourself as if observing a bug. MANTRA: "Nothing is working, and that's ok."
Square 4: The Promise Land - you get it, you're doing it. You maybe start thinking of something else to do. MANTRA: "Everything is changing, and that's ok."
She is really funny and real and I'm glad she posed in this picture with me:
Also presenting during the day-long event at the Belamar Hotel in Manhattan Beach was a really funny and extremely bright woman, Colleen Wainwright, known in the cyberworld as the Communicatrix. She personifies the witty, hilarious advertising type of woman I always wanted to be friends with and have like me, which is why I was super high-maintenance and made her be in this picture with me:
Colleen shared these thoughts about branding:
-Frame your elevator pitch as "are you this person with this problem? I can help, here's how."
RedBull Reception for Tour de OG Riders
EcoStiletto's Green Blogger Convention
Great event, great speeches, got my nails painted and hair done, met amazing women, learned about Project Green Search:
(see my face there in the background?)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
When I learned via a harsh email on Monday that I lost a client, my best friend (who happens to be a budding Yoga Therapist) shot over to my apartment to comfort me. As soon as she walked in the door, I asked for her to guide me in a yoga series to help me through the pain of my first real "failure" as an entrepreneur. I use quotation marks because failure is code for opportunity, growth and powerful lessons. But at that moment it was more like a swift punch in the stomach.
"Why do you want to do what you are pursuing? What does you doing THIS thing mean in the bigger context? Bring your WHY to class in your head or on paper. Knowing it will also help you get through the some of the harder moments in business."
I realized my why when I started dredging through the PR jobs on craigslist in search of something full-time. The moment of clarity struck as I read yet another post full of skills and requirements, low on pay - the only job I saw relevant to my skill set that night was a marketing/PR job for a Korean game manufacturer. I started thinking how I'm pretty much against video games - at least the violent ones - and I didn't want to contribute to something I don't believe in. Especially if it's full-time and at the cost of focusing on my new business. Ah ha!
My why for going into business for myself is that I want to apply my talents, skills and energy to something I believe in. In other words, I want to choose my clients. I chose green companies as my niche because I’ve always had a thing for the environment (my college thesis was on American attitudes toward nature). In other words, I heart nature.
It’s really hard to get behind something that you either feel nothing for, or worse, despise. This was the case at my last agency job. While I was fortunate enough to work on a few alternative energy accounts, there were some clients I worked for who did things I wanted nothing to do with, such as building dams, mining for limestone, manufacturing chemicals, drilling for oil and slaughtering animals. Actually, I did want something to do with them - in the form of stopping them!
I used to think, how could I, Miss Treehugger/Protestor, become a corporate flak for evil companies?! Well, maybe I’m exaggerating about the evil part, but that is what it felt like to me at times. What got me through the disgust I would sometimes feel looking through dam-builder brochures was the knowledge that I was learning new skills - transferable skills - that eventually I could use for good. I knew that while at the time I was working for less-than-desirable clients, one day I would get to apply those skills to companies and causes that were actually doing good things in the world. Fortunately that moment came sooner than later when an unexpected lay-off pushed me head-first into starting my business.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
As a sole practictioner running a public relations practice from my home office in Sunset Beach, CA, I find that it's so important to stay connected to a community of inspiring people. Positive people, positive energy....it's not only vital to success, but to survival and sanity. Especially when you work mostly alone and don't have colleagues to bounce ideas off. Many of my family and friends are so supportive, but they don't understand exactly what I do (sometimes I don't even understand exactly what I do, which brings me to the forthcoming lesson of the day).
What I miss sometimes about working in an office environment is that random brainstorming and venting throughout the day with colleagues who not only get what you do, but are doing it too. So I'm taking to blogging about my process as a necessary step to gaining clarity and focus for the work I'm doing. I wanted to say that I have so much on my plate, but what I really feel like is a waitress carrying two trays of six plates, each one with so much on it. Maybe we all feel like that. I do especially as a new business owner balancing the needs of my clients with the business part of billing, proposals, marketing, not to mention personal needs like healing, dance, yoga and meditation. I need to set the trays down, take a step back, roll my shoulders, shake my head and take some deep breaths. If angry customers are crying for their food while I do this, so be it, because if I am to really do a good job in this world, I better be grounded. I used to be a waitress actually, and on more than one occasion I quit in tears, so I know how serious it is to be calm, collected and clear heading into every situation.
Lesson of the day: back away from the computer.
Today I found that stepping away from the computer for a couple of morning hours was the best move to gain perspective on a project I've been trying to tackle for over a week. I realized that the project was driving me mad (and away from it) because I wasn't clear on what exactly I need to do. So everytime I tried to work on it, I would sit down at my computer and get sucked into the vortex of Internet, emails, random spreadsheets, everything more urgent and entertaining than planning and focusing. My facebook status read "Must. Stay. Focused!" but the very fact I was on facebook sabotaged my intentions, and not too long after I was posting a picture of Suri Cruise in highheels with a starbucks cup to speak out against the oversexualization of little girls. Pretty interesting, right? There I go again....!
So, I took my notebook and my brain to Coffee Bean on PCH, where the smell of espresso sweetness enlivened my senses and I sensed a buzz of energy. Looking out the window at the rain pouring every few minutes, hearing the rythmic music at just the right volume, taking just a notebook and pen to work with, that felt right. I did my best to break the project into pieces and identify clear next steps. So now I am going to make a PowerPoint slide by slide, with each slide identified ahead of time. We'll see how it goes. This project is like the entree on the biggest plate on one of my many trays. It's a steak and I had to cut it into pieces to make it digestable.