Category: Personal Experiences

Too Young To Commit

If your 12 or 13-year old wanted to get married, would you be ok with that?

Probably not. In fact, most parents I know are not ok with their 12 or 13-year-old dating yet.

Why? Because they are so young, impressionable, vulnerable, and they have their whole lives ahead of them to experience so many things and learn life lessons that will one day help them have a successful marriage.

For me, that is exactly how I feel about kids who are signed with record labels at a young age.

You might have heard about the talented metal band, made up of a 12-year-old and two 13-year-old middle school kids, out of Brooklyn who call themselves Unlocking the Truth, and just signed a $1.7 million deal with Sony. 

 

That news caused me to cringe.

I have a talented 13-year-old. I have had people in the music industry ask me if I was interested in having him signed. I decided to look into that and see what the music industry was all about. Of course I do not know that details of Unlocking The Truth’s deal, but in general what I know, and what makes business sense is that Sony is willing to front $1.7 million dollars to record and market the albums of these kids. All – I repeat – all of the money that Sony pays for production, distribution, and marketing has to be recouped before the kids make a dime. And once that money is recouped they will make a small percentage of their sales. Also with the change of the music industry, most labels are signing 360 deals, which means that Sony gets the lion’s share of not just their music sales, but merchandise, performances, sponsorship deals and so forth.

And Sony wants to make money so they will work these kids. So much for high school life – or any normal life – or making any of their own decisions.

And how many kid stars have had a really sustainable career into their adult life? Not many. Because the pressure of being a kid star robs kids of their childhood.

If you have a talented kid, my advice, from one parent to another, is to get them opportunities to perform. Let them learn the business on their own by selling their own concert tickets and merchandise. Get them marketing their band as well as their individual brand. Let them develop a strong fan base to the point that when someone like Sony comes knocking on their door – the negotiating power is firmly in their favor – and they know the business enough to be able to take a deal or walk away and be happy with their current path.

There are so many opportunities for musicians of all ages today – that I just get sad when I see any musician not take full control of their career. And at the age of 12 or 13, really, should those kids even have a “career” yet?

My First Bonnaroo

Last year my older son graduated high school and his only goal was to go to Bonnaroo. He signed up to be a volunteer during the event which meant that he got to stay in the volunteer camp. None of his friends were able to join him, so I drove him to TN with a tent and duffel bag full of supplies and dropped him off. Immediately he made lifelong friends and over the next 7 days had a life changing experience. This year he insisted that we needed to make Bonnaroo a family vacation and he was able to convince 2 of his friends to join us and volunteer post show to clean up.

This is a big deal for a few reasons. First, at least 95% of Bonnaroo attendees are 19-24 (estimated based on my observations). It is a festival of music starting from 1:00pm and lasting to 6:00am. It is a giant party, with a lot of drugs being passed around. It is not a place a teen would invite their parents and little brother. But my son did. He wanted us there to experience the positive vibe and music that was there. He was not there for drugs or to hook up, he was there for the music and he wanted to share that with his family. I could not be more proud to be there with my son who wanted us there.

 

The other reason it was a big deal is the most common way to lodge at Bonnaroo is to camp, and we have never been camping as a family. I did a lot of research in preparation for the trip and overall did a pretty good job getting what we needed to be comfortable.

 

 

 

We had a lot of fun hanging out together at the campsite.

The Bonnaroo vibe is most appealing to me. I always thought I missed out on the hippy years since I was not born until the 70s. But Bonnaroo brings back the love of the earth and fellow man vibe. There is art, and community, and an ever-present message of being good to the earth. There is tie-dye and flowers in girl’s hair. And messages to Radiate Positivity.


The music line up was overwhelming. There were constant compromise and sacrifice. If you see this great artist you will have to miss another great artist. We chose to see:

Ms Mr

The Naked and the Famous

Vampire Weekend

Skrillex

Seasick Steve ft John Paul Jones (bass player from Led Zepplin)

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Damon Albarn of Gorrillaz

Lionel Richie

Flaming Lips

Lake Street Drive

Capital Cities

Artic Monkeys

The Avett Brothers

Sir Elton John

 

 

 

 

And that was us taking it easy. There was a lot we missed. We took some time to visit the art vendors and ride the Ferris wheel. I learned when we got home that there were several other cool non-music events that we missed.

 

 

However, with all the positivity being radiated and high fives going around, we were still reminded that not all people know how to embrace such a vibe. It is fine when people need to get through a crowd to meet up with their friends, but shoving is not necessary. This was not common, but the few times it happened was enough to kill the vibe. There was also one guy that really came close to killing everyone’s vibe at the Elton John show because he was sloppy drunk spilling beer on everyone and being careless with his cigarette. He was there by himself, I am guessing his friends abandoned him. When we confronted him for putting our 13-year-old son’s safety in jeopardy he told us we should not bring a 13-year-old to Bonnaroo. In a crowd of tens of thousands giving my 13-year-old high fives for being there, I guess there had to be one asshole.

Overall, we had such a great time we think that Bonnaroo may become an annual vacation for us. However, it is not an experience I can recommend for everyone.

 

 

 

Slow Down – Enjoy the View

Yesterday was a day that should be marked down in my history.

Yesterday I had an epiphany. I realized how I was going to write this book that has been on my mind for almost 9 years. I have almost all the notes written, I just could not figure out how to organize the information in such a way that people would get the message in an artful and enjoyable way. Yesterday all the answers came flying at me at once and I soaked them all in as soaked in the Spring sun after a long, cold, dark, bitter winter.

As I was enjoying the moment of clarity I was also being very thankful that I did not try to rush the process many years ago when I was being told that I needed to write a book. I knew I needed to write a book. I knew that there was a book in me. But the gestation period has been many years. I have watched many people I know write multiple books. I have seen others praised for their accomplishment of publishing their book, all while I was waiting for this book inside of me to reveal itself.

I am so happy I waited.  I did not force the book out prematurely and I am not sure the book is ready to be born anytime soon. This may just be the next phase of the development, but I am enjoying it.

There are many things this book has taught me along the way. The most important lesson is to slow down and enjoy the view. The book as been a journey for me. Along the path, the book has helped me make some very important decisions in my life. It has revealed to me a new path for the next decade of my life and in doing so it has shown me where the book itself fits in within my life story.

Had I put myself on a schedule, a deadline, had I forced this book out of me, or shoved it aside for a book that I could have been written quicker and gotten published in favor of the notoriety and praise, I would have missed the lessons –  I would have missed the milestones – I would have taken a different path and missed the view that was trying to unfold in front of me.

Slow down – trust what is inside of you. Follow the path in front of you as it unfolds. Don’t try to rush it. Relax. Enjoy the view.

Have we over-glorified being busy?

I cringe every time someone says it; “I am very busy.”

It is said with the tone the suggest being busy equates with being important. Or being busy is equivalent to getting things done, having a purpose in life.

It is as though the world has taught us that if you are not busy, you are a slacker, a loser, moving around aimlessly.

What is wrong with you? Get busy. Do something with your life.

Stop. Please just stop.

I am raising two boys, still driving my oldest to destinations that require highway driving and transporting my youngest to his various rehearsals and gigs. I am helping with homework, keeping the house clean, walking the dog, grocery shopping, running an online marketing agency, selling, managing a team, invoicing, developing strategies, pitching, writing, reading, being a wife, going to my husband’s gigs, nurturing my friendships, networking,  and keeping up with all the changes that happen on social media while maintaining my own social presence. I am also on the board of two nonprofits and I keep up with paying our monthly bills.

Oh – I also play games on Facebook. I grew up playing games with my family, and now that we live in different states, Facebook allows us to continue to play games with each other.

I am not busy.

I have a life to maintain, but rarely will you hear me say the words “I am busy.” I do not need to apply that label to prove that I am accomplished or accomplishing.

I have priorities. Sometimes I will say I am not available at a set time, but that is not the same as I am too busy. That means let’s look at the schedule and see where something falls on the list of priorities and when I can get to it.

You are never too busy to do something or meet someone, it is just down on the list of priorities.

Also you do not need to have every moment scheduled. Deadlines are important for most things, but when you actually do the activity should be when you are inspired to – obviously before the deadline. It is also vital to learn how you work and how long something will take you.

When I have to write a social media strategy for a client I suggest it will take 2 weeks. The first 10 days is me thinking about it, jotting down notes, doing research, and thinking some more while I do other activities. Then the last 2 days I sit down and write the report. It is thorough and thought out, but it did not fill every moment of my two weeks. Yet having the time to let information present itself and ideas to connect provides inspiring new concepts for effective strategies.

The more relaxed a person is the more creative they can be. Ideas can flow. But you cannot be relaxed if you are always busy.

Also, ideas and inspiration come from the oddest places. Today I sat down at Starbucks. My intent was to work on a campaign strategy that needs to be presented in 2 days. However the gentleman next to me decided he wanted to chat. Was I too busy to chat? No. Who knows what wisdom this man would offer me. I will never see him again. So I felt I needed to push my work aside and listen to his stories.Within 30 minutes he was on his way and I was inspired to write this post. I still have plenty of the weekend to work on the strategy which will be written quickly once I finish collecting all the ideas that are around me.

If I was too busy to collect new ideas, all my ideas would be recycled and the value I offer would be diminished.

Let’s change how we view the idea of being busy.

If you are too busy  you might be unorganized. If you are too busy you might be uninspired. If you are too busy you might be trying to fill in a void that needs to be addressed. If you are too busy you might have anxiety.

If you are too busy, you might be missing out on all that life has to offer.

 

Small Talks: Mistakes to Learn From

This past Thursday I was invited to be on a panel with Craig Hyde, President and Co-Founder of Rigor to discuss our journey and stumbles as entrepreneurs. The panel was the first of the Small Talks being sponsored by Turnstone. It was a great conversation, and although Craig and I are different in many ways, it seemed we both had very similar advice to offer.

Our host, Jon Eggleton provided us with a list of questions to be ready to answer. Going through this preparation was a great way for me to reflect on my journey as an entrepreneur.

Below are the questions and my answers.

What Motivated You to Become An Entrepreneur?

Many times in my life I recognized trends and opportunities and came up with what I thought were good business ideas. I would always try to convince someone else to run with the idea and was always let down. When I saw what was going in social media, back in 2005 and the opportunity to help businesses take advantage of the opportunities that were going to open up, once again I tried to convince the company I was working for to run with my ideas, and once again I was let down. I basically snapped and decided I could not let this one pass me by. I left a steady paycheck and made the decision to own my ideas.

The lesson I learned is you have to take ownership of your ideas. They came to you for a reason.

What Was Your Biggest Fear Before Before Starting Your Business?

That I had totally lost my mind. Seriously my family depends on me bringing home a paycheck, and now my income depended on me selling an idea that I had not yet completely developed and that was completely foreign to the business world. But within a couple of weeks, some very senior people in the city were inviting me to lunch and providing me with their very valuable consultation. In a couple of months, I had clients who were helping me to develop my offerings and processes. Within 6 months I had a team of people supporting me on projects and within 16 months I was the co-founder of a pretty impressive conference.

The lesson I learned is crazy people attract other crazy people, and together we can make some crazy things happen.

If You Could Go Back and Do One Thing Differently, What Would it Be?

Get a good accountant from the start. When you are launching a new business idea your time is consumed with figuring out your offerings, marketing, selling, managing the process, bringing together a team of people. Accounting is the last thing you have time to think about and before you know it you have a mess to deal with.

The lesson I learned is that other people are readily available to help with those pesky business operation stuff and well worth the money (which does not have to be much).

What Would You Describe As Your Biggest “Failure” Along The Way of Becoming an Entrepreneur?

Taking on projects that were not the right fit because I needed the money. Sometimes the client’s expectations were not in alignment with what could be delivered and sometimes it was not a personality fit, but I tried to make it happen anyway. Every time I tried to be a trooper and earn that paycheck I found myself hating what I did and having the soul sucked out of me. Fortunately, there was usually another client in my life reminding me why I love what I do.

The lesson I learned is to turn down work that is going to suck the soul out of you. If you need money, get on the phone and find the next right client.

Was There Ever a Moment In Which You Felt You “Made It” or Are you Still Driven By Fear of Failure?

What is “it?” I have not made so much money that I can stop working. I still have to work to pay my bills each month. But I do make enough income and I am doing what I love to do and I have the ability to run with other business ideas.

There was a time I was running toward some goal of a big agency and big clients and lots of money, but then I realized that I did not want to do the things I was required to do to get there. So I had to redefine what success meant to me.

The lesson learned is to define what success means to you, not some external definition of success.

The focus of this Small Talk was on failure and that got me to thinking about how I define failure. Is it hitting an obstacle? Is it making a mistake? Is it quitting?

No, no, and no.

If I was trying to get from point A to point B and there was a roadblock I had to go around, I did not fail. If I made a wrong turn and had to find a way to correct my path, I did not fail. If on my way to point B I decided I don’t really want to go to point B after all and I gave up on the journey, I did not fail.

I guess failure, to me, is if you want to get to point B but give up because it’s too hard and full of frustrating experiences, but you still want to get there, you just give up. That is failure.

One of the questions was Do you Think Failure is Required to Be a Successful Entrepreneur. If I consider how I just defined failure, the answer would have to be no.

Breathing Room

Visited 1/13/13

North Point Community Church

4350 North Point Parkway

Alpharetta, GA 30022

This Sunday I ventured to the mega-church that is near my home, North Point Community Church.

Getting into and out of the parking lots of this church is very similar to getting into and out of the parking lots at Disney. There are lots of people directing traffic, lots of signs of who should go where and cones to guide you along the way, and if you end up in a parking lot that is far from the entrance of the church they have shuttle buses that will pick you up. You might think this beginning experience is intimidating, but it runs so smoothly that it really sets a positive tone for what to expect next.

Since I made a point to get there early I was able to get into a closer parking lot. As I walked in wearing a dress and heels I was pleased to see the majority of the people walking in wearing casual clothing including jeans. As soon as I entered there was a man at a podium to welcome first-time visitors. I introduced myself and received some information about the church to take with me. He explained to me that the East Auditorium was where the live presentation took place and the West Auditorium is where you watched the service on the big screen. I was early enough to get into the East Auditorium, in fact, the nice man even offered to find me a seat up front. I declined because I want to wander around and find a comfortable spot for myself. By the time the service started, both auditoriums were full with standing room only.

I ended up sitting right behind the cameras and control board. I figured they HAD to have the best advantage so sitting behind them would give me a pretty good advantage.

 

Community Church is a great description of this church. If you want to feel connected and get to know your neighbors, there are an overwhelming number of ways to do that through this church. The opening speakers continuously welcomed new attendees, as well as encouraged people, get involved in the many circles (groups) that are available.

From today’s perspective, I do not see much diversity in the audience, it was overwhelmingly white, which was so painfully obvious when their amazing band rocked it out on stage and the congregation mostly stood there listening.

The entire service was a well-organized and though- out production. From the way they brought the two auditoriums “together” by having a jumbo Jinga competition between the two rooms, to the way they played a relevant,  entertaining and distracting video for everyone to watch while the band’s equipment was moved off stage the pastor’s props, two large closets full of clothes and a screen, were moved onstage.

In the opening, it was made clear multiple times that the mission of the church is to lead you into a relationship with Jesus Christ, so I was prepared for an in your face Jesus message. I was pleasantly surprised by what was delivered.

This service was the 2nd in a series of talks titled “Breathing Room.” The focus of this talk was on how you are spending your time. Breathing Room was defined as the space between your current pace and your limits. One closet on stage was packed full of clothes that were disorganized, the other was neat with enough space to sort through what was in there. The talk was based on Psalm 90: 1-6 10-12. I did not have a bible with me, just my notebook, but as I looked around it seemed no one had their bible with them. The service was delivered by the Senior Pastor, Andy Stanley (I have to say, what a great name!)

Andy took the message as written in the Bible and interpreted it to awe God’s infiniteness compared to the blip of time we are here on earth with a warning to be careful with the time you have allotted.

Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom

was reinterpreted to teach us that our days are numbered.

He talked about Bronnie Ware’s article The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying focusing the top 2 regrets.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Andy then turned his presentation to what he knew our Monkey Minds were says (monkey mind is a term I acquired from my time with Unity Church, not Andy’s term).

Andy said I know what you are thinking. You are thing If I don’t do as much as I can I will

– not make it (what is it?)

– fall behind (behind who?)

– be poor (how do you define poor?)

– be accepted (by who?)

We tend to spend our life chasing something we never even defined.

Overall I found the church very welcoming, and even though they are upfront that their mission is to lead you to a relationship with Jesus Christ, I felt like they allowed people the “breathing room” to define for themselves what that relationship is and the path to get there.

To Care Means to Kick Ass

I am browsing around Pinterest and came across the above image. The text suggests to me that we should not let our “monkey mind” feed us our self-doubts and we should not be too harsh on ourselves. But the image is a reminder that actually sometimes we need to kick our own asses. We need to tell ourselves we can be better, do better, act better. We need to tell ourselves that we are letting ourselves down and we need to pick up the pace. We need to say “stop feeling sorry for yourself” and  “If you want it go get it.” When we don’t have that great friend or nemesis around to motivate us into action with the words we don’t want to hear but need to hear, then we need to be able to tell those words to ourselves.

Being good to yourself does not always mean being kind to yourself.

With God, All Things Are Possible

Visited 12/30/12

Unity North

4255 Sandy Plains Rd,

Marietta, GA 30066

It makes sense that I would start this journey at the church that I feel most comfortable.

Unity has a Christian foundation, but welcomes people “wherever you are on your spiritual path.”

 

There are no images of Christ on the walls, no cross at the alter. Instead, you will find banners with the words; Joy, Wisdom, Peace, Unity, Faith, Light.

I have come to many services here and have adopted their New Year’s Eve burning bowl tradition as a family tradition. On this particular day, Carole O’Connell the founding minister of this church is the guest speaker.

The guest singer on this day sings a song of one power with lyrics that express that although we may be different in many ways, we are the same in our heart.

In today’s sermon, Carole references the Mayan calendar and the idea that the energy is shifting, systems are breaking down and there is an opportunity to create new systems. She does not offer any specific examples.

She says that in the past the dominant feeling has been fear, but that we can change that to cooperation for the betterment of the whole. She points out that when people get sucked into the fear of things, such as the end of the world or the fiscal cliff, we become part of the problem.

Carole shares her personal path with the congregation and the 3 mantras that she lives by;

1. Life is consciousness – We live in a spiritual Universe, we are spiritual beings in a human body. We are the presence of a creative God. She talks about how we are all part of one, we are not separate from our enemy and therefore we must always have compassion for others because we are all one.

2. Gratitude is the most important prayer – The fastest way to get yourself out from “feeling down” is to count your blessings. But you don’t want to be thankful just when you need a lift. It needs to be a habit.

3. Trust the process of life – means no matter what is happening we are trusting that all things are working for the good in our lives. And when you say “I don’t know” you become receptive to solutions.

Carole suggests that we get our ego out of the way and allow spirit to move through you.

She closed the service with 3 questions for us to ponder as we approach the new year.

1. Who do you want to be in 2013?

2. How would you like your life to be different in 2013?

3. How can you love yourself more in 2013?

Saying Goodbye to 2012

The Christmas decorations have come down and been packed away. In a few moments, I will go out to buy the wood for our annual burning bowl ceremony where we will release all that no longer serves us or that we do not need to bring into the new year. I will also buy fireworks and champagne to welcome in 2013.

For now, I sit in this space between the two years and reflect. The past year has been a transitional year for me. My youngest graduated from elementary school and moved on to middle school. He continues to grow as an amazing performing musician. My oldest is in his last year of high school and we are preparing for the life that is ahead of him. He has many creative talents and so many opportunities lie ahead of him. My husband has renewed his life as a performing musician along with continuing to work on some incredible projects at his job.

My work has been both profitable and satisfying in 2012 and after 7 years with Concept Hub I am starting to feel settled into what that company means to me. It is no longer an extension of me, it has become more of a good job I have. A really good job that is separate from my life. Concept Hub finally has a life of its own and I am just an employee.

This has provided me the opportunity to explore some new business ideas within the startup and music communities. I have also begun to build processes to offer personal business coaching. And I am finding more things I want to write about. All of this has led me to want to get more involved in being part of various communities, both online and offline. I have not been as active in the community as I once was and I truly miss that.

When I reflect on 2012, it has been a year where I have been in the background, in the supporting role for my family, friends and my clients. It is time to say goodbye to 2012 and although I will always be in a supportive role for my family, friends, and my clients, I do believe 2013 will be my time to step into the spotlight again.

Cheers!

New-Years-Toast-2013-2-716x260

Promoting Yourself Truthfully

originally posted on Concept Hub

I have been invited to be a speaker for the Designing a Powerful Woman Telesummit which will be held on Dec 7th. My topic is promoting yourself truthfully.

This Tuesday, Nov 29th from 1-2pm I will be participating in a free webinar as part of the promotions for the Telesummit. This is a “getting to know you” webinar where I will be sharing my story.

My story starts 6 years ago when I launched a social media agency at a time when most people did not know what a blog was. Through the years I have personally learned lessons that can be applied to businesses as well as to organizations.

On Tuesday I will tell my story about :

  • How social media helped me establish and protect my brand
  • The challenge of staying focused while working in an ever-evolving field
  • The value of aligning with the right people
  • The importance of managing expectations
  • Understanding sacrifice

I will be sharing more specifics about social media during the tele-summit. However, I am looking forward to sharing my story on Tuesday about what I have learned and my experiences through the years of promoting myself truthfully throughout the digital world.