2018 A New Year, A New Story

What will you be focused on in 2018? I believe that deciding on what you will focus on will decide the kind of year you have.

2017 was a year that started in November 2016 for me. I, like many other people, assumed I knew the direction the world was moving in. There were new challenges ahead that we had to face, but there were also expanding opportunities. I did not think Hillary Clinton was the right leader to guide us to this new world but she was a better leader than the alternative, at least she was looking to take us backward.

I spent November 2016 in despair and afraid.

But, after election day life went on. There was a wedding, the holidays, and a new year which meant to set up new goals.

My goals for 2017 was to become more selective about who I associated with. Debate less about politics and discuss more issues. Make new friends and be an impact in other people’s lives. I was going to pay attention and be involved. I was going to join the resistance. I signed up for every publication, association, and nonprofit that would tell me what I needed to do to fight against the tyranny that was trying to rise.

January 1st started with a minor car accident and the month did not get any better. A couple weeks later I was in a hospital bed with a kidney stone and sepsis. It was the first time I ever truly acknowledged that my life could end without warning. I had been worked up about the election and all that was going on in the country and I realized that none of that mattered as much as caring for myself.  I took a closer look at what I wanted to do and where I wanted to fit in. I couldn’t jump at every request to contact my representatives or feel righteous outrage at every Trump tweet. I needed to live.

In February my husband and I took a much-needed vacation to the beach where I got to reflect. I realized that I needed to find some balance.

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2017 was still a year of political firsts. I attended my first protest and went to my first candidate meet and greet, had my first campaign years sign, and led a series of neighborly bi-partisan political talks.

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There were many great moments in 2017. I went to NYC for what was supposed to be a  business trip but ended up being more of a solo tourist trip. I got to be in the live audience of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert the night that Michael Moore was his guest and I got to flip off the Trump Hotel.

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I repositioned my career to try to help as many people as possible adjust to what I believe are the realities of work, which is rapid change, no job security, and the need to be self-sufficient.

I started writing more political pieces.

I experienced 90 minutes in an isolation/float tank, a few times.

I cooked more this year and tried a variety of new recipes.

I drove to Dillard GA with my boys and a friend to see the total eclipse of the sun.

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I binge watched all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones.

I learned how to use my nice camera that I have had for 2 years.

Overall, the year had more ups than downs on a personal level. On a political level, I am starting finding my voice and trusting that this is a nation of laws and checks and balances. I need to stay involved and rally for the future that I would like to see unfold, but I also need to live for the little day to day moments.

As we welcome in a new year I look forward to focusing on a new story. 2018 will be a story about self-improvement and new friends and continuous work toward a future of greater opportunities, creative expression, and spiritual connection for all.

Happy New Year and may 2018 be your best year ever.

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Is Sexual Harassment being Treated as a Fad?

When every single day there is a new report of sexual assault or sexual harassment by a famous or powerful man, and the cases range from months ago to decades ago, it makes me wonder if the news is simply treating sexual harassment as the latest fad.

When #MeToo went viral on social media after the Weinstein case many people realized for the first time that pretty much every woman has been harassed or assaulted. This isn’t a fad it is a real problem. And although it is great that people are becoming more aware of the problem, will treating it as the latest news fad help change the destructive environment women often find themselves in or will it make everything worse for both men and women?

Read more on my post Are all men bad?

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Do Politics and Business Mix?

I was raised in a family where everyone said what they thought. My dad encouraged debate. My mom ignited debate. The best conversations I have had with my brothers were respectful debates.

When I started working in social media I was blogging about what I experienced, what I thought, what I believed. Many, well-meaning people in the business community told me I should not do that.

Over the years I have fought an internal battle of wanting to write about what I felt was important to talk about and wanting to be successful in business. After the 2016 election, I decided I needed to find my voice again. I am evolving into a political commentator as well as a business person.

I believe that for many reasons business and politics do mix.

Today, I had the opportunity to discuss that belief on my friend, Adrienne’s, podcast.

You can listen to it here.

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Influencer Marketing can be more than reach and awareness

Many brands are working with social media influencers, people with a large and engaged online following, to increase the reach and awareness of their brand. The idea is that an influencer has an audience that trusts them and therefore if the influencer writes about the product, their audience will be more likely to look into that product or choose that product over a competitive one.

But a well thought out campaign and thoughtful long-term relationships with social influencers can provide a brand with a lot more than reach and awareness.

Read more on my Hotel Executive article:

5 Steps to Maximize Your Influencer Marketing Program

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It wasn’t a Muslim

The morning after the mass shooting in Las Vegas I woke up to over 10 news alerts on my phone about it. My first thought was that it was an ISIS  terrorist attack and if that was the case the number of victims would increase beyond the people at the event. It would include the Muslims and those who are often mistaken as Muslims that get harassed, discriminated against, and yes even shot in retaliation.

I saw the name of the shooter. It wasn’t a Muslim. My next thought was if it was a black person. If it was then people would assume it was connected with Black Lives Matter and the whole country will erupt.

It took me 10 minutes to click around on different stories. So many victims, such a huge tragedy. But there was not much about the person you shot them, just a name. No description. That is when I realized, it must have been a white guy. Every other group is defined first by the color of their skin or their religion.

That is when I began to see the systemic racism in the way we all report crimes.

Read more on my Article How the Vegas Shooting Opened My Eyes to Systemic Racism (Subscription Required)

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The Creative Life of a Freelancer

In one big sigh, I finally released all the frustration and disappointment I have been carrying around for several months. It caught my husband’s attention and with immediate concern, he asked,

“What’s wrong?”

“I just have so much to do.”

I am sure this confession was confusing to him. For months I have been acting like I have everything handled, things were slow but that was a good thing. I needed some downtime. Money was still flowing from other sources. In my mind, and from what he understood, I was doing what I wanted and needed to do.

But in that moment and all of a sudden, I was overwhelmed.

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The Freelancers Life: No Boss, No Deadlines, No Commitments

I have been freelancing for 12 years now. My favorite thing about being a freelancer is the freedom to refresh your career. I recently heard Satya Nadella on NPR talking about hitting refresh on Microsoft. He used the browser as a great metaphor of what it means to refresh.

“The browser has this beautiful logic when you hit refresh on your browser. It doesn’t replace everything. It replaces only those pixels that need to be replaced. “

That is a perfect metaphor for refreshing a company, including one as small as an individual freelancer. I tend to hit refresh every year around this time. Some years I have replaced quite a few pixels. This year I am more focused on rearranging the pixels.

I can do this every year because I have no boss who needs to approve my decisions. I can take my time on implementing the changes, and if a change is not working out the way I thought it should I can pull back.

But last night, all at once, I saw how my pixels should be arranged. At the same time, I knew what I had to do to rearrange those pixels and I was all of a sudden overwhelmed.

The Freelancers Life: Brand, Sales, Clients

I think we all understand that the world of work is rapidly changing. Developers continuously introduce tools to automate tasks. Professionals are expected to increase the breadth of their expertise. An emerging generation with new ideas and assumed expertise are competing for work at lower rates.

When you are on your own, defining your offerings, seeking work, pricing your offerings, and delivering expertise, the world will change and pierce through everything you have built or think you know.

This is why I refresh every year. This is why being a freelancer means being a creative. If you are building your brand and offerings on fulfilling an obvious and existing need, you won’t last long out here in the wild. Like an artist, a freelancer has to look for the connections that other people miss. A freelancer has to have a vision of where they would like their industry to go. A successful freelancer has to have a desire to make a mark on this world, if not a ding in the universe.

My favorite definition of a brand comes from Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That means to have a brand you have to be interesting enough for someone to say something about you. You have to stand out. To achieve sales you have to stay top of mind. To keep clients you have to remain the expert, navigating through the rough waters of change.

That means to be a freelancer is to be a creative. To live the pain and sufferings of a creative. To wallow in the doubts and darkness the way that creatives do.

And to emerge with a new vision and an urgent and overwhelming need to get to work.

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Thanks to those who have kneeled, I now know what I stand for.

When the national anthem is played, do you stand out of habit? Are you offended by those who have kneeled? Do you think standing should be required? Would such a requirement align with what it means to be American?

When the national anthem is played I used to stand out of habit. I was quite bored waiting for it to be over. Ever since Colin Kaepernick took a knee, when I stand now, I do so with hope and pride.

Read more on my post in Politics Means Politics, My Flag, My Country, My Choice.

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Have Hotels Surrendered to OTAs?

This summer I planned a trip to NYC to see some clients. Before I reached my hotel I already was feeling like I made a poor choice. ‘

I wrote about my experience along with some suggestions of how hotels can better serve this guest on Hotel Executive about how Booking.com Made Me Hate My Hotel.

 

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