Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Very, very long post from Mark Cuban about how he got started, what he did to get ahead, how to have a cheap night out, etc.  If you’ve been watching Shark Tank or are interested at all in entrepreneurs, check it out:  Shark Tank & Success & Motivation.

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My Motivation

Welcome to the official season of weight loss!  I gained 65 pounds + (I stopped looking the last two weeks) when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Two months after having her I still had 35 pounds to lose.  UGH.

I’m no weight loss guru, just a gal who wanted to button, zip and still be able to comfortably sit in her jeans.  But I did lose the weight.  Here are the tips that worked for me.

1. Exercise six days a week. Don’t let this freak you out – it could be any kind of exercise!  You don’t have to work out or go to the gym.  I walked, ran, did water aerobics and took a Hip Hop class.  It became part of my daily schedule (read: habit) and lead to big results.  I met a ton of new people felt better than I had in a decade.

2. Indulge. I love brownies.  LOVE.  I can’t not have them.  My normal routine is to make a pan and eat them throughout the week.  Not a good plan.  Instead, I’d go to the grocery store and buy two from the bakery.  Fewer brownies, but I still scratched the brownie itch.

3. Keep track of your weight. I was in a weight loss challenge where I had to weigh in every week.  It REALLY made me think about it when I wanted to skip my evening walk or having a second helping of mac and cheese.  There a ton of ways to do this – but one of my favorite has to be people who tweet their weight.  It also could be as simple as keeping a notebook in the bathroom that only you see.

4. Find sneaky calories.  I used an iPod app called Lose It! to track my calories for about two weeks.  There were lots of things I didn’t really care about eating that had a ton of calories.  But the biggest surprise was the calories I was consuming in beverages.  Could you drink skim milk instead of whole?  Do you really need that orange juice?  What about Root Beer as a treat?  Beverages don’t fill me up so I don’t want to spend calories on them.

5. Be boring. Once you find a meal that works, don’t be bashful about eating it regularly.  There’s no need to re-invent the wheel every morning at 7 AM or 3:30 PM at snack time.

6.  Be consistent. To me, this is the hardest and most frustrating part about weight loss.  If you have a great day, stick to your diet and exercise your rear off (literally) it might not show up on the scale right away.  It takes weeks and weeks of work to realize your goals.  And you have to just keep on keepin’ on.  But try to think of this way – a month from today is going to come no matter what.  It might as well come with a lower number on the scale.

Good luck with your weight loss goals for 2011.  Its a struggle for almost everyone.  My heath goal this year is to be able to do a pull-up.  I’ve never been able to do even one.  Not even in elementary school!  I’ll be thinking of you all when I’m hanging from the metal bar.

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I love this week.  The week after Christmas and before New Year’s is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  When I had a “regular” job I used work to take to off.  It was one of those weeks you could take vacation and not miss much.  People understood why you were out.  The chance of getting an “emergency” call was about 22% rather than 98.9%.

Now if you’re one of those people who likes to be in the office alone, this is a great week for your to be at work.  But it is a terrible, and I mean really awful, week to set business goals.  Don’t even think about.  Here’s why:

1.  You need to reflect. You just completed your 2010 goals.  Or maybe you didn’t.  Take some time to reflect, analyze and hopefully, celebrate.  Think about what you really accomplished.  Ponder on what you want your 2011 to look like.  Stew.  Meditate.  Breathe.  Think.  Your goals will be clearer, better and brighter if you take the time to do this.

2.  You need to get input. Your right-hand gal is in the Cayman’s, your husband is watching bowl games and even your son can’t be bothered because he’s got that new PS3 game on the 43rd level already.  People are busy right now…busy not working!  Don’t set a single goal without getting some kind of feedback.  You’ll just have to reset them later when everyone gets back in the office/back to reality.

3. You need to give people a break. I know you.  You’re an entrepreneur.  You’re thinking about your business every single day of the year.  Your mind doesn’t take a holiday and neither does the bottom line.  But people need a break.  They don’t want to hear from you with the “Oh, sorry to bug you on your holiday, but…” call or the “If you happen to be checking email, it would be great to get a quick answer on this…” email.  Your hard-working, loyal, creative, A+ team needs a break.  FROM YOU.  Give it to them.  And while you’re at it, give it to yourself.

I will admit, watching the days on the calendar count down makes me nervous.  I’d like to have my 2011 goals set, but I know it’s just not feasible.  After talking to my coach, we decided setting them the week of January 10th was the best idea.  In the meantime, I’ll look forward to giving myself a break.  I hope you will too.

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You have to be very serious when drinking "The Prisoner"

Are you ready for your holiday gathering?  Perhaps a little extra wine couldn’t hurt when Uncle Fred starts talking about politics?  I’m going to let you in on our wine secret – WTSO.com.

WTSO or Wine ‘Til Sold Out features one wine at a deep discount until (you guessed it) its sold out.  You can visit the site or sign up for email alerts to find out what wine they are featuring on a particular day.  Don’t delay if you like it!  They always sell out – especially the good ones.

While recently travel, my husband and I picked “The Prisoner” to drink because it was featured on WTSO.  Of course, we paid twice as much for it as the site listed, but what can you do.  Don’t be like us!  Get you wine for the holidays on this site and save a ton.

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I love getting the dirt.  Besides having a wonderful time at Lavish! this weekend, we got a lot of insider information.  Here’s my take on it:

1. James Andrews kicked off the conference by telling us a lot of marketers are lazy.  (Don’t be lazy!)  Also, big brands are not sure what do with those of us in disruptive media.  If you want to work with your favorite brand, reach out to them!  They are trying to figure out how to work with you too.

2.  Starting a blog?  Wanting to get more traffic?  Don’t go to the mattresses, go to the bloggers.  Talk to them on Twitter.  Fan them on Facebook.  COMMENT on their blog.

These folks are the influencers online.  They will look at your blog.  Help you if asked.  Be interested in your content – if its good, of course.  Find bloggers in your area of interest and stat with them first.  It will give you a great network of resources.

3. Are you tired?  Not sleeping?  Working a day job and doing your blog on the weekends?  You are not alone.  There was a lot of talk about this at the conference.  Speaking of which…

4. Monica Barnett taught us a new word for those of you really workin’ it.  Grime + Hustle = Grustle   Use it.  Love it.  Get your grustle on.

5. If you want/need your information on broadcast television it needs to work for the masses.  Brian Patrick Flynn, who partners with HGTV.com, told us to be sure your content works as well in NYC as Dallas and in a big city or a small town.  It needs to be very relatable for many different people.  Think the opposite of a niche blog.

6. Tami Hardeman taught us if you want to great food pictures, you can’t go wrong with awesome natural light (find the best place in your and take your food there) and a white on white background.  Also, a great start to a food styling kit includes q-tips, tweezers, vegetable oil, a squeeze bottle and small paint brushes.

7.  Need to practice your food shots?  Do so with ingredients.  Hannah Queen (who is just as charming as her blog, BTW) told us this is the best way to practice.  ingredients won’t get cold, fall apart, change, etc.

Tami Hardeman's Food Styling Kig

8. The first editor of Daily Candy, Jeralyn Gerba has just left the publication to start Fathom – a one stop website for travel information.  I’d sign up now.

9. The team at Rue (an online magazine) told us they are already debt free and only on their second issue.  Print media, take note.  Could you say the same thing?

10. The Princess of Prep,  Melissa C. Morris, has been offered several reality shows.  Follow her blog to find out why.  Also, her dog is more famous than Dan Rather.

11. Seasoned journalist Julia Reed,  fromerly of Newsweek and Vogue – now at Taigan, reminded us that writing about a buscuit is not interesting.  Its what happened to you and that biscuit that makes it ineresting.  Writers – don’t forget to write YOUR story.  That’s what people want to hear.

12.  I’d always wondered why I love design*sponge so much.  I enjoy interior design, but its not an obsession like it is for a lot of folks.  During this conference I got my answer.

It’s Grace Bonney.  She is smart as a whip. Engaging.  Challenging.  A visionary.  And she’s knows how to get stuff done.  Even better – she’s willing to teach you how to get stuff done too!  MAKE SURE to check out Biz Ladies tomorrow for her Lavish! presentation.  You can thank me later.

Note to big companies – she does consulting.  Call her.  Pay her.  Reap BIG benefits.

Julia Reed - Note her beautiful green ring

13. Shameeka Ayers – aka the Broke Socialite – told us the next big wave on the Web will be taking your online relationships offline.  After this conference, I couldn’t agree more.  Go to tweet-ups.  Attend conferences.  Engage OFFLINE.  It’s how you’ll form relationships that go the distance.

14.  Ginny Branch Stelling of My Favorite Color is Shiny fame is not one of those artistic people you can’t talk to.  She’s actually really, really nice.  If you can find a way to work with her I know it would enhance your business.

15.  The most tweeted about session was “SPILL IT: All My Best Blogging Tricks Of The Trade” – check out the info on Design Blahg and Sketch 42.

That’s my list.  Lavish peeps – what did I forget?  Would love to hear your insider info too.

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Such good advice from Seth Godin today, I had to post a quote. This is the end of his Halloween blog post:

My take: Marketing home runs usually happen because the market/tribe/community is itching for a void to be filled, not because a marketer committed some brilliant act of promotion or pricing. The art, then, is to pick your niche, not to freak out about how to yell about it. You can’t make a perfect storm, but you can find one.



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Due the popularity of Chris Spiek’s original post, I’ve asked him to come back to give us some more Twitter advice.  This is Part Two of a three-part series.  To read Part One, A Crash Course on Twitter,  click here.


Twitter & SEO Expert Chris Spiek

There’s a valid fear that many people face when getting started with Twitter that doesn’t usually get a lot of attention:  When I hit the “Tweet” button, where do my Tweets go?

I explored this phobia in a recent conversation with marketing diva, fashionista and entrepreneur Alesya Opelt (Alesya Bags).

Most of us who are heavily involved in Twitter focus on getting the most impact out of each of those 140 characters.  How can I make sure this gets retweeted by the most people? By the most influential people? How can I be sure that this link gets clicked by as many people as possible?

But for people who are first starting out with Twitter, the exact opposite can be true.  It’s no mystery that In everyday conversation, our audience has a tremendous impact on how we deliver messages.  Surrounded by your closest friends, it’s easy to pop-off about your opinions, knowing that you’re in a safe place.  Position yourself in front of a larger audience or a small group of strangers, and usually you need to spend more time  formatting your message.

Applying this same idea to Twitter can be paralyzing.  The idea that whatever 140 characters I choose will be blasted out to the entire universe is hard to grasp.  After all, Twitter now has over 100 million users! They get 180 billion unique visitors each month!  Eeeek!

When you ask people to expand on this fear, they usually explain it as: “I’m only going to Tweet when I have something profoundly interesting or original to say.”

When someone is confronted with this fear, a slow immersion is usually the best way to get over it.  Setup your account and follow people you know in real life, as well as a few thought-leaders in your industry.  For the first few days, start of slow by sending @messages to your friends.  You don’t need to be profound, you’re just sending a note to a friend.

Once you start to get the feel of the conversation, jump in a little deeper and start retweeting (RT) tweets from the thought-leaders that you think are interesting (retweeting is the act of sending a tweet that you think is interesting out to your followers).

When you feel comfortable enough, begin to respond to tweets from thought-leaders with your own opinions and publishing your content (if you’re a blogger/writer).  By this time you’ll be immersed enough to understand the “Twitter Voice” and know how to participate in the conversation.

Think about this process as it relates to a real-world conversation.  You’re much more likely to approach a group of people (and introduce yourself of course), and then get a feel for the tone/tempo/mood of the conversation before you contribute your opinion.  Unless you’re part of the population who is incredibly outspoken, in which case you wouldn’t have had this fear in the first place.

Chris Spiek is a Managing Partner at Awecomm Web Strategies.  He is an integral part of the Detroit Tech scene, an early adopter and recent Mac convert.  To learn more about his SEO strategies and Twitter advice follow him at @chriscbs.  Look for Part Three of his Twitter advice next week.

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