Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Limit Your Consumption and Instantly Feel Better

credit fine artist Samuel Carter
When most people talk about consumption or cutting back from it, often times they are talking about physical "stuff."  In the last 24 months, I have limited that type of consumption in my life and I am looking forward to pushing ahead with less "stuff" weighing me down. My theme for 2014 was "unencumbered" which loosely means not weighed down or burdened.

Just as the new year rolled in, I read something from a Fast Company list of the most productive people that struck me.  Founder and CEO of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya said this: "...as the business grows, you get more attention, and then you realize that the whole world is trying to get time from you. Which is amazing. But every time you give it to the world, you give less to what you're doing."

I read Hamdi's comments as this - the more you consume energy, attention or anything that sucks your time away from your purpose, the less time you give to your purpose. Instantly, I was challenged to be a better steward of what I consumed mentally.

That's right, content, news, articles, blogs, commentaries, op-eds,  - I had to figure out how to better consume information.

We live in a time where you could literally lose a day "catching up" on the headlines from around the world or just in your neighborhood.  You could get lost and go down a rabbit hole of the vast number of opinions of one single Oscar speech or comment: Read Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech and subsequent comments or Sean Penn's insensitive off-the-cuff remark on the Best Director winner's immigration status that have lit up the internet in the last 48 hours.

As a wife, mom, business owner and public servant, there is only so much time in a day. We are all afforded the same amount of time. Yet, I was feeling like I had less and less until I made a conscious decision to limit what I take in. My alarm started as 2014 was winding down and the barrage of shocking and sad news stories on injustice and racial tensions just became too much. Couple that with our own battle of injustice within our family, I just withdrew.

And I felt an immediate change in my disposition. My emotional fortitude was instantly boosted. For we are not designed to consume what we consume these days. All the news  - good or bad. All the opinions about that news. All the reactions to those opinions or news.  In order for me to do all I am called to do in this world, I've had to build a discipline around priorities. That is especially hard for the voracious reader in me but it had to be done.

I challenge you to join me in limiting your consumption of content. You will instantly see a change in your life when limit what you allow your mind and heart to consume.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2 Ways To Stay Unshakable While All Trembles Around You

As 2014 closed and I narrowed in on my theme for 2015, I had no idea exactly how applicable this year's theme was going to be.


Several online dictionaries define unshakable as not easily panicked or upset and strongly felt and unable to be changed. When I think about the highs and lows, me and my family has already experienced in the last six weeks of this very young year, it's no wonder unshakable was the word that felt best to assign to this year.

Regardless the circumstances, the ability to stay focused and move toward our best good is imperative. But one must first define "best good" in order to live and thrive in shaky times. We have to be clear on what the "end game" is in order to stay on task toward it. And we must have coping strategies in place to buoy us through rough terrain.

Defining The End Game

One of my intentions for 2015 is to be an unshakable force for good in our world. That is pretty lofty but I've got it broken down into a few key areas - first, my home. I identified what I must do to be a force for good with those I do life with most closely. Second,  I laid out what I can do to be a force for good in my work. Be it current clients or potentials, I teamed with my partners and contractors to list ways Relationships can add value in 2015 in ways we had not in the past. Finally, in my extracurricular activities - I clearly sought ways to add value in my volunteer and other commitments. That examination prompted me to let go of some commitments to which I could no longer devote my best talents and/or attention. Having a clear "end game" in all areas of life has made it easier to face the ups and downs that have come my way in all areas in this young year. And while I feel tossed and turned, my resolve to remain an unshakable force for good is one of the things that keeps me going.

Build Coping Strategies For Tough Times

The biggest surprise of 2015 so far for me was just how depleted my personal coping mechanisms are for extremes. The past few years have been relatively uneventful for both my family and my business. With my business growing rapidly and finally finding a rhythm, it was getting easier to integrate Relationships Matter Now with the rest of my life.  However, as our family dynamic has changed (kids moving from kiddie to pre-teen and teen years - normal marital drift - elderly parent care pressures) during the same time period, it has become clear that we do not have adequate support systems in place to buoy us when things are rough - primarily me. We have operated in a silo with little to no external systems to help when we hit icy patches in the road. We are currently course correcting but I find it helpful to share what I think is necessary. Having several outlets for perspective gathering - groups of friends to listen and encourage. Dedicated time to unplug and recharge. Without that, our minds race and interrupt sleep and creativity when you most need them both.  Getting outside impartial help - be a coach, counselor or therapist. Sometimes you cannot just muscle through.

Each day I am realizing that being unshakable does not mean not reaching out for help or vocalizing what's shaking us. In fact, casting out fear of all kinds is part and parcel for being unshakable. Nothing casts out fear more than facing it down with the support of many around you. So when you see me tweeting anything that ends with my #2015Unshakable hashtag - remember the 2 things that enable me to stay unshakable in 2015.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Marketing Wins SuperBowlXLIX‬: Why This Year's Ads Were Among Best Ever

The "dead" boy from the Nationwide Super Bowl ad
Marketing won this Super Bowl by leaps and bounds. The murmurings over the last 16 hours have proven that my profession is on it's game.

The vast majority of commoners have complained that this was "the worst year of ads, ever."

"There were some funny ones but overall, bleh."

"Not impressed at all."

That sampling of comments was pulled directly from my personal Facebook feed last night. Yet, social media was a buzz talking about all the "bad ads." Guys, that's a win.

I was proud of my marketing brethren last night. The overall tone and vibe from this year's crop of Super Bowl ads was on the money. From Nationwide's "Make Safe Happen," to Coke's "Make It Happy" and the various brands odes to "dad," marketers were clearly taking a cue from the overall vibe on our planet today.

We need to stop being mean to one another.

We need to recognize the contributions of some unspoken, but vital players in life.

We need to have conversations on tough topics at inconvenient times.

Nothing good is every accomplished without great relations between humans.

The very cornerstone of my work and clearly, something major brands paying insane dollars to communicate with us understand.  These are not the materialistic 1980s nor the Wall Street glorifying 1990s - we are in an era of owning what's going on. Be it race relations in America or religious intolerance here and abroad, people are looking at every thing differently, more thoughtfully. And if they are not, then, they should be and big brands told the world so last night.

We own what planet we pass on to our children. If we are responsible enough to keep them alive, thanks Nationwide.

We have the choice to continue the patterns we see on the internet. Or we can be the positive images of change we want, thanks Coca-Cola.

We can make sure both parents are idolized and break the self-fulfilling prophecy that honoring one somehow diminishes the other. It's OK to love, esteem and honor dad as much as mom, thanks Toyota, Nissan and who ever I missed that made a point to showcase dad last night.

It's OK to be silly sometimes. Thanks Skittles.

Owing and pursuing your dream matters. Thanks GoDaddy and American Family Insurance for honoring dreamers and entrepreneurs.

We have an obligation to use technological advances to benefit every body. Thank you, Microsoft for the reminder.

The tone and overall vibe last night was very different than its been in recent years but it is a reflection of what's going on in the world today. Gone was the gratuitous and over the top celebrity hocking. Celebrities were used sparingly but powerfully. More every day people like you and me were part of this year's ads. We were not forced to feel like we were not pretty nor handsome enough to be part of this world party. We were challenged to not just sit and absorb messages, we were shocked into speaking about topics that we often ignore. We were jolted from the comfort of our parties and celebrations to see that we have a responsibility as citizens of this planet. We were told it's not gonna happen without us, we must participate.  I woke up proud to be part of a community that was daring enough to tell us stories we needed to hear. Kudos to brands for having the courage not to just hock products to us but to attempt to make our world a better place through powerful and expensive messages.

And thanks to the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks for an exciting game in between my favorite marketing event of every year.