3 Fun Ways to Respond on Social Media

My social media use can sometimes be compulsive and an uncontrolled consumption on a daily basis. What can I say, I’m a social mediaholic.

But for others, responding to social media isn’t always that easy. What if you have nothing to say? What if you can’t think of a witty response to tweet? Well, who says you have to say anything? Why not let pictures say what you can’t? After all, pictures can say 1000 words+.

Here are a fun examples of how you to respond on  social media:

1. Respond with a selfie

The Oxford Dictionary defines a selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media.”

Don’t know what to say? Respond with a selfie, and show others what you think!

My favorite example is how my pal, Spencer, uses a selfie diptic to express his feelings. Like this one:

2. Respond with a meme

I know this is another oldie, but goodie. Memes have taken over the innerwebz, especially with pop culture, politics, kids and of course cats! So, there’s not a shortage of memes to pick from, but if you can’t find one, just make one — try Cheezburger or MemeGenerator.


3. Respond with a song

Well, of course you could record a song and send it to them. However, I always like to send a link to song as a response. It can create a funny dialog, and you get to know each other’s musical tastes in a hurry.

For example, here’s the dialog I recently had on Twitter with an event company in Seattle:

What fun ways do you respond to others on social media? Let me know by commenting below our respond to me on Twitter.

Let Email Work For You, Not The Other Way Around

When it comes to email, we all know the basics. However, not everyone understands how to use email efficiently to prevent it from becoming a constant distraction or sometimes even an annoyance.

A few simple tips to help free yourself from email:

Schedule Time to Email

Think about your work email. Can you count on one hand how many times a day you check it? If you are like me, that’s not possible. With access to email now in your back pocket or even on your bedside table, it’s easy to check your email anywhere, anytime. Add to the fact that many email programs have email notifications and we are continuously tied to our email.

It’s time to gain your freedom from email. Try scheduling a couple times in the day to check and reply to your email. I would suggest morning and afternoon — just try not to schedule it first thing in the morning, so you can focus a bit in the morning on more challenging and productive tasks. The hardest part for me is NOT checking my email from my phone — especially first thing in the morning while still in bed.

Turn off email notifications

Notifications are everywhere these days. The world is so hyper-connected; it’s now almost too connected, with too much noise. Optimize your day and improve your focus by turning off your email notifications both on your desktop and mobile device.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish without constant interruptions.

How to reply

Even though people appreciate fast replies, it’s not generally expected. I have friends and co-workers whom all like to sit down and catch up on emails over the weekends, sometimes at 2AM. Do I think they want a quick reply, especially at the wee hours of the morning? Nope. Then, why would it be the same during business hours?

Tip: If you email someone and expect a quick reply, type when you need a reply in the subject line.

Set proactive guidelines

Setting guidelines for email replies may seem trivial, but it’s absolutely necessary in creating productive lines of communication. For example, a 24 hour window for replies, depending on your business, sets expectations for sending and receiving emails. You can also put your email guidelines in your signature. For example, state that you return emails within a certain time frame or if the matter is urgent, ask people to call you directly.

Also, if you don’t need a reply, and the email is for informative reasons only, try placing “FYI” in the subject line. That way people can read the email in a timely fashion without the expectation of needing to reply. In addition, if you do in fact need a reply within a certain time frame, state that either in your email or on the subject line.

Email is a part of our daily life. It’s time to make it work for us, not against our productivity.

I’d love to know what tactics and tools you use to help manage your emails. Let me know by commenting below.

Learning The Language of Your Customers and Coworkers

Welcome to the fifth blog of my 30-day blogging project. Warning! All of the blogs for this project will be posted unedited, unfiltered.

Like any relationship, your employment can have a language in and of itself. Every company can come with a completely different set of acronyms and tonality. There are even particular phrases and words that are unique to that company. So, I started wondering, how has my employment, both past and present changed they way I speak? Just like my skill set, has my vernacular changed over the years because of my employment?

Flashback time…. waynes-world_o_GIFSoup.com_

Mission Capable

A few years ago, I worked for an outdoor apparel design company where 80% of our customers were military, either veterans or current. And, 100% of our customers were avid outdoor enthusiasts. My vernacular changed dramatically.  Everything was very serious, so serious, and very male in tone. For example, I don’t think I ever used the word “love” on any of our communications. (Yeah, like most men use the word love to describe anything, never-the-less an eight-inch titanium folder with Teflon coated bearings.) Trying to write for an avid outdoor survival extremist took some getting used to, that’s for sure. My language became very mission capable and masculine, so much so that many of  our customers were surprised once they learned I was female. During my time at this company, my editorial development taught me to reach your customer, you need to put yourself in their shoes and talk as they do.

urban_dictionary_smmagUnderstanding the Language of Teenagers

I knew thought that UrbanDictionary would become my best friend, but while working for an app company we became besties. The app was a mobile-first company — everything we did was on mobile, for mobile, by mobile. Most of our customers were teenagers. I learned how to communicate with them not only on social networks, but in-app through our service, ads, and customer service. Not only did my writing style have to change, but my search inquiries also had to change. I mean it’s kinda hard to listen to the conversations around your company if you don’t understand the language of your customer. After a few months, my personal vocabulary changed so much that my favorite word became “Awesome”. Like, I know, how awesome is that? If I learned one thing here, it was to fully listen to your customer, you need to understand their language and all of its idioms.

The Goog — the Land, the Myth, The Legend

The internal language of Google changed my vocabulary more than the language of our product’s customer base. After all, we had a HUGE customer base. The Goog has a language all of its own. With a company the size of a small country, how could it not? Like most tech companies, all of our beta products had their own secret names. The names were all very light-hearted, fun and still purpose-built, hence the company culture. Plus, the Goog has its own internal terminology to describe groups of people. For example, I was a Tattogoogler since I’m heavily tattooed. Also, we never called it Google. It was The Goog, not to be mistaken for the Borg. It tlook me a while to learn all the internal dialogue. But once I did, I guess I could hold an entire conversation just using the company’s internal language. How 007.

urlAcronyms — The New ABCs

Today, I work for a B2B tech company that helps business manage their expenses, travel and invoicing through automated solutions. My biggest learning curve here was learning all the internal acronyms. Going from mainly B2C companies to B2C was challenging enough, but add our internal company dialogue, and I learning another language altogether. The most difficult part of the language for me is that they way our company talks internally is quite different than the way our end user speaks. I deal with small and medium sized businesses. Yes, we all talk about ROI and productivity, but in different ways. This has shown me that no matter how you talk about solutions internally, it won’t matter if you can’t speak the language of the consumer.

So, what has this all taught me?

Well, the three takeaways for me are:

  1. The ONLY way to reach your customer is to learn their language and culture.
  2. Internal company language is quite different than external. Never the two shall meet.
  3. Your experiences change not only your skill level but your vocabulary.

There’s more than one language at your job. Understanding the value of the language of your co-workers and customers, even though they can be different, can help in your communications, both past, present and future.

I’d love to hear how your job, past or present, has changed your vocabulary. Let’s continue this conversation in the comments below.

How To Politely Say No?

Welcome to the forth blog of my 30 day blogging project. Warning! All of the blogs for this project will be posted unedited, unfiltered.

Today’s blog is more of a rant than anything else.

I just returned last week from a work related conference. My pocket is full of business cards from all the wonderful people I met, and my mind is spinning with new information and techniques. Then, I get bombarded with the sales calls — some of which I have asked for them to reach out and others where I have no idea who they are. They overwhelm me and frankly just put a bad taste in my mouth. I realize that from a lead generation perspective that an event is a great place to generate new leads, but contacting them should be done with a sense of class and consideration. So I ask, how do we improve this new generation of the door-to-door sales guy in the digital age?

One guy called me this morning at 8 AM my time. He called my personal cell number too. Oh the humanity! Did he not realize that I was on my way to work? And my cell? Geez! He also emailed me, but never referenced the phone call. #Fail.

Then there’s the company, who shall remain nameless, who continue to reach out to me even though I have told them no. I have zero interest in giving them any business because they have personally treated their employees like crap – a few of whom are my friends. Can they not put two and two together? I mean after all, I was first introduced to them by their now ex-employees. Two words people – relationships matter!

And last but not least there’s the company that ceases to stop bombarding me with meeting requests. I have politely said no, I don’t have the time to look at their service. I hate to be rude, but sometimes it seems like rudeness is the only way to go.

I am very honest with businesses I am working with already. Sometimes, I have to wait on others to make the call, and I tell them that. So why can’t I be brutally honest with those that I would never even suggest hiring? Do I need to be rude?

If I could and really cared enough to, I would just hand all of these people over to lead generation and CRM solutions. Maybe there’s a form letter I could send as a reply that would direct people how to approach sales’ leads — a how to do it right.

Something like:

Dear annoying sales person,

Please look up not only what I do, but where I am located BEFORE you reach out to me. You have started out on the wrong foot by calling me early in the morning or continuing to reach out to me when I politely declined your meetings. You have treated others in the past like dirt, so why would I want to hire you just to be treated the same way. Look into a CRM or another lead scoring tool – believe me, they exist- before you try to land my business. Now, I politely ask for you to leave me alone.



If you could craft a form letter to respond to this type of annoying sales calls, what would it say?

Embracing Your Mistakes

Welcome to the third blog of my 30 day blogging project. Warning! All of the blogs for this project will be posted unedited, unfiltered.

I remembered when I colored out of the lines for the first time, and thought, “oh no!” However, my very next thought was, “Oh Boy!” So today in my work, I’m constantly wondering when is it ok to go outside the lines. When is it ok to be that kid again and say “Oh Boy!” more. Maybe, I shouldn’t wonder so much, but instead just learn how to go with the flow and embrace my mistakes.

This past weekend while I was out with friends, my phone starting taking weird photos. If I colored in the lines, I would get angry — damn phone, messing up again. But, because I like to embrace mistakes, I was more mesmerized by the cool f*cked up photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So in short, this weekend my phone taught me to be that little kid again. Take a moment to step back, look at a mistake and learn from it. Embrace it.

Mistakes, another form of inspiration. Maybe?

What mistake have you embraced lately?

Inspiration Does Not Respond to Meeting Requests

Welcome to the second blog of my 30 day blogging project. Warning! All of the blogs for this project will be posted unedited, unfiltered.

InspirationWe all have them, meetings. Sometimes, we even have meetings about more meetings. Oh the pain, make it stop!

Then, we have brainstorming meetings to create ideas and inspiration. However, when was the last time inspiration responded to a meeting request? Um…never! So why do we count on meetings to find inspiration?

I’ve been thinking a lot about where to find this so-called inspiration. I asked my friends, listened to content marketing experts like Jay Baer and dazed into my cat’s eyes for deep insight. (Ok, maybe my cat had little to say, but she’s so fluffy, I couldn’t help it.)

Great places my friends find inspiration:

  • In nature, especially water.  – S B Hadley Wilson
  • In a bottle. 🙂
  • I usually find it in creative projects that invariably demand lots of perspiration. – Kenneth W.
  • In the creativity of other people – Adam Helweh
  • Mood, oddly enough, is commonly the starting palette. From there… extraneous influence. Who or what it could be… depends on the moment. – Marc Morris 
  •  At home drinking tea, burning incense and listening to classical music. – Melodi C.
  • Friends. – Sukhjit Ghag
  • Megadeth – Jason Miller
  • Between inspects and inspirational in the dictionary. – Jason L.
  • At the risk of sounding trite, it most often finds me. Abruptly! – Al-x
  • … pinterest – Shana Bull
  • In Cleveland OH – Kristin Wyke
  • Inspiration is serendipitous so I try to diversify my experiences. – Evy Wilkins
  • My dogs, walking to work from the ferry, talking to my mom, going for a run, watching people at a bar, looking at old photos. – Erin Robbins O’Brien
  • Venn Diagrams are the best. Adding, subtracting & intersecting different concepts is a great way to tap golden inspiration. – Nick Kellet
  • I also find SlideShare is a great source. I try to read broadly, but find Tweetchats are also a great source of inspiration. – Nick Kellet
  • My wife & daughter. Music. Pop culture disasters. – Andy Levey
  • I always say if you are seeking inspiration find new music and new experiences. – Eva Crawford
  • When I work on the head, I look at the feet. Giacometti
  • Either look so deeply at your subject the familiar that it becomes strange. OR look everywhere else. – James Buckhouse
  • Nature, early morning, silence, reading, the simple little things, and meditation usually do it for me! – Grace Boyle

My top places to find inspiration:

  • My family (past and present)
  • My friends
  • While taking a walk through the park
  • At the museum
  • Kids — their perspectives and views about life are so enlightening.
  • Comedy shows
  • Listening to all types music
  • Music lyrics
  • Crowdsourcing
  • In the shower
  • Pop culture
  • Watching people interact
  • My cats
  • Reading — blogs, news, really anything…
  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Science
  • Other cultures
  • And yes, even while in the bathroom 🙂

Where do you find inspiration?

Let us know by commenting below.

30 Day Blogging Project – Unedited, Unfiltered

tumblr_mc1ykmm9MN1r2rxthWelcome to the first blog of my 30 day blogging project.

Warning! All of the blogs for this project will be posted unedited, unfiltered.

One of my key take aways from Content Marketing World is that the work I do for my job is great, but I could use work on my personal blog and content marketing. I mean, why can I help promote a business, but not myself? I rarely blog for my own personal channels since I craft, write, edit and promote 2 – 5 blogs a week for work. I mean, I can write…right?

So, in the effort to write more and judge myself less, I am doing a project starting today to blog for 30 days — everyday. One of my main issues is that I write my own blogs, but never publish them. I guess I’m just too judgement on myself. So welcome to my unedited, unfiltered blog!

Please enjoy (and don’t judge me on my lack of great spelling or grammar).

Saved by BRAVO! Club’s Opening Night Gala

Last night, over 300 BRAVO! Club members dawned their fanciest dresses and crispest tuxes to celebrate San Francisco Opera’s opening night  in style at the annual BRAVO! Gala. The evening was anything but ordinary for BRAVO!’s 21-40 year old opera patrons. Normally, the evening begins with a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner in City Hall. However, in order to reduce the evening’s ticket price, BRAVO! spiced things up a bit by a change of venue to The Veteran’s Building (located next to the opera house) and by not doing a seated dinner. BRAVO!’s Board of Directors were a little hesitant that their members would be ok with such big drastic changes. However, with the rising cost of well everything, BRAVO! wanted to make sure their members could party like it was 1999 without having to break the bank—and party they did!

The evening began in the lobby of the Veteran’s Building with a two-hour cocktail social complete with tons of tasty morsels. Judging from all of the photo taking, clinking of champagne flutes and laughter, no one even noticed that there wasn’t a seated dinner. We chatted it up and admired everyone in their finest attire without being restricted to a time frame or their seat. It was just what we all wanted—time to catch up and meet new friends.

At little before 8PM, the party moved to the Opera House to see the opening production of Rigoletto. For me, this was definitely the low light of the entire evening. I always enjoy watching everyone come into the opera house all dressed up to the max, but there were private parties going on in all of my best viewing spots. I bet the bum begging for change in the middle of Van Ness had a much better view than I could find inside the opera house.

Eric’s catching up on the plot before the opera.

Once I took my seat with my dearest friends, we couldn’t stop talking about the twisted, drama filled story of Rigoletto. We were excited about the staging, costumes and most importantly the singing. But our excitement soon turned to disappointment once the curtain opened. The opening act seemed to take over 10 minutes for everyone to be on the same timing. And, instead of “new designer gowns came Michael Yeargan’s 15-year-old, fourth-run production; Harry Silverstein’s dismayingly unimaginative block staging; almost-there singing; and oft-thrilling conducting that rarely succeeded in lighting fire in the principals’ bellies.” via SFCV. I couldn’t wait to hear an aria that torn at my heart-strings and made me remember why I love Rigoletto so much. I’m still waiting…

Thank goodness the evening was saved by BRAVO!’s after party. We ventured back to the Veteran’s Memorial building and upstairs to the fabulously decorated, awe-inspiring Green Room.  Gala co-chairs Ileana Facchini and Eva Binda did a fabulous job kicking up the glitz and glamour of the Green Room. I’m sure there wasn’t one jaw that didn’t drop upon arriving for the after party. Lola, one of BRAVO!’s Board members, said that “it was an amazing evening with a beautiful ambiance throughout”. There were plenty of places to chill out with a group or make out with your loved one in private.

Sweets were in abundance, including mini-cupcakes thanks to Jen’s Desserts, and libations were flowing all night long thanks to the delicious wine from Black Stallion and Irony.

Barclay and Marie tearin’ it up on the dance floor

Usually in the past at BRAVO!’s Gala, it takes a while for the dancing to kick into full swing, but that was not the case last night. The dance floor was packed from the first ten minutes of the after party to the wee hours of the morning thanks to DJ Rukus from SF and DJ DK from LA.

Around 1AM, DJ Rukus took us all back to our prom with Six-Mix-A-Lot and other great hits from the 90s. Part of me wonders if we will all be grooving to Baby Got Back when we are in our 90s. Even a few Opera Guild party goers came over to our Gala because (and I quote) ours was better.

Can’t wait until next year’s BRAVO! Club Gala!

Glitz, Glamour, Gala: Kicking Off the 21st Annual Opening BRAVO! Gala in Style

Last Thursday on August 16th, the San Francisco Opera’s BRAVO! Club officially kicked off the 21st Annual Opening Gala under  the glitz and glamor of The CODE Saloon and The Factory Label.  Over 150 BRAVO! Gala ticket holders and their guests were invited to celebrate this year’s Gala in style.

The party was off the hook with glamor on not only one, but two levels of style. Upstairs at the  hip CODE Salon, guests mixed and mingled throughout the entire salon. CODE pushed their hair and makeup stations aside to make room for a dance floor where everyone could  get down to the funky beats by DJ Kirill. Forget about washing your hair— the shampoo room was turned into a wine tasting room, complete with the fabulous Jody Harris, from Cultivar Wines, serving up their 2011 Cultivar Sauvignon Blanc and their 2009 Cultivar Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Go figure that it was the most popular place to be during the party. I really enjoyed kicking my heels off and lounging on the shampoo “bed” to sip wine and chat with friends. How Romanesque of me.

Downstairs at The Factory Label, guests could taste wine for Cass Winery. Lisa was on hand to tell us all about the winery’s selection of wonderful bridals. My favorite was their Rockin’ One Red which combined Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre to achieve the ultimate depth and complexity in only one glass. Fashion designer Zoe Hong was on site with some of her glamorous evening gown designs to chat with guests about how to make a stylish statement at the Gala.  BRAVO! member Barbara Calaba was even lucky enough to win a gift certificate from The Factory Label to go towards getting her own Zoe Hong gown created especially for  her. I can’t wait to see what she has made!

Everyone had a blast! BRAVO! member Sia Charonis even says, “As I mingled with all of the guests at the gala kick off party in the chic setting of the Code Salon set against the backdrop of the beautifully designed gowns featured at the Factory, I couldn’t help but get so excited about the fun, fashion, and festivities that are yet to come on opening night at the BRAVO! Gala!” Where as Kendra told us that “it was a glamorous night, looking at the sketches done by Zoe, and getting pumped up for Gala. The excited energy in room was palpable, and everyone was in high spirits. It bodes well for what kind of night Gala will be.”

This party even continues on until the Gala on September 7th. Nine BRAVO! members won gift certificates from CODE Salon to get styles for the Gala with hair and makeup. Ms. Danica Barron, Ms. Amy Hagelin, Ms. Jennifer Wong, Miss Celine Wei, Mrs. Sally Yu, Ms. Kendra Livingston, Mrs. Filiz Caglayan Yurdutemiz, Ms. Rita Tan and Ms. Monika Shaham with BRAVO! board members, Ileana and myself, will get primped for the Gala thanks to CODE .However, the glitz is not just happening at CODE. BRAVO! member, Susana Reyes, won a Beauty Bash where she can invite seven of her friends to join her in a beauty makeover thanks to Benefit Cosmetics. Look for all of us at the Gala— we will be the ones with the most glamorous hair and makeup.

View all the photos from the Kick Off Party here on BRAVO!’s Facebook Page.

See y’all at the Gala!

About BRAVO! 

San Francisco Opera’s BRAVO! CLUB is a group of young adults dedicated to building a new audience for San Francisco Opera. Founded in 1991, BRAVO! CLUB has an annual membership of over 500 Bay Area professionals and hosts a variety of educational and performance-related events in support of San Francisco Opera. If you enjoy opera, or have always wanted to learn more, BRAVO! CLUB offers you a chance to experience San Francisco Opera with other arts lovers aged 21–40.

Photo credit: Michael O’Donnell of Zat Photo

How To Pick a SXSW Panel

It’s that time of year again when all your friends start pleading for SXSW panel votes.
They need your vote since voting counts for 30% of the overall vote for each panel being chosen to be at SXSW. I know 30% doesn’t sound like a lot, but it certainly does help.

First things first, a SXSW Panel Picker Primer . With three simple tips:

1. Get registered – In order to vote, you have to register. This means you must go to THIS LINK and sign up. It’s simple. Just your name and an email address – but it is a two-step process. You fill that form out, hit “submit” and then they send you an email with a verification code that you must click in order to activate your account and be able to vote.

2. No it doesn’t carry over 
– If you registered last year that doesn’t matter. The system does not save profiles year to year so even if you voted/registered last year you must still register this year to vote.

3. It’s not just about volume – yes, getting tons of “thumbs up” votes is important. It is equally if not more important to get *quality* votes. What does that mean? It means you need to (and encourage others to) post comments on the submission indicating WHY you think it’s a great addition to the program. Things like – you’ve seen the speaker before, you are interested in the content etc… IMPORTANT TO NOTE: the commenting system on the SXSW site is run by a company called Disqus (pronounced – Discuss). In order to post a comment you need to log in via one of the myriad social network options there. Easiest is probably Facebook though the Twitter integration is solid too.

Instructions above thanks to the lovely Cathy Brooks.

If you need help deciding, here are my favorite panels: (Of course, I’ll start with my own)
Hey A-hole, Stop Calling Yourself a Guru

Panel: Amy HigginsEvan Hamilton, & Erin Robbins O’Brien

And here are a few of my  favorites that I have voted for so far:

Shut Up & Breathe: Meditation & Storytelling FTW! This panel is presented by the rhythmic and lovely Cathy Brooks. Watch her video below to see what I mean:

From Crowdsourced Film to Social Movement

Curation + Crowdsourcing + Creation = Love

PR for Startups

Three’s Not a Crowd for Startup Founding Teams

Distribution or Death: How Publishers Can Survive

The End of Trolls? New Ideas of Online Identity

Exit Fragmentation, Here Comes The New Social

Tactics of App Distribution Hackers & Cartels

Real Talk: The Social Customer Shift

DIY App Publishing and the SXSW Community Cookbook

A few more to add to the list…

The X Factor: Women Innovators

Connective Consciousness: Influencer Back Channels

The Future of Porn

The Alchemy Economy: A $300B Craving for Change

Open Sourcing Accelerator for Social Impact

Chicks Making Out: Monetizing Niche Content

How to Find the Co-Founder of Your Dreams

Super Fly Super Fans. Super Success Stories.

Solving the Pandora Problem.

Social Discovery or Online Dating, Who Will Win?

Social Surgery: Live Streaming the Operating Room

Edited August 22nd.

Check out these awesome Community Manager focused panels (of course in addition to my own listed above):

People and things: Why visual social networks work

Panel: Matthew Knell, Katy Kelley, Katie Richman, & Katie Morse

Are Community Managers the New Influencers?

Panel: Christina Hug, Saul Colt, Justin Isaf, & Tine Thygesen

Community Management: Beyond the News Feed

Panel: Spencer Rinkus, Peter Slutsky, Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, & Laura Gluhanich

When Sh*t Hits the Fan: An Online Crisis Drill

Panel: David Krejci, Aaron Miller, & Lauren Melcher

Myth Busting: Creating a Viral Video

Panel: Bettina Hein, Eduardo Tobon, & John Duffield

Tricks of the Trade: Grow Unity in Your Community

Panel: Kat Mandelstein, Jessica Murray, Joyce Davis, Michael Bepko

Edited August 28th
Open Sourcing Accelerators for Social Impact

Panel: Diane Bisgeier and Pascal Finette

Feel free to add yours in the comments below.