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.

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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?

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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.

SF Opera Tweeters in Da Haus!

If I told you that I just watched a three-hour opera, and live tweeted during the entire time– you’d think that I was nuts! Right? Well, what’s even more nuts is that it was allowed. Cray! Cray!

San Francisco Opera invited 10 people out of 30 applicants to live tweet yesterday during the final dress rehearsal of John Adam’s opera, Nixon In China. They spread the news via their blog, Facebook Post and Tweets. San Francisco Opera BRAVO! Club also joined in spreading the news over their social channels. The application asked for the basics – Name, Email, Twitter and Blog. Plus, they wanted to know if you were part of an arts  organization. As soon as I knew about the program, I filled out my application — about an hour before the deadline. I received an email that evening that I was accepted and instructions on what to do on Tuesday afternoon at the dress rehearsal.

Even though I applaud the SF Opera for doing their Tweet Seat program, it needs a few improvements to reach a larger fan base.

1. Announcement of program:

There are many tech savvy opera-goers who don’t frequently read the SF Opera’s blog or social posts that would have liked to go. Historically, the SF Opera has used print and email marketing as their primary forms of communicating with their patrons. By only publishing the invite on their social media channels, they limited the program’s overall reach. Maybe this was their goal –  limit the reach of the program so they could have a smaller group to work with this time. But, I’m just guessing.

2. What you could or could not share:

Honestly, it played with my mind a lil’ to be able to tweet during a live performance. I usually go to an art performance to simply unplug. The very fact that I was live tweeting inside THE SF Opera house took some time to get accustomed to. However, once the novelty wore off, the tweets took flight. But once that bird had flown, it was hard to restrain it. And, unfortunately I had to show a lot of restraint. We were not allowed to post any photos or videos once the opera started. It took all of my will power not to Instagram or Social Cam during the performance. Apparently, the SF Opera could have been sued if we posted any multimedia of the sets. It’s really too bad that they restricted us to text only. Photos and videos have a greater chance of being shared throughout social networks. This would have helped their overall reach – their main promotional goal. In full disclosure, I did post one photo during the performance and then erased it after some scolding from my online networks. *facepalm*

Once I did get used to this Tweet Seat social experiment, I noticed a few things:

1. Paying attention:

It was difficult to really pay attention to the opera. I was looking for things to tweet, not sitting back to soak in the opera. You can tell in the tweet stream  when all of us were really involved in what was going on stage, because we all stopped tweeting. Madame Mao Tse-tung, played by Hye Jung Lee, had a very powerful and almost pissed off aria during Act 11. All of us stopped tweeting until the aria ended. During the Beijing Opera scene in Act 11, our tweeting stopped in it’s tracks. The dancing was so mesmerizing that I completely forgot everything except the beauty on stage. It’s a good thing it was a final dress rehearsal because I can always go back and see the opera again.

2. Online dialog:

Once we all got over the novelty of tweeting at the opera, we started tweeting with each other. Nixon In China has moments that reminded us of Phillip Glass. Even though John Adams and Phillip Glass are not exactly friends, it made us wonder where else his influence could come from if not his enemy. I personally also tweeted with my online friends about what I was experiencing.

With all that being said, I really enjoyed my Tweet Seats at the opera. They placed us in box seats – smack dab in the middle  – where we could see all the action. I even spotted John Adams and Donato Cabrera in the orchestra watching the performance.

It was also great meeting all my fellow tweeters- Christopher D. Lewis @NewHarpsichord, Alicia Johnson @UrbanAreaAlicia, David Newman @dnsf, John Boitnott @jboitnott, Michael Owens @mko, Susan McConkey @smcconkey, Nancy Roberts @leapingotter, Joseph M. Colombo @JMColombo, Jean Shirk @bean, @SFCV, and Steve Rhodes @tigerbeat.

I was tweeting from my own handle @amywhiggins and for the San Francisco BRAVO! Club @SFOBravoClub.

For a full twitter report- check out #NixonInSF on my Storify here.