Hi!

I live and work in Columbus, OH, but I am available for remote volunteer positions anywhere! I am passionate about helping nonprofits and small businesses succeed.

During the day, I work for a nonprofit engineering consulting firm–which is a pretty darn cool place. I can honestly say that I learn something every single day. On the nights and weekends, I offer Salesforce administration, public relations support, graphic design, copywriting, copyediting, and event planning services to clients in all market sectors.

Check out my work examples and inspirations above. Let’s get to work!

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Read all the books

You’re probably going to hate me for this, but I’m going to tell you anyways.

I read two books a week. A WEEK. And I’m not even in graduate school for literature anymore! And I work full time! And I have an active social life (too active)!

About two years ago, I realized that I had stopped reading after graduate school (because when you’re reading 700+ pages a week, you just need a break). But I’d just stopped. And I didn’t like that, because reading used to be my favorite thing in the world. Two examples: as a kid, I would get in trouble for staying up past midnight, reading under the covers. Eventually, my parents caved and gave me a book lamp so I “wouldn’t ruin my eyes.” Spoiler alert: eyes are ruined anyways. Next example. In second grade, my dislike for my peers grew so intense that I started taking books to recess. The school took my book away to “encourage interaction with other children.” My parents had to call the school to tell them to just give the book back. And you know what? I think I’ve gotten a lot further in life having read books as opposed to having boys chase me around the playground.

Anyhow, onto my book project. First off, I know that I read fast. And no, I don’t listen to books on tape. Not that you shouldn’t–you should do whatever you want. I’m just not a fan of audiobooks or ereaders. I go to the library once a week, get my books, and that’s it.

To keep myself accountable, I’ve joined Goodreads and set a goal of 100 books a year (that feels reasonable– like maybe I’ll read fewer books around the holidays). I also set my library card to keep track of what I read (which I thought it did automatically, but it did not– so I’m definitely missing some books). You can find me on Goodreads here. I’m at 28 books for the year so far- only 5 behind to meet my goal of 100!

Brand Ambassadors (be one)

I have a lot of friends who work for marketing agencies, and I’ve started noticing something– there’s a huge overlap in their personal and professional lives. They don’t just work together, they play together. Happy hours, team building, whatever.

As such, their social media pages are filled with their work– job postings, pictures, thinkpieces, information about the work they’re doing. These employees are the best advertisements a company could ask for. Look, another cool piece finished for a client! Look, another fun outing with my team! Et cetera, et cetera. And all of this accomplishes a few things: one, it makes you want to work there; two, you remember the agency; and three, if you ever need an agency…well, that particular agency has been drilled into your brain (but in a fun, non-pushy way!).

Here’s what I’m getting at. Like it or not, as the workforce becomes increasingly younger, this is the wave of the future. It’s not email marketing–it’s Medium, iTunes podcasts, LinkedIn posts. The younger generation isn’t checking their email, as evidenced by the 59,000 unread emails I just saw on someone’s phone the other day. That person was 24.

And, like it or not, we live in a completely connected society that is increasingly concerned with our “personal brand.” Why do you think I have this site and share the posts on LinkedIn? I’ve defined my personal voice as one that cares about human rights and equality issues, is into digital/new trends, and is

Your employees must be aligned with your personal brand–that is to say, their personal brands need to align with the company’s. Your marketing team must be able to support social media efforts, but frankly, most of this should be happening organically if your company fosters that kind of atmosphere. Tag them in company photos! Tweet at them when they’re at a conference! Teach them to interact with your company, and they’ll learn.

This isn’t exclusive to marketing agencies, though it may seem that way since they’re inundated with young, tech-savvy people. I’m seeing it everywhere– from nurses to law firms. So, are your employees brand ambassadors? And if so, why not…and how can you fix it?

Connecting With Your Why

Last week, I read an article from Entrepreneur.com about ways to improve your life for tomorrow. I keep coming back to the first point– “connect with your why.”

Connecting with your why will help you to increase your energy levels, think more clearly and be able to overcome adversity and setbacks. Your why is the reason you do what you do on a daily basis. It excites you so you can barely sit still. When you discover your life’s purpose, your why, your life will never be the same again. There is no greater advantage than getting connected with your why.

That sounds really nice, right? I want to be so excited that I can barely sit still!

Well, here’s the thing about that. Finding your “why” involves, frankly, a lot of time and effort that most of us don’t want to invest. And I think we live in this world where we are pushed forward, pushed into choosing career paths at 18, and there’s no way that leads to a life that excites you.
purposegraphic

I’ve read several times that your “why,” or your life’s work, or your purpose is seated at the intersection of your passion and your talent–two more things most of us don’t know. What are you really, innately good at? And what do you love to do most–what do you do in your spare time, or what would you do if money weren’t an object? Do you even remember what you like to do? Do you have enough spare time to figure it out? Are you in tune with your surroundings enough that you know what the world needs? All the sudden, this whole “finding your why” is sounding…not easy.

I often ask people if they love what they do; I rarely get good answers. I get things like “Well, I really enjoy talking to people and being helpful.” Or maybe, “Well, I was always really good at math.” Sorry, but I don’t think those people are connected to their why.

Before we had the word job, we had the word vocation. This is a word I really love. It comes for the Latin vocare, which means “to call or summon.” Your vocation is truly your calling. Do you feel that way about the thing you spend 40-60 hours a week doing? Does it engage you fully? More than that, do you feel like you’re contributing to the world  in a meaningful way?

This makes it sound like we all need to be doing Doctors Without Borders. That’s not my point, and also that’s not a sustainable economical model. Take an electrician, for example. The world definitely needs electricians. And let’s go ahead and say that this particular electrician is great at it and gets paid for it. We are 3/4 of the way to finding out the “why,” which is probably more than most of us can say. The “you love it” part of the above diagram is made up of passion and mission. I don’t know enough about electricity to say anything worthwhile about what an electrician enjoys about their job, but I feel like some of them may have pretty good answers for passion and mission.

But passion and mission are the sticking points, aren’t they? Why is it so hard to figure out what you love doing? As Steve Jobs said, “you’ll know when you find it,” which I think is infinitely wise. We have to be open and willing to listen to whatever the world is telling us (and, more importantly, what we’re telling ourselves). That’s scary. Listening to your inner voice can be hard. What’s it saying? What if it’s saying something you don’t want to hear? And worst of all, what if you can’t justify your passion into a plan for a vocation?

Well, no matter. I remember reading something, probably ten years ago, about a guy who wanted to be a writer but knew that he needed insurance and an income in the meantime. So he got a nursing degree and worked contingency. The rest of the time, he wrote. He made it work. He made real time to pursue his passion until he started selling his work. The kicker here is that you’ve got to be self-motivated, but hey. It can work, right? You can connect to your why without quitting your job tomorrow. Stephen King taught in a high school until he sold Carrie. He didn’t just say, “sorry, wife and kids. Gotta connect to my why and stop making a living.” As always, it comes down to living with intention. And, as always, easier said than done–but really worth it.

Can You Improve NOW?

Recently, this article from Entrepreneur.com about ways to improve your life for tomorrow got me thinking about how we go about effecting real change–and, more often than not, how we fail in effecting that change.

The article’s point is that there are things you can do that will almost immediately change your life. My first instinct was that it was total BS, that real change is never immediate. Sure, you can start working out every day, but most of us stop doing that after a few weeks. You can start waking up earlier, but that usually falls by the wayside, too. How do we get change to stick?

Well, if I knew the real answer to that, I would write some pop psychology book and get rich.

The easy answer (well, “easy”) is that you just have to actually be committed to changing. Maybe something has to happen in order to spur you into action. Change requires an inner resolve. If you lack resolve, you’ll never achieve anything. “Just do it,” Nike says. Easier said than done, I say.

The difficult answer is that we’re all motivated differently; moreover, we don’t see results from most efforts to change for a long time. And, as Carol Dweck would say, we’re taught to expect “now” instead of “yet.”

You really should watch that, but in case you didn’t, her basic point is that the word “yet” is very powerful. She references a school in Chicago where if kids don’t pass, they get a “not yet” instead of a “failed.” And this has worked with remarkable success. She talks about the development of a growth mindset as opposed to a mindset that accepts failure. Just by changing the verbiage in low-performing schools, teachers were able to effect amazing change in students in just a few years.

Anyhow, I wonder if that’s how we should go about improving our lives right now–by learning to say “not yet” instead of “never” when “now” doesn’t work out. Sure, the ideas in Entrepreneur.com sound really nice. Taking a gratitude walk is a lovely thing, but who among us is going to do that daily? And yes, we should all be committed to exercise and fitness, but I’m sure as hell not going to the gym every day and I also refuse to give up Taco Bell. The one tip I really like, “get connected with your why,” is something that’s going to take real time, investment, and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight.

This is kind of catch-22. How do we see results from our efforts immediately, but accept that we won’t achieve our goals immediately? I think that’s the power of “yet” that Carol Dwyer is talking about. (Seriously, if you haven’t read Mindset, you really should.) The sad fact of the matter is that it’s really easy to commit ourselves to lofty principles and ideas, but it’s much more difficult to carry out in your daily life. As committed as I am to my life ethos, I fail in some way almost daily. Almost daily! I think of my life mantra: “Live with intention and direction. Love fully. Be busy, but always 1000% present in the moment. And always, always jump with both feet.” I literally fail at that almost every single day in some way. Sometimes I’m really busy and I’m not present for anything. Sometimes I get cold feet and don’t jump at all. But I tell myself that I just haven’t achieved all this yet. That helps. It’s easier to accept that change isn’t immediate, that progress is gradual, that you can remain committed without succeeding daily or immediately or even the majority of the time.

So the short answer, I think, is that you can’t improve your life right now. Not in any meaningful way, and probably not for the long term. But by embracing “yet,” you can take the first step and actually keep going.

Be A Better Writer

Came across this recently:

Because I hate clicking through things on Slideshare, and because some of these tips were obvious/stupid/bad, here are the ones I personally need to think about.

  1. Write whatever you want. Then take out the first paragraph and the last paragraph. Another way of putting this is, as Henry James would say, “kill your darlings.” If you’re so in love with a word or a sentence or a paragraph, kill it. For most people, myself included, those “darlings” include the first and last paragraph.
  2. Write a lot. Practice makes you…a little better than you were before.
  3. Write with the same voice you talk in.
  4. Deliver value with every sentence. Even in a Tweet. Else, be quiet.

    It’s so easy to just ramble. And to not choose your words wisely. It’s like in Dead Poets Society: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”

  5. Use a lot of periods. Forget commas and semicolons. BUT I LOVE SEMICOLONS.
  6. Be honest. Tell people the stuff they all think but nobody ever says. This is one of those obvious tips, but it’s the hardest one to follow. 
  7. Make people cry. Make them feel the potent moments. Again, obvious. This is every writer’s goal, right? All I want to do is reduce someone to tears! 
  8. Write every day. Writing is spiritual practice. You are diving inside yourself and cleaning out the toxins.
  9. Bleed in the first line. Make it human.
  10. Don’t write if you’re upset at someone. Then the person you are upset at becomes your audience.
  11. Risk. Don’t stop writing until you’re afraid to hit publish.
  12. Time heals all wounds. Write about the hard stuff from the past. I don’t think that time heals all wounds (re: the Dixie Chicks, “They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting”). But I don’t think the best time to write is after you healed. It’s when the wound is still raw. Though I guess I would argue for anyone in the creative field, wounds stay raw forever. 
  13. Don’t ask for permission. You don’t need anyone’s permission to tell the truth/your truth. 
  14. The last line needs to go boom! UGH. But at least last lines are easier for me than first lines. 

Reactive marketing

A phrase I hear around the office a lot is “reactive marketing.” What does this mean? Well, to me, it means that it’s marketing without a plan–marketing that does what’s asked, but lacks strategy.

Example: Department X needs a flier. Marketing makes the flier. Done!

That’s reactive marketing in a nutshell. Another level of reactive marketing…

Example: Company B just released a YouTube video. WE NEED A YOUTUBE VIDEO RIGHT NOWWWWWW!

Ugh.

Proactive marketing, of course, is easier said than done. It’s led by marketing, not by other departments or individuals, and requires marketing managers to look in advance–ideally a year or more–to plan the department’s needs…and, most importantly, anticipate the needs of other departments.

This requires communication, but it also requires marketing to understand what the organization’s goal is. Is it a better distributed pipeline? Is it to gain leads? Is it to educate the organization’s audience? Is it to gain an audience? (Wait, do you know who your audience is?)

Depending on the overall goal, proactive marketing can look vastly different between organizations. Too often, marketing is lumped together as simply communicating what the organization does– we create flyers, advertisements, press releases, etc with the mindset of conveying information. That will always be a necessity, but it shouldn’t be the majority of what you do. Define your audience and goal, then work from there. I like to use a monthly calendar that maps out any events/conferences/trade shows, and let that inform my marketing materials and PR. Just pick a starting point!

It’s all too easy to let the economy or competitors lead you into the realm of reactive marketing, unfortunately. And even the best laid plans can go awry, as we all know. Just because your competitor does something doesn’t mean you have to copy it, though human nature tells us otherwise. Though your first few stabs at a truly proactive marketing plan may need reworked, I would encourage you to make marketing a more involved aspect in other departments via your proactive plan.

Want more on proactive marketing? I like this article.