Category Archives: Advice That Nobody Wants But I’m Handing It Out For Free Anyway

I’ve been busy. Sue me.

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I spend the most time with my cat. I wonder what that says about me? Also, I’m pretty sure there’s a life lesson in here somewhere but I’m too tired to spell it out.

Let’s make it rain money!

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Despite the fact that I’ve been a terrible blogger these past few months, I am diligently developing my consulting business – mostly because I like keeping the lights on and food in the fridge. I promise I’ll have real posts coming soon but in the meantime take a look at my updated website and “like” my new Facebook page – it’s almost as though I have a real business or something. I must be an adult!

Maintaining Social Responsibility In A Social Media World

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Some of you may have seen the latest viral video making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter. It targets Ugandan rebel leader, Joseph Kony, and aims to use social media as a means to capture and try him as a war criminal in the International Criminal Court.

Invisible Children caters to our national instinct to form impressions based on an emotional response. Whether you agree with the discourse on the subject matter, there is little controversy over the effectiveness of the video as a marketing tool, as evidenced by the fact that the video has garnered millions of views in the span of days.

I think the real question is how this will change nonprofit’s tools in the social media realm. As the hashtag, #Kony2012 continues to trend and bring awareness to an issue many Americans have never heard about, how will this change our dialogue?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of nonprofit and governmental agencies of all sizes and scope focusing their time and resources on Africa, and in particular, Uganda. These agencies provide services ranging from housing, food security, education, to entrepreneurship. Their missions vary but their common goal is to provide resources that will help Ugandans become independent, as well as, economically and socially sustainable.

IC’s Kony2012 video simplifies a complex issue and creates a straightforward call to action for the organization’s youthful constituency to make an impact the best way they know how; through small donations and purchases of bumper stickers and bracelets. My question is, what can other nonprofits learn from this social media success? (Regardless of your opinion of IC and Kony, 70 million YouTube hits and a public dialogue on the subject is a success in my book.)

It’s evident a social media revolution has arrived; its beginnings were embedded in the Arab Spring and slowly took root in the Occupy movement. Now is the time for nonprofits to enter this revolution and carve out a voice and implement a call to action within their own constituencies. 

In my work with nonprofits we have had numerous and ongoing conversations since the Kony2012 viral sensation opened up a new dialogue and started to ask the tough questions of how they will use this opportunity to carve their own niche in a rapidly changing and media driven society.

I anticipate that this will be the kickstart that nonprofits need to create a new era of community and donor engagement. However, only time will tell.

Babies Are Like Zombies

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There is not much that strikes terror in my heart. A lion and antelope fighting to the death? Yawn.

Lion v. Antelope

Jumping out of an airplane with a parachute and a prayer? Sign me up.

Image Courtesy of Travellers_Checklist

Yet, a week-old baby can send chills through my bones.  I wasn’t sure from where my irrational fear stemmed until I googled it. Apparently other (totally sane) people share the same (completely rational) fear of small children as me. And they are really convinced that babies are rising up to start the zombie apocalypse. Or that drug addicts are snorting babies. Regardless, I plan on barring the doors and filling all the bathtubs with water.

Image Courtesy of My Google Search

Now I’m afraid to go to sleep in fear that a coked out undead baby will crawl out from under my bed with a shank. Please save me from myself. And babies. Mostly the babies. They are coming for me.

Thor

Yes, this baby is wearing a TARDIS cocoon with “Police Box” stenciled on his head. Mostly because if he’s going to shank me slash eat my brains he’s going to do it while making a bold fashion statement. You have to have priorities.

P.S. While you may not notice the immediate parallels between Thor and a zombie please examine the diagram below to see the startling similarities. I’m lucky I got out of there with all of my appendages.

Image Courtesy of "How To Be A Dad"

“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.”

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I don’t believe in making resolutions as they tend to end in tears more often than not. Rather than focus on “resolving” a supposed deficiency (because I’m perfect, of course!) I prefer to create attainable goals with an achievable action plan. As we ring in 2012 I am challenging myself to maximize my potential! Here are 7 things I plan to do in 2012:

1. Celebrate my accomplishments. Building a freelance business is HARD. I will celebrate my accomplishments small or large and plan to accomplish more.

2. Spend time with myself… and then spend time with others. It’s always important to spend time with yourself and carve out time to rejuvenate your mind and spirit.  However, there is such a thing as living too much in your head and I can be guilty of that at times.  I won’t be afraid to enjoy a solo dinner or a lengthy conversation with a dear friend.

3. Think outside the box. I don’t think anyone would accuse me of being a traditionalist but my goal this year is to help others think outside the box and consider new ideas that will help them in business or in life.

4. Kick procrastination to the curb. There are always things in life that get pushed to the back of our “To Do” lists because they are boring or just plain unpleasant.  Rather than waste time procrastinating I plan to hold myself accountable to all of my “To Do” items.

5. Focus on the journey. As in MY journey. Not my best friend’s journey. Not that random chick at the coffee shop’s journey. Who cares if someone else is younger, more accomplished, wealthier, prettier, etc, etc? Everyone has their own unique journey and successes in life. Rather than trying to live up other’s success I plan to live up to my own success.

6. Make health and happiness a priority. No one else is going to take care of my body and my mind. I will get off the couch and work out as well as focus on healthy eating for a fit lifestyle.

7. Let go of negative relationships. Just because you’ve known someone for 10 years doesn’t mean that you have a healthy relationship. I will focus on building healthy, happy relationships and releasing negative friendships.

What are your goals for the New Year?  How do you plan to maximize your potential this year?

Shop To Shape The World

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Thanksgiving is around the corner, the winter holidays are not far behind, and tvs started blaring Christmas-caroled commercials the day after Halloween.  America, with its innovative capitalism, has found a way to bottle consumerism into a tidy holiday package full of patriotism and guilt.  Fa la la la la… la la la la.

That’s not to say that exchanging gifts as a token of friendship and love is not important; the holidays serve to connect us with friends and family and create cherished moments.  Before Christianity and Hallmark turned Christmas into an unrecognizable consumer holiday, the winter solstice celebrated the life that would soon return to the ground after the first thaw.

Rather than spend our time in search of the perfect Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus gift, I suggest we use our resources to spread goodwill to friends, families, and our fellow humans.   Here are some ways you can make a difference this year:

Kristen Bell collaborated with Erica Anenberg to create a line of handbags and wallets that will benefit the Invisible Children in Central Africa.  These are great gifts for the ladies in your life who want to combine fashion with philanthropy.

If you’d like to support the Invisible Children cause by adding more shirts to your wardrobe or a hipster messenger bag head over to the Invisible Children shop.

Timberland partnered with Ringo Starr to create a limited edition Earthkeepers® footwear to benefit WaterAid.  The limited edition boots will be available on eBay, through Timberland’s Canvas that Cares. A total of 75 pairs will be auctioned in men’s size 8, Ringo’s shoe size, with a starting bid set at $250.  This is an excellent way to make a unique fashion statement while also showing your commitment to providing safe access to water and sanitation for all.

TOMS, is unique in that the corporate purpose is to provide shoes to children who had nothing to protect their feet.  In the five years since the company was created, TOMS Shoes has provided more than 1,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.  They have also started selling sunglasses, which provide care to people with visual impairment. So if you are looking for a fun pair of shoes (there are even vegan shoes!) or a funky pair of sunglasses check out TOMS.

If you are addicted to auctions, Ebay has a sister site called “A World of Good” that allows you to purchase handcrafted products made by artisans around the world.  Of course if you’re looking for a more traditional present you can still make a difference by bidding on items where a portion of the proceeds is given to a charity or bidding on a special experience with your favorite celebrity to benefit a charity.

There are many ways to make a difference in the lives of others and I would love to hear your suggestions of products that give back or websites that promote philanthropic consumerism.  Join me this holiday season in celebrating the true meaning of the season; sharing joy, giving love, and celebrating happiness and health.

Full disclosure: This is not a promoted post by any of the people or organizations listed above.  I just believe in giving credit and commerce to people and organizations who make a difference with their products.  

Who’s Up For A Book Burning? I’ll Bring The S’mores!

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Yesterday wrapped up a week of annual events bringing to light the issues surrounding banned books such as censorship, first amendment rights, and freedom of information.

Image Credit: American Library Association

However, as responsible adults, it’s our job to protect children from danger.  Honestly, I’m not sure which is more dangerous, a run-in with Ernest Hemingway or a good old-fashioned book burning.  On one hand, Ernest Hemingway advocates sex and could give you a nasty paper cut, on the other hand, fire is singe-y and could kill you. It’s a tough call. Fortunately, there are numerous approved reading sources that nix the socialism and sex but still share the wonders of misogyny and homophobia.

You know what else makes book burnings ok? The approval of the government.  If the people in charge say it’s ok then it’s time to pull out the matches and grab some sticks. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Nazis convinced everyone to throw a book on the bonfire.  Well, that, and Hitler promised to bring s’mores to the bonfire.  S’mores make everything more festive.

I checked out the Banned and Challenged Book Lists and realized that I’ve read a fair number of books on the list so I guess I’m doomed.

Some of my favorite books are regularly banned or challenged, including:

  • Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”
  • Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
  • J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.”
  • Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl.”
  • Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
  • Augusten Burroughs’ “Running with Scissors.”
  • Lois Lowry’s “The Giver.”
  • Mark Mathabane’s “Kaffir Boy.”
  • Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
  • Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

As you can tell I’ve clearly turned out poorly and will be accursed for life so it’s advisable to keep your children away from these books altogether.  In fact, the best way to keep them from sneaking around with a copy of “Of Mice and Men” is to forbid them from ever learning to read.  Illiteracy is the answer and abstinence from books is the only solution.