Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some Thoughts on Goals as We Ring in the New Year

Happy New Years Eve! It's hard to believe, but we're on the brink of not only a new year, but a new decade. It's tradition to make resolutions that we (hopefully) will follow through on in the new year. I've set some solid goals for myself in 2010 that include redesigning this blog (same content, but with a new blog platform and fresh look) and continuing to take part in initiatives that better my community (like the dictionary project I'm helping with).

We're pressured to make wise resolutions, and we're also bombarded with predictions and suggestions on how to make 2010 the "best year ever". Don't worry, I'll spare you another "Top 10 Ways to Make 2010 Rock" post. I do want to share this CNN Health article, "10 ways to get motivated for change in 2010" because it's one of the better lists I came across.

Many people don't accomplish goals they set for the new year because those goals aren't realistic. According to the article, experts say it's important to be realistic, specific and accountable when determining what you plan to achieve in the future. This article struck a chord with me because it hones in on how to successfully make positive changes in the coming year.

The article covers this point, but to set actionable goals (for yourself in this instance, but this also applies to any clients you work with) you have to truly understand the source. Don't choose a goal that everyone else has on their list simply to follow suit. Set a goal that really aligns with your personality.

Perfect example: I was determined to love running this year. I forced myself to get in the mindset that hating running was a thing of the past, and I would embrace it as my new favorite form of cardio. I stuck with it for quite awhile this year, but finally I took a step back and accepted that running just isn't my thing. I tweaked my goal of doing some form of cardio on a regular basis by replacing running with two much more enjoyable cardio machines at my gym.

Whatever 2010 goals you choose, I sincerely hope you continue doing the things that you love and find ways to spread happiness to others!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Silly

I celebrated the holidays with my colleagues this week. Our holiday party was toned down compared to previous years, but we all collectively agreed this is what we wanted. It didn't feel right to spend lavishly on a holiday event during a time when many people can't even afford groceries. We had a happy hour in our board room instead of an elaborate event at a fancy restaurant or club. The party still included some of the same elements as previous years, like good food and a holiday trivia contest (prizes included!). The simplicity worked, and we all left happy.

Our holiday party reminded me that simple things can make a big impression, and I've been going over this topic in my head for a few days. Think of simplicity in terms of design. If an advertisement or Web site has too much going on (colors, words, objects, patterns, etc.), then the attention of the viewer is put at risk and that person may ignore the company/brand/product showcased. Chris Brogan recently wrote this post, "Simplicity Trumps Most Other Emotions", about how simplicity affects purchasing decisions.

I've learned the simplicity lesson with client events. Being creative with an event doesn't mean you have to make it over-the-top. Simple, well-executed events that appeal to your target crowd will be just as successful.

Same goes for writing. A creative and inspiring article or blog post doesn't need to include smarty pants words that the average person would never use in a normal conversation.

I learned a lesson of simplicity last Christmas, I decided to buy my dad a surround sound speaker system for his living room TV. I really wanted to get him a gift that would make him grin from ear-to-ear on Christmas morning. What I failed to think about before buying the gift was the size of my dad's living room. The surround sound system would have cluttered the room and it would have been very difficult to install. I was too focused on the "wow" factor of the gift, and it ended up going back to the store. My dad would have been perfectly happy with a simpler gift that didn't require a lot of legwork or effort.

I'm not saying going overboard and making something bigger than it needs to be will result in failure. My point is this: You can be creative and make others happy without doing something on a grandiose scale.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How You Can Help Metro Detroit Students Become Powerful Writers and Creative Thinkers

I'm taking part in a very cool and creative initiative that will help make a difference in the lives of metro Detroit children.

Female bloggers from the local Detroit area are joining, in collaboration with Operation: Kid Equip, to provide at least 25 percent of Oakland County Schools with dictionaries for third graders.

Erin Rose of Positive Detroit, Becks Davis of Detroit Moxie, Jennifer Wright of Looking Glass Lane, Lauren Weber of Staircase to Earth's Loveliness and I spend much of our time writing on our respective blogs. We want to help give the same opportunities to local students as we were given in our writing classes as children. We want to encourage local students to become better writers.

With the assistance of Operation: Kid Equip and its participation with The Dictionary Project, we will be distributing dictionaries specifically written for third graders who are at the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.

Now through March 15, 2010, we are raising money to provide roughly 2,700 third graders in Oakland County with brand new dictionaries. To give you an idea of the impact you can make, for a $20 donation, you can supply at least eight third graders with dictionaries.

An anonymous donor has graciously offered to match donations, dictionary-for-
dictionary, up to the first 100 dictionaries. Just think - your donation today can double the amount of children who are being served tomorrow.

Reading and writing have always been an enormous part of my life. I started reading earlier than most children (basically as soon as I could form sensible sentences), and I was the speed reader who finished all the reading assignments first in elementary school. Knowing how to read goes hand-in-hand with knowing how to write. As a public relations professional who spends gobs of time writing, I understand that it's an art and a craft. Loving to read early on in life, coupled with constantly using a dictionary to build my vocabulary, helped me polish my writing skills. I wish every child in this world could learn how to become powerful writers. Together, we can play a part in shaping the futures of children who enjoy reading and writing by giving them dictionaries.

Here is how you can help:

1. Click here to make a PayPal donation for $100, $50, $20 or $10.

2. Mail a check payable to:

Operation: Kid Equip
PO Box 364
Royal Oak, MI 48068-0364

Be sure to write Dictionary Project in the memo line.

3. Contact to make a credit card or
other form of payment outside of PayPal.

4. If you would like to join the female bloggers collaboration
with your blog, contact Erin Rose at

About Operation: Kid Equip
As an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit community benefit organization, we realize that to break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness, we have to meet some very basic, yet overlooked needs. Operation: Kid Equip acts as a conduit for collecting and distributing tangible educational and school supplies to school-aged children. Operation: Kid Equip effects long term improvement in the community by providing at-risk kids with the core necessities they need to prosper in school and in life. Visit our website at

About The Dictionary Project
The Dictionary Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The goal of this program is to assist all students in completing the school year as good writers, active readers and creative thinkers by providing students with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come

**Photo credit: jovike

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lemonade: How a Job Loss Forced Creative Types to Find Their Passions

How many times has this thought crossed your mind: "I'd have so much more time to do (fill in the blank) if I didn't work so much." I've said this to myself on several occasions. I don't hate my job in the slightest bit, but I wish each day was about 10 hours longer so I could dedicate more time to things I love (playing tennis and reading books in Spanish, to name a few).

I learned about the Lemonade movie from Chris Brogan's post, "Have You Been Laid Off", and Valeria Maltoni's post, "50 Ways to Make Limoncello When You've Been Laid Off". Side note: If you are currently out of work or fear you may lose your job soon, READ VALERIA'S POST!

According to the the Lemonade movie Web site, more than 130,000 advertising professionals have recently lost their job. Lemonade showcases what happens when people who used to receive compensation to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives. Rather than wallowing in their sorrows, the people featured in the video seized the opportunity to do something that really matters to them. The job loss was somewhat of a blessing in disguise because these creatives explored new paths and rediscovered a part of their lives that had been missing.

Do all job losses lead the person affected on a magical journey of self-exploration and creative freedom? Absolutely not. Trust me, I've witnessed how a job loss can completely demolish a person's life. But it's reassuring to watch this video and see how happy these people are because they are doing something they really love...all thanks to a job loss.

This video should also raise a few questions with anyone who watches it. Do you devote enough time to your passions? Do you need to do a better job at prioritizing what really matters in life?

We need jobs because we need to earn a living. We also need a will to live. Something deeper than living solely to climb the corporate ladder. I adamantly believe a person's success in any career derives from passion, but passion must exist in other forms in order to have a healthy and meaningful life.

Have you found a successful way to balance work and activities you love? Has the "lemonade" affect happened to you or someone you know?

Photo credit: cfwhitney