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November 2009

Page 2

38 articles in November 2009
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Sure, no one REALLY likes change, especially when change isn’t wanted or welcome. The status quo is comfortable, safe, and just “works” for us. Why fix it if it isn’t broken? There’s been some gripe lately about a few changes that are abound or have abounded… I’m not sure if that is the right use of that word there… and I used to be an English teacher, but I don’t really care because it sounds right to me and I like it. So deal. ;)

But let’s face it, when stuff changes that we don’t want to change, we gripe. We complain, we rant, we throw up our arms and say, “TO HELL WIT ‘EM!” Granted, I do this too, sometimes. However, there are just some things that we are going to get used to. We will cry a river, but eventually, we will build that bridge and get over it. Now, of course, there are probably a few exceptions to that rule – and when we know that something is morally wrong or hurts someone, then of course we should gripe until it’s changed… but what I am referring to is not that serious.

Twitter’s New Retweet Feature

Yes, Twitter’s new retweet feature SUCKS. But, let’s be honest, it is not that serious. Some of the biggest complaints are that we can’t add our own 2 cents, that it doesn’t allow for additional commentary. Well, sure, not with the one-click retweet. But guess what you still CAN do? Copy and paste, add your 2 cents, and then type RT in front of it. Sure, it takes longer, but we can do it. Assuming our fingers still work.

And people are griping about seeing people they don’t follow in their timeline. Sure, it’s annoying. Sure, we don’t like strangers in our space, but guess what? In about 3-5 minutes, those people will be gone. More tweets will have come through replacing those of the ones we didn’t know. Phew. Problem averted. It just takes a little patience.

Or, if you use a web client like Tweetie or HootSuite, you don’t have to worry about any of the aforementioned problems.

Facebook’s Change of the News Feed

Facebook changed the user interface again. Now, this is a little bit of old news for most of us. The biggest gripe is coming from businesses who are trying to market themselves using Facebook. Their information is no longer showing up in the News Feed – it is only showing up in the Live Feed, which a user has to CHOOSE to see.

Well, businesses… I guess that means you are going to have to start working harder to engage your customers. The more you engage them, the more involved they become, the more your business will show up on customer’s News Feeds. It actually sounds like a positive problem to me.

I’m just saying.

Twitter’s Trending Topics Being Useless

Yes, 13-year-olds, spammers, and people who have nothing better to do (for the most part) have turned Twitter’s trending topics into something completely useless and borderline inappropriate.

There’s been a lot of talk as to whether or not to do away with trending topics until they provide more value.

I’m going to be honest and say, this is going to be difficult. Twitter has over 33 million users – and I will say that less than half of those users are on Twitter to engage, connect, and relate to people. Many users are on there simply to connect with friends, shoot the sh*t, and tell people what they are eating.

Now, of course, there is a VERY LARGE percentage of Twitter users that use Twitter in a positive, meaningful, and extremely valuable way. I like to think that I am one of those people. We can’t discount those users. At all.

But, I think it’s going to be hard to control the craziness of the trending topics. And seeing as how Twitter exec’s have been handling a lot of Twitter’s issues lately, I will be surprised if they handle this one any better.

But it’s okay, we can search for what we need and what we think is important. We’ll get over it.

The Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football

It is no secret that I am a CLEVELAND BROWNS FAN. No, I’m not from Cleveland. I was born actually in Redskins territory. My dad’s from Cleveland, and therefore, when I exited the womb, I was to be a CLEVELAND fan. It is genetic. I can’t choose who I love, I just do.

And it is no secret that this season, we suck. The Cleveland Browns are a horrible football team right now. No doubt about it. Well, this past Monday, the Cleveland Browns were on Monday Night Football. And it seemed like everyone and their great-aunt’s mother was complaining about it.

Things I read on Twitter (all found from http://search.twitter.com):

  • “Watching the Browns on MNF is like watching paint dry.”
  • “So who’s bright idea was it to put the Browns on Monday Night Football yesterday? Whoever it was should be fired. Pronto”
  • “New Rule…. No more Browns on Monday Night Football!!”
  • “Why would they even schedule the Cleveland Browns for a Monday Night Football game??”
  • “If you thought the Redskins were NFL’s worst team, you must have missed seeing the Browns on Monday Night Football.”
  • “Sunday Night Football ha sido mucho mejor que los MondayNight Football.. Sigo si entender porque Browns en MNF???”

THEY EVEN COMPLAINED IN SPANISH!!

Look people, you think it’s tough watching the Browns on Monday Night Football? Try being a Browns fan your ENTIRE life. The only years we were good (the Kosar years), I was wearing a diaper and being fed mashed squash like it was an airplane.

If you don’t want to watch, then turn on something else. Quit complaining, because no one wants to hear it.

LOST is in it’s FINAL season and it doesn’t come on until FEBRUARY 2nd

Okay, maybe not everyone is complaining… maybe it’s more sadness from the Fans. I know I’m sad and I know I’m impatient. But let’s be honest, LOST fans have needed answers for six long years now. We’ve waited for a long time and we can wait a little longer. But all in all, it’s time.

I saw the FINAL SEASON trailer today. It’s going to be a good final season. At least it won’t have a crappy ending like SEINFELD or The SOPRANOS. Or, at least, let’s hope the ending isn’t like that.

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Okay, enough out of me. I’m feeling yucky talking about all this negativity. I need to go pet my dog, drink a Diet Coke, and watch this video at least seven times (NSFW – language).

I want to know, what do YOU think we will eventually get over?

Word.

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There are a couple people that deserve a big shout-out this week – so I thought this would be a great public platform to shout them out on… shout on them… shout out them… out shout them. You know what I mean.

photo courtesy of Sweeden Rock.

photo courtesy of Sweeden Rock.

Community Leaders

  • @CHCYMCA – The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA is doing everything right. I can’t say enough good things about their organization. They give back so much to the community with the Strong Kids Campaign and are getting kids involved the right way. I am also really excited because I am training for my FIRST half-marathon and the folks at the YMCA have been awesome and are helping to give me some great resources to help with my training. (I am a horrible runner, so this is exciting for me. I need all the help I can get!)
  • @CarolinaChamberFull Disclosure: I am doing freelance social media consulting for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce. Being new to the Triangle, it is hard to feel comfortable getting connected in the community when you don’t know very many people. I got involved with the Chamber about two months ago and since then we have forged a great working partnership. I do not work for the Chamber, but I am working with them on their social media strategy. I attended my Chamber New Member orientation tonight and my first Business After Hours at the Carolina Inn. Wow, that place is amazing! I have to say that the Chamber is really working to support local business, social entrepreneurship, and the local economy.

Inspirational Tweeters

  • @Garyvee – Maybe if you’ve been living under a rock you haven’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. I aspire to be as inspiring as Gary. His book CRUSH IT! got my thoughts going and my ideas rolling. He is a rockstar community engager – and he totes responded to my tweet on Twitter. I got excited. PERSONAL GOAL: meet, eat dinner with, and interview Gary Vaynerchuk in 2010. I am going to make this happen.
  • @LisaSullivan – This girl is a rockstar. I am really in awe of how hard she works and how much she is hustling to make things happen. Even after being laid off earlier in the year, she has maintained such a positive attitude and has never given up her sense of gusto. She is always so enthusiastic and incredibly insightful. What a lady!
  • @joshhanagarne – Man, if this guy doesn’t make you grateful, I don’t know who will. Josh writes a blog called the World’s Strongest Librarian. I read an article by him earlier this month, and since then I have been following his blog. He is a librarian living with a severe case of Tourette’s Syndrome and he uses writing as a method of therapy. His writing is fresh, funny, witty, inspiring, insightful, and awesome.

These people are incredible and I recommend them uninhibitedly. They truly exemplify what it means to be valuable.

Tell me, who do YOU think is totally a rockstar right now? Who, in your opinion, is providing awesome content and needs to be shouted outed? You know what I mean. ;)

Word.

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Considering this video has over 7.5 million views on YouTube, most of you have probably already seen it. However, I wanted to share it anyway because I think it’s incredible. It is really humbling to think how small we are in the scheme of things. It puts things in perspective.

DISCLAIMER: AND it was researched and remixed by a good friend of mine and hilarious improviser, Jeff Brenman of Apollo Ideas.

What do YOU think?

Word.

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Photo courtesy of Agent-X Comics

Photo courtesy of Agent-X Comics

Ahhh who doesn’t love awkward dating and mating social media vernacular? I am going to go out on a limb and say this scenario, although exaggerated, is probably happening at bars across America and beyond. The reasons this is happening are THREE-FOLD:

  1. Social Media Vocabulary can be awkward. Poke. Tweet. Twitter. Twit. Tag. Digg. Write on your wall. Blog post. See? All awkward and carry awkward innuendos.
  2. We are Social Media saturated. You and I both know, social media is err’ywhere. Walk into a coffee shop, a restaurant, a bar, a bookstore, a library – how many people are probably checking facebook, texting, or tweeting? They are even passing legislation in states making it illegal to TWEET while driving. Duh.
  3. Boys are getting desperate. No, not all boys… and notice I didn’t say MEN. Men wouldn’t dare hit on a woman with a social media term. Boys, however, would. (And a woman, would never ask a man if she could “poke” him.) In fact, no lie, I was hit on once by a guy who yelled across a bar at me and said, “Yo! Female! Lemme get that backslash.” He was referring to my “myspace.com [BACKSLASH] username.” Needless to say, I did not give him my “backslash.” Not okay. Am I right?

The professional woman in me is disgusted by the utterly ridiculous attempts by boys to pick up women in this way. However, the comedian in me thinks it’s hilarious.

So, here is my FIRST OFFICIAL BLOG CHALLENGE/CONTEST: Leave a comment with your best awkward pick-up line that uses some sort of social network term OR tell me a hilarious story where you actually got hit-on using social networking terminology and the winner will receive a surprise prize. Get creative. Think outside the web? You know what I mean.

Word.

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This week seems to be sending me inspiration left and right. First my small talk post, now this week’s tip of the week! I was reading Chris Brogan’s blog (say THAT 3x fast) the other day, and he had a great post about the questions that we should ask ourselves and our businessespecially with regards to social media.

As usual, his post brought up some great points and I got to thinking about each question and the impact it had on my business. (I’m not going to regurgitate all 7 questions here, you can check out his post by clicking this link).

Then I realized a question was missing. It got me thinking and here is the question I have posed:

When it comes to our practices, whether those be business, branding, or marketing, how are we differentiating ourselves from the pack? In essence, what makes US unique?

I know not all of you own your own business, plan to own your own business, or are even passionate about being an entrepreneur, but my point is that this theory can be applied to any of us, no matter our role. We are all, in and of ourselves, our own “business.” Our personal brand is our business. How we market ourselves, how we represent our brand, and how the world sees us, are all part of our overall “business plan.”

But in this day and age, it is easy to get lost in mix and mass of content out there. For example, when looking for a job, how do YOU make yourself stand out above the other hundred-or-so applicants? Or if you’re a business, how do you make your business stand out against your competitors?

The short answer is to find that unique angle or perspective that differentiates you from the pack.

The long answer is, unfortunately, that can sometimes be difficult.

For me, it has been a challenge. I am passionate about social media and marketing, but so are a gazillion other people out there. So how do I make my brand different than the rest? I don’t want to be better than anyone, but I do want to stand out and I want people to know my name.

My other passion, comedy, was something I thought for a long time that I had to keep separate from my social media brand. Then it dawned on me: Why do I need to separate the two? They are both part of me. Why not combine them? Which is where I came up with the idea of THE Molly Buckley – where I put the MEDIA in comedian.

I am who I am and I’m going to own it. THAT makes me different. THAT makes me unique.

So, my tip this week – is to find out what makes YOUR brand unique. From what angle do you approach your business so that you can stand out from the crowd? What makes your business special?

Find that niche and OWN it. Be the rockstar you know you are. What do YOU think?

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Word.

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My Poken in a park.

My Poken in a park.

I am really excited to be reviewing the POKEN. I got my Pokens last week (thanks @pokengirl!) and since then I set them up (yay!) and I’ve been carrying them around with me telling people about them. So, my job here in this post is, basically, POKEN 101 and to let you know what I think about it.

WHAT is a POKEN?

  • A poken is, in its essence, a digital business card. The poken is a small USB device that stores all of your social information – name, email, website, phone, address, AND social networks. When someone ELSE has a poken, you HIGH-4 them and the poken transfers all information – it’s a no mess, organized way to store contact information.

The Set-Up

  • The poken is incredibly easy to set-up. Once you get your poken, you simply plug the USB end into your computer, and it prompts you to do the rest.
  • Fill out all of your information and you’re ready to poken!

Poken to Poken

  • The poken has a really cool attachment on it that allows you to easily carry it around.
  • When you meet someone else with a poken, simply hold the pokens together (give them a HIGH-4!) and the information/data is transferred.
  • There is an indicator light that lets you know if it worked (green is good!)

Storing Information

  • Once you have other’s information, plug the poken back into your computer and all of the information is organized and stored.
  • How awesome it that?

Why do I think the Poken is worthwhile? My reasons are THREE-FOLD:

  1. No mess, no hassle organization of all of your contact’s information. I go to networking events ALL the time, and exchanging business cards can be overwhelming when you have collected a gazillion cards. I tend to lose them, or they get out of order, or I forget to put them in my database. My poken alleviates this problem! :)
  2. I love being tech-savvy. If you’re like me and love fun, new gadgets… then you’ll love it. All your friends will be like, “Whoaaaa what’s that? I want one. COOOOOOL.” Okay, they probably won’t be like that. But you get my point. ;)
  3. They are real fancy. I won’t say they’re cute, because a man invented them and men use them all the time. But dudes, my poken is cute. I’m all about aesthetics… and this thing is sweet. (Love the technical language?)

Challenges

  • When I first tried to set-up the poken, I couldn’t figure out how to set up the social networks. After a few more clicks, I was able to customize my sites. It was just unclear, but definitely not a problem.
  • Not very many people poken… yet. The initial challenge when a new device comes out is that it takes a while to catch on. It is DEFINITELY catching on in the social media aficionado/geek/nerd/armadillo community, but it is still very new to the general public. A little patience and word of mouth will fix that.

Here is a video review of the poken which includes a REALLY sweet POKEN montage about 3/4 of the way through. I was pretty pumped about it.

If you have any questions about the poken let me know. I am excited to meet other people who poken so we, too, can HIGH-4!

Question: Do YOU poken?

Word.

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chattering teeth[This post is all about the using the philosophy of improv to enhance small talk and social media interactions.]

PREFACE: My dear friend, margarita drinker, olive lover, and Punk Rock HR-blogger-rockstar, Laurie Ruettimann, wrote about this topic a week-or-so ago. Her post, entitled: “F@%k It Friday: Weather & Small Talk,” in short, is about how the weather unites us all — we can all create small talk by bonding over the weather. No matter where you are, you can talk about the weather. Laurie posed this series of thoughts/questions:

Do we have one universal ice breaker that works in all countries, cultures, and regions? Is it weather? Can we replace it? Should we replace it? What would we replace it with?

And of course, I got to thinking. So, I decided to write a post about this whole idea, but connect it to the things I know and love: IMPROV & SOCIAL MEDIA. Yes.

[All of these statements are going to be made with regards to the general public. So if you live in a small town or you're a stay at home parent or whathaveyou, I'm sorry, I'm just trying to make a point ;)]

Unless you’re a hobbit or a hermit, you are interacting with dozens, if not sometimes, hundreds of people on a day to day basis. And I guarantee, at least HALF of those people are either mere acquaintances or complete strangers. Well, the days of don’t talk to strangers are behind us in a high-tech world. Most people are strangers to us. And of course, even our now-friends were once strangers to us. So, if we don’t talk to strangers, how are we ever going to make connections? Now, that doesn’t mean run off and start talking to creepos… use your judgement, people.

Now, the harsh truth is, that 9 times out of 10, most of us are somewhat challenged in the small-talk-and-make-simple-conversation-with-someone-we-don’t-know department. Therefore, we go to the default topics, such as the aforementioned weather, or “Hey, how are you?” I think both of those topics are fake, surface, jibber-jabber, nonsense that is superficial and just ends up being a big ol’ pile of B.S.

[BTW: For the most part, I really don't enjoy asking people how they are. Let's be honest, most of us aren't going to give an honest answer. Now, I like to mess with people that I don't know, so sometimes if someone asks me how I am, I'll give a crazy answer like, "Ahhh you know, feeling a little shmackity doo in a diddy land." People immediately leave me alone. And then I regret my decision.]

But going back to Laurie’s question, should we break the “universal” ice breaker? Should we replace it?

In my humble opinion, the short answer is, YES. Now the long answer is, YES. My explanation of WHY is TWO FOLD.

There are two things I am passionate about: Improv Comedy & Social Media. In BOTH of those fields, I am constantly engaging with people in my “community” – whatever community that is at the time – whether it be on stage or on the web. Either way, I have to engage, make small talk, connect with, and relate to people I’ve know for 10 years, 10 months, 10 weeks, 10 days, or 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter.

Especially in the world of social media, we are ALL trying to engage with our community. And the vast majority of the people in our community, we have never met. Yet, if I were to only make “small talk” about the weather or how I’m doing in my social media or improv community, I would be seen as a “me-monster” (someone who only talks/cares about themselves) and I wouldn’t last 24 hours.

SO here’s MY question:

“How do we engage people in our respective communities without being superficial?”

In the art of improvisation, which I love so much, our primary philosophy that we live by is this philosophy of, “Yes, and…” meaning YES (agree to everything), AND build upon that agreement by adding new information, a detail, a feeling, or a consequence. When we are on stage improvising a scene, you must be in agreement and on the same page with your scene partner at all times or else the scene will fail.

For example, if you were to hand me an imaginary cat and say, “Hey Molly, I fed your cat for you.” And if I were to respond with, “What?! That’s not a cat, that’s a jar of peanut butter.” Well, then our scene has failed because I denied your offer. I did not YES, AND, if you will.

One of the best ways that I learned to really take the notion of YES, AND… to heart was to incorporate these key elements, in this order:

LISTEN. CONNECT. REACT. RESPOND.

LISTEN to what your scene partner (or the person in question) has to say.

CONNECT with your scene partner (or the person in question) on a personal level. Establish a relationship. Who are you to each other?

REACT to what they have said and how your relationship or the connection is affected by this.

RESPOND by building on that new information with something of value.

Now, of course, this all seems a little complicated and a little “much” for a way of coping with small talk. BUT, now hear me out, by thinking about these simple ideas, we can use the lessons we’ve learned to avoid the plague of endless, superficial small talk. Hey, at least it will make networking events a whole lot more fun.

People are interesting. Talk to someone you don’t know, strike up a conversation about something completely unrelated to the weather, or the event you’re attending, or the gum you’re going to buy while waiting in line, find out something about them – and be genuine. People appreciate a genuine conversation and people loooove to talk about themselves. We have so much to learn from each other that we shouldn’t waste valuable learning time by talking about the fluctuating barometer levels.

And what I love is to also apply these same philosophies and ideas from improv to my interactions online. Social media and community building is all about the give and take – the yes, and. It is all about the listening, the connecting, the reacting, and the responding. If we have too much of one thing, we won’t last very long.

Tell me, what do YOU guys think? Do you think these simple ideas could help connect with people in a new way rather than the traditional, “SOME WEATHER WE’RE HAVING” way?

Word.

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You’re probably asking: “Molly, what does that mean? “Rick Rolling Yourself?”” I’m sure some of you over the age of 22 remember Rick Astley. Anyway. This is a rick roll:

Why am I Rick Rolling myself? Because I’m never going to give up on myself. I’m never going to let myself down.

Today I go in for training at my seasonal part-time retail job at Anthropologie (I’m going to try to not drool on every piece of clothing in there…). So, I will be at Anthro for training from 9AM-1PM. But, in fact, I have to leave training early to go to my other part time job at the most awesome Wootini Gallery. I’ll be there from 12PM-5PM. And then I will go to DSI Witness News rehearsal an hour late. I’ll be there until 6PM. Then I’ll eat food? Then I will have Improv SLAM rehearsal from 7PM-9PM. Then after Improv SLAM I will go home and I will probably stay up until at least 2AM or 3AM doing work for my business. The work will entail writing/responding to a gazillion emails, doing updates, generating content, etcetera, etcetera. And it’s a Sunday. Sunday is supposed to be a day of REST.

I didn’t mean to regurgitate my schedule to you, but I did so in order to make a point. I am now working two part-time jobs in addition to still trying to run and build my own awesome rockstar comedy social media empire business. Why am I doing this? Because I’ve now been on the “real job” hunt for six months – not that Anthropologie and Wootini aren’t real jobs. They totally are. You know what I mean though. The whole process has not only been difficult, but also somewhat disheartening.

Searching for job after job and never getting a bite or never getting a call can be a real downer. But you see, this is all part of the process. I have to Trust the Process. T the P. So therefore I am staying totally positive. I know I’m awesome.

After reading CRUSH IT, by Gary Vaynerchuk, I know that no matter what, if I’m passionate about doing what I want to do, then it will happen. I know that this, too, shall pass. Patience, in this case, is not the only virtue. Passion is a virtue. Passion is my virtue.

I’m not giving up. I’m never going to give up. And THAT’S why I’m Rick Rolling myself.

If you could Rick Roll yourself on something? What would you never give up on?

Word.

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GET WORDY, y’all. This is a new segment of my blog (hooray for new segments!). Since I was an English major in college and I taught high school English for two years, I love vocabulary. In school, I looked forward to making a gazillion vocab flashcards. Honestly, I LOVE words. So, I’ve decided to call this segment GET WORDY where I feature a word of the day/week/month/year that I am currently using, want to start using, or have made up. Yes, I like to make up words, too. I’m an improviser, making stuff up is what I do.

Today’s Word: Aforementioned

She's pointing to the aforementioned dude over there.

She's pointing to the aforementioned dude over there.

Main Entry: afore·men·tioned
Pronunciation: \-ˈmen(t)-shənd\
Function: adjective
Date: 1587
A : mentioned previously

I love this word. I LOVE the word aforementioned. I’m a dork and I try to use this word as often as humanly possible – or wherever I can feasibly fit the word into a sentence. Why? Because I feel like this word makes you seem a whole lot smarter than you really are. No, no, no, I’m not saying that you aren’t already smart. What I AM saying is not a lot of people throw the word “Aforementioned” around… and if you were to toss it out in an unexpected scenario, people might say, “Man, that guy/girl/thing is S-M-A-R-T.

So it means mentioned previously. But what does THAT mean? Well in this case I would be referring to the AFOREMENTIONED definition of the word – meaning that I am mentioning the previously mentioned mention of the definition of the word.

Oh no, I’ve gone cross-eyed.

I don’t want to confuse you. I don’t think that I have, but in the off chance that I have, I am sorry.

So, use the word in a sentence today. As soon as you go to reference something previously talked about in the conversation, be sure to refer to it as the AFOREMENTIONED topic.

Ahhhh that’s nice.

Leave me a comment referencing something I already said. I want you to wow me.

Word.

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8521_557654643779_31800419_33083070_6087053_n

No, I'm not the girl from THE RING. I'm going CAVING.

I’m not uber superstitious. I don’t believe in the whole “walking under a ladder,” “breaking a mirror,” or “black cat” conspiracies. And no, if you step on a crack, you will not break your momma’s back. And no, nothing is going to happen to you on Friday the 13th… knock on wood.

However, there are a few things that DO, in fact, scare me (in no particular rank or order):

  1. Bees. I hate bees. I am terrified of bees. I know my improv group is called Made of BEES, but we are, contrary to popular belief, NOT actually made of bees.
  2. The Dark. There is a difference between sleeping in a dark room with a little light coming in and being in a cave hundreds of feet beneath the earth, and your headlamp dies, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face, and you hear bats flying above your head. Not okay. Yes, I went caving one time and my stupid AAA batteries in my headlamp died. Thankfully, my fellow cavers came to my rescue. But holy moly, it sure is dark beneath the earth.
  3. Not getting Chipotle when I need it. Terrifying. This is a terrifying thought. I’m shivering just thinking about it.
  4. Carlos Mencia. The fact that Mind of Mencia even exists is horrifying to me.
  5. Scary movies. Now, I do enjoy (within reason) the ever-occasional mind-thriller such as The Sixth Sense or old Hitchcock films. But I can’t handle, at all, those movies with excessively gorey plots and crazy cut-em-up, slice-em-up serial killers. Those movies mess with my head and then I end up staying awake for four days. It never ends well.
  6. Failure. This is probably my biggest fear. No explanation needed.

OOO, but I do like a good scary story. So, tell me a story. A scary story. Or a good Friday the 13th story. Or tell me what you’re scared of. Leave a comment. Make it good. Make it scary.

Oh, and this is my favorite “spooky” 30ROCK clip. Ever.

Word.

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It’s no mystery that as a former English teacher I love to read. But honestly, I would prefer to read Dan Brown novels or Laurie Notaro’s hilarious memoirs – mindless reading is relaxing to me. I’m not usually a fan of “educational” books or books that try to “teach me” something. It’s not that I’m shallow or don’t want to read them, they just usually make my brain work too hard and then I get sleepy. My brain works hard all day long and when I want to kick back, relax, and read, I want to get lost in a fun story – not coerce my brain into new ideas.

Regardless, I know that often times these “business,” “thought-provoking,” or “educational” books really are worthwhile. And so I’ll pick one up and I will surprise even myself with how much I like it. So, here are my (right now) TOP 5 “thought-provoking,” “business,” and/or “educational” reads. (Some of these might stay on this TOP 5 list for a long time).

5. Get Clients Now by C.J. Hayden
I had hit a rut in my business and this book was given to me by a one Zach Ward (@zachward). Zach is the owner, director, and executive produce of the DSI Comedy Theater where I perform. He is savvy, an amazing comedian, but more importantly, the smartest business person I know. He said to me, “Read this book. You’ll thank me for it.”

I was hesitant at first. Really? Get Clients now? Seems so trivial, cliche, and like I’m about to buy myself into a ponzi scheme of some sort. I was very wrong.

No matter who you are, what you do, or what your career goals are, this book really teaches you the basics of how to start, enhance, or grow a business. Even if you aren’t a business owner or self-employed, all of us as individuals are a personal brand and personal business that we need to market. Believe it or not, you are marketing yourself every day.

Get Clients Now really helped to focus my efforts in growing my business and my personal brand. I love goal setting and I love organizational vision creation – and this book really breaks it down. It’s a SUPER easy read and it’s a really common-sense approach to a difficult topic for many.

I recommend it to ANYONE who is starting a business, runs a business, or is looking to grow an already established business. It really goes back to basics and reminds us of the small details we can sometimes forget.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: The super-detailed ACTION Worksheet. I love to organize things and write them down in front of me. I’m very visual, so the simple breakdown of ACTIONABLE tasks was really helpful to me.

4. Social Media is a Cocktail Party by Jim Tobin
I was turned on to this book by local social media man, writer/blogger, and comedian, Jeremy Griffin who works for Ignite Social Media. Ignite Social Media is a rockstar marketing agency located RIGHT HERE in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

Social Media is a Cocktail Party: Why you already know the rules of social media marketing takes a really relatable and fun approach to social media marketing. We all know and love cocktail parties – and we all know and understand the rules of cocktail parties: don’t show up uninvited, don’t be “that girl/guy,” don’t talk too much and never let anyone get a word in edgewise, dress appropriately, and so on and so forth.

Tobin does a great job of taking these basic cocktail party rules and relating them to the sometimes scary, sometimes unfamiliar, and sometimes crazy realm of social media. Learn the etiquette, how to engage and interact in the social media community, and know how to be the life of the party (not the death of the party).

I highly recommend this book to ANYONE interested in social media, marketing, or general public communication.

Also, the cover of the book has olives on it. I love olives.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: “Participate, don’t try to control,” - “The party goes on with or without you.”

3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Honestly, I don’t remember when I first heard about this book. But it kinda-sorta changed my life. Here’s a quote that will better explain this book than I ever could:

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.

Not to depress you, but I honestly think I cried within the first 20 minutes of reading. It was sad, yes, but I also teared up becauseDr. Pausch was simply so inspiring. As I read his story, listened to the reactions from his family, and went with him through the process of giving his last lecture, I became very reflective and started to think, “What would I say if I were to give a “Last Lecture?“”

The book is incredibly moving, motivating, and wonderful. I recommend it to anyone. Anyone.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” -Randy Pausch

2. Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
I just finished this book and it was awesome. I’ve been a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk’s for a long time and when I found out he was writing a book, I was way pumped.

Crush It is all about learning how to cash in on your passion. Gary has become the face of the wine world through his online blog Wine Library TV, his crazy outgoing personality, and his rockstar social media skills.

In this book, Gary takes even the simplest of ideas, and shows you how use can use the internet and social media marketing to “cash in” by doing what you LOVE to do. As I read, I got more and more inspired to try different things with business and my clients. I felt like every sentence I had another “A HA!” moment. It really helped to expand my way of thinking when it comes to my passions, my vision, goals, social media, and business development.

I recommend it to ANYONE who simply wants to spend their life doing what they love.

PERSONAL Goal: to meet and interview Gary Vaynerchuk in 2010.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: Chapter seven – keep it real, very real – “authenticity.” I’ve talked about this a lot and I know that my personality is my strength. I refuse to change that for anyone. I love who I am and in the end, you’re going to love me for it.

1. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The best book I think I’ve ever read. I read this book when I was in college after attending the LeaderShape Institute in Allerton, Illinois (aka: middle o’ nowhere). It’s a book about change. It’s a book about making a difference. It’s a book about how the smallest things can have the biggest impact. I don’t want to give too much away about it because you need to read it.

It really is about how the smallest idea or inclination can spark a wildfire of change and events. It shifted my thinking on the impact that we all have on this world and the lives of others.

Gladwell himself classifies the book as “an intellectual adventure story.” And that’s exactly what it is.

I recommend this book to ANYONE who wants to make a difference, wants to make an impact, or even more simply loves a great story and the affect it can have on you.

BOOK HIGHLIGHT FOR ME: In Chapter Six, he talks about the “cool” factor of Airwalks. I wore Airwalks. And they were way cool.

___________

There you have it. My TOP 5 READS (right now). You don’t have to completely take my word for it, but I think I have a pretty good taste in reading.

Question? What are YOUR TOP 5 READS (right now)? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.

Word.

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