Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Photographer's Passion Takes Him From One Coast to Another: The "Almost Branded" Interview With Rodney Williams Itier

You've probably heard the term "birds of a feather flock together."

Or perhaps you know the quote from the great Albert Einstein, "In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself."

Photography by Rodney Williams Itier

The sentiment behind these flocking statements are proving to be true in 2011 (at least for me). I'm a bird and a sheep and you may be too. Allow me to explain.

I have started to travel more frequently to expand my network while utilizing social media to grow my personal brand. This intense sense of  domestic "wadnerlust" (defined as a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travelexplore the world--or in my case, the United States), has now allowed me to connect with people who share similar views on expanding one's horizons. These "people" and I often ask, "why should we stay in one place and be comfortable while we are still young and life is so short? What will we miss out on if we stand still and never move out of our comfort zones?"

These were the questions I examined with photographer Rodney Williams Itier when we first met in New York City at the Wix Lounge earlier this year.

I'm not sure if it was the fact that Rodney and I share an affinity for sunglasses (not to mention that we are total "arm chair creatives") but I knew there was a reason why Rodney and I became fast friends in New York--we are both Angeleno's in NYC and bloggers. As I discovered more similarities between Rodney and myself (an interest in running long distance races, performing stand up comedy as well as hoodie sweatshirts), I knew I had to interview him and uncover the inspiration for his move from LA to NYC.

Name, Occupation, Location: Rodney Williams Itier, New York City. Photographer, Writer, Whiskey Drinker.  

So, how did your love for photography come about? I was living in Venice Beach, CA with a good friend, Leo Rodriguez, who was an environmental arts student at Otis College. He was always doing interesting projects and I wanted to get involved. At the time, I was making a living as a commercial actor but I wasn't fulfilled creatively so I took some money out of the bank and bought a used Pentax 35mm camera and decided I was going to pursue photography as a legitimate hobby. I went out and shot every classic car that I saw parked on the streets of Venice. I was really into it and tried to shoot from all of these bizarre angles and low and behold, after I had them developed, it turned out that I didn't totally suck. It was then that I realized acting wasn't my passion. Well, I kind of always knew that seeing as I preferred to write more than perform but I really knew it after I saw my work.

"Air Deck" Photography by Rodney Williams Itier

East Coast vs West Coast?
Do I have to choose? If the answer is "yes" then New York is definitely home base. My goal is to earn a loft in Tribeca where I can build a photo studio, work from home, teach myself to cook, host a monthly Karaoke party for my friends and family and settle down with my girlfriend.....but I need to be in Los Angeles from December to April because the winter in New York is just plain foul.

Where can people check out your work?
I get this question a lot and I always tell people the same thing, my professional "non-creative" work can be seen on WireImage or at Getty Images. As for my collection of personal photography, I am reserving the right to withhold until my new website is completed. I do have a blog, http://www.almostbranded.com/ and I have posted a few shots there but my intent for Almost Branded has never been to showcase my work. I am preparing to do my first gallery show in November, I am hoping to attract some influential art collectors who will be merciless so that I can either forge ahead or lick my wounds, shift gears and grow. I am also working on a book project with a talented Art Director so fingers crossed there as well.

AlmostBranded.com, What was the concept behind that?
My blog, Almost Branded, was something that I felt needed to be created as a result of what I was beginning to see as an oversight in the fashion industry--all these trendy brands popping up that pretty much built a name for themselves because they were in "the know" around cities such as Los Angeles and New York and not necessarily popular due to the quality or merit of their designs. Many other designers who were doing great work were overlooked by buyers and I felt strongly that I could create a brand source with the intent to showcase brands in the hopes that exposure through Almost Branded would bridge the sales divide while cultivating the brands I believe in. I soon realized that this blog and idea could encompass film, art, illustration and photography in addition to fashion. I am now at a point where I am working everyday as a photographer but would like to draft a business proposal for my blog because to "do it right" I am going to need editors, web developers, a vertical integration strategist and money to support the effort needed to publish a comprehensive brand source destination aimed at buyers, consumers, students and potential advertisers. That said, if you are reading this and have a desire to be an entrepreneur investor in AlmostBranded.com, let's talk.

So, how can we keep up with you?
Anyone looking to see what I like to shoot for fun can request me on Facebook. Potential clients can email me at r.itier@gmail.com for my quasi portfolio. Follow me on Twitter @razrshrprodney (please disregard my smart ass and obnoxious comments). I use these channels to let people know when my show is dropping and to contribute something of value. This is a pivotal time in cultural arts and social dynamics. That said, if you have the means I implore you to collect, collect and then collect more. Trust me, you'll thank me in ten years. Plus, I would love your support. In fact, support all the artists.

 "Snow Park" Photography by Rodney Williams Itier

Rodney definitely has the support of the Jaclyn Of All Trades and his interview proves he is more than a man on a moving mission--he's made several other changes in his life with regard to his profession such as creating the blog Almost Branded. Rodney is surefire proof that change can be a very rewarding thing.

And so I ask you, are you a bird and a sheep? Are you surrounding yourself around a flock of people that share your same drive....desire to be creative...are you in the company of people that set out to explore new horizons and evolve?

Remember, One person with passion is better than 40 who are merely interested --Tom Connellan

Find friends that ignite your creativity, be open to converse with people who have yet to become your friends. You may find out that you have much more in common than meets the eye......and you may even embark on a friendship that could change your path forever. Follow the right flock and live your best life yet!

Signing off this last Tuesday of March 2011,

The Jaclyn of All Trades  

Have you recently made a move of life changing decision? Share with the Jaclyn of All Trades flock by sharing your story in the comments section below. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Motivational Mondays "Best Week Ever" Edition

"Imagine a new stack of crisp white paper. It's just waiting for you to start writing the pages of your story. No one else will have a story like yours. So fill those pages however you wish, and sign your story with a flourish." Anonymous

It's Monday (or as I like to refer to it, Motivational Monday) and THIS WEEK IS GOING TO BE YOUR BEST WEEK EVER! Yep, I said it and I meant it. Best Week Ever--funny, over the top, just like the hysterical TV show on Vh1. 

Monday signifies the time to start fresh; the time to look ahead. But old folklore often says, "you won't know where you are going if you don't know where you have come from." Want to know why? Often when we begin a new endeavor, we set out to reach new heights, we set new goals. The emphasis is on doing things that have not done been before---not on looking back at what we are leaving behind. 

As you start a new week, do you ever stop and reflect on your personal victories from the week before?  

Are you able to keep things in perspective or is there a demand to continue and become a better you without giving yourself a big, old pat on the back?

Recaps. Gotta have them. Especially if you want to maintain some momentum towards your goals. Noting the tasks you have accomplished adds fuel to your spirit. Identifying areas where you fell short helps you improve and carve out time to work on your weaknesses. Acknowledging the success of your past week allows you to express gratitude for people that have helped you along the way. 

So, tell me. How did your week go? 

What did you accomplish? Where did you fall short? What are your goals for this week?

I must admit, as excited as I am for the next few days, last week was truly the best week ever. I fulfilled my "Michael Jordan moment" by performing a 5 minute stand up comedy routine in front of 200 plus people. 90% of those people were strangers. 

 A few folks are missing...here are some of my friends from comedy class.

I was the gracious recipient of a delicious meal--Mario Batali pizza and two glasses of red wine, from a guy named Guy who happened to bring his friends and family to my comedy show a few days later! There I was, first time on stage at a huge comedy venue jam packed with people and I look straight out into the crowd and see my new friend Guy sitting there, smiling. It calmed my nerves tremendously to see him in the audience. Talk about a random act of kindness (treating me to a meal and participating in the support of my comedy show). Guy's actions meant so much to me that I will be telling my grandchildren the story someday.

To add to my week, I had over 20 people come out to see me perform Wednesday night. The attendance of the show was incredible and I cannot thank everyone enough for their support and feedback. I even received a gorgeous bouquet of good luck flowers from a friend who is afar.

Then to top it all off, this past Saturday night, I was gifted tickets to check out Lisa Loeb in concert. I sang her songs all throughout middle school, Lisa Loeb will never ever be too old school for me.

Here is my video of Lisa singing "Stay, I Missed You." Go ahead, sing along. 

And so, it is time; time to make this week the best week ever for me and for you. (A special thanks to Chuck Nice for his portrayal of R.Kelly in the video clip at the top, courtesy of BestWeekEver.TV)

This Motivational Monday, spend your time wisely. Re-read the quote at the top of this blog post. Note your success from the previous weeks, challenge yourself to meet your goals these next few days. No matter how far fetched, if you want something, you can and will make it happen. 

Trust me, I am the last person that people would initially perceive as a stand up comic and yet, I refused to let that deter me from going for it. I will continue to do stand up because I want to.

Lastly, share some motivation this Monday. Congratulate a friend on a recent milestone they've achieved. Perform a random act of kindness. Comment on this article with your tips for "making it" through Monday.

And keep on keeping on. March is almost over and in less than two weeks, quarter one of 2011 will be done. Work hard but don't forget to have fun in the process.

Signing off, 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Have You Ever Had A Michael Jordan Moment?

"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." Michael Jordan

Have you ever had a "Michael Jordan moment"? 

Perhaps you are asking yourself (or me for that matter), just what is a Michael Jordan moment? Have you ever wanted to accomplish something so badly that you put your entire heart, soul and existence into accomplishing it and as a result, made it happen? THAT IS A MICHAEL JORDAN MOMENT. 

One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is the following:  

I think his quote is applicable to more than just the game of basketball; it totally relates to the game of life. And I speak from recent experiences of failed career paths, failed relationships, BIG FAILURE WITH A CAPITAL F, that sometimes you lose, big time......to the point where you feel like the joke is on you. 

Have you ever felt that way? That you were moving further and further away from what you knew in your heart of all hearts was your dream and that you were letting your life just slide by? That instead of choosing to open the appropriate doors for your life, you chose the big whopping losing doors? I know I did and I had to change that quickly.

To sink or to swim--that was the question I began asking myself towards the end of last year as I was staring failure dead in the face and letting it win. Despite having great ideas and an ability to execute them, I had also accepted the bold reality that I was NOT pursuing my dream of being an entertaining, entrepreneurial mogul, and my dream ship was sinking fast.

Why had I gone to music school, on a vocal performance scholarship mind you, and not done anything with it? Why had I not done more freelance work and gone on more auditions in LA? Why, if I knew in my heart of all hearts, that I wanted to have a star on the walk of fame, did I take every single possible job and step that went in the opposite direction of making that come true? 

Perhaps acting out of instinct (or quite possibly just acting on a whim as I often do), I signed up for stand up comedy classes in a city I had always dreamed of residing in, the city where my grandparents made their American dream come true, NYC. 

I came here 6 weeks ago with a suit case full of clothes, 4 pairs of shoes, one pillow and my laptop. I attended my first stand up comedy class with a group of random New Yorkers that I had never met before inclusive of a retired FDNY Fire Chief, some guys in advertising and my teacher. I had to get up and be funny which I had never done before in my life for an "audience" but you know what? I didn't care, not one bit, because I asked myself "If Michael Jordan's dream were to be an entertainer, what would Michael Jordan do?" 
He would give it his all, even if he thought he might fail. He would take every step towards winning. He would put in 150% effort. 

So, here I am, giving my dream my all, so much so, that tonight I graduate from comedy class and get to perform at Gotham Comedy Club, a venue that comedic greats such as Dave Chapelle, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David have performed at. 

And I must admit. I am a singer, those close to me know me as a vocalist. But this stand up comedy thing was something that terrified the living daylights out of me to the point that I decided to face the fear, go for it and conquer it in honor of my dream.

Now, I don't write this blog post to brag, I don't write it to show off. I wanted to share this because there is something deep down inside of you that you want and you have to put your game face on to get it. You have to find that inner Michael Jordan and train for it, train hard. Take the shots, miss the shots, take some more shots in order to score. You don't get to be the "greatest basketball player of all time" by sitting on the sidelines doing nothing.

I want my sitcom, I want my Emmy, I want my star on the walk of fame someday. And even if I never get it, even if I fail, at least I tried.

What is your dream? And what are you going to do today to start making it happen? Have you ever had a Michael Jordan moment? I sure hope so. 
September 4th, 1963...The day my maternal grandparents had their Michael Jordan moment when they immigrated to the United States. God bless America, god bless the American dream that brought my grandparents here and gave them the strength to take any and every opportunity they could in the United States. 

March 16, 2011--the day of my Michael Jordan moment. 

When will you have yours?

"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." Michael Jordan

Monday, March 14, 2011

Motivational Monday's--How Fashion Is Changing Lives in Kenya

Fashion. It can definitely change the way you feel about yourself but did you know that fashion can also change lives?

Ok, before you look at me like I have three heads, hear me out. Participating in fashion is not always about vanity and looking good. In the case of "Get Together Girls", fashion is providing an opportunity for young women to improve the quality of their lives and future while allowing them to contribute income to their families too.

Background on the "Get Together Girls" 
Just who are the Get Together Girls and how do they relate to fashion? For one, they live in Nairobi, Kenya which happens to be the most populous city in East Africa. However, their African heritage is not the only thing these youthful fashion designers have in common. Sadly, they are also victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

According to Wikipedia, despite its multicultural influence and distinction as "the centre of the Kenyan music scene," Nairobi has struggled with rising crime, earning a reputation for being a dangerous city and the nickname "Nairobbery."

As is the case with many of the young women known as the Get Together Girls, the crime in Naroibi often puts females between the ages of 4 through 18 at the risk of sexual exploitation. 

Finding strength and a future through fashion
I recently learned about the Get Together Girls from a friend of mine named Vanessa Crocini who is a  documentary film maker.

In four days, Vanessa will depart Los Angeles to spend one month in Kenya documenting Anita's Youth House, the location where the Get Together Girls all reside and produce their clothing line, GtoG Collection. The premise of Anita's Youth House is to help educate this new generation of African women through African and global commerce.

The GtoG Collection features clothes in vibrant colors, made from cotton. 

The inspiration for encouraging the girls to utilize fashion as a way to enhance their future stemmed from two Italian friends, each respectively fond of fashion; Grazia "Grace" Orsolato and Roberta Vincenzi.

Grace connected with the residents of Anita's Youth House initially as a volunteer. When she learned that several of the older girls would have to move out without any guarantee of professional opportunities, thus becoming susceptible to negative influence in the streets of Nariobi, she created a tailoring school and called upon her stylist friend Roberta Vincenzi to host a free tailoring class. And this is how the G2G Collection was born.

You can help fashion continue to change lives in Kenya thanks to social media 
If you think this story is inspiring, then please help Vanessa spread the purposeful message behind this film. There are several easy ways you can get on the Get Together Girls wagon.
  1. Like the film's Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/gettogethergirlsthedoc
  2. Spread the word via Twitter. http://twitter.com/g2gthedoc
  3. Contribute to the campaign. There are 4 days left, please help Vanessa reach her goal so she can document this story and help more people learn of the Get Together Girls http://www.indiegogo.com/g2gthedoc
The motto for this Motivational Monday is simple. "Everyday is a wonderful chance to be what you've dreamed...to do what you've imagined." 
Vanessa and the Get Together Girls are living proof that this is indeed true.

What's your dream? I want to know. Be sure to comment in the section below. 

Signing off this Motivational Monday,

The Jaclyn of All Trades

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Tale of Two Jaclyn's

This is the story of two women, each with big dreams filled with passion, bright lights and fame. This is the story of two women who are open to taking risks and embracing spontaneity.

This is the story of how social media and a willingness to connect with people offline can lead to friendship, networking and support in the most unconventional way. This is "A Tale of Two Jaclyn's."

Left-Jaclyn G, Righ-Jaclyn M. 

It All Started With Twitter
One day, back in February of 2011, I received an email notification from Twitter advising me that a woman named Jaclyn (from LA who worked in Public Relations) was now following me online. No big deal right? Except for the fact my name is also Jaclyn, I have been an Angeleno for the past 5 years and part of my skill set also entails Public Relations.

"That's a strange coincidence," I thought. "How many more Jaclyn's am I going to meet this year?" After all, one of my current roommates is also named Jaclyn and she spells it the same way I do (which typically does not happen). There's Jacklyn, Jacqueline, Jackline, Jaclynn....you get the point.

Now if your name is John, Sarah, Brian, Mike, or Kristin, I apologize. You have had to deal with name identity theft and replication your whole life but not me, not with a name like Jaclyn. At least, not until recently.

From Online to Offline
Back to Jaclyn G. I started following her back on Twitter. I even connected with her via the blogging site Tumblr and thus an online friendship was formed. 

One day, while scrolling through her Tumblr blog, I couldn't help but notice pictures of Manhattan as well as the picture below, NYC vs LA.

Recently, I have been in New York actively searching for clients and projects to work on as part of my bucket list.

And then I found this "same name coincidence" to be even more intriguing. Two Jaclyn's, each from LA, temporarily in NYC, exploring the Big Apple. Of course I did what any sane person would--I found her email address and sent her a message. It went down as follows:

Subject Line: Jaclyn it's Jaclyn

Email: Jaclyn Gitlin, it's me the other Jaclyn from Twitter. HAHA.

Loved your Tumblr pic LA vs NYC. I want to hang that in my room! I am currently in NYC, trying to decide if I am woman enough to give it a year here. I have been in LA for almost 5 and always thought NYC would feel like home but I miss the warm weather terribly!

Anyhow, are you here as well? Here being in NYC. If so, let's connect. Would love to talk social media, PR, projects.  Jaclyn Mullen

As it turned out, there was a networking event that precise evening that would allow us to connect in person. Jaclyn G. replied that she would gladly meet up, we discussed outfits and how we'd recognize each other from the mass crowd. From there, A Tale of Two Jaclyn's was formed.

Nice to meet you Miss "Same Name"
The moment had arrived. Jaclyn M. and Jaclyn G. would connect face to face, a sure progression from Twitter to Twitter. 

I arrived at our networking event and filled out a name tag. Ten minutes later, Jaclyn G. showed up and filled out hers. You can imagine the looks of confusion we both received as we sat next to each other and introduced ourselves to people as "Jaclyn." 

The most common response was, "Is this some kind of joke?" To which we both threw our heads back and laughed out loud then defended our honesty by pointing to our name tags. 

We mixed with the crowd, we mingled. We talked about life and our dreams and the pursuit of our passions. 

As it turns out, Jaclyn G. wants to be a luxury fashion publicist. Think Paris, fine lines and elegant looks.

 This is Jaclyn G.

As for me, I'm just fine being a Jaclyn of All Trades--a singing, comedic, blogging, social media strategist "Jaclyn of All Trades."

Our night ended over celebratory cocktails at some bar in the Lower East Side. 

Moral of "A Tale of Two Jaclyn's"
I look forward to many more adventures with Jaclyn G. In a little less than a week, we have exchanged jokes and different advice on life, love and the pursuit of professional success.

I think the moral of our story is great--make sure to connect with your social networks offline if the opportunity presents itself. Honestly, what's the purpose of all of this social media stuff? To expand our network, to increase our awareness of opportunities, to engage with people who share similar interests.

Reach out and tweet someone. Email them. Don't just be a follower, engage. Converting a contact from online to offline can result in a potential job, a potential friendship; it can essentially change your life and make a major city such as Manhattan feel a little more like home.

Do you have a similar story? Have you ever connected with someone from your social network or even someone named Jaclyn? Sharing is caring; be sure to tell your tale via the comments section of this blog.

And in case there weren't enough Jaclyn's in this story, here are a few other "Jaclyn's" you should check out:

Friends of Jaclyn The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families formed in 2005. FOJ matches a child in need of love, support and friendship with a college or high school sports team based on geographic basis. Through a due diligence process, the foundation screens for the best match based on the child and family's needs and the team, coach and athletic director's commitment to our foundation's goals.

Jaclyn R. Johnson Founder of Social + Creative Agency @. Editor in Chief at SomeNotesonNapkins.com. Los Angeles + New York Resident.

And of course, these two Jaclyn's.

Jaclyn Gitlin Tumblr blog

Jaclyn Mullen. Check it -----> http://www.jaclynmullenmedia.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

Motivational Monday--How to Get Out of the Social Media Skeptic Seat

Monday's. They have many descriptions with accompanying definitions in pop culture.
First we discovered "Manic Monday"--thanks to the popular 80's song performed by the Bangle's (and written by Prince).

"It's just another Manic Monday, wish it were Sunday, cause that's my fun day, my I don't have to run day. It's just another Manic Monday."

Then, many years later, we all surely had a "case of the Monday's"--quoted directly from the beloved movie Office Space.

And, at one point, on Twitter there used to be the trending topic #MusicMondays.

Alright, so it's fairly common to put a description in front of the one day that signifies the beginning of the work week. But why?

According to Robert of the Radish on Yahoo, the average person will see about 4,040 Mondays in their lifetime. I also think Monday's get all this attention because people (business owners, employees and children alike) are either really excited to start off their week or, on the contrary, are really bummed that the weekend is over.

Personally, I try to put a positive spin on Monday's (hence this blog post title): Motivational Monday--How to Get Out of the Social Media Skeptic Seat.

Just like the thoughts that Mondays can invoke (terror and dread), certain individuals who are trying to figure out social media approach Twitter, blogging and Facebook with a similar resistance. Although social media is all the rage these days, there is a certain skepticism surrounding it especially if you don't know how to use it properly.

Such was the case with my business coach, Mitchel Groter, who found himself sitting in the social media skeptic seat. That was, until I came along.

I recently sat down with Mitchel to follow up and get his take on shifting from social media skeptic to social media superstar. Listen to our interview.

SocialMediaSkepticSeat by theopportunityisnow

Social media, Mondays, life in general...Sometimes, we just need a little bit of encouragement to try something new; to attain a new skill set that may have a slight learning curve or to even start our work week off right on a positive note.

Fortunately, social media can simplify these things for us. Are you sitting in the skeptic seat? That's not a problem. Contact me and I'll help you turn into a social media superstar. Looking for positive perspective or professional transformation? Follow Mitchel on Twitter or visit his website http://www.quantumachievement.com

Last but not least, let me know how you embraced social media starting out. Did you have any skepticism? How did you overcome it? Post your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.

And be sure to enjoy this motivational Monday. As you say goodbye to the weekend and begin another week, remember "Beginnings are wonderful things--they're free, they're full of possibilities and everyone gets a new one every day. What will you do with yours?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Feel Good Fridays" The Bold and Beautiful Edition...Meet the Big City Siren

It's Friday and you know it feels good to say that. You've worked hard all week, now it's time to celebrate. So, how do you let loose, have fun, laugh out loud? Come on, go ahead and share.

Fun for me entails going where I have never gone before; into a land of spontaneity and letting go of control. Translation…studying stand up comedy. Yes, as you may know from previous blog entries, I am in a stand up comedy class, which is no laughing matter.

Creating comedy material, let alone performing stand up, is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of confidence and the willingness to use your life as inspiration.  Just ask Lindsey Gentile, one of NYC's top comediennes who also maintains the blog "Big City Siren."  

The Jaclyn of All Trades got the scoop on this bold and beautiful brunette actress, adventurist and freaking funny lady. Here's our interview, it's a guaranteed fun read. 

Name, age, occupation, name of Blog. Lindsey Gentile, Actor and Sex and the City Tour guide, Big City Siren: men are from mars, women want your penis. 

Inspiration for blog title and content. Big City Siren: I wanted a title that was loud and sexy. Like me and like New York. And also a bit off. Like me and like New York. As for the content, I really decided to start the blog when I was on my way to perform at a comedy show in the east village and a homeless man was literally trying to pee on me.  It was then that I realized, that not only am I going to die alone, but also that New York is truly a unique city and you have to be a certain kind of person to live here. Where else would you see women running in their 4 inch heels to catch a train or hear a girl tell a cabbie to go "Fuck yourself".  We are women who can overcome bed bugs, spend our daily commute smushed up against a smelly armpit that does not belong to us.  We pick our strollers up 98 subway stairs, we endure cat calling, we wait tables, nanny, crunch numbers, sell our souls, and work in cubicles so we can be creative and change the world... We are Big City Sirens. So my blog is dedicated to those super heros.

Give us Lindsey's top 3 tips for surviving the mean streets of New York City. 1. Don't look up or make eye contact.  2. Carry a rape whistle.  3. MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC.... just put that ipod in and get in the zone.   

Just like "Feel Good Fridays" you categorize your days of the week too and have Match Making Mondays. What has been the funniest Match Making Monday post to date? This year, for the Academy Awards, I put out an ad out on Craigslist that I was looking for a man to come over and fan with me with palm fronds and feed me grapes while I watched the Oscars.  I would of course provide the palm fronds, and grapes.  Within 20 minutes I had about 40 emails... and lots of penis pictures. Priceless. A few men wanted to bring their togas, others wanted to know if they were green grapes, seedless, etc. For my top three men, you can check it out here: http://www.bigcitysiren.com/blog/2011/2/28/i-found-love-during-the-oscars.html If you have ANY match making stories please feel free to email me @ lindsey@bigcitysiren.com 

How do you use social media to help your comedy career? Give us a tidbit of wisdom on one social media success and one thing that wasn't so successful. My sister, Jess Jubilee is a successful DJ here in NY and she makes me tweet. She has gained a huge following that way.  I try to tweet when I'm in the street and see a cute guy with bad jeans, or a bed bug infested mattress, or something pops into my head.  For my blog, I tweet, Facebook, DIGG, Reddit, etc.  

For my comedy duo, Kelly and Lindsey (www.kellyandlindsey.com) we rely mostly on Facebook and Youtube.   REMEMBER ALWAYS check and recheck. I co-host a comedy show in the East Village called Back Door Comedy, and I recently made an event on FB and sent it out to hundreds of people.... with my home address, not the bars address.  OOPS.  I basically sent people to my apartment instead of the venue for our show. Thank god most people know where the bar is and over looked it, but we were at the show, and half of our comedians didn't show up.... when they showed up late they told me they were to some place in Hell's Kitchen.  Yup,  my apartment.  

Words of wisdom for aspiring female actresses/comediennes coming to NYC. Girls, ladies...do something everyday for yourself and your career.  Switch things up.  Meet with a million funny women and see what they are doing.  They are not your competition and you can learn from them.  I meet with EVERYone.  Don't get comfortable; don't get stuck in your stupid survival job.  Work really hard. Don't get too high off a high; don't get too low off a low.  Don't have sex with EVERY cute comedian.... just SOME of them. 

On that note, if you like what you’ve read here, then be sure to like Big City Siren on FB (http://www.facebook.com/bigcitysiren) and follow Lindsey on twitter!!!! (@bigcitysiren)  

You can also like Kelly and Lindsey on Facebook to get all upcoming info. (http://www.facebook.com/kellyandlindsey)
Upcoming Shows:
3/8 World's Greatest Grandson/ Shayz Lounge in Greenpoint at 9:30pm
3/9 listen to KATG Keith and the Girl PODCAST.  www.keithandthegirl.com at 2pm
3/11 Astoria Brewhouse comedy show at 8:00
3/12 Shoot the Shite comedy show at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island City @ 10pm
3/14 Back Door Comedy (www.kellyandlindsey.com) at Professor Thom's 219 2nd ave between 13 and 14 @8pm
3/28 Back Door Comedy same as above
Spread the laughter and fun this feel good Friday. Be your own Big City Siren in whatever city you so choose. 
Signing off, 
The Jaclyn of All Trades

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Have a funny story yourself? Be sure to add it to the comments section. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Just Ask Jac" Answers Client Development Questions from A Fashion Forward CEO

Need some start up or social media advice? Then Just Ask Jac. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Just Ask Jac column features real business owners with real business challenges seeking advice or insight on a range of topics. The Jaclyn of All Trades is here to answer questions and provide simple, new strategies while sharing them with you too. 

As the CEO of Manchester PR, (founded in November 2008 to help undiscovered designers and start up businesses put their stamp on the consumer market), everyday is a different day for Nadia.

And why is that? In addition to overseeing all client projects for Manchester PR, Nadia also writes and contributes content to several blogs and media outlets including Examiner.com where her articles revolve around fitness in New York.

Fashion meets fitness and equals....business. Nadia has it all covered. 

Keeping busy with her writing while navigating through client management mode often presents some challenges around business development. So, savvy, stylish Nadia came to Jaclyn Mullen, the Jaclyn of All Trades to get some answers on new client development and management. Here is our "Just Ask Jac" session.

Nadia: What are the primary steps when working with a new client? 

Jaclyn: When working with a new client, it is essential that you understand their expectations. In truly defining the outcomes they would like to achieve, you can formulate a plan and structure to attain those goals. 

The first step I recommend when prospecting a new client is performing a client assessment. Provide your client with a questionnaire which asks them what their budget is as well as how much time are they willing to invest towards this endeavor. It's also important to find out their primary and secondary goals. If primary goal is an increase in sales, that's where you want to focus your initial efforts--on acquiring customers. If primary goal is branding, then you may go more of a content development route both online and offline.

The 2nd step is outline your initial strategy then determine the ability to forecast that goal. Ask yourself and the client, will we test this strategy? If so, for how long (30 days, 60 days)? What are we trying to determine from this test (how much media coverage they get, ROI)? Once you have a grasp on the strategy and what has proven successful that's where you get into Step 3. 

The third step is to launch a well thought out strategy with supported structure. The purpose of outlining and testing your initial strategy was to see what worked and didn't work. Why spend time on something that didn't reap rewards? You may utilize the approaches that didn't work in the future but right now, you want to focus on what did work to help your clients start meeting their goals as soon as possible. Relaunch full speed ahead with a clear sense of direction, clear benchmarks and a clear time commitment from both yourself and the client.

Nadia: Have you ever said "no thank you" to a potential client?

Jaclyn: Business is all about matching needs. Clients have needs that services must fulfill, in turn businesses have needs that by providing client services must get fulfilled--the most important being income.

It's really hard for any business owner to turn down a potential project. But if the client has different expectations that you can't justify with your skill set then why start down a slippery slope?

Some clients may not be ready for your services YET particularly if they haven't budgeted for them. Budgeting goes beyond the financial aspects, it shows that the client has thought and planned out their business model to ensure a healthy base and longevity for themselves. Fifty percent of all businesses fail due to poor or no planning at all. Should you assess a client and determine they aren't a good fit refer them to someone who is or suggest they incubate a little longer then reach out to you after 3-6 months.

Nadia: What are the number one goals a business owner should set for themselves when taking on a new client?

Jaclyn: Support and measure.

How can you determine as a company that this client is successful? Is it press hits, event attendance, an increase in sales? You want to quantify your results which leads to the most common goal amongst clients; increase in revenue.

If you do a good job and give your clients an ability to measure what you are providing, you can establish a long-term relationship which improves your revenue and overall profitability too.

I also want to add that another important goal for business owners servicing clients is clear communication and thorough time management. One hour is VERY precious especially as you build up your client roster. You need clear communication with the client so that you can relay their objectives to a member of your team, measure your company's ability to meet those objectives all while managing time.

And these answers aren't just applicable to fashion. They can be applied to many businesses across the board. The point is, get out there and find those potential clients. You never know which one of your prospects may turn out to be a really good business match.
Are you in fashion and are looking to branch out from being under the radar? 

Be sure to contact Nadia Murdock, CEO of Manchester PR, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm MST. 
Phone  201-218-0238
Email:  nadiamurdock@manchesterpublicrelations.com

You can also keep up with the latest developments at Manchester PR through their blog and Twitter.


Manchester PR Twitter

We'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to share your client development success stories and tips in the comments section. The more, the merrier. Thanks for reading this "Just Ask Jac"....be sure to come back for future posts. You can also follow Jaclyn Mullen on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Take Time to Make Time...Set Goals, Get Organized, Go Further

Time. Seconds, minutes, hours. 

We spend our time, we spend so much of it and yet, that doesn't guarantee that we will get a reward on our time. Right?

And why is that?

Do we know how much our time is truly worth?
Do we know where our time...goes?
How often do we actually time ourselves to evaluate these questions?

To tackle this dilemma (as well was obtain an ROI on my time in 2011), I decided it was time to take action. To start, I have been reading a book entitled "But Are You Making Any Money" written by The Party Goddess Marley Majcher.

I noticed that the books cover statement said, "Stop being busy and start creating cash." And for me, that really resonated.

Time is money. Being busy does not mean we are spending our time wisely or even yielding a return on it.

As a matter of fact, it wasn't until this book that I began to realize that what I thought I could do in 30 minutes actually took more time, perhaps even double that. It wasn't until I read this book that I realized how many of us underestimate our time and spiral out of control into an unorganized, unclear, unmanageable abyss. Does this sound familiar? 

For me, this book has been helpful in pointing out time debt. I'd be lying if I didn't admit there were also indicators from 2010 which demonstrated loud and clear that I needed to "take time to make time."

Those inidcators included:
  • having no time to work out
  • having no time to eat a meal
  • having no time to catch up with friends or family on the phone or via email
  • having no time to read and exercise my mind
Time just flew and flew and flew so much that you'd swear it was a bird (or international airline since it was "flying" all over the place).

As I began to examine how I had no free time or down time or "me" time, I realized the time had come to make a change. With the encouragement of Marley's book and the reinforcement of some basic time management principles, I began to "take time to make time" in 2011 to set goals, get organized and go further. Guess what? It's working for me and it can work for you too.

Here are a few simple actions I take to make time, set goals, get organized and go further.
  1. Start with the big picture.  Before we know where our time will go, we must identify what we would like our time to result in. This means looking at the calendar year in quarters, then assigning one, major, tangible, "big" goal per quarter. For example, we are almost at the end of Quarter 1, 2011. My major goal was to start performing again. In order to support this, I signed up for weekly stand up comedy classes and graduate March 16th. I committed to my big quarter goal over a period of time and as a result, am so close to accomplishing it. What is it that you would like to accomplish? Say you want to run a race. Make that your "quarter goal" then sign up and participate in a run club for 12 weeks to ensure you complete your goal and have an accountability tool.
  2. Don't bite off more than you can chew on your list of things "to do." I recently read somewhere offline that your to-do list should not contain more than 7 items. At first, I scoffed. 7 items sounded very minimal until I applied this theory and timed myself, then it all started making sense. Here's the thinking behind this. Most of us have 8 hours in a work day to get things done. Within that time we must account for meetings, phone calls, emails, the main functions of our job,  and unforeseen distractions. 7 things on your to-do list means you can spend quality time--at least one hour per action item, to help minimize errors, ensure task completion and account for the unpredictable while keeping you sane. The other day, I came across this post entitled "7 Easy Wins" from the Health and Happiness Club.com which reconfirmed the lucky 7 theory.
  3. Get ready, get set, get timing. I cannot emphasize this enough because I personally had avoided this so much in the past. You must time yourself. Just because we have a cell phone, iPad and laptop does not mean that we can do more in 60 minutes--it may actually mean we do less. Invest in a good old fashioned buzz timer and set it. Time yourself to get the feel for how long it takes you to actually do things. And then once you actually know, start scheduling. Block time for email correspondence, client tasks, phone calls. Here is an example of how I block time. Wake up, 6:30/7:00 am. Eat breakfast, 7:00-7:30. Hygiene, 7:30-8:00. Read/Write/Consume coffee, 8:00-9:00am. To-do list and start the day, 9:00 am-noon. You get the idea. Phone calls are typically in the afternoon, between 3:00-5:00 pm. But this is just my system. Find what works for you. 
  4. Read a book or enlist the help of an organizer. Depending on your discipline, I suggest you either read a book per quarter on getting things done, managing time, etc OR enlist the help of a professional organizer. For me, I have found that reading "But Are You Making Any Money" kills two birds with one stone; I get to take a break and read while learning new skills that help me improve my efficiency. I can apply what I learn very easily. But not everybody has that time (hence this blog post). Should that be the case, there are many professional organizers out there whose sole job and purpose is to help you streamline your time. I recommend Teresa Nicola of Collected Spaces. Despite being based out of Portland, Teresa can provide phone consultations to help clients from all over the globe tackle their time management and have ease of mind. 
These are my tips but I would love to hear from you. Feel free to share your time saving solutions in the comments section below.

Also, I thank you for taking the time to read this. Spread the word. Share this post so we can help create a time surplus. Take time to make time, get those Q2 goals in mind. Then, get organized to ensure you go further this year personally, professionally, and profitably.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Just Ask Jac Is Now Back

It's back. The Ask Jac series has started again effective this Tuesday, March 1, 2011 (except now I am calling it "Just Ask Jac"). Allow me to explain why. 

 This is what you call armed and dangerous. 
(Laptop, Blackberry, Digital Camera--fully loaded)

I created "Ask Jac" as a platform to provide answers and advice for friends, associates and family members.  So, what qualifies me to give advice? Let's just say that over the years, I have earned the nickname "The Jaclyn of All Trades" not because I have stepped outside my comfort zone and pursued different jobs (although that helps), but for the reason's that I am very goal oriented, driven and diversified in my work experience.  

This Jac(k) of All Trades stuff dates back to Centreville Highschool, where I was afforded the opportunity to work and earn class credit. Learn to earn money and get out of school by noon? That was just too good of a situation for me to pass up. And thus it all began, my life as a professional...."professional." 

Way back in ninth grade, I got my stint in the food business by working the cash register at BBQ Country in Centreville, VA. Halfway through the year, after smelling like the scent of barbecue sauce and coleslaw, I made my first career move. I began working at Little Caesar's. Pizza Pizza. The perks of Little Caesar's included free crazy bread, a dollar raise and higher volume of sales (those $5.00 pizza's have always been a good deal, even way back in 1997). 

Year after year, I continued to test out different industries. I was a shampoo girl, I was a sales associate in retail for Foot Locker and Macy's. By senior year, I had arrived. I landed an office job. Ok, my dad was my boss but that's besides the point.

I must admit, I never intended to be a job hopper; simultaneously, while trying all these vocations out, I was a member of my highschool's show choir and LOVED performing therefor I simply viewed working all these different jobs, in different industries while wearing different uniforms and dealing with different customers as....acting.

They say "old habits die hard" and they aren't lying. While in college, I continued to work in different industries--real estate, restaurant, fitness, child development, magazine publishing. "Life is short" I thought. "While I am still in school, why not try and figure out what the heck it is I really want to do?" 

Needless to say, I'm still trying. But at 29, I'm feeling fine. I've found an amazing tool that allows me to combine all of my past experience, passion for performing and knowledge from my many jobs for other people's benefit--this blog. 

And through the years, the Internet has continued to be my one constant, trusted, loyal professional friend. I am in the process of launching this all while taking stand up comedy classes and calculating my next move which I document on a daily basis through blogging and Twitter.

So, now that you know my background, I invite you to hit me with your best shot. Feel free to "Just Ask Jac"--it really is that simple. I will gladly provide a practical answer and some insight via this blog and viola, your life will be complete. (Unless your question is how to cure Charlie Sheen because even the Jaclyn of All Trades can't come up with an answer for that.)