Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stylish, Spiritual, Serendipity Sunday--RIP Meg Wasley

More often than not in my life, I experience intense episodes of serendipity.

Serendipity denotes the property of making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated, or the occurrence of such a discovery during such a search.

Something will happen, I'll receive a sign that reminds me there is a spiritual side to this thing we call life. Today was one of those days and as a result, I now know of the Meg Wasley Smile Foundation. 

It is my hope that after reading this blog post you will help me spread the word about the Meg Wasley Smile Foundation too. Meg Wasley was only 8 years old when she passed away this January after battling a brain tumor.

Prior to learning of Meg's life, this Sunday started off as any ordinary Sunday (sort of). I woke up fighting a cold, I ventured over to the gym to sweat and steam the cold out then I walked home while enjoying brisk, fresh air. I indulged in my daily cup of Starbucks coffee and also went to the grocery store to pick up food. After all that running around, some relaxation was necessary so I turned on the TV and tuned into the Style Network. 

There, before me on the television screen, were two little girls getting their hair and make up done. Out of curiosity, I picked up the remote and clicked to find out more about the show I was watching: Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane. The two little girls, Meg Wasley and Taal Mosely, were part of Aoki Lee Simmons (Kimora's daughter with Russell Simmons) Make A Wish Foundation Birthday party.

Meg Wasley, left. Taal Mosely, right.

Aside from the fact that I admire how Kimora Lee Simmons can laugh at herself on her show and be close knit with her kids, ex-husband and friends, I recently started watching Life in the Fab Lane more frequently because a few women that I network with in LA were on a previous episode.

It also doesn't hurt (for entertainment purposes) that through the show, Kimora likes to instill values in her girls hence the Make-A-Wish Foundation themed birthday party which Meg Wasley was featured in. The eight year old was fulfilling her dream to model and walk a runway.

Since 1980, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® "has enriched the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work."

After a successful day of fashion and fun, the episode came to an end. The credits rolled then a slide came across the screen that read "Meg Wasley, April 11, 2002-January 10, 2011." I froze while 1,000 thoughts ran through my mind.

After a serious moment of silence, I decided the best thing I could do was to find out more about Meg and spread the word. What was her story? She battled with a brain tumor, she had an older brother. Meg lived in North Carolina and was an adopted member of the Duke Women's Lacrosse Team. Eight eight years, she managed to smile, to enjoy the precious moments of life and to go for her dreams. In one year, her life changed. After a diagnosis and time spent in and out of treatment, she passed away.

And so I pondered, how could we continue to carry Meg Wasley's legacy on?

I quickly hit the Internet and came across Meg Wasley's CaringBridge site  which provides various ways to honor her life. One opportunity is approaching. The Meg Wasley Smile Foundation will be participating in Duathlon (running/biking/running race) to be held on Saturday April 9th at 8:30 at Womble Park in Holly Springs, NC.

But if you're not in North Carolina, don't worry. The site also features alternative events and causes which will honor Meg Wasley, visit for more details.

Today wasn't any ordinary Sunday; it was stylish, it was spiritual. It reminded me that no one is promised tomorrow; to make the most of every moment, to appreciate health.

I was also reminded that should serendipity provide you with the opportunity to carry on someone's legacy, do it. Please help me. Share Meg's story. Blog about it, Tweet about it. Be about it.

RIP Meg Wasley. "Another princess has earned her wings."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feel Good Fridays-Your Word Is Your Bond In Marketing and Beyond

Every Friday, I try to offer enlightening and positive perspective through my "Feel Good Friday" series. But this Friday, I don't feel good, at least not yet.

I am listening to the PS 22 Chorus as a means to lift my mood. These kids always have a way of settling one's spirits--the combination of their talent, passion and enthusiasm can even bring Debbie Downer out of the dumps.

So why post something to Feel Good Friday if I don't feel good? Did you read the other half of the title? Your word is your bond in marketing and beyond.

The purpose of my post today is to show (1) that I am human and although I strive to be positive and easy going, somedays even I struggle with drowning out negative thoughts and (2) your character cannot escape you in your personal or professional life so act with integrity.

Your word is your bond in marketing and beyond. 

I have to be honest via this blog and state that I have a hard time dealing with people, companies and thought leaders alike that lie, mislead or cheat their way to success. Peter Shankman had an awesome post this week entitled "Welcome to the Age of You Gonna Get Caught" addressing this very issue when Groupon and FTD found themselves in a sticky situation.

I will say it again. Your word is your bond in marketing and beyond.

We all have moments in our lives where our character may come into play. Either we can satisfy ourselves first or try and satisfy another person whether they be a significant other, a customer, a friend or a foe. If you need to be honest about something which may lead to less profitablity, the potential loss of a relationship, any loss in general, do you satisfy our own selfish needs and desires and conceal information or do you step up to the home plate and hit a homerun with honesty?

Telling the truth may hurt, there may in fact be a loss of some sorts but nothing is worse than individuals, businesses and friends that don't speak the truth. So how does lying affect business, affect relationships and the world subsequently? The truth shall allow you to move forward, move freely, to move with fortitude. The truth allows things to remain balanced and fair.

When you lie, deceive, withhold or refrain you set forward a series of actions that affect your ability to live comfortably and true. Who wants to have to always watch over their shoulder or wonder when they will get caught? We know for sure that every dog has his day.

To those who compromise professional integrity, your customers will not be forgiving (nor should be). False advertising will come back around to you (consumers are intelligent and now have more power than you acknowledge). To those who compromise personal integrity, good luck. It's really not too hard to live by the golden rule in and out of business. To paraphrase, do good to others without thinking how it will impact you--at all, what so ever. Step up, man up, show that integrity is more valuable than fools gold.

At the end of the day, that which is built upon a frail and fake foundation shall collapse. Do right by your customers, colleagues, friends and close contacts. The rest will take care of itself.

Your word is your bond in marketing and beyond--remember that. I'm glad I got this off my chest, now it really is a Feel Good Friday--Billy Idol and all.

I'd love to hear from you too. Comments? Thoughts?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life Is Not A One Way Tweet

I often joke that various social media tools can be a metaphor for life. This isn't because I think we are all social human beings therefore we should all naturally excel at social media. That would just be too easy. Also, that assumption is not true since I have encountered a few people who feel more comfortable online as opposed to offline.

Now this is a group of super social people.
Social media allows us to connect, no matter our connecting preference, be it chats on Twitter or networking events at a bar. Twitter (and social media in general), prove that the fundamental "like attracts like"  often rings true. We can follow other people with common interests, similar professions and hobbies as well. There are Twitter moms, there are entertainers, then we have hospitality and inspiring tweeps--the list goes on and on.

With "like attracts like" in mind, we choose to follow those that will provide us some sort of content, solution or story that WE are looking for. Yet I also believe that when you help your followers and other Twitter users online and offline, not only do you get rewarded, but you feel better too. Examples of rewards can range from an increase in traffic to your site or a follower that promotes you to their Twitter stream; even someone helping you to make a connection from their rolodex that will be of benefit to you. The feel good feelings are indicators that you are helping someone without the expectation of something in return.

So you see, life is not a one way tweet, on or offline. I recently thought of this after receiving an email from a friend seeking some help with social media. Here's a slight transcript of what we discussed:

Friend: I like Facebook and feel most comfortable with that medium, however, on a personal note, I have not utilized it a lot because I don't like the lack of privacy, but for business I see the how important it is! I signed up for Twitter, but same thing...who wants to follow me? I'm pretty boring ;-)

My response: Let me plant an interesting idea in your mind. When you go to a party, how do you make conversation? Who do you talk to? How do you get a conversation going? These may seem like trivial questions but this is what social media is--exchanging information and sharing.

When you think about it that way, it puts it into perspective how these tools should be used. Do you like the person at the party that only talks about themself (equate this to a "one way tweet--when companies ONLY tweet about their latest promotions/happenings) or do you like people who ask your opinion on things too?

I always try and give people this analogy to show how Twitter is just a stage; a medium. But the means to the message now includes participation. Customers have a say on what they like and dislike which, as I heard today in my panel, "gives brands time to quickly correct their path."

Hope this info helps! More to come. 

The more I thought about our correspondence, the more I realized that a lot of us online already get that "we don't need to share promotional material only.
" Buy MY product, get MY free webinar. We know that message gets tuned out very quickly.

However, what I did realize is that we could all use a few reminders regarding other ways that Twitter and life are not a one way tweet

1) Offer helpful advice. If you look at the hashtag #newbies, you'll come across individuals that are new to the stage. Be a good Twitizen, reach out and ask a newbie if they need help. To add to this, newbies aren't the only ones that are seeking feedback. Reach out to your friends and followers to see if they are stuck on something that could benefit from your expertise. One TwiTip a day and the online world will be a better place!
2) Online meet offline. Remember, you don't have to offer advice to someone that's already using social media. A lot of times, people hold back from using Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin because they feel as though they don't know how. Answer their questions, provide some resources or be their first follower! Encourage them to give it a shot and get going.
3) Thank and support those that help you.  As an example, I am participating in a blog challenge. The moderator, Ricardo Bueno, assigns us daily assignments to help us improve our blog. On top of that, he responds to all of our comments while working a full time job for Diverse Solutions, an Internet marketing company for real estate professionals. There are various ways I thank Ricardo--from a good old "thank you Tweet" to promoting our blog challenge #31dc. Online or offline-thank you goes along way especially if someone is helping you on their "off time."
4) No time offline to volunteer, no problem. I get it. We're all busy now a days and may not have time to get directly involved in our communities to volunteer. But social media can provide a simple solution to that. There are MANY non-profits and causes online that allow you to give back with just a few clicks. Here are are few: World Vision, Women for Women and charity: water. These support my interests, of course you can find those that fit your philanthropic goals too.

The moral of this story is:  Life is not a one way tweet and social media reminds me of that on a daily basis.

What are some tips that you utilize to ensure life is not a one way Tweet?

What are some of your Twitter success stories where you've helped out or contributed to the community only to have it come back and help you out?

Please do tell by adding a comment in the section below.

Lastly, are you stuck on something? Ready to take the Twitter plunge but don't know how? Let me know too via the comments section too. I am more than happy to help.

Signing off,

The Jaclyn of All Trades

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feel Good Fridays-Follow Your Yellow Brick Road

"As you journey through life, choose your destination wisely, but don't hurry there. You will arrive soon enough. Wander the back roads, the forgotten paths, the unknown ways, as you keep your dreams in your heart as the light that guides you. 

Seek out new voices, strange sights, and bold ideas. Such things are riches for the soul. 

And if, upon your arrival, you find that your destination is not exactly what you dreamed it would be, don't be disappointed. Think of all you would have missed if not for the journey there, and know that the true worth of your travels lies not just in where you've come to be, but in who you become along the way." ---Linda Staten

 When all is said and done, I hope my journey takes me back here.
Photo: Jaclyn Mullen. Cancun, Mexico in July, 2010.

Upon waking up this first Friday of February, I grabbed a book that was gifted to me by my college roommate Nicole (who happens to be one of my closest friends). The title "GO FOR IT--A Celebration Of Your Dreams" just called my attention this morning.

As most people do when reading a book, I flipped open to the first few pages and came upon the paragraph above. Then, I paused in my tracks. For some reason, the Wizard of Oz popped into my head and I thought about the "yellow brick road."

We all have a journey; a yellow brick road but where is it leading us? 

Does it matter where we are going so long as we grow along the way?

More importantly, have you ever arrived at the destination of the road feeling like you went down the wrong way?

Each new year is a new road to follow. That's why we create New Years resolutions and set annual goals. Some years are better than others. And for those that may not turn out as we had hoped, are we able to see who we have become along the way? 

I, unlike a lot of other people, have the fortune of pursuing various yellow brick roads. For one, I have a risk taking spirit by nature, not in a wild sense. I am a gypsy. I can live out of a suitcase without any discomfort. I am single, no husband, no kids, no pet. I can roam freely and have always taken advantage of that.

Plane picture I took circa 2007

There was the time I left my hometown at eighteen to move to Florida and start completely anew. Several years later, I moved to LA. There was the time I quit my corporate job working for a commercial real estate firm to pursue my passions and joined a hip hop dance crew. These days, I'm on a whole new path and have to work really hard not to rush to get "there."

But what about you? Are you frustrated that the route "there" is taking so long? Do you stop and make a list of accomplishments you have achieved along the way? Daily, weekly, monthly? Do you venture off into the unknown or is fear holding you back from pursuing something you REALLY want to do?

Read the statement above from Linda Staten again. Seek out a new sight today in your hometown, drive or walk a different route home. And if you can't enjoy the journey because you're pressed for time, have no fear. I'm happy to provide one new voice, one strange sight and one bold idea this Feel Good Friday. 
  1. New Voice...sort of. These guys are definitely guaranteed to make you get up out of your seat and move, courtesy of many other people's voices. I don't know how "they" do it but I LOVE IT. Check out Hood Internet vs Chicago, these dynamic DJ's mix up an amazing assortment of hip hop, rock, 80's music. Whenever I need to be productive, I listen to a Hood Internet mix. Being 'hood never felt so good.
  2. New, strange sight. I don't mean strange as in funky or weird, I mean strange as in new--something you don't see everyday. Newsflash, you don't have to fly anywhere to see a new sight. Check out National Geographic--with a few clicks of your mouse, you can see the sunset in Kenya.
  3. One bold idea. Apple, one of America's most popular brands, has always been bold, brave and bad ass! This article from demonstrates how a brand like Apple can think different and find success. Perhaps it can inspire a bold new idea or approach in you.
As this post proves, you don't have to go very far to find something new. After all, it was the wise Lao Tzu has said, "the journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet." 

Beneath--not ahead of one's feet, or behind. Right where you are. Follow the yellow brick road, even if you don't end up at your desired Emerald Castle, for maybe, as it's been in my case, it will be a Ruby Castle instead.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How To Live A Life Filled With Inspiration and Avoid Groundhogs Day Redundancy

Today was Groundhogs Day. And just because we recognize this occasion on the second of February (while waiting for  an animal to engage his shadow) does not mean that tomorrow won't be Groundhogs Day again--in the Bill Murray sense.

How often do you just wake up and function on autopilot? How often do you break out of the same old routine?  How often do you identify with the clip above and feel that you are stuck in the same actions that don't take you anywhere different on a daily basis?

Hear me out. Structure is important. I believe structure to be a key component to success. I am not debating the need for structure in our daily lives.

But what I am saying is that we need a little spontaneity. Variation in our routine is just as important as structure for it leads to inspiration. And a life filled with a little inspiration leads to a lot of happiness.

This song inspired me today. I hope it inspires you too.

So, how do we live a life filled with inspiration? Can this be taught? I believe so. If you can learn "how to speak french" or "how to pack light" then why not learn how to live a life filled with inspiration right here on the Internet. That said, here are my recommendations for living an inspired life.
  1. Take up a new hobby or interest that you are passionate about. Circumstances such as credit card debt or rent may not allow us to have our dream job (for the time being) but that doesn't mean you should completely abandon interests that you are passionate about. It's often so sad to hear of people who studied subjects such as performing arts in college that abandon their talents because they need a job that "pays their bills." Don't give up on your talents--research classes in your local area; they can be at an art studio or community college. Yelp can also serve as a great resource online. Depending upon where you live, the selection will vary but you can find inspiration in pursuing your passions, even if the pursuit is a part time endeavor.
  2. Read motivational quotes and literature. It's no secret that the headlines of today are more of a "shock and awe" approach rather than "our world is a wonderful place in which we live." We are apt to hear of a robbery rather than learn of a young boy who sings songs for his peers that are stricken with cancer. Since our thoughts become our actions, in order to live a life filled with inspiration, it is imperative to read motivational literature and quotes. Not only will we gain perspective; we'll be able to see how some of the most successful individuals faced their obstacles head on and as a result, became inspiring influencers of society. 
  3. Make a gratitude list. Since we've become so resourceful due to technology, it's easy to get frustrated when things don't go our way. We have access to things at the click of our finger tips and want the latest and greatest NOW. But have you ever stopped to think about what it is that you currently have which you are thankful for? What are the things you treasure that money cannot buy? Write down the top 3 things you are thankful for each morning; embrace an attitude of gratitude and surely you will feel inspired.
  4. Help those in need. This is perhaps one of the most important honors we can exercise on this planet, for it reminds us that some people have more challenging circumstances. It can also inspire empathy and tolerance. To coincide with action #3, helping those in need reminds us of the wealth we have in choice. You can choose to see all the obstacles in your life, or you can compare your issues to someone else who may have more dire circumstances (which will allow you to snap out of your pity party). So long as you have a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in and food on your table, you can be inspired to go out there and go for it, each and everyday.
Inspiration--the very word has been responsible for some of the greatest inventions and contributors of all time.  You don't have to be a philosopher, scientist or poet to be inspired. All you need is a little shift in perspective and your life can shift into a more inspiring place. Say goodbye to Groundhogs Day--unless it's February 2, 2012.

The choice is yours. Wake up with a different set of eyes by choosing to live a life filled with inspiration. And share how you inspire yourself or others by commenting on this post.