Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

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Breaking Up with Facebook

Posted on Apr 5, 2014 in Featured |

Breaking Up with Facebook

For the past seven years, I have take a self-imposed hiatus from Facebook for about a month. Some years I learn something from the break, most years I don’t. This year I learned that I don’t want to be on Facebook anymore.

I get Facebook for work. I live it; it’s my bread-and-butter. But, I no longer see its value in my personal life, and it’s time to do something about that.

Facebook can make my work a smashing success (or a failure). It can make me feel like I’m wildly well-respected as a professional, and completely stupid as fuck all in the same week.

I coach companies to put transparency first in their communication strategy. Yet few marketers actually apply this to their personal Facebook personas. The truth is, we tell Facebook what we want to broadcast, transparency aside. We professional crafters are the worst offenders; we craft how we appear to our friends, a gentle balance of self-deprecation,humor, wit and humility. With Facebook, we build our personal brand right alongside those we are paid to build.

So, after much thought, I’ve determined that I can’t have both a belief in corporate transparency online and not be willing to be transparent myself. My Facebook account has to go.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile…

In July 2013, I had 600 Facebook friends — people I am connected to for work, childhood pals, parents of my kids’ friends, ex-work colleagues and a zillion acquaintances. But, only a few handful of those I’m lucky enough to call Friends. My Friends knew all hell was breaking loose in my personal life last year, yet not one single FB post reflected what was going on. It was all crafted. So what about the other 580 people?

In October my login data on Facebook Account page showed that I visited about 35 times daily. This might sound shockingly high, but a new study reveals most people check their Facebook page an average of 14 times daily from their smartphones alone. Since I work on Facebook about 15 percent of my time, I’d say 35 times daily wasn’t so bad.

Except, I still felt bad. Why? Because I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. My posts had Zero Transparency. If I wasn’t going to post what was really going on in my personal life, then what was the point of having Facebook at all? It became clear over time: Facebook is my work, and, (as it should be) there is no room for my personal life at work.

Here’s how I broke up with The Face Book.

October 2013 — I parsed out any people on Facebook who I wouldn’t want to send a holiday card to. I took my Facebook friends from 640 to about 200, hoping to increase the signal:noise ratio and focus on better, more meaningful personal content. In contrast, however, in October I moved nearly all of my client’s marketing budget INTO Facebook spend — promoted posts, sponsored posts, retargeting campaigns, contests, sweepstakes, more.

November 2013 — My work on FB was at full-throttle but in contrast, my personal life was radio silent online. The irony of that still embarrasses me. How did I get from being an evangelist for social transparency and yet say nothing about my real life? My posts were hidden behind mildly entertaining content and prideful boasts of my kids. Nothing about ME was shared. I’m a peacock.

December 2013 — My colleagues’ work was bleeding into my Facebook stream, causing even more muddy waters between personal and professional life. During the end-of-the-year flurry, my blogger friends began posting on behalf of brands they represent at a furious pace — “Enter My Giveaway! Merry Christmas Friends! Here’s a Craft from Sponsor X!” We, the anti-spammers had become just that. Moreover, I was all-too-aware that I was both a client and a consumer of these Facebook pleas.

January 2014 — Vacation with the kids means no Facebook. On return, I got a sinking feeling logging back in. I started thinking of a customized FB home page where my work posts and groups appear first, and friend posts are suppressed. Maybe visa-vera? It sparked an idea to move away from personal content to a pro FB account.

February 2014 — I received nearly 100 Facebook Happy Birthday messages, and a dozen paper BDay cards in snailmail. I never read one of the FB messages and kept the paper ones in my dining room for a week. Meanwhile, my Facebook daily logins drop by nearly 50% as my work with The Mother Company ends. I felt a massive sigh of relief to be spending less time on the site.

March 2014 — I attended Spring Training (#GoGiants!) and changed my profile picture to one of me holding a beer at the ball field. For my 100 or so friends, it was hilarious since I barely drink beer at all. However, the next day I had four emails from non-Facebook friends about that picture. How? Because using Facebook Connect pulls in my picture data. Of course it does. Again, my personal and professional lives were colliding.

That was enough for me to put my plan into motion.

The Breakup

April 3, 2014 — I executed on my plan to free my personal life from my professional life on Facebook. I did four things: (1) I created a new Facebook account for myself to run and administer the Pages I use for work and work networking. Call it my corporate account. Yes, it kills my ability to have a large personal reach, but why would I rely on my personal network to promote clients anyway? (2) I downloaded a copy of all of my Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s easy. (3) I added myself to any groups I needed to be a part of as a corporate persona versus personal one. (4) I deleted the Facebook apps from all of my devices.

What is there to net from this?

I’m observing that personal social media and social media for business are very blurry lines for those of us who are entrenched in the space. How do we draw the line? Where do we draw the line? And how do we examine what social transparency really is? I’m not sure I can sell the idea of marketing a brand with transparency if I’m not willing to do it myself. Then again, maybe it’s because I know how effective Facebook marketing can be that I’ve removed myself from it. And where do we reel back in our lives to being private lives?

In reading back over posts spanning several years, Facebook has served as a personal journal for me — what my first company FamilyRoutes was meant to be. But unlike Facebook, a journal doesn’t give you feedback, or likes or comments. It doesn’t take what you post, churn the data and market you a product to fix it or cure it. It just is words on a page meant for you and your eyes only. Somewhere for me, it crossed the line. For goodness sake, two years ago I announced my separation from La Gringa on Facebook. Do we really need to live that transparently?

I’m not sure this experiment will work. My career relies on me understanding Facebook, it’s power and value. And I believe deeply in both. The challenge ahead of me is whether or not I can simply use Facebook as a vehicle for work, or if I’ll find renewed purpose for Facebook in my personal life.

October 2013 — Average Daily Facebook logins 35
February 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 18
April 2014 — Average Daily Facebook logins 1

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Ebbs and Flows and Friends

Posted on Jun 13, 2013 in Family and Friends, Featured |

Ebbs and Flows and Friends

We’ve been inseparable friends for five years, oh, maybe six. Living a couple doors down from one-another, our homes were a constant stream of laughter and baby tears and messy food and grown-up banter. Our spouses loved one-another as deeply as men — and women like them — can. We had babies and raised babies and raised one-another.

And then I moved two streets over; became single, and my amazing friend had a third baby, all in the same year.

I’m glad I moved, and I’m widly in love with the baby. But things are different.

It’s been a couple months now of my dear friend not being available. She’s moved-on from me to younger moms and has found new friends on the street where I once lived. Her life is full. I’ve watched her duck and dodge me — even tonight — and I know it’s not in malice, but because she feels bad that she’s moved unknowingly into her life of having younger children, and I, into my life of having older ones.

I recognize this pattern, because I am the younger one in my friendshp with Tess — 16 years my senior — who “took my childhood in her stride,” as the lyrics go. I’m trying to mimic how Tess treated me: full of love, and happy to have me whenever I could muster it between babies and other new mommies that were in the thrust of the same life moments as I was at the time.

But… my heart hurts. And even as I fight jealously, I’m grateful for her new friends because it means her needs are filled. That I learned from Tess.

She, and most of the people who know me in real life, and not as Garza Girl, do not read my blog. She’ll never stumble on this entry, and that gives me peace, too. She doesn’t need to know that I miss our friendship, that I wish our children were closer in age, that I wish so much that I hadn’t moved, only for being that much closer together.

I can’t time-shift, and I wouldn’t even if I could.

My beautiful, kind, loving, smart, funny friend will come around when the smoke clears, and I’ll be there, just as Tess did for me.

It doesn’t mean it’s hurt free. It stings to ebb — and I cannot wait for the flow again.

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Permission: A Year Run-Free

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Featured |

Permission: A Year Run-Free

It broke my heart almost every morning that I didn’t run. I love to run, I love to not have a huge ass, too, so running and I have always gotten along. Until last May.

A year ago, my sweet ex and I reluctantly broke up for good, and although the change was good, it rocked every single part of my life. I found myself unable to go for an early morning run (who would watch the kids?), unable to get to the gym after work since I took a job an hour from home after our break-up. Every morning I woke up and instantly felt awful that I knew, before even getting out of bed, that I wouldn’t exercise that day. And hence, every day started with a failure.

Thank God for therapists.

One day this awesome therapist said to me, “You are not going to work out. This we know. What you haven’t done is give yourself the permission to take time off from exercise.”

Somehow that word, “permission” sucker-punched me. It was true: I needed to give myself permission to remove exercise from my life for awhile. I needed to take it off of my to-do list or the should list or whatever list. I needed to not worry about it. At all.

I was suddenly sure of myself in a way I hadn’t been in months. I went home, I collected all of my workout and running clothes and I put them up in the closet. And the most amazing thing happened: the next morning, and every morning since then, I have woken up without the dread of missing a workout. Friends would tell me about a race or a run or a hike or a bike and I was truly happy for their fitness; just as happy as I was about my mental fitness.

Today marks one year of giving myself permission to be exercise-free. I pulled down my running clothes and tried them on. They were tight, but they fit. A year without running and my clothes still fit! I didn’t turn into a massive hog or a slobby sloth. My 42-year-old ass looks like a 42-year-old jiggly ass that hasn’t worked out in a year, but I can live with that. Because my 42-year-old mind is fit as can be. I did it.

My kids are older now, and leaving for a bit in the morning is not scary anymore. My job in Pleasanton didn’t last past the winter and I get to work from my home office most days, so a workout is fully possible today in a way it couldn’t have been a year ago.

This morning I walked four miles with a friend, loving every minute of being back on the trail. Tomorrow I’ll go for a short run. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.

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Five Rules for WFH

Posted on Apr 17, 2013 in Featured, Work |

Five Rules for WFH

I’ve worked from home for the past several years in one capacity or another. From consulting to remote work to a coveted weekly work-from-home day. I consider working from home a discipline, a privilege and responsibility.

I ran into a fellow marketing exec the other day who said she much preferred to work in the office than at home, because, “I always end up finding things to do at home that is not work.” I hear stories like this all the time, so I figured I’d share with you the five rules I have in my daily work routine to ensure that I am maximizing my work and minimizing interruption.

1. Get Dressed for Work
That’s right. Get up, get dressed, put on your work clothes. Daily, I put on high heels, jewelry and makeup. The heels are important because I learned during my prep school days that uncomfortable shoes keep us from getting too comfy — and stiff shoes keep us on our toes (literally).

2. Keep the Desk a Work Space
I have always had my desk as a command center for work. However, it’s not the family command center. Homework to be signed and kids projects don’t belong on my desk. They can leave that stuff on the kitchen counter. Every day I come to my desk, turn the light, sit down and work. My kids know that if I’m at that desk, I am not to be interrupted. My kids have even texted me from the backyard to ask me a question about this or that — mommy is working and I require that respect and space to work.

3. Schedule breaks
It’s impossible in my experience to work from home without wanting to water the plants or grab the mail when you hear it drop in the slot. I schedule three breaks in the day, just like I do at work. The first one is mid-morning. I do household work for a bit (water the plants, throw a marinade on the skirt steak for dinner). The second break is the good one: I go out for lunch. Yes, go out for lunch. I grab lunch where other working people are out, too. I sit down, enjoy my break, check my personal email, make a call or two. Later in the afternoon, I take a break when my kids get home. Most days, they’re running off with our beloved nanny to this-or-that sport or activity, but a quick cuddle is all any of us need.

4. Respect your work day
If you are as blessed as I am, you’ve got family and friends that would love to stop by, hang out, grab a late afternoon glass of wine. Communicating your work-day boundaries only take one brief sentence: “I’d love to but I don’t get out of work until 6.” Or, “I have about 45 minutes for lunch on Tuesday.” Respecting your work day enough to set boundaries for others has always helped me be most efficient in my work-from-home environment. They’ll get it. And, when you do meet, you’ll not have the guilt that you should be working.

5. Closed-Ended Days
If you’ve done it right, you’ve put in eight-to-10 efficient hours of work, and you’re exhausted. You should be. Leave your work day with the same amount of ceremony you began it. I shut off my computer completely. I don’t answer unscheduled work calls after my day is done. I turn off the lamp at my desk. I organize papers and to-do lists for the next day. I clear off coffee cups and scratch paper. I am done.

It doesn’t take a certain “type” of person to work from home — it just takes parameters to work within that drive the most efficiency, produce the best work possible, and reap the benefits from calling the homefront your work HQ.

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My Right Hand Man

Posted on Mar 11, 2013 in Featured, Thing 1 |

My Right Hand Man

My ex’s grandfather died today. And my Kitchen-Aid mixer is still packed from the kitchen remodel, so I couldn’t make chocolate chip cookies. If you know me, you know that I believe most things can be fixed by making chocolate chip cookies.

It’s not often that I cry, but this old man was a good soul — he’s worth a tear or two or ten. My son heard me and got out of bed. There’s a line where motherhood meets humanity and tonight, humanity won.

Tonight’s story isn’t really one for the public, except, I never want to forget it. And I’ve long since given up journals.

My boy came out to the livingroom in his green footy pajamas, and stated, “As your Right Hand Man, I want to know if there is anything I can do for you.”

I said, “Yeah, you can go to bed, it’s 10 p.m.”

And he said, “Blue puppy (his stuffed animal since birth) and my pillow and I have been camped out right here (pointing to the hallway) and we can hear you cry.”

I replied, “Crying isn’t always bad. I’m happy and safe and it’s time for you to go to bed.”

And my dear little man stood, hands animated like I couldn’t believe:

“There are three things you need to understand:

One: We men always play to our strengths. People who know how to play Bridge understand this, but you don’t know how to play Bridge.

Two: You have to put your hobbies first when you speak. What are your hobbies, Mom? Cooking? That’s not a hobby. Kids? I’m not a hobby, mom! You have to think of a good hobbies. You like football. And soccer. Those are good hobbies.

Three: You say things like ‘happiness’ and ‘health’ and ‘karma’ but those are all spiritual things. Don’t say spiritual things. You can say hobbies. Like if you say ‘technology’ I will say that’s a good one.”

I literally was struck silent. In fact, even as I type, I’m still shocked, just trying to type before I forget what he said.

I teased him, “Technology my bum, little one!”

He wouldn’t budge.

I asked him if he wanted to call my ex. He said, “Some things need time. I will call her another day.”

Again, he struck me silent.

“Everything is fine, son,” I told him.

He looked at me, standing in the hall in his green footy pajamas and Blue Puppy hanging from his fist, “I know. But I’m your right hand man.”

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Monday Night Family

Posted on Sep 20, 2012 in Featured, iVoices |

Monday Night Family

In our family, Monday Night Football is sacred — always has been. For as long as I can remember, Monday nights meant eating dinner by the TV (a rarity!), and getting the chance to scream and yell and jump on the furniture. I have a memory of my mom jumping on the couch in her Oakland Raiders t-shirt that said “Property of Oakland Raiders” — it was grey and black and I thought she was so cool to have such a grown-up shirt. My grandmother, too, was a huge MNF fan, cozying-up to her little TV to watch MNF, but really only if Dallas was playing. Then it was Roger Staubach time — number 12, baby. GO DALLAS.

When Dallas plays Monday Night Football now, I bring out an old photo of my grandmother, place it in front of the TV, and put a beer and a handful of Lay’s potato chips beside her. Oh yeah, we’re a little nuts, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

During the NFL season each year, I have a Monday Night Football open house. I make a big, giant pot of somethingruther because I am not about to be sitting in the kitchen while everyone else watches the game. Chili, enchiladas, make-your-own tacos or a big, kitchen-sink salad are always waiting in the kitchen. You can find me and my kids plunked in front of the TV, just like my parents did when I was a kid. We cheer and scream and let out all the inappropriate loud noises we can’t burst out with at work and at school: “OFFSIDES, SUCKERS!,” ¬†howls my daughter, while my son, intense as ever, wearing his Brady or Crabtree jersey, fist pumps with a defiant “WHAT A HIT!” It’s our unspoken permission to let it all go.

Every Monday night during NFL season, I feel the sense of family all around — tradition runs deep with us, and football is no exception.

So if you’re in the neighborhood this season, stop on by for a Monday Night Football fete — the food the people and the TV are all warm, the beer is cold and we’ll be waiting for you.

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