Last December, I took a vow of radio silence from Twitter for 17 days, and although I did find some peace in being untied to my iPhone, I also found that I missed online engagement more than I’d expected. This year, I’m upping the ante, and going Twitter and Facebook-free for 24 days to try and understand more about how social media tools truly impact the life of someone who works in the business itself.
Neither of my top clients — the paying nor the offspring variety — are doing anything on Twitter or Facebook over the next three weeks. So why should I? What can I learn from the online community that I shouldn’t be learning from the people and magic and family that surrounds the holidays in my own home? And what is it about my world that is so important and exciting that I need to disengage from it to broadcast to the world? I’m guessing, not much.
My motivation last year was a $100 credit to Anthropologie from La Gringa if I was able to keep the vow. I don’t have a carrot yet this year. I better think about that.
Now there are logistics to keeping me completely off of Facebook and Twitter for over three weeks. I don’t have self-restraint, so I’m going to have to remove all temptation. Here is how I plan to do it:
1. Remove all social media monitoring tools from my desktop (this is no small task).
2. Remove Tweetdeck and Twitterlator Pro from my iPhone.
3. Go to Twitter.com and set my preferences to not receive any alerts to my mobile device (that’s cheating!)
4. Go to Facebook and set my email alerts to none.
5. Remove FB app from my iPhone.
6. Leave a post/tweet of the day I will be returning (this is mostly for work stuff)
What do you think? Think you could do it? I challenge you to try.Read More
…oh wait, I am going to BlogHer10. But still.
I attended the very first BlogHer in Silicon Valley. I have to say, it wasn’t earth shattering for me. I never considered myself a pro blogger or even an aspiring pro blogger. I have been a journalist. I consider myself one of the tribe. Attending the first BlogHer didn’t do it for me. I was a bit annoyed at all the discussion of blogging for money, blogging for this, blogging for that. And why the focus on women? Weren’t journalists unbiased? Weren’t we held to the high code of honor to never entertain advertorial? It seemed, to me, at least, that BlogHer was one big amateur fest of women that wanted to be paid for their writing. What was the big deal? I thought BlogHer wouldn’t make it to year two. Holy hell, did I miss that one.
In 2008, with a ticket in-hand, I blew off BlogHer in San Francisco in lieu of taking my kids to Pier 39 and dinking around the City. I guess I *still* didn’t drink the kool-aid. BlogHer just seems like so.much.work. It also seems like a sorority gone wrong. Alpha Delta Ohmyfuckinggodstoppitchingme. But again, I was wrong. I had clients that did great business at BlogHer, business that moved the needle in their communications with bloggers.
On Wednesday I leave for BlogHer 2010. This time, I get it. I am at BlogHer to see my people. Some of them are indeed journalists and many I have come to know are not. In fact, many are people that I have grown to respect, admire and some times, get star-struck by. And those craft bloggers that I endlessly made fun of? Those are the ones that are at the core of some of the greatest work in the blogging industry who I am constantly learning from. This year, I am going to BlogHer to celebrate simply being a woman in a cutting-edge industry. I am going to have a cocktail. I am going to support my dear friend in her new book club venture, From Left 2 Write. I’m there for my new project with The SJFive, a kids geocaching adventure coming this fall. And then there is the marketing Me part. The I’m-A-Startup-Advisor-for-Women-Yes-We-Should-Talk-Here’s-My-Card part. That’s my least favorite part. I’m much better at marketing you than marketing me.
On that note, here’s my advice for those going to BlogHer ’10:
1. Without exception, be you. At the end of the day (and beginning, middle and end), being yourself is the very best marketing tool you have. This doesn’t mean dress like you’re homeless or neglect to brush your hair. It just means, be you. If a vendor doesn’t feel like the right match for you, then smile and leave. If a breakout session doesn’t offer what you are needing or how you want to spend your time, just leave. It’s not worth it to stick around half-assed with people, parties or conference sessions that don’t make you feel like you are getting your money’s worth.
2. Take a break. Now everyone talks about how crazy the conference is (and it is); how many parties they are attending (trust me, the free drinks aren’t always worth it); the sponsor events you must go to in order to maximize your time (ever heard of email?). The truth is, this stuff is truly overwhelming, overstimulating and over the top. Taking a break doesn’t mean meeting someone for coffee or even taking a yoga class. Taking a break means going to your room and putting your feet up without your laptop. It means putting on your headphones and stomping down the NYC streets smelling the City and people watching.
3. Live in the Moment. I know that you are wondering which event you are missing, where you should be and what you should be wearing. But being present and enjoying the process is something that I have worked toward for a long time. I’m not great at it at all. I suck. I’m always looking to where I should be, what’s next. I’m slowly learning to live more in the moment. Its my hope and advice to realize how damn lucky we are to be in the midst of great women doing great things and do my best to enjoy ever second I have to learn from them.
4. Plan. A Bit. I’m going to be going mostly under the radar this year. I’ll be going to a couple of parties, but not a ton. I’ll be going to some of the conference elements, but not all. I’ll be meeting up with friends but I also plan to be alone. My plan this year is to (a) not have a hangover (b) look my best (c) exercise Friday, Saturday and Sunday including the BlogHer 5k and an @EatBlogRun and @runteamsparkle reunion. (d) listen to some great speakers work their magic and (e). Bring something home to my children that’s one step above the mad dash at Barak Obama bobble heads at the sundry shop at the airport 20 minutes before boarding.
5. Forget the Popularity Contest. It’s already happening, just as it does every year. Is @punditmom going to be at this-and-that? Who will reign now that @queenofspain is not attending? What will @jessicagottlieb say/do/hang out with? Who is going to be at the cool parties? Who is having a private dinner with the @chevymissions team. Should I be jealous? How do I get in? Do they know I’m famous on Twitter?! Forget it. Seriously, forget it. When women get together — holy crap over 4,000 including sponsors — both magic and shit happen. Women are, well, women. For me it’s important to remember that it better be damn important to be 3,000 miles from my children and spouse for four days and it ain’t to worry about this stuff. Do your own thing, refer to #1 above and you’ll be fine.
My final goal for next week is to Learn. One of my favorite life lessons has been that I am not as smart as I think I am. Or that I am, but there are many that are smarter and smarter in different ways than I am. I don’t plan to market myself at BlogHer. I know that’s what’s done and I know it’s a game you have to play, but it’s just not why I am there. I’m there to learn from the best in the business. And for that alone, I can’t wait.Read More
I wish I could go back in time. Not to tell my first boyfriend that his teeth really did bug me; not to revisit the moment my children were born; not even to undo all the terrible things I did to my parents as a kid. If I could go back in time, I’d approach my work life a lot differently from the get-go. If I were a first-time female entrepreneur, I would:
1. Go to email writing bootcamp. Learning to communicate comes with the territory of learning to do business. Women in business today misinterpret friendly communication with friend communication. Your colleagues are not your pals, and even if they are, email is not meant to be the grounds for planning happy hour while asking for an .xls report. I’m not sure how drawing hearts over an “i” or smiley faces after our names somehow translated to appropriate communication tactics for women in business, but if you are guilty of it, you need to stop.
Here are my tips for proper female email communication (a) Get rid of any exclamation points in your email. Unless Chicken Little was right and the sky is falling, you do not need exclamation points to communicate your urgency or excitement over work issues (b) Forget any icons, shorthand, webspeak. Using TTYL in a work email is not only lazy, it’s disrespectful. Same goes for smiley faces. If you want a work colleague to know you are happy :), cheeky ;) or pissed-off :(, then you need to walk over to them and let them read your body language. More on body language later… (c) Never cross business and personal communication. Although it’s really cool that your workmate’s wife is in your spin class, work email is not a place to address such things. Refrain from finishing or opening your email with “Robyn said you had a great weekend…” — not unless of course, you want your email recipient to get mixed messages on the purpose of your communication. (d) Never say “much” or “love” unless you’re emailing with your mom. Blow off the “thanks so much,” and “I’d love the opportunity.” Never, and I mean never position yourself as weak or desperate. The next time you to go sign an email, “Thanks so much!” think of me. And then, delete.
2. Using body language will generally work — but is it what you really want? I made a huge mistake during the funding of our first company. There was an investor who had the hots for @la_gringa and, as it were, he was a likely investor, a Silicon Valley insider and hot entrepreneur. We knew he liked blondes, we knew he was married, but during a investment pitch dinner, we intentionally flanked him with the two blondes in our company, dressed hot as you can imagine and ready to do business. In the end, we got what we wanted from him — a commitment to look at our company as an investment and a promise to introduce us to others who could too. And then, he stood up from the table and led @la_gringa outside to invite her to his hotel alone for a drink. And there it was. The pickle that we caused by using our female assets to gain traction in business. It took all three of us to get her out of that nightmare and, in the end, it made an uncomfortable situation an unbearable one. The business was strong enough to be funded without trolling in high heels up Sand Hill road. In the end, we didn’t get the investment. Learn from me on this one: you can woo an investor with your body language, but chances are, it’s not what’s best for your start-up.
3. Be a Social Light, not Socialite. The work that you do outside of your business to network both online and offline can truly help make or break you in entrepreneurship. Think about a few things before you engage: what are your goals for attending? What’s your elevator pitch? Who is your buddy? What social media tools are you going to use? Are you selling yourself as a brand or your company as a brand? Are you out for a drink and to get picked up? Don’t even lie to me, I know this one way too well. No matter how you cut it, you are being sized-up in social scenarios. I always attend the Silicon Valley Tweetups. Why? Because some of my friends are there and I want to see them. I can go have a couple glasses of wine and chat in the corner with my friends. But you, you, little Miss-Hot-To -Trot-First-Time-Entrepreneur, you can’t.
Here’s how to be a Social Light First Time Entrepreneur, in no particular order: Look good * Take a work colleague with you, preferably a man * Sip on a single drink * Practice a casual elevator pitch * Have business cards with you (NO PINK BUSINESS CARDS) * Target three people to meet during the event * Ask questions about the said target’s work * Find anyone with the letters VC in their job title and watch how they operate * Make an introduction or two, it’s good for positioning * Leave before the crowd dies down * Send follow-up emails the next morning to your new contacts, add them to your database.
Here’s what you should gain from being a Social Light: A clean, crisp communication of your business, a brand association between you and your business to others in the industry, potential contacts, some learning on other companies and — if only slightly — better understanding on how to approach VCs. Social. Light. Female.
4. Find your tribe. The truth is, female entrepreneurs doing it right are rare. It’s helpful to find others who share your value system in business. It’s also highly valuable to find male entrepreneurs who you can take a lead from too. A recent deal required me to be working in the baggage claim area of SFO. I sat on the floor madly typing, searching for WiFi, using two phones and my computer, looking like a complete freak working a deal for a client. It hit me rather suddenly: There is no man on earth that would do this. I started saying outloud to a colleague: “What would a MAN do right now?” I sent a text message saying that I’d be available in an hour. I shut my computer and I walked out. My phone rang off the hook. I ignored it. Male entrepreneurs do things differently than females — learning the subtleties and taking a cue when to apply them is key to business strategy. Find a tribe of executives like you and you’ll find the resources and learnings are endless.
I’ve noticed over the past decade that women in entrepreneurship tend to emasculate their roles, and with reason: Silicon Valley is still very much a boys club. It’s an extraordinary challenge, but one that can be navigated with grace. Managing businesses with restraint and femininity can win both clients and respect. Lest we forget, ladies: You are your brand.Read More
On December 18 I promised to not Twitter until my children returned to school on January 4. I removed Twitter apps from my iPhone and desktop. I turned off all alerts and DMs. No one thought I could do it. I got teased and provoked to engaged, but I held tough. I was determined to be Twitter-free for 17 days. And indeed, as of this morning, I have accomplished my goal. (And earned $100 Anthropologie gift card for doing it.)
Here’s what I learned from my Twitter Detox:
1. I missed keeping up with Twitter community members that I do not engage with offline. I thought about people and what they, their children and businesses were up to. I missed their updates. I found myself reading more of their blogs, digging deeper than 140 into their thoughts on work and family. It was interesting to get to know members better by not communicating regularly with them.
2. I got teased by my children for not Tweeting, so I guess it was distracted. My kids wanted me to Tweet all kinds of funny stuff they were doing over the holidays. Every time I took a photo of the on my phone, they’d say, “Are you going to Twitter that?” I started to realize that I was habitually recording my children via Twitter. I didn’t like that feeling and I am glad for noticing that I was more engaged with recoding my kids happenings rather than living it with them. There is room for improvement for me.
3. I got behind in the news. I didn’t find out about the underwear terrorist until two days after the fact. I completely missed the civil rights re-up on the streets of Iran. When Google and Yelp fell out of negotiations, I ached to read what the 140 community was saying. Personally, I didn’t read one single Happy New Year message or read one year in review. I didn’t Twitter how my son caught us red-handed on Christmas eve.
During my two-and-half weeks without Twitter, I found myself to sharpen my belief in the power of Twitter, for its purpose and place in my work life. I found that I missed being able to have a venue to share my own fun, kitchy, silly world and yearned more to hear about others. I miss getting instant gratification and sharing instant information.
And so I’m back. My apps back on my phone, TweetDeck plunking away on my desktop. I don’t have much to say yet. Except to say I missed you.Read More
I’ve been a part of online communities for so long, it’s hard to remember life without it. I can recall running to RadioShack in the early 90s to hook my then-smoking hot computer to the small but growing America Online in order to chat with a group of triathletes. Connecting with people of like-minds has always been one of my great passions. However, being a part of communities online means that our communities offline have to be balanced. Over 15 years later, I’m still trying to work the balance of managing relationships online without it affecting my relationships offline. It’s not that I’m bad at it. Actually, I’m good at it! But it’s work. And my gift to my children this Christmas was going to be a work-free mommy.
Today is the last day I will Tweet until the kids go back to school on January 4. I won’t peek, lurk or wish-wash my way into Twitter. I’ll mostly avoid all other social media sites as well. I have already removed all social media apps from my iPhone. I’ll reinstall them in a couple weeks. And with few exceptions, I plan on being radio-silent in my online life. Being fully engaged with my children during their time off from school is the best present I can think of to give them.
Hey, Twitter: See you on the other side of the decade.Read More
Facebook, the modern necessity of communicating with family and friends, is about the only thing in the world that always wants to know what’s on your mind. It’s like the perfect guy: always wants to know what you’re up to, will tolerate stories and girlfriends chiming in to support your blabber. It appeases our need for attention and curbs lonliness. Afterall, at least Facebook always wants to know what’s on your mind.
But do I want Facebook on my mind? I’m not so sure the feeling is mutual.
Facebook to me is a necessary evil. Its mass reach potential gets the word out to my family (yes, even my mom, my brother, my aunts and cousins) and friends about life events. It keeps me up with theirs. It put the daily happenings of others in the forefront of my narcissistic mind. Facebook fills the need for me to communicate in a 1>many environment. But is Facebook a place to tell the world what’s on my mind? Not so much.
My Facebook friends include high school friends who tormented the shit out of me, whom, with few exceptions, I don’t really give a good-gosh-darn what’s on their minds. My little Fbook gives me access to work colleagues too. And quite frankly, I’m not really into what’s on their minds unless it has something to do with our industry. And if I care enough, I’m already pulling in the RSS on their blog, follow them on Twitter and likely see them in person. So why do I care what’s on their mind?
As for what’s on my mind, that’s another story all-together. If you ask @la_gringa, there is always a laundry list of things on my mind. I’m not sure that Facebook will ever be my personal place to share what I’m thinking about. Facebook friends are people I already know, have known or wish I didn’t know anymore. Messages on Facebook are crafted. Groups to join are intentional. Interests are deliberate. That, I would argue, isn’t what’s on my mind, it’s rather what I want to communicate. What I want the world to know, to see, to believe.
If you want to know what’s really on my mind, you can find it about 15 times per day when I spout it off on Twitter . A state of mind is fleeting, a Facebook status is face time. Totally different in my mind. Twitter is truly a microblog for me. It’s my place to be naughty, silly, angry, funny. It’s a place to be real. Want to know what’s on my mind? Follow me in 140.Read More