How to Succeed as Influencer #SparkMe

Influencer“Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing channel, ” according to the latest poll from influencer marketplace Tomoson. Everywhere Agency‘s Founder and President Danica Kombol reaffirmed this at the first day of Spark.me conference in Budva, Montenegro. You can read more about her talk, “Marketing Under the Influence” here. Today, I want to focus on how you get noticed by people online through social media and blogging. It is not something that comes by accident.  It requires hard work and an innovative strategy. At its core, being an influencer is having the power to create an effect, change opinions and behaviors, and drive measurable outcomes online. Here are five effective ways to become more savvy and succeed as an influencer. There has never been a better time to get started.

#1. Find your voice.
In any given field, there will already be big-name influencers who have been building their authority for years. Rather than trying to compete, find you voice in a targeted topic or field. You have a unique perspective and approach in how you look at things, so why not write about it. Do not underestimate YOUR story.

#2. Be authentic.
The entire notion of influencer marketing is built on authenticity. Tell YOUR story! Do not write for a brand or post pictures online for the whole purpose to be found by a brand. Brands hire services of an influencer though the purchase of your social media space. Brands that are great to work with will give you a lot of freedom to create content that is authentic to your space, but also creatively incorporates their product or service to your brand. However, there are ground rules as it concerns to being paid to represent a brand. Make sure that you use up-to-date disclosure information on your blog and social networks, according to the FTC’s list of ethics rules.

#3. Partner up.
Don’t be reluctant to find and partner with other bloggers or vloggers. One of the best ways to expand your reach outside your current audience is to guest post on high-traffic sites. Ideally, reach out and see if you can become a regular contributor to those sites. This will allow you to steadily build your audience while also receiving referral traffic to your own site. When using this strategy, watch your analytics carefully to see which sites are most effective in terms of targeted traffic. It may be tempting to post to high profile sites, but if you’re not getting results, you’re wasting your time. Note: don’t avoid smaller, niche sites just because of their size! Sometimes smaller sites with loyal audiences that can send the most targeted and enthusiastic visitors.

#4. Take it offline.
Most of your influence can built up online. That’s where you’ll be spending most of your time and investing most of your resources. However, most influencers also spend some time building their authority offline, through live speaking engagements, teaching classes or doing interviews. It is great meeting people face-to-face and hearing what they enjoy about your site or what stories they really connected with them personally. Writing a book can also be a huge boom to your career as an influencer.

#5. Be responsive and active.
Being active on social media is more than posting on your own accounts. You need to be engaging and participating in a variety of communities. This means showing up at other people’s Twitter chats, commenting on other people’s Instagram posts and tagging others on Facebook. Join Facebook groups and share insights with no expectation of getting traffic or any other benefit. In other words, get out there and make sure people in your field see you and get to know you as an expert.

People expect influencers to be approachable and responsive. This means consistently responding to emails, social media mentions and blog comments. While you don’t have to respond to every comment or question, it helps to let your readers and followers know that you are at least reading them.

Becoming an influencer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of time and a whole lot of hard work. However, if you stick with it and follow the five steps above, you have a reasonable chance at achieving influencer status… maybe sooner than you think!

What would you add to this list? What other strategies are you using on your path to becoming an influencer?

“I Just Don’t Want Senior Year to End and Summer to Begin”

It’s May and we are less than a month away from my twin sons’ High School Graduation.  How did that happen and why does time seem to speed up when you most want it to slow down?! My first article about our senior year was called “I just don’t want Summer to end and Senior Year to Begin,” so I am naming this one “I just don’t want Senior year to end and Summer to Begin.”

Senior Photos Twins

I started this year sad because I was focused on it being a series of lasts and anxious because senior year is a lot of work!  But Jack and Jared got all their college applications turned in the first part of the school year (yay!) and both know where they are going to college now (different ones, of course).  They have been enjoying their senior year to the max and believe me there is no sadness on their part.  The year has been full of football games,  homecoming activities, theater productions, and senior banquets.   I’ve savored every moment and attended every event (at least everything they would allow me to attend) and shed more than a few tears along the way.  My husband and I have loved watching both my sons grow and mature in this last year of their high school careers.  They are so different from each other despite being twins, unique and special in their own way and we are so proud of the wonderful young men that they have become.  We take credit for none of it and are constantly amazed how lucky we are to be the parents of these two amazing boys.

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Jared Orphan Train

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Jack and Jared Super Heroes 3

So here we are – the last month of senior year and it all went by way too fast.  It seems like yesterday that they were 5 years old and starting kindergarten.   My little boys are 18 years old now and considered to be adults (seriously, if you have teenagers, you know how crazy that concept is).  We made it.  I never dropped them on their head when they were babies, I never lost them in the store (my husband did a couple of times), and I hope I didn’t annoy them too much with my fretting over silly things (they weren’t silly to me).  Through the tears I have come to accept that we have arrived and it’s time for me to start letting go and accepting that things will never be the same again, our family will change and be forever different than it was before.  I know that I will continue to fret and worry about them but now it’s up to them to take care of themselves (Remember, guys, you’re adults now!).

Last year my word for the year was focus.  I wanted to focus on the boys’ senior year and making the most of their last year in our home.   After much thought I decided that my word for this year is evolve.  Here is the definition I found for evolve:  Evolve comes from the Latin word ēvolvere, “to unroll,” Evolve describes a development that is taking its time to reach its final destination. Think change with a speed limit.  Jack and Jared will be evolving from high school students to college students and everything that goes with that transition will be rolling out at warp speed in the next few months.   I see endless possibilities ahead for them and I am so excited for them to realize their dreams, to spread their wings, etc. (you get the idea).   But not only will my sons be evolving, so will my husband and I.  I am evolving from the mother of school age children to the mother of college students and I am trying to visualize what that will look like.   After they graduate I will have time to do more writing, volunteering, and I will finally take those art lessons I have always wanted to pick up again but the time constraints of career and motherhood haven’t allowed it.  My husband and I can have more date nights, spend time with friends, and travel more!  It actually sounds kind of fun when I think about it (I feel guilty now)!

So in this last month of our senior year instead of being sad about all the endings,  I am really going to try to concentrate on new beginnings.  I really am.  Check back with me in a month and see how I’m doing.Every new beginning

Can’t Stop the Feeling: Prepare for Spark.Me

Spark.me is less than a month away! And today, Justin Timberlake drops a new song that expresses how I feel. I may have modified some of the lyrics ;), but turn up the volume and dance with me.

“I got this feeling inside my bones. It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on. All through BUDVA, all through MONTENEGRO. We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone. I got that sunshine in my pocket. Got THIS good song in my feet. I feel that SPARK in my body when it drops. I can’t WAIT FOR END OF MAY, moving so phenomenally WELL. You gon’ like the way THIS CONFERENCE rocks it, so don’t stop. Under the lights when everything STARTS. Nowhere to hide when CONFERENCE getting you close. When SPARK.ME STARTS, well, you already know. So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine…SPARK.ME WILL MAKE you dance, dance, dance. Feeling good, good, SPARKING up on you. So just dance, dance, dance, come on. All those things I should do to PREPARE, but you dance, dance, dance. And YOU ARE leaving soon, so keep dancing…”

I CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! How about you? 😉

10-Tips-for-Spark-MeHere’s my TOP 10 checklist to help you prepare for Spark.Me, so you can continue to dance your way to Budva, Montenegro, on May 28-29, 2016.

  1. Search Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for anyone talking about #SparkMe. You can then determine if you want to follow them and start conversations ahead of Spark.Me. This works amazingly well for people who might be a bit shy. Make sure you are also using #SparkMe hashtag, so can people can also find and engage with you.
  2. Visit the speakers blogs or youtube channels for ideas of how things are going in their lives or in their businesses. Before meeting them, maybe you’ll read that they just closed a B round of funding, and thus might have budget for a project with you. It’s free intelligence before a conversation.
  3. Check out the partners for Spark.Me. Visit their web pages. What do you know about them? Are they a prospective vendor for you? A client? Do you see some business value in meeting any of them?
  4. Write some of your best work in the days leading up to Spark.Me and have a great post launch on the day of the event. The likelihood of people checking out your blog during or just before an event is high. JUST DO IT! 🙂
  5. Consider writing posts that might help you form conversations at Spark.Me. For instance, if you’re looking to work with startups, write a blog post about how you’d help startups get funding. Thus, people who might investigate your blog ahead of time might also know what you’re thinking about and will engage you.
  6. Consider making a video about something and posting it to your blog. Videos will give people an even better opportunity to observe you and see what you’re about. It might also help with the people recognition factor, as seeing you in motion might improve their chance of seeing you at an event. 😉
  7. If you’re going to take lots of photos or videos at Spark.Me, check your gear to make sure you’ve got everything (charger, media transfer tools, spare things, etc.). Consider any extra batteries or power supplies you might need to bring with you.
  8. Backup your laptop before you travel. You might not think about it, but there are many chances to destroy your data once you’re on the road. Make sure that’s not going to happen.
  9. Pack business casual clothes and comfortable shoes for two days and a nice black dress or button-down shirt & nice pants for the cocktail party! And, DON’T FORGET YOUR SWIMSUIT to wear while you enjoy the Bečići beach. 🙂
  10. Practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch explaining who you are and what you do. Be crisp. Make it easy to say. Be very clear. If you’re looking for work, be clear that you’re available for a few extra projects. It seems that lots of folks beat around the bush or don’t exactly know how to have a beginning, middle and end to a conversation. REMEMBER, YOU ARE AWESOME! TI SI SJAJAN/SJAJNA!

Look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. For now, make sure that we are connected on all these social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope and Pinterest.

Why Bloggers Should Takeover Another’s Snapchat

How-To-Do-Snapchat-TakeoverWith over 7 billion video views per day and close to 200 million users, Snapchat is becoming the go-to platform for bloggers looking for new ways to increase brand awareness and connect with a younger (at heart 😉 ), creative and engaged audiences. Read my top 10 Snapchat Tips here. For creative bloggers, you are beginning to see an effective new strategy called a Snapchat Takeover.

What is a Snapchat Takeover?

A Snapchat Takeover is when a blogger allows another blogger to “take over” their Snapchat account and create a story from her unique perspective. Takeovers typically happen for a day, and both bloggers start telling their fans across all their social media channels to watch her “take over” story on Snapchat. By leveraging the attention of their audiences, it also helps bloggers gain new audiences with increase exposure.

5 Steps to Takeover a Snapchat Account Effectively

#1. Establish Goals.
Before developing the campaign or approaching a popular snapper, you should determine what you want to accomplish from this Snapchat takeover. Goals and objectives such as “increase Snapchat followers” or “drive awareness for a product launch.”

#2. Find the Right Blogger.
Finding the right snapper to host the Snapchat Takeover is more complex than simply reviewing vanity metrics (e.g. number of followers, impressions), though these baseline metrics are useful in forecasting a campaign’s reach. To determine if a blogger is a good fit, watch their stories and see how they engage with their existing audience across other social channels.

#3. Coordinate and Plan the Date.
Prior to the Snapchat Takeover, the person taking over the account should develop a campaign outline. We think Snapchat Takeovers are best when you have something happening that day, like an exclusive event, product launch or unique experience. Mention it at some point in your story. Remember: authenticity is key to a successful Snapchat Takeover, so overly-scripted material should be avoided whenever possible. Be sure to allow enough time (1-2 weeks) to promote the campaign.

#4. Promote The Takeover.
Both the blogger taking over the account and the Snapchat account owner should promote the Takeover extensively across all social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and on their blogs) in the weeks and days leading up to the campaign.Promote-Snapchat-Takeover#5. Takeover and Document.
Give the snapper access to your Snapchat channel, so they can create their story. Watch the campaign. Record any engagement that occurs. Screenshot “snaps” and download the story within 24 hours of the beginning of the Takeover. Snapchat erases all stories within 24 hours, so don’t forget to document your campaign. Here’s an example of how Jovana Biga also known as atomski_mrav3 took over our account.

Why You Should Participate in a Snapchat Takeover

Snapchat Takeovers offer bloggers a way to authentically connect with audiences and increase brand awareness in a fun, creative way. Because Snapchat doesn’t currently have a way for users to find new channels, Snapchat Takeovers are also an effective way for bloggers to grow their followers and gain exposure. Lastly, Snapchat’s storytelling format lends itself exceptionally well to covering events, etc. As such, many bloggers // snappers are giving their audiences an intimate, authentic experience that would otherwise be impossible to create on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

10 Snapchat Tips for Bloggers

snapchatSnapchat is getting bigger and bigger, and it’s quickly becoming a favorite tool for a lot of bloggers. Why? Because it’s the perfect way to engage with your followers on a more personal level while promoting your blog. Here are 10 tips that will help you become a better Snapchatter.

#1. Snap daily.
Snap often, but always keep in mind the message you are sending. Always add to “your story.” Adding to your story allows your followers to view your snaps for 24 hours, rather than the 5-10 seconds as a direct-snap allows.

#2. Share “uncurated” moments.
Share some parts of your daily life, behind the scenes at events and your process of writing a blog post. The more authentic it is, the more your followers will appreciate you and continue to follow you.

#3. Don’t go “snap cray-cray.”
It can be tempting to start snapping everything at first but limit yourself if you can. Generally, people will unfollow if it share more than 3 snaps of the same thing // subject. I don’t show every single moment of my life, but rather the moments that are either entertaining or bring value to my brand.

#4. Talk to the camera.
This can be hard at the beginning, but your followers really like to hear your voice. So, talk to the camera, and let your personality shine. 🙂

#5. Chat with your followers.
Ask some questions and chat with your followers. This allows you to connect with them in a very powerful way, since it’s a direct line of communication.

#6. Watch other people’s stories and engage with them.
At the end of the day, I usually sit down on my couch and watch people’s stories like i would watch a sitcom. I might not have time to do it more than once a day or even daily, but this is one of the reasons that I love Snapchat. It reminds me of the early days of Twitter. I feel like I am getting to know the personalities of the people, and I have some great laughs at people’s creativity — and I tell them!

#7. Have fun.
The beauty of Snapchat is that allows you to show your true self, so don’t overthink it and have fun. I may have had a “hammer time” in my story one day. 😉 Vogue!

#8. Partner with fellow bloggers and takeover each other’s accounts.
I first discovered this concept while listening to a GaryVee exclusive video as a newsletter member. What a great concept of promoting a fellow blogger and widening your brand. It was great to see what my followers thought and how much the fun my fellow snapper had sharing her launch of an event for work with my followers. Here’s how to do a Snapchat Takeover.

#9. Share your blog posts.
Don’t forget to tell your Snapchat followers every time you have a new post on your blog. This way you will get more attention on your post.

#10. Use Other Social Media to Promote Snapchat.
Snapchat doesn’t have a public friends feed that will show people that their friends are viewing and engaging with your content. As such, a great way to build your audience is through your pre-existing followers on other networks.

Also don’t forget to follow Real Posh Mom on Snapchat (realposhmom)! We’d love to hear from you in the comments, too. How have you been using Snapchat? Any tips you’d like to share?

How to Celebrate International Women’s Day

celebrate-womens-dayInternational Women’s Day isn’t just about giving a flower or chocolate to a woman you appreciate. Today (March 8) is a symbol of the struggles that women around the world have undergone to gain equality and a reminder of how far we need to go. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help celebrate this important day. For more information on what International Women’s Day is, click here.

Donate to a local women’s shelter. This can be anything from money to clothing or food to your time. Helping out a local women’s shelter or an organization fighting human trafficking, like The Family Place or New Friends New Life, helps to remind you about the difficulties women continue to face, as well as doing your part to help alleviate some of this suffering.

Help out a close female friend or family member. This can be anything from taking care of your friend’s children for the evening free of charge to doing all the housework for her. Consider making a pledge to continue helping her out throughout the year.

Mentor another woman. In order to achieve equality in the work force, women have to help other women. Take the time on International Women’s Day, or during any day, to mentor a female coworker from your job or similar industry. Take her out to lunch, talk to her about her career goals and offer her your wisdom. Mentoring is a great way to empower young women and a chance for older women to pass on their skills and life experience.

Teach your children about amazing women. Spending quality time with your children is the best possible way to celebrate International Women’s Day. Watch a film about Amelia Earhart or Margaret Thatcher, read a book by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë, or perform science experiments together and talk about the accomplishments of scientists like Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

Tell a woman what she means to you. This could be your boss or a family member. Communicate why she is important and all that she contributes well. For instance, if it’s your boss, tell her why she’s a great boss and how much you’ve enjoyed working for her. A lot of the things that women do, especially women who are in charge, are scrutinized for every single thing they have done wrong or ignored entirely. Let’s empower and lift up those above us.

Thank the women in your life. Don’t just tell them why they are important, thank them for being there for you and for doing what they do. This could be as simple as thanking your mother for helping to raise you (You turned out well, right? 😉 ), or thanking a female friend for helping you out during tough times in your life.strong-women

Why I Want to Attend Spark.me // Zašto bi trebalo da učestvujete

Why-I-Want-To-Attend-Spark-MeHosted by Domain.ME since 2013, Spark.Me brings stories on the front lines of technology, innovative business models, engaging branding strategies and world-changing initiatives.This two-day interactive conference is designed to inspire you, ignite your creativity and allow your to find your SPARK that will propel you toward the future in business and technology. Here are my top 10 reasons that you want to attend Spark.Me on May 28-29, 2016.

10. Refresh & Recharge // Osvežite se
Take a weekend off your busy work schedule to recharge. Through the provocative sessions, you will uncover some ways to refresh, re-energize and return to work reinvigorated.refresh-and-recharge-budva

9. Biggest Business & Digital Innovation Conference in Montenegro // Najveća konferencija biznisa i digitalne inovacije u Crnoj Gori
Learn the latest techniques, tools and strategies in business and digital innovation to be able to address your company’s challenge in a new improved way. Because Spark.Me is one of the biggest professional conferences in the Balkans, it is truly the best way to access innovative and disruptive content with lots of like-minded people.

8. Rub Elbows with Other Industry Professionals + More // Upoznajte se sa drugim profesionalcima industrije + više
This is the best part of the conference experience. You’ll be in touch with other professionals and experts to share your concerns, experiences and solutions.

7. Network, Connect and Reconnect with Colleagues // Poslovno umrežavanje sa kolegama
Life-long connections have evolved conferences like Spark.Me. Bring your business cards, your smile and an open-mind to Spark.Me, and you will not be disappointed in the people that you meet.

6. Learn from Each Other and Develop Professionally // Učite jedni od drugih i razvite profesionalno
We always have something new to learn from one another, and take the knowledge that you learned back to your company and to those who were not able to attend.

5. The Price is Right // Cena je prava
Spark.Me is very affordable! They offer a student rate and early-bird discounts (until March 11, 2016) between €60 – €120 for registration. As the conference gets closer, the price will get higher, so buy your tickets now.

4. Showcase Your Innovation through Startup Competition // Pokažite inovaciju kroz “Startup Competition”
Spark.me brings together successful startups in its Startup Competition. They focused on innovation, the power of ideas, the startup’s potential to grow and team diversity. Participating in the competition enables you to have access to advisors, mentors and a network of investors, industry experts and serial entrepreneurs. In order to participate, you need to apply by May 4, 2016 here.

3. Great, Dynamic Speakers // Sjajni i energični govornici
Last year, I had the honor to speak at Spark.Me, and I was blown away on the speaker lineup that Vanja and his team brought to Montenegro. The speakers and topics are as diverse as the Spark.Me attendees, which is why this conference stands above the rest in the region…and even in Europe. So far, the speakers for 2016 include Jon Bradford, Annie Machon, Everywhere Agency’s CEO Danica Kombol and my new friend Marvin Liao. Below is my talk with Real Geek Dad about Content Marketing vs. SEO called “Beauty and the Beast.”

2. Not Only Talks…A Lot of Fun // Proveselite se
During Spark.Me, you can have fun at their cocktail party, walking along the beautiful beach, eating along the breathtakingly beautiful Montenegrin coast with others from the conference or do other informal gatherings that will surely add fun during your Spark.Me weekend.

1. Experience the Breathtaking Beauty of Budva // Putujete u najlepšu Budvu
Speaking of Budva’s breathtaking beauty, Budva Old Town lies on a small peninsula and represents a treasure chest of culture heritage and a short walk from the conference. Crossed with narrow streets and squares, you can also visit many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries in Old Town. The Budva coast is 21 km long with 17 beaches. It is among the most beautiful coasts in the world. Also, you can find a wide range of accommodation, from very affordable to exclusive and luxury.

budvabeach

Buy Your Ticket Now! Kupite kartu sada!

10 Personal Branding Essentials

personal-branding-essentialsSo you want to start a blog? Great! You’re not alone – tens of thousands of blogs are started each year, making it crucial that your blog stands out in the crowd. Branding is a huge part of distinguishing yourself from your others, attracting (and maintaining) loyal readers and important when you want to take your blog to next level. Check out our branding checklist for 10 essential tips on developing your personal brand online.

#1. Know your mission and define yourself.
A well-written mission statement is proof you have thoroughly thought about what you want to communicate when you blog done and defined your purpose or beliefs into two or three sentences. A reader who doesn’t know you should be able to read the mission statement and know exactly what to expect from you. Have a focused niche. This will help you in the future when brands come to you wanting to work with you. It will help you determine which ones fit your mission and your personal brand. That’s only possible if you know exactly what to expect from yourself. Make sure that this is effectively communicated in your “About” page, too.

#2. Determine your readers.
Laying down the foundation for a strong personal brand starts with knowing who your ideal reader is. By the way, you should not assume that “everyone” is or will be reading your blog. If you set out to attract everyone, you end up appealing to no one. Know your niche. Know your passion. Identify how you will meet the needs of your readers or answer a question that they may be having. I have found asking questions via social media helps me create content. 🙂

#3. Recognize how you are different.
People are attracted to uniqueness. By embracing your differences, you are more appealing to others. Use these differences to get people to pay attention to you. Create a list of all the things that might make you unique. Also list your passions. Prioritize this list with things that separate you from others or things you care about more than anything in the world. Incorporate these into your content and your mission statement.

#4. Take some eye-catching images of yourself.
You are going to use a photo of yourself in various places on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You want that photo to be professional and attractive. You also want it to convey the mood expressed by your brand. If your brand is about fun, then look happy and fun in your photo. You can pay somebody to take very professional photos of you. It isn’t necessary, but you’ll get better results.

#5. Purchase your domain name.
You need to own the dot.com. If your name is available as a dot.com, buy it. It is easiest to remember. 😉 Nothing is worse when it comes to personal brand online than a domain name that is long and includes someone else’s brand attached to it. YouBlogName.WordPress.com is an example of what NOT to do. With self-hosted WordPress, you can buy your own domain and then connect it to your blog for free.

#6. Invest in a professional blog design.
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen bloggers do is trying to design their own blogs when they have no idea what they are doing. Treat your blog like a business if you want it to be a business, and that means investing in it at the beginning.

#7. Create your logo.
You need a professional logo for your brand. Don’t use your photo as the logo. I have been fortunate to have friends are creative in graphic design. Don’t be afraid to ask around. Also, make sure the logo would work equally in color and black-and-white. In other words, it should translate well into print.

#8. Develop social media profile.
Do all your social media profiles look consistent? Keeping a consistent profile helps others find you easily, and it helps cement a picture of you in the minds of others. Reserve your name on all social channels.

#9. Tell your story.
Readers respond very well to personal stories on blogs. Using relevant stories can help build credibility in your niche. Authenticity builds trust in readers. Don’t worry about how often that you are going to blog rather on the quality of your writing. I laugh when I look back on my early writings. I must have thought I was a scholar, but I have learned that when I share my heart, the readers connect with me. They comment. They share. Which in turn inspires me to continue to write more quality content.

#10. Monitor mentions of your name and reply quickly!
There are great monitoring tool like Mention, which tracks any time your name surfaces online, be it in a blog, a social media post, status update or otherwise. You can view the mention right from your Mention dashboard and engage with a reply. A good rule of thumb might be: Respond to mentions on social media and blog comments within 24 hours.

Hopefully these tips for building a personal brand strategy can help you in thinking about how you present yourself online. This infographic by Feldman Creative and Placester does a good job of showing the benefits of keeping your personal brand well-maintained.personal-brand-benefitsWhat tips have you picked up for managing a personal brand? Which of these tips might work for you? I’d love to learn from you in the comments!

Finding Neverland Delights on Broadway

Finding_Neverland_Broadway_PlaybillThe classic musicals of Broadway past will always have a special place in my heart. I walked down the aisle to “Wedding Processional” from The Sound of Music to marry a man who won me over by gifting me an entire DVD collection of Rogers and Hammerstein movie musicals including Oklahoma and The King & I. However, at some point during my adult years living in New York I developed a stronger taste for that darker and edgier theater with adult themes that usually fills my itineraries when I visit my old home. So despite frequent excursions to see local school and community family-friendly productions with my daughter, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a good-hearted, family-friendly, positive musical at the Broadway level. Thankfully, last week in New York City I had that opportunity.

 

At the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on West 46th Street, I was transported back to the Finding Neverlandmagical and sentimental world of the classic musicals of my childhood during a matinee of Finding Neverland, the musical based on the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet that came to Broadway earlier this year. Currently the show stars Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Broadway stars Terrence Mann (Pippin, Cats, Les Misérables, Chorus Line, Beauty & the Beast) and Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, Mamma Mia!, Sweeney Todd), and all three of them blew me away with their voices and presence. Like the film, the show follows playwright J.M. Barrie as he summons the courage to become the writer – and the man – he yearns to be. Barrie finds the inspiration he’s been missing when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her four young sons: Jack, George, Michael and Peter. His journey rediscovering his childhood imagination leads to the now renowned stories of Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and the lost boys of Neverland.

Surrounded by a packed audience of all ages, from young children on a special holiday adventure with their parents, to elegant ladies from upper Manhattan known for frequenting matinees, to even otherwise cynical teenagers, I was swept up in the magic and spectacle of a musical that brought me back to why I fell in love with theater in the first place. Finding Neverland BroadwayA highlight was the scenic design by Tony Award®-winner Scott Pask (Pippin, Book of Mormon), particularly in the number Stronger (see video), where we first get a glimpse of the Neverland in Barrie’s imagination. And while mainstream audiences may at first be disappointed to no longer find familiar TV star Kelsey Grammer in the double role of the producer and Captain Hook, I was beyond grateful to instead get the theater legend Mann who has delighted us as a natural on the stage for decades.

Listed this month as one of Time Magazine’s Top Plays and Musicals of 2015, the funny, charming, and beautiful Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street) Tuesdays at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets and more information can be found online at www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com, in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office. Follow the magic on Twitter and Instagram: @NeverlandBway.

Habits that Every Girl Needs to Break

habits-every-girl-needs-breakAs women, we tend to put a lot on our plates. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we often feel overwhelmed. Admit it – these are habits that you have done, too! And that’s OK. These habits can wear you down every single day, so maybe it is time to break them, for the sake of your sanity and your relationship with your family and friends. 🙂

Trying to be perfect.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of perfection. Trying too hard to achieve that state really backfires and makes you stressed, which causes all sorts of other problems. Striving to be your best and most authentic, happy and productive self is a lot simpler than striving for an idealized and unattainable state. One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.

Underestimating yourself.
Some things just don’t do well when underestimated, especially when it is yourself. Nothing will bring you down quicker than berating yourself. The mind is a superb instrument if used right, but when used incorrectly, it becomes very destructive. Be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. Taking a step back and really considering these things can eliminate a lot of stress from your daily life! Be assertive and believe in yourself and your talents & abilities. Surround yourself with other women who build up rather than tear down.freetobe
Caring too much about what people think of you.
This one goes along the lines of the perfection mistake, if you’re constantly worrying about what others think of you, your own happiness will be sacrificed for theirs. Although this is something that’s easy to do, avoid it as much as possible! Don’t change, so people will like you. Instead, look at it differently and remember that there is only one you: you are unique, special and perfect in your own way. Treasure your uniqueness. Respect that, and you will be much happier. Be yourself and the right people will love you, and you’ll love yourself more too.

Focusing on the bad in your life.
When bad things happen, and unfortunately, they will happen, it’s common to get stuck thinking about them. However, if you really concentrate on all the good things in your life, you will have an easier time finding good things to be thankful for. Not all the puzzle pieces of life will seem to fit together at first, but in time you’ll realize they do. So thank the things that didn’t work out, because they just made room for the things that will. And thank the ones who walked away from you, because they just made room for the ones who won’t. Worrying too much, remembering horrible things or not moving on are all simple mistakes to make, but if you can overcome these terrible mistakes, you can overcome anything.wake-up