Super Bowl Shout-Out

Even those of us that explore social media and apply its wide-reaching abilities for businesses every day can lose appreciation for how POWERFUL it is. Last night I spent a little time on the couch during the Super Bowl, tweeting about the commercials. I was very impressed by the positive and tasteful tone of many of them, but one rose above. My tweet about the Coca-Cola #MakeItHappy commercial got a response from the beverage giant, and I followed the link to discover the immense goodness their giant branding power is influencing (see interaction above). It brings tears to my eyes to know the lives they can influence in a positive way.

Folks, realize how POWERFUL social media is. One little remark, comment, image, video can touch MILLIONS of lives. It can go viral. Are you prepared? Create content with that in mind.

Networking No-No

This week I attended a roundtable discussion about networking and the benefits that activity holds for business owners and professionals in general. It was a rousing and lively discussion, with great insight from most of the people in attendance.

As we talked about meeting new people, making business connections and having a plan before every networking meeting, my mind rewound back to the complaints I’ve heard from more than a couple of people who experienced post-meeting chagrin. Because of those past rants, and because of the email professional in me, I felt compelled to remind the attendees of their responsibility to the people they meet.

“When you get business cards and/or a list of contact information at a meeting, PLEASE don’t go back to the office and immediately add those people to your list!” I pleaded. “I’ve heard so often how upset people get when that happens. If you add people to your list without their consent, you are SPAMMING them! Please ASK FIRST!” <end rant>

People stood up and cheered. I was taken aback. I had obviously touched upon a sore spot for many.

Afterwards, I received more than one or two comments of appreciation for my advice. It’s apparent this happens more often than it doesn’t.

So please folks, heed this advice. ASK people if they want to receive your newsletters and email communications BEFORE you add them to your list. That only serves to increase the goodwill that others have towards you and the brand you represent. After all, it’s not about the number of contacts you have in your lists, it’s the quality of relationship you have with each of those contacts. If people are open to and ready for the information you send their way, you have a much better chance of opens and reads and click-throughs. At the end of the day, that is what will lead to increased sales.

<End of rant>
April Signature SM

Clifton VA God Bless America FB Cover


I love small towns and signs of patriotism. The little village of Clifton, situated in the middle of the northern Virginia woods, is evidence of both. I happened upon this sign posted alongside the Amway train tracks that run through the middle of Clifton. I took the photo with my mobile phone, took it into PicMonkey and resized it for use as a Facebook cover photo. I then applied the Focal B&W, Fancy Focus (Royale), and Dark Edges filters.

Patriotism, pass it on. God bless America!

April Signature SM

Group of friends holding hands in meadow under blue sky

Created with PicMonkey

Image courtesy of BigStock. Effect: Intrepid (Royale). Fonts: Didact Gothic, Rokkit, Ostrich Sans Inline. Text color: #fffce9 (beige) and #261f4f (navy). Overlay: Banner at 25% transparency.

A Happy Man's Creed 800x800

This excerpt jumped off the page at me as I read Napoleon Hill’s classic “The Master-Key to Riches”. This is the way I want to live my life. I felt compelled to isolate it into something beautiful, and inspirational, so that I can look at and read it daily.

Created with PicMonkey. Square design with white background, two textures: Clouds and Papyrus. Text is Futura Medium and Didact Gothic over a white 60% square overlay. Finished image size is 800×800.

Dear Facebook 600x400

Listen, Facebook. Let me be frank. You and I have been friends for a few years now, but lately…you have become quite controversial. Scandalous, almost. Now, really:  I get it. You’re in business to make money. Bottom line, that’s what all business owners need and want in order to keep serving and producing. You are in high demand and you touch a lot of lives. A lot. Like, millions and maybe even billions (the statistics seem a little conflicted). You are a country unto yourself.

So now you have decided, businesses have to pay to play on your playground. No more free press. Again, I get it. A lot of people are rumbling and grumbling about it, as do I sometimes. But I understand. It’s opportunity, and you are capitalizing. Because of the depth of your audience, you have the ability to make a huge, HUGE impact. Businesses should expect that advertising costs money. And really, they don’t HAVE to spend much with you. It’s an individual choice that everyone has the freedom to make.

But here is what has happened, whether it was intentional or not: people discontent with your new policies are finding different pools in which to swim and play. Now listen, you and I will always be friends, but I’ve decided…I have to check out my options. Me and that little blue bird Twitter have been getting a little more acquainted lately. Over there, anyone can see my posts. I don’t have to bother looking for a picture to tell my story; whenever the urge strikes me, I just type out 140 characters and a hashtag. Sure, it’s noisy and busy, like New York City at rush hour, but I can see anybody else’s posts and they can see mine. It’s like a huge cocktail party. Who doesn’t love parties?

And then there’s my good friend Pinterest.  Now we’re talking. Checking out all those cool DIYs and getting all kinds of ideas; I can even search and share and Pin what I love. Relax on a Thursday night with a glass of wine and Pinterest on my iPad. What’s not to love? Everywhere I go anymore I overhear at least one conversation where the word “Pinterest” is exclaimed excitedly.

I would be remiss to not mention my new bestie, Instagram. I know my mobile-platform friend is your step sibling, but still; I’m in love. Pictures, lots of pictures, and plenty of real estate for lengthy comments. Videos, even. It’s like a long string of blog posts, only more interactive and easy to find. My real-life friends are flocking to it every day. Talk about an up-and-comer!

Speaking of blogs, I’ve heard a lot of favor about Tumblr, but I’ve only just shook hands with that guy. One of these days we might just sit down for a cup of coffee together. Snapchat, SlideShare, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine…there are so many opportunities to get acquainted.

So, you see my old friend Facebook…it’s not you, it’s me. I just want some time to get out there and take a look around the social space. Let’s stay friends, but we just won’t be seeing each other as often. No hard feelings. Thanks for all the good times. See you around.

Cre8vely Yours,
April Signature SM

Cherry Blossom Finish Photo 20140406 with caption

Rich, Me, Rebecca and the Washington Monument photobomb

So, I’m not afraid to admit it. I turned 40 on April 7th. And I enjoyed it. No excuses, no regrets; just celebration. I spent the morning running through Washington, D.C. and across the finish line of the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler with a huge smile on my face and the feel of triumph in my heart. Afterwards I enjoyed a delicious lunch with my family and some great friends, and then a quiet afternoon at home with my boys. It was a perfect way to usher out the last four decades and welcome in a new one.

This forty thing is new to me, but so far I’m really digging it. The past two weeks have been filled with all sorts of self-realization and discovery. Something tells me that this is just the tip of the iceberg and boy, am I excited about it! Already I’m feeling a major shift in my life and business. (If you want to follow along with my daily revelations, follow me on Twitter. I would love if you would share yours with me as well!)

One of the realizations I’ve come to terms with is this: I express myself so much better with words than I ever can verbally. From the time I was a kid; I could pour my heart out in a letter but would completely clam up in a personal conversation. This is something that has not changed with the passage of time and onset of maturity.

I suppose that is why I am drawn to social media and the online world. It’s a way to, in essence, hide behind a façade and write your way into other people’s hearts. It’s a natural fit for me. Even though my words are genuine and my personality shines through, if you meet me in person I’m almost certain you will feel a bit of a disconnect between my online presence and my face-to-face demeanor. It’s certainly not intentional but it is a real part of my personality.

Is this you, too? Can you relate? I can’t pin down any particular reason for it, and I’ve come to accept it as a part of who I am. And that’s why I’m writing about it. Because authentic writing is a part of who I am, and I don’t want to hide any of that. You shouldn’t either. Be real and genuine, both online and in person. Don’t be afraid to express yourself with words and tell your story. There are people out there just waiting to meet you and get to know you. And, chances are, the people that appreciate your story are the friends and fans you want to build a sustainable relationship with.

Cre8vely Yours,
April Signature SM

100 Days of Gratitude

Dont Sweat the Small Stuff 450x450

A few months ago, in a chance encounter in a half-price bookstore, I happened upon one of the best books that I have ever set eyes on.  It is entitled “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” and written by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.  I love this little book for many reasons.  First, it is broken up into short little passages so it’s easy to read in brief periods of time.  Second, each passage reads like an individual story and leaves you thinking, really thinking about what you just read.  And third, the message the book portrays is that of simple, stress-free living…learning to be happy and grateful for what you are blessed with in your life.

A couple of years ago, I decided to do away with the traditional year-end practice of choosing one – or many – New Year’s resolutions.  Instead, I started choosing one word that becomes my theme for the entire year.  In 2013, my “theme word” was passion.  By finding and following my passion, I rebranded and relaunched my business and had my best year yet.  Encouraged by my success, I went to work determining my theme for 2014.

This year, I am focused on practicing and sharing gratitude.  I am finding this to be more difficult than I first thought it would be.  However, I believe that by doing the work and conditioning myself to think more about what I’m grateful for than what I want or need or what others have, I will live a more fulfilled life and provide better service to others.

That is where this little book and my life intersect.  Using the book as my guide, I am going to post one of the 100 total passages every day, then write a short journal entry detailing how I put that principle to use in my life that day.  Please follow me on Facebook and Instagram and walk the journey with me.  I will be using the hashtags:  #100daysofgratitude, #nosweat, and #dontsweatthesmallstuff.

I am really looking forward to this journey and the positive changes I’m sure it will bring to my family, my life and my business.  I’m hoping that I can inspire others to join in some small way during these next 100 days.  Here’s to a grateful 2014!

Cre8vely & Gr8fully Yours,

April Signature SM