Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Looking Ahead

It's the last day of the month of October and it's Halloween. I should be expecting some children and maybe a few teenagers in a few hours. This particular month went by quickly. I cannot believe tomorrow begins a new month. 2013 is that much closer.

I am happy to say that I did well in achieving my goals. I will have a full report soon. I think the toughest, by far, was committing to reaching blog post number forty. I did it, barely. Today's post is number forty. I wrote a post almost every day this month. Consistency was key and thankfully, most of my posts were hearty, had good quality. There may have been a few out of desperation or fatigue - or both. I have started to brainstorm a list for November and it will definitely be shorter and more exact in that I can focus on a few, rather many. Quality versus quantity is sensible. 

I am ready to end cabin fever by volunteering at the National Capital Philanthropy Day in D.C. I was a volunteer last year and will do the same tomorrow. I have to get up early and head downtown in the morning via public transit, which I haven't done since the beginning of this month. Time flies!

Today I was really inspired by a few sites and articles that I stumbled upon including H.Bloom's SEED program, Mashable's 44 Female Founders and a story about Daily Muse's CEO All three were inspiring and encouraging. Just what I need to start a new month!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy!

About that hurricane. Wow! Sandy was/is a big deal. So many homes and businesses are under water or completely destroyed. When the New York Stock Exchange shuts down for two days, that is very serious. Thankfully, my family and I are safe and sound. If you haven't seen the coverage, take a look at this Youtube clip.

My prayers are with those families who are grieving for loved ones. My prayers are also with the countless men and women who are serving as nurses, firefighters, police officers and other first responders. You all are heroes!

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Matter the Weather

This time last week I was in Milwaukee and the weather was rainy and cold. Now, instead of being in New York City to make my presentation in front of RachelChris, I'm home waiting for Hurricane Sandy to do what hurricanes do. Heavy rain, strong winds, etc etc.

That reminds me. As I was on the plane last week, I read a USATODAY article about Marissa Meyer, the new CEO at Yahoo! in regards to third-quarter profit earnings. I was happy to read that the company increased its profits under her leadership thus far. It is still too early to decide whether her plan to "grow and redefine" the company will pan out in the long run. Thankfully, the story did not revolve around her summer pregnancy and recent birth of her son. Why is the media fascinated when a women in a high-profile position becomes pregnant? Yahoo! was well aware of her pregnant belly before they hired her. She's already started making serious hiring moves, so hopefully she will be successful at Yahoo!. Speaking of female leaders in the tech world, check out Sheryl Sandberg's fat paycheck. Winning! If you've haven't seen her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it. Thank me later.

It is very tempting to watch a marathon of Project Runway when you're essentially trapped in your home. At least last night, I spent some time searching different topics related to marketing, social media and business school on Quora. This site is pure fun for me. I like to receive feedback and on Quora there is a plethora of advice from professionals, experts, enthusiasts. Everyone has something to say and the whole concept works well, in my opinion. Quora also links to your social media accounts. By all means, invite your friends and followers for a discussion.

I finally started a page for profiles of women entrepreneurs. I will be featuring interviews very soon. I am looking forward to the insight they have to offer. If you know of someone or are interested in sharing your experiences, don't be shy! Contact me.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Brace Yourself

I figure I would write a brief post before Ms. Hurricane Sandy comes a knockin' out my power! The forecast for this pending storm is serious. Several people have already died and it is expected to hit a good portion of the East coast. It's a little nerve wracking because you never know the outcome and damages of a severe storm until it hits. I am going to pray that Sandy comes and goes.

In the mean time, I am spending the rest of the day removing the clutter in my room while unpacking some last minute items from my trip. I also have some work to do for all three of my internships and develop a short bio for my online magazine contributor debut. I decided against continuing on one particular project on Friday. Though the project, which mostly entailed research, was exciting, it is not the direction am I going in at this time. Since time is my most valuable resource and asset, I need to be mindful of how I use it. I tried not to burn a bridge but ultimately, I have to move forward for me.

October is coming to a close and I will soon review my monthly goals and my progress in executing them. I am already itching to create a list for November. I have also considered a long-term list that includes quarterly goals. I can appreciate the idea of failing fast, but I certainly what to have a vision as well. I am bracing for Hurricane Sandy at the moment, but I really need to embrace the hectic schedule, preparation and work ethic that comes with being an entrepreneur/solopreneur.

I still have a few more thank you notes to write and I want to jot down my thoughts about the business school visits I had recently. I think a top choice has emerged but I also have options on the East coast.

I really hope the power stays on this evening. I feel motivated to streamline my space and workload for the week. Here's to motivation and positivity in spite of it all.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Yesterday, I was determined to go the post office and mail a few thank you notes to friends and colleagues who helped me throughout my recent travels. I mailed four postcards and two handwritten letters, with a few more on the way. Thanks to my colleagues and friends, I was able to save over $800 in lodging! I got some home-cooked meals as well.

Aside from using my network, I learned a handful of  valuable lessons while "on the road":

1. Pack lightly. I traveled with two pieces of carry-on luggage. I rarely pay for a checked bag because my carry-on luggage is pretty sizable and has additional pockets and zippers for smaller items. It's much easier to maneuver with two pieces of luggage that I can carry myself. Besides, I saved fifty dollars round-trip.

2. Cash and credit are king and queen. I carried cash and had credits cards in case of emergencies. When you check-in at a hotel, you need a credit card to cover incidentals. Better to be safe with both cash and credit on hand.

3. Make time for exercise. I tend not to travel with exercise clothes, but I think I won't make that mistake next time. I stayed in three hotels throughout my trip and would have benefited from using their exercise equipment and swimming pool. When I was in Milwaukee, I scored a pair of Adidas sneaks for five bucks at the nearby Goodwill. They came in handy.

4. Talk is cheap. I left my personal cell phone at home and when the minutes on my Blackberry were low, I quickly found an affordable solution. Google Voice is a free web-based tool to make phone calls. The only problem I had with Google Voice was an echo in the background on the receiver's end. Other than that,  I really like Google Voice and have continued to use it post-travels.

5. Follow up. I met some interesting folks along the way and reconnected with others. I collected contact information from those new faces I met and sent emails when necessary. Most of my follow up involves handwritten notes. Though it takes more time, it is worth it in the end.

To end this post, I found a quote from an unknown author that sums up everything succinctly.

"What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Beaten Path to Walish Gooshe

I think I'm starting to feel the effects of traveling non-stop for almost three weeks. It most definitely hit me today.

This is how my morning went:

5:30 a.m. Wake up call to volunteer to serve breakfast at a men's shelter in D.C. I volunteer with GreaterDC Cares.

6:30 a.m. Leave house. Sadly, I had to be patient because the congestion during rush hour traffic irks me to no end. I decided to drive part of the way and then take public transportation.

7:45 a.m. I have arrived! Finally. I just had to jump in because I was late and the staff was about to serve breakfast. Two other volunteers were there assisting, which was quite a relief. Last time I volunteered, I was the only one that showed up.

9:15 a.m. I finished serving breakfast and also prepared peanut and jelly sandwiches for later in the day. The kitchen staff is uber efficient in their preparation, service and clean up. It was nice to just focus on one task at a time and work with the other volunteers to get the job done. I will definitely go back because I had plenty of fun. Next time though, I will come for lunch or dinner since traffic is a no-no for me.

12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. By noon, I was ready to eat. Nothing new of course. I scheduled a lunch with two of my former co-workers. Hey Raj and Cecelia! We ate at a Thai restaurant and really enjoyed catching up with each other. I hadn't seen them in over two months, so I was happy to share my recent travels.

After lunch, I was spent. I went straight to the Metro to get back to my car. Even with my listlessness, I still took time to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and the spectrum of autumn colors. I sincerely love the fall season.

I wish I had more time to settle in this morning, especially since I got home late last night. I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday evening. I met an array of people with interesting backgrounds, styles and stories. For the past two weeks, I have been teleworking with Jennifer of Walish Gooshe, a woman's clothing company based in D.C. She is the PR Manager for the company and was looking for a volunteer. I dove head first and eventually my ideas and feedback parlayed into a semi-hosting gig. I suggested inviting D.C. area fashion bloggers to preview the collection, visit the WG boutique space to mix and mingle. We nixed a previous contest idea between fashion bloggers. I am happy that so many bloggers came to event.

With the combination of Jen's networking and my follow-up emails, we had nearly ten fashion bloggers in attendance. I made sure to introduce myself to each one and encourage them to network amongst their peers. The Walish Gooshe Boutique is a tight space, but it has mighty aspirations. The event itself was a charitable occasion as well as an opportunity to educate women about the resources offered for those dealing with breast cancer. More importantly, the Stand By Her Shopping Soiree, was an avenue for survivors to share their stories. I felt blessed to hear real women express their struggles, passion and persistence to live and to educate.

Collaborating with Walish Gooshe's founder and designer, Greg Gaten Taylor, and Jennifer was a great experience. I hope to work with them in the future.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Go Forth Young Maiden"

What a day. What an evening! I cannot wait to gush about the Walish Gooshe event. Till then, please enjoy my newest motivational song. Thanks Alicia Keys!

P.S. I really need to start posting earlier in the day. Baby steps...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Annnddd We're Back

This precious cargo has finally landed. My Airtran flight to DCA airport was quick and dirty. And on time. I decided against doing any work on my laptop. Instead, I cracked open Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras. I have my own personal copy thanks to one of my colleagues. He thought it would be a good read for me throughout my Midwest travels. I am not even at page thirty and I am already impressed. Collins and Porras were thorough in their research and purposeful in conceptualizing specific common themes amongst very long-standing, reputable companies. Pages twenty eight and twenty nine blew my mind. I had to really contemplate a few key points. Read for yourself.

"If you are a prospective entrepreneur with the desire to start and build a visionary company but have not yet taken the plunge because you don't have a "great idea, we encourage you to lift from your shuolders the burden of the great-idea myth" (Collins and Porras, 28).

I was sitting on the plane as I read this and at first I was confused, perhaps skeptical. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. You won't know if you have a "great idea" until much later. In fact, it is most likely the exception that you stumble upon an out-of-this-world idea. There are a bazillion ideas on an given day but I think Collins and Porras are right in that, "the company itself is the ultimate creation."

My favorite line in the book thus far: "Luck favors the persistent."

It doesn't get better than that in my opinion. A quick power nap to boost my energy and then it's back to being persistent!

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Lake Michigan Time

I meant to write this post hours ago but now it's dark, dreary and wet outside. The weather abruptly changed and my productivity level is dropping steadily. I still need to pack tonight in preparation for my an early flight to the best destination ever - my bed.

Enough about tomorrow. Yesterday, I spent six hours embracing "self-care". Thanks to my dear friend, Emily, and two of her classmates, we enjoyed a nice day of meditation and exercise. The views of the Lake Michigan at Lion's Den Gorge were breathtaking. Despite the fact that I cannot swim, I love the water. There is an irony in the serenity of crashing waves. The water was pure and beautiful; shades within shades of cerulean blue.

Hello blue

Winds and waves
I wished I lived near the water.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

13 Feet, Zero Inches

After a series of unfortunate events, I made it to Milwaukee. Let's recap the last twenty-four hours, so you can fully appreciate or at least understand my experience.

I spent most of Saturday morning relaxing at my friend's apartment while she studied at her school's library. Since my bus was scheduled to leave at three in the afternoon, I did not feel the need to be a busybody. I made the assumption that the bus would be half-full, just like the other trips I had taken thus far. I was packed and ready to go just before two and headed out the door to meet my friend. By the time I reached her, I was hankering for a bite to eat. Though the bus ride was a two-hour journey, I decided to grab a sandwich from the nearby Subway. Remember this tidbit.

My friend and I get to the Chicago pick-up location, near Union Station and see a rather long line. I questioned two individuals as to whether or not this line is heading to Milwaukee. Both times I received a simple, "No". I wasn't too worried because I was confident I was at the right location, so we waited. Three o'clock rolls around and the Megabus finally arrives. By that time, my friend left to continue her studying. That long line of standbys quickly inched toward the bus. It seemed as if everyone and their mother had a piece of luggage or two. I had to wait in that line to ensure my roll-away was placed in the designated area for the "Milwaukee" destination. Luckily, I had chatted with a Milwaukee guy beforehand and he offered to save me a seat. I was relieved because it appeared as though the bus might be full.

I got on the bus, found that Milwaukee guy and took my seat. He chose the front-most seat on the upper-level of the deck bus. Remember this tidbit as well.

Sometimes, Most of the time, I am an inquisitive person who likes to learn about people. I think people are fascinating. Traveling offers me the opportunity to meet random people, engage in conversation, ask questions and in the very least pass time. Well, this Milwaukee guy was more than curious. After some small talk, we introduced ourselves (Hey Nic!). Our "small talk" morphed into exchanges about faith, spirituality, my attempt to take over the world, the use of sarcasm, Milwaukee, active listening versus questioning. Nic was awesome because he likes to learn about people. It was a little surreal for me because I am usually the spitfire who has a plethora of questions but he was very engaged.

Now, Nic is from Milwaukee and was feeling a bit antsy to head home to meet with a friend. He recognized something that neither of us would have realized if we were sitting on the lower level. Nic realized that the bus driver was going the wrong way. We left Chicago twenty minutes late, and now we were heading back to Chicago. No bueno.

Our Megabus vs. The Clearing

Up close and personal and "indefinitely" delayed
The bus driver admitted his mistake and re-routed the trip to get the bus back on the right exit. I felt bad for the bus driver because it was a little embarrassing. Unfortunately, it was one of two times that same mistake occurred. The second attempt at leaving the Chicago area was an epic fail and I have the pictures to prove it. By this point, most of the passengers had no faith in the driver. Our bus was stopped several feet in front a overpass that was clearly marked "13' 0". The Megabus needs a clearing of thirteen feet and two inches. Seriously, two inches. I said a prayer or three because I just wanted to get to Milwaukee safely.

After the bus driver called the local police, they were able to direct the thirteen-car-pile-up and then the bus driver reversed the bus and backed out of a rather narrow street. It was 4:30.

Thankfully, Nic and I had a set of really interesting conversations that kept us preoccupied for the remainder of the trip. We eventually arrived in Milwaukee, just two hours after the scheduled time. I will give the bus driver some credit in that he kept his cool. Sure, patience is a virtue but if you don't know where you are going, ASK!

All in all, it was an interesting series of events. I got to Milwaukee intact with my two pieces of luggage. And I made a new friend.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Finally! I got a tour. I've been trying to visit an incubator for weeks and have had zero luck. Long story short, I got a tip from a writer at the Chicago Tribune to visit 1871. I had every intention to stop by 1871 while in Chicago when I first read about the place in entrepreneurial magazine several moons ago. I cannot recall which magazine but I distinctly remember 1871. Thank goodness that I reached out to that writer, Scott Kleinberg, earlier enough in my trip.Though we were not able to meet in person, his suggestion was a good one.

After seeing a friend at Starbucks earlier this morning (hey Jess!), I took the train to the Merchandise Mart. I've read about the Merchandise Mart in the past and it has quite the history. I'll save that for another time. With Jess' handy directions, I found the Merchandise Mart just fine. Based on my prior knowledge, I knew the building was pretty expansive but when I exited the train station, I was floored. The Merchandise Mart is huge! Bright lights, food chains, Starbucks, home goods store. I tried to focus because the tour would soon start and I was unaware of which floor to go to in order to get to the 1871 office. The elevator was marked accordingly with their floor number (12), which leads me to believe this place is a frequent stop.

I got to the twelfth floor and walked down a looong hall and arrived at a well lit, multicolored and heavily occupied floor space. 1871 is basically a co-working center for startup companies,who must apply to have a membership with 1871. It's sponsored by the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center, which is a non-profit that supports entrepreneurs. Our tour guide showed us around the entire floor. The space is like a playground for entrepreneurs, VCs, angel investors and business folk. Obviously, a lot of work occurs at all hours but the physical space feels and looks fun! 1871 also hosts events like panel discussions, seminars, computer programming classes and social activities. Coding is not a walk in the park, but at least the atmosphere they've designed is conducive to learning and being creative. According to our tour guide, a large number of their members wanted access to coffee. Shocker. So, the center had a local coffee company build a shop within the center. Coffee 24/7, that's pretty cool.

One of many colorful wall murals
An incubator within the 1871 space

Conveniently enough, four guys on the tour recently were accepted. They have a customer loyalty startup company called YellaRewards. I met Daniel and Adam, who I think are the founders. The word yella means "let's go" in Arabic. Clever. I had mentioned to Daniel that was I visiting business schools in the Midwest and that I took a look at Booth and Kellogg. Coincidentally,  he is currently a part-time student at Booth and is enjoying his experience. Best of luck Daniel and Adam!

I was and still am impressed with the collaorative space that is  1871, especially since they have only been in operation since May of 2012. They look fairly full, which is a good sign of the startup/tech community in Chicago. One observation that I was not surprised by was the lack of women and minorities. I saw a handful of women but very few women of color. Though there are programs that target women and girls, the technology sector is still dominated by men. Being at a place like 1871 is encouraging in that there are opportunities to learn how to code. Hopefully, more people, particularly women, will leverage those type of resources and skills.

My time in Chicago is slowly coming to an end. I really like it here, minus the blustery winds. I might be here for business school this time next year. If so, I could see myself spending time at 1871. I could see that and much more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Montage Collage: Part Deux

A few more pictures from my time in St. Louis. I've been in Chicago for almost two days and have taken one picture. Tsk. This morning, I am using public transit to visit Northwestern's prestigious Kellogg School of Management. One of the prospective students I met yesterday, Pavlo, suggested I see the school for myself. He liked his experience and I mulled over the idea last night. I am not thrilled about the hour-long train ride but I think it might be worth it. Maybe I will add it to my list, maybe not. We'll see.

St. Louis business district on a Sunday morning

This swanky couch and standing light
in my hotel room were pretty cool

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Montage Collage

A picture is worth a thousand words. Instead of working up a sweat on my laptop, I am going to post a few pictures from my St. Louis. More are on the way but excuse the camera phone quality.

Super trendy bathroom at Mango,
a Peruvian restaurant in downtown STL

A view of thee Arch

Another view of thee Arch

Gorgeous flowers
on the sidewalks of St. Louis

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In the Winds

I made it to Chicago! It was sunny bright when I landed near Union Station, forty minutes ahead of schedule. Megabus, you are too good to me. Well, almost too good. I did not have access to Internet but it was fine. The ride was smooth and scenic. So much land out in the middle of the country. Traffic was non-existent which is mind-boggling. I've had intermittent cases of traffic-withdrawal, if such a condition. There was a rest stop at some place called Dixie 66. I ordered breakfast to-go and it was hot and yummy. Best eggs I have had in a while.

Today also means I am one week away from being in my own bed. I am certainly looking forward to next Tuesday but I am really happy to be in Chicago. I still need to give a robust recap of the past few days but everything in due time.

Fortunately, I have a place to stay for free and a friend/guide to navigate the city. Thanks Shamama!  She's already introduced me to deep dish pizza. Check off my list.

I basically saw the last ten minutes of the presidential debate. Looks I am spending my morning on YouTube to get up to speed. Later, I will visit the Booth School of Business. Not sure if I will apply but I am curious about the program. I might as well as learn more about the school and get a first-hand look for myself.

So many schools, so little time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Women of the Motherland

Admittedly, I could gush and reflect about the past seventy-two hours or so but that would be a no-brainer. There is plenty of material for me to write about my first set of business school visits. What I left with is an even stronger desire to eat, or rather, devour business news, trends, mover and shakers and women leaders. Where did that lead me? Google! I did a quick news search of women entrepreneurs and I was very pleased with what I found.

The first story line that appeared at the top of the results page was a New York Times article from October 10, "Women Entrepreneurs Drive Growth in Africa". Go figure. The article is great because it highlights important, exciting information about Africa. And guess what?? It's not about AIDS or a disease!  Certainly, the African continent has its issues, but what part of the world doesn't.

One of the woman entrepreneurs that is prominently featured is Bethelem Tilhaun, founder of SoleRebels, a eco-friendly shoe company that reached $2 million in sales in 2011. All their products are handmade which is such a unique selling point and characteristic of the company's brand. Love it!

There was one statistic that blew my mind and is surely not making headlines in the Western world. The article states that based on a recent World Bank report, "more than 20 sub-Saharan African countries, totaling more than 400 million people, have gained middle-income status." The perception that Africans are living on a dollar a day is not the entire truth. There are emerging markets throughout Africa and women are going to be the driving force of entrepreneurship. I think this will have major implications as companies, particularly multinational and global brands, look to get a piece of the pie in Africa. First, they need to truly subscribe to the notion that Africa is growing and will continue to grow. It's as if the continent is a sleeping giant as the world continues to overlook the possibilities of technology, commerce and business.

As a Nigerian-American these type of stories warm my heart and inspire me. I hope I see and hear more stories like these in the very near future.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It Ain't Over

I am cutting to the chase. I am tired. The last twenty-four hours have been a rollercoaster and I am about to crash onto a very comfy hotel bed. At this point, my traveling, business school visits and everything else in between has challenged by ability to keep track of the day and time at given moment. All I know is that I won't be home till October 23rd. Nine days feels like a lot right about now.

I can at least say that I feel motivated and blessed to have met some cool peeps but I am still tired. Shame. This is post #25! I am on track to reach one of my October goals and hit the 1-0-0 by the end of the year. I should be excited and this post should be longer, somewhat celebratory. Tomorrow shall present itself that opportunity. For now, all that matters is sleep.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Saved by the Bucks

I finally made it to St. Louis after saying my goodbyes to my sister. I hope Kansas City treats her well. My last few hours in KC were a little annoying. The apartment building where my sis now calls home, suddenly had no Internet access. Unfortunately for me, I was wide awake at 5:30 this morning. Thank goodness for my Blackberry! I did not even bother sending the emails I wanted to because as much as I like to browse and check my email with BB, I prefer my laptop. What I needed from my email was the call-in credentials for a conference call with Sofya and Leah of RachelChris. I responded to their Craigslist ad as their looking for an intern. Though the start-up company is based in NYC, most of the work is virtual, which is a plus. I love that the founder is a young woman! I am so glad they took the time to read a few of my blog posts and liked my writing. The interview went well and I hope I hear good news from them next week. No matter the result, I would really like to take a day trip to New York to visit them and interview them for my blog. I will keep you posted.

Pheew. That was just the morning. I will fast forward a few hours, especially since I spent a little over four hours on Megabus to get to St. Louis. The driver was great and our bus was twenty-five minutes early! Yes, please and thank you Megabus. As soon as I grabbed my two pieces of luggage I headed toward Union Station. It took awhile to find a cab but eventually a valet from a nearby hotel hailed one for me. Twenty-five dollars later and I made it to the Sheraton Hotel, my home for the next two nights. I am attending a preview weekend for one of my business schools. It wasn't until after I was handed my room keys, did I notice the hotel's sleek and modern lobby. Impressive.

Enough marveling already. I went straight to my room to drop off my belongings. I grabbed my laptop and Vera Bradley coin purse (so much easier to carry than my jumbo wallet) and made my way outside. Word on the street was that there was Panera three blocks away. I barely ate on the bus and I was looking forward to their mac n' cheese.

I never got my mac n' cheese. Since when does a Panera Bread close before five. Really?

Starbucks saved me. I popped into a Chiptole across the street to snack on chips and guac. Healthy-ish, cheap and quick. Honestly, I needed Inernet access badly. To my dismay, the Megabus I rode did not have Internet connectivity. That's right, for over four hours the only way I accessed the Internet was via BB.

Basically, I now have just enough time to finish this blog post, compile a marketing proposal, email invitations to fashion bloggers for an upcoming event and update my LinkedIn. Oh and I still need to definitely pick an outfit and hairstyle for tonight's reception. The attire is "nice" casual. Whatever. I am overdressing and I'm curling my hair.

I will end this post on a less stressful note. A few weeks ago, I met with Lisa Good night at AAUW We discussed a possible opportunity for me to be a guest blogger. I am happy to say that my blog, along with a few editorial changes, is now published online. Take a look.

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Yesterday was a busy day but I got a little cherry on top of my ice cream, figuratively speaking, after receiving this email.

"Thanks so much! You did a really great job with editing, and you were able to find a lot of the issues that I commonly overlook. I plan to use you again (next time I'll ensure that you'll have more time) in the future.

Good luck with your blog!

The above message came from a a graduate student who posted an ad on Craigslist needing someone to edit and proofread their thesis proposal. I jumped right on it and replied immediately. I am a slight grammar geek and the idea of someone paying me to ensure their semicolons are used properly makes my heart flutter.

After a few email exchanges, which included some negiotiation on my part, we settled on a price and deadline. A rather quick deadline, I might add. Twenty-five pages, double-spaced no later than noon the following day. Once I received paypment via Paypal, I did not waste time. I knew once she saw my comments and track changes she would concede that her money was well spent.

Now that I allow myself more time and freedom to write, I can also spend time editing and proofreading for a fee. I've paid my dues. Since I was in middle, I got requests from family members and friends to proofread their cover letters, e-mails, resumes and papers. I will never forget sophomore year when my college roommate and best friend, Jennifer, politely asked me to proofread her history paper. Obviously, I obliged and asked, "When's it due?"


Now, I should have known better because throughout our undergraduate years, Jennifer had a tendency to procrastinate to a fault. Luckily, she had someone like me who liked diction and took time to review her work. For the record, she never got a grade lower than a B+ on her history papers that semester. And yes, I am taking some credit for that.

I'm a good friend and did not charge for her for my services. But next time...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cleaning My Birdhouse

I hope and pray I only have to write about this once. Apparently my Twitter account (@LuckyIJ) was hacked earlier today. I got a weird message from one of my followers but didn't think much of it. I was tied up this afternoon touring a facility site and visiting a colleague at his office. For most of the afternoon, I was not on Twitter. Had I been, I would have definitely been on the attack.

Thankfully, I got a message from Cecily Kellogg (@Cecily K), whom I met last week at the women's conference in Philadelphia. She sent me a direct message that was plain and clear. Basically, I got hacked!

So, what do you do when your Twitter handle gets hacked? Instead of wasting my energy by getting angry and trying to play Sherlock Holmes, I did the following:

1. I sent direct messages to each of my followers who received spam messages. Unfortunately, some of them got two messages but thankfully it wasn't too many.

2. Changed my password. I not only changed it, I made sure it was a very strong. The more differentiated characters you have, the better. It won't hurt to update my password every few weeks/months as well.

3. I shared my story, hence my the title of my blog post.

The Internet can be a crazy, mischievous place at times. This experience certainly woke me up. I turned a negative situation into a learning experience. And I definitely just bought my domain name.

Birdhouse cleaned.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Go. Girl. Goals.

The time has come for me to lay it out on front street. And by "it", I mean a list of goals. Having goals will keep me motivated and the thought of crossing off  each bullet point is my definition of fun. Before the month of October passes me by, I will have accomplished the following:

  • Purchased my own domain name to make enhance my credibility and casually tell people to "visit my website".
  • Updated my LinkedIn profile with action verbs, a jazzy introduction and new recommendations
  • Finished at least one business school application
  • Completed 40 blog posts (long term goal is celebrate #100 by year's end!)
  • Joined a professional organization
I think these goals are manageable, although a few might be a tad ambitious. It doesn't hurt to try! Actually, I am looking forward to most of them, especially those overdue ones that shall remain nameless. Building your professional portfolio and your brand is a matter of consistent baby steps. By focusing on a few steps each month, I am working to prove to potential clients, consumers, sponsors, etc. that I am worth taking notice. Most of all, I am proving to myself that I am serious and that I want to succeed. Besides, time waits for no one.

Maybe at the end of the month, if all the aforementioned items are finito, I can shout, "GOOOOAAALLL!!!!!" just like the soccer commentators on television. Maybe.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Go-To List

Every now and then, I will write a blog post that might fall under miscellanous, or "potpurri" as Alex Trebek calls it on Jeopardy.

I love lists, especially when they involve good lessons that you can use daily. featured an article entitled, 9 Life Lessons for Every Entrepreneur. This list is derived from Gordon Dean, an American lawyer and prosecutor from the 1950s. Sadly, he died in a plane crash in 1953 but I think his lessons below will last a lifetime.
  1. Never lose your capacity for enthusiasm.
  2. Never lose your capacity for indignation.
  3. Never judge people. Don’t type them too quickly. But in a pinch, never first assume that a man is bad; first assume that he is good and that, at worst, he is in the gray area between bad and good.
  4. Never be impressed by wealth alone or thrown by poverty.
  5. If you can’t be generous when it’s hard to be, you won’t be when it’s easy.
  6. The greatest builder of confidence is the ability to do something--almost anything--well.
  7. When confidence comes, then strive for humility; you aren’t as good as all that.
  8. The way to become truly useful is to seek the best that other brains have to offer. Use them to supplement your own, and be prepared to give credit to them when they have helped.
  9. The greatest tragedies in the world and personal events stem from misunderstandings. So communicate!
These are simple and concise ways to manage your life, personally and professionally. I like this list a lot and will refer to it often. I hope you will too!

Friday, October 5, 2012

On the Road...Again

I am blogging from Kansas City, Missouri... not to be confused with Kansas City, Kansas. Yes, both locations do exist. I am still on a high from the PA Conference for Women! I am really grateful to have met such successful and talented women. I am now following a few of them on Twitter. Thankfully, I had the foresight to register as a volunteer for the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Beantown, aka Boston. That conference is in December, so I have plenty of time to finalize my monthly business/professional goals. I need to step it up and get myself organized now that I've seen the lay of the land.

During the next two weeks, I will visit two business schools, job shadow a few colleagues and (hopefully) interview some amazing women and a cool startup or two. Amidst all of those logisitics and travelling, I will continue to blog, find freelance work, solidify my business plan and develop marketing strategies for my two internships.

I think being on the road this long will be fun but a lot of work too. Most certainly, I am challenging myself to be creative, resourceful and a little crazy.

Let the craziness begin.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Women Power

Hands down. Attending the Pennsylvania Conference for Women will probably be the best decision I made all week. And it's only Monday! Now that I am finally at my laptop, which I brought along with me of course, I can express what I've always understood to be true. Surrounding myself with aspirational, positive women is like a drug. Considering that I had to wake up at 5:30 this morning and still almost missed my bus, I was just hoping to help out and get free access to the conference. Well, thanks to my little sister, I did not miss my the Megabus and I have already interacted with women who have given me advice, contacts and the confidence to push forward.

Case in point, Uneeka Jay (@powermommy). Allow me to set the scene. It's after 12:30 p.m. and I'm finishing up my boxed lunch. Caesar salad wrap, string cheese, chocolate chunk cookie and an apple. She casually sits down, no big deal. Fast forward fifteen minutes and I have someone who is encouraging me to attend the Blogalicous conference next year, informing that I need to buy my domain name and listing a bunch of contacts in the DC area. I kept grinning and saw the wheels spinning ever so quickly in my head.  Now that I know there is a supportive network of bloggers, specifically women of color within reach, there's no way I am not going to take a leap forward.

I also finally got a chance to meet with Amy Blankenbiller, who is the volunteer coordinator for this conference as well as two others, Texas and Massachusetts. She has such a great energy and tends to share a novel per every question you ask. I like learning by listening, so I was all ears! She has quite the story and actually lived in the DC area for a number of years. Indeed, it is a small world.

1.5 tons of Hershey chocolates
that conference volunteers packed

Coincidentally enough, Penelope Trunk had a new blog post that resonated with me today. Two particular comments were relevant to my current transition - picking a lifestyle versus working toward a job title and not overcommitting. I've never been one for titles and whatnot. Personally, I like being in a position of influence. With or without a title, human beings are influenced by their peers. In my last job, I made it a point to be kind in order to influence my working relationships in a healthy, positive way. Being nice goes a long way. Essentially, understanding my wants and needs in my professional life will parlay into a lifestyle that is in sync with how I work and value my time. Simple, right? Right...

I have a date with FedEx Kinko's in a minute. If all goes well, I will be the owner of a set of  temporary business cards for tomorrow's conference. Later, I'm heading outside the city to have a home-cooked meal courtesy of my friend who is housing me. Thanks Marissa!

Speaking of dinner, last night at the Oceanaire was great. I smiled and laughed incessantly to the point that my facial muscles were paining me. I had a good time and the salmon was delish. Thanks Don and Len!

Sometimes I forget how gracious my network of friends, colleagues, etc are to me. Thank you cards are most certainly in the works. 

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