Monday, May 20, 2013

Make it Happen Monday: In New York City....Again

I'm going, going, back back to   New.   York.   City!

Well, actually I just left The Big Apple a la the Megabus. I took an Amtrak train to Penn Station and headed Uptown to attend Brandcamp U this afternoon. Check out their hashtag #iwnybcu13 for the play-by-play. The all-day branding event is part of Internet Week in the city and featured big names in digital media. I missed the crew from Startup Institute New York by a little bit.  I caught Lynne's (@lynneluvah) digital storytelling presentation; complete with simple tips and samples of brands who successfully managed and communicated their digital stories. Her five takeaways were as follows:

  1. Understand your audience. 
  2. Know the meaning of your brand.
  3. Create a story that connects. 
  4. Listen and engage (my personal favorite).
  5. Learn!

I came at the tail end but I had the opportunity to connect with folks afterwards, including one of my Startup Institute classmates. Shoutout to Damone; and kudos to Kristina of Villarini Maclean for asking a really good question during the last session about when to say "No".

Your read that right. Yours truly got accepted to Startup Institute. I know what you're thinking - "What about Boston?" Well, what had happened was...

I got accepted but the SI team thought I would be a better fit in NYC. Truth be told, they are right. I always said I would NEVER EVER live in the concrete jungle but I plan to do just that this summer. I am really excited and ready to eat, sleep and live my SI experience.

Like I mentioned before, I was prepared regardless of the outcome. I am really glad everything worked out though. I remember finishing my application literally minutes prior to the midnight deadline. I actually had to coach myself to click on the send button. I have no idea why I was terrified of applying in the first place. I never intended to procrastinate instead I kind of ignored the application entirely, thinking of dumb reasons as to why I would not earn acceptance into the program.

Lame. Not doing that again. Go big or go home. Looks like I'm going to New York City!!!!

This has been another awesome edition of Make it Happen Monday. :)

- IJ

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post: New York Notebook's Guide to Spring

***Special thanks to Jody of New York Notebook for guest blogging.***

For months, it’s been difficult to discern whether or not spring is among us. We’ve shivered on the sidewalk under cloudy skies claiming, “but it’s March April May!” then coming home with a sore throat. Nevertheless, spring is piercing the city with bursts of teasing sunshine and the days of T-shirt weather are beginning to manifest. Here is New York Notebook’s Guide to Spring… on a budget, of course.

There’s nothing more Spring-worthy than sipping iced coffee in Washington Square Park. Oren’s Daily Roast (31 Waverly) has got you covered. Also in the NYU adjacent area is the legendary IFC Center. This cinema plays consistently mind-expanding films and serves organic popcorn. This summer they’re playing films such as acclaimed French Something in the Air, Studio Ghibli’s gorgeous From Up on Poppy Hill, satirical documentary How To Make Money Selling Drugs and more. They’re also hosting a Terry Gilliam series until July 20th and a Queer/Art/Film series until August 19th. Did I mention they serve organic popcorn?

There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as eating out in spring weather. If, like many others, you’re seeking the best place to get pizza, then look no further. Prince St. Pizza at 27 Prince Street in Soho is the best I’ve found yet. Their thick crusts of crunchy pretzel bread, sweet sauce, homemade mozzarella and burnt-around-the-edges pepperoni make for one unbeatable (and cheap) slice. If you’re looking for something more scenic, then you’ll love Grimaldi’s (1 Front Street) under the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you’re hungry for something more unique, then try Caravan of Dreams (E. 6th Street). All their food is vegan, which makes for some interesting inventions, such as cold Zucchini Spaghetti with Brazil Nut and Sesame ‘meat’balls, Wild rice and Cremini Risotto Croquettes and Seitan Taquitos. For dessert, avoid cupcake franchise Crumbs and instead go to Prohibition Bakery (9 Clinton Street). Their cupcakes are miniature bites of flavor, sweetness and real liquor of the highest quality.

Probably my favorite thrift store is Atlantis Attic (771 Metropolitan Ave) in Williamsburg. Find designer shirts for as little as three dollars. Beacon’s Closet (92 fifth avenue) in Park Slope is a little more fashion conscious. From here, you can walk to the lovely Prospect Park. It’s Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park and is currently chock full of cherry blossoms, fluffy grass and unemployed hipsters playing Frisbee.

If you’re looking for cocktails, there is no shortage of artisanal, well-crafted and daringly unique drinks. Soho’s Pegu Club (77 West Houston Street) has a cocktail called the Earl Grey Marteani, for lovers of that bergamot-scented savior. Tooker Alley in Prospect Heights (793 Washington Ave) is a dimly-lit period piece of a bar that serves a tongue-burning beauty called the Jala-PiƱa, made from pineapple white rum, serrano-infused honey syrup and lemon. I’ve not yet been to Pouring Ribbons (225 Avenue B) but I hear amazing things.

And finally, live comedy - the reason I came to live in New York in the first place. I love Sunday nights at The Knitting Factory (361 Metropolitan Ave) which are hosted by Hannibal Buress and feature upcoming local comedians and cameos from established worldwide names (did someone say Robin Williams?)
 The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea (307 West 26th Street) showcase sharp and witty sketch comedy on Mondays at 9.30pm followed by free stand-up at 11pm. And if you manage to get tickets, you’ll have a blast at their famous improv show Asssscat 3000 on Sundays.

Now, get out there. After all, it’s spring!


Jody is a writer from London. In November 2012, Jody moved to New York City with no job, no apartment, no connections – nothing. She writes about the experience on her blog:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Tweets: Spread Light, Spread Literacy #SLSL2013

As promised, I will provide more information about the philanthropy project I'm participating in on behalf of Capital Cause, a young philanthropist organization based in Washington, D.C. If I recall correctly, I first learned of the organization at the end of 2010. I saw an email in a Yahoo! group from one of their board members as they were recruiting leadership for 2011-2012. I applied but did not get the membership director position. I was asked to be a volunteer and decided to support the organization. I've been a volunteer member ever since!

This spring, I signed up for one of their giving cirlces projects and was matched up with three other young philanthropists. A giving cirlces project is an intensive, 60-day fundraising initiative. Small groups of young philanthropists crowdsource their skills to crowdfund a project.

My team is made up of our group leader and only guy, Anthony, Krishana, and Shantae. Our Capital Cause advisor is Jalisa. Special shoutout to Darla, our Capital Cause liasion! Our challenge is to raise $2,000 for a public charter school in D.C. The funds will benefit 144 students and the school's online literacy tools as well as new laptops. For more information and to make a $25 to sponsor a letter on our keyboard, visit our fundraising page - Don't be shy, tell a friend, tweet and like our Facebook page. I've always been a bookworm, so this particular initiative is certainly worth my time (and hopefully yours).
Like previously mentioned, my role is to manage our social media presence which includes or Facebook page and tweets via our hashtag (#SLSL2013). I try to post relevant images, quotes and fundraising updates to our Facebook page. This week, I am ramping up our efforts to ensure we reach our goal. One of the ways I keep track of our hashtag is using Tagboard. You can do hashtag searches through Twitter but I learned of last week and I am huge fan. I like the interface and you can easily browse through uploaded photos as well - all in one convenient place.

Check out all of our tweets on my team's Tagboard page - You will see tweets from all of us as well as photo uploads from our recent game night. If you want to join us, feel free to tweet about your favorite book, word or letter with the hashtag, #SLSL2013. While you're at it, make a donation.

I will keep you posted on us. Go Team Spread Light, Spread Literacy!

- IJ

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Roundup, Heads Up: Motherly Advice

Happy Mother's Day to you and yours!

Don't you just love that everyone and their mother (pun intended) is posting pictures on Facebook and tweeting about their loved one. It's cute to see the warm fuzzies all over the Internet but you may want to watch the Mother's Day PSA from Twitter, in case you missed the memo.

Happy Mother's Day from my kindergarten self.

Festivities and appreciation aside, this week will be major! Before I get a head of myself, I have to give a shoutout to my giving circles project, courtesy of Capital Cause, Team Spread Light, Spread Literacy. Later in the week, I will share more information and feedback out the sixty day fundraising project I've been involved with since early March. My team has already raised over, $1,000 in about a two weeks. See for yourself and donate while you are at it. I came up with the team name and am responsible for managing our social media presence, including our Facebook page and tweets. Follow our hashtag, #SLSL2013 and support us! 

For my internship, I've initiated the social media strategy which culminated in a Twitter chat this past Tuesday. I have participated in many Twitter chats but never conducted one until last week. I had a guest panelist and promoted the event over the course of a few days, which included direct tweets to influential people and education based organizations. The Twitter chat was thirty minutes but easily could have lasted an hour. We had a handful of followers tweeting along with out hashtag and gained several new followers. Thanks to the data collection and analysis via SproutSocial, I can say that it was a good first chat and look forward to more. I used Storify to aggregate the chat discussion and to highlight the different followers. I think Storify is really useful in keeping Twitter chats organized and cataloged for future reference.

Last week was busy but I had good developments. I am hoping for the same positive outcomes for the final decision on my Startup Institute application. I first mentioned I was applying in March and now I'm in the last rounds. There was a Google Hangout with one of the founders, Aaron O' Hearn, on Friday. I like Google Hangouts a lot and find them really convenient to host meetings or just to "hangout" online. Aaron's insight and feedback was just what I needed to understand the program a bit more while meeting my potential colleagues. I'm nervous but ready no matter what the decision. 

My photoshop class ends this week as well. Sad face. I had no idea how complex Photoshop is but am thankful that I can at least navigate my way. I don't have Photoshop on my laptop or desktop but Adobe Creative Cloud is apparently the way to go for professionals. My instructor recommended Sumopaint, which has been fun to use. My design skills and knowledge will only get better and better. 

Before I end this post, I have to offer some of my mother's advice to the world. 

  1. Family is the most important thing.
  2. When you wash the dishes, clean the entire sink and the stovetop.
  3. Take care of your health. <--- This is really important, as my mom is a nurse and attests to a good diet, exercise and sleep. 
Cheers to motherly advice - past, present, future.

- IJ

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: New York State of Mind

Two weeks ago, I was in New York City to attend NYTech Day. The weather was mild but thankfully the sunshine was aplenty, making my walk from Columbus Circle to the Hudson River bearable. My trip was brief, nevertheless it was a good experience being in a space trolling with startups and entrepreneurs. Though I would have liked to have seen more diversity within the startups and attendees, there were hundreds upon hundreds of startups showcased which was a thrill for me. 

Prior to my trip in April, the last time I was in NYC was for my first blogging conference, BlogHer. I wrote about that experience and continue to think about that random inclination to buy a ticket for Pathfinder day. I was lucky that I had a group of friendly, supportive women. I still keep in touch with Anne of Peach Prenni too.

I guess, New York City is just one of the places. It's almost like a slightly addictive drug, but one that your doctor feels comfortable prescribing. It's truly a city that never sleeps, where every living soul has a dream, passion, hope, wish. I try to travel to NYC a few times a year just to get a jolt, or rather an injection of zest from the "concrete jungle" as Alicia Keys croon.

I will venture back to the Empire State for Brand Camp University. By happenstance, or luck, I saw a tweet about it and thought I need to step up my branding game. That, and I think camps are fun. I will be staying overnight catching up with friends and capturing as many photos as possible. This time, I will be ready.

In keeping with a the New York State of Mind theme, Jody of New York Notebook, will be my first guest blogger for next week's Thursday's Thoughts. She has a fun blog and a bunch of suggestions for enjoying the city on a budget.  Who knows, maybe we can move our Twitter conversations to IRL (in real life) conversations. Thanks Jody!

Jody's banner for her blog, New York Notebook.

I love the banner that she uses for blog. NYC here I come... again.

- IJ

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Faves List

It's been awhile since I penned a list of my favorite things. This list is a bit overdue but better late than never. No pomp and circumstance, let's get to it.

So.. the last few days and weeks have utterly crazy. Aside from the $100 parking ticket I got when I traveled to New York recently, it's all been very positive. I have met amazing women entrepreneurs and leaders from all walks of life. Their stories have been enriching and motivating. Here is snippet of recent adventures in no particular order.

  • The week I returned from the Midwest was jam packed but one event sticks out so clearly to me. Thanks to Kezia of Capital Cause, I was able to attend a private event for African-American women at a well-known executive building... that happens to the opposite of black... and has a lot of security... it's in the District of Columbia... you get the idea. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was in a room with beautiful, educated, fashionable black women. It was like a room full of Olivia Popes! I got to hear really unique stories about women who support the President and First Lady in very stressful, demanding and high-profile positions. All ages were represented and it was a glorious sight to see older women get emotional about their professional careers and the struggles they faced as women of color. I have their calls for progress and passion to pay it forward etched in my brain. Shout out to Jilliene and Larcus! They were brave and sat in the front row with me. Pleasure to meet such driven young women. 
Jilliene, Larcus and yours truly.    
  • The panel event I dreamed up is coming along slowly but surely. I've confirmed four panelists and a date, May 22nd at my alma mater, George Mason University. At first it was an idea in my head and now it's an event that is less than three weeks away!
  • I've been interested in public relations for awhile now and my internship has helped me learn a thing or two. I finally wrote my first press release and it was approved with flying colors. Yes!
  • Earlier this week, I met up with Amaka who is working on a crowdfunding startup to support women entrepreneurs. We are working together and it's been going well thus far. Her energy is so big and electric. Go Amaka! 
  • I blogged about my writeup for the Blogatech summit on Monday and since then, it was retweeted a couple of times by some of my faves, Ananda Leeke and @digundiv! Even better news... I am of one of three featured bloggers for BeBlogalicious. Look out for my post later this month.
I could go on. No really, I could. There's so much more. And I have the pictures to prove it! I'm doing a better job of taking my camera and not only uploading photos but editing and creating videos too. The possibilities for content creation and development are endless at this point.

This list is just a snippet of some of my favorite experiences in the last few weeks. I feel lucky that I can share these moments. Happy Friday!

- IJ

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