Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe + February Events

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

The end of 2016 was a rocky time for me. Changes, necessary changes, were happening. While I recognized the utility of these developments, they still didn’t feel good. I have been working on feeling comfortable with discomfort, as that is usually a sign that circumstances are changing, but it’s a challenge. In 2016, part of my self-development also included shooting my shot: inviting people to coffee, lunch or drinks and saying “I need your help.” Vulnerability can be scary, but I found that once people know they can help you, they’re more than willing to do so.

As such, I started to notice my network expanding as friends made introductions, acquaintances became advisors and I became comfortable in making requests and subsequently helping to connect others as friends reciprocated with their own needs.

In January of the new year, I am now starting to see the benefits from the connections I made in 2016. The statement that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with is true. As you become the least smart person in the room, you grow and expand your knowledge. Thankfully, this notion applies to both my professional life and my fitness life, as I connect with yoga friends for two events this month!

Feb. 18 – Soul Sistas Yoga Kickoff

Last year, a friend said she looked around and realized she knew several black female yoga teachers and enthusiast, so she brought us together and Soul Sistas Yoga was formed. J, Kawanah, Tam and I are all dedicated to creating sacred spaces for women of color to practice yoga and connect breath, movement and energy.

I’ll be leading two yoga sessions at our debut event on Feb. 18, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the SunstoneFIT Mockingbird Plaza (5400 E. Mockingbird Lane).

Session A – Beginners’ Yoga: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Mental Health and Meditation Workshop: 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Session B – All Levels Yoga: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Tickets range from $15 for one class to $40 for the entire day of learning. Get your ticket and then get one for a friend who keeps promising to come to yoga with you but never has made a class.

Feb. 25 – Athleta Namaste After the 5K (Leap of Faith Motivational Run and Yoga)

I’m all about this event because it reminds me of Wanderlust 108, which I’ve been to twice and will be attending this year again on April 15.

I can manage 3.2 miles of jogging and who doesn’t deserve some good stretching and breathing after accomplishing that, right? When Kory, the event organizer who I met at Wanderlust last year, asked me to teach the Namaste After the 5K yoga session, I freaked a bit. I had to remind myself that my vibe, what I’d been cultivating, was bringing me new opportunities. If I run from them, I’m not being true to myself.

namaste after the 5K image

As the yoga teacher for Namaste After the 5K, that means I have to invite, you, your mom and your partner to come out to Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Lozada Gateway (Continental Avenue Bridge) on Feb. 25. The warm-up starts at 7:30 with Orangetheory Fitness and the 5K kicks off at 8:45 for runners and 9 a.m. for walkers. If you’re coming for the yoga, that starts at 10:45 a.m. Get your ticket today!

These two events in February came because of the tribe I attracted, as well as saying yes, even to actions that were outside my comfort zone at the time. I’d love to know what you gained when what you were seeking found you because of your energy.


Message for “Busy” Folks: Taking Time Off Doesn’t Make You a Bum

If this isn’t the truth. (photo via EvelynGiggles on Flickr)

Recently, someone made a statement that changed my perspective on what I’ve been doing (or more importantly, not doing) since finishing yoga teaching certification a month ago.

We are often so busy either doing things, or making plans to do things, that we often don’t take the time to enjoy the fact that we’ve done them. Take time to just be.”


Much has been made of our culture of busyness, in which everyone is constantly on the “go,” on their “grind” and in no-sleep mode (which never made sense to me because good lord I am cranky without rest). If your social media timeline isn’t filled with mentions of the flights you’re taking, the meetings you’re having with the folks just like you and the after-hours networking over dark liquor and Cuban cigars, then what are you even here for?

I say to those folks “Mannn, hush!” If you build your self-worth on the highly curated and specially-selected experiences of others, you’re setting yourself up for failure. I admit, I wanted to be in the studio, teaching others and being a boss at it, immediately after finishing the program. I feel the desire to become one of those extra-flexible yogis from Instagram on a regular basis, even though my hips and back clearly haven’t gotten the memo to let go of that stiffness (working on it).

And then it hit me: in the last year, I’ve completed a Master’s degree, started a new job and kicked butt at it AND completed a 200-hour certification for yoga. I deserve to take a moment, even a month or two, to just sit in the cut and enjoy. So what if I don’t wake up until 11 a.m. on Saturday. I earned it. So what if I decide that sweatpants on the sofa night trumps working out. A practice of wellness and fitness allows for a day off. Unlike the folks who just have to let you know every time they and their smart phone cross the threshold of the gym, I live low key. No selfies from the mat or while holding a dumbbell. My focus is me, gaining energy and strength and peace of mind or whatever it is that I need during that session or class.

The past month has been restful and rejuvenating in many ways. I missed the time with the BF and my family. I missed books. And I needed time to plan and determine what I truly wanted to do with the achievement of being a certified teacher and how I want to impact those around me. I think I’m in the groove now, which means ramping up my personal practice, getting out to new studios and connecting with more like-minded people.

Do you feel a similar pressure to always be in “beast mode”? How do you overcome the “Fear of Not Doing Enough” brought on by social media?

Why Superlative Headlines Are Absolutely Horrifying and Writers Should Stop Using Them

I know I can’t be the only person in America (or the world) who is absolutely exhausted with the superlative headlines. You know the one. Some site will claim that their video or article will wholesale change your life for the better, make you more considerate, sort and organize your whites and colors (and fold them and put them away) and call your mom more than one time a week. This sort of over-promising irks me to no end, and I’m calling for an end.

Not surprisingly, hyping expectations in headlines has a basis in social science – one of my favorite topics – and the rise of Upworthy and its ilk has caused an explosion of these tactics. More often than not, the post title promises more than the actual article delivers, leaving users feeling a bit let down. I mean, is a “viral” video really going to change my mind about climate change, gun control or reproductive rights when I’m likely a staunch believer on one side of an issue. And those partisan folks, they don’t change their minds easily. The sites that are promising to change your life on social issues are preaching to the choir, and it’s likely that anyone who shares the video is preaching to the choir as well, since Facebook’s algorithm means the content you see first is that of the folks you interact with the most. And those people are likely to be sharing content that you want to read. And on and on. If we want to expose ourselves to opinions that will truly challenge us, it’s not going to be through those viral shares.

Long rant short: Upworthy and those other feel-good, pay-it-forward will not get my clicks because I don’t like being fooled. We already know the Internet is lazy, so why feed into it? Do you enjoy those headlines? Why or why not?

P.S. Anti-Upworthy? You’re welcome.

Marketers, Don’t Let Your Videos Sell You Short

Recently I’ve noticed that some of my entrepreneur friends are moving into video elements as part of their marketing. Videos as part of a robust content marketing strategy can elevate a small business above competitors, especially when the person behind the brand can shine and bring personality to the forefront. But when visual marketing is bad, it can go really left. I’m talking shaky handling, no focus (both in lens and in purpose), poor audio quality and leaving viewers with a sense of “What did I just watch? And why?” I can’t possibly let this stand because my friends are nothing if not smart. So I’m offering a helping hand and some simple tips to ensure that the next video sent out via social media, email or embedded on a website is the game-changer that brings clients running.

1. If your videos are shot primarily on a mobile phone, please turn your phone.

Seriously. It’s that simple. Shooting horizontally rather than vertically opens up the frame and gets rid of those black stripes on each side. Need a snazzy song to help you remember? Chescaleigh has you covered! Seriously, she explains it very well, while singing. What more do you need?

2. Script your videos.

While I am sure everyone believes they are hilarious and always on-cue (inside their head), there is something about a being in front of a recording device that strikes even the most clever of us dumb. To combat any kind of stage fright or forgetfulness, make a script. This could be as simple as “First scene: in front of store, second scene: at the counter with customer, third scene: in back office.” Knowing ahead of time what you should be doing on screen means no hemming and hawing plus fewer minutes spent on the editing process.

3. Know what you want to achieve with your video.

Call to action, call to action, call to action. I can’t stress enough that you must have a call to action. This applies to all aspects of marketing: email marketing, landing pages, social messages, etc. And it can apply to your video marketing as well. YouTube allows users to include links to external content; Instagram gives you space to include a long-form description and drive people to your site. Videos are fun, sure, but they should also have a secondary action after viewership.

4. Where you can, invest in professional videography.

Depending upon on how much video you plan on doing, consider investing in a good videographer for special events and occasions. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Get a short video detailing how you work with clients to set up the perfect day of shots, how you edit for narrative story and how you present to your clients. Consider having a satisfied customer couple do a short testimonial on-camera about how you captured their day perfectly and were so easy to work with. Now, not only are your photos your content and selling tool, your process and customers are too.

Quick and dirty tips: Buy a tripod (for those shaky hand videos); find a cheap editing tool for transitions and creativity; grab your photogenic clients and friends, and have fun!

Inspiration: Fit Men Cook, Hippie Heathen, Naptural85

Mashable has more tips for video production. If you work regularly with video, what tips would you give to those who are just starting out?


How to See the Forests and the Trees

Recently, at a catch-up brunch with a friend from college who is also in the communications field, we discussed the need for a side hustle. We both leaned toward consulting, and as such were discussing client relations.

As we had both discovered, and many other solo practitioners well know, those in need of communication assistance don’t always see the big picture. Potential clients sometimes believe that a tactic like customer newsletters, press releases or social media posts can make up for the lack of a true foundation of a brand and vision. My friend told me “That’s not the entirety of what we do, and it’s hard to translate that sometimes.” To which I nodded in agreement, because I’ve been there and done that.

So here is my two cents on the matter, for those entrepreneurs who are seeking to make a big impression through integrated communication:

  • Know thyself – Can you explain you and your services in a nutshell? If that nutshell is more the size of a coconut rather than a peanut shell, start shaving down to the essentials. There is a lot of competition out there, and the quicker you can get to the “How I can help you” point, the better to keep and maintain the attention of your customers.
  • Know thy budget – Find a balance between costs, both monetary and non-monetary. Recognize what you save in dollars by trying to do it all yourself may actually come out as a time resource cost. Nothing in life is free; know when to outsource to the professionals.
  • Know thy value – This message is for clients and communication practitioners both. Pricing your goods, for entrepreneurs, means the difference between feast and famine. Allocate, budget and track your sales to know when you can bring in partners – and yes, PR and marketing people should be your right-hand (wo)man in your journey – to help you go even further. Practitioners, know and ask for the true value of your services. Sure, you may think that writing out the plan takes only X hours. But consider also the time it takes to get in the head of your client, research their field and truly deliver an informed plan.

I hope this helped someone who is being challenged with a client who is limiting their own vision in the pursuit of short-term sales. Remind them that you are in the business of creating a long-haul journey, a foundational story and a valuable brand. And to those who are working with a solo practitioner, know that though they may not get you in Newsweek in the first month of working together, they will get you to the right place in time.

The Internet Is Lazy

But you already knew that, right?

This week, the Internet went through its usual paroxysms over the “hot topic” of the moment. This time it was the “First Kiss,” a video purporting to be footage of complete strangers kissing for the first time. My usual reaction to seeing all the You MUST see this video, ERMAHGERD! comments is to completely ignore it, hoping the hype goes down. This time, I bit. And as I expected, the hype let me down. Because truly, who wants to watch people awkwardly mash faces.

I digress. As the social media about the video reached a fever pitch, the other shoe dropped, so to speak. The kissers, gasp, they weren’t only strangers. Apparently, they’re also models. And the video wasn’t just for the sake of showing the intensity of initial physical contact. It was an ad for a clothing line. Color me surprised…

At this point, I’d checked out because nothing is ever as it appears online. But The Internet had other thoughts. Article after article about the “value” of the video, whether the fact that the people were models mattered, were we duped because it was an ad instead of unaffiliated viral content. The next wave of reaction posts were, predictably, folks’ takes on the “First Kiss” – a “real” version with non-models, a joke take on hand jobs, even one with dogs.

Now, I post this all to say that I wish it wasn’t all so predictable. Every five days or so, someone uploads an article or a video or a photo that takes over the conversation. The hot topic isn’t limited to social media, since the traditional outlets trawl social media for their filler content. After the first wave of shares and posts, then the response (#thinkpiece) from everyone with an opinion comes down the pipe followed by the responses to the response. It’s ubiquitous, it’s everywhere, and it’s exhausting. Most of all, it’s lazy.

Knowing how limited our attention spans are when we’re online, and how much information is out there, I encourage everyone to expand beyond their current outlets. Look for new writers, new perspectives and stories that maybe aren’t BuzzFeed-worthy but worthy of your attention. Think for yourself, don’t be lazy like The Internet.

The Influence of Twitter – On The Up or Down?

Fail Whale
Via xioubin low (Flickr)

Depending upon who you ask, Twitter is on the upswing and influencing everything from politics to media or is never going to reach the level of Facebook and struggling to find relevancy in the social media. With Facebook making record profits and celebrating its 10-year anniversary (tell me you didn’t tear up at your “Look Back” video), social media experts are looking at how other networks stack up. And Twitter isn’t looking like much of a contender.

According to a Feb. 10, 2014 Wall Street Journal article, Twitter is struggling to add users, with Facebook users numbered at 1.2 billion (yes, with a b) monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to Twitter’s 241 million. Initially, I was one of the “Don’t want it, don’t need it” people who tried to shun Twitter. I didn’t understand why I needed to share all the time and why anyone would care what I had to say in 140 characters or less. As I began to see the ways in which communicators were using Twitter for immediacy, engagement and awareness, it became clear that there was a value in the network.

Since joining, I’ve co-hosted and participated in Twitter chats, watched social movements take off and made online and offline friendships. Twitter strategy as part of a brand’s integrated marketing can bring in new fans/followers who then become customers and eventually ambassadors. Twitter isn’t going away, that’s for sure, but the company must increase users because users means advertising which means money.

Perhaps Twitter’s snazzy redesigned user profiles will be the key?

What are your thoughts – is Twitter on the rise, decline or holding steady?


Making Time to Disconnect

Flickr – J. Skorobogatov

I had a weird/scary moment last week. Not scary-bad as much as scary-unusual. While driving, I actually…looked around at my surroundings. When I was stopped at a red light, I people-watched. No Facebook status updates, no Twitter posts, no Instagram feed. Just driving and thinking. Not surprisingly, and as you may have guessed, it took a moment of forgetfulness – leaving my phone at home – for me to actually appreciate the silence and solitude of my drive.

There are plenty of stories online about people who disconnect from the network and how it affects them; my favorite came from Barantude Thurston of Fast Company. Usually the story begins with some anecdotal tales of how their ever-connectedness via social media caused them to lose the ability to engage person-to-person. Next comes the withdrawal symptoms of “fear of missing out (FOMO),” an actual anxiety that has been covered by The New York Times (forgive me if I think this is wholly an ultimate “First World Problem”). Finally, the protagonist realizes that with silence comes inner peace, or something akin to that.

I’ve not felt that FOMO, since I purposely keep my circle small enough to keep in touch as needed. However, I recognize that as I have more accessibility to email, social networks and news on my smart phone, it becomes harder to just put the phone down. I want to be visually and mentally stimulated at all times, and I’m not the only one who sees it as a potential issue. Dating is an area where technology has skewed what is normal and what is not, as described in this article. Children are not engaging in reading as they once were because of increased time looking at screens. The more technology helps, the more it hurts apparently.

I always say that any potential future offspring will likely hate me, because I don’t believe in giving children access to technology just because it exists. The kid that I spend the most time around regularly asks to play games on my tablet and smart phone and 9 times out of 10, the answer is no. Just yesterday, they told me the ultimate worst situation for a kid: “I’m bored.” My response…good. Be bored. Learn how to just sit and think and be still. You’ll appreciate it when you’re an adult and you look back at those hours of free time you had, wondering how you filled a whole day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I provide entertainment in the form of answering any and all questions asked of me, especially if it becomes a learning experience. I’m thinking I should start taking my own advice though, and create learning moments outside my house and an Internet connection.

Do you feel a FOMO? Are you on a technology fast or diet, or do you take one every so often to reconnect to human beings?

Digital Footprint in the Afterlife


In “This Is How Technology Ruins Society” news this week, Facebook used a dead young woman’s tagged photo to advertise a dating site. Once it was brought to their attention, the social media site issued an apology and removed the ad. What makes this story even more tragic are the details surrounding the death of the woman in the image. Rehtaeh Parsons took her own life this past April after severe, aggressive and relentless online bullying following a sexual assault.

This incident sheds light on the larger story of how long our online identities live beyond our physical existence and how the sites where we are building and sharing our identities are using what we consider our personal content to earn revenue from their advertisers, mostly without our explicit permission. When my best friend died in 2009, Facebook was not yet using the photos we’d uploaded of our college days and fun nights out to promote weight loss, vacations or dating sites. In the aftermath of her very unexpected and painful death, I can’t imagine how upset I would be if I looked to the right panel of Facebook and saw her smiling face hawking some jewelry line or teeth whitening (she has a great smile, I wouldn’t put it past the algorithm to pick that up). I will say, I’m glad that her page wasn’t immediately removed in the months after her death, as her friends, family, coworkers and even people who didn’t know her sought to share their grief through posting memories of better times.

Never did I think that the 21st century of a baby book of memories, the Facebook album dedicated to the life of a child, would become fodder for online ads. The advancement in technology – facial recognition, anyone! – means that even if you don’t tag a person, the Internet can still recognize them, associate that image with them and connect the two with a simple search. Almost frightening and…sentient, isn’t it? Because of this, I refrain from posting pictures of the children of friends. What was a funny picture of a 1-year-old smearing cake on their face at their birthday party isn’t so funny when they’re in middle school and trying not to stand out as the “weird kid.” Interestingly enough, the FTC is creeped out as well. The federal regulator is launching an investigation to see if the latest round of privacy setting allowing advertisers to use photos violates a 2011 agreement.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with this thought, as evidenced by a recent wildly popular post by Amy Webb of Slate. Webb said that she and her husband refuse to post images of their daughter on the Internet- the Internet responded by finding pictures that other people had posted. Ahh, Internet justice, is there anything sweeter?

I think it may be too late for me; my face is out there, for better or worse. Thankfully I learned (fairly) quickly that putting down your drink of choice and not giving any ironic/offensive/odd facial and hand expressions makes for a safer (for life and job searches) online social presence.

What do you think of the fact that you can no longer disappear online? Did you start curbing and editing your identity?

Facebook Has Hashtags, Twitter Has Analytics: Does It Matter To You?


As you may well have heard, everyone’s favorite social networks, Twitter and Facebook, both rolled out some new features this week.

Facebook’s addition was long-overdue: the ability to use a hashtag that is actually searchable. I say this because, despite the fact that people knew that their use of the hashtag did nothing on Facebook, they insisted on using it in their status updates. I truly considered defriending people for this, no lie. Well, those folks can now call themselves forward thinkers. According to the company (via Mashable), they want to make it easier for users to “find information.”  Considering that Facebook has consistently lost young users to sites like Twitter and Instagram in the recent years, maybe the company thinks this will shore up their interest. Best of luck with that Facebook. More than likely, I will not engage with Facebook hashtags because they have been synonymous with Twitter for so long. For me and others like me, this may cause some cognitive dissonance. Hopefully the FB team has thought of this and plans to address it by showing the value it brings to the user experience.

Speaking of Twitter, the company is trying to get more individual users to analyze their reach by making basic stats available for accounts. I’ve used Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, both of which give users an overview of their traffic. I found the analytic page straightforward, and I imagine small business owners who don’t want to invest in tracking software will be satisfied with the information as a starting point. Of course, social networks don’t create new features from the goodwill of their heart. The link to your analytics is under the page to sign up for Twitter ads, encouraging users to associate their analytics and buying advertisements. Smart move, and it’s likely some bloggers and online personalities will find value in this. For small fish like me, I’ll keep my coins.

What do these changes mean for your business? Will you add Twitter analytics to your social media measurement, much like checking your Klout score? How do you (or your business) plan to use Facebook hashtags?

image via Satyrika on Flickr