VidCon Australia: Defining Influence & Working With Influencers

When I flew to Anaheim last June, I wasn’t simply escaping a cold, wet, dreary start to winter in Auckland. I was on the hunt for sun, surf, summertime…and, something else entirely. Exactly what that ‘something’ was, I hadn’t a clue – but I knew I’d know it when I saw it.

I knew a few things. I knew that the something I was searching for wasn’t as tangible as a cold cocktail in my hand whilst sitting on Santa Monica Beach. Though, when I look back now, there are definite transcendental qualities inherent in beachside cocktails. But I digress…

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When I got to California, I wanted something awe-inspiring. Something surprising. Something enlightening, even.

Is that too much to ask? You see, I’ve been living in New Zealand now for nigh on 15 years, and while I absolutely love my chosen homeland, I sure do miss the diversity & sheer size of home. California stands fairly sturdily on a foundation of desert-heartiness & beachside industriousness. It drips in cool-factor, geekiness, and social awareness. It’s a home to most, a religion to many, and a dreamy fantasy to a chosen few who go through life with rose coloured glasses always on. California, to me, is interwoven into the fabric of my soul. My body and aura react to my home state – a native child grown near the sea.

It was California’s all-encompassing bigness that taught me from early on that I could dream and do anything – as big or as small as I wanted to. But I would have to work hard for what I desired. I’d have to learn to take the hard-knocks with the soft, salty smooches.

Growing up in San Diego was an absolute trip, though. We played lots of sports, studied a lot & spent every stolen moment we could at the beach. But, beyond the sunshine, butterflies, beaches & tanned bodies of adolescence, there was always something in me that yearned for more. Never happy with the somethings in front of me. As to the above – I needed something. More.

Though, I should be clear here from the outset: I didn’t ever need more stuff.

Stuff has never appealed to me – and I don’t think it ever will. I didn’t need more money. I didn’t need more praise. What I needed was more of life. I needed more small moments of joy. I needed more opinions that didn’t quite jive with mine. I needed to discover more. See more. Learn more. Experience more. Be more. And so it was that through this quest for moreness, I developed a very strong sense of curiosity. And, because of this sense of exploration, I’ve been able to consistently see the world through different lenses & experiences.

In fact, it was the curiosity for discovering more that led me to New Zealand in the first place.

And now all these years later, that same curiosity is what keeps leading me back home.

img_5979-1Over the past decade, I’ve been very lucky to attend some amazing world conferences & gatherings that’ve changed who I am. Even in small increments, I’ve begun a huge pivot toward a more fulfilled life. A life of value derived from helping others and telling stories. I’ve also rubbed shoulders with some of the most amazing storytelling minds on the planet, & in doing so gleaned as much knowledge as I possibly could over the course of a workshop, an hour-long session, or a cocktail (the cocktail lessons tend to be the best for gleaning!).

So it was one of the greatest pleasures of my professional and personal life, to have been able to experience VidCon in Anaheim this year from an industry/professional standpoint. If you don’t know what VidCon is, simply put, it’s one of the biggest most inclusive events on the planet. It is a celebration of differences, technology & ideas. It’s also the place to be to watch a beautiful coming-together of different communities and fandoms. For a professional storytelling-social media-strategist-OG, VidCon brought together creative tips & tricks, channel executions, marketing strategies, trends, algorithms, and talk around the morality of modern media.

Geez Louise, I ran around like a nerdy kid in an awkward adult candy store for the entirety of the event! Three jam packed, fun filled, and awe inspiring days turned me into a major VidCon fangirl in California. I met so many amazing people, learned a lot about the media industry vertical that I work in, and found that thing I was looking for all along: my spark.

At a huge convention center filled with 36,000 people, I remembered exactly who I was and what made me tick.

Storytelling. People. Inclusion. And, passion for what we do professionally and personally. Talk about finding ‘something’ in exactly the place you weren’t looking! Magic!

I should also mention that, whilst at VidCon, I realised how much of an important part geography plays in the kind of content we consume. We really do tend towards common, comfortable stories that reflect our cultures, countries, and social groups. Many of the featured creators, while HUGE in the USA, were & still are fairly unheard of here in New Zealand. So, yay for VidCon, I found some new fave creators.

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Fast forward four months from VidCon in Anaheim, and here comes another opportunity to find something else.

VidCon Australia, the inaugural event, was happening…and there was no way I was going to miss it! In fact, after getting to know some of the people from for the industry track, I was beyond stoked not only attend the event in Australia, but to be asked to speak on adapting global storytelling trends to local markets. Talk about excitement!

Taking place in my favorite Australian city, my fiancé and I flew from Auckland to Melbourne on a Thursday night – and we stayed through Monday afternoon.

I was literally so excited that the mood of our trip was nothing short of celebratory.

We splashed out & stayed at a fairly swanky hotel (which always helps set the scene for a good time) and woke up early Friday morning to explore the city a bit.

We wandered down Degraves Lane for our ceremonial avocado on toast breakfast – washed down with the most amazing coffee on the planet. After breakfast we headed to AC/DC Lane and took in all of the beautiful colors and portraits on the graffiti-laden walls there. From there, we spent some time in the National Gallery of Victoria looking through amazing exhibits and getting all cultured – n stuff. All of this before lunch!

At about noon we headed to the Melbourne convention center to check in to VidCon. I was an absolute ball of excitement and nervous energy. Luckily my friend Jim (who I met in LA) was heading up the industry track in Australia, so I knew there would be at least one familiar face in Aus for this conference.

Check in was super easy, and the staff and volunteers were gorgeously friendly. Even before the actual convention started (it took place over the weekend) everybody seemed amped for fun times ahead. And, let me tell you, fun times were had!

Saturday was wickedly fabulous. Like LA, but smaller in scale, VidCon Australia packed a fun-factor punch.

I, of course, was early. If there’s anything I’ve ever been in my life – it’s early. For work, for school, for parties, for planes. Early is my bag, baby! The great thing about being the first person to places is that you see things magically come to life. Empty spaces are transformed into thriving events & memorable moments in time. And I love to watch magic unfold.

Most of the day Saturday, I spent up on the Industry Track floor learning all that I could from the speakers, and networking with friends both new and old from across the world.  Every now and again I’d hop down to the Creator Track or the Community Track events to take in some of the pure rocket-fuel energy of fandom that comes dripping from VidCon. The day flew by, literally. And we closed with drinks and networking with others from the Industry Track – all of us well excited and exhausted in equal, beautiful parts.

Sunday was a big day. Day Two always is!

I really enjoyed digging into all of the tracks on Sunday – running around the convention centre like an over-hyped dici-geek on a cotton candy and pure coca-cola drip. My talk was at the end of the day, and, to be honest – I wasn’t sure anyone (save for my fiancee & New Zealand crew) would turn up. Sunday evening is usually when I’m in my Smurfette Onesie watching Harry Potter with my family. Anyone who came to hear me waffle on would be a wee legend in my book.

Luckily, people showed up! And, kept showing up during my 45 minutes of fun & sharing. On a personal level, I was able to really enjoy the moment & take it in. I laughed with the crowd in the room (who knew Betty White dabbing could be such a crowd-pleaser?), answered some great questions & have been in touch with most of the folks who were present in one way or another since. That’s the beauty of attending things like Vidcon Australia, you meet all kinds of people who will be in your life in some way or another from that point on. Some you’ll throw ideas around with, some you’ll help out with a challenge (or they’ll help you), and some you simply meet for a coffee and to spin yarns with.

Talk about a gift, right? Memories, people, & stories to keep for a lifetime. Yep, sign me up for more.

img_0539After VidCon finished up (soon after my session on Sunday afternoon), we celebrated in style by hitting up an amazing restaurant in the central city, Cookie. My fiancee, my buddy Jim & I sat chatting, re-hashing the three days just gone by, and drinking amazing red wine & cocktails. We lol’d, we pontificated, and we ended the night at a rooftop bar nearby with yummy Australia red wine.

Beautiful times with beautiful souls – that’s what I’ll take away from VidCon Australia. After Cookie & our rooftop tipple, we bid adieu to Jim with warnings of Drop Bears nearer to the coast (he was headed off adventuring, while we Kiwis had to head back to NZ for work on Monday.)

All in all, the first VidCon Australia was an experience of a lifetime – not just for me, but for a lot of people.

I think it was quite a gift to see the conference in its first year, the heaving throngs of fans and creators that are in Anaheim will be on the horizon. But for 2017, I can honestly say that I loved it all. The people, the vibes, the fandoms, the city and learning. It all added up to an amazing event that I can’t wait to return to in 2018.

The best part? Just as I had found in Anaheim in June, I found so many somethings I never expected in Melbourne.

And, if you need more convincing, here are my TOP FIVE REASONS to head to VIDCON MELBOURNE in 2018:

  • Location, Location, Location

    Melbourne is an amazing city. For art, culture, food, wine, sports, music… you name it. I’ve been to Melbs so many times for both work and play, and still cannot wait to get back. The Convention Centre in Melbourne is perfectly placed for an event like VidCon – it’s in walking distance to the central city, scarily near to an amazing shopping complex, and literally steps from great restaurants that sit right on the water (perfect for sunset-gazing.)

  • Access

    The access you get to amazing global speakers and content that’s world-class is second to none from an Industry perspective especially. I didn’t spend a lot of time on the Creator & Community floors in Melbourne, but I’m sure those tracks were superb as well. The secret sauce to VidCon Melbourne is literally access. Whether it was the ABC, Instagram, or Influencer agency leads – access to information was off the charts. And, right now, the conference is in growth mode, which means that this is the time to get in and listen/talk/network/geek out with world thought leaders on a more personal level.

  • Networking

    The networking is strong with this one. No, really. It is. Some of the most magical moments of the conference for me were the quiet times in between sessions when speakers or attendees would simply sit together and pontificate on subjects in depth. Getting to know people from countries, backgrounds, and industries is very important when it comes to being able to compare notes and bounce ideas off of when you’re in smaller places like I am here in New Zealand. I also love just walking the exhibition hall floor, too, to see who else is down there curiously looking into the experiential aspect of VidCon.

  • Fandoms

    Fandoms are the backbone of VidCon. I’ve never seen so many diverse, engaged, and passionate people when it comes to influencers/creators/YouTubers and their communities. I find it absolutely fascinating to just sit and watch how the young people who attend VidCon act and interact with each other – and, on the other side of the coin, interact with their online heroes IRL. There’s literally no better place to get right to the heart of how Gen Z and younger generations are creating content – and consuming it. The fandoms are powerful. They’re fascinating. And, they give me so much insight and hope for the future of storytelling. The kids, team. The kids just want a great story.

  • Inspiration

    Inspiration. It’s something I know I’m always chasing. I’ll keep this point very short-and-sweet: just go. If you can, go. Grab an Industry pass. Go to sessions across each of the three tracks. Do the meet-and-greet hall and feel the buzz of meeting a creator (and being surrounded by their fans!) Magic is all around, as is inspiration.

For photos, vids & stories of my travels to VidCon & beyond, follow me here: www.instagram.com/cassieroma

Social Media Q & A: Influencers, Channels, & Trends

Ah, social media.

My BFF, my Bae, my profession. For the past 11 years, I’ve felt like a bit of a trailblazer. A pioneer of such. But, not one of those old-school pioneers making their way across the plains and the Rockies in covered wagons… more Jean-Luc Picard in a space ship traversing far off solar systems.

Looking back to the very first time social media became a part of ‘what I do’ I clearly remember thinking that, should I go down the route of learning to master the channels (spoiler: no one can master ALL THE CHANNELS), that a) I would be in a super minority in a world of traditional advertising and PR & b) each day would mean I’d have to be more & more clever with how I showed brands the long-term benefit of storytelling & connection in new channels.

Also of note, Cass: if you take on this job for the long-haul, you’ll always be a bringer of change (which makes people feel uncomfortable at best, threatened usually), & you won’t make any big bucks for a wee while. Okay? OKAY!

Fast forward to today, and the below is Q&A I took part in recently. In it, you’ll see straight off the bat that I am still so, so, so excited by, & passionate about, the power of social media. After years of diving into the guts of how digital platforms, websites, traditional media, and emerging trends fit in the great puzzle of marketing & storytelling – I still get out of bed read to learn, ready to share, & ready to see who will make an impact (& how).

Below I talk not simply channels, but more broadly around building your personal brand, emerging trends, and the importance of imbuing humanity into everything a a company does. I loved putting aside some time to think about the state of social media as it is in this moment, after having been a part of the ‘movement’ over the past decade.

Both professionally & personally, I love (YES! LOVE!) social & digital media. I love how the world has become so much more connected. And, how creativity, kindness, & empathy has come to bind us together most of the time. I could probably write a novel worth of answers for each question below (perhaps I will someday) – but for now I’ve tried to keep everything a bit more succinct.

Enjoy!

And, ask questions if you’ve got any. I love a curly question or three.

Thanks,
Cass


You’ve got a large reach and unique personal brand, for candidates looking to create their own personal brand – what would you say is the best way of going about this? And what benefit does this bring?

This is a big question to answer in a few lines. In short, creating your personal brand online & being unique is easy: there’s only one of you!

Depending on your personal & professional goals in a very saturated digital and social media ecosystem – you need to define fairly early how you’ll present yourself, who you’ll be talking to, and what you want an audience to take away/do when interacting with you online. B2B, B2C, and beyond are all inherently similar in that you’re a human talking to, and hoping to influence, other humans.

As a writer & photographer (by both trade & passion) – the hunger to learn & create is inbuilt in my DNA. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable when I need to be. Curiosity & passion drive me forward daily. The innate desire continually learn & adapt is the secret sauce of success in any field.

Also, my rule of thumb for the past decade of fumbling my way through social media (and then becoming an expert) is to be careful in what you post. Be yourself, by all means, have your own voice & brand – but act as if your parents or CEO will see every tweet, every post you send out. Being able to check yourself strategically will ensure that your personal brand goes from strong to stronger over time & grows alongside you.

I recently came across your blog and saw a running theme by the way you talk about social media – “ I kept talking passionately about community and the returns in the long run.” How does this mindset influence your content creation?

Every single post I’ve ever written, created, or curated on behalf of a brand has been with the end recipient in mind. We sell to people, not to clicks or lists of email addresses. To create great stories that engage & hold an audience is magic.

And, it’s not overly complex magic, either. Knowing your audience is easier than ever in our world of insights, but we sometimes overlook creativity and lean on machine learning.

I’m all for clever ads, creative social executions, and for actual heart at the center of community conversations. And, we have to remember that brand is all about the long run. It’s wooing customers & becoming a part of their lives – not the other way around.

I quite often say to my team at work “take off your marketing hat & put on your normal person hat” – ask yourself these questions:

  • Would this resonate with YOU if you were the target audience?
  • Does your content tell a story?
  • Is there an emotive or psychological trigger to get someone to act or react to your content?
  • And, most importantly, what benefit is this bringing to the person consuming your content?

What are your thoughts on the emerging trend of social media influencers?

This is another subject I could literally write a novel on. First and foremost, I don’t think influencers are emerging, or a trend. Think of Nike & Michael Jordan. In my mind’s eye I see Mike & his logo. I remember his college colours (white & baby blue), & I see his smiling face.

Everyone wanted to be like Mike when I was a kid – and we all wanted to wear his shoes just so a bit of the cool-factor from Michael could rub off on us through our feet. That’s the pull of influence.

It’s social currency, it’s tapping into emotions, & it’s corralling popularity in a way that isn’t selling out. In fact, brands have utilised the power of influencers since time immortal. All that has changed are the platforms. With social media now so saturated with UGC & content from anyone who has a smart phone, more and more people are calling themselves influencers – when they’re not.

The idea of macro influencers & using celebrities as a sweet-fix to drive quick engagement with brands isn’t an idea I buy into. I firmly believe in the power of longevity and a genuine relationship between influencer & brand over time to ensure a truly symbiotic relationship between brand and influencer – not to mention the consumer who needs to believe the message and the people telling stories on behalf of a brand.

When we talk about micro influencers, things start to get really exciting. I do not believe for one second that, just because you may be on the tele or radio or have a YouTube channel, that you’re a good influencer.

In fact, micro influencers are the people who really do the hard work when it comes to selling. They’re the WOM (word of mouth) power-horses of the digital age, and there’s huge opportunity for brands to work well with micro influencers globally & regionally to create magic.

With a wealth of social media experience under your belt, what has been the most pivotal lesson you have learnt?

Keep humans, human emotions, and authenticity at the forefront of everything you do. The beauty of social media is that brands not only get to hear from their customers, they also get to interact with them on a human level – tearing down boundaries of the past that existed in expensive, traditional media.

If you work empathy, fun, education, and information into your social media strategy you’ll be far, far ahead of the curve. Also, from a personal brand perspective, remember to interact in the way you want to be interacted with.

If someone sends you a message, asks a question, or wants to reach out – be there & make the time to replying. The art of social media is the art of socialising. The same rules apply for conversations IRL as conversations online.

What do you think are the key social media trends that will prevail or emerge in 2018?

Live video. It’ll be powerful, powerful, powerful… more so than it is now. Why? Because large platforms like Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter are already all on board & already evolving the tech to involve more people in more places more often.

We’re a bit behind in the NZ Market in utilising live video for brands (and that’s okay!) – but I have a very firm belief that we’ll catch up very soon. It’ll be the brands that start doing live well, now, that seize on this opportunity that grow connections more quickly than those who don’t try.

Getting the basics right & not being afraid to just jump in and get some learning under our belts will be the way forward. Some hints? Try out Instagram live. Watch how influencers & other world brands are utilising the platform. Hop onto Youtube and watch Hannah Hart livestream to her community. She’s a wizard, as are the members of her community.

You’ll learn something new each time. And learning + evolving = winning.
Promise. 🙂

 

For the original link to this story, check out the Razzbri site here.

Social Media Is Dead, Long Live Social Media

A few evenings ago, I had the immense pleasure of sharing a room with about 70 local digital and social media minds to talk about the ever fascinating topic of Social Media ROI. I’ll be honest and tell you this: I stopped going to most social media gatherings centered around this topic a long time ago because I feel like I’ve been there, done that.

We’ve hashed, re-hashed, and re-re-hashed the subject a million times as an industry to seemingly no avail. Trying to find a ‘golden measure’ of social media success is oftentimes akin to hitting your head against a brick wall. The brick wall doesn’t budge. But your head does. And, all you’re left with is an achy melon and the knowledge that bashing yourself against an inanimate object for over a decade isn’t good for anyone involved. Especially you.

That said, I went along the other night for a few reasons. Firstly, I knew the person putting on the talk. She’s a cool cat, and amazing at what she does – if anyone could draw interested, interesting, and engaged people to the venue to really get down to nuts and bolts and talk, she could. And, she did!

The night itself was great. The venue was funky, and open plan – mostly brick, too (yikes! protect your heads!) The speakers for the evening were engaging before, during, and after the proceedings. Dialogue fascinating. And the crowd asked important, evolved questions. Yee haw! Though we all took angles in talking through social media ROI, a common thread was woven across the tapestry of topics. And, when boiled down, the most important takeaway for me from everyone in the room was this: humans matter most.

In marketing.
In storytelling.
In channel planning.
In brand and social media ROI.
Yep, humans.
They’re the best.

Seems pretty commonsensical, right? That people matter more than platforms. More than analytical tools. More than data and insights. More than anything. But your brain would boggle and your head spin at the amount of times I’ve been called into a meeting and been told to “prove the worth” of Facebook as a line-item on a community or direct marketing campaign pitch. You’d fall out of your chair in shock (or maybe not) at how often I still get asked about whether audience should go before channel. Here’s something I can tell you without a single doubt in my mind: ROI is driven through the human condition. All of it.

AUDIENCE. FIRST. ALWAYS.

Let’s taking a quick walk down memory lane, shall we? I remember the first time I was hauled into a senior manager’s office to sit next to the CEO and CFO and talk social ROI. The exec knew that that new ” social communication channels” were lining up to be the new next-best-thing, but weren’t sure how these emerging channels would slot into the existing marketing mix. Fair enough to ask the hard questions as bean counters. But, at 25yrs old I wasn’t quite as well versed in the language of cash-flow and P&L ledgers as I am now to be able to have eloquently answered the questions put to me as I could now. In fact, my attempts at speaking ‘marketing talk’ to digital people, and vice versa, were fumbling at best. I failed a lot at convincing people of the value of social media, but also kept at it. I kept talking passionately about community and the returns in the long run. From that, I got more and more wins on the board. It was all simple psychology and basic marketing fundamentals – just on new platforms. Right? If only the IPA study about brand building in the long term had been out a decade ago!

The funny thing is this: social media has always just made sense to me. At all junctures. It’s never been strange, other-worldly, or foreign. Maybe because I’m inherently a creative and love learning new ways to share images, or stories, or video. Social has been another avenue (or, more recently, major freeway) on which businesses and individuals were able to tell powerful stories in a more relevant way than perhaps traditional advertising could. In my life, social media has become a passion, a profession, and almost an obsession. From the beginning, social media ROI has always been in relationships – it still is. Before the tracking tools. Before the analytical powerhouse back-ends. Before the ad platforms. Before custom and lookalike audiences. Before all of that, and to this day, I firmly believe that social media ROI is in all of us. It’s in emotion, familiarity, and trust.

So when I say social media is dead, we all know it’s not. It’ll never die. But, it will evolve and change quicker than Beiber’s hairstyle. Social is powerful. It unites us. It divides us. And it earns us the right to speak about things other than just our products. Social media allows brands banter, heart, and voice. Each touch-point, each piece of content, each story is a chance for you and your brand to differentiate and ingratiate yourself to consumers. Put people first, and your ROI will be ever-growing.

Long live social media.
Long live all media.

Growing Older, Wildly

I need to start off by saying that this is a second attempt at writing on this topic. Previous to this iteration, I had eight-thousand fabulous/inspirational/hilarious/perfectly woven together words filling a blank page. So smug at FINALLY writing something of merit (or so I thought), my blog sputtered, spun-out, & died on me.  Hoping against hope that a draft had been saved (it hadn't), I'm now left with four words on a mostly blank page and a belly-full of regret. C'mon Cass, you know to hit 'save' often. GAH!

With all of this said, please note, that this second attempt might be as good as the first, or simply okay. It might also turn out to be complete crap. You decide. Writing is my favorite indulgence and salve at present, so I'll try again. And, this time, hit save more often as we go along.

Right, here we go…

Last weekend was my birthday. For someone who doesn't really 'do' birthdays (my own), I had a full 48 hours of spoiling, treats, selfish indulgence, and friend-and-family-filled frivolity  that was truly magical. There were lots of laughs, frozen cocktails, and moments of introspection amongst the din of celebration.

At one point, mid-meal in a fave little cafe in Ponsonby, I looked around the table filled to the brim with my beloveds. My favorites. My soul-people. And, I took it all in. The sights, sounds, tastes, and slight cocktail-buzz of the moment filled my gooey heart to bursting-point. And, I hate to admit this, I cried. Happy tears.

You see, we all blaze our own paths in life. And, mine's been a trip – that's for sure. From a young age, I've always done what's best for the people I care for. I've toed imaginary lines drawn in the sand of societal propriety while calmly placing my own desires and wants to one side to ensure the happiness, growth, and fulfillment of those around me. I've always grown 'older and wiser' with each year that passes – but not this year.

This year has been a time to find my feet. To walk, crawl, run, stumble, jump, and skip as far as I can… even if my feet have had to go backwards or sideways to eventually end up moving me forward.

Getting all introspective, I've decided that my next trip around the sun will not be about my feet anymore (at size 11, they're big enough, thank you!), it'll be about finding my wings and growing older wildly. This change in the way I take myself into each new day has been a long time coming.

I've spent a lot of time coming to terms with me. Learning to not just like who I've become over the years – but to love who I am now, and who I will be. All awkwardness, fear, hesitation, and bold brazenness that I am, I will accept and wildly put out into the universe with hopes of connection, laughter, and growth.

With so many lessons under my belt over these past 36 years, I've got a few tips/life hacks to share with you if you're looking at ways to genuinely get super comfy in your own skin (and I mean wearing-life-like-a-fluffy-smurf-onesie-comfy.) A lot of what I've learned is fairly cliche/common sense. But, like most things, it's easier to understand HOW to do something, than it is to actually get moving on DOING the thing.

When you start DOING, you open yourself up to failure and hurt. And, the journey to accept and share your imperfections will be a tough one at times. Shining brighter in a beam of vulnerability is, in my mind, better than staying locked up behind a mask of intrusive perfection. I hope you get something out of the below – and maybe even the above – and if you've got your own life lessons for growing older wildly, please let me know what they are!

Be your best you.
How wishy-washy does this sound? Seriously. But, it's true. There are times when we all have to actively try (super hard) to quiet our own inner-voice. You know the one. It's tinged with self-doubt and criticism and will only ever pull you down. But you need building up! To start moving forward, you need to be your best version of you, while accepting imperfections are just part of being human. Whether it's finding time in a day to meditate, looking at yourself in the mirror and finding something you love about your look each morning, or simply maintaining physical fitness – just do something positive for you. Guilt-free. No interruptions. Just know that you're on the road to happiness when you're comfortable being unapologetically you.
 

  • Apologize & forgive.
    Team, it seems so simple, but it's not. The easiest way to be free of guilt/anger/regret is to own your mistakes . We all fuck things up. We all make mistakes – most of the time, unintentionally. Putting ego and pride aside is hard. Really hard. But once you start to simply say "I'm sorry." (and mean it) you'll find your relationships become stronger, your foundation of support unmovable. In the same vein as apologizing, comes forgiveness. When someone else owns their mistakes, remember how you'd like to have your words of contrition received – and receive theirs in kind. We're all fighting our own battles. Forgive, let go, say you're sorry… and live happier for it.

 

  • Accept praise readily.
    This has been something a lot of us struggle with, accepting praise. From childhood, I've had to consciously tell myself to just say "Thank you." when someone says something nice to me or about me. The truth of the matter is that, more often than not, when someone praises or compliments me – I feel the need to belittle myself and my achievements in an effort to dampen them down, to seem less braggadocious. Where did this ugly habit creep into my world? At what age or juncture in our personal journeys do we learn that accepting praise can only happen if we ensure we shine – but not too brightly. I'm not sure of when or how, but one thing I am certain of is this: it's taken a while to poo-poo this approach to accepting and being thankful for praise. I am unrepentant in my ability to accept praise gracefully these days. Older, wilder, and thankful for kind words and gestures of others.

 

  • F*ck the critics.
    Obviously, not literally. As far as life strategies go, learning to silence the doubters, dickheads, and critics is a imperative to being comfortable and confident in your own being. It's also the hardest strategy to master, because it means not only silencing the opinions of others – but silencing your own inner-voice of doubt. In the past few years, my life has been turned upside-down, shaken, and then (still in disarray) placed neatly back right-side-up again. With all of the topsy-turviness of life, I've learned to quiet the opinions of people who don't bring growth, kindness, or positivity to my life. It's almost as simple as throwing a switch and deciding not to give a damn about someone's opinion of me. And, once you find that 'off' switch, it's just so much easier to just place everything that doesn't grow you in a Fuck-it bucket and move on. Critics? Who are they anyhow…

 

  • Wear what you want.
    Seriously. I'll keep this short and sweet. Wear what makes you feel good. Because, when you feel good you can take on just about anything.

  • Change constantly.
    Change is the best part about getting older. Call it evolution, growth, finding yourself… whatever you name it, it's change. And, it's beautiful. How boring would it be to live life without seeing/doing/experiencing something new? Beauty is in the small moments, the big KAHUNA about-faces, and in the cracks that let light and color into dark times. Don't fear the only consistent thing in life, learn to embrace it. And, love it. It's completely okay and normal to be afraid of upsetting the rhythm of life when you just start getting comfortable with routine. It's also completely okay to wait for the roller coaster to hit the pinnacle of the highest drop and throw your arms up and head back… taking in the force of free-falling with rapture and intrigue. No matter where you are in your journey, be all there. And, change it up a bit. If even just for giggles.

There you have it. A few life lessons as told by someone whose opinion is no more important than the next person in line. 36 trips around the sun have taught me to look at life as a joyous, sometimes sorrowful, journey. A precious gift to unpack, enjoy, and to dive into headfirst. Here's to growing older wildly. And loving every hedonistic, gentle, catastrophically amazing moment of it.

 

Social Media Influencers (one kid’s perspective)

On the drive to school this morning, while sipping a hot chocolate & telling me all about Minecraft and why I MUST LEARN TO PLAY, my daughter paused to ask me what I was doing recently at work – &, if she could help with anything.

My first response was a quick internal conversation with myself that went something like: “WHOA! What a cool little cat to ask how work is going. #proudmommamoment” but what came out was “Babe, I’m thinking a lot about social media influencers & the different channels they make an impact across. And, ultimately, how businesses can work with really cool people to share stories & create some fun moments between customers & businesses.”

Her next question? Brilliant. Simple. Pointed. And, necessary.

“Momma, can you define influencer for me, simply, please?” Um, yep! While coming up with an answer though, my mind was buzzing. Here I had, in my vehicle, an engaged 10yr-old keen on working out factors in her mom’s business & why they matter so much. I jumped on this moment & went with it with a keen eye on selfish learning…from a kid.

To answer  her question, I defined an influencer in the simplest way that I could – not because she wouldn’t grasp a longer winded explanation, but because explaining something simply always challenges me to be a better communicator (& because she asked me to keep it short & sweet).

“So, kiddo an influencer is something like this: a person (or people) who have a large, engaged social media following on one more more channels. They might be famous, or not. But, they’re always someone who people like a lot – enough, in fact, that they’ll follow them, share their stories, and trust their opinions.”

Hmmmmmmmm. She sat quietly for a moment. Looked at me, & said “Mom, I have some ideas… would you like to hear them?” Yes my girl, I would. Hit me with your view of the world.

MINECRAFT (had to happen, right? The kid’s 10yrs old)
If you’re going to work wit influencers – then at least one of them needs to be a Minecrafter. Why? Well, because Minecraft is amazing. Mom, did you know that Microsoft bought Minecraft for something like $2.5B US dollars? $2.5 BILLION! Surely if people are good at that, AND they have millions of followers hanging on their every word & move… then they’d be good to have.

They Should Be Funny (and Nice)
This is a good one. Why? It takes us right back to the start about why we like other people. No business objectives or brand synergies needed, just funny, nice people communicating with like-minded individuals. Seems a great place to start & reminds me that kindness really is the only way to be when professional & personal lives interweave. So, if you’re keen to be a social media influencer, Rule #1 must always be this: Don’t be an a$$hole, & be funny & nice.

They Need To Mess Up Sometimes
We all mess up sometimes… but a lot of people online try to pretend they don’t. That’s not fair to most people, right? Because, it makes it seem like some people are perfect. And, they’re not. By making mistakes, we know our favorite YouTubers are really real, just like us. The more we can see ourselves in others, the more we can empathize with them…the more we want to follow them, to share their coolness, & to be like them.

They Also Need To Know Cool Stuff
That means, they need to know stuff that I (the fan) don’t know yet but could share with my friends for added “cool factor.” The more cool stuff they know & share (it doesn’t have to be BIG stuff…just cool stuff), the more we’re going to want to watch their shows & engage with their stories & videos. For kids especially, feeling like we’re learning – but that it’s fun – is really important.

So there you have it. Four pretty spot-on ideas around social media influencers. What makes them popular, engaging, & worth aligning with as a brand or another influencer. From my perspective, I love how kids can grasp concepts so easily & then give unfiltered feedback that makes so much sense once you take your own preconceived notions out of the equation & truly listen to what’s being said.

Beyond all of the social media & influencer stuff, what did I learn from my daughter this morning? First, to just sit back, slow down, & to listen. Most of the time we talk about Pokemon, school plays, sports & friends. Allowing kids to talk & to be heard is just as much a gift for the child as it is for the parent – I for one can attest to that 100%.

Teaching moments are all around, whether with kids, colleagues or friends…embrace & enjoy them. As for my amazing 10yr old & I, I hope our relationship continues like this through time. An easy, two-way conversation about everything & nothing. A love built not just on blood & DNA, but of a foundation of trust, kindness, and safety.

Thanks, social media influencers (and Minecraft) for today’s talk on the way to school. It was a goodie.