Jane Austen once said, ‘What strange creatures brothers are!â€
Well, she was right.
My brother, Andre Ricardo, was born on October 3, 1993 in Denver, Colorado. I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. He was a little red baby with a bunch of brown hair and all wrapped up in a blanket.
We didn’t get along for the first few years of our lives as siblings. Andre was probably the most annoying little brother on the planet. It was terrible to sit in the car next to him, and it was even worse to sit next to him on a plane. I remember one time, my cousin, my brother, and I were in the back seat of a car. My cousin and I were huddled on one seat as my brother was holding a booger he had just picked from his nose, threatening to wipe it on us.
When Andre was 12 and I was 17, we went to a sailing camp for three weeks. He was on a different program, so I barely saw him. He spent the summer doing water sports and snorkeling, and I spent the summer learning how to scuba dive. When we both got home, we had so many experiences that we could relate on, that I remember thinking, ‘So my brother is actually kind of a cool person.â€ We could finally bond, and it helped strengthen our relationship as brother and sister.
My brother has been not only my sibling, but also my friend. He is a source of endless entertainment and good old-fashioned unconditional sibling love.
As a big sister, I naturally want the best for my little bro, because he is truly one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever had the chance to meet, and for that I am thankful.
Choosing just one topic to write about for this post was very difficult. I am thankful for so many things in my life. I have wonderful friends, an amazing husband, a great family, a roof over my head, a sweet dog, a working, albeit old 1997 Toyota Corolla, & an overwhelming amount of love & grace in my life. I do not take one of these blessings for granted because I know all too well how rare & precious of a gift they are.
My topic may seem odd to be thankful for, but I am thankful for the hard times, because without them, I would have never learned that you can go through hardships & come out stronger. Without the hard times I & my family have been through, I would not be who I am today. These hardships have given me character & a strength that I never could have imagined.
I have been blessed with some of the most integrous people I know & these people are my family. They have taught me the value of hard work & to appreciate all that we have been given. One of the most amazing examples of love & integrity I know is my grandfather.
This amazing man worked hard every day of his life & never once complained. He loved my father, grandmother, & us grandkids with a rare tenderness that I will never forget. He went through so much; sacrificing his dreams to provide for his family, but he was always there for everyone & he was greatly loved. He is a shining example that you can through hardships & still choose to love & be kind.
My next example is my father. If I wrote everything this man has taught me, this post would be a book series. Both he & my mother sacrificed everything for us. From us being homeless when we were young & doing everything in his power to provide a roof over our heads, to small things like not drinking milk in his cereal so us girls could have milk to drink.
I have seen my parents overcome so many obstacles; mountains that seemed insurmountable, yet they came out the other side & still chose to love, be humble, & forgive. My dad is not perfect & he will be the first one to tell you that, but his humility & kindess to any stranger, makes him loved by everyone who knows him. Despite every disappointment & hard time he has been through, he still chooses to love without reservation.
On those days where I am frustrated with an obstacle that is in my life, I stop & think about the incredible examples I have had. Any obstacle in life is overcomable, & if I allow it, not only will I overcome it, but I will be a better person for going through it.
When I was young I wished so many times that we had been wealthy & that I could have had all the things that other children had, but now I am thankful that I did not. It taught me that I do not need those things to be happy. The things in life that last beyond when I am gone, are how I loved & served while I was here. I pray I will be able to be as kind as my grandfather, or that my friends & family will say of me that I was humble & loving like my father.
These gifts are what I will always cherish & be thankful for. Never be upset when you go through hard times; allow them to teach you & make you better, not bitter. My family is the best example of this that I have ever known & that is what I am most thankful for.
For 90% of my life, I have been a self-proclaimed “cat person”. However, on July 25, 2011 everything changed when my boyfriend and I spied a little Boston Terrier puppy (Franklin!) all alone in a little dog carrier. From that day forward, I went to the dark side and transitioned into the dog person I am today. Purchasing dog costumes, researching about potty training, learning the lingo, mapping out the dog-friendly restaurants, and instagramming like crazy – I’ve done it all. I’m so thankful for the lessons this tiny dog has taught me over the past year, and can share with you some of my favorite Franklinisms here:
“When things get difficult, just keep your head up and keep paddling.”
“Always stay classy.”
“Haters gonna hate.”
“Nothing lasts forever. Especially chew toys.”
“You can be friends with others who might seem a little different from you.”
“Be a patron of the arts & experience new things.”
“It’s sometimes hard to try to stand out be different from the crowd.”
“Don’t be fooled! Superheros come in all shapes and sizes.”
“Good hygiene is CRUCIAL. Especially when fleas are involved.”
“Always dress your best.”
“You won’t get along with everyone. Just agree to disagree.”
“The world isn’t in black and white.”
“Facial hair doesn’t look good on EVERYONE.”
“Sometimes the best adventures are right outside your backyard.”
“Mornings aren’t always easy.”
“It’s fine to dork out. Don’t let anyone judge you for being a little geeky.”
…and like you can see, I dork out on Boston Terriers… A LOT!
All in all, looking back I’m so thankful for Franklin, Boston Terriers, and just pets in general because of the love they show us and the lessons they teach us everyday.
When I look back at this last year and think about everything I’m thankful for, there are so many images that flash through my thoughts.
I envisioned my best friends who’ve always been there for me through the years; through thick and thin. When I got new jobs and left old ones, they were there to listen to me freak out about the next phase in my career. When I moved across the country, or even the world, and I had to make new friends, they reminded me that old ones are never really that far away.
I envisioned my family. I’m so grateful to have such a caring support system in my life. We definitely lean on each other in this journey called life. Even though my family drives me bat crazy sometimes, I know that no matter what I do in life, they would always accept and love me just the same.
I envisioned my fiance and my extended family of kitties! They always bring a smile to my face after any stressful day.
And of course I’m grateful for my health, my job, the great people I work with on a daily basis, and life. Everyday is a gift and I’m grateful for it all!
Here’s to wishing you a wonderful November and all that you are grateful for in life!
Since I work at a web marketing / technology company the first thing you might expect me to be thankful for might be my iPhone, wireless internet EVERYWHERE, downloading 10 megs of data in less than a minute (as opposed to over an hour when I was a kid) and stuff like that. I’m taking a different approach.
I’m a blessed guy. I know this, and I’m very thankful for it. I wake up every day, my legs work, I can breathe without pain, I can see clearly, I have food to eat whenever I want (so says my scale), I’m employed, married to a gorgeous woman who is WAY out of my league and a nerd to boot, and so much more.
I realize that much of the world doesn’t enjoy the simple luxuries I take for granted. It’s a wonderful and fragile thing. That’s another thing I’m thankful for: the life I live and the things I enjoy are so accessible to me remain so. I’m thankful I was raised by and around people who instilled values in me that have helped me make the best decisions I can so that I am where I am today.
I have a Pastor friend who says “Anyone is capable of anything at anytime.” I like to keep this thought in the front of my mind because it helps me remember that I’m just a few bad decisions away from losing everything important to me. Which brings me to the one thing I’m most thankful for: Even though I don’t deserve it I’m thankful I’ve been given mercy and grace in my life so that I can try to be the best person I can and love people the best I know how.
This past week a group of Schipulites invaded the Interactive Strategies or ‘IS’ Conference at Rice University. This year, the IS conference explored the reasoning behind human behavior and decision making. Understanding people and why they do what they do is critical for marketers.
One speaker who stood out to me was Beverly Flaxington (@BevFlaxington) from The Collaborative for Business Development, Inc. and author of Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior. She unlocks the 5 secrets for us to provide an understanding on the different ways humans look at the world, and she had some fun videos to drive home the point. Knowing how humans filter information, assume and judge different things is crucial in the marketing process. When you step back and think about it, everything we do in life is either selling or buying something (a lifestyle, an idea, a place to eat dinner on Friday night). So how do we use this to our advantage? Read below… I’ve saved her wisdom.
Pandora’s Box: 5 Secrets to Human Behavior
1. It’s all about ME – We each have our own filters and way of seeing the world.
As marketers we need to focus our energy on the listener more than the product or service. Doing so requires active listening and avoiding using the phrase “I know what you mean”. Try lead in phrases such as “In other words”, “Let’s see if I have this” and “If I understand you correctly” to indicate that you really DO understand what they are trying to communicate to you.
2. Behavioral styles come between us.
Think about it… dealing with different behavioral styles is like speaking different languages. As humans we do a lot of observing and judging of others’ behavior that differs from our own. Only 7% of what we “hear” during communication is from the words used by the speaker and everything else is from body language… from their pace, tone, gestures, etc.
Influencing: They are concerned about Communnication
Steadiness: They are concerned about Relationships and Process
Compliance: They are concerned about Quality and Accuracy
What do we do with this? Pay attention to styles! Become aware of your own and others’ styles. Practice matching their style without mimicking.
3. Values speak more loudly than words.
What really matters to people? Everyone has their own value set and we try to persuade through that personal value set. Try to include multiple value sets in your messaging. Remember that not everyone will care about the same things… and that is okay. Just respect all sides of the spectrum.
4. Don’t assume I know what you mean.
Context is key in communicating. Learn to think in terms of “why”… Why is this project so important to me? Others may not know what you know… Make it clear for them. Connect what you do with why they care. Change how you look at the situation. Can others understand what you do and why it matters? Assumptions cause break downs in communication.
Don’t let this happen to you.
5. Focus on THEM. I’m okay.
If you think you’re right – it’s time to reconsider! Re-think your communication approach. How can you persuade on their terms?
Bev also provided us with some keys to confident communicating!
1. Know why – what is the point of this communication? 2. Know who – who am I talking to, my audience? What do I know about them? 3. Create flow – how do we segment the mass amounts of information available to us out there? Have to find a flow, grouping, segments to divide the knowledge and work with all styles. 4. Provide context 5. Establish a next step – leave them with an action item, pulling from your “know why” you had the conversation and persuaded someone.
She closed with a quote, encouraging us to take these gems out into the world and apply them to our every day happenings.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
As a Semi-new Schipulite, I attended The Social Media Breakfast Club which met up at Canopy (Mmmm) last month. Guest speaker Amiko Kauderer talked about the beauty of social media, and how to get your company involved in connecting with the world to bring in brand awareness.
Amiko Kauderer works for the coolest U.S Government agency of all time: NASA. As the Social Media Lead and Web Manager, she is in charge of helping the NASA Johnson Space Center get their message across in today’s digital and social media world thru blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
Amiko applied her 14+ years of experience to get NASA social media skeptics to change their minds and have astronauts open up to the world thru a series of strategic steps. Below are my personal favorite points she mentioned on how you can get your company ready for a Social Media Blast Off.
Getting your company to say Yes to Social Media:
Phase 1: Get your Key people on board First.
Most new concepts or phases of a company tend to be met with skepticism, so getting your key people to say yes to social media is invaluable. Most doors open up and it is less likely for others to question your decisions when big names back you up.
As obvious as this seems, it is worth repeating. Some information is appropriate to share, some is not. Letting your company know you will respect their opinion and privacy is important when it comes to gaining their trust, and ultimately open up the gates to communication.
Phase 3: Make it a trend amongst the company.
Never underestimate the force of competitiveness in an office setting and how it can push others to try new things. Once Amiko got one astronaut to tweet (thru lots of begging and pleading) the others quickly followed and wanted to become part of something new.
Phase 4: The Basics of Tweeting
Make sure you take the time to teach your astronauts (or coworkers) the basics of tweeting or posting on Facebook. Amiko wasn’t really talking about the step by step process of Tweeting, but more about a set of guidelines such as relax and be yourself and don’t get too technical because you might confuse others. Last but not least, have fun with how you interact with others like the “NASA Mohawk guy” Bobak Ferdowsi, who would tweet his various hairstyles designed in accordance with the missions he worked on.
Phase 5: Designate a team to keep your posts up to date and engaging to your audience.
It is important to keep your social media posts up to date, creative and engaging, but doing so can prove to be challenging even when it is a full time job. If you don’t have the budget to hire someone, finding people in your company who are media savvy and willing to help should be your best bet.
This Friday is the next meeting of the Social Media Breakfast Club! The topic is making video work with Social Media. More event details here!
*We appreciate SMBC Houston and Amiko Kauderer for this great event, for more pictures please refer to the Tendenci link below*
As a newly adopted Schipul employee, I had the pleasure of attending The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC Houston) luncheon at Brennan’s of Houston, both of which are beloved Schipul clients.
Gina Rotolo was the guest speaker at the event and talked about juggling all details for big events. When most people think of a large event, they picture a wedding, a company party or corporate luncheon. In the case of BBVA Compass Stadium‘s seasoned Marketing, PR & Booking Manager Gina Rotolo, big (or huge) events consists of SXSW, Austin City Limits, the Texas Crawfish & Music Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival to name a few.
Large events require having funds and resources, as well as time to plan and organize all the details. What if you didn’t have much of these big three? What if you had little time, limited funds and a small team to get the ball rolling? Here are some key strategies and elements Gina talked about in order to hold a successful event that would put Robert Irvine from Dinner: Impossible to shame.
It’s all about the fan experience
Think about your favorite event experience and how it made you feel – how do you want people to feel in return at your events? Know your audience and what details make the event more enjoyable to them.
Engaging people to develop a social media community is vital when it comes to open source promoting. As Gina pointed out, some people go to events just because ‘They want to be part of the experienceâ€. Wanting to share their experience makes audience to tap into social media, therefore promoting your client.
Get to know your client: their business, is now your business.
‘How do you represent a client you don’t know?â€ Never underestimate the value of research when it comes to organizing an event. Having constant contact with your client is key in order to keep the communication flowing. Moreover, how you communicate is vital. An email is seen as Gina’s last resource, she stresses phone calls and face time with clients in order to avoid any confusion about expectations.
Teams: Events don’t just happen, people make them happen.
Simply put, there is no such thing as a one man show and there is no ‘Iâ€ in Team. This stays true to event planning as it does in life. Value the people that you work with, because ultimately, they are the ones that help you reach your client’s expectations and goals.
Free stuff: Partnerships and Sponsorships…and Cool Kids.
Always, Always Co-Brand it. Co-branding with your partnerships is one of the best ways to keep your name out there. It might be on a banner, or a t-shirt or even a koozie, but having each company involved on these items is free advertisement on free items.
Higher priced items such as free concert or event tickets come with a loss, but the gain is much more valuable when placed in the right hands. Again, know your audience, what angle you are trying to promote, and who the key people to give these items to are.
Three Points in One.
To close this off, Gina left us with three short points to keep in mind:
Know your worth and prove your value.
Know what you need to know and go for it.
Take from the good, the bad and the ugly. You have something to learn from each one.
*We appreciate IABC Houston and Gina Rotolo for this great event, for more pictures please refer to the Tendenci link below*
If you’ve been busy watching the Olympics news on Twitter, you might have ran across another trending tweet stream @MarsCuriosity has been trending over the weekend as the Mars Lander “tweeted” the details of its last few days in space preparing to land on Mars.
The Curiosity Mars Lander successfully touched down at approximately 12:14am central time Monday morning. At 12:32am central time, the lander tweeted its safe landing to over 600,000 followers.
Curiosity also has around 147,000Facebook Fans cheering on its mission on Mars. That’s a pretty impressive online fan base for a robot that’s millions of miles away. Do you think @AstroRobonaut is wondering how @MarsCuriosity managed to more followers than he did?
I’m known at Schipul as the resident “Space Geek” but all of us were excited to hear about the safe landing, and we want to share our excitement for NASA’s incredible work with this Mars Lander mission.
Two Extraordinary Accomplishments for NASA!
Smooth Landing for MarsCuriosity
Landing a robot on Mars is no easy task and comes with the added challenge of a 14 minute communication delay. And NASA made it look so easy this morning when Curiosity Mars Lander touched down on the red planet’s soil. Curiosity is the first Mars lander since the Phoenix mission in 2008.
Curiosity is carrying some pretty advanced equipment to assist it with the mission objectives that include 17 cameras, an infrared lazer to vaporize small rocks, and x-ray vision plus many other advanced scientific equipment.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be getting more images and analysis of the Martian Landscape courtesy of Curiosity. The mission objectives for Curiosity include:
Try to determine if there was ever life on Mars
Study the Martian climate and geology of Mars
Bring back data to help with planning a human mission to mars.
Watch the Mars Lander Curiosity Landing on NASA Television’s YouTube:
Social Media in Space
In addition to successfully sending this Super Robot to Mars, NASA should be commended for its successful use of social media marketing to help revitalized the organization’s PR and community awareness. In addition to MarsCuriosity’s astounding number of followers and fans, @NASA has over 2.5 million fans, has had its YouTube videos watched over 33 million times, and has photographs that you can’t find anyplace on Earth on the official NASA photographer Flickr.
NASA has used social media to grow a huge following of space enthusiasts and has integrated social media throughout their website and other media outlets. If you head over to NASA’s Social Media Connect Page you’ll find hundreds of accounts for various projects and NASA employees across a dozen different social platforms including Google, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, and more.
If you’re struggle with managing your organization’s social media marketing and staying on top of what’s being said about you and by whom on the internet, you might take a cue from what the digital media team at NASA is doing because they are doing it right.
Learn More about NASA and Social Media
NASA at the Houston Social Media Breakfast Club August 31st, 2012
Learn how NASA turned reluctant employees into social media stars to enable NASA to expand its digital marketing efforts on August 31st at the Houston Social Media Breakfast Club.
Amiko Kauderer, NASA’s Social Media Lead and Web Manager at the Johnson Space Center, will share her strategy to engage employees to become active social media users to build your brand, balance employee participation with management concerns, and more… (we’re hoping she might tell us who is behind @MarsCuriosity’s twitter persona). Amiko has over 14 years of experience in digital marketing and communications, and among her many responsibilities at NASA, she manages multiple NASA social media accounts, including the @NASA_Johnson twitter account and teaches the astronauts how to tweet.
The conference will focus on social media strategies specific to those in government roles that involve public relations, marketing, and communications. Learn more and register on the Ragan conference website.
Mars Lander Curiosity took several images upon landing and my favorite is the one with the lander’s shadow in the image:
Good luck, Curiosity! We are excited to see what you’ll send us next.
This week started off by cleaning popcorn and confetti out of my camera bag and uploading photos because last week we had the privilege of attending the opening night of Kooza by Cirque du Soleil. Having never had the chance to see Cirque du Soleil in person but only hearing good things, I had no idea what the shows were all about but jumped at the chance to go find out.
Kooza is described online as, “An adrenaline rush of acrobatics in a zany kingdom” and definitely lived up to the hype. Exiting typical Beltway traffic, arriving at Sam Houston Race Park, parking in the giant lot, then walking in to the tent is really like entering another world.
From the minute you take your seat the fun is already beginning with a cast of characters working the crowd until the show gets rolling. From there it is act after act of not only exciting but funny performances. And not just funny… pretty hilarious. At one point my wife turned to me and said, “my face actually hurts from laughing so much“. What a great problem to have.
Among all of the balancing chairs, contortion, high wire, and trapeze acts what really stood out to me were the Wheel of Death and the routine by The King and the Clowns. I won’t spoil their acts but just leave it at saying they are probably worth the price of admission alone.
Then it was intermission, a champagne toast (not sure if this happens every night or if we were just spoiled), a trip to the port o potties (which there seemed to be plenty… and they were nice), and back in for the rest of the show.