The non-blogger blogging…

canstock2870283It’s always funny this time of year when BlogHer comes around. I have been blogging on and off now for about seven years. And while it’s hard to believe it’s been seven years it’s harder for me to believe what a bad blogger I’ve become!

Yet, I still get invited to various blogger events. I’m thrilled to still be included and it reminds me that I need to keep at this blogging thing. It’s worth it to me to keep up the relationships I have made. It’s worth it for me to remember to blog once in awhile about whatever it is that may come to my mind. I have a running list of blog topics. It’s just making the time to do it.

It’s my once a year blogging vent. Should I keep blogging? Will I keep blogging?

Ask me again in seven years…

 

Leaning In and Loving It; Or, WWSD?

pirat-games-3I just wrapped up reading Sheryl Sandberg’s hotly contested book, Lean In Lean In is the latest book about working motherhood to hit the shelves and it’s causing quite a stir. If you haven’t heard of it by now, well, let’s just leave it at that. You probably have heard of it by now.

And it seems like everyone has an opinion or take on the book, or maybe worse, Sandberg herself. I don’t really want to re-hash all the opinions or arguments the book has caused. I’m not being cowardly, (maybe lazy and tired), but really I just am not sure I’m going to add too much insight to the discussion of the biggest book on women working that’s come out since, well, I’m not sure when.

What I’d rather focus on is the positive I gained by reading the book. Because I gained a lot. Really and truly! Sandberg has an informative and pretty inspirational point of view. She was extremely lucky in her career, but also, clearly, she was very hardworking. She didn’t just get there because of favors that were called in. And hey, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably had a favor called in for you once along the way — is that such a bad thing?

Anyway, I digress. I’m thinking about this book a lot lately. It’s like “What Would Sheryl Do” in my head every time I’m on a call, in a meeting, trying to write a new business proposal. I sort of know WWSD, but here are some changes and observations about myself that I’ve made in just the short time since I’ve read the book. My own WWSD (See we even have the same initials!):

  • I don’t aspire to move all the way up the corporate ladder; I just want to be on one of the rungs. Even though Sandberg clearly speaks to women in executive positions, I was empowered by her message to continually go after your goals and to not settle.
  • I also have decided to speak up more. I used to constantly just keep my mouth shut because I was afraid I was being impolite or talking out of turn or because I was just nervous. So I loved the part of the book where Sandberg talks about how women never interrupt in meetings as compared with men. Now, I’m not advocating interrupting, but I am advocating being honest and speaking your mind appropriately and assertively. You cannot go wrong being true to yourself.
  • I’m not as nervous or resistant to asking my husband to pitch in and help when I need it for work. He’s most definitely the breadwinner, but I’ve been pulling in my share of the pie lately and if I need to work, he needs to adjust his schedule if he can. My kids generally like him better anyway.
  • I also know it was one of the lightest parts of her book, but I appreciated Sandberg’s examples of forgetting to dress her kids for school theme days, leaving work at 5:30 and logging on after bed, and generally feeling torn about where to be and when. Part of me knows that it is very anecdotal and meant to appeal to more of the masses, but that even someone with more help and resources than I can ever imagine still f’s up once in awhile with her kids.
  • The part that really resonated with me was how Sandberg identifies so many examples of how women screw over other women trying to get ahead in careers. It happened to me, I’m sure it happened to you, and I really want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone I manage, work with, or other. Easily implementable for me as my own business owner.

 

Did you read it? What was your key takeaway?

My busy week… Cookbook party and children’s theater!

Sometimes having this blog has its perks. As much as I complain about blogging at times, this blog is part of me, and something that feels like an extension of my personality. So I chug along, blogging when I can. Somehow I still stay on people’s radars and they continue to invite me to some neat events. This week I got to go to two different blogging events which were right up my alley.

homemade-with-loveThe first was a luncheon for the launch of Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook, “Homemade with Love,” about her devotion to food and family. I’ve been following Jennie’s blog for a little while and find her writing to be powerful and inspiring. She was the same in person. What a beautiful soul! So sweet and energized, and truly devoted to her craft. The food we tasted was delicious (I could sample a few of the items), and I really enjoyed listening to how the book came to be. I can’t wait to look through and hopefully try some of her work.

The second event I ended up at was Friday night at the Chicago Children’s Theatre to see the world premiere of the original play “The Elephant and the Whale.”  Written and created in association with Redmoon Theater, The Elephant and the Whale aptly tells a story of friendship between two proposed circus animals caught adrift in a 1900′s-era sideshow. The show, which differed greatly from other children’s theater experiences I’ve ever been too (no silly looking costumes, minimal slapstick humor), captured my kids’ attention from start to one hour finish. And mind you, my youngest is three. The visuals were stirring and creative and the story told not literally, but so imaginatively that you could feel the rush of water around the whale and the elephants footsteps. The water scenes were brilliant. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

What a week! What did you all do?

CCT RM E&W_5

Photo courtesy of Chicago Children’s Theatre.

We NEED a change of rhetoric- Gun control is the new abortion rights movement

227151_10151200864224092_2083398330_nI’m MAD. I’m so MAD that this happened. It was so unnecessary, so unthinkable. SO CRUEL.

No need to go into the details. What I want to discuss is how we can get people to change the talk, the discussion that leads to such madness. I’m tired of the rhetoric our country has adopted on killing unborn babies, i.e. the abortion debate, when it is not paying a lick of attention of ways to keep thriving youngsters safe, and now, with this horrid turn of events, alive.

Just google shootings in Chicago having to do with children and too many results appear to name.  Yet, all politicians do is focus on women carrying unborn children who have a choice on what kind of life they would like they and their child(ren) to live. How can these same people, who want to dictate what a consenting, grown adult do with her body, and that with her child by choice or unwanted child, also say that it’s okay for grown adults to wield weapons of destruction so powerful they are used in crimes to kill children?

The rhetoric has just gone wrong. Literally dead wrong. These conservative politicians cannot talk out of one side of their mouth saying that abortion kills children and how we must SAVE children by preventing abortion while disallowing strict gun control which ends up killing or injuring upwards of five children a day?

We have lost our freaking minds, America. We have become too selfish, too inwardly-focused, too-caught up in superlatives to remember that at the end of the day, all that we have to propel us forward are our children. When we don’t put them first, we all lose. Politicians who purport to want to bring children into this world because abortion is bad, deadly, wrong, need to do more then to save and help those children once their out of the womb. Because you can’t stand on both sides of that debate.

I think it starts with strict gun control. First, I’m going to read up on how and why we got here. This article, written in August for the Washington Post, about what the Prime Minister of Australia did with regards to gun control really stirred me. Why can’t we do the same?

Next, I’m going to sign Moms Rising open letter to the NRA to stop blocking commonsense gun control. Because we’re not a nation of savages, even though the world could easily think so at this point.

Last, I’m going to donate to at least one family who tragically lost a child last Friday. A Jewish boy. It could have been anyone. It could have been my little first grade Jewish boy. I’m also hoping we can change the conversation. Even if it’s just one blog post at a time.

What did I miss? What else can we do? I feel so helpless.

A couple new things I wrote…

So, I may be crazy, but I took a little writing gig last month. I’ll be writing mom fashion for WhattoExpect.com. I’ve always liked to shop, you all know that, and I’ve always liked to write, so somehow this seems like a good fit. I think writing about fashion will be fun, and I’m not going to write if it isn’t fun.

That’s my spiel for the day. You can see my piece on three trends to rock with the little black dress for this holiday season here. I’d love to know if you have story ideas or thoughts.

Also my latest/ November column for Chicago Parent is live. I found a few fun toys local to Chicago suggested by some awesome experts you may want to check out. Sure beats the generic princess doll, IMHO.

What are you all up to?

Six

Amidst the worst storm to hit the East Coast in a generation, I’m reflecting on the past generation of blogging. I’ve been at this little beast for SIX YEARS, which to some is a blip, but to the blog world is almost a generation.

When my son was born and I thought it’d be fun to start a blog about how crazy it was to work, and mommy and wife, and so on, I never thought blogging (in general, not my blog) would become what it has today. A vehicle for change, for fame, and for downright hilarity.

Six years has brought fundamental change to how I receive my information, make connections and stay in touch. It’s almost insane to think how Facebook wasn’t around when I started this old site.

People always look at me crazy when I tell them I started my blog six years ago. They also ask me if I’m going to keep it up. The long answer is no, and the short answer is yes. There are many reasons I find blogging annoying and intrusive after all these years. There’s are many reasons why I want to keep it up. Mainly because I hate quitting things.

So only time will tell if I will be here in another six years. I couldn’t imagine it then, and I can’t imagine it now. But, hey, I couldn’t imagine Hurricane Sandy would flood Lower Manhattan, so I guess anything’s possible.

Some things I learned from Crain’s Small Business Forum today…

(copied from my company’s blog…)

I love to network, but I don’t love  going to networking events.

I love listening to smart people talk, though, so I’m always excited to go to Crain’s Small Business Week Small Business Forum. They’re efficient (always running on time), easy to register and attend and bring together a really interesting mix of small and medium-sized business experts to talk about trends and best practices.

Today’s topic was Social Media for small businesses, and it was one of the best panels I’ve been to for Crain’s. The panelists, Geoff Alexander of Wow BaoEllen Rogin, Entrepreneur and Public Speaker, Emerson Spartz, CEO & Founder of Spartz Media and Leslie Vickrey, CEO ClearEdge Marketing really gave the audience useful and practical tips to social media. I was live tweeting the event, having so much fun that Cindy from Noteworthy Notes asked me to blog the things I learned, and since I’ve been a bad blogger of late, I obliged. So here goes… my top takeaways… feel free to leave questions in the comments. Maybe the experts will hop on here and help answer!

Twitter:

  • Twitter is a powerful tool for following conversations and for journaling. Don’t tweet about yourself. Love this quote – “Twitter is like a cocktail party. Don’t stand in the corner talking about yourself.”
  • Twitter Counter is a useful tool for comparing your twitter stats to others and project your twitter growth
  • Some good tips for getting attention to your twitter posts: using a call to action “RT if…” prompts folks to want to retweet something. Putting an –> (arrow) before a link draws attention to a link in a unique way.
  • You should tweet important content you want followers to see at different times of the day. If you’re launching a new product or program, be sure to tweet it in the morning, midday and night to reach a variety of audiences.
  • Search keywords in twitter and jump into other conversations.
Facebook:
  • Use Facebook like a billboard. Wow Bao ran a really cool daily campaign that revealed a secret word that a user could then bring into the store and get a free Bao. Cool.
  • You have to do a lot of testing with offers you make on Facebook to see what works. “Content hiding” (i.e. like us to get info) will help get fans. You can increase the number of views on your post by 50% just by putting an image on it. By literally uploading a photo, not just putting one with a link.
  • Don’t post more than once a day on Facebook. (I’ve heard this before.)
  • Be transparent. It’s okay to counter negativity.
Yelp:
  • Everyone’s favorite (ha!) review website is a place where anyone can post a negative review, but Wow Bao says it’s important to be transparent and they are on Yelp and other places even when things get bad.
Other tips:
  • Radian 6Alterian, and Trackur are good systems to use to track conversations about you on the web.
  • You don’t need to reply to all social media posts immediately. It’s okay to wait if you can’t get right to it.
  • Use social media to maintain offline relationships.
  • And… my new favorite – install rapportive onto your Gmail email account to see a user’s social media profile instead of Google ads. Brilliant!
Hope this helped. If you have other questions, post ‘em. I’ll get answers.

I won’t pimp my blog out for just anyone, but I will for Sh*tty Mom

If you look at the past five months of my blogging you’ll see that, well, I don’t blog all that much. So if I’m to devote my not well-read blog to posting about something more than once in that short timeframe, well, consider it pathetic something I love very much.

I love the new Sh*tty Mom book. It’s just f’ing funny. Every not sh*tty word of it.

As I said before on Mother’s Day, this book is worth every penny. Even my mom liked it, and she’s a tough critic on funny. (She used to write dirty greeting cards for a living. More on that another time.) And since next week is the launch of their book, and September 12 has been declared “National Sh*tty Mom Day,” I told my friends over at Todays Moms I’d give them a little internet luvs. I even agreed to help co-host a twitter chat with The Motherhood on Monday, September 10 at 1 pm ET during the time I’m supposed to pick up my little guy from preschool. Isn’t that sh*tty? Of course this means I won’t be able to tweet and drive en route either way because that’s dangerous and, er, really sh*tty. But you should tweet along if you’re not picking up at preschool or driving, because it’ll be good fun. Hashtag #ShttyMom. Handle @ShttyMom.

And if now, you’re like, “Sara, enough of this promotional BS you don’t blog enough to warrant all this twitter talk,” then pay attention, because I’m going to give you some real content to read.

Herewith, a few of my favorite lines from the book. I can’t tell you all of it, because you should go and buy it. And because I keep re-reading my advance copy and you can’t borrow mine.

  • From Chapter 5: “How to React if You’ Think Your Child Might Be Gay (Hint: Celebrate): Don’t try to “straighten” your gay child. Not only will she remain gay, but one day she may write a scathing memoir about her childhood. When it’s turned into a movie, the “mom” will be played by someone who’s shorter, fatter, and more wrinkled than you are.
  • From Chapter 12: “Organized Sports Might Be Great for the Kids, but They Suck for You: Your kid is an average athlete. If this keeps up into her teenage years, you’ll be putting in the same hours and expenses as an Olympian’s mom, but with no scholarship to make it all worthwhile.
  • From Chapter 17: Someone Stole Your Baby Name! aka Ballad of the First Aidan Mom: How to tell when your friends are pretending they like your baby’s name. You went your own way with your baby’s name. You picked a name you’re pretty sure no one else will touch. You like it, your husband likes it, and that’s all that matters. Besides, if first names were destiny, Condoleeza Rice would have been a stripper.
That’s just a sample of the brilliance and hilarity that ensues throughout the book. We’ll all be sharing Sh*tty Mom moments on the Sh*tty Mom Facebook Page next week as well and you can win a prize pack by sharing your Sh*tty moments. Bring ‘em.

 

Tips to local TV success (I, kid)

I can’t believe it, but I actually appeared on live TV today. I have sworn up and down and sideways that I’d never go on live TV, but when duty calls (Caitlin was out of town), ABC 7 Chicago freaking calls. You’d think, after putting countless segments on-air for clients, I’d be all smooth sailing, but, you’re wrong.

I pretty much freaked out at the thought of appearing on camera. I was sleepless-nervous for four days leading up to it. Not gonna lie. And I’m supposed to be the expert! (Should I even admit this out loud?)

But I survived, and some people said I did ok. Like my dad and his second cousin. Do they count?

People asked what I did to prep, besides memorizing my talking points like crazy. Well… I got my hair done the day before, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before and there was a kick-ass makeup artist waiting for me at 5:15 am when I arrived. It really helped.

Other than that, what can I say? Don’t eat or drink before you go on air. I really didn’t want to have to pee during the segment. Also, I brushed my teeth obsessively and chewed gum until I sat in that chair. I did not want poor Judy Hsu to faint from my morning breath. I also wore a dress (big mistake = nowhere to put a mic.) So don’t do that. Wear a skirt or pants or belt or anything besides shantung silk from which to hang a mic.

I think that’s about it – do you feel camera-ready yet? If not, you might want to come to Bloggy Boot Camp Chicago where I’ll be giving real, practical tips of how to get yourself pitch-ready for local television. Because now I’ve got the street cred…

 

 

Some “best of” tips for new moms in Chicago…

Today, I got to speak on a really fun panel, with really smart women, to a bunch of new mom members of Bump Club and Beyond about how to navigate the city as a parent. I got to sit with Rebecca of Pinwheel Chicago, the fab ladies behind Daily Candy Kids, On the Go Chicago Cindy, Samantha of Eater Chicago and of course my BFF, Caitlin, who literally has done everything this city offers and I admire her so for it.

My piece on the panel was about fitness and then I decided to throw in a bit about where to go to for Halloween. Doesn’t that go together well? It was a good mesh of the pieces I write for my Best in Chicago column for Chicago Parent and well, Lindsay thinks I work out probably a little more often than I actually do.

All good! Here’s a link to best places to get fit if you’re a new mom (doesn’t include our current client The Dailey Method which I cannot say enough good things about if you need to tighten those post-baby flabby abs.) Here’s my research for where to go to Trick or Treat with your little ones…

Let me know if you have any questions. I’m also always looking for good ideas for the “Best of” Chicago column so let me know if you’d like to see something!