The Snort Heard Around the World

You know the drill.

You’re standing in front of your classroom/office and you’re buck naked.

I never had that anxiety dream.

I also never pictured that I would stand on a stage in front of 3500 of my peers, mentors, and strangers at my favorite conference in the world.

I certainly didn’t picture myself SNORTING INTO THE MICROPHONE.

But alas.

It happened. Read more The Snort Heard Around the World

Thank You & an Announcement

I’ve been thinking a lot about a specific June day in 2009. What began as a normal morning ended with me taking a cab back to my house with my belongings from my desk. In that moment I lost my job, it felt like my entire world had gone up in smoke. I’ve been working for as long as I can remember. I got home and wrote a blog post. I was still using a pen name during that time, and that day triggered a new journey for me. Within a couple of hours, my friends had sent me leads, I had a few phone interviews set up, and by the end of the week, I had decided to freelance full-time.

I’ve written about my journey before, and it’s been a rough one. Impostor Syndrome has been a constant, but so have friends and mentors who have believed in me. I’ve struggled – a lot. But I’ve also grown. I even launched my own small business blog.

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I never thought I’d be at a point in my life where I would say “I’m leaving my team at Google for a new opportunity, a new challenge,” but that’s what I’m saying today.

Yesterday, I accepted an offer for a new contract at a new company. I’ll talk more about the details of that job after I’ve started in December but for now, I just want to say thank you.

I want to say thank you to my friends who’ve never lost faith in me, even when I completely lost faith in myself.

I want to say thank you to mentors who’ve helped guide me on this crazy journey since that faithful day in June, and there are many you who might not even know the impact you’ve had on me with a single word or conversation over coffee. But there are two people I want to especially thank:

  • Thank you, Marie, for taking a chance on me when you brought me on as a Global Community Manager at Fluke, giving me a newfound love for B2B.
  • Thank you, Karina, for reaching out to me about this crazy project at Google that would define my life for 18 months. If it wasn’t for your faith in me, there’s no way I’d be able to take this step now.

As I’ve told my team, I’ll still be the Community’s biggest advocate. I could not be more proud of what we’ve built, and where this team will take it in the next year. Keep an eye out, folks. There are even bigger projects and initiatives coming down the pipeline for small businesses. If you don’t already, give them a follow on Google+.

In December, I’ll be starting a new adventure – and I’m terrified. Mainly because I’m going to have to go from being a hermit to working with a team in an office again. More to come on that later.

Shakespeare

My Impostor Syndrome Is Currently In Remission

My fascination with clouds and the stars began long before Instagram filters and #cloudporn. Before I started working at 16 years old, I would make my parents buy me disposable cameras, and when we developed the pictures, 75% of them would be clouds and the sky. To this day, when I go through old pictures, I’ll come across a random print of a random cloud formation.

At night, my obsession was with the constellations. My dad was the one I shared that obsession with. He would help me pick out my favorite constellations at night and tell me their Turkish names.

To this day, if you’re ever outside with me, even if we’re just crossing the street to go to the next bar, you might catch me with my head pointed toward the sky – day or night. I can never get enough of it. I don’t need to point things out. I don’t have the desire to point out shapes in the clouds. I’ll get lost in it momentarily and all you have to do is say my name and I’ll keep walking. After all, my feet always remain on the ground, even if I trip once in a while.

This is pretty much how I’ve lived my life. Head pointed toward the clouds, shooting for the stars but always, always with feet on the ground. Tripping once in a while (OK, more often than I’d like to admit) and usually lost in my own view of the sky once, forgetting about the people around me. Because how could I not get lost in the stars? The possibilities? The mysteries?

The only thing that stands between me and the next star that’s my destination is…can you guess?

I always get in my own way. It’s self-doubt. It’s impostor syndrome. It’s being too selfless. Too passionate. Too scared. Not scared enough. Too foolish. Too…too everything.

In the last couple of years, I keep telling my beloveds and myself that I am working on getting out of my own way. Let’s be real honest – I can’t even fool myself on that, let alone those who have been my champions.

But I guess somewhere along the way, I actually did get out of my way. I stopped tripping up too much. The star I’ve been aiming for didn’t burn out by the time I reached it. In fact, it found me when I was probably trying to take in a sunrise or that cloud’s reflection in the water by the Great Wheel.

All this talk about stars and clouds and the sky, I never mentioned my North star. Because that’s what it boils down to, doesn’t it? Even when you get lost, even if you misread the constellations and stars burn out, as long as you keep aiming at your true north, you will find your path.

For me, my true north has been my always been my passion.

I identified it years ago and I never lost sight of it, even if I got lost. The path may alter once in a while, but that’s the fun part, isn’t it?

While I was gazing at stars, taking pictures of clouds, and keeping my feet on the ground one step at a time, a great opportunity found me. If we’re connected on social media at all, you probably noticed that last week, I began working for Google.

Yes, that Google.

There are a lot of fantastic things about this opportunity, but the reason it was so unexpected is because I didn’t apply for this job. Everything I worked so hard to build over the last five years paid off and my hard work spoke for itself when I didn’t even realize someone was listening.

I am beyond excited. Even today, after spending last week at the Google HQ, getting to know my team, I’m still a little bewildered. Nothing feels as good as being recognized for all of my hard work, even if I felt like I was running in place most days since starting this journey 5 years ago.

I get to work with a fantastic team, for an awesome company, doing exactly what I love, in a city I fall more in love with every day.

My impostor syndrome is currently in remission.

But don’t you worry, because I’ll still keep making faces like this in public.

The Silly Aspiring Digital Nomad Philanthropist

I want to tell you a story. I’m going to ask you all to close your eyes while I tell you the story. I want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to yourselves. Go ahead. Close your eyes, please. This is a story about a little girl walking home from the grocery store one sunny afternoon. I want you to picture this little girl.

These sentences began the closing argument Matthew McConaughey’s character makes at the end of A Time to Kill. It was this movie, and this closing argument that made me want to become a lawyer. I was in 6th grade. From that point forward, my life became all about law school. I wanted to go to college and for that, I would need a scholarship. So I took the SATs in 8th grade, joined the Debate team in 9th and Mock Trial in 10th. I will tell you right now that in all of the experiences I’ve had in my life so far, nothing compares to how I felt in the courtroom, even if it was for mock trial. As soon as I turned 16, I got my first job as a cashier at KMart, working my way up to the Customer Service Desk in 6 months.

Because I didn’t know how to quit back then.

I loved helping people. Thus began my career in retail – between the ages of 16 and 19, I worked in customer service before I transitioned into law firms, sometimes working 2 jobs at a time while going to school full-time. My first full-time job was working as an office manager at a legal recruiting firm (I stayed there for 2 years). In the meantime, I was always writing but I still had my heart set on law school. It was my dream.  It wasn’t until I got my first communications job at a trade association and met the man I would consider my mentor that I even considered a career involving communications and writing.

My boss at that job was the one who convinced me to add on Journalism as a minor. He was the one that encouraged my writing while I was still using a pen name and if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have in my career now.

Losing that job and taking the leap to becoming a full-time freelancer was the best thing that happened to me. It was at this point when I had to figure out what my future looked like because law school was no longer a viable option. At least not on this path.

I won’t give you a play by play of my resume. You can find that on my LinkedIn. I also won’t tell you the story of how I became a community builder. You can read that here.

Instead, I want to remind you to do what you love, not just what you can.

In school, I was really good at math. I don’t know why, but it just clicked. I wasn’t passionate about math. I didn’t go above and beyond what was required of me. Up until my senior year in high school, it was just something I was good at so I got the good grades and somehow made it to AP Calculus. It may have made sense for me to continue on a math-related path in college but I didn’t love it.

When it came to history, English, and Psychology, however, I went above and beyond. Maybe it was that English is my second language but I had to spend extra time on my assignments but I didn’t mind it one bit. I fell in love with Psychology so much, I started a Psychology Club in my high school. It didn’t click as easily as math did for me but spending that extra time made me fall even more in love with it.

This has translated into my career as well.

When you hate your job, the quality of your life also diminishes.

do what you loveIf you’ve known me for even five minutes, it’ll become obvious that writing is my passion. I’m not just talking about blogging but writing. Researching articles. Doing journalistic pieces. Op-ed pieces.

It always comes back to writing and making a difference. I don’t want to just write fluff pieces. I want to talk about things that matter. I want to shake things up. I want to make a difference with my words. 

This is the common thread and this is the underlying passion that steered me toward becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business. No matter where life has taken me, I’ve had a passion for a tiny project I started back in 2006. It has been fueling the fire in my heart, keeping me going non-stop, even through depression and unemployment. I will continue to fail and make mistakes. I’ll take detours on my career. I will have to take on projects to make ends meet that may bore me to tears at times.

But mark my words – I will never lose sight of my destination because my life just doesn’t make sense when I’m not writing.

So how do all of these pieces fit together? How does a writer who once wanted to be a lawyer, wants to travel the world and make a difference with her words find a career that makes sense?

Well, she creates it, of course.

That’s why I’m an aspiring digital nomad philanthropist. That may seem like a silly title now but give me another 18 months and all the pieces will fall into place. (Update: I pulled the trigger on the big project that’s been driving me for the last 7 years. Check it out)

Who knows? In 10 years, I’ll probably talking about getting into law school and starting my first day of class.

Haven’t you heard? I’m kind of an overachiever.

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Inspired by this prompt from Laura: You are not your resume; you are a collective of your life/work experience combined. If you were to look at all the jobs you’ve had, the hobbies, the things you choose to do, and what excites you the most, what’s that common thread that weaves all of those things together? Who are you at your core? What is it that you can’t, not do?

Confession: I Can’t Do It All


I know. You’re shocked.

SHOCKED.

This realization makes me feel crummy, and weak like a cop-out but the fact is, I’m not that 18 year old that can take 17 credits/semester, work two jobs, commute and manage to get on the Dean’s List. My brain isn’t wired like that anymore. I really thought I could do it.

Two classes. Piece of cake.

Sure, if I leave my business behind.

Right now, at this point in my life, I’m bursting at the seams with ideas for my business, and once I’m done with client work for the day, I have to dive into school work, which leaves me no time at all for writing. Because my brain is tired and I can’t focus like I used to be able to.

It makes me feel weak because there are people out there who are raising kids, going to school AND working. There are college students starting businesses that are thriving. I thought I could do it too but it drives me nuts when I sign into my class discussion and have to regurgitate shit.

I’m over that.

I’m in my 8th year of undergrad. God, it pains me to even write that.

This isn’t to say that I don’t want to learn. I have so much passion for ALL THE THINGS and I love reading non-fiction and nerding out in my free time. Put it in the form of a required discussion and all passion flies out the window.

I’ve never really been the person to stick around and have mind-numbing conversations in class. When I was a senior in high school, I spent most of my time volunteering in administrative offices while my teachers still marked me down as ‘Present’ in class because senioritis had taken over my classmates and I had no patience for stupidity.

I’m not being challenged. At all. I took a grad level class in my second year at GW and was bored because it wasn’t challenging enough. I’m not saying I’m smart. I’m not, at all. I fake it.

I just don’t have patience for small talk. I don’t have patience for beating around the bush.

So, where’s all this going?

Right now, I’m going to finish out the next four weeks in my classes, faking it as best as I can.

Then I’m going to take a break and pour my everything into my business. Because that’s where I am in my life.

I have a list of things I want to do but they require concentration and devotion.

I can’t do it all. Maybe, one day down the line, I’ll be able to go back to being a full-time student, giving it my all.

Because that’s how I do things. I give it my all and lately, I don’t have enough of me to give to two full-time passions.

For now, school will have to take a backseat. By school, I mean the classroom and the grades.

Because I’ll never stop educating myself. 

Kudos to the superstars out there who can do it all.

Oh hey, don’t forget about the giveaway

Because I’m a lady, assface.

Honestly, I started writing this blog because putting up another Facebook status today would’ve been over the limit. Apparently, I have a lot of thoughts and words and ALL THE THINGS in my head lately.

Instead, I do things like pin wedding stuff, and funny pictures and then go back and look at them when I need a laugh. This leads the people around me to look at me all funny because I’m giggling uncontrollably.

Clearly, being a businesswoman has done wonders for me.

I have opinions. Lots of them. There is so much I want to write but then I start writing, and then all the thoughts go OUT OF MY HEAD, hiding under stress and anxiety.

When I tell a couple of friends about my big, huge project that is my baby and I can’t talk about it so I don’t jinx it, it’s a surprise to them that I’m all about advocacy. Because I haven’t been vocal about it for a couple of years.

Advocacy? Raising awareness? Starting a non-profit and working on campaigns? I want to do all these things.

In addition to having a business that’s all about community building, social media and writing. Yes, I can combine all of this but HOW to combine it is the question. Then I come up with a great idea for a project, and have trouble getting it off the ground because I can’t come up with a creative name for the community. So I resort to having a contest with a prize at the end to give people some kind of motivation to help.

I know that starting a new business is stressful. I know this. I knew this coming in but sometimes, I feel like I’m running in place. I’m kind of an overachiever. This will all be revealed in my e-book, once I actually finish it. Oh yes, add that to the list of projects I’m working on at this very moment.

I love my life.

I feel like I should reiterate that because I know it seems like I’m complaining. I’m not.

I’m scared. Scared to the point where I’m having mini-breakdowns and word-vomiting all over Andrew.

I’ve been afraid to really step out of my shell. In the world of f*cking gurus, ninjas and mavens, I feel like anything I say will get lost. I’m not any of those things. I’m just a passionate person with a lot of actually GOOD ideas who’s afraid of execution.

Maybe that’s a consequence of living in DC where it’s full of nonprofits, social media (I really love my community here) and digital professionals who are all doing the same thing.

Or maybe it’s just that between losing my job, taking on challenges and still working on my Bachelor’s, I’ve become more timid than I was 4 years ago, which is oddly ironic and hilarious.

It could also be that I have a ton more to lose now than I did back then.

Whatever I end up doing, I’ll always have my sense of humor and my passionately curious attitude which just leads to trouble.

26.5

"If you aren't willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you. - Greg House"Today, I told someone I was 26 and a half. I don’t know what drove me to say that and the only reason I’m even aware of that fact is that my kitty’s birthday is also in April and she’s 6 months. I’ve been pretty out of it lately but there’s a lot happening in my life – most of it anxiety inducing because apparently being an adult means I’m going to get rid of safety nets, get a little crazy and drive people around me crazy.

October 17, 2011 is the day I sent in incorporation papers for PQ Productions and have cut my last safety net so that I can focus on my business 100%.

November 14, 2011 will be the day I give my first presentation at a conference on personal branding & blogging.  (If you’re in the area, you should definitely come to CrushIQ. Don’t miss the early bird pricing!)

By the time 2012 rolls around, I may have completely made my dreams come true or have failed miserably. All I know is that I won’t regret a minute of it.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a fiance who gives me his full support, even though things may be a little scary right now.  My best friend has been patient with me, and I’m so glad I’ll get to see her in December because I need some quality time before time gets away from us and the next thing you know, she’s by my side in her Maid of Honor dress on the happiest day of my life.

I have come a long way from who I was 6 months ago, let alone a year ago. I can’t even think about what a mess I was 2 years ago and how I fought tooth and nail to keep my head above water.

So, at the halfway point between 26 and 27, I’m without a safety net, except for the love and support of the ones nearest to my heart, and all the passion in the world.

On to the fun stuff…

On the wedding front, Andrew & I had our engagement shoot last week. The lovely Rachel from Hello, Gorgeous Photography drove down from Jersey with her assistant, Meghan, and we had a BLAST. Here are a couple of my favorite teasers.

This is my absolute favorite.
Our album is dropping in November

How is YOUR October going?

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the new RSS & the newsletter.

A new Jobs Digest is up over at PQ Productions.

If you’re a Gen-Y blogger, I’m working on starting a new service for non-mommy bloggers and connecting them with businesses. If you’re interested, sign up for more info here.

Last week, I was over at Enter: Adulthood, talking about wedding planning & job hunting. 

Becoming Professionally Obsolete

I feel like 26 is too late to shift my career into an industry with rising stars, where those still in college & graduating from college are making a huge impact.

I currently sit in an intern room as the oldest one. I’ve worked since I was 16 and this is not my first office job.

I’m starting out from the bottom of the ladder again.

What if, by the time I take the next step, I’m already obsolete?

That is my biggest fear.

I’m not from a generation where social media is covered in the classroom, and I am not fluent in HTML.  Everything I’ve built so far in the last 2 years with my personal brand has been through trial & error.

Did I mention I’m still in school for my Bachelor’s? After that I might look into a masters in social work degree, but first things first.

I decided to take on another major, in accordance with my career shift, so let’s add that to the ‘disadvantage’ column.

I do love what I do. I’m a connector, and I love spreading the word via Social Media. I want to make a difference.

In 10 years, I want to take my experience, and start a non-profit. I do have a dream outlined in my mind. The execution methods may change by the time I make it a reality but the dream is there.

What if someone beats me to it?

Maybe someone already has.

Every morning, I wake up with hope, and fear. I’m afraid that I’ll always remain in the background. I may never make enough of an impact to become an expert in my field.

Then I remember that those in the background also make an impact. If I love what I do, and I am going after my own dream that will someday make a difference (even in one person’s life), doesn’t that count?

So that’s how I overcome my fears. With hope.

And a little dose of reality.

In a field that evolves every single day, all I can do is keep moving forward.

I educate myself.

I read.

I form opinions.

I listen.

I join in on conversations, and participate in groups such as u30pro.

I share my .02 since I am a little more experienced in some things.

Maybe I will become obsolete in the grand scheme of things. By moving forward, I just won’t be afraid of becoming obsolete.

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This post is an entry in the u30pro.com launch contest!

If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment with your feedback and feel free to share with your friends on Facebook & Twitter. (In fact, sharing is very much encouraged if you enjoyed it. It *is* a contest after all)

Winners & Excitement & Panic & Thank Yous

First things first…I think it’s about time I finally announce the winners to the giveaway!

1) The winner of Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for XBox Kinect is – Eleni from Hope Dies Last! Congrats! E-mail me your address

2) The winner of the Whole Foods Gift Card is – Michelle from Desultory Diversion! Congrats!

Thanks to everyone who entered. I hope I’ll have another giveaway in the next couple of months!

Now, an update on my life that’s been insanely chaotic lately!

Good news first!

I finally have a job – a full-time internship with the digital team at Edelman. I start on the 4th and I am so so excited!

I will still be working with Brazen Careerist, and I also have a couple of other freelance projects in the works, including being an Android App Reviewer on Appolicious. I’ve already made a few reviews so be sure to hop on over there and follow my profile!

I’m also the new Social Media Vice Chair for WGIRLS DC, which is super exciting!  Check us out!

(All the links to my current affiliations, and online presence are on my sidebars)

*deep breaths*

Oh, and I’m still in school, which will be over in a couple of months and I will be taking a summer break (Thank goodness!)

So, things are great.

Which is when I start freaking out.


I’m doing everything that I love and have been working my butt off for the past two years to build a personal brand. I’m in a city I love, surrounded with amazing people (Friends, mentors and acquaintances), getting paid to do everything that I am passionate about and more.

Seriously. Is it supposed to be this good? I mean, this is when I screw everything up right? It has to be.  I’m fine when things are stressing me out but when it’s good stress, I’m not exactly sure how to handle it.

Since I accepted the internship, I’ve been going through a roller coaster of emotions and putting my friends (and Andrew) in the line of fire of my crazy.

Is this what it feels like when pieces finally start fitting in?

There are still issues, and not everything is 100% peachy in my life.  Overall though? I’m incredibly blessed and I’m so afraid I’m going to screw it up. As I told Andrew the other night in my very emotional state (after a few drinks), I’m damaged goods.

Honestly, after almost a year of being able to avoid people (yay [f]unemployment), I’m afraid that I’ve become a little anti-social. I’m really really hoping this new job and all the fantastic opportunities I have in front of me will help me get back to my normal self.

On that note, thank you to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who listened to my rants, whines & frustrations over the last year. I know it wasn’t easy (and you probably wanted to slap me a time or 5). Your patience paid off.

The show goes on.


Put Your Best (Online) Face Forward

Announcement: Ad spots are still available for April. Don’t forget that you’ll also be giving to charity at the same time! Full details here.

When a company looks into the ‘online you’, is what they will find appropriate?

Whether you’re currently on the job hunt, or you may be in the future, your presence across social media platforms & blogs will come under scrutiny.

Are you putting your best face forward or is your online presence hurting your chances of being hired?

You have a stellar resume, letters of recommendation & your interview outfit is sharp. One look at your Facebook profile and all of that can become irrelevant.

You will be representing your company and they want to make sure you represent them well. Here are a few tips for putting your best ‘online’ face forward:

Be consistent. You are your own brand. Make sure that your image is consistent across social networks. Your LinkedIn is inherently professional but if your Facebook is a complete 180 from that image, employers will take that into consideration.

Be aware of your online footprint. Everything you put online will remain there and it will be found. Always keep in mind that even pictures you delete from your Facebook can still be found. Think twice about putting up that picture of you at the frat party. Would you want your future boss to see it?

Keep the profanity to a minimum. (Or don’t curse at all if you can). There is nothing impressive about cursing and just like you wouldn’t just drop the ‘F-bomb’ in front of your boss at work, you shouldn’t be dropping it all over your social network. Especially your Twitter feed. Your 140-characters shouldn’t be ridden with profanity. You certainly don’t want to accidentally drop the ‘F-bomb’ on your company’s Twitter feed.

Be aware of how your friends contribute to your presence. If your friends are consistently writing about how awesome it was ‘getting trashed’ on your wall, you might want to tweak your wall settings on your Facebook. When cleaning up your profile, be sure to also clean up what your friends put on there, including tagged pictures. Don’t be hesitant to untag and ask your friends to take down pictures of you from their profile as well.

Mashable has some great tips on how to clean up your Facebook.

Don’t trash-talk your previous employees. In addition to being completely unnecessary, this is very unprofessional. You shouldn’t be doing this off-line or online because it actually shines a bad light on you. The person you may be talking to could refrain from even giving you a referral because of the way you talk about your previous employees. You also never know when you might run into a previous coworker again. The rule here is simple: Don’t.

Google yourself. In order to put your best face forward, you have to be completely aware of how others see you.

What will your boss or potential employer find out about you when they hit ‘Search’? So, are you putting your best ‘online’ face forward? What other tips do you have for those active across social media?