5 Reasons Why I Should Be The Next Content Crafter at Buffer…

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1)   I still remember exactly when I first discovered Buffer (from a co-worker at Likeable Media) and how much I loved it! I even sent this tweet in excitement. From then on it has made managing both my personal social presence and countless clients infinitely better.

2)    I’ve been writing since I was 6 years old, and my dad (a journalist in NY for more than 40 years) taught me how to type on our Atari computer. I wrote my first “novel” shortly after – a mystery called The Adventures of Jillian Rhonda, loosely based on the Nancy Drew series…  Since then my writing experience has grown considerably. I studied journalism at the University of Rhode Island and wrote for the campus newspaper, I interned at Scholastic magazines, I wrote my own column for a local newspaper, I started a blog in 2006 and then stumbled gracefully into the world of social media sometime thereafter, expanding my writing outlets to blogs, websites, Facebook posts, tweets, etc.

3)   More specifically, I’ve written a number of blog posts on the topic of social media, I’ve been chosen based on my writing to be part of brand campaigns such as IBM’s #MySmarterCommerce and Pepsico’s Social Communicator project covering Internet Week in NYC, and even earned an appearance on CNN as a social media expert not because of my job at a top social media agency but rather because a producer was a fan of my personal blog.

4)   I left the fast-paced agency world of NYC to live a more relaxing life by the beach in the beautiful seaside town of Newport, RI. Although I’m no longer living in the hustle and bustle of the big city, I’m still a hustler when it comes to working hard and pursuing my passions.  I’m inspired by the notion of working where I feel my most creative, which for me, is sitting in a coffee shop with a chai latte, my laptop and some great music in the background. Bonus points for being able to see, smell or taste the salty air of a nearby ocean.  I find inspiration comes from the most unlikely places and being able to work at a dream job while living where I chose would be the ultimate work-life zen.

5)   I’m planning on buffering this blog post 🙂

Think I’d make a great writer for Buffer?  Please share this post and let @bufferapp know you want to read more from me!

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Five Cool Things Technology Has Done For Me

Being part of the #MySmarterCommerce campaign with IBM, I’ve been thinking more and more lately about all the ways the internet, technology, and probably more specifically, social media, has changed my life.  Sure, everyone’s life has changed with the invention of new technologies.  If we don’t know something, we just “Google it”, we use our smartphones for everything and connectivity is always at our fingertips. But for me, the coolest thing about social media is the random connections I’ve been able to make and the advancements for myself and my career.  Here’s my top five favorite things technology has done for me (so far!).

1) Saved my LDR (that’s long distance relationship for those not in the know). Living in NYC while my sig other was in Buffalo for nearly two years wasn’t easy. But thanks to Skype, Facebook, email, texting and even Seamless Web, we were able to connect in more ways than ever possible.  In the olden days, LDR’s didn’t stand a chance, with the lack of cell phones, painfully slow process of letter writing and non-existent internet even couples parting ways for the summer pretty much had a “see you in September” mentality.  Modern day LDR’s stand a lot better chance.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch Going The Distance.

2) Got me on CNN! About a year ago I was up late one night perusing Twitter when I received a tweet from a CNN producer asking if she could DM me.  Unsure whether it was spam I quickly checked her out and she seemed legit.  After a brief direct message exchange on Twitter and a few emails, I was confirmed as a guest the next morning on CNN as a social media expert.  I credit this to a winning combo of my Twitter presence and my personal blog presence.  I later found out that one of the writers was a big fan of The Allie Zog Blog, which surely helped my cause! 🙂

3) Got me most of jobs to date. When I first finished college, I distinctly remember spending several days stuffing envelopes to mail out to job prospects.  Yes I literally stuffed envelopes, sending my resume, best clips from the college newspaper and a lengthy cover letter to every magazine, newspaper and random publication I could think of.  I think I heard back from like 2.  Do journalism majors still do this?  I HOPE not!  That was the first and last time I ever MAILED anything to apply for a job.  The last few jobs I’ve had have been obtained by a combination of personal introduction, Twitter connections, online job boards and again, this blog.  To this I say, good riddance envelope stuffing!

4) Connected (and reconnected) me with friends old and new. As cliché as it sounds, I still love social media for the simple fact that it’s allowed me to stay connected to people from my past, often re-connecting me to them after years of silence.  If you’re like me and left your hometown at 18 with not many returns, you may not have been the best at keeping each touch with high school pals.  I doubt I even had any of their phone numbers or even email addresses after college ended but thanks to social media I’m able to find out  where they are and what they’re doing and in most cases we’ve been able to “catch up” without actually having to see each other or even speak on the phone.  In addition to re-connecting with old friends, I’ve had a lot easier time staying connected to new people I’ve met along the way.  In the past, if you met someone casually at an event or even through a friend, you probably wouldn’t stay in touch, but these days, after I meet someone new, I usually find a friend request or new follower in them a few days later.

5) Given me important information such as “where should I eat tonight” “how can I get Lumineers tickets” and “where can I buy a hot yoga towel.” You know – the burning questions that before Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc were just so much harder to answer!

These are just a sampling of the many ways in which I use one part iPhone, one part Twitter and two parts my imagination to make my life easier everyday.  I’d love to know what technology and social media has done for your life.  Share with me in the comments or on Twitter using #MySmarterCommerce.

#spon: I have been invited by IBM to share my honest thoughts and experiences around Smarter Commerce, and as part of this collaboration, IBM may provide me with product, access, content or other forms of remuneration. All opinions are expressly my own.

The Blizzard of 2013: A Recap…

Photo Credit: The Newport Daily News Facebook page, photo by Dave Hansen

Photo Credit: The Newport Daily News Facebook page, photo by Dave Hansen

Turns out, I’m a wuss.  Also?  I’m not one of those people who could go on a digital detox or whatever the kids are calling it these days.  I have now confirmed that the internet (particularly social media) is my lifeline to the outside world and the way in which I get 99% of my news and information.  What confirmed it? 39 LONG HOURS WITHOUT POWER!

Snowstorm Nemo hit little Rhody hard and left the entire Aquidneck Island (Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth) without power starting Friday evening with some people going as long as four or more days without.  Hat’s off to those people, truly.

I’ll break it down for you with a rough timeline:

Approximately 10pm Fri night: Power goes out for 5 minutes, I freak out, power goes back on, I tweet about it.

Approximately 10:20 pm Fri night: Power goes back off…and stays off.  I tweet about it…and cry a little.

10:27pm: I text my mom frantically.  I check Twitter frantically.  I tweet to National Grid.

Sometime between 10:27 and 1am: – I fall asleep dreaming of waking up to the harsh light of my bedside lamp the TV blasting.

Photo Credit: Joanie Caffrey (I was too frantic to take pics!)

Photo Credit: Joanie Caffrey (I was too frantic to take pics!)

Saturday 5am-ish: I wake up…COLD.  My boyfriend rolls over and mumbles…”did the power go out?” (he’d slept through the whole thing, bless his soul)

Saturday – timeline hazy due to lack of heat, light, TV, hot coffee, etc: I find out through Facebook that one bar in town is open and serving food and possibly one hotel is serving free coffee.  We proceed to bundle up as there is no way in heck we are staying in our apartment where the thermostat has already reached 46 degrees.  We head out and head to the Hotel Viking, where they’re serving coffee and a “cold lunch”, there’s no heat.  We leave for greener pastures because at this point we are still hopeful there’s some magical oasis of heat, TV, coffee and bacon and eggs.  We head to Benjamins which, as per Facebook, IS in fact the only bar open in town at this point.  They’re PACKED and getting a table to be served food seems unlikely.  We decide to trek on, now hopeful there’s other places around.  We arrive at the Newport Marriott with high hopes.  Turns out they DID have a generator but it broke.  They’ve got bigger problems too because they’re hosting Reebok for some big wig type conference.  There’s no heat although it feels warmer than our apartment.  We spot some staff cleaning up and ask if their restaurant is open.  They say no and we must look pretty defeated because they sneak us behind some curtain and offer us what’s left from their morning buffet.  They tell us “everyone’s gotta eat today” and I understand in a miniscule way what it must feel like to be homeless or hungry and have to depend on people’s good will. I appreciate the gesture immensely and accept the coffee while my boyfriend, not one to turn down food, enjoys a sandwich, leftover salad and some sort of soup.  I again have an epiphany about myself realizing that I declined the food because I wasn’t  really in the mood for questionable looking deli meat, wilted salad greens and mystery soup but realize after the fact what the expression “beggars can’t be choosers” truly means.  If this was my reality every day (no warm home, limited food source) I’d have to be grateful for whatever I could get and not chose what I eat on my own freewill.

From here, the day seems like five and we go on to return home to warm up in our car, charge our cell phones, head to the local Stop & Shop (which is open, sorta, and resembles the zombie apocalypse) and add my friend and her pup to our tribe.  Eventually we found out that a friend’s parents on the other side of the island has power and another friend has gas heat and some food.  We are lucky, and we enjoy a warm meal and a toasty home then head to our friend’s parents for a warm bed.  By the time we return to our apartment early Sunday afternoon our power is back and I’ve learned about a hundred life lessons.  Here’s the highlights:

1) As the boy scouts said, always be prepared!  We were not, at all.  We thought that wine, ingredients for chili and homemade pizza, and a flashlight would get us through but we didn’t truly prepare for the reality of no heat, no cooking source or refrigeration, etc.

2) Cell phones (particularly iPhones) really are the greatest invention of our time and were literally my lifeline.  If I hadn’t been able to text friends and family, make quick calls and check social media sites for information on what was opened, when and where power would be restored, etc, I really don’t know where we’d have ended up. (I’m sure we would have made it through ONE night sleeping under a ton of blankets but damn, at the time, I really didn’t think I would.  It was COLD and we didn’t even have many extra blankets….which brings me back to lesson 1, always be prepared!)

3) Having people you can rely on is important.  I had a minor breakdown in which I realized that my closest family member was in Boston, which is pretty close but wasn’t nearly close enough at the time.  While I have some friends in town I was really very lucky to have somewhere to go and realized that although I’ve always been the type to move places and make new friends, there’s something to be said for having lots of family and friends and a close-knit support system nearby.

And now to bring it full circle…

When I was first asked to be part of IBM’s Social Influencer Think Tank and told that I’d be sharing my idea of smarter commerce, I had a million things in mind.  There are so many times that social media and technology tools have enriched my life, got me jobs, got me on TV, connected me with family and long distance loves, and so much more, but after experiencing the smallest taste of a crisis situation, my belief in the power of social media was reinforced 1000%.

Over the next month I’ll be sharing plenty more stories of how social media and the latest technology has bettered my life, from the big to the small. And now I ask you friends, how has it bettered YOUR life?  Please share your stories with me here in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #MYSMARTERCOMMERCE

PS, Special thanks to Frank, Joanie, Jedi, Heather, Steve, Allie, Kathleen, and the Hunt Family; the Newport Marriott for their hospitality; and What’s Up Newport and The Newport Patch for their great coverage and information for getting me through my first New England Blizzard.

Exciting Announcement!

photo-1Hi friends! I’m excited to announce that I have been recruited by IBM to be a part of their #MySmarterCommerce Campaign and join their Social Influencer Think Tank. What the heck does this mean, you ask? Well basically they think I’m cool and interesting (who doesn’t?) and they’ve called me an “influencer” (shudders…) and a “connected consumer” (what the…what?). I think this means that I wouldn’t dare buy something, eat something or go anywhere without consulting Twitter, Yelp, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest…errr yeah, it sounds like I am this connected consumer thing. FOR SURE.

In layman’s terms, they want me to help define what Smarter Commerce means to me, and they want YOU, my loyal readers, family and friends to join in the conversation too! For the next 30 days I’ll be blogging, tweeting, etc. about what Smarter Commerce means to me, and how technology and social media plays a part in my everyday life. I encourage you all to leave comments, tweet me, Facebook me, etc. and tell me what you think and what it means to you. You might even win an Amazon gift card (woo!).

The sky’s the limit with this campaign and there’s a lot of exciting stuff to come. I’ll be featured on IBM’s site and some of my content may be used in presentations at South by Southwest, IBM’s Global Conference in Nashville and beyond. If I’m really ridiculously interesting, I might even get to speak at SxSW (those who don’t know, it’s like Geek Spring Break, see here) and be IBM’s VIP guest and/or be followed around by film crews for part of their Nashville Conference (it all sounds very E-True Hollywood Story). I’m pyched to be part of it all and can’t wait to see what takes shape. Help me get there you guys!

Stay tuned for my first post in which I force myself to relive this weekend’s blizzard and my 39 hours without power (AKA the longest 39 hours of MY LIFE). It will be riveting folks, and if it doesn’t convince you how much I (and all of us really) DEPEND on technology, I don’t know what will.

Check out the #MYSMARTERCOMMERCE hashtag on Twitter to see more of what this campaign’s all about and check back here often to get involved!

My fifteen minutes…

It’s funny how things work out.  I just got back from a trip to LA and everytime I go there, I come back to NYC thinking I may be more of a west coast gal then an east coast one.  This trip was no exception.  Also, while I was there, I connected with someone who got me thinking about my life path, my destiny – you know, all that good LA-ish type stuff… Kidding, but seriously, this person did get me thinking deeper than my NYC brain usually thinks, but hey, I also had a 5 hour flight to sit through… 🙂

Anyway, I remembered (or rather reminded myself) that I love writing and would start doing again and I also told myself (see last post) that I would start doing more things to make a name for myself.  Well call it fate or call it a coincidence but the very next day I get contacted by CNN to appear on their CNN Newsroom show.  I also got a tweet from someone at CNN who told me he “lives for my blog” which pretty much made my life since I didn’t think anyone except my parents and my loyal Newport buddies actually read this thing!

Someone once told me that if you leave things in the universe’s hands they will work themselves out and I’m pretty sure that’s true.  There are highs and lows, ups and downs, setbacks, surprises, and things to work out, but at least tonight, I’m giving my crazy overactive, overanalyzing, ball of stress, plan-making mind a rest and having a lil’ faith…

Here’s a clip from my network television debut.  It was only about 3 minutes so I figure I got at least another 12 minutes of fame left in this lifetime! 🙂

Comments welcome…and yes, I know I say “I know” a lot!  Rookie mistake, I’ll do better next time!

Makes you think…

Today was an emotional and strange day in the world of celebrity and news. We lost not one but two legends. One was tragic yet somewhat expected and one was seemingly out of the blue, although many people said they weren’t surprised by it.

The craziest thing about the deaths of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson and even Ed McMahon a few days ago is that I found out about all three of them through twitter. Not once when the stories were unfolding did I turn on the radio or the TV, and for the most part I didn’t even visit any major news sites. I literally followed the entire thing on twitter, noting who got the stories first and who was most accurate. Breaking News On (@breakingnewson) seemed pretty quick with updates and the celebrity bloggers and other celeb enthusiasts were quick with Retweets, updates and opinions. It was a true testament to the changing times that I essentially needed nothing more than my phone and twitter app to be completed up to date on Michael Jackson’s death. I saw a quick tweet at the end of my work date that mentioned him being taken to the ER but didn’t pay much attention to it in the midst of the Farrah mourning. Then, on my hour train ride, I settled in and checked my twitter stream, only to find out that history was being made. I teared up a few times from a combination of the obvious sadness of the death of an undisputed music legend, and also a bit from the impact of just getting all this info and reading all these people’s heartfelt messages all while sitting silently on the LIRR. At one point as I was deep in twitterland, I considered announcing MJ’s passing to my train car, or striking up a convo with the sleeping businessman next to me, but decided that would be too odd. It just felt so weird to be finding out such dramatic news while the people around me seemed to be clueless (at least those not on their phones). I also found it fascinating that TMZ legitimately broke the story first, followed by other celeb bloggers and less credible sources, and further more, they were totally on point. Next came the LA Times and finally after a few others came CNN. A lot has changed from the days of tuning into CNN because it was the ONLY source of 24 hour news around…

I just wanted to write something today to honor the deaths of three people who were legends in their own way. Putting all personal stuff aside (personal stuff which everyone has in one way or another) Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers our generation has ever seen. Ed McMahon was a household name that everyone loved. Farrah Fawcett was the embodiment of sexy and in her final days became an inspiration to us all with her brave battle. Although I never met any of these people and do feel that sometimes it’s crazy the way the public obsesses about celebs that they know nothing about personally, I think that these three people clearly impacted the world, and for that, they deserve our blessings. My thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones tonight.

On a completely unrelated note, I am off to Fire Island again this weekend, and plan on writing an epic post (or maybe event multiple posts) on my experiences there so far. I know, I’m a slacker!