Twenty Christmas Light Displays I'd Hate To Disassemble

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, but taking down all the lights and decorations is not my favorite....I take heart in the fact that I don't have to deal with the disassemble of the following Christmas displays. (But man I love to watch them!)

Take a look at these 20 amazing works of art!

1. Music Box Dancer

2. Frisco Christmas Lights - Wizards in Winter

3. Coca Cola Holiday Song

4. Amazing Grace

5. Carol Of The Bells

6. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

7. Symphony in Lights Contest

8. Guitar Hero

9. Charlie Brown Christmas

10. Carol Of the Bells

11. You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch

12. Comfort and Joy

13. Bohemian Rhapsody

14. Sandstorm Techno

15. Santa Clause Is coming To Town

16. Jingle Bells

17. Nut Cracker

18. Animated Christmas Tree Farm

19. Collingwood Road in Alexandria VA

20. 2001 A Space Odyssey

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Lead Conversion Optimization: Lead a Horse To Water...And Make Them Drink

My previous blog post talked about developing a system to manage your leads. If you generate leads and then do not have a systematic way to deal with them, you might as well not have paid to generate the leads.

Darin Persinger of Productivity Junkies has some great insights in the following video into the topic of Lead Conversion Optimization.

The fact is you can't convert a lead if you don't have a system. But more importantly you can't implement your system if you aren't optimizing your website to interact with your target buyer who will then inquire and allow you to implement your system. Take a look at Darin's tips and tricks to optimize lead generation for a real estate website. Traffic to your website is no good without lead generation, people actually asking for information. Darin talks about ways to increase your ability to interact with the traffic you drive to your site.

As he indicates, SEO is fine and good, you need to drive traffic to your website, but if there is not a reason for them to interact with you, you've spent money leading the horse to water, but you haven't made them drink. Once they begin drinking, you need that system to then convert the prospect into a sale.

At the end of the day it is still not about quantity but quality, however the more leads you drive to your site, the more leads you should be able to get to communicate with you. You do still want some volume. It's not likely that if 5 people visit your site, all 5 people will inquire. It still holds true that you need to have some SEO to drive traffic to your site. But make sure you know what to do with them, once you get them there.

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Lead Management: Having a System

When I tell people my business is Lead Management, sometimes I get weird looks. What is that? What do you mean lead management? Do you generate leads for clients?

Lead generation and lead management are two different things.

You can't have one without the other. But if you only generate leads and you don't manage them you might as well not bother. There are services out there. Especially in the real estate realm that will generate leads for you. But depending on what you do with them, or how the system is gathering information you may be throwing your money away.

In order to put together a lead management system here are some things to think about.

Consistency: You have to have a consistent systematic way to deal with the leads.

Promptness: If you do not reply promptly to leads, why are your generating them? Put yourself in the place of the potential client. If you can't get a hold of someone to answer your question, do you sit there patiently waiting for days for someone to get back to you? Or do you move down to the next listing on the internet who might be able to answer your question when you have it hot on your mind? What do you think your clients are doing?

Campaign Planning: Identify the different types of clients you have, and what kinds of campaigns will best suite them. A blanket campaign may not work if you have long term and short term buyers. Buyers with different product needs, price points, or financial requirements. You need to have all these scenarios thought through and addressed so you can plug each new lead into the proper plan.

Dynamic information delivery: You need to have more than just one way to touch people. They may not respond to phone calls, but they may respond to emails. They may not respond to emails but to video emails. They may not respond to questions but they may respond to surveys. They may not respond to photographs but they may respond to slide shows. By having an arsenal of methods to contact your leads it will help you identify what works best for different products, people and situations. A same consisting only of canned emails becomes something easy to delete for the would-be buyer. It's kind of like fast forwarding through commercials.

Calls to Action: You can't Tell it to Sell it. You have to have ways to find out what your clients need. You can't just keep pushing out information, you have to make it an interactive dialogue. Not always easy and this involves the use of some of the dynamic delivery above, and the tools below.

Tools: You can't just have an inbox and hope to remember every email you get, every email you've sent and when the next one is due. Even scheduling it on your calender isn't quite as good as having a system that schedules and integrates with your database. Don't try to keep it in a spreadsheet. That's insanity.
  • CRM - Customer Relationship Management. You've got to have a way to systematically touch your clients. The CRM helps you achieve the Consistency above.
  1. Does it allow you set reminders?
  2. Does it allow for long term campaign follow up?
  3. Does it have dynamic features that allow you to set up email, direct mail, and calls to your client?
  • Email Marketing Program - This may be part of your CRM, but you want to make sure it has several key features.
  1. Can it track what people are clicking on in the email?
  2. Can it track how many people are opening it?
  3. Does it allow people to unsubscribe?
  4. Does it allow you to set up email campaigns?
  5. If it's not part of your CRM does it integrate with it?
Finally, having a system is something that is developed, tested, and refined. You can't just say okay one, two, three go. Especially if there is not a full robust system already in place. One of the biggest problem is most businesses is knowing how to manage the leads they generate. As a business gets off the ground, and just a few leads are coming in they think they can handle them in their inbox, but as these leads build and build each month eventually the reality kicks in that business is being lost because it's impossible to keep track of all the people in the system, past customers, and current calls and emails. This is why a lead management system is essential. A well thought out plan.

One of the most important things, is to realize that you need to work on the system and you may have to concede that if no system was in place you may have lost leads already. But how can you capture the ones that are coming in now, next week, next month? Developing that system does not happen over night. Time and thought needs to go into it if it will be successful. You can't just say, we need an email marketing campaign. Boom. You still have to have an overall marketing plan.

You can't just said we need a lead management system and Boom. There it is. It has to be developed, it takes time and it's worth the effort.

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A Soldier's Silent Night: How To Get Involved During The Holidays

I love this time of year. It's pretty to drive down night streets and see lights and colors aglow. There's the smell of cinnamon, spice, evergreen and woodsmoke in the air.

Visions of fires in the fire place and chestnuts roasting take me back to my childhood.

People are a little bit nicer as you smile and chat with strangers in stores. More bells appear to mark your entrance into shops and homes. Winter scenes blur around the edges and have a greeting card quality to them.

December conjures up thoughts of friends and family, charity and giving. Peace on earth and happiness. What about the unknown soldiers that have fought for our freedom?

With over 307 million people in the United States and nearly 2 million in the Military, statistically so few people are directly effected by having a loved one fighting in the wars.

If you don't have a family member, friend, or loved one on active duty, or even if you do, this video is a great reminder of those we should have gratitude for as we partake in our holidays. And the following organizations are great ways to get involved and give back.

There are some great programs that you can participate in to let the soldiers know you care. Check these out:
These are just some of the great ways to get involved and give back to the soldiers for the holidays. But check them out quick, many of them have deadlines in order to get everything in the mail by Christmas.

Make sure you check out the validity of any organization you wish to donate to sadly there are some that are hoaxes like sending mail to Walter Reed, and there are some that do not get where you think they should go. Please check into any program you come across that proclaims itself as being a charity or organization for helping anyone.

A little note on the video and song "A Soldier's Silent Night"
The poem was originally titled "Merry Christmas, My Friend" and written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1987. The audio recording was done by Father Ted Berndt and his daughter Ellen Stout in one take. Father Berndt has since passed away in 2004, but his life's mission lives on - "to touch lives and make a difference."

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Chanukah Ham...Is It A Hoax? A Little Holiday Humor

Today I opened up facebook and was greeted by this picture one of my friends posted. Hysterical--->

The tag line on it read: Dear Walmart, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. Love, The Jews.

This is a true case of not knowing your audience. And hopefully striking funny bones and not stepping on toes.

Being the unobservant Jew that I am, (while born Jewish, I have more Christmas lights on my house right now than Santa's landing strip in the North Pole) I'm still culturally Jewish. I'm aware of most of the traditions, and things that are considered off limits in the Jewish religion.....ummmm ham is one of those things.

For anyone in the dark about this, ham numbers among the most identifiable "not kosher" things that exist. There are a myriad of Kosher laws, and we could get into a whole dissertation....but we won't. However for most gentiles (those are non-Jews) unless you live under a rock you more than likely have heard something or another about Jews and ham not going together. It's definitely not a peanut butter and jelly scenario.

The humorous irony this picture represented was enough to have me pushing the "share" button. Then I saw several other people re-post it on their walls, just as I had done earlier.

I began to think wow this thing is funny, it's got the makings of something that could and would go viral. And as I thought about it, long after I posted it, I thought gosh, I really should look and make sure it's not a hoax. Normally I'm on top of something like that if it's political and sent by my mother.

If it's humorous like this, it sometimes flies under my radar, and I don't think to check it out for accuracy. I've been lulled by the fake Church Sign gag, or Catholic/Presbyterian Church Sign Wars. With that in mind I wanted to do my due diligence and check this one out.

Sooo I began my little research project on it. Here's what I found:
  • The picture was taken in 2007
  • It was at Balducci's, a specialty grocery store in Manhattan (not Walmart)
  • The photo was taken by NancyKay Shapiro a writer in NY
  • She now has retired off selling gag gifts on Cafe Press (Just kidding but I'm sure it hasn't hurt supplementing her income with these novelties)
  • The head of the marketing department for the grocery store issued an apology on the company website and said employee training would be reviewed
So while funny, it's old. The person who added the comment about Walmart starts to move it into the inaccurate arena. Will it eventually end up on Yep it already has. And it's marked as true. (Check out the church sign wars on Snopes)

Hopefully no one takes offense to this post and just enjoys the humor in it, and remember it happened 3 years ago. I find it amazing that someone in a New York food store had no idea that ham was not Kosher. On that note, make sure you enjoy your Ham for Chanukah. Top it with cheese, it's delicious.

Happy 6th night of Chanukah.

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Pay it Forward: Random Acts of Kindness and Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Hey folks did you get the invitation? It's circulating around Facebook and it's about Pay it Forward day.

If you haven't seen the movie it will make you cry! And then it will make you think why don't more people do this kind of thing on a daily basis. What a better world we'd live in.

I need your help paying it forward today.

Every year there is a Dream Home giveaway in Hampton Roads for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This year's Dream Home is being built by
Stephen Alexander Homes and Neighborhoods. Besides just raffling off this beautiful home, there are 22 other prizes valued at $1000 that are also raffled off leading up to the big prize. Not only is this an amazing opportunity to do good, but it is also an amazing advertising opportunity for those 22 businesses. Right now they only have 12 local businesses signed up for the $1000 donation of services, merchandise, and gifts. They need 10 more by Monday, the deadline to get on all their printed materials. Here's what you get as a business if you make a $1000 donation toward a raffle prize.

Your company will be recognized as an official prize sponsor of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway throughout the entire four-month campaign. During that period, your company will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Include sponsor on 250,000 direct mail pieces, event brochures and posters.
  • Promote prize sponsor as “official prize sponsor” in addition to the St. Jude Dream Home house.
  • Name mention on official St. Jude Dream Home website,, throughout the duration of the campaign.
  • Name mention on Official Prize Sponsor sign in front of the St. Jude Dream Home house.
  • Opportunity to display promotional items at the open houses.
  • Name mention on placard inside home to be viewed during open houses by 5,000-7,000 visitors over an approximate 6 week period.
  • Name mention on Open House Booklet along with donated prize to be viewed during open houses by 5,000-7,000 visitors over an approximate 6 week period.
  • Invitation to campaign events such as the VIP Sneak Peek and post-campaign thank you party.
  • Opportunity for one-(1) representative from your company to appear on camera during the live WTKR NewsChannel 3 /St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway on May 8, 2011.
  • Name mention in the credits at the conclusion of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway special.

This kind of advertising would cost you thousands of dollars on your own.

St. Jude was founded by Actor Danny Thomas in 1960. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the charity ranked highest in trust in the nation, according to public survey. Peter Decker founded the South Eastern Virginia Board in the 1980's and the organization is honored to be a part of Danny Thomas' Dream, "No Child Should Die, in the Dawn of Life."

This is a great way to Pay it Forward today. I hope to hear from you if you'd like more details! Hit me up on my email leahATbluegypsyincDOTcom.

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What Level Do You Live On?

As we wind down the year, and especially during this season of giving, not only is it a great time to take stock of how we met our goals on a business level, but also on a personal level. It's also the time of year to be calibrating those goals for next year.

It's important to set both business goals and personal goals.

But sometimes it's hard to decide or understand the importance of what kind of goals will help move us along in our lives.

I often wonder how many people take time out of their busy lives to contemplate the ultimate goal. Where they really want to be, what truly is important in life to achieve.

Some people get stuck on certain levels. This happens mostly because they are not aware of creating a path through life. There's an importance to setting goals for many aspects of life. It's easy to stagnate at a certain level simply by ignoring important aspects of life while in pursuit of other levels.

Let me explain. I remember years ago while I was still traveling around the world and sailing, I was working with non-profit organizations and teaching teenagers a myriad of experiences on boats, from scuba diving to environmental education. I was taking a break and visiting my father in Rockville when he said, "You know, you live your life at the highest level of the pyramid." He proceeded to explain to me the five levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Just as a quick overview, Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who introduced this concept in 1943 in his paper, A Theory of Human Motivation. The gist of it was that Maslow envisioned human motivation as a pyramid with the most basic needs at the bottom, as the foundation and self-actualization at the top.
  • First we must fill our Physiological Needs - Food, water, air, sleep, and warmth. Without achieving these everything else is secondary.
  • The next level is Security Needs - this is comprised of money, job, health, secure neighborhoods and a roof over your head.
  • Once these are fulfilled needs such as Social Needs begin to take priority - the need for love, friendship, manifested through involvement with social, religious and community groups.
  • This kind of involvement leads into Esteem Needs - these needs encompass self worth, a need for social recognition and acceptance.
  • But the highest level of the pyramid is the one that interests me the most. Self-Actualizing Needs. People who are operating on this level have shed concern for what other people think, and work toward their purest potential. They are self aware and begin to work on a level not only for themselves but for others. Not because they are seeking approval, but because it's part of full-filling their ultimate potential.
When my father said I lived at the top of the pyramid, he meant that he saw someone who was no longer concerned about what other people thought. I was living in the moment not conforming to the traditional expectations and completely immersed in experiencing the world moment by moment.

Because of these world and life experiences I developed a deep empathy for others, and was always on a quest on how I could help or do good for others. Not for the approval of others, but for the sheer experience of giving.

When you give of yourself unconditionally you get back 10 fold. But it's not always a quantifiable item you get back. And really those are the best kind.

I have to admit though, it's not always easy to stay at the higher levels of the pyramid. When we get involved beyond our needs to our wants we can get stuck in the lower levels. Missing the point of the possibilities of progressing to the higher levels. Please don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with focusing on the levels which involve security and social needs. But once you experience what it's like to shed some of the baggage that goes along with these levels;
  • The petty bickering
  • Concern with what other people think of you
  • One ups contests in business and friendships
  • Gossip
  • Keeping up with the Jones
You start to get down to the root of what really makes you happy. Your higher cause if you will. What makes you truly tick. I've found these moments sitting on a rock near a river in Lesotho, sitting on a beach during a lightning storm in Australia, sitting on the bow of a sail boat at anchor under a star-filled sky.

I've found that joy talking about all the possibilities of life with teenagers while sitting in a trampoline on the bow of a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, seeing how people improve their lives by educating themselves about crops in coffee fields in La Paz Honduras, seeing the sense of discovery in the face of a child in poverty with a camera in their hand documenting their life in the city dump in Guatemala City.

I find that joy again as I get involved with projects and people who are giving of themselves to help others. More and more since I've been able to break away from the rat race of an office cubicle work which I experienced briefly. I'm able to get back to that place where I can figure out how to give back. Which for me is what is ultimately fulfilling.

So it's that time of year to take stock of what you are doing, where you are going and where you want to be. And it may be helpful to examine what level you live on, and where you think you might want to go.

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Epic Change: Small Donations Create Cumulative Effects In The World

I can't believe it was just one year ago that I was arranging Tweetsgiving in Virginia Beach with my friends Sonya Schweitzer and Karen Clements at Gordon Biersch. It was a wonderful evening of positive energy for an amazing cause to help build schools in Africa through Epic Change, a 501 (c) 3 organization, while giving thanks for all the things we have in life.

I'm grateful that we were able to be a part of building schools and libraries in Tanzania Africa last year.

This year has been a whirl wind. First starting Blue Gypsy Inc, then moving to Northern Virginia. Time flew by as I hopped back and forth between Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia while creating the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest. The Bluesfest is now moving in the direction to become an ongoing way to give back to Habitat for Humanity SHR and the Natchel' Blues Network.

Now it's already Thanksgiving again. This is a special time of year for me. Not only because it's a time to reflect, give thanks, and be grateful for all the things I have in life, both relationships and the ability to achieve my goals, but also because it's my father's birthday. Dad's birthday always falls somewhere on or near Thanksgiving. He's been such a positive influence in my life, not just as my dad, but as my mentor.

Three years ago I started the tradition on my father's 70th birthday of giving a nice donation to a worthy cause.

On his 70th I made a donation to the Food Bank so that other families could enjoy thanksgiving meals, something many of us sometimes take for granted. The growing number of people who are depending on the Food Bank in this current economy is staggering. To contribute to a Food Bank nearby you can go to Feeding America.

Last year for my father's birthday I made a contribution to Epic Change, the organization who started the tweetsgiving initiative, a global celebration of gratitude and giving. Because of timing this year I wasn't able to actively plan a tweetsgiving. If I were in Virginia Beach right now I'd be heading off this evening to the Geekette's Fun'd'raiser. Sonya and Karen are planning an event tonight for both The Geekette's Club, and for ForKids two amazing local non-profits helping women and children.

Just last week I was saying that I need to decide on an organization to make my annual donation to for my father's birthday.

Isn't it funny how things come into your life for a reason. I was at the airport looking for a book at a small news stand kiosk as I took off on my vacation to Dominican Republic. As usual nothing jumped out at me until I saw The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. Recently I'd seen an interview with the author and knew it was the only thing on these shelves I had any interest in reading. This amazing triumph of the human spirit over adversity during famine and hardship in Malawi Africa reminds me how important my annual contributions are in honor of my father.

As I read about the true story of William Kamkwamba, and his struggles for education in Africa I know that I don't just have to be a passive observer. There are so many ways that we can give back to help with education in Africa. Through Epic Change you can make a donation as I did last year to help build schools in Tanzania. There are so many more great organizations as well. Another charity I'd like to get involved with is Room to Read building schools across Africa and Asia. The Central Asia Institute is another powerful force in education across Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While trying to decide which charity to choose, I did a little bit more digging and now I've found this year's cause to donate to for my father, Moving Windmills.

Moving Windmills Project supports Malawian-run rural economic development and education projects in Malawi, with the goals of community economic independence and self-sustainability; food, water and health security; and educational success. Moving Windmills Project is inspired by the story of William Kamkwamba, a remarkable young man from a remote village north of Malawi’s capital city. Forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds, William turned to self-education and, after seeing a picture of a windmill in a textbook, decided to build one to power his family’s home.

So now, in addition to making my Food Bank donation and my donation to Epic Change. I plan to make a donation to Moving Windmills as well.

Each small donation to any of these organizations is cumulative. There is none too small. It will all add to the whole which creates amazing changes for people.

As I look around me there are so many great people and organizations doing great things to help create change; to help ease the burden around them on many levels. I am thankful to be a part of that. For me it's hard to pick just one cause. And as I work toward starting my own non-profit I ask myself do I have to choose just one cause? How can I create a non-profit that raises funds for many organizations already in existence doing great things? This is one of my missions for 2011 as I move forward toward creating something to assist with other amazing organizations doing great things.

I don't need to re-create the wheel. I am thankful that there are so many organizations out there that give back. Perhaps my real mission is bringing all of those resources together in one place where people can all help create change.

Thanksgiving is always a great time of year to reflect on these ideas, and move forward. Okay now I'm off to go make a donation...or two....or honor of my father.

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What Do You Think Of Random Friend Requests From Random Strangers?

When I was a kid I liked to pull things apart and see how they worked. That meant that I had stuffed animals that had their little sound makers taken out of them, and ballerina music boxes that no longer played swan lake.

I just like to know what makes things (And people) tick.

One of the things that makes me go hmmmm the most in Social Media, is the random friend requests from complete strangers who don’t explain themselves. I understand that many people use facebook for social networking...I do too. But when I come across someone I want to know, who I haven’t met before, or even someone I’ve met in person at a social networking event...99% of the time I put a little personal note in letting them know how they know me, why I know them, or why I’d like to connect with them.

I think this is a common courtesy.

You don’t just walk up to a stranger on the bus and say I’d like access to personal information about you, just because. That’s kind of what you are doing when you request someone’s friendship on facebook with out explaining why.

However sometimes I just go ahead and accept people’s friendships as I did recently. At the beginning of the day a request came in from someone who knew 4 other people I did..... By the end of the day this person was friends with 30 people I knew.

And already I’d received an annoying gaming request, something equivalent to Farmville.

So I decided to do some dissecting. I sent a private message.

So XXXXX, today you sent me a friend request, and I refrained from asking why? I often do wonder why people randomly send friend requests to total strangers with no explanation.

Throughout the day you've gone from knowing 4 other people I know to now 30.....all I can tell from your profile is that you like playing games on fb...and in fact sent me some kind of game request....(which by the way I don't play online games on fb)

Just trying to understand the point of your amassing of friends on fb. Would love some insight. I find it interesting and would love to get a little idea about it.

The only reply: The more friends on FB, the more to share gaming with. I take it you don't play games.

Okay to me that’s just annoying then, you just want to play anonymous games with people, really that's why you are randomly asking to be friends? So I sent the following reply.

No actually I don't game, and the interesting thing is, that as I see the people you've friended, half of them are busy business people, or social media and marketing people that I suspect do not have the time to game on fb either, and about a quarter of them are businesses that also don't play games online. So I'm curious how you choose whom you are going to send friend requests to.

(Please know that all these questions are just so that I can understand the logic and perhaps write a blog post about it)

I'm a firm believer in using facebook as a social networking tool for business and that's why I sometimes accept the friend requests of people I don't know.

Do you think you'd be more likely to get people that will be of the same mindset you are for using facebook if you were to put in the friend request field that you are interested in gaming and if they are too then you'd like to be friends?

Just curious?

And the reply.... a typed: no reply, please don't reply back.

Oh I'm sorry I think I hurt the gamers feelings with a logical question. I don't think my question was rude, and after all, the dialogue was opened when the request was sent from the other side. If I'm going to be bombarded with game requests, I will return in kind by bombarding with questions to understand this human's reasoning. Was I prying into this person’s privacy with my questions? Was questioning their reasons wrong?

Why do you request a stranger’s friendship on facebook? And do you think it’s necessary or even desirable to tell people why you want to be friends? Really just like with the gamer, I'm curious.

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November: Two Powerful Days of Reflection

In November there are two very powerful days of reflection. One just passed, Veterans Day. And one coming up in 10 more days. Thanksgiving. The following video drives home some powerful points to reflect on for both.

These are secular holidays. These are days that effect all Americans and have so much to do with how we came to survive in this land, and how we continue to do so thanks to those who make sacrifices for our freedoms.

Thanksgiving is a no brain-er. It's gotten enough marketing over the years that it's a household event in every home across the nation. Most everyone has a turkey to celebrate, gets together with family, and talks about giving thanks for the important things in life.

I can honestly say that until recent years, Veterans Day didn't have as much of an impact on me.

As a kid it was one more day off of school. That was cool! And as a young adult it probably passed often without any ceremony or moment of reflection. No more days off, a lot less PR, and most importantly I think I, like so many Americans, was so removed from Veterans that it didn't have a direct influence on my life. I was very distanced from anyone who served and I didn't realize the full ramifications of what veterans have gone through, and how they've impacted my life and my freedoms.

My own personal epiphany happened about 5 years ago.

I never had much direct contact with anyone in the military until I met Chris, and his amazing family with a long history of serving in the military, for our freedoms. A member of his family has served in just about every war we've gone through to create the freedoms that we are thankful for on Thanksgiving. And that many take for granted. I'm reminded every day of the sacrifices that our veterans go through when I see Chris dressed in his uniform every morning.

When I hear about the hardships his friends are dealing with away from families, newborns, wives and lives as they head off to Iraq and Afghanistan, it reminds me that they are doing this for me. And for people like me.

Until meeting Chris this never effected me, but often I'll see men and woman in uniform and I get a lump in my throat. Because now I know better. Now I am aware.

Being with Chris over the past 5 years has been an awakening of understanding and compassion toward our troops and what they go through. The following video from Ex-Con's Thanksgiving apology to the troops drives home the point that not everyone immediately realizes where our freedom comes from or what it means to have men and women sacrifice for us on a daily basis.

But when we have that epiphany it can be a powerful moment. It can be a turning point for some and a way to look into ourselves and ask, "What kind of difference can I make? Many people out there are sacrificing for me, doing something for me. What can I do to give back?"

This is worth a watch. What are you thankful for? Do you see places in your life where you already give back to others like the soldiers do for us? Is there more that you'd like to do?

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Ya Gotta have A Plan: Goal Setting and Business Planning

To expand on my last blog post about creating a vision, the end of the year is always a good time to examine goal setting techniques, business planning, and creative visualization.

This is true both for our personal lives and for our business lives. And the techniques are surprisingly the same.

There are a couple of key points to include when creating business and personal goals for yourself. This is part of the road map to get from where you are, to where you want to be.

On a personal level, you can't just say I want to be 40 pounds lighter by the end of next year and then "Throw positive energy up in the world" and hope things will change. Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of positive energy!

The same thing goes for business planning. You can't just say, "I wanna be a billionaire, so fricken bad." (thanks Travie McCoy) There has to be a plan!

If you've read past posts from me, you know that one of my strongest beliefs is that positive energy creates positive thoughts, positive thoughts create positive ideas, positive ideas create positive actions, and positive actions create positive results.

But look at that formula. There are several steps past just positive energy and becoming a billionaire or skinny. You need to progress through all those steps in order to achieve that goal. In order to get to the end goal it's important to spend time developing a road map: a plan. There needs to be a directed flow of that positive energy.

So we all know with the weight loss example above you can't just simply put positive energy into the universe and change your body. You need to create the road map for success. First create the framework of the plan that will lead to success. Those elements may include.
  • Getting off my butt and exercising more
  • Eating healthier
  • Drinking more water
  • Gauging the effects of what I'm doing and making adjustments (Weighing and measuring yourself)
Okay so now you've jotted down a list of things you have to do in order to achieve that weight loss goal. Does it stop there? (I hope your answer is no)

Those are the thoughts: Now you need the ideas. How am I going to get there....

Getting off my butt and exercising.... Will one day a week make a difference? Will 3 days a week make a difference. And even more important if you jump right in to a 6 day a week workout will you loose your steam before winning the race? What do you need in order to move forward with this plan?
  • You could join a gym and go to classes 3-5 days a week
  • Commit to 30 minutes a day of walking (outside or on a treadmill)
  • Dust off the exercise videos and get up early 3 days a week and put on your spandex
I'm sure there are many more ideas to achieve this goal that you can add to the list.

This may just be the beginning stages of fleshing out our plan. These examples may be followed by....for the first 60 days to start forming better habits, then I will add more. By creating the whole plan in your mind and on paper. You begin to solidify that visualization of the idea. The more detailed the plan the more easy it is to follow. And also the more you break it down into manageable steps, the less likely you are to give up on it before reaching the target.

Do the same thing for the next element of making it to your end goal.

Eating healthier and drinking more water. That can be a pretty arbitrary goal. It's important first to identify what it is that you are doing that's not working and then figure out how to change it. So some of the steps to eating healthier may be as follows:

  • Write down what you are eating (Be honest with yourself)
  • Research or find an expert to help look at your current diet
  • Start making adjustments accordingly

Only with the knowledge of what you are doing, can you start to adjust that and make the changes necessary to help change for the better. One of my favorite quotes really hammers this point home.

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." - Anthony Robbins.

Finally it's important to test and measure your results.

If we stick with the weight loss analogy, then it's easy enough, you get on the scale, and you take a tape measure and check things out from time to time. But with any goal setting you need to know when and how to measure results. Do you get on the scale everyday expecting to see change over night. (Some of us do, but it will probably be a frustrating endeavor) Likewise do you only weight yourself once a month? This may not be often enough because you aren't fine tuning those adjustments that may need to be made in your diet and exercise to reach the end goal.

This is always the toughest. The measuring and reporting. The not frustrating yourself if you don't see changes immediately. So in the case of most goal setting, you can, and should, create mini goals. With the weight-loss scenario you can say 1 pound a week, 40 pounds 40 weeks.

If you are trying to get rich you can say one new client per month. (And of course you have to have the plan on how you are going to procure that new client)

This is just one way to take an idea from energy and vision through execution and fruition. But don't forget to add the dedication, the positive intention, and the willpower to do it. You can create plans all day long, but if you are waiting around for someone else to do it for you, or for it just to happen to you, it's likely going to stagnate.

By reading your plan once a day or at the very minimum once a week, and reminding yourself that the intention is to stick to these goals, then you will achieve your vision. Whether it's achieving weight loss, increasing your client base, becoming a billionaire, or even becoming famous, have a clear cut path to get from point A to point Z.

Notice I didn't say point A to point B. All too often people jump from the idea to the end without putting those important building blocks in place to create the solid foundation necessary to reach their goals.

The secret to success is taking the time to identify those critical building blocks, and to put them in an order of priority. It will only make the plan stronger and more complete in the end. Remember, the more detailed you can be in the visualization, the more likely you will be to achieve that goal.

What is your goal?

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Don't Know If You Noticed But.....

I took about a month off of blogging, and clammed up on tweeting as well. I'm not going to lie, the bluesfest took a lot of energy out of me. Doing it all was exhausting and I've taken the last month to regroup.

The Bluesfest went from vision to reality because I set a goal for myself to do it, and then progressed through the process of visualizing it, and creating it. While it was an amazing experience it was a huge learning curve and needed a lot of positive energy and focus in order to make it happen. I am pleased with the outcome. We had 350 people come out for the event, we grossed over $14,500 and fun was had by all....other than locking my keys in the trunk of my car at the end of the day I was very happy with the culmination of my vision, and I am moving forward to make this an annual event.

After the event was over, I pulled back, regrouped with my current clients to make sure I was putting forth the effort they deserved, and I've also taken on several new clients. Since the art of lead management is a time consuming process I allowed social media to fall by the wayside a bit. I needed to find a way to get some balance. It was a bit of a social media break....other than facebook, but even there I wasn't my usual chatty self for the past month.

There have been a lot of stresses, both work related and home. Some of that stress has been released with the success of the first annual Blue Gypsy Bluesfest, and the fact that we've finally re-rented our home in Norfolk.

Now I'm getting back into the swing of things, and beginning to set some goals as 2011 approaches.

I've got a lot of new things going on besides new clients going into the new year. They should make for some good lessons learned. And some interesting things to write about. Some of the highlights are:
  • I've started to create Wordpress websites for small businesses, on small budgets
  • I'm working on starting up a non-profit to do fund raising events for charities
  • I've taken over a Meet Up: The Woodbridge Ladies Get Up and Get Out Meetup
  • I'm doing some marketing and branding for small businesses, on small budgets
These are just a few of the things I'm adding to my plate for the coming 2011. With these new projects and ideas, new goals are being formulated.

Here are a couple of great goal setting exercises I used to teach teens and I think it's pretty effective:
  • Visualize in detail your goal
  • Write it down on a slip of paper that will fit in your wallet in as much detail as possible
  • Make another copy of it and put it on your mirror
  • Read your goal to yourself once a day and envision what it will feel like when you achieve your goal
This is not just goal setting but utilizing creative visualization to achieve your goals. But now here's the harder part. You can't just think about it and visualize it, you have to put positive energy and actions behind that goal or it becomes only a wish.

With energy and effort you will reach your goals. Getting toward the end of the year it always becomes a great time to think about the upcoming goals for the next. Start thinking! Start doing!

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Blue Gypsy Bluesfest: Success! Planning for Next Year!

The first annual Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was a success!!! We had 350 people at the event and we were able to raise money for both charities!

It was no small feat to put together an event of that magnitude all by myself, but as I've said before I had so much help from all the positive feedback and energy and ideas that were generated by those who participated. But only one person truly knows all the energy, effort and time that went into this event other than myself. That would be Chris, my very best friend in this world and wonderful life partner. When he said, "If I didn't know you did all this yourself, I would have thought it was an event that was done by a professional," That made me feel so good.

When another of my closest friends, Sonya Schweitzer, who also knew all the blood sweat and tears that went into it said, "Look around, you created all this." It was the the first time the whole day I actually had an emotional wave wash over me. (Unusual that it didn't happen sooner, for me who cries at dog food commercials...)

This was the first of many events I hope to put together for charity. And the common theme for me is one I used to teach to students on sailing and diving programs. The ripple effect. I feel that when we put forth positive energy in the world it circles out like the ripples in a pond when a rock is thrown. We never know who we may touch and what may be in store, but if we keep moving forward toward the greatest good, we can't go wrong.

That's what I hope to do in the future with more Blue Gypsy Bluesfests and other great events! So keep your eyes open and your ears pealed. We're about to do great things.

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The Energy Is Building! Can You Feel It?

It's amazing, the positive things that can happen when people come together under the umbrella of a great cause. Blue Gypsy Bluesfest is almost here. I can't believe this event that started with me saying, "Let's Have A Party and give back to Habitat for Humanity" Has taken on such a life of it's own.

It's funny. I've had people ask me if I'm the Promoter for the event. Well, I guess so...I mean I wrote all the copy on the website, have written all the blog posts, the tweets, the face book updates, wrote the press releases, sent them out to everyone under the sun, harassed people on facebook to get it into their feeds (I say that lovingly, I really hope no one felt harassed...rather I believe they "Caught" my enthusiasm.

But then there is the whole element of the event taking on a life of it's own. People caught the energy the enthusiasm and the focus of a great cause and took the ball and ran with it.

VBNightlife has helped me out so much and gave the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest a huge promo in the Weekend Update!

I've gotten to hang out on the Blues Traffic Jam twice now with Jerry Carter on WFOS 88.7. I never knew how much I'd love radio, but it's more about hanging out with Jerry. I'm so glad he'll be the MC for the event.

But it's more than that. Today I got a phone call from a guy who'd read about it in the "Navy" Paper....I'm still not sure which military publication it was that picked my press release up and ran with it....but Yippeee!!!

And then after running around all day picking up items for silent auction, signs and banners for the event, and talking on the radio (not to mention everything else) I was checking in at the hotel Because I just can't do one more drive back to Mathews County before the event, and the guy in line next to me said, "Blue Gypsy Bluesfest, I read about that in the Pulse today." WOW that's exciting!

Alt Daily put it in Reasons To Leave Your House This Weekend and the Beacon put it in their facebook feed since they weren't able to get anything in to the Paper this week. Several reporters will be out checking out this first time event.

It's just amazing how the energy is carrying this event on and each and every individual who is talking about it and getting the word out about it is adding more positive energy. That's what I'm talking about! Use that positive energy to create positive thoughts, Positive thoughts to create positive ideas, those positive ideas to create positive actions, positive actions to create positive results.

I hope everyone who can will come out this weekend and enjoy the festival. With Blues, BBQ, the Petting Zoo, Corn Hole, Amazing artists and businesses, and a growing list of great items in the Silent Auction you won't be able to help but have a good time.

Just mention you saw something about this event at the gate and only pay $40 at the door. That includes all your BBQ, two drinks and tons of fun. And you'll have fun while giving back to Habitat for Humanity and The Nachel' Blues Network.

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Do You Have your Ticket's Yet? I Have Mine!

Do you have your tickets yet? I have mine! In fact I was the very first ticket purchased online for the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest, and at the rate my procrastinating boyfriend is going, he'll be the last!

Here's the ticket site! Click here for Blue Gypsy Bluesfest Tickets. Use the discount code: habitat4blues and get 20% off tickets online.

If you are a last minute shopper the code will take $15 off the prices at the door (You're getting a better value if you buy them now!)

If you do or don't have your ticket yet there's a lot of fun in store for you. If you hadn't heard, we've got Gordon Biersch beer at the event, along with Bud Light thanks to the hard work of Aimee, the Social Media Director for Gordon Biersch. She's going to be out there serving it, she's putting great items and goodies into your welcome bag and if that wasn't enough she's donating a "Year of Beer" to the silent auction. We just love Gordon Biersch, especially Aimee and Mike who have helped to make this an amazing day.

Wait your asking what's the "welcome" bag....

well make sure you get to the event right at the start because the first 500 people there, (not the first 500 who have purchased tickets because sorry folks we just can't track that!) will get a goody bag! In the interest of going green you'll get your drinking vessel, a nice plastic beer stein from the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest. And many of the businesses and people who have made this possible will be giving you goodies, coupons and info as well, all right there in your magic bag.

You'll also get a couple of other things when you check in. You'll get 2 free drink tickets, after that any beverages you buy, the proceeds will go to the charities. But really important, you'll get your punch card and voting ticket for the "Battle of the BBQ"

This card is your free pass to visit all 5 BBQ competitors - Mick's Too, Mojo Bones, Jake's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, Big Knife Cooking, and Smokey Bones. It's a punch card, so you can only visit each stand once, but believe me you are going to get plenty of food! They'll be giving you pork BBQ and 2 sides each. But remember, your picking your favorite pork! The side dishes are just the icing on the cake. OOOOh and speaking of icing, you're punch card will also have a picture of a cupcake, and Just Cupcakes on there. That gives you 1 free cupcake as well! (there will only be 500 out there so get your cupcake early!) When their gone, they are gone and we thank Carla at Just Cupcakes for her generous donation!

Each food stand will be punching your card so please be patient and make sure you keep it handy.

There's a vote ticket attached to your punch card and when your belly is full please detach your ticket and drop it in the vote jar for your favorite. This BBQ competition is serious stuff! The winner will get a plaque and bragging rights at least until next year.

We have so many wonderful businesses that have made this event possible. Sajo Farm, one of our sponsors, is the most award-winning community in Virginia Beach, featuring single family homes and paired homes boarding the shores of Lake Lawson. More man made lakes pepper the community to make it a beautiful retreat just 10 minutes from Town Center. You'll get an inside look at the community as a slide show takes you on a virtual tour while you wait in line for your BBQ.

We have other great folks out at the event that can provide you with more information on buying or selling a home, or they can help someone you know who is looking for great people to sell there homes. Two of my favorite Realtors, Chris Faircloth of Realty Executives and Lisa Burrow of ReMax Alliance will have information for you. (how I've rented my home in the past) is a great resource and they will be out there as well. Jim McNees of Union Mortgage will be out hanging around the Corn Hole (And possibly running the tournament for charity)

If you aren't going anywhere but looking to upgrade the home you're already in Bath Fitters will let you in on some inexpensive ways to make some changes and updates. While the Roofing Company and Remodeling Company won't be out there the day of, Jim Hicks has been great at getting the word out through his Radio Show, Hampton Roads Home Pros on WNIS.

There are actually a lot of great people who have gotten involved to get the word out for the event! Groupon ran a side deal for 5 days with great ticket prices. Nicole Maxino of VBNightlife and Norfolk Nightlife has put the word out all over her popular websites, and on facebook, and when I put out a call for more donations for the silent auction for Habitat for Humanity she was all about helping! The same goes for Fox43! We are so excited that we will have The Face Of Fox out at our event, and Sirece will be out there with the Hampton Roads Show Cube with some fun giveaways. Splash Magazine has published several articles in it's last two issues about the event and Jerry Carter on WFOS 88.7 the Blues Traffic Jam from 3pm-7pm weekdays has been talking up a storm about us.

There are ticket giveaways on 88.7, The Hampton Roads Show, and in Hampton Roads Magazine! The word is out! The cause is amazing, the day is going to be beautiful. I hope if you're planning on being there.

Not only will there be tasty BBQ, awesome Beer, and incredible Blues, but also we've got some great artists and vendors who will be out at the event. And if Beer is not your cup of tea, the folks from Holly Grove Vineyard on the Eastern Shore coming out to sell wine. They are also generously donating to the silent auction.

While you sip your beer, your wine, or one of the Pepsi products that have been donated, then you can browse through artists like Bill Campbell and his amazing pastel drawings, Gail Cunningham and her peaceful paintings of the water, Timothy Trout's metal sculptures, Rita Cutler's amazing Whiskey Bottle Art glass windows (I wish I was as talented as she is) Mandy Oram-Smith, who doesn't make a piece of jewelry I don't want to buy will be out there with her Wild Flower Jewelry, Creations from the Heart will have some wonderful custom pieces commemorating your favorite teams. Via Creativa will have a wonderful sampling of all the hand made crafts they sell from artists in Central and South America and more.

Essential Wellness will have chair massages and good energy all around and they are donating a gift card to the Silent Auction so you'll be able to get a feel for what you will be bidding on. We have some other great vendors like The Flea Market at SONO who is not only donating a couple of great items to the silent auction, they will help fun it. And other vendors like Evelyn with her magic water beads great for your plants. We hope you will come out to enjoy the whole experience. The petting zoo will be available so don't feel like you have to leave the kids behind, there will be something for everyone!

See you at the festival!

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10 Days Until The Blue Gypsy Bluesfest: Giving Thanks to The BBQ Competitors

Six months of planning is coming to fruition in just 10 more days. This has been one of the steepest learning curves putting together an event of this magnitude. The thing that has kept me moving along is that it's for such an amazing cause. Habitat for Humanity.

I've met so many wonderful people who have put their great energy along side mine, not just for the advertising, but also because they believed in the idea and the spirit behind this event. What better way to give then to have fun while doing it!

So many things are coming together at the last moment. So many great local businesses and people are donating to the charity silent auction. We are definitely going to have Corn Hole there to play. We may even (If I can find someone to run it) Have a tournament...but honestly I know nothing about corn hole competition. But hey, I didn't know anything about BBQ competition either when I started this whole thing (errr still don't) But I felt strongly about putting together a friendly (Even though I was told there is no friendly in BBQ) competition with a people's choice element. And slowly one by one the BBQ restaurants caught my fever and joined in.

The first BBQ restaurant to throw their hat into the ring was Mick's Too. They are around the corner from my old house in Norfolk, and when I talked to Mike, one of the owners, on the phone and told him what I was doing for charity he didn't even hesitate. He was all for supporting habitat for humanity, and his wife and partner Angel has lived up to her name. I always feel a warmth of great energy wash over me when I walk in there.

The second BBQ restaurant to agree to participate, Mojo Bones, was another risk taker. It was a lot to ask the two restaurants to participate with out any security that more restaurants would join in, and Don, the owner of Mojo Bones, also in Ocean View, and now with a second location in ODU, was willing to do it no matter whether any other restaurants joined in, or not. The early competitors agreed to provide all the food.

Then Kevin over at Jake's BBQ just around the corner from Hunt Club Farm, where we are having the event, said sure he'd love to. Again such nice energy over the phone and even nicer energy when I finally met him in person only last week!

Number four. The Guys at Big Knife Cooking, just coming off a fundraiser of their own, Ribs for Kids for CHKD (Another of my favorite charities) also have such big hearts. Here they were just in one charity fundraiser and they didn't seem to think twice about saying yes to getting involved in ours! They cater parties, and do competitions and it looks like their BBQ may be coming to the snack shack inside the Flea Market at SONO. So great things are happening.

Our final contender in this year's BBQ competition is Smokey Bones near Town Center. I confirmed their entry while at a family wedding in Colorado. Talk about stress taking off for a week with less than a month to go before the charity event! When I finally sat down with Mike and Mike, two of the managers at Smokey Bones, I realized I was in the presence of yet more great energy. Everyone was excited and the energy keeps building.

So this is just the great folks who have gotten involved from the BBQ side! I can't even begin to tell you about all the other wonderful folks. At least not in this blog post because a long day of getting the word out about the event has me tired out. More information to come about everyone else involved in this spectacular event.

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Social Media Marketing: Like Herding Cats?

This just tickled my funny bone and I thought I would share it for all those social media marketing pros out there.

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From The Archives: Social MeetUps and TweetUps - Are They Like Online Dating?

Attending a meet up is a great way to meet people in-person who are interested and involved with social media in the Tidewater Area. It also reminded me a bit of the time I spent internet dating...

When I embarked on my social media exploration I began following people with knowledge and expertise in several fields of interest. The great thing was I was not bound by their locality. I could follow, friend, and learn from anyone any where. At first, being such a newbie, I didn't know how to find the local social media people.

Little by little through involvement with various groups like The Hampton Roads Marketing and Technology Group, New Media Conventions and Now Social Media Club Virginia Beach, I've met some amazing people who have taught me so much in just a few short months. (Don't worry I'm still not an expert nor a guru, but I am quite a bit more informed)

Some local people I know in person, like @socialsonya of Wave Marketing -- I've learned buckets from her! Other people I've only followed through true SM channels such as facebook and twitter.

Social networking MeetUps and TweetUps remind me a bit of the 3 phases of online dating.

Phase 1: The Detective
- You find out about people in online dating the same way you would in SM networking. Most people use some variation on the list below to decide if they are worthy enough for you to follow, friend, learn from...or date?

  • A Picture - Funny, goofy, serious, or otherwise this is what we picture when we read posts, write responses etc. This is the vision we are talking to in SM.
  • A Profile - Entertaining, intelligent, professional, intriguing...depending on what we are looking for profiles help us decide if we will fan, follow, retweet or contact.
  • Sources - Once we make contact we may use different media outlets to see if people are who they say they are. Remember, Google is your friend. People do research.
  • Followers - Do friends, fans, and followers overlap our own? Often times you are judged by the company you keep in the REAL world and online.
  • Do Things Match Up - Does your language and the way you carry yourself online match the bio, profiles, and information on the web for public consumption? Or are you a stack of contradictions?

Once you narrow down the pool with the techniques used above, reading profiles, finding similar interests a couple scenarios unfold. In both SM and in online dating, you may find the person lacking and unworthy of your attention and energy. No harm no fowl. Or you may want to move on to phase 2 Getting To Know You.

Of course in both online dating and in SM we meet in virtual spaces first during the getting to know you phase. And for many reasons in both situations we never meet in person.

Phase 2: Getting to Know You
- With online dating, through trial and error I devised these 3 rules, almost in complete contradiction of social media networking.
  • Rule 1: Keep Your Emailing And Online Chat To A Minimum - (I know sounds crazy! Aren't we talking about socializing online?) But back in my internet dating days, when I sent too many emails and had too many chats with people online before talking with them on the phone, I'd put my own intonation on their words. It is very easy to read your own ideas into other peoples writing. Good in social networking...maybe not so good in dating.
  • Rule 2: Talk On The Phone But Not For Hour Upon Hour, Weeks And Weeks - Putting a voice to the words and really listening to how they are spoken is important. But still there is the trap of pouring your heart out when you can't even see a person's face. You are missing a key element of communication. Body Language. It may be easier to bare your soul like that...but not really wise. Again you build up an image in your head that may not match upon a true in-person meeting.
  • Rule 3: Meet Early On In The Online Dating Relationship - Okay so you've sent a few emails, had a few conversations, now it's time to set the online dater's MeetUp. While in social media and networking this 3rd rule really never has to happen it is essential for the internet dater. This is where you find out if all the words, both spoken and written, fit the body language and are compatible.
In social media you aren't necessarily preparing for phase 3 The Meeting. The point of SM is to have these rich dynamic trust filled online communities with people you may never meet. Ah if dating were only that easy, trusting, and we never had to meet in order to be SM you can be caught in this euphoric loop in rule number one, never talking on the phone and never meeting.

But phase 3 does take place in both situations.

Phase 3: The Meeting - The MeetUp, TweetUp or Date can have similar -- great...or disastrous -- results.

Things we can find out pretty quickly when meeting in person is were the pictures real. This will give us the first indication as to how seriously, or truthful we take people. Then we watch their body language, do actions really match online words. In MeetUps and TweetUps this is where you know if they've just been regurgitating other people's information all along, or if they are real innovators. In dating you really find out if they are genuine.

In all reality TweetUps and MeetUps are far less pressure than online dating because there isn't that Is He Or She The One factor. In online dating you can build up so much significance upon this one meeting and that's why so many online dates fail. At TweetUps and MeetUps, unless you are coming in with an agenda, it should be a relaxing learning sharing environment. Are you there to meet people so you can sell them your stuff? Are you trying to figure out how this can make you money? Then it will show on your face and in your body language.

Most important is, that if you are who you say you are from the very beginning stages of phase one, if your message is consistent and genuine, and if you aren't afraid of letting people in you'll be successful in MeetUps and TweetUps and it won't feel at all like online dating.

But hey, even that's not so bad, 3+ years later I'm still with my online MeetUp!

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Face Of Fox 43: Sirece Dugard and Blue Gypsy Bluesfest

I'm really excited to have Fox 43 involved with the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest. They are our newest media sponsor and they are going all out. We have the brand new Face of Fox Sirece Dugard coming out to the event, doing some giveaways and having some fun with us. And she's going to be announcing the event on the Hampton Roads Show as well. Here's an interview with her about her new job and her inspirations.

Since our blues festival is all about charitable giving back to two great charities, Habitat for Humanity South Hampton Roads and the Nachel' Blues Network it was great to find out more about Sirece and the charities she's interested in, as well as some fun stuff about music and BBQ.

What inspired you to become the face of Fox?
I graduated from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications with a degree in Broadcast Journalism & Communications and a minor in Theatre. The Face of Fox position is all I could ever imagine in my dream job! I knew I never wanted to just report the news, but I wanted to inform people of everything in a very entertaining way and this job gives you the freedom to do just that. I am able to be myself on camera and allow my personality to shine!

Tell people what your job description is as the face of Fox?
As the Face of Fox you can find me at a lot of the events/concerts in the Hampton Roads area where I conduct live interviews, collect video coverage, sign interviews, and encourage the rest of the community to get off their couches and come out to meet me and enjoy the events! I also appear regularly on the Hampton Roads Show and I get to sometimes travel & interview celebrities!! I also record a lot of commercials and promos and you will soon see my face posted in some of our malls. I am truly and literally the FACE of the FOX43 TV Station.

I know you’ve just started, do you have a favorite part about your new job yet?
The most exciting parts about my new career are the flexibilities and opportunities provided to be creative! I get to use my own unique ideas and air them on television and on the internet. I get to suggest a lot of the events I attend and I get to meet and interview some really cool people of prominence! This creates awesome networking for myself and the station, while providing great opportunity for my future.

What are you looking forward the most to in your new position?
I am looking forward to learning, expanding my skills, and taking advantage of the awesome opportunities that will come my way. I am also looking forward to being a positive influence in this community and finding ways to give back.

What were you doing before becoming the face of Fox?
Before I became the Face of Fox, I was a sales agent at Ferguson Enterprises Inc. It is a very commendable company and we were all like a big family in the department in which I worked. They all supported me tremendously throughout the entire course of the competition. They were sad to let me go, but they were elated about my accomplishment!

What kinds of community organizations and groups are near and dear to you and why?
Any type of community organizations that focuses on the betterment and support of our youth today are those that are very dear to me. I have always had a heart for the youth. It seems like each generation becomes exposed to too much too soon and it has affected them in negatives ways tremendously. I desire so much to be an influence to young people; encouraging them to get a good education and pursue their dreams. I admire organizations that take the time to reach out to them. Places that provide facilities and resources for our youth to grow in safe, well-educated environments that open their eyes to the opportunities they have to succeed are places that breed miracles. Our youth must realize that they do not have to succumb to the negative things life brings their way, and they need US to show them the way.

What would you like people to know most about you?
I am a very honest and down-to-earth person. You can talk to me about almost anything and I do not cast judgment on people. I have a very bubbly personality that is mixed with a huge sense of humor which attracts all kinds of people. I love to be personable and engaging and most of all…I LOVE TO ENTERTAIN. I am an aspiring singer and actress and I have a lot of Love in me to go around! lol

What is your favorite BBQ item?
OH MY GOSH... EVERYTHING! LOL! I must say …I love my BBQ Ribs! It’s all about the taste of the sauce and its thickness and the tenderness of the meat! I love BBQ RIBS!

Do you have a favorite blues band if so what?
I actually don’t have a particular favorite blue’s band. My father is actually a drummer and he plays A LOT of blue’s and jazz, so I have heard so many different songs all my life. I just love them all!

What is your favorite charity and why?
My favorite Charity is any College/Children Funding (UNCF,UNICEF), because it takes away excuses from any kid for not going to college. It provides them with a reason to go no matter what situation they come from.
What are you looking forward to most at the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest?
I am certainly looking forward to the great music! I have grown up around blues and jazz so its always lovely to experience the music outside of my home from some of the hottest bands out here. I also look forward to the BBQ!!!!! :)))

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