Tag Archives: public relations

ROI and Working with Social Media Influencers

amirandes-crete-minI have just read Skift’s latest which includes the use by tourism boards of social media influencers and my head is about to explode. In the piece the Tempe, Arizona tourism board is referenced as viewing the 2m social media impressions generated as a successful return on their investment for inviting 4 bloggers to be their guests. Let me express that I have more than a little experience, and many documented analytics to prove, that Tempe set the bar way too low.

As a first let’s understand that in 2016 tourism accounted for 10.2% of GDP and one of every eleven jobs globally, and despite our geo-political circumstances these figures are growing, not shrinking. In some markets, by example Croatia, tourism represents approximately 20% of their GDP. What’s more, because of globalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence employment for the average person will increasingly be found in the travel vertical; which makes customer care and attention-to-detail skills so important in your hiring decisions. A less than perfect cup of coffee in our social media connected world becomes an immediate, and widespread, negative review (Yvonne also shared her post on LinkedIn). So, before inviting anyone who is an influencer to visit, get your house in order (“Is your destination Instagram-worthy?”).

Next, there is an enormous disconnect between the possibilities which could be realised and the results generated largely because the right questions aren’t asked, nor have parameters been established around a visit from a journalist, blogger or social media influencer in advance. If you are the person responsible for coordinating ‘press visits’ allow me to suggest you embrace at least the following points before you decide to host anyone:

  1. The average global rate of engagement (on Twitter) is 1.6%. As influencers anyone you invite should be able to generate at least triple that (4.8%) and since they are in the very top tier of people on social media globally 6% is a very realistic objective. While previous performance does not guarantee future results you are engaging them, and their portfolio, on your behalf. It is entirely reasonable to ask to see examples of their previous work and the supporting 3rd party analytics (get as granular as you feel is necessary).
  2. Ask for references. No one has time for prima donnas (of either gender) no matter how large their following might be. It’s in your very best interest (mitigate stress levels for your organisation and those venues you will visit) to know how easy, or difficult, an influencer might be to work with as well as the satisfaction your peers had with their delivery of top quality content in real time and the subsequent results (again documented by analytics).
  3. The total number of impressions generated is a fragment of what should be part of your evaluation cycle. Unlike any other vertical, hospitality realises close to an 11% conversion rate on social media engagement (see point #1 above) making the quality of their content extremely important to your future revenues. Establish specific requirements about the content for the posts, what they need to post and how many times per day before, during and after their stay in exchange for your hospitality.
  4. Once you decide upon contracting a social media influencer to help you with your marketing efforts, it is entirely reasonable to me as I have done this for clients, to ask that they pre-market their trip to visit you. This can vary depending upon the scope of the package you have put together for the guest but a single Instagram and Twitter post each day for two weeks leading up to their visit is about right.

Transportation, accommodations, feeding (and providing beverages), spa treatments, and activities for a week can run into the tens of thousands per person and providing that hospitality needs to come with business objectives and metrics as part of your invitation. When I worked doing public relations in tech we used to use a CPI (columns per inch) metric to calculate the value of earned media against monies spent, anything above a 4:1 ROI was deemed a success. If you are spending 100,000 of whatever your local currency is (I think) at minimum you should realise a demonstrable 5:1 ROI (and yes, there are ways to measure this).

Finally, an entire portfolio of dreamy backlit views of your influencers pool or ocean-side are not going to fill your restaurants to eat your glorious gourmet food and drink the world-class wines in your cellar.  Whatever your budget might be for hosting please remember this point – their visit is not positioning them to expand their personal brands at your expense, it is about driving your incremental revenues by heightening the awareness of everything about your destination.

Post script. While the trade laws in every country will vary please be hyper-diligent about compliance issues related to in-kind and monetary payments to social media influencers. In the United States the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules in place requiring that “influencers” who share promotional materials “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands”.”

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

Reputation Management and Appropriation, Lessons in Ethics from Edmond Dantès

My study of communications and public relations was taught by passionate adherents to Ivy Lee’s Declaration of Principles – that it is the ethical responsibility of a public relations practitioner to offer uncompromising truth to the public on behalf of one’s clients. Perhaps because of this, and despite working in high tech for 16 years, it should be un-surprising that I view the use of technology in the form of bots exponentially deployed during the United States 2016 presidential elections, let alone anywhere else, as abhorrent.

My various social media accounts address the complexities of my person; Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram serve as outlets for my professional existence while Pinterest and Facebook are more intimate expressions – at the intersection of these social platforms is my blog. While I have a blog I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself ‘a blogger’ (it is not a commercial venture). Yet my writing on this platform, having gone viral, has had impact – in part responsible for shifting public policy and the proposed exploitation of the pristine waters of the Adriatic in 2015/2016.  While building my own Instagram presence I admit to being thoroughly perplexed as to how (with the quality of photos and nominal content offered) fellow travel specific accounts could possibly have earned followers approaching 100,000 in less than a month. Thus, the clarity offered in reading Jess Gibson’s Dear PRs post referencing ‘bot-gate’ was genuinely appreciated, and it’s also why I take a particular delight at the failure of Instagress.

The truth has always found a way to be revealed, in our connected world discovery of appropriation, fraud or illicit behavior comes down to days, minutes or even seconds with a few keystrokes and keen intelligence. Throughout history there have been individuals whose jealousy, ruthlessness, greed and sloth have risked fortunes and reputations for (perceived) gain or retribution – Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo anyone? Just as Edmond Dantès took full advantage of his time falsely imprisoned to learn every skill imaginable in developing a faultless reputation and re-branding himself, every effort in thought leadership and in garnering a dedicated follower base, and fostering epic levels of engagement takes considerable patience, skill and acuity.

Beyond the Instagram bloggers’ ‘bot-gate’ other more widely known unveilings of deceit relate to appropriation of the resistance movement by Pepsi and State Street of New York City’s iconic bronze sculpture created by Arturo Di Modica.

The Tate Modern offers this essay on appropriation,

[…] to create a new situation, and therefore a new meaning or set of meanings, for a familiar image. Appropriation art raises questions of originality, authenticity and authorship…

All great art is subversive, a commentary manifest with physicality. Co-opting the passion found in resistance to injustice in its many forms, feminism, racism, environmental stewardship, and its related arts for commercial gain by the advertising industry has a vast history in the United States.

Fearless-girl-vs-arturo-di-modica

I don’t like what Fearless Girl ‘is’ specifically because she is contrived by Mad Men to gender-wash their clients’ bottom line. The $2.5 trillion (under management) State Street Global Advisors opted for a publicity stunt on International Women’s Day of instead of doing the long overdue ‘hard work’ of creating a work environment of equality and gender partity or proactively investing in education for girls on a global basis. For the unaware allow me to point out that advertising (in which both Pepsi and State Street engaged) is only related to public relations as it is a part of the greater communication functions in general. It seems to me if you are retained to represent the interests of a seven or eight figure client your responsibilities should include candid risk assessment to any proposal you present. Ultimately this all comes down to proactive reputation management versus putting your client in the rather costly position of damage control through crisis management.

With so much to lose why take a chance in the first place?

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

 

(Just) 10 reasons your brand can no longer “opt-out” of social media

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Image sourced from http://www.http:ownernation.us by VistaPrint

  1. The long lead times of traditional corporate communications and marketing no longer work in our always-on dynamic world. Real-time conversation now fuels new and existing B2C and B2B customers.
  2. An active, brand-relevant online presence enables customers to trust you.
  3. “Marketing today is not about what a company says about itself. It’s about what its customers say about the company” – and customers are now saying this on social media.
  4. Customer service is now social. Happy customers become brand evangelists who drive revenues. Want an example? See KLM.
  5. Your audience works, lives, and plays on their smartphones, fish where the fish are! One-fifth of leisure travellers worldwide use social platforms in their travel planning, and the hospitality vertical realises an average of an 11% conversion rate. The Economist made a studied investment last year in social media, and enjoyed a 31% increase in its subscription rate year-over-year.
  6. Social media as an SEO ranking signal is increasing in importance. 93% of online experiences begin through a search engine and SEO-based inbound leads (generated from online management) have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
  7. Use social media to educate about new properties, rebranding efforts, and renovations and in doing so, hotels are selling out months before re-opening.
  8. Content marketing and executive branding objectives offered through social media establish thought leadership in months rather than the years required by traditional public relations efforts.
  9. Brand storytelling is now a necessity, not a luxury. Social media presence boosts brand recognition, marketing, and recruiting, while creating a richer customer experience. Treating employees as valued stakeholders aids in retention, cuts down on hiring and training costs and also creates a huge pool of brand ambassadors.
  10. If 90 year-old Queen Elizabeth II recognises the value of proactively managing her online reputation why haven’t you? Every CEO needs to get serious about the management of their professional reputation and that of their company to ensure that s/he controls the content. Managing your reputation online is a critical part of any integrated global marketing strategy and social media provides you with a fast, effective way to do this.

 

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Greenwashing does not make your company a pillar of #CSR or sustainability! – Guest Blog for Ethical Value

ev logo Guest post for Ethical Value, co-published simultaneously

The Coca-Cola Co. ‏@CocaColaCo  “We believe investing in women is the absolute key to economic growth.” Charlotte Oades @USCCFBiz4Good #5by20. #Inspire2Act #IWD2014

cry TweetShortly thereafter came this retweet ‘love’ from a very smart man that I respect (who will remain nameless):

RT @CocaColaCo Fm producers #suppliers #distributors #retailers & recyclers we aim to empower 5M women http://CokeURL.com/l2me8  #Inspire2Act

I saw these Tweets and my stomach convulsed.  Not that empowering women is a bad thing, no, THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING, but, as Collective Evolution (and many other sources) so aptly points out:

“Coke uses “public relations propaganda” to convince consumers and entire nations that it is an “environmental company” when really it is linked to pollution, water shortages, and disease.”

‘The smart man’ I mention, in RTing this particular Tweet, seems to have bought into the green-washing of Coca-Cola courtesy of their marketing team (as do hundreds of millions of people on a global basis), and this not only stuns me because it is so contrary to “his brand” but also makes me sad and angry.  But it is this sentence, from Coca-Cola’s own website, that pushed me over the edge:

“As we move toward our 2020 Vision of doubling our business by 2020, enabling the economic empowerment of women will undoubtedly be an important contributor to our success.”

Let’s be clear, Coca-Cola’s #5X20 initiative isn’t REALLY, altruistically, about lifting women out of poverty it’s about market share, doubling their business, and in doing so, contributing to the health decline of 80% of the worlds’ populations whose average household income is less than $10 (USD) a day! Think about that for a second when the vending machine at your office is likely asking $2 for a single 20 ounce bottle of Coke! So I Tweeted:

#CSR? @CocaColaCo’s #5X20 is actually #causerelatedmarketing NOT #empowerment for #women! #LiesToldOnTwitter

coke_vs__pepsi_by_mandypandy4291-d4qhbue

Artwork by Miranda Coss

Just so we are clear this isn’t a prejudice based in a Coke versus Pepsi (or any of their respective other beverage brands) preference; I am not and have never been a big cola drinker, while I do enjoy the occasional Dr. Brown’s, Izze or Orangina I would be willing to bet that my consumption of these amounts to less than a total of ten 16 ounce servings in any given YEAR. I think you should read this about what drinking Coke and Pepsi actually do to the body, and I can only hope you start to view your habit with a little more caution toward your health (or that of your kids and grandkids.

But I digress; this post is not primarily concerned with our beverage choices but the use of public relations to obfuscate the reality of Coca-Cola (and other multinational corporations) when it comes to legitimate social responsibility practices.  By leveraging social media, optimization of search engine results with technical acumen, strategic thought  and proactive and diligent management Coca-Cola is, to a large degree, successfully controlling its message.  To underscore my point, I just did a Imagesearch on Google “Coca-Cola environmental impact” of the 3.3 million results, (Google is the most popular SE in terms of use – see graph) on the first page of results ‘above the page break’ Coca-Cola has ensured their placement in three of the top five results – Wikipedia comes in at the #2 spot and at #5 is KillerCoke.org. (According to MarketShareHitsLink.com, October 2010, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results, which is why having a strategic communications plan that includes Web 2.0 for brand enrichment is so critical in our hyper-connected world.)

So what results are you, the consumer or a journalist doing research, going to get when a desire suddenly seizes you to learn more? Unless you are willing to dig deep – you would never discover that despite their “plant based” bottle PR campaigns that the resulting Imagebottles which both Pepsi and Coke are hyping as being eco-friendly are STILL chemically the same, absolutely identical to the polyethylene terepthalate, or PET, and high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, that regular plastic bottles are made of: these carry the same negative human health and environmental impacts as plastic made from fossil fuels. And yet the messaging makes those of you drinking the 14 (yes, fourteen different) billion (USD) brands from Pepsi   or the 108 (yes, ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT!) beverage brands from Coca-Cola with all those plastic bottles going into the environment, all those trillions of empty calories being consumed, all the resources used and subsequent negative impact on the planet – in particular water use feel a bit righteous in your consumer choice – my darlings you have absolutely no reason to!

“Drinking” water in Ghana

I am not anti-Capitalism, but I have never, ethically, been able to use my skills and passion to promote an employer or a client whose business I did not fully respect (ie, prostitute myself for a paycheck).  I recently had a conversation with the CEO and founder of a technology firm whose platform is designed to help (genuinely) lift the bottom 3 billion of humankind out of poverty – the same number who also do not have access to clean drinking water or basic sanitation, the identical target market for doubling Coca-Cola’s business by 2020 for whom it will actually be cheaper to drink a cola beverage than to drink clean water! It’s fine to make money, it’s fine to make money in emerging markets, it’s a noble and wonderful thing to give a hand-up (rather than a hand-out), but in my mind’s eye it’s NOT FINE to sugar-coat actual objectives to make them more palatable to your consuming public and distort reality.  If Coca-Cola and Pepsi and the rest of their beverage industry brethren REALLY WANT to help empower women then I suggest taking 8% of their annual profits and fund opportunities for education previously unknown to all but a few of the bottom 3 billion of our neighbours or the various efforts to provide clean water around the world, their philanthropic and CSR departments can one stop shop for worthy projects at Charity Water, Water or in this blog post from Huffington .

Corporate Social Responsibility and the companion sustainability protocols are not ’cause related marketing’ (which is what Coca-Cola’s #5X20 actually is), what CSR ‘should be’ truly is the heart and soul, conscience and character of doing the right thing within a corporate environment.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Before I read Anais Nin

I must state here, in this first sentence, that despite my love affair with words and with the languid sensuality of using them to describe the mundane and the sublime, the profane and the sacred, that I have never read a single word of Anais Nin – until this evening. And what I have read is simply the preface to her collection of erotica entitled the Delta of Venus (yes, Imageas a woman I at least know what that is).

It strikes me as oddly similar to what all writers must ‘go through’ for the sake of their art – establishing boundaries to separate what we wish to write with what we must write for the sake of keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.  I have always thought of Ms. Nin as fabulously successful – perception is reality in public relations parlance – but the preface touches on the woes of bill collectors, broken typewriters and doctors’ appointments and the urgency of writing for “a collector” of erotica at a $1 a page (my going rate for ‘commercial work’ is $2 a word plus expenses or a per diem).  She assembles a Who’s Who of wordsmith excellence, protects anonymity and acts as, in Henry Miller’s and her own words “the madam of this snobbish literary house of prostitution” pooling their stories and creating “literary aphrodisiacs” because “All of us needed the money”; and I am shocked and offended.  In my life there is no husband in equally dire financial straits, not children to protect and care for or even a pet or plant – for now there is only me.  Some months, some years, far better than others but on the whole I have “all that I need” (thus, the title of my first book).  My life is full, and amazing things that happen to no one else I know happen to me, my life is the extreme of abundance and deprivation (which never feels such given the plentitude I feel is my lot).

Right now I look at my wildest dreams to drink sunsets bathed in the same golden light of Plato’s landscapes, swim unadorned in emerald and azure waters in the predawn salt waters where Gaia fornicated to create all of the gods and goddesses before turning her back on mankind and wonder “how do I make such happen?”.  But, like Ms. Nin, for me the idea of Imagewriting of passion on demand makes the essence of our humanity, the infinite expressions of carnal knowledge given and taken in tenderness, pleasure, hunger unlike Japanese netsuke and more like a blow up doll; in my world there is no room for the debasement of desire, only coming into each other in fullness of being to be more than we might be singularly.

There is the moment when, like the stillness of the air just before a storm the scent of ozone assails and the skies burst forth in a torrent, passion exists like a promise.  It is with such stated that I offer that some lives are steeped in the immediacy of fulfillment and others have fleeting glimpses of what living on the edge of reason could offer – my own life is in the place between.  Our thoughts are p-o-w-e-r-f-u-l beyond reckoning – will he touch me? Where and how? Should I ‘allow’ my thoughts to manifest my desire using the wisdom of Buddha?

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

I am cognitive of doing that ‘at least once’.  I have never told this story – perhaps at 52 and a few months shy of my birthday I can do so without embarrassment – before I begin actually reading Delta of Venus I want to offer ‘a moment’ a decade ago sitting on the tarmac of Boston Logan aboard an Air France flight bound for a long weekend in Paris.  At the risk of being sensational, the plane was full save for two seats, the middle one next to my own window and one in the bulkhead eleven rows ahead of me with the final boarding call being made.  We’ve all ‘been there’ grateful for the reprieve of space on an overnight transatlantic flight, I had taken my Tylenol PM, had changed into my pajama bottoms, washed my face and brushed my teeth and was prepared to forego the inflight meal for sleep when “he” stepped on board.  Tall, chiseled, broad shouldered, seriously Gallic featured and a soft sigh escaped my lips. The thought, fleeting, was as he took the bulkhead seat, now why it is that no man that looks like that ever sits next to me? (Just like that scene in The Holiday when Kate Winslet is shackled not with the dreamy guy but sandwiched between two blue hairs talking the whole way to Los Angeles whilst she receives a text from the man she is escaping!)  The power of our thoughts to alter the course of our lives plays out in this millisecond of ‘eye candy vs. space to spread out’.  Just as the flight attendants are about to run through the safety card drill his hand goes up to the bell – the two men on either side of him are just as broad shouldered.  Body language tells all and the next moment “he” is sitting next to me.

veuve

Sadly not Veuve Cliuot

Over Champagne, and the dinner I didn’t want, Philippe let me practice my school-girl French. He laughed in appropriate places, thoroughly charmed and was a perfect gentleman – almost.  I will not travel without my down pillow, in this instance adorned in a white with pink bow-knots pillow sham. This struck him as funny, but I offered to share, as the lights were dimmed he kissed me – an amazing kiss.  You know those movie scenes where every bit of sexual tension plays out? How the couple involved is breathless and hungry? Our encounter was like that.  His fingers found license unbuttoning my shirt just enough to place his hand on the lace of my bra, then in cupping and fondling my breast and all while we kissed, and yes, he brought me to a (hard fought to maintain silent) dramatic climax at 31,000 feet with my clothes still on surrounded by 400 people.

My point is thus, life is full of such (unimagined) possibilities, and a these experiences can go a long way in carrying us over the seasons of famine in our sexuality. While erotica has its place (I am sure) I have never actively sought it out before Ms. Nin’s book arrived this afternoon, I would much rather live it than read the product of someone else’s imagination.

If you enjoy my blog please consider sending me via PayPal the value of a cup of tea in your currency to livelikeadog@gmail.com. I would delight in your subscribing and sharing it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am  @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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#WOOT!

Okay, the truth is I have a vague sense that #WOOT! is an exclamation of supreme online happiness but its use in this instance is completely relevant. I am going to #shoutout a remarkable personal branding social media achievement today – pay attention dear readers as everything I write below has consequences for B2B and B2C engagement as well.

I met my never-laid-eyes-on friend Ken over a phone call two years ago. We had the distinction of having both served as the Chief Marketing Officer for start-up social SaaS firm (I inherited the role from him, he was a co-founder of the company).  We are marketing and communications professionals of very different ilk but have enormous respect for the others’ skills, experience and achievements. Last night, by any social media metrics or conventional communications standards, he hit a pretty remarkable milestone – 60,000 followers on Twitter. Let me repeat, Ken has SIXTY -THOUSAND followers on a global basis on Twitter! 
ImageImagine, no real ‘product’ to sell (though besides being a C-level executive he also writes a weekly tech column, shares the microphone on Wednesday afternoons for a widely listened to Internet radio program and is an expert contributor on emerging social media technologies in books and other media outlets) yet possessing global reach and numbers enviable to any corporate entity.  What is his ‘personal brand’ that attracts so many to include and engage with him during their own online presence? That is it – he is many things to many people, but he is always INCLUSIVE!

He sends out THANK YOU tweets to everyone who replies to him, mentions him, and retweets him EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  He tweets during social media ‘rush hours’ (tied to United States’ eastern time zone even though he makes his home in California). He actively follows other tweeps who post about marketing and communications (putting them in manageable lists to keep track of them and their tweets) and adds to their social media influence by re-tweeting their best content. (“Best” content being highly subjective here as he has tweeted pictures of my various home baked good treats with the hashtag #FoodPorn.) He also recognises that just because Twitter allows for 140 characters that, like any messaging that is going to resonate with its constituent audience(s), the shorter the better, so he stays UNDER 120 characters which also encourages retweets.   These are baseline best practices for Twitter but the ideas behind them are universal in their application in creating cohesive, engaging, successful communications. 

I mention this (at all) because far too many companies are stepping into the realm of social media in hiring dedicated staff assuming digital nativity (a.k.a., youth!) infers competence.  Familiarity with a technology platform does not make anyone a skilled user of it – in creating resonance and amplification communications will always require heightened craft and strategic vision; this also why outsourcing online engagement is a very bad idea if you are intent on protecting the integrity of corporate identity, employer branding and internal morale.

What’s more, regardless of how big your brand may be, remember former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famous words “all politics is local” applies to all relationships.  If your brand is global, understand that localisation is still as important to embrace in social media as it (still) is in the creation of press releases, collateral material and websites.  “Just because” English is the dominant language for business does not mean that a brand can ignore their Asian, European, African or South American audiences. The flattening of our world demands more of the old adage ‘treat others as you would be treated’ so use their languages as part of your social media communications.

My TweetSo #WOOT! to Ken and all communicators everywhere whose responsibilities carry the weight of social media engagement and embrace Raymond Chandler’s words: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

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Perception

ImageThe radiator cover in my bathroom is vintage 1920s with a flat removable top, open back and a mesh front.  The top allows me to use it as a shelf for the ephemera of being a woman – jars of cotton rounds and Q-tips, a sublime Slatkin scented candle, a crystal bowl of sea glass collected from my travels, tweezers, Argan  oil – well, you get the idea. (Side note, the actor Michael Caine probably had it right that the secret to a long happy marriage is separate bathrooms!) The axiom of public relations of ‘perception is reality’ comes into play here, or rather my favorite variation on it ‘perception drives our reality’.

Lurking behind that radiator cover can surely be found the missing end caps to my lip and eye crayons, very likely the unique bathroom dust bunnies made up of towel lint and blow dried curls, perhaps a small binder clip used to keep my toothpaste tube ‘neat’. I intuitively know that there are tiny missing pieces to my collection of ‘girl stuff’ underneath it – I only need to clear off and remove the top, then lift the cover to reclaim them. In this case my perception and reality have fairly tiny ramifications.  Think about that for a minute. Strip away the obstacles to what you need to find and put things to right, back in harmony, on a course to the next phase of living.  The radiator cover (like all of the status quo aspects to which we cling) hides uncomfortable truths – a metaphor for denying possibilities.  Each of us ‘should be’ living with the greatest level of authenticity imaginable, exploring other dimensions of reality that as children we would certainly explore because we wouldn’t over think the “what if’s”.  This is what I mean by ‘perception drives our reality’.

Right now I am poised for life altering change because I got out of my own way. I have never lived anywhere (since childhood) in the same place as long as the city I have currently made my home, and it bothers me, a lot! I have existed here “in between” the best person I have been in my past and the one I wish to be in my future. Perhaps all of the energies expended on the life I previously lived required this bubble of time to re-calibrate but I have felt stifled. It took a casual comment via text from a friend that read “your life is love” to shift me out of complacency and take dramatic steps toward merging his perception with my reality.  As I do so I am more aware of other people dear to me doing the same – almost as if the proactive steps are amplifying and my re-calibrated mindfulness is catching these actions like an internal dream-catcher to draw on and to honor for the benefit of others’ realities shifting. ImageMy ‘nephew’ Ryan is chasing his reality in playing professional baseball for a team founded in 1917 (not yet the MLB league but on the path to ‘being in the show’ – scroll down if you click) who just received a ‘blessing’ from Baseball Hall of Fame left-handed pitcher Tom Glavine (my eyes welled up with tears of gratitude in seeing this Facebook post). My girlfriend Jennifer (most of the time) has stopped trying to bend the local population to embrace her incredible gifts and in doing so is taking her rightful place (as envisioned by her 8-year old self) on the global stage as a thought leader and influencer, a key note speaker and highly valued contributor to fostering change through social media and traditional platforms.

Last evening I met a new man through OKCupid, when I woke this morning he had sent a message inviting me to connect with him via Skype, and that turned into an hour long, highly delightful discovery of ‘mutuality’ – from tea drinking and the use of spices, ley lines, and, amongst other topics, the ideal partner being a confluence of intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical energy. “On paper” Francisco is nearly everything any woman would want – an entrepreneur who looks like a professional soccer player, a multicultural, multilingual Latin of French, Spanish and Italian heritage, obscenely charming – younger than I am (men die on average 7 years before women do).  Yet I move toward ‘whatever this might be’ with equal parts enthusiasm and trepidation as he is a Scorpio male with whom I have had innumerable past crash and burn encounters (to his credit he is making a compelling argument for the differentiation he offers).   I am trying hard not to let my past perceptions have negative influence on my future. To clear away the unwanted that has been concealed, live “in fullness of being”. To not only welcome but actually embrace that he (or any man) might possess all the attributes I could desire  and  to make my “life is love” part of my new reality.

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