Spring, come quickly.

After a long week of cold, bleak weather, this sunny day brought inspiration and success.

The afternoon took me to downtown Chattanooga for a meeting with the Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX Theater to discuss an upcoming offsite dinner. The evening will include an IMAX movie viewing, a private walk-through of the Aquarium including passed hors d’oeuvres and a seated, catered dinner in the IMAX Great Hall. Not too shabby, eh?

So here I am, out of the office on a gorgeous, warm day in one of my favorite quaint cities doing what I love best – planning.

To sum it up: the perks of my job far outweigh the negatives.

While this may sound a bit over the top, I felt a rush of enthusiasm as I met with the  events coordinator, lighting team and caterer to begin the process of staging the evening. Enjoying the new contacts and company, I felt like a sponge – soaking up all the information and opportunities available. I guess you could say the meeting went well.

Returning to my office, my mind was reeling with ideas and inspiration for the dinner. [See below.]

Image

Oh, and thanks to the approaching season change and the added Vitamin D for all the creativity.

I cannot wait to delve into all the details of making the evening a success. Stay tuned!

My Self Evaluation

Every morning, my workday begins in quite a relaxing way by savoring a nonfat, no whip white mocha from Starbucks and creating a daily task list. This list generally includes items I must complete, items it would be nice for me to complete and items that I wouldn’t get to if I worked around the clock for the next six years – just in case I am blessed with a super power at some point during the day.

Upon completion of the aforementioned list, I typically include the day of the week and calendar date for good measure.

Today – being no different than any other day, I carefully penned ‘Friday, 3/1/13’ at the bottom of the sheet. Next order of business…

Wait. 3/1/13?!?! March 1, 2013?!?! MARCH?!?!

Can anyone fill me in on where February is hiding? For that matter, let’s include January and the holidays in that question, too.

We are three months into the year. THREE MONTHS. 90 days… ish.

I have a 90-day evaluation policy with my team members. It indicates an associate has worked long enough to gain understanding of his/her role and duties and signifies the supervisor and associate have formed a working relationship strong enough to evaluate performance and areas of improvement.

Here’s the tie-in: If 90 days is long enough to evaluate an associate’s career, I sure better be able to show my achievements and growth in the first 90 days of the year. So, I decided to conduct a self evaluation.

I made the following self-evaluation rubric and am currently in the process of reflecting on my 90-day growth:

1. In what ways have I challenged myself professionally? personally? spiritually?
2. What marked improvement have I made with innovation, creativity and streamlining processes in the workplace?
3. In what way have I been instrumental in effecting change and growth in friends’/families’ lives?
5. What milestones or achievements have I accomplished in the past 90 days? What would I like to accomplish in the next 90 days?
6. What is one thing I would like to improve upon within the next 90 days?
7. What are my goals for the rest of 2013? How do I plan on achieving them?

If anyone needs me, I’ll be soul searching this month. Oh, and feel free to self-evaluate along with me. Let me know what you discover!

Things you just can’t plan

I recently wrapped up a week of meetings at work and my slap-happy, slightly sleep-deprived state renders me capturing my thoughts before it’s on to the next event.

The week started quite memorably with a somewhat humorous, somewhat traumatic experience.

In an attempt to offer a laid-back, relaxing Sunday afternoon activity option for meeting attendees, I thought, ‘What better way to spend the day than with a popcorn and coke at the theater!’ And while, in theory, this activity was the perfect marriage of attendee-proof and planner-proof, we all know things in reality don’t always work the same as on paper.

Or at least “we” do now. With “we” referring to “me.”

What transpired was a sheer catastrophe freak occurrence [pardon my first draft, I tend to over-exaggerate.] The activity host called and explained the theater was experiencing a power outage – the kind that turns the video portion of the film completely off for thirty minutes.  But it’s not like anyone really goes to a movie expecting to watch the film… it’s all about the sound. It’s why audiobooks are so popular nowadays

Anyhow, what’s worse is after this sound-only experience, the theater refused to rewind the movie – leaving attendees with a huge question mark as to what occurred in the middle of the movie, typically the thick of the plot.

And there I sat, helpless, having a mini meltdown in my office. Amusing now to reflect on, but I honestly had the following thought process:

  • Surely it will be fixed soon… [30 minutes later]
  • Oh, we’ll just get the attendees to a different theater… [Ain’t nobody got time for that]
  • I’ll just call the theater and somehow coerce them into rewinding the movie just for us. [for our group of 12 people… yeah, right…]
  • There’s nothing I can do! Everyone is going to storm the concession stand, demanding their money back, knocking over the popcorn maker, causing a fire…and even worse – they’ll write all this on their meeting evaluations. [You can see my priorities there.]
  • I’ll just go ahead and turn in my resignation, because I’ll surely be fired tomorrow. [you can see how quickly that snowballed.]

And then I remembered – I just can’t plan everything. And I laughed at how distraught I became over this small, uncontrollable incident that I won’t remember in two weeks.

Now, this experience may seem a minute mishap to ones not quite as plan-centric as I. However, as one of my most treasured co-workers says, ‘it’s what you do with the little things that count.’  I agree with the statement wholeheartedly. Whatever we do with our hands is God’s work, and while it is a bit lofty to think we can control and plan and organize to fool-proof any plan, it’s not a far-reaching goal. Preparation, proactivity and prevention are the keys.

So that has become my renewed focus – to excel with the little things God has entrusted me with in expectation of even greater things ahead!

Oh, and I finally found a more realistic solution to the issue by providing attendees a popcorn tin loaded with candy, orange soda, popcorn and theater gift cards to “make it right,” one of our newest customer-service mantras. It was thrilling to see how appreciated this small act of service was to the attendees.

So, in my opinion, it all worked out for the best.

 

The couple-times-a-year, depression-inspired, passion-filled post.

As always, post-NYC fetes never fail to inspire me to blog. Therefore, in an effort not to disappoint my adoring readers… I’ll give yet another account of why the city is heaven in 18 districts. [Oh, and a park.]

On this particular voyage, Henri Bendel’s and the Empire Hotel lobby/rooftop became my brand-new hot spots. What’s not to love about $200 headbands and plush velvet couches?

The highlight of this weekend getaway, however, was the variety of interesting people I met. Being in PR (and an avid people-watcher), there’s nothing better than striking up a conversation with a cab driver, flight partner or random-person-who-happens-to-sit-at-the-table-next-to-you-at-dinner. People are fascinating. In a city like New York, there are all kinds… and all kinds who will open up and share a bit of their stories. And that makes for more sentimental memories than window shopping in Christian Louboutin.

A few pieces of advice I picked up on this trip:

  • Macaroons are the new cupcakes. Before you dismiss this as foolery, try them. I am officially obsessed. Dean and Deluca will ship them if you’re not fortunate enough to have a Laudree or Financier right down the street. [i.e. if you live anywhere outside the Upper East Side.]
  • Diet Coke has an expiration date. When purchasing from a street vendor, be sure to check the expiration date. In case you don’t know, that would be located on the bottom of the can. And yes, you can most certainly tell a difference in fresh diet coke and 4-month-old diet coke.
  • New York protestors are a force to be reckoned with. As much as this pains me to say … they’re not worth the fight. Zip the lips when you run into an eccentric legion of boycotters. Even if they are saying you’re anti-female rights for eating at the Central Park Boathouse.
  • Never, ever, under ANY circumstances wear new, non-broken-in heels when you’re planning on walking an excess of 30 streets. That is, unless you’re into slow and painful deaths.
There you have it. I think I’ll go back to eating my left-over macaroons and daydreaming of 5th.

Back in the saddle.

It’s been a long-awaited return to blogging.

A lot has changed since my last post. I graduated college, my internship turned into a full-time job, I moved into my own apartment, ran a half marathon and got a new SUV. Oh — and I became a vegetarian.

With all the change and newness in my life, I’ve learned a few life lessons along the way:

  • Never say never. Sometimes the best opportunities are the ones right under your nose.
  • Never underestimate the power of networking. It’s all about who you know.
  • Never settle for immediacyThe best things in life are worth waiting for.
  • Never, ever EVER under any circumstance let anyone sell you short. You should be your biggest advocate and your biggest critic.
Thanks to my new boss, coworkers and a little newly acquired “street smart” savvy, I’m on my way to fully embracing these new lessons.

The Empire State of Mind

It’s 3:41 a.m. and, after countless attempts to sleep, I the perfect time to write.

I recently took a delicious 3 day trip to NYC, the happiest place on Earth.  Whoever used this tagline for Disney World was seriously mistaken.  Roaming the city is the most exhilarating feeling in the world; in a city like New York, it seems anything is possible.  The happiest version of me can be found on the corner of 5th and 57th.

Upon returning from the ‘Over the Top’ to ‘Rocky Top’, I had to ask myself, “Am I living in the here and now?” With my mind, and quite frankly my heart, still in the Big Apple, am I truly savoring each moment and living my life to the fullest?  This realization was brought to my attention by an older pilot I met at dinner in the city.  As we were admiring Times Square out the windows of a swanky new sushi bar, he turned to me and said, “This… is life.  The city just exudes energy.” Ecstatic that I had met a fellow Manhattan lover, I began to divulge my dream of living and working on the island and eventually ended the spiel with an unhappy remark about having to leave the city for the humdrum of school the next day.

His response was one I’ll never forget.  He looked me dead in the eyes and smiled. “If there’s one piece of wisdom I can give you, it’s to always cherish each moment.  No matter where you are, be there. Live your life in the moment;  you’re here now.  You never know what will happen, you may never be back here again.”  I turned to the window, took a deep breath, and tried to take a mental snapshot – of the sights, sounds, feelings and emotions of being in the most wonderful spot in the world: a seat in Blue Fin on Times Square. His words were true – our days and moments are numbered; there is no time like the present.

So, my New Years resolution consists of living 2011 to the fullest, and savoring each moment (as well as training for a half-marathon).  I’m going to start by cutting back the “I wish I were in the city” remarks (as best I can). I intend to live my last semester of college to the fullest, with no regrets… just sheer happiness and contentedness.

The Marriage of Innovation and Social Media

I was recently assigned the task to make a creative research project regarding innovation and social media, and how the two combine; I created the video below! Enjoy!

 

W. & Faith

Yesterday, President George W. Bush was the featured guest on Facebook’s live chat. (See embedded video below). Since I’m an avid fan of the 43rd President, I tuned in and became infatuated with W. all over again.

Bush gave a lot of insight on his newest book, Decision Points (which I pre-ordered the day it came out), with shameless marketing tactics at the top of his agenda.  Behind the humor, however, there were a lot of personal takeaways for me.

Bush was asked questions on his decisions in Iraq, on his idea of freedom, etc. and really inspired me with his responses.  He stressed how content and happy he was in his life now, knowing he did the best he could and having no regrets.  He talked about the importance of taking what critics say with a grain of salt.  No matter what those who disapproved of him said, he constantly stood for what was right and virtuous in his eyes.  During the chat, he stated,

“… if you’re successful you get criticized.  The fundamental question is how do you deal with it?  If you believe in what you’re doing then the criticism means nothing. The worst thing you can do if you’re a leader is to change who you are because of a critic.”

As I’ve been challenged in many of my classes with defining the role of  faith in our communications-related careers, I think this quote hits the nail on the head.  No matter what we do in life and no matter who we are, we will always be subject to criticism.  It may come from bosses, co-workers, peers, professors, etc., but these criticisms are important in the building of character. If anything, Bush explained that his critics only made him more passionate and steadfast in his beliefs, instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment in his values.

This is an important concept for Christians in communications to remember.  No matter what is being asked of us, or said of us, trials and tough times should only strengthen our faith and values (see James 1:22).  Many people say it is impossible to mix the two worlds of communications and faith, but I believe quite the contrary.  If every decision made is guided by values and morals, at least when critics demean your actions, you know you’ve done everything in your power to make the best possible decision.

President Bush, besides being my idea of a modern Reagan, shed a new light on the relationship between faith and everyday living.  I cannot wait to delve into his book this Christmas break.

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Big Dreams – Small Budget

As I’ve mentioned before, I am fascinated with NYC.  Obsessed, even.  So, it’s no surprise that when I was browsing the New York Times today and found an interesting article entitled, “Starting Salaries but New York Tastes,”  I immediately clicked the link.

Obviously the city is my one true love, but especially today.  The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was on this week, I recently booked the Hilton on 35th for a January girls getaway and a few nights ago I got to catch up with a friend who’s equally as enthralled with NYC as I am. During our lengthy convo, we came to the realization that our dreams and expectations are a bit high. As we planned and schemed our glamorous lives in the Big Apple, however, we also came to the conclusion that unless you love the city with all your heart, there’s no way to make it.

For instance, many people, when asked what my post-graduation goals are, do not understand my response (i.e. my parents, siblings, friends, etc.)

“I want to move to New York and complete an internship that pays $2,000 a month.”

The reactions I receive are usually gaping mouths, laughs, blank stares or any other variation of the like. Haven’t yet gotten the “Oh wow, that’s a great idea!” response I’ve been looking for.

So of course when I found this article, I was ecstatic. That is, until I read it.  More debbie downer accounts of those who are “barely making it” on a “meager budget.”  Countless stories of city dwellers who were constantly making budget cuts just to have a $3 plate of rice and beans at a diner down the street.

However, I am not giving up hope!  I’ve recently started following The Walk Through (The NY Times’ real estate blog) and The New York Observer’s blog, just to stay savvy and up to date! I’ve always been too headstrong for my own good, so why back down now?  This is just another adventure to be had!

The 3D Gospel

When scanning the headlines on Mashable.com which is, in my opinion, the decidedly most influential blog for keeping up with communication and social media trends, I found a particularly striking title…

“Would You Attend a Church Service In 3D?”

Always trying to determine the role of my faith in my career, I was excited to read what this was all about.  A church in Florida is offering guests a 3D experience for the Christmas season, inviting them through augmented reality invitations… a little different than the standard candlelight service.

Hey, I love technology and cutting-edge innovations just as much as the next person, but there is something that makes me uneasy about this experience.  After recent classroom debates about the role of technology and the church, I guess that I’m still a bit cautious as to the role of high-tech innovations in the church.  I’m all about reaching people in the most effective way, but something about adding too much “glam”  to the message makes me feel like church is becoming more of a spectacle  to increase membership or create an enjoyable, entertaining experience more than it is about furthering the kingdom of God.

And even as I type that, I’ll admit I’m sounding a bit 20th century.  With the field I’m going into, technological advancements are the utmost importance… so why should they not be implemented in the church?

This is an interesting and thought-provoking topic for me… something I’ll be pondering for a while!  If you have any comments or opinions, feel free to leave them!

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