WordCamp San Francisco: Why A Blogger Should Go

WordCamp San Francisco: Why Bloggers Should Go

WordCamp San Francisco: Why Bloggers Should Go

This isn’t the first WordCamp I’ve attended, and it won’t be my last one, either. There are so many reasons to go, I can’t even begin to list them all. Here are a few highlights. If you haven’t read any of my other  posts about WordCamps, here are a couple of my faves: WordCamp Orange County 2014: Awesome Moments and WordCamp San Francisco: Favorite Things.

The Bill Was Fabutab

Frankly, I was more than a little excited that WordCampSF had so many women speakers this year. You could practically spend the entire two days and not listen to one single man, which is unusual at a technical conference, and even more unusual in San Francisco, where even Pinterest events are filled with men. This is awesome in so many ways. More on the particulars below.

The Bloggess

One of the biggest draws for me at the 2014 WordCamp was getting to see and hear The Bloggess. If you’ve never read her blog, you should. Come back here after two and a half years, when you’re done laughing. Yes, she’s that funny. If you don’t come back, I don’t blame you. Whatever. I was a little bit afraid to hear her speak because she has reached that stage of awesome in my mind, but she did not disappoint. In fact, my favorite moment came from her talk.

She was talking about trolls, which we all get as bloggers, especially on the more successful posts. And she said “It’s my house, so if you’re going to comment, entertain me. And if you don’t, look out!” Since her blog is curated, she can change the comments of trolls, which she does. Simple, but brilliant, right? Then when the troll returns (they always do!), she can again change their comment from the extremely negative to the extremely positive.

WordCamp San Francisco: Buttons Are Everywhere

WordCamp San Francisco: Buttons Are Everywhere

WordCamp San Francisco: MailChimp Cat Apparel

WordCamp San Francisco: MailChimp Cat Apparel

The Freebies

Yes, this might seem trivial, but deep in our hearts we all love the cheesy t-shirts, mugs, and free things we get at conferences. Even the stickers help make a lackluster conference better. This year’s winner was clearly MailChimp’s cute knitted cat hat. They had full-sized hats for people, too. I’m not sure how much my cat loved the hat, but she’s fussy that way. Anyway, she put up with it long enough to get a picture.

Meeting People

Hobnobbing with the other WordPress nerds is always a highlight, and this year’s WordCamp participants were no exception. I got to hang out with my buddy Peter Woolvett, too.

Crafty Chica was a huge and welcome surprise as well. She’s @CraftyChica on Twitter, by the way. You’ll love all her glitter and positivity.

Getting Retweeted. By Matt Mullenweg. Twice.

If you don’t know who Matt Mullenweg is, Google him!

Giants. Fans.

As in the “Orange Tide” was right outside the door. When we wandered outside, we’d see planes with banners, people dressed in orange, tailgating parties, etc. Did I mention dogs wearing orange and black shoes? As thousands poured through SOMA, up King Street and over to the stadium, it was impossible to ignore. Walking out of WordCamp and into the insane orange-and-blackness that engulfed San Francisco was incredible.

Will You Go? Have You Been?

I’d love to hear from you! If you’re planning to go next year, let’s meet up for coffee!

WordCamp San Francisco: Giants Fans

WordCamp San Francisco: Giants Fans

Startups: Why Being Vulnerable Makes You a Better Entrepreneur


Startups: Why Being Vulnerable Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

Startups: Why Being Vulnerable Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard that you should be tougher, leaner, and quicker at decision-making. And while all of these traits are important, you might have never heard that being vulnerable could help you as an entrepreneur.

Recently, on Women in Business Today’s (#WIBT) hangout on air, we discussed Brene Brown’s TEDxTalk on vulnerabililty. Brown is a scientist who takes years–and a stint in therapy–to discover how to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability Gives You Courage

As an entrepreneur, you’re investing in the future of your idea or startup. And while you may believe you have the best idea in the world, there are so many things that could go wrong. People and brands think they have the answer to all the prayers of the known world, but people are emotional creatures. CEOs often forget this. We all make decisions based on emotion. Thus, a potential client may love the idea a startup has, but what if that client hates the company for the way it advertises or treats its employees? What if the idea is terrific, but the timing is off? Or what if the funding doesn’t come through for your high-tech widget?

There are so many reasons why people don’t buy. And every company takes a flying leap into the dark when it puts an idea or product out into the world. Realizing your own vulnerability and being honest about it can open doors where none were open before. By the way, Inc. has a terrific article about the Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship, and the “fake it til you make it” attitude that plagues many entrepreneurs.

Vulnerability Gives Your Employees Courage

Why do your employees decide to work with you? Your product may be no different than anyone else’s. But if you’re authentic, and tell people who work for and with you the truth, the chances are that your employees will feel more courageous, too. They’ll want to stick with you during the hard times, they’ll feel motivated when they get up in the morning. and your product or service will have its differentiator.

Vulnerability Makes You Stand Out

Startups: Why Being Vulnerable Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

Startups: Why Being Vulnerable Makes You a Better Entrepreneur

When you’re vulnerable, when you treat your own employees like family, those people will travel miles to do business with you and to work with you. Once I’m a raving fan, I’ll drive past other businesses to do business with those who treated me well. Often, it’s that emotional vulnerability that is the glue that makes me stick with them. Often I’m willing to do nearly anything to buy something from the company that shows its vulnerability–its heart, if you will. And I’m not alone in this, either.

Emotional Quid Pro Quo

Every time I show my vulnerability in my writing, I’m scared. All those thoughts of “I’m not good enough” emerge from their deep closet. And yet, every time I’ve been rewarded by people saying “Me, too! That happened to me!” Or “OMG. Do you need anything?” Or a story from them, in an emotional quid pro quo. In other words, now that you’ve opened up, I feel that I can, too. And they share something with a similar emotional weight to what I’ve shared. That’s the same way it works for a bigger brand; your emotional vulnerability makes you fans both inside and outside the company.

When Has Vulnerability Helped You?

Have you ever been intentionally vulnerable? Or were you forced into a vulnerable position? Please let me know in the comments!



Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees


Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees

Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees

If you work at a startup, you might have heard of a few ways to motivate your employees. But I’ll bet you don’t know that many ways to demotivate them! Here are my top ten. And of course these are tongue-in-cheek ideas.


Looking over an employee’s shoulder, watching their every move, and poking your nose into their business is a sure way to demotivate anyone. And it’s also a great way to say “we don’t trust you to do your job.” Forbes has a good article on Managing Micromanagers. One thing to keep in mind is that the micromanager may be suffering from being micromanaged as well.

Constant Criticism

It's Still Baloney

It’s Still Baloney

Finding small errors and focusing on those is a sure way to demotivate an employee. This includes the formula that many use to deliver criticism–in a “sandwich” with two pieces of praise on either end. That’s still a big slab of baloney in the middle of that sandwich, right? Even if you do believe that you’ll make more money by making your employees happy, why do that?

Never Express Gratitude

Count to Ten

Count to Ten

If you do feel the need to say anything positive, count to ten and then wait until the moment passes. Some people seem able to follow this rule. Never saying thank you, or spending a moment to say “good job!” can work wonders in the demotivation arena.

Leave ‘Em Hanging

Promising something over and over is a fantastic way to cause people to become disenchanted. The promise can be anything from a promotion to a software release to a change in the direction of the company as a whole. And don’t explain why what they were promised never materialized.

Constant Threats of Layoffs

Don't Ever Look for the Best

Don’t Ever Look for the Best

When everyone is frightened of losing their jobs, morale is usually at a low. Even if there is no planned layoff, having a rumor that there will be one can cause a great deal of demotivation. And demotivation often brings along its friends, Fear and Lack of Confidence. Woo Hoo!

Stupidity at the Top

Put people in charge who lack experience and common sense, as well as humility, and your people will definitely feel demotivated. You might consider hiring only friends or family members for an added demotivational bonus.

Bad Communication

If you can avoid any communication telling employees what is going on, they’ll probably be unhappy. This includes email, informal get togethers, or all-hands meetings. Another good trick is to cancel meetings at the last minute.

Asking Too Much

Avoid Communication

Avoid Communication

Having lofty goals, and especially if they’re set by someone else, is a surefire recipe for disaster, especially if the goal-setter is unfamiliar with the victim’s work flow. If the goal-setter is in another part of the country, or better still, another country, that’s even better.

Being Intentionally Mean-Spirited

Few companies are intentionally mean-spirited, in my opinion. So being mean-spirited will take extra effort. It’s worth going the extra mile.

Lack of Down Time

The expectation of asking employees to always be “on” can cause burnout and fatigue. Need I say more?

What Are Your Favorite Demotivational Tips?

One of my favorite sites, Despair.com, has posters and calendars for sale if you need a laugh! But I’m interested in what you’ve experienced yourself. Please leave me a comment!


Startups: Social Media Graveyards

Feel like you're getting left behind?

Feel like you’re getting left behind?

Your startup got a running leap at social media, pinning three million pictures of dogs wearing costumes. The Twitter was active for exactly nine days. Facebook went dormant after the intern left for vacation and never returned from Vegas. Uh-oh. Is your startup’s social media turning into a graveyard of dead platforms, populated by the ghosts of dogs in funny outfits?

Best Intentions

Maybe you had all the best intentions of getting onto social media. You wanted to keep up with the other Startup Joneses to drive business. So starting everything at once seemed like a good idea at the time!

There’s no “There” There

Now everything has turned dark and sad. Without an actual person to consider strategy, post, and interact, nothing is happening on your social media. People click on the badges, and see tumbleweeds, and hear the sound of one sad crow whistling out of the side of his beak. Wait. Is that even a thing? Never mind! We’re painting a sad, sad picture: stay with me here! Would you blame the person for wondering if your startup is viable?


Social media populated by dogs wearing costumes?

Social media populated by dogs wearing costumes?

If you start your social media, realize that it’s going to take some time. You’ll need a full-time person who’ll set strategy and create content. That person needs to dedicate time every day to keep all the platforms running, and to engage online.

Where Will You Find Such a Person?

Try reading interesting blog articles about this issue. Have you read any good posts on the subject lately? If the person’s style matches your brand, that could be a good fit. Ask friends for recommendations. You want someone reliable, with good writing skills, who can listen and engage online.

To Sum Up

Don’t let your platforms grow up to be tombstones. There are enough ghosts on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook already.

How is the State of Your Social Media?

Is your Pinterest pining for the fjords? Does your Twitter lack tweets? Does Your Facebook need a facelift? Tell me a sad story in the comments below! Thanks!


Caterina Rando’s Speaker Training: Aha Moments

Caterina Rando Speaker Training: Aha Moments

Caterina Rando Speaker Training: Aha Moments

This past week, I attended Caterina Rando’s Thriving Speaker Platinum Program. The two day intensive is the first of a three-part series to teach how to be a great speaker. If you’re considering learning more about speaking (and how to get more business through speaking), I highly recommend it. Here are a few things I learned.

Don’t Speak at Every Opportunity

Some trainers suggest that you speak every chance you get, no matter the audience. But Caterina suggests that you only speak in front of your ideal audience. After all, you don’t want to come home depressed, do you? So my best audience is ambitious, tech-savvy startups where I can potentially be part of a team.


Know what you’re going to say, roughly, but don’t have it all memorized. Just know the high-level touchpoints, the beginning, and the ending. The middle part lets you connect with your audience, and stray from a script if you want. Planning is important for startups using social media, too.

Gauge the Audience

Caterina Rando's Speaker Training: Aha Moments

Caterina Rando’s Speaker Training: Aha Moments

Always make eye contact, listen, and be flexible. As Caterina says “Look around at all the beautiful people!” This is easier said than done and Caterina teaches you how to stay connected. For instance, the two speakers before me told dramatic emotional stories. The audience was moved to tears. Then I decided to change my topic from an emotional one to lighten the mood. I talked about the wonders of my new Zipz shoes!

Arrive Early

It’s always a good idea to be early, for several reasons. You can talk to people who’ll be in the audience, rearrange the room if it’s not perfect, check the acoustics, and set yourself up for success.

Speak Often

You can’t be a successful speaker if you only speak once in a blue moon. To be successful, you really need to speak as often as possible, keeping in mind that it’s important to target your ideal audience.

Learn from Someone Who Models

These are just a few ideas, and they may sound obvious. But Caterina brings the ideas to life. She models the best ways to speak, in a nurturing and safe environment. She is dynamic, inspiring, and kind. And she wants to teach you how to monetize! How cool is that?

Do You Loathe Public Speaking?

Would you rather get a root canal than speak? Both experiences can require a prescription for pain killers. Share some of your best or worst experiences in the comments! Or I will hunt you down and make you stand up and talk.



Startups & Social Media: 6 Issues

Startups & Social Media: 6 Issues

Startups & Social Media: 6 Issues

Your startup’s new product is almost finished and you look up and–uh-oh!–did anyone think about creating a social media strategy to spread the word about your terrific new app? Wait. Wasn’t the intern going to do that? Didn’t we write a note about it on that napkin that got thrown away with the pizza? Oh, just a sec. It was on the pizza box! Sound a little too familiar?

No Planning

Social Media Strategy Written on a Pizza Box?

Social Media Strategy Written on a Pizza Box?

Issue: You’re making a product, or creating an app, or a new platform, but don’t have anyone on the team to do the social media. If the technical team handles the social media, this means that there will be additional strain put on them to explain all the twists and turns of the product while they are learning the ins and outs of social media and while also doing a launch.

Fix: Have someone on board to do the social media before you think you need them. Yes, that’s right. They can

  • get the word out
  • be in sync with the rest of the team, and
  • learn about your product even before the product launches.

Not only that, but your social media manager can be out forging relationships with whomever you need to know on your behalf. However, if you really want to do everything yourself, you might want to read about first steps for startups.


Issue: You used to sell your app to consumers; you are shifting to an enterprise-only model. So you will need relationships with a whole different crowd of people.

Fix: The relationships you’ve already made aren’t a waste of time. Those people all know other people, right? Focus attention on your new demographic, and see how you can leverage the social media relationships you’ve already made.


Frequent Meetings Are a Must While Rebranding

Frequent Meetings Are a Must While Rebranding

Issue: You didn’t really think about your name, look and feel, or the user experience at the starting gate. Although you have a great product, you now need to pull in some marketing wizards who can do their magic and rebrand. How will you migrate the social media?

Fix: Communication is key. Everyone needs to be talking to everyone else frequently or the social media won’t reflect the new brand promise. So frequent meetings, communication between key players, and all that groundwork will go towards making a more solid social media strategy. Even a 15- or 20-minute meeting can make a difference in keeping everyone informed. The more your social media manager or team knows, the easier it will be for them to make an emotional connection with your customers.


Issue: Too much chaos. Yes, being in a startup is a fun, fun thing. Except when it’s not.

Fix: Write everything down and put dates on things. This includes account names and passwords for all your social media accounts, at the very least.

Management Changes

Issue: Does everyone know everyone else? Was the new marketing wizard fired last week? Does everybody know that that happened? Did the CEO run off to France to do a dance in his underpants? (Just making sure you’re reading…but you get the point, right?)

Fix: Create an organizational chart! Or at least a list in an Excel spreadsheet. And inform the team with an email letting them know what just happened. Update the spreadsheet and post it where everyone has access. Even thought you might think it’s a special secret (shh!) just for you, it actually does help the entire team.

Being in Overwhelm

Deer in the Headlights?

Deer in the Headlights?

Issue: You’re struck by that “deer in the headlights” feeling whenever you think about social media.

Fix: Pick a starting point. What would get you the most momentum the fastest? Would it be Pinterest? Google Plus? Twitter? Facebook? I suggest you look at the platforms with the most traffic, not the trendier ones. Start where your customers are. Keep it simple to avoid overwhelm.

Your Issues?

If you work with a startup (or even if you don’t), I’d like to hear from you! Maybe you handle the social media for a brand. What is your biggest issue?

Pinterest: Tips for Startups

Pinterest Tips for Startups

Pinterest Tips for Startups

You’ve been using Pinterest for your startup for awhile now, but aren’t quite sure what to do. You pin sporadically, but have no strategy yet. Your new intern is already complaining about doing too much! What to do? Let’s say you’re a high-tech startup, as an example.


If you already know what your company stands for, you’re way ahead of the game. Make sure the entire team is talking to one another and ensure that you give the person doing the social media a very high overview of your brand and what it stands for. Is your brand down-to-earth? Techie? Do you specialize in video for the startup market? What words describe your brand? Your social media manager needs to have that list of words. You might also want to avoid a few newbie mistakes.

Consider Your Audience

Although everyone at your startup may be technical, your audience probably does not have the same level of expertise and know-how that the average engineer does. If you don’t know who your audience is, consider modeling yourself after a competitor. Ask yourself what they’re doing right, and also what they aren’t doing that you could do on Pinterest. Keep it simple.

Make Ten Boards

Use some of the branding words to design your boards. Ten is a good number to start with, so this process isn’t overwhelming. You can add more later, as you come across content that doesn’t fit neatly into any of your categories. For example: “Apps,” “3D Printing,” “Ted Talks,” “Movers and Shakers,” etc.

Have a “Bait Board”

Create a "Bait Board"

Create a “Bait Board”

This is a silly board–I don’t know what else to call it. It could be high-tech dog beds, or funny race cars, but something that humanizes you as a brand. Mine is called “Kittehs.” It is extremely silly, as you might imagine. Pick something like “Dogs at work,” or “Big Cats.”

Create a Schedule

Before you start madly pinning, create an editorial calendar. So for example, you may want to pin 5 pins twice a week about your field. If you’re a 3D Printing Startup, that might mean pinning 5 pins about 3D printing on Tuesday and Thursday. Keep it manageable because it will take some time. You don’t have to go crazy with pinning every day. The important thing is to be consistent and not make the intern crazy!

Start Following

Follow a few pinners whose pins resonate with you, and whose businesses might not be in direct competition. And if you decide you don’t like what they’re pinning for whatever reason, you can unfollow those pinners later.

What Has Helped Your Startup on Pinterest?

Do you have any ideas you’d be willing to share? Please leave a comment! Thanks!

Twitter as a Listening Tool

Listening Tool 60 kb

One day, while chatting on Twitter, I got this tweet from @Tsledzik, above, and got to thinking about how to use Twitter as a listening tool. Yes, everyeone says Twitter can be used that way, but how does that work? What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? Large companies or brands can search on their own names or special hashtags. But how can a Startup just starting out or smaller company use Twitter as a listening platform? Here are a few simple ideas.

Use Twitter to Listen

Use Twitter to Listen

Click on @ mentions

From the Twitter client, click on the @ or connect sign right at the top of the screen. Your interactions will appear in the column and you can easily thank or respond to people. Yes, this is basic, but some people only seem to use Twitter to broadcast, and listening doesn’t even occur to them.

Use Hashtags to Search

Use Hashtags to Search

Not only can you use hashtags to allow people to search for your tweets, you can use them to search for any topic you can think of that might allow you to start conversations. For example, type in #Startup in the search bar to find others tweeting about startups. In the example above, I searched on #Startup problems, with only the word “startup” hashtagged (it’s unlikely that #StartupProblems would give many results). Now you have a whole string of possible people to talk to. Note: the top result is promoted, and like the top search results on Google, you may want to overlook it.

Create a List

You may want to listen to local news through Twitter, or what people in a certain geographic area are saying. You can create a list called “Locals” or “San Francisco” and add people to that list. This is a great way to cut down on the “noise” of Twitter. And you can make your list private or public, depending upon whether you want to be in stealth mode.

Trending Topics

Trending Topics

Another easy way to listen on Twitter is to monitor trending topics. They are in the left-hand column. When I wrote this post, #ParentsFavoriteLine was trending, which seemed to be mostly kids making fun of things their parents said. That might be a good one for a teacher to monitor. Trending topics change quite often during the day, and are a good way to keep up on popular news. Here’s a fascinating article on MIT’s algorithm on predicting trending topics.

How Do You Listen?

I would love to hear what you have to say! Leave me a comment below! Thank you!


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