Why I Love San Francisco

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There have been songs (“I left my heart in San Francisco”) and jokes (The coldest Winter I ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco”), but there really is something special about this City by the Bay.  Some complain that you trip over homeless pan-handlers every two feet (I actually saw one holding out a frying pan!), but with that you also trip over three Starbucks, a sushi restaurant, and an art museum or two.  I’ll take it!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

  • No skyline jutting out of a grid, the buildings flow across the landscape from the hills to the sea
  • The Bay area cities face each other like seats in an enormous arena
  • The contrasts of the architecture: Ultra Modern vs. Victorian
  • The “dinging” of the cable cars
  • Gorgeous sunsets
  • The moderate climate: Not too hot, not too cold, it’s just right!
  • You can never eat too much Ghirardelli chocolate
  • Home of Rapleaf World Headquarters (shameless plug for my new company!)
  • The sushi
  • The Shakespeare Garden inside the Golden Gate Park
  • Temptingly close to Wine Country…
  • The awe-inspiring bridges
  • That tiny little chapel on the tallest hill in Tiburon (Happy Anniversary Michele and Rey!)
  • The music and history of Haight-Ashbury
  • Steep and crooked streets
  • The barking roars of of the sea lions
  • Alcatraz
  • The art museums, galleries, and street art…everywhere!
  • The aroma of sour dough bread
  • The sushi (Did I already list Sushi?)
  • The people

If you haven’t yet explored San Francisco, do it.  If you have, please share some of your favorite things.

This is Day 8 (cough) of The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Photos courtesy of Alaskan_Dude, PatrickSmithPhotography, and Flickr

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Rules Of The Road: Travel Tips From A Fearless Road Warrior

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Rules Of The Road: Travel Tips From A Fearless Road Warrior

Driving to the airport at 5am Monday morning and I realized I forgot to pack my travel pajamas (D’OH!).  Guess I’m a little rusty. Regardless of whether you travel for business or pleasure, trekking (especially air travel) will go much smoother by following a few simple rules:

1) Pick A Side – Black or brown – not both. Everything you pack should coordinate.  Spice things up with accessories (jewelry, ties, scarves, etc).

2) Pack An Extra Shirt – Bring one extra shirt/top for each day you’re gone.  This gives you another option in case there’s a stain, tear, missing button, etc (or breakfast slaloms down the front of your shirt!).

3) Roll With It – Rolling is the way to go!  Instead of folding t-shirts, jeans, and underwear now roll them.  They really do pack tighter.

4) Use Dry Cleaning Bags For Your Hanging Clothes – This trick REALLY works!  The bag eliminates the friction that causes wrinkles so your suit stays (nearly) wrinkle-free.  I need an iron maybe 1 out of 10 trips.  Another bonus is when you pack to go home you can toss the unneeded hangers leaving room in your carry-on for souvenirs 🙂

5) Try A White Noise Machine – If you have trouble sleeping in hotels due to noise from the hallway, street, elevator, other rooms, etc or it’s just too damn quiet (there goes my G-rating), invest in a white noise machine.  I use the Brookstone model pictured HERE.  Helps me sleep like a baby!

6) Ziploc Your Receipts – Ever lose a receipt you needed for your expense report?  Two to three states in a single week?…and one massive pile of receipts?  Before you walk out the door for your next trip grab an Easy Zipper Ziploc bag from your kitchen.  Label the outside with your destination city (Use a ballpoint or Sharpie as roller-balls will smudge).  If you forget to grab one from home you may be able to snag one at the airport security checkpoint.  Every time you make a purchase shove that receipt into the Ziploc instead of your wallet/purse/briefcase.  Even hotel receipts will fold neatly into the pint-size bag.  If you are fortunate enough to have an administrative assistant to process your expenses, he/she will appreciate your newly found organization.

7) I’m Not Your Mother – Do I really need to remind you to pack an extra pair of clean underwear?

8 ) Hydrate – Once you are through security, pick up a large bottle of water.  You may not finish it on the plane but it will come in handy in your rental car and/or nightstand.  Not all hotels provide bottled water in the rooms.

9)  Select A Loyalty Program – Choose one airline and hotel and stick with it whenever possible.  Hotel perks can include free bottled water, snacks, room upgrades, free stays, and executive lounge access (which offers free breakfast/happy hour appetizers/cocktails).  Airline perks may include free baggage check, early boarding, upgrades to First Class, standby priority, and Priority Access (which means you can bypass those long lines at security!).

10)  Arrive The Night Before – If you have an important meeting, and time/budget allows, fly/drive in the night before.  Not only will this prevent weather/mechanical delays from adversely affecting your meeting, you will feel more refreshed and ready.

So there you have it!  My Road Warrior tips.  What should I add to this list?  What’s the worst thing you forgot to pack? Let me know. Oh and by the way, I am now the proud owner of some very comfortable new pajamas from Old Navy!

Safe travels!

This is Day 7 of The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Photo courtesy of FromTheNorth and Flickr

Why Having A Stalker Was A Good Thing

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Last summer I had a stalker issue.  Nothing too serious.  Just some lewd direct messages on twitter and psycho babble…that was until I ignored him and he made it obvious he was “watching” me.

Yikes!  Wake-up call!  I’d been living in a” happy-bubble” thinking everyone in social media was sweet and honest and harmless.  The incident made me rethink what I posted and when.  I’m not saying that most people on Twitter and Facebook aren’t wonderful, because they truly are amazing and generous  people.  But because of this stalker I adjusted how I tweeted in case there are more like him out there…just watching.

New Rules:

1)  Never tweet your exact location while you are there, especially if you’re alone.  This may be difficult especially if you play Foursquare.  I don’t tweet my check-ins.  Only my handful of Foursquare friends can see my status.

2)  Take a taxi or a car service to and from the airport.  Flat tires, rear-end damage, and/or bitter cold are just a few of the reasons (and actual occurences!) why airport parking isn’t fun at 1am.

3)  Stay at a hotel with a restaurant/bar so you don’t have to wander a strange city at night.

4) If possible select hotels that check room keys at the elevator for admittance upstairs.

5) If you do want to share where you’ve been on Twitter/Facebook do so after you’ve left the building just in caes a creeper is nearby.

6)  Make sure a friend or loved one knows your whereabouts at all times

7)  Don’t accept a friend on Facebook unless you have at least 3 friends in common.

Am I paranoid now? Maybe a little. But if these rules help keep me and my friends safe it’s worth it.

Please comment and suggest other safety tips that I missed.

Stay safe!

This is Day 6 of The Blogging Challenge

Photo courtesy of  -zinny- and Flickr

The Super Bowl: It’s More Than Just A Game

Getting together with friends, family and neighbors for the Super Bowl has become as much of a tradition as Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.   There’s the food, the commercial debuts, the office pools, the decorations, and of course the game itself.  I’d like to know the statistic for how many employees take PTO on February 8th this year. 

Our neighbors Mike and Lani hosted this year’s event and a good time was had by all.  There were 9 adults and 12 kids (ages 2-16) in attendance.  We had enough food to feed 33 adults and 47 kids.

The Spread included:

  • Hot Beef/cheese dip
  • Italian beef sandwiches
  • Artichoke Dip
  • Pigs-in-a-blanket
  • Wienies
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Crackers
  • Fruit salad
  • Fresh pineapple (Even had a beautiful pineapple garnish display!)
  • Watemelon balls
  • Hot wings

And oh my the desserts! The winner (even covering  the spread!) was the Market Day French Silk pie!

The game itself was exciting and fantastic especially since I was rooting for the underdog Saints!  The sorest loser in our  crowd actually turned off the TV as time was running out…(You know who you are!).

So many Coke and cars.com commericals.  My favorite was the Brett Farve “Maybe I’ll Retire Now – Super Bowl MVP 2020” commercial.  I can’t even recall who paid the $20 million for the spot.  Did anyone catch a glimpse of Leno, Oprah, and Letterman eating popcorn on a couch together? Wonder what cost more: the Super Bowl airtime or paying each talk show host to sit next to one another.

What other ways do you celebrate the final NFL game of the season?  Does anyone NOT do anything for the Super Bowl? 

Hope everyone had a Super Sunday!

This was Day 5 of The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Photo courtesy of ginny_j and Flickr

Addiction: The Ecstasy Of New

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Picked up my NEW laptop today and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!  I couldn’t wait to cut open the box, pull out the contents and gaze at its untouched beauty.

What is it about shiny, NEW, things that create so much excitement?  What is the allure?  Is it the smell?  Is it the process of opening the packaging?  Is it being the first to experience its joy and wonder?  Or being the  first to explore its possibilities?

We have such inexplicable emotions tied to NEW things compared to OLD things. It’s a high like no other.  Some examples:

  • Driving a NEW car –  a tantalizing smell like no other!
  • Starting a NEW job – new opportunities, new friends, new challenges
  • Slipping on NEW shoes – What a thrill to show them off to the world!
  • Kissing a NEW lover -Pitter patter pitter patter
  • Unwrapping NEW school/office supplies – Pads of paper, notebooks, calendars, post-it notes and pens
  • Bringing home a NEW baby – I am addicted to Dreft!
  • Sporting a NEW haircut – Can’t stop running your own fingers through it
  • Stuffing a NEW handbag – Where will everything fit?
  • Constructing a NEW home – The endless choices and possibilities, the fragrance of new wood and carpet
  • Cracking open a NEW book – Especially hard-bounds!

Is this the same addiction the European explorers had that led them to America?  Did we inherit this insatiable appetite for NEW?

What are some of your  “NEW” addictions?  Why do you hunger for “NEW”?  What are your thoughts on the Addiction to NEW?

This is Day 4 of  The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Photos courtesy of Sony, Flickr, Trasosworld_Photography, and  Caveman_92223

How To Network Like A Rockstar

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How To Network Like A Rockstar

Every week you get invited to them.  You know you should attend.  It will be good for your career.  But what happens once you get there?  What can you do to prepare???

Here are 11 tips to make a great first impression and make the most of the event:

1) Be Yourself – Stop trying to impress people.  Relax, have fun, and be authentic.  This goes much further than you think.  If you need to have a drink to relax have one…ONE.

2) Bring Cards – business or calling cards, doesn’t matter which.  If you are unemployed and are without cards, you have a couple of choices.  For zero dollars you can design a 1/4 page flyer and print them off at home.  These are completely acceptable at networking events.  For some $ you can order cards online.  I used FedExOffice but you can use Vistaprint or whoever.  I was VERY pleased with the cardstock quality of the FedEx cards (I upgraded to the heavier paper option).  Two color, heavy cardstock, single-sided, rush-shipped for about $75.  Make sure you include your email address, cell #, and Twitter handle.  LinkedIn address is another good option to include.

3) Elevator Speech – Prepare a 10 second, one-sentence spiel about what you do.  Practice it so you don’t get caught saying “Uh…Uh…Well, I… uh…”.  When asked what you  do, give your speech, and ask what they do.  DO NOT VOMIT ON THEIR SHOES about how magical the widgets are that you sell.

4) Ask Questions – Opened ended questions are the best!  Bradley Will wrote an outstanding post called The Top Three Questions You Could Ever Ask At A Networking Event.  One example is “What do you enjoy most about what you do?”. People like talking about themselves.  If you ask great questions and then listen.  They will remember you as a great conversationalist.  (For some reason I am having flashbacks to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead – read it if you haven’t already)

5) SMILE! – Even if you walk in the room and are thinking to yourself  “OMG WTF am I doing here” put on a happy face.  Nothing says “I’m approachable and authentic” quite like a smile.

6) Dress-Up – Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can show up in your pajamas.  Just because you are unemployed and/or broke doesn’t  mean you should look it.  The old rule  “Dress for the job you’d like to have next” applies here.  If you need help, ask Robin Walker.

7) Follow-Up – Connect on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Send them a tweet.  Also check out The Marketing Zen Group’s post Ten Things To Do Immediately Following A Networking Event.  Great tips include sending an email as soon as you get home,  posting pictures to Facebook, and thanking the host.

8 ) Attend Often – Whether it’s once a week or once a month, become a familiar face in the crowd.  This will lead to more introductions for you and you can  help connect others.

9) Be Positive – Even if you hate your current boss and /or company speak with passion about what you do…”I LOVE testing widgets!”

10) Shake Firmly – NO DEAD FISH ALLOWED!  I don’t care if you went to finishing school and were taught to curtsy, shake a hand like you mean it.  A firm handshake = instant respect.

11) Show up with a Top 5 List – Take a look at the guest list and pick out five people you’d like to meet.  Research them on Google, LinkedIn, their blog, Twitter, etc.  Find out what they’re currently up to so you can ask relevant questions when you meet.  Be upfront about your research so you don’t appear creepy (e.g.  I was hoping  I’d run into you tonight.  I read your post regarding the future of widgets…”)

I’m sure to have missed some crucial tips so please comment with more!

Rock on!

This post is Day 3 of The 28 Day Blogging Challenge

This post is dedicated to my awesome brother, Steve Johnson (@Mcfixit), who is my confident, supporter, and webmaster.

Photo courtesy of Flickr and WilshirePix

What Am I, Nuts?!?!? Day 2 of the 28 Day Blogging Challenge

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Today is Day 2 and I wanted to take a step back and explain a bit more about what this Challenge is, why I’m partaking, and what you can expect over the next 26 days.

What is this 28 Day Blogging Challenge?

A few days ago, Scott Bishop posted a blog about how he was going to Blog 28 days in a row as opposed to his normal routine of weekly to bi-weekly with the goal of increasing trraffic and subscriptions. A friend of his decided to join in on the fun and that spawned the 28 Day Blogging Challenge.  It’s a challenge to post something each day for 28 days in a row.  Dozens have joined Scott in this challenge, including myself, and are listed on his blog.

Why am I partaking in this challenge?

Back in December, I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew Sapaula and something he said resonated with me.  He said “It’s okay to not be perfect (in your blog writing).  People want you to screw up and be human.”  By nature I’m a perfectionist, and my frequency of posts has suffered because of this.  I’ve joined Scott in his challenge to help shift my mindset to “delivery over perfection”.

What can you expect over the next 26 days?

  • Lots of posts!  26 to go!
  • Variety of topics
  • Perhaps some video (Jumping out of my comfort zone here!)
  • Fun and laughter!

Enjoy the flurry of posts and feel free to comment!

Photo courtesy of hannah.aviva and Flickr

Talking To Myself: An Apology To My Blog

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Bouquet of flowers

I'm Sorry!

Talking To Myself:  An Apology To My Blog

Reddsmitty:  Hi Blog.

Blog:  Hi Reddsmitty.

Reddsmitty:  I’ve missed you.

Blog:  I’ve missed you too.

Reddsmitty:  Sorry it’s been a while since I posted.

Blog:  A “while”?  That’s an understatement…it’s been 5 months and 3 days.

Reddsmitty:  How have you been?

Blog:  Lonely…bored…bloated with drafts.  How could you leave me like that?

Reddsmitty:  I’ve been…busy.

Blog:  You’re unemployed.

Reddsmitty:  Hey now, I’m starting a new job next week!  And you know I only write when the spirit moves me.

Blog:  I thought maybe the spirit buried you. Congrats on the new job, by the way.  Perhaps that will “inspire” you to visit more often.  What inspired you to visit today anyway?

Reddsmitty:  I joined Scott Bishop’s 28 Day Blogging Challenge

Blog:  You’re going to blog 28 days in a row?  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  You can’t be serious.

Reddsmitty:  I am serious!  It was the least I could do to make it up to you.  Well, that and the flowers.

Blog:  The flowers are a nice touch. Thank you.

Reddsmitty:  You’re welcome.  So am I forgiven?

Blog:  I suppose.  Committing to 28 blogs in 28 days is, well, an overwhelming and generous gesture.   So yes, I forgive you.  I do have one request.

Reddsmitty:  Anything.

Blog:  Could you outfit me with some of those snazzy new buttons and perhaps update the About page?

Reddsmitty:  I’ll see what I can do.  Good night Blog.  Talk to you tomorrow!

Blog: Goodnight Reddsmitty.

Bouquet of Flowers courtesy of p_jp55 and Flickr

How To Throw A Killer TweetUp

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FlamingoConvention

How To Throw A Killer TweetUp

Have you ever wondered what your Tweeps are like in real life (IRL)?  Ever wondered if they really look like their avatars?   Why not host a TweetUp!  No matter where you live or what you do there are others on Twitter nearby and there’s nothing quite like meeting your favorite Tweeps in real life (IRL).    Just ask @RobinWalker or @MisterNoodle…I hugged them when I met them at a TweetUp.  Besides hugs you may also find job leads, sales leads, new connections, and folks with whom you can barter entrepreneurial services…I know I did.  So what’s stopping you? 

Here are 7 tips for hosting a successful TweetUp in your neck of the woods:

1. Select the Venue –  Choose a location that’s central and easy to navigate.   Find a spot with plenty of standing room as well as seating for those with “barking dogs”.  Convenient parking and/or public transportation is key.  Free WiFi is a consideration if the event is in the morning or midday when Tweeps are tethered to their laptops.  Be sure to talk to the owner/manager of the establishment prior to the event for their blessing and possible sponsorship.  Make sure you visit the venue before publicizing the event.

2. Choose the Date – These days it seems there are local social media events every night of the week.  Try your best to avoid scheduling conflicts.  Run some dates by a few of your local Tweeps before committing.

3. Tweet it Up -Spread the word via Twitter.  Invite local celebs, Twitter Elite, bloggers, entrepreneurs.  Use www.twtvite.com or www.meetup.com to collect RSVPs and share more details than a single tweet allows.

4. Invite the Media – Contact your community newspapers, business mags, etc via phone, email, or Twitter.  Tweet your local TV anchors and invite them to attend.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the attention you receive.

5. Feed the Tweeps – Find a Sponsor or see if your venue will “throw in” some food for your hungry mob.  Even if Tweeps have to pay for food individually make sure it’s available. If it’s an after-work event no-one’s probably eaten since lunch.  Fed Tweeps are happy Tweeps!

6. Wear Nametags – Not everyone is great at remembering names.  Providing nametags will save Tweeps from possible discomfort and/or embarrassment. Be sure to use 3M nametags (Yes splurge.  The adhesive will stick to all fabrics and the backing comes off easily).  Consider bringing sharpies in various colors, pens, a sign-in book (notebook, guestbook, sheets of paper, etc), a fishbowl for biz cards, and a stack of your own cards.

7.  Have Fun! – No matter how many or how few, how hot or how rainy, enjoy yourself and your TweetUp guests. Expect hugs!

So start planning your next TweetUp today…your future awaits!

Additional Tips or Questions?  Please Comment below.

Thanks to Flickr and RevMike88 for the use of the photo.

An EXTRA SPECIAL thanks goes to my Napertweetup co-host @foiledcupcakes !

Anatomy Of A Friend

Free Hugs

Free Hugs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anatomy of a Friend

I’m not a sappy person by nature, but I have recently been overwhelmed by the love and generosity of friendship.

  • Friends are there with hugs and flowers when your spouse is not
  • Friends are there with food and wine when grocery money is tight
  • Friends are there with stories more horrific than your own
  • Friends are there to make you laugh despite your situation
  • Friends do not judge
  • Friends are there to listen and love
  • Friends are there with laughs and smiles when all you have is gloom

Are you a good friend?  To many?  To someone?

Reach out to someone as a friend and you WILL make a difference.

Thank you to my friends who have lifted my spirits!  You know who you are 🙂

<HUGS>

Kim Redd