Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “progress”

Sailing Haiku

The Trip

Monday sailing trip.

Under the Bay Bridge two times.

Good times had by all.

The Boat

Make sure you steer straight.

Look out! We are going to tack.

Smooth sailing from here.

The Experience

Sail beyond ball park;

Great views of San Francisco;

Ignore cold weather.

The Others

Found: pirates on ship.

Big red sails keep them moving.

What’s their business here?

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The first two days

Tuesday was the last day of my internship at SHIFT Communications. It’s kind of surreal that those three months are already over!

I have spent the past two days relaxing and trying to figure out what happens next. Here is what I have decided the following weeks will hold:

  • Updating my resume
  • Applying for jobs – public relations or event planning 🙂
  • Writing more
  • Taking more pictures around San Francisco

I realized that I haven’t written very much over the past few years even though writing used to be something that I not only enjoyed, but was also pretty good at at one point.

Since I haven’t posted photos recently, here are some that I’ve taken over the past few months.

iPhone macro

San Francisco street art

My favorite building in San Francisco!! And the Transamerica Building

view from the park as I relaxed in the beautiful SF weather

Lafayette Park, SF

At&T Park

Dolores Park

call me old fashioned, but I firmly believe that honey should be the only thing sold in a bear.

Hopefully I’ll be posting more photos too – they seem to be what people respond to most on this blog ❤

On Managing Social Media

The other day I had the opportunity to speak with a few other people about managing social media, both personally and professionally.

There was a lot of good information that came out of the conversation so I thought I would open up the conversation here to see what you all think. See below for some questions that I’ve had or heard from other people.

Image via FinancialSocialMedia.com

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What are the best social media sites for my clients?

Social media is not one size fits all. In order to figure out which platforms are best for your clients you first must understand what the company hopes to accomplish through those channels. What is the end goal? What would the company like to achieve? Whether the purpose is to open up communication between business and consumers, share relevant stories and information about the company or stay involved in industry conversations, there is a social media site to help your client do just that. Research the demographics and purpose of each social media site and utilize the ones that fit into the consumer demographic of your company.

How often should I be posting?

That really depends on which platform you are using. For example, I wouldn’t post more than two times a day on Facebook; this site is normally used for more personal communication and longer interactions. People don’t like their Facebook news feeds to be cluttered; chances are, if you are posting too often, people will unsubscribe from your updates which means that your message won’t be reaching them at all. Twitter is a different story; it serves as a constant news feed and chances are your Tweets get buried in the pile-up. The more you Tweet, the more likely your viewers are to receive and respond to your message. I’d say that the length of the message and level of interaction you desire by your targets should have an inverse effect on how often you post: the longer the post (Blogs, Facebook, etc.) the less often you should post on that platform.

What is the best way to build a fan base on Twitter or Facebook?

The best way to build a fan base is to be open, facilitate conversation, ask questions, respond to others and be proactive about your outreach. If the company can afford it, buy ads on whichever social network you are using. You can generally add filters to your advertisements to target specific demographics based on age, sex, interests and location. Sites like Twitter and Instagram use hash tags in order to aggregate posts about the same topic, this is a good way to reach people who are interested in the same things you are. Also, live Tweeting from events like concerts and conferences are a great way to start discussions.

Hash tags don’t work on Facebook. Don’t use them there, it’s just obnoxious.

What is the best way to control multiple social media accounts?

There are tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite which allow you to schedule Tweets, analyze traffic and manage multiple accounts. There are also tools like BufferApp which is like a queue for your Tweets letting you put a bunch of Tweets in a line and schedule when they go out. (Note: I personally use BufferApp, but I know others who use TweetDeck or HootSuite and like those platforms a lot.)

A word to the wise: don’t put your personal account and a client account on the same management app (especially on your phone or tablet) – if you aren’t paying attention you can end up inadvertently posting something to the wrong account causing problems for everyone involved.

How should I control responses on my social media accounts?

It is always important that your company or the company you’re representing has an ironclad social media policy. Make sure this policy states the company’s stance on bullying (and what this means whether it is based on race, religion, sexual preference, age, etc.) and profanity. You can set filters on many social media sites so that comments and posts that contain specific words (think offensive four letter words) won’t show up on your account, even if just for a second. Make sure you cover all your bases, and then make sure that you have the policy published somewhere available to the public in case you hit any retaliation from users whose comments get deleted.

What should I post about on my/the company’s blog?

Make sure you are writing about things that your viewers will want to read. Don’t just regurgitate information already posted on other similar blogs. Keep your posts short and to the point, about 600 words long (unlike this one which is at 774 right now). Include videos of things around the office or of important events in your industry. Conduct interviews of people in different positions throughout the company; ask the same questions of everybody, you will get different answers and readers will be able to see the different aspects of your company. If you do recap posts of concerts or events make sure that they are timely and occur within 24 hours of said event.

As far as number of posts per week, you can decide to post once a day, twice a week or any frequency you like, just make sure you stick to it. People on social media like consistency, they like to know that on Tuesdays they are going to get a blog post from you, or on the third Friday of every month your company is going to give them a drink recipe to try over the weekend. Having a backlog or edcal of posts is always a good idea, that way you can schedule your posts and you are sure that they will go out even if you don’t necessarily have time to write that day.

Is it okay to auto-post between social media platforms?

Cross posting between social media platforms is generally frowned upon. Although it isn’t the worst social media faux pas one could commit, consumers generally feel that auto generation of content is impersonal and redundant. You should have (mostly) different content on all different platforms, and even if it’s similar information, your post should be phrased differently whether it is on Twitter vs. Facebook vs. Google+.

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What do you think of these social media management tips? Are there any you disagree with? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments!

On Taking Risks and Making Your Own Luck

I have recently been practicing the act of spontaneity. I have been doing things that  scare me, things that I’ve never seen myself doing. I’ve been taking chances and making decisions all in an effort to make myself happier.

This guy saw me taking a picture and said "hey, take a picture of me!" so i did, begrudgingly. Turned out pretty awesome, actually. (contest photo)

I kind of like being spontaneous. It allows for me to step into somebody else’s shoes, or to be the person I could be if I didn’t have so much damn anxiety.

There’s something to be said for bravery and taking risks, embracing chances. You never know what will happen when you do something on a whim.

My photo of the Austin Sky (contest photo)

That’s how I won tickets to SXSWi. I signed up for a sweepstakes on Twitter and somehow won. I chalked it up to a fluke; I’m not a lucky person. I don’t win things. This kind of experience doesn’t happen to me.

Until it did.

Free lunch with Katie, one of my photo companions. (contest photo)

While at SXSW I decided to do a bunch of things that scared me. Simply being there was anxiety enough, but navigating Austin by myself? Well that was downright terrifying.

But I did it.

Katie's photo of me crowd surfing with Skype (contest photo)

I went to panels , listened to speakers, participated in workshops, ate free food and simply did whatever I decided to do. I didn’t really have an agenda or anywhere I had to be because anywhere I went would have been amazing.

One workshop I went to was PhotoCamp. It was all about taking quality photos with your iPhone. I met some pretty cool people in that workshop, some of which I’m still in contact with.

Photo by Katie - artists painting on canvas. She won one of their original pieces! (contest photo)

One of the great things about that session was that we took a chance and entered a contest as a group. There were four of us and the perimeters were simply that we had to use a specific app (RingReef) and collaborate on a photo project about SXSW. Our photos had to be cohesive and reflect how we viewed the event. There could only be 20 photos.

One of the most provocative marketing campaigns at SXSW (contest photo)

We were able to whittle down our submissions, although it was super difficult since we had so many good pictures, and somehow we won.

Frankie's photo - part of the Let's Get Naked campaign (contest photo)

Some of the photos included in this post are ones we won the contest with. What we won with those photos is pretty awesome – we each get a special phone cover that is magnetic and has different lenses, some other iPhone photo stuff, and last but not least, the new iPad.

Crazy, huh?

These kinds things don’t happen to me.

Ike's photo of a DJ at a party (contest photo)

I also entered a scavenger hunt contest with a company called FoundIt! which was based on Twitter. I won that too. I don’t know what the prise is, but it should arrive next week.

When I told Madeline at work the story about winning the ticket, the photo contest and the scavenger hunt and said that these kinds of things don’t happen to me, she laughed at me and said, “I don’t think you’re allowed to say that anymore.”

Another one of Ike's photos - I like the perspective. (contest photo)

And in that moment, when I said they don’t happen to me, I realized something: these kinds of things don’t happen to me because I never let them. I never enter contests because I don’t think I’ll win. I never put myself out there and take risks. I never make spontaneous decisions.

But look at what happens when I do! Maybe some people are naturally lucky. I think that, more likely, these are the people that make their own luck. They are the ones who show up and go for it, whatever “it” may be.

The Skype party

The bacon truck we rented for a client

TED Talk with Nikol, Robert and Phil - cross it off the bucket list!

a photo I took in our photo workshop

You know the Wayne Gretzkey saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” ? Well, as cheesy as it is, I now know what he meant.

I think I’ll start taking more risks and making more of my own luck. Apparently that’s the best way to do it.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 11

Happy day after Saint Patrick’s Day!

Yesterday was a long day of craziness.

But this post isn’t about that.

Nor is this post about SXSW which I still haven’t had a chance to write about.

This post is just another boring photo-a-day post. But I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

March 10 - flying Southwest to SXSW. Remember when you were a little kid and you used to be able to go visit the pilot AND he gave you the little metal wings? Man, times have changed.

March 11 - so true!

March 12 - taken in my SXSW photo camp 🙂

March 13 - Austin, Texas

March 14 - red velvet cupcakes at work to celebrate birthdays

March 15

March 16 - who says going to work can't be beautiful?

March 17 - the only way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day... Jameson!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun to celebrate the holiday?

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 10

You are going to have to just bear with me as I update my blog 18 times a day until Wednesday.

Sorry about that 🙂 but not really hehe

Here are my photos from the past week (and some extras just because it’s spring time and the world was beautiful this week):

March 4 - wandering around Downtown Danville

March 5 - I loved my outfit this day (and I'm so humble about it too...) - I got a lot of compliments at work which is an even BIGGER compliment, especially considering the women at work are some of the best dressed people I have ever met 🙂

March 6 - "5 o'clock" - March Photo-A-Day hosted by @fatmumslim on Instagram

March 7 - coffee catch-up chat with Kevin Hines 🙂

March 8 - flower stand in San Francisco

Note: I took a picture on March 9, but it was terrible and I didn’t like it so I deleted it. My bad.

March 10 - waiting for the bus, the first leg of my trip to SXSWi in Austin!

Macaroons at La Boulange - so pretty

yummy! Patries at Madeline's

Spring has sprung in Walnut Creek

Roses for my cousin - she wrote a play and it was performed at Stanford this past weekend 🙂 so proud of her

Cabbage leaves from my dad and step mom's garden

snail friend from said garden 🙂

All photos were taken with my iPhone.

Nerd-fest 2012: The Waiting Game

AKA South by Southwest Interactive 2012 or Southby or SXSWi from hereon out.

In case you are lame and didn’t read my previous post about this, I recently won a ticket to SXSWi on Twitter. Those tickets go for over $900, are completely sold out, and are the gateway to a wonderful week of networking, start-ups, technology, and mingling with nerds. Nerds just like me!

Looking at me you wouldn’t think I was a nerd – I like to think of myself as a closet nerd and this upcoming SXSWi experience as my Nerd Coming Out Party. (Is that a politically appropriate analogy?)

Anyway, I struggled a lot with whether to go to SXSWi or not. I was nervous for a lot of reasons – money, going out of my comfort zone, being alone, not fitting in, not being nerdy enough (weird fear, right? but totally valid!), etc. but I decided, after 99.9% support from friends, family and strangers, that I would attend. I fretted over the cost of the plane ticket, but thank goodness for Southwest airlines (fitting, isn’t it?) and its low fare calendar, because of that I was able to get tickets to Austin for a fraction of the cost from other airlines. Whew.

I talked to my mom about it a lot – she brought up the cliché “do one thing each day that scares you.” She then told me that, if I went to SXSWi like she thought I should, I would rack up about a month’s worth of “things that scare me” and hopefully get over some of my anxiety and debilitating fears (there are so many that I’m staring down right now that I’m not even going to get into all of them). But okay Mom, you’re right, I should go. I even got an e-mail from her this morning saying:

South by Southwest has been getting HUGE press in the SF Chron business pages – articles yesterday AND today.  You can google that if you are interested and/or have time before you leave today.  It should be an amazing experience.  I am so proud of you for grabbing this opportunity!

Thanks Mom. I really appreciate the support. Really. Now can you pay for the flight? Kidding. Kinda…

I have spent a lot of time this past week talking to just about everybody about what SXSWi is going to be like, what I should do while I’m there, etc. I have been actively posting on Twitter, Facebook, other people’s blogs and just about every other social media site I could think of in order to prepare myself.

I have come to the conclusion that no amount of blog posts, Twitter hash tag chats/follows or conversations about how amazing it’s going to be can prepare me for what I will experience over the next four days.

Although I don’t think all of my research can adequately prepare me for this (what I believe to be) life-changing event, here are the conclusions I’ve come to out of all of my anxious energy/excitement:

  • In going to SXSWi I am reaching so ridiculously far out of my comfort zone it isn’t even funny. I only won one ticket to the conference, which means I will be attending things, gasp!, alone! On the plus side, according to every single person I’ve talked to who has been, that’s the best way to do it! It forces you to get to know people and network. Apparently, going out of your comfort zone is what SXSWi is unofficially all about – who woulda thought!
  • I had no idea what to wear – does it matter? I’m such an over-packer and this event is definitely no exception. Also, I’ve never been to Austin, or even Texas, so I don’t know what the culture is like. If I brought my cowboy boots would people think I was a crazy poser? Since I had no idea what to wear and from convos with a good friend of mine, I just decided to pack everything I could think of. Maybe I’m stupid, but Swouthwest allows you to check one bag free of charge, so I’m golden.*
  • I have no idea what panels/presentations/events to go to because all of this happened so fast and I haven’t had time to research everything. But you know what, that is just part of the experience!
  • I’m not nerdy enough for this event. One of my major fears. Which is complete BS because I am a super nerd and technology and startups and electronics and design and HTML and CSS do interest and excite me. Maybe I’m not an expert like a lot of other people will be, but so what!
  • I never do anything spontaneous which means that this better be good. It could probably make or break my spontaneous side. Kidding (and this time I really am). I’m really excited that I’m being so spontaneous! It is a quality that I always see in other people and really admire, so I guess this is my turn to develop that same quality in myself and hopefully I’ll inspire somebody else who is scared of spontaneity and not having a plan.
  • WHERE WILL I STAY?! Okay well lucky for me, my friend Nikol over at Who’s Austin moved to Austin a few months ago (hence the blog title) and has a floor (or couch?) I can sleep on while I’m there. This means that a) I don’t have to pay for a hotel room (much less find a hotel room since they are all sold out) and b) I get to spend some quality time at presentations, networking events and parties with an old friend (Nikol and I lived on the same floor freshman year of college)
  • Similar to the previous thought, when will I sleep? I’m pretty sure those who go to SXSW don’t get very much sleep. At all. Like, maybe 3 hours a night. I barely survive when I only get 6 hours of sleep a night, so I’m basically planning on being exhausted and getting sick for 2.5 weeks after this event. But hey, that’s all part of the adventure, right? Right?!

My motto over the past few months has been “Be Brave” and that’s exactly what I’m going to be over the next few days (and beyond!)

I know I sound ridiculous, but I’m nervous! So cut me some slack.

Now, as per the title of this post, the waiting game starts. I am currently sitting in those uncomfortable airport chairs at the San Francisco airport waiting for my flight to Austin via Las Vegas (yay slot machines!) We were supposed to leave around now, but the flight was delayed. So i’m just sitting here. Hanging out. Researching SXSWi.

Life could be worse.

P.S. Thanks to Brad King (The Bradpocolypse or @TheBradKing) and everybody else who has written articles/blog posts about how to survive SXSWi – you have been the main instruments responsible for maintaining my sanity over the past 48 hours.

P.P.S. Thank you to everybody who commented on my previous post, everybody on Twitter, all my friends and everybody at work for encouraging me to go – and not really leaving me a choice 🙂

P.P.P.S. If you are going to be at SXSW, let’s meet up! Comment on here or find me on Twitter (@rockegan). Let me know what your favorite part of SXSWi has been and share any advice you have! Looking forward to meeting you 🙂

*I read in a few blogs about what I should and shouln’t pack – t-shirts were on the “no pack” list because apparently there are free t-shirts just about everywhere. I didn’t listen to this. I shamefully packed two t-shirts into my suitcase. Two t-shirts that are probably taking up space from all the other t-shirts I will receive while I’m there. Oops.

SXSW Dilemma

Okay, so here’s the scoop:

I won tickets to a convention called South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, TX. I entered a contest on Twitter* not thinking that I would win, but I did.

The ticket only covers the entrance (something that I could never afford on my own), which means that I’d have to purchase a plane ticket – I have a friend who lives in Austin, the lovely Nikol over at Who’s Austin, which means that I would stay with her and not have to worry about a hotel.

It’s going to be expensive (plane ticket and food), but would it be totally worth it? It sounds like the kind of thing I would absolutely love – start-ups, tech presentations, networking, social media – all things I love!

A few thoughts:

  • I would be going alone, which means I would be completely out of my comfort zone.
  • I never do anything spontaneous which means that this would be kind of a first for me.
  • I made a decision that I want to be more outgoing and likable.
  • I never win anything, so to win something this big is kind of intense.
  • I’ve never been to Texas.

Would it be crazy if I went? Would it be crazy if I didn’t go? Thoughts?

*The contest I entered and the company I won from are completely unrelated to any clients I work with.

Not Another Cliché Leap Day Post

Happy Leap Day everyone!

I wasn’t going to write today, but I figure, since February 29 only comes around once every four years (as we are all well aware) I have to write because, well, not every day is Leap Day. Then I was going to write about the nostalgia of childhood because I’ve been feeling it lately, but that didn’t seem to be enough.

Morning bun from Starbucks trip #2 (see bottom of post for more details)

You see, today isn’t just Leap Day… today is my very dear Aunt Judy’s birthday. She would have been 56 (or 14) today had she not died from cancer 11 years ago. I miss her every day.

Aunt Judy was unique. I’m not talking the way we are each our own people and different in our own right simply by existing or having variances in our DNA or whatever; I mean that Aunt Judy was a really special and amazing human being. She genuinely cared for every person she came in contact with every day.

I wish I had a photo to share with you, but I don’t have any on my computer. She passed away before digital cameras were a “thing”.

She lived across the country so we only saw her once or twice a year when we went to visit her or she came out here to visit us, but those visits were full of exciting adventures and parties. Tea parties, beanie baby parties, scavenger hunts, pool parties, picnics – you name it, she made it incredible. She couldn’t have children of her own so she treated her nieces like princesses. She would have been a wonderful mother – her child would have been the luckiest kid in the entire world. Unfortunately, she never had that chance.

When my grandmother stood up at my aunt’s funeral and spoke about her daughter, it broke my heart. I couldn’t tell you what she said (I was a wreck and hardly remember anything that anybody said to me that day), but what I can tell you is that my grandparents’ hearts break every single day from the loss of their daughter.

beautiful leap image (via vi.sualize.us)

The past few days have reminded my family, in very real ways, how short life can be. Yesterday, my step mom got news that her step sister passed away from a bad case of pneumonia (sadly, my family members are no strangers to how devastating pneumonia can be – and how awful the ICU can be for months on end). Last night was the first time my step mom had ever heard her step dad cry. Talking to her about it this morning broke my heart.

No parent should ever have to bury a child – no matter how young or old that person is.

Losing people who are close to you really makes you value how important every single day is – sometimes things happen that really make us open our eyes and take a good hard look at the world around us and realize how incredible this world is. Sometimes those things are good (like getting an apartment and a job all in the same day), and sometimes those things are devastating (like losing a loved one – especially when their life is cut short by tragedy); What’s important, though, is that we don’t take life for granted and that we really appreciate everything that surrounds us.

That is why I have spent today being thankful that I have one more day – one extra day – to appreciate the people in my life. Even though it seemed like just any other Wednesday – I got up, went to work, stressed about deadlines, came home, ate dinner, and now I’m sitting in bed – it really was so much more than that. It was one more chance, 24 more hours, to hold my head high and live life the way my Aunt Judy lived it all 45 years of her life – with passion, excitement, love, and hope that I can (somehow) make the world a better place.

Of course, now I’ve turned my “Happy Leap Day” post into a rather sad post, but sometimes that just has to be done. Because I made this post so intense, here are some happier Leap Year thoughts to end you with:

Leap Year Fact #1: Did you know that, because we have Leap Years, the calendar year and the solar year are just about a half a minute off. At that rate, it takes 3,300 years for the calendar year and solar year to diverge by a day. That should help you sleep at night 😉

Leap Year Fact #2: A New Jersey woman and her daughter were both born on Leap Day. The odds of that are 2 million to 1. That’s pretty crazy, huh?

Leap Year Fact #3: All of us in my mom’s immediate family were born in Leap Years. Pretty crazy, huh? What are the chances of that? 

  • Piffy – 1952
  • Prey – 1956
  • Philo – 1980
  • MJD – 1984
  • Me – 1988
  • Pookie – 1992
  • MJ – 2008

(To see which name corresponds with which person, visit the Characters page)

Besides valuing the extra day, I celebrated in a few other ways as well:

First I went to Starbucks three times before noon. Can you say addicted?! (Soy latte, morning bun, and iced coffee with nutmeg…. YUM!)

Then the Cupcake Fairy came to work today – something that only happens once every 4 years – and we were all pretty excited.

Present from the Cupcake Fairy

And, as if today wasn’t unique enough, there were actually open seats on my bus ride home. That is unheard of at 5pm on a Wednesday in San Francisco.

Empty bus seats 🙂

How did you spend your Leap Day? Did you do anything special?

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 8

Normally I don’t post twice in one day, but earlier today I said that I would do my Picture-A-Day post that I neglected last week. I wasn’t about to go back on that commitment.

February 18 - our first home made meal at the apartment (of course it was spaghetti)

That is something I’m trying to work on – sticking to things that I say I’m going to do. Now, I’m not a complete flake, in my professional life I’m very good at getting things done by a deadline. I’m dedicated to my work, and I come by that naturally (both of my parents are very dedicated to their jobs – it’s genetics). But in my personal life, sometimes I say I’m going to do something and then end up getting too tired, or I forget, or whatever, but I’m trying to work on that. It’s something that bothers me about other people, so I feel as though I should change it in myself as well.

February 19 - my receipt.. I've never seen my name spelled like that... ever.

Here’s another confession, as if I haven’t revealed enough of my shortcomings today, I didn’t take a picture one day last week – February 20 to be exact. I could come up with some sort of excuse about being ridiculously busy and having a bunch of other stuff to finish (like finally getting my apartment completely set up and worked out), but the fact is, I simply forgot.

So sue me.

There’s no reason to beat myself up for missing the photo opp. In order to make up for it, though, I tried to take more pictures throughout the rest of the week. I’m disappointed in myself that I broke my new year’s resolution, but it was just one day and the point of the exercise isn’t necessarily to take a picture every single day – it’s more to use a camera more, whether it be my Canon Rebel or my iPhone.

February 21 - a rip in my tights 😦 and I love those tights! oh well

February 22 - I decided to walk to work and took pictures along the way

February 22 - China Town

February 22

February 23 - the staircase in my building

February 23 - one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco

February 23 - view of Alcatraz from Union St

February 24 - my new friend on my desk at work

February 25 - "breakfast" at Ikea (before we went shopping to finish decorating our apartment)

February 26 - meet Teddy, I've had him since I was 25 days old 🙂

February 27 - "because the best monsters are actually good on the inside" (makes me think of Monster's Inc.)

And a bonus one from my wanderings around San Francisco.. just because I like this one 🙂

How was your weekend? Did you do anything special?

I hope your Monday went well!

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