Category Archives: Uncategorized

Madeline in her TV Kart watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at Kroger. Wow.

The times they are a changin’

Sent from my iPhone


Food Allergy Awareness Week – Respect Every Bite

As a mom of a peanut and egg-allergic three year old daughter, I have learned so much about food allergies and the challenges it creates. Through my daughter’s grace, I have learned to accept the things I cannot control and to deal with things one day at a time. She is my sweet little girl and I worry about keeping her protected every day. We are learning together to read the labels, ask questions and be vigilant with food. We carry around an epi-pen and benedryl and it is an accepted accessory now, just like my purse. We talk to her teachers, friends’ parents, caregivers, and anyone else that we cross paths with and make sure they know about her allergies. We ask questions and research restaurants and places before we travel. Every meal is a concern, which is why we must respect every bite..

The most surprising thing I learned was how little the general public was aware of the implications of cross-contamination. A food product might not have peanuts in it but may have been processed in a plant that handles peanuts. That is a big deal for those of us with food allergies. The scary thing is that food manufacturers do not have to have the “may contain” statement so if it is not on the package, you have to call and find out.

My sweet daughter before she was diagnosed with food allergies.

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, I am including some links to local Atlanta groups, the Atlanta Food Allergy Walk this Fall as well as peanut free snack ideas for the classroom and food allergy associations. Kids with Food Allergies has also announced a Faces of Food Allergies campaign that encourages kids to get involved. Add your picture to the photo gallery and spread the word to educate our schools and the entire community to respect every bite.

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network – sign up for email allergy alerts

Atlanta FAAN Food Allergy Walk 10/2/10

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – new nonprofit! Yeah!

Yahoo Group Atlanta Families with Food Allergies

Ask About My Peanut Allergy – Bo’s Food List (always read the labels as it may change) Safe snack ideas

Respect Every Bite, Because Every Bite Matters – great post by Smiling Green Mom about Food Allergy Awareness Week, resources


10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me 10 Years Ago ·

A friend posted this on his Facebook status. This is a great read and sound advice for all. It puts everything in perspective in life and would be great for all graduates to read as graduation approaches! I am going to start a list of my own.
Another great read and gift idea for graduates? Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. and the Success poem attributed to R. W. Emerson:
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”

Stop and Smell the Flowers.

For years I would drive by a sunflower field on my way to work. Every year when they were in bloom I would make a mental note that I would stop and pick some sunflowers. After the fifth year, my family finally went and picked the sunflowers. We had a ball and the flowers brightened the house for weeks. We are going to visit again this year and are creating a tradition.

Why do we put off things that will make us happy? Are we too busy to stop and smell the flowers? What are you putting off that would bring a smile to your face today?


Remember to Say Thank You.

Always remember to say thank you. After Christmas, I had my daughter create a picture and I scanned it and made a thank you card with a picture of the girls as well as the crayon drawing. The family loved it and commented about it.

A few years ago I was working for an online ecommerce company and was struggling with getting some graphics created. A colleague stepped in to help me out and he created the graphic. I sent him a Hallmark ecard as a thank you. He later told me that no one had ever thanked him like that and he was so happy. I had thought about not sending one – thinking it might seem hokey to him, but after hearing that I was glad that I did.

In business, you can simply verbally thank an employee for a job well done, send an ecard to a vendor or partner or run a campaign and thank your customers. It is a simple thing that you can do for a cheap price and believe it or not, makes a world of difference!

30 Day Social Media Challenge for B2B Companies Looking to Make the Plunge

Not sure if social media is right for your business?
Don’t know where to start or what to do?

Take this challenge. In 30 days, you will determine if your company is cut out for social media.

You may find yourself asking What is social media all about?

Social Media Surrounds Us

Social media is a hot topic these days. Your friends are using it, your employees are using it, even some of your competitors are using it.

CNN and ESPN broadcasters ask you to become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Business associates are sending you LinkedIn requests. People are rating movies on Netflix and products on Amazon. Even small businesses list their Facebook fan pages on their signs as you drive through town.

Social media seems to be everywhere.

Do you at times wonder “everyone else is doing it, but why should we?”

Good question.

It might not make sense for your company to utilize social media as part of your integrated marketing strategy. It all depends on many things.

What are your goals? Who do you sell to and where do they seek out your kind of products or services?

Social media does not cost a lot of money, but the time commitment and resources that it takes to build a social media program can be demanding.

Here is a 30 day test to see if you can successfully incorporate social media into your marketing and PR mix.

Week 1 – Fish Where the Fish Are

Chris Brogan, a social media expert, say to Fish Where the Fish Are. And he’s right. Where did your customers find you? Do you know? If not, ask them.

Your customers can give you a wealth of information with a simple survey. Offer a free giveaway or chance to win a larger prize and ask them a few questions.

Do they belong to associations? Do they go online to forums, message boards and industry blogs? Which search engines do they use? Do they still use the yellow pages or do they go online? Put together a list of 5 – 10 questions for your customers. Send out a free survey and analyze their responses.

Have your sales and customer service teams ask where call-ins heard about you (if they don’t already.) Put together a list of these responses and the survey answers and you should be getting a good idea where your customers are finding you.

Week 2 & 3 – Listen

Start slow. Listen. Go where your customers are online. If you don’t know, ask them.

Start a spreadsheet of forums, message boards, industry blogs, etc.

Take time to set up some listening posts about your company and industry.

Set up news alerts for your brand and industry keywords on Google, Yahoo
and Bing.

Look up your brand and keywords on Social Mention and Twitter Search. Set up alerts – Social Mention has different tabs, so you can set up an alert for each category.

Search blogs through Technorati and Google Blog Search.

Bookmark LinkedIn Answers under the appropriate categories or set up the RSS feed in a Reader and check daily. 

Look up any blog comments about your company or industry through BackType.

Yacktrack lets you search for comments on your content from various sources, such as Blogger, Digg, FriendFeed, Stumbleupon, and WordPress blogs.

Use to get instant alerts from threads citing your name. Boardreader and Big Boards are other tools that work similar to this one.

Use iGoogle or Netvibes to set up a dashboard with these sites and RSS feeds.

Now that you have set up your listening posts, check them in an RSS feed a few times a week.

This will help you get an idea about what people are saying about you, your competitors, your industry.

You will be able to track trends and hot topics and will be ready to take the next step in social media.

Week 4 – Comment

Once you set up your listening posts, schedule 1-2 hours a week to monitor and comment on any relevant blogs, articles, etc.

Answer at least one LinkedIn question in each of the categories that applies to your business. Make sure you have a free company page set up in LinkedIn.

If people are talking about your brand in a good or bad way, respond directly to them and offer your help.

Build trust and relationships. You may be surprised how helpful the social media community can be.

End of the Month

By now you should have an idea of what social media is about.

Hopefully by doing this challenge you will learn more about your business, your customers and yourself. Social media does not cost a lot of money, but it sure involves lots of time.

In 30 days, if you find that you do not have the time or resources to do these basic monitoring tasks, you might not be ready for a full social media strategy.

If you are able to do these monitoring tasks, then you are ready to take the next steps in social media which will be covered in the next post.

How to Use Social Media for Research

I recently tapped into my social network to research a topic for a blog post. Specifically, I asked marketers how their paid search agency could better serve their clients. I received some great feedback and wanted to share how you can use your network for research.

First, I posted a question on LinkedIn Answers. This is one of the most useful features of LinkedIn and if you are not familiar with it, start reading answers in your industry and try to answer a few. Also you can ask members in LinkedIn groups questions in the discussion boards if you are also a member. Two great starting points for your research.

I also found some industry-specific forums and posted questions there (see Google groups, Yahoo groups, search industry keyword + group or forum) and on There are many relevant sites for every industry and it is amazing how people are so open to giving advice and sharing knowledge. Once you find these forums, get involved and participate in helping others. It can be rewarding and helps build your network.

Then I went to my network on *Twitter and asked the question with the link to the LinkedIn questions. I also sent direct messages to some folks who were active in the industry to try and get their feedback. I also searched industry terms on Tweetgrid to see if anyone was having a discussion about the topic.

*I have been building a network on Twitter for personal and professional development. One group that I interact with is marketing professionals in the US. I started talking to people on Twitter when I was at my last job and was a one person marketing department. I discovered that Twitter was a great resource to share ideas and information. The feedback I received when I posed questions was valuable and in real time. I could have conversations with other professionals in my industry and I didn’t feel alone. Having built this network, I was able to ask questions and get some great answers. Building a network on Twitter (and on all social media sites) takes time. People should build their networks a little bit every week. Participate and share and be sure not to just sell – that is a huge turnoff. Twitter is a place where people can learn from one another.

Using social media, I was able to get great insights and feedback from a group of talented people in only a few days.

Our society is more plugged in than it has ever been and people are looking to make a connection online and offline. Social media can serve as an extension of your research efforts – it’s like an instant focus group.

My blog post  – How to Be a Better PPC Search Marketing Agency.

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Atlanta Tax Day 2010 Deals and Freebies

The dreaded Tax Day April 15 is coming this week. Fortunately many local restaurants and stores offer tax day promotions. Lessen the tax day pain and check out these deals!

From Atlanta on the Cheap:

From AJC’s Bargain Hunter:

Tax-free shopping at Whole Foods

Whole Foods grocery stores are giving taxpayers a break on April 15. Shoppers at Atlanta area stores will save anywhere from 6 to 9.5 percent depending upon store location by not paying sales tax on any items in the store.

50% off BLT drinks

BLT Steak has a break coming for customers as well. On Tax Day, April 15, all beer, wine and cocktails will be 50 percent off. The half-off special includes bottles and glasses of wine.

Two free cupcake bites at Cinnabon

Did you know that Cinnabon made cupcakes? I certainly didn’t, but when you can get them for free, you might as well give them a try. On April 15, from 6-8 p.m., you can get two free cupcakes bites from the cinnamon bun experts.

From Nation’s Restaurant News: Restaurants offer treats for tax day blues.

From Common Sense with MoneyStarbucks is giving free coffee when you bring your own mug on 4/15.

From Examiner:

Visit P.F. Chang’s on April 15th and receive 15% off food purchases. No coupon necessary!

Hydro Massage – Nothing spells r-e-l-i-e-f like a FREE massage! If you’re in the Alpharetta area, stop by HydroMassage anytime between April 15th and 18th for this terrific freebie.

Maggie Moo’s – Check out MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream and Treatery for an “E-cone-omic” Relief Package on tax day! Participating locations are giving away free slices of MaggieMia’s Ice Cream Pizza from 3 to 7pm. Click here to find a location near you!

Get a Free Tax Day Relief Cocktail at Whiskey Blue at the W Hotel! Just bring in your W2 or proof of tax preparation on Thursday and get your first drink free, courtesy of Blue Moon Brewing Company.

McDonalds – Buy a Southern Style Chicken Biscuit or Sandwich on Tax Day & you’ll get the second one free!

From 11 Alive Atlanta:

There is such a thing as a free lunch this week. has another Tuesday free lunch special. The first 50 people in the door at KC Pitt Barbecue at 6317 Roswell road in Sandy Springs on April 14th get a free lunch as long as they mention Metromix. For more information call KC Pitt BBQ At (404) 459-6497.

For updates on local freebies and ways to save money, follow Valuesval on Twitter.

I will update this page as I see deals posted. Feel free to comment as well to add any other tax day deals, specials and promotions!

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Best Strategies for Using Social Media at Events

Someone recently posted this question on Linkedin today. I thought that I would share my response and some helpful industry links.

Think of social media as an extension of your networking – you plan to meet people in person at the event, but there are many people interested in the event who cannot attend. Part of the appeal of social media is the knowledge sharing and the personal/professional development involved. You will meet people on and offline and everyone benefits with new resources, contacts and knowledge.

Preparing for the event with your network should be as easy and regimented as packing your luggage. Let people know you are going, discover who else will be there, share information about the event and reap the rewards of community.

Here are some tips as well as some relevant industry links.

  1. Prepare for the event by creating a Twitter list of people that will be attending.
  2. Use Tripit and Foursquare on your trip to find fellow colleagues.
  3. Create an RSS feed with the hashtag of the event to find and follow people attending.
  4. Look for tweetups through the event hashtag and post messages to meet up on other social media sites/forums like Ning if there is an association or other type of group involved.
  5. Blog summaries of the sessions that you attend for people who aren’t able to make the event.
  6. Create an event in Linkedin to alert others about it.
  7. If you are presenting, be sure to share your presentation in Slideshare and tag with keywords about the event.
  8. Link your blog, Tripit and Slideshare to Linkedin so updates are automated.
  9. Bring a flip video or camera and document your trip for a blog entry.
  10. Make a badge with your photo and social media contact info. (link below)
  11. Create business cards with your social media contact information to hand out at the event.

For more info about preparing for an event, check out Chris Brogan’s blog post – 27 Things to Do Before a Conference. (link below)

27 Things to Do Before a Conference
Make a Free Name Tag or Badge
Social Media Business Cards
10 Things You Can Do Preparing for the Conference
Specific Event example of Preparing for a Conference – ASAE09

Free Social Media Tools to Build Your Online Profile and Start Networking

Every day it seems there are more tools, widgets and apps to keep up with. Technology is changing at a faster pace than we have ever witnessed in the past. Social media is now a part of our professional and personal lives. It gives us insight into the way customers and friends live their lives and shares their views much more than any focus group could gather.

Have you googled yourself lately? How you appear online has become as important as writing a solid resume. Human resource professionals and universities are looking at social media profiles for job and college applicants. There are many other reasons for having an online profile, but you get the picture. You need to be there, and be sure what appears is the real you.

As you build your online profile, here are a few neat tools to share your social media contact information and build your presence online.

Have a blog? If not, start a free one with This is the best way to show up in the search engines. Fresh content is king and you can blog about your industry, expertise, hobbies, whatever you would like to write about.

If you aren’t ready to blog, create a Google Profile. It is a one page profile that lists your social media contact information and a brief profile and picture if you want to post it.

Join Linkedin for business and discover a networking community waiting to help you with industry and work related questions. Set up your online resume and ask fellow colleagues for references. Add a picture and join some industry groups. Join in the conversation and answer questions in the Q&A section. Build your network every day.

Join Facebook for finding long lost friends and keeping up with new ones. Share photos of your family and send status updates on what is going on in your life (once a day is a good amount.) Share links and videos to your friends in one post instead of emailing your entire address book. Be sure to set your privacy settings to friends only.

Twitter is a microblogging platform. In 140 characters or less, you can converse with other people on any type of topics. Find and follow people with like interests using Twitter search. Create a full profile and use a photo of yourself – closeups work best. Include keywords in your bio so people can find you. Learn the lingo and how to retweet, send direct messages and @ messages. Hashtags (#+word) help you find other people discussing a current event like the Olympics as they occur. Tweetgrid can help you monitor keywords and topics. Use Twhirl on the desktop to track conversations (tweets.)

Delicious is a social bookmarking service where you can bookmark and tag articles for later review. It a great place to store research, reference information, statistics, anything that you might need to reference later in your personal or professional life. Create one for your business and one for personal bookmarking. Share the business link on your web site and in your emails. Add industry links and interesting articles for your customers and prospects.

When you have your profiles set up, add a Wisestamp signature to your web mail address. It contains links to your social media profiles and blog if you have one.

If you like to comment on other blogs, set up a Gravatar to enhance your profile and it will add a picture and even a link to your last blog post with your comments.

Building your online presence is something only you can do. And it can only help you – whether you want to contact old friends or find a new job. More adults are using social media sites as part of their internet experience. Social media is here to stay. And who knows what future the internet will bring.

Join the conversation and meet new friends and colleagues online today!