Here We Go: StartUp Bus 2015

BUSpreneurs 6.3.15It’s all happening! Tomorrow I depart on a bus from an undisclosed downtown NYC location at 5am with approx. 30 other peeps I don’t really know to co-create what could be the next big start up, app, world changing product, you name it – the possibilities are endless! Over the next couple days we’ll cruise to Nashville, hacking along the way to develop our dream companies and products all for a chance to win big at the pitch competition on Monday. Oh, and did I mention there’s 6 other buses leaving from different cities across the US (even Mexico City!)?Plus NYC is on a winning streak for two years in a row, so no pressure or anything.

How did I even find out about this? Pretty serendipitously. It all started with a chance meeting at the WIRED Business conference in May. A cool chic I met referred me to her company site, which led me down a rabbit hole of other similarly cool sites focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. I stumbled upon the StartUp Bus and thought, why not apply, not knowing much about it except that it looks like the adventure of a lifetime. Soon after applying, the WIRED #girlboss replied to my bus application saying she’s not only a bus alumni but also happens to be conducting this years NYC trip! Meant to be? Surely.

The more I learned about the bus and story behind it all the more I realized there’s nothing more perfect for me to be doing RIGHT NOW. Lately I’ve felt such a strong influx of creative energy, almost restless at times, pushing me to create and strategize everywhere I can – I’ve got to channel this energy somewhere! And how perfect is this – the bus is divided into entrepreneurial types:  hipsters (designers), hustlers (business savvy magic makers) and hackers (developers, programmer gurus)….Guess what I am?

I met my fellow bus-preneurs tonight as well as a few alumni from previous years – super fun and energizing to schmooze before our big getaway! I am super grateful for friends that came to send me off, for a dream job that supports me in following awesome dreams to experience unheard of adventures and for all my collective life experience that has prepared me super well to effing bring it. I can’t help but feel like something big is on the horizon, something truly groundbreaking. In the very least I’m excited to make awesome new friends, see just how much can get accomplished in just three days and what magic is truly possible wth a dedicated team committed to grinding our little hearts out towards a unifying goal. I promise I’ll have some wild stories to share after Monday! #WatchOut ❤💜

Por favor, stalk me all you want + follow our adventures via the Bus’ live stream😎💯🌷

Northside Fest Innovation 6.13

My Friday the 13th started out in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park where Northside Fest set up its home base for a week-long South By Southwest-style conference on innovation, film and music. Complete with after parties and concerts galore over the entire week, the festival is in its fourth year running much to the delight of musicians, innovators, digital media nerds, start up gurus, marketers and entrepreneurs alike.

Northside Fest SwagThis year it literally felt like the East Coast hipster cousin of Austin’s SXSW had officially landed in Williamsburg. My friends over at Small Girls PR hooked me up with a badge to attend the Innovation portion of the program, where I hung out all day Friday. The panels were creatively situated nearby one another with main attractions at the Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn Brewery, Kinfolk Studios and the trade show at McCarren Park. Lucky for all attendees Mable’s Smokehouse served up a delicious complimentary BBQ lunch midday Friday. The BBQ never tasted so good but in hindsight might have been a precarious choice for conference-goers expected to pay attention and not immediately need a power nap.

The panel “Preparing to Pivot” showcased  inspiring entrepreneurs talking about their experiences with changing directions and sometimes starting over along their start-up quests. Many spoke to the fact that failure and making mistakes are just part of the start up game. If you really believe in something and are willing to put the effort into it, you don’t ever give up. On the flip side, they also spoke to the importance of knowing when its time to give up on a particular direction and change your strategy to stay afloat. Did you know AirBnB used Craigslist at one point as an early customer acquisition strategy?

Zappos’ presentation on “Throwing Out the Organizational Chart” provided an overview of holocracy. To better foster innovation, Zappos suggests that corporations will do well to model the information-sharing and communication styles offered by cities’ infrastructure. I almost understood the idea, but must admit I might never truly get it until I experience  holacracy first-hand. Talk about new age-y organizational style. We’ll see what Zappos rolls out with results-wise this year following a more full implementation of holacracy. Perhaps their case study will prove fruitful for pushing other companies to adopt new communication mechanisms and management (or lack there of) structures. What about hashtags in employee titles (i.e. #title) to symbolize the fluid-nature of each position’s description? Sign me up.

GE

My favorite panel of the day was a fireside chat (without a fire) with TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha and GE’s Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing, Linda Boff–“GE’s Secrets Revealed: Their Top 5 Marketing Innovations.” Did you know GE was the first brand on Vine? I appreciated Linda’s candid honesty about how she likes to be promiscuous with advertising and marketing agencies in search of the best storytellers. She made a nod to agencies focused on doing what they do really well, and not getting lost in the crowd of big agencies trying to do many things just-okay.

GE’s secrets turned out to not be so secret after all, but they did provoke some great insights. Be first, be human as a brand, tell a GREAT story, be helpful, and measure success by engagement. All good tips, especially the encouragement throughout to be uniquely useful and stay true to the brand’s integrity. I’m already excited for next year–expect the tech, entrepreneurship and innovation elements to be bigger than ever and attract tech stars from all over the map!

Why All The #Hashtags?

EarringsI can’t remember the first time I used a hash tag but I think at that moment I sensed my life would never be the same. Suddenly I felt like I was speaking the language I was always meant to speak. The world finally made sense, talking back to me one abbreviated thought at a time. Immediately, I was in love.

I was super late to the Twitter party because, quite frankly, I wanted to stick with what I felt good at (who ever thought you could be “good at” social media?). When Facebook enabled hashtagging, it was game over. I was off to the races. Armed with a penchant for penning all-too-lengthy mantras, I even started taking them out of posts and using them straight up in my text messages. Friends beware: a new era is upon us.

Somethings are just better communicated in short code. Like Twitter’s 140 characters, hashtags command a certain simplicity and straightforwardness that might otherwise get lost in, I don’t know, a complete sentence or narrative. Try tagging old vintage photos of people’s families or friends as little kids with things like #newswag, #thuglife, #stuntin, #hyphy and don’t even get me started on where that could really lead. At times it can get pretty #treal.

For all you late bloomers out there, don’t fret, there is help for optimizing your hashtagging! To become more seasoned in what will most certainly continue dominating social, get out there and practice. It’s meant to be fun. Get creative and try communicating with people in new ways. That’s what this is all about. Find new things that interest you using images and posts you’ve hashtagged in the past and see what other people are tagging similarly. You might be surprised at what you find and what new connections arise. What is your mantra? What are you known for? Claim your brand.  At the end of the day, social is all about building connections between the people and ideas that inspire us. Welcome to the party.

I Could Have Invented Facebook, But Then High School Happened

My first social media experience happened with my 6th grade introduction to AIM. My screen names were so ahead of the times! There’s no doubt that my super fast typing skills developed over late night group chat sessions with all my middle school friends, typing fast while also using alternating capital and lower case letters for style. Using names like “LiToLePrAkHaN” and “SsHoMeSlIcEsS” was my m.o. and it soon led me to get into web design–although I didn’t know it at the time. What prompted me to get so invested in a personal site at that age? I’m not so sure, but my first site http://www.shupz.cjb.net was really a feat to behold. I took it down around hight school because it just wasn’t the cool thing to do anymore. I either outgrew my interest or became a slave to what I thought was the cooler thing to do. I think the latter is true.

Social ProfileI reached some point in my adolescence where I was embarrassed by my nerdy history of making sites and learning to code. I wish I remembered how to get it back. I’d give anything to reminisce about the hilarious history of middle school, my site’s “shout-outs,” the “trademarks” page and the funky layouts borrowed from the endless Expage forums. I don’t know why I was embarrassed. Website building and coding late at night while snacking and typing lightening speed messages on AIM suddenly didn’t fit in with the party girl persona I tried to cultivate, in fact is really cramped my style altogether.

I wish I felt more encouraged to follow that passion and listen to the inner drive I felt to create things using this tech format I’ve always felt so comfortable with. I jokingly say I could’ve created Facebook had I stuck with it and maybe took steps to learn more advanced skills in the arena. For whatever reason that just wasn’t my path. I am grateful to feel a return full-circle to that time when I didn’t care so much about what others thought and just followed my instinct to create. Putting content out there without a brand or company backing me is a new feeling, but for now I’m just going with it. And for now it feels like the right thing, so I’m listening up.

Are there others who had an early introduction to coding or website design but didn’t pursue it because it doesn’t seem cool enough? Luckily I think that paradigm is shifting to one in which coding and creating and having your own start-up is becoming a highly desirable path, and not just one you can easily teach in college. Learning the tools and skills needed to succeed in the new tech economy is also becoming more accessible, but those who can’t afford multi-thousand dollar degree program or coding intensives are still facing barriers to entry. New technology and the internet of things have helped democratize so much opportunity across all industries, namely education. So far I’m proud of my generation for helping push things forward, but I still wonder if there is more we can do to help bring everyone into the fold. Are coding and web design becoming cool again? Are kids showing an interest earlier on and sticking with it because they feel supported? I want to be a part of the movement towards greater inclusion and opportunity for all. Maybe I am a part of it just by putting myself out there like this.

What’s in a Klout Score?

Klout ScoreThe Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.

First off, did you know Barack Obama has a 99?

Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.

KLOUT SCORE CORE CONCEPTS

When Klout first came on the scene I was skeptical as to whether it was actually going to be helpful or effective at measuring status/impact/reach. The longer it’s been on the market I’ve seen how it actually addresses a need felt across all social channels that isn’t clearly addressed by other mediums.

Let’s be honest, everyone is dying to know where they stand, especially in comparison to all their friends and everyone else. There’s something satisfying about knowing where you fit in, how you’re ranked and how much of an impact you’re having. Is it simply explained as a human desire or evolutionary dependency? Social media has definitely set into motion new social norms and even vocabulary built into our everyday life–but has it also reinforced more wide scale dependency on affirmation and recognition?

I think we all know the answer to that question. It relates to recent discussion about selfies and the obsession with getting positive feedback on photo and content posts. There’s even a new song about it. I can see where the argument arises but I for one am a huge proponent of the positive opportunity offered by social media to help empower consumers and businesses alike by bridging the gap between the buyers and decision makers. The same goes for politics. Consider how digital and social media impacted Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The millennial generation is digital and social, and there’s no going back. The challenge remains for brands and political governance in how to best interact and engage with the new constituency defined by everything-social.

 

How Can I Help?

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before.
NYC Skyline

Remember the Future

Montauk

That’s what comes to mind when I think of the impact I want to create. I want to work with clients to make their visions and passions a reality. I want to leverage what I’ve learned in corporate advertising to help entrepreneurs and start ups effectively share their message and value with the people they want to reach. I want to live in a world where everyone wins, where everyone can benefit from lifting one another up towards success and fulfillment.

I want to help bridge the resource gap while working for people I believe in and whose energy and drive I feed off of. Nothing fills me more than sharing in the excitement of launching a new idea and innovative strategy for something that could fundamentally change the way the world works. I’ve always been an optimist, sometimes to a painful degree. I believe in people’s absolutely limitless capacity to create a better world, and I clearly see how social media and digital strategy can play a central role in making that world a reality.