Minimal Parenting
Oct 2013
24

#HelpWomenAtRisk With Minimalist Parenting

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way. Just pure blog love.

I honestly can’t remember when I met Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest. Some conference, I think, where you meet most bloggers, but I loved them both instantly. I do remember thinking they were real people, with really big smiles and really big hearts. I was so thrilled when their book, “Minimalist Parenting,” came out.

Even more thrilled that they do awesome things like #HelpWomenAtRisk.

Between October 1-31, 2013, these lovely ladies are donating 100% of the royalties on copies sold through this special fundraising link to Women At Risk, an Ethiopian organization that helps women lift themselves out of prostitution.

Even better, their publisher, Bibliomotion, is matching donations on the first 100 copies sold through this fundraiser.

Buy your copy now!
#HelpWomenAtRisk

Also, check out the story behind their conviction to help Ethiopia and Women At Risk.

Cheers to Christine and Asha, as well as organizations like One who support women where they need it most.

Aug 2013
21

What Not To Say To A Mom Blogger

I understand that what people don’t understand may seem scary. Or weird. Or not worth anything.

Or perhaps “don’t understand” is not the right phrase.

Haven’t seen the value of. Haven’t seen in action.

Recently I was chatting with someone who puts on a big event. He asked me what I thought of it. I thought it was great.

He said, “No. You can tell me how you really feel.”

My husband later told me that no one ever actually means that phrase.

I replied that the event itself was great but the social media seemed lacking.

He was surprised by my answer. He thought they had done really well. And they did, in a lot of ways. But this was a large event. And when I ran the numbers on it, *I* was surprised.

 “Well, last year you got 1.8 million impressions on the hashtag. This year you improved to over 5 million, but 2 million of that was me alone.”

His answer? Big wide sarcastic eyes and…

“There are 2 million mommy bloggers out there?”

OH.
YES.
HE.
DID.
 
Part of me is still laughing over his answer, because, really – he is the one missing out. Missing out on all the different areas that I show up when you search “Denver {insert keyword} blogger” *AND* missing out on all those moms who bring 3-5 other people to an event such as his.

And part of me knows he was just stinging because I had the balls to tell him what I really thought.

Either way.

Whatever, dude. Have fun next year.

Jul 2013
30

Guest Post: Impostor Syndrome For Women & Feeling Like A Fraud

I have asked friends if they would like to write guest posts for me over the next few months, and the first one I am proud to present is from my dear friend Suzan Bond. This lady is creative, kind, engaged. The type of person who really listens when you speak. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.  ~ Aimee

IceCastles_52

Impostor Syndrome For Women & Feeling Like A Fraud
by Suzan Bond

Doubt and fear are common companions on the road to doing great things. About midway through a panel on women and technology that I recently attended, these two thieves of joy made their presence known. There was a long line of women waiting for their turn to ask questions of the renown panel.

Standing at the microphone, she wore a simple but smart outfit of a grass green sleeveless top and a black pencil skirt. She looked like a marketing assistant for a large company who was trying to look the part. Her question was simple: “As a young woman just getting into the workforce what advice would you give so that I don’t get pigeonholed in marketing like most women? I’d much rather be a developer.”

I wanted to shout at her, “Then don’t let anyone pigeonhole you there! Most of all yourself!”

Luckily the panelists offered practical advice quickly so that I didn’t blurt out my opinion in the silence.

Now, I’m in marketing but I certainly wasn’t “pigeonholed” here. I have always followed my interests – which focused on building businesses through people and communication. But I don’t think all women should be in marketing. I believe the greatest happiness comes from following the thing that pulls you in so deep that you forget to eat for eight hours. Whatever that is. Developing software, raising children, creating products or pole dancing. Hey. Who am I to judge?

It’s so disheartening to hear anyone – especially a young woman at the beginning of her career – worry about being pigeonholed. It makes me wonder how many other people have thought this but didn’t have the foresight or strength to say it out loud. When this question sits inside without being voiced, all too often it means the person succumbs to the belief that they’re stuck somewhere they don’t wish to be.

The most interesting part of this particular question/answer was when a panelist asked the woman what she wanted to do. She replied that she really wanted to be a developer but had little experience doing it so she figured she had to take a more traditional “female” job like marketing. In all my years of working with executives and career changers I have only heard one man (just one, people) but nearly every woman can articulate this feeling. That’s a mighty wide ratio. While there are plenty of reasons for this concern including stereotypes like the “marketing chick” and unconscious bias, there’s also another culprit: Impostor Syndrome.

I spent a decade that spanned into my early thirties gripped by the impostor disease. It was so apparent to everyone (aside from myself) that I was its captive that the most common refrain I heard was “You have no idea how (smart, capable, awesome…) you are.” During a coaching course I was taking each participant was given a nickname that symbolized their personal kryptonite. The goal was to become comfortable with the very thing that upset you the most. Becoming more friendly with it was intended to give you more freedom. I was given the name “Mrs. President” by the instructor, a strong woman who looked like she knew her way around a fight. Mortified, I immediately felt the shame dragon curl his flaming hot tail around me. “How could anyone ever compare me to someone that powerful?” I sputtered.

That was exactly the point.

My reaction to someone calling me powerful was well beyond my current awareness and a sure hallmark of impostor syndrome. Other harbingers that it has flown in to roost in your mind are being plagued with self doubt despite your competence or crediting luck or timing for your success rather than your own actions.

In other words: selling yourself short.

Most of us have felt like a fraud at some point. Often it’s at the point that is supposed to be the pinnacle of something: graduation, getting your dream job, publishing a book. “Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake had been made,” Sheryl Sandberg has noted of people experiencing impostor syndrome. It turns out that success doesn’t always beget confidence, particularly for women. While both men and women experience the feeling of being a fraud, studies show that women tend to be more affected. As women gain more responsibility as say the head of a department or even a company, the pressure can intensify. Rather than bringing relief or happiness, success instead seems to usher in an ever growing fear of being found out according to Valerie Young of WEPAN.

Incredibly successful women like Tina Fey, Meryl Streep and Jodi Foster who would be considered successful by nearly everyone’s standards, haven’t escaped its grasp as each of them have claimed feeling like a fraud. In my own circle, this nasty misbelief has been making the rounds. Recently two of my friends independently wrote about this feeling within three weeks of each other. Tara, who is an extremely talented and published writer wrote about feeling like a fraud when doing her craft.  Luckily she’s well versed with this feeling so she employs a strategy every time it rears its head. “I remember that I’ve been writing for a long time. I celebrate my small achievements. I go easy on myself. I stop comparing. And I write. That’s really how you prove to yourself that you’re a writer. You do the work.”

Clare mused about the topic in “I am not a fraud” just a few weeks later. “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with bright, intelligent people that experience this. Some of the most talented people I have met in the tech industry have admitted that they feel this way – usually after I launch into my own monologue about feeling like a fraud over coffee.” This feeling sneaks in at times despite the fact that Clare works for one of the most respected tech startup incubators and doing a bang up job at it. She concludes her inner conversation with a mantra:

“I want to say this here. I am not a fraud and neither are you.”

I’m proud to see my friends doing battle with the impostor demon and largely winning. Unfortunately, people in the grip of impostor syndrome can present a public face that attempts to hide their real feelings of inadequacy, of never being smart enough, deserving enough or any thing enough for the good things in their life. This public face can become a mask, isolating the person, putting them in a prison which never encourages them to reach beyond. This means wasted opportunities, a feeling of having less freedom or options and likely less wealth if this behavioral loop isn’t interrupted.

But there’s another problem lurking under that the iceberg. “…the real issue was not that I felt like a fraud, but that I could feel something so deeply and profoundly and be completely wrong,” says Sandberg about her own battle with impostor syndrome. She highlights an important issue; when impostor syndrome has taken over we don’t understand our true competence. If we get it wrong enough times or for long enough we start to believe that we can’t trust our intuition. Not being able to trust yourself is like a death sentence to your self esteem.

Trusting yourself, having all the wealth you deserve and attaining important career milestones are all things the impostor syndrome can take away. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Do something.

As for my young friend at the beginning of this post? I stopped her after the talk to tell her two things: 1) Don’t ever let anyone pigeonhole you based on your gender. 2) And don’t ever limit yourself or feel like you don’t have enough skill to do something.

And yet, I have compassion for her and other young women. When you work in a male heavy field like tech, those feelings are likely to raise just as fast, or even faster as you gain responsibility. When men outnumber women 4:1 as in software development, the feeling that you don’t belong because of incompetency only increases. Getting started in a traditionally male role in a male dominated industry while learning a new skill can rip into the self-esteem of even the most confident person. The feelings of inadequacy are also likely to increase when going for a goal you really want or start a new position that’s a bit of a reach skill-wise.

But you can’t stop when the impostor demon takes up residence in your head or when you see it in someone else. What’s required is unrelenting action.

– Support a woman who is gripped by this affliction.
– Notice when you are doing it yourself.
– Reach further than you ever thought possible. Then reach a little further.
– And when reaching, be prepared for that fear to show up. Have a strategy for dealing with the feelings.

Remember: You are not a fraud. You deserve your success.

One thing you shouldn’t do? Expect those feelings to simply disappear the further you advance in your career. Even Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Mudd College and an advocate for women in computer science, still has moments of feeling like an impostor.  “If you’re constantly pushing yourself, and putting yourself in new environments, you’ll feel it over and over again,” she said. “So the only really important thing is not to let it stop you.”

Some would even assert that if the feeling of being a fraud doesn’t show up at all that you’re not aiming high enough in your goals. Rather than curling into a safe ball trying to avoid it, spread your arms wide and invite it in.

___________________________________________

Follow Suzan on Twitter or check out her company!

Jul 2013
09

How To Tag Photos In Instagram

Something that is alternatively great but also irritating in Instagram are hashtags. They are a wonderful way to find like-minded and local photographers. But it is also full of spamming these days.

Here is how I handle tagging my photos, which is by no means the only way!

1. Do not tag much in the the upload.
I hardly ever tag the comment that goes along with the photo. This is the comment that most people see as they scroll through their stream, and if it is full of hashtags, honestly… it’s annoying.

2. Do add tags as the second comment or in later comments.
When you put the tags later, they either get buried in comments or the photo has already passed through your friend’s stream and it does not bother them. I like to go back and tag photos in batches later, from way back in my stream. Unless…

3. If something is timely, tag it right away.
Obviously you want a holiday, an event, a concert, etc to hit a stream in a timely fashion, so don’t wait to tag them.

4. Tag appropriately.
Nothing drives me more nuts than seeing photos of NYC on the Denver hashtag. Yes, the technique of spamming a hashtag has hit Instagram, and it is dumb. That doesn’t mean we should not tag things. Think through what the photo really is about and tag that!

5. Tag for communities.
There are some great photo communities and memes on Instagram, where you can find some great photographers and participate in cool contests. Probably the most awesome is JJ’s Forums.

6. Tag for you.
I have very specific tags for me, my kid, my favorite photos – so I can find them at any time on Instagram. This is probably my FAVORITE reason to tag photos!

How about you?
How to you use hashtags on Instagram?

May 2013
23

If Your Personal Facebook Page Has a Business Name, It’s Time To Change It

I understand. In the beginning, way back when, it was hard to manage a fan page or a business page or anything else from your personal Facebook account because it was clunky and weird. But, for as much as I complain about Facebook – they really do have some elegant tools for people to manage business pages now.

It’s time to move if you have not.

What do I mean by this?

If you log-in on a personal level and your “name” on Facebook is the name of your business or blog, you are violating Facebook’s guidelines, and they could shut you down. Not to mention, people like me will not accept your friend request.

The best practice is to have a personal account, under your real name, and a business or fan page under the business, band, personality, nonprofit or blog name. Whatever your “thing” is rather than a specific person. And it will be attached to your personal account.

A personal account makes events. It friends people. It builds relationships on a more personal level. It is supposedly more private. I say “supposedly” because, let’s face it – whatever you put on the internet is fair game, particularly with how often Facebook changes their privacy controls and how confusing they are.

Why would you want a business page?

Statistics. Facebook has a very nice set of analytics to show you new likes, level of interactions and my personal favorite, “virality.” Virality gives you a snapshot of your most popular posts – and I use this info to build more content in that same vein.

Targeted Content. Give people who like your business what they want to see. You can still interact with them on a personal level, and you should. They just don’t need to know what your family reunion looked like, unless that works for your business. The point is, you separate business from your own stuff.

Advertising. You can promote your page and/or specific posts that are important from a business perspective. When you get over 5,000 likes you can also add targeting to your advertising. Further note: Personal accounts are capped at 5,000 friends, whereas business or fan pages are not – giving you the flexibility to have many, many more people in love with your business or fan page.

Multiple Admins. You can add several people help you build content on page, whereas if you are operating as a personal level, you all need to have the one password and then log in and out. Yuck. Since fan pages work best when the content is interesting and consistent, this is an important factor. Get a bunch of people to help you!

OK. I use my personal page for business, how do I do make the switch?

1. Start a Facebook Business Page
https://www.facebook.com/pages/create

2. Change your personal account to your real name.

3. Announce the new business page on your personal page.

4. Go to your business page admin section and pull down from “Build Audience” to “Invite Friends” and start inviting your Facebook friends over to your fan page.

5. Build content on the Business or Fan Page.

6. Repeat.

Fans Before Duran Duran

Extra Tip: Get A “Vanity” Facebook User Name

Depending on a few variables you may be immediately be able to get a “vanity URL” or username for your Facebook fan page, or your page may need to get 30 likes before you can pick a name.

Once you are eligible, go to the Facebook User Name page:
https://www.facebook.com/username/

Obviously pick a username closest to your business name, with the easiest spelling and no extra numbers or letters if possible. This will be the URL you can now put on your advertising or the name you say to people in person to help them find you on Facebook, so keep it simple!

Good luck, friends!

______________________________________________________________

You all have any other
Facebook Business Page
tips to share?