Ignite Minneapolis: A Hot Ticket to Perfect Hair

There are some fairly predictable hot tickets in town. Ignite Minneapolis is one of them. So hot that it came down to the wire to score my ticket. It happened via Twitter. Three hours prior to the event, six DM’s with @micahvono (an attendee with an extra ticket), one PayPal exchange of $10 and one email with a pdf’d scannable code later and I was golden. Thanks, Micah!

IgniteMpls8 Secret Sauce(s)

#IgniteMpls has been a happening for six years. I remember the events at the onset — $5 entry, a few kegs of beer that ran dry within the first 30 minutes and presenters who talked over their alotted time. Ignite has evolved since then. Their venues have grown to support their following (an audience of 600+), while they’ve kept the ticket price affordable at $10. The sponsors (now an impressive 11) continue to support Ignite. And anyone who knows the secret sauce to a great event (craft beer and food trucks) could suss out Ignite from miles away.

If you missed that Ignite was making it’s first of two appearances in Minneapolis in 2015 (next up is IgniteMpls9 in October 2015), you’d have no doubt noticed the long lines leading up to The Riverview Theater for last night’s event. One was for entrance and the other was for Stanley’s, event food truck of the eve and event sponsor. Upon entering was yet another line. This one was for Surly.

Eclectic Mixing

I attended solo and quickly sought out one of the 18 presenters I knew, Jenny Floria. Our daughters went to daycare together and we’ve kept in touch ever since, sharing stories over our commonality as bloggers (note to self to see Ignite speaker @JenJamar‘s talk, Why Your Blog Sucks). I ran into Cecily Sommers, author of Think Like A Futurist, met a photographer and blogger Tracy Blowers @usoulphoto, dished about My Little Pony hair (JenJamar’s fabulous ‘do!) and met two male 30-something Ignite virgins by my personal phone charging station in the lobby.  So to your question, yes, it was an eclectic mix.

Ignite Speaker BubblesEvent Math

The event, promoted as 5:00-10:30, started around 7:06 and wrapped up with the last presenter around 10:06. When you do the math on the three hour presentation (18 speakers + 5 minutes each = 90 minutes), it doesn’t add up until you take in account intermissions, sponsor vids (plug here for my alma mater UST’s giveaway #FindYourAnswer), emcee Todd O’Dowd’s colorful intro/outros and beerruns. My new friends John and Wells and I, were up and down in our seats, allowing first-time, enthusiastic Igniters Tammy and Greg their Surly refills throughout the eve.

A Rockin’ Recap

On to the good stuff. Thanks to the Strib’s Julio Ojeda-Zapata, you can see one excellent recap here. He captures the presenters up-close (I was like 10 rows from the back) and covers the highlights in tweetable fashion. If you’re still wondering how this 5 minute, 20 slide with :15 sec auto advance format works and what the heck do people talk about in that short of time that’s meaningful….  well you must make a date to find out in October (or cheat here and view all Ignite speaker archives). It’s quite random, very specific, somewhat in-depth, highly quirky, humorously mundane and sometimes morbid. That is the beauty of it.

Within each presenter, we only scratched the surface of learning, but that’s okay. We all took away new insights and mantras from clearing out clutter (say no to fear and guilt and yes to joy) to treating people (yes, even your waitress and black men who may look angry) with empathy and consideration. In addition to Jenny Floria‘s path to in-line greatness, I walked away with a solid to-do inspired by Jen Jamar (of My Little Pony hair fame) and Erica Hanna‘s Cutting Remarks: 5 Minutes to Hot Hair, which Julio summarized simply as, “f@#$ all that hair-pro advice and just be you.” So my to-do? Go for blue hair.


The Super Seven at MinneDemo19

#MinneDemo. That just happened. Seven super (Emcee and MinneStar board member Adrienne Peirce’s fave word of the night) tech innovations in Minnesota. It was a sold out crowd at the Guthrie for MinneDemo’s 19th run of their event platform that invites companies to take the stage for seven minutes each and show off their tech products. The event organizer, MinneStar, even had to turn folks away, but many of them, notably the introverts, didn’t mind. They got to view the live stream just outside of the theater and enjoy their beverages.

RedCurrent in Foreground, Stage in back

RedCurrent in Foreground, Stage in back

By show of hands, I’d say about 40% of the 700-some attendees were experiencing MinneDemo for the first-time. MinneStar board member Justin Porter was jazzed about this fact and encouraged post event conversations between the talented developers and tech-minded companies in the house, including top sponsors LeadPages and Best Buy.

The event was high-energy, despite being low tech at times. WiFi issues at the Guthrie and toggling back and forth between live streaming mobile and internet presented a few painful connectivity challenges, especially for GroveStreams, who handled the hindrances expertly. I seconded Jaclyn Grossfield’s tweet, “Agreed! painful RT @jaclynanng: Technology difficulties at #minnedemo. isn’t there someone – or 700 people- who can help? #getupthere.”

I will say that Justin did a great job of stepping up and taking the pressure off presenters when this occurred. Hashup creator Bryon Shannon just needed a few moments more to sync up his mobile to run his live demo, which ran very smoothly after a few refreshes. Between the seven presenters, we heard a brief 2-3 minute talk from some of the event sponsors and during the low tech lulls, the MinneStar team offered the mic to audience members with tech-oriented events to share a bit about their upcoming gatherings including Best Buy’s hosting of MinneBar, Twin Cities Geekettes and 1 Million Cups St. Paul.

The seven demos included, in this order, HashUp, Estate Map, DocentEdu, Grovestreams IoT, RedCurrent, ToggleGreen and PurchaseBox. They covered new social-oriented apps, efficient solutions for classrooms, event-goers, recruiters and job seekers, and consumers and retailers. Super favorite part: being invited to share in the beta testing for some and getting access to services, software and apps for free as a MinneDemo attendee. I downloaded @RedCurrentApp (in the AppStore for a mere 30 hours before the event) and @PurchaseBox right on the spot (@HashUp coming in March). I also signed up to test out EstateMap because you never know when you’ll be one of Facebook’s 10,000 daily death toll (morbid for sure).

For those of you who missed the event, here’s a download in #SixWords format first intro’d to me at #OTAFargo by SixWord founder, Larry Smith (see that recap here):

@HashUp: Smart social browsing powered by hashtags.

@EstateMap: Sum of money. Hidden under rock.

@DocentEdu: Layering education on content. Flow baby.

@Grovestreams IoT: Build Your IoT. Hot in Here.

@RedCurrentApp: Synced calendar, events by category. Sanity!

@ToggleGreen: Your next gig. Your terms. GTFO.

@PurchaseBox: Save trees. Eliminate coupons. Smart retail.

All of the presenters made for an entertaining, exciting evening and overview of what’s new and noteworthy in tech in Minnesota. It’s a growing and connected community that’s creating its own culture and identity here in the Twin Cities. I’ll wrap it up by saying it’s a super exciting time to be a geek in MN.

Know Your Network Types

If the point of unraveling is to discover, I believe the #UnraveledNetwork series by Pollen Midwest achieved their goal. Part 1 took place early November 2014 (see the recap here), followed by Part 2 on January 28, 2015.

Part 1 featured keynote speaker Marcia Ballinger, author of 20-Minute Networking Meeting; clever attendee networking icebreakers among round tables, and an intro to the networking study in process by The Carlson School of Management. Part 2, in classroom style, featured findings of the network study and two speakers who posed ideas about storytelling and the role of a mentor.

Networking experts and seminars focused on the tactics of online networking all start with the assumption that we want to and need to be connected for our personal and professional growth. They may focus on quantity of people you’re connected with or create a sense of urgency that you need to dedicate a lot more time for networking in-person and online via social media or you’ll be left out of important conversations or suffer a stagnant career.

Unraveled Stage is Set

Unraveled Stage is Set

On the flip side, #UnraveledNetwork and additional conversations about networking lately have been more about quality networking. They describe the purposes and types of networking. They touch on integrating social media, research and interpersonal skills so that each person can create their own intentional approach regardless of where you fall on the introvert to extrovert scale.

The Carlson networking study, unveiled at the January 28 Unraveled Networks Part 2 event, looked at networking on a holistic level from 106 survey participants. The survey took 30-40 minutes to complete and included Unraveled Network participants and professionals employed in many different companies, industries, and functions in the Twin Cities area. Seventy-seven percent of the survey respondents were women.

Researcher Patricia Dahm cited correlations between people’s work behaviors, career successes and their overall wellbeing. She broke networking down into three deliberate categories: personal, operational and strategic. She also suggested that you are divided among networking modes of building, maintaining and using based on your current work environment and where you’re at in your career.

Network Types

Your Personal Network
This network is all about your personal and professional development long-term. This group generally includes your mentors, mentees and close contacts who know you on more of a personal level. This group is your go-to for career advice and asking those difficult questions – is this career move really right for you? Are you going to be fulfilled in this new role or is it a derailing your long-term goals?

This network is typically smaller on average, but critical. If you don’t have a mentor, get one. If you’re at a point in your career where you can mentor, seek out that opportunity. Pay it forward.

Your Operational Network
This network is all about getting your current work done efficiently. This group is comprised of the immediate and daily people involved in your work like your boss, co-workers and outside vendors. For people within larger companies this network was broad and deep within their own organizations. For entrepreneurs, they logged fewer connections in their operational network and skewed more toward strategic.

The size of this group varies greatly for each individual, but for survey respondents it was the smallest of the three. On the topic of operational networks, an attendee asked which network type would be appropriate for past co-workers. No doubt they may know you well, but when they move out of your operational network, they either move to your personal or strategic network or go untapped.

Your Strategic Network
This network is futuristic, external and diverse. It’s closely aligned with innovation and career growth and potentially the most challenging of the three to build, maintain and use. It includes people outside of your current company, in different industries that might be tangentially related to your interests and even your competition. The Carlson study showed that people surveyed had the most people in their strategic network, followed by personal and then operational.

Research Findings
Patricia gave the survey group kudos for being highly strategically networked and savvy on social media for networking purposes. She also pointed out five key correlations the study uncovered:

  1. People who build large and diverse operational and strategic networks tend to get promoted and advance more quickly career-wise
  2. People who work outside of a company office are apt to have a more diverse network (my shameless plug for #coworking as in @CoCoMSP here)
  3. People who value their own personal development have more diverse network and higher career aspirations
  4. People who have more emotional support have increasingly higher status contacts in their network
  5. People with more diverse networks enjoyed less relaxation

Networking Purposes
The next segment of the program moved from networking types into networking purposes including: building, maintaining and using. These distinctions are important as people evaluate what they need to do in each of their strategic and operational networks to keep them in balance based on where they’re at in their career.

Pollenite Mehgan Murphy kicked of this portion with a talk-show style conversation with D.A. Bullock, owner of Bully Creative. D. A. shared a divergent idea that I’ve not come across in previous seminars that address professional networking – just tell your story.

In his craft, he expertly draws out people’s stories by being his be relatable, inquisitive, human and authentic self. In response to an audience question about his approach in interviewing he says it is planned and organic and 100% of both. He talked about breaking down barriers like professional walls we put up to get to know someone’s true story. Things like elevator pitches? They need to be tossed he says. Deeper connections allow more meaningful ways to pursue your personal interests and causes and better connect to the world.

Maintaining and Using
Next up, Pollenite Jamie Millard brought Lynn Casey, networker extraordinaire and Padilla CRT CEO, to the stage. Lynn talked about ways she’s maintained and used her network in her career to-date. She goes to lunch with her long-term mentor annually, just to catch up. She mentors with an inquisitive mind. When she gets a padded answer, she keeps probing like a journalist who continues to ask why until they get the full story.

And while she knows that time is finite and she admittedly may not have enough if it to respond to all of the business cards in her top desk drawer, she offers this: Be present in the moment. Even if it’s only a 10 minute moment.

Wendy Blomseth, Susan Scofield and Jennifer Gilhoi after the event.

Maintaining with Wendy and Building with Susan after the event

Series Recap

We took in a lot of information over the course of the Unraveled Network. Now, as survey respondents evaluate their results and see where they fall among their fellow networkers, we’ll continue to learn, apply and be deliberate about our networking. The series offered some tactical groundwork for networking and some relief that it can be intentional, productive and not as time consuming as it’s been in the past.

In future posts, I’ll be exploring how to apply this learning and the quantity vs. quality of networking. Connections need to have a certain level of depth to have long-term meaning. As D.A. mentioned, “Social media is a starting point. It can only take us so far. We still have to do the rest.”

Pollenites, what other nuggets did you walk away with? Please share your insight in the process of raveling your networking.

Powerful Networking Strategies to Kick Off 2015

After a holiday event hiatus and despite winter weather conditions, January is heating up event-wise. For starters, people and companies have a new outlook and marketing initiatives on their mind. Additionally, the backlog of events we held off scheduling from mid-November through the first week of January have piled up. And for companies that host an ongoing series of events, January is the time to launch those annual initiatives.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that 2015 is happening. I tend to like to leave my calendar as open as possible with room for possibility and spontaneous event decision-making. RSVP’ing in January for an April event? Never! However, I’m going to make a few exceptions this year. In particular, the sell-out, high ticket events that I’m typically too late for… well I’m planning and budgeting for those up to three months out.

I’m also being deliberate about which professional networking and educational events I attend. For many of these a somewhat last minute RSVP is acceptable, but just because space is open and your schedule is free doesn’t mean you should go. Last year, I went to a complete mix of event types from speed networking to women only to technology and startup focused speaker series. It helped me test the waters and find out the right fit for my goals. If you’re looking to evaluate event worthiness, ask if the event provides you with things you value like new clients, learning, connections for career move, developing a network of support or just pure entertainment. If you don’t know, call the event host and ask for more details!

MSPBJ Power User Series

MSPBJ's Power User Kit

MSPBJ’s Power User Kit

I continue to ask these questions and based on the answers, I’ve filtered a few out already for 2015. One series of events that I plan to attend regularly is the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s (MSPBJ) Power User series. MSPBJ has events for every type of business professional from women-focused (BizWomen) to C-Suite to entrepreneurs. They also have some powerful, influential and connected networks to offer because of the journal’s content (and various distribution types) and their solid awards programs that attract community and business attention while delivering business growth and real value to individuals.

Power User Seminar Speaker Dina Simon

January 12 was the first of the 2015 MSPBJ Power User series. I arrived for this 8:00-10:00a.m. event at 8:20 due to an east vs west directional snafu and only informal networking had taken place. They were just getting started. After grabbing a cup of coffee, meeting the friendly guy next to me and turning my attention to the upbeat speaker Dina Simon of Simon Says Lead, I let my directional and parking challenges go. Dina shared some specific examples of how networking and being the first to ask How can I help you? has come back to her tenfold.

She cited a willingness to explore connections that might not be clear to you upfront and trusting that when a connection introduces you to one of their connections, you should follow up and thank them regardless of the outcome. Dina also got into the ways she builds relationships from showing up, following up, using tools like email and LinkedIn and keeping good records of who she needs to thank. Her book that shares her process, Make Unstoppable Simple, Creative Problem Solving for Llfe and Leadership. is coming out soon.

MSPBJ Speaker Wendy Blomseth

Then the event transitioned to Wendy Blomseth, business development rep extraordinaire at MSPBJ. This is where the tactical how-to content of the Power User series became clear. Honestly, I didn’t really know what Power User meant going in…. turns out it’s MSPBJ’s ideal reader who actively engages, shares and adds to the conversation via all of the tools and content churned out by the journal. Wendy shared a list of top nine tactics related to their content and how to use it to your professional and business advantage.

Without giving away too many inside Power User techniques, I’ll highlight a few. The seminar touched on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Nothing new, but if you recall, self esteem and self actualization are at the top of the pyramid. If you’re connecting with people in ways that reaffirm their value and/or bring them new value, that’s building a relationship. You can use the information you read (i.e. in MSPBJ) as a conduit for conversation in person at a networking event, via email with a link to a relevant story or in a phone call as an immediate way to make a direct connection that shows you understand their business and motivators. Submitting for one of their awards, nominating someone for an award or posting a new position or role online and viewing this page regularly (i.e. every Friday) are also good ways to stay up to date with the business community.

I can attest to the effectiveness of her suggestions. I used one over 16 years ago. I was seeking a career change from marketing insurance to the then new world of websites as an account manager. I sent a congratulatory email to a growing company’s new Marketing Director hire based on the announcement in a news story. Despite my total lack of experience and zero connections in the industry, that got me an interview, then I got the job. Sometimes it really can be that simple, even in our overly socialized networks.

Thanks MSPBJ for a valuable seminar! I’ll be adding more of the Power User series to my 2015 calendar. What events are on your hot list for 2015?

MHTA’s High Tech, High Touch CIO Panel

Minnesota High Tech Association’s (MHTA) annual CIO panel brought, as promised, a wide-ranging discussion of the year’s top developments, along with challenges and opportunities they see in 2015. The event, held on December 11, at the Science Museum of Minnesota, covered tech perspectives from the sports immersion experience (Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings)) to expanding the social experience to enable a digital workforce (Accenture).

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, President and CEO of MHTA (@MAKMinnesota) and moderated by Dee Thibodeau, CEO of Charter Solutions and MHTA Board member, kicked off the event with an overview of MHTA’s ACE Leadership Program. ACE, accepting applications now, is an eight-session program covering public speaking, effective negotiation and adaptive leadership in tech.

MHTA's Oct 2014 WLIT Panel of Fearless #WomeninTech

MHTA’s Oct 2014 WLIT Panel of Fearless #WomeninTech

MHTA does a well-rounded job of covering all types of events throughout the course of the year from their Spring Conference (May, 7, 2015) to membership-building events like golf outings. My first MHTA event was their October 21, 2014, Women Leading in Technology (WLiT) panel, where four top tech women in our local community shared their stories specific to their career paths and overcoming challenges.

The CIO panel offered yet more insight into the Minnesota tech community and drove home that fact that technology is so prominent and integral to any business. Interestingly enough, three of the five panelists were women. Kudos! Panel members’ industries included restaurant, medical, construction and tech services and management consulting. The diverse range of topics and insights covered delivered at least a few nuggets that each of the audience members could walk away with and directly apply to their own business and role.

Buffalo Wild Wings
Karen Bird, VP of Information Technology at BWWings, shared how they’re using tech to drive customer experience in their restaurants with tools like tech at each table enabling games and more. Eventually, you might be able to order your adult beverages with one tap. Emcee Dee, a recent visitor to BWWings, recapped her positive experience.  As a mom who’s brought her two kids (ages 9 and 11) to BWWings for eats and not necessarily a “immersive sports experience,” I can second that. When I visit, I appreciate the atmosphere, service, wings and most especially my Guest Experience Captain, an individual skilled in conversation and catering to your needs who doesn’t need to rush off to wait on 10 other tables. Karen’s leading the tech charge to take their concept internationally with restaurant openings in Dubai and more in 2015.

St. Jude Medical
Mark Murphy, VP and CIP of St. Jude Medical, touched on big data, security, managed services and the cloud, citing the extreme petabytes of information collected hourly from companies like Walmart. A word of caution: the current systems an average business has in place are not going to cut it. One mammoth challenge, also brought up during the end Q&A session, centered around what do do with all of the data companies are collecting. Too many companies are suffering from analysis paralysis. Mark stressed looking at data and building cross partnerships in other industries. This type of approach ensures relevance and deliberate research to support innovative ideas, like St. Jude Medical’s Quadripolar Lead.

MHTA's CIO Panel Forecasting 2015 Tech Trends

MHTA’s CIO Panel Forecasting 2015 Tech Trends

Minnesota Department of Health and Veteran Affairs
Anita Scott, CIO of the Minnesota Department of Health and Veteran Affairs, shared insight on the process of bringing medical marijuana to Minnesotans. The forms and process flow chart she presented for players from facilities to care providers to the individuals was highly complex. Twenty-some companies invested a significant, non-refundable application fee to submit their companies to full the manufacturing and distribution roles statewide. Two were selected. Anita shared the video from Channel 12 TV, highlighting Maple Grove as one of the sites. One of the players happened to have their facility already built. At this news, my new friend next to me leaned over to note how interesting that was. We stifled our laughter.

Mortenson Construction
Robin Brown, VP and CIO of Mortenson Construction, from what I could gather, brought a breath of fresh air to a privately held, exponentially-growing construction firm. Mortenson, a respected name in construction in Minnesota since 1954, to its founders and leadership credit, has sought out expertise not only in construction, but other verticals. Delving into solar and wind power, for example, has helped them build relationships and value with their clients. They’re also using new technology (3D SketchUp) to bridge the gap in remote locations and job sites to bring more onsite manipulation of blueprints, process, materials and scheduling. More adaptable information and its quick dissemination is critical to solve some of their toughest challenges.

Andrew Wilson, CIO of Accenture, one of the world’s leading organizations providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services, with more than 305,000 employees, is British. I mention this because I could listen to his accent no problem, which is made possible by Accenture’s own TV channel with weekly content. What I found most exciting was Andrew’s discussion surrounding how they share internal content through online company communities via software like Lync and Yammer. He said blogging, for him, is obsolete. He places content on their community-driven page and engagement goes through the roof.

Overall, MHTA inspired great tech conversations through this diverse panel and set the stage for programming and content we can look forward to in 2015 with events like Tech.2015, the WLiT quarterly series and the 15 years and running Tekne Awards (Nov 18, 2015). Here’s to heightening the conversation surrounding tech in Minnesota!

Joy: A Vitamin That Comes From Within

In a refreshing change of pace just in time for the holidays, I took time to attend MplsSt.Paul Magazine’s Tastemakers event on December 9. #MSPTastemakers, an event held almost quarterly, brings together an unusual concoction of panelists for lively dialogue. You can rest assured at any Tastemakers event you’ll find creative cocktails, fine eats and inspiring off-the-cuff conversations prompted by MSP Magazine’s own Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, emcee and acclaimed food and wine writer.

Tastemakers Panel

Tastemakers Dara, Brenda, Cindy and Pilar

Past Tastemakers events from Finnegan’s to 45th Parallel and Tilia to Lucia’s typically revolve around the palate (the series is billed as lively discussions on juicy topics from our local food and drink community). Their recent event, #VitaminJoy, was about healthy lifestyle and a tasting of sorts — not a specific food or drink, but joy itself. It was a shot of reality offered up by three women who openly shared their insight, research and lifestyles surrounding the joy factor. Hint, it doesn’t come in a box nor from a store.

So many of us feel chronically overwhelmed and stressed. The holidays, meant to be a time of joyous celebration with friends and family, often add more pressure to the equation. So how can we experience joy? It’s not about attaining material things (we all know this, right?), but it’s about slowing down to actually enjoy and experience moments in our lives. Why is this so hard to do?

Panelists Brenda Langton, owner of Spoonriver and Mill City Farmers Market champion; Cindy Joseph, leader in the pro-age revolution and creator of Boom! product line; and Pilar Gerasimo, editor of Experience Life, Lifetime Fitness’ publication; offered us answers by giving the audience simple, attainable ideas for wellness framed in context with the obstacles society presents.

Avoid Toxic Carrots: Drink Agra Culture Juice

Avoid Toxic Carrots: Drink Agraculture Juice

Avoid Toxic Carrots
Pilar cited the toxic environments we’re all subjected to through constant media carrots like six-pack abs and Maserati’s dangling in front of us. Throughout the night, those two items became the tokens for material things we desire. If we can just get those things, we’ll feel better. We might not even care about the journey to get them. We’re just mindlessly doing. Pilar led us in a breathing exercise right then and there to return to mindfulness.

Love Your Veggies
Brenda cited a love affair with vegetables and how simply she’s learned to cook with and for her family. In teaching a three-series class once a year and coaching panicked people faced with forced diet changes due to poor health, she calmly acquaints them with beautiful, tasteful vegetables and gives them the skills to shop and share in the food prep and dining. She then posed the question, “Have we gone completely mad?” and answering with an emphatic, “Yes, you need to know how to cook!”

Recognize the Crazy
Dara jumped in with a statistic that reports 43% of Americans eat while in their car. At those numbers, if you’re not doing that, you’re already ahead of nearly half of the population — congrats! Surprisingly, when it comes to basic, human elements like eating, sleeping and exercise, we are not getting it right. We’re turning to miracle solutions and promises aimed at solving the symptoms, not treating the chronic disease or underlying conditions. If you want to be inspired to action, check out the app named RevoluntaryAct. I downloaded it months ago while reading my latest issue of Experience Life, but hadn’t used it yet. To give it context, I highly recommend reading the Manifesto behind its creation (my copy came in my swag bag) which flat out tells it like it is, “The Way Were Are Living is Crazy.”

Embrace Reality’s Fun Factor
Cindy Joseph then shared her compelling story from 63 years of perspective, 27 of those as a renown make-up artist for high fashion publications. After a job as a flaw-seeker and masker of what she saw as perfect creatures, she liked the reality behind the fantasy much more. At 49, she stopped dyeing and let her silver locks shine. Talk about aging gracefully and beautifully. Dolce & Gabbana even noticed and asked her to model for them. “There should be no fear, only fun,” she says, citing that it just makes sense that the longer we’re on the planet, the more experience and wisdom we have. Like the wisdom to only use one moisturizer for your whole body, which is the impetus for her creation Boom!

Revolutionary Swag Bag

Revolutionary Swag Bag

Collectively, they all talked about joy in many ways: how it’s distinctly different from happiness, which is a state of mind; and how it’s a pleasurable experience you actually need to slow down and enjoy because neurologically-cool things happen. Guilt, by the way, is present-time judging of past actions which you can avoid if you’re truly present in the moment at hand. With definition, context and role models, I can now go forth and enjoy not only the holiday season, but my life long-term. To paraphrase The Grinch who overcame his closed, joyless heart, “Maybe our joy, perhaps, doesn’t come from a store. Our joy, perhaps, mean a little bit more.”

— Wishing you all a joyous holiday season and a life filled with joy.

Networking Pre-search and Planning

So many events, so little time. I understand exactly how this overload happens. Get a room full of enthusiastic people together around a cause, and the topic eventually trends toward throwing an event. But enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily translate into a good event worthy of your time and energy.

Good events have the elements of learning, clearly communicated objectives, schedule of events (SOE), logistics, communications and follow-up all sussed out. It’s up to you, as the event-goer, to discern if it’s an event that aligns with your personal and professional networking strategies and goals. This process is called pre-search.

Fanaticon Event Brought Brands Together to Talk Fans

Fanaticon Event Brought Brands Together to Talk Fans

For the purposes of this exploration, I’m focusing on business seminars and events with formats based on learning and networking in a professional environment. I’ve already reviewed networking effectiveness (a checklist of what to look for before rsvp’ing), networking formats and networking timeframes in previous posts. Now I’m getting more in-depth on the pre-search portion.


When doing pre-search on an event, consider the host and partners involved, the event format, attendee make-up and your networking goals.

Event Host
Are you familiar with the hosting and partner organizations? If not, check them out online. If there are speakers, check them out too. Do you have people in your network that are connected to the host, partners or participants in some way? Ideally, someone you know in your network might recommend the event and give you a little insight on the format and the audience you’ll find there. It’s worth asking if you’re unsure.

Event Format
What’s the schedule of events? Is there time for intentionally networking before or after a learning program or is it solely to network? Is it an annual or celebratory event, focused on learning or a format tried and true that’s on a more frequent basis, like a monthly event? This will give you cues on what you can expect and plan for during the event.

Event Audience
Who is likely to be there? Are these the type of connections that would be beneficial to you personally or professionally? Do you want to re-establish your existing network or broaden it? Generally speaking, a balance of both is healthy.

Your Goal
What’s your goal in attending the event? Are you there to meet people who can help you find a job or work? Are you there to sell your services at a business to consumer level or business to business level? Or maybe you want to learn from others to educate yourself on a new topic or gain new skill sets?

WLIT Panel Brought Women in Tech Together to Talk Fearlessness

WLIT Panel Brought Women in Tech Together to Talk Fearlessness


At a very top-level, you can do this pre-search for events as they arise, but making a more concerted effort to pair your business networking goals, like on a monthly basis, with events tends to make you more intentional and deliberate in your efforts. And remember, you also need to build in time for follow-up!

Understanding the how and why of building your network will help you select the events most worth your time. It will also help you go into events with realistic expectations, read the tone of the room and determine how you go about networking and follow-up. Long term, it will ensure you’re balancing re-establishing and building on existing connections with time and resources to branch out to new connections.