What’s the Worst That Can Happen?


The first sentence that I ever uttered was “Ez a boog.”  Growing up in Florida being afraid of insects (and snakes) could be problematic, but I was. And I still am.  In college, I remember calling a friend to come over and kill a water bug for me. I’m also afraid of heights – watching me stand on a chair is a pretty amusing event. Not surprisingly these rank as the top most common phobias according to Fear.Net (but don’t believe everything you read on the internet).   As a kid fear was instilled in me at an early age.  I was the same age as Adam Walsh, the boy who was murdered in Florida, thus leaving me forever scared of being kidnapped by just about everyone, especially the garbage men – they terrified me.

As an adult I’ve gotten significantly braver.  I travel often and learned to look like I belong and know where I am going.  I may have even become a slight fan of fear.  As a coach, I love to see the results of clients being pushed out of their comfort zone.  I’ve learned to practice what I preach by taking baby steps out of the zone.  On occasion I take giant leaps.

A few years ago, as a new business owner I had a meeting with someone who had recently sold his company and was traveling the world.  We were discussing fear and he said to me, with great authority, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Wow.  This statement was powerful.  Once I carefully processed this statement, its profoundness hit me.   In 99% of the cases, the worst outcome isn’t so bad.  Keep in mind that 67% of statistics are made up so don’t quote me on that one.

As I have approached both my business and personal life and that gray area in between, I find myself asking that exact question whenever I am faced with a scary situation.

Fear is intimate.  It’s a deep part of someone’s psyche and often complex to understand.  Someone can be a tall and strong man, capable of kicking some major booty, but petrified of making life decisions that might come easy to someone else.

For me, becoming a business owner was one of the scariest, yet best decisions I have ever made.  As I explore evolving my career into a life of public service, I get butterflies in my stomach.

I’ve come to realize that fear is one of the best things life can give us.  It keeps us safe from strangers but it sling shots us forward towards great opportunities.  Fear is the thing that lets us know something is big and powerful and worthy of consideration.   If you are making a big decision and you are a little fearful, know that the feeling of fear could be easily overcome by the great feeling of success that stems from making such a grand decision.

What might you be afraid of:

  • Speaking up at work?
  • Confronting a friend?
  • Starting a business?
  • Applying for a new position?
  • Asking a guy/girl out on a date?
  • Speaking in front a group of people?
  • Trying and failing?
  • Getting out of an unhealthy relationship?
  • Moving to a new place?

Whatever it is, ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen?” And then,  if the results don’t result in death or physical harm and you are still scared, put on your big girl/boy pants and embrace the fear.  Own it.   Feel the fear and make change anyway.

And if you do, I’ll be happy to hold your hand or give you a pep talk – just as long as you are willing to get rid of bugs for me.


Reflections on Entrepreneurship: 4 Years Without a Parachute

Celebrating four yearsI am one of those people who has a great appreciation for significant dates.  I love birthdays and anniversaries.  Today is one of those dates.  Today, on June 1st,  I celebrate four years of self-employment.  For those following the 7DC history, we are six years old, but I juggled a full-time job in the early years before jumping off of the proverbial cliff without a parachute.

Four years feels like a lifetime and yet it feels like a blink of the eye at the same time. I remember the first day of “freedom” like it was yesterday.  I had arranged a car to the airport for a trip to Chicago for a speaking engagement.  A stretch limo showed up and I had to believe that it was a sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  I landed in Chicago and had meetings and dinner with good friends. Yes, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

A lot has happened over the last four years.  Social media, the original 7DC service offering, has evolved into a mainstream communication channel and we spend a lot more time on strategy and content creation (don’t you just love the jargon?).   Our team has grown to include full-time employees and a really solid team of partners.  I even managed to publish my first book. If I were to summarize, I would say, that the company I created is “established.”

Here are some takeaways from the last 4 years.

1. Attitude makes a huge difference. Whenever I start to worry about the business, I take a deep breath, let it go and know it will all be OK. Knock on virtual wood, it has been.  This might sound a little woo-woo, but it works. Along these lines, gratitude moves you forward.  Whenever I am stuck, I take a second to remember how lucky I am and say thank you and it helps me push through.

2. The right partners matter. I’m incredibly lucky to have a team of people I can count on to deliver work and support the backend of my business. I place this high on the list of things you need to be successful.

3. Being a good leader is important.  This means learning and taking advice from people with both more and less experience than you. It also means taking care of people, being kind, listening, not always having to be right and not being afraid to admit mistakes.

4. Say yes as much as possible and learn when no is the right answer.  Stepping out of your comfort zone is really important. I am guilty of saying yes too often, but in the end something good always comes out of it.  When you are ready to say no, mean it and feel good about it.

5. The learning never stops. The hardest part of being in an evolving industry is that you need to learn something new every day. I do this pretty well and have learned to listen to audio books when I am in the shower or driving to use that time wisely.

6. Downtime is important.  I’ve read about many business owners working 14 hours days for months. I am personally unproductive after long hours and make sure to give myself and the team time off to recharge.  We focus on working smarter. For me, it’s not worth sacrificing the other aspects of life. This is a big part of our culture that I am proud of.

7. It’s not easy.  No one ever said it would be. Balancing client work, business development and operations can make a person go insane. No, seriously, it can make you nuts.  But you know what? I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I am personally having a growth spurt. I am spending time planning the next phase of the business as well as personal goals including a move toward doing some public service (more on that soon).

Today, on June 1, 2015 I am grateful for everything that has happened over the last four years. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it, even if you are just cheering from the sidelines.

Live Streaming and Events: Top Five Predictions of Event Influencers

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According to The Guardian, ESPN SportsZone was responsible for streaming the first live radio broadcast on September 5th,1995 of a baseball game between Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees with the help of the Seattle-based startup, Progressive Networks. Live streaming has progressed with tools including Livestream, Ustream, and Tourpedo making virtual attendance an option. A 2013 PCMA presentation states that the cost to maintain a hybrid event include costs for Internet, equipment and labor, content delivery network (CDN), production, and platform. However, live streaming has become a trending term in the media since applications Meerkat and Periscope erupted at the SxSW Festival in mid-March. We asked several event influencers to share their top predictions on what live streaming means for event marketing.

1.  A backstage pass for event attendees.
Producer and Host, Michael McAllen from Grass Shack Events & Media and MeetingsPodcast says, “applications such as Periscope act as a backstage, audience enhancing machine.  At MeetingsPodcast, we use Periscope to connect with the audience as we record the show.”  McAllen elaborates, “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone were to build a business on Periscope, being the designated ‘Periscoper’.”

2. Credible Content for Event Marketers.
“Can’t you see Will Ferrell or other actors promoting their new movie using Periscope?” McAllen asked. This raises the question, to add tremendous credibility to an event, what if event organizers developed a way for thought-leaders in attendance to live stream what’s going on behind the scenes?

3.  Simple option for impromptu live streaming.
As an event organizer, you may decide to broadcast an interview or conference session the morning of the event. “Impromptu events can easily find their way online,” says our President and Chief Connector Jessica Levin.  Levin continues, “live streaming applications play into the spontaneity of idea sharing and the instant gratification world we live today.”

4.  A cost effective way towards a hybrid event; but wait, not so fast.
While scheduling conflicts and cost expenses impact the attendance at an event, live streaming applications act as a simple solution. However, the ethical implications of live streaming has often crossed my mind. If I were to attend an exclusive association event, would attendees become aware that live streaming might infringe on the contractual agreement?

I turned to Liz King of TechsyTalk to have these questions answered.  When asked questions pertaining to ethics, King responded, “While live streaming solutions such as Meerkat and Periscope offer event organizers an affordable solution, we are going to see some issues with adoption because of some of the liability with live streaming certain events.”  King continues, “when you think about it, most of the events you would want to live stream are going to have ownership issues and it’s going to make it difficult to have authentic experiences while complying with the agreement between event organizers and speakers.”

5.  Live streaming membership-exclusive events; but let’s discuss ethics.
Periscope streams to all followers on Twitter, and according to a recent Verge article, Meerkat will add Facebook’s support.  While Meerkat and Periscope make live streaming simple for all, will live streaming membership-exclusive events give non-members access to education? We spoke with Siera Smith, Event Coordinator of South Jersey Chamber of Commerce, “We would not encourage our members to stream our events but there are benefits to event organizers live streaming events that are not as membership-exclusive.” In a technology-driven society, how will you communicate and monitor your audience from using a live streaming application at your next event?

Live streaming solutions have been around for years, Meerkat and Periscope have made live streaming more popular among the events sphere. What are creative ways you anticipate using live streaming applications as a tactic to market your event? Do you anticipate any ethical implications that may arise? Please share your thoughts below.

Lighting a Spark

Ignite the lightMany years ago I wrote a blog post about the Katy Perry song, Firework.  The post was actually about building relationships and I realize now that it reflects a lot of the themes that I talk about in Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People.  However,  tonight, I heard the song differently. I heard a theme that resembles burnout and the need to find one’s passion.  After writing steadily a few years ago, I stopped blogging on a regular basis and forgot how much I used to enjoy it. We talk to clients about “creating content” that demonstrates expertise; content that positions them and “Subject Matter Experts” or SMEs in consultant speak. However, in my opinion, some of my best blog post were never about digital marketing or mobile trends or association ideas.  My best posts were the ones that spoke from the heart, the ones that told a story and hopefully included a life lesson. In the interest of practicing what I preach, I stopped writing from the heart to some extent.

In my daily life, I struggle with ADD. Staying focused on the task at hand is a constant struggle and a huge source of frustration in my life.  However, when I am working on something that I am passionate about, I can complete a task with near laser focus. The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that I am spending time on things that are ‘must dos’ not ‘want to dos’.  On the days that ADD is in control, I want to dig down deep and find that spark that keeps me focused, the spark that gets me excited.

As I write this, I realize the risk I am taking.  Could it be construed as disdain of my current projects? No, that’s not it at all.  I love my work and the projects that I am so fortunate to be associated with.  This is about something more.  It’s about the big picture of understanding my inner firework and doing more of what I am passionate about.   It’s about remembering that blogging brought me joy and that it doesn’t always have to be a strategic message designed to show expertise.  It’s about taking the time to regroup and reinvent and get better at what I do.

I think this happens to everyone from time to time.  We get into our daily routines. We have jobs and life.  We live the daily grind. And then we wake up and realize we are going 100 miles an hour and are not taking time for reflection. We aren’t taking the time to remember that we are, in fact, a firework.

So tonight, as Firework played on Pandora, I found it a good time to reflect and to write about it.  And I ask you to take a moment, and think about what your spark is. What do you need to do to ignite your passion (or remember that it’s there)? How can I help?

What’s Trending in a Digital World

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IMG_1177Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter took off in 2006, and Bitcoin erupted in 2009. In our world of evolving innovation, Social Media Week acts as the leading hub to inform social media enthusiasts, and everyday consumers, of ongoing trends in today’s social sphere.  Social Media Week hosts conferences on 6 continents, 21 cities, and is home to approximately 70,000 attendees and 5,000 speakers. I had the pleasure of attending New York City’s Social Media Week this past February and noted some of the most current trends of today’s digital age.

Snapchat and Millennials
Several months ago, President and Chief Connector Jessica Levin asked her Facebook network for feedback on Snapchat. 90% of the responses referred to the app as a millennial application. Why is Snapchat correlated with millennials?  Creative Agency Code and Theory explained millennial’s existence in the digital age.  Creative Strategist Kelly Meyers mentioned that those classified as Generation Y prefer platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to document experiences and friendships.  She then referred to a source by The University of Washington saying that millennials prefer these platforms because they were more private and prevented the fear of judgment.

According to a report by BI Intelligence, the target market for Snapchat is 13 to 25 years old. Snapchat’s Discover feature, launched in late January, permits B2C brands to target the Generation Y pool using short stories with enriching multimedia. Brands such as CNN, Cosmopolitan, and ESPN are active on the interface.  An example of CNN’s snapchat story is displayed above.

The Impact of the #Hashtag
Former Google designer Chris Messina founded the hashtag in 2007.  Since the release of the hashtag, the concept has erupted on social platforms enhancing the community for events, products, and campaigns. #Tagboard Founder and CEO Josh Decker states, “hashtags are designed to create a signal, not noise,” indicating that hashtags are used to categorize content. #Tagboard found that tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags.

B2C brands can engage with new prospects by crafting tweets for trending topics. Decker highlighted Reese’s Twitter efforts by showing that their brand interacts with trending hashtags. For example, Reese’s hopped on the #WhatIsLoveIn4Words bandwagon and in turn received mentions, retweets, and followers from a new cluster of prospects.

Predictive News vs. Trending News
Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO of Mashable, introduced the trend of predictive news in his interview with Social Media Week Founder & Executive Director Toby Daniels. Predictive News was a concept similar to Seven Degrees Communications’ Anticipatory Marketing theory. Predictive News, according to Cashmore, dominates trending news.  Mashable strives to be the leading source for news across all topics and uses the formula of demographic targeting to make that happen.  Predictive News and Anticipatory Marketing are achieved through data, big and small.  Some of the data includes website clicks, newsletter clicks, trending keywords, and Focus Groups.

Snapchat and the hashtag were innovations that plunged into a digital revolution. What trends do you predict will impact the digital age in the next several years?  Share your prediction in the commentary below.

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    What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

    The first sentence that I ever uttered was “Ez a boog.”  Growing up in Florida being afraid of insects (and snakes) could be problematic, but I was. And I still am…. Read the Rest »

    Reflections on Entrepreneurship: 4 Years Without a Parachute

    I am one of those people who has a great appreciation for significant dates.  I love birthdays and anniversaries.  Today is one of those dates.  Today, on June 1st,  I… Read the Rest »

    Live Streaming and Events: Top Five Predictions of Event Influencers

    According to The Guardian, ESPN SportsZone was responsible for streaming the first live radio broadcast on September 5th,1995 of a baseball game between Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees with the… Read the Rest »

    Lighting a Spark

    Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the Katy Perry song, Firework.  The post was actually about building relationships and I realize now that it reflects a lot… Read the Rest »