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How to Work From Home with a Child

Sometimes food is a necessary incentive to keep the kiddos quiet long enough to make a phone call!

Sometimes food is a necessary incentive to keep the kiddos quiet long enough to make a phone call!

Working from home can be hugely beneficial to growing your business, increasing efficiency and saving money. Where things can get tricky is if you’re not the only one at home during the workday. Yes, I’m talking about those pint-sized “coworkers” called children that can’t yet understand the difference between work time and play time.

For some parents, balancing work and childcare from home is the only way they can make it all happen. If you’re among the lucky ones who can enroll your little one in caregiver program at least 2 days a week, even if just for a 3-hour block of time, you can get a ton done in these golden hours! But what about the other days when your child is home with you like snow days, sick days or holidays? These seem to pop up during the most inconvenient times, turning what should be a simple work task or conference call into an extremely stressful balancing act.

The good news is with a little creativity and flexibility throughout your day, you can indeed find balance in this work situation. Here are some tips to make working from home with your child a success!

Create Fun Activity Kits for Your Little One

Even if you only have a few hours’ notice that your little one is going to be at home with you on a workday (i.e. a stomach bug or big snow storm), you only need a little time to put together some activity kits that will keep those tiny fingers busy (and independent of your attention) as you tackle your most important tasks

For example, bust out the play dough and give them an “assignment sheet” of the shapes or objects you want them to try to create. Create a “craft kit” with all the necessary tools and ask them to create something specific, like a birthday card for a relative. Another idea is to assemble a dress up box with fun clothing items and accessories you have lying around the house (bonus points if it’s something they haven’t seen before!). If you have multiple kids at home, create a contest for the best costume that you will judge once you’re off your call or done with your project. Don’t forget about educational DVDs! Sure, some people may try to make you feel guilty for all that “screen time,” but when you’re in a pinch and just need an hour or so of peace and quiet, you do what you have to do!

Block Off Time for Undivided Attention
Have you ever been wrapped up in an assignment, trying to concentrate, but your toddler is literally tugging on you and begging you for some attention? This is when you know it’s time to take a short break from your computer or phone and give some undivided attention to your little one. Take time to get down on their level and play with your toddler for a while. Yes, this is time you aren’t getting work done, but by investing even just 20 minutes or so into making your kid feel noticed and loved, your reward will be a content child that is happy to play independently again until you can return to him or her.

Utilize Family

To say it takes a village to raise a child couldn’t be more accurate! When you have a young family, you quickly realize the importance of trusted family and friends who live close by. If you can foresee a big project coming up at work or an assignment that will need your full attention, don’t be afraid to ask for help with your little one

A family member, neighbor or friend who is willing to take your child on a walk or simply be an extra set of hands for you in the house, if worth their weight in gold! Not only will you feel calm and at ease while getting work done, your child will also enjoy some one-on-one time with a new “friend” who will make them feel like the center of their world. Even if you don’t have family nearby, build a network of friends and fellow moms who are willing to help you out in an emergency situation. You never know until you ask! I have found people are more than happy to help out a busy mom and give her a few well-deserved moments of peace.

Do you ever have to balance work and childcare on the same days? Share your personal thoughts by commenting below!

 

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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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The Struggle is Real: How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect or read more of her guest blog posts!

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The Struggle is Real: How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection

How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection

When you’re participating in a professional development webinar, Skyping with a client, or simply emailing journalists—a strong Internet connection is essential. Without it, you’re not getting the most from your Wi-Fi the way you should. Don’t let the slow Wi-Fi struggle get you down. Below are some tips to help you overcome slow Wi-Fi and get back to being on top of your work game.

Cut back on the number of devices using your network.
If you’re running nine devices on bandwidth designed for five, your Wi-Fi will be sluggish. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess at how many connected devices are too many. This tool tells you how much Internet speed you actually need, whether you’re video conferencing, streaming music, or just emailing clients.

There are too many networks in your area. 
There are a limited amount of radio waves that transmit wireless signals in any given area. If you live in a busy city or an apartment building, with hundreds of networks competing for space, your Wi-Fi will be slow. You may be able to reduce interference by changing your wireless channel.

Your router is in a bad place.
The further your connected device is from your router, the slower your connection. Move the router to a central location in your home or the spot where you most frequently need fast Wi-Fi, like a home office, to help improve your signal.

You’re running apps or programs that are bandwidth-hogs.
Some apps, like BitTorrent and Steam, use a lot of bandwidth, but you may forget they’re running. This will slow your connection. On the other hand, if you’re trying to simultaneously download massive amounts of information, upload photos, and watch a video, you’re overloading your bandwidth (and possibly your device’s memory). Stick to one bandwidth-heavy process at a time.

You expect too much from Wi-Fi.
Your Wi-Fi can only do so much, and that certainly isn’t as much as a hard-wired Ethernet connection. If you’re stuck with slow Wi-Fi and need to use the Internet, optimize your browser for a slower connection by viewing mobile or HTML versions of Web sites and disabling images. Take care of tasks that aren’t as bandwidth-intensive and save the massive downloads for a time when you have access to an Ethernet connection or faster Wi-Fi.

Maybe It’s Not Your Fault After All.
Slow Internet may have nothing to do with your routers position, the apps you’re running, or your high expectations for today’s technology. Sometimes your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is having trouble. These may stem from the central office, the connection going into your home, or the cables at the street. If that’s the case, give your ISP a call.

Once you establish what the problem is, whether on your own or by talking with your ISP, take action. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be back to work without fear of lagging Wi-Fi interrupting your progress.

Have you ever had the frustrating experience of working through a slow Wi-Fi connection? Share your tips for overcoming this challenge by commenting below!

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with Them

The Most Common Social Media Personalities – And How to Communicate with ThemHaving spent any amount of time on social media, you are sure to have encountered many different personalities. People who are fairly normal functioning members of society in real life can take on entirely new personalities from behind the “mask” of their profile identity. This often leads to them interacting with in a way they would never do face-to-face.

While social media offers a great opportunity for people to open up, get real and support one another, it can sometimes allow us to be judgmental, critical and overly cruel to one another. So what are some of the common social media personalities that come out of the wood work? And what is the best way to deal with them? Here is a look at 10 common communication styles we can find on social media every day…


Nickname: The Angry Troll 

What they do: This social media personality is one we have all likely encountered. He or she is truly a “troll” in all sense of the word, scrolling through highly interactive social media accounts (like brands’ or celebrities’) and spitting out mean and offensive comments that are totally uncalled for. Likely this person would never say such things to someone’s face, but behind the mask of social media, they feel they can displace all their anger and insecurities upon someone who never invited such ridicule.

How to handle them: Use your judgement here. If the comments use profanity or are extremely offensive, report them! Otherwise, let social media karma have its way. It’s not smart to engage in an argument with an Angry Troll or you will surely become the next target. There are only “losers” in this game.


Nickname: The Pot Stirrer

What they do: This social media personality is somewhat like a troll in that they intend to create mean and unjust comments, but prefer to have someone else stoop to that level. So, they stir the pot with a snide, but craftily innocent-appearing comment that causes other people to jump on the negative bandwagon. Meanwhile, they sit back and enjoy the fire they just started.

How to handle them: Steer the comments in a new direction to stifle the effects of the pot stirring. Ask a new question or offer a positive comment that will trigger others to focus on this direction rather than the potentially negative direction of the Pot Stirrer. 


Nickname: The Inappropriate Tagger

What they do: Often this social media personality is “new to the game” and doesn’t quite grasp the social norms of how to use features like tagging. This results in awkward and embarrassing tags where you are linked to a post, photo or video of something you would never personally choose to share with your network. For example, your Great Aunt tags you (and her entire friend list) in a video of a cat dancing in a clown costume. Thanks! Just what I wanted my potential clients to associate me with.

How to handle them: You can discretely untag yourself from posts you don’t want showing up on your page. If they keep adding you to Facebook groups that you don’t want to be a part of, you can also leave the group and request to not be added back. Keep a kind heart, as this person often doesn’t realize that what they’re doing is annoying you.


Nickname: The (Not So) Private Investigator 

What they do: This social media personality is shamelessly curious about your life and not one bit discrete about it. They will spend a creepy amount of time surfing through all your photos from as far back as those college days (you knew you should have deleted those albums). But instead of silently snooping they will leave an obvious trail of breadcrumbs by “liking” random photos along the way. Bold, unaware or both?

How to handle them: Unless their comments are inappropriate, there’s not much you can do. If you’d prefer them not to be able to sift through your history, take control of your privacy settings to limit their access to your profile. But note, if they are used to having unlimited access, they will surely notice getting shut out and you may need to offer an answer why if confronted.


Nickname: The Overly Personal Acquaintance 

What they do: You likely accepted this person’s friend request because you felt bad for them or guilty because they look familiar, but you just can’t recall from where. In return, this moment of weakness forever penalizes you with a new “virtual best friend” that is the first to like and comment on anything you post, especially personal stuff. Like, dude, sharing my engagement announcement doesn’t mean you’ll be invited to the wedding.

How to handle them: Be sure to acknowledge them, because your social media relationship obviously means a lot. So long as they are supportive and positive, who doesn’t want a cheerleader? If they enjoy your social media life this much, maybe there’s a real-life budding friendship there.


Nickname: The Self-Appointed Judge 

What they do: Like the Angry Troll, this social media personality feels like they have the ultimate responsibility of passing judgement on anything posted by a brand or celebrity. Go ahead and call out your disapproval of Beyonce’s latest shoe choice. Based upon your own profile, it’s pretty obvious that jealousy and insecurity (or just plain mean-spiritedness) is the real driving force here.

How to handle them: Offer only a positive reply that doesn’t’ acknowledge the dig, but focuses on something nice and encouraging. You will never “win” a case against a social media Judge, so let it hang in the balance.


Nickname: The Self-Appointed Defender

What they do: To counter act the Self-Appointed Judge, the Self-Appointed Defender has also emerged as a common social media personality. This person quickly “comes to the rescue” of anyone who is being unfairly put down. Don’t get me wrong, this is a refreshingly good personality to have on your side! However, it can be a bit awkward when they act like they personally know the celebrity or brand they are defending on a deep (very deep) level. Now you’re wondering just how far they’ll go to see that “justice is served.”

How to handle them: Play the peacekeeper and acknowledge both sides of the Judge and the Defender. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but also thank the Defender for being positive.


Nickname: The Irrelevant Commenter

What they do: This type of social media personality just so badly wants to be a part of the party as quickly as possible, they get a little trigger happy. For example, they jump into a long stream of comments about the latest presidential debate with something like “Yeah and I mean unless we start using the metric system, we’re all screwed anyways.” (Insert “confused look” meme from all other commenters.) A for effort doesn’t even apply here, because had they taken any effort at all to read the original post or the other comments, they would surely realize how far off base they were. Way to kill a good comment flow!

How to handle them: Try and guide the conversation back to the original point through your own comment. If at all possible, connect the dots for the Irrelevant Commenter with what you think they could have meant. Kindness always wins on social media!


Nickname: The Anti-Grammarist

What they do: The United States education system has either miserably failed this person or they cleverly bypassed all English classes without learning the difference between too, to and two. This social media personality really makes you question the average education level. Most social media sites will kindly alert you to misspelled words with a red squiggly line. So they have either blatantly ignored this cue or have absolutely no idea what’s incorrect about using “defiantly” instead of “differently.”

How to handle them: There’s really never a kind and polite way to correct someone else’s grammar on social media without looking like a control freak. Use it as a lesson in refreshing your own grammar and correct the sentence with your mental red pen.


Nickname: The Silent Observer

What they do: This final social media personality is likely a close friend or relative that you talk with outside of social media on a regular basis. You’ve noticed that they never interact with any of your posts (even major life announcements) and just figure they don’t login that often (yes, these people do exist). However, whenever you see them next, they mention everything you ever posted on social media in great detail. Now you’re left wondering whether they secretly hate you on social media or if they really don’t understand that the concept is to interact with people, not just silently observe their lives.

How to handle them: This is a completely harmless social media personality. Sure it may be a pet peeve that will irk you a bit from time to time, but enjoy that they do keep up with your life and remember the important details well enough to talk about them with you the next time you are together.

What are some of the difficult social media personalities you have encountered? How have you learned to effectively communicate with them? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Social Media, Technology

 

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5 Lessons My Cat Has Taught Me About Entrepreneurship

pinot life lessons 1If you’ve read enough posts on the Bennis Inc blog, you’ve likely stumbled upon the mention of my Russian Blue cat, Pinot. She has been a key member of my staff since before I made the entrepreneurial leap to take my business fulltime. I’ve kept a sense of humor as to how Miss Pinot “assists” in my business, but let’s be honest, she’s more of a figurehead than a worker bee.

As I approach the fourth anniversary of quitting my 9-5 and pursuing my dream of running my own business, it’s only fitting that I also reflect upon what my snarky mascot has taught me about maintaining a work-life balance, making tough decisions and keeping a sense of humor about it all.

Enjoy these five lessons that my cat has taught me about entrepreneurship!

Know when to spring into action and know when to lay low.

Pinot has two settings: rocket ship and ancient sloth. When there is a task on her to-do list, she tackles it with urgency. Anything else that is not deemed as necessary of her attention, she barely opens an eye. Certainly this is an extreme lesson for any business owner to fully embrace, so let’s water it down a bit.

I apply this Pinot philosophy by jumping on any task I can complete that day. I’ve made a conscious effort to “eat my frogsand clear my bandwidth early and often. In contrast, I’ve also learned to not rush to complete those tasks that are awaiting important details from other people, are not deemed urgent or could potentially cost me time without the guarantee of payment. Thanks to Pinot, I know how to choose when I spring into action or lay low to remain efficient with my time.

Make time to care for yourself daily.

Pinot can often be caught leg in air, in the middle of a very intense bathing routine. She prioritizes the hours she spends grooming her coat and sharpening her claws. While 6+ hours out of anyone’s day is far too much time to devote exclusively to maintaining yourself, there is a lesson to be learned here.

pinot life lessons 2

Thanks to Pinot, I’ve embraced the habit of treating my body to some sort of exercise daily. I also make time for life’s little luxuries like a haircut, trip to the nail salon or browsing a store so long as my other work tasks for the day are complete. It’s my reward for efficiency and my motivation to push through challenging tasks.

Manage your own agenda…unless you really, really need something.

Pinot is like that roommate that you never really run into, yet you know they still live with you because of the random items they leave scattered around. In Pinot’s case, this is mostly litter and fur. Pinot manages her own agenda and rarely comes to me unless she really, really needs something – i.e. food or belly scratches.

I perceive the value of this lesson to be the importance of working independently, yet not being shy about asking for something when you need it. I aim to make my clients’ lives easier by not having to micromanage me. When producing content, I do need their initial input. But all I ask for is simple bullet points or fragments of ideas. From there, I work independently to weave this into a final product they’re proud to share with the media, on their website or with their social networks.

If you’re not getting the attention you need, insert yourself until you can’t be ignored.

To add to the point I just made above, when you do really, really need something from a client in order to do your job, be assertive and follow-up with them until you get the answers you need. Pinot has the skill refined into an art form. Anyone who owns a cat, or has even been around a cat, you know how they insert themselves into your space until you can no longer choose to ignore their presence.

Pinot has laid across my laptop as I type, waved her tail in front of my eyes and tucked herself tight up against my arm so I cannot do anything but breathe without acknowledging her (I think she’s working on a tactic for that breathing part, too). Sometimes what Pinot wants (i.e. treats) I can’t give her or she doesn’t need at that time. I verbally or non-verbally tell her no and she moves on. This is an incredibly valuable lesson in business.

I’ve written about how a no is as good as a yes. As a business owner, we need answers to move forward. Even if that answer is a no, it is still better than no answer at all. With Pinot as inspiration I (more tactfully) follow-up with contacts until I receive an answer and the ability to move forward

Prioritize and capitalize on any opportunity to nap.

If there is one thing cats are good for, it’s napping. I believe the average cat racks up about 17 hours per day of Zzzz’s. That’s no joke! Personally, not only does that much sleep sound terrible, but I’d have no time to accomplish anything else. Instead, this is another Pinot lesson I take with a grain of salt.

I have learned the value of a good power nap in the afternoon when the opportunity presents itself. So often, my energy wanes as my mind is burnt out from the morning’s writing, conference calls and networking meetings. Rather than guzzling caffeine and pushing through the wall, I devote no more than an hour (often less) to shutting down completely. Everyone responds to napping differently, but for me, and many other effective leaders throughout history, a nap breathes a fresh breath of air into the day. I am able to do far more quality work when I awake compared to the unenergized and unfocused work I would have accomplished without napping.

Which one of Pinot’s lessons is your favorite? Share how you will or already do apply this wisdom to your career by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

annoying_email_habits

Proper email etiquette is an acquired skill and one we must actively work to maintain. Communicating with someone who lacks this etiquette can be one of the most frustrating experiences for any professional. A few of your most frequent offenders might be coming to mind right now. You know who they are. They’re the people who never respond, always hit “reply all” or frequently fill your inbox with spam.  Simply put, they make communication far more complicated than it needs to be.

From my experience, I’ve identified 11 personalities of poor email etiquette. Some stem from ignorance while others stem from defiance. No matter the origin of the personality, they all produce a similar aggravation when it comes time to communicate with them. How many of these sound frustratingly familiar?

The black hole

You may as well be sending your message in to outer space. No matter how many times and ways you follow-up, you never receive a response. Ever. I mean, why even have an email account?

The never BCC

Blind-closed-copying (BCC) is a glorious tool that allows people to send a message to the masses, without disclosing everyone’s email address to each other. That is, until it is misused. Such as when you get included in a long email chain with people you don’t know – and don’t really want to have your email address. Which leads to…

The reply all

Inevitably the “never BCC” offender brings about the “reply all” guy who copies the entire email list on a response that is only relevant to the sender…or no one at all. Most of us know this disastrous scenario. The reply all email responses keep coming days, even weeks later and not one of them ever really relevant to anyone more than the sender (yeah, the “never BCC” guy).

The reply one

In selective instances where you actually want people to reply all, like when you’re trying to introduce two people or have them work together, one person only ever replies to you. This means you have to constantly forward to the rest of the group so that they’re aware of the response.

The forward with no explanation

This is the person who forwards a message to you with no additional details and it’s not overly apparent as to what’s expected of you. Do you need to respond? Is this just FYI? Forwarding an email takes no effort, at least grant us with a small explanation so we don’t have to send the passive aggressive response, “Is any action needed for this?”

The single word response

You’ll send a long email with various topics requiring some thought and explanation in return, yet this person finds it somehow sufficient to respond simply with “okay” or “yes.” After a while, you’ll try tactics like bolding, highlighting and underlining the exact questions you need answered in detail – but I promise you, even with all that effort, they’re only ever going to tell you that it’s “okay.”

The stream of conscious

These email messages tend to read like a terribly written monologue. They include every thought that pops into the person’s head during his time writing, sometimes even including strange and irrelevant details like what he ate for lunch or that he has to walk the dog tonight. You’ll wholeheartedly wish it was acceptable to respond with “Can you just boil this down into an executive summary for me?”

The spammer

This person clutters your inbox with non-work related emails, sharing those forwarded messages that contain corny jokes, awkward gifs and links to download a video you just “have to see to believe.” Not everyone thinks that video of a dancing cat is hilarious – or deserving of 5 minutes of your busy work day. If only the government would also mandate a required unsubscribe option for these people as well.

The hit and run

This is the person who, for a while, will answer your messages quickly and with enthusiasm. Then, he goes completely AWOL. What changed? What did I do? I get it. Everyone can get swamped with work for a few days or be out traveling. Still, such a drastic 180 in email communication is as hard to rationalize as it is annoying.

The last word

This person always has to have the last word, even when a response is completely unnecessary. Say, for example, you send an email to coordinate a time to meet. Once you decide on a place and time, it’s perfectly acceptable to close the conversation there. Instead “the last word” guy will always shoot back a final email to whatever you say even if it’s merely repeating your exact message. If you have the time and patience, you could really have some fun just to see how many of the same responses you can get from “the last word” guy.

The selective responder

This email personality is most frustrating when you have several important questions for which you need answers. You clearly outline each one (maybe even with numbers or bullet points), yet “the selective responder” will reply with only a fraction of the requested information, offering no acknowledgement of or explanation for the outstanding questions that remain. Inevitably, you reply again (and again) with a narrowed down list of questions until you get all your answers. You may as well be a dentist pulling teeth.

The better late than never

Finally, there’s this wild card. The “better late than never” guy will finally respond to an email you sent months ago without acknowledging the fact half a year has gone by or offering an explanation as to why it took so long. Even odder, this email personality doesn’t seem to realize that his response has little to no value now as you’ve had to move on and find your information elsewhere.

What type of annoying email personalities do you most often encounter? Do you have some more that should be added to this list? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 
 

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The Things I Would Never Know Without Facebook

facebook loginFacebook – what was life ever like before this social networking phenomenon? Old flames and friendships have been rekindled, businesses have taken off and tanked and jobs have been found and lost all as a result of our publicly displayed interactions on this single web site. With more than 750,000,000 unique visitors estimated each month, you’re in the minority (at least within modern society) if you’ve chosen to stand strong and quit or resist the temptation of joining Facebook. Because of the nature of my business and my own curiosity with other people’s lives, I don’t think I’ll ever join the ranks of Facebook protestors, just as I don’t anticipate becoming Mennonite anytime soon. However, just entertaining this idea did lead me to ponder what would I be missing if I deleted Facebook and disconnected from the world of “likes” and “status updates.” What would I never know if it wasn’t for Facebook? So here is my comical, but insightful list of the knowledge and resources I’d lack without my daily logins to the world’s most popular social networking site:

Last Names

Without Facebook I’m fairly certain I would know as many of my acquaintances’ last names as I would their phone numbers without my cell phone contact list. Which means I would basically only know the last names of my family members…maybe. Facebook has become my flash card memory game for learning people’s full names and placing them with a face. I’m always proud when I can reference someone by their full name without stuttering or second guessing. What I don’t also reveal is that in addition to knowing their last name, I also likely know what they ate for lunch and the name of their family dog…

Birthdays

What better way to make someone feel special than to remember them on their birthday? Facebook has made this nearly fool proof so long as everyone chooses to list their birthday on their profile. I’m not a supporter of the cheesy and impersonal birthday wishes on someone’s Facebook wall (in fact, I think it’s been years since I’ve done this for anyone), but Facebook does help to prompt me to send them a more personal message or mention it in conversation if I see them that day or week. Is this a cheap shortcut to actually committing birthdays to memory? Absolutely. But I know I always appreciate a birthday wish and rarely accuse someone of only knowing this because of Facebook – particularly if the wish is accompanied by cake or an alcoholic beverage. I’ll take it!

Life Milestones

Even more useful than a birthday reminder is being cued in to the major life milestones of my contacts. Without Facebook I would have to rely on second-hand information or class reunions to tell me about my acquaintances marriages, children, new jobs and even the less happy parts of life. This instant news feed of pictures and posts allows me to stay in the know and offer support or congratulations where warranted. It’s safe to assume that with the volume of “friends” most of us have on Facebook, most people look, but don’t comment on such milestones. However, the pride and excitement we experience from announcing our news to the masses is well worth the couple of haters that might come along with it.

Insignificant and Trivial Facts

Life milestones are one thing – they’re newsworthy, interesting and I’m happy to be kept informed of them. On the flip side, there are far more insignificant and trivial items that are also shared on Facebook that I could manage without ever knowing. When I spend more than 5 minutes of my day reading about someone’s rant over a ref’s bad call, cliché quotes or a self-photo shoot taken in someone’s bathroom mirror – I know that is 5 minutes of my life I will never get back and I need to remove myself from my computer immediately. There’s no denying that Facebook can be a huge time waster, so we have to keep in check what type of information we’re consuming and know when to step away.

How to Reach Someone Without an Email

Back to the more useful elements of Facebook, I’ve found it to be an extremely reliable resource of reaching people who I don’t have an email for. Mostly these are friends or distant relatives, but in some cases Facebook has also helped me to connect with someone regarding something business related. They had a bad email address or were unresponsive, yet answered my Facebook message within minutes. It’s amazing! Without Facebook, my “Plan B” for reaching someone aside from email or phone would be reduced to smoke signals or a carrier pigeon. While both are creative, they yield far less reliable results.

My Husband

I could say I saved this as the last item on my list because it’s my most exciting and most life-changing thing I gained from Facebook, but in reality it’s because I really didn’t appreciate how impactful Facebook has been on my life until I started thinking a bit deeper. It wasn’t quite as awkward or painful as an online dating experience, but the story of how we met is a pretty entertaining one that you can read more about here. My husband Scott and I first connected on Facebook after being introduced by mutual friends. Without a platform for social networking, I’m not sure how we would have followed-up and communicated further since no numbers were initially exchanged. Chances are good that the excitement to see each other again would have faded and that little spark fizzled out. But thanks to Facebook, that wasn’t the case! Our story is far from unique and the accurate number of couples who have connected and ultimately married as a result of Facebook would be hard to quantify.

To wrap up with just a brief moment of shameless self-promotion – for those of you who are among the 750,000,000 monthly visitors to Facebook, you should also connect with Bennis Inc here: Facebook.com/BennisInc. I would love to soon have our number of “likes” reflect the number or loyal readers and followers of the Bennis Inc Blog. Don’t have Facebook? I still want you to connect! Instead, comment below and tell us why you made this choice.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Life, Social Media, Technology

 

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Our Perfectly Imperfect Wedding

Just a little over one year ago I wrote an article entitled, “When You Don’t Plan Everything, Everything Goes As Planned.” I regarded this as one of the most insightful thoughts I had stumbled upon in a long time. It was a great turning point for a self-proclaimed perfectionist and I felt a release from all the pressure trying to control everything this brought about. But in the months since that post, I experienced some big (and wonderful) life changes that really put this mindset to the test. A monumental event like a wedding is something you HAVE to plan for. And there’s an entire industry of vendors who are supported by this very fact. But today I don’t want to share with you the 7 months of planning and prepping that led up to my wedding day, instead I want to share with you the even more important fact that over half a year of planning in no way means everything – or anything – will go as planned.

When It Rains…It POURS.

From the moment we decided on an outdoor venue, I knew there would always be one aspect of the wedding I couldn’t plan – the weather. Back in January, what more could we do than check the Farmer’s Almanac and naively say, “Oh how could it be that bad?” We had countless sunny days throughout spring and early summer until we hit late July. The thunderstorms would hit every afternoon but blow over relatively fast. Still we were optimistic. Whether it was a circling tropical storm or the most comically bad luck, August 4th produced some of the heaviest rainfall we had in a long time. From 11am until 2:30pm the rain flooded the streets and came down in every direction imaginable. Our entire event crew was left scrambling on the farm (our outdoor wedding venue) trying to batten the hatches and save what they could of the items that had already been setup.

It was bad, but the day was young. I still had faith it would blow over and all would be fine for our 5pm ceremony….

The rain continued with a second storm hitting around 2pm. There was too much mud to even get down the driveway of the farm. Scott and I had planned all of our photos before the wedding and I was to meet him in the grove for our “First Look.” There he stood in the pouring raining, waiting almost an hour for me to arrive. Separated from each other all day, we were both nervous, uncertain about the weather and sad for how the other must be feeling right now. I wanted nothing more than to see him and know that everything was going to be okay. This may not have been the wedding we planned, but it was our wedding to make the best of.

Finally the rain went from pouring to drizzling and with the help of my family and multiple umbrellas, I made my way to Scott. With a complete disregard for the cameras and film crew around us, Scott and I fell into an embrace and sobbed into each others’ arms with the relief that we had each other – and nothing, not even rain, could stop us from getting married today. Looking at our “First Look” photos now, they are some of the most genuine snapshots of love and happiness. Had the emotions of the day been any lighter, I know we wouldn’t have such vivid memories from that very special moment.

Wedding First Look

The Outdoor Wedding That Almost Wasn’t.

With the ocean’s worth of rain that had just fallen down and yet another storm on the radar, our wedding planner said that everything would have to be moved under the tent. Our ceremony, our cocktail hour, even our dancing that was supposed to be under the stars would all be shoved under a tent only big enough for our dinner tables. At that point my plans for the day had already been shattered and my emotions shot so what more could be shocking at this point?

The bridal party left the farm to stay hidden from guests and to freshen up. Returning to the farm right before the ceremony, the skies had lightened and our guests were being seated in the chairs outside – we were having an outdoor wedding after all! I saw so many familiar faces of friends and loved ones, who despite the mud and the earlier rain, were thrilled to be there and to see us get married. My heart had never felt fuller.

wedding ceremony

A Dry Wedding?

Given the day’s earlier events, nothing about our wedding should have been dry. But then again nothing about our wedding seemed to be predictable whatsoever. Our event planner told us that the quantities of beer and wine we thought we delivered weren’t all accounted for. We were short 5 cases! It was only cocktail hour and already we were running out. We still have no idea where the alcohol accounting went awry, but at that time we just knew we had to fix it fast. The event crew ran out for us and purchased what we needed. The rest of the night, finding a dry cup was about as rare as finding a dry eye. We have enough leftover to throw a pretty nice New Year’s Eve Party too!

First Dance Follies.

Partly for our wedding and partly for a fun hobby, Scott and I took dance lessons a few months back. We learned all the steps to the basic dances that would help us to look just a bit more polished on our big day. As most weddings do, the bridal party is announced before the bride and groom go into their first dance. Scott and I decided to get a little creative and he picked me up to carry me into the tent. Before the lift, he stepped on the train of my dress which had been bustled to tuck up neatly out of my way and he ripped the bustle right out! No, this doesn’t mean any extra skin was showing and thank goodness the only thing that ripped was the small stitch keeping the bustle pinned up, but the train swung loose through our entire dance. At first this wasn’t too bad, but with every turn or dip, the train would get caught under one of our feet – producing a really awkward step-hop sort of first dance routine. Again…not at all what we had planned!

With this all occurring before dinner, we had at least another 5 hours of celebration before us. As much as we could have been focusing on what else would go wrong on our wedding day, we were instead living in the moment and enjoying the first party we hosted as Mr. and Mrs.

wedding dress train first dance

Holding the train throughout our first dance

Our Dream Wedding: Act II.

With every passing hour, the skies lightened and there wasn’t another single drop of rain. We actually had quite a few guests tell us how lucky we were to have the weather we did. All they knew was that the day’s rain had made for a pleasant and cool evening. It seemed the rest of our wedding was going to be carefree and enjoyable, but I still couldn’t come to terms with the fact that our guests would never experience the outdoor lounge area and dance floor under the stars that had been my most exciting part of the reception design.

Off in the distant grove area, I started to see the event crew move a few cocktail tables, then a bar, then the couches came out – it looked like a glowing after-party just beckoning you to join in. Scott and I were able to see the finished area before any of the guests came over from the tent. It was spectacular! There were chandeliers in the trees, blue lights illuminating the trunks and 2 lounge areas that created a fun and festive atmosphere completely separate from the rest of the traditional touches of our wedding. As guests curiously made their way from the tent, Scott and I enjoyed a (second) first dance all our own. My broken bustle had been repined and nothing stood in our way from taking in this perfectly imperfect moment….no rain, no stress, no disasters….just us.

grove ceremony reception area

While this may not have been the wedding I planned for, it was absolutely the wedding I always wanted and it wouldn’t have been possible without our talented (and tireless) wedding vendors:

…and of course of loving and supportive family and friends!

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Life

 

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