Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Accidental Internet Fame and Life Lessons for Anne... in India

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I recently stumbled my way into digital fame... in India. And learned that accidental internet fame comes with a price - your life lessons

Here is my take on how to lead a life without regret - tips based on my life experiences, as requested, by the young enthusiast in India.  

Leyla's Life Lessons
Life Lessons from Leyla?
Maybe it's not that ridiculous.

Who remembers Quora? 

Quora is the question and answer site, popularity has fizzled in the U.S. but I still use the service - and apparently, so do people in India. I'm a Quora lurker. I read tech-related or lifestyle focused questions and answers. I rarely comment or post an answer - but I did recently - and here's what happened.

One morning I read the question: "What's it like to not get married and live alone?" I became sad for the person who worried about something that seemed so silly - marriage doesn't guarantee happiness. But then I recalled a time when similar nonsense worried me too, so I answered the question.

I wanted to be positive and uplifting yet truthful. I replied from my phone, as I was still in bed. I typed a quick answer and added a few pictures. It took me 15 minutes to craft the response. I didn't think about it again until the Quora notifications started.

My answer was upvoted by an influential member of the Quora community which started a ripple effect - generally how internet fame works. Then I started to get more activity, including 200+ comments - mostly from India. I replied to many of the comments, including ones that were quite personal. Take into consideration that comments were coming from a country where one does not have sex without marriage.

Stats on my answer to the question:
"What's it like to not get married and live your life alone"

If you read the comments on my answer, you may understand why I felt like I had to respond as I did. My words were few and written in haste but the reactions to my answer were intense. The gratitude, the curiosity, and the emotion expressed by commenters made me feel like I had a responsibility to honor.

Facebook friend requests and tweets came pouring in. One guy tweeted me about the link in my Quora bio, it was misspelled! I fixed it immediately. My internet fame was exciting and I wanted ensure my new friends had access all the digital Leyla they desired.

Next came the email from a young woman named Anne. Possibly the greatest compliment I've ever received.

A lovely email from a young woman in India.
I'm Anne, I'm a college grad from India. I just read a few articles about you that led me to your website here. I was actually inspired by the way you live your life and I realised somehow, somewhere I want to be able to live that kind of life.

And I say that in the most non-creepiest way possible. I am not a follower, I want to be able to do that in my own way. But some tips from you about it would be great. I want to be able to say I don't regret any decisions that I make/made for myself. And you just set a great example for me in that aspect.

I'm sorry if this took a lot from your time. But I would be SO HAPPY if you could just take a bit of your time to reply to a young enthusiast.

I was humbled to receive this note but I did not feel qualified to answer. Had I been misleading? My life was not planned and I've made more mistakes than anyone I know. I asked Anne to clarify.

How did you decided to pursue digital marketing, what made you take that direction was Anne's first question. Part one of my response on how to lead a life without regret is what follows. I will answer Anne's remaining questions with additional posts in the days to come.

I took a few wrong turns and eventually headed in the right direction.

I earned a degree in communications from a state school and worked in advertising for a number of years after graduating from college. I bounced around various agencies, working in promotional advertising, entertainment and event marketing for big clients. I liked the work but didn't enjoy the lifestyle of the agency world. I shifted to the corporate side but stayed in the same field. Eventually, I found myself working for a privately owed restaurant chain running their private event sales.

Backpacking in Europe 1995
Leyla at age 23
Backpacking (alone) in Europe

I was laid off in October of 2008. Shortly after I was let go, we experienced "the great recession". On Christmas Eve day I saw my dream job posted online. The position was for for Vice President of Event Marketing with a large bank. I applied immediately. I received a call from their Human Resources team a few days later. By the New Year, I had submitted over 300 resumes and landed only one interview.

After several rounds of interviews, they went with an internal candidate. I was crushed and became horribly depressed. I spent a month of feeling sorry for myself before I decided I could no longer sit around and wait for something to happen. So I went to Vegas for a weekend and ended up winning $3,500 playing craps - true story.

Leyla makes things happen with champagne
Leyla making things happen
And drinking champagne

I was in the right place at the worst time in history and I made it work.

In early 2009, the U.S. was facing an economic crisis, our banks were crashing and we had the highest unemployment rate since the depression era. Marketing and advertising professionals had it much worse, for us the unemployment rate was more than double the average rate. This meant that my colleagues and I were faced with nearly 35% unemployment rate (by some accounts).

Suicide was not uncommon. Everyday there was another news story about an unemployed senior level executive who threw him or herself in front of train or off a building. Many of my close personal friends lost their jobs, their homes and their life savings. One friend took his own life. The world as I knew it was coming apart at the seams. It was in this madness that I decided to start my own business. After all, what did I have to lose?


Digital marketing hadn't quite hit the mainstream marketing and advertising world and social media was barely a consideration for many organizations. My friends in "traditional" marketing and advertising roles had either lost their jobs or they were about to lose their jobs. But my friends who worked in "new media", or in the startup world, seemed to be flourishing. I knew the landscape of the business world was changing but I wasn't sure where I would fit in.

Over the years, I stayed in touch with an old boyfriend, he was running a small startup. Throughout the course of our relationship, as a couple and as friends, I thought of him as an unofficial mentor. Although we failed romantically, we complemented each other in other ways. He was ambitious and fast and I was smart and cautious. I often looked to him when I needed a kick in the ass, he turned to me when he needed someone to pick up his dry cleaning. Or to mastermind a calculated plan of attack.

In part, he was the one who encouraged me to take this direction and make the career change into digital marketing. I ignored him a lot over the years but I'm glad I listened when he said that social media would take over the world.

Recap of Leyla's Life Lessons: 

  1. Never stay too long any place where you aren't happy -- it's might be a sign that something needs to change. 
  2. Look for solutions -- a Lotus flower grows in shallow murky waters.
  3. Take advice from smart people -- they may be useless in one regard but helpful in others, take what you need and forget the rest.  

Follow my updates: 
Leyla on Twitter - @Leyla_a 
Leyla on Instagram - @leylaruinseverything
Leyla on Facebook - LeylaRuinsEverything 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

So Many Posts, So Little Time - Blog Post About Blog Posts I Haven't Written Yet

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There are so many blog posts I need to write but haven't written.

Instead, I decided to write a short post about all the posts I intent to expand upon... some day soon you will get the real deal!

Four Seasons Marrakech

One more post about my trip to Morocco
I wanted to compile a list style post, complete with travel details like where to stay, what to see, etc., for the friends who commented on my previous Morocco blog posts and social shares from my trip. Many asked me to detail our trip itinerary... it's still in the works (in my brain).

Gua sha bruises

Detailed account of the herniated discs 
Last spring / summer I was really hurt, like really, really badly hurt. I can't go into detail unless I really go into detail but I mentioned it in a post about being stagnant - sitting at a desk for too long. I want to write a post and give a full account of what happened (the intense pain) and how I recovered - especially crediting the team of people who helped me recover.

College reunion trip to Carbondale

My college reunion and trip to Carbondale 
My friends from college and I celebrated our 20 year reunion by driving back to Carbondale for the weekend. I traveled with my friends from freshman year, many of whom I have not seen in years. We rented a cabin, went to the college bars and toured campus. It was a blast and I must share this update!! 

Stay tuned... I'll get there!  

In the meantime, you can follow me on the social medias: 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Would Leyla Say About Spicy Hot Wings?

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Why spicy wings are cuter than a kitten - how I spiced up a chicken wing crawl! 

You're probably wondering - Why would Leyla want to eat hot wings? And you'd be 1/2 right to think I would not eat chicken wings, but I do. I eat chicken wings in the privacy of my home, never in public, until now!

Chicken Wings - Bottled Blonde Chicago
Chicken wings from Bottled Blonde in Chicago

I was recently prompted into a conversation, which later turned into a challenge, about chicken wings. And who can opt out of a challenge that involves chicken wings?

The challenge was to find the best spicy chicken wings in Chicago - but there was a catch! We only could only visit restaurants where waitresses were scantily clad. We rated each wing spot by ambiance, food & beverage taste and value.

~ This post is 100% my idea and in NO WAY was I compensated for any part of this ~

Bottled Blonde Chicken Wings
PBR and bar-style chicken wings + lots of sports at Bottled Blonde

Bottled Blonde 
Ambiance - lots of TVs but music was not as good as other places. Women are considerably more flat chested than Hooters.

Seating area - quasi table with a low-seated banquette that looks like my grandparents lawn furniture.

Food & beverage - chicken wings tasted petrified with a substandard sauce. They had a small bourbon / rye selection, the only choices were: Bulleit, Jim beam, Makers 46.

Value - pricier than others ($13 for 8 wings)

Tilted Kilt 
Ambiance - good music lots of TVs. Hotter servers than others, more diverse crowd.

Seating area - large room with wooden tables and a few banquettes.

Food & beverage - larger menu than other wing spots. We had the traditional "Tilted" style (or Buffalo) wings. My companion said, "I'd like to go back and check out those nachos - The Irish Nachos." 

Value - fairly good value for beer and wings ($12.50 for 9 wings, $4 Coors light, $6 Corona)

Hot Wings - Tilted Kilt Chicago
Spicy wings at Tilted Kilt in Chicago

Ambiance - good music experience - Beatles, Chicago, Falco, most diverse crowd of all wing restaurants we visited. The servers were charming young ladies with the finest of etiquette... and the largest knockers of all other servers combined.

Seating Area - we sat at the high boys next to the windows in the bar area, there TVs above the counter / bar and it was not too crowded.

Food & beverage - original 10 piece, spicy traditional wings.  We were both pleasantly surprised, the wings were juicy. Crispy outside, tender inside with just the right amount of heat. However, my companion disagreed about the heat, "...could've been a little spicier for my taste." They have a fairly robust drink list and 16 oz beers on tap.

Value - best value of all the wing joints we visited (10 wings for $11)

Hooter's - Spicy Hot Wing Crawl
Spicy Traditional Wings at Hooter's in Chicago

Hooter's 16 oz beer

More of my dining and lifestyle posts: 

Follow me on.... 
Instagram: @leylaruinseverything
Twitter: @leyla_a