Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: September 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Surveys and Sweepstakes

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I've written a lot about how to earn incremental income in this blog. I spent a good part of the summer enjoying extra income from being a panelist or answering questions for market research companies. I also write about sweepstakes and contests that I like (and sometimes don't like), things that work, things that I think are a good idea, etc. I like to write about good ideas.

Recently, I came across an email for a sweepstakes that I thought I would share. Ipsos is a global, survey based, market research company that has been in business since 1975. Ipsos has organized its business into five areas of specialization: advertising research, marketing research, media and content technology research, opinion polls and social research; and quality and customer relationship management research. (Courtesy of Wikipedia).

For the month of October, they are running a sweepstakes for their i-Say Panel. It is fairly easy...basically you fill out surveys from home and build points. Those points are they transferable for gift cards and merchandise.

new members are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win $5,000.00. They are also giving away a car (details provided HERE). Or just click on the AD below.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pop Culture

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I wanted to write a post about me today. Let's see, let's go through the thing that I love.

When I was a kid, I loved Duran Duran. Very much. I've been to countless Duran Duran concerts and met the band on various occasions. Though my taste in music has evolved, my love for Duran Duran has not waned. I still get tremendously excited when I see a John Taylor picture.


My mother is a very fashionable woman. I grew up thumbing through Vogue magazine and watching my mother make clothes. I remember when the first issue of Elle magazine came out in the U.S., I had to purchase it and save a copy. I was addicted to fashion magazines and often ordered European versions of the magazines so I could see what people were wearing in more fashion forward cities around the globe. I designed my 8th Grade graduation dress. The only problem was, I tried to execute some of the "fashion" on my own as a pre-teen and teen. My mother had to explain that sometimes a photo is taken for artistic value and people don't go out of the house looking like that way, i.e., huge teased hair and exaggerated make up. So, I ignored her and just got ready once I arrived at school.

When I was in college, I almost majored in Interior Design but I am glad I did not. I would suck at it. I am really good at recognizing when a finished product looks good, appreciating it, but not so good at creating anything. I like design of all sorts, from interior, architecture, graphic, photography, art and so on.

Celebrity Gossip.
I never was much into celebrity gossip until my later years. Now,I am hooked and I love it. I feel like celebrity gossip is an art in itself. It is so ridiculous and entertaining, I Just love watching how it all unfolds.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Using Analytics to Get the Most From Your Blog Posts

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I started blogging some time ago but did install Google Analytics into my blog until I started working with other sites for clients. When I realized how much information was available via Analytics, I opened my account. Once installed, I felt as if I was looking at privileged information that I should not be able to access. It was all right there. So much information. For the total newbie, I use Google Analytics because it is free but there are other products out there.

Each morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is log onto my account and look at the numbers. It is difficult to pull myself away from the numbers and graphs. Once again, I don't consider myself and expert and I am ALWAYS looking for input. I do think when it comes to analyzing data, I am pretty darn good at reading it, understanding it and making judgements and decisions based upon analytics. My background in marketing, and the fact that I am an analytical person by nature helps, BUT I spend hours with those numbers and that time spent helps recognize trends best.

I am going to brief you on how I do it. The way I peruse my analytics may not be what is best for you but it will help you get a start. The dashboard is what you see first, but from there, where you go can depend on what you are trying to achieve.

Traffic Sources
Depending on the site, I usually start with Traffic Sources. This reveals from where my traffic comes. In the basic overview, I can see what percentage of my traffic comes from: direct hits, search (both paid and organic) and referring sites. Depending on the site, the goal (for my purposes) is to get my organic search results higher. I am always excited when my organic search results are growing - so long as my traffic is increasing. If my traffic is not increasing, it could mean that my "search" traffic is increasing because I am not doing my job in other places.

I monitor a travel site for a client and their organic search is fairly good. Recently, I have noticed that Bing has become a huge player for this particular site. I know that Bing has good functionality for travel so this does not surprise me. I don't get the most hits from Bing but I get the right hits from Bing.

How do I know what the right hits are? The site does not sell anything, it is just informative, so the hits are not going to directly convert to sales so I cannot measure that. Referrals that come in from Bing have a much lower bounce rate. Visitors tend to look at multiple pages (on average 4 pages last month) and they stay on the site about 10 minutes longer than the average visitor.

Why should I care if Bing is getting me the right traffic? Well, I also manage a PPC campaign for this site and if the trend keeps going this way, I may decide to purchase ads from Bing and not Google. I would likely try them both and compare them against each other before making any decisions.

After I spend some time examining how people got to my page, I look at what words they searched to get to my page. Keywords make me giddy! I feel like I have a crystal ball.

When I first log onto the keywords portion of analytics, I overlook anything that is obvious - for example "Sunday Soliloquy" or something similar to the title of my blog. I also overlook anyone who has searched my name (unless they search something with my name and something weird, then I freak out). Depending on the popularity keywords and key phrases can help me with SEO.

For the travel site, keywords help a lot in determining how people search for that particular travel business. After a few months of researching our keywords and key phrases, I learned that their clients misspell the same few words over and over again. After taking a minute to silently judge the misspellings, I looked a little deeper. English is a second language for over 80% of the clientele, so it is interesting to see the misspellings as they are almost always spelled the same way. Once we had this information, we tweaked the PPC campaign and bought the misspelled keywords as our clients would be typing them into the search.

For this blog, most people navigate here via referring sites OR they directly enter the URL in. I get a small percentage of my traffic via search but my goal in life is to increase that. I use keywords to help grow my traffic. When I write about something that is popularly searched, I get traffic from those blog posts. For example, my entry on Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (sign up for a pro Hootsuite account, it rocks) gets a lot of search traffic from people who are trying to obtain information regarding those products. A few other popular posts are for my review of The Flip and my visit to Willis Tower both of those posts get the majority of their hits after particular keywords are searched.

Determining what to write for my blog.
I try really hard to keep this blog about me and the things that I do. But, I would be lying if I said that I don't write about trending topics on Twitter or other popularly searched topics in an effort to get a piece of the pie. Jump on that bandwagon. Sometimes, I simply cannot think of anything to write so I look for inspiration and if that inspiration happens to be Chris Brown & Rhianna then so be it.

I pay a considerable amount of attention to the content portion of analytics as well. When a particular post is getting a lot of attention, when people spend a lot of time with a certain subject matter, I keep that trend up. I get a lot more traffic when I reveal something about myself or if I am very candid. My all time most popular post is The Chicago Boat Whore post and it has nothing to do with marketing or social media.

That is how I basically how I use Google Analytics on a day to day basis. About once every two weeks I go into deeper detail and look into everything more closely, I look at how people navigate through my blog and the various advanced segments.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Morning

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I woke up this morning (it is Sunday) around 8 a.m. The bright sun woke me prematurely as I tend to sleep in until 10ish on Sunday mornings. I normally spend the day at home doing things around my apartment but today I had a hungering for a bit of change. I grabbed my internet and headed to Starbucks.

To add to the change, I ordered a cappuccino - I normally have a double espresso. I situated myself at a table outside, as far away from the multitude of dog-people on the patio, and sat down with my internet news and my heavily armed iPod. I was ready for an hour or so of relaxing and reading about the Taliban, the recession and health care peppered in with a bit of celebrity gossip. Celebrity gossip just has not been the same since Lindsay Lohan tamed her drugging ways.

Sunday Morning

I skimmed my first article, reading about Ramadan and how people in Egypt are celebrating while John Lennon's Imagine played on the iPod. The headline "The Country has Fallen to Decadence" captured me and I drifted for a minute, just how nice that would be if the country were to actually fall to decadence. Half way though the second article, I noticed something. I felt strange. I stopped reading and paid closer attention to this little nagging feeling, what was it? Then it became apparent, it was loneliness. I was feeling lonely.

I often crave solitude and rarely feel lonely or sad so I put down my internet and embraced this feeling. I listened to the voice inside me as it begged to be heard. Leonard Cohen's In My Secret Life played on the iPod as I watched annoying preppy couples and their dumb dogs sit down with their coffee in front of me. I reflected upon missed opportunities in the past and the limitations that age will bring in the future. Just as the sadness was fleeting, I picked my internet back up and decided to chronicle this feeling.

I felt shame and I hesitated as I started to type. We are not supposed to admit that we feel alone or that we fear that we'll be alone in the future. Particularly as a woman, a single, childless woman fast approaching 40, we are supposed to brave the future pretending all the while that the thought of being alone doesn't frighten us or at least make us wonder about decisions we made in the past.

The iPod battery just died and some fat dude attempts to sit next to me wearing a Bears shirt. The big logo on his orange shirt accentuates his huge gut, my face is oozing with disgust as his belly nearly knocks over the table. I remember it is Sunday in Chicago and return to my my internet news, Black Hawk crash kills two US service men in Iraq while unemployment soars back home. I keep my headphones on to save myself from the dog people though I am slightly smitten with this fellow Woody who sits beside me.

Woody at Starbucks

Ben Sherman (eFashion Solutions)

Related Post: Just a Brief Retrospective

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Promoting an Event

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I think people confuse the term "Event Marketer" with "Promoter". My history as an event professional was always on the marketing side of things, working with branded events. I managed one of two things for clients: 1) Strategy (finding sponsorships that fit my clients needs based on our collective market research) and 2) Event Production or Execution (making sure the event is perfect). I usually leveraged the events with advertising or collateral production. My clients either sponsored large events, festivals or concerts OR they were B2B events with a predetermined guest list. Recently, I find that people are pulling me into projects where I am being called upon to promote and drive traffic to an event and it is making me mental. Here I will talk about some practices that have helped me in promoting an event.

Corporate Event
Corporate Event

I have always been super emotional when it comes to work. Like many female professionals, I take work personally. I get upset when people are not as serious as I am about a project as I am. I cannot leave my work at the office. My job is a direct reflection of me, and in many cases, it defines me. When your work defines who you are, it is not fun because in order to preserve self-esteem, failure is NOT an option. In fact, anything less than perfect is not an option. I like to exceed expectations and for everyone to be happy with the outcome of a project. For me, there is nothing worse than an unhappy client.

I recently took on a volunteer obligation where I had to drive traffic to a networking event and fundraiser for a local business owner who is running for Congress. In order to break even, I need 50 guests who attend the event. In order to make our minimum fundraising goal for the event, I must have 100 guests. This is scary and frustrating as I am the "host" of the event and I had zero advertising budget.

I took some steps to ensure success and I am still working out the process of how to successfully promote this event, so as always, all comments welcome. Thus far, my process has involved: timing, venue selection, event listings, email blasts, reaching out to my network through social media and face to face.

Timing. We did not want to start planning too far in advance. Sometimes when people commit to a cocktail hour too far in advance, they simply forget about the event and "no show". I had a month to plan and gave myself about three weeks to heavily market the event.

Venue selection. I wanted something that was easily accessible to both the downtown Chicago working professional and the suburbanite driving in for the event. I wanted a space that was open and had enough space for 100 people to meet and network. I needed something trendy, perhaps a place that people have heard of but have not had an excuse to try. And the biggest consideration was PRICE. This event being a fundraiser, I really needed to ensure that our costs stayed low and our ticket price was appropriate - we didn't want to price ourselves out from what our attendees would feel was a "value".

The hard part has been promoting this event. I found various FREE event listing services that I had not heard of previous to this project., and all services that have a Free Listing but will promote your event for you with a fee. I used the event listings in addition to traditional online methods and I did not stop with online event listing services, I went old school; newspaper listings and newsletters as people do still read them, especially people who are 40+ years old.

Social Media. I created two Facebook Groups and sent an event invite to the Facebook group. I also created a very targeted advertisement on Facebook to hone in on potential attendees that I could not reach through my social networking. (I paid for the ads myself and kept the daily budget low and only paid for clicks and not impressions) The real time "search" functionality on Twitter was helpful to look for people who live in the candidate's district and contact them individually.

Email. I started out with my personal email lists and hit up my closest friends and colleagues for attendance and asked them to spread the word by forwarding my email to their personal email list. I am hoping to start some momentum there, get the ball rolling. I also turned to a few email lists. I found groups with common interest and, well, I sent one unsolicited email. In the beginning of my email, I introduced myself and apologized for the bulk email and assured them that I would only be emailing them ONE TIME. Which is absolutely true, unless of course they write me back and have a question.

Face to Face. I put my game face on every day and talked up the event and verbally promoted it to every single person I met who falls into my demographic. I did not have a physical card or invite to hand out but I gathered their business cards and then followed up via email.

The outcome. I will let you know at the end of this month after the event takes place. But until then, if you are in the Chicagoland area and would like to attend a networking event and meet a candidate who is running for Congress - PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK. Hint..hint...I am also using this blog to promote my networking event.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just a Brief Retrospective on 9/11/01

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I felt compelled to put my personal thoughts and experiences from 9/11 down on this blog because it was such a heart breaking time. I think anyone that was alive and old enough to know what was going on would agree with some, or most, of my sentiments.

NY skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge

I was in NY for the MTV Music Awards in September of 2001. It was an exciting week in NY. Fashion Week, The MTV Music Awards, Beyonce was hosting her 21st birthday party AND Michael Jackson was hosting his televised birthday party. All of these events were huge, publicized events with lots of media attention. New York city was buzzing!

I attended the MTV Awards for work. My project was a contest / sweepstakes for a client with the first prize being a trip to the MTV Music Awards. Part of my work obligation entailed escorting 12 contest winners, all under the age of 21, to the MTV Awards in NY. I could not really express how proud I was to be at this point in my life. I was 29, my career was going well, I was working in an industry I loved. I just purchased my first condo, I was due to close on my condo on 9/13. I felt on top of the world.

At the awards, The kids were so happy, their happiness poured right into me, and we all truly enjoyed the experience together. I felt the magic and enthusiasm of their youth. Prior to the awards, we met Destiny's Child, and Beyonce of course, at their recording studio. The meet & greet was part of the contest prize. I wish I could find those pictures of me posing with Destiny's Child.

Being at the MTV Awards was a surreal experience. We were up in the nose-bleed section but in a short period of time, I realized that all the celebrities were at the main floor bar. And, that main floor bar was accessible by anyone. Let's just say, I spent a lot of time at the main floor bar. I missed Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson's performance (which was the highlight of that year's show) but I did get to stand five feet away from Snoop Dog and drink a Jack & Diet. I love Snoop. I am totally West Coast.

That weekend, I recall being at The Four Seasons with some friends and there were models everywhere. So many models that they "canceled" each other out, like fractions, and left room for average girls like me. I was in the bathroom at The Four Seasons reapplying my lipstick. When I looked into the mirror. Devon Aoki was standing behind me applying her lipstick. I always found Devon Aoki stunningly beautiful, I was amazed. She stood there and stole my beauty, it was as if the mirror didn't even show my reflection anymore. Just Devon Aoki.

Once my work obligations were completed, my friend Sharon met me in NY for the weekend. We stayed the remainder of that weekend in New York with our friend Dean. We had a great time, as we always did when in NY. I flew home on Monday morning and went back to work. My friend Sharon was to take the red eye that morning 9/11. She made it but this story isn't about her.

Tuesday morning, September 11th, I woke up in my rented apartment. I was moving in two days into my condo so everything was packed. As soon as my eyes opened, I turned on the Today Show. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were reporting that a small plane, perhaps a Cessna, had flow into one of the Twin Towers. I was not too alarmed at that point, but my friend Dean worked across the street from The World Trade Center so I called his office. He said, "Yeah, they said we can go home if we want, I think I am leaving soon." Shortly after I hung up the phone with Dean, I watched the second plane hit on live TV.

I could not digest what was happening. I watched the TV, I heard the news anchors saying "A second plane has hit!" But nothing was registering. I stood there and watched the Towers smoke. I just stood there.

All I could think was to call Dean back immediately. This time, just his voice mail. I remember standing there, in the living room, still standing there watching the TV in my underwear jumping up and down screaming. I was not really sure why I was screaming. I just kept screaming "Oh my god, oh my god!" over and over. I can cry right now just thinking about that moment.

At this point, I knew the situation was bad but I had to go to work. I got to work and as soon as I walked up to my cube, Garrett, who sat across from me, rolled his chair into the aisle and yelled "A plane just hit the Pentagon". By this point in time, it was getting creepy. Way creepy. We were experiencing chaos and confusion, the adrenaline was running high.

I got to my computer and started to IM my brother. We didn't have TVs in my office but I knew that my brother would have the best technology (he works in IT). Remember, we didn't have live stream news like we do now. You had to be tech savvy to get information quickly back in '01.

My brother watched various streaming news outlets, he watched the Towers burn and he would IM me everything that was happening. He IM'd me as people jumped from the Towers. I can remember him typing "They're jumping! Why are they jumping?" He IM'd me as the Towers fell. He IM'd me as the last plane went down. Finally, my office closed and we all went home. There is NO forgetting. Each second is etched into my brain as if it just happened.

I went to my father's condo and watched the world fall apart.

After the debris settled, the week that followed was far worse. We watched news for 24 hours. We watched as the news sources played recordings of people who were in the Towers leaving voice messages for their friends, their husbands, their children. Voice messages of people who were minutes from facing an inevitable, horrific death saying their last good-bye on an answering machine to the people they loved the most. In that last second, who does one call? These thoughts plagued me for an eternity. Those voice messages were so painful, they were from ghosts. A full year went by before I went to sleep at night without crying myself to sleep. I still cry for each family who lost someone to a senseless act.

I also cry for each family in the middle east who has to suffer from the arrogance of men who've hijacked a religion. I wish the American people would realize, this is NOT about religion, this is propaganda war and about politics, land & money. Just like all wars in history. Religion has always been a scapegoat.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How To Publicize Your Blog Using Feeds

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The best way for me to discern the how to use something as it pertains to my blog, I do the research and then I blog about it. Although I have an RSS feed on my blog, just look to the right, and I belong to Feedburner, I was never 100% confident about what I was doing. So, The purpose of this blog entry is to gain a greater understanding on how RSS feeds, Feedburner & various readers work. To break down the various nuances of RSS and other feeds in an effort help others who may be in my boat. You get it, but you don't really get it.

First of all, what is a feed. In layman's terms, a feed is a place where content is taken from a site is fed into a personal stream. Each site one has subscribed to will be delivered to the subscribers feed.

RSS Feed A (not so brief) History
This is likely the most commonly heard or used "feed". Really Simple Syndication. A standardized format in which to share web headlines or frequently updated content. The content is usually condensed and includes the post date and the author.

How or where do you read an RSS?
You read an RSS feed in an RSS Reader OR a Feed Reader. I hope I am not yet losing you. It is very confusing at first but it will start to make some sense. These "readers" are mostly web based feed "aggregators", however they can be desktop based or mobile based. You may also receive an RSS feed via email, I follow a popular finance blog and I like having the bloggers feeds sent to me via email. To add more confusion to the RSS game, I am now going to tell you that there are thousands of readers you can choose from. Later in this post, I will go over a few of the more popular ones.

Why do we need feeds?
If you follow a large number of blogs, you can subscribe and read them like your own personalized newspaper. You have your finance section from your fave finance blogger, a feed from your fave gossip columnist, a sports blog perhaps, without having to navigate from site to site. Or, perhaps your office blocks you from certain sites, you may be able to read your favorite sites via the RSS feed. As a publisher of a feed, it is great to have your feed delivered instantly to your readership base.

Let's go a little deeper. What is XML?
Extensible Markup Language is what it stands for but what does that mean? I have read on various sites that RSS possibly evolved from XML. Trust me, I hate acronyms as much as you do. It seems that the first version of an RSS started as early as 1995 around the time when the basic idea of restructuring information came about. Feel free to correct me on this. XML is a set of rules for encoding documents electronically. A mechanism to identify structures in a document content (words and pictures) and what role that content plays. XML was created so that richly structured documents could be used over the web with simplicity and usability. I am not certain if this helps much but if you'd like to read more, see below for various other sources that delve into XML deeper.

Another choice is Atom...what is Atom?
Atom syndication format. The next generation of XML file formats. A simple HTTP based protocol for creating and updating web sources. So, it appears to me that XML came first, RSS followed and Atom is the newest generation of content to be syndicated between applications. Atom places content and metadata for displaying, remixing, filtering and archiving.

Here is a great blog post from Problogger on the differences between RSS & Atom.

Various Feed Readers
I personally use Google Reader for my blog subscriptions but I use My Yahoo for my news feeds. There are various other readers that people utilize. Here is a short list:

Publishing Your Feed
If you have a website, blog or even a photostream like Flickr you can publish a feed of that content. I publish my feed through Feedburner and readers can subscribe to my feed from there and have it streamed or fed into whichever reader they subscribe to.

Basically, you go to the Feedburner site and create and account. You then "claim your feeds". From there, you publicize your feed. You can put an icon onto your blog generated in Feedburner for your readers to click on. It is available for Typepad, Wordpress & Blogger. An email option also exists where readers can opt to have your feed delivered straight to their inbox.

Finally, I found one alternative to Feedburner and that is Feedblitz.

I hope this was remotely helpful in getting started. There are many resources that delve deeper into the process. It can be confusing and many times, I have had problems figuring out if I did something right or wrong. I just check back and test links, check my feeds, etc. to see if I've dropped the ball at any point. I would love to have some comments providing greater detail!

Additional readings and sources:
Google has a great step by step tutorial
Wikipedia for RSS
What is an RSS?
Dave Winer's blog post on Real Simple Syndication
Wikipedia for XML
XML a Technical Guide
What is Atom?
Air Disa on RSS Search Return

Summer of '09

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A quick look back at the Summer of '09

1. MCA, 2. Chanthana Drew & katie, 3. Michigan Avenue blocked for Oprah Show, 4. Oprah Stage on Michigan Ave, 5. @toddfisch doing my hair at Free Nation of Beauty, 6. Ripley in Lincoln Park, 7. David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago, 8. Me Right Now saying hi to @graced at #blogher, 9. Cafe Bolud, 10. Fish platter at Prune, 11. Dinner at Urban Belly, 12. Central Park, 13. The Box, 14. Monica and Me, 15. New York from my cab, 16. Rosanna rosanna-danna, 17. Lou Reed good pic, 18. buckingham fountain, 19. The Bean, 20. Mr. Perry Farrell, 21. CIMG6071, 22. Dad at Lolla in the Media Area, 23. Leyla with The Airborne Toxic Event, 24. The best shirt ever, 25. Leyla & Bob at lunch on a monday, 26. At my pool, 27. Me in a sundress, 28. My Feet Standing On The Ledge, 29. leyla eating chicken, 30. At Market, 31. closest pic of the needle, 32. Miley, 33. the girls, 34. Me & Michele, 35. Leonard Cohen on Stage, 36. Navarro Perry

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear Recession of 2009: Thank You for the Lessons Learned

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The recession hit home pretty hard for a lot of marketing and advertising professionals. Many executives, graphic designers and writers have been out of work for over a year with no end in sight. However, the recession has created opportunity for some of these professionals in varying areas. Is it safe to say that we have grown as a society as a result of our current economic climate?

The recession of 2009 has taught me a lot of things, things I will (hopefully) never forget. I try to share some of these insights. I talk about myself a lot in this blog, and that is just fine because - guess what? It's my blog.

Its me

My History
I grew up in a north side suburb of Chicago. I am the only daughter born to immigrants; a professional father and a super hot, stay at home, wonder-mom. I was raised in a small house with a big backyard. I was raised to believe that one day I would marry and live happily ever after in my own home raising my own family. I went to college, I majored in PR and was active in extra-curricular activities. After I graduated, I backpacked through Europe like a good 20-something American girl. I got my first job working for a big ad agency as an Account Executive. A few years later, I bought my condo in downtown Chicago. Everything seemed to be right on track until…the post September 11th recession of 2002. That was the first bump in the road that threw me off my not-so-chosen track. A path I felt I was entitled to yet a path I likely never really wanted.

For me, times have been consistently changing since 2002. Times have also been changing in the work force and in the world from a general standpoint. My existence has taken a turn in the 00s. All of the things I thought I wanted, I realized it was not what I really wanted. I left the agency world and worked on the client side for a very corporate, very large professional services firm in Event Marketing. Shortly thereafter, I made another move, I took a job in Catering Sales and Event Management for a 12,000 square foot, trendy venue. This felt like home for a time being and brought me a nice income, great friends and colleagues. After four years, I left to take yet another path. I spent six months working as a recruiter in the Marketing & Advertising field.

My friends and family BEGGED me not to take the job as a recruiter but I am forever grateful for that job. It was while I worked as a recruiter that I really saw that the marketing and advertising industry was heading in a totally different direction. I could stand back and examine what employers were looking for from candidates and where their businesses were going. Online advertising and marketing was growing, it was blowing up. When the market tanked, I was let go, and at the time, it felt like I had failed. Today, I feel like my short time period as recruiter was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Times Are Changing
Fast forward to today, almost a year after I was laid off. I am now...a recessionista (to use an overused term). I really am. I have gone from being the ultimately consumer, the quintessential city girl, the fine dining the recessionista. Which is what I probably should have been all along!

after 3 days of lolla

I reeled in my spending - big time. I stopped shopping for unnecessary items, I stopped buying more than I needed. I still shop at Whole Foods, I still buy a lot of the same brands that I used to purchase, I just buy them on sale and I buy them ONLY when I need them. I used to dine out two to three times a week, that has changed. I started cooking, I shop for fresh groceries, I go to the farmer's market and I make great dishes. I still dine out but I visit less expensive restaurants and I have discovered various new neighborhoods in Chicago in an effort to find great new, less expensive restaurants. I went back into my closet and I pulled out classic items I have not worn in years and I wear them. I recycled my old jewelry in an effort to feel like I have something new.

Join the Ipsos Survey Panel

Other Things I have Changed in the Face of the Recession:

  • I met with a career coach to help me determine what direction I should be taking

  • I started a business where I deliver marketing services to small businesses. This has helped me a) earn an income and b) keep my skills sharp and c) learn new skills

  • I started this blog so I could learn a bit about how all this works. I wanted a place to practice this skill so I could blog for clients. I have written useful articles on various topics, here is one about things to do when you've been laid off. .
  • I looked on the job boards and noticed what jobs were out there. I wanted to know what practices companies were using to market and advertise themselves.

  • I printed out job descriptions and taught myself how to do everything on each of the job descriptions. I then practiced the learned points with my clients (if I felt they needed them).

  • I turned to Twitter and other Social Media outlets to make new professional connections - both on/off line and I continue to learn from these new connections.

  • I bring people together. In the last year, I have hosted two "happy hours" and in two weeks, I am hosting my first TweetUp or networking event.

The Feel Good Recession
As opposed to the recession of 2002, the recession of 2009 is a "warm" recession. A feel-good recession. People are spending more time at home, with family and friends and getting to know each other - really know each other. People are more supportive of one another - both psychologically and literally. Many of my friends have had to move in with friends and/or family because the cannot afford their homes anymore. Nearly everyone I have met who has bit hit by the recession has been kind to one another and helped them in anyway that they are able.

Why I Thank the Recession and What You Too Can

  • Thank you for the new skills. I do things on trade, especially, if it includes learning a new skill. I have time, if I can get something in return OR if I can learn a new skill, why wouldn't I do it?

  • Thank you for giving me a new, stronger voice. I ask for things. If I need something, whether it is a job or a service or a discount, I simply ask for it. The worst anyone can say is "no".

  • Thank you for teaching me to appreciate what I have. I do not take money for granted. I used to think, I can always make more money. These days, I have more respect for money. I know exactly where my money is going and I look for new ways to save it.

  • Thank you for showing me how lucky I have been in life. I respect work and the work I am given. I realize how incredibly lucky I am for the jobs I had in the past, I love what I am doing right now and I really look forward to the work I will be doing in the future.

  • Thank you for showing me that the world is changing. I am embracing change. I am not afraid of the changing face of our workforce. It has NOT been easy to set up a business and I don't like that it has been foreign and uncomfortable but I am working hard to embrace the change. I am not fighting the change and I am making the absolute best of it.

  • Thank you for showing me that I am loved by my friends. My friends have really stepped up to the plate and given me air miles so I can take a trip. Friends who have offered up their couches so I can stay there while meeting with potential new clients in other cities. Friends who have picked up dinner when I could not.

  • Thank you for giving me this time with my family. My dad is one of my clients, I spend one day a week at his office working on his e-newsletter, building his email list and working on his web marketing. In the past few months, I have really gotten to know my dad better and I love every minute I get to spend with him.

I think as Americans, we have grown as a society during the recession of 2009. I think we have become more responsible as adults. We recognize that we need to go back to the hard working people we once were and that we are not entitled to anything. We are relying less on our employers to take care of us, we realize that we must control our own future. We spend more time with people we love and spend less money on things we do not need. I think we also truly appreciate each other and we have become a more charitable and more compassionate society.

FatCow $66 Plan