Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Power of NICE

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The Power of Nice

I am not a nice person by nature, in fact, sometimes describe myself as "perpetually pissed off". I once asked my mother, "When did I become to angry?" And her reply was, "You were born this way." It isn't that I am mean, I have a matter-a-fact attitude and I don't like to beat around the bush. I am incredibly sincere and honest and I always believed that was more important than being nice.

Angry Leyla
Do not bother leyla

If you're reading this and you've met me in the past few years, you may be thinking, "What is she talking about, she's always nice to me." That is because I've done a lot to change. I learned the Power of Nice.

The recession had a life changing impact on me and everything I do. It changed my outlook on many things including how I treat others. I've written a few blog posts on my experiences and observations regarding the recession. I had a feel-good experience with the recession. I found myself surrounded by people who had a "We're all in this together" attitude. People who helped each other in any way they could.

During the recession, I had more time on my hands and I was able to help people and do things for others. When it comes to favors, I have a rule - never do anything for anyone expecting something in return. I found myself getting repaid many times over, the nicer I was to others, the more they wanted to support and help me.

Smiling Leyla with a baby
Christian at his Christening

Here are some of my learnings, some things that help me stay positive and be nice, take from this what you will. Let me get a little Deepak Chopra on you now.

  • Smile. Remember, I said I used to describe myself as perpetually pissed off? Almost daily someone would walk up to me and say, "You need to smile more." This made me want to punch the strangers who approached me in the face. No one says that to me anymore. I smile all the time. It may sound trivial but a smile makes a huge difference on your outlook. (Let's hope I am still smiling in February, in the dead of another Chicago winter)
  • Wake up early. This is a tough one for me because I am a sleeper. I need a minimum of 8 hours to be fully rested and I can easily go for up to 13 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you're going to wake up early, you should probably also go to bed early. I just feel so good when I am up and tackle the day before the craziness of the phone and emails starts.
  • Exercise. I don't get as much exercise as I should but when I start my day with a run or a long walk on the lake, my thoughts become organized and my thinking is more clear throughout the day. My brightest ideas come to me when I am running, it is my meditation. When I am really pushing myself physically, and I have to keep my focus off of dying, my mind goes to a place where I concentrate on struggles or issues I am dealing with in my work life. Exercise also gives you a sense of accomplishment and you feel good so you're happier and nicer!
  • The best revenge is living well.

    If someone is really horrible to you, think about it this way - they're probably just horrible and it would suck to be them. Stick to being nice, getting caught up in the drama of nasty people will only bring you down and keep you from achieving any sort of satisfaction or goal.

Related Posts:
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  • Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Keep Your Ego in Check - Don't Let Your Fake, Celebrity Status Get The Best of You

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    Please accept this as a rant...

    I have lived in Chicago nearly my whole life, I started going to nightclubs at 17, which puts me in my first nightclub in Chicago in the late 80s. That's a long time. I've seen a lot of people come and go in and out of the Chicago nightclub "scene" (whatever that means). I managed to make a lot of friends in and around the bar and restaurant industry. Some who are more successful than others.

    I grew up, went away to college, moved back to Chicago and started working in advertising. I worked for some large firms on some major accounts. There, I made friends who are senior executives that worked on some of the biggest accounts in Chicago. After my stint in the agency world, I worked for a professional services firm where I managed C-level executives. I met several CEOs who ran Fortune 500 companies and investors who helped fund those businesses.

    Aside from that, I've met two United States Presidents (one while he was a Senator and the other post-White House). Along the way, I've hung out with a few sports stars and TV personalities. I've traveled around the world, been to over twenty countries. I saw Carmen in the opera house in Vienna and Nirvana play at the Metro.

    I have a point to make...I'm not being snooty
    What I am trying to express here is that I've been around and I have seen a lot of different things in a lot of different places and I met people who are justifiably important. I am NOT saying that makes me important, on the contrary. Most of the really interesting people I've met never needed to tell me how interesting or important they were. I knew it just by being in their presence.

    I have met many others who have an over-inflated sense of self but I can honestly say that I've never seen anything like the self-proclaimed Social Media Celebrity. Who are these people? What have they done? So you put a camera to your face and posted a bunch of pictures and wrote a few sentences? Who cares.

    Just because you may have a couple thousand followers on Twitter or Facebook does not make you important. It probably means you have too much time on your hands. Don't call yourself a "Major Player". Major player in what? What does that even mean? Stop gloating about inconsequential things.

    The fake, internet, pseudo celebrity who fancy themselves as someone who deserves to be treated differently than others is terribly annoying to me. I hold a higher regard for Jared, the Subway guy who lost all that weight. Or Omarrosa from the Apprentice. Andy Warhol, are you rolling over yet?

    A side note: I do have friends who are "Internet Celebrities" and most of them are truly humble and nice people. Many started out as something where they were in the public eye in another medium and the internet was the progression. These people also have other jobs where this "celebrity status" helps their business or work and it is not what makes them.

    Related Post:
    Self Promotion Takes Some Getting Used To (But I Still Hate It)

    Related readings:
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    STAR POWER: Internet Celebrity: Successful Advertising, Marketing and Promoting to the Entertainment Industry on the Internet

    Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    My Visit to the Howard Stern Studio at Sirius XM

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    If you know me at all, you know that I love Howard Stern. I've been a fan for many years and I am a Sirius subscriber. My friends say that all of my stories lead to Howard Stern, which is partially true. Howard and I share beliefs on many subject matters. I believe that women who choose to exploit themselves for financial gain, should be welcome to do so, and I may mock them if they decide to put themselves out there in that fashion. I have many reasons for loving Howard that I simply cannot cover in one blog post but mostly it is because he is a good man and a funny man and a man I can relate to.

    I arrived in New York on Sunday morning for the Affiliate Summit (East Coast) and I have been checking in here and there in NYC. Last night, I received a tweet from @jimimcclure that said, "Are you in NY?" And I couldn't believe I had forgotten to tell him that I was coming to NY! My brain was so loaded with thoughts about FIJI Water Urban Hunt that I completed blanked on New York.

    Jim could only work in a quick tour of the station but that was OK by me. I am eternally grateful for the behind the scenes perspective of the Stern Show.

    I just wanted to share this really exciting moment in my life with you all. I am a HUGE Stern fan and being able to visit the show and meet Jim, Richard Christy, Lisa G., Jon Hein and everyone else was a really big deal for me. If you knew me back in '04 when I almost made it on that really big Reality TV show, you know my WHOLE goal to get on the show was because Howard was interviewing the contestants that were kicked off.

    Here are my pics! From Sirius XM Studio and the Howard Stern Show!

    Arriving at the Sirius XM Building

    I am walking up to the Sirius XM Building - Very Excited at this point

    Meeting Jim McClure (aka Nic Cage)

    Me and Jim McClure

    The Howard TV Control Room
    The Control Room for Howard TV

    JD's Office - Love the "Wake Richard Christy" Note

    In JDs office - his note to wake up Richard Christy at 3:45a

    I Got to Meet Sal and (my hero) Richard Christy

    Sal, Leyla & Richard Christy

    They Even Wore Their Bababooey and Their Ronnie Masks For Me

    Sal wearing the Gary Mask & Richard Christy wearing the Ronnie Mask

    I Met The Whole Crew


    What an amazing experience! Yay for Jim McClure and the Howard Stern Show staff! Love you love you!

    Oh...and Ashley from Chicago was there too! She Miss Howard TV for September and we met on Twitter last week. It was kind of weird getting to meet her.

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    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    The FIJI Water Urban Hunt Happens on August 14th in Chicago

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    FIJI Water Urban Hunt Presented by ING DIRECT Café, the first brand challenge to utilize social media in all its most up-to-date forms. Social media savvy participants will be able to interact in a whole new way with the local businesses, products, and people that they enjoy everyday. For more information regarding the FIJI Water Urban Hunt please tweet @FIJIhunt or @Leyla_A or phone 312.970.0659

    FIJI Water Urban Hunt

    What exactly is the FIJI Water Urban Hunt?
    A Foursquare-driven scavenger hunt, adventure and competition where fifty teams will check-in on Foursquare when they arrive at a sponsored business or a Chicago-area landmark. Once teams arrive at the determined destinations, they will be required to complete tasks, perform athletic feats, dance, take pictures and post their findings to their social networks. Teams profiles will be set to public so anyone can follow the teams on their Facebook home pages or their Twitter accounts. All team profiles can be found here: TEAM PROFILES

    Who is participating in the FIJI Water Urban Hunt?
    Fifty teams of two comprised of the most social media savvy professionals in the Chicagoland area will be embarking on their journey on Saturday, August 14. The minimum age to participate is 21. These multi-messaging mavens are made up of all walks of life: web entrepreneurs, Realtors, traders, media babes and bartenders. The common denominator of all the teams is that they utilize social media for professional or personal networking and see a value in having a large number of “followers” or a large social media audience.

    Kayak Chicago Class

    Shoreline Water Taxi and the Lyric Opera House

    Why Should I participate in the FIJI Water Urban Hunt?
    There are various reasons teams have decided to sign up. For most, the event is appealing because it is fun, challenging and a great way to network with like-minded individuals; social media enthusiasts. Some teams are in-it-to-win-it and there is fierce competition for the prizes. FIJI Water Urban Hunt teams see the value in the exposure the event is bringing their social profiles. Other teams are out there to have a great time, enjoy the city and take advantage of some of the event-partners offerings for the day. Shoreline Water Taxi has donated one free pass for each team member and Berry Chill is giving participants a small yogurt on the day of the event.

    First prize includes: One year of FIJI Water Home Delivery, an iPad, and much more. Each winning team member will be awarded a prize. First place prize has a retail value of approximately $1,500.00. Please see the website for a full list of prizes.

    For more information on the event visit: or the Facebook Fan Page for FIJI Water Urban Hunt. You can also follow @FIJIhunt on Twitter.



    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    It Feels LIke Friday Because I Worked 36 Hours in Two Days

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    If you're a friend or a regular reader of my blog (because the two are mutually exclusive, I'm sure). You know that I have not slept in weeks. I would tell you about my whole week but what is the point? I have accomplished more in two days than most people do in a whole week.

    Yesterday morning I woke up around 7:00 a.m. checked email, Twitter and Facebook and had an 8:30 call. While waiting for my 9:30 call, I decided to head out and do some shopping for the FIJI Water Urban Hunt. We are giving away two iPads so I made a trip to the iPad store on Michigan Avenue.

    Apple iPad Case (CASE-ZML MC361ZM/A)

    I also needed a hand held video camera for the event so I purchased the Kodak Zi8 because it is cheaper than a Flip and waterproof! I also asked the peanut gallery (or the twitterverse) about the camera and received an overwhelming positive response for the Kodak camera.

    Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera (Raspberry)

    Next, I went through at least fifty emails. The past few weeks, I receive about 100 emails a day. Maybe more. I spoke with some of the venues about their "clues" or prizes. Dealt with a few sponsor issues. I reached out to some who still have not given me a logo, I cannot promote your business if you don't send me the tools I need.

    Later that day, I reached out to some teams who still didn't have their team photos in their bios and other teams who still needed to be approved.

    I also signed a Presenting Sponsor for the FIJI Water Urban Hunt - ING DIRECT. Very excited about this.


    The rest is sort of boring. I sent 100s of emails, client obligations. Worked on my upcoming trip to Cabo (details to come) and secured my plans for NY on Sunday for the Affiliate Summit.

    good times. good times. It's 1:30a on Wednesday morning and I need to be up at 7a.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    What I Did This Weekend

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    DISCLOSURE: Please excuse any spelling and grammatical errors, I'm writing this post in five minutes

    The past few weeks have been a bit crazy for me but things are starting to look even crazier! I am just a few days away from my highly anticipated (highly anticipated by me) even this weekend - the FIJI Water Urban Hunt. I worked most of the weekend but had some other things happen as well.

    The backpacks for the FIJI Water Urban Hunt made it in! I was pretty thrilled with the outcome.

    FIJI Water Urban Hunt team backpacks!

    On Friday, I met @secndcitysoiree for a late afternoon (or early evening) cocktail and snack at SUSHISAMBA on Wells. We both had a drink from their new cocktail menu The "Caliente" and a plate of sushi.

    SUSHISAMBA rio "Caliente" Cocktail

    I then went to Starbucks on Friday night and worked with a very irritable @mknox999 until about 9PM. I don't know what he is more irritated with - me or me?

    On Saturday starting at 10A, @mknox999 and I wen through the course for the FIJI Urban Hunt. We started out with the Kayaking (your job to figure out which of their three locations). But here's a hint, I paddled past some disgusting things in the the only body of water that flows backwards.

    Kayak Chicago Class

    The remainder of Saturday we worked at Whole Foods and then I went for a ride in my friend's new Lamborghini. We went to secure some more locations for the scavenger hunt in the Lamborghini - which is funny (to me since that car probably costs more than my condo).



    And then on Sunday, I took the day time off. I went to Avec for dinner with @luluarroyo. Had a nice glass of wine (or two), a delicious meal finished off with a goat cheese.

    Dinner at Avec the night of the fire

    Cheese course at Avec

    Around 8PM, I headed back to my "office" The Starbucks on Rush Street to get some more work finished. They closed before I could finish, so I then sat outside on the bench, in the dark and used the wifi. I looked like a homeless person with a MacBook Pro.

    Working Late

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    With only just a few days to go, I've decided to start a video blog COUNT DOWN for the FIJI Water Urban hunt - the only social media driven scavenger hunt where teams check-in on Foursquare to win great prizes.

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