The Woof Woof of Word Clouds

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

Word Clouds. We’ve all seen them. Maybe we’ve made (or tried to make) them. But what is the point?

I’ll tell you. Every year, we do a group exercise with SoapBoxSample and icanmakeitbetter where everyone is asked to submit words to describe the coming year. Then we combine them all into a word cloud and give a printed copy to each person to display on their desks (in a fun, colorful frame.) We started doing this back in 2015, as a way to mark the end of not-so-great era. You can read about that first word cloud creation here.

Since then, it’s become a tradition. A blown-up version is posted in my office and in the conference room.

Language is powerful. But visual cues can be even more so. When you combine words with visual elements you can end up with a powerful one-two punch that can help people focus their efforts, become inspired and create a shared experience.

Aside from the personal benefits to the individual, having visual cues in the workplace (like colorful art) can provide a sense of place. Who wants to work in a boring, generic space that looks exactly like every other office? Not me.

What does our art say about us? Maybe it says that employees are so engrossed in their work that they might forget what year it is. But hopefully it conveys a sense of shared values, the concept that we are all working together to achieve something, and the uniformity of duplicate images on each desk conveys that we are all on the same page.


Company culture is something that I think about a lot. Creating a single image that every employee has a personal connection to is a powerful tool, and also it looks pretty. And also it’s fun to guess who contributed what word. One of our project managers contributed the phrase “Woof-woof” for this year’s cloud. Guess he’s planning on getting another dog?

What word would you use to describe 2018 so far? Tweet me your words @jax_rosales

Dudley Makes Me Happy

By | Be Genuine, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

Why is everyone seemingly so damn miserable all the time? I am starting to lose my patience with those who “suffer” from what seems to be eternal misery. It’s like some crazy martyr way of life people choose to lead. Did you notice the word “choose”? That’s right – I am calling all you serially unhappy folks out. You do have a choice you know. I promise.

As humans, shitty things happen to us, around us, to ones we love, in the world we occupy. No doubt. I am not trying to say that there aren’t 10 million things to be miserable about. I have a solid personal list of my own situations I could choose to focus on and bring me down. Trust me. I am going through some real hell right now in my life. Sometimes I get angry, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated and impatient. But I have learned that it takes a ton (like a shit ton) more energy to be miserable than it does to be happy.

Being miserable is sooooooooo exhausting. It makes everything more difficult than it needs to be, sucks all your energy, kills your immune system, interrupts your sleep and becomes a vicious cycle. I can also pretty much guarantee that unhappiness in the form of self-pity is probably THE MOST DEBILATATING. The good news is 1) you don’t have to live like this and 2) you can decide to get far, far, far away from people who are like this, as they will bring you down with them.

I choose to find joy within some of the most difficult times. Do I have bad days? – hell yeah. Do I wish things were different right now? Yes. Do I wish I lived in good health and pain free? Yes. Do I wish that my loved ones had not moved on to heaven so soon? Yes. Do I wish I had more hours in the day? Yes. Do I wish I didn’t have another surgery coming up? Yes. Do I wish….well, you get the point.

I have learned I have to protect myself from extended misery. How?

  1. Practicing Self-care
  2. Sleeping
  3. Cutting negative people out of my life
  4. Doing more of what makes me happy
  5. Talking to trusted friends/family to help me through difficult times
  6. Telling the truth all the time
  7. Forgiving myself for not being perfect
  8. Doing the things I enjoy as much as possible
  9. Being intentionally present
  10. Laughing – mainly at myself, but my home and office are full of laughter

And let’s not forget, surrounding myself with things I love. Like Dudley! He is my new friend. A reindeer made of logs made by a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old. I named him and talk to him. I paid too much for Dudley, but I like him and he makes me smile. He makes my family smile too, not because they like Dudley, but because they think I am insane and they laugh at me and my relationship with an inanimate wooden reindeer that I paid too much for. Occasionally my husband reads my BLOG so I won’t tell you how much Dudley cost, but seriously, isn’t he cute?

Dirty Hair, Messy House and an Impromptu Baby Shower

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

I recently had shoulder surgery. I went into surgery very optimistic (aka dumb) thinking my arm would be in a sling 7-10 days and I would have a few months of painful physical therapy and then voila – magically better. Turns out, that is not the case at all. Looking back, it’s also like all the people around me knew what was really going to happen, but they just humored me and nodded in encouragement. I suppose, in the end, things are just how they are anyway so in these situations, ignorance prolongs misery, and I guess it is worth it. Why squander the hours that could have been useful worrying about what is going to happen? If it’s going to suck, may as well just wait until it sucks instead of worrying about how it will suck.

When I woke up from my surgery, I was in a full on terminator contraption – an immobilizer that wrapped around my waist and back and held my arm out from my body. It did not allow it to move at all. You see, I needed an anchor and a pin so I had to be in an immobilizer for 6 weeks. Six weeks in a bulky, scratchy, itchy contraption that needed adjustment every five seconds. And yes, I had to sleep in it. I am still only doing range of motion physical therapy for at least another month before I even start strength training.

So I have to wear this brace. It is so big and bulky that we have to buy Double XL sweatshirts from Walmart to go over it. I cut off all my hair as I knew I couldn’t blow dry or style it. I don’t bother putting in contacts as it is a pain. It was starting to seem like Christmas decorations would just be up early for next year since I couldn’t manage to get them down. I had started this home redecorating project (no, I don’t think things through sometimes thanks for asking) that is half in the works and half just boxes of crap everywhere. Our dog is not getting walked and digging up the back yard. Basically, both I and my entire house are one great big sh*t show.

Oh, and I can’t drive. My doctor said maybe around the ten week mark. Are you kidding me? It is so maddening. My husband and my daughter’s Nanny drive me everywhere. It is lovely. It’s not like I really go gallivanting about, but not being able to get in the car and just go, is crazy making. And my husband doesn’t put up with my foolishness. If I am like “hey let’s stop at [insert random store here]” he always wants to know what I need to get there. How the hell do I know what I need if I haven’t even gone in yet? RIGHT? Like if I actually NEED something I just order it on Amazon Prime. It’s not about needing things. Geez.

Then, last week, the unimaginable happens. I am on a conference call in my home office, with my disgustingly dirty hair, glasses, no makeup, sweatpants that are 3 sizes too big because they are easy to pull up, and there is a knock on my door. Assuming it was on those Amazon Prime deliveries (you know, something I NEED), I answer the door, with my headset, totally unsuspectingly to find SoapBox’s marketing assistant at the door wearing one of those masks people wear given the crazy flu epidemic. I have no idea what she is doing at my house, but feeds me some line about visiting a sick family member and was sent to see what I need help with. I embarrassingly help her weave her way to the kitchen table through all crap that is everywhere and keep going on my call. Then I finish and realize that she maybe can give me a ride and then I ended up back on the phone with I.T.

From my office I hear her yell, someone is at the door. This time, it MUST be an Amazon Prime delivery. I open the door to find my front steps full of SoapBoxers with their phones in the air filming me. “Surprise” they yell. Some are nervously laughing, some looking down at the ground fearing for their lives (or at least their jobs) and others just kind of holding their breath to see what happens. You see, since I can’t make it the 70 miles each way to the office right now, our VP of Operations thought it would be fabulous to bring the whole team to me for our annual kick off meeting, That’s right. TO MY SUPER DIRTY HOUSE WITH SH*T EVERYWHERE for a surprise visit. Oh, and let’s forget that I could not look any worse if I had tried. I wanted to scream obscenities, punch someone in the face, slam the door and run up the stairs (maybe fire a few people and then die), but I am not a total a**hole.

Instead, they all come piling in. They have computers and food and balloons and cake. Why balloons and cake you ask? Turns out we are also having an impromptu baby shower for one of our staff members. They had some amazing Greek food delivered from a local place I didn’t even know existed. I pretty much blacked out, but in between moments of clarity I observed some things.

  • This was my team and they are awesome. We are slow at hiring to make sure people are “right”. This team is totally right.
  • They were laughing and teasing and seemed like a group of friends at a reunion – not just employees working together.
  • They like working at SoapBox – while some were hesitant (like are you sure we should drive to COO’s house and surprise her hesitant) they were all happy.
  • They take care of each other (me included) – that it was I want from a team.

And finally, Dan Parcon, our VP of Operations is in deep doodoo. That’s right. Payback for this one will be of EPIC proportions. We have had a five year “prank” game running (I always win and he has zero points), but this was good. He tried to call truce. I thought he knew me better than this. There is NO TRUCE. This is only the beginning…

Confused Robots, Puppy Love, and Super Judgy Mirrors

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks

I’m so not the cool kid anymore…

OK. So some may argue I was never the cool kid. But whatever, coolness is in the eye of the beholder (yes, I know that is not the right saying). Anyway, I’d be lying if I were to say I wasn’t totally jealous that two SoapBoxers attended CES this year and I didn’t get to go.

I read articles from afar, watched some live videos and was totally intrigued with what they would come back with. I was especially interested in how they would come back and convince me that all the coolness and crazy gadget viewing was 1) related to their job and 2) had some sort of value for us and 3) could help SoapBox support client needs, and that it was not just a trip to Vegas on the company dime. I needed to be sure what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas. You know what I mean?

Well, this article by our Director of Marketing, Adriana Hemans, pretty much sums it up. She managed to tie all coolness and relatability together. Not only that, but I got super excited thinking about our current and future clients we can help. Hey, I get this is a long article. I also know you have time to read it. Just substitute reading this article for one of you time wasting activities. Don’t EVEN try to tell me you don’t have any. Blog to follow on that topic.

There may, or may not, be a few shameless SoapBox plugs sprinkled in. I have taught her well. : ) Enjoy.

Highlights from CES 2018 and Why Researchers Should Care

Where can you play ping-pong with a robot, fall into love with a mechanical puppy and see inside a refrigerator without opening the door? At CES, the Consumer Electronics Show. Every January tech companies from around the globe convene on Las Vegas to showcase their products — gadgets and gizmos that consumers can look forward to one day owning — sort of.  They won’t be coming to a store near you anytime soon, and a lot of them leave you wondering – who would actually want that? In the aftermath of CES 2018, many critics pointed out that most of the products on display would only appeal to two types of people – people with money to burn and lazy people with money to burn. But we don’t have to rely on guessing who would buy these things, because we can actually ask people and find out. (Yay research!) SoapBoxSample conducted a mini poll* to gauge people’s awareness of CES and to find out if consumers would actually buy any of these high-tech gadgets. (You’ll find the results sprinkled throughout this article. I had to find some way to get you to read the whole thing.)

The research industry has been accused of being slow to adapt. While analysts are locked in rooms figuring out how to produce non-biased sampling frames, people are out making robots with Artificial Intelligence. The very same robots you can see at CES. The tech industry could benefit from paying attention to what consumers actually want (something research can supply), but researchers should be paying attention to the tech industry because big changes in the way people use tech in their everyday lives provides new opportunities for gathering data.

“Alexa, let’s do a survey”

At CES this year, Google came out looking like they were trying too hard. They built a three-story installation in the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot. They also clearly shelled out big bucks for an advertising presence that plastered the entire town with the phrase Google wants you to remember – Hey Google. Amazon didn’t exhibit at all. They didn’t need to, because every other device at CES boasted about being “Alexa compatible.” All the free marketing garnered by Amazon, in contrast with Google’s flashy displays made Amazon look like the cool kid who doesn’t have to try to be cool.

People love the Amazon Echo. They consider Alexa to be a trusted part of their family. This is good news for researchers. When people are taking voice-activated surveys through Alexa (coming soon), the higher levels of trust will evoke more accurate, detailed, and honest responses from respondents.

Car tech – knowledge drives enthusiasm

You can’t talk about CES without bringing up the cars. They’re sleek, they’re stylish, they glistening under the showroom lights. I’m not a car person at all (my car has roll-up windows), but these vehicles were really beautiful. As a non-car-person, what I appreciated about the new smart dashboards and infotainment systems is that they were built to provide the driver with more insight into the inner workings of the car, something that I wouldn’t be able to assess by opening the hood.

As car manufacturers are scrambling to bring the first self-driving cars to market, they also have to convince people that self-driving cars are safe. Last quarter SoapBoxSample published the results of an internal study on the public’s perception of self-driving cars. Almost half of those surveyed believe that self-driving cars are dangerous and would not feel comfortable sharing the road with them. Only 28% said they looked forward to owning one. Developing smart dashboards that give drivers detailed information about how the car is operating is one way that car manufacturers can combat negative views of their product’s safety.

Related: Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? An Infographic About Self-driving Cars

Beauty tech – look better, feel worse

I tried out the HiMirror, one of CES’s #beautytech products. The HiMirror measures your pores, dark spots, wrinkles and dark circles. Just what women need, right? A super judgy mirror. Their marketing promised that the in-depth analysis would result in better “skin care goal-setting”. But what is the goal, to stop aging, or to sell products? The next generation of the HiMirror will probably show targeted ads for skin care products. I think I would rather skip the recommended products, and not know that my dark circles had increased by 3%. Turns out most people agree with me. Our poll showed that 68% of respondents would not want to use a high-tech mirror that measures skin imperfections.

It’s not so much consumer electronics, as it is competitive electronics

Is there really a consumer demand for a laundry-folding robot the size of a washing machine that requires you to manually tag each item of clothing you own, and can only fold adult-sized clothing? (And by the way, it takes longer than folding by hand.) Of the nearly 1,000 people who answered our poll, 79% said no thank you to the $980 laundry-folding robot.

Are the companies that produce these robots more focused on giving consumers what they want, or trying to out-do their competitors? What you might notice about this year’s line of robots is that their designs are very similar. White casing, black trim — almost without exception. Did the robot manufacturers forget to do their competitive analysis? (Shameless plug – did you know that SoapBoxSample’s passive metering application is great for understanding how people interact with your brand’s competition online?)

Can Americans fall in love with a robot dog?

I’m not a dog person, or even a pet person, so I didn’t expect to catch feelings for SONY’s robot dog Aibo. But it won me over instantly. Aibo is life-like, expressive, and responds to voice and touch. Knowing that his OLED eyes were mechanical did not make them any less puppy-like. Aibo is currently only available in Japan and costs $1700. SONY has said that they expect to sell at least 150,000 units. Could Aibo gain the same type of popularity in the United States?

Americans are waaaaaay into their pets. Here are some highlights from SoapBoxSample’s 2016 survey of U.S. pet owners to prove it – more than 60% of pet owners sleep with their animals, 40% of dog owners dress their pets up in costumes, and 73% of pet owners believe their pets are “smarter than average”. Could a robot dog one day occupy the same space in our hearts (and in our beds)? According to the results of our poll – heck no. When asked if they could see robot pets becoming more popular than live pets, 89% said no.

Related: Valentine’s Day Pet-fographic – We Know Americans Have a Close Relationship with Their Cats and Dogs But Just How Close Are They?

The future is full of glitches

If robots had emotions, the Aeolus would have experienced total confusion during its live demonstration. The booth presenter repeatedly ordered the bewildered bot to pick up a remote control off the floor, which it finally did after about a minute or so. (This scenario would be nothing new for the 8.4% of U.S. households with teenagers.) But the limitations of the robot’s responsiveness are no hurdle when compared to its price tag. The company wouldn’t name the actual cost, other than to say it was “less than a vacation for a family of four.” For the purposes of our poll, we guessed the price to be $10,000. Turns out most people don’t really see the value in it.  Over 83% said they would not be picking one up anytime soon.

I need a fridge with a camera in it

The ThinQ smart fridge unveiled by LG has a 29-inch touchscreen on the door. If you knock on the screen twice it becomes transparent so you can see the contents inside. But my favorite part was the wide-angle camera inside the fridge. How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wish I could look inside my fridge while I’m at the store so I can see what I need to buy”? Maybe never, but you know who else wants a look inside your fridge? Researchers. The smart kitchen of the future is a paradise for people who hate making lists, and for research ethnographers. With cameras inside every appliance, researchers can see inside the homes of their subjects without setting foot in the door, and more importantly, without disrupting the routines they are attempting to study.

Within the 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space occupied by CES, there were devices that could change our everyday lives, and some other ones that were pretty dumb. There were also plenty of opportunities for researchers. Tech companies seem to have bought into idea that they should be creating things that the public doesn’t know they want yet. Based on the public reaction to some of the products at the show, this might not be the best plan. Tech companies need consumer research more than ever to tell them if there’s a market for what they are attempting to create. Researchers should keep a close eye on developments in tech — there are lots of opportunities coming along for research to become less invasive, cheaper, more efficient and more accurate. The two industries should work together as we move into the next phase of consumer technology.

*P.S. By the way, this poll was a lot like the exhibits at CES, fun to look at, but lacking scientific validity (probably biased and non-representative).

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others
So many topics capture my attention, from Hot Cheetos to cleaning up dog poop (yes, really). Anything could end up on Telltale Ten. I just write random stuff. Sometimes people read it, and sometimes they don’t.
On a rare occasion (like a handful of times in a few years), probably much to the dismay of the higher ups,  I like to get all businessy, and write about things related to my industry – market research specifically. Oh, you didn’t know I was in Market Research?  That’s ok. My family knows that, but have no idea what that means even after twenty years.
A recent piece I put together about passive metering was published in the Quirks January edition. If you’re in Market Research, you may have seen it already. If you’re not, you probably have no idea what passive metering is. Basically, it’s a way for researchers to get an in-depth look into what people are doing online. If anyone were to track my online behavior, they would probably be deeply confused by my recent searches. I’d love to see a researcher try to put me into a segment based on my online behavior. I’d more likely end up in an institution instead of a segment.
Good thing I’m the researcher, and not the researchee.

Google now processes, on average, over 40,000 search queries every second; this translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. The way people engage with brands and online content is constantly evolving. No single day of digital behavior is the same as another. If I want to learn about the newest fitness gadget, I search it online. By the next day, I may be over fitness and want to know how to convert my home to a “smart” home, so I search it up. Later that same afternoon, I may want a new refrigerator that can build me a shopping list. Or, I may just want to buy something mundane like shampoo (you know the kind that makes my hair that cool silver-purple color) , so I simply look it up on Amazon and click “buy now.” If brands want to stay competitive, they need to able to keep up with radical, fast-paced changes in consumer online behavior.

Brands have a great appetite for understanding how people behave and make decisions online. They need to understand their customer’s purchase influencers beyond demographic and attitudinal data; passive tracking data captures how consumers move across the digital world, allowing brands to keep up by tracking their customer’s digital journeys – in real-time.

Adopting a passive metering strategy is not without challenges. The challenges range from technology implementation and respondent adoption to understanding of the data. There are oceans of it, and it is totally unstructured. Despite these challenges, more and more clients are diving in and having success finding those nuggets of “data gold” they would never have uncovered with surveys alone. Brands need to start somewhere, and rather than trying to uncover the holy grail of all that Passive Metering can do, simply looking for trends in the data at a high level can deliver those unexpected “aha moments” brands want.

Keep in mind, consumers are complex. Passive Metering is a super effective starting point to understand what people are doing without disrupting or influencing their behavior. However, there is no one simple research formula or methodology that is all-knowing. Blending methodologies has been — and will continue to be– crucial for brands to really understand their customers. The opportunities for connecting digital behavioral data with traditional survey data, 3rd party data or even longitudinal data available through other innovative research approaches such as Insight Communities, translates to in-depth, actionable insights brands need.

We keep hearing Passive Metering is coming as the next “big” thing in research. Truth is, it is already here. It has been here for years. I encourage researchers to stop overcomplicating it. Take the risk of not knowing everything in advance, find great clients to experiment with and dive in. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.

Jax’s Favorite Things

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas

I know what you’re thinking – “Who does this chick think she is, Oprah?”

Well no, but I do know a thing or two about gift-giving, gift-receiving, and how to avoid giving someone something that they want to re-gift, throw in the trash or “accidentally” feed to their dogs. Need some last-minute gift ideas that don’t suck? Read on.


  1. Kmashi ChargerFor the person who’s off the grid (or maybe off their rocker)

This is not the type of charger that you can haul around in your purse all day, although I’ve been known to haul much stranger and heavier things. It’s for when you need to disappear into the wilderness for multiple days and you need to charge multiple devices multiple times — seriously. Juice up.

  1. Seat HoodieFor the sweaty person

It’s a seat cover for your car so that when you are sweaty and sticky and gross, your car seat doesn’t have to be. For me, this is for after workouts. But for others, there may be other reasons they are sticky and gross but let’s not get into that. Cover it up.


  1. Eight Greens Youth SerumFor the skin sensitive (AKA vain) person

The best part about this stuff is that it’s called a youth serum, instead of an anti-wrinkle serum. That means you can give it someone without offending them. Not to mention, serum seems fancy. Slather it on.

  1. Packing CubesFor the frequent (or frequently disorganized) traveler

I know what you’re thinking, why do I need what is essentially a bunch of smaller cases to put inside my large suitcase? Two reasons; it helps you keep your stuff organized and it helps you squeeze more stuff in. (I’ll still be packing chocolate bars in my shoes to smuggle them back from Germany though.) Stuff it in.

  1. Bone BrothFor the trendy foodie

I’m no food scientist, but I do know that bone broth is good for you. I know this because I believe everything I read on the internet. The internet says that bone broth is a good source of protein and minerals. Making it yourself is really time consuming. So I buy mine from a place. Slurp it up.

  1. GuessturesFor anyone

You could play this game at a college keg party, a four-year-old’s birthday party or at the old folk’s home. It’s a seriously fun game that you can play at any occasion, with any group of people — young or old, drunk or sober, sane or insane. Get your game on.

  1. Butcher BoxFor the anti-vegan person

Before meat gets a sin tax like tobacco, you can stock up on your delicious cow flesh with this monthly beef subscription. It’s all organic, grass-fed, and tasty. Get fed.

  1. Pink Himalayan SaltFor the salty person

Yes, it’s another food one. I like to eat, ok? (I may have been hungry when I wrote this.) But this salt is fancy because it’s pink. And also it has minerals. Shake it out.


  1. I Donut Care hatFor the person with a sense of humor (or a cold head)

This is a terrible picture of me, but guess what? I donut care. I got this hat at H&M. I don’t think they sell it there anymore, but they have other, equally bizarre things you can put on your head. Bust a cap.


  1. Creative Cursing Profanity GeneratorFor the person who likes to swear (and then laugh at their swearing)

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I really need to step up my insult game”? Do you think find obscene and obnoxious things funny? If you answered yes to both of those questions, you might need this book. If you’re not into the whole “socially acceptable” thing, give it as a gift. Get creative.

P.S. None of these companies paid me any money to endorse their products. These are things I actually like and use. (But if someone reading this works for one of the companies mentioned above, feel free to send me some free sh*t.) Happy holidays!

Five Years of FRESH!

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Motivate Others

Gangsters, gamblers, and mob wives. Oh my!

Why have a typical work party when you can throw a mob-themed Casino party? SoapBoxSample celebrated it’s 5-year anniversary this year, so we went a little crazy. Especially me. I don’t typically wear a bright green poker suit to company events…or do I?

I learned a lot about my staff. Turns out, Michelle Henik (Senior Project Manager) is actually a card shark, Allison Flowers (Senior Research Director) does a great New Jersey accent and Elinor Gaida (VP, Research & Analytics) leads a double life as a speakeasy flapper girl. Mike Halberstam (ISA Chairman) loves to have his picture taken (like nonstop) and Mike Chavarria (VP of Business Development) and Aaron Cole (Director of Systems and Programming) may have a future Texas Hold Em’ rivalry to settle. The rest may be too scandalous to include in print…

As a side note to SoapBoxers. I felt it best to tell you in a public forum. All those pics you took at the selfie station you thought you were only texting or emailing to yourself? Yea, well I got a full download. A FULL download, I have them ALL. #truestory

Check out some of my favorite photos from the event.

What is All Over Your Hands?

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

A Salty Story of Entrepreneurship

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. For like two years, they were the bane of my existence. I had to listen to relentless begging from my kid. All my friends eat them. They aren’t bad for you. I swear I didn’t eat them (despite the distinct hand swipe stain on her uniform pants). Listen. I don’t personally have anything against Hot Cheetos. My kid just happens to be allergic to cow’s milk, so these are super no bueno for her. And that cheezy stuff gets all over your hands which is sort of annoying.

Why am I even talking about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Shouldn’t I be talking about Christmas (sorry, Holiday) Carols or seasonal baked goods? Well I re-read the story of Richard Montanez twice in the past week and wanted to share. Many of you may already know it, but too bad. You should hear it again – it is good.

Spoiler alert summary – Richard Montanez, a high school dropout, invented one of the most iconic American snack foods of all time, for Frito-Lay, while he was employed there as a janitor. Montanez called up the CEO with his idea. Yup, the janitor called up the CEO – and was put through! Today Montanez is the Vice President of Multicultural sales for PepsiCo America, and he teaches MBA classes at a college near his home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

The story has been told before, but my favorite version is from The Hustle, my favorite newsletter. (I plan to keep giving them shout outs until they agree to let me guest blog, or send me a cease and desist letter — whichever comes first.)

Recently, a student asked him how he was teaching without a Ph.D.

“I do have a Ph.D.,” he responded. “I’ve been poor, hungry and determined.”

In case you missed the two hyperlinks to the article posted on The Hustle, you can click here to read it.

What I love about this story is the idea that every employee can make a huge impact on their company no matter their role. I also love finding and hiring people that exhibit traits of GRIT — guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity. And Richard Montanez is a prime example of this. Mental grit is what powers a person through personal tragedy, and IMHO, will get you farther than anything else. (Further reading — The Power of Mental Grit.)

Comparison – The Thief of Joy

By | Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Comparison /kəmˈperəsən/ noun

:the act of looking at things to see how they are similar or different

When I read my friend Francesca’s BLOG post recently, I found her message so relevant and poignant, and I wanted to share it on Telltale Ten. Too often we are judging ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. As I get older, I care less and less about what people think. I was also hit by a car (for real) which may have accelerated the awakening of my “I don’t really give a shit” nerve.

I constantly see people in both my personal and professional lives suffering from unnecessary misery (not to mention driving me a little cuckoo) by constantly comparing themselves to others. If we would all just mind our own business and stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or not doing, everyone would be a lot happier. At the very least, I would be less annoyed dealing with folks who plant themselves on the pity pot regularly.

If your life goals are to be as insecure, annoying, unhappy and as full of self-doubt as possible, I highly encourage you to constantly compare yourself to others. Better yet, compare your life to other’s social media lives. That will get you to your goal even faster. It’s pretty much a surefire rocket ride to low self-esteem.

I love the idea of writing letters to ourselves. Letters to our past selves and future selves. I really loved Cheka’s message – and she is pretty damn funny too. Hope you all enjoy this week’s Telltale Ten.

An Open Letter to My Former Self

Guest Post by Francesca Campisi

Have you ever wanted to write and postmark a letter to your younger self?

What would you say?

Would it change anything?

Lately, LIFE has been teaching me some very important lessons. We reap what we sow (obviously not something new I learned, but ya get my drift). From the time I was 21 – I sowed emotions of hurt, anger, negativity, bitterness and just so much yuckkkkkk. It took me many years, tears, and breakdowns to change my views and to start sowing joy, love, gratitude, confidence, and happiness. I reflect back on my younger days and wonder if I could have prevented the pain. But, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have had to fight for that person. My story may be rough with weeds and thorns but it’s starting to blossom up roses (“WHOA!” As JOEY from BLOSSOM would say. I’m reaching huh?) My story may be long, emotional and a roller coaster ride, but let’s be honest, who likes an easy cookie cutter read?!?!

Dear Younger Self,

Where do I start? Do I start singing, ‘A Whole New World’ to you, just as Aladdin did to Jasmine while on a magic carpet ride?

|Sidenote: I have SUCCESSFULLY applied a Disney movie to my life. I can die happy now.|

Probably not. Because younger self you are cynical at times and emo.

I wish I could save you from all the pain and heartache you will experience over the next 10 years. But if I could save you, then you wouldn’t be the (WONDER) Woman of God you are today. You wouldn’t be able to experience all the happiness, joy, love, gratitude, and beauty that came from the times that were just yuckyyyyy.

Francesca, you will never be perfect. And that is okay. You will fail, fall, and plunder down some ugly stairs. But you will get back up. Do not be afraid for what’s to come. For what is ahead is a life filled with purpose and promise. From the failures, heartache, and pain – you will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

You will meet many people, who will be in your life for one minute and gone the next. These are not your people. You will be lied too and taken advantage of. You will lose yourself in people and forsake all that you believe in. This is the ugly truth of life – that along the way sometimes we lose ourselves. However, you are not innocent in this. You also have cast stones and hurt others that have come along your path. But we can find our way back. Your tribe, your people, will love you even when you are at your lowest of lows. When you find your tribe, LOVE them hard. And in the end, your FAMILY will always be there to love and support you.

Don’t let the world views of beauty change what God has created in you. You are more than a number on the scale or the size of your Lululemons. You must learn to love yourself before you can love another. Don’t hold back from letting your light shine. The social media platforms, Facebook or Instagram, the double-tap likes, or the amount of friends do not define your worth in this world. Popularity is fleeting. Love is everlasting.

Never compare where you are in life to someone else’s highlight reel. Comparison is the thief of joy. Learn to choose faith over fear. You are a sinner by nature but by the grace of God you have been saved and you are made whole by his perfect love.

Charles Spurgeon says, “A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget me nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts not on marble.” The educator Edgar Dale, who developed the ‘Cone of Learning’ concept, claims that after 2 weeks we tend to only remember 10% of what we read but we remember 90% of what we say and do. What YOU say and do, how YOU treat others, when YOU choose to love or be kind, and express gratitude – these are the things will be left of you after you are gone.

This letter may be filled with many ‘DON’Ts’ but I hope you DO know how ah-mazing you are and how much you have to offer this world. You may not make everyone happy and at times may not be enough for others, but you can’t please everyone – you aren’t a jar of PEANUT BUTTAAAA.




Happy Blog-iversary

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion

Dear Diary Blog –

According to research, the average lifespan of a blog is only 100 days. I didn’t make this up. Holy cow. So how did we make it to two years? Let’s be clear, that is 730 days – sounds more impressive right? Or in research speak, more than seven times the average. In blog life  you could say Telltale Ten is geriatric. She can’t hear very well, forgets things and has to pee a lot. Like blog, like author.

To celebrate the 2-year anniversary of Telltale Ten I thought it would be fun to go back and re-read the blogs. It was part fun and part torture Anyway, I also thought I’d share some of my favorite and most popular blog posts. Too bad these things don’t earn residuals. In all fairness, there were some I wanted to delete from the Blogosphere altogether, but since I am not technically savvy enough to do so, the suckiest of sucky entries are still there. The following you might find worth actually reading:

1. Just When You Think You’re Ready for the Week (August 1, 2017) Be Genuine, Create Value
2. When Life Kicks You in the A** (January 25, 2017) Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
3. Lazy and Genius Had a Baby (November 22, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas
4. Indecision – The Evil Accomplice of Procrastination (October 18, 2016) Be Clear, Be Reasonable, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks
5. HALT — Stop, In the Name of Love (September 20, 2016) Be Clear, Be Genuine, Be Honest, Be Reasonable
6. Let It Go – Helpful Advice, Not Just an Annoying Song (August 30, 2016) Be Reasonable, Take Risks
7. Save Your Apple – No Teacher’s Pets Here (June 28, 2016) Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Take Risks
8. So You Wanna Be the Boss? (August 2, 2016) Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Take Risks
9. What Do Waffles, Luna Bars and Diet Coke Have in Common? (June 21, 2016) Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion
10. I Ran Out of Gas (May 17, 2016) Be Genuine, Be Reasonable, Take Risks

I’ve learned a ton of lessons during my last two years as a blogger, and two worth noting from a business perspective.  One, free marketing is awesome. Two, blogging can be a great way to help make key decisions about those who be might be a ‘fit”. When clients or prospects or employees identify with the blog content, it’s a good sign they may be a good fit to work with; they are probably just the right amount of crazy.

My biggest aha from my two-year lookback, is that I really suck at writing things I am not passionate about or that are not current issues/challenges/adventures/happenings in my life. Here’s the truth. I don’t totally LOVE most of what I wrote in 2017. Some of it I don’t like at all. Reflecting on the topics I first tackled in the beginning has been a good reminder of why I wanted to start a blog in the first place. Looking ahead, my goal for Telltale Ten is to expand my audience to reach more people who are searching for that extra push to get them to the next level, whether it be in their personal lives, starting a business, growing a business, being a better parent, or a healthier person. So stay tuned for more whacky top ten lists, life hacks, and real talk. Let’s have a little fun and laugh as much as possible – at my expense of course.


Thanks for reading!