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Invoke Passion

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.

But know YOU ARE ENOUGH for YO’SELF.

Love,

Francesca

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!

Yay! My Kid is Not a Jerk.

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

So back in April, I wrote a BLOG called “Lessons From a Ten Year Old” about my seemingly unreasonable happiness over my daughter Antonella’s journey of turning a No into a Yes. Through hard work, pure determination, and relentless desire she earned a spot on the Hyht Gymnastics Pre-Team. In case you didn’t read it (you should), here’s the recap. Her coach gave her the good news that she finally made pre-team, but in the same breath she also told her, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from the pre-team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

Your work is just starting. Super powerful words. How a ten year old will act on those words is a total crap shoot. Ella had worked her a$$ off to get to her goal and it was just the beginning. Her commitment up until that point simply prepared her for the next phase of hard work. It was just one obstacle of many. In my last BLOG on this topic, I wrote about how happy I was that she didn’t make the pre-team on the first go around. And I meant it. I still mean it. Once she made the pre-team I was CERTAIN she was not going to like it. It meant more practice, which meant more drills, more working out and worst of all (for Ella) running sprints.

Well I was wrong. She embraced the challenge. Not without complaint, but she kept at it. She got her Dad to build her a beam and taught herself the Level 3 Team USA Gymnastics Beam routine from YouTube – she wasn’t even on the team. She had a list of skills she had to learn, and slowly kept knocking them off the list. The worst one was the back handspring. That damn back handspring. She practiced for months and months and just couldn’t get over the fear. She couldn’t, correction, wouldn’t do it. We endured months of “Will you spot me?” day after day. Her Dad and I were sure she would never get it. Some days I wanted to say, “No, I will not spot you again – just give it up. You won’t get it. Let’s just go inside.” You probably think I am a total douche, but seriously, try doing the same thing, day after day, watching a kid just flail around. It is not fun. And God bless her nanny. I bet she spotted that kid 1000 times – at minimum. But she kept at it.

She saved up her money sold stuff on Etsy and Poshmark and finally earned enough money to buy a tumbling trampoline. Yes, she is a working actor earning a nice paycheck. But she doesn’t get to spend that money – sorry kid. You will thank me some day when we didn’t let you blow all the dough. She even talked her Nana into having a yard sale in the dead of the summer in the heat. It was 110 degrees that day. But she had some money to make! She is a very persuasive young lady. And guess what? It took several months, but she finally earned the $500 to buy the trampoline.
She practices on that thing until it gets dark. “Wait, just one more. Can you watch?” Armed with her mat, her homemade beam, and her tumbling trampoline, she has just kept on keeping on. And guess what? She got that back handspring, and a dozen or so other skills. One by one. She would come home after practice each day and tell me if she earned gym bucks for a new skill. Some days she would bust through the door screaming “I got my back hip circle today” or whatever it was and other times she would say she had more work to do.

Yesterday she turned eleven years old. Today she went to practice despite being convinced she has a broken toe (she is the one convinced not us or we would actually take her to a doctor – we aren’t total a$$hole parents). Her coach pulled her aside before class started and told her she made the team. Ella had NO idea she was going to get that news. No idea at all. She was just showing up, with her broken toe, to practice.

As her parent, my belly gets all squirmy with excitement thinking how it must have felt in her little heart when she got that news. How proud she must have felt, and how badly she wanted to run home and tell us. As a business leader, I find this type of unrelenting focus, unceasing drive and bullish tenacity to overcome something outside of your comfort zone, is what it takes to be great. And look at that, I may have just defined greatness (Why Tony the Tiger is My Idol).

The Road Show Rolls On

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This week at SoapBoxSample we held an all-hands meeting where we talked about the things that keep us motivated — through the stress, through the long hours, and through the demanding projects. One of my biggest motivators has always been working out. Almost any type of physical activity helps me focus, centers me, and just makes me feel good. But why should I have all the fun? I like to encourage (some would say force) my staff to get outdoors and do the same. This week Matt Thurston, the COO of icanmakeitbetter (our insight community platform) flew in from Austin to spend some time with the Van Nuys office. I encouraged (it was optional I swear) Matt and our Senior Account Executive Anthony Bean to head up to Runyon Canyon at the end of the day to check out the best view that Los Angeles has to offer. Seeing them conquer that hill make me think it was time to revisit one of my favorite blog posts — Work Out Road Show. Yes, it is possible to stay in shape when you travel for work. And sometimes the best way to see the sights is while you’re sweaty and out of breath and being harassed by a small blonde drill sergeant who looks like Amy Poehler.

Digging Deep – Success Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

What do a former roller derby player, a French-trained Sabreur, the President of SoCal Toastmasters and an international marathon runner all have in common? That would be Aaron. To be more specific, it would be SoapBoxSample’s Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole.

The first employee of SoapBox, Aaron is a fashion extraordinaire (who refuses to buy his clothes in America), a recovered hair-dyeing addict, a current tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an artist, a Spartan and a world traveler.

Come to think of it, he may have way too many hobbies to actually be doing any work. Hmmm….

He also has somehow managed to buy the exact right gift for my daughter every single year, from talking storybook dogs, to fuzzy slippers and phone cases, he has an uncanny knack for buying her just the right Christmas gift each and every year. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d think it was creepy. But he likely does all kinds of research as that is just the way he is.

Oh – and he trained his dog, Charlie, to run races with him. They also have been known to wear matching costumes for Halloween.

Aaron is also this week’s guest blogger! Check out Aaron’s guide to digging deep and pushing beyond your limits.

A Guide to Completing a Marathon in the Outback …Without Getting Yourself Killed

Guest Post by Aaron Cole

I was all alone in the middle of the Australian Outback, running up a sand dune. Dehydration and exhaustion threatened to overtake me. This was Mile 19. I still had 7 more miles to go. How did I complete my mission? By following the simple, but difficult, steps outlined below.

I’m happy to say that I not only survived the Australian Outback, but that I also finished in 4th place overall, was the first American to cross the finish line, and beat my own personal best time by over 15 minutes with a final finish time of 3hrs 23min 25sec.

When I first decided that I wanted to complete a marathon on all seven continents, I immediately began looking for the most unique, exciting, and memorable races I could find. For my third continent I settled on the Australian Outback Marathon; 26.2 miles of grueling masochism through one of the world’s harshest environments. (I also raised nearly $1,000 to support The Wilderness Society to help protect Australia’s many endangered and at-risk species.)

Curious how this went from an idea to a reality? Here’s how I did it.

  1. Have a Vision and Purpose: Running a marathon wasn’t enough for me, I also wanted to raise funds and awareness for The Wilderness Society. Whether for your own benefit or the benefit of others, having a vision and purpose is essential as it serves as the foundation for your motivation and drive.
  2. Set Goals (and Follow Through): In the 16 weeks leading up to the Outback Marathon I averaged 50+ miles of running per week. It. Was. Not. Easy. Some days I didn’t feel like putting in the work, but I had a vision and I knew that if I didn’t accomplish the goals I set for myself, it would jeopardize my ability to accomplish my mission.
  3. Just Do It: Like the slogan goes, you’ve got to get it done. When I felt tired, weary, or my schedule was jam-packed, it created obstacles for my training plan. It’s not easy to run 50+ miles when you’re working Monday through Friday and then lose your weekend to other responsibilities, but if you want to accomplish something great, you’ve got to put in a greater amount of effort. This involved many late night runs, running while on the go, re-organizing my schedule, and a whole lot of commitment.
  4. Prepare for the Specifics: If your goals aren’t targeted and purposeful, you won’t be successful in your mission. In order to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, I ran a lot of hills, long distances of up to 22 miles, and sandy beach runs. This gave my legs the experience, built the resistance, and helped to get my head in the right mind frame for the challenges I would face in the desert of the Outback.
  5. Support and Accountability: Putting in this much time and effort can be draining, and it can be easy to slip, so having a support network is essential to keeping you on track! Family, friends, business associates, or anyone else that can lend positivity and support are all crucial to your success. I joined several running groups, finding camaraderie with my running mates and even gaining new tricks and tips to improve my skills. I also found greater consistency in my training, helping me to accomplish my 50+ miles per week goal with significantly greater ease!
  6. Have Fun Along the Way: As I mentioned, the time and effort you put in to accomplish your mission can be draining at times, so you need to find ways to re-fuel your energy. This will vary from person to person, it’s really what’s works for you. For me, however, I used food, travel, and other races to keep me motivated. Rewarding yourself with a giant cinnamon roll with blueberries, almonds and cream cheese after a long and hilly 22-mile run is pretty much the best thing ever!
  7. Take Care of Yourself: It can be easy to overlook your own personal well-being when you become so engrossed in accomplishing your goals, but the impact of an injury can be far greater than the moments you spend to rest and recover. Even in a more professional setting, it can be easy to burn out if you don’t have a way to vent the stresses and take care of your mind and body. I had to nurse some injuries, ease back on training, and allow myself the time to recoup, which in the end resulting in even greater improvement, allowing me to far exceed my performance expectations!
  8. Dig Deep: All the motivation, support, and sense of purpose you carry may feel irrelevant when you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But I’m here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and any obstacle can be overcome. This is when you need to dig deep and draw from within. For the last 10 miles of the Australian Outback Marathon, I was running in complete isolation; not another runner for over a mile in either direction. I was combating dehydration from the desert’s dry heat, and come Mile 19, the final sand dune drained the last of my strength. The remaining 7 miles I had nothing left. I was running on fumes. But I never stopped running, I never lost sight of my mission, and I dug really, really, REALLY deep.
  9. Celebrate and Recover: Victory! With your mission complete, it’s time to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Savor this success and know that you’ve earned it! But don’t be too quick to jump into your next mission, give yourself time to recover so that you can tackle the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.

After all this I’ll bet you’re feeling ready to tackle a marathon of your own, right?? Maybe not. But that’s okay, because these strategies apply to more than just running marathons, you can apply this to any dream or goal you wish to accomplish. Whether your passion is to open your own restaurant, grow your business by 50% in the next 12 months, or even something as simple as learning how to roller skate, if you follow these steps, I can guarantee your success.

However, if you don’t find success with these steps, please direct any complaints and refund requests to Jacqueline Rosales c/o Telltale Ten!

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can be competitive. Like, super competitive. I recently made it a competition with our VP of Operations to see who could get to my boss’s office the fastest. Not kidding. Competitive people tend to gravitate toward other competitive people.

My friend Ashley Seeger (who was featured in one of the first Telltale Ten BLOGs, My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours) embodies that trait like no other. After a crazy ACL injury and a few other life events, Ashley made the decision to focus on her business full-time. She leveraged her growing boot camp and class groupies, and recently opened up her own gym and training facility called Becoming Badass. As a startup leader, I can tell you that being competitive can help you succeed. (Being a little bit crazy is helpful too.) Ashley is learning to take her race mentality, and apply it to growing her business. Oh, and she decided to take on a bikini competition, a 24-hour endurance race in Australia, and compete in World’s Toughest Mudder (among some Spartan and Ragnar races) all during her first year of business. Ashley shares a few key tips on competition in this week’s Telltale Ten.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By Ashley Seeger

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that there is competition on every corner. The stressors that come with opening a new business can be intense. Keeping up with your competition can be one that eats at you. For me, competition comes in a lot of different forms — competition with myself, competition with things in my life that are vying for my attention and competition from other businesses. Competition motivates us to do more, do better and grow as a business. If we were the only one doing the “thing” why would we need to improve? Instead, competition forces us to do our best. It can also derail us and cause us to lose focus if we don’t channel it correctly. Here is how I use competition to motivate me instead of distract me.

1. Master your trade. What are you good at? What is your passion?

Keep your focus on what YOU are good at. What do you love the most? What is your unique value proposition? What is special about you or your business that others cannot easily replicate? When looking at your competition you may be tempted to veer from your lane into what they are doing. But ask yourself – what are you a master at? Do you find your passion or expansion opportunities in competitive offerings? If not, then stay in your lane. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-ALL-trades, how can you improve what YOU do?

2. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about the others.

In other words, mind your own business. Literally and figuratively. Instead of worrying that others are going to do more, be better etc., use that energy for your own business. Once you have identified what is working for you, set a plan to improve what you already do. How can you be the BEST at what YOU do? Figure it out and then DO IT! Have integrity and take pride in what you do. You cannot control what your competition is doing. You also can’t be blind to it. This is a balancing act. Be mindful of the landscape, industry, trends, direct and indirect competition. But don’t be obsessed with it – and definitely don’t try to just copy it. Be aware of your surroundings and competition, continuously try to improve what you do and don’t let the competition be a threat, let the competition motivate you to be the best.

3. Leverage what you know, but don’t rely on today’s skills to get you through tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs need to always be learning, seeking more info, and getting out of their comfort zone. Just like on the race course, you have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You also have to train and be coachable. If you are not willing to learn new things, or accept advice from others who know things you don’t, you will likely fail. I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete. I am a coach. I am a good coach. Running a business is TOTALLY new to me. If I don’t embrace what I don’t know, and seek it, my competition may prevail regardless of how good of an athlete or coach I am. I have to find and recognize my weakness and then go after it!

If you want to check out all the badass things Ashley does, check out her website at www.becomingbadass.me. For someone new to business, she sure has mastered marketing and branding. It rocks. Truthfully I am jealous. You can follow her Badass adventures on social media at [Insta: @_ashleyseeger, YouTube: Ashley Seeger, Facebook: Ashley Seeger]. Oh, and to the tune of getting out of her comfort zone and delving more into the “business side” of running a business, she just joined LinkedIn! You can connect with her here where she will be posting her BLOG, news, making connections and learning new stuff.

There is a sign hanging in her facility that reads “Do Only Difficult Things” – that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship.

SoapBoxSample Telltale Ten

Who’s in Your Front Row?

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

As we move through the different chapters of our lives, we inevitably change. The people, places and things around us impact our mindset, mood, behavior and happiness. While it can be painful at times to leave some things behind, it can be equally exciting to experience the new things. When I find myself in a period of discontent, I know I have work to do. It is not anyone else’s fault. I choose to take responsibility over my happiness.

You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around. You may not be able to control certain things that happen to you, but you can control how you react. You may not be able to change other people, but you can change yourself.

A special woman gave me this many years ago. I searched the internet to find the author and found varying versions of it, but not this exact one. I attributed it to a “wise, beautiful lady”.  This was the perfect thing for me to find today. I needed this reminder…

Life is a Theater

Life is a theater. Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.

There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going-anywhere relationships or friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people, do you feel better or do you feel worse? Which ones always have drama, or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you? The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around.

In short, you don’t have to tolerate shitty people.

SoapBoxSampleCollage

Who the heck are these people?

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks

Last year I attended VidCon 2016 with my 9-year-old daughter Ella and wrote extensively about the weird and wonderful world of online video influencers. (Read last year’s posts here.) This year I went back with my now-10-year-old. (Congratulations to me for another year of parenting. Yes, I do think there should be awards for this.)

After last year’s VidCon, it took us 300 of the next 365 days to figure out what the heck we had just witnessed. This year we had a decent plan for success — to identify, connect and partner with influencers and their audience to help us grow our online research panel. (Our plan for VidCon 2018 is so good that if we told you about it, we would have to kill you.) What also helped us out this year is that we brought along Nicole, SoapBoxSample’s new sales and marketing admin. Rather than explain how strange it is to suddenly be surrounded by “celebrities” you’ve never heard of, but thousands of tweens are going crazy for, I thought I would let Nicole explain it for me. Also, if you ever go, definitely try the acai bowls.

Connecting with Social Media Influencers at VidCon 2017

This was my first time attending a conference with SoapBoxSample. I was beyond excited to go to VidCon and honestly didn’t know what the heck to expect. I was attending with the COO of the company, wanted to make sure I was on my P’s and Q’s but was going into it scared as sh*t, and having no idea what to expect.

Ok…leading up to VidCon I did lots of research on who is who and what is what, and how we might connect with these social media stars and YouTube sensations. I stalked these influencers for months prior to the event and set up some appointments with them via Twitter. Looking at VidCon’s website and reading recaps from previous years, you can see there are thousands of people there. But actually going there and seeing for yourself the thousands of people is a whole other level of crazy. And call me crazy, I actually loved it. I loved seeing the performers, eating the acai bowls, and looking up to see a YouTuber getting swarmed by adoring fans.

Our mission was to understand the digital landscape in general, and to connect with the Millennial and Gen Y audience, so we can help our clients figure out how to market to them. I wasn’t there to just “look,” I had to do some gorilla marketing too, pass out cards and try to get sign ups to our online research panel, MySoapBox. I’ve done this in the past so it should be easy breezy right? Negatory. You have to know how to approach someone; whether it’s a parent, a teen or an online influencer. After all this was said and done I had to send a recap to both of my bosses. Geeze, this part was hard. How the heck do I recap VidCon? That place is nuts! My recap is going to sound nuts. Oh well, I am a firm believer in being upfront, and with that sometimes comes blunt phrases that I wish I knew how to make sound more “business-like”.

Day 1 Thoughts

  1. What the hell is this?
  2. Who are these people?
  3. Where do I start passing out Join MySoapBox cards/what do I say to engage them?
  4. I’m so glad I wore tennis shoes!

Day 2 Impressions

  1. Ok, I am ready to get these cards out – finding more creative ways/things to say.
  2. This is pretty cool, I need a YouTube channel!
  3. There are so many people, and they love getting “stuff”.
  4. I need a FREE fidget spinner for James (my son.) I don’t understand why I’m fighting adults for these.

Random Thoughts as I Was Falling Asleep

  1. Should I keep Jacqueline away from the Dunkin’ Donuts lounge? Unlimited free coffee and a fanatical COO is either the best or worst combination ever.
  2. I never knew my job would involve learning how to pull my phone out and take a picture faster than a sharp shooter.
  3. How much time does Jacqueline’s daughter spend on social media to actually know who all of these people are and what they do? She’s a pretty active kid so that makes it all the more confusing.
  4. I wonder if there are new rules about swearing in front of your kids. Jacqueline does it a lot, and her daughter seems pretty unfazed.

By the end of the conference, I wanted my own YouTube channel with thousands of screaming tweens following me through the convention. lol. I connected with my boss on a level that was pretty amazing (I mean we share the same birthday so it will be that way regardless). I learned a lot, watched a lot and really enjoyed seeing the various levels of influencers try to connect with their audience. I think the most important take away from this conference was finding new ways to connect.

Not only was I learning how to connect with my boss, I was learning how to connect with our audience to understand and figure out the best ways to engage them. I am most excited to partner with online influencers and grow our panel to help our clients connect and engage with a notoriously hard to reach audience. After meeting with the ones we did, their personalities seem so fun they are about to become my new best friends and don’t even know it yet. Ha Ha!

27

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

“Hello ma’am, do you have access to the internet and would you like to take a survey?”

As a young, bootstrapped startup, SoapBoxSample is fortunate in that we can draw from the vast experience of our parent company ISA (Interviewing Service of America). ISA has been in the Market Research business for 35 years. It’s humbling to think of how many lives have grown and changed over the years. Children have been born and grown into adults and had children of their own in that time.

Some of the ISA people still question my unconventional leadership style, but I’m happy to say I’ve made genuine connections with a lot of them, including Gregg Stickeler, Senior VP of Client Services, who celebrates his 27-year anniversary with ISA today. He may not admit it, but I believe his initial feelings toward me were disdain. I also think he now has grown to like me, or at least tolerate me. When I asked Gregg to guest blog he took it seriously enough to do some extensive research, which is fitting considering all of his years of experience. Congrats Gregg!

27

For me, the number 27 is much more than just a random number. It holds quite a bit of significance in my life. Here are just a few fun facts about the number 27.

  • 27% of the Earth is land.
  • It takes 27 days for a human cell to re-grow.
  • The Moon orbits the Earth every 27 days and coincidentally, the Sun revolves on its axis in those same 27 days.
  • The total number of letters in both the Hebrew and Spanish alphabets is 27.
  • It is the atomic number of Cobalt.
  • There are 27 bones in the human hand.
  • It is my daughter’s lucky number.

And on June 27, 2017 I will be celebrating the 27th anniversary of becoming a member of the ISA team. Yes, 27 years ago a young Gregg Stickeler uprooted his life from the East Coast and started a new career and a new life in Van Nuys, California. And boy what this guy has seen.

When I started with ISA in 1990, we had just expanded from 48 telephone station seats to over 55. Well over half of these positons were equipped with a CRT (Cathode Ray Tube), in order to perform Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI – which on the East coast we pronounced Kay-Dee and on the West coast, Ka – Tee). The majority of the interviewing was done in English though we had a handful of bilingual Spanish interviewers and an on-call staff of Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese speaking interviewers. We ran a number of tracking studies as well as ad hoc studies. Usually up to five different projects would be running at any given time.

But we grew and so did I.

In the next few years we expanded to over 100 seats, all CATI, now crammed into three phone rooms (all at 16005 Sherman Way in Van Nuys, CA). I moved from Manager of Telephone Operations to Project Manager to Director of Client Services. Our Quality Control department was renamed Quality Assurance and Interviewers were now dubbed Data Collectors. And we added a Focus Group Facility named Creative Data.

And the years passed. I was promoted to Vice President and my future wife (which I did not realize at the time) joined the company. We expanded our phone capacity by nearly 60 seats, opening a facility in Alhambra (just outside Pasadena with a large Asian population – at this point we were doing over 25% of our studies in a language other than English). Lopy Williams, who had served as my right hand in the phone room, opened that facility and quickly proved we can expand, without problems, beyond the walls of our Van Nuys Headquarters (yes, we were a Headquarters!).

But according to the normal ebb and flow of life, you’re up one minute and down the next. Soon after ISA’s expansion my father passed away.

As the seams were bursting in our office (we had taken over additional office space and were at 150 seats in Van Nuys), we moved a few miles east to 15400 Sherman Way, 4th Floor, the location we still occupy to this day. Our entire headquarters phone room was now in one area, sporting almost 200 stations. Our next great challenge, Y2K. The year 2000 was quickly coming upon us and it was time to convert all the data we had (study and internal) to comply with the new century. Months were spent rewriting software, reevaluating data, and figuring out how to put all the pieces together. Thankfully, I was nowhere near this issue. The phone work continued to expand and I was heavily involved in staffing and scheduling and client interaction. In 1999, that was the easy part of the work.

And time marches on. We made it through the Y2K conversion fairly unscathed, our phone work continued to grow, and we were again looking to expand. We opened a 75-seat facility in Lancaster, CA. (I was kind of hoping for Pennsylvania as it would have given me a chance to get some shoo fly pie).

Creative Data, our focus group facility, became Qualitative Insights (and eventually Q-insights), I got married and we had a son, named after my Dad.

And suddenly there was a buzz about doing surveys online. Yep, actually hoping enough people were on the world wide web to get enough surveys done that way instead of using phones. And we toyed with the idea. Around this time I received the title of Senior Vice President. My daughter was born.

Our ability to do surveys online was added to our product mix, my Mom passed away, and then, on my 54th birthday (oddly 27 times two), we launched SoapBoxSample, our division specializing in online sample.

During the first few days of SoapBox’s existence, I remember thinking to myself, “Why is Amy Poehler in our office, and can she keep it down?” I thought it was cool that ISA was entering the age of internet research in 2013.

Three years later, we added icanmakeitbetter, an insight community platform. Once I learned to stop calling it “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter,” I really got excited about the platform when I figured out that it was another way I could share photos of myself wearing outlandish costumes with my co-workers.

It’s been an interesting 27 years. So many things have happened in my professional and personal lives which have remained intertwined since I walked into the lobby at my new company that Wednesday. (I can’t believe I was three minutes late, but I was only living in California for two days and was still getting used to the traffic). I have found new friends and lost a few of them along the way. You can read more about my personal and professional adventures on my blog, stickeler.blogspot.com.

SoapBoxSample South Park

Gamers Under the Microscope

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

You’ve heard of student exchange programs, but what about a blogger exchange? Turns out the Market Research industry is full of interesting people with interesting things to say…

My friends at Research For Good not only write a bookmark-worthy blog, they also make a donation for every survey completed to end global hunger. So definitely check them out.

This piece by Ashley McAllister looks at the “Gamer” audience and how people who meet the technical definition of a “Gamer” (one who plays video games) are still reluctant to self-identify as a “Gamer.” As researchers, our job is to connect with (and understand) all types of audiences, and this is a great explanation of the cultural reasons why people are hesitant to claim themselves to be part of a group.

Gamers Under the Microscope

By Ashley McAllister

The definition of a gamer is something that has long been under the proverbial microscope. It’s a label that carries a bit of stigma so we asked a few colleagues what sort of persona comes to mind when they hear the word “Gamers”. Most of them said the same thing (nerd). The comments we received were not an anomaly, here are two articles which talk about the gamer stereotype.

Both of the articles above examine the way that the traditional idea of a gamer is one of the past. Case in point, in a recent study completed by Pew Research they found that around half of America play video games, but only 10% identify as a gamer. So why is there still such a big drop off of people who openly identify as gamers?

A study printed in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication suggests that today’s reluctance to identify as a gamer is down to game players feeling they still don’t meet the cultural and social predeterminations that have been sets. These include:

  • Playing certain types of games/owning a certain console
  • Spending certain amount of hours playing a week
  • Socialising about your gaming hobby

As Market Researchers we need to understand who our gamers are to be sure we don’t isolate all those who play games. For us, our definition of a gamer evolves as the industry grows – or as JCMC’s study puts it: “[the] gamer identity is for a significant part dependent on how being a gamer is socially constructed in a cultural context.”

So who is today’s gamer? We’re here to help you find out.

In our ALL NEW Gamers info sheet we’ve highlighted some statistics from our sample looking at who is really playing Console/PC/Handheld games.

This article was originally posted on the Research For Good blog.