My Working Mother Must-Haves List

Awesome Daycare. There is no way I could be productive at work if I didn’t love my girls’ daycare. It’s a very cozy setting, they love their teacher, learn a lot and most of all they are safe and very well taken care of there.

A couple of other good signs – they have no problem saying bye to me in the morning and it usually takes at least 15 minutes to get them to leave in the afternoon.

 Supportive/flexible environment. This goes for my work and home environments. I have been blessed with employers and clients that understand I am a mother. And part of this is that I may not be in the office from 8-5 every day, but I will also work at midnight if I have to in order to finish a project.  

 At home I don’t keep things rigid. I try to enforce a bedtime, but otherwise our evenings are unpredictable. We may go to the park or mall after the girls leave daycare, or we may play at home until dinner is ready. We may have a spa night, do a project or have dance-offs (mostly the girls and daddy… my two-step doesn’t make the cut…).

 Smartphone. Through email, social media (mostly Facebook and Twitter) and actual phone calls, I am available to both colleagues and family easily. I am able to organize my life, keep to-do lists, write articles, work on projects, research ideas and the list goes on.

 Low-maintenance style. I wear my hair natural because it’s versatile yet extremely easy to maintain. I wear very little make-up (lipstick and a little eye shadow with mascara is the norm) and I have my jewelry separated into weekday and weekend looks.

For clothes I gravitate towards materials that are easy to maintain and I try to choose pieces that will go well with many looks. I will admit that shoes are my weakness, so I sometimes get a little crazy here, but I keep a pair of black heels in my trunk in case of emergency.

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Debunking Twitter Rules

Myth #1: Don’t tell us what you’re doing. Some people enjoy knowing what you are doing, and if those are your followers then there is nothing wrong with your tweets.

I enjoy getting personal tweets mixed in with professional tweets. It makes my Twitter friends feel real, not so much virtual. I’ve also found great restaurants from these tweets.

Myth #2: It’s about two-way conversations. This is not always the case. There are some people and companies that I follow because of the information they provide. It doesn’t matter to me if they respond to a DM or @ reply. What’s important is that the information they give me is accurate and useful.

Myth #3: Don’t tweet more than 5 times a day. True, some people go overboard with spam, but that’s another issue. I don’t care how many times you tweet; as long as I can use some of the information I’m fine.

Myth #4: Only follow people with similar interests, that you can learn from, etc. One of the great things about Twitter is it’s a community of people with different interests, expertise and information.

Do not feel like you must limit who you follow because of any absolute; you set the rules for who you follow. I follow people with similar interests and opinions along with those that are the complete opposite. I follow marketers as well as jewelry designers. I don’t follow spammers.

Here’s the thing, I use Twitter as a news feed. It’s a place where I can find out about current events, career news as well as my friends and family. And from each of these Tweeps I am interested in different information.

So, if you must have a Twitter rule this is it. Tweet what’s important to your current and potential followers.

Fighting Creativity Block

“Your best ideas are hidden behind logical thinking.” This is what I tell myself when I’m having mental block on a creative project. And here’s how I fight it.

I brainstorm for five minutes. Then I choose the most outlandish, unrealistic idea. Instead of focusing on why it can’t work, I think of the success I’ll have if it DOES work. Then I make a plan.

This encourages me to think differently, creatively, not so much logically. And when I’m finished I usually have a few nuggets that I can actually use. After all, it’s easier to reel in an idea if needed.

Using the New for Motivation

The pink crystal paperweight on my desk? I bought it on a lunch break when I had writer’s block. And a lot of the cutesy jewelry I wear on my right hand? Well, that was purchased when I needed some motivation and/or inspiration for a project.

Adding something new can help us look at everything in a new light. It’s the reason throw pillows can change the look of a living room and why adding a plant can give new life to a room.

This works not only for our living and work spaces, but also for projects. If you are in a rut, now is the time to try something new. Freshen up your presentations with new graphs. Here’s a Seth Godin post on making graphs that work. Compliment a campaign with some social media initiatives. Here are some great examples compiled by Mashable. If these are too drastic, then at least go shopping. You may find your inspiration there.

Talking to Your Customers is Great for More Reasons than You Think

conversationcloudHere are three ways you benefit from talking to your customers regularly:

Things mentioned in casual conversation may spark a great value-add opportunity. This opportunity can be a service that you offer and your client forgot or never knew you provided. It can also be an opportunity for you to offer a referral. It may even highlight a new service that you could provide with little or no effort, but that may be a lifesaver for your customer.

Your conversations can serve as informal research. You can learn everything from true competitor pricing (not what’s posted on a website) to industry news (how it’s really affecting them) to stereotypes and/or urban legends that you may need to address.

You may learn of other places to reach your target market. For instance, regional events and hobbies are a great way to connect with your customers. Unfortunately it is difficult to figure out which regional events are worth a second look without some insider information. And you may never know that your customer loves bird-watching unless he mentions an upcoming trip in a conversation.

Avoiding the Deleted Items Folder

Your emails say a lot about you. And while we all can overlook a sporadic typo, ignoring email etiquette can not only damage your perception, it can land your email in the “deleted items” folder.

Here are two posts to get you on the right track. The first, How To Improve Your Email Etiquette, is from Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy’s Blog.

The second, Sending Emails That Get Read, is a post I wrote about a year and a half ago.

Happy Emailing!

Being Receptive

Here’s a post I wrote when I first started cafe30. I had it on a separate page because it didn’t quite fit with the other posts, but part of me blogging more often is giving myself permission to write about all things, not just marketing with some parental stories mixed in for variety.

So, when I say this blog is a marketer’s take on business and life, I really mean it!

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Every relationship takes at least two – very few will argue this point when it comes to family, friends and work.  But, applying that principle to our relationship with God is not always top of mind. 

The great thing is that God holds up his part of the relationship perfectly. If we allow him, he will guide us, speak to us, and listen to us because he loves us. And his way of communicating with us is tailored to our personality-our tolerance. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. After all, he is the God of everything and everyone.

But the other part of the relationship is our responsibility. And our responsibility must include being receptive to his voice. Whether it be the gentle voice in our head that tells us when we are doing right or wrong, to the large billboards of life that scream to us, we should always be listening for his guidance. When we are truly receptive to his guidance and follow through with being obedient we can experience all of the greatness a relationship with our Heavenly Father brings.

Of course I am always joyful when God speaks to me of a promise and then it comes to fruition. But I am also joyful when I am about to make what I think is a good decision, and that voice says, “No.” I am learning that being truly receptive and obedient – honestly open and constantly listening – can save me many mistakes. And not only does it save me many mistakes, it keeps me in God’s will – which is by far more important.

God speaks everyday – sometimes its a whisper, sometimes it’s a roar, but he always speaks. My constant prayer is that whenever God speaks, I’m receptive and obedient.