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Marketing and more: for women and men in business online. We blog about the many issues women face in life, business, and play. Written by Yvonne DiVita, Lena West, Donna DeClemente, Mary Schmidt, Amanda Posner, Chloe Spencer, AmyK and Robbi Hess. Engag

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2017 09:35:30 PDT


I am fascinated by hands

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 09:35:30 PDT

Hands fascinate me. I can remember TV commercials when I was 40 talking about hands. About dish washing soap that kept your hands looking young, even if you were 35 or older. The concept of 35 being old astonished me. But, we're a youth society, aren't we? And, as we watch our favorite TV stars age, the women look younger and more beautiful than ever, as they take advantage of whatever means they can to perfect their faces and sculpt their bodies. And yet, their hands tell a different story. No, you can't tell a person's age by their hands, but hands do tell a story of their own. A story of a life well-lived, or a life of toil. A story of a life of ease where washing dishes is someone else's job or a life of appreciation, lived in the soil, creating and tending to a garden. The story someone's hands tell can also be misleading. The gnarled skin and bulging knuckles may be a form of illness, not a result of hard work. The smooth skin and lack of veins popping up might be great genetics, where family has passed along good genes so that regardless of how hard you've worked, how much time you've spent outdoors, what long hours your hands have put in doing the tasks they do, they remain young and beautiful far longer than expected. Time, however, catches up to us all. We are not timeless nor indestructible. Our hands are may reflect the aging process more properly than any other part of our body. My hands tremble, these days. I am likely experiencing the onset of essential tremor, a disease not well researched or covered in medical journals. It is debilitating, over time, but it is not serious enough to command attention by anyone other than those of us who have it. Sadly, it can affect younger people, also. I am blessed that my experience to date has not been overly debilitating, but I do shed tears some mornings when my hands will not let me dry my hair or put on my makeup. It's a vanity sadness, and I remind myself that I am still a functioning adult, despite not being able to eat soup sometimes or wear eyeliner, as I used to. We take our hands for granted, I think. We assume they will assist us in holding a pen, using a keyboard, chopping vegetables for dinner, and when they do not, it causes more pain than merely the slivers pulsing in the muscles we are trying to use. The pain goes beyond the tremors (which others do not notice as yet, I am still able to mask the growing trouble of eating with a fork or spoon, and I manage, with great care and a much longer length of time, to apply makeup properly; at least, I believe those things to be true). The pain we feel, as we age and our hands betray us, is in the realization that we are not indestructible. I often hear the refrain of that old song, "Those were the days", in the back of my mind, as I go about my daily chores. Those were the days my friend We thought they'd never end We'd sing and dance forever and a day We'd live the life we choose We'd fight and never lose For we were young and sure to have our way. We believed it. We lived it. We truly thought it would never end, embracing the life we would choose, the world we would create, the wondrous time of our youth. And sitting on stoops, or porches, or in recliners in homes cluttered with big TVs, our parents did cross-word puzzles and knitted baby booties and knew... that life was being kind to us then, life was hiding the truth, life was moving along at its usual pace, to a place of recognition - a place our parents were grappling with, and which we, too, would grapple, someday. I am fascinated by hands. The strong silent ones that tell a story of being outdoors, tending to life of one sort or another (on a farm, in a garden, at a ranch, I know not). The gnarled fingers of an old woman (by which standard we call her 'old' is debatable, I won't get into it today, but to say she is older than I), still working needlepoint or knitting needles, without regard to arthritis or other diseases that claim us in our old age. I love simple, beautiful hands. Babies hands. So unmarked by time, they are like sweet flowers still bu[...]

I Remember Mama

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 13:10:59 PST

My Mom ... circa 1953? Somehow, this weekend, I was half-asleep, listening in the dark for the dog (when I hear her collar jingle I wait to see if she's coming to the bedroom door to give it a scratch, indicating she wants out), when a vivid memory hit my brain like a big yellow balloon, bursting from too much air. It was a memory of my mother. The year was, actually I don't remember the year. I think my mother was my age, or rather, the age I am now, 65. She was a vibrant woman who loved to laugh. If she was 65, I was 45, and in the 'prime' of my life. I do remember thinking she was old. The thought jolted me awake. My eyes popped open to stare into the dimly lit bedroom, shocked at the realization that I was now the old I once thought my mother was. Tom's snoring was soft, just a quiet rumble, as if he had his face turned to the pillow. I was grateful for that. For the silence of the early morning that allowed me to think, and remember. We were on a trip. A trip to visit my younger sister in Philadelphia. If she sees this post she will reprimand me for forgetting the year. I am forever losing that ability - to remember when something happened. I can remember events and food and trips and excitement, just not when it all occurred. This trips was one of the most amazing trips of my life. My two older sisters, Jan and Sue, were with us, with my mother and me. We somehow decided it was time for an all-girl road trip, where this family of strong women would travel from Upstate NY to Philadelphia, and spend a few days with the baby of the family. I so remember the laughter on the ride down. I remember hilarity over...well, nothing. It was as if we were all schoolgirls again. We made jokes about nothing, laughed at each other, sang songs and generally caused a ruckus in our own little bubbled, as we each took turns driving. (and I will get reprimanded for that, also, as I am pretty sure I never took the wheel... with Jan and Sue and my Mom in the car, I wasn't needed to drive - which suited me just fine; I am not fond of driving) Once at my sister's home, we were assigned rooms. Or sleeping arrangements. I don't remember a whole lot about where the bed was that I slept in. I only remember that my Mom and I decided we'd share a bed, so Jan and Sue could share a bed. Mom with blonde hair It was a logical arrangement. In the family, my mother and I lived together as I grew up, and my older sisters lived together, as they grew up. This happens in divorce. The two older children were assigned to live with my father and step-mother, while I was left with my mother and step-father. My younger brother and sister were born afterwards. Within in our little house, I was the eldest. If I chanced to visit my Dad, I was the youngest. And, when we all got together, I was the middle child. As I lay in the dark, just the other night, remembering this trip, feeling the smile on my face and the silent laughter I held in because the trip was full of fun and laughter and I never think of it without laughing, I was so shocked to realize I'd mother. We all do, don't we? But this was different. This was a sudden realization that at 65 years of age, back then, though I thought of her as old, my mother wasn't old. No more than I am old. She was old in a different way, because we did, at that time, think anyone - woman or man - over the age of 60 was ready to be put out to pasture, as they say. We, the young of the day and let's be clear, at 45, I was not young. Not by any standards. Even today, women of that age are discriminated against...merely because they have achieved such a high birthday number. But, in that time, at that moment, I recall the way my mother was full of energy, full of enthusiasm for life, and just as silly as we were - we who were her children, her girls, her offspring. I can look back, in my mind's eye, and see her blue eyes and white hair all permed and pretty. And I glimpse a little envy. I can see her looking at us with sadness. Because, once, she thinks to herself, once I was young and[...]

I Never Danced

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:20:31 PST

"Just dance," she said. Her voice was full of laughter. Happy laughter. She wasn't judging. She was advising. I watched her slip onto the dance floor and throw her long blonde hair back, and thrust her body into the movement, keeping time with the band, waving her arms about, full of true abandon. "Never," I whispered to myself. I could never do that. I could never get out on a dance floor, in front of dozens of other people, and commence to gyrating. The laughter would change from happy-go-lucky sounds to ... judging. There would, I was sure, be finger pointing. There would be derision. I would be...well, a laughing stock. No doubt about it. I remember turning away. Slowing nudging my way between the tightly packed people swinging arms and shoulders in tune to the music, as their feet tapped on the cement floor. I remember shutting out the sound of the band - though I thought they were very good - and searching wildly for the door. I was blind in that dark cafe. I'd left my glasses home, of course; what self-respecting young woman wore her glasses out to party, back in those ancient days of 1970? It left me literally blind, given the clubs were already full of shadows and corners that surely hid serial killers. I don't suppose we (well, I) thought of the corners as hiding 'serial' killers then. I don't think it was a common term. But, I did think those corners hid ... scary things. Like young men who might ask me to dance. Truth is, as I struggled to get through the crowd, I was gently grabbed. A young man smiled at me. "Dance?" he said. I panicked. The sweat began to form under my arms, I couldn't look at this boy, I pulled my arm away and mumbled, "No, thank you," and I hurried away. I could hear him call me a name... apparently, he was not happy with rejection. The name, it began with a C... stuck in my brain and circulated round and round, getting louder and louder, as I fought my way to freedom in the parking lot. Once there, I gasped. I took a deep breath. The night air was wonderfully cool on my hot face! The darkness was comforting. I looked up at the stars; we were far out from the city I lived in, and the night sky was aglow with millions of sparkling gems, welcoming wishes or dreams or thoughts of other worlds; I could easily imagine a world so many millions of miles away, in that night sky, where someone like me, perhaps, was looking up and wishing for escape! "Is she braver than I am?" I wondered. I pushed myself into the parking lot, found my car, and drove home. I couldn't even think of a good excuse to tell my friend, who had dragged me to the club, insisting I get out and have some fun. "She'll understand," I told myself, as I pulled to a stop at a light. She didn't understand. She raged at me. She shook her head and for a time, she avoided me. I never learned to dance. And so, I never danced. I was forever conspicuous and fearful. I lived a life as a quiet mouse, following others...hoping to enjoy their amazing personalities, in the shyness of my little bubble. When confronted, as I had been that night, by a friend who had only my best interests at heart, I sometimes tried to be what others wanted me to be... out going and extroverted, because that's how you met people and that was the goal, wasn't it? To meet people; people who might introduce you to ... MR. Right! I'm older and wise now, as they say. I know I should have danced and thrown caution to the wind! I should have looked in the mirror and known I was attractive enough to be okay out there in the big world. Because, attractive mattered. Still does. And it's a sliding scale, folks. I'm sure lots of people didn't think I was attractive. But, no doubt, others did and I could have enjoyed myself without the worry of looking foolish or out of step or crazy. Certainly, in memory, I saw a lot of others who were all those things, and didn't care they were all those things! People ask me now what I would tell someone just starting out as an entrepreneur. What wondrous advice would I share? "I'd te[...]

Determined Stubborn Independent -The Rise of the Wayward Woman

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:01:18 PST

I call it the Rise of the Wayward Woman. I call it time to embrace your phenomenal self, as a woman, in the 21st century. In a keynote given at the Women in the Pet Industry Network last year, I focused on the power of women to day to rise up; to take charge; to shed the Goody Two Shoes cloak they had wrapped themselves in, so many years ago. It's a heavy burden and all of us need to throw it off with vigor! We need to trample that cloak of 'be a good girl' - trample it into the ground until those dark fibers that have held us back all these years, are nothing but dust. Is it happening? Can we do it? This is not new. Those of us who accept the Baby Boomer label know what it's like to Rise Up. We were deep in protests back in the day. Those riotous 1960s. I look back on those days and the shouts and cries and raised fists and I feel proud that we "burned out bras", but I also see children. I see young women who had no idea what they were demanding, nor how to achieve their desires. Yes, we wanted equal pay. We wanted to be respected. We wanted to be taken seriously. And yet, in 1980, we were laughing at Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in "9 to 5" - the story of "three working women living out their fantasies of getting even with, and their successful overthrow of, the company's autocratic, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss." The joke was on us, as life for most working women was reflected in the movie and not only had nothing changed from 1960, it had possibly gotten worse! My life as a working woman was full of unwelcome advances, of pats on the back, and numerous requests for coffee, because, after all, that's what women did best - they made coffee and tapped into their waitress soul to bring it to the 'boss'. Mind you, being a waitress if hard work and deserves far more respect and appreciation than it gets! But, in a business, an office setting, where you are not the secretary (and even if you are!) getting coffee is not part of your job description. How was it possible that the efforts of the 1960s evaporated into the stratosphere? That the women who were not going to accept second class status, were now working in offices and restaurants, and other places...still being asked to get their male boss coffee? How was it possible that we were actually...getting the coffee? I have no answer to that, at the moment. I will comment on it, later on. Rise of the Wayward Woman I only know that we are stronger now. We spent time in those 20 years to raise phenomenal, strong, talented daughters and sons. We put our energies into learning why we failed in the early days, and how to turn the corner... in this new, blank slate called the 21st century. We are looking in the mirror now - deeper into ourselves, and we are not moaning over the wrinkles, crow's feet, or extra pounds we've acquired over the years. We're suddenly recognizing the woman who was always hiding, just beneath the surface. She's stubborn. Yes, she is. Stubborn enough to keep going when those around her try to make her stop. "She was warned and she persisted." Yes, she did! She's determined. Yes, she is. Determined to stay the course. To gather all of her friends - male and female - around her, as a new, powerful cloak, with teeth. She's independent. Yes, she is. She is out there, thank you Mary Hart!, pushing the envelope. She's laughing in the face of conflict. She's shrugging off the negativity being thrown at her from the 'other' side. She's acknowledging those on the 'other' side, who would keep her down, but they are few and far between today and not worth her worry. It's the Rise of the Wayward woman. The phenomenal woman sitting next to you in the subway. The phenomenal woman who is writing a blog without remorse, shrugging off the guilt of decades, when accusations that women should stay in their place, were loud and angry. The phenomenal woman leading a community meeting, demanding respect and education and healthcare for all - equally. We are [...]

The Rise of the Phenomenal Woman

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:22:37 PST

The hand that rocks the cradle, so it's been told, rules the world. How true is this? Can women demand and command the kind of attention men get as a matter of fact? We can and we do. We can and we have. We can and we will. History shows women to be powerful members of society. While so many stories prefer to depict us as silly, frivolous, shy, weak, and ...let's be kind and say not so intelligent, but you know what I mean, if you dig deeper you discover women are STRONG, POWERFUL, INTELLIGENT, DETERMINED, WAYWARD, INDEPENDENT. We have been pillars of the society we live in from the beginning of time. Historical time, that is. In the bygone years of the Paleolithic era, cave paintings previously thought to be done by male hunters, have been shown to more likely have been created by women. This is merely one instance of reporting. Searching history, discovering articles in dozens of publications, we learn that phenomenal women have existed since the dawn of time. From Ideas to Independence , shared via the National Women's History Museum, carries the phenomenal woman story through a century of accomplishments. Why then do we hear so little about the women who have contributed amazing things in science, technology, the arts, and even politics? Is it because the women themselves are too 'shy' to stand up and take credit? Is it because the women were diminutive and small and overlooked by the gigantic men beside them - men who may have helped create but were not actually the creator? It's all of those things. It's a sad commentary on who we are as members of a vibrant, dynamic society on the brink of remarkable discoveries - for which we may not receive proper credit, even today. I predict otherwise. I predict that rise of the phenomenal woman will change history and show the power behind our smile, our walk, our voice, our talk, everything we are and do. The rise of the phenomenal woman is happening in cities all over America, in cities all over the world! We gather in groups to give testimony to our sex and our intelligence. We gather in groups to demand recognition - long deserved recognition! We gather in groups to show our daughters and our sons that we matter! That we have a voice and it needs to be heard! The rise of the phenomenal woman is here. In some places, it's quiet. Not out of fear or retribution, but out of determination and purpose. Quiet does not mean weak. In other places, it's loud and raucous - tinged with anger at a society that continues to dismiss us, ignore us, treat us as after-thoughts, with little regard to our very well-being, from cradle to grave. The kind of regard that asks us to step back, be quiet, stop complaining! It's in thanks, I believe, to women of our historical era - women like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, and so many more; women who said no, I'm not sitting in the back of the bus; no, I'm not giving up my quest for equal treatment under the law and the right to vote; no, I'm not going to lose weight to be in your movie; no, I'm not going to wear dresses, I like wearing pants, thank you all the same. It's a new century. We are a new breed. The rise of the phenomenal woman has arrived. Phenomenal Women will not be ignored.Take note, world. She has arrived.

How to Unleash Your Pet Business’ Marketing Success

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:34:29 PST

Business owners who work in the pet industry are lucky to have an inherently loyal customer base of animal lovers and pet parents who cherish their fur babies and want to give them the best products and services available. Marketing your business well ensures that those committed pet owners are aware of your existence and more likely to refer others your way. Never underestimate the impact an effective marketing plan can have on your overall success as an entrepreneur. By following some basic marketing guidelines, you’ll immediately gain a head start on the competition. Identify Your Target Customers In order to launch a successful pet business, you have to know your customers. For those in the pet industry, you at least know that your customers are animal lovers and pet owners, but don’t stop there. What other businesses or organizations might use your products? Consider county animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinary offices, and domestic violence or homeless shelters (both often have clients with animals). What geographical area will you target for advertising? Will you offer special rates to certain non-profit groups? Take the necessary time to thoroughly identify your target audience and how you’ll market to each customer. Create Promotional Materials Every business needs great promotional materials like business cards, flyers or newspaper advertisements. Those in the pet industry should especially utilize these since theirs can be more creative and feature adorable pet photos or animal print lettering. Create a fun tagline for your business, and add animal sounds like purrs and woofs to radio ads. With today’s technology and available sound boards, creating an animal jingle is easily done and can help increase your customer base. Little details can go a long way when it comes to establishing yourself in the industry and ultimately standing out in the crowd. Spread the Word Social media is one of the best ways to market yourself completely free, so businesses should create accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and get ready to hashtag. In order to make your online presence as valuable as possible, post at least daily, promote any and all sales or new merchandise, and encourage shares and likes by offering discounts to those who “check in” at your business. Create a business website, allow customers to join your newsletter list, and send out emails with exclusive coupons or discount codes. In order to build your brand, reward customers who refer friends. Don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face contact either. Going around your community to share business cards or business information with potential customers is a great way of letting them associate a face with the business. Offer Incentives One of the best things that an emerging or established business can possibly do is offer rewards and perks to its customers. People love free things, so loyalty cards, email coupons, free shipping and flash sales will keep customers coming back. Some stores offer Friday freebies or featured products that are 10% to 50% off in order to target multiple types of customers. Don’t forget to offer fun incentives to first-time customers as well. 20% off coupons for an initial purchase is a wonderful and effective way of inspiring a sale. You can also encourage customers to “like” or share your business information on social media by giving additional discounts. Special discounts for rescue groups and non-profits can also set your business apart from the rest, and you’ll establish a more appreciative and loyal customer base in the process. Get Creative Not many people get the opportunity to work with animals each day, so take advantage of the exciting work environment by letting your creativity shine. In order to drum up business and free advertising, launch a community contest that lets pets take center stage. Have guest speakers on animal rights or allow local artist[...]

Stay Connected While You’re Home for the Holidays

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 14:17:08 PST

If you, like many people, will be headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house — or anywhere else for that matter — you may stress out at the idea of stepping away from your business for days or weeks at a time. Thankfully, we live in an era of technology and being out of the office doesn’t have to cause a catastrophe for your business. Here’s how to reduce that holiday stress, enjoy time with family and friends, and keep your business up and running. Plan Ahead. Simply giving your customers a head’s up that you will be unavailable (or have limited access to email if you can’t go cold turkey) will eliminate much of the email you’d get during that time. Your customers are busy with their own holiday plans, so don’t expect too much activity while you’re away. Take care of any assignments or projects that are due ahead of time. Ask your clients if they need anything before you leave. (Do this at least 2 weeks out.) Spend extra time now clearing your plate for your vacation. Get Your Apps Ready. The great thing about technology is how many wonderful mobile applications there are. You don’t even need your laptop to stay on top of business. Queue up the apps that you use so that they’re easily accessible on your phone. The Freshbooks mobile app lets you invoice people, track time, and accept payments on the go. The Insightly mobile app lets you take your CRM wherever you are, so you can keep the pulse on what’s happening with your customers. The Google Calendar app helps you stay on top of meetings and deadlines. Carve Out Time to Work. If you absolutely need to check in with work, plan ahead of time when you’ll do it. Maybe it’s the early hours before the kids are up, or after they go to bed. Limit your time and stick to it. Check in, put out fires, then put your devices away. To manage their expectations, let your family know you plan to spend some of your vacation working. Schedule work ahead of time so you don’t miss out on family get-togethers or events. Find somewhere quiet to work so you can focus and finish quickly. Set up automatic task reminders in your CRM. You'll be notified when critical tasks are waiting so you won’t miss a deadline no matter how busy you are. Put Your Marketing on Autopilot. Your marketing efforts can go on without you while you’re enjoying eggnog and Christmas carols. You can write several blog posts in advance and schedule them to publish while you’re gone, and you can even schedule social media updates. Spend a few hours lining everything up so there’s no evidence that you’re not working hard, even when you’re skiing the slopes. Use a social media dashboard like HootSuite to schedule updates on all platforms. Use Twitterfeed to automatically share your blog posts through your social networks. Set up your email marketing software to automatically send emails while you’re out. Know When to Say No. It’s far too easy to check your work email with a touch to your phone, but do you really need to? Technology has made us all too accessible at times, and it’s up to us to take control again. If there’s not a reason you need to make yourself available to your staff or employees, turn your vacation autoresponder on and go enjoy your family! Sign out of your work email from your phone so you’re not tempted to access it. Turn off social media notifications. Let go and enjoy your time off! You’ll never be satisfied trying to work and enjoy your vacation at the same time, so aim not to work. It’s a challenge for us Type A personalities, but it’s completely doable. Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: [...]

Your Power is in Your Voice #womenofpower

Sat, 04 Oct 2014 06:50:59 PDT

by Yvonne DiVita "It's great reconnecting," she said. Her voice boomed through the phone with a power that penetrated my entire body. It dominated her presence. I could see her speaking to me, through the miles between us, the phone line, the very air separating us. "I agree," I said, without anywhere near as much impact, I am sure. We talked business. We talked personal lives. We laughed. We shared a few stories. We took the frayed edges of our lost connection and began to repair them. The color of our lives improved. We went from gray to red... and variations between. I find it encouraging to talk to women on the phone when their very presence is demonstrated by the power in their voice. One of the areas I feel most strongly about is in the use of one's voice to accomplish goals and achieve more results. Women tend to be quieter. We tend to be gentle, if we need to push the other person in our direction. We shy away from the booming, startling voice of authority... the voice men use, mostly, when they talk business. This is not about why men get more done or why people listen to them more or why they command a higher presence in business. It's about how women can improve their position in business, no matter where they are, by using the power of their voice. Sound can be a weapon. A weapon need not devastate. Sometimes a weapon is a means to an end. Sometimes the end does justify the means. Picture yourself in a crowded room, people are sitting, fidgeting, gathered around tables or standing in the back of the room. They're clearly anxious. The lights are turned down low. The rustle of paper programs can be heard among the whispers. waiting for the speaker - is it you? At the front of the room is a stage, with a lectern. All these fussy people are waiting for ... you. You are behind the curtain. You are speaking to this group of anxious people, men and women, from businesses across the nation. You are keynoting a conference. How will this turn out? Much advice revolves around how well you know your topic and whether you've practiced enough. That goes without saying, doesn't it? My advice is this - get a voice coach. Improve your speaking voice. Be confident and demonstrate power by dominating that soon as you open your mouth. Create the outcome you want by owning the experience. Your voice is more than a way to share your story, it's a tool of immense power that should resonate in the ears and minds of every person in that audience, long after you're gone. I am still struck by the phone conversation I had two weeks ago, with this powerful woman I am so glad to be reconnected with. Who is she? You will learn in weeks to come. For now, I wanted to share the story of a powerful voice, rather than the people who have powerful voices. It doesn't matter how tall you are, how much you weigh, what you look like, or the color of your hair. It doesn't matter where you grew up or how many times you've been published. What matters is... how confident are you? Your voice will tell your audience (audience of one or one thousand, it doesn't matter) that you know who you are and they will leave knowing who you are. In the process of discovering who you are, they will learn more about your passion and your mission and you will gain followers. Learn to speak out loud. #womenofpower

Conversation with A Friend #friendshipendures

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:57:25 PDT

Dr Lorie Huston and Yvonne at WIPIN by Yvonne DiVita #friendshipendures “This is an amazing event,” she said as we met in the narrow hall of the exhibit area for BlogPaws Denver, 2010. Her blue eyes sparkled like a sunny afternoon in June. I have to admit, I was pleased with all the praise coming our way. The event was the second BlogPaws, here in Denver, back in our launch year. I remember the conversation so well because having someone of the stature of Dr. Lorie Huston compliment you is not something you forget. “Thank you,” I said. We shook hands. We talked a bit more about why BlogPaws was created and how it could serve the veterinary world. We had a Vet track at the conference and Dr. Lorie was especially interested in that. That was the start of an enduring friendship, and she accepted an invitation to join our unofficial board, which met mostly by phone each month. I came to rely on her insight and expertise. I came to appreciate her knowledge not only of blogging (wow, a veterinarian who blogs!), and using blogs effectively for a veterinary practice, but for many other things; for business, for life, for the good health of my pets, even for inspiration. Dr. Lorie inspired me to be more than I am, better than I am, and kinder to others. During our friendship I never heard a harsh word about anyone, from her. That’s a cliché, I know. However, with Dr. Lorie as we all called her, it was true. She epitomized the kind and gentle veterinary professional – as good with her patients’ humans as she was with her patients, themselves. I remember last year being so upset about a certain incident, really hurt by it, and Dr. Lorie sitting across from me at a separate event we were both attending, looking at me with sympathy. There was a sincerity there, and calmness, that I badly needed at that moment. “I don’t think they meant it that way,” she said, in her quiet husky voice. She understood, but wanted to help me overcome the feelings of anger clearly evident in my scowl, my hard sighs, even my gaze, no doubt. “I know them pretty well and I bet they were just confused.” “Perhaps,” I said. I could feel my heart calm. “I just don’t get it… why would they do that?” “Everyone makes mistakes.” The look on her face said, “Try to forgive.” And so, I did. And, I discovered the issue was as much my fault as anyone’s. So, I reached out, I talked it through, and I made amends. Because Dr. Lorie was so right – every story has two ways of telling, and yours might be partly right, while the other person’s is also partly right. Together, you need to let go of acrimony and agree to move on. When I told Dr. Lorie what I’d done, she gave me that amazing smile and I felt reborn. reborn “If you were here now, Dr. Lorie,” I say to her this morning, in the silence we have embraced, the little bit of space we are taking to say the goodbyes we did not get to say to her, on that horrible day this week that we learned of her passing, “I’d tell you how much I appreciated the time you gave me; time to vent, time to laugh, time to share and learn together. I’d tell you how much I valued our friendship. I’d remember the times we had at BlogPaws and WIPIN, where you looked so beautiful, with your hair all done up and your smile as bright as all the stars in the sky, and I’d listen to your stories from your vet conferences or the times you were at AAHA with Tom. “I’d tell you how much I admire you because you bring such grace and honor to all that you do. I’d ask about your cats – how is it I never asked about your cats? I’d tell you stories about Emily and Olive and Molly. And I’d cry with you over the loss of my beautiful Chester. “If you were here, I’d ask about the learning center we’re building and get your advice on what to include and I’d thank you[...]

Blogging is So 1999!

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:43:33 PDT

by Yvonne DiVita It may only be October but the New Year is looming. Somehow, once we hit September, the days and weeks pass by in a blur and before you know it, Jolly Old St Nick is arriving, with the celebratory night called New Year's Eve, hard on his heels. I wonder how St. Nick celebrates - does he just crash and heave a big sigh, and wait for his wife to bring him a beer? #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmm Over the last two years, as I've worked more intimately in blogging and programs with brands, over at BlogPaws, my emerging and strong community of pet people who blog or tweet or just connect to make life better for animals everywhere, I've learned a thing or two about where we're going with this social media stuff. You know, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc...stuff. The stuff that is a direct result of blogging. Back in 1994, when I started blogging, we were brand new. "What's blogging?" folks would say, with that quizzical look on their faces, when we told people that's what we were about. "It's... like an interactive newsletter, online," I would say. Or, "It's a conversation," Tom would say. The blank looks persisted. Over time, folks 'got it.' The Internet, they discovered, was a useful tool. The Internet, and websites, and BLOGS, could help them market and sell and connect and grow. Hallelujah. The infographic over at Social 4 Retail tells us that 6.7 million people blog on blogging sites, while 12 million blog via social networks (Facebook and twitter). It also says...wait for it... drumroll please... "the majority of bloggers are WOMEN" Looking at that graphic, we see a list of the highest earning blogs which includes Mashable, Techcrunch, and something called Car Advice. Interesting, the car advice one. The others are well known and you'd expect them to make almost any list of good blogs. The key here is to recognize that they are blogs. As we move into 2015, into a new decade, into an ever increasing world of "what ifs"... where folks like my 16 year old granddaughter take social media and talking phones and texting for granted, the way we old folks took color TV and remote controls and power steering for granted when OUR parents had to watch black and white TV, get up and change the 3 channels if they wanted something new, and drive cars that built muscles... I have to wonder where the whole blogging craze is going. We're moving beyond the focus of blogging. It was a tool to build expertise and connect people by sharing stories. It was a way to meet new people without ever leaving your home. It grew into a way to market to the masses by having individuals, consumers if you will, share the product or service or next big promotion. People began to accept the input from bloggers - and brands recognized the influence these popular writers maintained. Suddenly, okay, maybe not 'suddenly', maybe over a period of years, bloggers gained not only acceptance but respect. Of a sort. There are still brands today that mistrust bloggers and we are as likely to be portrayed in TV shows or movies as gossipy, with a lack of integrity, rather than as journalists who deserve to be paid for their work, not their opinion. And yet... as time marches on, which it is wont to do, regardless of how many naps you take or how long you step away from your computer or whether you miss a favorite TV show or not... the world of marketing, to women or otherwise, has begun to change. It's moving away from blogs. It's moving away from social. Let me clarify, lest you rush to cancel those Facebook ads you launched yesterday, or you dismiss that amazing new agency with the smart and talented social person who is going to get you in front of thousands of new customers, at the click of a mouse... Bloggers are still influential. Bloggers are actually growing in influence, by virtue of their ex[...]