A look in the mirror

So what do you do when you look in the mirror and not only don’t recognize the person you see, but don’t like him/her? I think that we all have at least one or two of those times in our lives.  I had one recently and it made quite an impact.

A series of events transpired over the last few months that have pushed me to and past my limits – mentally, physically, financially and emotionally.  Topping off a series of happenings that were, at best annoyances and at worst, troubling, was a personal attack on my professional (and personal) reputation.  The events leading up to this person sullying my name are deeply personal, involve other people and are not ones I choose to share in a public forum, at least not at this time.  Fortunately, I can say with a clear heart and mind that nothing in my actions were worthy of the things being said about me.  There were certainly not worthy of my livilihood and reputation being damaged by this person’s careless and cruel words.  If it was not bad enough that these horrible things were being said within the community where I do most of my business, the fact that they reached clients and potential clients ears and actually caused me to lose business was devastating.  Combine the hurt, the anger, the confusion, the financial fear and the heartbreak of being called “disloyal”, “untrustworthy” and “manipulative” and I have been an emotional and mental wreck.  Which made it tough to handle the work I did have and has further risked my company’s future.

I desperately tried to rise above the turmoil that was brewing around me.  Tried my best to deal with the people involved in the situation and calm the waters.  Made increasingly intense pleas to them to end the talk and help me resolve the situation.  All to no avail. Each day became more of a struggle.  The hurt, anger and desperation increasing the distraction and the depression.  The situation continued to escalate over about a six week period.  Until finally a few days ago, I lost it.  I lashed out publicly on Twitter against the person involved.  I posted a few tweets that caused my friends to be seriously concerned.  Concerned enough that I got multiple direct messages, emails and phone calls wanting to know if I was alright and expressing concern over the impression that I was making with the things I was saying.  In my indignation, hurt and anger, I had lowered myself to the level of the person who was causing me so much pain.   Unfortunately, I was too wrapped up in my own emotions to clearly see how my own actions were hurting me, more so than the one I was trying to lash out at.

My friends’ reactions and an actual look in the mirror brought it swiftly and scarily to my attention.  Who was this vindictive woman?  Who was this woman who only felt a need to make someone hurt?  That was not me!  I am not a person who seeks revenge.  I am not a woman who would ever intentionally hurt anyone else.  Yet, here I was attempting to do exactly that.  It was a frightening realization to discover that I had allowed the mean and petty actions of another person to cause me to be mean and petty.  I had allowed myself to let someone else have control over my life and my reactions to the things occurring around me.   I was horrified at my realization.

I am not a perfect person by any means.  I make mistakes, I do and and say things that I am later unsure of or not proud of.  We all do.  None of us is perfect.   But the one thing I always held most important was that I never do anything intentionally to hurt someone else.  Now I find myself in a position that I was willing to do just that.   The concern in my friends’ words were like a slap in the face.  The proverbial cold water that woke me to the blackness I had descended into.  I owe them more than they will ever know.

So now that my mirrors have shown me the person I do not like, what do I do?  I try to rise above.  I grasp each rung on the ladder they (my dear friends)  threw down into the pit I had allowed myself to fall into.  I try to center myself, to get back to the person I know I am or at least try my best to be – a kind, loving, forgiving, open-minded person, who believes in the best in all people.  I detoured down the low road. I’m not proud of it. I am sorry for it.  Now the only thing I can do is work on restoring my own self-esteem and find my way back up.   Back to the high road I attempt to go.   With a new mantra to keep me company – Success and Happiness are the goal – And the best revenge.

What do you do when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see?

Redefining social through a lesson learned

I posted this tweet yesterday afternoon –

“DO NOT call yourself a social media consultant, expert, guru, visionary – anything – if all you do is push out links & RT other ppl’s stuff”

To my surprise, I received a fair amount of negative feedback from my followers.  I was, rather harshly in some cases, admonished for “telling people how to use Twitter”.   I have to admit that the responses both hurt and made me angry, until I stopped to really think about them.

There is one clear truth when it comes to Twitter. We all use it for different reasons.  We all have different objectives, or in some cases, no objectives at all.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Every social media platform should be used by each individual in the way they find most beneficial.  I realized that I was upset because the negative responses I received made it appear that I was trying to tell others how to use Twitter.  That was not my purpose and, unfortunately, 140 characters was not enough to explain. So, it was time to write a blog post.

What prompted my tweet was a series of new followers.  As I have explained in earlier posts, I carefully evaluate each new follower to decide if I am going to follow them back.  I want to make sure that the connections I make will be mutually beneficial.   I was aggravated by several new followers who, per their bios, were self-professed social media consultants, experts, gurus, visionaries, etc… , but when you read through their tweetstreams, they were comprised almost exclusively by links, retweets and self-promotional statements.   Go ahead and call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in the SOCIAL part of social media.  That if you are going to profess yourself an “expert” in this field, then you have to also believe its power is in its social aspect.  That means you don’t just talk to yourself.  That you understand it is not traditional push marketing.  That is a medium that allows us, possibly for the first times ever, as people and companies, to TALK to one another in larger numbers and on a wider reach.  When the supposed “experts” devalue the medium by using it to solely push information at others, I believe we all lose.  But, that is just me.  I may be alone in my thinking, I would love your comments and feedback to know if I am or not.

What I did find most valuable from these exchanges is the lesson I learned in the potential damage of a poorly worded tweet, status update, email, whatever the message form.  Failure to find a clear way to express our message or intention leaves open the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, as was the case with my tweet.   My critics apparently interpreted it much differently than it was intended.  My intent was never to tell anyone how to use Twitter, it was to express my frustration with the self-professed social media “experts” who have not embraced what I feel is the most important aspect – the social.

A whole other side of me

Yep, exactly what the title says. I’m going to expose a whole other side to me.  I am a woman (yes, I know you all know that – or at least I hope you do!).  I am a passionate, caring, sensual woman.  I believe in the beauty and power of sex. Yes, I really did say that  – I believe in the beauty and power of sex.  The power to bring two people close, the power to enhance and strengthen our bonds through the sharing of intimacy.   I believe in using the power of our sensuality to relieve stress and to center ourselves.  There are few things better than a really good orgasm to get me focused, centered and to put me in touch with the strength and power that is my femininity.

So add that to the fact that I am a bit of a geek, who loves gadgets,  it should not surprise you that I am a firm believer in the use of sex toys – alone or with my partner.  A high quality, imaginative sex toy can add a different dimension to either solo or partner play.  Whether it is sexy lingerie, massage oil, a simple vibrator, a new lubricant or something a bit more adventurous, I’ve found that the intrigue and diversity can help you discover not only new heights of pleasure, but new pathways to understanding and intimacy between you and your partner.

I was so excited when my friend Cecily accepted a position working for EdenFantasys.com.  Cecily is a very talented writer who is helping bring Eden Fantasy’s message to a whole new audience.  Intrigued by the new company Cecily is working with, I did some exploring on their website.  And was I impressed!  The site is professional, clean, easy to navigate and full of wonderful toys, lingerie, candles, DVD’s, oils and ideas.   They sell quality products at competitive prices.  I especially loved the Adult Toy Guides which give the novice or experienced user reviews and advice on different types or uses for their sex toys.  All in all, it’s a great site and I can’t wait to order some of their products!

Best part – you, my lucky readers, get a chance to order something from them too!  EdenFantasys.com has given me a $50 gift certificate to give away to one of my readers!   All you have to do to be entered to win is to leave a comment on this post.  Peruse the EdenFantasys.com site and send me a link to a product you like, own, would like to own or that intrigues you and a few words about why.  The most imaginative story (as judged by me!) will win the $50 gift certificate.  Looking forward to your insights!

50 Ways to Leave Your…Client

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan 
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free                        (50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon)

Every once in a while we come across that situation with a client that we know we just can not make work.  Whether it is an unreasonable client, changed expectations or just personality differences that are preventing us from doing our best work, the reality is that sometimes we just do need to fire our clients.  For our reputations, for our pocketbooks and most often for our own sanity or the collective sanity of our teams, we just need to walk away.

Unfortunately, like any relationship, we have usually gone into these business relationships with high hopes of this being “the one”.  The long term client that we enjoy working for, doing work that intrigues and inspires us and making a decent buck doing it.  Now, like a bad boy/girlfriend, we have to figure out how to disentangle ourselves from this client.  Just like you would in a romantic relationship, do a truly honest evaluation for yourself. Is this an irretrievably broken situation?  Are there changes that could be made on either side to change the situation and make it reasonable to continue the work?  If you have done that and still feel that you must fire the client, then the sooner the better.

It is always a tricky situation.  The first thing you must do is look at the “out” (cancellation, exit or termination) clause in any agreement or contract you have with this client.  What are the terms that allow either of you to exit the relationship and what actions have to be taken before you are released from your contractual obligations?  Don’t have an out clause in your contracts/agreements?  Get one. Now!  Consider it your prenup – we never want to think about getting divorced, but if we aren’t protected before the rings go on, we can lose it all.  Make sure you understand the contract cancellation terms and that you fulfill them to the letter.  Do you not leave yourself open to claims of breach of contract because your agreement required something as simple as delivery of written notice to a specific address and instead you sent an email to your contact at the company.

Second, you must make sure that you have performed all of the work that you have already been paid for.  Either that or be prepared to issue a reimbursement to the client for any prepaid, uncompleted portion.  You never want to leave them in the position to say that you were paid for work that you did not do. Have all the financial details worked out before you communicate to the client that you are ending the relationship.  Know exactly how much has been paid, for what specific work and be able to clearly and accurately communicate that to your client.  Also be able to articulate how much may still be due to the client (or in some cases to you), what it is due for and when you expect to issue the reimbursement to them (or expect payment to be issued to you).  Also, be prepared, per the terms of your agreement, to turn over any and all documentation or work product belonging to the client or that is a result of the work done for the client.

Third, if there is uncompleted work, have a contingency plan ready to give the client.   Be the kind of contractor that you want working for you.  Don’t leave them completely in the lurch (unless they have never paid you, then maybe they deserve it).  Lay out what additional work may need to be done.  It does not have to be a detailed plan for them, that is their responsibility, but at least be able to say, “I was retained to do X,Y & Z and only X & Y have been completed, you will need to make alternative arrangements if you still wish to proceed with Z”.  Simple but courteous.  Often clients have hired us because they don’t know what to do, at least if they have a direction, they can take the steps necessary to replace you. And you take less of a risk of the client badmouthing you to anyone who will listen.

Now to the tricky part, telling them.  The best way to accomplish this is to be short and sweet.  Don’t get into pointing fingers or accepting blame.  Don’t go into any deep details, only those that are necessary to conclude any outstanding business.  Just advise the client that you no longer feel that you are in a mutually beneficial relationship.  Always stress that you regret taking this action, but you feel it would be in both of your best interests to dissolve the relationship.  If you have someone else that you can refer the client to, that is always a nice way to end the communication.   If the client comes back and wants to know why, then be prepared to be tactful, but honest.  You are probably doing them a favor by telling them the truth.  Be sure to have examples ready if they question you.  Also be prepared to stop discussing it.  Like most difficult breakups, some clients will keep trying to get you to go round and round, basically trying to wear you down. Before you get into the conversation, know your stopping point so you do not get frustrated or angry and leave the conversation on a bad tone.

Try to do the “break-up” in the manner in which you had most of your communications with the client – ie. by phone, email, face to face.  It is only respectful.  If you feel it will be accepted better in writing, then do so. If you end the relationship face to face or via telephone,  I also recommend following up with a letter or an email just reiterating what you said, confirming that any prepaid work has been completed, any final details that have to be resolved (payment, document or work transfer, etc…) and wishing them the best.

This is never an easy or pleasant situation to be in.  it is however necessary to know how to handle the situation in the most professional, mature manner possible.  Your reputation depends on it.  The client will probably not be happy, but if you can walk away on civil terms with no one screaming lawsuit or breach of contract, it’s probably a win-win.

Glancing back but looking forward…

I was asked to write the end of the year post for Addicted to Social Media.   While trying to craft the post, the question I kept coming back to was “how social is your social media?”.  From those musings came this post, hope you enjoy and more importantly, I hope it makes you think.  —-

Happy New Year

As this year comes to a close and a new one dawns bright on the horizon, many are reflecting on the impact social media has had on our lives this past year, but what about the impact we have had on social media?

One of beautiful things about social media is that even though we can all have different definitions and experiences, they have one thing in common, the concept of community.  Whether it is a community of knitters connecting via a Ning group or the communities that big name companies are building on Twitter and Facebook to reach their customers, we are all drawn to the various forms of social media because of the promise of a community.  The promise that we will find others with whom we can share information, education, entertainment and a sense of kinship.  Whatever our views, education, interests or personalities may be, we know that somewhere in the vastness of the social media galaxy, deep in the internet universe we will find someone with whom to connect.

So the real question is, how social has your social media been this past year?  How have you built your community?  Have you let it come to you? Have you actively reached out to others?  Have you made the time investment, whether your purpose is business or pleasure, to not only build or join a community, but to be an active contributing member?  Are you happy just being an observer?  We talk often about “putting the social in social media”.  What have you done to be “social”?  Not everyone has to be a power tweeter, have thousands of Facebook friends or be a member of the most Meetup or Ning groups, but we do have to remember that the power in social media is in the Social.

Whether your community is made up of 2 or 10,000, we have an opportunity to reach beyond ourselves and our limited physical world and touch the lives of millions of others. Whether your aim is connecting with friends and family or building a billion dollar enterprise, we have the ability to spread a message faster and farther than ever.  So, what do we do with these opportunities?  Are we using the power of the social for good or evil? Are you solely self-centered and self-promotional or are you reaching out to others, sharing and helping?  How do you plan to use your social media super power in 2010?