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The other day someone asked me what I do for people. I thought about it for a second as my mind fired up the 2 or 3 typical responses to this question and then the magic happened and i blurted out..

“I’m the steward of possible for my clients, my role is to make them possible.”

The person’s eyes widened while my own brain nodded with a strong, “yeah i like that one..”.

Another subthread, those little things that churn in your mind. It’s happening again.  I’ve collected a number of patterns thru recent events, interactions, observations and the ole noggin has whipped up yet another would be view of looking at the world for me.

Steward of Possible

I like it.  Wait… what is that again?

To be possible for someone.  What could that mean?  You help them realize their vision, or perhaps see the vision they’re actually sitting on, or right next to.  You make them possible through ideation, design, development.  You enable them through common human conversational “yeah, i get it, you could do this”, a recognition that we live in a world of possible, they can be possible.

Being possible isn’t about selling people.  It’s about believing in people.  Believing in what they could do next.  At its core it’s about helping people.  Sometimes you just need to listen, other times you need to brainstorm with them, or tell them they’re headed for a car accident- a pattern you see as fail material.  Being around startups, seeing as many pitches as I do and building things, you see the subtle indicators of trouble fairly early on- you can actually grow this as a skill really, that’s another story.

I think it’s important not to save people from a fate they’re headed towards however. Getting the cliff notes on “love” isn’t the same as experiencing it, same with success, you can read about it all ya want, attaining it, that’s an experience- earned gives it far more meaning.

So back to possible- what’s a framework for the would be stewards of the world?

  1. Listen
  2. Enable, Connect or Amplify
  3. Create
  4. Participate in Accountability
  5. Repeat

1, Listen to who you’re helping, get the context of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it.  Hear them.  Huge skill, massive benefit.  Don’t judge, don’t be too quick to edit, just listen.

2, Enable the person, show them what could help them given the story, the context, the problem they have.  Connect them with people who can help them- remember these are people who are an extension of your reputation at times, sometimes not, but connections matter greatly.  Amplify meaning help them realize the noise they need to make, be seen, heard, find resources.

3, Create, make something for them- obviously this can get involved. Many people don’t realize how easy it can be to make.  Show them that magic, your skillset to manifest for them- you can only promise what you can control, making it isn’t the same as it being successful.

4, Participate in the accountability they face- we all need that kick in the ass reminder, often I see the steward of possible as that ass kick.  Some of my best mentors remind me i’m not doing enough to realize my dreams.  A steward doesn’t just nod at everything, real honesty is worth far more than most people realize- or want to hear at times.  Learn to crave it.

5, Repeat. Stewards are busy people- stay busy.  Keep helping.

Bonus activities for all you would be stewards out there- you need to stay up to date on where tech is, where it’s going, what’s possible (imagine that!).  Stewards don’t really qualify engagement- meaning they don’t regulate access to themselves- anyone can talk to them, and anyone can be possible, so play that role.  Not everyone is cut out for this- even I get busy, but some of my favorite client relationships to people i’ve met and helped have occured thru this basic framework of helping people realize how they, and their idea, concept, business, venture- could be possible.

And yeah helping someone see what’s possible where they didn’t realize it could be- that’s a mad rush.  Same with helping someone see that it’s not impossible, and they too can be possible- good times!

We live in this era.  It’s not always easy- but most things, if not everything, is basically possible.

Image Credit: Kieran White from Unsplash

Life isn’t fair. It’s one of those clichés you hear over and over again, and a tenet that you’ve probably experienced firsthand.

But the unfairness of life is precisely what can lead to success and growth. When the unfairness of life plays to your advantage, you’re suddenly faced with opportunity you may not have noticed before and that may not be available to others.

Take Apple for example. Apple is one of the most successful and ubiquitous hardware companies in history, built on unfair advantages including design expertise, brand equity, extreme cost/volume savings, and bargaining power.

Starting in April 1976, Apple spent decades building its hardware empire – its biggest resource. On July 10, 2008, the company further capitalized on that hardware footprint by opening up a Services line: the iOS app store.

Since 2008, the app store and Apple’s Services revenue has become the fastest growing aspect of their business as they’ve saturated their own market and hardware growth declines. Apple recognized that by creating a network of hardware devices, they also had created a second resource: a distribution network for other software companies and independent developers to leverage.

And they’re leveraging that distribution network, Apple charges a 30% service fee to any software developer who makes a sale using the iOS app store, including in-app purchases.

That’s the thing about unfair advantages: they can compound and build exponentially.

Without an unfair advantage, a business can be copied and replaced very quickly. Unfair advantages are a barrier to entry, and barriers to entry are the key to unique value propositions and sustained success.

Now let’s get away from business.

There are 7.4 billion people on this planet. All of them need to cover their basic needs, and that means resources to afford those needs. Resources are acquired by providing value to someone who can trade their resources for yours.

Once basic needs are covered, we move on to quality of life. Quality of life is improved by more resources.

This is all an abstract way of saying that you need currency (money or service bartering). Currency helps to afford your needs and a better life. In the modern world, we receive currency by mining out our most precious resource: our time.

We all have time. We don’t know how much time we have, but we all have it.

We all value our time. We value our time by what we choose to do with it…how much of it we sell and who we choose to sell it to. By taking on work or a job.

You come to an agreement for the value of your time when you accept a salary or a wage. This value is based on supply and demand for your time in the market.

This is where your own personal unfair advantage comes in. What is your time worth?

Our time is worth more to us than to anyone else. Therefore, it stands to reason that we should do everything we can to keep as much time to ourselves as possible. The more time we keep for ourselves, the less time we have available to sell to someone else. The less time we have available to sell to someone else, the more currency we need to be receiving for that allotment of time to maintain the quality of life that we want.

The only way to retain more of your time is to build an unfair advantage that cannot be replicated. Your own barrier to entry.

Maybe your unfair advantage is the culinary ability you’ve been honing for 20 years. Maybe it’s your guitar skills you’ve polished since you picked it up at age 5. Maybe it’s the tribe of people who follow you and consume whatever you create. Whatever it is, it needs to be unique to you and something you can continue to build on and outpace the competition.

We all have weaknesses. Weaknesses can be alleviated, but almost impossible to turn into unfair advantages. Think of it this way: is it more valuable to go from -2 to 0, or 0 to 2? To the world, a “2” is much more rare and valuable than a “0.”

Find and build on your strengths. The world needs your personal unfair advantage.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

I find nothing more inspiring than entrepreneur stories that involve founders deciding not just to pursue their dream business, but also triggering a major life changing moment.  So many of us have had that moment  during our commute to or from work where we  thought about just quitting and dedicating our time to something we are more passionate about.  Imagine having that thought, then acting on it, and also bringing your sister along for the ride.

That’s how Kelly and Rhiannon’s story starts. Now they are the owners of Mat Happy Yoga in Hilliard.

Distinguishing Through Personalization 

There are a lot of Yoga studios and at first glance they might all look the same, but that is far from the truth.  It’s easy to forget that there  is a wide spectrum of Yoga practices  from beginner flow series to hardcore over 100 degree 90-minute Bikram series.  Practice type is only one of the many different characteristics that a studio may have, aspects like studio location and size also play major factors in differentiating studios from each other.

Mat Happy’s clear distinguishing factor is how Kelly and Rhiannon have built the community.  These two Yoga leaders know exactly what the members need and want.  This means that they have to  not only run the business, but also invest in getting to know the members personally.  “It’s really friendly – we’ve tried hard to roll out the welcome wagon from day one, and that has translated into friendships, camaraderie and good feels when you walk through the door. […]we strive to make this everyone’s ‘happy place.'”

They serve Yogis who range from first timers to those working to perfect their practice. “One of our greatest joys has been to watch our students grow.” Part of growing in a safe and happy place means trying new things. Kelly and Rhiannon are hoping to help their members expand their horizons. “We’ve also found that our students are very open to trying new ways of exploring yoga. This fall we are including a few workshops on meditation and breath work, and starting Nov. 5th, we are adding Buti yoga to our class offerings (think power yoga meets tribal dance with deep abdominal toning – it’s like dancing on your mat!)”

They understand that their members are often working parents who are taking their precious one or two hours away from family to spend time at Mat Happy.  Having that understanding has helped shape a class offering that fits the members desires and also meets their family schedule needs.

Kelly and Rhiannon are still teaching at the studio, but also have 8 other trainers leading classes.  Classes have expanded in range from flow to Pilates/Yoga fusion and more.  The two are considering how to expand their presence while keeping a focus on their core community.

Even with all of their success, they are constantly reminded of the magnitude of that original decision to strike out on their own:

The biggest challenge is knowing this is your baby, your creation, and you are 100% responsible for it. There are no true “days off.” […] The joys are many. Namely, the ability to help change the lives of others for the better. The people we have met, our instructors and students, and the stories they share, remind us of the impact our work. Yoga attracts good people and we are lucky to have crossed paths with so many.

On any given day in Columbus, on the streets of our emerging and ever growing retail community, or in the halls on campus at Ohio State, or in the conference rooms of our co-working spaces, people are telling stories.

They’re telling stories of experience.  How things used to work, how things will work in the future, how their product is better, how they themselves are different.  I’m continuously running into the need to nurture storytelling in nearly every aspect of my line of work, which is building things.  I meet new graduates from the university who are hungry for work and I say “what’s your story?”  I meet a new startup every day that’s looking for a dollar and i say “what’s your story?”  Clients come to me to build their concept and I ask them “what’s the story?”

Narratives define us. They’re the fabric that helps create common ground, a footing for tomorrow, and storytelling is the new super skill we all must pursue: be it through our social media channels, our journaling, marketing initiatives, resumes, and even our awkward “I really don’t know a soul at this bar or conference, but this is my story” moments. 

When designing a new concept, standing at the threshold of iterating on a known or new business and taking it into “next”, I go to the sketch book.  I love the big canvas to dream the many possible permutations of that concept envisioned in a story of next.  What could it be?  Where will traction occur?  What’s the storyline of a possible future that gets me invested, that wins over my customers, clients, and future employees?

Storytelling itself is a skill.  I often think learning to do standup comedy  is a shortcut or living accelerator to successful storytelling. Telling jokes takes us out of the perfectly refined comfort zone of no criticism and exposes us to pacing, content, narrative, tone, reception, cognition, acceptance and return interest by the outside party hearing our story.  For a designer: show your stories by designing things.  For a programmer: show your stories by programming things.  For a business owner: show your stories through your products and services.  What story do you want your product to be in your customer’s life?

I often meet folks looking for money- often really isn’t the word, always the correct word.  To find money you need to first prep your story, then you need to get ready to tell that story and then continually refine that would be investable story.  I think about this through a lens of experience that I have working with startups (and then my own ad hoc notions). I know a winning story when I hear it.  I’m a sucker for the authentic story. I feel the momentum in the pitch and I feel the infectious aspect in the delivery. Best of all, I experience the founder’s story via the product or offering.

There are people who can teach you to tell stories better. If you’re after cash then you better get good at telling your story fast. There’s a lot of other people  way ahead of you with a potentially better story, or better connection to the audience… or they are simply killer story tellers.

Lastly: Your story doesn’t have to be that good. In fact, good or bad is indifferent to me. I might not be your target audience.  What’s crucial is that you have a story and you can tell it.  Your audience’s reception of it is the measure of success.  

Columbus has a story and it gets both more and somehow less authentic as it expands.  When we spin the tale of “the little midwest city that could,” we actually pull back from the more authentic story of Columbus’ progress so far and the interesting challenge of where we should go in the future.

Take a moment.  Refine your story.  Practice it.

 

The parking garage at Resource/Ammirati says IBM iX now. It’s official. You’ll see a stream of “so and so got a new job, congratulate them” notifications on LinkedIn as some of the 10,000 or so employees start to update and adjust to their new group identity.

And then there’s the party.

You know an organization is huge when they have to rent out the entire Columbus Commons to host a party for their current and former employees, as Resource did earlier this month.

All of this has us wondering… who’s next?

Our Experts

We asked two local agency founders for their best bets on the next breakout agency in town. Alaina Shearer is the founder of both Cement Marketing and Women in Digital. Robert Abbott is the Senior Partner and Founder of Context Digital, his former agency Shift Global was acquired by Moxie (A Publicis company).

What are the ingredients?

In order to cast our predictions, we must first understand what the basic ingredients are for an agency to have that breakout potential. The ingredients that make an agency successful, edgy, and irresistible to a much larger organization.

Alaina: “Right time. Right place. And a hell of a lot of work until that moment to make sure you’re prepared to seize the opportunity. It’s not as sexy as you would think because behind the scenes of any amazing start up or agency is a pile of failures and losses that teach you lessons on how to make yourself better and ultimately more prepared for the moment when that huge account shows up.”

Robert: “I think the landscape is changing. The factors that made agencies successful in the past have much less relevance today. Simply put, it comes down to results. Brilliant thinking that clearly understands and motivates its audience. Actual and measurable business metrics. Smart is the new Creative.”

Does size really matter?

I think of some really small operations,  even one-woman shows, that have a groundbreaking approach  and put out world-class work… But it feels unlikely that they’ll be scooped up any time soon, mainly because they are so small. So, what about scale? Is there an ideal size for an agency to be acquired?

Alaina: “My understanding, without expertise or formal training, is that a successful acquisition depends not on an agency’s size or even revenue, but on the agency’s health. Those acquiring agencies are looking to ultimately buy the agency’s processes, its book of clients, past case studies and its top senior level talent.”

Robert: “It’s really about the numbers and how the acquisition enables the acquirer. Roughly speaking, I think critical mass starts at 5 or 10 million.”

The times, they are a changin’

I worked for an agency only a few years ago and even since then it seems that the landscape has changed quite a bit for those “full service” shops. If you’re not hyper specialized at this point it seems nearly impossible to differentiate and the business is changing almost too fast to keep up with. What about the landscape of agency world in general?  What do you think the future of agencies looks like?

Alaina: “This is an excellent question and one we discuss a lot internally at Cement and within the Women in Digital organization. It appears that clients will continue building in-house agencies for years to come. However, these in-house teams are better suited for production of larger creative and strategic visions laid forth by outside agencies. Ultimately, the in-house agency is here to stay, but that means agencies will be hired far less for production services. Ultimately, that’s a huge blow to larger agencies but a huge win for smaller more strategic agencies like Cement.”

Robert:  “I think it looks very different, so much so that we may want to revisit what the term “agency” means and whether that is even relevant in this transforming business climate. The firms having the largest impact are those that are focused on substantive results, evaluated purely on the customer’s terms, not the creative director’s clever late night vision.”

Fortune telling: part of the business

So the Mad Men era of brilliant, tear-jerking campaigns delivered by whiskey-breathed dudes is officially closing. Brands across the spectrum are pulling their heavy creative lifting in-house. Can agencies still play the role of advisor? Where are your clients most often seeking your counsel and thought leadership? (Well, lets be realistic here, the really smart clients might be actively seeking it… the others just need to be convinced that they need it!)

Alaina“Not much has changed since our founding in 2009. The clients have grown, of course, but it’s funny because no matter what the size of the company their number one question for Cement is always, ‘how can we make a mark with our digital presence?’. Ultimately, they’re trying to authentically deliver their brand message within the digital space. The challenge for us as an agency is to sort out their existing presence and then reorganize the content, how their audience sees it, how it should be seen and then build and execute upon a strategy and plan to make it happen.

Robert: “They are seeking Experience Strategy and Design. They need help sorting through the myriad complexities of their business stakeholders, audiences, channels, data, etc.. They want help figuring out how all of it fits together and adds up to differentiating outcomes.”

There are some great buzzwords in those answers that I have been speculating on: audience and experience being the two main ones that pop out to me. I guess we’ll just have to see where the perfect convergence of data-driven, audience-targeted, and experiential shows up next. Our contributors were far too modest to reveal their top contenders for local agencies that fit the “recipe” (😉). … But we want to know if you’ve got any local agencies that come to mind? Place your bet in the comments.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

I don’t know if I was alone in my conflict over the titling of ‘Rise of the Rest’ used by Steve Case and the Revolution Ventures team for their tour around middle America.  This isn’t the fault of Case or anyone at Revolution Ventures, they have all good intentions with the title, this is an issue I struggle with.

The ‘Rest’?  Is that what we are here in Columbus?  The ‘Rest’ feels like second place, third place, or worse… and when accompanied by ‘The Rise,’ it implies that others have already risen and we haven’t.  Clearly I am over thinking this, but it got me thinking more about the issues they were discussing.

The ‘Startup’ system has some inherent class distinction built into it by  design.  Think about a founder’s psyche from day one.  The entrepreneur is seeking funding, support, team members, and believers, to name a few things.  The constant strive for validation is suffocating.

The ‘Rest,’  as designated by Case and the tour, relates to the invested venture capital dollars that are overwhelmingly deployed in companies in Silicon Valley, NYC, and Boston.  This geographical focus doesn’t bother me at all.  I look at that as a bit of a supply and demand economics problem more than explicit geographical discrimination.  The Rise of the of Rest has the following mission statement :

Revolution’s RISE OF THE REST® with Steve Case is a nationwide effort to work closely with entrepreneurs in emerging startup ecosystems. Our view is that this is the beginning of a new era for entrepreneurship across the U.S. — high-growth companies can now start and scale anywhere, not just in a few coastal cities. The effort has been praised by leading Democrats and Republicans, as well as businesses leaders across the country.

The focus on ‘high growth’ might be nuanced language, but to me this is a direct reflection on a recent company prototype born out of the internet/software boom. The prototype where a company can reach valuations of a billion dollars in under 10, heck 5, years’ time.  That situation is SUCH an outlier for most companies that it obviously points to the need (and fantasy) for the VC financial model.  Remember, VC’s typically have under 10 years to return capital to their Limited Partners, so it’s ideal to have a major win (unicorns as they say).   PS:  Only DC folks would include a mention of bipartisan praise 😂.

The resounding message I take away from Case’s movement is the idea of inclusion.  The opposite of ‘the rest’ is everyone.  My favorite part of entrepreneurship is its ability to empower anyone to move into whatever socioeconomic position they choose.  I’m not saying it’s easy for everyone, there are many intentional and unintentional biases and discriminatory issues we have to tear down.  As I am able to tear down my own insecurities of not being amongst or accepted by Silicon Valley elites, I am able to find the deeper message of hope and will that Case brought last week.  It’s a reminder to not look to others to validate our abilities or tenacity.  We can define success in our own ways.

I asked Steve Case if he were to return in a year, what impact would he hope to see from his time here.  He said their goal is to elevate the awareness of what is happening in the cities they visit and continue to raise the bar.  Which had me wondering, what do Columbus entrepreneurs  want their community to be and look like in one year, five years, or twenty years?

Kudos to Rev1, Venture Ohio and others who helped make the Rise of the Rest stop a VERY Columbus focused event.  It’s exceptional to be able to show off our city’s prized possessions and people to others.  There is no doubt ‘The Rest’ of the country has no idea that we rose up a long long time ago and continue to all the time.

Peace+Love+Bling is a small jewelry company in the Short North. Its physical footprint may be small– less than 600 square feet of space. But its outreach is expanding across the globe. Its mission: Benefit as many women as possible, both here at home and overseas.

Marketing Manager Sarah Ivancic explained to me that founder LeAnne Johnson Absalom was inspired to start the business while living in Beijing. She met a group of women who designed their own jewelry and sold the pieces on the street; they did this in order to support their families. LeAnne fell in love with the decorative designs, and wanted to create a long-term solution that would help these women succeed financially. Upon her return to the U.S. she founded Peace+Love+Bling in her attic, selling pieces made by the Beijing women. Today the company works with women from around the world, collecting materials to be used in unique jewelry pieces, like silk ribbons from India and beetle wings from Thailand. 

Back here in central Ohio, Peace+Love+Bling is working to empower women through its Workforce Development Program. They teach women job skills and prepare them for full-time employment. Three times a week, workers come to the store and are trained how to make the jewelry. In addition, Ivancic says the employees are taught “how to run the inventory and how to ship out orders. We also teach other skills that they may have not had the opportunity to learn– like being prompt and on-time, and how to handle conflict.”

Peace+Love+Bling partners with the Godman Guild–an organization that works to lift people out of poverty by connecting them with job opportunities–to recruit women for the program. I asked Ivanicic  why it was important to the founder that Peace+Love+Bling be more than just a jewelry store. She said the reason was simple: “This business has been built upon creating a community and having a social mission. If you can make a profit, why not have that profit also benefit other people? It just is, in our minds, the proper way to do business.”   

The Workforce Development Program is run out of the storefront. Ivancic says a major benefit to having the program in the store is that it prompts a lot of conversations. People walking by often stop in when they notice the workers making the jewelry. Ivancic says anyone is welcome to come in, learn about the company’s mission, and make jewelry alongside them. “We want to be open and inviting and have this be not just a store, but a place for people to come and spend time.”

 

Over the last year, I’ve had more opportunity to lead people than ever before. Tixers was an extremely small company, and all of my leadership prior to that was volunteer groups. Leading full time employees, whom I did not hire and often had been at the company much longer than I had, was a different animal entirely.

I’ve learned a lot about leadership. And I’ve also learned that I wasn’t as good at leadership as I had thought.

One lesson I learned early on was the net value of requesting changes to the work of the people I lead.

In a leadership role, it’s common to see a deliverable once it’s completed, or very near completion. It was likely created with direction or feedback you had given initially, but will have surprises or unique characteristics you didn’t expect.

For a while, it seemed clear to me that I should weigh in on all of these surprises and give feedback of what I thought would add to the work. Two minds are better than one – and adding your input on top of your team’s work should enhance that work, right?

What I found is that for a team to work at a high level, members (all members) need to have a sense of ownership. Some how, some way, your team needs to see a reflection of themselves in the work to take pride in creating it.

When I gave my feedback on the surprises or unique characteristics, my team would often hear, “this isn’t good enough” or “your idea is bad.” I didn’t say those things, but by critiquing their work, that was how it could be internalized.

What’s more, I realized that I often lacked some context. There are often constraints (like time or resources) that lead to certain decisions, despite another desired direction.

There is certainly an important place for feedback, frequent need for changes to deliverables, and leveraging the minds of multiple people is a powerful tool.

But, when giving feedback or suggesting changes, remember that you are changing someone’s baby (at least you want them to think of it as their baby). Implicitly, they may feel less ownership, less pride, and less enthusiasm for the work. Of course, this can be alleviated (or made worse) by how you structure your feedback and message.

When requesting changes, remember that there is a strong risk of lack of ownership in the new work. It’s worth considering: is the edit worth it?

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I remember setting Skinny Bitch on the lawn chair beside me three summers ago and proclaiming, “I mean that was really good but I’d still never be a vegetarian.”

Fast-forward a few weeks to a life-changing trip to Israel with life-changing people and low and behold, little miss “I’d never be a vegetarian” wasn’t just an herbivore, but was now a plant based food blogger with a focus on eating intuitively, travel, and lifestyle inspiration. Funny how things change.

My transition into a plant-based diet was a sudden one. I grew up eating meat and dairy like everyone else. I drank Diet Coke and snacked on cottage cheese and Wheat Thins. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes was my answer when my mom asked what I wanted for dinner. I didn’t know what chia seeds were till halfway through college.

I wasn’t always into nutrition, but I was always into food. Growing up, people would look at me strangely when I followed bites of chocolate with a weirdly long and heartfelt “mmmmm.” Eating was always and still is a very emotional experience for me. I simply love food.

The passion I felt for promoting long-term health and the reversal of chronic disease by eating plants consumed me that year after Israel. I watched Forks Over Knives, read vegan food blogs before bed, and dug deep into the research of Dr. Neil Barnard and Dr. Colin Campbell. I was so beyond fascinated with the things I could do in the kitchen with fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, and tofu. All I wanted to do was cook, eat, and photograph good, wholesome food. And of course tell everyone about it!

So I started a food blog.

Hummusapien didn’t grow into a full-time job overnight. I wish I could say there was a single post that went viral, but there wasn’t.  It started off really small. I posted recipes I made for the kids I babysat like “Beans and Rice and Everything Nice.” I took the worst pictures and made the recipe titles different colors (I’m cringing). I wasn’t doing it to make money or to impress anyone or to prove a point—I was just personifying my passion for food.

The natural entrepreneur in me realized one day that I was spending far too much time on the blog to not at least entertain the idea of turning in into a source of income. Being in graduate school with a full time internship and two part time jobs didn’t leave a ton of time for anything unpaid that wasn’t my social life. I’ve always been really ambitious and I knew I had a good thing going.

So I saved up for a nice camera and that year the blog started to gain more of a following. I taught myself how to take pictures that would do well on Pinterest. I dove headfirst into any and all aspects of social media. I posted consistently three times a week. I spent 90% of my “free time” on that space.

The blog just turned six this August. I didn’t make a dime the first couple years. I never imagined that my hobby would turn into a career but it was by far one of the best things that ever happened to me besides opening Alchemy. People other than my friends and family started reading. Writers from Huffington Post started asking me for nutrition quotes. Brands began reaching out to me for product promotions (unpaid, of course). I felt like I was dreaming.

I believe in working hard and knowing your worth. In the beginning, I did tons of work for free, including writing blog copy for SELF magazine’s nutrition blogger, promoting brands, you name it. I quickly realized I had a bigger audience than I thought and knew it didn’t make sense to invest so much time and energy without compensation.

Food bloggers are notoriously underpaid and undervalued. We’re frowned upon by certain brands for not promoting them free of charge in exchange for complimentary product. “Oh, we prefer to work with bloggers who want to promote us ‘organically.’” Oh, really?  So I should spend the little time I have endorsing your product free of charge while you reap the benefits of hundreds of thousands of people seeing it and potentially purchasing it? No thanks. I’d rather pick up hours at my serving job.

I’ve received partnership pitches from companies ranging from Raising Cane’s (did you not see the whole vegan part?) to Pez Candy (did you not see I’m a dietitian?). Some brands still act shocked when I explain my earth-shattering fee for service model. Most prominent brands, however, know the value of working with food bloggers who are immersed in ever-changing food trends, in constant conversation with like-minded consumers, and highly engaged in all aspects of social media.

I’ve learned that social media is everything. I’ve learned that being real and honest and open with your readers will take you very far. I’ve learned that I write my favorite content when I’m not trying. I’ve learned that I can’t do it all. I’ve learned that there are people who can manage parts of my business better than I can. I’ve learned to hire those people.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that fiercely loving every part of your challenging, amazing, frustrating, tear-jerking, blissful job(s) makes working most of your waking hours not just bearable, but incredible.

Find Alexis on her blog Hummusapien or at one of her Columbus eateries Alchemy Juice Bar or  Trism. 

Daniel White’s latest title has you at hello.

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn today, I saw a post getting tons of engagement. It was titled: “Amazon Chooses Columbus Ohio for Next Headquarters?!*”

You can see the full post here.

If you don’t care to perpetuate the clicks, the jist of the post is making the case for Columbus vs. Seattle, the current Amazon HQ.  It’s ultimately about how great it would be for Amazon to come here and all the reasons that central Ohio is such a great place to live. What you won’t learn from this article:  where the next Amazon HQ will be.

To be fair, White does put this disclaimer at the end of the article:

*Article is meant as a serious discussion, but this has not actually happened yet. I am really just hopeful that Amazon picks Columbus. No actual announcements have been made and I am sure plenty of people will comment that their city is better. I look forward to that discussion. Also, if you read this far, congrats 🙂

Our heads would be exploding if Amazon announced its headquarters in Columbus.

I can’t decide if I think this is funny or marketing brilliance or both…  For Amazon I am guessing it’s a good sign that we’re willing to set aside our big corporate hatred for them in the hopes that they would choose us to be their life partner.

We reached out to White to see what his angle was… basically, he just loves this town.

My aim was not to “bamboozle” anyone. My first thought when I heard that Amazon was going to accept bids for a new HQ2 was to highlight why Columbus would be an awesome choice. I could have written 10,000 words on the benefits of Central Ohio. […] I love this city.

This is another case of Columbus pride run amok. White said he’s learning at least one lesson from the viral success of this post: “This Amazon article did offer me a window into the world of how much people actually read before they share. The answer: not much.”

High five Daniel White. You are today’s Clickmaster General.