If there’s one thing I obsess about more than anything else outside of race relations is marketing. The numbers, the language, what makes people tick, colors, used, what’s new, what’s shiny, what’ll be gone tomorrow and what’s here to stay. It fascinates me because it’s amazing how predictable a person will react based on a varying amount of factors. It’s also fascinating because so many underrate it.

Don’t get me wrong, many companies know that making “noise” will garner attention. But they stop there…especially small companies (and larger companies too). And what they fail to realize most is that the organization’s marketing (place, product, price, and promotion) create the perception of a company. Good or bad, those 4 Ps together work together to create a lasting impression of the organization.

While I’ve had a bit of experience in place, product and price, much of my career has fallen in promotion — the communications side of marketing. The last 7 years have been specifically in the world of digital marketing – social media, email marketing, ecommerce, website content development and management, etc. I’ve even done a bit of consulting around it all. That’s why I must admit, this weekend was a bit painful.

This weekend, I saw both of my obsessions go head on into one catastrophic crash.

The situation

A young man by the name of Marcel Price of Grand Rapids, MI was assaulted by a bar tender and told that he would not be able to enter a local bar, Tavern on the Square because he was black. Marcel recorded the event on his phone and shared it via social media. This happened very early Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon, this had turned into a social media nightmare; one that I wished I was getting paid the big bucks to consult on because it could’ve been avoided.

This is a textbook case of crisis management.

  1. Bad thing happens
  2. It blows up publicly
  3. Organization responds…quickly

But this is not what happened at all. Tavern on the Square failed to respond quickly. In fact, they just responded on their Facebook page, yesterday. They allowed over 24 hours to pass before responding to a racially sensitive topic in a city that has been publicly responding to racially sensitive topics over the last few weeks; you know with the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile events and Dallas shooting and all.

What made it worse was that Tavern on the Square had every opportunity to respond.

Having a bit of “inside” knowledge and knowing how to get the attention of an organization on social media I reacted 4 ways:

  1. I responded as a black woman who is super sensitive to racial issues as of late.
  2. I responded as a writer who has an understanding that the words I convey have power.
  3. Most importantly, I responded as a digital marketer.
  4. I encouraged others to respond. And not only did I encourage them to respond, I leveraged my digital marketing knowledge, providing clear details on how to respond including who to tag and what hash tags to use.

Taking all these angles to me was super important. I was observing every step of the way. I wanted to know how my friends would react. I wanted to know how people in private groups would react. And most importantly, I wanted to know how Tavern on the Square, Experience Grand Rapids, and Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. would react.

The outcome: Two case studies on what not to do, and one case study on a team that got it kinda right.

Responses

Experience Grand Rapids. Within hours or a day, Experience Grand Rapids responded with a boilerplate response and suggested that I contacted them offline.

  • The good: They quickly diffused the conversation and stated that they were open for additional conversation.
  • Opportunities for growth: I would’ve preferred they responded much faster. I also would’ve appreciated a more personalized message. Finally, it would’ve been nice if they would’ve inboxed me or or at the least left an email address or phone number. When a person has a concern with your organization, you should go out of your way to learn more vs. asking them to do the work to get in contact with you. In this instance, the company has more to lose than the customer. Remember bad news spreads fast and it takes 5 new customers to replace 1 lost customer. That’s a very expensive scenario.

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. I would say “I’ll wait”, but I won’t. They haven’t responded and I don’t expect them to respond.

  • The good: N/A
  • Opportunities for growth: Downtown Grand Rapids is perceived as a locale that doesn’t have the African American community in mind. Weekend after weekend, you see people of the majority young and old sprawling through downtown Grand Rapids. Not so much for people of color.. And Tavern on the Square is downtown…so anytime Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. communicates “come downtown” this includes go to Tavern on the Square. Yet, when asked about how they would handle it, they didn’t respond at all…and this is regarding an event that effects the black community, which represents 20% of the city’s population. This is a great way to put a blemish on all the work Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. has done in getting people downtown. But then again, are they even talking to black people?

Tavern on the Square (Tavern). Good old Tavern on the Square. There’s so much to say. So again, I’ll start with the good.

  • The good: You responded. You also stated that you’re all for diverstiy (even though there were only 5 or less people of color in your establishment at closing time). You even said that you are looking into it and would be providing sensitivity training to your employees.
  • The bad:
    • This person wasn’t fired though he stated he wouldn’t let him in because he was black. Even if it were closing time and that was the real reason, simply confirming that he wouldn’t let him in because he was black is grounds for firing. No other reasons needed. That’s now blatant racism.
    • This person wasn’t fired though he clearly smacked the phone out of the person’s hand. I may let that one slide if there was some punishment associated. He can’t just go jack free. But maybe he needs a different role, because clearly he’s endangering others…even if he was provoked. If Marcel never put his hands on the bouncer, the bouncer should have never laid his hands on Marcel’s phone.
    • Tavern on the Square did not take responsibility nor apologize for the action
    • The owner alluded to the fact that it was a big deal because of social media
    • It took the organization over 24 hours to respond on social media. I looked over and over again. Comments flooded in. No response for hours. I even wrote posts to bring attention to the fact that more than just “complaining” was happening. Here are my very public posts:
      • So this video was recently taken at Tavern on the Square GR. GR of all colors, it’s time to make a difference with your dollars. Don’t look the other way. Instead take your dollars elsewhere. And make some noise about it too. Share, tag them, tag the owners, share the owners names. Let them know this isn’t the GR we stand for. This is unacceptable.
      • So the Tavern on the Square GR voicemail box is full. Nice job GR. I say keep calling. (616) 456-7673 They have yet to post a response…not even “we’re looking into it.”

        I can’t find an email address on their website because their website is now one page…that includes a link to a testimonial, phone number, and location info.

      • Forgive some of my grammatical errors (you have to be a grammar freak to know what they are). Here’s what I’ve posted on the Experience Grand Rapidsand Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. pages.Tavern on the Square GR has just added a smudge to the city’s resume. After a bouncer’s blatant act of racism and several calls for a response, the establishment has yet to respond…not even in the easiest spot…it’s social channels. (I’ve checked FB and twitter). We are now calling an official boycott of the establishment from people of all colors. I’m sure this is not what Grand Rapids wants to be perceived as, and we’re asking that you, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., help drive the importance of formally responding to such complaints…both publicly and privately. This is a continuance of the Grand Rapids perception of racism, and I’m sure this is something you’d like to see eliminated.This, along with Propaganda Donuts’ most recent lack of sensitivity shows the face of those who not only live in the metro area, but represent the face of this city’s economy. If nothing is done, we’ll begin calling for boycotts of bigger events that have garnered substantial revenue to the city.
      • I hate being on a digital team, knowing it takes all of 5 mins to respond to a complaint with a “we’re working on it,” yet we’re still waiting to hear fromTavern on the Square GR. The fact that this could’ve been remedied and not gotten so large (i.e. News 8) is a shame. [friend’s name], we need to add crisis control to the offerings because obviously people don’t know the importance of it.
    • Tavern removed most of the website with the exception of contact information and a link to a testimonial from 2010. (unless they never actually had a full website)
    • You can no longer post comments on their FB page. This looks guilty as heck (or insensitive at the least).

How to Avoid a Social Media Crisis Focused Around Race…or anything else

I’m glad that you stuck with me this far…or skimmed to this point. Either way, I’m okay because this is the most important part for small businesses or businesses trying to figure out how to staff for and manage social media and digital marketing communications. Here’s the gamut:

  1. NEVER think this type of thing wouldn’t happen to you. Even if you believe you operate in tip top shape, humans love to complain..and one of the places where they love to to it is on social media. Even if they aren’t trying to get your attention, know that one small spark (complainer) can set the fire ablazin’. It may be something as small as you using 1-ply toilet paper, be ready to respond to even that nonsense if it looks like it’s about to ignite a forrest fire.
  2. Have a crisis plan in place. You shouldn’t be figuring out how to handle a crisis when it hits. Make sure everyone knows what to do if media calls (i.e. what person or department should they be directed to? Can they talk to media or not?). Who should they make aware of the issue? What is the first line of defense? In the event of a complaint, how long should it take your team to respond and what should that response be?
  3. Equip your team. Ensure social media and web content managers are equipped to respond to comments. Make sure they have a who to call list. Also craft a few boilerplate statements that your team can use if they have to respond quickly. You have no idea how much scripting can come in handy here.
  4. Empower your team. If your team has to go up a chain of command before posting or responding to posts, you’re already a step behind. However, don’t leave it just to the person behind the screen. Make sure leadership is in the loop and ready to step in and help if necessary.
  5. Rules of engagement. There is nothing that can make a company more vulnerable than social media. So before you decide to enter the world, create rules of engagement. Decided whether or not you’ll allow users to post on your page. Determine how you’ll respond to complaints. Determine how you’ll respond to hateful and malicious comments.  (Complaints and malicious comments are 2 different things.) For example, some news sites allow racist comments while other companies wouldn’t allow it all.
  6. Hire competent people. Many people think that interns or cousin Pookie are the right people to manage their social media channels because they’re good at the tech stuff and “in the know.” Wrong. You need someone who knows your organization well, is a great communication and understand the difference between doing social for personal reasons and managing social accounts as an extension of the brand.
  7. NEVER take down your page. Exception: If you go out of business.
  8. Sensitivity gauge. Ensure your team has a sensitivity gauge. There are certain topics that should either be supported or not discussed for the majority of companies. Politics. Race. Sexual-orientation. Ethnicity. Nationality. War. (Yes, race, ethnicity, and nationality are all different things.) Some of these things (not all) are perfectly fine to comment on on personal accounts, but not for business accounts unless your brand is the Republic or democratic national conventions. (smile)
  9. Take responsibility. If you or one of your employees did something wrong, own up to it. Then talk about what you’re doing to fix it. If you didn’t learn anything from Steve Harvey’s fiasco, this was one of the greatest takeaways. He owned it…and got offered the job for another year. There’s a certain level of respect that comes with self-accountability.
  10. 24/7. When you work in the digital world, you have a 24 hour, 7 day a week job. That means that if something happens at 2am, you need to be responding by 2:05am. I’m blessed to work for a global company with people who monitor accounts while I’m sleeping. I’ve also had a past role where I had on-call duties.
  11. Turn on notifications. It’s not okay to just monitor your social channels when you’re on your computer or checking your facebook account. No…it’s time to turn on your notifications and check them EVERY time they come across your phone. Is it annoying? Yes. Will it be helpful in the time of a crisis…absolutely.

To be honest, if you practice these steps as normal business procedures, then it won’t be so stressful when a crisis arise. It’ll be business as usual, but with a few more people involved. Hopefully in the end, you can say “crisis averted.”

Until next time,

Gina

So there are a lot of things that get under my skin, so I’m not going to belabor this intro.

  1. People who’re eager to be the expert, yet they clearly aren’t.
  2. Unnecessary details. Keep it short and simple, please.
  3. People who lie. Big lies. Small lies. It doesn’t matter. I have liar intuition…so don’t lie to me.
  4. People who lie to themselves. No, you’re really not that good at Mortal Kombat.
  5. People who are eager to judge others, but don’t see their own flaws. (BIG ONE HERE)
  6. Sneakiness. But I guess this is just another form of lying…by not lying.
  7. Racist people. I need not say more.
  8. And Americans who think Donald Trump would make a good president.
  9. Thirsty chicks. And thirsty is not equivalent with slutty. You could be the prettiest thing out there, but your actions show me the thirst is real.
  10. People who don’t pay me attention. I’m just being honest.
  11. People who don’t consider what I say. My voice and opinion are super important. So it’s important that people at least acknowledge and potentially engage. Show me the same consideration and empathy I show you. FYI…You don’t have to agree.
  12. People who aren’t empathetic.
  13. People who are politically correct. If you have to be politically correct, then you haven’t taken the time to truly understand the culture/area that you’re worrying about. I’m clearly black, and my friends don’t have to determine whether they should call me black or African American…because they know me…not just my racial identify.
  14. Winter…all of it…except Christmas
  15. Rain
  16. Humidity
  17. Inconsiderate people
  18. Horrible eye brow application. Let’s go with the less is more approach.
  19. And effin [fill in the blank] Nazis
  20. And all of you who corrected my grammar while reading this. I know fill in the blank should be hyphenated. I’m lazy.

Now that was fun. #insider

Wow! I did not plan to write that last post. You know, the one about escaping abuse. I wanted to be totally light-hearted and do the normal “what I did in 2014.” But I guess the plan was bigger than me. I had to expose my true experience in order to move on and gain freedom. I’ve held it in for so long that the time to let it out had finally come. It was probably long overdue, but I finally let it out in prayer last night, and today, I’m feeling empowered…Feeling like I can FINALLY move on and take my life back. Thank you, God, for empowerment.

With that said, I can move on to the lighter side of 2014, letting you know of the many amazing things that happened last year…

TRAVEL – Jetsetting…where did I go?

Work

France. Strasbourg 2 times. By the way…it doesn’t pay to have very limited language

River in Strasboug
River in Strasbourg

abilities in a foreign country. Parle vous Ingle? #justsaying

NYC. 2 times – It’s fun when it’s for pleasure, but walking to your meeting…hmmm that was an experience. I’m pretty sure that’s for the 20 somethings. This girl’s patience level has gone down drastically since 2000, the last year of my 20s.

NYC Street Vendor
NYC Street Vendor

Washington, DC. Yep. Still a great city. Walking to my meeting wasn’t so bad here.

You know the best part of business travel, though? FREE FOOD!

Not so cool…Expense reporting, keeping up with receipts, getting lost, and delays. Oh…and did I mention not knowing the language. Yep. I’m saying it again. Je ne par pas Francais.

Fun

Vegas. Click the link. Watch the video.

Grand CanyonClick the link. Watch the video.

Paris. Well, this happened over the weekend while I was in Strasbourg. Stops included

Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and shopping. FYI…there was nothing special about shopping in Paris. I did get an amazingly cute jacket from a souvenir shop, though.

And some random city in Michigan that I’m pretty sure is heaven’s waiting room (as a friend once described a restaurant)

CRAFTING/DIY

Crocheting. When the weather cools down, it means it’s time to pull out the needle. I

A scarf I completed for myself.
A scarf I completed for myself.

completed a scarf for myself. There were 5 scarves as Christmas presents this year. I’m working on a blanket that I’ve been working on for about 2 years and I have at least 1 more scarf to go. How’s that for the 12 days of Christmas.

Home Decor. Who said you couldn’t reuse Bath and Body Works candle jars? Can someone say 2-fer. Just melt the excess wax out of the bottom, remove the wax and the wicks, wash, and reuse.

Speaking of clear containers, add twine, a hot glue gun, and vases from the dollar store and you’ll find the perfect combo for cute vases. Pinterest came in handy again.

BOOKS

Books that I either completed, started, or continued reading or listening to in 2014 include:

Career

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, it’s worth the hype. I even think there are a fair amount of mild mannered men who could benefit from reading this book.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On. If you work in the field of social media, this is a good read/listen.

Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why. If you’re a chronic overachieving workaholic wondering why you haven’t gotten that promotion, you may be too good at your job. This and other thoughts re: career advancement are hidden in this book. I was originally against this book. Glad I got over myself.

Personal

Play it Away: A Workaholics Cure for Anxiety. I recommend this for anyone who suffers from anxiety issues

How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. Recommended by a friend, this book is great.  Some people have ridiculously high standards. Some people are stuck up. Some are more ready for rejection than acceptance. This book lets you know why you say no before you even give a person a chance…thus, limiting your potential. It’s not about being dumb, but it could quite be about getting over hurt, fantasies, or even just bad dating habits. Whatever it is, this book will make you think a lot. And if you aren’t willing to take a good look in the proverbial – or literal – mirror, you can skip right past this read. But then, I’m inclined to say you also have to stop asking “why not me.”

Language

Spanish and French…I’ve bought resources for both, but the best way to learn the language is to actually be immersed in the culture. I’m thinking about trying Rosetta Stone this year for Spanish. And frankly (pun not intended), I may need to learn French so I can simply get around (eyes roll…if you only know the number of times I got lost in France – but I also learned to read French quickly…and I was only there a week. So, when I speak about immersion, I’m speaking from personal experience. Sortie means “exit” in French.)

Beauty

Hair. We can deem 2014 the year of Gina’s infamous weave. I didn’t go out to get

Said weave
Said weave and I obviously have fallen victim to duck lips.

a weave for beauty reasons, and when I realized what a year with weave was going to be like…well, let’s say I’ve almost freaked out more than once. But I took one for the team…the team of hair stands that is. I had sever breakage. So I decided to get professional help by who I will now call an AMAZING hair stylist. She’s been taking care of my hair and the growth is phenomenal. Not only did the breakage grow back, my entire head of hair is fuller. (Curly girls, I know this makes all of us cringe a bit, BUT hey…I have healthy locks and my stylist will be taking care of it. So long to 4 hour wash, condition, treat, and blow dry sessions followed by straightening the next day.)

Makeup. I’ve actually cut back on makeup this year. I still quite enjoy makeup and getting all pretty and such, but I work from home…A LOT. So there’s not a need to put on makeup often. (My boss may beg to differ during our weekly video chat. Crap…I beg to differ. But the call is only an hour and I literally get out of the bed only minutes before the call, so no makeup it is.)

Skincare. My skin has freaked out this year; primarly due to the fact that I get pimples as well as ingrown hairs and I pick at my face entirely too often. So…no my scarring isn’t from extreme acne. It’s from extreme Gina P – picking that is. I’ve tried many things but am not 100% satisfied with my skin, but hey, such is life. Oh well. I’m still cute.

WORK LIFE

I need not harp on the busyness of my work life. Just know the rush started January 2014 and well, I’ll let you know when it wraps up. The good news: I was able to hire an intern and onboard an agency as well as act as project and people manager (eyes roll). The bad news…I had a ton of work because I was also a doer while my boss was on maternity leave from January – September. While it has been a ton of work, I’ve been recognized as a very valuable employee. BUT…I HAVE TO WORK ON MY ATTITUDE AND SHORT TEMPER. This will not be my achilles heel. Hence the book I’m currently reading, Secrets to Winning at Office Politics: How to Achieve Your Goals and Increase Your Influence at Work.

Oh…and how did I forget the miracle of the year. I was in a horrible car accident that I survived.

LOOKING BACK

Looking back, this was a very eventful year. I guess one can pack a ton of things into 365 days. Now here’s to a great 2015.

This may or may not be a challenge on YouTube, but it just kinda…came to me. So here’s how it goes. 1422615_42356885

  • Below, you’ll find a list of “questions” that I challenge you to answer with one word…and one word only.
  • Post your answers in the comments. (My answers are in purple.)
  • Optional: Reblog or copy and paste into your blog…and “tag” others to answer. (You can easily tag another blogger by just adding a link to their blog into your post. See the bottom of this post for details. – Or just tag someone using Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.)

 

Here we go…

  1. Quirky habit? Ice
  2. One thing you really like about your personality? Witty
  3. Physical feature you really like? Eyes
  4. Last or current book? Play
  5. Spare time? YouTube
  6. Opposite sex goodness? Arms
  7. Where are you right now? Bed
  8. Hate to leave home without? Phone
  9. Hate to work without? Mouse
  10. Friend or foe? Friend
  11. Good or E-V-I-L? Good
  12. Pet? Piston
  13. Other language? Spanish
  14. Favorite thing about summer? Beach
  15. Favorite thing about fall/autumn? Bonfire

 

I tag My Selfish Existence, JCCEE, Katie Leigh, and She Has a Storyy.

And he may have been cyber-stalking me for all of 3 seconds…and then I blocked him.

The chronicles of online dating continue.

[He likes my photo.]

[Wait! What is that beard?!]

[WHAT! Age: 47]

[He likes another photo.]

[AND ANOTHER PHOTO]

YOU LOOK SO GOOD. AND YOUR EYES ARE SO SEDUCTIVE. AND YOU LIPS…

[OH NO. I THINK I’M BEING CYBER-STALKED]

CALL ME! *insert phone number*

[_____.com ads lie]

[And block]

*Different site.* [Wait a minute now. You call me! 555-XXXX]

 

So, I’ve seen YouTubers do it. I’ve seen one of my friends do it. I can’t say I’ll commit to doing it, but I’d like to share what I’ve been into over the past few months.

Make-up:

Foundation: L’oreal True Match liquid foundation. I’m the girl who mixes a cool and neutral color together in order to get a more suitable shade.

Powder: L’oreal True Match. I found this powder and became a fan for the months of the year when my skin is a bit lighter. When my skin is darker, I go with MAC mineralized powder in deep dark.

Concealer: MAC. I have no idea what color because I’ve had it for years.

Eye shadow: Smashbox neutral pallette. Naked (original palette).

Eyeliner: Maybelline Master Duo. I DO NOT like this eyeliner. I feel that it’s watery, and I prefer a firmer tip. My preference is the Wet & Wild H2O Proof Liquid Eyeliner. I’m a fan of the price too.

Mascara: Maybelline Falsies, which I like because it includes a large brush for the top lashes and a small brush for the lower lashes. I’ve also been using Maybelline The Collossal. I think I like the drama now, but am torn because I don’t know if it’s too much for me. I think I like it though. This only has one brush though.

Brushes: E.L.F. brushes. Very cheap, soft, and gets the job done. Brushes include: Studio Powder Brush, Studio Complexion Brush, Studio Eye Shadow C Brush, Studio Contour Brush, Studio Blush Brush. All $3 each on eyeslipsface.com.

Skin care:

Face wash: Body Shop Tea Tree face wash. This stuff rocks. I didn’t like it at first because it isn’t as the thick as the Clean & Clear face wash I use. However, I’ve come to really like it. At night, I use makeup removing wipes from Forever 21, Clean & Clear face wash, Neutrogena toner, and Ambi. I use Ambi cream to lighten my dark spots. (I’m very bad at bursting pimples and picking blackheads.) Oh yeah. I use Clean & Clear moisturizer in the morning and evening. Lately, I’ve also been using an exfoliating pad on my face.

*Since I’ve been wearing more makeup, I find that I need to pay more attention to my skin. Go figure. More breakouts.

Reading:

Sunday Morning Blues: I raved about. My mother is having a hard time getting into it. If you like a book where you actually have to read it (and not just the back cover) to know the story, this may be a good book for you. It takes you behind the scenes of three first ladies, wives of pastors, showcasing their inner-most thoughts, feelings and struggles. It’s not a church bashing, full of drama book, but instead, an insightful book showcasing that even the women with the limelight are also human. I read it in a week, which says a lot about me because I’m not much of a reader.

Contagious: I’ve been listening to this book via Audible. This is a great book for any marketer or anyone who has an interest in human behavior, highlighting why items go viral or captures the attention of masses.

Failing Forward: I just started listening to this book via Audible. Though I haven’t yet completed it, what I get from it is that it focuses on redefining our perception of failure in order to ensure we don’t see failure as bad but, instead, as an opportunity for something better.

Home Stuff:

Bathroom: Inspired by this pin, I (with the help of my dad) have painted my bathroom a deep gray and white. I’ve also painted the door of my linen cabinet with chalkboard paint. Fun times.

Home office: The bathroom isn’t the only thing that got a paint job. I took time out to also paint my home office a pretty peach. While, yet not attained, the goal is to paint light grey gray chevron stripes on one of the walls, creating a pretty accent wall.

Food:

Girl Scout Cookies: I devoured 3 boxes of girl scout cookies this month, which I’m sure had something to do with my weight gain, causing me to make a drastic change in order to lose a quick 5 pounds. I won’t lie. The thin mints were delicious, and some may have even been worth it.

Canned Pinto Beans: Say what you like, but these things are delicious.

Smart Ones Pizza: This is great for a quick lunch or lazy meal. It helps resist other bad foods.

Activia Light Greek Yogurt – Strawberry: Only 1 Weight Watchers point and also good for digestion. I eat this as a snack as well as to keep my belly in order.

Juicing: I’m a kale head when it comes to juicing. Other ingredients include carrots, oranges, grapes blueberries, and apples (Jonagold, Gala, Barebraum (sp?) or Fuji)

 

What about you? What have you been into lately?

It’s almost time for me to hit the road again for business, and I’ll admit, business travel tends to lead to a bit of stress and anxiety – and not for the reasons you may think. I don’t have a fear of flying, I’m not deathly

I may or may not have taken these pics during a conference.
I may or may not have taken these pics during a conference.

afraid of bed bugs, and I’m not so attached to home that I can’t be gone for a few days. However, in real life, after the initial “wow” of the fact that you’re a traveling professional and get off the status high horse, you come to realize that business trips are exhausting as they take you out of your norm – or is this just me?

It’s true. I travel to some pretty amazing places for business. I’ve been to France, Arizona, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Orlando, a small town in Minnesota, and Chicago – all within less than two years. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t appreciate the warmer weather Phoenix and Cali brought during November and the warmer temps of France during the Snowpacolypse 2014 meets polar vortex. And if I didn’t say I didn’t

appreciate the culture of active, urban of DC, I wouldn’t be giving you the full picture. And I’d be remiss to not say there was some business benefit in each trip. Each trip serves a purpose – whether it be for learning, selling, or totally flooding social media with the latest and greatest at #ConferneceCon2014. (Can you guess what I do for a living?)

But that’s all the pretty side.

Brace yourself. This post is a bit of a rant – especially for all the people who think that business travel is cool and say “I wish I traveled for my job.” Let me give you the real deal on what it really looks like.

Top misconception

It’s a vacation. Poppysquat. The days are long and full of work. The food is not your top choice. And you’re away from your closest friends and loved ones – you know the people you would take along on a vacation.

Top annoyances and complications (think of doing some of these things multiple times a year, sometimes just weeks apart.)

  1. The anxiety of leaving loved ones. Once a year may be fine, but when those times skyrocket, it makes me a bit anxious. I want to cry a bit.
  2. Long days. Between setup, shut down, learning sessions, selling, photography, posting, lunch, dinner, extracurricular conference events, and almost always being on guard for the next quotable/hot moment, exhaustion quickly sets in. The lesson: It’s part of the role. Suck it up, and always have snacks nearby.
  3. Flight delays, connections, and lugging around carry-on luggage through multiple airports – including into restaurants and restrooms. The lesson: Travel with someone, if possible (they can watch your luggage), as soon as you hear about a delay, see if you can change your flight, and try to book connecting flights with the shortest, yet realistic layover.
  4. MISSING A CONNECTION. Especially when there are no more connections that night. The lesson: I caught a ride with ladies I didn’t know. I was tired, upset and adventurous. I just wanted to get home. I don’t recommend you do this. It may be better to just get a hotel.
  5. The act of booking the travel. Choosing airlines, flight times and hotels is a bit daunting – especially when traveling to unfamiliar cities. Seriously, how close or far away is the hotel from the venue. The lesson: Know as much about the venue location as possible, book your hotel as close as possible, be informed about your options for transportation.
  6. Taking cabs. I live in a city where driving is the norm.  Therefore, any means of public transportation is honestly both scary and intimidating. However, a cab may also be the easiest form of transportation in cities you don’t know.  The lesson: In cities you don’t know, use a cab. Be sure to look for the cab license and know you don’t have to use any transportation in which you’re unfamiliar. Remember you can also track the trip using GPS on your phone.
  7. Getting lost. Google maps can only get you so far. Yes, I’ve been in a pretty spooky place before. The lesson: Always be aware of your surroundings and take caution when going places alone. It’s always better to have a buddy.
  8. Compromise and the one-accord schedule. We eat together. We leave together. We do all together. For an independent person like me who actually NEEDS her alone time, this can be a bit overwhelming. Not to mention, I don’t always want to eat at the consensus restaurant. What if I just wanted a burger? The lesson: Suck it up and be a team player, but also be sure to set aside some alone time. However, if you’re anywhere outside of your hotel, it’s best to have at least one other person with you.
  9. Jet lag: Please tell me how my brain is supposed to function properly when 9am in France is 3am local time? I’m not sure if there’s any amount of coffee that can cure this. The lesson: You tell me.
  10. Leaving on bad terms. Your trip doesn’t care whether or not you had an argument with your significant other. It’s your job to go on as if nothing happens knowing your Skype session with the boo may not be so kosher. The lesson: It’s life. Try to avoid arguments if possible, but know that timing isn’t always perfect.
  11. Those dang travel-sized containers and toothbrushes. How many times do I have to transfer contents from the regular-sized container to the travel-sized container. When you begin to travel a ton, this annoys the crap out of me. The lesson: Keep the items in the containers in the baggies, waiting for the next trip. And always have extra toothbrush covers on hand. This may save you a trip to the “travel-sized” section of the store.
  12. Work electronics. This is the biggest pain-in-the-butt. In addition to everything else I bring, I also generally bring a laptop, laptop charger, iPad, high quality camera, camera charger and battery, camera case – all which come along in a backpack or in my carry-on suitcase. The lesson: Take a wristlet or wallet instead of a purse. It’s one less thing to worry about. The wallet fits easily inside a backpack and any other items you may normally carry in a purse may also fit inside of the backpack.
  13. Everyday work doesn’t cease. You will continue to get email, and your other tasks will be waiting for you when you get back. This means it’ll take some time to catch up and get back into the groove. The lesson: Turn your out-of-office message on, mark your calendar away, check your email when you’re away, respond to messages that require only a quick response, delete messages the messages that don’t require a response or that you’ve handled, and work on the flight and during layover, on breaks, or when you’re back at your hotel. I know this isn’t fun, but it’ll help with the recovery time. 

For added pleasure: Here’s my packing challenge.

Packing. Hmmm. What I can fit in a carry on becomes its own personal challenge where the security of your personal items and avoiding baggage claim is the coveted prize. My challenge looks a little like this: Clothes, workout clothes, gym-shoes, multiple pairs of work-approved shoes, make-up, airplane-approved  contact solution, glasses, contacts, flat irons, pressing comb, comb, brush, toiletries, and how many supplies do I need to transfer from a full-sized container to an airplane-approved container. And if it’s that special time – which for some reason seems to be oh-too-often when I’m traveling – you have to pack your special products. Oh yes, and let’s not forget our work tools.. And let’s not forget money, credit/debit cards, medical insurance card, and something to do on the flight – that is if you’re not working on the flight. 

 

I haven’t had a relaxer for years, and I’ve gone through the journey. Presses, braid outs, twist outs, curly girl method, two strand twists, sew-ins, braids, senegalese twists. Well you get the point.image

But the reality is that each style requires a different type of maintenance. Key word: maintenance.

When you don’t have a relaxer, maintaining straightened hair can be a doozy, especially if you’re like me. I exercise, sweat in my sleep, and live in a city where rain and a ridiculous amount of show is prevalent.

So what do I do to keep the keep it straight without applying any additional heat for 4 weeks?

Morning routine

  1. Leave scarf on and add shower cap when showering. Make sure your edges and any stray hairs are thoroughly covered. Water and straight hair don’t mix.
  2. Make sure you’re shower water isn’t too hot that it makes you sweat. This doesn’t mean you have to shower in cool or luke warm water. It just means it can’t be scolding hot.
  3. Open a door or window in your bathroom to let the steam and humidity out BEFORE taking your shower.
  4. Leave your scarf on after taking your shower, unless you realize your scarf somehow got wet. If your scarf got wet, take it off quickly after getting out of the shower, but also quickly get out of the humidity in the bathroom.
  5. After getting dressed, you can now take your scarf, apply oil (D0 not apply anything water based.) I tend to stick with Hot Six oil for the morning. I pour about a nickel sized amount, rub it into my hands, and then rub it onto my hair while it is still in wrapped around my head. Next, I come my hair down (maybe into the desired style), then I put another dime to nickel sized amount of oil in my hand and apply it all over my head…and yes, I pay attention to my ends, meaning you will have to do a final comb through before leaving. off and style as desired. The process is a little less complicated if I’m wearing a ponytail or bun, which I tend to do weeks 3-4 for obvious reasons; my hair is less straight, especially at the roots by this time.

Develop a morning AND night time routine.

  1. I have three oils that I apply night. Coconut oil, hot six oil, and Neno Natural’s Hair Growth Stimulator. image
    • I apply hot six oil on my hair every night, while i apply Neno Natural’s almost every other night and coconut oil when I feel like it. However, as my hair gets into week 4, I’m all about slathering coconut oil all over my hair, especially the ends since week 4 is when my hair is generally in a bun.
    • Hot six oil is applied all over my hair before wrapping, being sure to pay attention to the ends, while Neno’s Naturals is applied primarily to my scalp and massaged into the scalp.
  2. After applying the oils, I wrap my hair tightly in satin scarf, and call it a night.

Styling Tips

  1. To keep my hair from annoying me, I wear headbands or use a hair pin to pin it up. (Note: I try to limit my use of bobby pins because in order to try to avoid damage) When I use the hair pin, I just pull my hair back with my hand, and wrap it around itself, and use the hair pin to secure it. This is to not get the dreaded ponytail hump.
  2. When working out, I pull my hair back into a pony tail, tie the scarf tightly around it, and ensure my temperature doesn’t get too hot. Yes, I monitor how much I’m sweating, but to help I use a fan to table top fan or the fan on my treadmill to keep me cool. (I normally workout at home.)
  3. I only plan on my hair being really straight for one week. Week 2 may be a good headband week, since my hair tends to start looking frizzy on my right hand side, but it can be camouflaged a bit. Week 3, I go for the ponytail. Week 4, the sock bun. (Weeks 3-4, I no longer wrap my hair but only tie it up sine hair tends to break when attempting to comb through even the smallest frizz at the roots. Also, during bun week, I tend to put my hair in two flat twists at night since that’s the week with the most frizz, which could also mean the most breakage.)
  4. ALWAYS carry an umbrella unless it’s snowing.
  5. If it’s winter in an area that gets snow, ALWAYS have a hat. Get a cute one that can cover the ends of your hair. I like using a loose beanie because its loose enough to pull the ends of my hair into.