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2011 Year in Review

Hello 2012. What a year 2011 was! I kicked off the year with a challenge for the next 1001 days. The challenge was created out of the fact that I was bored. I was bored with life. I was used to being busy and challenging myself but had been feeling less than extraordinary due to a  new found freedom that comes once you graduate and are not locked into a strict schedule every single moment of the day. The challenge to embrace change, grow in new directions, and celebrate life’s little moments were all part of the reason I wanted to challenge myself with 101 goals over 1001 days. I have made some progress over 365 short days and want to recap the highlights:

January began with the 1001 challenge. Some of the goals on the list seemed a little lofty to me and were designed to really push me out of my comfort zone. It would also allow me to try new things.  January kicked off with some travel and meeting a fellow social media friend.  I went to North Carolina and Indiana during January. I also went to see Beauty and the Beast at the Fox in Atlanta. One of the challenging goals on my list was trying 30 new recipes. My ability to cook 365 days ago on a scale of 1 to 10 was 1. I barely could make mac and cheese. I am happy to say that I am becoming more comfortable in the kitchen and over the last few months I have really pushed myself. January began the new recipe challenge and I am happy to say the Bacon Avocado sandwiches are still one of our go-to meals.

February began my journey of trying new restaurants. There are a ton of cool places to eat in Atlanta and I wanted to be able to try them all out. February also was about planning for marriage. One of the best books I have ever read was during that month, 5 love languages. It has helped us as a couple more than I can say. It not only helps me understand my spouse better but it also allows me to understand people’s motives, especially in the work place. I have grown a lot just by that simple book. Thank you Gary Chapman for writing a book that explains so much.

During March I challenged myself to a 30 day fry free zone. This was a big challenge mostly because I didn’t realize how many French fries I ate and how fee alternative options were available. During March I also went to Florida for a professional conference and assisted in some workshops there on social media.

April was a time for more travel, blogging, and meeting new people. April was the month I challenged myself to blog for 30 days straight. New restaurants were tried, three states were visited, and a wine was tasted.

May and June were busy with house hunting for our newlywed home and strawberry picking. The month was also filled with girls nights and reading The help. Work was busy for May and June so there was a lack of progress on the 1001 challenge, however there was a lot of planning and preparation going in to making the next few months a success.

The summer were the months that the biggest changes happened. In July I started my new job as a “career women”.  The summer seemed to fly by as I tried to squeeze in as much time soaking in the sun while juggling planning a wedding and working full time. My girls only trip happened in the form of the Bachelorette Party this month planned by my wonderful sister. I also embraced my singlehood and went pushed myself to go to a movie by myself. July was also busy as I took a dance class and went through Pre-Marital Counseling with Conner.

August 13, 2011 finally rolled around. Months of planning the wedding of my dreams finally came to reality this month. I also did some traveling outside of the United States this month to Jamaica. In my spare time I also joined the Junior League. This would be the platform where I could devote my 101 hours of volunteering over the next 1001 days. https://mandyvolpe.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/101-in-1001-august-update/

September began the volunteering as well as the wedding detox. By wedding detox I mean it was time to get my name legally changed, organize our wedding stuff, and sell all unwanted wedding decor. September was pretty busy in the fact that there was a lot of new things happening and the month really called for an establishment of a routine. I felt like that routine finally happened by the end of the month which meant that the chaos settled down too.

October was a fun month filled with date nights, dinner parties, and a girls night out. October was the 100th anniversary of my sororities charter on campus so there was a lot of celebrating going on!

November was laid back because I was busy traveling and preparing for the holidays. New recipes were tried along with some volunteering.

December was about family and “first’s”. It was the first married Christmas, first time getting a puppy, and first time for new traditions. December was a little slower and involved a little bit of relaxation. It also was a time for some crafting. December was a nice time for reflection of how lucky I was during 2011 and how much had happened. It was also a time of reflection on goals achieved as well as outlook to the future.

I am excited for the mystery of what 2012 has in store. Here’s to 2012.

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Create a Strategic Plan

It is 20-10 (that is how I am choosing to call the New Year, but please don’t be offended if you want to call it two thousand and ten). I am sure you have all made some New Years Resolutions. As a small business owner, or even an entrepreneur you may be wondering how to take your resolution of “Launching your business in to the New Decade” and putting it in to practical application. I am here to help you do just that by using various forms of social media! Let’s break this down to be a little more manageable:

Step 1: Create a Strategic Plan.

For 20-10 your resolution is to launch your business in to the new decade, but how do you do that? Launching your company in to the new decade takes some strategy to effectively use all of these resources.

  • You need to carefully evaluate your ideal customer and how they are gathering information about your company. Many customers are Web 2.0 savvy. Customers are connecting with new products and businesses through the internet. Customers are finding products through online advertisements, blog references, company Twitter accounts, or their friends becoming “fans” of the Facebook page.
  • After you evaluate your customers, research the various Web 2.0 forums for communication to your customers. I suggest starting with blogs, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Oh and if you haven’t created a website for yourself- Start there first.
  • Next lay out the tools you will use. Will you start a blog? Will you create a Twitter account to market to your customers in 140 characters or less? Will you create a Facebook Page to update Fans on new products or services? Decide which tools fit your needs the best.
  • Create a time line of expectations and define tools for measurement. Analyze the tools you identified in the last step to develop an action plan of updates. It is unrealistic to say “I am going to use every social media tool that is available on the web”. You need to realistically define which tools you can update consistently in order to gain and maintain customers using the web. Do not get discouraged though, because there are plenty of resources that allow you to manage all of your social media sites through an online application. These resources help you generate content that is linked to your sites in order to create a blanket message across all of the various tools. I will go in to these resources in a different post. Another fun fact is that a lot of these sites have built in measurement tools to analyze clicks on your page, customer interaction, and the amount of followers you have. These are all beneficial to evaluating how many customers you are contacting on a daily basis.
  • Develop a plan to get all “employees” on board for the New Years Resolution of launching your business in to the new decade. Allowing employees to become involved in creating content for your social media sites is beneficial to the company. Employees can join in the conversation with customers to ensure quick feedback and regular updates.

This is a small step to completing your resolution of “Launching your career in to the new decade”. Develop your strategy and start exploring your new social media tools. Then come on back here to find out more tips on creating a social media policy, measurement devices, and generating quality content.

Taco Bell Diet?!?!

It seems like January is always the month when commercials come out about the best way to lose weight. I love the Subway 5 dollar foot long commercials. Especially the one with the construction workers that can’t get the jingle right.

I don’t mind Jared promoting the “weight loss” diet by eating Subway.

I also don’t mind the commercials/infomercials about the latest fitness equipment.

Where I draw the line is the “drive-through” diet from Taco Bell. EWW! I cannot believe they paid money to shoot this commercial and place it on prime time TV spots. No thank you.

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