The Adult Card

theadultcard

Dear Life, I need a break. Adulting is a 24/7/365 type of job. There are no breaks or reprieves. When you’ve been adulting as long as I have, eventually you hit a breaking point. Mine was about two hours ago. Not one thing I needed to go right has in the last week. And most of it is out of my control. As an adult, I know that I can’t change it. But honestly I’d really like to bury my head in my pillow and not get up for two weeks.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option. I don’t have the luxury of taking breaks. I don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed by what’s on my plate. I like most of the stuff on my plate. It’s just the way it’s being served. There’s not enough time for everything to get the attention it needs. There’s not enough money to really make life easier.

Instead there is just the churn of life. The routine of doing all the things you need to do every day to keep your official adult card. Go to work. Pay bills. Buy groceries. Deal with intolerable people. This is what being an adult is. Of course, some of us do it better than others.

Errors have been made that have impacted me negatively in the last week. I’d gladly blame myself, but I’m not the culprit. Lucky for me, those responsible aren’t accountable. So it’s up to me to show up, flash my adult card and turn on my I’m not taking any shit voice. This voice is usually reserved for AT&T, United Healthcare, the HOA, numerous other organizations that I am forced to do business with and occasionally my husband.

I imagine that he can see it in my eyes when I’m about to lose it. Yet, he never does. You know when you get so mad and frustrated that you are literally steaming. Yeah, that’s me right now just waiting for him to get home so I can spew. I’ll reiterate he’s done nothing wrong; my fire breathing is not directed at him. But he’s my person that gets to hear all of it. He signed up for this. I never hid that I was holding on by a thread.

The thread may have broken. It does every so often. Then I have to work real hard at returning to human form and rethreading the needle of my sanity. If any of this sounds shocking then good for you and your commitment to being sunshiny. I just can’t do it. If you asked me right now, “How are you?” I think it would be physically impossible for me to say, “well” or “fine” or any other normal response.

So what do I do when I’m under water and cannot adult any more. I write in the hope that it will make me feel better or at least just get it out of my head. Sometimes just writing words can dampen the fire. Even though I’d like to resign from adulting, that’s not really how life works. I have to get up every day and work and learn and grow. I have babies that depend on me, and people that care if I show up for life. So I’ll keep showing up, and I’ll keep writing.

And I will hold on to what’s to come, including a girl’s weekend and a trip to two places I’ve wanted to see my entire life.

I feel as though I’ve been an adult my entire life. So why hand in this card I’ve worked so hard for? After all, if life was all uphill, what fun would that be? I’m quite sure I’ll never have to find out.

Advertisements

Better Man

better-man

I wished for so long
you were a better man.
All the wishes
in all the worlds
couldn’t make you
a better man.
Because in the end,
the very end,
you are whatever you think you are.

Even though what you do now
doesn’t touch me,
all the things you didn’t do
still haunt me.
No phone calls,
no notion that I mattered.
You never showed up;
not at the hospital,
the funeral
or any of the other wonderful or devouring things in between.

And there were so many.
I’ve paid for your sins.
I kept going back
to this starry-eyed belief
you were a better man,
or I could make you one.

Your better man just never showed up.
I’d like the time back that I waited.
Deposit every minute back in my hour glass.

Some call you a better man.
They deserve to have their view.
On the opposite side,
I’d wish now to go back and whisper in my ear,
“He’ll never be a better man.”

I would say in soft breaths,
“You will take this pain, this disappointment
and shape it into stories.
You, you will be a better woman.
And, you won’t have to tell yourself
that you’re something else.
It will just be true.”

 

 

My “Golden” Rules

golden-rules

I can’t apologize for being real and saying what I think. I do always try to say it with respect and kindness. But I simply cannot be something I’m not.

At this point in my life, I can see no reason or benefit to be anything less than 100 percent real. So it’s very unlikely you’ll find me small talking or blowing hot air.

I’m not perfect, but I am imperfectly real. I strive to lead an authentic life. If you don’t like me, I don’t have any desire to change your mind. And if I don’t like you then that’s probably not going to change either. However, I’ll never be cruel. Instead I’ll do my best to avoid you.

I live by three “golden” rules. I hope they guide me in my actions and decisions. I fall short regularly. But I believe in the power and freedom of self awareness

Rule One: Be good to others

I long for a culture where condemnation and criticism of the choices of others isn’t the norm. I long for inclusion. Whatever your beliefs may be, they are yours. And my beliefs are mine. So if they are different, let’s agree to disagree. Worry less about my salvation and more about your own. So as long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s not my place to judge.

Being good to others is more than kindness and empathy. I’m not always great at these. I do realize that not everyone has the strength to pick herself up. There are a million horrible things that happen to us in life. You can waste your time with blame, or you can move on. You can’t do both. Choose wisely.

Being good to others is often about saying nothing. It’s about not being a judge or jury. It’s about not discounting the experiences of others. It’s their experience; not yours.

So when I live this rule, it’s not that I’m selfless and full of inspiration. I’m not. I do respect the views of others. So please respect mine. Our differences make us human. So why are they often what tears us apart?

Rule Two: Be good to animals

I’m suspicious of those without pets. Of my inner and extended circle, I can think of no one who doesn’t share their home with an animal or three. Having an animal makes every home better. But my rule extends beyond the domesticated. We have a duty to care for and protect animals. Yet most see animals as something to control or use.

So I worry about the dogs pacing the shelter floors. I worry about the elephants prized for their tusks and nearing extinction. I worry about the bears in Alaska who have lost critical protections.

My ask of anyone is to see the beauty in nature; a beauty created by animals and plants. They do not need man. They were here long before us and will probably survive us. People often say that humans have personified animals; that they simply don’t have feelings. I would argue with this all day. They may not be as complex as we are, which is probably a good thing, but they most definitely feel and grieve and love.

Rule Three: Be good to yourself

The hardest rule not to break, for we are all too often unkind to ourselves. I am my own worst critic. No one has ever been or ever will be harder on me than me. I’d say I’ve called a truce with myself. I try to have boundaries, so that yes I can push when necessary but also let off when I’m hitting the wall.

Someone told me the other day they had high expectations of me, and I answered, “I have high expectations of myself.” I expect to be perfect. As I’ve already told you, I’m not. So there’s this winding trail of disappointment.

I am honest with myself. It took me a long time to get here, to be self aware. It was work, and I didn’t do it alone. It’s peaceful though. It’s calming to know that I control my attitude and choices. Nothing nor no one has this power but me. Don’t ever surrender the power you have to be your own person. It’s hard to get back.

Be patient. Be considerate. Understand that if you are trying every day to be better and be authentic then you are doing great. You’ve survived everything that’s happened thus far, and hopefully can still smile.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Always know in your heart you are far bigger than anything that can happen to you.” I hold this in my mind a lot. Maybe you will as well.

I’m no inspirational leader or motivational speaker. I’m just a woman who loves to write and is sometimes not afraid to be vulnerable and honest. I just have moments of courage, and they happen to come out in sentences. If my words every mean something to anyone then I’ll feel heard; I’ll feel purposeful. I’ll feel I’m following the rules.

10 Twitter Musts for B2B Brands

twitter-b2b-brands

If you are going to use Twitter as a channel for your B2B brand then you must be strategic. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time. By incorporating these Twitter musts, you can actually begin to see ROI (return on investment) for your social media marketing efforts.

Share original content

Twitter feeds on great content. If you produce relevant content that your audience wants to read, you are starting a conversation. You must have a content marketing plan in place to execute this. I adhere to the 50/30/20 rule, wherein 50 percent of content is original content that attempts to answer questions, provide education and nurture the relationship; 30 percent is third party content that complements your original content; and 20 percent is purely promotional.

For the 50 percent part of the pie, it’s great to come up with a monthly featured topic, and break it down to lots of formats: eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, infographics and video, all of which you can share on Twitter. Original content that resonates with your audience and allows them to learn or have a broader understanding will get liked and shared and can lead to conversions.

Share partner and third party content

For the 30 percent part, you should curate content that makes sense for your brand, monthly topic and partnerships. You should have a third party content spreadsheet, identifying the organizations that you feel align with your brand. Examples include trade groups, publications in which you advertise, thought leaders/SMEs (subject matter experts) and those companies of which you have official and unofficial partnerships. Sharing their content of course increases the chance, they’ll share yours.

Engage with your audience

I analyzed a Twitter account recently for a brand that had been on Twitter since 2008, and they had a total of 288 likes. So in almost nine years, they’ve only liked 288 tweets. That’s not how Twitter works. You have to be engaged. You must like tweets that mention your brand (where appropriate) or those from your partners and thought leaders. The same thing applies to retweeting.

Respond

Twitter is a place where clients often bring concerns or successes to the conversation. If you are asked a question about your product or service, answer it or at least acknowledge it and respond via direct message. Not responding at all only makes a negative experience worse, and if the tweet is positive, your “fan” feels ignored.

Include CTAs (calls to action)

Why do you tweet? Do you really see Twitter as a channel for content or a necessary evil? To use it as a channel, you must guide a prospect to the next step. Most interaction between prospects and brands would be considered the Awareness stage of the buyer’s journey so that means they are just determining they have a problem. Using Twitter to publish original content that answers questions and educates transforms it into a meaningful channel for lead generation. Your post should be a quick summary with keywords hashtagged, include a photo and end with a CTA like read our blog or explore our options. It’s a meaningful ask that propels the user.

Grow followers legitimately

This is a PSA to urge you to never buy followers. Buying followers as well as using “bots” to make a post seem like it has more likes and shares continues to be an issue. Bots are really algorithms working behind the scenes. Bots look like real profiles to a lot of users, however social media marketers and influencers can spot it. Using bots may seem like a great way to “viral” or engage real users, but I would never recommend it. If you’re just “buying” engagement then what’s the point of using Twitter as a true lead gen channel.

Tag correctly

As I’ve discussed, it’s important to share the content of partners and engage with your followers. That means tagging profiles properly. If you are sharing a piece of content from a partner, then use their handle as a mention as well as the actual author of the content. This is a simple way to expand your reach. Always use handles when replying as well.

Hashtag responsibly

Just because it’s a keyword in your niche industry doesn’t mean it will have any hashtag relevance on Twitter. Twitter uses hashtags as a way to determine what’s trending and for users to search based on a particular phrase or word. Don’t over hashtag. My advice is three max in a tweet. Not sure if your keyword is a real hashtag, just search it on Twitter.

Measure and tweak

Of course measurement is an important part of ROI. But measuring just the basics of follower growth and engagement (based on shares and likes) isn’t enough. You must put context around the data. You should be benchmarking against competitors as well as determining what your actual reach and visibility are. For instance, if you had 50 likes in a month with only 500 followers, that’s decent. But it would be immaterial if you have 10,000.

You should also be measuring how Twitter is working as a channel. What’s the click through on your links? How does Twitter compare as a referrer compared to other social media platforms or organic search?

Once you start compiling data then you need to make it actionable. If the data reflects infographics are liked and shared more than any other content then consider increasing the number of those. Do more of what works; less of what doesn’t.

Have fun

B2B companies often miss this important mark on Twitter. They’re overly promotional and seem like a machine rather than a human. Stop taking yourself so seriously. There are so many national days and holidays that provide you the opportunity to tweet a trending hashtag and show off your lighter side. Resist being too cheesy.

Here’s an example: June 29 is Talk in an Elevator Day; you could suggest some fun topics like, “Ask your fellow elevator passengers their top three favorite movies.”

Twitter and its abbreviated lingo can be a great way to connect with many different buyers. Keep in mind that it’s not all about you, your products and your awesomeness. You must give to get in the Twitterverse. If you don’t have a defined strategy that includes goals, actions and KPIs (key performance indicator) then it’s really just throwing up some random content and seeing what sticks. So do these 10 key tactics and see what happens! I’d love to hear your Twitter musts for B2B, tweet me at @bethfosborne.

This is Marriage

this is marriage

My husband and I regularly have discussions about the bathroom habits of our dogs. Unfortunately, one of our dogs, Fawn, has had several accidents in the last week. So we’ve spent time trying to dissect what caused the poop on the floor. I’m not trying to be graphic, but this is marriage. If you’re unwilling to accept that much of it isn’t very exciting then it’s probably not for you.

We often say our schedule revolves around when they need go out, and that isn’t really a joke.  Along with the regular discussion about dog bathroom habits, there’s the eternal question of “What’s for dinner?” If I haven’t pre-planned the meal then this is the dreaded and loaded question. He likes everything; I like some things. So he always puts the pressure on me to decide. Sometimes though I just can’t make one more decision. I think 87 percent of our “disagreements” stem straight from this topic. So if anyone wants to plan our meals for us, we’re interested. But he is such a saint about it; it’s not easy to have to eat with me and my don’ts.

So, yes this is marriage. Marriage in the end often comes down to who you can stand to have most of your meals with. Because that’s what you do, you eat with the one you love.

The other frequent topics of conversation are the renovations. I’m not involved in the work really; I design and get out of the way. Yet, he likes to keep me updated on all the different problems that arise. For instance, there’s not a wall in this place that’s square. He’s told me about all of them. He’ll often go into detail about how he’s going to install something. I honestly stop listening. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t.

I can only take in so much information every day. And the information I refuse to retain is where things are located in Lowe’s. I know my stores; I can tell you where most anything is in the stores I most frequent. So I expect him to know where stuff is at Lowe’s. He does not. I usually have to actually go with him, and every time we do, I remind him, “This is your store.”

This is marriage; pretending to listen, hoping that the other person knows stuff you don’t. He has knowledge in his head, I could never absorb and vice versa. We’re a good team. We even each other out.

Essentially marriage is about really liking someone. It’s different than the love we feel. Love is a powerful emotion that’s rarely stable. It has peaks and valleys. I look at him sometimes and just think, “Damn, I love him.” And sometimes I look at him and think, “Damn, I want to smack him.” However, most every day, I’m pretty confident I like him. He doesn’t get on my nerves very often; although sometimes I’m just irritable, so it’s not really him. I’m a woman, my mood isn’t constant. That would be no fun.

So liking each other, that’s the “secret” to a long marriage. At the end of the day, I like talking to him. I like watching TV with him. I like that he’s prone to be silly and sing me back the end of the sentence I just said. He says this is to indicate he heard me. I think he just likes to sing.

Marriage is not for those chasing big highs or relentless passion. That’s not what happens when you create a routine or a schedule with someone. That’s marriage; less exciting more humdrum. I’m totally okay with that simply because he’s the person I most want to do nothing with.

Marketing Tools I Love

marketing-tools

As a marketer, we have lots of great tools available. I’ve tried out many. These are some that I love and why. I’m not affiliated with any of these brands, and my recommendations are simply my humble opinion.

Hootsuite

There are lots of social media management platforms available. I’ve been using Hootsuite for about a year, and I think it’s pretty nifty. I use it both on desktop and the app. The only negative is that on the app, I can’t schedule for a LinkedIn company page. I also use the Hootlet extension so that I can post directly from the article I’m reading. I set up most of my social media on Sunday for the following week. Because I manage multiple accounts, it keeps me organized. You can create multiple streams and “listen” for keywords. It’s also easy to manage engagement, as I can reply, retweet, share or like directly from the app.

Canva

I’m so obsessed with this platform. I am officially a raving fan, and I’ve recommended it to about 10 people thus far. Canva helps you make your imagery and designs look professional. I am NOT a designer so I need help. Canva has amazing templates, most of which are free. And it already has the sizes you need for a variety of posts: social media, blogs, etc. You can create eBooks, presentations and pretty much anything marketing related. I also just used a template to update my resume. They even offer “magic” resizing so that if you create a design in one template, it will automatically resize it. The basics are free, but I do have a paid subscription. It’s probably the best $13 I spend a month.

Instapage

Full disclosure, I’m neither a designer nor a coder. But I wanted to build easy landing pages without waiting for a designer or a coder. I tried out several landing page creators. I’ve loved Unbounce for a long time; that produce some great content. It just wasn’t a good fit for me based on skill set and price. Instapage is so easy to use! Drag and drop basically. They provide a lot of templates, or you can make your own. You can also add your brand font and colors easily. For a very reasonable price, you can create unlimited pages. Super easy to navigate, and it integrates with many website platforms like WordPress.

Pixabay

I’m no fan of stock imagery. It ruins so many cool websites. I try to use imagery that aligns with the idea but looks natural. Pixabay is my absolute favorite free photo site. They have a nice collection of photos and illustrations. I’ve been using it for years. I rarely ever have to go to a second source because Pixabay almost always has what I want. Pixabay photos are on my blog and portfolio website. Even though it is free, you can donate money to them. I use them a lot so I have no problem with helping them out.

Hubspot

Last but not least, I absolutely believe Hubspot is the best marketing automation software. I’ve been in love with their message for years and finally got the opportunity to use it for a project I worked on for several months. It’s so intuitive, and it integrates everything. You can post blogs, design landing pages, manage SEO and more. Plus, they offer FREE education. I’ve taken the software class and the certifications classes in inbound, email and content marketing. Their webinars are pretty insightful as well. Marketo and Pardot, to me, aren’t even in the same neighborhood, and both of those platforms don’t offer any training unless you are a paying customer. It also costs quite a bit to even take their certification tests.

If you need tools to work on marketing yourself or a brand, check out my recommendations. I’d also love to hear about the marketing tools you love.

Happy Marketing!