Jan 17

Reflections on the Woman’s March

On Saturday I stood with a crowd of 15,000 or so individuals at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

It was pretty amazing to stand with so many people and to know that there were marches like this all over the country and the world.

I felt a sense of hope. A sense that united together we were showing how many people care and will stand against hateful rhetoric from the man who was elected our president and the individuals in the US Senate and House of Representatives. That we will, when tested, stand up for our sisters and brothers of color, our Muslim friends, those who we don’t know who come from countries far and wide striving for the same freedoms my ancestors from Poland gained when fleeing from oppressive regimes. That we will stand and fight for fundamental access to health care, reproductive rights and free speech. That we will use our white power to protect, support, and defend the social justice issues that are what really make America great.

We stood together on that day as a crowd of majority white people. Many of us privileged in many ways. As women of color, Muslims, Lakota and migrant workers spoke, we cheered and clapped. Migrant Workers at Woman's March in Montpelier, VTWe listened to song from Nicole Nelson. We were stunned and amazed by Muslim Girls Making Change, we listened in rapt attention when Ebony Nyoni challenged us with #blacklivesmatter. We cheered in support when migrant justice workers asked if we would stand with them. We offered our applause for Rep. Kiah Morris. We stood in solidarity with Mary Gerisch as she spoke eloquently for native rights. We cheered loudly as Vermont’s teacher of the year, Rebecca Eun Mi Haslam spoke about the importance of education in a democracy.

There were whites who spoke as well, representing politics, choice, history, LGBTQ, and social justice views — Lt. Gov. Zuckerman, Sue Minter, Meagan Gallager of Planned Parenthood, and former Gov. Madeline Kunin, Linda Quinlan of Rainbow Umbrella and a passionate young woman from high school Greta Hardy-Mittell.

And of course there was Bernie.

I have been thinking a great deal about that day. I have been asking myself important questions such as why are we so proud that this was a peaceful march? As I read my Twitter feed and listened to people of color and native Americans I realized that while we did something amazing that day, because it was majority white in many areas, it was peaceful — not because white people are more peaceful (far from that) but more because law enforcement expects us to be more peaceful and “law abiding” so they showed up in pink hats and smiles, rather than riot gear and snarls.

I questioned myself. Will I REALLY STAND UP when it is time? Or will I retreat into my privilege, into my bubble, into my whiteness and just keep on going through my day because I can. Because I’m white. Because I’m baptized Catholic. Because I “fit in” to the definition of “American” being enforced so blatantly by our new President and his administration and the republican-led Congress.

As I was brought to tears by Muslim Girls Making Change. As I thought passionately about how I would support Kiah Morris. As I nodded my head vigorously in support of #blacklivesmatter. As I stood in witness of the migrant workers specifically asking us if we would protect them if needed….

A question kept slipping around my brain.

Would I? These individuals had the courage to stand in front of us. This huge white crowd. I am in awe of their courage. Their every day courage in the face of ignorance, fear and hatred. And I asked myself…will I REALLY stand with them? Will I stand BETWEEN them and help protect them?

All week I’ve been thinking about this.

What will I do besides march?

So far I’ve written one blog post, this post, emailed Sen. Sanders, Sen. Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch. I’ve posted content on my office window to help students use a new tool “5calls.org“. I’ve reached out to my local reps in Vermont because states will be the front lines. I’ve tweeted a lot. I’ve posted on Facebook.

Is it enough?

Well based on the news today, it looks like we will all get the opportunity to stand up and take action based on what we pledged last Saturday. In just one week the President of the United States and his team have begun to lock down this country and frighten people — and perhaps the worse at this point is what has happened to our friends and neighbors who have green cards who are not allowed back in this country because of their nationality and religion. This is not America.

So now we have our chance.

I for one am committed to writing and calling and getting into #goodtrouble. I’ve asked myself the questions and I know that if I am to look myself in the mirror I will not be silenced nor will I stop standing up for what is fundamentally American — FREEDOM.

Jan 17

Write More

Over the years, I have found that my students inspire me in many ways. This past fall semester, in the Marketing Capstone where we have students build their Professional Digital Identity, I was inspired by everyone — but one student’s approach to the assignment has been digging at me.

Ben challenged himself with “the More project” where he decided to do “more” of something and then write about it. As I watched him develop this and keep it going over the fall semester, I kept thinking to myself that as a professor who is pushing her students to create and build content, I’ve not been holding up my end of the bargain.

Ben Villnave

I’ve fallen into a state of non-writing. Going from one thing to the next, but not pausing to reflect, think, and explore. The very things I ask of my students.

So as we head into an uncertain political climate (although, truth be told, it’s getting more and more certain every day), face constant change in the discipline I teach, and I get ready to celebrate my half century birthday, it’s clear that it is time to WRITE MORE.

And so, I begin, with thanks to Ben and all my students. So much content to create..so little time!

Sep 15

Making a difference in the world is about to get easier

ShareYourselfHave you ever wanted to change something in your community? Build something that helps others? Contribute your skills to a project where you know there will be social good?

Good intentions are awesome, but making those intentions a reality is not easy. Between time constraints, figuring out what to do, and making the right connections, it can be overwhelming.

This is why I’m so excited to be part of a start up team for a new platform called ShareYourself. It’s been conceptualized by my good friend Stu McGowan and Lauren McKenna. I get to be the older lady on the team bringing my wisdom to the awesome talents and energies of the youth helping to build the platform. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to share my skills in helping to create something that I believe can really make a difference.

We’ve got social media to help us be social. What about social media that helps us make a difference in our communities in a meaningful way? A way to share more than an opinion or click a like button but to really, finally be able to use social media to not just do good, but to make a difference…solve a problem…create opportunity!

This platform is being designed to help people create new projects, join up with those who already have a project — the focus is all about people sharing their skills from around the world to make a difference in our global community.

In order to kick it off, Stu is bringing a team of us together so we can build the platform out in a hard core hackathon in October. We’ll be making this happen, fast and furious under the watchful eye of a man who knows what it means to make a difference in a local community (just go back up there and click that link on his name to learn what he’s done for Burlington) but in order to pull it off, Stu and Lauren are asking for some help through a KickStarter Campaign.

They need to raise $15,000 to help pull off the SYS Hackathon — they’ve got over $8,000 raised so far and are more than half way to their goal. The clock, however is ticking, and there’s a little over a week left to raise the rest.

So take a few minutes and watch their video and consider donating to the Kickstarter. There’s some cool incentives…but really, don’t you want to be someone who has helped to get a really meaningful social media platform off the ground so you can join others as they make a difference in our world?

More so than ever we need a platform like this. Take a risk with us and back our KickStarter. Share Yourself!

Sep 12

The honeymoon might be over, but the fun has just begun

My ThisisVT imageToday is my last day tweeting as @thisisvt.  What I can tell you is that it has been super fun and I count myself lucky to have been able to interact with so many people this week and repp a state that I have called home for 14 years.

My turn at the helm came at the seventh week.  You know how they say the honeymoon is over when you hit the seven year mark in your marriage?  (ok, I really don’t know who “they” are, but I remember my ex-mother-in-law clearly explaining to me that “they” say that year 7, and every 7 years after that is a big deal.  Maybe it’s an Italian thing…for the record I made it to 14 years.) Well our State’s little Twitter account has reached that point now as well.

In the first weeks of the the account the accolades poured in from Time, New York Times, and Mashable (and of course Forbes, thanks to Larry Olmsted, fellow @thisisvt tweeter) as well as some local reviews, to name a few:

The account began in July and here we are already in September.  But it was during my time (Sept. 3 – Sept. 9) when …. well the critics started to come out. On Sept. 1 the DMN News (Direct Marketing News) called the @thisisvt twitter campaign “lackluster”: http://www.dmnews.com/vermont-tourisms-lackluster-twitter-campaign/article/256303/ (Sept 1) and Jonathan Baskin raked the VT Tourism Dept. over the coals for being “lazy”  and called out those of us who are tweeting as “boring”:  http://baskinbrand.com/?p=926 (Sept 3).


Then the local folks jumped in — with lots of interesting suggestions on who else should be tweeting for the account. I guess we got all our #vtfeathers ruffled.  Locally responders are looking for more diversity in the pool of people tweeting, and yeah, they wanted it to be more risky.  So I’m also going to address that from my POV.

So far we’ve had seven individuals tweeting. We hail from Alburgh, Montpelier, Burlington, Rutland, South Burlington, and an undisclosed location (that’s Larry). We’ve had equal representation from men and women and a variety of professions from College Professor (that’s me!), to Adman (Ken), famous writer (Larry), a healer/tarot reader (Raven), a bookbinder (Elissa), a blogger and owner of a local family web guide (Dana), and a small business marketer/comedian (Ed).

We had some good local suggestions though — like @southunionskunk and @BTVSnowDragon and 20-somethings and 80-somethings. It was an interesting dialogue and I certainly had a good time talking about risk taking (hence the #vtrisky hashtag). We’ve got a great deal of awesome people here in VT so I’m sure that we’ll continue to see a wide variety. Just remember, if you want to take the helm, be sure to nominate yourself! 

FYI, the DM News folks just focused on number of Twitter followers as a metric of success. For those of you who follow my blog you know that number of Twitter followers is NOT a measurement of success.  As to Mr. Baskin — while his blog post has syndicated in many different areas, his chief complaint is that not only are we boring, and the tweets useless, but “the tweets aren’t about Vermont, they’re about the tweeters themselves.”. Ahem. Yep. That there, my friend is the point. The marketers “didn’t give up” — they are providing us all an opportunity to share what we love about Vermont. That is the point of this whole thing.

Yep. It’s about one person, each week. One Vermonter each week. We all bring our own point of view, personality, and interests. We bring part of our life into this and are giving people a glimpse of our lives. But only a glimpse. Essentially, no matter how awesome we are…we are still just people. Ordinary people. With ordinary lives. And that, well, really isn’t that exciting. Sorry to break it to you. From my own experience, I’m not going to “pick fights” nor am I going to toss F-bombs just to make it “interesting”. In my experience that isn’t really worth it. I focused on providing information to people about events, goings on, pictures, history, education, business…those things that I think are great about Vermont.  (I did get into a little dust-up over the merits of VT Maple Syrup vs. MI Maple Syrup though.) Ed, on the other hand called out Texas while he tweeted. Raven focused on some wonderful things going on Rutland.  In other words, we did exactly what the Vermont Department of Tourism is looking for. We were ourselves. We brought our own points of view. We had fun. And that is the point.  On some levels while this is all about marketing for our most awesome Green Mountain State, it is also about giving those of us who love this state the opportunity to show that love.  It feels good to do this and to represent.

I had fun.

So I hope as the weeks go on, people will focus more on each individual person and what they bring to the table to showcase what makes Vermont so frick’n awesome: Vermonters.

Oh, and Cider Donuts (which @stevegarfield ordered from Cold Hollow Cidermill, thanks to me — and that my friends is an ACTIONABLE METRIC!)

From this:


To the big win:


Cold Hollow Cider Mill Cider Donuts received by @stevegarfield

So good luck to all of those who come after me and remember, the fun has just begun!


Aug 12

Spark and Hustle

Who doesn’t need a little Spark and Hustle in their lives? Exactly!

Tory JohnsonI just returned from a wonderful conference in Boston where I had the opportunity to enjoy a speaker-packed day with a room full of women (and a few men) that focused in on all the things women entreprenuers need to know to be successful.  I met Tory Johnson in person, and if you haven’t heard her story of rising above a “down sizing” to carve out her own success, you’ve missed a fabulously inspiring story.

The day-long conference was packed full of energy, awesome swag, laughter, most excellent advice and tips, and a whole lot of women. Like…a lot of women.  For once, there was only one man on the agenda (vs. always seeing only one woman) and there were very few men in the audience.  It made for a very interesting and completely different vibe in the room. It. was. AWESOME.

Elaine Young at Spark and Hustle

Here I am at the beginning of the conference. Notice the awesome swag on the tables?

There were many things that made this conference especially inspiring for me….naturally I’ll share them here!

  1. The Road Trip: I had the pleasure of spending a car ride back and forth to the conference and a great night on the town in Boston with Kim Dubrul and Candy Weston. These two women entrepreneurs inspire me with their strength, creativity, and courage.  They are following their passion every day. They remind me that no matter what the obstacle, you can overcome it and do awesome things.
  2. The Speakers: The speaker line up was really powerful. Women entrepreneurs sharing their experiences and their advice. The kick off speaker was one of the co-founders of Birchbox.  Katie Beauchamp talked us through what it took for Birchbox to launch — from crazy idea (wait, people will pay for samples from fashion brands? Oh yes they will!) to what it is like now that they have funding and continue growing.  What was major fun for me about this one was that as I live tweeted about the company, I actually converted a sale for Birchbox!  There were so many other great speakers but two really stood out for me.  Corissa St. Laurent  with Constant Contact did a super job talking about “Engagement Marketing”.  So super in fact that I retweeted a Constant Contact post and won a copy of  Gail Goodman’s new book, “Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wines in a Socially Connected World”. Can’t wait to receive it!  Finally the woman who spoke about Accounting was super funny, totally engaged, and had everyone wishing they were her clients.  I, of course, was thinking, “I wonder if she has thought about teaching!” Seriously. Follow this woman. Her name is Dawn Brolin and she co-hosts a radio show called RadioFreeQB (no I’m not kidding).
  3. This Inspiration: I walked away from this conference inspired to push myself even more, start blogging again (yeah, it’s been a long time), fired up to work on my sabbatical project (oh yeah, I’m on sabbatical! More on that later.), and ready to get more serious about my own speaking. It’s time for me to expand beyond the classroom and do more speaking engagements, so as you look around my blog you’ll see that I’ve added a page on booking me as a speaker or workshop presenter.
I walked away from this conference with inspiration, closer friends, and pride for the wonderfully strong, passionate, and courageous women I met and interacted with at the conference.  It just takes a little “Spark and Hustle”.


Aug 11

Good information, but it could be prettier…

And that’s how it started.

I posted the syllabus for MKT 490: Marketing Senior Level Internship on-line a few weeks ago with the following tweet:

Shortly after I sent it out, I got this response from George Somers, a Computer Prof in Cali:

Now, let’s be realistic. A syllabus, well, it’s not supposed to be pretty right? It’s full of policies and procedures and dire warnings and detail. And of course every student READS IT!

That was my thought bubble.

But then….

I remembered…


And George was right.


Revolutionary thought right? A pretty syllabus.

I won’t bore you with details but suffice to say, after a tweet exchange and coffee with the most AWESOME Lara Dickson (you know her as @deepdishcreates) the graphic syllabus was born!

I’ll leave it to you all (and my students) to tell me if we are on the right track here:

My most awesome “non-pretty” syllabus



My even more awesome “Graphic Syllabus”:  MKT490-F2011-infographic

Many thanks to George for creating the “Aha moment” and to Lara for making the idea a reality.

May 10

Women, Businesses and Winging It

Women Business Owners Network

I’m privileged to once again be invited to speak at the Annual May Conference for the New England Women Business Owners Network.  I’ve been asked to showcase “Who is doing the web right”. I’ve given it a lot of thought and have decided that this year I’m going to do things a big different.

In the past I’ve pulled up the presentation and walked attendees through a group of WBON Members who are doing some great things on the web using a variety of tools.  Frankly folks, I’ve played it safe.  I’ve prepped, used the PowerPoint with screen shots and laid each item out clearly.  Then, I’ve opened up the floor to Q&A. Admittedly, in the past, it’s been unclear if we would have internet connectivity so I’ve felt I should go in ready regardless.

Perhaps I’m taking advice from one of my students, Carolyn, who has pushed us all to “Get Risky” this semester but I’ve decided to NOT go in with a prepared “Presentation”.

Instead I’m going to “Wing It”.

Ok, well maybe not really wing it.

More like “intentionally be unstructured”.  I’ve pulled out three WBON members (Kim Dubrul, Laura Aridgides and Meredith Martin Davis) and completed a quick assessment which I’ll lead with and then…well…it will be up to the audience. I’m going to turn this into a full blown, on-the-spot critique/recommendations session.


Because while many businesses are making the right moves, the online tools and options keep changing so fast that we can always improve.

I’ll let you know how it goes after tomorrow is completed.

Cross your fingers for me that we have internet connectivity at the hotel — because if we don’t, I’m not sure what I’ll do for that hour!