Giving 100%

“I have a theory that if you give 100% all of the time,
somehow things will work out in the end.”

Larry Bird

Larry Bird Gives 100 percent

Using Nerd Powers for Good and for Love

My Bit.ly Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I like Valentine’s Day, I also have the bestest husband in the world. I think I always have liked Valentine’s Day. I am sure there was a rough year or two in there but generally speaking, I like the holiday. Some years my mom was my Valentine, Brody had a good run for a few years too. You can always have a Valentine.

This year I did something super nerdy but I wanted to share. If you haven’t gotton your guy or girl a gift yet, you may want to listen up!

I use a popular link shortening service for work stuff all the time, Bit.ly. What it does is take a long website URL like http://www.ohmygoshinc/article/todaysdate/how-to-use-URL-shortners.php and makes them really small like bit.ly/aBcDe. That makes the links so much easier to share on blogs, websites, social media sites and more. You also can track how many people click on your bit.ly link after you share it. Neat eh?

Bit.ly Customize LinkThere is another feature in Bit.ly that I like, you can customize your shorter link.

So for our Valentine’s Day we went out to dinner last night. I took the gift I got Adam, found a link for it online, shortened it, customized it and wrote just the Bit.ly link on the inside of his card. His special Valentine’s link was http://bit.ly/LOVEuAdam. He was able to use his iPhone at dinner and see the image that I linked to. Pretty cool huh? In a lame, nerdy way?

So boys and girls who haven’t got something for your sweetie yet – purchase something online, grab the link for the image of it, shorten it with Bit.ly, customize it and put it in their card. You will win some bonus points for thoughtfulness!


Bonus round – Google Local Valentine’s

So as I was writing this, I stumbled upon Google Local’s Valentine maker! Do you and your loved one have a special place? Where you first met? An upcoming vacation? Your first home? You can add the location in an eCard from Google. Add a personal message and send it off! Aww how nerdy!

I HAD to make one (or two – sent one to Jenika too)!

Adams Aruba Google Local valentineJenikas Google Valentine

Hope you are all having a fun, nerdy Valentine’s Day!

One Girl’s Fear of Public Speaking

The Three Worst Parts of Being an Accidental Public Speaker

And the best ways I have come up with to combat them

Amanda OBrien speaking at Social Media FTWOver the last few years I have had some amazing professional experiences. My work has let me use my skills, teaches me new things every day and I have met some great people. I even get to travel around and talk to people about the things I have learned. Sometimes they are small groups and sometimes large. The problem is… I am terrified of public speaking.

How did this happen to me?

There are people out there who love public speaking. They love it so much that they learn an industry, trade or skill just so they can teach it to other people. There are people who feel like public speaking is up there on the path to ‘making it’. I feel like it is a necessary piece of my position. I feel like if you can speak and genuinely help other people, than you should. If you are speaking just to speak, you may be doing everyone an injustice. I speak because I think I have to, not particularly because I want to.

Internet marketing, building websites and social media are interesting, complicated and ever changing topics. If I can take the content and practices that I have learned and can teach another business, that is good. If that knowledge helps your business and the next time you need any of our services, you think of me – even better.

From my first professional speaking gig to my most recent, they are all scary but I am positive I left the audience with information they can use and that they have not heard someplace else. I genuinely think I can help people, so that is why I speak about my industry.

Without further ado, here are the 3 worst parts of public speaking for me and how I try to keep that anxiety under control:

  1. Blacking out – We aren’t talking about one too many martinis at the Armory blacking out, I mean completely sober. What happens is I get really nervous up until the second I start talking and then I just go blank. The words come out, I can move around, show slides, even make jokes but I don’t remember any of it very well. I have seen recordings of me speaking and you can’t tell I am in that black out state, but I am. It is almost like it is an emotional blackout. I can’t be scared anymore, I can’t prepare anymore – all I can do is tell you what I came here to tell you.

    How I combat it – I don’t. I almost embrace it at this point. It is a calming feeling. The best thing you can do is know your stuff, like really know it. Know it so well that if something is wrong with the A/V you can STILL put on a good presentation without slides. Know your content so well that you could do it in your sleep. That way if you have your emotional blackout, you can still do your presentation on auto-pilot.
  2. Nerves and stomach cramps – I know I am not alone on this one. Before a speaking engagement your stomach can be so tied in knots that you feel like you are going to be sick (or you might actually get sick, that has happened to me before). The way I think of it is just that nervous energy is churning your stomach faster than it likes to be churned.

    How I fight back – Nervous is nervous. There isn’t a lot you can do to stop it. I think nervous is good, it means you care about doing a good job. I think the day I am not nervous is the day we may need to switch some things up. My attempts to fight back the angry stomach, I learned from physical activities. The torture practice of hot yoga has taught me a thing or two about panicking (it is hot in there, I am panicking). You want to focus on your breath. Deep, slow breaths in and out of your nose can really calm you down. Running has also taught me about foods and portions before you participate in your activity. It is better to eat something small than a huge meal. Give your body something it will take some effort to burn off like a protein over a mini-muffin. Lastly, drink lots of water – nature’s miracle drug. I have never, ever heard a public speaker complain on a large stage that they are hungry. Eat something small and when you are done and you calm down, you will be starving. I have also never seen a speaker fall asleep while speaking so maybe lay off the coffee a bit until you are done too.
  3. The word ‘um’ – Where did this toxic word come from? Um? It sounds so stupid. Why do we all say it? It is like being a drug addict. I can’t get rid of it no matter how hard I try. It is a pause in conversation, a sound we make when we are thinking or stalling or lost or for a million other things. We need a revolution! I hate saying it and I don’t realize I do until after if I have to watch a recording of myself.

    How I fight back the ‘um’ – I am still working on this one. I have tried punishing myself by making myself edit out all the ‘ums’ in recorded presentations. I have tried replacing it with other words or by taking a deep breath. Those only work a little. I have also found that the evil little utterance comes out more when I am overtired. Make sure you get get plenty of sleep before a speaking engagement to protect yourself from those little slips.

That is it! Those are MY biggest hurdles in public speaking. I think the more you realize the issues you have and make a plan to combat them, the better off you will be. So those are mine. How about you? Do you like public speaking? and what things trip you up along the way? What do you do to overcome those hurdles?

I have a secret – I don’t hate winter

It seems like everyone I know hates winter. They hate the cold, the dark, the snow, the ice and they love to complain about it. I don’t. I actually sort of like the winter.

Life would be boring if it was summer all the time. I can’t say I have always loved winter but over the past few years I have really come to enjoy it.

Here are my own 5 personal secrets to not hating winter:

  1. Be prepared for winter – If you live anywhere near us, there are some things you are going to need to get to be prepared for winter. I would invest in a shovel or two. I would get a car that doesn’t suck in the snow. I would clean out and stock items in your cupboard in case you get snowed in, you can make a meal at any time. I would recommend inspecting your heating systems so you can avoid problems before it is too late. I would stock up on indoor activities. We have a lot of board games, card games, puzzles and projects around the house so if it is unreasonable to be outside, we have plenty to do inside.
  2. Dress for winter – Sounds like a no brainer but people seem to have a hard time with this one. You can’t wear the same jacket and light sweater you did in the warmer months. Get some kick ass warm winter boots that you love to wear and go stomp around in the snow. Layer up – temps go from cold to warm to hot when you go in and out of establishments like restaurants and work. Be prepared. Have a few layers that you can shed.
  3. Try a few winter only activities – Getting a tan at the beach is out so try to find winter activities that you like. Skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing etc., will get the blood flowing. Moving around in the winter is better than hibernating all season. You can also do a lot of spring/summer/fall activities in the winter, you just have to dress better for them. I had to bulk up my running gear so I can run in the winter. I know plenty of people who still ride their bikes in the winter. You have to cover up and probably can’t do the activities as long but you can still do many of them.
  4. Splurge on things to make your life easier – Not going to lie, our winter’s have been easier with a few key pieces. Many of which we lucked out on when we bought our house. One would have to be the snowblower, it makes clearing the driveway a lot easier. Shoveling does stink. Second, I would say is having a garage so my car doesn’t need to be shoveled off. The last ones I would have to say are the hot tub and the fireplace. They both came with our house but they sure are handy in the winter. I have pretty poor circulation and Raynauds so sometimes I am just cold to the BONE and the only thing that can get the color back in my fingers is a hot tub session. A fire roaring in the fireplace does wonders for making the whole house feel warmer too. Are these things practical for everyone? Absolutely not, but they have really helped us in taking some of the pain out of winter.
  5. Have fun with it – Being a grown up in the winter doesn’t have to be boring. There are still plenty of activities you can do for fun. If not, create the fun activity. We just got back from the Chili Festival on Martha’s Vineyard. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel (off season so it was cheap), ate chili and drank with 3,000 other people in a tent. It was amazing. The weekend before we drank hot toddies in a homemade ice bar with some of our closest friends. In a few weeks is the Toboggan championships, we aren’t making it this year but that is definitely on my list to do one of these years. There is plenty to do in the winter, you just have to look for it.

That is it for now. Those are my top secret tips on how I have come to actually like winter. The season doesn’t seem so long when you are participating in it versus just waiting for it to be over. I would love to hear what you do to enjoy this chilly season.

Running Gets My Brain in Shape

I just passed my two year anniversary of being a pretend runner. Since then I have run 3 half marathons, 3 10Ks, a few 5 mile races and quite a few 5Ks. I still stink at running and I still don’t really like it. I have never experienced a “runner’s high”. I have never, ever even come close to winning a race. I haven’t lost a significant amount of weight.

I continue to run and here is why:

Disney Half MarathonRunning has taught me how to set goals and work towards them – I have become huge into setting goals. I’m an only child so if I wanted something, I would want it and either I would get it or I wouldn’t. Now if I want something, I think about why I want it and then I come up with a plan on how I am going to get it. This goes for running a race, becoming a faster runner, work goals, personal goals and just about anything.

When this whole running thing started, Kelly brought it up to run a half marathon in 16 weeks. I went from not running since high school (and lets not kid ourselves, I barely ran in high school), to following a schedule to run 13.1 miles in 16 weeks. It meant running 3 days a week, adding extra miles every week and you just had to do it or you would die trying to run 13.1 miles. We did it. It wasn’t pretty but we did it. That taught me that even the most impossible seeming goal can be broken down bit by bit and you can make it happen, if you want to enough (that whole ‘wanting’ thing is pretty important).

Sometimes turning your brain off is the best resolution to a problem – I have been known to over-think a thing or two. I can get so stuck on a problem, on something someone said, how someone acted, how I am going to do something or just about anything. I run circles around the problem in my head. I think about it from different angles. I get frustrated and stifle any bit of creativity I had for a resolution.

When I run, it stinks. I can hear my breath, that walker looks like they are going to pass me, I have only gone half a mile, why isn’t that person wearing shoes, this song on my iPod blows, I can’t remember if I locked my car, I have only gone three quarters of a mile and it finally has to stop. My brain has to stop. Me and my brain settle in to this activity we need to finish and it shuts off. The strangest part about my brain shutting off is that at the end of the run when I am stretching or climbing into the car, that problem I had at the beginning? I have a resolution. I think of an idea that will help me. It is almost like the problem worked itself out while my brain was on autopilot.

Running has taught me how to push through a problem – I wouldn’t say I was ever much of a quitter but there were lots of situations that instead of trying to get through them, I would step to the side, let them happen and then deal with the aftermath. Some of those problems were big and some of them were small.

As I have said and will continue to say, running is not easy for me, I am not good at it, it is a struggle. Some moments are harder than others. When faced with 90 degree heat on race day, or 50 and pouring, or a giant hill – you can always push past it and it will be better after you have done it. Since this silly running thing has happened, I have gotten much better about pushing through problems. I know if I stick to it and work on it, they will be better.

People pick up running for lots of reasons. The reasons I thought I was picking up running turned out to be less important than the things I have learned about myself along the way. Sure I have gotten in better shape and got to do new things but the biggest thing is how running has helped my brain get in shape, made me a calmer person and taught me how to deal with obstacles along the way. Funny how that happened.

2011 is Making Me Twitchy

Lost in the snowI think that 2010 was one of the best years of my life. It was the year I got LASIK so now I can see. It was the year I got to sail around the British Virgin Island with my husband. I got a significant promotion at my job at the beginning of the year. I ran two half marathons, one in New York City and one at night in and around Walt Disney World.

I also got to accidentally be a part of the viral-ness of the internet with a ‘phenomenon’ that landed our garage all over the internet, on Ellen and had it’s own segment on Leno (so weird).

I got to travel to places like Austin, New Orleans, Denver and back to Cozumel. I got to do some really cool things with my friends and family and everyone, including the dogs, are happy and healthy.

2010 was a great year!

Does anyone else sit back and realize how good things are going and then start to freak out that something is going to go wrong? or is that just me?

2011 started with a bang but I can’t remember another time in my life that I felt so close to the pivot point where you know everything is going to change. I am so, so excited for what happens. 91% is totally ready but the other 9% is completely freaking out. These are all changes we have been working towards but it appears, they are all going to fall inline at the same time. At this point, I can’t even tell you where the chips will land.

Adam is in the process of applying to medical schools. Applications are in and now we wait as he goes to interviews. In the next few months we will know how that plays out. Come this September, he will be in school in Biddeford, or Boston, or someplace else, or retaking the MCATs. He will either be in a DO or MD program. We won’t really know until it all happens.

Work is going at ludicrous speed. We just received a grant to finish up our online suite of internet marketing tools. We have lots of stuff happening, really fast. All things that we have been working very hard on to make happen. We are adding new, really smart, talented staff, we may move our office to another location in town and it is go-time. No more talking and planning but now we are doing.

Looking forward at 2011 we have a lot of change, a lot of travel, a lot of fun and a lot of growing. Sounds terrifying and exciting, doesn’t it?

New Year’s Resolution 2011

Well I have had the domain, had the blog theme downloaded but then this has just sat here. As an internet marketer by trade, I always talk about having a niche or a direction when you start a blog. But I don’t have one. I don’t have a direction, I don’t have a theme. I just have some things I want to share that I can’t share here, here, here or here.

After a nice night out with Josh Fisher, I think we both convinced me just to get started. So that is what I will do. I am going to get started and start putting some things together here. As it unfolds, as I start putting down thoughts here more regularly – maybe I will find a direction.

Until then, this is what you get.

Happy New Year!