What I Did During Summer Vacation

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  I took a creative personal sabbatical.

In other words, I took a break from writing.  But more on that in another blog post…

In addition, I’ve been busy.  We’ve been busy.

Fresh Brothers made the cover of Pizza Today, and was named “2012 Pizza Today Independent Pizzeria of the Year.”

Pizza Today is our industry trade magazine.  They chose Fresh Brothers as their #1 Indie of the Year out of all the other pizzerias in the US.  What an amazing honor!

And in a round about way, that leads me to this:  I was nominated as one of Circle of Mom’s Top 25 Mompreneur Bloggers.  Would you please take a moment to vote for me?  I’m currently in 11th place.  Which is great.  But I’d love to make it into the top ten.  A girl can dream, right?

Funny is Sexy: Meet the DollarShaveClub.com

Best line ever:  “I’m no Vanderbilt, but this train makes hay.”

* I am in no way affiliated with this company.  My funny friend Mrs. Mach shared this video with me last night and I couldn’t help myself – I had to repost!

When Jessica Gottlieb Speaks, We All Listen.

My Facebook page blew up the other night.  Jessica Gottlieb, a brilliant blogger and new school muckracker, mentioned me and the work that I do for Fresh Brothers:

Wow.  I think that goes down as the best compliment ever.  Period.

And, I guess that means I’ll be seeing you all at BlogHer 2012.  Yehaw!

Thank you, Jessica Gottlieb.

XO

I’ve Turned Into One of Those Annoying Mompreneurs

Last week, when I should have been celebrating the fact that I was quoted in the Huffington Post’s Small Business section in an article written by my friend, Sandy Abrams, I was feeling bad about myself.  Prepare yourself to be annoyed by this bit of brilliance that actually came out of my mouth:

Debbie doesn’t have a set amount of hours of work per week. She says “I work until it all gets done. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer typing away, emailing, on social media sites while promoting our business and networking. In the restaurant business, there are no 9-5 hours, which also works in my favor. I can make time for the stuff and the people in my life that matter – my husband, my kids, my family, my friends.”

I’ve turned into one of those annoying mompreneurs who claim to do it all in the blink of an eye.  I work until it all gets done?  Did I really say that?  I wasn’t even drinking when I wrote that.  Let me be honest, my friends, it never all gets done.   Never.

There are days when I don’t read to the kids before they go to bed because I’m just too tired.  There are days when my kids go to school without finishing their “shares” just because we didn’t get to them during our homework time.  (Mind you, homework in our school district at this age is supposed to take 20 minutes.  20 minutes, my ass! It takes us 20 minutes to get the two math sheets done.  After that there is reading, an online computer program, more homework sheets, word cards, math cards and spelling words.  I’m lucky if it’s an hour per night.)  You get the point.  I regret saying “until it all gets done.”  There are dust bunnies that have lived under my bed since 2001.  Nothing is ever “done” in my home or office.

I didn’t lie about getting it “all done.”  The honest truth is the defination of “getting it all done” changes by the moment.  It’s like triage at the hospital.  Which wound is bigger?  What needs attending to first?  Things that are not immediately important get pushed off  the plate until further notice… which means until the deadline approaches.

And the last sentence… oh that one really made my stomach sick.  “I can make time for the stuff and the people in my life that matter – my husband, my kids, my family, my friends.“  Really?  I haven’t flown home to Boston in 5 years.  I rarely see my friends who live out of my immediate geographic radius.  If I can’t see you at basketball, Brownies or whatnot, I’m probably not available.  If you don’t come to me, I’m probably not available.  It’s a sad truth.  I’ve/we’ve made progress.  We have exclusive family time a few weeknights and one weekend day.  We try to get out on that one weekend night to see friends – but that all depends on the sitter schedule and the post-surgery exhaustion schedule.  It’s not easy being my friend.  Except for pizza.  If you hang in there, it’s likely I’ll feed you pizza frequently.

So I guess the honest truth is that I make more time my for my kids and husband and 73 jobs (mom, wife, business owner, blogger, chic-on-crutches who has surgery frequently,  etc.) more than I do my friends.  That’s the sad truth.

Forgive me, my friends.  If I can still call you a friend.

Own a Small Business? Be wary of Social Media “Experts”

 

I just have to get this off my chest. It’s seems that at least once or twice a month I hear that so-and-so has decided to open their own business as a Social Media “Expert.”  Ugh.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, asserts in his book that in order to become an expert or a professional in any field – be it sports or business – you must study or practice for at least 10,000 hours.  Say it with me – 10,000 hours.

10,000 hours = 417 days.  Whole days.  Like 24 hours straight times 417 days.

Do me a favor?  The next time someone approaches you, a small business owner, and tells you that they are a social media “expert,” ask them how long they’ve had their Twitter account.  Ask them how long they’ve had a Facebook Business Page.

Yah, I thought so.

Here’s the thing – as a small business owner – I get that your time is incredibly valuable.  I also know that money is probably tight.  The lack of money and time makes it real tempting to consider turning over the reigns of your Facebook page and Twitter account to a so-called expert who can do it for you.  I get it.

Here’s why you shouldn’t do it:

1.) Your customers want to hear from you.  Period.  End of story.  They want to know they are chatting with the owner of the company when Tweeting or posting on Facebook.  It matters.

2.) If you feel like you don’t know what you are doing or you don’t know how to do it well, there are resources out there to help you.  Many Chamber of Commerce groups and networking organizations run social media marketing seminars – often for free or at a low cost.  (My friend, Ann Evanston, runs an amazing course that walks you through the entire process of Social Media Marketing.  Great resource.) 

3.) While I’m not dissing the entire field of social media marketing “experts,” I have personally experienced this at a small business level:

Many have had limited success with their own business and their social media marketing.  These experts may have done some social media marketing well for their last boss or their business, but it doesn’t mean that their techniques will work for you.  Many of these people often run two or three businesses at a time (like MLM type things) hoping that one of these endeavors will succeed.  I believe your time and money is too valuable to hand it over to someone who is experimenting with a second career.   If they don’t do this full-time, run!

And, a note to those who call themselves “experts,” check and see what your potential new clients’ Facebook and Twitter accounts look like.  I triple pinky-swear to you about this – every single person I’ve met with who claims they are a a social media expert and that they could help our business never, ever checked our Twitter or FB acct.  I’m serious.  I asked each and everyone if they had and they’d sputter and say “no,” but I will after this.  Guess what?  Our Facebook page was noted by Inc. Magazine as one of “20 Awesome Facebook Fan Pages,” alongside national brands.  Shouldn’t they know that ahead of time?

So, even after reading this, and you are thinking about working with someone to amp up or start up your social media marketing, please ask the following questions:

1.)  What makes you an “expert?”  Why should I work with you rather than doing it on my own?

2.) What other forms of social media do you think I should be on with this business?  YoutubePinterest?  Why?

3.) Check their references! Talk to previous clients (and make sure they aren’t friends) to see if they are happy with their results.

4.) Cyber-stalk them for a while.  Follow their Twitter account.  Watch their activity on Facebook.  Do you like what they are doing?  How they handle themselves?  Can you see this person representing your business?

5.)  If you do decide to work with someone, put together a contract with clear expectations about what will be posted, when, where and how.  Do this for a limited time so you can measure your results.

Are you a small business owner? Do you have other tips you’d like to share about working with Social Media experts?  Have you successfully done it yourself?  If so, share with us so we can support you!

* This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Pro Dunk Hoops.  Pro Dunk Hoops, a very professional and experienced company, creates and installs bad-ass basketball goal systems.  My husband recently started coaching our son and his yet-to-be-named basketball team.  Boy, could we use one of these Pro Dunk Hoops at our house for practiceLarry Bird has nothing on our kid!

Juice in the City To Launch 3 New Markets in LA Area & Juice Bucks Giveaway

 

My friends at Juice in the City, a super fun daily deal site dedicated to supporting local businesses, are launching three new markets next week on Wednesday, October 19th:

* Pasadena

* San Fernando Valley

* Westside

The ladies who run Juice are looking some smart mommas to join their team:

If you are interested, click here to fill out an application.

If you’d like to win $25.00 in Juice Bucks to spend on a deal, please do the following:

Follow Juice in the City on Twitter:  @JITCLosAngeles and then leave a comment here about why you love Juice in the City!  One winner will be chosen on Friday, October 14th at 5:00 pm using Random. org.  Good luck!

* I am being paid to share this information with my readers. BUT, I really have an affinity for the JITC team.  They are quality people who bring us hot deals.

 

South Bay & LA Holiday Gift Guide/12 Days of Giveaways


Today, the kids and I are hanging up Halloween decorations and planning on a visit to the pumpkin patch later in the day.  And yet, my mind is focused solidly on the Christmas holidays.  Why?

I’m putting together a holiday gift guide that will be featured here on Manhattan Beach Momma.  I will be focusing on South Bay & LA based companies.  “Shop Local” will be my theme.  (Internet based companies are okay, if you are pay for sales tax here in California.)

I will also be hosting a 12 day-long giveaway, with a give-away a day.  It will be CRAZY fun, I promise!

The Holiday Gift Guide will be supported and promoted using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Reddit, Google+, StumbledUpon & Digg.

If you have a product you’d like me to include in my guide, or if you’d like to participate in the 12 Days of Giveaways, please contact me at dlagoldberg@mac.com.

About my readers:

Manhattan Beach Momma readers are educated, upper-middle class and/or wealthier women in the age range of 35-44.  Most readers live in Los Angeles.  They are tech-savvy moms who shop for gifts for their children, husbands, friends and extended family.

I look forward to hearing from you!

If Steve Jobs Changed Your Life, Watch This:

I bought an Iphone today.  Before he died.  After I left the store, I walked down the sidewalk past the UPS guy.  He was looking at his iPhone, and he looked stunned.

“Steve Jobs is dead,” he said.

“But I just bought an iPhone,” I said. 

It seemed incredibly strange.  The timing.  The fact that I just bought an iPhone.  And the loss.

I didn’t know Steve Jobs, personally.  But it feels like I did in a way.

I found this video, shot at Stanford University during commencement,  incredibly moving.  I hope you did too.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs. Thank you for all that you’ve left us with.

Small Business Owners & Mom Bloggers = Savvy, Smart Marketing

I am a small business owner. I began blogging for our business to increase our online visibility and to add another dimension to our branding strategy.  Our blog allows us to connect with our customers and to educate and engage them about Fresh Brothers.  And, it’s fun.  It’s just really good fun to write about something you love.  And I love what we’ve created in Fresh Brothers!

I created this blog, ManhattanBeachMomma.com, as a creative outlet for myself.  It’s a space where I can share my life as an entrepreneur and mom living within the South Bay.

Between the two blogs, I’m learning a lot of about marketing and the power of moms!  If you are a mom, you know that you are the bossy-pants in the family.  According to GirlPowerMarketing.com, 71% of mothers use the internet to get information, advice or general information about product purchases.

In an article titled “The Mommy Blog Phenomenon“  by Anna Mareveska,  Jennifer James, founder of the Mom Bloggers Club says “Mom bloggers are extremely vital to the new media landscape. We use new media like nobody’s business and are some of the most digitally connected people on the Web. We have extended our sphere of influence off of blogs and into social media, where we engage our audiences through Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, radio shows, mobile apps and through our vlogs.”

Amen, sister! Big brands already have embraced this concept.  For example, my blog is a part of MomsLA.  Through my affiliation with MomsLA, I was invited to go see Victorious in concert.  If your kids are under five, you may not know who Victoria Justice is.  But, if your kids watch Nickelodeon, then you know that the show Victorious is a HUGE hit!  The PR firms representing Unilever’s Don’t Fret the Sweat campaign & WalMart’s Sound Check reached out to MomsLA and invited their bloggers to the Victorious VIP concert.  My kids went bonkers when they learned that they would be able to see the Victorious crew live.  The concert was a blast for them.  They talked about it for days afterwards and created quite a buzz about Victorious within their school.  And then there is this:

Proof that they “met” the Victorious crew.  Can you say fans for life?

If you are a small business owner, you may be missing out on a huge opportunity to market and advertise your business via bloggers.  For example, we recently held a “grand opening” party at our newest location in Beverly Hills.  We invited media members and bloggers to join us for some fun pizza making and cupcake decorating.  So far, two bloggers wrote about the event.  Many tweeted about it and cross-posted it on Facebook.  We’ll soon be featured on an internet based tv show, too!  For us, it was a fantastic and unique way to reach out, connect & feed some new and old fans of Fresh Brothers.

If you are a small business owner, and would like to connect with powerful bloggers in your area, consider the following:

1.) Start following blogs & writers that might be interested in your product.  For example, if you are a jewelry designer, follow mom bloggers in your area.

2.) Consider offering a product or a sample as a give-away.  For example, if  you own a children’s play center, consider donating a day of free play for a mom blogger to give away.

3.) Host an open house.  Invite friends, media members and bloggers.  Show them your products, educate them about what you do and treat them to a little nosh and some fun.  You’ll create loyal followers who will help you grow your business.

Are you a small business owner that’s worked with a blogger to promote your business?  Were you happy with the results?  Tell us about it!

 

Inserting Yourself into a Circle of Suits

I’ve been meaning to publish this post for a while.  I began writing it on March 8th, which was International Women’s Day.  According to the website, www.InternationalWomensDay.com,  it is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.  This year, at Spark & Hustle, I had the opportunity to meet Nell Merlino and to hear her speak.  She created “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”  I have a deep gratitude for Nell, and for women like her, who have created opportunities for women to insert themselves into business environments; and to learn from those who have paved the way for us.

In my previous career as a tv producer, I was often the only woman on set.  Once, when I was producing a huge live stunt for Ripley’s Believe it or Not!,  I was the ONLY woman out of a crew of ninety.  And I was the boss.  I had a great relationship with most of the crew, and for the most part, that shoot was an enjoyable experience.  I remember one jib operator was late for the second or third time, and during a discussion about expectations on set with him, he called me  a #$@! Bitch.  He was summarily fired.   I had a very successful career in tv for 15 years.  That experience was probably the only one that I can point to that occurred because of my gender.

During my years in tv, I stood in the  middle of a swarm of killer bees, twice.  I covered a chemical weapons depot in Utah.  I had a cobra thrust forward toward my face hissing and spitting.  I spent three weeks inside San Quentin, surrounded by some of the most evil and scary people in the US.  I spent weeks inside a burn unit at UCSD covering the stories of burn survivors.  I watched horrific surgeries intended to help these brave survivors heal.  I flew in Viet Nam-era helicopters telling the stories of Marine helicopter crews who spent time in Viet Nam.  I got to interview Hugh Hefner, face to face, about what makes women beautiful.  I had an amazing job and had a hell of a great time.

A month ago, I attended the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.  This expo is heaven on earth for those who care about the business of pizza.  The Convention is an incredible opportunity to attend seminars, learn about new products and network with others in our industry.  I had a few experiences there that have stuck in my mind that I wanted to share with you that left me wondering about how far women have really come in the world in of business.

I was in a group of people talking about business, of course.  I won’t get specific because it’s not appropriate.  At the end of the discussion, all the men shook hands.  I put my hand out and I startled a few of the men by doing so.  This happened a few times – men where taken aback when I went to shake their hand.  Another time, I was standing in a circle of guys in suits, and one physically turned his body to close me out of the circle.  I’m not sure if it was intentional.  I just know that I had to physically insert myself back into the circle to continue being a part of the conversation.  I didn’t take any of these situations to heart, but they stuck with me.  I thought it was strange.  I know that in our business, a lot people assume that I am just the wife, and that I’m not involved in our business.  And that’s okay.  Often, people only know about one aspect of our business.  How could that know that I helped create the concept?  Or that I’m actively involved in most aspects of the business?  I know my value, and don’t need validation from others.  I’m just wondering, though – guys, aren’t you better off assuming that the woman standing next to the man you are talking to is relevant to the conversation?

Have you had an experience like mine?  Have you ever had a man refuse to shake hands with you?  Please share!

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