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By Nancy Sheed

Behind the "Seens" with Chrysula Winegar

Behind the “Seens” with Chrysula Winegar

Learn how a “global mom” does #socialgood while #keepinitreal

This Behind the Seens interview is with Chrysula Winegar, who is a “communicator, agitator,and global mama” working as Senior Director, Communications & Special Initiatives at United Nations Foundation. She is passionate about changing the world.

Originally from Australia, Chrysula and I met virtually online many years ago though we happily discovered we live in the same town IRL. However, we confess that we “see” much more of each other online – thank goodness for social media! I am really excited to share some of her “behind the seens” of doing #socialgood for #globalmoms while #keepinitreal with her family and friends.

What has been a game-changer for growing your audience?

Social media has been the gateway for everything we’re doing regarding social causes and issues.

Originally, it was Twitter. It was a space where I met like-minded people and developed both personal and business relationships. With Twitter, there was this power coalescing around an idea or cause. Over time, I found it to be less effective, and Facebook and Instagram are the more impactful platforms now.

I have learned that social will be ever-evolving. Don’t ever put all of your eggs in one place;  always be looking for what’s working now.

The principle of how we connect, how we find people, and create spaces—is not going to change anytime soon—that is our constant. Making use of the benefits of the platforms is what changes.

When we helped build the Giving Tuesday (global day of giving) over six years ago, we knew that social media was pivotal to raising awareness for the campaign. So we created the name and messaging specifically with the hashtag in mind. It was a deliberate decision to use #GivingTuesday to make it even easier for people to share and engage.

Global Moms on Instagram

What are your favorite social media networks or platforms?

Personally, my favorite is Instagram for really connecting with friends and people who are far away, like my family and friends in Australia and other countries. There is an intimacy that I am enjoying.

I think the only way we are going to get through this logjam is to take time to understand one another.

What are you doing differently this year to reach more people?

We’re using Instagram stories and Instagram takeovers to spotlight our members and have them showcase our work to their communities. Non-profit funds are sacred, so we cautiously use some of our budget on Facebook promotions. The ability to specifically target our audience and highlight our message is unparalleled, so we are very carefully using this platform to expand our reach in this way.

The targeting ability is great, the downside is that without a few dollars behind it, it’s very hard to get your content seen on Facebook. That’s why we are strategic and use funds in a very targeted way.  These stories need and deserve to be heard.

You can have the best advertising strategy in the world and unlimited dollars behind it, but content is still king or queen. It may sound a bit cliché, but we know that we have to continue to be better storytellers.

The only way you can bring folks together on an issue, ultimately, is to tell a story and have that story be real, and raw and powerful (and) at the same really respectful to the person whose story it is.”

We are very cognizant that the message needs to be heard without exposing people’s lives unnecessarily. It’s a fine line that those of us in the non-profit space have to manage. That narrative is essential, so we are always grateful for those people who are willing to share their experience with us.

What’s your secret strategy in connecting with an international audience?

In terms of the global health work that we do, the most powerful way for us to connect is mother to mother. The Global Mom’s Challenge we know that those who want to engage there either: are a mom, have a mom, and/or love a mom. When we can tell a mom’s story as much as possible in her own words, we know that as a mom, you and I and our audience can hear that story, watch that video, or see that photo essay, and really understand and empathize.

Mozambique
I met a mom in Mozambique who walked 15 miles one day to get her kids to a clinic for vaccines. We can really put ourselves in her place and understand what that must have been like. A day of lost wages, hours of waiting when she got there, and a 15-mile walk. With two toddlers. It’s staggering.

My pediatrician is close by. It’s a short drive and a 20-minute wait, right? The ability to use these platforms to stay connected yourself, to take an experience and translate it to our own lives and then realize the gap, is what moves us to get involved. To help. To close that gap. It’s really powerful.

Can you share some stellar stats?

Global Moms Network has more than doubled in the last couple of years. We are a community of about 250 thousand-strong, which translates into a powerful group of people who have raised their hands and said, “I care about the health of women and girls both locally, and around the world.”

Facebook: Global Moms Challenge

It’s a truly global audience now. Just over two years ago, our audience was 90% US-based. Now the US is about 40%, so we’re excited to see that people across the planet have embraced this.

It was a big goal for us. We truly wanted to “put the globe into Global Moms,” and it’s been rewarding to see that happen. There’s no “us and them.” It’s all of us.

How do you use these platforms to stay connected yourself?

Social media allows me personally to share in a way that’s authentic and real. I can be an overshare-er, so I’ve learned that I need boundaries for myself personally and for those whose story I share.

My kids are teenagers, so I am respectful of how things impact them. And of course, I take great care when sharing someone else’s story as well. It’s important to be real, and boundaries help.

I use #keepinitreal – those are the posts that my friends and family interact with the most. Blogging took off because of the authenticity; the real-ness and the personal nature of that medium pulled us in.
#keepinitreal

That’s MY secret sauce. It’s no secret, though. It’s actually taking away the secrecy. It’s being open about what we’re all going through. When I can take that and translate it into the work, the ability to be real is everything.

What do you do to disconnect? (fun, non-digital stuff?)

We just got a puppy named Milly. She’s utterly divine.

I love YA fantasy fiction. It’s my secret escape and a great way to bond with my daughter.

I take singing lessons just because. My teacher has an annual recital for her students which is a group of teenage girls and me. I participated in the last one and it was a fun, powerful experience. This is a creative outlet that’s just mine. Just for me.

Chrysula is funny and real and doing amazing work. You can follow and connect with her personally here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Join Chrysula and me on Tuesday, December 20 for a Facebook LIVE interview where we talk more about the power of doing #socialgood.

Top picks for best planners

Planners, Calendars & Journals, OH MY! (Top picks for planners)

This timely guest post comes from my uber-organized, proficient planning, brand-strategizing friend Victoria Vitarelli and originally appeared on her website, V Dot V Marketing.

A hope is a dream without a plan.

I often get asked, “how do you keep track of your ‘EVERYTHING’!?” Juggling my clients, my kids, my mom and life in general. I’ve gotten to the point if it’s not written somewhere, it ain’t gonna happen.

I have notebooks, whiteboards and paper scraps all over for the urge to list and do a brain dump. I have figured out over the years that I need to be disciplined every day and keep one main repository as an extension of my memory. Journals for different topics or goals do not work for me because the arteries of life often bleed into one another.

So I keep my system to a family whiteboard, google calendars merged together and a paper planner – currently diving into Self Journal.

Since my very first job out of college, I’ve kept a notebook to write down my notes – from meetings, calls, thoughts, ideas. I had a plain spiral notebook to “get the job done” and a de rigueur Filofax.   

Today there is an onslaught of planners, calendars and such! For me – a lot of fun! However, I have a friend who is paralyzed by the choices to make the purchase. Here are four questions I asked her to help her with her decision.

  1. Do you want to fill in the blanks or have a white canvas? How do you set your goals? Best practices say to write out your big goals; distill them down into weekly and daily to-dos. Depends on your style and what makes you productive vs busy. There are planners that have the year/day date written out and are very structured. They are designed to deliver the general best practices in keeping a goal and getting it done so you don’t have to think about that aspect. There are journals for very specific goals e.g. fitness, business, parenting. Daily Greatness has many specialized versions. If you have your own structure or want to be more creative about your pages, try the Bullet Journal system. You make the rules, but there is a system to writing it down. Here is a video. Bullet journal “porn” is all over Pinterest and Instagram. There are some beautiful, truly amazing works of art out there!
  1. Are you carrying it around everywhere and anywhere? Weight matters!  Certain paper stocks can get heavy and depending on what you use to write with, the ink can bleed through light paper. Details…Details…Most planners have the weight listed on their respective websites. And depending on if you want a defined calendar style e.g. 30 days or week at a glance, full year by the day, quarterly etc. this can make a big difference in weight as well. Also there are various sizes from 8.5″ x 11″ pages to small pocket styles. Think about what you will be carrying this in – purse? briefcase? pocket?
  1. Does brand/color/style matter to you? – Once you decide on white canvas or fill in the blank style and weight- the search narrows down. There are hundreds of journals out there by designers, planner brands, etc. I found a Lily Pulitzer planner with every page in her signature style. Some white canvas, purists will stick to a classic marble notebook or the ever-reliable Moleskin.  Both are sold in all kinds of stores in addition to online outlets e.g. Staples, bookstores, Target and boutiques.
  1. How much “woo-woo” factor? We use this term affectionately. There are some that have messages of inspiration and faith as well as planning out your dream days and life. An example is Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map Planner. Per the description, “This planning system incorporates your inner and outer worlds; your gratitude and your goals; your Core Desired Feelings into your daily regime”. Personally, I enjoy seeing a good Zig Ziggler or Aristotle quote to inspire me. And then there are days when it’s just about checking the box and getting stuff done without guru sounding pep talks. This one is very interesting, The Sacred Circle Planner – starting on December 18th, the Winter Solstice. Per the description, “Through the use of Divination, Affirmations, Archetypal Wisdom, Goal Manifesting, and specially designed Spiritual Practices that keep you in sync with the seasons–you have the opportunity to craft a whole new you this year!

As you go through the many other lists and ideas the key is to start somewhere and think about how you get stuff done NOW! You can always shift or try new styles or methods as the year goes on. The key is to find something that is going to support your goals and motivation. These are tools to help us get the job done and get to our destination! The discipline to follow a system is KEY no matter what you use. Happy goal setting and getting stuff done!

Check out Vicky’s video where she test-drives some of the best selling planners and journals.

Are you a planner perfectionist? Which one(s) do you use? Please share in the comments.

Behind the "Seens" with A.J. Jacobs - "It's All Relative"

Behind the “Seens” with A.J. Jacobs – “It’s All Relative”

Find out how your cousin (and mine) authentically sells books and connects with the world!

Best-selling author, friend, cousin, human guinea pig and general all around great guy, A. J. Jacobs is out with his newest book It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree. He was kind enough to chat with me in the midst of his book launch to share his secrets on how he successfully connects with loyal fans. We chatted about religion, politics, sex, family as well as broccoli, bubble gum and black sheep – oh yeah, we talked about social media and book promotion too!

Check out our conversation – you will definitely learn a thing or two!

Watch:

What’s been a game-changer for you regarding online marketing, or any marketing?

Well, I’ve learned a lot from you and appreciate the tips you share in your newsletter. I do enjoy promoting my books on Facebook and Twitter (and engaging with readers) and I’ve found that it’s best to be really up front.
There are two ways to do this. One is to be blatantly obvious. In fact, I recently shared a post that said “Blatantly self-promotional list of nice things people said about my book.” My audience knows I’m being up front and it seems to work.

Second, even when sharing self-promoting information, I like to make sure there is some added value and/or humor. Recently I spoke at the JCC and I posted “Join us at the JCC even if you’re not a J.”

That isn’t really a joke, but hopefully, it makes someone smile and they find the post at least humorous instead of annoying.

Also, when I promote a podcast, I try to pull out 3 or 4 things to mention. I recently did a Q&A about tobacco enemas and rotting fruit and other important topics – and then the link to the interview. So maybe that is a bit more interesting than “please read my interview”.

Oh my, how will we top that? What I like is that this is such a great extension of your brand and tone. Your writing is also done this way, so it works because you use humor and they know they’ll get a chuckle as they listen in.

Thanks. I hope so. My friend Morgan Spurlock (the documentarian) says to “give them some bubble gum with their broccoli” which sounds a bit odd, but I get the point which is to entertain as well as educate.

That’s why your books are such a hit. There are always some laugh out loud moments. I literally find myself doing a “spit-take” while I’m reading.

You are very nice and one of the best supporters of my writing. Here’s a great strategy for people. Become friends with Nancy Sheed and she will promote your book very successfully.

Aww. Thanks A.J. It’s my pleasure!

Do you have a preferred network or social media platform? Where do you feel like you connect the most, have the most fun or it is easiest for you to go to?

I’m on two platforms, Facebook and Twitter. I have 80,000 followers on Facebook and I think about 25,000 on Twitter. I feel good about that most days, but then I’ll look at a friend who has 4.2 million followers and decide I’m a loser.

It’s all relative, of course (book title!) and you can’t think like that. Comparing yourself to others is such a waste of mental energy. So back to the question; Facebook I like a lot because I am able to do longer posts and hopefully more entertaining posts.

I like posting pictures and the posts that resonate the most are photo-driven.

One of my books is being made into a sitcom (on CBS) and my wife and I took photos of the set and shared them. That was a big hit. People loved it even when I use them to promote the book. I’ve shared photos of me holding the book (this might have been my publisher’s idea) and people really liked it. It is called Facebook for a reason, right? People like faces!

On Twitter, I do more one-liners and try to do 2 non-promotional tweets (observations or jokes) for every promotional tweet.

I do feel guilty every day that I’m not on Instagram, or Snapchat or Facebook Live or whatever. It’s exhausting how much I’m missing.

You are absolved! I say this to people all the time. People who do all the platforms can’t do it well unless they have a support team of people (5 or 6) doing it for them. I know you want to be you. You want the interaction to be from you and with that level of engagement you are so absolved. You do NOT need to be on more channels.

I want to share this about your Facebook posts, the ones that I see that get a lot of engagement, are when your wife Julie posts on your behalf, or shares her take on what’s going on. It’s always funny. You are also wonderful about sharing some self-deprecating photos of yourself and I think we all feel like we get to see the “behind the scenes” (see what I did there?) version of A.J., and we appreciate that.

I do like to post unattractive photos of myself, yes. And they are easy to find. I remember one that got a lot of traction was one of me on a roller coaster with my kids – about to throw up. For the record, I did not get sick, but I did look like I was going to.

The other thing that has worked well for me is posting a short post that has nothing to do with my books. Posts that are somewhat political or outright political have worked.

I did a post about a year and a half ago that I think qualified as “viral”. It got about 20,000 shares. It was a post about an Ann Coulter comment during the Republican debates last year. I’ll keep it clean, but she said something like “How many f*****g Jews do they think are in the United States? She felt they were trying to pander to the Israel lobby.

Well, I figured this was a question that should be answered. So I did a post about how many f*****g Jews are there? I did the math about how often Jews have intercourse, how many were having intercourse while she was speaking and the post took off. That helped me get a ton of new followers on Facebook.

I’ll also add that political posts have been the reason that I’ve lost followers too, and I’m okay with that. I don’t need everyone to follow and it’s a decision that was right for me.

I never used to do political humor, but in the age of Trump, I decided that I can’t keep quiet anymore, and if I lose followers, then so be it.

I recall us discussing this back in May. I wondered if they were just showing up more, or if you were writing more of these types of posts. When I asked, you said yes, it’s become more frequent and more common. I found it interesting to hear your results.

It goes back to your authenticity. You are the nicest guy, and we all want everyone to love us. This also goes back to knowing your audience. You understand that not everyone is your perfect reader, and it’s okay because the others that stick around and follow you really do love what you write, and post and share.

Right! My friend Tim Ferris says there are over 300 million people in the United States alone, and if 90% of them don’t like you, but 10% do, that’s 30 million people. That’s an insane amount of people, so hopefully, my percentage is a little higher than 10% (of people who know me), but you definitely don’t need to appeal to everyone.

It’s impossible to do.

What is different now that you’ve been doing this? What’s moving the needle that is different?

Well, one thing that I’m going to try for the first time is something that many of my author friends have done. I’m sending out a free .pdf of part of my book to my email list so that people can get a a free sample of the content.

My book is about family and ancestry and genealogy, and I have a 20-page appendix at the end. It’s a beginners/dummies guide to genealogy.

I’m going to send that out and I hope that will attract people. There’s another interesting thing happening with this book as well. The marketing department from Simon and Schuster is trying something which is new for us both.

There are several DNA companies who expressed an interest to be involved. So we are partnering with one of them and in the book, you’ll get a discount code for 40% off of their DNA testing.

The book is about $26, so you’re actually going to make money by buying this book.

That’s a great promotion!

I ask authors what they are doing to promote their book, or how they plan to get people to the site and engage with them. Often, the response I get is “well, nothing really.”

It’s a big missed opportunity. I’m glad you are embracing the marketing and promotion part of being an author.

I do enjoy the marketing part much more than I used to. I look at it as a creative endeavor instead of a chore. You’re creative, and lots of marketing people I know are, too.

When I was promoting the book I wrote about the Bible, I tried to visualize how to market that. It’s the Bible. There’s so much to talk about that it was hard to know where to start.

So, I split it up into tiny slivers. I remember I wrote a piece about sex advice from the bible for Glamour magazine. I also did a piece about music in the Bible for Spin magazine.

This is a great PR strategy. Did you use excerpts from the book or were these articles that you wrote?

They were original posts. I did a lot of writing, which is extra work and not always my favorite thing, but they worked. The ideal thing would be an excerpt or a review or feature which is a more direct way to say “buy this book.”

But this works too, and the more tangential connections you can make, the better it is overall for the success of the book.

Well, I can tell you that Google loves that. This has become a key factor in SEO (search engine optimization). It’s a good thing for you, for search and your website, even if you can’t draw a line from an article to book sales.

Okay, it’s time to share: What is your secret sauce to connecting with people or to getting people connected? I don’t want to give away the book, but you did try to organize the world’s largest family reunion. That’s pretty interesting.

Well, I’ll share what I know. This book was interesting because it is really a book about social networks and connectivity, and how we are all related. So I joined this family tree on some of the websites like Genie.com and it was like LinkedIn on steroids.

If I wanted to find a producer on GMA, I’d figure out how they are related to me. Like we figured out that you are my 8th cousin 3 times removed. Then I’d email the producer and I’d be upfront and say “Hey, we’re related. Believe it or not, we are cousins” and I’d explain how I found that and then ask if they’d like to do a favor for a “family member.”

It didn’t always work. I’m sure some of them reported me to security but it did work well quite a few times. You have to be really specific when dealing with traditional media. You have to be personal and then make your pitch.

Another secret would be putting myself in my reader’s mind. I try to understand what others want to see and read. I also try to be aware of what is annoying to me and avoid that. I like posts that are humorous and value-added or things you might now know.

Like when you connected President Obama to some the most right-wing people in the Senate? That’s a big secret sauce moment for this book. That worked out pretty well.

So this brings up something that’s interesting. I’m actually a bit torn about celebrity culture. On one hand, I love it, and on the other, I think it’s destroying society.

So if you can incorporate a celebrity angle that will work. You know… emailing and telling people they were related to me is one thing, but if I could show them how they are related to their hero or a personal hero—then they were hooked!

Instead of focusing on your stellar stats, I wanted to see if posts that get shared and re-tweeted (high engagement) are your indications of what’s working versus the number of likes or followers?

Yes! Engagement is the most important.

For a while, I was doing an article for Esquire Magazine and I was crowd-sourcing advice. I don’t know if someone should break up with their girlfriend or marry their co-worker but the crowd might.

I’d ask people to send in questions and post them on Facebook. I’d get hundreds of replies and I’d engage with them and then select the best to be in the magazine article.

I don’t have time to do it now, but I loved the concept. It got people excited because they were mentioned in Esquire magazine. And people have strong opinions about all kinds of things.

Like airplane armrests and what is the proper way to share it or how to handle the issue when you are in the middle seat. People were super passionate, and I loved that.

I love questions on Facebook, but not when people ask without adding content.

Like when you see a post that says are you a beach person or a mountain person? With no explanation or story.

Right. That question is fine, but the person asking should also share a funny or touching story to provide context. That sort of engagement is very genuine.

It''s All RelativeIs there anything you can share with us about stuff that didn’t make the book? What got left on the cutting room floor? Are there family secrets you couldn’t share? (Us content people want to know!)

You are one of my readers, and you help me when I’m writing. I’ll send a few chapters out to some of my readers and ask them to tell me what they found most interesting and what wasn’t interesting.

If several people all say that they didn’t like a chapter, I’ll cut it. Not on the opinion of one person, but if there appears to be a consensus.  It’s a great indicator of what my readers like

This is a great editing tip. Editing by crowdsourcing – asking for and getting feedback from your readers. I’m not sure all editors will agree, but it’s great to hear what works for you.

Now, A.J., what do you do to get away from everyone when you need to? You know post-book tour and those days when you need to disconnect?

Well, my wife Julie started a business, Watson Adventures, with a friend of mine, where they do scavenger hunts in museums and historic neighborhoods. And they are excellent because they really are offline. Not using a phone, just using your brain and looking for clues in paintings and things like that.

She’s converted me. I don’t think I grew up liking this sort of thing but now I really enjoy it.

Well, they are now in most cities so when we travel, we always do the scavenger hunt in that city. We were in San Diego recently, and we did the one there. It’s really fun.

And it’s a great way to check the quality of the experience!

A.J., I love the new book, and I already have a few people who are getting it for Christmas. I’ll include the link below for everyone so they can buy it, too.

Thanks, Nancy. You are a big supporter, as is your sister Holland (who owns a bookstore).  I am going to St. Louis on the tour, and I specifically chose St. Louis because of your sister.

That’s awesome! That’s so nice of you, and she’s really looking forward to it. I’m can’t wait to share this book with lots of people. Thanks, A.J.

You can find A.J. and more about his new book on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can find his book on Amazon, Barnes & Nobleand, of course, any local or independent bookstore you support.

Lastly, here’s my GoodReads review of It’s All Relative:

In yet another brilliant book looking at the state of the world as only he can, A.J. Jacobs manages to bring the world a little closer with his pursuit of creating a single family tree of every human on the planet. His hilarious tales of cousin connections, while planning a record-breaking family reunion literally had me in countless laugh-out-loud moments. All the while, each chapter manages to shed new light on how intermingled family, history, DNA, immigration and civilization have become. It definitely made me want to me to do more digging around my own family tree. There’s something for everyone in this witty, earnest and heartfelt journey.

Buy a copy now!

NS Playlist Southern-ish Thanksgiving

Playlist: A Southern-ish Thanksgiving – November 2017

This month’s playlist is appropriately themed for Thanksgiving with a bit of a southern spin. Thanks to the gang at StyleBluePrint/Louisville (by way of my sister, Ashley), for sharing this “playlist of inspiration and thankfulness”. It was thoughtfully put together, so listen to it in order—not on shuffle.

Looking for something a little less southern – a bit more random? Then check out my “Thanksgiving Family Fun” playlist and my “Gratitude” playlist. Now there are no excuses not to have good tunes for your Thanksgiving holidays! Enjoy!