I’m writing this on a plane. What’s new? And yes, I did say I was leaving the laptop at home. You caught me. I won’t use it much, though. I promise. I’ll be too distracted by the beach and a very special traveler who, due to his rad schedule, never gets to go anywhere with me: my husband. This is the first trip we’ve taken together since we went to Vegas last year before WPPI. The last trip before that? Hawaii four years ago. So, it’s about time! We’re headed to Kona for 6 days for his best friend’s wedding. His BFF, Mike, was actually my… um… maid/man of honor? Yes, at our Vegas wedding he was my MOH. So excited to see all of our friends from LA and actually go to a gorgeous wedding. Then, I’ll head to Oahu for a few individual MTH/branding intensives and several site tours for a destination weddings feature and a little something I’m cooking up for the blog. I have one slot left for an individual intensive while I’m in Hawaii, so speak now or forever… wish you had? OK, forgive my lack o’ witty wedding-reference humor. 4 hours of sleep and 14+ hours on planes today…
I am a firm believer in giving knowledge away freely. I did two Twitter series’ entitled Get Branded and Get Published. I plan on doing many more and working hard to use this blog to educate in as many ways as I can. In my opinion, we’re supposed to build one another up in love and to encourage each other to grow, using all of our talents to do so. It’s part of my personal mission. I’ve said it before: I don’t believe in competition. If we’re all helping each other to be our best selves, we raise the collective level of success in our industry. Yes, there are lots of things I won’t give up unless you pay me for a formal consult and lots of things I can’t give away because of the obvious: consulting is personal, tailored and specific to that brand’s needs. Speaking of which, I have 4 consulting slots left for the next 6 weeks. (My calendar would make your head explode.) If you want one of the four, email me now. Anyway, I re-posted both the Get Branded and Get Published series’ here on the blog. Read them. Tweet me more questions. I’m happy to answer. pic below :: poser.
I just got back from speaking at Eventology on “Building Your Team,” and it was the most challenging speaking topic I’ve tackled thus far. Yes, I have a great team. It may seem easy to run a team of people who are already great, but the biggest mistake you can make when leading is to think it’s just common sense and that you can “wing” team leadership. Leading is work. The hardest work I’ve ever done. Yes, harder than putting together a magazine and any combination of items on my plate. Why? It challenges you to be your best self, every day, no matter what. Let me be very clear: it’s not about trying to be perfect so there is an appearance of strength; it’s about genuinely working to change so that you truly lead and grow by example… failures and all. There’s no more powerful way to lead than that. If I slack, complain, forget, or, yes, fail, it affects us all. Granted, there’s a great deal to be learned by a leader failing gracefully as opposed to someone who’s perfect all the time. pic below :: jen lynne.
My best takeaway from years of learning everything the hard way and finally coming out on top? Lead by example. Lead well. Fail well. Thank you so much to Katasha, the whole Eventology crew, my fellow speakers Sasha Souza, Terrica Skaggs, Saundra Hadley, Harmony Walton, and all of the amazing professionals we met. Behind the scenes tidbit: my Eventology presentation was the very first PowerPoint I ever made. Yes, I’ve laid out three magazines and never made a PowerPoint. They didn’t exactly teach us that at Carnegie Mellon. #educationfail I spent a good 30 hours on it. Note to self: next time just make a PowerPoint, not a mini magazine.
I also had the pleasure of speaking at the Indy ISES meeting on branding while I was there. Such a great group! There were some minor internet issues, so I used my new-found PowerPoint skills and created a 48 page presentation in 9 minutes. No joke. Thanks to Melissa from Royal Events for hosting us and to all the attendees for a great afternoon. It was a fun few days in Indy!
I’m honored to be speaking at Engage 10 :: Breakers this year. I’ll be attending on the media panel for Engage Cayman, too, so come say hello! I’ve been to three Engage conferences so far and I don’t plan on missing a single one in the future.
Past recaps: Engage08 :: Celebration, Engage09 :: Cayman MegaPost!, Engage09 :: Encore Las Vegas. Rebecca and Kathryn always raise the bar with these luxury wedding business summits and this year is just beyond incredible.
In October at the Breaker’s I’ll be joined by:
Hello! Someone pinch me!!!! If you have any questions about my past experiences at Engage, please email me. I’d be happy to share and answer any questions.
We’re hard at work on the next issue. I finally opened the massive (and I mean massive) folder of cover submissions in my inbox. Oh my goodness, we received some very creative creatives. Thank you, thank you!
Lots of people have asked for critiques, so I will be writing a post on how to put together creatives and how to best market yourself to editors. I’ll be choosing the top cover submissions this week and will announce them when I get back. That is why I brought my computer. Time to get these killer cover shoots rolling! P.S. We have a brand new media kit. Want a copy? Email Katharine. She won’t bite. Unless, of course, you withhold her daily dose of Smarties.
I got a very encouraging letter in the mail yesterday from our magazine distributor. Our sales are 40% above the national average. In today’s magazine economy, you may not think that that is saying much, but it’s a pretty significant statistic. I also got word today that Barnes and Noble wants to push more copies through of our current issue to Southeastern stores. OK, first of all, that does not happen. Our issue dropped in November. Needless to say, we’re thrilled. I have 3 tons of magazines in my garage. I’m so glad they’re about to get new homes! We’ve been featuring a lot of behind-the-scenes images on the blog lately, so be sure to check these never-before-seen images out and get yourself a copy.
Some favorites: Watercolor with Fred Egan (as shown above), Watercolor with Jory Cordy, Watercolor with Kyle Barnes, Watercolor with Jeff Holt, our Serenbe Cover Shoot with Jeremy Cowart. Sidenote: I readily admit that I have asked a lot of dumb questions since I started publishing Southern Weddings. Adriel, my distribution agent, has been so patient and kind explaining things in layman’s terms and walking me through the perils of publishing. I’ve had to make a lot of hard choices, holding firm to our core values in content: real, personal, relatable. More often than I’d like, that means making choices that err on the side of long-term vision and brand integrity vs. short-term cash. We turn down advertisers who just don’t fit us, weddings that are too luxurious for our brides to relate to and sponsors that want to run the show. I’m not complaining. From someone who has no formal background in publishing or marketing (or business, for that matter!), I’m very happy with where this path has taken us.
Little-known fact: I plan and design weddings. I know I know… you’re thinking, how in the world do you have time? How do you do it? Please refer to said amazing team in point number 3. I have, however, progressively limited the amount I take as my schedule intensifies each year. This year I took 3 weddings and I have two left: both gorgeous; both incredible brides (hi Sara and Nameeta!).
Why do it still? I love it. It’s in my blood and it’s how I got started in this industry almost seven years ago. Here’s a recent favorite that we did last May with Our Labor of Love. Weddings are the ultimate creative challenge.
I went to school for music, theatre, dance and design. Production is what I know and what fuels me. pics above :: my iphone.
Weddings are essentially a production – lighting, sound, a script, design, music, and surprises all wrapped into one big beautiful day. It also serves to keep me grounded and aware of the challenges that planners and photographers face. I’m not an editor who went to school for journalism and just happens to like weddings because they’re pretty. I’m in the trenches too. “The trenches” are hard work, but fun. Sometimes I kick myself and wonder why I take on so much. Then, I send a bride down the aisle and see the look on her face when she walks into her reception. I’m grateful for the opportunity to create and I love the brides I get the honor of working with. They’ve all become dear life-long friends. Pic above :: Kyle Barnes
OK, fast forward to sitting in our room at the gorgeous Mauna Lani, looking out at the volcano in the distance. Minus the 6 hour time difference that had me up at 4am, it’s so good to be here with Ari.
Check out these welcome bags that greeted us! So, this update is rather random because I have a backlog of info to share. I want to start blogging at least 3x a week, shorter posts, more on the fly. Emily always gets on me about my epic posts. But, I censor myself, I craft, I perfect, and I tend to get really nervous before putting a post out. I have several people read it. I nitpick. I’m afraid that if I write like I think, it will come out too vulnerable, emotional, real. That’s me. So, what do y’all want me to write about? I want to hear from you. Leave me a comment with any thoughts on what you want more of on the blog.
Life in general has been a turn from burnout to a serious search for clarity and balance to finding quite a bit of it lately. I got to go home a couple weeks ago and discovered some pictures that made me think about child-like unabashed joy. I want that in my life. I love this picture of a childhood friend and I having a picnic. I’m not sure who made who laugh first, but this makes my heart smile. I posted a bunch more on facebook.
In all the craziness of my life – the schedule, the travel, the team to manage, the busy businesses, and the constant surprises, I need God. I am fallible, I make selfish mistakes, and I have so much to learn and mature into. I talk about my relationship with God here on the blog because my whole point in starting this thing was to take you on this authentic journey with me. It’s a journey to find joy and discover my best self. My goal has been to be as honest as possible about how I really make things happen. As a rather emotional, sensitive INFP, my relationship with God is what keeps me together. It’s a daily challenge and a practice. I have recently made the choice to not work on Sundays… at all. It has taken me far too long to get to this point. I love my work. I get really easily bored when I’m not working. Hello, I mean I’m writing this in Hawaii when I could be on the beach, but doing this right now satisfies me more. I’ve come to look forward to Sunday all week long. I get up early, workout, go to church and sing my heart out, then come home to do Bible study for a few hours. It’s been life-changing to make that time. I’ve also been reading The 4 Hour Workweek in my travels and it is seriously blowing my mind. Tim Ferriss is my soul mate. I’m taking my time to read it and digest, but I’ve already applied so much of the book successfully to my life and our work days. Key points: work smarter, less hours, more efficiently. I will be writing an extended post on balance soon with a full post on how I’ve tackled what my studies are teaching me.
Since I couldn’t fit all of you in my suitcase, I want to bring a little Aloha spirit to you!
Leave a comment telling me about your dream vacation and enter to win either a strand of Hawaiian freshwater pearls, Kona coffee, or a collection of macadamia nut and coconut goodies.
Three winners, your choice on the prize! You have till the day I leave here (next Thursday, the 6th of May) to enter.