Why Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Exist if You Are A New Entrepreneur

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My family and I just returned from a two-week vacation to Thailand. We visited Bangkok, the country’s capital, and Chiang Mai, a beautiful expat haven in the tropical highlands of the country. We spent lots of time playing with elephants , as you can see from the picture above. It was an epic trip and we created lots of sweet memories together as a family.

However, the trip was also stressful in the sense that it was the first long vacation that I took since I became and entrepreneur and launched my consulting business last year.

Last year, I started a journey to reinvent myself and to expand what I did as a traditional college professor. I wanted to have more impact and to make more income. Click on the link below to read my blog recap of a podcast interview I did with Deirdre Breakenridge, where I shared my self-reinvention journey.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life
Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener…medium.com

As an ambitious entrepreneur who has just started on this journey, the two-week family vacation has taught me a lot and made me realize how much I and my life have changed. In this article, I want to share my top five takeaways with you. If you are a beginning entrepreneur who is trying to develop a side hustle, you can probably resonate with the points below.


Completely Unplugging has Become Impossible

When you are on vacation, the last thing you want to do is to check work emails and spend time on work-related projects. I used to be able to completely unplug when I was on family vacation when I had my regular 9–5 job. I simply turned on my email’s out-of-office notification, informing people that I was gone from which day to which day, and people could reach out to alternative persons for things that need to be taken care of immediately.

Unfortunately, as a solo-entrepreneur, I don’t have the luxury to do that. I am my business and my business is me. I am the only person who takes care of everything. There are things and people that I have to be responsible for, many of which are time sensitive.

In addition, as I do have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I worried that if I completely unplugged for two weeks, I would have too much to catch up upon returning.

In fact, because I was checking my emails regularly, I was able to respond, in a timely fashion, to a media request from Pearson Education, a major education textbook company. I successfully booked an interview to share my experience as a social media professor and how I use social media as a teaching tool in higher education.

If I had waited two weeks to respond, I probably would lose this opportunity. Sure, more opportunities will come down the road. But, I cannot afford to lose the momentum as a beginning entrepreneur.

Work-Life Integration as opposed to Work-Life Balance

When we did the two-week vacation, I was also trying to meet a SXSWEdu deadline. I was collaborating with two groups of people to submit two proposals to SWSXEDU 2019. Because of the time differences between my collaborators and myself, I had to frequently get up as early as 4AM or stay up as late as 2AM to catch up on work and to have conference calls.

The funny thing was that even when I was not in front of my computer or smart phone, I couldn’t stop thinking. I could shut down my digital media devices; but I couldn’t shut down my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about our SXSWEDU proposals or other content creation ideas that flew to me. My work has literally become a part of me, and I have become a part of my work. We have become integrated. I guess this is what happens when you truly love what you do.

However, instead of feeling stressed out about having the perfect work-life balance, I discovered ways to have better work-life integration. I have come to see work-life integration as a more accurate way to describe our digital lifestyles, especially if you are an entrepreneur.

I discovered was that when I felt a desire to do an Instagram story or write down an idea for a blog post for example, I should just give myself the permission to do it. I tried to not feel guilty about it.

The point I want to share with you all is, Learn to flow with your desire to work instead of fighting against it. In fact, this blog post was drafted while I was on this Thailand trip.

Communicate Better

I will forever remember what Mark Schaefer once I shared on Julia McCoy’s book launch Facebook live show. Mark said,

Starting a business or writing a book is a family decision.

I cannot agree more with Mark on this. The longer I am on my entrepreneurial journey, the more I see how much my entrepreneurial pursuit has changed me, my family dynamics, and my relationships with my husband and kids.

This makes it crucial that you communicate to your partner and children in advance that you are no longer on this 9–5 career path where you can switch on and off easily. Instead, communicate to them in advance that you may have to spend family time working and explain to them why this is the case and how much you appreciate their support and love them. If your family truly supports what you do, they will understand you.

Plan Ahead

As social media marketers, we all know how important it is to be consistent in terms of creating content in the digital space, should it be live shows, blog posts, stories, or podcasts. Planning content in advance is something I did poorly on this trip.

I didn’t prepare any content ahead of time. As a result, I didn’t produce any valuable content on LinkedIn and Medium, and I completely stopped blogging and my weekly Facebook live show. The only platform that I was able to keep up with was Twitter (mainly responding to people’s tweets) and Instagram (sharing pictures from our trip and doing Instagram stories).

Another aspect I neglected was that I didn’t let my audience know ahead of time that I would be gone for two weeks and I wouldn’t be as responsive as I normally do. As I didn’t turn on any email or social media notifications informing people that I was gone, I felt pressured to get back to people within 24 hours. This added stress to my trip to be completely honest with you.

Do What You Love

This sounds so cliche. But, if I were NOT doing what I love, I doubt I would have the determination to get up at 4am or stay up till 2am for many days in a row to participate in Twitter chats, to catch up on social media, and to do conference calls. Thank God I am doing what I love. Otherwise, I can only imagine how unhealthy this can be to one’s mental health, happiness, and personal relationships.

So, my humble advice for you is that if you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, it’s critical that you choose something you LOVE. Otherwise, you probably won’t travel too far on this journey.

Conclusion

Here are my top five takeaways from taking long vacations as a beginning entrepreneur.

✅Completely Unplugging has Become Impossible

✅ Work-Integration as Opposed to Work-Life Balance

✅ Communicate Better

✅ Plan Ahead

✅ Do What You Love

Which one of the above points resonate the most with you? What is your entrepreneurial journey like if you are just starting out like myself?

How I Got Featured in Forbes & Three Lessons I Learned

It is not very often that I see my own name mentioned in major publications such as Forbes! However, when it does happen, the learning curve can be quite steep.

On Monday August 6, 2018, Forbes featured my entrepreneurial journey as a college professor. In this article, Forbes contributor Robyn Shulman did an interview with me, where I shared twelve lessons that I learned from my self-reinvention journey. Click on the link below to read the article.

12 Lessons In 12 Months: What This Teacher Learned During Her Entrepreneurial Journey
You might not think of educators as entrepreneurs or participants in the new gig economy. For those who do not work in…www.forbes.com

The first time you do anything is hard.

In this article, I am going to pull away the curtain and share with you how I got the opportunity be featured in Forbes. I will also share three key takeaways that I learned from this experience.

I hope my insights can help you gain access to large publications and move your life and career forward.

If you love the lessons here, please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you because it allows me to serve you better.


The Power of Large Publications

As an educator for more than ten years, I was only familiar with academic publications. The Forbes article was the first time that I encountered the power of mainstream publications. Because of this, I have also decided to make writing for large publications a priority. It is low-budget, but the impact is tremendous in terms of publicity and accomplishing business goals and objectives.

The Forbes article went live on Monday, August 6. Nine days later on August 15, the article gained almost 2,200 views. You can see the number from the image below.

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Besides the publicity on the Forbes website, I gained tons of organic engagement on various social media platforms including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Take Facebook as an example, I gained 370+ “reactions” from people, 110+ comments, and 20 shares, as of 08/15/18. This is the best organic engagement that I have reached in a long time.

Besides these numbers, the article also promoted a few individuals and institutions reach out to me regarding my product and service. In addition, I got booked for several podcast interviews. To me, every possibility, regardless of its outcome, has brought me hope and confidence as a new entrepreneur.


Develop Your Own Thought Leadership, Product, and Service

To effectively optimize the impact of large publications, it’s critical that we have a defined product or service.

I have been a content creator for a year now. Before this point, I was a loyal lurker or content consumer. I consumed content voraciously to the extent that I had little time, energy, or brain power left to produce any of my own material.

However, ever since I started to produce original content on a regular basis through my weekly Facebook live show, blogging, and online course, I observed a noticeable change in my business development. In fact, I gained many new business ideas through producing content on a regular basis.

Creating content helps me understand my core message and target audience, and validate market demand.

I have come to see that to develop one’s thought leadership in a specific field, one has to offer valuable and original content, consistently, to help improve other people’s lives and solve their problems. Without content, one won’t have the necessary foundation to develop a business.

Fortunately, I did launch my consulting service before the Forbes article write-up. So, when people did contact me for service and help, I actually had something that I could offer. Even though I have just started my entrepreneurial journey, I was able to clearly articulate my brand, service, and core message. This has helped me leverage the impact I gained via large publications.

Cultivating One-On-One Social Connections

Throughout my 3.5-year social media journey, I pride myself on cultivating genuine relationships with people and building meaningful communities. I treat everyone the same regardless of their follower base and I value human connections more than anything else. I don’t even have fancy social media tools. I simply use my hands, mouth, ears, and some free tools.

In the spirit of building relationships, my Forbes article started with a connection on Twitter. Every time when someone follows me on Twitter (I go through the same process on LinkedIn and Instagram), I take a look at the person’s background and see if we share any common interest and passions. If so, I send the person a personalized note to connect further. Oftentimes, I reference back to a piece of content that the person has listed in the bio or the website. On Twitter, I normally create a list and add these like-minded people to relevant lists. On LinkedIn, I bookmark relevant connections.

This strategy was how I got connected with an education innovation expert on Twitter, through whom I got connected with the Forbes contributor. After developing some initial interactions with the contributor, when the time felt ready, I reached out to her and pitched my article. It took me lots of courage to send her a message, but I am glad that I did it. However, I have to say that having some prior interactions has helped build rapport. Let’s face it, nobody likes being sold to.

Here is my humble advice: Forget about all the fancy tools, equipment, and complicated strategies and tactics especially when you are just starting out. Sometimes, social media is as simple as being social. Spend time cultivating deeper connections and serving people. You might be surprised by the results.


Pitch the Right Editor or Contributor

How do you feel when someone sends you a cold pitch over Direct/Private Message on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn right after you follow them? They have no idea what you are doing or who you are, but they want to sell you their products or services. I absolutely hate this tactic. It feels so annoying that I almost want to unfollow them right after I receive such a cold message.

Imagine a large publication like Forbes that receives thousands of pitches every single day. You want to make sure that you are pitching the right editor or contributor. There is nothing worse than receiving a generic message that has no relevance to what they cover. Messages like this probably won’t even be opened.

When you are pitching editors, it is crucial that you understand what they cover and make sure that you reach out to the right contact. In my case, I pitched a contributor who covers education and entrepreneurship. And in the Forbes article, I shared the top 12 lessons I learned from my entrepreneurial journey as a college professor.

In summary, when you reach out to editors, I urge you consider two things:

✅ Make sure that your pitch is relevant to what they cover and write about

✅ Put yourself in the shoes of the editors or contributors and make their job as easy as possible.

When I pitched the contributor, I had the twelve points written out. Even with this, it still took some time for the contributor to get back to me, which I completely understood. The truth is these editors and contributors are extremely busy, and many of them have full-time jobs besides being writers. You want to respect their time and make this process as easy as possible.


Conclusion

Below are the three key takeaways that I gained from being featured in @Forbes.

🎯 Develop your own thought leadership, product, and service

🎯 The power of social connections

🎯 Pitch the right editor or contributor

Which point resonated the most with you? Please comment below.

Social Media Marketing: The Past, Present, & Future

In today’s digital media landscape, the only thing that remains constant is change itself. There are always new tools and apps coming out. Within this flux of change, there is an ever-increasing amount of content circulating in the digital space.

I just watched the recording of Mark Schaefer’s talk at this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. In Mark’s talk, he shared how everyone, including brands, organizations, and individuals, were struggling with a state of content shock. There is way too much content.

Ironically, on the other hand, we are encouraging everyone to become content creators to share their stories and to document their journeys.

How could we ever figure out the digital marketing world?

Well, I had the honor to interview a social media marketing expert, Keith A. Quesenberry, to discuss the latest changes and strategies in digital marketing. Click on the link below to watch the replay of our interview and read my highlights below.

Click  here  to watch the replay of my interview with  Keith A. Quesenberry

Click here to watch the replay of my interview with Keith A. Quesenberry

Before we dive into the content of my interview, let’s first get to know Keith.


Who is Keith A. Quesenberry?

Keith is a Marketing Professor at Messiah College. Prior to teaching, Keith spent 17 years in marketing and advertising at at advertising agencies such as BBDO and Arnold Worldwide. Keith is also a contributing writer to Social Media Examiner and Harvard Business Review. His expert opinions have been featured in many mainstream media and publications such as MSNBC, The New York TimesForbes, and Entrepreneur.

Keith is also the author of a popular social media book, Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

You can learn more about Keith from his Website, and connect with him on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.


What are the big changes in social media marketing?

Keith just released the second edition of his Social Media Strategy book. The first edition was published in 2015. Between the two editions, a lot changed in the digital marketing space.

Keith shared four significant changes that he has observed based on his research and practical experience.

1️⃣ The growing popularity of live video. Within a few years, there has been a spring of live streaming platforms such as MeerKat, Blab, Periscope, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube live. Some platforms are gone such as MeerKat and Blab, some still remain like Periscope, and some are dominating such as Facebook live.

In fact, Keith’s observation resonates with the findings in Social Media Examiner’s latest industry report, in which they highlighted an increased interest among social media marketers in using videos and live streaming.

2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Do you wonder how fellow marketers are using social media? Wondering if you should focus more on ads or bots? In our…www.socialmediaexaminer.com

2️⃣The emergence of Influencer Marketing and micro-influencers. Keith commented that even the way we approach influencer marketing has changed compared to a few years ago. Back then, people relied at vanity metrics such as number of followers. Now, it is important for brands to identify micro-influencers. Those are people who have smaller audiences, but they are more effective for brands to reach out to targeted demographics and to accomplish your business goals. Spending thousands of dollars paying celebrities to share your content is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, identifying micro influencers who are more relevant to your messaging and audience.

3️⃣Paid social. I am sure you have all heard the phrase, “pay to play.” Especially on platforms that are saturated with content such as Facebook, marketers can no longer ignore paid social. Every social media strategy has to have a paid component. And this paid feature has become official on almost all the social media channels.

4️⃣Emerging and diminishing paid social platforms. The last change that Keith discussed was that some platforms, such as Google +, have faded away, whereas others have come into prominence such as Snapchat, Messenger apps, and various rating review sites such as Trip Adviser and Amazon.

In the midst of all these changes, Keith shared that one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for an overarching brand strategy. With social media sites emerge and disappear so frequently, brands and marketers cannot succeed by chasing after the latest platforms, features, or tactics. Instead,

One has to understand the larger brand. The message has to distinguish one from one’s competitors. Think about who your real target audience is and where they are most active at? They may not be on the big three social platforms.


What are some social media mistakes that brands and companies make?

Keith shared three major social media mistakes that companies still make.

❌ Many companies tend to start with social media objectives without thinking about their actual business objectives. For example, a company might be thinking about creating content to increase followers and shares on Instagram. Within this context, social media has become an end to itself.Marketers may not even know if their social media efforts are translating into business goals or making any contributions to the bottom line.

Instead, always start with the business objectives, such as increasing sales, changing perceptions, asking for donations, increasing volunteers, etc. From business objectives, you go to identify target audience, ➡️ then figure out where your target audience congregates, ➡️ then select the right social media channels to reach these people, ➡️ finally, create the content. Don’t jump into the last step without fully understanding the first three steps.

❌ Most companies tend to focus only on the popular social networks, without examining whether or not these channels are the best for their unique messages and strategies. For example, Keith shared that mediums like corporate blogs and Pinterest can be very effective at generating sales. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Fortune 500 companies are leveraging them.

❌ The last social media mistake is that brands are not engaging. Most brands tend to use social media as a broadcasting channel by producing and publishing content, without making any genuine effort to engage their consumers after the content is released. As Keith said,

The real return on investment comes in the engagement. It is a two-way channel.

Amen! There were brands that I stopped interacting with and supporting them because then never engaged back.

You can read Keith’s article on Harvard Business Review below to dive deeper into the common social media mistakes discussed here.

The Basic Social Media Mistakes Companies Still Make
Executive Summary Over 90% of medium and large business have used social media marketing for years, but many still…hbr.org


Educators Need to Be Practitioners

To me, Keith is the ideal marketing professor. He has extensive experience in the professional field. He does not only academic research but practical ones as well that students and professionals can use and apply. Keith walks the talk and is up to date with the latest industry trends and changes.

I think this is how classes should be taught, not just by educators who have terminal degrees in respective academic fields but by educators who are immersed in the professional fields as well.

As a college professor myself, I wholeheartedly believe that educators need to be practitioners. It is one of the important ways to shrink the gap between classroom teaching and real-life applications. Reflecting on my own self-reinvention journey to expand my professional services (listen to the podcast interview below), I have come to see how every single professional endeavor that I do outside the classroom has made me a better professor inside the classroom.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life
Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener…medium.com

Documenting A Journey to My First Self-Published Book

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I don’t have the book yet. This is going to be a series of mini blog posts to document my journey to release my first self-published book with another amazing coauthor and collaborator, Chetachi Egwu.


Where Am I Coming From?

I have been teaching in the classroom for a decade. I received my MA and Ph.D. in Communication/Public Relations from Syracuse University and University of Maryland. Like most educators, I have had a pretty traditional career path.

However, my career path started to shift as I embraced social media and digital media devices as a teaching and a career development tool. On top of being a college professor, I have expanded my services from teaching to speaking, consulting, blogging, and live streaming. Very soon, I am going to add another title, “author,” to my repertoire of professional services. Excited!

My encounter with digital media has not only made me a better teacher inside the classroom, but has opened my eyes and mind to the myriad of opportunities that are available to educators outside of academia.

There are so many skills that we have as educators that can be translated to the professional world and to bring us additional income opportunities. Unfortunately, many educators don’t see them or are simply not aware of the possibilities.

That’s why I was so excited to collaborate with Chetachi to write and self-publish a book together.

Our goal for the book is to tell educators about the possibilities outside of academiato encourage educators to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and digital media devices, and to demonstrate strategies and tactics that educators can apply to amplify their impact and income, which don’t have to be exclusive.

Chetachi and I have just conducted our first round of interviews with two amazing education entrepreneurs who are trailblazers in their own unique ways.

Read the highlights of each interview below.


Interview with Dr. Will Deyamport

Dr. Will and I connected on Twitter. Of course, where else did you find and connect with people nowadays? Dr. Will is an Instructional Technologist, Writer, Speaker, Consultant, and Business owner. He also has an amazing podcast, The Dr. Will Show, that he has been running for quite a few years.

What amazes me about Dr. Will is that besides his full-time job as an Instructional Technologist, he has a series of side hustles that help him create additional income and impact.

Here are some highlights I learned from our hour-long conversation.

✅ Money is NOT evil.

✅ There is nothing wrong with educators having side hustles.

✅ You need to monetize your knowledge and content.

✅ Everyone needs to be a content creator. There is no shortage of platforms to share your stories and wisdom. You can even self publish a book that can probably have a similar impact as traditionally published books through publishers.

✅ Don’t get too comfortable with your day job. Job security is not as secure as you imagine, even in the educator sector.

✅ Personal life and social media life are not dichotomous. You are a holistic human. Show the human side of you on social media sites. Be real and present yourself as a holistic person.

✅ Understand your “why” and your message before you jump onto any social site. Once you discover your gem, stay focused until you crush it.

✅ Create your network before you need it.

✅ Educators are brands. It is time to wake up and to embrace that.

Interview with Dr. Vernon Lindsay

Dr. Lindsay has an incredible story. In October 2016, he made a huge decision to move from Chicago to Mexico with his wife and three kids to start his how business. He is now a successful Writer, Consultant, and Personal Development Coach. His articles have been featured on Entrepreneur, The Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Thrive Global, and many more. And he has just published his book, Critical Race and Education for Black Males, as well as an online course on Self Development.

However, before this point, Vernon had a promising and successful career in higher education. He was a postdoctoral fellow in Teaching and Mentoring at the University of Illinois at Chicago for three years and was an adjunct professor at DePaul University for a year. Vernon received numerous awards and accomplishments during his tenure at these two universities.

What inspired Vernon to take such leap of faith and pack up and relocate to a new country?

Here are some highlights of our interview.

✅ Don’t just quit your job without having a solid plan. Take at least several months or even a few years to accumulate your capital and to get prepared for your entrepreneurial adventure before you quit your full-time job. Use your full-time job as an investment.

✅ You can’t be creative and produce meaningful work if you have to worry about paying your bills.

✅ Don’t get lost in the rabbit hole of social media. Being popular on social media can be an addictive feeling. Popularity and profitability are not the same. Unless your “likes” and “shares” are bringing you closer to your business goals, you might have to rethink your social media effort and strategy.

✅ Invest in yourself. Find mentors or coaches who had been where you are to guide you on your journey and to offer support. Just because you are a solopreneur, it doesn’t mean that you have to “hustle” alone.

✅ Flexible hours and being able to control your days are attractive traits of being an entrepreneur. However, you need to build structures into your life to make each day productive. Schedule time to write, work, plan, exercise, etc. Fail to plan; plan to fail.

✅ Build your social proof. Document your journey.

✅ People in academia have developed some strong skills that can be translated into the entrepreneurial world such as discipline, work ethics, writing, ability to work independently, and ability to research, gather, and synthesize information.

Conclusion

So, you already have a sneak peek from our upcoming book! Here are the highlights that I took away from our two initial interviews:

🎯 Academics have plenty of strong skills — both working style & skills — that they can leverage to become entrepreneurs.

🎯 Like everything else in life, social media is a double-edged sword. It has its benefits and challenges. However, used strategically, social media can help educators enhance their teaching career and bring additional income and impact.

🎯 Plan for yourself — even in academia, job security isn’t secure anymore. Plenty of schools have closed in the past several years. Whether you just want to have a side activity, completely go off on your own, or just want to get engagement from students and the academic or professional community; social media is a powerful tool for that. But it takes some planning and strategy to do that effectively.

I cannot wait to conduct more interviews and to eventually publish the book! Stay tuned.

“Who Looks Inside, Awakens”: How I Embraced Big Changes in Life

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Recently, I had the great honor to be on Deirdre Breakenridge’s podcast, Women WorldWide. I have been a loyal listener of Deirdre’s podcast for quite a few years. So, it was a surreal moment to be a guest on her show.

During our interview, I shared my journey of reinventing myself and how I expanded my professional services from teaching college-level public relations and social media courses to becoming a speaker, consultant, blogger, and live streamer.

I had such a great time chatting with Deirdre; and we had an extensive and thought-provoking discussion. You can click on the link below and listen to the entire interview. In this article, I highlighted a few of my responses from Deirdre’s interview questions.


Deirdre Breakenridge & Women WorldWide Podcast

Deirdre is the woman behind the WomenWorldWide podcast. As an author, speaker, educator, and CEO of Pure Performance Communications, Deirdre has been coaching and mentoring women and professionals in business for more than twenty years. She launched the Women WorldWide podcast to share women’s stories across the globe and highlight their successes and failures. I highly recommend that you subscribe to Deirdre’s Women WorldWide podcast and learn from the wisdom that these successful women leaders have shared.

Now, let’s dive into my story.


From Philadelphia to South Korea

February 2017 was a challenging month. As a family, we collectively made the toughest decision that literally changed our lives. We decided to relocate from Philadelphia to Seoul, South Korea, for a few years due to my husband’s job.

It was a decision made not without tears and struggles, knowing that this relocation was probably going to affect my career the most, as a college professor with a stable and secure job.

A few months later, on April 8, 2017, we packed 10 suitcases of stuff, on top of the 820 pounds we already shipped to Korea, and boarded a plane to Seoul.

Our suitcase, my older son (front), mother-in-law (back), and younger son (in the stroller)

Our suitcase, my older son (front), mother-in-law (back), and younger son (in the stroller)

A new chapter in my life had begun.

Today, I have successfully added several titles to my Website and LinkedInpage, including speakerconsultantblogger, and live streamer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I did my first paid speaking engagement in Seoul with two local social media influencers, where we discussed Instagram marketing. Our event was covered in the Korean media, which totally made my day.

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In a few weeks, I will be doing my second paid speaking engagement at Hongik University’s School of Advertising and Public Relations. I will be discussing personal branding with Korean students.

I cannot be more thankful for where I am today. All the tears and struggles are so worth it. Most importantly,

I have fallen in love with the person that I have become as a result of the self-reinvention.

How Did I Embrace Change?

I believe that I manifested the South Korea opportunity through my husband.

From September 2017 to May 2018, I was on a research sabbatical. I spent lots of time conducting academic research, but I also spent an amount of time reading books and listening to podcasts on social media and self-development. It was the first time that I dove into concepts such as lifestyle businesses, entrepreneurship, digital CEOs, nomads, and online businesses.

My mind was blown away by the stories that I heard and books I read. So many people were enjoying the abundance in life while doing what they love, creating impact, and experiencing the luxury of life. I felt a deeper part within me that had been buried for a long time was slowly waking up. I felt a strong desire for change and developed a craving for a bigger stage and stronger impact. As I shared in my interview with Deirdre,

There was a desire in my heart that was craving for a bigger stage and some change.

The desire grew stronger as I continued to learn and improve myself, and finally my desire was manifested through my husband’s opportunity to come to Korea.

What I learned from reinventing myself is that, throughout our education and schooling, we invest so much time and energy in studying other people’s lives and works, but hardly any time in discovering our intrinsic values and getting to know ourselves.

However, self-discovery is a crucial step to becoming successful and self-actualized. We cannot change the world outside without understanding the world inside of us first. It is only when we discover who we are & what we value that we can maximize our potential to society and humanity. I LOVE the following quote from Carl Jung,

For the first time ever, I was looking inside, and I became aware of my own dreams and values. I am proud of myself for having the courage to embrace big changes in life and for taking the action to actualize my dreams.


What is the State of Digital Learning?

Technological advancement has disrupted quite a few industries such as taxi and hotel businesses. The same thing is happening in the education space.

There are an ever-increasing number of alternative learning platforms that allow students to learn at any time and place that they want, such as Kahn Academy, Udemy, CreativeLive, MissionU, Massive Online Open Courses, and so many others. Organizations, influencers, and thought leaders from various industries are also launching their own online courses, certifications, training, etc. These alternative channels are gaining both popularity and credibility.

At the same time, today’s students have changed dramatically. They grew up with technology and digital media devices. Contemporary students are digital learners. They prefer digital first and they love self-paced learning.

As educators, we need to meet students where they are instead of expecting students to come to meet where we are, and learn to speak students’ language, the digital and the social media language. That’s why I am a huge advocate of incorporating digital media devices into classes as a teaching tool, and I do what I do as a Digital Learning Consultant.

I am aware that there is a strong voice against using media devices in the classroom because they cause distractions. I agree that technologies are very distracting. However, I do believe that banning technology completely in our classrooms is not the way to solve the problem.

Technology is not the root of the problem. Pedagogy is. Educators need to teach students how to use technologies smartly, strategically, and responsibly.

Without actually allowing students to use digital media devices in learning environments, where else can teachers train their students regarding smart usage of technology?


Why Did I Call My Facebook Live Show, Classroom Without Walls?

In June 2017, I launched a weekly Facebook live show called, Classroom Without Walls — Using Technology to Reimagine Education. I created this show because I believe our society has changed a lot. Social media and technology play a huge role in our society.

Technology has minimized the geographic barriers that once separated us; thus, has significantly amplified what one teacher can do in the classroom. I want to create a virtual community of people from all over the world, where we can be both teachers and students and learn from each other, and co-create content together.

I also LOVE technology because it is helping reform the traditional hierarchical power-dynamic between teachers and students. In the digital space, there are no “forever” teachers or students. Instead, our roles have become fluid and blended. We are both students and teachers. There is always so much to learn and so much that we already know that we can share with the outside world. Technology has made such endeavors possible.

So far, my weekly Facebook live show (every Wednesday at 5PM, EST) has been viewed by people from fifteen countries. And several of my videos have gained 1.2 K to 1.4K views with dozens of shares and hundreds of comments. Achieving this level of impact would be challenging through a traditional lecture class.

Meanwhile, my show has created a virtual community people are both teachers and students. We come together every week to learn from each other and to allow others to learn from us. It has become a virtual classroom that is not confined by geographic barriers or physical walls, hence, #ClassroomWithoutWalls.


What Does Success Mean To Me?

I believe we each have a zone of genius. Many of us probably never have a chance to discover that. Instead, we get settled in life too soon.

What success means to me is being in a state of creation, where we are operating within our zone of genius. In that state, work flows naturally to us. We become so focused that we forget about time and space. We become our work and our work becomes us. When we enter that state, regardless of what we do, creation happens effortlessly. And what we do aligns perfectly with our inspiration and the root of who we are. To me, that is success.


Conclusion

My self-reinventing journey has just begun. There is a lot more to learn and to experience. I am excited to continue to grow myself and to explore future opportunities.

I hope you enjoyed reading the highlights of my interview with Deirdre. Please listen to the entire episode and share it with friends who are on a similar journey and may benefit from my story. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think about my self-reinvention.

Leveraging Live Video To Grow Your Business & Brand

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Recently, I attended the Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. It’s arguably one of the top Social Media Marketing conferences in the US. If I had to select one takeaway from the conference, it would be: Go Live, Go Video.

Live videos connect people at a new level that is otherwise hard to achieve through traditional text or even audio. As a live streamer myself, I cannot think of a better way than live video to serve and connect with my community members.

Having said all that, I was beyond honored to have Chocolate Johnny, a live video expert, as a recent guest on my Facebook live show. John offered many valuable tips and insights regarding live video. He also shared best practices that we can all employ to use live video to grow and scale our businesses and brands.

In this article, I will share a few highlights of our interview. I also recommend that you watch the replay of the show. John is not only a live video expert, but a dynamic speaker and a genuine human being.

Interview with the one and only John Kapos, aka Chocolate Johnny, owner of Perfection Chocolates & Sweets. John is also a speaker. He spoke at last year's #SMMW17 conference, where he gave an awesome talk on live streaming.

Who is Chocolate Johnny?

John Kapos, aka Chocolate Johnny, is the owner of a chocolate shop in Sydney Australia called Perfection Chocolates and Sweets. John has successfully leveraged the power of live video to scale his business. As a live streaming expert, John also coaches other small businesses to tap into the power of live video.

In addition, John is a social media and motivational speaker. In fact, John was a speaker at last year’s Social Media Marketing World conference (#SMMW17), where he discussed how he used live video to grow his business and brand. I had the honor to listen to John present in person. It’s a value-packed talk.

To learn more about John, please visit his Website and connect with him on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, and Facebook.


Chocolate Johnny’s Live Streaming Journey

John’s live streaming journey started three years ago when social streaming app Meerkat was first released. He immediately downloaded the app and started playing with it. John broadcasted his first live streaming session on April 1, 2015, when he was taking a walk on a beach in Sydney. To his great surprise, thirty people joined his session and started conversing with him.

That moment was a turning point in his career. John started to brainstorm ideas where he could incorporate live video into his local chocolate business. He started to ask himself, “How can I utilize live streaming for my business and for other people’s business? How can I take live streaming to the next level? What can I do with it?” Intrigued by these questions, John started to live stream his Perfection Chocolate business.


Push The Broadcast Button: Your Business Could Change

My biggest takeaway from my hour-long Facebook live interview with John is: push the damn button. John said it so well, “push the broadcast button, your business could change.”

John shared several stories where his live videos of Perfection Chocolates has benefited his business.

✅ A famous TV presenter in Sydney shared John’s story on her Instagram channel, where she has a hundred thousand followers.

✅ Through Periscope, 79 people have come to John’s store because they watched his story on Periscope. Those people came from all over the globe such as New York, London, Paris, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand, China, Japan, etc. Because they watched John go live on Periscope, they felt an urge to connect with John in person and try his chocolate.

✅ A famous comedian visited John’s chocolate shop as his first stop in Sydney and he live streamed his entire visit.

✅ For one of his live streaming broadcasts, John had 115,000 viewers and made $3K in sales purely from the live broadcast.

Not only are these stories amazing from a storytelling perspective, but from a business angle, these visitors have become consumers who have all purchased John’s Perfection Chocolates, in-person or online; and they will continue to share their stories about Chocolate Johnny with their friends and family members. To me, these are the finest examples of social selling and selling without selling.

In John’s own words,

People see you and your product. They hear about you. People see me on social media and will come in to try my product. I have planted my seed. Fix your foundation up. Build a relationship first, build the trust and watch your business grow.

So, if you are an individual or a small business owner, it might be the time for you to push the broadcast button. Your effort is likely to benefit your business.


We Can All Become Digital Storytellers

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that only attractive small businesses such as chocolate can benefit from live videos. During the interview, John shared several examples where small business owners from a wide range of industries have benefited from live streaming.

✅ A butcher shop owner uses live videos to teach people how to identify quality meat, how to process the meat at home, how to cut the meat, how to put it on the barbecue, how to season it, how to do recipes, etc.

✅ A florist uses live videos to teach people how to choose good flowers and arrange them into beautiful designs.

✅ A funeral director uses live video to teach people how to write a good eulogy.

✅ A financial planner uses live video to show people the basics of financial planning.

The list can go on and on, but you got the idea. The point is that we all have a story to share. We all have passions and hobbies, and we all know something a little bit more than the average person. As John shared,

You are different from everyone else and you have a story and everyone needs to hear it. You have a story that someone out there needs to hear your story and that’s going to change their lives.

Remember, push the broadcasting button.


Everyone Has to Start With Zero

When you are starting out on your live streaming journey, it’s very tempting to look at your numbers and feel discouraged. I love what John shared,

We all start with zero followers. Listen carefully, zero followers, zero hearts, zero likes, zero zero zero. Everyone starts with zero!

Amen! So true.

John shared a great tip that can help people, especially newbies of live videos, to get over their fears of numbers. John recommended using a piece of paper to cover your live streaming viewers’ numbers, should it be on Periscope, Facebook, or whatever platform you use to go live. In this way, you wouldn’t be able to see the numbers and be bothered by them when you go live. When in doubt, remember John’s wise words:

I am insecure enough. Everyone is. I don’t need another thing to make me feel insecure. I don’t care about the numbers. All I care about is the comment. And if no one comments on it, that’s okay. One day someone will!

This reminds me of what Gary Vaynerchuk shared in one of his videos. When Gary started producing videos, not that many people consumed his content. Be patient and be consistent. One day, people will pay attention to you and your content.


Conclusion

I hope my interview with Chocolate Johnny has given you enough confidence and motivation to start your own live streaming journey. As a live streamer myself, I cannot resonate enough with every single pointJohn shared. The only way to overcome our fear of live video is by acting on that fear, “push the broadcast button.”

The benefits far outweigh your fears. Because if you get fears in your head, it doesn’t give you enough room to put your dreams inside. Take the fears out of your head; push the button. I don’t care if your hair is curly or not straight or if you haven’t put make-up on. People want to hear your story.