Do Something Scary

Megan Hargroder NOEW 2015

Speaking @ NOEW 2015

Cards on the table: public speaking TERRIFIES me.

Which might sound weird because I do lots of it.

Not like “oh I’m so important that I get paid to give inspirational speeches like every week” but like – now that I’ve been doing Social Media professionally for 5 or 6 years, I get asked to do workshops and talks here and there.

And every time a new invitation to speak at an event finds it’s way into my inbox, I immediately begin thinking of ways to get out of it….

But here’s the thing: even though it’s scary, I’ve gotten some of my best clients from speaking events. So I understand that it’s important to my business.

And I won’t lie: there’s definitely a high after pulling off a solid presentation for a huge room of people.

Overcoming Fear = Empowerment

But there’s also a  low (and maybe this is just me) that takes over the next few days. It’s exhausting and feels like you’re coming down with something…which means you’ve got to take some down time to recharge.

Which is why I think that whole saying “Do one thing a day that scares you” is a little dramatic…

1 scary thing EVERY day?

How would you get anything else done?

Depending on the scale of the fear, I think once a week is a pretty solid goal.

So here are some “scary” things on my to-do list right now:

  • go ahead and book those other 2 speaking events in my inbox
  • taxes
  • white water rafting
  • transfer conversations to an S-Corp and put the team on Payroll
  • let a client know that paying invoices 3 months late is no longer acceptable
  • finally stop editing and re-editing and submit those guest posts
  • launch the social tribune (or whatever we decide to call it)

And once you actually write out the “fear,” it seems pretty silly and first world.

Of course you will get it done.

Of course you will make it happen.

Of course you will stop getting in your own way…because these scary things that you feel are holding you back are probably the very things that will propel you forward if you can just take a deep breath and jump.

So what’s on your “fear” list?

What are you letting hold you back right NOW?

Apothecary Box Kickstarter Project – LAUNCHED!

Yesterday Lauren and I launched the Kickstarter project for our new project: Apothecary Box

So far – we’re at almost $800 of our $10k goal and have high hopes that it will succeed!

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It’s only day 2, but there have already been lots of lessons / takeaways on how we could have (and still can!) make the project stronger.

Targeting the Right Audience

This includes understanding the market and what people are willing to pay (we were surprised that the most backers chose the $100 man box, which, was the only $100 level – so $100 boxes seem to be the way to go – but likely for one-offs).

So while when we launch we will still do the $25 monthly sample subscription option, I think that periodically releasing $100 boxes that can be purchased individually without a subscription will be key to the success of the project.

With the Right Message

After posting the Kickstarter link on Reddit for the first time,  I got a message from someone saying they didn’t see the value in the sample box and that it looked like any other beauty box subscription (just more expensive).

I’ll be honest: this kind of ruined my entire morning. I didn’t even share it with Lauren so that it wouldn’t ruin HER morning. (Though she’s probably read this by now).

But here’s the lesson: I read through the Kickstarter description and rewatched the video and realized that we didn’t really specify a lot of the key selling points of this box! So I sat down, re-evaluated and decided that new messaging should focus on the following:

What’s different about this box:  it’s geared towards building your knowledge – not your makeup cabinet.

For example: did you know that keeping certain beauty products on hand (such as virgin organic coconut oil) can eliminate about 10 of the products that are already in your bathroom? Coconut oil can be used as a skin and face moisturizer, shaving oil, hair mask, cuticle cream…the list goes on and on.

Each box will also contain a sample of essential oil (a different oil each month) and an informational card on it’s therapeutic benefits, and how it can be used.

Is this subscription box for everyone? Nope. It’s for people consciously switching from chemical-based to natural products who want to know exactly what they’re putting on/in their bodies and who is making those products. We’re putting a face behind that bar of soap !

Ask for Support

So far I’ve messaged a couple of people individually who have previously indicated interest or who I think would be fans of the project. All of those people have supported so far in some capacity (though I don’t want individual sales pitches to be an ongoing thing, it works for things like Kickstarter when you need to meet a specific goal within a specific period of time).

I’ll also be posting more social media specific info on lessons learned in this week’s Social Media #SundaySchool

2015: New Year New Me

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 2.13.34 PMI love the New Year more than any other holiday (including Mardi Gras).

For me: the New Year is a chance to start fresh. To stop doing things that aren’t working, and to start new things I’m excited about.

This year, I’m dreaming BIG.

Here’s what’s in queue:

Conversations Media: I’m taking my social media consulting company to the next level with a fresh new website design, an awesome new SEO service for lawyers (designed around requests and projects throughout the year), and we’re announcing that we’ll officially be offering full scope website design + development services for 2015!

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Apothecary Box: Lauren (my partner in life and crime) and I are starting a subscription service called Apothecary Box – which will be a monthly sample box of curated natural, holistic, handmade body products from small local makers. We’re launching the kickstarter for that at the end of this month (Put your name on the list at ApothecaryBox.com if you want to get an email when it launches!)

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Consulting Calls: Because I work primarily with startups with limited budgets, I get a lot of requests to “pick my brain over coffee,” which adds up to a lot of unbillable hours and shaky caffeine hands. Solution: Clarify is a badass new tool that I just set up a profile on so that people can book consulting calls with me BY THE MINUTE. So for example if you only need 20 minutes to pick my brain for new marketing tactics for 2015, it’s just $33. You get what you need. I get paid. Everybody wins!

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Live Events: I LOVE getting the chance to do workshops or speak to groups about Social Media, so I’m prioritizing doing more of that this year! So far for this month I’ve scheduled a 2015 Marketing Bootcamp Workshop at Propeller on the 21st, and will be doing a guest lecture at Nunez Community College on the 27th.

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Birthday Trip to Colorado: Last year, Lauren and I were fortunate enough to find the time and extra cash to take an amazing weeklong trip to New York for my birthday, and Colorado for hers. We loved Colorado so much that we’re planning another trip there for May! MOUNTAINS, Y’ALL!

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Give More Hugs: My official New Years Resolution is to GIVE MORE HUGS. This is way more practical than saying I’m going to jog 2-3 times a week (because I won’t) or that I’ll quit drinking (because – no.) I plan to give more hugs to family, new friends, old friends, even clients. I know that some people don’t like hugs. But I don’t trust those people. Hugs rock.

Update: MegansApothecary.com is rolling!

A couple of weeks ago, I launched MegansApothecary.com as an etsy store to sell bath/beauty apothecary products that I’ve been working on.

Lauren’s been taking/stylizing the photos and designing new labels and I’ve been getting to spend lots of time in the “lab” working on new stuff…so it’s been a lot of fun so far!

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Announcement: I’m launching an online Apothecary Box!

There’s something I’ve been working really hard on for a while now…and this is the first time I am “putting it out there” making this probably the hardest blog post I’ve ever written…

For the past few years I’ve been spending more and more time learning about holistic health – specifically the healing properties of essential oils and herbs.

It started off with a book by Rosemary Gladstar, where I learned to make healing tinctures and teas…and evolved into my love of bath/body products and trying to figure out how to replace what I was currently using with high quality natural alternatives (without breaking the bank).

I quickly realized that my new hobby was not only satisfying in that I was able to create and customize products for myself and friends, but that taking a couple of hours each day to step away from the computer and retreat to my “lab” to mix essential oils, learn to make perfumes, etc. was actually causing a notable decline in my overall stress levels.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.20.47 AMI began researching how to make everything – from bath bombs to foot soaks to hair oils. But my favorite things to make were what I call “problem solvers.” I’m allergic to most bug sprays but mosquitoes are terrible in New Orleans during the summer. So I created a chemical-free, citronella-free bug spray that works better than the regular stuff (and actually smells good).

I also work around a lot of people who spend too much time on the computer and get stress headaches, so I created a tension roller stick made with essential oils that relieve tension.

And when Lauren suffered a back injury last winter, I researched which herbs and oils could be used to relieve muscle pain, and created a formula that works better than Biofreeze and some of the other alternatives…

As a marketer, my initial instinct was to create a brand, and so Nola Essentials was born. (The idea being that the products were made in New Orleans, and that I’d focus on multi-use “essential” products in sustainable packaging).

Under that umbrella, I was mostly making beeswax and coconut oil based lip moisturizers with essential oils to add therapeutic benefits. (To date, I’ve sold exactly zero of those, but have given away over 1,000 as I refused to create any kind of store front until I felt that the brand was absolutely perfect…)

Fast forward two years: I ALMOST opened an actual physical store here in New Orleans, but decided that physical retail management wasn’t going to fit with my already crazy schedule. I created an etsy store for Nola Essentials and have sold a few things (the natural bug spray has been the biggest hit so far). I had labels designed, redesigned, designed again and so on….

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And then I took a long hard look at the overall look/feel/branding and decided to scratch the whole thing and reassess my goals.

I’m obsessed with subscription boxes and the plan was always that this would evolve into one.

But “Nola Essentials” didn’t feel right.

So I did what I always do whenever I hit a branding / naming crossroads…

I popped over to Bluehost to see what domains might be available…and to my surprise, was able to buy ApothecaryBox.com

So! The plan is to launch a kickstarter soon-ish for a badass quarterly Apothecary Box that will include my products and others.

Challenge: WAIT; if my ‘brand’ is apothecary box, but apothecary box is a subscription that also sends out products from other brands, WON’T THAT BE CONFUSING!?

Solution: I’m creating a product brand called “Megan’s Apothecary” (domain was also available!) to brand my own products with, and am in the process of reachout out to other makers who want to include products in the subscription box launch.

And I couldn’t be more excited about the new brand. I’ve always been hesitant on putting my name into things (one, because it’s generic and two, because it doesn’t seem very ‘brand-like’) but I love how personal “Megan’s Apothecary” feels.

So what’s next?

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1. I’m building out Apothecarybox.com behind the scenes (and collecting email addresses so that I can notify people when it launches)

2. I’m liquidating my Nola Essentials / ApothecaryBox brand products via Etsy so that we can restructure as Megan’s Apothecary photo (7)

3. Lauren is working on some really beautiful new labels for the new brand (here’s a sneak peek!)

4. I’m looking for makers to participate in the box! So: if you know someone who creates a natural / holistic product or product line – tell them to get in touch! Structural Note: Apothecary Box will be set up more like ipsy than Birchbox (meaning we won’t sell products through the site, just subscriptions, and then when people want to buy a full-sized product, we link them out directly to your store so that makers receive 100% of the proceeds from their products).

So that’s the whole shabang..

Please comment/email/call/text with any questions, feedback, ideas, constructive criticisms – all are welcome!

 

How I mastered Crepe-making (and how you can too)

A few weeks ago, Lauren and I joined a cooking competition (A super sweet gift from her badass big bro & sister-in-law)  at Langlois Culinary School in New Orleans.

We separated into teams and did about as much rowdy shit talking as one can do over a nice glass of rose, and each group was partnered with a Chef.

langlois cooking class

Team Awesome

I had no idea how to make crepes before this event because “cooking” to me usually means assembling a salad or putting a bunch of random things into a slow cooker for the day and hoping it turns out okay.

Here’s the thing: CREPES ARE EASY, Y’ALL!

langlois new orleans crepe making

Chef Mel going over the basics of creating a savory crepe filling

So here’s my slightly adapted crepe recipe from the Langlois class…

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup of whole milk (I’m sure any kind of milk would do the trick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or just whatever kind of salt)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour – sifted (I’m actually still not sure what “sifted” means but if it’s an extra step, I didn’t do it and mine turned out fine)
  • unsalted butter (for crepe flipping)

Instructions: 

  • Blend milk, egg, salt, oil and flour until smooth and then stick that in a jar in your refrigerator overnight
  • Get a pan, put your stove on medium heat, melt about a teaspoon of butter and then drop 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan (lift and swirl so that the batter makes a thin layer in bottom of pan)
  • Shake the pan a bit: once the crepe is loose (not sticking onto the pan), you’re ready to flip.
  • Watch this video for flipping technique:

So there’s your crepe  - and you can fill it with LITERALLY FUCKING ANYTHING.

Here’s the result of our competition crepe after lots of wine and laughs and failed flips:

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(We got last place but it tasted AMAZING, I swear).

 

How to rebuild your wardrobe (without breaking the bank)

This week is about politics.

Kidding.

It’s about building a badass/non-boring/versatile wardrobe.

So what do I know about fashion?

Not a whole lot. In general, I have a love/hate relationship with shopping/fashion/clothes.

BUT — I did recently interview designer Amanda DeLeon for the best copywriter in New Orleans‘ #FashionFriday blog:)

So here’s what I DO know about fashion (aside from my newfound knowledge on how to rock a cape):

1. Getting dressed shouldn’t be stressful.

2. Shopping shouldn’t leave you feeling guilty.

3. When you live with someone else, not all of the closets in the house are for just YOUR clothes.

4. Holding onto things you “might fit in again one day” or that you’re keeping for sentimental value (but would never wear) might just be a waste of closet space.

So I decided that it’s time to get rid of everything that’s too small, from LF/Forever 21/other places where someone who is almost 30 shouldn’t be shopping, and things that are just too hard to work into everyday wear.

*Note — some of these links are actually “affiliate links,” meaning that if you sign up, we both get free credits (dollarz) to that site. Thank you and you’re welcome ;)

The Purge: I made 3 piles: Give Away, Throw Away, Sell.

For the stuff I decided was in great condition and still had value, I ordered a free shipping bag from Like Twice, sent it all back to them, and they emailed me a week later saying that I had a $90 credit to their site for all of those clothes I was never going to wear anyway.

And then it was time to rebuild (a.k.a. “buy new shit,” a.k.a. THE FUN PART!)

1. Affordable Basics:everlane vneck tee

I want the foundation of my wardrobe to be high-quality basics that are cut well, fit well, and go with whatever.

So I started with 3 v-neck T-shirts and 2 sleeveless tops from Everlane.

They use this cool fabric that doesn’t pill (which is awesome, because I wash and dry EVERYTHING, which is why I don’t usually buy nice things).

But considering the quality, these T’s are a steal @ $15.


2. Fun “Pop” Pieces:

I used my Like Twice credit to buy a few “fun” pieces that I knew would be great additions to my wardrobe this summer, but which wouldn’t necessarily be on trend after that.

No guilt here because I had free money, and got lots of stuff for it.

like twice consignment

So Like Twice is BASICALLY like an online Buffalo Exchange without that awkward line and some girl chewing gum, telling you that they aren’t currently buying whatever you’re selling.

 3. Investment Pieces:

THIS IS THE PART THAT MAKES ME NERVOUS.

I don’t like spending more than $30 on something unless I KNOW I’m going to wear it, like, all the time.

And I’m still not sure that buying a “big girl blazer” from Saks (It was Joie, more dollars than I want to admit, and I was in a pinch for a speaking engagement, so I totally splurged) was a great idea.

In general, shopping in stores makes me nervous because I always feel really pressured by salespeople to buy things I don’t necessarily want.

So I found the most badass, next-best thing: A personal styling service called Stitchfix.

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How it works:

Based on a style profile I filled out when I signed up, they send me five things to try on every month.

What I like, I keep.Picture 10

What I don’t, I send back.

Stitchfix charges my card for whatever I keep. Everyone feels happy and like they made good decisions, and even though I consider these “investment pieces,” they’re all in the $60 price range, which means out of the three months I’ve been stitchfix’in, I’ve spent way less than that one Joie blazer from Saks.

Not to hate on the blazer. The blazer is fine. But mostly it’s a lesson.

 

So, I’m STILL working on building my big girl wardrobe…one piece at a time.

Luckily, things like Stitchfix and Like Twice are making the process a lot easier and more fun.

Know of any great online personal shopping or wardrobe trade sites?

Please share in the comments!

*Related: My lovely new friend Abigail who works over at LaunchPad has AMAZING style and has agreed to take me on a shopping trip to style me IRL. So I’m super excited about that and will post an update after:)

 

 

28 Years // Week 1 Goal: Double last year’s business income

Last week, I blogged about my top 5 goals for my 28th year of life…and they are far and above the most ambitious so far.

(But I think you know me well enough to know that I’m up to the challenge)!

My #1 goal is to double last year’s income for my Social Media and SEO Company (Conversations, LLC), from 2013 to 2014 – SO I’m already halfway done with the timeline on this, meaning I better get planning!

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I bet you’re wondering how I’m going to make that happen?

New business – yes

Raising rates – no – BUT: I WILL be creating more FREE resources for start-ups, using affiliate links (links I get from companies like Bluehost or WIX so that they know I’m referring new customers, and in turn, they pay me a kickback). I’m super excited about this especially because I get to create a lot of value for people who need it right now, but don’t have a budget to outsource things like building their website or keeping up with social media.

Outsourcing more – yes (this seems counter-intuitive at first because it means paying someone else to do work that I could actually do myself; but the important thing about this is that I am freeing up time to do business development – which ideally is going to produce more business, and we will grow from there).

Networking and blogging more – yes. I’m going to be setting aside time each morning to write a blog post, guest post or work on an upcoming presentation. I’ll also be attending more networking events to talk to small businesses directly about the kind of work we do at Conversations. All of these things will increase visibility, brand awareness, email list signups – and thus – result in more business, according to how similar efforts have worked for me in the past.

I’m also going to get more PERSONAL with what I write.

Because people hire people, and in order to build trust, you’ve got to be open and honest.

That’s one of the reasons I’m laying out my big goals in this blog series (the other is that I’m hoping to get feedback from you on how I can do things better/faster/smarter – but also maybe share something with you that you didn’t know before)!

A side goal of bringing on more work + making more money is that I want to give Stephanie more hours and continue to have her grow within the company; but also, at some point, bring on a second employee in more of a virtual assistant/organizational role so that Stephanie can focus more on what she’s passionate about: content and visual creation.

So far: My January 1 – June 1 Business income is almost exactly double what it was from that date range last year; so we are on target!

 

Turning 28

Last month I turned 28.megan hargroder birthday dinner at raoul's

I see birthdays as my own “new year” and usually make a few resolutions and goals for the upcoming year…

28 will be my most ambitious year so far.

GOALS:

1. Double last year’s income for my Social Media and SEO Company (Conversations, LLC), based here in New Orleans

2. Successfully launch my 2 new companies: Nola Essentials and Our Social Tribune (technically they are “launched” but so far not promoted or built out as much as I’d like them to be)

3. Become a Certified Aromatherapist

4. Dress more profesh (not like BORING profesh, but like – “hey, that broad has her shit together” profesh)

5. Focus on what MATTERS (i.e. not get bogged down with the small stuff, i.e. keep my eye on the ball, i.e. spend time doing what I care about most)

And I’m also committing to doing A LOT more blogging.

So, over the next 5 weeks, I’ll be outlining each goal in greater detail as well as talking about progress and how I’m going to make it happen.

I’d love any feedback or tips on ways that you’ve found effective to hold yourself accountable to your own goals! You can leave those in the comments below:

be really fucking nice…because, why not?

In my industry, people give a lot of advice.

And a lot of that advice is business-related – geared towards protecting your time, making the most of your time and building your business around your own rules so that you can do what you want, when you want, the way you want it.

And it’s mostly really good advice.

But here’s the thing about “protecting your time” and going on a “low information diet” and having too many friends on Facebook and following too many people on Twitter:

You miss A LOT.

Like a friend crowdsourcing for a ride because they didn’t want to text directly and put you out. But you could have given them that ride, caught up with a friend and everyone would have had a better day because of it.

 

No one ever really tells you to be nice and take an extra minute to help someone out – or just look around and realize that it’s a BEAUTIFUL fucking day….

So I’m doing that now. BECAUSE IT’S A REALLY BEAUTIFUL FUCKING DAY.

And sometimes it’s more important to watch what people are doing rather than listen to what they are saying.

EXAMPLE:

Chris Schultz is a really busy dude. He does lots of important work, knows lots of important people, and even though he’s a master at time management, sometimes struggles with balance just like the rest of us.

But you know what?

Every time some hopeful entrepreneur walks into Launch Pad (usually with no appointment or warning, like a TORNADO in most cases) to get feedback on their “big idea,” Schultz stops what he’s doing – as if he knows this person – and gives them his full attention, advice, resources, whatever he can.

Is it rude to just walk into someone’s office in the middle of their work day and interrupt them?

Of course. And most people would get super annoyed.

But Schultz doesn’t.

And the way that he talks to these tornados that he’s never met before?

It’s the same way he talks to people like Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.

Because he treats everyone the same: with kindness and respect.

So why am I writing about this now?

Two really awesome things happened yesterday.

Firstly, I shattered my iphone screen – and I mean shattttttered- on Thanksgiving (clearly that’s not the awesome thing) and have been crowdsourcing options on Facebook and Twitter since then.

So yesterday afternoon, my iPhone screen was replaced. FOR FREE. By an ANGEL.

More specifically, an angel who had no cause or reason to do such a huge favor for me, but did it anyway.

Just to be nice. Just because she could.

THEN.

 

On my way home from, I stopped to get groceries at the Canseco’s and ran into a man called Parker who I know from and only run into at the Canseco’s, pretty regularly.

Parker calls me “Budapest” because he was stationed there when he was in the military and said I look like someone he knew there.

I’m in a hurry to get home and Parker is chatty so I start my normal, polite conversation expedition but he’s not having it.

Know why?

Because he had a VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE for me.

I didn’t know it right then – I don’t think he did either.

But when Parker proceeded to tell me that he saw me walking downtown one day, and that I looked like I was in a bad mood with the weight on my shoulders, I honestly couldn’t correspond that to a particular time or mood because I probably ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THAT.

Which isn’t fun for anyone.

So I said something like “ahhhh you know – I work downtown – lots of stress – I was probably just thinking or mad about something someone said….”

and THEN he told me this:

“Budapest, don’t let anyone take your joy away.
Leave work at work and home at home.
Your happiness is your own – but it only gets stronger when you share it with others.”

We talked for another 15 minutes or so before going our separate ways in the grocery aisle….and I felt lighter. Happier.

And to round off the theme of this post/lesson/story with too many profanities, there was an email from Sloane Davidson in my inbox this morning about “Giving Tuesday.”

She wrote this manifesto about giving and is aiming to get 10k downloads with proceeds going to a non-profit that she’s passionate about.

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And I’ll end on this challenge:

Pay attention to what’s going on around you.
Do something nice for someone else today.
Just because.

xo

Megan