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.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 6.13.32 AM

 

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

 

on being gay, what it means to “choose,” and why you should never ask if I want a split check

There are a couple of things you need to understand about non-straight people and their relationships. Well, A LOT of things but here are some that have been on my mind lately:

First and foremost: If you’re a restaurant server and I am CLEARLY on a date and ask for THE check – DO NOT ask if I want that split. I do not want it split. Because I asked for one check.

If you do this, I’m going to glare at you with mean eyes until you comprehend what you have just said OR until Lauren gets so uncomfortable that she shoos you away with a quick “yes, one check, thanks.”

And when you get back to the table, don’t give the check to Lauren just because I’m wearing a dress. I asked for the check. Bring it to me. </rant>

The second thing is a little more complicated. Because I know you mean well, straight person. But when your “defense” of same sex relationships is that “it’s not their fault they’re gay, they didn’t choose it,” it makes us sound, well, like there’s something WRONG with us.

It’s like saying “Poor Johnny. He doesn’t WANT to have Lupus.”

GAYNESS IS NOT LUPUS PEOPLE.

No, I do not CHOOSE who I’m attracted to, but I CHOOSE to be with that person. Because this is America and we don’t have to marry the person our daddy tells us to.

I CHOOSE to be with the most amazing, brilliant, beautiful person that I’ve ever met – and I’m CHOOSING to build a life with her.

There’s no affliction here. We don’t sit around talking about how hard it is to be gay and how we wish we weren’t.

It’s not even something we think about regularly. (We actually just think of ourselves as normal humans living our lives.)

I love and appreciate everything about Lauren and my relationship with her and who I am when I’m with her.

Yeah, it sucks that we can’t get married, adopt kids, enjoy a lot of the rights that other couple have…but all of that is changing.

And one day none of this will be a thing because you will realize that people are people and love is love.

Lots of people have figured that out already…

I choose to be happy. Right now. Regardless.

 

How weekends get planned in my world

Megan Hargroder:

alright here’s what’s going on:

New Orleans Loving Festival Art exhibits, film screenings, literary events, a comedy show, gospel concert and “Loving Day” celebration.

OR

A New Fangled Festival of Opera Seven performances of one-act operas that range from comedic to dark, quirky to satiric, offering something for everyone.

Lauren:

Well then

Megan Hargroder:

or we could go to St. Francisville for The Day the War Stopped – it’s the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Port Hudson,  featuring graveside histories, historic presentations, performances and re-enactments, a concert, candlelight tours and more.

Lauren :

I love St. Francisville

Megan Hargroder:

WAIT. OMG. LAUREN.

DO YOU WANT TO TAKE A WEEKEND CEMETERY TOUR TRIP!?

IN OUR RV?

Lauren :

YES

Wait. We don’t have an rv.

Megan Hargroder:

okay we have a few more options:

French Market’s Annual Creole Tomato Festival Tomato eating contests, live music, children’s activities, misting stations, festival food booths and Creole tomatoes for sale.

Lauren :

I LOVE the creole tomato festival!

Megan Hargroder:

and it’s held in conjunction w this: Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival Two stages of Cajun and zydeco music, dancing, a large arts market and seafood vendors. No outside food or beverages. Chairs OK.

Lauren :

And we can say tomAto tomAHto all day

Megan Hargroder:

I think the creole tomoato/cajun-zydeco is a win. 2 birds, 1 stone. 3 birds really bc we get to work on our fitness by walking around the quarter.

4 birds bc it’s free

Lauren :

OMG that’s so many birds!

Megan Hargroder:

lets bring our own beverages inside in a chair bag

Lauren :

Ill just carry my back pack. No one checks.

Megan Hargroder:

they might check. chair bags are inconspicuous. like duh there is a chair in there or else you woulnt carry around something so dumb shaped.

 

How to make things pay for themselves

I don’t usually talk about my business on this blog, that’s what this one is for. But I’m going to get a little businessy just for one minute because I think this is important and useful.

I’m all about saving money, but there are some things that you just need to pay for – because they’re worth it. Still, if you factor in benefits, perks and affiliate options, you can often find ways to make things pay for themselves.

Here’s how I do that with my office rent, virtual assistant and online billing system.

OFFICE RENT

My “office” is an informal “whatever is open” desk space at LaunchPad in the CBD. Ticket price: $275. So why don’t I just work from home or a coffee shop? Because my LaunchPad membership is worth it’s weight in gold. Here’s a breakdown of why…

- free coffee. every. day.
Savings: at least $60/month

- free lunch once or twice per week
Savings: $40-$80/month

- free printing. and I print a lot. (JK KATY I DONT PRINT THAT MUCH)
Savings: approx. $25-$50/month

That’s already a hard cost value of $125-$190 PLUS I have amazing perks like free internet, access to conference and meeting rooms, discounted (and often comped) tickets to tech-related events where I can learn new skills and network AND I get to sit in a room all day with some of the most creative, entrepreneurial people in this city. That is INSANELY priceless.

VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

I have a virtual assistant through a company called Zirtual which totally rocks and you can read more about that here. I opt in for the 20 hour/month plan which runs $400. BUT, Zirtual offers a $100 referral fee.

For the month of April, I referred two new people so I’m down to paying $200 for the month of May. Because I’m so happy with the service and naturally want to tell everyone about it like ALL the time, there’s an opportunity for me to completely cover the monthly fee.

ONLINE BILLING

I use a program called Freshbooks to invoice my clients, track time and projects and record expenses. Freshbooks unlimited is $30/month. I know a lot of people who create manual invoices each time they send one out (which is a waste of time) and track their expenses in a spreadsheet (leaving room for error AND wasting time).

In 2012, I sent out 110 invoices that were auto-generated from Freshbooks. When I receive payments, I check a single box that generates a receipt and emails it to my client automatically. And the newest feature that really makes all of this worth it is that I can now upload expenses from my business credit card. Which means no manual expense entry which means I’m saving a shit ton of money on a bookkeeper or time doing it myself. (I would never be able to do it myself).

I could keep going but I really like doing things in 3′s and it’s time to start the work day; hope yours is awesome and efficient!

The LaunchPad Analog Diaries (digitized)

Bluegrass and Biscuit Brunch

TOMORROW IS SATURDAY. And I’m already excited about Bluegrass and Biscuit Brunch at 12 Mile Limit.

It’s a laid back vibe with live music and I like to go early (10:30ish) when there’s no crowd. The brunch menu changes out a bit but basically it’s a build your own biscuit type of thing and the bloody mary’s are to die for (and only $5).

 

You should do things even if you’re scared – ESPECIALLY if you’re scared

A few months ago, Victoria from The Idea Village emailed asking if I’d do a talk about social media at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week – which is kind of a big fucking deal. After I realized she was actually serious, I felt super scared. And then I said yes. But I wanted to say no.

Here’s what I did to shake my nerves, pull this off, and not die:

First, I put together a slide deck that I’m super proud of:

Then, I did not practice at all. Dry runs work for some people but they just make me more nervous and I don’t like to sound rehearsed.

“If anything goes wrong, just do whatever.”  - Kody Chamberlain

10 minutes before my presentation, I went into the ladies room and did Jessica’s Daily Affirmation. If you haven’t done this yet to pump yourself up for something then you should really try it:

Surprisingly, nothing went wrong. In fact, everything went better than I could have  imagined. Other than that thing I said about Google+ that really pissed off that guy from Google+ who ended up walking out.

Other than that, people were paying attention, asking questions, and there was even a bit of cheering afterward. (okay I totally staged the cheering and standing ovation with strategically placed friends but it was still magical.)

 

 

3 things that save me A LOT of time

Time is something I never seem to have enough of. No matter how efficient or streamlined I make my work or life, the truth is that running a company, being a partner in a second company, being an active chair on two different boards, planning regular events, keeping up with health and yoga and making time to spend with my amazing girlfriend really adds up to enough to fill two completely different lives. And apparently I only have one.

So this week I’m focusing in on automation and filtering. How can I filter out information I don’t care about and how can I automate things I would normally do? I’d love to hear any suggestions or ideas if you have any….here are a few of my favorites right now:

SANEBOX
Sanebox is an email filtering tool that decides what email is actually important (i.e. client emails etc.) and what isn’t (e-newsletters from anthropologie.com) and only puts the important stuff in my inbox. The rest goes to a folder called @sanelater which I look at at the end of my day or when my inbox is empty and I have some time to fuck around. Which is never.  It’s the best $5/month I’ve ever spent because it saves me hours every month and time is money. Duh. Click HERE to sign up and I’ll get a $5 referral credit. Then refer your friends and get credits so you never actually have to pay for it. Look – I just made that free!

 

IF THIS THEN THAT
I seriously love this site so much. I also think of it as an efficient way to waste time because there are so many cool recipe ideas. Not food recipes, streamlining recipes. Get with me on this. For example – you can create a “recipe” that says “if I post a blog to WordPress, automatically send the title of that blog and a link to it to my Facebook Page and Twitter account. Yes you can. I know, right? I also have my cell # set up so that I can send a text to the ifttt number that says “escape” and it will call me with an automated “emergency you have to come quick” – just in case I need to quick exit from a terrible meeting or a bad date.

 

AUTO SHIPMENTS
You can set up recurring auto-shipments on Drugstore.com, Vitacost.com and Amazon.com for things like paper towels, toilet paper, plastic bags…you know, anything you will definitely need to order/buy over and over again. This saves not only time buy the annoyance of going to a store when you’re out of something and then lugging shit back to your house. Save your anti-localist comments because this method actually reduced your carbon footprint. Look it up. You maybe haven’t heard of Vitacost yet, in which case check it out (and yes that’s another referral link). I use it for my healthy foods/supplements because it’s also cheaper than whole foods and if you spend $50 you don’t pay shipping or tax.

 

Apple Support Call

I’m a HUGE Apple fan. It’s easy to use, things always work and I’ve never gotten a computer virus. Currently I have an iMac, macbook pro, iPad and iPhone and I run my entire business off of these devices. The other day, I bought a macbook air because my pro has been getting old and loaded down. Unfortunately the N key sticks so I thought I’d call Apple Support to see if there was some easy obvs solution for this. And then this happened and I will never ever call Apple again…

NO.

Me: Hi, I just bought a new macbook air and my N key is sticking. Could you let me know what I should do about that?

Support: Sure, I’ll just place you on a brief hold while I check on that.

*10 minutes later*

Support: Hello ma’am, can I get the serial number on your computer?

Me: sure. *reads serial number*

Support: I see that you don’t have apple care on this product, but since you’re such a great customer, we’ll let you go ahead and add that apple care now and it can cover ALL of your devices. So you can call us for free anytime you have a software issue!

Me: I’m pretty sure that a sticking N key is a hardware issue

Support: Well, yeah, it is. But I’m trying to get you to see the big picture. You have lots of devices that aren’t covered. If something goes wrong with the software, you would have to pay for support. Should I transfer you to apple care setup now?

Me: No. Dude. I just want to know what to do about my sticking N key. I don’t need software assistance. Is there anything I can do about this HARDWARE issue on my NEW computer.

Support: Well you could bring it to your nearest apple store and they can take a look at it since it’s brand new.

Me: Thanks

Support: do you want me to transfer you to a brief survey to win a $100 gift card?

Me: OMG. NO.

you can do anything but you can’t do everything

Did you start writing your novel on November 1st as part of NaNoWriMo? Did you also give up 4 days later? Me too.

If you’re not familiar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which happens to fall in November. When most people are really busy. So I don’t really know why they picked that month, but I REALLY thought that I would be able to commit to writing 1,500 words per day towards my amazing novel about life growing up in Cajun country.

This month I also signed up for a one month course to learn Ruby on Rails, started reading books about SEO to expand my knowledge, visited family back home, joined the board of the LGBT Center of New Orleans, etc.

While I completely failed on NaNoWriMo and the Rails class, I’ve learned a lot about SEO, done quite a bit of business development, reconnected with old friends and family and am very excited about the opportunity to work with the LGBT Center.

So I keep going back to the old phrase “you can do ANYTHING, you just can’t do EVERYTHING.” This has always been a hard thing for me to accept but I’m working on it.