Don’t Forget To Check On Your Strong Friend

Last night I had the opportunity to attend an early screening of the new movie Girls Trip, which was unexpectedly phenomenal (way to go Will Packer Productions). It was like, Sex and the City meets The Best Man meets The Hangover – seriously, a huge dose of motion picture chocolate covered goodness. It made me proud to be a woman, and a BLACK woman at that! After the film, the one and only Miss Diddy hosted a talk back with the producers and cast. During the session, she said something that really affected me: Don’t forget to check on your strong friend.

Many of us have that one friend we call when our lives are falling apart. He or she usually seems to have it all together ― a great job, a great living situation and a great group of friends. They are emotionally intelligent, fiscally responsible, exceptionally wise, and patient enough to listen to all of your problems. They are your rock, your accountability partner and your comforter. And if you don’t have a friend like this, chances are it’s because you are the strong friend.

In Girls Trip, Ryan (played by the beautiful Regina Hall) is the strong friend. She is a wildly successful young entrepreneur who has it all. I saw a lot of myself in Ryan. As a 28-year-old entertainment attorney, author, blogger and (most recently) producer, I’m often the one my friends call on in their times of need. I pray with my friends when they feel far from God, I wipe their tears when they have relationship problems, I encourage them when they feel less than enough, I write blogs and articles encouraging them not to give up on their dreams, I edit their text messages before they hit send, I review resumes, I proofread personal statements and cover letters, and I bring them job and networking opportunities. And for some, if I’m not available to deal with the issue of the day, I’m a “bad friend.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends! Like, I would give my life to protect them. But some days, I don’t want to be the strong friend. Sometimes I need someone to tell me, “You are strong. You are powerful. You are beautiful.” Sometimes I need someone to tell me, “God hears you.” Sometimes I need someone to wipe my tears when I’m having relationship problems. Sometimes, I don’t want to give life advice, I want to sulk. I want to be the crazy friend who needs someone to edit my text messages before I emotionally send them off. I want to complain about my career. I want permission to be weak.

The Most Important Things To Know About Divorce

Over the summer the subject of divorce tends to be all over the media. As CEO of Divorce Hotel I notice that this is the time of year when I receive the highest number of requests to interview. Often I am asked about the most important things to know about divorce, so I came up with a shortlist based on the articles I have written over the years. Interestingly enough, the first point is directly connected to the summer season. In the divorce industry, summertime is referred to as the calm before the storm.

Divorce is most likely to happen after vacation and holiday seasons:

Is your marriage on the rocks? Then it is quite possible that your summer vacation may be your last on in your current marriage. It is sad, but true that divorces peak following Christmas and summer holidays. In the article ’Holidays are over and so is your marriage”… you will find out that if you really want to know what your relationship is made of a vacation is a smart idea, but also risky way to find out. The numbers speak for themselves.

The younger you marry, the more likely you are to divorce:

Did you know that 59 percent of women who marry before the age of 18 will divorce within 15 years? The divorce rate drops to 36 percent for those who marry at the age of 20 or older (“Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States,” M.D. Bramlett and W.D. Mosher). But maybe even worse is the fact that failed first marriages spell doom for second marriages! Statistics tell us that 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second, and up to 73 percent of third marriages will end in divorce. You can learn more here.

Roadmap to Leaving Your Corporate Job and Starting a Creative Business Part 4

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork and have a unique product that your customers want, you are ready to launch. So what does ‘launching a product’ entail and how do you make the most of this challenge?

In my experience, the most successful launches are the ones that have been well thought out in advance. A launch should be seen as merely optimizing the results of the hard work you have been doing through the time leading up to it. As a creative product designer, here are my top strategies for launch:

  1. Your network: Take advantage of the network you’ve been building for the last 1 year (see part 1 of this series) and announce in-person and over email that you are launching your product on a specific date. Make sure to remind people of the need your product fills or the solution it brings. This will make it easier for them to talk about you. Make this communication as personable as possible (stay away from formal PR release style of communication). Give these people a link to pre-signup to get further information and start building your list (if you haven’t already been doing it). At Madesmith, we use Kickoff Labs to create well-designed sign-up pages.
  2. Bloggers: A few weeks before the launch, reach out to influential bloggers (large and small) in your industry, and send them a nicely crafted physical package (before sending, ask them if it’s okay), or an email. Make sure to describe why your product is different, how it fits their audience and their blog, and why they would want to talk about it. Remember, all bloggers are looking for quality content. You don’t have to sound like they are doing you a favor, rather focus on how this can be mutually beneficial. Always, make sure that you are reaching out to blogs whose readers might be your target customers. If a large blogger is interested in your product and company, perhaps you can offer them exclusive launch coverage. Make sure to include information about yourself, your story, your vision, high resolution images and other highlights of your product in order to make the bloggers life easy. Again, refrain from sending them lookbooks, and formal press releases. They can come across as impersonal and old fashioned. It’s okay to nudge the blogger if you haven’t heard back in a few days. But, don’t be pushy and make sure to be very polite.
  3. Social Media: Start getting your followers ready for the launch. Share behind the scenes with them at least a few days before. You could also offer your existing followers additional benefits for early sign up. Create your own buzz and give them interesting angles to talk about with their friends. For example, since our story launches include extensive photography, we post behind the scenes photos to ourInstagram. Our community loves seeing these un-edited glimpses.
  4. Referral program: A well thought out referral program is extremely efficient and can increase your sales exponentially. Some good examples of a good referral program include Everlane, Dropbox, and Airbnb. Make sure that your referral program is simple and really worth the effort for the users. It should get them super excited and provide enough value to them that they are willing to risk their digital reputation to share it with their networks.

Dear Instagram, We Hate The Stupid Algorithm

It’s dumb, it’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, it’s rude, it’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s downright evil. All these things and a lot more can be said about a stupid algorithm created by really smart people.

That’s just it, the Instagram executives are too smart for their own good. They think they’re helping us and their financial bottom line at the same time by having the algorithm only show us what they think we want to see.

What they failed to remember is that the number one most functionally amazing technology ever created to tell Instagram with extreme accuracy what I want to see in chronological order is the follow button!

The follow button was masterfully crafted with 100 percent accuracy to show users only what they want to see in their feed.

The other aspect that these extremely book smart—but clearly not street smart—IG executives failed to realize when deciding what posts are most relevant to show us, based on our previous engagement with accounts, is that there’s lots of accounts that we’re forced to engage with for political reasons—like if my nephew, mother-in-law or co-worker posts something, I’m obligated to “like” it.

On the flip side of that, I’m never going to like an @anacheri photo because it’s too sexy and my wife would be infuriated, and I’m never going to comment on @danbilzerian’s exploits on his page in fear of getting in trouble as well.

But it obviously doesn’t mean that i don’t wanna see Ana and Dan’s posts just because I don’t engage with them. It’s far from that! I’m on Instagram to get a rush of endorphins to feel good, so I’d much rather see their entertaining content than my cousin’s dinner salad.

But with the way the algorithm works, I may never get those endorphins because it may push those pages way down in my feed or completely ignore them, all at the algorithm’s discretion.

Note: just because I never “like” my competitors page doesn’t mean I don’t wanna see what the restaurant owner across the street is posting in real time. It’s an easy way to stay on top of their marketing and specials.

Have We Become An Angry Dating Culture?

I’m seeing a really disturbing trend out there.

I want you to take this time right now to read every single word that I’m writing.

I don’t want you to glance through this article, because if you’re single, this is by far the most important thing you’ve ever read in your life.

I’m going to start off with this:

How frustrated are you now in your dating life?
If you can write that down right now, write the one word that describes how you feel in your dating life right now.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a really disturbing trend when it comes down to dating.

The word that we used to have a long time ago, before the flood of Internet dating sites and dating apps and social media validation.

And all these ridiculous ways to get lost in cyber world.

The word that people used to use in dating was a magical word, it was called hope.

People got excited about finding a new mate.

People got excited about finding a new partner.

People went out and actually talked to one another.

If you’re a woman reading this article right now, I want you to think, when was the last time a man came over and approached you and flirted with you?

If you’re a man reading this, I want you to think, when was the last time you actually walked over and actually took a dare and flirted with a woman?

I want you to also ask yourself this question: when you’re out in public, how often do you look at your cell phone?

4 Old School Ways Of Parenting That Still Hold Up Today

Originally published on Family Footnote.

Life has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. Social media, text messaging, and Snapchatting are all components that were missing when I was a child, so parenting in this digital age is confusing.

In a world that is still quite new to me, I often get nervous about raising my kids well; however, there are some times when I’m able to sit back, relax, and tap into some of those parenting skills my parents instilled in me many years ago.

I think it’s healthy to have some old-school parenting in this new world.

1. Go Outside and Play

One of my favorite things about living in a cul-de-sac is having the ability to still say “Go outside and play.” When we were kids, we were definitely the kind of children who would check in once or twice, but didn’t feel the need to come in until the street lights came on. I know that times have changed, and I get why, but my kids still get a huge slice of that freedom.

They bounce from cul-de-sac to cul-de-sac and house to house. My neighbors and I parent the same way ― if they can hear us and we can hear them, then they are free to play in front yards, back yards, and the open spaces in between.

I think this freedom is good. It’s where games are created, problem-solving can occur, and my kids would tell you it’s amazing to play for a couple of hours before they stop in at our neighbor’s house for a snack and a Capri Sun.

My “go outside and play” mantra comes from my parents, and the times that I explored my neighborhood are the ones that I remember fondly. I think my kids will, too.

2. Wait While Others are Speaking

This old-school way of thinking is a work in progress for my children. I’ve mentioned many times that I have very loud and excited kids, and for them to hold in what is on their minds for longer than 30 seconds can prove to be nearly impossible.

However, when others are speaking, I try to get them to wait. They may look like someone asked them to hold their breath while they’re waiting, but they are learning to wait for a little bit.

I realize people generally don’t have to be patient for a darn thing anymore. This is one of the ways I’m trying to get them to realize that waiting before speaking is not only polite, but it can also help them formulate what they want to say more articulately.

Lessons From Listening

I could never have dreamt that a simple tweet could erupt, but more than that ― I never imagined what not tweeting at all could inspire.

Over the last six weeks, I’ve been largely silent on social media. As my high school experience is drawing to a close, I decided to pause. I devoted my time to doing something that I perhaps should have done much more of much sooner ― listening.

In the last month, I’ve spent more time talking to people, reading books, and taking deep breaths. Headlines condensed into breaking news tweets are not the whole story, and often times the story isn’t even being written at all, and it takes searching ― it takes time ― to realize that (or at least did for me).

In my silence, there were moments when I was moved by a young women of color standing up to bigotry, when I was heartbroken by hateful violence, and when I was changed by art ― and I wanted to say or share something, but I didn’t. And through that ― I realized I didn’t have to.

More has happened in these last six weeks than I could possibly begin to scratch the surface of in this piece, but I’ve been riled up. Politicians voted to abuse the vulnerable through the passage of a catastrophic health-care bill, millions abroad continued to suffer while the leaders of the “free world” idled, 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was killed by police, the LGBTQ community faced yet another attack with the introduction of a “religious liberty” executive order, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim bigotry were seemingly grotesquely normalized through numerous incidents, and people all around this world continued to be unheard. And, in the same way that I’ve just listed all of that as if each is only an asterik in our broader history, acute tragedies are often afterthoughts included in the fineprint, the occasional 140 characters, and the passing segment. Injustice merits the utmost attention, but it’s become customary to synthesize to a headline, to react, and to forget about it. I reject that.

My appreciation for the whole story has been furthered by my Senior Project, through which I’ve decided to have a conversation with every single person in my school. I’ve listened to stories that we cannot afford to forget. I’ve listened to stories from survivors of sexual assault, those grappling with their mental health, and students who fundamentally look at the world so differently than I do. It’s not just through my Senior Project though that I’ve recognized the value in conversation over commentary as through my organization, Redefy, I’ve met people from all walks of life with stories of suffering that are as nuanced as they are heartbreaking. Through conversation ― I’ve come to believe that the marginalized are the experts on their own oppression, and it’s our job to hear from them ― not reduce them to sound bites, segments, and subtitles.

It’s with that in mind that I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one is depending on my commentary, and I have so much more to gain from reading the thoughts of those experiencing the realities than I have to gain from sharing my outsider perspective. In order to be an effective citizen, I need to learn more about experiences that I do not personally experience, and support movements that have existed long before me and will exist long after me. I’m inconsequential to this work, but this work is of great consequence.

My Life Is Horrible… By Social Media Standards

“Honey, look what the Johnsons are doing! They are vacationing again. They have so much fun! Why don’t we ever do these things?”

Sound familiar?

Maybe you have heard this, or even said this to your partner in response to someone’s social media post?

If we are to believe what we see on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even Google+, then it is clear that most people we know are having AMAZING lives, right?

We see vacation posts, proclamations of undying love and adorable children pictured everywhere. While all of these things can be fascinating as you are keeping up with long lost friends, ultimately it can leave you feeling as though you are falling short on many fronts. This is especially true when it comes to relationships.

What We See

Facebook and the other social media platforms are filled with stories of romantic gestures, anniversary tributes to long-lived relationships, and declarations of feeling blessed for the amazing lives being lived. We see beautiful selfies of friends that look like they haven’t aged a day, and couples that are at yet another amazing event. It appears that most people, especially couples, are living lives full of nothing but happiness, love, and rewarding events and experiences.

What We Feel

Recently someone told me they were looking at the many postings of a couple that used to be close friends of theirs and found themselves feeling a bit jealous. It seemed by the posts that this couple vacations ALL the time, and is still insanely in love. Her stream was full of kissy-faced selfies proclaiming, “this man! LOVE him,” while his posts showed cute poses of his wife as he declares himself, “the luckiest man alive.” Before long this person was feeling inadequate in their own relationship. They said, “looking at this it would seem that my relationship doesn’t even register on the happiness meter.”

It is not uncommon for these types of posts to leave us with the feeling that we don’t measure up. Feeling like somehow we have failed to meet certain benchmarks along the way, or like our life is drudgery compared to others is an unfortunate result of being too involved in social media.

20 Reasons Why I Don’t Like Your Instagram Post

1. I don’t like it because you don’t follow me back.

2. I don’t like it because you don’t like my posts.

3. I don’t like it because it doesn’t have 11 likes yet.

4. I don’t like it because I don’t want you to know that I’m creeping on your shit at 4 a.m.

5. I don’t like it because I don’t want you to know that I’m spending my Friday night on Instagram.

6. I don’t like it because your humble brag isn’t humble.

7. I don’t like it because your post is 100-percent self-serving.

8. I don’t like it because I’m jealous of your body.

9. I don’t like it because bae wouldn’t like it if I did.

10. I don’t like it because it’s a happy birthday post for someone I don’t know.

11. I don’t like it because I follow too many NYC food blogs to even notice it.

12. I don’t like it because I’m driving and that’s how people get killed.

13. I don’t like it because I can’t double tap the screen without putting down my pizza.

14. I don’t like it because we slept together a few weeks back. Better to lay low for now.

15. I don’t like it because I liked your last 3 posts and now I’ve got to play hard to get.

Dear Instagram, We Hate The Stupid Algorithm — Sincerely, Every User

It’s dumb, it’s wrong, it’s counterproductive, it’s rude, it’s frustrating, it’s confusing, it’s downright evil. All these things and a lot more can be said about a stupid algorithm created by really smart people.

That’s just it, the Instagram executives are too smart for their own good. They think they’re helping us and their financial bottom line at the same time by having the algorithm only show us what they think we want to see.

What they failed to remember is that the number one most functionally amazing technology ever created to tell Instagram with extreme accuracy what I want to see in chronological order is the follow button!

The follow button was masterfully crafted with 100 percent accuracy to show users only what they want to see in their feed.

The other aspect that these extremely book smart—but clearly not street smart—IG executives failed to realize when deciding what posts are most relevant to show us, based on our previous engagement with accounts, is that there’s lots of accounts that we’re forced to engage with for political reasons—like if my nephew, mother-in-law or co-worker posts something, I’m obligated to “like” it.

On the flip side of that, I’m never going to like an @anacheri photo because it’s too sexy and my wife would be infuriated, and I’m never going to comment on @danbilzerian’s exploits on his page in fear of getting in trouble as well.

But it obviously doesn’t mean that i don’t wanna see Ana and Dan’s posts just because I don’t engage with them. It’s far from that! I’m on Instagram to get a rush of endorphins to feel good, so I’d much rather see their entertaining content than my cousin’s dinner salad.

But with the way the algorithm works, I may never get those endorphins because it may push those pages way down in my feed or completely ignore them, all at the algorithm’s discretion.