7 Tips for Enjoying Two Weeks Abroad With a Two-Year-Old

This spring, my husband and I took our two-year-old to Europe (Paris and Amsterdam) for two weeks. Reflecting on the trip, here are some of the biggest takeaways and tips that made the trip easier for our family.  [Note: I looked for blogs specifically about travel with a toddler and wasn't able to find much. While there are amazing blogs for families and older kiddos, I wasn't able to find any that reflected our situation, so I'm sharing some tips from our time abroad.]

1. SLOW DOWN. I'm eager to make the most of every trip and create a packed schedule where every. minute. is. booked. Prior to having a child, I would have filled our itinerary with museums, galleries, and sights.  For this trip, we planned very little (one highlight a day) -- and it was the perfect blend of relaxation mixed with some great sightseeing. In Paris, we spend nearly every day at the playground in Jardin du Luxembourg (Incidentally, I found this blog after we returned). Note for Americans: It might sound odd, but you have to pay for entrance to this gated playground. It's worth it. 

2.  PLAN. My husband and I are fans of Rick Steves and have used his guides and packing lists for years. Here's his current book on Paris. We echo the recommendations in the book about getting a good stroller. We had a cheap umbrella stroller that we could have packed, but made the investment in a Mclaren stroller for this trip. I was so please we did for a few reasons: 1) You can carry it over-shoulder to free up your hands; 2) You can push it with one hand, which makes things a bit easier in the airport and on crowded streets (if you'd like to drink a cup of coffee while walking -- a far less popular habit in Europe than in the US); 3) The under-seat storage was perfect for stowing rain coats and other things we'd normally carry in a day pack. 

3. GIVE YOUR KIDDO HIS/HER OWN SPACE. At home, our child has his own room. We opted to stay in smaller flats and studios and instead brought a magic "tent" along for him to have his own space to sleep. It was super helpful at nap time and overnight for him to have a dedicated space, especially while everyone was dealing with jetlag. The KidCo Peapod infant-5 years travel bed will come with us on future trips in and out of the country.

4. READ ABOUT PLACES IN ADVANCE. We read Madeline to our son for weeks before the trip, noting some of the places in the book that we would be seeing. He was so excited when he saw the familiar sight of the Eiffel Tower in real life! 

5. DO LAUNDRY. My husband and I prefer to pack light and do laundry when we travel. We've been known to fill every surface of our bathroom with drying clothes. On this trip, we packed a travel clothesline and the fantastically portable Woolite Travel Laundry Soap. One tip: study up on using the foreign washing machine (or ask your hosts how to use the machine if you're staying at an Airbnb).

6. BE PATIENT. No one is at their best when you're in a different place, with a different language and jetlagged. Be patient with your spouse, your child(ren) and yourself. Chances are, everyone is getting too little sleep...including you. My husband's short advice: "Whatever happens, stay married."

7. SPLURGE ON THE TAXI. When getting from the train station to your accommodations, I typically love the mystery and detective work required to navigate to a new place. My husband recommended we take a taxi from the train station to our VRBO and it might have been one of the best decisions of the trip. Instead of meandering (we weren't using international cell service) around with a 2-year-old and luggage in tow, we were easily placed in front of the door! It was worth the few extra Euros. 

These are just a few that come to mind for us. Have you traveled abroad with a toddler -- what would you add to our list? What toddler travel blogs were helpful for you? Please add your thoughts via comments below.

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links in support of the aforementioned 2-year-old's college fund. 

The Art of Persuasion: Principles of Arguing

When working toward persuasion, we must be able to effectively: state an argument clearly and inspire action. I recently read the book Objective Communication: Writing, Speaking, and Arguingbased on a course by Dr. Leonard Peikoff (edited by Barry Wood). While reading Chapter 10, I found myself craving a way to integrate the chapter and make it more actionable. 

Below is the infographic I created with that goal in mind. (Note: I added a bit of my own  humor in one box...can you spot it?)

Principles of Arguing part 1
Principles of Arguing part 2
Principles of Arguing part 3
Principles of Arguing part 4
Principles of Arguing part 5
Principles of Arguing part 6
Principles of Arguing part 7
Principles of Arguing part 8
Principles of Arguing part 9

How Marketing is Like Burlesque Dancing: 3 Tips for Creating Value

Not that I would know much about Burlesque dancing...

As marketers, we sometimes get called names. Years ago, I was accused of having a profession that bore "a certain resemblance to the world's oldest." While the context was different, it's worth noting that great marketers make compelling calls to action that sell products and services. We take pride in showcasing the value of a product or service to the marketplace. But how much value is too much value?

The Interruption

As marketers, it can be tempting to be so excited that was just put it all out there, regardless of how much people asked for or what they can reasonably consume. At times, we interrupt instead of communicating value. Some marketers stop conversations instead of building them. 


The Tease

Great marketers understand the value of the teaser campaign, creating intrigue and enticing us to want more. Giving us little pieces of what we want and allowing us to take things in slowly, so we can understand, interpret, feel, and move into the next stage of wanting more. 

3 Tips for Creating Value vs. Interrupting

1. Tell a story: Create a storyboard and map out the individual pieces that make customers lean forward into the story and want more. Each piece in the storyline should move people forward. If it doesn't, remove it. 

2. Ask a question: What was the best question someone asked you recently? What difference did that make? Inspire customers by asking them a question and allowing them to think about how what you're marketing creates value in to their life instead of just telling them it makes their life better. 

3. Create a timeline. Give you -- and your customers -- the benefit of time. Draft a timeline that allows you to create messaging that builds over weeks vs. all in one day. Maybe it's a series of videos or blog posts, or both. 

When content adds value, it nurtures and engages and calls people to action. It allows them a sneak peak of something they desperately want to experience more. 


What are your favorite ways to create value instead of interrupting? 




The Continuous Improvement of Marketers

"The shoemaker's son often goes barefoot. "

As marketers, we often focus on our products and the organizations needs, and overlook our own personal brand or marketing. Products and jobs come and go -- and it's our responsibility to manage our own careers.



As the year comes to a close, here are a few quick tips for refocusing on your own self promotion:


  1. Schedule 30 minutes each quarter to review your social media profiles. Update with success stories, new projects and new responsibilities.
  2. Marketing has changed in the past decade. Are you up-to-speed on industry trends? What resources should you seek more insights from? MarketingProfs? CMO.com? SmartBrief on Marketing? What resources no longer provide value?
  3. Consider yourself a product to be marketed. Do you need to write a marketing plan for yourself? Do you need to use a SWOT analysis to determine your areas of best focus for the year ahead? What are your features...and more importantly: what are your benefits?
  4. Ask yourself hard questions. A mentor of mine wrote these 29 hard questions that are worth answering.  
  5. Identify one thing -- just one -- that you'll do more of in the coming year to make yourself even more valuable.  



Photo Credit: Éole via Compfight cc  

Photo Credit: Éole via Compfight cc  

To Sell Is...Pushy

For anyone who agrees with the title above, I highly recommend reading Daniel Pink's newest book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others.

In the book, Pink shares intriguing ways to increase our skill at persuading others. Reading it reminded me that, as a marketer, every recommendation I make is an opportunity clearly showcase the benefits (vs. the features), and entice others to lean forward into the recommendation I'm making.

Pink's writing style is clear and engaging (he practices what he preaches in the book). His ideas explore the science behind persuasion and make ties to the art necessary to be authentic and effective. In particular, I loved the section on the successors to the elevator pitch.

Kudos to Dan Pink for adding yet another fantastic and thoughtful book to my virtual bookshelf. I've already referred to it multiple times and it's a new favorite.

How Planning for Obstacles Charts a Better Course

I used to get really frustrated when we set up strategic marketing plan only to be derailed by  obstacles.

I eventually learned that if came to expect challenges along the way, I could let go.

It's actually quite simple, and something that other marketers have probably learned long ago. And I heard it said extermely well by a colleague (a retired 17-year vetern of our company): If you imagine you have a clear path, you'll be distracted and lose focus when an obstacle comes up. If you imagine you're driving defensively, anticipating challenges that might jump out, or slowly roll into your path, you'll be prepared.

5 Questions to Ask When Planning for Obstacles

1. Where is there room for "give" in our plan?

2. What are important critical path items in the plan?

3. Who else needs to know/add imput/support this plan?

4. As obstacles arise, where is it best to focus my time and efforts?

5. How have we shown we're capable of being nimble in the past? How will that serve us now?


What questions do you ask yourself when moving past obstacles?


Social Media Resources

 An growing list of recommended Social Media Resources for personal and business use. For books, I've tried to link to their website, which often includes free previews and resources, so you can get these samples (I don't receive any compensation from these authors, books or publications, these are just some of the great resources I've discovered).

What's missing? Share your favorite resources in the comments below.


Carson, Nancy. "Passionate, Creative Thinker Seeks Job: How To Fix A Personal Brand That's A Total Cliché." FastCompany.com. 21 Feb. 2013.

Elad, Joel. LinkedIn for Dummies. 2008.

Evans, Dave and Susan Bratton. Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day. 2008.

Gillette, Felix. "Snapchat and the Erasable Future of Social Media." Bloomberg BusinessWeek.com. 7 Feb 2013. 

Handley, Ann and C.C. Chapman. Content Rules: Hot to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. 2011.

Hartley, Darin. 10 Steps to Successful Social Networking for Business. 2010.

Kelly, Ed and Brad Fay. The Face-to-Face Book: Why Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace. 2012.

Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. 2008.

Polin, Ilya. Social Media Etiquette: 12 Step Checklist. 31 Jan. 2013.

Qualman, Erik. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. 2009.

Safko, Lon and David K. Brake. The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools and Strategies for Business Success. 2009.

Schaffer, Neal. "17 Must-Haves for Your LinkedIn Profile. [Infographic]." 2013.

Scott, David Meerman. The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, & Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. 2010.

Singh, Shiv. Social Media Marketing for Dummies. 2009.

Vascellaro, Jessica E. “Why Email No Longer Rules…and what that means for the way we communicate.” The Wall Street Journal, R1-R3, 12 Oct. 2009.


1,000 True Fans. Kelly, Kevin. <http://kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php>

7 Ways to Attract Recruiters to Your LinkedIn Profile. Shahid Wazed. https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140512123345-49246280-7-ways-to-attract-recruiters-to-your-linkedin-profile. 12 May 2014.


The Atlantic



Compfight.com -Creative Commons Royalty-free images

The Leadership Challenge


Mashable.com: The Social Media Guide

McKinsey Quarterly

New York Times



Scobleizer.com- Searching for World-changing Technology

Slideshare.net - Upload and share PowerPoint presentations, Word and PDF Documents

TED.com - Ideas Worth Spreading


Unleashing Your Brand

 Useful Social Media

The Wall Street Journal


“The Serendipity Machine” Lecture by Chris Brogan on why Twitter is useful for some businesses at the Web 2.0 Expo NY 2009. 19 Nov 2009. 

Social Media Bibliography

I've been engaging with leaders (as part of the The Leadership Ascent for Women) on the topic of Social Media.

The following are resources I cite as part of that discussion (a big, gracious "thank you" to the smart linchpins noted here). Which resources have you found beneficial? Please share in the comments below.



Author unknown. “LinkedIn.” www.wikipedia.com Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn>

Author unknown. “Population United States”, "World Population" www.Census.gov US Census Bureau. 7 Jul 2012. <http://www.google.com/search?q=us+population&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a>

Author unknown. “Evolving Consumer Demographics” www.crmtrends.com CRM Trends. 2010. <http://www.crmtrends.com/ConsumerDemographics.htm>

Author unknown. “Gaps Re-Branding Misfire.” Marqui. 14 Oct. 2010. <http://www.marqui.com/blog/gaps-rebranding-misfire.aspx>

Aaronson, Jack. “Foursquare – Mixing Social Networks With Loyalty Programs.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 2 Apr. 2010. http://www.clickz.com/3639962

Arruda, Will. "Personal Branding Trends for 2014 (Part 1 & Part 2)." MarketingProfs.com 13 Jan. 2014 and 22 Jan. 2014. <http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24104/personal-branding-trends-for-2014-part-1> and <"http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24209/personal-branding-trends-for-2014-part-2">

Baker, Stephen. “Beware of Social Media Snake Oil.” Bloomberg BusinessWeek. 14 Dec. 2009. <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_50/b4159048693735.htm>

Barwise, Patrick and Sean Meehan. “The One Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand.” Harvard Business Review. Dec. 2010.<http://hbr.org/2010/12/the-one-thing-you-must-get-right-when-building-a-brand/ar/1>

Bennett, Shea. "Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn – Social Media Stats 2014 [INFOGRAPHIC]" Media Bistro.com 20 Jan. 2014. <http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-stats-2014_b54243>

Conrad, Nancy. "Use of Social Media in Hiring and Firing Employees." WhiteandWilliams.com. 21 Aug. 2012. <http://www.whiteandwilliams.com/resources-alerts-Use-of-Social-Media-in-Hiring-and-Firing-Employees.html>

Deisler, Roland and Sylvain Newton. "Six Social-Media Skills Ever Leader Needs." McKinseyQuarterly.com. Feb. 2013 <https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Strategy/Innovation/Six_social-media_skills_every_leader_needs_3056>

Edelman, David C. “Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places” Harvard Business Review. Dec. 2010. < http://hbr.org/2010/12/branding-in-the-digital-age-youre-spending-your-money-in-all-the-wrong-places/ar/1>  

Evans, Dave. “How to Encourage Social Engagement.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 17 Feb. 2010. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1694936/how-encourage-social-engagement

Evans, Linda. “Social Media Marketing Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 24 Mar. 2010. http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1698461/social-media-marketing-doesnt-exist-vacuum

Godin, Seth. Linchpin. 2010.

Hale, Amybeth. “YES – Twitter Works For Recruiting! (I Have Proof). www.ResearchGoddess.Wordpress.com Research Goddess Amybeth Hale. 15 Sep. 2009. http://researchgoddess.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/yes-%E2%80%93-twitter-works-for-recruiting-i-have-proof/

Hartshorn, Sarah. 7 Social Media Aggregation Tools To Simplify Your Streams.” www.SocialMediaToday.com 26 Apr 2010. http://socialmediatoday.com/SMC/192312>

Helft, Miguel and Jessi Hempel. "Facebook vs. Google: The Battle for the Future of the Web." Fortune Magazine. 21 Nov 2011. Pages 115-124.

Lutze, Heather. Thumbonomics: The Essential Business Roadmap for Social Media & Mobile Marketing. 2011.

Marshall, Jack. “20% of U.S. Adults Use Twitter, Says Pew.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 23 Oct. 2009. <<http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/1703434/-us-adults-use-twitter-says-pew>

Marshall, Jack. “Measuring Success Biggest Challenge in Social Media Marketing.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 29 Mar. 2010. < http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/1711928/measuring-success-biggest-challenge... >

McBride, Tom and Ron Nief. "The Mindset List." www.beloit.edu. <http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2015/>

McGee, Marianne Kolbasuk, “YouTub Videos Stir Up Next Sales for ‘Will It Blend’ Maker.” Information Week. 27 Sep. 2007. <http://www.informationweek.com/ news/internet/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=202102372>

N, Stephanie. “@DellOutlet Surpasses $2 Million on Twitter.” En.community.dell.com Direct2Dell – Dell Community. 11 Jun. 2009. < http://en.community.dell.com/dell-blogs/direct2dell/b/direct2dell/archive/200...>

O’Toole, Mike. “Social Media Dreamin’: The 2009 Edition.” www.mpdailyfix.com Marketing Profs Daily Fix. 30 Dec. 2009. < http://www.mpdailyfix.com/social-media-dreamin-the-2009-edition/>

PewResearch Internet Project. “Social Networking Fact Sheet.” <http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/>

Qualman, Erik. “Social Media All-Stars.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 13 Jan. 2010. <http://www.clickz.com/3636093>

Qualman, Erik. “Social Media Trends to Watch in Early 2010.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 24 Feb. 2010. <http://www.clickz.com/3636554>

Qualman, Erik. “Social Media: What a Difference a Year Makes.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZ Experts. 19 May 2010. <http://www.clickz.com/3640364>

Samuel, Alexanda. "Your Employee Is an Online Celebrity. Now What Do You Do?" 29 Oct. 2012.

Smith, Craig. "How Many People Use 700 of the Top Social Media, Apps, and Digital Services?" Digital Marketing Ramblings. expandedramblings.com Updated 29 Dec. 2014.

Stelzner, Michael. "How Comcast Supports Customers Using Social Media." www.socialmediaexaminer.com Social Media Examiner. 28 Oct 2009. <http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-comcast-supports-customers-with-social...>

Sterne, Jim. “Old Spice Guy - Ridiculously Handsome, Ridiculous Metrics.” www.ClickZ.com ClickZExperts. 5 Aug. 2010. < http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1725974/old-spice-guy-ridiculously-handso...>

Tufekci, Zeynep. “Social Media's Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships.” www.TheAtlantic.com. 25 Apr 2012. < http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/social-medias-small-positive-role-in-human-relationships/256346/>


Turkle, Sherry. “The Flight from Conversation.” www.NYTimes.com. 22 Apr. 2012.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?_r=1

Vogt, Patrick. “Finding The Sweet Spot Of Social Media And Multichannel Marketing.” www.Forbes.com 20 Dec. 2010. < http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/20/social-media-multichannel-leadershp-cmo-network-sweet-spot.html

You Didn't Always Write Good?

In a conversation with colleagues, I mentioned that my Academic Writing professor panned my writing in college.

It wasn't until I took a Grammar, Usage and Style class from a truly amazing professor that my writing improved. One collegue said, "You write well, you mean you didn't always write that good." 

Nope. Practice and great teachers equipped me to be a better writer. 

Here's to Michael Buckland, who is an exquisite writer and taught me his craft, in addition to giving me a copy of Stephen King's On Writing

Here's to Craig Ross and Steve Vannoy, who's writing I have the rare fortune of promoting and sharing with the world. 

What writers inspire you? Who has mentored you? Who has equipped you to be even better? 

New and Old

I have a 9 month-old niece and a 94 year-old grandfather.

Despite their ages, they have become very similar. My niece requires my sister's care and attention to thrive. My grandfather requires his children's care and attention to thrive. They both have a very difficult time walking. Both can command the attention of a room with a well-timed smile or laugh. Both have no idea what the future holds in store.

And, we can learn from both:

Relationships are essential: What relationships do you need in your life in order to thrive?

It's not always easy to get from here to there: How do you encourage yourself and others when the road is challenging?

Laughter is powerful: What's one thing that made you laugh today?

Attitude is everything: How can we greet the unknown with curiousity and reflection?