Secret to My Success

My business Kerry Rego Consulting celebrated eight years this September. I’ve been asked many times what I did to reach the level of success and respect I’ve achieved but I didn’t have an answer beyond “hard work” until just recently. Now that I’ve put my finger on one of the the most important elements, I want to share with you the secret to my success.

There’s a journey here

You may have heard of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). As part of the federal government, this department is designed to support small businesses. “Since its founding on July 30, 1953, the U.S. Small Business Administration has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses. SBA provides free individual face-to-face, and internet counseling for small businesses, and low-cost training to nascent entrepreneurs and established small businesses in over 1,800 locations throughout the United States and US territories.” Your local branch of the SBA is called the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Find your local branch here.

I don’t remember how I learned about the SBDC though it was most likely an internet search for business services. After launching my organizing business in 2006, I had questions about how to expand my business intelligently and I went in for assistance. I was amazed to learn that the services I received were FREE. Yes, really. Free. Continue reading

404 Error In Your Favor

Everyone has at one point or another found a website where something working or the page has been removed. This is known as a “404 Error” and no one likes to get them. In fact, it can anger online customers.

Did you know that you can design your own error page? I’ve seen some really great ones (I’ve done my own) but this one makes me chuckle.

Take the opportunity to make me smile when something goes wrong. They won’t blame you, they’ll move on just a little happier.

>>If you’re up for it, check out this amazing Hollywood-style error video. I love it! http://youtu.be/hXUwWljkNAI

Netflixing is My New Jam

Netflixing is my new jam. I love a random documentary and catching up on shows I never watched when they were on cable. I’ve been a member since around 2003, I think. I also have a Hulu premium subscription.

I  just read a great comparison of of Amazon Prime and Netflix and it makes me want to get one of those too. Check it out.

When my husband hands me the cable remote because it’s my turn to pick, I look at it in confusion. I interact with up to a dozen computer and devices a day. The fact that I’m slow to remember how to use a Comcast remote is a sign of the times. #endofcable

What’s your favorite gem you found on Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime etc.?

Telephone Trainer

It is not lost on me that my job is the modern equivalent of “Telephone Trainer”. Never heard of such a thing? They actually existed. You and I both will laugh that Social Media Trainer was a thing back in the day. (Don’t worry, I’ll adapt.)

Chuckle at the telephone dialing PSA from 1950.

Angela Ahrendts’ Digital Vision is Boon for Apple

“We’re challenging ourselves constantly to stay ahead of the curve – be it mobile, be it social, be it physical. They’re all one. Life is forever blurred.  I grew up in a physical worldand I speak English. The next generation is growing up in a digital world and they speak social. Whether you are talking with customers or you’re talking with employees, you have to do it on a social platform because that’s the language they speak.” Angela Ahrendts.

Ahrendts is the former CEO of Burberry and was just hired by Apple as a senior vice president of retail and online stores. Listen to this video and hear her vision for dovetailing retail stores with digital elements.

Technical Differences Between Me and My Dad

I come from a family of readers.

My dad’s close relatives just love books and share everything they’ve read. The hand off books like warm loaves bread right out of the oven. When I was young, I wasn’t a part of their reading circle because the material wasn’t for my age range. My grandmother and father had a habit of communicating with me via newspaper clippings. When they had something tough they wanted me to understand (like when I was a smoker), they would send me an article with my name affixed to it and a note. It used to get under my skin because the subject matter was a judgement on my life. But now that I’m a woman in her mid 30’s and my dad still does it, I think it’s cute. He’ll drop by my house with a great magazine article about strong women. Female heads of state and powerful business owners. Usually women of color and often from foreign countries.

The reading on my bedside table. Notice the Newsweek magazine with my dad's note still attached.

The reading on my bedside table. Notice the Newsweek magazine with my dad’s note still attached.

My mother died when I was six, a black career woman with two small children. My Irish American father is repping for my mom. He is loving me and guiding me and helping to show me what a strong adult woman of color is capable of achieving. He is being my mother when she is unable. Maybe that’s just being a parent. It’s his way and I find it quite loving.

When I was little, he would take me to Santa Rosa’s downtown library, drop me off in the juvenile section, and it allowed me to explore my curiosities. He liked to go to the magazine section because it carried every periodical you could possibly want. He would read as long as I’d let him. When I was old enough, I got up the courage to go find him on the other side of what seemed like this massive building. I came across him reading and twirling his hair (a Quirk family trait). I felt brave and safe at the same time.

I love the library. I love reading and losing yourself in something great. My dad was always a big part of that feeling and the articles that he gives me to stress a point are always thought provoking, intelligent, well written, and LONG. Longer than I’m used to now.

This is my whole point.

We are both college educated adults, Kevin and Kerry. For reference, he has a BA in Psychology. I have two A.A.S. degrees in Computer Office Administration and Computer Business Administration.

He gets his news from the printed edition of the Press Democrat, the paper for Sonoma County, CA. I do as well but I read it a few days late and in spurts and because I also follow the PD on Facebook. Often I’ve read the best stuff before I even touch the physical edition. I am an odd duck in that I will always get the physical newspaper. I tried to cut it once and simply couldn’t do it. I grew up reading the paper while eating breakfast and I find that I read different news in print than in the digital version. But I can’t tell you how many times my dad has asked if I get the paper.

Kevin reads magazines like Newsweek, TIME, Life, Car & Driver, Pilot, Consumer Reports, Motor Trend, and a few more. Though I’m not a car and airplane fan like he is, I read individual articles from many of these magazines and MANY MANY more due to reading just the article I’m interested in, for free, the day it comes out on the Internet. On a sad but apropos note, in December 2012 Newsweek printed it’s last paper edition.

I don’t have to get into his feature phone vs. my smart phone. Or his dialup vs. my broadband modem. Or the fact that he checks his email approximately once per month. I won’t tell you how many times per hour I check my own.

I visited my parents one night for dinner and the 2008 Democratic National Party Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was on tv. Dad was watching it and was a bit irritated with me for chatting and not seeming to care about a very important moment to him. My 3 yr old was running around the table as I tried to talk to my stepmom. I fudged and told him that I was recording it on my DVR. He gave me the oddest look.

Truthfully, he was more right than he knew. I didn’t care. I don’t watch political content on tv. In fact, I don’t watch much tv at all and couldn’t tell you what was on regular programming on any given day of the week. I was expecting to read about it later in a variety of places such as Twitter, Facebook, the newspaper, or other periodicals of which I subscribe. I was making the point to him that if I were to want to, I could look up the footage and that I wasn’t beholden to someone else’s schedule. The concept of recording a show or automatic recording is a little out there for him.

It boils down to this:

The way I live my life, the work that I do, the communications I have with 80% of the people I know, and the way I get my news is outside his realm. He has a really hard time relating to my world and I don’t blame him. I understand his perspective because that was the way the world was as I grew. Now that I’m older, things have changed.

I love my dad, don’t get me wrong. I have respect for his intelligence, his accomplishments, his education, his work, and who he is as a person. Depending on the day, he is more than willing to have a conversation about the technology innovation I encounter but these lifestyle differences are becoming more apparent to me.

I work with my “dad” every day. He is my average client; the bank manager, the business owner, the consultant, the government official. Many intelligent people with families and jobs are watching the world spin away from them. There are so many similarities between yet so many differences. It feels like  the technology have and have-nots are drifting away from each other.

The Antidote to Technology

Quite by accident, I discovered the antidote to technology

Don’t get me wrong, I love tech. I love the buttons, design, functionality, the possibilities, and the experience of a great user interface design. I don’t love what it’s doing to us. Computers, communication, and social media are such an ingrained part of our lives now, it’s no longer about how to use them but about how not to let them rule our lives.

I spoke at the Northbay Biz Magazine’s BIZNOW event April 19, 2012 and was given a very specific request to talk about how computers and social media are changing us and how to cope. Normally, I’m asked to speak on social media in general or about an individual tool such as Facebook or LinkedIn. This presentation had an Ignite style delivery (see my O’Reilly Ignite talk titled “Everyone Is Afraid”) and was a welcome change. To cap off its dramatic flair, it was delivered in an air hangar beside a fleet of jets.

What did I talk about?

We have added work loads, increased stress levels, amped up demands on our physical and mental health, and invasive wireless wavelengths. How do you counterbalance all of that? I won’t simply give you the answer but show you how I arrived at it.

I was a California Community Colleges trainer for the Interactive Internet and Mobile Applications for Business (iima4biz) initiative and was brought down to Los Angeles to run a pilot of the course material in May of 2011. Let me set the scene for you. I was seated halfway down a long table in a conference room with 8 small business owners.social-media-dj There was one prospective trainer behind me observing the whole process. The grant coordinator and the curriculum writer were witnessing the interaction from the far end of the table. The equipment running simultaneously: my laptop hosting the presentation, an iPad with instructor’s notes, a paper workbook that matched what the attendees had in front of them, an overhead projector, my smartphone was receiving texts from my coordinators to guide my pace in addition to being used as a session timer, audio equipment, and a video camera both recording the session. I delivered 6 hours of curriculum, demonstrated websites, moderated conversation, and managed all of the people and technology like a social media dj. Then I did it again on Day 2.

After flying home, my family and I went to a property my husband manages near the Russian River that has little or no cell phone reception. It was a bright and sunny Mother’s Day and I ended up in the garden weeding. Now I’m not a gardener and I’ve never really had a desire to get my hands dirty. As a kid, weeding was practically a form of punishment. But when my husband asked me and my five year old if we wanted to help so we could get out of there faster, I agreed. I started to pull plants out of the ground, warmed by the sun, I was spending time with my little girl, and putting my hands in the dirt, I realized something. I was having a wonderful day. I had just spent two straight days with electromagnetic and wireless waves beaming through my body. The lack of cell reception plus sun, earth and family, I was in heaven. I felt healthy, happy, and alive. After weeding the whole garden, my daughter and I walked down to the river’s edge and I sat peacefully while she splashed in the water. It was the most profound and simple Mother’s Day I have ever had.

the-antidote-to-technology-is-nature-in-the-trees

I didn’t put it all together then. As the year has progressed, I started to pick up signs and pieces of the puzzle. It wasn’t until I spoke at BIZNOW that I had been asked to verbalize it. The antidote to technology is Nature. Not just dirt and trees but anything natural. From silence and meditation, working all of your muscles in exercise, interacting with humans and animals, not just being in a natural environment but experiencing it with your physical body, as well as self preparation and enjoyment of whole foods. We are biological beings and we are experiencing organic elements less and less in our daily lives.

We are stressed out. We are tired. We are sick. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take a walk. Play more. Eat fresh food. Dig in the dirt. Watch or swim in natural water. Listen carefully to your body and the world around you. The solution has no batteries. The power source is the sun.

Go play.

Technology to Take Your Breath Away

It’s cliche to say that something gives you goosebumps. But once in awhile, I see something that really does make the hairs on my whole body stand up and this is one of those videos. It features the Kinect from Microsoft. It’s a video game system that takes a 3D rendering of physical space and you interact with the game via your body. No wand or controllers. I believe that this is the best thing Microsoft has come out with since Windows.

This video shows that this isn’t just a video game. The possibilities for this tool are breathtaking. From music to science, art to medicine, we are only bound by our own thoughts. We have no limitations.

 

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