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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About the American Cancer Society

1. You can send an e-card to family and friends announcing your quit day and asking for their support.

2. Their current ad slogan is "The Official Sponsor of Birthdays." How awesome is that?

3. In case you've wondered like I always have, cancer cells are abnormal cells. From their site: "Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells can’t do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell."

4. They offer you the ability to create a free mosaic page to honor someone who has battled, is fighting, or has lost their life to cancer. The pages include links for fundraising.

5. Perhaps most important of all: "More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests."

Monday, September 15, 2014

The BIG 4-0

Yes, that fireball is 40 candles. ~ Brenda Meller
In honor of my 40th birthday and with hopes that this blog will reach people far and wide and hopefully make a positive impact on organizations on this list, I asked my Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn network to share their suggestions for charitable organizations, including a web link and their thoughts on why people should support the organization. It's no ice bucket challenge* and I don't have any high hopes that this post will go viral. Rather, I hope it is beneficial to the organizations who have been mentioned by giving them a bit more awareness beyond their current supporter base. 

If you know me, you know I'm a big believer in the power of social media. It has truly connected and amplified our impact with others throughout the world. Therefore, the focus of this "BIG 4-0" is a list of charitable organizations to consider. And if something intrigues you, please follow the link and consider supporting the organization. 

At the very minimum, read the entire blog and click to share -- because you never know who might benefit from one simple click or share. Yes, YOU are that powerful. :)

Thanks to all those who offered suggestions. 

1. American Cancer Society in memory of my mom. They are dedicated to eliminating cancer. Side note: to pay tribute to my mom, I would love to get involved with this organization in some significant other way than giving (yes, I already give). I've participated in their Relay for Life Walk and I'm also signed up for a long term study to support cancer research.

2. University of Michigan Depression Center in memory of George Orley. A talented young man in his 20s. (Thanks to Denise Kulak for the mention)

3. First Step. First Step-the western wayne county project on domestic assault makes it possible for survivors of domestic and sexual assault to change their lives -peaceful families and safe communities! -plus , we are putting in a wonderful playground and healing garden for the 600 or so kids who see us each year and also a pet area so victims won't have to leave their pets behind when entering the shelter! And all of our services are free! (Thanks to Theresa Bizoe for the mention)

4. Mary's Mantle, which helps support homeless, expectant mothers. Always a great cause. (Thanks to Caleb Bellow for the mention)

5. To support adult stem cell research for ALS, other neuromuscular diseases, cancer, and poor diseases (those big pharmaceutical companies do not think they could profit from), you could mention the John Paul II Research Institute... (Thanks to John S for the mention)

6. The Dearborn Animal Shelter. After 20 years of providing shelter to more than 42,600 animals and offering high-quality service to the community, we are embarking on a campaign to build a new Animal Adoption & Education Center. Please join us in our efforts to “Build a Home with Heart.” We’ve always had the heart . . . now we need a new home. (Thanks to Anne Garbus for the mention)

7. The New Day Foundation for Families. Because, they truly help reduce financial, emotional and physical strain on families affected by cancer. (Thanks to Josephine Dries for the mention)

8. Mcrest Macomb county home shelter. Retating homeless shelter supported by Macomb county churches...90 day program to help men, women. and families facing homelessness.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)

9. Angels of Hope. Non profit organization which offers financial support for families with children effected by cancer.  (Thanks to Gary Lusk for the mention)

10. Gilda's Club "an org I help regularly in honor of both of my grandpas that had cancer," says my friend Jessica.  (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)

11.  American Heart Association says my friend Jessica, "because my dad and uncle both had quad bypass surgery." (Thanks to Jessica Knapik for the mention)

12.  CaringBridge, says Cindy, "a non-profit website hosting organization for people needing/desiring to keep friends and families in touch during times of medical challenges. In addition, personally, in memory of our sweet, 7-year old friend Morgan." (Thanks to Cindy Wyckoff for the mention) 

13.  U of M Pancreatic Cancer Research says Carol, "in memory of my uncle Joe that passed this year. My aunt Kelly Butler Saullo and family have a fundraiser in Nov at Black Finn in Royal Oak". (thanks to Carol Butler for the mention)  

14.  Autism Speaks in support of a family member who was diagnosed at age 2. There are too many children impacted by the autism spectrum disorder. (by me)

15. Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County: Local affiliate of international humanitarian organization that places the dream of home ownership within reach of low income households by providing a hand up, not a hand out. Over 120 simple, decent, and affordable houses have been built or refurbished in Oakland County through a sustainable partnership model built upon the foundation of mutual sweat equity contributed by donors and the families that purchase Habitat homes. (Thanks to Derrik Kingsley for the mention)

16. As described on their site, "a group of local women who are interested in supporting our local community in the Detroit MI area by contributing to local charities together as a unit to increase the impact." 100+ women Motown (Thanks to Karen Rashid Balow for the mention)

17. Through the American Red Cross, you can give blood to help others.  Also through the American Red Cross, you can donate blood platelets. It's a longer process but the platelets are precious to recipients. 

18. International Asherman's Association is an organization dedicated to awareness of Asherman's Syndrome, which causes infertility and is treatable with proper medical care.

19. In memory of a family friend who recently passed away and requested donations, I'm adding Forgotten Harvest to this list. "The mission of Forgotten Harvest is to relieve hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing surplus, prepared and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers."

20. In memory of the passing of a close friend's dad, Disabled American Veterans. "DAV is the most long-lasting veterans advocacy and assistance group in this country. We’ve watched this country change and grow, and we’ve grown along with it. However, DAV has never wavered in its core mission to fulfill our country’s promises to the men and women who served."

21. The National Marrow Donor Registry. "For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. Over the past 25 years Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. We work every day to save lives through transplant."

22. Gift of Life Michigan, whose mission is: "To improve and extend lives through quality programs which maximize organ and tissue donation for transplantation."

23. Fraser First Booster Club is leading the effort to create a barrier-free playground at McKinley Park in Macomb County (Fraser, Michigan). This playground will be an inclusive and innovative project "where children and adults of all abilities can play and learn together."

24. SOS (South Oakland Shelter) is the Oakland County version of MCrest whose goal is to end homelessness. (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)

25. "In honor of my aunt, the Alzheimer's Association in Southfield, MI." (thanks to Diane F. for the mention)

Organization's # 26 through 40 are still open. Reply to this post or message me on social media and I'll add you to this list. This offer is open to non-profit organizations only.

* Speaking of the ice bucket challenge, how cool would it be if the extra visibility and awareness, combined with the donations made are causing so much positive momentum that it might lead to a cure for ALS? And then maybe the next mass viral trend tackles cancer or another disease next.  Plus, consider that there is a parallel to those suffering from ALS. They wish the symptoms of their disease would just stop, too. The public annoyance over this trend is just a drop in the bucket (pun intended) of ALS patients' own form of suffering. It's making us all talk about the disease and that's a good thing. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Twitter Etiquette - What to do when someone "Favorites" your post

As asked by a friend:

Q: I need your input... when someone "favorites" one of your tweets, what is or is there a response "protocol"?

A: I think when Twitter first launched the "favorite" feature, they intended it to serve as a bookmark for its users. When you favorite a tweet, you are able to access it again at a later date by clicking on "favorites" on your Twitter homepage, you are able to see those tweets that you favorited.

However, over time, people started using the "favorite" feature as a way to show that they liked a post. Lately, I've noticed that most people are using the "favorite" feature to show their appreciation, approval, or simply their acknowledgement of a post.

What do I do in response? It depends on the situation.

1. Nothing.
2. Look at their recent tweets, and return the favor by favoriting one of their tweets.
3. Retweet one of their tweets.

Options 2 and 3 help to create greater engagement between you and the other Twitter user, plus it helps to increase their visibility on Twitter.

I rarely rely to say "thanks" for someone favoriting a Tweet, because that is not really necessary. It would be like sending a thank you not for receiving a thank you note.

Now, I'd like my Twitter peeps to weigh in: how do you respond (if at all) when someone favorites one of your tweets? 

Tweet your response using the hashtag #FavoriteEtiquette and I'll RT you and give you a "favorite."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Love Pie on 3.14 and everyday

I have a pie confession.
Those who follow me on social media know that I love pie. But there are days when I wonder, "Do I really love pie?
I work out so I can enjoy guilt-free pie. ~ Brenda Meller 

Then I start really thinking about what I like about pie. Is it the sweet and salty crust? The fruit filling? The combination of fruit filling and buttery flaky crust which makes it seem somewhat nutritious (it's not)?

Is it that I "own" the whole pie-loving thing because frankly, there just aren't that many pie-lovers out there? Or is it due to my family memories of pie growing up?

Sidebar: my mom loved to bake. 
She entered the Michigan State Fair each year with a variety of baked goods. I remember the months leading up to the State Fair she would start marking her calendar for the bake days and drop off days. She would pull aside index cards with cookie recipes she made throughout the year. And one year, she and I entered a Mother-Daughter pie baking contest together. She wore a black blazer with white pants, and I wore a white blazer and black
This would be an awesome gift for me.
My mom would've loved these too.
pants. We baked an apple pie. I don't think we won, but it's a memory I'll never forget. But I digress. 

Pie = Truth
So after significant contemplation, I come to the conclusion: Yes, I truly do love pie. But it's not an obsession. It's more of a fondness. I rarely buy a whole pie (because I'm the only one at home who will eat it and that's a dangerous calorie risk), so it makes it that much more special when a pie opportunity (pie-portunity?) presents itself. I simply appreciate pie. 

#Pieup on Pie Day
Tomorrow is March 14. Or as I like to call it, 3.14 pie day. Now I know there's some "official" pie day on the calendar and it's probably in the fall,
Pie Humor.
but come on - 3.14 should be Pie day!

I'll be celebrating with a lunch of pie at Grand Traverse Pie. I've heard others will be joining me. And they are all rock stars. 

Now that I'm an adult, I've finally learned if you do the right thing and eat lunch first, your belly will be full and you will not appreciate the full pie experience. #PieAppreciation 

This probably sounds familiar, right? Think of Thanksgiving: There is a whole parade of pies, often on display for the whole meal, that go uneaten until hours after the turkey because everyone is so full. Then when you finally do sit down to enjoy pie, you're even not that hungry and you're only eating dessert because you don't want to hurt the feelings of your mom / aunt / grandmother. How could you be hungry? You've just eaten more carbs at Thanksgiving than you eat at any other meal ever. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. 

Some of My #Pie-isms
Randazzo's Rocks.
They sell HALF PIES.
The point is - I'm a pie purist. If you want to enjoy pie, eat pie INSTEAD of your meal. That way, your hunger will be satiated at the same time that you are enjoying that delicate crust, the delicious fruit filling, and if you choose, whipped cream or ice cream topping.

"But pie will not fill me up," you say? Well then go ahead and get yourself a sandwich or cup of soup AFTER you enjoy the pie. Better to waste a full belly on plain 'ole ordinary soup than on a wonderful piece of pie. Pie does not complete its pie destiny unless it is fully enjoyed. #Pie-isms

Again, this brings me to my conclusion. Yes, I do love pie. 

And tomorrow, I'm eating pie for lunch. And if I'm still hungry, I'll eat a second slice. 

Give these a follow. Tell them you read about them in this blog. Companies like when people do that stuff.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Trinkets and Trash

Promotional items can help to give your business long-lasting impressions with current and future customers. Done right, they'll have shelf life (or "desk" life) with your audience and avoid the trash.

Here are a few examples of logo'd items on my desk and why I think they are successful trinkets:

LinkedIn Water bottle
If you haven't produced an eco-friendly water bottle yet, you should consider it. I have to admit this is one of my favorite water bottles because I am such a huge fan of LinkedIn. Carrying this water bottle around at the gym gives me the same feeling as when I carry a Starbucks cup at the mall.

"My Boss Thinks I'm Kind of A Big Deal" Statement Cup
Baudville has some awesome items for employee recognition. I bought these for my team as part of their holiday present. It makes a statement about them, but perhaps even more importantly, it shows my peeps how much I care about them.

Personalized Calendars
These personalized calendars have been around for a few years, but I still get a kick out of the clever designs on each month with my first name. I have to admit that I receive at least three or four of these each year though. This one from Graphic Resource Group.

Smart Women THIRST for Knowledge Mug
I recieved this one as a gift probably fifteen years ago and it's still one of my favorite mugs that follows me around to every job. You can get your company logo printed on these, too. Check out the Smart Women site.

Silly BobbleHead Pen
This was a tradeshow gift from a former job and it still makes me smile.

Screen Wiper

Potential client said no? Pica Marketing Group used this as an opportunity for a secondary message.

Clever marketing.  And proof that visionary marketers see opportunity in everything.  Even in the word "No."  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why Yes, I Do LOVE Macomb County

While attending tonight's State of the County event for Macomb County at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, I was again impressed and inspired by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. He does a phenomenal job presenting and you can tell how much he truly loves Macomb County. This in turn, reminded me of all the great things I love about Macomb County, too.

Via Twitter:
Make Macomb your Home! r great county. There is a lot of growth and new opportunities. Our county has a balanced budget. We have a strong County Leadership Team. And we have many businesses in the area celebrating achievements and milestones. 
Plus on a local level, there was even a feature of my hometown with the mayor of Fraser in the opening slideshow. And a mention of many local companies including Mt. Clemens based HunchFree and Partridge Creek Mall. Plus a nice mention of Walsh College as the largest destination for business students transferring from Macomb Community College. (full disclosure: I work for Walsh so this was really cool to hear!)

After the event, there was a networking reception combined with a "Taste of Macomb" event, where you could sample foods from area restaurants while mingling with attendees. 

If you live or work in Macomb County, this is an event you should plan to attend. It's held once a year in December and a great way to learn more about all the great things that Macomb County has to offer. You can learn more at

Were you there? If so, did you get some Achatz Pie before they ran out? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What IS a Brand?

Quick - what words come to mind when I ask, "What is a brand?"
(I'll give you a minute)

Chances are, you thought of a product like Nike. Or a company like McDonald's. Or a cereal manufacturer like Kellogg's. Or perhaps a logo or a brand name popped into your head.

And now - quick - what comes to mind when I ask you "what is your company's brand position?" 
Need some help with this question? You're not alone. Chances are, unless you work in the field of marketing, you struggled with the second question. And even if you do work in marketing, from time to time you'll struggle with this question, too.

I've heard it said (and I would credit the source if I knew it...) that your brand is what other people think of you -- or your company.

This is NOT a brand.
It's a branding iron that is custom made to put your name on steaks that you BBQ at home. Granted, it is a really, really cool brand and one that I'll consider as a gift for anyone who loves to grill steaks. And/or who loves seeing their name on things. Especially things they cook.

You can't create a brand - but rather you can help to formulate a brand strategy to help to shape opinions and steer the direction of your company. Done right, it helps to solidify what makes your company and products unique, and it will bring together your internal and external audiences who will embrace and celebrate the brand message.

If you think that a brand strategy is akin to a branding iron, in that you "create" the brand by making your mark on things - you're going to have some struggles.

How do you start creating a brand strategy? 
Talk to your employees. Talk to your customers. Figure out what you are and what you're not, and how you are unique in your industry. Find out what your current communications - web, social, digital, ads - are saying about your company and figure out if they are lining up with what your internal and external audiences have shared.

How do you manage your brand strategy over time?
Keep tabs on how your company and industry is changing. Keep talking to those internal and external folks. Identify your brand champions or ambassadors, and embrace them. Not literally. Well, maybe occasionally, if a hug is warranted and you're close. But rather, embrace them by asking their opinions, their input, and for their support.

What do YOU think?
What are some of the best branding campaigns you've seen?
What makes a brand memorable?