The Gratitude Frequency

Guest Blog Post By Rico Delargo

Rico, Mark Harris (Consociate Web Designer), Kelly Marderosian (Consociate Social Media Manager) and Stephanie Heinatz (Consociate Founder) went to high school together and ever since we’ve been honored to follow his successes and launch of Lifestyle Supreme (read more below). We’re even more honored he took the time to share with us this, his take on the gratitude frequency, and his mission to enhance people’s lives in positive and meaningful ways. 

Each morning, I take a few minutes to tilt my face towards the sun with my eyes closed and swim in a pool of gratitude.

Living a passion-fueled lifestyle has allowed me to experience so many unbelievable moments and I genuinely believe that giving thanks for those moments is the key to multiplying them. The kinder we are, the more thankful we are, the more prone we are to staying on a frequency that allows us to experience utmost joy and bliss.

After doing laps around the country for seven years as a professional musician, I returned to Las Vegas in search of some answers. I had studied music, taught high school, attained my master’s degree, worked for a cool lifestyle marketing agency and accomplished my dream of being a touring musician. I would ask myself several questions daily. Deep thoughts about my existence and the purpose for my everyday life were all rabbit holes I was diving head first into. I continue to travel down those paths and the more I explore, the more I learn about myself and others.

My everyday life, my reason for living and my contribution to humanity are all focused in one direction. I am here to enrich people’s lives. Whether it’s done through a speaking engagement for kids at a public school or an experience curated to fuel engagement amongst guests, the mission remains the same. I wish to inspire, motivate, affect and enhance the vibe of the people around me and beyond. This is my purpose. How can I affect someone’s life in a positive way TODAY?

Like anyone else, I endure the ebb and flow of life. Yin and Yang. Balance truly is everything. As we endure what I call the “Upgrade Era” where everyone wants better, faster, nicer, and more efficient, I’m putting daily focus on balance, gratitude and kindness. Instead of searching for “happiness”, I believe we should practice harmonizing with the peace within ourselves. That is the frequency that allows us to enjoy all of the beauty and joy that surrounds us each day.

If we embrace this logic, we are opening a plethora of doors filled with opportunities. Upgrading our level of awareness would be a worthy cause. Turning down all the white noise (the stuff that truly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of our lives) allows us the ability to see, hear and feel those opportunities zipping by our faces. Just listen.

ABOUT RICO DELARGO:

Rico DeLargo has been touring the country and beyond as a professional trumpet player performing alongside DJs at some of the top nightlife destinations in the world for almost a decade. He is well versed in experiential marketing and has recently worked with lifestyle brands zappos.com and Don Julio Tequila as an experience curator. His passion project, Lifestyle Supreme provides unique, lifestyle enhancing experiences for individuals and small groups nationwide.

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Take Your Public Relations And Marketing To The Next Level In 2016 With These Tools

By Lucy Smith, Consociate Media Winter 2016 Intern

Want to take your PR, Communications, and Marketing to the Next Level in 2016? Put these tools in your toolbox.

  1. A Plan

If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else. While it is nearly impossible to plan for December in January, it is important to have a goal of where you would like to be by the end of the year. Set broad, goal based marketing plans and strategies to implement each month through specific events, blog posts, and campaigns.

  1. Responsive Web Site with Blog

You want your customers to have a good website experience, no matter what size screen they are using. This type of website allows shifting in size and resolution to fit itself to any size screen- laptop, iPhone, android device, kindle, and more- allowing easy website access anywhere. Having a blog as a part of this website adds to the value. Blogs provide a platform to provide useful information or tips that will drive traffic to your website and establish you as a prominent source of information.

  1. Instagram Account

Instagram is a social media powerhouse. Any business, large as Capital One or as small as your neighbor’s bakery on Main Street is able to tell its unique story through images to a wide audience. Examples of Instagram success stories can be found on their website: https://business.instagram.com/. Click the link to learn more.

  1. Twitter Handle

Like Instagram, Twitter provides a method to link with a large and diverse community. Follow groups, pages, and people that connect to your business and your goal: this includes your customers, competitors, businesses whose practices you admire, and your personal connections in the business world. What sets Twitter apart from Instagram is you can add a link to every single tweet, enticing visitors to the company’s website.

  1. Personal Profile AND Company page on LinkedIn

The company page provides a platform to broadcast messages, while your personal page allows you to develop relationships with people you know and work with.

  1. Press Release Template

Creating a press release template for your business dramatically shortens the time between when the story happens and when the people learn about it. With a uniform template, reporters will know what to expect when you send them a press release, allowing them to absorbs information more efficiently and correctly, and you ensure the same kind of information will be presented in each release.

  1. List of Target Media, Outlets, and Reporters

Where are you going to find your customers, and through what media will they most easily find you? This will have to start with research. Look at your most loyal clients to see what they are reading and where. Which newspapers and magazines have a following that most closely resembles the type of client you want to attract? Once you have nailed down the reporters and outlets that will tell your story to the audience most interested in hearing it, you can mark this tool off your checklist.

  1. Professional Portrait/Headshot

This tool is one of the easiest to add to your box with the most impact. A professional headshot looks polished, prepared, and, well, professional! It lets your customers know that you care about the work you do. With the internet, it is very likely that the first time your customers meet you will not be in person, but through your website. If you don’t currently have a headshot there, you need one, and if you do, does it say everything you want it to about yourself? Does that photograph help to brand you as the type of professional you want others to perceive you as? If not, hiring a professional can make that photo a reality.

  1. MailChimp Account

MailChimp is an email marketing software through which you can design, save, and send email templates to all your customers while also measuring the success of each email through its analytics page. By seeing which emails were opened the most and which emails inspired people to visit your website, you can tailor your next emails to fit the wants of your clientele.

  1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics’ slogan is “turning data insights into action.” Analytics tracks movement on your website, giving you detailed information about that activity: how long each person remains on your site on average, whether or not they had visited your website before, and the search engine or site that led them to your website- all in real time!

  1. Periscope

Up for some live video blogging? With Periscope, you can let your customers be in on the action, even when they aren’t there. This app allows you to live broadcast everything that is going on around you at the current moment.

BONUS TOOL…

Have a smartphone to take photos supporting your communications online and on social media.

All set? Grab your tools, it’s time to get to work.

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Meet Consociate Media Winter 2016 Intern, Lucy Smith

By Kelly Marderosian, Social Media Manager and Writer, Consociate Media

Nous sommes heureux d’accueillir Lucy Smith à consociatif médias que notre stagiaire de l’hiver!

Ne parlez pas français?

Us, either. But now we have Lucy Smith to help us!

We are pleased to welcome Lucy Smith to Consociate Media as our winter intern!

Currently a student at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, Lucy is expected to graduate in the spring of 2017.

Born in Alexandria, VA and raised in Williamsburg with her older brother, Trent and a younger sister Ramsay, Lucy graduated from Hampton Roads Academy in 2013 before enrolling at Hollins.

“I’ve been lucky to be involved in a lot of things throughout my college experience.”

Her freshman year, Lucy traveled to St. John in the Virgin Islands for a biodiversity field trip. Her sophomore year, she interned in Washington D.C. at the Supreme Court in the Office of Public Information. Most recently, she studied abroad in Paris during the fall of 2015 of her junior year (which explains the French!).

“I loved Paris because I was able to travel all the time, every weekend,” Lucy said. She recalls walking around the streets of Paris with her friend and a map saying, “the adventure was my favorite part!”

To date, during her time at Hollins, Lucy has served as a member of the Hollins Activity Board both as a Publicity and Promotions Chair and as a Formal Events Chair. She also served on ADA, the school’s spirit organization. Additionally, she is a member of the school’s riding team. Lucy has also been involved with admissions at Hollins, serving as an ambassador.

Lucy made the connection to Consociate Media when her mom worked as the Executive Director of Advancement at Hampton Roads Academy, where Consociate Media’s littlest intern – 5-year-old Will Heinatz attends school.

While at Consociate, Lucy hopes to gain experience working for a fast paced public relations firm

“I’ve never had an internship like this before so I’m looking forward to experiencing going to official meetings, being prepared for that, looking at presentations and seeing how a small businesses is run,” Lucy said. “You can read about it all day but until you see how people make those difficult decisions and where they go with them, I think that’s where I’ll really learn and everything will click.”

Lucy is majoring in Business with a Marketing concentration. She’s also minoring in French.

“I hope to do something that I find interesting that improves the community that I’m living in,” said Lucy. “Something that helps to spread the word about something cool or interesting. I’d really like to be involved with something I believe in.”

While she hasn’t fully decided on a field yet, Lucy says she loved working in admissions at Hollins and talking to people. She says perhaps working in the marketing department for a school may be her calling.

In her free time, Lucy is an active equestrian. She also spends a lot of her free time with family.

“We are huge William and Mary Tribe fans and we have court-side seats, so we go to every single game.”

She also loves to read just about anything but is admittedly a huge Harry Potter fan, often quoting that “happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Lucy is passionate about changing the world, one story at a time. And we’re glad to have her here to hone her skills to do just that.

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How To Perfect The Art Of The Interview

By Lucy Smith, Consociate Media Winter 2016 Intern

Google “how to give a good interview.” The majority of suggested searches feature advice on how to respond to “The 15 Most Common Questions Asked During A Job Interview” or “10 Tips to Make a Lasting First Impression.”

But what do you read if you aren’t the one being interviewed, but the interviewer?

The advice for persons on that side of the table is much harder to find.

Interviewing is an art, a craft, a muscle to be trained and practiced and honed just like any other skill.

If you aren’t yet ready to be the one behind the questions, or simply need some advice to improve the skills you already possess, I have adapted some advice from Consociate Media’s own CEO and founder Stephanie Heinatz to help get you from start to finish.

How do you take an interview from a reserved time slot on your schedule to the next trending blog post, magazine article or front-page story?

Before the interview starts…

Preparation, preparation, preparation. One of the worst mistakes an interviewer can make is coming equipped only with questions that are public knowledge. Think of it this way: the person you are interviewing is the one who knows the real story- that’s why you are having the interview!

So why waste precious time asking questions whose answers you can find on their website?

You want to enter an interview with those thoughts already in mind so that you can move past the yes or no questions, the factual questions, into the kinds of questions that ask why and how- the questions that drive the conversation forward. The better your questions are, the better your story will be, and the more preparation that you do on the front end, the easier the writing will be on the back end of an interview.

What kind of interview will be the most rewarding in your situation? There are three main types:

The in person interview

With his or her permission, bring a recording device to both review statements and questions but also to review your own approach to interviewing. How do you sound? It will be uncomfortable to hear yourself at first, but it is a great way to learn about your strengths and weaknesses firsthand. Along with the recorder, bring a writing utensil and paper to take a full set of notes as if you weren’t recording.

Technology can be touch and go; so don’t depend solely on the audio file for all of your data.

The Phone/Video Call

This type of interview allows the flexibility of location with the personal feeling of an in person interview. If possible, try to record your conversation on another device. For an on the phone interview, use headphones with a microphone piece for hands free conversation. Have a Microsoft Word document open or a pen and paper in front of you for speedy notes.

The Email Interview

By email you can often lose the spontaneity of an interview, the body language, personal stories, so make sure your questions are leading questions and avoid yes/no questions.

During the interview…

Start with easy, conversation based questions. Relate to something they are interested in- if he or she is a marathon runner; mention you just began to train for your first 5k. Make that person comfortable by asking easy questions, like how they spell their name, confirming where they attended school, or even just how they are doing today. It will break the ice and set the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Be open to the possibility of your conversation to delve into uncharted territory! If your interviewee is inspired by a question of yours, he or she may grace you with a small back-story that further explains his or her answer to the question. You never know where these side bits will lead: in fact the ultimate main point of your piece might be found in a bit of information you would not have know to ask about!

Don’t feel embarrassed to ask people to repeat themselves or to clarify the statement they just made. It is far easier to ask in the moment than it is to send an email a day or so later, when the thought has already left their minds. Furthermore, it is a sign of confidence: this tells your interviewee that you are committed to accurately recording their statements and views, and really are focused on reiterating what they want to say in this article or blog post. Thirdly, asking someone to repeat themselves on a point offers an opportunity for them to refine their message, or to reflect on a relating point for which they might not have had time to if the interview had moved on to another question or topic. Asking someone to repeat him or herself during an interview ensures you receive their intent exactly.

At the end…

To finish, add one largely open ended question at the end to tune of “Is there anything else you want to add, anything that you want to address that I haven’t asked you about?” Most of the time, people will search for something to answer your question with. Many times, this tidbit will lead on to a few more questions, extending your interview.

After the interview…as you start writing.

All the hard legwork is done! The work is to read through all of your notes and find the story.

What should you focus on? Before submitting the final version, be sure to fact-check, even when interviewing an expert.

Stephanie Heinatz often quotes from her old newspaper days the age-old journalism tip of “if your momma tells you she loves you, check it out.”

A misquote or an incorrect statistic can ruin your credibility for future publications.

She adds “anyone that has a website or a blog or a news page, they are a publisher just in the same sense that a newspaper or magazine is a publisher.”

With great power to publish, comes great responsibility.

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Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

By Kelly Marderosian

It goes without saying. This is the time of year where we embark on major reflection, looking back on the year behind us and crafting resolutions for the fresh days ahead. We set family goals, personal expectations and dream big for business.

When 2015 roared in, it brought with it new colleagues…introduced challenges…created lessons learned….saw business lost…business gained.

What did it all mean? What did we learn? What are some of our key takeaways from 2015?

Here’s a look at some of my past year’s lessons and how we aspire to make 2016 one filled with purpose, goals achieved and little things in our world changed for the better.

Collaboration Matters.

Sit around a Consociate Media table during a creative jam session (yes, there’s music involved!) and like a flynt to a stone, you can practically see the sparks flying. The fresh ideas, the brainstorming, the collaboration. When it all comes together, it’s like magic. Or fire. Or whatever analogy you want to use here. Whether working from an office, or working from home, it’s imperative to collaborate with colleagues. Collaboration takes teamwork to the next level.

There is so much value in working side by side and sharing a sense of purpose. We – and by we, I mean our PR and marketing team at Consociate and our clients – are all in this together. To succeed together. To grow together. To be great together.

Organization is key.

Don’t want something to slip through the cracks? Two words. Stay organized. How you do that is up to you. But find a tool. Maximize its use and put it to work. Don’t let hours in your day be consumed by inefficiency. In our office, we use a cloud-based project management tool to maintain all of our active projects, communicate with one another and set deadlines on deliverables. But don’t be fooled. Getting and staying organized takes work, time and focus. In the end, it’s worth it.

Be open to constructive criticism.

Okay, this is a tough one…for me. Not many of us like to face the reality that what we did was not the best work ever. But truth be told, especially in a creative agency that’s built on stories and ideas, constructive criticism allows us to see what we did first and how to make it better the second time. If you think of everything you do can never get better or improve, then what’s the point? The goal is to learn more, do more, create more…and make it even more meaningful. You can’t do that without getting feedback on how to do it better.

I am admittedly very hard on myself and get discouraged easily…and then I tend to dwell on it. Stephanie once told me you have “you have ten more minutes to be upset, then you need to get over it.” It’s something her first newspaper editor told her when she had to put her first error report in the paper. Mistakes happen. Learn from them, don’t get discouraged and move on.

Work smarter. Not harder.

One major reality check this year? Slow down. Take your time. You WILL do better work. Earlier this year, our entire team took a breath. We actively slowed down, if that makes sense! We began weekly creative sessions. We picked small and large projects we were all working on and focused on them together. Taking the extra time to outline goals and collaborate will save time down the road and result in better work.

Use your vacation time.

Sounds funny, right? The truth is, our team likes to take their laptops with them on vacation so they can fit work in when time allows. I may be guilty as charged. Rudy jokingly says he will confiscate all laptops before anyone leaves for vacation! Why? Because he recognizes the value in taking a step back from work to refresh and recharge. Taking time to turn off your brain often awakes your most creative thoughts.

Make time for team building.

Team building isn’t just a way to get out of the office and enjoy time together, it’s also a way to bond and boost morale. Besides, the majority of people in the workforce spend more time at work than with our own families. Creating lasting relationships is important. Teambuilding also shows your employees that you value them and their hard work. At Consociate we went to Go Ape, participated in the RE Strong Run 5K/10K and enjoyed a holiday celebration at Waypoint Seafood and Grill. We are already making plans for our first team building adventure of 2016! It’s nice when you enjoy being with the people you spend the most time with, eh?

Be amazing.

When you have amazing team members, all possessing different skills sets and talents, the work speaks for itself. Ensure you have people on your team passionate about your goals so you can achieve them together.

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The Business Benefits of Interdisciplinary Study

By Mary Arczynski, Guest Consociate Media Blogger & Recent James Madison University Graduate, Double Majoring in English and Economics

It’s a question that comes up frequently.

In a world of specialized jobs, concrete career paths, and specific job requirements, why did I choose to study two seemingly disconnected majors like English and Economics? The answer: because I like to read, I like to write, I like math, and I like anticipating the behavior of others. They also happen to be the subjects I am passionate about and feel competent in. But most importantly, the two majors challenge me as much as they challenge each other.

Double majoring in English and Economics makes sense because it is not expected. As a study combination, it surprises and intrigues people.

Proficiency in writing and editing is the beneficial skill of an English major that is regularly mentioned to me. It is true that an English major requires a lot of writing practice and that this is a beneficial skill in almost any profession. But, English is also very interpersonal. Every time I open a book, I examine the inner thought process of an author.

Instilling a passion and dedication to reading creates a socially and emotionally aware individual.

It constantly exposes one to other cultures, religions, geographical settings, and logical thought processes. I believe it to be a safe assumption that in a person’s career, one will work with many people who come from an array of different backgrounds in any or all of these categories and more. Books, fiction and non-fiction alike, provide insight into the experiential context of other peoples’ lives that one cannot physically experience his or her self. Furthermore, reading and textual analysis increases cognitive abilities on a micro and macro level. An English major focuses on word choice, sentence structure, character development, historical setting, etc. At the same time, a reader must pay attention to the overarching themes of the novel and the questions, “why does this book matter,” and “how does this book change my outlook on the world?”

Economics gives me the hard skills I need to succeed in the business world. It requires a sense of mathematical ownership and acceptance of current truths. There is a certain amount of rigidity and discipline that comes with the mathematical side to Economics- not every answer can be right. Economics teaches that in the world there are an unlimited number of wants with a limited number of resources. It shows current inefficiencies in resource distribution and creation. It gives me an appreciation for the excellence and innovation that competition demands. It also teaches anticipation of the actions of others by examining cause and effect, and the correlations and causations of natural and human occurrences. Studying economics gives me the sensibility and courage to accept the world in a real way, as it is now. This acceptance allows me to think of tangible, constructive solutions to problems in business, life, and the problems of the human community. Furthermore, from a functional standpoint, it shows me to appreciate each person as a valuable resource.

So, how does interdisciplinary study apply to the business world?

The most important benefit of an English major entering the business world is idealism. Books provide social commentary, and challenge society to be better by fostering goals. Economics instills a very pragmatic way of thinking—which is important for an idealist. But pragmatism alone does not lead to large-scale advancements just as idealism alone achieves nothing. Pragmatism can create a pattern of complacency in its practicality, whereas solely being idealistic paralyzes decision making, because people and businesses cannot perfectly achieve their goals one hundred percent of the time. Interdisciplinary study has given me knowledge and proficiency in the soft skills of reading and writing, and the hard skills of math and science, but more significantly, it has made me a pragmatic idealist. I have expectations of bettering society, and I use economics to think of practical step-by-step measures to bridge the gap between idea and reality. I realize that not everyone can have the same number of resources, but I also do not lose sight of the emotional part of humanity that we must embrace in order to progress as people, a business, or as the human race. Economics shows where the world is now, and provides options for how to take the next step. English fosters the cognitive ability that creates finish lines for these logical, pragmatic steps, finish lines that may or may not ever be reached, but will be run toward nonetheless. When one has the means and the end, success in business and in life is inevitable.

By no means am I implying that everyone in the world should be an English and Economics double major. Rather, I encourage others, especially those in the business world, to break the mold of what is stereotypically “useful” in certain segmented career paths. Different fields of study have a lot to learn from one another, but unless experts can meet each other halfway, then bridges between different subjects are hard to cross and the comparative advantage of different fields of study are not used to their full advantage. The people that can embrace and accomplish many different methods of thinking are the life-long learners, the adapters, the innovators, and the leaders. They put themselves in the way of success because they do not aspire to what is expected, but rather, aspire to create and excel past our current society’s expectations.

Related Article:

http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2010/04/02/attention-and-intelligence/

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Strong Interdependent Men and Women

Recently I (and this is Steph Heinatz writing) had the pleasure of meeting Mary Arczynski, a recent graduate from Virginia’s James Madison University with degrees in English and Economics.

She believes in the power of education and the inspiration of words, both spoken and written, to lift people out of hopelessness and poverty. She aspires to learn from each person she meets and to make every person she meets happier for knowing her.

Those are her words, not mine. That’s how wonderful this aspiring writer is – currently, Mary is doing a year of service working in a Title I elementary school in Denver, CO.

She loves learning, nature, reading, hiking, soccer, kind humor, tea, puns, poetry and people. We love people, too, and Mary’s writing, and are pleased to present this essay by Mary which we loved reading and asked her if we could share.

Please meet Mary here, through her writing, and enjoy this piece on men, women, life and business.

____________________

Recently, I got into a long discussion about feminism and the Kelly Clarkson song “Miss Independent” with my friend Brian. The phrase “strong, independent female” gets thrown around a lot in my generation. For me, this phrase always conjured about connotations of a financially independent female who does not rely on a romantic relationship, or a boyfriend, for money, validation, or self-worth. I always took this phrase to be an empowering compliment. But is true independence really what we want and need?

As a woman who desires to enter the business world soon, do I really want to be called independent? Will having an, “I can do everything on my own,” an, “I don’t need the help of anyone to get things done” attitude really make me the best employee, the most successful person I can be? I used to argue that independence meant that one has the ability to choose dependence, but I do not believe that is true anymore. We are ALL dependent on someone, but if that is true, then that means that someone else is also probably dependent on you—whether that is for love, for food, for support, or for a budget sheet needed for a contractual negotiation. No one is solely independent or solely dependent, rather; we are all interdependent on the skills, strengths, interactions, or work provided by one another.

Once I forego the mindset that my independence proves my ability to be a strong woman, a smart person, or a good employee, I recognize the real power that it takes for leaders to recognize the strength in others and to trust the strength in their teams. All of the leaders I respect most in my life recognize their interdependence, and the way I see that manifest in the business world is through delegation of work and appropriate recognition of the quality people working around them. One of the most inspiring things I hear people in positions of power say is, “I am always looking to hire someone who is smarter than I am.” We all have weaknesses, acceptance of interdependence allows us to seriously look at our weaknesses and find other people that can turn those same weaknesses into strengths. That can manifest in who you hire, who you ask to work on a team with you, or who you ask for advice when you do not know how to do something. It is through our acceptance of our interdependence that we empower one another and become the best employee, the best boss, and the best version of ourselves.

The song may be titled “Miss Independent,” but at the end of the song, Miss Independent falls in love. The beauty of love is that it allows for the acceptance and support of imperfection both in us and in others. It might seem radical to apply to the workplace, but most people spend equal to, or more, time at work than they do with their own families. We should surround ourselves with people who make us the best work-version of ourselves in the workplace. They should challenge us, praise our skills, and help us to surpass our limitations. When a team is not just existing as separate pieces, but really performing, the interdependent relationships are apparent, as is the love. The love can manifest in mutual respect, appreciation, or concern for how your coworker will do on his or her portion of the project—call it whatever you want. But once we recognize that not one of us can do something completely alone, trust happens, specialization happens, efficiency happens, and high employee and company performance happens.

 

 

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#MYFAVORITETHINGS, by Kelly Marderosian

By Kelly Marderosian, Communications Associate

Everyone loves the time of year when Oprah reveals her list of Favorite Things! It’s something that resonates with women and men alike. I know I love seeing the list!

It got me thinking about my own favorite things, especially those that can’t be measured, like the love of family and friends, finding inspiration in day-to-day life, taking vacations and exploring new places and that gut feeling when everything feels right in the world.

But I also got to thinking about my favorite things about working in marketing, public relations and social media storytelling and the very things that I hope make me a better colleague…a better writer….a better person…a better advocate for our clients.

In no particular order, I present to you my favorite Consociate things!

Coffee

Starbucks venti iced coffee. Four splenda. With cream. Yep, that’s how I like it! And it’s the same way every time. Anyone that knows me knows I love my Starbucks…some might even call it an addition. I call it fuel. Fuel for the day. When I grab my coffee in the morning after getting my sweet babies off to school, I get comfy and am ready to take on the day! The best part? It lasts me until lunch time! I mean…it is 20 ounces of caffeine goodness.

Inspiration

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Steph (founder of Consociate Media), it’s to look for inspiration in different, unexpected places. Or at least be open to finding it when you least expect it. I love picking up a random magazine and looking through it. How do they layout their graphics? What buzz words are they using? What speaks to me? It’s a great way to keep things fresh! Seeing one sentence can spark an idea for something great!

Corporate Fitness

You know what they say…the team that sweats together creates together! Okay, maybe we made that up…but it’s true! Every Monday evening and Wednesday morning a few of us come together at Body By D to spend some time strength training. Focusing on my body and my mind makes me a better colleague, friend, mother and wife. Health and wellness go hand in hand and by taking a mental break to work out, I come back to work refreshed, recharged and ready to knock out the next project! Plus, all those endorphins are fuel for the brain!

Team Gantt

Nerd alert. I am that person that gets excited over a label maker. Seriously. I love to get and stay organized. Team Gantt is a project management tool we use to keep our clients and projects organized. We can store notes, conversations, progress on tasks and communicate with each other on status updates. This is one tool that allows us to be better as a team and for our clients, ensuring nothing is overlooked. The best part? When you are organized, you can allow yourself to think more freely and openly – something that’s great when you need to create something new and fresh for an upcoming campaign.

Pandora

Yes, music! Some people like it quiet to focus. Me? I like music, particularly the Maroon 5 station. Music makes me feel happy and when I’m happy, I feel motivated and pumped! And yes, there might be singing involved.

Collaboration

Seven minds are better than one! Every single time our team comes together to share project updates, brainstorm on a new campaign or just laugh, I think how blessed we are to work together. I’m lucky. These amazing people I work with…they aren’t just colleagues….they are friends and family. They are people I can confide in. They are people that make me strive to be better. They are among #myfavoritethings.

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#MYFAVORITETHINGS, by Stephanie Heinatz

Stephanie Heinatz writing at night MacBook Lab

By Stephanie Heinatz, Founder

I love a good list. To do list. Shopping list. Any list.

When it came time to sit and think about a list of my favorite things that I use in my day to day work life in helping companies of varying sizes with their public relations and marketing, I found myself in hog heaven. So here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite things that help me stay inspired, organized and productive for our clients.

Evernote

If you know my husband, you know he’s always got jokes. If he’s joking on you, it means he has lots of love for you. One of the things he used to tease me about, when I was still a daily newspaper reporter, was that you could always tell which desk was mine in a newsroom. Where most writers would have stacks of papers and notes all over their desks, mine was most often clean. Structured. Organized. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the notes. It was more that, even as a newspaper lover, I hated the idea of papers in sight.

All of my research and notes, I would transcribe and save into Word doc or PDF files on my computer.

Fast forward to today and my desk is still just as clean, but I’ve found a far more efficient way to store my notes. Enter Evernote.

It’s a life workspace. A work workspace. The most glorious workspace.

In Evernote, I can collect, save and catalog the pages of magazine articles or ad design concepts. I can take notes, transcribe audio interviews, make to do list. Oh, my! The list goes on.

The best part? Being on the go all the time, I can access Evernote from the app on my iPhone or my Mac desktop.

Evernote. Definitely one of my favorite things.

Garden & Gun

Growing up, there are a few songs and country music artists that my Mom would play on repeat. Alabama and Song of the South was among the top (and Elvis…my Mom loves Elvis).

Perhaps it was that early introduction to the south, to country, to the southern way of life (even though I spent most of my early childhood in Germany) that attracted me so strongly to Garden & Gun magazine.

From the well designed advertisements, to the recipes, stories of triumph, quintessential southern life, literature (hello…William Styron, Virginia native), you can almost always find me with the most recent copy of Garden & Gun magazine…and photos of pages I want to save and ads that inspire me for future creative projects cataloged in Evernote.

Inc. Magazine

At the time of this writing, Consociate Media is nearing its fifth year in operation, and it’s third year of my family taking the giant leap into a 100 percent entrepreneurial lifestyle (Rudy, my husband, left his well-paying corporate job because he believed in this company and what we are doing and wanted to help it grow).

But none of it has come without its challenges.

There have been months when our team members have received their paychecks, but Rudy and I have not because cash flow or accounts receivable fell. We have lost some contracts due to clients suffering from budget cuts. We’ve been hit with hard deadlines that have taken all nighters to complete, huddled around the dining room table. There have been missteps in learning to communicate with an entire team your vision for a project or establishing a culture of a company, and finding the right project management tool to unite us all.

I could go on about all the lessons learned. Why? Because we are a small start up.

I could also go on about all the great things we have accomplished – working with the top rated cybersecurity firm in Virginia (also listed as the 16th best in the world), getting referrals from clients (the biggest compliment we can receive), seeing a client’s name in the Wall Street Journal after eight months of working that media angle, seeing sales soar for a new apparel company thanks to a social media strategy. The list goes on.

What does that have to do with Inc. Magazine? There are a lot of business magazines out there, but Inc. has found a voice that’s both approachable, inspiring and educational.

Every day, I find an article to read online and every month that magazine finds its way onto my coffee table and in my purse.

The Local Scoop Magazine, Williamsburg Edition

I once read an email from Tim Ferris that highlighted a time in his life when he started focusing on the things that make him go “hell YEAH!” If it doesn’t make you say “hell YEAH!” then think about if it’s the right thing to be doing in your life, in your business.

I thought long and hard about the message he sent in that email letter.

Then I sat down and wrote a list about all of the things in life that make me go “hell YEAH”!

My son and husband – #familyfirst – topped that list. But when it came to the professional endeavors I’m a part of, The Local Scoop Magazine and its Williamsburg edition was the first project that came to mind.

Why? For full disclosure, I was asked to serve as the magazine’s first editor this year. The inaugural issue comes out this month, November 2015

But more than that, I love the brand and values The Local Scoop was founded on. Stories are always local, always fresh and always focused on the things in life that motivate and inspire us.

As a former newspaper reporter, I grew up and cut my teeth writing sad news stories. It’s a vital piece of the fourth estate and one that while difficult for reporters to do today I greatly respect.

But there is a place in this world for feel good. Feel good stories help put people in a positive place. It helps them feel good about this world. And when you feel good, you do good.

TICKETLEAP

Ticketleap’s key message is clear – the great experience anyone has at an event starts when people buy their ticket. It’s true and it’s why we continue to use this platform for any and all the events we’ve helped promote and plan, from annual Oktoberfest parties to wine festivals and oyster crawls.

Ticketleap makes it easy, allowing organizations to set up their own accounts and then brand their online ticket event page with images, logos, colors and details.

The best part? They make payment easy. You can have a check mailed straight to you when the event is over or have funds deposited right into your account.

Shopify

Selling online could not be easier with Shopify, which streamlines the entire process for online retailers or brick and mortar organizations looking to expand online. Just ask MarkerNine.com, ShopUpSouth.com, Lowe-Tide.com. These are all small companies who sell with Shopify.

This platform makes it possible and approachable for small companies and start ups to grow and scale their business. Best part? The platform offers retail and wholesale account solutions, an ability to track traffic to the site, export reports on sales, input invoices, connect to social media, blog and more.

MailChimp

MailChimp. When done right, email marketing remains one of the most important and powerful ways to drive sales, conversions and brand awareness. Send better emails with MailChimp. When you join MailChimp, you join the more than 9 million people who use MailChimp to design and send 600 million emails every day.

Reasons we love MailChimp? For one, not every small business has the luxury of having a graphic designer on staff. MailChimp makes drag and drop easy and provides options to make every email look customized. For another, we’re addicted to the statistics. Use MailChimp and find out who’s opening your emails, clicking through to your web site and more.

We use it ourselves and for our large clients. I love it that much.

Reporter’s Notebook

I’m a prolific note taker. Prolific I tell ya!

In meetings, at conferences, while watching the news, you can always find a handy notebook near by.

I used to only use the long skinny reporter notebooks that fit well in the palm of your hand. I still love those, but I am definitely a sucker for a Moleskin, a legal pad, a tiny spiral notebook. Anything I can take a note on.

Sharpie Fine Tip Pens

Speaking of notebooks, is there anything sweeter than a new pen, especially a Sharpie Fine Tip to jot down those notes? Moments after typing this, I opened a new package of Sharpie Fine Tips and wrote a note down. Not because I really had anything to remind myself about, but because I wanted to use my new pen WRITE away.

The Quiet of the Night

It’s true. I send emails late at night. Sometimes it’s because of deadlines. But sometimes it’s because the house is quiet. I’m snuggled up on my couch, usually with a dog beside me, and covered up with a sweatshirt blanket my husband bought me in the OBX of North Carolina years ago.

The lights are often low. And in the quiet of the night, I write. I read. I work…alone. And often these are some of my favorite times, which makes the quiet of the night one of my favorite things.

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Better Than The Weather & Other Lessons On Life and Business From Turks & Caicos

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By Stephanie Heinatz, Founder

Looking out over Grace Bay, feeling the sunshine and 90 degrees of Turks and Caicos air beating down on my neck, I strained to see the point where the deep blue hues of the sky ended and the bright turquoise waters of the sea began. The crisp, white sandy beach beamed in the light. People all around were sprawled out on lounge chairs. Some floated in the salty water, bobbing along the shore. Others kept their heads nestled inside the pages of books and magazines.

Admittedly, I kept glancing at my phone. It was the first hour of a vacation a long time in the making and the thought of being away from the office petrified me. What if someone needed something? What if I couldn’t respond quickly enough? What if…

I kept wondering, and checking, to see how strong the Wi-Fi connection would be. Would it reach only the pool at the resort? Or would it stretch down to the beach, where I suspected we would spend most of the week.

It was in that moment that I met Shawn.

“Welcome to Turks and Caicos,” he said, sporting a royal blue polo shirt branded for Ocean Club Resorts, flashing a bright white smile that’s warmness competed only with the sparkle in his eyes.

“Thank you,” I’m sure I replied. “How are you?”

“I’m doing better than the weather.”

That stopped me. How could that be? It was late October. The weather here in the British West Indies was a far cry from the dreary, wet and chilly Virginia I’d just left.

“Even when it rains, it’s still beautiful,” Shawn would tell me on a different day.

That’s when it hit me. It’s all about perspective and attitude.

And over the course of the next five days – and on each day Shawn told me he was better than the weather – Turks and Caicos gave me much more than the vacation I craved. It left me with peace and deep lessons on life and business.

Better Than The Weather

Turks and Caicos Grace BayIt’s true. It’s all about perspective and attitude. As a small business owner – and fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs can relate to this – the day to day grind of the hustle and meeting deadlines can quickly catch up to you. Instead of seeing the beauty of the work, the gift of people trusting you to support them in their life and business, you see the deadlines. The boxes to check.

My guess is that if it was storming and raining outside, Shawn would have the same reply when asked how he’s doing. That is the point.

Look around you. See the blessings you have. Focus on them. And have the vision to see that no matter what storms may come, you are always doing better than the weather.

Be Comfortable In Your Own Skin

IMG_5177It’s true. Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos has been named the best beach in the world. THE WORLD! The white sand. The turquoise sea so salty you can float in water over your head for hours without treading water. The shoreline that doesn’t suffer from rough seas (generally) or strong underwater currents.

I spent many mornings walking along this shoreline, from Ocean Club Resorts (west) to a nearby conch shell mecca of a beach just over a mile or so away.

The first day, along my walks, I saw many men and women in bathing suits that I myself would never wear, showing far more skin than I would ever be comfortable revealing given my constant (and typical female) feeling that I’m never thin enough or fit enough or good enough. Nobody wants to see that.

By the middle of the trip, though, I had learned something vital. These people – 60-70-80-year-olds in thongs and men in Speedos – had something I craved. They were comfortable in their own skin. They were happy with who they were and didn’t care.

By the last full day on the beach, I took my cover up off for longer stretches of time. I sat in the sand and built sand castles with my son. And I stopped worrying about sucking it in and what people thought.

I came back to the States, ready to dig into work, with more confidence. You see, this lesson is vital in business, too. Be confident in what you do, your ideas. Be open to constructive feedback, but always be willing to show the best of yourself.

Take Care of Your Health

IMG_5224It’s not uncommon to get an email from me at 2 in the morning. Work. Work. Work. Every hour of the day is an opportunity to get more done.

WRONG!

All that leaves you is tired and foggy, unable to think clearly and creatively. And in my business – the intersection of public relations and marketing – that is a dangerous place to be.

Every night in Turks and Caicos, I fell asleep well before 10 p.m. and didn’t wake until 7 or later. And every morning, on my beach walks and runs, I couldn’t stop my brain from thinking up new ideas – ideas I had to jot down immediately and am acting on now (like this blog post).

Run Along the Shore

Before leaving for Turks and Caicos, I treated myself to a new pair of running shoes. There’s nothing like the feel of a fresh pair of shoes. The tightness that confines your feet as you run. The plump cushions.

My goal was to run or walk each day along the water’s edge.

On the first day, I ran in the loose sand, far from the point where the waves lapped the land. I didn’t want to get those new shoes wet. It was the safe route. But by the next day, my ankles ached from having to adjust to every step.

Eventually I got a little braver. I ran close to the water. Sure, the waves threatened to wash over my new shoes, but the sand was more compact. I ran faster, harder, better.

So run along the shore. What’s that mean in business? Take the risk. You may get wet, you may have to dry out your new shoes if it doesn’t work out quite right, but the reward will be that much sweeter.

Jump From the Top

Will Heinatz, my sweet, blond haired, blue eyed, curious and cuddle loving five-year-old boy, stood on what had to be 12 or 15 feet above the surface of the water, on top of a snorkeling excursion boat. We’d pulled into a small cove after an hour of exploring a nearby island and snorkeling on a coral reef for some good ole fashioned water fun – and Will wanted to jump off the top of the boat.

And jump is just what he did. He had no fear, just a smile and excitement.

Have an idea in business? Not sure what will happen? Jump right in. The worst thing that can happen is you get a little wet and don’t want to do it again. The best thing? It could be a ton of fun and you might just climb right back up to do it all over again.

That’s definitely what Will did on the top of that boat.

Shuffle Your Playlist

Just because it’s the way you’ve always done things, doesn’t mean it’s the best way.

I have the same running playlist that I switch on every time I hit the streets to break a sweat. It’s a mix of classic hip-hop, today’s R&B and some hard, pumping rock. I particularly love 80s rock! Sometimes I’ll get a little crazy and turn on Pandora’s LL Cool J station, but in reality, it’s no different than my playlist, just a different station.

Somehow on one run along Grace Bay Beach, I neglected to turn on my playlist and instead hit shuffle on my entire music library.

And then I was hit with it – Otis Redding and The Dock of the Bay rolls on.

The softer music, the lighter lyrics, caused me to run faster. Harder. I didn’t want to stop, even when I reached my targeted end point.

Shuffle your playlist every now and then. Try different things. Life evolves, business evolves, and forcing yourself to change will give you a new perspective, renewed energy and new goals.

Dive Right In

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In the very last hour of the visit to Turks and Caicos, that same precious Will wanted to spend in the pool. I went for a run. He splashed around. On my walk back up to the resort, he was laughing, smiling, swimming – and all I wanted to do was be in that moment with him. Looking at my watch, I knew there was no time left to get to the condo, change into my bathing suit and still have time to swim and make our flight.

I untied my sneakers and….dove right in. Running clothes, baseball cap and all.

Will just looked at me and smiled.

“You are a crazy Mommy,” he said laughing.

That’s all I needed to realize that sometimes you just have to dive right in. Even if you aren’t ready, you’ll never know the joy or success you’ll find unless you try.

Don’t let perfect conditions get in the way. A client once told me – and he’s a West Point and Harvard Business School graduate – that you should never let perfection get in the way of good. Make sure you leap.

If I had made that moment perfect – taken the time to get on my bathing suit – I would have missed the look of glee and surprise on that sweet boy on seeing his far too often busy Momma taking a moment to be crazy and diving right in.

Unplug

The Wi-Fi, as I found out, worked wonderfully well at the Ocean Club Resorts. But despite my day one anxiety about not being able to check email and respond to work requests, I didn’t log in nearly as much as I thought I would.

Why? I realized the power of unplugging.

I did check email. I did respond to a few things – as small business owners I’m not sure you can ever really be completely away. Your business, in many ways, is like your baby.

But I did spend entire days without looking. I sat on the beach, looking out on the waters, just thinking. I took notes on pad and paper. I read magazines and articles that had been piling up for months in my “when I have time I’d like to read this” stack.

The result? I’ve come back more energized than ever, filled with more ideas than ever. I’m seeing work we’ve done before the trip and looking at fresh ways to enhance it.

All because I took the time to unplug.

And today, I’m doing better than the weather.

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