The Best Klout Perk: Being VIP at an NFL game

You know how you have those weekends that blur into a foggy memory and you look back and wonder what in the world you did? This past weekend was not one of those occasions. It is one that I will remember and smile about for the rest of my life.

***

I’m one of those girls who can be a girlie-girl and get my nails done or hang with the guys and watch NFL on Sundays. I like sports. A lot. This year I started a March Madness league and NFL Fantasy Ladies ONLY league.  I like watching them on TV and going to games live. I have my teams from all sports (Go Blackhawks, White Sox, Bears) that I root for. Seeing games live is exhilarating and fun and the energy is fantastic (when the team is doing well, at least) but I’ll admit, I usually prefer NFL games on TV. Growing up in Chicago, I was not about to sit outside in the frigid cold and get frostbite when I could sit comfortably on my couch in my cozy house. I admit I prefer the replays and commentary from TV commentators but given the opportunity to go to a game, I just can’t refuse.

***

Klout perks have been sucking lately. If you are unfamiliar with Klout, it is  the Standard for Influence. If Klout thinks you are influential, it assigns you a score and rewards you with perks based on said score. The perks I’ve gotten lately have all been useless. For example, the last 5 I got were all for McDonalds and one for Norton Antivirus. Being that I eat mostly healthy and as unprocessed as possible, that didn’t work so much for me. However, on Thursday I got a perk thanks to Women of Washington (Washington Redskins Women’s Club) that invited me and a friend to go to a preseason Redskins vs Buffalo Bills game as free VIP. That alone was awesome but what ensued was more than I could have dreamed.

Being last minute, I asked around and not only were people already busy but apparently there aren’t many Skins fans in DC Proper (too many transient people, I guess). I ran to Target to get a shirt; they had the most pathetic selection so I tried a local sports store. I couldn’t go to this event without sporting team support! There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to make this happen, even if I had to go alone.

It wasn’t until Thursday that I got the invite and then on Friday, the day before the game, that I found out I was going to get to go ON the field for player introductions! Because it was a WOW event, my date who came with me had to wait for me back in the seats. I felt bad for a hot second but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wasn’t going to miss it. I talk to everyone so I had made a friend while we waited. They brought us down onto the field and we stood alongside the cheerleaders to form the tunnel for the player introductions. It was absolutely wild and epic and totally thrilling to be on the field. Words can’t describe how exciting the whole thing was. Afterwards, we were quickly rushed off the field and ushered to our seats after the introductions were complete

I thought our seats were inside in the standing room only nose-bleed section. Turns out, not only did we have Exclusive Club Level access, we were seated 3rd row in the Dream Seats – the seats before the stands begin along the 20 yard line on the visitor side. Sitting so close to the game is the only way to go. I’m officially spoiled now. It was a beautiful hot day, the Redskins won and all of this was free. I am still in shock and overly excited that I got to experience this.

Everything exceeded any expectations I had when I claimed this perk from Klout.  This was my first Redskins NFL game and pretty sure that no other game will compare from here on out. Surely no perk will top this and I joked with my date that he’s screwed. How do you top this for a second date idea? I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking:

Women of Washington Redskins on the field

Thanks to Klout and Women of Washington for an experience of a lifetime. It was so much fun and absolutely something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

welcome field run from Caryn Levy on Vimeo.

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Live Tweeting the State of the Union from the White House

I’ve lived in DC for only 12 days and already I’ve been inside the White House compound to be selected as part of an elite group of social media members to take part in The White House State of the Union Social.

I was selected as one of the 100 social media members to watch an enhanced screening of President Obama’s State of the Union Address live from the White House. Following the screening, we participated in a panel discussion with Administration policy advisors about the visions and policies presented during the speech. Really, is there a better “Welcome to DC” experience than hanging out with the executive branch in the White House compound?

Security was more disorganized than I expected but a lot less invasive, too. Thank goodness it was a beautiful winter night because they had us wait outside for 45 minutes. Security took our ID’s twice at separate gates while we waited for security clearance and to get our badge. Me, being the girl who makes friends and talks to everyone everywhere I go, met two girls while we waited outside. Turns out, one of the girls was likely in my recruitment group Freshman year at Indiana. It’s such a small world, isn’t it?

Once we got clearance, they directed us to the Eisenhower Executive Office. While we were waiting for President Obama to begin, I took a picture with the White House sign.

Sara and I just wanted a photo together with the White House sign but what we got was my favorite photo of the night. It was a complete coincidence and just good timing that this happened:

Oh you know, just the President looking down over us
Oh you know, just POTUS looking down on us

Once the State of the Union Address began, we all whipped out our devices and the tweeting and social media frenzy commenced. The Enhanced Broadcast was streamed live on the website but actually physically being in the room was an awesome experience. Despite the wifi being ridiculously slow, the energy in the room was exciting and electric and I felt like I was somebody to be. People reacted, laughed and clapped in unison. And together, we shared our experience with our followers. While on a bit of a delay for online viewers, the Enhanced Broadcast really made watching the SOTU so much more interesting. I don’t think I’ll ever watch on CNN again. (I hear they had split screens for the shooting?) They had infographics and factoids and all kinds of cool images. We were encouraged to take pictures and get our followers involved (obviously, that is why we were there.)

When discussing equality and equal pay, the Enhanced Broadcast showed the meme of the President and Mckayla Maroney doing the “Not Impressed” face together. Clearly they aren’t impressed by unequal opportunities and believe in equal rights for all. Between hosting the White House Social and the simple act of including the meme in the broadcast, it showed me that the administration is embracing change and social media and is accepting of the fact that things are evolving. It shows me progress. It shows me that our country isn’t rigid and stubborn and set in our pre-historic ways. It shows me that we will advance, not regress. It shows me that they are tuned into what is going on in the world outside of the political agenda.

Social media offers a way for everyday citizens to interact with the Administration and policy advisors, with The First Lady or POTUS, with celebrities and peers. It puts us all on even playing ground and gives the silent a voice. To be able to interact in this way is what makes social media so unique and impactful. This Administration is utilizing social media and giving citizens a way to be heard through things like State of the Union Social and an initiative called Citizens Respond. With Citizens Respond, you can go online to read the SOTU speech, dissect it line by line and discuss it with the President. This isn’t the first presidential address to the nation online as Clinton first did it back in June 2000. But it is just the beginning of social media playing a role in such monumental national and international events.

While delivering the SOTU, the President showed he is one of the greatest public speakers of our time. He showed that he is personable, playful and lighthearted. I like that even though the President was discussing very serious matters, he was able to make light of some situations by cracking a few witty jokes and smiling. His casualness through comments like, “Good job, Joe” or “Germans are job ready by HS graduation. Let’s do that.” or regarding climate change “send me that bill, Why would we be against that?” or even pushing fathers to be more than a sperm donor but to actually care to raise the child, really make me like him more. He showed his personality and as a citizen, I appreciate that about him.

Sotu13

The panel afterwards wasn’t so much of us participating as it was us asking questions and having the policy advisors answer them. There were too many questions (from in the room and online via Facebook, Google +, Twitter etc) and not enough time. I had a couple of questions prepared but never got the opportunity to ask them aloud.

It was such an amazing and unique experience to be a part of. So, for those that follow my personal Twitter account, I am sorry I’m not sorry for infiltrating your feeds with #SOTU #WHSocial tweets. I am so grateful that I was selected to be apart of this special group. I won’t share all of them here, but here are some of my favorite or most ReTweeted tweets from last night:

climate change

Chris Hardball tweetPOTUS is a funny man

minimum wageto be a dad - potusdeserve a voteScreen shot 2013-02-13 at 12.42.20 PMmarriage equality

Side notes or factoids that the Enhanced Broadcast shared or :

  • We saw 645k tweets last year and 1.1 million today during #SOTU Way to make history!
  • There were 24,000 tweets per minute during the #guncontrol portion of the #SOTU
  • I applaud the notion that President Obama wants to put our nation’s interests before the party agenda. This got the evenings first standing ovation.
  • I’m impressed that cyber security got a mention in the speech.

And I’m famous! But I sure hope that wasn’t my 15 minutes of fame. I was caught live on camera during the online Enhanced Broadcast #WHchat after the speech. It is proof I was paying attention and not picking my nose, incessantly tweeting or doing anything embarrassing. See me?! I guess my, “I’m paying attention” face makes me look very serious. I’ve got to work on that one…I'm famous at SOTU

I am honored that I got selected to be apart of this social media event. I can’t help but feel like my efforts as a community manager and social media member have been successful at making an impact on others. Being at this event made me so extremely proud that we reelected @barackobama. America, you like some weird stuff and I don’t always agree, but man, you got this one right! I am optimistic that the next four years will bring great progress and change. I think we are going to see tremendous outcry over controversial things, but I believe we are advancing and evolving as a nation, and  we are finally heading in the right direction.

 

The Best #Blackout Tweets from Super Bowl 47

The Ravens may have beat the 49ers but reading the blackout tweets was way more entertaining than the game. You’d think the most unusual thing about the game would have been that the coaches of both teams are brothers, but weirder things have happened, folks. This Super Bowl will be remembered mostly because of The Blackout.

For 37 minutes, the stadium went dark. Someone likely (unfortunately) got fired and thousands of people stared at their TV’s waiting for the game to resume. I seriously couldn’t help but wonder what people were doing if they weren’t following along as people live tweeted the blackout. They missed out on quality entertainment. It was so much more amusing than listening to the commentators attempt to pass the mic around in order to fill the silence. They had an entire 1st half to discuss and a halftime show but they found nothing to talk about. Way to go, CBS. I’ll give it to America, some people are really witty and funny. Here are some of my favorite Tweets that I saw:

9 months black out

blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Superbowl Blackout

Some of mine:

Blackout super bowl

Blackout super bowl

Superbowl Blackout

And the winner of the night: Oreos.
I applaud Oreos for a job well done. The best part about their (very simple and on the spot) tweet is that while other companies had spent millions on commercials, THIS is one of the best, if not the best ad of the night and it was free! And it was not even on TV. Way to own social media Oreo. Well done.
{What were some of the best tweets you saw during the blackout?}

Are news sources credible anymore?

Earlier this week, Nate St. Pierre, a friend of mine, posted on his blog a story of how he came to discover that Abraham Lincoln invented Facebook in 1845. He tells a very elaborate story about his day and persuades the reader that he discovered something that could potentially make him enormously famous. (Spoiler: It is a hoax.)

Putting aside any historical facts, there were three surface red flags to me. 1) you cannot get from Wisconsin to Springfield, Illinois by lunch. 2) Why would the curator not have known about this already? 3) Who goes anywhere without their phone these days/why would you not go home to get it if you really found such a story?

So, I’ll be the first to admit it, I disregarded these flags (first mistake) and accepted the unlikely “facts” initially (and shared the story) because I trusted the source. (second mistake) I fully own the fact that I was wrong. It maddens me, not that I was gullible or that he fooled the Internet, but that I failed to question the data presented. Even worse than my amateur error, is that I wasn’t the only one who blindly took it to be true; even major news sources failed to fact check before spreading the story.

St. Pierre’s hoax went viral in under 3 hours. He got 16,000 Facebook likes and 104,463 Unique Pageviews on his site alone. Mashable and The Atlantic waited until after they did their homework to reveal that it was a hoax. However, other very reputable news organizations like CNN, Forbes Fark, Reddit, ycombinaton and more ran the piece blindly accepting it to be factually accurate. News outlets interviewed him and reporters were sent to Springfield for a story that didn’t exist. What kills me is that REPUTABLE AND TRUSTED NEWS OUTLETS DIDN’T FACT CHECK. Isn’t that what interns are for? What other stories have we been exposed to, and believed, that weren’t true?

I was a journalism major and one of the things we learned was the importance of fact checking your data and questioning the credibility of your source. We learned the importance of ethical reporting. I am kicking myself for forgetting my obligation as an educated journalist and failing to question the story.

This was a classic study of the power of the Internet and how stories both true and false can spread like wildfire. I realize I am just as guilty but I’m just a nobody blogger. It’s not to say that I, a little unknown blogger, have the right to publish lies, but I am not held to the same credibility standard as say, Forbes.

In this day and age, where virtually everyone is a reporter, how do we know who to trust?

With the invention of the iPhone, camera phones, and the Internet, everyone has the ability to create and share and become a ‘reporter’. And thanks to the Internet, we expect to get our news updated instantly 24/7. Have we become too trusting and ultimately too lazy to fact check?
Are we in such a hurry to be the first to break a story that facts no longer matter? Has the news lost all credibility?

Nate wrote a brilliant story that was perfectly executed. I hope it serves as a lesson and reminder to us all to question the validity of the story and the source, no matter who it is and not to blindly accept the articles that we read in print or online.

Did you see Nate’s article and if so did you share it? Do you think the news has lost its credibility?

What I learned from #20SBSummit

If you follow me on twitter (thank you!), you probably could tell I was at the inaugural #20sbsummit this weekend.  You deserve a big giant thank you for not un-following me after the massive influx of tweets.  For those of you who don’t follow me or don’t know what I’m talking about – the 20sb Summit is, in boring, simple terms, a conference for bloggers in their 20’s held this past weekend in Chicago.  However, nothing was boring about this conference.  People came from all over the world to learn from fellow peers in the 20sb community. It truly was a summit ‘created for you by you’ as the registration page says. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect  when I signed up as this was my first blog conference with speakers. I walked away rejuvenated, inspired, optimistic, enlightened and giddy with a newfound courage.

I feel as though a light bulb went off! I have a new direction, feel creative and limitless, and as if suddenly I am decades wiser. We all were there with a common bond – we blog. That was enough for friendships to begin, trust to be established, inspiration to be imparted and learning to be fostered. For two straight days, we were surrounded by our peers who get what and why we do what we do, who are inspirational, creative, and brilliant.

Really, the weekend was nothing short of awesome. I keep writing and deleting this post because I’m finding OMG, it was AWESOME and inspiring, and ah! Then a bunch of gibberish giddiness is all I can get out, but I’ll keep trying!

I have been to other events with people my age, but this wasn’t just any event. I brought a notebook with me while others brought their laptops. Usually, when you are on your phone or computer while someone is speaking, it is straight rude. But not here. People were taking notes and tweeting throughout the panels, but it was evident people were still fully present as we were a top Twitter trend on Saturday with over 1000 tweets. There was no judging here. Everyone was welcoming and creative. It was a safe place.  We were all there because we have blogs, but there was no competition. No one was trying to out do another, because everyone was there with the same purpose – to learn from each other. It was honestly beautiful.  As Boehmcke said in his recap, “There are millions of bloggers that can exist in this same space and not compete.” We all volunteered to be here to further our knowledge and to be inspired. The thought of competition never crossed my mind.  Seriously, there is no other community out there where I feel more encouraged, applauded and included. Blogging is for lovers.

The contents of my purse after the summit

I can write pages and pages upon pages for a recap. There are a lot of other points, and I am sure I am going to forget some, but I am going to share some of the points that I learned the most from.

Keynote speaker #1: Scott Belsky on Making Things Happen

  1. “If you don’t tell anyone about your idea, no one will hold you accountable.” Share your ideas and let your community hold you accountable. Sharing outweighs potential stealing.
  2. “Era of Reactionary Workflow” – We are constantly distracted by endless stream of incoming emails, texts, tweets, voicemails, IM, DM etc. The car used to be where people went to get their moment of solitude and recollect their thoughts, but now it has technology access overflow in the dashboard.  The only sacred space in the shower. It is important to make that time for yourself and disengage with technology.
  3. Is organization the competitive edge on ideas? For example, Apple didn’t invent the tablet, cell phone or mp3, but the did master the organization and productivity market.  His formula to explain the importance of organization: Creativity x Organization = Impact. Or think about it this way: 5 x 0 = 0; 5 x 2 = 10; 50 x 2 = 100.
  4. If 99% of people think you’re crazy, you’re either crazy, or on to something. Trust that.
  5. Email etiquette: Emails less than 3 sentences have 60% faster reply rate. Keep it short, focus on the actionable stuff. Take disagreements offline. Call to sort it out and then reply with positive recap. Start emails with actions needed, number your questions, use an edgy email subject line.
  6. Don’t go unnoticed. Overcome the stigma of self-marketing. He gave the example of the Joshua Bell social experiment. He is a world-famous violinist who played for President and then the very next night dressed down and played in the subway of DC. If he had a sign that said who he was, he would have had a crowd, instead no one noticed him.
  7. “Nothing extraordinary ever happens through ordinary means”
It was early Saturday morning, and I am so glad I forced myself to make it to hear him speak. What a fantastic way to kick off the summit!

Keynote speaker #2: Jenny Blake Life After College. Live Big and Take Leaps.

  1. You’re capable of so much more than you realize. We have ceilings on our self-perception. Ignore them.
  2. There are three pillars of being a 20SB blogger. Vulnerability, courage and community.
  3. You can’t cross the Grand Canyon in two small leaps – Jenny’s fathers’ words of wisdom.
  4. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace uncertainty.
  5. How would you feel if 1 year from now you hadn’t made any changes to your life? Jenny’s mentorMichael Ellsberg. This really struck a cord with me…
  6. Find confidence from unexpected places. Don’t try to make every single person in your life happy.
  7. How to find courage: notice who’s talking…social self vs essential self. Social self: the one you show people, reacts to others, wants to please others.Essential self: deep within you…your body and intuition.
  8. It takes courage to blog. She had us close our eyes while she read us the Parable of The Trapeze. What a brilliant metaphor for conquering big change in your life. She encouraged us to let go of the bar and allow ourselves to launch forward towards the next.  Spend time “hanging out” between the trapeze bars of your life. Let go of one, so you can grab the new one.  You cannot move forward until you let go of the trapeze bar and allow yourself to take the risk of falling.
  9. Practice writing “Truth” posts. Dig deeper, find the truth at the roots.
  10. Just put it out there. Let the response be your judge , not your inner critic voice. Do the opposite of the inner voice.
  11. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do that over and over and over.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny’s keynote and walked away with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.  In the next few days, I will be doing my first EVER giveaway – I will be giving away a signed copy of her book Life After College and a signed bookmark. Stay tuned, more on that later!

Breakout Sessions and other random bits I learned:

On Guest Posting: Open calls to twitter followers, Facebook friends, offline friends and family is a great way to find guest writers.  Anyone, parents, experts, non-bloggers can make for excellent interviews. Communication is the key to a smooth exchange. Evernote is a great app to help take notes or record ideas for future blogs.

On getting the most out of WordPress: I backup my computer, but never thought of backing up my blog before! Just because it is on the Internet – doesn’t mean it won’t crash. Recommended hosting domains: Bluehost, Dreamgator and Lunarpages. I learned a plethora of different widgets and plug-ins that help the flow of my blog. Do not upload your photos straight from your camera! Resize images down to 72ppi  it using a photoshop or Pixlr because that is what it is displayed on the web. (I tried this and they were TINY, so I need to play around with this more…) But be sure to do that before uploading to WordPress. Cart 66 ($) is a great plug-in if you need to add a shopping cart to your website, however it does not design for you.  When picking a theme – look for responsiveness. If it is from 2005 with 500 download, odds are it is out of date and not recommended.  If it is from today and has 2500 downloads, that should be a better bet.

On putting our lives on the internet: It takes courage to blog and we need to take risks. We need to be willing to put ourselves out there, to take those risks. We need to engage and network within the community more. I don’t remember who said it, so I apologize if I misquote.” If you have the same followers as you did from when you started your blog, you are doing it wrong.” There is more to blogging than just having your own blog and hoping people read it.

On community: Having a blog is networking, letting creative writing juices flow, impacting peers, making friends, and being a member of a community of support that only wants the best for its members, at least within the 20sb.net community. If you jump, someone will be there to catch you.  Despite our family and friends offline thinking that “Our internet friends are imaginary friends,” we know the truth.

On your blog being your brand: I realized I must do what makes me happy. I must stay true to myself and to my blog and the rest will follow. It is important to be authentic, be present and most importantly be true to myself. It your blog, and your life. Your blog is your brand. Create it as you see fit.

Saying I learned a lot this weekend, is an understatement. I feel like a new person. As Jenny Blake said in her keynote – I feel like I was given oxygen!  I walked away inspired, engaged, enthusiastic, enlightened, and extremely optimistic. I have new blog ideas,  I networked for future opportunities and made a ton of new friends.

I even got to to meet internet idols and the founders of websites such as Texts From Last Night, GenPink, Talk Nerdy to Me, Lover and 20sb.net!

Jen Friel, of Talk Nerdy to Me Lover encouraged us to “own your awesome” and “do what you love and the money will follow.” She is a very bubbly, outgoing nerdy hippie with epic stories. You instantly want to be friends with her. She went on 100+ dates on OkCupid in 9 months, lived in her car on purpose, got sponsors to support her for everything, was on the Red Carpet, and her website  is now being turned into a TV pilot.

On Sunday, when the conference was over, and Derek finished his closing remarks, he concluded with, “And that’s a wrap.”  However no one moved. No one spoke. No one wanted to leave. We wanted to hold on for just a little longer. We didn’t want to go home yet. We weren’t done learning from our peers. It was a very honest moment and really could not have been rehearsed if we tried.

Walking around on Sunday, after I said my goodbyes, I felt surprisingly alone walking on the street. You’re thinking, alone? You just spent a weekend with fellow bloggers and just raved about it for pages? But there I stood, watching people, non-bloggers, going about their everyday life. I wish I could walk up to them and share all the inspiration and enlightenment that I just experienced and attempted to share with you.  Here I was with this rush of excitement, this creative urge, the feeling that anything is possible, but these people around me all looked like zombies, just going through the motions. I felt sad for these strangers who didn’t get to experience the summit, that don’t know there are infinite possibilities and limitless opportunities at our fingertips. There was a love in that conference room that is truly special and cannot be truly nor fully explained. Despite feeling this way on the street, I came home feeling as if I could touch the sky. I was giddy and feeling more creative than I have in a long time.  I am glad I got to experience the summit, and hope I can take what I learned this weekend and leave a positive mark on some of those zombies. I hope to make a difference in the community.  I cannot wait until next year!

Also, a special thank you to our Sponsors who helped make this incredibly special weekend possible. Thanks for everything!

Gap 1969 – Pico de Gap @picodegapchi – If you are in Chicago, follow this food truck for delicious Mexican tacos!

Murphy-Goode Wines

Brand About Town

Vera Bradley

Vapur – eco-friendly, reusable anti-bottle

Lenovo 

Lenovo tech room