self image

You’re The BLANK Guy

I was meeting with a client and the discussion was getting off course.

And it’s easy for that to happen. We all have multiple passions and he kept bringing all the different things he wanted his company to do into the discussion.

I looked at him and said. “OK, so if someone is referring to you. You are John the _____ guy. What’s in that blank?”

I think this is a good question to ask ourselves.

So if I’m “the marketing gal, that directs my course.”

But it doesn’t limit me. I can talk about business, about writing, about politics, about dogs… it’ll just tie back to marketing if it’s on this blog or has to do with this business.

You are “NAME, the ____________ person.”

Think about how those fill out, and how you’re spending your time, your money, your energy to get there.

Sometimes, other people might perceive you as something that you don’t necessarily want to be.

For example, I internally cringe when someone says “Oh you’re Nicole, the Facebook girl.”  I mean, I like Facebook and all but I don’t want to be a one trick pony. So how can you overcome a blank people have filled in on your behalf that doesn’t feel quite like you? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Pull back on your marketing related to “the thing you are already known for” and plug other stuff.
  2. Hold an event about the thing you *want* people to know you for.
  3. Ask your best customers who you’ve done other work for to write reviews about that other work on Facebook, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, etc.
  4. Offer a bundle/package, putting your popular offering with a less popular offering.
  5. Create a separate company/website that does the different thing you want to be known for, and do both things in a separate kind of way (this is called the ‘can’t fight city hall’ option).

For my own efforts, I’ve done an SEO online course that I’ve been promoting the crap out of. I have been actively asking people who I Wordpress Coach and provide other services for if we can use them as case studies. We built a separate ecommerce business to showcase our abilities related to content marketing and web development.

While I still get “Facebook girl” every once in awhile, actively diversifying (and probably growing out my natural graying hair color) has gotten people to see me as other things, like “the SEO lady” and “the GiftMDI lady.”

So remember, you’re a multipassionate entreprenneur/jack of all trades/complex person, but make sure how people know you is deceptively simple. And with a time and effort, you can change your reputation, at least for some of the people you run into.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Video Editing

During my first month at Breaking Even, I was introduced to video editing in iMovie. Okay, “re-introduced” is probably a better word- I’d dabbled in iMovie  back in 2002, when the state received a grant for public schools to get Macs for 7th graders. So in 7th & 8th grade, we all learned how to do some basic film editing (Ken Burns was basically my hero). There are some significant differences between the type of video editing I do for Breaking Even and the editing I did as a 12 year old, the most notable being that now, I have to edit myself.


Seeing yourself on camera can be unsettling at first. While you’re editing, you have to learn to detach from being hyper-focused on what you look/sound like. Otherwise, you’re going to be super distracted and it’ll take you a week to edit 10 minutes of material, assuming you can even bring yourself to complete the task. Being on camera and learning how to edit video footage were both out of my comfort zone six months ago, but I’ve grown accustomed to it, and have learned a thing  (or five along the way:

1. The camera is your friend. 

At least, that’s what I try to remind myself. There’s something about seeing that little red light flick “On” and suddenly, my mind goes blank. I’ve always had a “deer in the headlights” response to stressful situations. As it turns out, performance anxiety happens to the best of us, no matter how experienced we are with public speaking or performing stand-up in front of a live audience. It happens to amateurs like myself, and there are a ton of recommended ways to cope with it. For me, having a set time for filming helps the anxiety: I know when it’s going to happen, and can mentally brace myself for it. If you have anxiety about public speaking, you aren’t alone, and this article offers 10 tips for handling it.

2. The best material is unscripted.

The first time I showed up on camera for a Tech Thursday video, I had written out my 20-30 second blurb (I think it was about re-sizing photos before uploading them to a website), and basically recited it verbatim for the camera. It wasn’t terrible, but to be honest, when I was editing later, I actually got bored. It was like watching a drone. Eventually, over the course of filming, the script became unnecessary, and Nicole and I more or less learned how to get in the zone with ad-libbing. Not only did this make the actual filming process fun, it was more fun to edit (and hopefully, watch).

Scripts are fine, and in some cases, necessary. Then again, there are times when something unplanned happens, you roll with it, and hey, it’s even better than the original! (This totally happens in Hollywood. And life in general). You can also just go in with a general plan of attack, and see what happens. Which reminds me of a joke told to me by a wise 4 year old: How do ducks learn to fly? They wing it!

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 3.16.23 PM

3. We’re our own worst critics. 

After you overcome the anxiety of performance anxiety and learning what to say, you have to watch yourself saying it. Multiple times.

The first time I watched a video of myself, I thought Wait, why is my face shaped so weird? Does my voice really sound like that? Is that a lisp? I had no idea my skin tone was so uneven…My hair is stupid. And so on.

But guess what? Fixating on the way I perceived myself on film wasn’t getting the video edited. It only wasted time. More than I’d care to admit. And hey, that’s kind of saying something about life in general, right? Instead of being disappointed that one of my eyebrows is higher up than the other, my energy would have been better spent editing the quality of the video itself.

4. Show, Don’t Tell (Round 29,823,409)

Yeah, yeah, we’ve discussed this idea hundreds of times, but hear me out (again): often, if it seems like there’s part of the video where we’re just talking or explaining something, I’ll usually insert a relevant screenshot that highlights or complements what we’re discussing. If we’re talking about a specific website, boom, in goes a screenshot of that website. If we’re explaining the process of researching a hashtag, we might usescreenshots that show each step, so that viewers can see it rather than just watch us talk at them about it. Every now and then, a funny (yet not completely random) image works wonders. It breaks up the visual content of the video, and the people watching are better able to understand the tutorials we’re giving.

5. There’s always room for improvement.

After I’ve put a video out into the universe (aka YouTube), I sometimes think, “Wait, I’ve made a huge mistake. I should have done X, Y, and Z oh no what was I thinking?!” But, as Nicole has said to me several times, if we wait until something is ABSOLUTELY perfect before we share it with others, nothing would ever get done. And that’s really not great for a business. As long as you put the effort in and gave it your best shot, you can’t keep obsessing about what you might have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20, and all that jazz.

Along those lines, there’s more than one right way to edit a video. For instance, I might make the executive decision to cut out 30 seconds of footage, while Nicole might’ve chosen to keep that 30 seconds and cut out 15 seconds in one place and another 15 somewhere else. That doesn’t mean either of us are wrong, it’s just artistic differences.

Selfie Madness

Here’s the thing about selfies:  you may absolutely love them, or denounce them and everything they stand for, but chances are you’ve taken one. Or have at least thought about taking one. According to this infographic, about a million people take a selfie every day.


Sometimes, hearing the word “selfie” is enough to produce some heavy eye rolling, yet it’s also comical to see selfie fails go by and vaguely wonder what is happening to society. On the other hand, I feel like there’s more and more stories about people going to extreme lengths for “The Ultimate Selfie,” which in turn makes me wonder if things have perhaps gone a bit too far.

You have so many other things to be worried about right now, man.

You have so many other things to be worried about right now, man.

From what I’ve observed, it seems that people generally have two issues with selfies. The first is that they can be obnoxious in a social setting. Going out to dinner, a movie, the gym, or wherever- you may encounter people taking selfies. To me, selfies in public are kind of like seeing someone pick his nose. I’d probably prefer he didn’t, but it’s not really interrupting my life so it doesn’t bother me that much (and, hey, I might want to keep the option open for myself, so why judge?). However, if he came over and wiped his nose on me, I’d freak out a little. Unless a person’s selfie is directly interfering with another person’s life, I guess I don’t see the problem.

The second grievance is that some consider the selfie a ploy for attention, as if all selfies should be captioned: “Please look at me and give me validation. Pleeeease” To a certain extent, this is probably true. There are some interesting studies circulating these days about what goes on in our brains when we post selfies on social media. Many of these studies claim taking “too many” (interestingly, there is no actual number for the “right” amount of selfies one should take) is a sign of underlying mental disorder- namely narcissism and addiction. Then, there’s the mental process that happens after a selfie has been taken, potentially retouched, and uploaded into the world for approval. People can apparently get a bit neurotic post-posting, becoming fixated on the number of “likes,” comments, and positive/negative attention their picture receives. This kind of behavior is concerning, and the studies argue that this process of attention-seeking will set people off into this compulsive-behavior spiral of selfie taking and no one will ever find true happiness. More or less.

Some also claim that selfies are a way of “branding” ourselves as individuals, which I find pretty intriguing. It makes sense: the process is about constructing an image and presenting it to the world as “You.” Branding is about telling a story, and, when it really boils down to it, so is taking a selfie. In other words, selfies = self-definition. The problem starts when self-definition shifts from the picture itself to the amount of attention it gets from others.

This llama's selfie habit is clearly getting in the way of it's day-to-day life.

This llama’s selfie habit is clearly getting in the way of it’s day-to-day life.

Selfies aren’t all bad, though. This article brings up an interesting argument for selfies, and how they can help parents teach their kids positive lessons about self-image. Being childless, I never thought about this. The article discusses negative image issues that many women deal with post-children, and, as a result, they don’t want to appear in pictures with their children. It turns out, the advent of selfies changed all of that. Now, women are appearing in photos with their children, which will ideally impart something positive about self-worth to their kiddos: “I

want them to learn that we, as their parents, see ourselves as good enough to star alongside them in the photographic records of their lives.” It’s a good point- we’re all setting examples, whether we realize it or not, so why not make it a positive example?

Ultimately, people are going to keep taking selfies, and there will be ongoing speculation about mental stability and what filter someone’s using. Whatever your stance on selfie taking, just remember: no duckface.

Unless you are literally a duck.

Unless you are literally a duck.