Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Club: Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

Oh, boy... it's been awhile. We were traveling the past two weekends (to Notre Dame for my sister's graduation and Houston for another sister's engagement party), so the weeks have been flying. I squeezed a bunch of stuff -- work, life, friends, etc. -- into the days between trips, and now all of a sudden, tomorrow is June 1. How does that happen?

Last week, we met at I.'s new house for book club. I. served up an absolute feast of appetizers and all the fixings for stir-fry, plus fruit and macarons for dessert. (I managed to keep myself to one macaron since my glucose screening was the next morning... which, by the way, wasn't nearly as bad as all the horror stories you hear. The drink tasted like flat Sprite, I was fine with the multiple blood draws despite being needle-phobic, and I didn't feel sick. A McDonald's egg McMuffin and a long afternoon nap helped with the "recovery.")

During dinner, we chatted about Room -- quite the page-turner! The story is told from a five-year-old's perspective, which influences the language and makes the narrator a bit unreliable (in a good way). We often wondered what the adults in the story were thinking and feeling, a kind of fill-in-the-blanks technique that got us invested in the story. Though parts of the plot seemed far-fetched or questionable, we admired how the author portrayed the idea of a kidnapped-girl-turned-mother-in-captivity in a different way.

Next month, we're going in a different direction with a non-fiction read called Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead. I've heard a lot about this book among small business owners and entrepreneurs. I wasn't sure the other ladies would be interested, but when I filled them in on the premise, they suggested adding the book as our next pick.

I read a majority of it on our flights to and from Houston... so I'm eager to see what everyone thinks, especially since there's plenty to think about from a non-marketing angle. And I took the test to discover what my personal fascination triggers are (very cool!). It will be really interesting to hear what the other girls' triggers are too.

Book Description (from the back cover):
What triggers fascination, and how do companies, people, and ideas put those triggers to use?

Why are you captivated by some people but not by others? Why do you recall some brands yet forget the rest? In a distracted, overcrowded world, how do certain leaders, friends, and family members convince you to change your behavior? Fascination: the most powerful way to influence decision making. It's more persuasive than marketing, advertising, or any other form of communication. And it all starts with seven universal triggers: lust, mystique, alarm, prestige, power, vice, and trust.

Fascination plays a role in every type of decision making, from the brands you choose to the songs you remember, from the person you marry to the employees you hire. And by activating the right triggers, you can make anything become fascinating.

To explore and explain fascination's irresistible influence, Sally Hogshead looks beyond marketing, delving into behavioral and social studies, historical precedents, neurobiology and evolutionary anthropology, as well as conducting in-depth interviews and a national study of a thousand consumers, to emerge with deeply rooted patterns for why, and how, we become captivated.

Hogshead reveals why the Salem witch trials began with the same fixations as those in Sex and the City. How Olympic athletes are subject to obsessions similar to those of fetishists. How a 1636 frenzy over Dutch tulip bulbs perfectly mirrors the 2006 real estate bubble. And why a billion-dollar "Just Say No" program actually increased drug use among teens, by activating the same "forbidden fruit" syndrome as a Victoria's Secret catalog.

Whether you realize it or not, you're already using the seven triggers. The question is, are you using the right triggers, in the right way, to get your desired result? This book will show you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

On Growing

Maybe it's because Mother's Day was on Sunday. Or perhaps it's the near-daily arrival of nursery items and baby gear. Maybe it's the increasing activity, kicks and flips and turns, happening in my belly. Or the beautiful weather that means leaving the house without a jacket, my baby bump on full display.

I feel the change, the growth. Just as the baby is growing, so am I. And it's more than just a physical change. It's a bond that is already formed, a peace and a sense of strength, an excitement and a healthy dose of uncertainty.

Scott and my family surprised me with a beautiful bouquet and a bunch of notes on Mother's Day. And his family gave me some lovely little gifts. I still have three months until I officially become a mother. But maybe in a way, I already am one. I've nurtured and loved this baby for six months, even if it's different than how I'll care for him or her after he or she is born.

We've started to receive gifts from friends and family. It's amazing to think about actually using these things once the baby is here. He or she is already so loved.

I have a few small updates on the nursery front. We're making some progresswith plenty more to come.

My mom has been hunting down different-sized baskets for the changing table. I ordered some fabric from Carousel Designs, which one of my friend's moms will be using to make basket liners. I picked a couple of navy and white patternsstripes and polka dots. And I also ordered three swatches of turquoise fabrics since that color is always tricky to match. The one I ended up choosing is pictured... and a yard of that fabric should be here any day. (If you're looking for cute baby bedding or fabric for any type of project, you should check out Carousel Designs!)

And I finally used a credit from Christmas toward a gorgeous throw from Design Darling. It goes perfectly with the rug. Scott joked about the baby destroying it. I'm thinking about draping it over the back of the glider/rocker (once we get one) for a little extra color and coziness.

For now, I'm feeling great and moving into the third trimester. Hard to believe we'll get to meet this little guy or gal in three short months!

27 weeks!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Club: Room: A Novel

Well, it's been almost three weeks since our last book club meeting. At the time of the meeting, I hadn't actually finished the book, but I finally reached the end last week, so here's the delayed post!

I hosted this past month and went with a "breakfast for dinner" theme. I love brunch foods, and they are easy to prep ahead and then bake or cook right before guests arrive. Plus, even if I couldn't drink mimosas, I was happy to serve them!

Used my mom's recipe... though I think she usually adds more gooey topping than the recipe calls for :)
Pecan Rolls / Monkey Bread
1 cup chopped pecans (I left these out this time around)
1/2 package of frozen Rhodes dinner rolls
1 package instant butterscotch pudding
1/4 c margarine or butter
1/2 c brown sugar

Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with 3/4 c chopped pecans. Place rolls around.  Add dry pudding. Combine melted margarine/butter and brown sugar. Drizzle over rolls and sprinkle with remaining nuts. 

Place in a cold oven overnight. Remove and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rolls sit for 2 minutes and serve inverted on plate.

Get the recipe here! So easy and good.

We discussed Plague Tales this time around. This book moved back and forth between two different times and places, each with its own set of conflicts surrounding an outbreak of the plague. Some of us enjoyed the sections dedicated to the "past" and some to the "future" (though technically the book was written in 1997 so the "future" section took place in 2005). Though some of the language was a bit cheesy and plot twists were a bit convenient at times, the group felt the overall story was entertaining and easy to read.

I especially liked the last hundred pages or so, mainly because the action moves more quickly in that part of the book and the chapters are shorter so the shifts between times come more often. It felt like the plot moves forward a lot more at that point, while earlier in the book, it sometimes dragged for me. In the end, though there isn't a huge revelation, the connection between the two time periods also becomes more clear. This pick was definitely more plot-driven than other books we've read, which made for a fun read.

For next month (meaning this monthha!), we'll be reading Room by Emma Donoghue.

via Review:
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is Being Kind Bad for Business?

A couple of days ago, Sarah and I were chatting about this week's newsletter topic (arriving in inboxes tomorrow!)email etiquetteand we both shared instances of communication breakdown. It happens all too often, not only via email or in business-related situations, but also in conversations and everyday life.

I know people are busy. We are all busy, but that shouldn't be an excuse for not responding or for not being kind... right? There are plenty of busy people who have created systems to make sure their communications are timely and courteous.

But this isn't really about email. The bigger topic that's been on my mind lately is the relationship between business and kindness.


Do being kind and being successful have to be mutually exclusive? I don't think so. In fact, I think kindness is often the key to building relationshipsand in turn, building a business.

These thoughts first started when I read Megan's interview on Viva Bang Bang. In the post, she says, "Be nice. It gets you further than you think." That quote jumped out to me because I've found that some of my most successful business relationships have been built on a genuine sense of respect and kindness. (I mean, who has the time or energy to be a "mean girl"? Is it worth it?)

On the other hand, I'm often cautioned about being "too nice." This week's Design*Sponge Biz Ladies post addressed the debate "How Nice is Too Nice?" As a business owner, I know it's important to be firm and not give my services away, but those communications can still be kind.

Yes, it's business, not personal. But when you're a small business, that line gets blurry sometimes. You are who you are, and yet, you also represent your company and brand. Good customer (or client or collaborator) service goes a long way.

To me, being kind is about being respectful, keeping an open mind, thinking of others' perspectives, finding solutions, collaborating, and going above and beyond. And I don't think that's bad for business.

What do you all think? How important is being kind in the business realm?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Consider Your Audience

Whenever I work with clients, I ask about their intended audience. It might be the ideal client, the target audience, the typical reader.

What's funny about online content is we often don't know exactly who is reading. We don't always know who they are and what they want to know.

Though you may choose to write for a specific type of person in hopes of attracting their business or interaction, considering your audience is a crucial step in the writing process.

Find out who they are, what they do, what they like, what they need.

Writing for your audience means you'll make a connection, encourage engagement, andover timecreate a relationship.

This past week's Create.Compose.Communicate newsletter included a link to a survey. Sarah and I asked our subscribers to tell us a bit about themselves, what they enjoy about the newsletter, and what they'd like to learn about in the future.

As a part of that, we've deemed May to be our "Readers' Choice" month. Each week, we'll tackle one of the writing topics suggested by our subscribers. We're also mapping out the next few months' themes and incorporating more ideas based off the survey responses.

If you haven't signed up, you can do so here. The first newsletter of the month goes out tomorrow (Thursday) morning. We'll be including the subscriber survey link again in this week's email, so here's your chance to tell us what topics you'd like us to cover in upcoming newsletters!

Hop on over to Sarah's blog for a few thoughts from her on this month's theme.


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