Business Cards

Business Cards | Challenge Accepted

You don’t have to be Patrick Bateman to appreciate a good business card design. In fact, if you are, let’s just leave that business card right there and back away slooooooowly.

But when it comes down to it, even in the digital age, a business card is an extremely important piece of modern networking. It’s a great way to get the people you meet to see a little bit of your personality, to jog their memories of you, and to get them to your website and social media accounts. But before we get away from the digital age piece, did you know that there are a bunch of apps that will let you scan business card contact information right into your phone?

But let’s not get too distracted by business tech, although that’s easy for me to do!

So how do you pick the business card that’s right for you? Here are a few points I’ve learned through a lot of business card exchanges and a lot of networking socials, and even a few mixer seminars I’ve given on networking socials {seminars are always more fun when you can have them with a drink and business cards in hand, right?}.

1. First Impressions Matter.

Appearances are important, because they set the stage for your first impression. Whether we like it or not, we are geared to make snap judgments based on what we see, and sometimes those snap impressions are very hard to undo. Your business card is both a snap impression and a lasting impression, because it should be both visually appealing and something that will withstand the test of time, as the person you give it to will have it to look at again and again.

However, that sets a state for what I can only call multiple first impressions. That great contact you met at a conference or a social is trying to remember what you talked about or what your message was. They can just see it, it’s right there. Then they pick up your business card. That’s their connection to you and the memory of that discussion. What does it say?

2. Show Off Your Personality.

There is a thing out there called color psychology. Seriously. Different colors have different meanings and evoke different emotional responses. Your use of color will not only set you apart from that stack of boring black and white engraved formal cards you have, but will also send an inspiring message. Or…not, depending on how you use it.

Then let’s talk about design. If you’re in the serious business of emergency management, you probably don’t want bright happy colors all over your card, and if you’re in a creative industry, there really is no way to hand out a standard white business card. Unless you can find that perfect way of being beautifully ironic, like slightly off-white hand-cut recycled paper business cards with a specially stamped font that you loved before it was a Google font…yeah, I can’t even make this work.

Again, your card makes an impression. You don’t want it to say “boring” but you also don’t want it to say “over the top.” Look at what speaks to you, what speaks to the right air of credibility and the right amount of creativity.

3. Don’t Go Cheap.

Seriously, if you go cheap on your business cards, people might wonder what else you cut corners on. While we’re all looking for ways to be frugal and save, there’s a big difference between being frugal and being cheap. Your business card is something that people will be taking with them. Make it an impression of the kind of quality they can associate with your brand.

Just as a note, quality doesn’t always mean expensive. It just means good. Think about the things that matter. The right size, a decent thickness, and maybe you want people to be able to write notes on it {I usually shy away from glossy cards just for this reason, and even though I use colors, I make sure there are lighter spots for notes}. Go for value.

4. Second Opinions Count.

You have great taste out there, trust me! But don’t forget Muphry’s Law. No, this is not a misspelling. Follow the link.

If you’ve been staring at the same thing, the same design, the same trifold, the same whatever, for-EV-er, the chances of you actually catching a misspelling or a wrong number or any other mistake are pretty slim. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes.

As I say this, I am checking my own cards meticulously to make sure I didn’t jinx myself.

5. Finally, Keep It Simple.

You don’t want to be handing out a miniature book to people. Don’t try to fit every single piece of contact information you have on a card. What do people absolutely need to know to access information on you and your brand or to get hold of you if they want to continue the discussion?

Email? Check. Phone? Sure. Website? Definitely. Social media accounts? Pick your top one or two – I usually just stick with my Twitter handle. That’s when it comes in handy to standardize across your accounts and have something simple – pretty much everything I do is @kcsaling so chances are, if you type that in someplace, you’re going to find me!

You don’t want to make it hard to find you, but you don’t need to include everything on your card. That’s why you have a website and a Twitter bio, right? All the pertinent stuff can be found pretty easily there. If people are interested, you’ll hear from them.

Where To Get Cards

Some businesses and agencies out there actually provide cards to their hard-working marketers. Or at least to their high ranking executives. For the rest of us, we’ve got to find creative solutions. Fortunately, there are a huge number of online printers who will help you design the cards of your dreams.

I’m a big fan of {10% off if you click this link} for my business cards, both for my day job and for Challenge Accepted. It’s really easy to go to the site, pick out the background and layout, design the cards I want, and get them printed. And they even have an eco-friendly paper option, which is a bonus in my tree-hugging book {well, since I’m ordering paper products, maybe it’s just my tree-hand-shaking book?}.


When you’re narrowing down designs, just think about the impressions you want to make. You’re giving them something that not only makes an impact when they first see it but gives them something to look back on later. Keep your design personal but simple. Go for color, but the right amount.

If this all sounds more like art than like science, it really is. Sometimes you just have to play with a design until you find the one that speaks to you, but go ahead and give yourself that time to play. You’ll be amazed at what you come up with.


Social Media Exploration: Hootsuite

I had this post originally slotted for yesterday, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to jump in on the awesome conversation Nicole, Kate, and Jackie started in response to Colbie Callait’s latest video. It was amazing to see so many bloggers from so many different backgrounds get together to flip the proverbial bird to conventional “rules” of beauty!

Social media is an amazing thing, the way it brings together conversations like this and lets us connect with people from all over the world to talk about whatever we want. And there are so many different ways to connect! Pretty much everyone is familiar with the Big Four - these days still occupied by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +, although there are good arguments for Pinterest and Instagram in there.

But what else is out there?

What other networks, collaboration tools, management tools, storytelling compilers, and other helpful things are there floating around in cyberspace? There seem to be so many, and it’s pretty hard to separate the fleeting fads from the truly useful tools that are here to stay.

That’s why I’m bringing you a little series I’m calling Social Media Exploration! As a social media and marketing researcher, if I share my media and marketing homework assignments with you, it might help you sift through the gobs of sites out there and find out which ones are right for you.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this particular social media management tool for a while, and it seems only appropriate to bring them up since I’ll be participating in the first webinar of our series with them on Wednesday! As part of Karen’s and my research with Firestorm, we’ve partnered up with Hootsuite to provide a new series on tools you can use to measure success in your communication strategy!

This Social Media Exploration edition might be more than a little biased, not because of the webinar but because I’ve been a huge fan of Hootsuite’s work as a social media manager and as an organization for a long time. I was absolutely doing cartwheels when I found out they were partnering up with Firestorm to support our latest project!

So let me tell you a little bit about them. I first started using Hootsuite in New York, back when I was managing various social media accounts and strategic communication for my department at West Point and our three research centers. Since that time, I’ve been using Hootsuite for some time to manage my various social media accounts.

Here’s the run-down on Hootsuite:

What is Hootstuite?

Their tagline is “everything you need in one place” and they truly live up to it. It’s a social media management program that allows you to gather all {or most} of your important social media feeds in one place. One site, one log in, all your feeds, and the ability to interact right there.

What does it do? 

Hootsuite principally provides a dashboard where you can load as many of your social media platforms as you want {depending on your plan} and read through everything simultaneously, either side by side or divided out into platform tabs the way I have it above. They also provide a scheduler for posts and tweets, analytics that show your reach and engagement, and listening tools to help you figure out what kind of content your audience wants to hear.

The number of services you can add in increases with your plan and the menu of options also includes social media search program uberVU - one of the most comprehensive listening and analytics programs in the business, custom URLs for tweeting, message archiving, professional social media management and curation across your company, brand, or enterprise, and training at all levels, including their Hootsuite University program – an excellent social media program my sister has had her public relations, communication, and media students participate in for several years now.

Who’s on it? 

According to the stats, over 9 million people including some pretty major brands, including the innovators at Virgin – and a whole bunch of us regular folk who don’t want to have to switch between a zillion different social media streams in order to monitor what’s going on out there.

And yes, I consider it an added bonus that it has saved me so far from all the Facebook feed “improvements” they’ve been making, from seeing all the comments my friends make on political articles, and keeping people from hitting me with a bunch of Facebook messages. Am I the only one who hates Facebook Messenger? Even Twitter’s DM feature is less intrusive.

Is it good for bloggers?

Sure – both for the hobbyist and for the professional. For the pros – schedule tweets and posts to your blog’s Facebook page, see all of your feeds at once, monitor your reach and analytics, and use the listening feature to see which of your posts are really engaging with your audience. For the hobby blogger – keep track of what you posted and where it went, and keep track of those Twitter conversations that continue the great discussion you started!

How has my experience been?

If you’re starting to feel bogged down by trying to keep up with all your social media accounts, or if you could use a little bit of streamlining in your life, I definitely recommend signing on to Hootsuite’s free plan, which allows you to monitor up to three accounts. If you’re looking to engage across more platforms and get more analytics reports, Hootsuite’s PRO plan only runs at about $9 per month.

While I love engaging with friends, family, followers, and clients across different social media platforms, I also know that quality engagement takes time and during that time, I could possibly miss out on other key events. I definitely think it’s worth my while to keep my Hootsuite dashboard up and going.

Have you tried using Hootsuite to manage your social media? Have you had success with other media management platforms out there that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

And if you’re a social media or marketing professional, please come check out our webinar and tell us what you think of our project and research!


I Don’t Care If You Like It

Well, hey there. Glad you stopped by. I’m clearly ready for company with my no make-up face and slightly glazed eyes from staring at the computer screen for waaaaaaaaay too long today. But this is kind of what I look like after I’ve spent a day at the beach, come home, jump in the shower, and power up the computer because I have six hundred emails waiting in my in-box that need to be answered, because I have a few blog posts to churn out, and because I have slides for a webinar that are due and project proposal summaries to write.

I’m sharing this picture as part of the Don’t Try So Hard link-up I read about over on Nicole’s blog. She and a few other bloggers also saw and enjoyed Colbie Callait’s latest video and thought it was a message worth spreading. I definitely agree – but for slightly different reasons.

Let’s talk about the difference between celebrating your natural beauty and celebrating self love.

The link up asks that we all share a picture without the makeup, without the hair done, just looking like ourselves. To me, that sounds easy enough, but then I read dozens of comments on the link up announcement from women who were “nervous” and “scared” about sharing their unmade up pictures, even though Nicole asked that part of the linkup being finding something positive about those pictures. And I started thinking…why?

Why are people afraid to share unmade-up pictures? If we’re not in the beauty or fashion industry {assuming these aren’t all fashion bloggers whose comments I’m reading}, why should we care whether or not someone sees us in an unmade up picture where we’re not “trying?” Are we afraid that people won’t find anything beautiful in those photos?

Then I started wondering…isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid with all this in the first place?

There’s an ugly truth to the whole natural beauty movement and even to the whole inner beauty movement. And that’s that we’re still pinning value on whether or not we’re beautiful.

We as a society have fallen in love with the idea that we’re more beautiful than we think, that there’s some inner beauty waiting to be discovered, that it’s okay to feel beautiful without makeup because we don’t need to rely on a lot of products. It’s the ugly truth behind the Dove Real Beauty advertisment and the success of Try and a lot of other “real beauty” messages – and yes, I realize there is a huge amount of irony in the Dove example because, well, it’s all about buying their products.

I read another message recently, and it really got me thinking in another direction. It was a response to the ridiculous Esquire article, “In Praise of 42-Year-Old Women,” where an author in his sixties somehow managed to get paid and get praise for listing all the fabulously sexy 42-year-old women he felt were worthy of him looking at lustfully {ick much?}, and the author of a decent rebuttal I read cited a scene from Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

The gist of it is that Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jimmy Fallon were discussing a scene for Saturday Night Live. Amy Poehler was trash talking and swearing up a blue streak, and Jimmy Fallon made a comment about her language, saying it wasn’t cute and he didn’t like it. As a result, Amy rounded on him and said, “I don’t f***ing care if you like it.”

That’s really what we should all be able to say. We should all have the confidence to post a picture of ourselves, with or without makeup, with or without our hair done, dressed in whatever, and say, “I don’t f***ing care if you like it.”

Because you know what? We shouldn’t hang our happiness on whether or not we’re beautiful.

I might have some of the demographic qualifiers for the mainstream ideal, but let me tell you that working with a plastic surgeon when you just need to get some scar tissue lasered off your face and they want to change everything about you really kind of kills any desire to conform to a beauty ideal. Yes, I did get the scar tissue lasered off, because it was impacting my ability to close my jaw. No, I didn’t let them fix my nose or the fold over my eyes or align my jaw or even fix my teeth or all the things before that consult that I didn’t think – and still don’t – needed fixing.

People have asked why I didn’t get things fixed when I could. Well, pain, for one. Surgery sucks. Money for another. I’d rather travel. But even if it came without pain and surgery or expense, I still think I wouldn’t care enough to get things “fixed.”

I’m happy. I’m happy with myself, with my relationship, with my family, with my job, with my work, with my confidence, and with all the rest of it. I know I can kick ass and take names. I don’t give a damn whether or not anyone thinks I’m pretty.

My industry places value on a woman being resourceful, commanding, confident, able to run long distances, and able to carry more weight than the average pack mule. Nowhere in my job description will you find any requirements to be beautiful. Responsible for providing input into American military policy for half of the globe? Sure. Responsible for looking f***ing fabulous and styling the latest fashions in the office every day? Nope. Not there, not even in the fine print.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like to look nice. I feel more confident when I’m a little bit made up and my hair looks good and I’m rocking a power suit in front of the two hundred or so people I’m trying to pitch an idea to than I would feel if I came in not looking the part, in my sweats with a ponytail. But that’s less about feeling beautiful than worrying about a zit or some raggedy looking hair detracting from what I’m trying to say.

The times I feel my best really don’t have anything to do with how I look.

I feel my best when I can stand up in a meeting and offer an opinion, and people listen because I’ve spent a lot of effort making sure I know what I’m talking about and that I can back up my opinions.

I feel my best when I get up in front of a panel and rock my brief because I’m confident and because thanks to lots of practice in front of a classroom and in front of conference sessions and more than a few drama lessons, I’m a pretty dynamic speaker.

I feel my best when I’m standing in front of those two hundred or so people I mentioned before and they’re there because they think I have an idea worth spreading or at least worth listening to. I couldn’t care less if they’re sizing up my looks or my attractiveness. In fact, the idea of them doing that is pretty creepy when you think about it.

The only person whose opinion matters as far as attractiveness goes is my husband, and he doesn’t care if I wear makeup or not. In fact, like most guys I know, he’s kind of in the “why are you wearing so much gunk on your face” camp when it comes to makeup.

So when we’re thinking about the “don’t try so hard” message, let’s think about that piece. Forget about beauty. Think instead about all the reasons you rock, all the things you can be confident in, all the things that make you hold your head up high, and all the things you do that should make you proud to look someone in the eye out of that picture you take and say, “Well, I don’t f***ing care if you like it.”


Treasure Tromp


Sunday Currently, vol. 24

Clockwise from top left: 1) New running kicks! I love my Brooks – and they’re even pink! 2) We’ve had some seriously lazy days around here after partying on our long weekend last week. 3) Smoothie-fest! I’ve been on a serious smoothie kick, and between raiding my Farmers’ Market for fresh fruit and discovering tons of new recipes, I’ve made some great ones. 4) Making some final tweaks on the slides for our crisis communications webinar this week.

This hasn’t been a lazy week by a long stretch – I’ve been working my butt off at work and by the time I get home, it’s time to either collapse or get up and do some more work. Yikes!

And now, here’s today’s…


Reading. Here are some of my favorite links from this week.

Listening…to a little classic India.Arie. It’s a great summer sound song, and it kind of fits in with the “love yourself music” kick I’ve been on lately – and the video is just plain fun.

Writing. Posts from this week, for anyone who wants a quick catch-up:

  • Luau Time – we visited the Paradise Cove Luau this past weekend, did plenty of taste testing, and took plenty of pictures – here’s what it looks like and why you should go! I’m also linking up with Esther + Jacob for their Local Adventurer project here.
  • Why You Should Book That Ticket - we choose what we want to make a priority in our lives, and here are a few reasons that maybe booking that adventure trip should be a priority for you.
  • Big Easy Shrimp – giving one of my favorite Cajun seafood gumbo recipes a little fusion style touch by adding in some giant tiger prawns and deconstructing it!
  • Travel Stories + Blog Awards - answering some questions posed by Amy for the Liebster Award.
  • Blog Awards Part II + Favorite Travel Bloggers - the continuation of the Liebster, where I get to nominate my favorite travel and adventure bloggers. Check them out!

Feeling…excited for all the great things going on around here, for summer, for great research, and for a lot of positivity. And with that, I’m headed for the beach!

What’s on your mind, currently!


Blog Awards Part II + Favorite Adventure Blogs

liebster2Okay, in case the title didn’t give it away, there are two parts to the Liebster Award. The first is answering questions posed by the person who nominated you {which I did yesterday - thanks, Amy!!}. The second part is a lot of fun, and that’s posing your own questions and nominating your own favorite bloggers! It’s a great way to help some some appreciation and showcase your favorite blogs, and hopefully introduce your audience to some blogs you know will rock their socks. Bloggers can answer if they want, but there’s no pressure – it’s all just about having fun and sharing the love!

I read a lot of different blogs and I’ve met some wonderful people through blogging. I wish I could showcase all my favorites, but in the spirit of travel and adventure, I’m sticking to my favorite adventure blogs. Yes, I’m creating my own genre out of people who might travel, who might create, who might cook, who might do all of these, but who can’t help but imbue their readers with a joie de vivre.

So here they are!

Casey of True Colours. Casey has been to so many of the places I have on my bucket list, it’s crazy. Marrakech, Dubai, India, and so many more – and she’s familiar enough with Hawaii to give me a few pointers here as well! Her words and her professional photographer husband Nick’s pictures paint gorgeous pictures of the places they’ve traveled, and she’s also got a list of great travel pointers that will help anyone from the novice to the expert.

Amy of Club Narwhal. It’s hard to tell what I love most about Amy’s blog – her gorgeous recipes {I think just about all of them live on my Pinterest right now}, her amazing travel photos, or her fun printables. I wish I had more space in my office for more of them, but there’s usually one living on my bulletin board. Stop by for a refreshing dose of humor, good fun, gorgeous pictures, and desserts photos that make you want to sell your soul for a taste {I’m looking at you, fruity cheesecake brownies!}.

Esther and Jacob – of their eponymous blog. Esther and Jacob share travel exploits and photography from both near and abroad. I love their Local Adventurer link-up, and all the inspiring tales they share that remind us that we can find adventure right here at home, if we just know where to look for it. You can find some great local adventure ideas from the blogs that link up, and if you ever wanted to find a great adventure near Vegas, they have more than enough great ones to share!

Lesley of Bucket List Publications. I first “met” Lesley when I first started blogging and have been amazed and impressed with her and her online magazine ever since. She’s probably one of the most humble and supportive people you’ll ever find, and she’ll amaze you with the extreme sports and adventures she takes on!

And the lovely lady who started me on this journey, Amy of Creatrice Mondial. Amy has become one of those online friends that I really wish I could meet up for wine tasting in real life. She just completed a half marathon with Destination Races in Napa Valley that makes me envious – both of the great wine and dine experience before and after and of her finish time! I think I would be too busy tasting wine to run a decent time on a race like that :)

And here are my questions…

1. What has been your favorite adventure or travel experience so far? {you can include your top 3 if 1 is too hard!}

2. Do you use any kind of system to plan out your adventures or do you just kind of let it happen?

3. What has been the biggest discovery you’ve made while traveling, adventuring, or creating?

4. Think back to the greatest meal or tasting experience you ever had. Share the details! Yes, I totally want the stalker details on the best wine + dine experience you’ve had.

5. How do you balance out a busy life…and a busy life on the internet?

6. Totally stealing this one from Amy: If you could only choose one more big bucket list worthy experience, what would it be and why? Budget and time are not factors!

7. A lot of us travelers and ex-pats have a flexible view of the word “home.” Do you have a place you call home or is home wherever you make it?

Do swing by these lovely blogs. There are plenty of great pictures, gorgeous food, travel experiences, beautiful food…okay, I admit it, even my travel has a very large focus on food! :D

Happy Friday!


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