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Just Friggin' Peachy
Just Friggin' Peachy

business, digital strategy, & life in the #atl

A Day In Los Angeles Via Instagr.am

I’m out here in Los Angeles for BlogWorld.  Before I partake in what will surely be a quasi-orgasmic experience of geekdom, I did decide to take a day to visit clients and make some new business connections in the “real world.”

Because a day tooling around with Brandware’s main Los Angeleno was too good not to record for posterity, I whipped out the iPhone and documented a day in the life, instagram-style.

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Overcommitted, Much?

We all like to think we’re more important than we really are. It’s just a basic fact of human ego.

This is why we blog, this is why tweet – it’s to get attention for ourselves because we believe the external validation is necessary to our very beings.

It’s also why we cram our schedules full of so much even though we realize it might detract from the overall quality of the output.  Take this past weekend, for instance.  Some time during the summer I had the great idea to run my first half-marathon.  I trained, I researched and found one to register for.  Only later on did I realize that it was the same weekend as a conference I had to attend AND, subsequently emcee one of the workshops. It was also Halloween weekend and parties-a-plenty to rock out at, in the evening.

A normal human would say “let’s rearrange some things here.” For one reason or another, I did not. I got up at 5, ran the half-marathon, attended the conference and still had enough in me [read “5 Hour Energy”] to attend not one but two Halloween parties.

It was great, it was amazing and I honestly can’t believe I did it all.  Neither can my body, apparently.  It was like “I see what you did there with the thinking that you could defy the laws of physiology.”  Suffice to say, I spent Sunday on the couch unable to move my legs without being reminded that I probably overdid it.

Morale of the story is that each of us has our limits. Extending ourselves is great but our lives balance the process of expending energy and renewing it. Sure, you can commit yourself to being superman/woman but know that everything comes back around in one way or another.

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering – 2 hours 10 minutes on the half-marathon ;-)…

My Life In Check-Ins

I am a sentimental schmuck. I also love the geo-social application, Foursquare. This is probably why for the last year I have been ruthlessly addicted to something called 4squareand7yearsago.

What 4squareand7yearsago does is send you an email every morning listing out your check-ins on that day, one year ago. As you can imagine, I’ve been having an interesting time keeping track of and counting down to my one year anniversary of moving back to Atlanta.

It’s not that the move back was anything exceptional but, like I said; I am a sentimental schmuck and I guess looking back on things gives me some perspective if I’ve actually done something with my life. Take, for instance, today’s historic, run-down:

Allow me to translate….

  • One year ago was that day I officially moved back from DC
  • Port City Java – I got up in the morning and walked to a coffee shop since my coffee maker was already in a box
  • Eastern Market – I took one lap around the historic Eastern Market before heading back to finish packing
  • DCA – My friend/landlord Frank thoughtfully drove me to Reagan-National, where I did my best Porky Pig impression in a vain attempt to hide the fact I was seriously wondering if moving back was the right decision
  • ATL – By the time I landed I had kind of made up my mind that regardless of my trepidation, I had to make the move work one way or another
  • Chattahoochee River – Failing to find my parent’s house on Foursquare, I just checked in at the local park

Some might look at Foursquare and say it’s pointless or over-sharing but, as you can see, it does serve its purpose. In this case it facilitates memory, which is an important, if not sometimes the only benchmark we have for success.

Obviously things worked out for the best.  I’m running a half-marathon, I’ve got my dream job and life is good.

How do I know I’ll keep moving forward? I don’t quite know.  I’ll just have to keep on checking in to see.

Damn You, Borsht-Guzzling Code Monkeys

So, you might notice that the blog looks slightly….ummm, different.

This is because this website, along with several of my other sites, was hacked this weekend by a bunch of borsht-guzzling code monkeys from Russia.  Thanks to them, I had to spend Sunday afternoon going site to site weeding out the bad files.  I also had to find replacement themes that would not be susceptible to the same types of attacks and beef up my server-side security.

This might all sound very foreign to most of you and, I assure you, it was to me as well.  As much as I pride myself on being geeky enough to fix anything web-related, this one was just a little too geeky for me.

Morale of the story – there is none.  Thanks for being patient as I resolve the issues.

Pride/Tribe – Part II: Revenge of the Midtown Traffic

It’s funny how things work out.

Contrary to my well-laid plans, I ending spending the better half of Atlanta Pride on Sunday stuck in traffic in my grandmother’s car.  As much as I wanted to enjoy it, it turns out pride isn’t nearly as fun rolling down West Peachtree in a 10 year-old tan Lexus no matter how many times they play Lady Gaga on the radio.

Instead, a mix of occurrences called my best friend and I out to Vinings (Atlanta’s version of the Bronx). Between that and schlepping my Grandmother, Aunt and cousin to see Wicked at the Fox Theater, the most of the pride parade I got to see consisted of the rental trucks used for the floats trying aimlessly to find their way back to the interstate.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  The Fox run was planned well in advance and I was happy to do it.  The trip out to Vinings was unexpected but turned out to be definitely of benefit to my friend who had been going through a rough patch.

What had stuck in my craw actually occurred the night before on what turned out to be a bad third date. It was one of those situations where we were both trying really hard to be what each other wanted and it was obvious that it wasn’t going to work. I felt crappy enough being the one to say, “let’s just be friends” that getting up the next morning and being “fabulous” was just not on the menu.

Suffice it to say, I woke up on Sunday morning a little frustrated an it just kind of went downhill from there.

Luckily I wasn’t alone.  After we returned, my best friend Grace* and I agreed that we needed to take our friend Karen*, the one we had just met in Vinings, out to drinks and a movie later that evening.  Over wine and flatbread at The Grape in Atlantic Station we all kind of bonded over the frustrations of recently dating a guys that just didn’t live up to expectations.

We ended the night having WAY too much fun at a showing of What’s Your Number, a romantic comedy about screwed up relationships. The irony and appropriateness of how we ended the evening didn’t escape us.

As annoying as it was to miss the parade, I ended up my own little version of pride on Sunday.  Good friends, family and a story worth telling. Isn’t that enough to celebrate not just one day of the year but every day?

*Names changed to protect the “innocent”

Pride/Tribe – Part I

When I was a teenager, finally making it to Atlanta Pride felt like the bravest thing I could possibly do. I never really had any gay friends in high school so gay pride was the one time of year I really felt any connection the gay community at all.

Flash forward 15 years, an internship with a major gay rights organization and four boyfriends and nothing much has changed. In fact, as gay pride rolled around this year on Yom Kippur, I couldn’t help but see the similarities in my relationship with the gay community and my relationship with the Jewish community.

With both, I am proud to say I am a member of a strong community with a legacy of triumph and perseverance. However, in a way, I am at odds with each of them.

Looking around Piedmont Park at the hundreds of white gay men with mussed hair, tank tops and oversized sunglasses I can’t help but think to myself – who the hell are you people?! Where once the rallying cry of gay pride was “diversity and acceptance” it now seems to be “fabulosity through conformity.”

I feel a very similar juxtaposition with the Jewish community.  Despite my family having deep-seeded roots in various congregations, I am still searching for an Atlanta-based congregation that I feel fits with my own version of myself as a Jew.

In both instances, the idea of authenticity and unique expression play an important role in the search for a place to “call my own.”

With everything going on in my life, it’s easy for me feel surrounded at the macro level. I feel enormously lucky to have made connections with an eclectic, diverse group of people from all walks of Atlanta life.  The challenge is getting down to the more basic level of community – one that most people take for granted.

For now though, I’ll leave it at this: I was walking out of Atlanta Pride, yesterday and happen to bump into a friend of mine.  It was late in the day, my Yom Kippur fast was starting to get to me and I was eager to get home to take a nap.  It was completely random but we ended up chatting about one of my groups and how he should come and speak.

Thus is my life these days – completely interconnected despite the randomness.  Now, if I can only make sense out of it I’ll be all good.

The Friggin Peach

I am a logo whore.  There’s no way around it.

Ever since my first blog, I knew that the logo, the branding the look; it was all just as important as the content itself.  So I set out and found myself a designer and the first of “my” logos was born:

About 4 years later, I started my second blog. It was a little different from the first.  It was more mature and more professional.  It was meant to help transition me through business school and into post-MBA life.  I set out, found another designer and another logo:

Finally, I moved back to Atlanta and had my little “identity crisis” and it was time for a new blog and, you guessed it, a new logo.

I contacted Suzanne (who did the marketing diner logo) since I knew she did a little pop-art work on the side.  What I delivered to her wasn’t as much of a creative brief as it was a page and a half long brain dump.

Despite my anal-retentive exacting specifications and changes, we finally finalized the logo last night and – like a good logo whore – I couldn’t wait to show it off.  So, without further ado; the new logo for Just Friggin’ Peachy!

The absolute best things about this logo are that first, it does hit the nail on the head with the attitude of the this blog. Second, it’s kind of Rorschach Test.

If the peach looks like one thing or another, it’s your own fault.  After all, it’s just a  peach…or is it?!

Confessions of a Car Nut N00b

When I first went to work at Brandware Public Relations, I knew I was in for a learning curve. Little did I know I know that curve would require seat belts and paddock access.

Allow me to explain. Brandware Public Relations, by virtue of the background of some of its team members, is an automotive powerhouse in the public relations field.  The person that referred me to Brandware is a car nut, my boss is a car nut and yes, many of our clients are car nuts.  On the other hand; I owned a car for maybe 2 ½ of the 12 years I was away from Atlanta.

It’s not that I don’t love cars or didn’t study the industry in-depth in business school. Auto enthusiast culture was just never much on my radar screen to the extent that it is for industry insiders.

Flash forward to this past weekend and Petit Le Mans – my first car race. Walking through the paddock, taking in the sights and sounds of top-performing super-cars, watching, in awe, as the pit teams serviced cars with speed and precision that would put any six-sigma black belt to shame.  I can now see what the big deal is.

httpvh://youtu.be/WCEihyTH8-s

At this point, I am reasonably sure my co-workers and the clients that know me best are laughing their collective buts off or looking at this post.  It’s the “aww – look at the cute car n00b” expression that I’ve become quite familiar with. In fact, I’ve never been shy that CPG is more “my speed.”

However after this weekend, I’m definitely starting to catch on. In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby, “I wanna’ go FAST!”

Be Irrepressible

One year ago, today I sat in my friend Amanda’s apartment in DC and decided to “bite the bullet” and move back home to Atlanta.

It was one of those “wine and empathy” kinds of nights. I had just left what was supposed to be my “post-MBA dream job” and was a little frustrated at myself and the situation for falling short of my expectations. Even though I had final-round interviews set up with a couple of firms in Atlanta later that week, I wasn’t really sure if this was the right path.

I went through a lot after that night in my friends’ apartment and not all of it was good.  There was a lot of self-doubt, a little anger and a lot of soul-searching. Luckily though, I landed more on my feet than I could have ever imagined. I ended up in a position that afforded me the chance to see what I could do, without limits.

It’s a pretty cool feeling.

This blog is about telling the next chapter in my story.  Sure, I’ll relate things from the past and readers will definitely get a heavy dose of my point of view on things. Before I completely close the previous chapter though, I do want to say something.  Things would not have turned out as good as they did without a belief that being irrepressible is a good thing.

In fact, if I’ve learned anything in the past year – it’s that irrepressible is something everyone should aspire to. People should be irrepressible about their own instincts.  They should be irrepressible about finding a better way of doing things.  They should be irrepressible in standing up for their own value regardless of some that might say otherwise.

Life is too short to live in a homogenous fantasy that says that you don’t have the right to disagree. Being irrepressible is the only true way to ensure that you are living up to your own full potential.

I now think back on that night in DC and realize it was a turning point. Sure, things won’t always go my way.  However, the experience of moving back has validated that though it might be the bravest and craziest thing you can ever be, the fight for being yourself is worth it.

SO what if I am outspoken, irrepressible and more valuable to the teams I work with because of it.  I embrace those traits even if it means I have to search harder for a place that fits with that mentality.  The rest…well, it’s just friggin’ peachy ;-).

The Barista Blues

Sometimes you just have to vent your workplace frustration…in song.

Case in point; take Christopher Cristwell – a Starbucks barista in California who posted this immensely funny video about two months ago:

httpvh://youtu.be/MUTrJW-0xtc

Clad only in his underwear and signature green apron, he sang about the trials and frustrations of dolling out gallons of java at the worlds largest coffee chain.

Of course, the video got him fired.

Normally I try to stay out of post-gaming issues like this mainly because you never know when you might be caught up in one, yourself. This one is unique, though and I feel compelled to comment.

Compared to some employee rant videos Chris’ rant was rather tame and even entertaining. What’s more, he seems to be genuinely grateful for his time working at Starbucks and speaks passionately about the need for some sort of change. Though I would stop short of calling him the Che Guevara of the postmodern era, he may be onto something.

If there’s one singular truth about rants like this it’s that no matter how outlandish the claim, it’s that there’s usually a nugget of truth the company can learn from guys like Chris. Instead of firing him, why not take him off the java line and put him front and center as the face of their employee improvement team?

Think it sounds outlandish – what about hackers? Most of the great hackers end up working for IT security firms and become the face of turning a threat into an advantage. Starbucks should do the same with this kid. He’s creative, he’s passionate and hell…he’s not bad on the eyes.

Starbucks could score some much-needed PR points by positioning themselves as a true engager rather than a monolithic brand trying to protect it’s ivory tower.

Labor Day

At the end of a crazy summer, sometimes you just have to get away.

20110904-040936.jpg
The view from my mini-vacation.

Poodles & Pickup Trucks

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Though Ansley Park is usually one of the more “gentile” neighborhoods of the city, it doesn’t completely exempt it from the quirks that, let’s face it, define Atlanta.

Take, for instance, this shot I caught on my way to work.  Yes, this how we roll; take a really expensive purebred and dump them in the back of a pickup.  Stay classy, Atlanta commuters.  Stay classy!

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