I am going to delete the Facebook app from my phone. WAIT! I am not deleting my Facebook account. Oh, the horrors. I am just getting rid of having access to it 24-7. Here’s why:

1. BEING PRESENT When I go somewhere, I want to be focusing on the people I am with, not what other people (that are not anywhere near me) are doing. A “Live in the Moment” thing. Many times, I have been at a restaurant or party with great friends and incredible conversation.  At some point, someone ultimately picks up their phone and checks Facebook (including me). I have a pretty good life, a great family, lots of friends and plenty of fun. Frankly when I am out and about, I want to be focusing on just that, vs. thinking about what other people are doing half a world away.  Facebook has become a crutch for even the smallest of pauses in what started out as great discussions.

2. BEING IDLE As a full-time working mom of two and a wanna-be wine writer (but really more of a wine drinker), I have very little down time. I am actually typing this blog post on my laptop at my daughter’s softball practice. When I’m at home or work, I constantly have something to focus my brain on.  In the rare moment that I don’t have something to do immediately in front of me, I find myself popping open Facebook on my phone to see what other people are focusing on. Stoplights, waiting in line for coffee, maybe or maybe not in the potty. There is always something to look at on Facebook. But being idle is to help the brain function and regenerate. I personally like it when my brain is functioning, n’est pas?  Remember the days when one would just sort of un-focus and stare out into space while getting gas or waiting for take-out at the Pho place? I want that to be me. Idle.

3. BEING PRIVATE I don’t know about you, but those sponsored posts are starting to get a little creepy. They are annoying of course, because they are the first things I see on my mobile newsfeed. However, they are freaking dead on. Those smart f*ckers at Facebook know that I am in the market to buy Moscow Mule Copper Cups even before I do.  Are they monitoring my ginger beer and Tito’s purchases?  Did they listen in on my conversation with a friend about how I can’t wait for this refreshing and delicious cocktail to be served at a party? I am scared and frightened.

4. BEING DIFFERENT I actually (really!) do a lot of work on Facebook, managing a couple different Social Media programs for my and . However, the Pages App takes care of that. I can post and interact just as easily. The Messenger App allows me to participate in group conversations and it comes up like a text on my phone. Bonus! Like iMessage, Facebook Messenger doesn’t use up any text data fees.  With these two functionalities available in other apps, removing the main Facebook app won’t put me behind at work or ruin my social life. If I absolutely must post a picture of the adorable thing my kid is doing RIGHT NOW, Instagram baby.  If I have something so important to say that the world must know IMMEDIATELY, I can always set up my Twitter account to post on my page for me.

I fear this exercise will be difficult for me. I am fully aware that I am addicted to what other people are doing. I am a total sucker when to comes to the stupid shit like buzzfeed’s top 21 types of mustaches. And the mushy video of total strangers kissing for the first time. And pretty much anything Jimmy Fallon. Wait, Jimmy Fallon is not stupid. But time suckage. Need to stop the time suckage.

While contemplating this decision, I almost convinced myself it was impossible. I was going to miss those cool “check-in” connections. ”Hey I’m at the Justin Timberlake Jay-Z concert too!” But I got to thinking, in reality, aren’t those interactions sort of awkward? Just because a “friend” happens to be at the same place at the same time, why is there an unspoken obligation to see each other? We didn’t come together. I probably have not seen that person in forever, maybe not since high school.  If I really wanted to be with that person, at that place and at that time, well, wouldn’t I be? Ultimately the “where are you??” posting on someone’s cool picture of JT and JZ busting it out fades away or results in a “sorry we didn’t connect at the show” type of message.  Awkward!

So that’s it. The app is gone. I pressed that little wiggly blue box. It’s over. And I think/hope I will be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, co-worker and friend for it.

I still have the iPad app though. That does NOT count.

The Top 10 Things I Did to Finally Write That Book

We all have a story to tell. And living in Silicon Valley, our stories usually center around innovation. I’m a “chupacabra” of sorts, since I was born and raised in Palo Alto and decided to stay after college to pursue a career in high tech.

I cut my teeth on some no-name startups, grew up at Adobe, became an evangelist at Apple and am now a “mompreneur” doing the contract gig. And like most working moms, I’m trying to figure out the whole work, life balance and not lose my identity.

I volunteer on a couple boards, help out at my children’s school, and I’m involved in my community. But every step of the way, I feel like I’m losing a piece of myself. Who have I become? What is missing from my life? I have a great career, family, and friends but what is that one thing that makes me feel whole?

I LOVE to tell a good story. I can’t count the number of times in high school, my imagination got me out of trouble. I observe life and rethink the possibilities through my writing. This passion began in my youth, in the privacy of my bedroom with a journal. When high school came along, my creative writing took a backseat to boys and homework. And then with college, the start of my career, a marriage and two young children, life got in the way. Would I ever write that book?

Then I began to think about my career and how I had created some real life stories with all of you. If I twisted things around, the fictional outcomes were endless. I slowly began to write whenever I had a free moment. You see, for me, I discovered  the writing process soothes my soul from the chaos of life. I can transport myself to another world, if only for 30 minutes. So, several years ago, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I decided to write that book.

Last week, I finally did it. I my debut novel, , a high tech thriller about the inner workings of a Silicon Valley start-up on the eve of its IPO. It’s been a labor of love that took YEARS of hard work.

The first question most people ask is “How did you do it?” That would require a long discussion over a bottle or two of wine. For this blog, I’ve come up with a list of The Top 10 Things I Did to Finally Write That Book.

  1. Just Write! Easier said than done but it’s true. All you need to do is come up with an idea and start typing.
  2. Get a Support Network: You need at least one person in your life to support your dream. My husband was that person. And I put him through hell and back but he was my anchor, reassuring me ever step of the way that I could do it.
  3. Make Time: Carve out time every week to write. I work full time. I volunteer. I have two kids, a husband, a house, a new puppy, extended family and I wake up most days at that crack of dawn to exercise. My life is booked solid and I don’t even drink coffee — crazy right? But in between these events, I make myself write. And I always carry my laptop.
  4. Observe Life: Wherever you are, look, listen and feel. You will find the best material all around you. And you can capture any moment on your phone through a photo, video or your own words.
  5. Attend Writing Workshops: Learn the craft of writing for your genre. My favorite workshop was the in Marin County. I got the opportunity to spend three nights and four days immersed with people like myself and published authors. After that weekend, I realized I had found my tribe. I was born to be a writer.
  6. Read Books: Read books in your genre and see how other authors craft their stories. This is the cheapest and easiest way to learn the art of storytelling.
  7. Meet Authors: Build connections with published authors to gain their insight and advice. Attend readings or workshops. Don’t become a stalker. Be smart and ask questions to build a rapport. Almost all successful authors will help aspiring writers because at some point in their career, they were like you. Thank you , and .
  8. Know that the 1st Draft Is CRAP: I’m just being honest. No author can write words of gold the first time. The point here is don’t get lost in the process of editing. That can take you down a rabbit hole of distraction—and I know this from personal experience. Just complete the first draft and get the story down. Then you can begin the editing process.
  9. Be Open to Feedback: There is always room for improvement. But you need to be able to accept constructive feedback as you edit your book. Find a writing group to test your work and learn from others. But at some point, you will need to go beyond family and friends. Hire an editor who knows your genre and will be brutally honest. As famed novelist and screenwriter once said, “If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”
  10. Never Give Up: It took me YEARS to write . And it was not easy. Life always has a way of interrupting well thought plans. But stay on point and get it done!

The above is just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully it will resonate with some of you. Although I won’t be giving up my day job any time soon, I will continue to write — book #2 is already in the works. I’ll leave you with one last thought. When I worked at Adobe, they had a marketing campaign that said, “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do it.” If you have a dream of writing that book, what’s holding you back? Just go write!

Millennial Real-Time Lessons Learned

by Guest Author Amy Kweskin  –  

As a full time instructor in the Fashion Marketing and Management department at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco, I present and translate the ins and outs of social media marketing and online advertising. With an MA in Arts Administration and a successful career as a strategic planner to non-profit arts and culture organizations, I use to wonder how in the world I could be teaching in a fashion department. Thankfully, I have been able to translate my cultural management expertise to the business of fashion. The bottom-line is that working with creative businesses makes you flexible and solution-focused. This is the learning I pass on to my students.

Frankly, my millennial students are often the ones teaching me. What I’ve realized is that they are on the bleeding edge of social media usage and what I present to them is the history of and strategies for successful campaigns so that they can make intelligent choices about how to reach their audiences.

Although it may be a teaching challenge, what I love the most is that it is almost impossible to create a lesson plan in this ever-changing world of social media and online advertising. For example, I was teaching my students how to purchase ads on Facebook at the start of a four-hour class. As they attempted to grasp CPC and CPM options, all along blaming me for the lack of simplicity, we took a 30-minute class break. When we returned and logged back on to Facebook the ad-purchasing interface had changed. This was one of those learning opportunities.

“Everyone, welcome to the world of online advertising where everything and anything can change without a moment’s notice. Imagine if this was your full time job and you had to explain to your manager or client that all of your advertising planning had to be thrown out the window and that your budgeting model was useless.”

Today, a recent grad stopped in to say hello during my entrepreneurship class. She asked, “Can I get your materials on Google Adwords? I’m trying to get a job.” “Sure”, I told her, “but my materials are six months old and probably useless.”

All I can hope is that my millennial students will devour real-time learning opportunities and reflect on the marketing acumen that we discussed in classes. Yes, the world of online social media marketing and advertising may be continuously changing, but at least best practices of strategy development will consistently provide these budding fashion marketers with a foundation from which to grow, intelligently.