This proves I don’t have a Southern accent

The southern town I grew up in is so small we actually have a town song that we would get together and sing every year (you think I’m kidding?! – It starts off “Ashland, Ashland, center of the universe. Ashland, VA my hometown.” – you just can’t make that stuff up.)

Now that I live in the “big city” I’ve had to work hard to get rid of my accent. And as this quiz proves – I have! Granted I still throw in an occasional “ya’ll” and “sugar” just to throw people off.

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)Midland

(“Midland” is not necessarily the same thing as “Midwest”) The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it’s a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn’t mean you’re from the Midland.

Personality Test Results

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This got me thinking. When I read blogs, I assume everyone talks just like I do. I read in my own voice – but chances are there are some funky accents out there. What if all bloggers added a “welcome to my blog” podcast on their side bar (please don’t have it play every time I visit your blog – that’s just downright annoying). That way, I could play it and imagine your voice while I’m reading instead of my own.

Boomers – Here’s Why Gen-Y is So (Selfish, Independent, Ambitious….)

On the forums on MyRagan.com (myspace for MarComm) Kristen Ridley posted a hilarious tongue-in-cheek letter to all Millennials asking why:

“it often appears that you don’t care about anyone but yourself, and believe that you should always get exactly what you want, when you want it regardless of any impacts on other people. What are we missing that would help explain what seems to be a shocking lack of interest in the world around you and your ability to make it better? Because you are so equipped to do just that if only you would choose to. I mean, you have youth and energy on your side (and let me assure you-we envy you that because at our advanced age with those years of excessive drinking behind us we are tired!). Not to mention that all this technology you’re so fond of means you could organize people and actually change the world from your living rooms! Not like us old fogeys who actually had to go out and demonstrate and get arrested and stuff”

Here is my response……

Dear Digital Immigrant,

It is true – the dissonance between our generations has risen to alarming proportions. And your invitation for an open dialogue is most welcomed.

When I was a child (granted, it wasn’t that long ago) my mother told me that insults are just jealousy in disguise. Perhaps your attempts to speak down to our Online addiction (at least it’s not drugs – we “just said ‘NO!'” thanks to Nancy) are simply a big, green envy monster rearing its ugly head?

But I know this is not the case because of your hard work and honest attempts to assimilate to the culture we’ve created.

So you’d like an explanation for our ambition and independence? Let’s start with corporations such as Enron, Worldcom, and Arthur Andersen who were shining examples of the rewards we can expect after dedicating a lifetime of service to an organization.

Not to mention the fact that you’ve been telling us since birth that we must prepare to contribute 7.65% of every hard-earned penny we will ever earn to a Social Security program that will be completely dissolved by the time we’re old enough to participate.

So we’ve learned that the only person we can rely on is ourselves. If we “pay our dues” (I think that’s what you call it) we end up bitter, tired and jaded knowing that we’ve watched a thousand better opportunities pass us by.

We will continue to seize the day, blur the lines between business and pleasure, and keep you on your technological toes. When the tools exist to produce more while appreciating the world and all its beauty – spending our short, sweet moments in a cubicle seems like an inferno ring only Dante could describe.

With much respect for your struggles,

A Digital Native

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

The Friendly DMV (no, really!)

smiley-sticker-004-thumbnail.jpgThis afternoon I stopped by the Alexandria, VA Department of Motor Vehicles expecting long lines, rude attendants and a big hassle.

I walked in and was politely greeted by a smiling woman at the information booth.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it? How can I help you today?”

At which point I mentioned that I needed to change my address since I just moved to the area.

“Don’t forget about your vehicle registration too. Here’s the form for that as well.”

“OK” I said to myself,  “maybe she’s just new here. I’ve never seen a DMV employee that happy.” I sat down, filled out my paperwork and waited for my number to be called.

After only 8 minutes I was speaking to the teller, a gentleman who was just as friendly as the lady at the information booth. At the end of the transaction he gave me a handshake and said, “Thanks, you’ll need to bring this form to the voter  registration station. It’s located just over there – have a great day.”

At this point I began to get a little suspicious. Aren’t these people supposed to hate their jobs? It feels so strange to get such excellent service at the DMV.

Still, the woman at the voter registration booth topped them all. After reviewing my paperwork, she placed an orange smiley sticker on my hand.

“What’s that for?”  I asked.

“You get a sticker because you completed your paperwork correctly.”

Really?! Cool. I know it seems elementary, but it was nice to be acknowledged. A smile, sunny disposition and a simple sticker was more effective (and way cheaper) than a marketing effort like direct mail or advertising claiming to have “great customer service.”

I walked away feeling like I needed to be pinched my experience was so satisfying. Maybe I moved to the Twilight Zone?

The Secret to Spectacular Writing

Idea PaintingMany of us search for the perfect words to help sell our product or service. We tweak the recipe until we have a proprietary blend of personality and professionalism. The words jump off the page and the reader feels connected. That is great writing.

I’ve discovered a secret during my career as a copywriter and marketing coach. Toning ideas down is a heck of a lot easier than jazzing them up.

My first few projects started from a logical point of view. I wrote and edited at the same time as most people do. The words were acceptable, but they lacked that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. It needed some sparkle – but adding sparkle to swill isn’t easy.

One day I decided to give my thinking a makeover. I set a goal to find all the outrageous ideas lurking in the far corners of my brain and get them out of my head and onto my computer screen.

I decorated a piece of card stock with silly symbols and the words “JUST THINK” and covered my computer screen. Somehow the paper removed the tiny editor that sat somewhere in my head trashing ideas before they even got to the screen. Since I couldn’t see my work, all my crazy ideas (not just the logical ones) made the journey from my brain, through my fingers and onto the computer.

The result? I discovered many of the ideas that normally wouldn’t have made the cut were more effective than the so-called logical ideas. With a little tweaking and toning down I had writing that worked. The process also saved me time and was fun to boot.

So the next time you’re experiencing writer’s block try covering your screen and opening your mind. Then sit back and watch your ideas blossom.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Write while the juice is in ya

When I talk to my friends who have a “regular job” (meaning they sit at an office from 9 to 5 M-F) they are often mesmerized at my hours.

I like to say that my office is wherever my brain and laptop are and I work when there’s work to be done. This tends to send the misconception that I go out and sit at coffee shops for most of the day not really doing anything. However, they don’t see this side – the fact that I’m up at 3:24 in the morning because I had an idea for a client that I needed to get down right away.

Why? Because right now the juice is in me.

Being a writer is somewhat of a two-sided coin. I write every day just to keep myself disciplined. I also consider myself “on call” with the muse. If an idea pops into my head, I’ll work with it right away (no matter what time it is) because I know that I’ll never be able to replicate the vigor of my original thought.

So today my office hours are at 3:30 in the morning. But hey, it still beats the heck out of a desk job!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Professional Millennial: My life in Gen Y

I have a secret…I’m a millennial.

I knew how to operate a computer before I knew how to write. One of my first “real” dates was with someone I met Online. Every research paper I wrote started with an Internet search.

Maybe this explains my ridiculous work ethic, my uncompromising idealism, my unwaivering integrity – it’s a part of my generation.

As Claire Raines explains in her article at generationsatwork.com, Millennials (born between 1980 – 2000) are the

“hottest commodity on the job market since Rosie the Riveter. They’re sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential, and achievement-oriented. They’ve always felt sought after, needed, indispensable. They are arriving in the workplace with higher expectations than any generation before them—and they’re so well connected that, if an employer doesn’t match those expectations, they can tell thousands of their cohorts with one click of the mouse.”

And you know what – she’s right. Here’s my story…

In high-school & college I graduated near the top of my class, was in too many extracurriculars to mention, and earned a darned good living working part-time as a telemarketer for an insurance agency.

After college, I entered corporate America and was severely disappointed by the “do-what-I-say-because-I’m-the-boss” attitude that many of my employers exhibited.

Like many Millennials, I job hopped until I found a company that operated with integrity and purpose. Within three months I was the top selling rep in my office. Within eight months I was #3…nationally.

I was wooed away by a company that shall remain nameless and was slotted to earn well over $100,000 a year before I was 26. Because of my ethics and integrity I made a tough choice and walked away because I refused to “sell out.”

Without skipping a beat I started Write Ideas Marketing – which has been profitable from day one. I now get paid to think of ideas that my prior employers not only had at their disposal for free, but actually told me “would never work.” Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

Are you managing a millennial?

If so, I can tell you from personal experience that most of what I’ve read about our generation is true. We are driven, confident and won’t settle for anything less than ideal.

The secret? Keep us challenged. Mentor us. Inspire us to dream bigger. And make things fast-paced. We’re used to instant gratification and find it hard to “wait in line” or deal with bureaucracy. If you don’t, you may see your top talent walk right out your door.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

No more text-n-drive!! Jott.com introduces hands-free emailing

trafficIt happens every time.

I’m sitting in the car on the DC beltway and *smack* – an idea. Out of nowhere the perfect solution to a problem or a fabulous tagline for a client will magically appear out of thin air. Only problem is – I’m going 85 mph and there’s no way I can write it down (that is without risking a 47 car pileup).

Never fear – jott.com is here.

Since I subscribed (for *free*) to jott.com I can now call a toll free number from my cell phone (I have it set as number 8 on speed dial. That’s how much I use it). I say my idea into my phone and *poof* – my words are transcribed and automatically sent to my e-mail.

Fabulous!

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com