“Remember Where you Come From”

Ah yes, the phrase that every girl or boy hears from their parents, teachers and mentors before they go off into the world to become part of the system, or manipulate the system.  The phrase is supposed to ground the wide-eyed new professional, making sure that if their dreams are realized, the success does not float to their heads.

I appreciate that phrase.

If it wasn’t for my upbringing, my teachers, mentors and friends, I am not sure where I’d be right now.

Because of them, like FDR ( haha my only thing in common with that great man) my confidence has been built up enough that I whole-heartedly believe in what John and I are doing, and sincerely believe that we’ll succeed.

Small business, and those that love it, have a wonderful sense of returning appreciation to those people and organizations that have helped them along the way. It is one of my strongest desires to keep that sense as time progresses.

Next week I have the opportunity, for the second year in a row, to give back to a wonderful organization that has been one of the cornerstones in my professional development. Next week is Week 1 of Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) held at Lycoming College in the Little League Capital of the World – Williamsport, Pennsylvania. PFEW is a week-long program where high school sophomores and juniors learn about free enterprises from businesspeople, and go through a business simulation.

Why do I have such an appreciation for the program? Well:

-I went through the program when I was a rising junior in Moon Area High School (Go Tigers!)
-While I was a broke college student at Elon, the PFEW crew invited me back during the summer to work as a resident assistant
-When I reached out to PFEW to help promote our crazy idea of starting a business, not only did they give me an opportunity to write an article in the newsletter, but invited me to be a Company Advisor
-Last but certainly not least, during my first go-through of being a CA, I may have found the most wonderful woman in my life

With all that, I think PFEW deserves more than just a ‘thank you’. I want to show them my gratitude.

I get to assist in molding the minds of the next generation (add menacing laugh here). Scary? To some. Beneficial? Hopefully.

Small business needs to support free enterprise. We need to give the necessary knowledge and encouragement that business, no matter how big and small, can do wonders here. That’s my message.

May this serve as an encouragement to spread your message. But before you start just anywhere, start at home first.


Confessions of a Small Biz Owner…and The Charlotte Agency

We have been in business for about 1.5 years now. Things are going great. We have a solid base of clients, we’re knocking out sweet creative, and John and I are not sick of each other…yet.

We’ve been sponsors for BarCamp 3.

We decided to be the marketing sponsor for Ignite Charlotte 1 (make sure you come!).

And we love our teammates at Area Fifteen.

However, with some of the business meetings we have had with others in the last couple weeks, I noticed that we have not been getting our message across clearly. Note, this only applies to those over the age of 40, everyone else younger has seemed to understand our principles quite clear.

So allow me to further set in place what JDW is proud of, is trying to do, and why it believes in Charlotte small business.

Proud to be Affordable for Small Business
Our primary focus is to help and partner with new and small businesses in Charlotte. Therefore, it is no surprise to us that we work with small to medium sized marketing budgets. We are okay with that. Our business model is flexible enough that we can take on those kind of projects. Working with small businesses also provides an education piece about marketing in general, and marketing agencies in specific. That’s fun to us. Sure, we’d love to land a piece of the Under Armour account (cough, cough), but we know that’s in due time.

Far From Being Money-Hungry
“How do you guys expect to make money/get rich?” I’m quite tired of that question. In the past couple of meetings (with older, white gentlemen) that question continually appears. In all honesty, if we thought we were going to get rich quickly, we would not have placed small business as our primary base. End of story. We wholeheartedly believe that if we can assist in making someone’s dream come true, they will assist with realizing ours. Of course dedicating our main efforts to new and small biz requires a little more creativity than other industries, but we prefer the challenge and the reward in succeeding, rather than doing the easy stuff. Business is supposed to provide a solution to a problem, and the profit is the delightful by-product that helps with continuing to provide those problem-solving skills. We try to not lose sight of that.

Small Business Works
And JDW: The Charlotte Agency joined the Area Fifteen community in Optimist Park because we all believe in that three-word phrase. No city can survive without a thriving small business community. Charlotte has lost sight of that. It is our business community’s goal to bring that back into focus.

Why Not Charlotte?
Forgive me for digressing from my parallel subheadings (Ms. Riney, I apologize!) but that question is the only question we continue to challenge. Charlotte deserves more. The small business community deserves more. The art community deserves more.

We demand more. So instead of waiting for the powers-that-be in the Queen City to get their act together, we’re doing it ourselves. We’re wide-eyed and absent from all the red-tape, disillusionment and boring ideas. We’re trying by all means necessary to avoid our minds from being poisoned by those Good Ol’ Boys who think their way is the only way.

Oh no my friend, it’s our turn.

I hope that answers your questions.

Support the Arts!

I’ll just add my minimal voice to all the big voices proclaiming that the arts and creativity are the only ways our society can enjoy life. Getting rich and gathering killer portfolios are fun- I guess- but watching your net worth climb doesn’t give you the same feeling like watching a theater show or musical. Or participating in a theater workshop. Or dancing.

Or reading.

Being at Area Fifteen, we seem to have more of a connection with those who appreciate the arts than others. Which would make sense. But all of us are exposed to arts every single day. Instead of celebrating it, many choose to ignore it. And that is sad. We have the power to not only support those in the arts, but to add art in our daily life.

Physics, Mathematics, geography, economics, sociology and most disciplines we know today came from Philosophy. People were asking questions about how and why the world as we know works today. Why people do certain things. Why government is the way it is. We as a people have gotten away from that. Ask a couple of questions- heck, just ask one- a day about your environment.

From publishing books, to writing something in a journal, the act of writing increases one’s thinking ability. It documents tales, thoughts and tradition. Writing is a crucial piece to our species, because it allows generations to look back and take an in-depth glimpse of history. Writing is also therapeutic, and a wonderful way to converse. Get blogging, or write in a personal journal, or write on a side of a building. I don’t care where you do it, just write.

Personally one of my favorites. We take each other (and gasp! sometimes ourselves) way too seriously. If your goal in life is to be as wealthy and powerful as possible- or if you have no goal at all- I would be pressed to believe that you are not playing very much. Try seeing the world as a newborn. Teach yourself how to do old things in a new way,  and new things in a fun way. Imagine. Move your body in a shape it hasn’t been before. Play a game. Create a game. Laugh.

I think this is the combination of think + play. Making an intentional effort to bring forth something new for the benefit of yourself and/or others. Creativity is sorely needed, especially in the United States. Especially in Charlotte. Variety is needed in arts, industry and thought. Conversation needs to be started, not just with the powers-that-be either. Based on the last three years, we have seen the success of those talks.

Which brings me to why I love and hate social media all at the same time. It provides a way for rapid communal consumption, yet many of those like-minded people never get a chance to meet each other face to face. And further still, those people who disagree with each other can effectively shun all dissenting opinions, or respond so violently that it cuts further discussion short and debases the topic. Face to face communication is still very important to our society. Get away from the computer. Go out and touch someone.




P.S. We never turn a visitor away..if you would like to talk more about this, feel free to stop by.

Who Doesn’t Love a Little Propaganda?

The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”

That doesn’t sound too bad now, does it?

Propaganda, I believe, gets a bad rap. Of course propaganda doesn’t allow two-way communication, that is not what it is meant for. Studiers of communication theory learn about many different ways to communicate. Propaganda is one of them. Is it right? That’s a difficult question to answer. I believe that there are certain instances where propaganda can be fruitful, and ways it can be damaging.

Edward Bernays, the man known as the “Father of public relations” was a fan of propaganda. What he was against was, which I would believe the majority of people are, is what he called “impropaganda”. Bernays believed this to be “using propaganda techniques not in accordance with good sense, good faith, or good morals.”

Now if we looked at the Merriam-Webster definition of propaganda, which is in the beginning of the article, we can see that the sentence covers both propaganda and impropaganda. Whereas the former would be spreading information and “helping” while the latter fulfills the “injuring.”

So when we hear the terms ‘NObama’, ‘Obamacare’, ‘Teabaggers’, ‘Death Tax’, ‘Checkbook tax’, so forth and so on, is that simply political chatter?

Or simply propaganda? Or impropaganda?

A Single Message

Propaganda can be effective because it gets behind a single message, for a specific period of time, to a specific audience. It consistently pushes out information centered around one line of thought. It pays no regard to any feedback, and continues until it gets the message across.

When Propaganda is Used

If used at all, it should be used carefully. Due to the “womp womp” attitude surrounding the word, propaganda can only be heard in the hallways and classrooms of universities and institutions, or if accessible, government chambers.

Why is this post even necessary, you may be asking if you have gotten this far. People (even communicators, even though they learned this) are afraid to touch this issue. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the negative connotation is enough to scare away even the bravest and biggest thought leader in marketing and public relations. Or, maybe they are afraid to showing light to what businesses and political machines are doing.

But then again, maybe not.

In any case, I would advise you to continue to keep your mind on a swivel. Continue thinking for yourself and questioning everything you see. Ask why certain businesses or organizations engage in certain things.

Marketing and communicating is fun, and it can be even more exciting once both our audience and communicators wake up.

Thoughts appreciated.