So You Want to be a Leader…? Recap of Elton’s Leadership Talk.

Reposted from Jacksonville, FL (October 22, 2013) by yours truly.

Recently I’ve been attending different conferences, and I would like to share my most recent experience with you all!

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the UNF Leadership Summit (SWOOP). I enjoyed listening to the panel of leaders that morning, winning tickets to the San Marco theater (when I say I enjoyed winning tickets, I mean I screamed and everyone else stared in silence), and even my breakout session focusing on outliers, but I took away the most from the last talk by keynote speaker, our co-founder, Elton Rivas. Here are the 9 main points I picked up about how to be a great leader. (Sorry it’s not a more catchy number like 5, or 10)

1. “The world needs more GREAT Leaders, not good leaders, GREAT leaders.” I make this point first because Elton opened up with it, but also because it’s very important to first realize the NEED for great leaders in our world.

2. Platforms are built for great leaders, not the other way around. Cities, industries, technology and academia today are platforms. These platforms are built so leaders can grab the opportunity, and do whatever the heck they want to do with them. Elton went on to describe how so many people get it backwards. The world, or at least the platform, is your oyster!

3. Follow your “gut.” Elton shared his stories about having a mango stand in Miami with a man named Manny (alliteration, anyone?), opening a cat bed and breakfast, following a girl to school, and working for “corporate.” After his corporate job stuck him in a back office facing a wall, he finally realized that corporate was not for him, so he got out of there! Later, a deal went bad and his ego plummeted, so he thought about jumping into the corporate world again- but he had a bad gut feeling about it. Luckily he didn’t take the job, because 6 months later the company went crashing!

3. Make time for yourself, and don’t apologize for it. As a leader,  you need time to be in your own head. Elton shared his love for triathlons, but your hobby can be anything. It can be anything that brings you to your “happy place,” a true time for you to be alone with your thoughts.

4. Jacksonville is the best city in the world! No, but seriously. Realize that where you are currently is the platform for you to be a leader; you don’t have to be halfway across the world to do something great. You can start right here in Jacksonville, the gateway to Florida! Hello: CoWork Jax, One Spark, etc… HOW WONDERFUL! Jacksonvillians are known to be open minded and brilliant – we are go-getters, changers for the good. As Jen Jones said at the #welovejax event: “The negative perception of Jacksonville is all smoke in mirrors. Be the change you wish to see in the community.” My love for Jacksonville is a post for another day! 🙂

5. Solve the Need. Elton, with a few other co-founders, opened CoWork Jax. There was a need for a safe spot for people to conspire and build. That was the first piece to the puzzle. Then he and a few other co-founders struck again with One Spark, and created the world’s first crowd funded festival. There was a need for a rallying crowd, a positive ego booster, a place to make people first.

6. Understand that there are 4 different types of leaders, and identify accordingly.

  • Chaos Charger: this person thrives in an open ended unstructured environment, creates their own mold, has the ability to get a group of people behind a cause.
  • Boundary Definer: this person needs some kind of parameter. Are they leading people to change Jacksonville or the entire world?
  • Directional Leader: after you tell this person what they need to be doing, they are going to create teams, delegate and organize a project. They have the ability to give direction.
  • Critique: this person can be positive or negative. One critique is mad that they were not asked to be a part of your project and will criticize from a distance, and the other critique, the loving type, will tell you how your project could go better in an objective way and why.

All 4 leaders are important to have, and they all work in entirely different ways.

7. A Leader must understand the following elements:

  • Every great leader runs into a wall of fear before making that first move. Instead of letting it cripple you and your dreams, turn fear into the flame under your behind and let it ignite you to take a step in the right direction.
  • Love is the most important thing there is. You must love what you lead. How else will you persuade others of its importance, or motivate others to rally behind you as you pursue your dream?
  • Know when to say stop. Say stop when your project is going the opposite direction of the greater goal; Say stop when you physically can’t add anything else to your to do list. (See #3)
  • Lastly, have a burning passion. Elton put it this way,”If you’re really passionate, eventually something good will come out of it.” And I can’t help but think of the quote from the Apple Commercial (cheesy, I know, but I LOVE it). Leaders are innately curious beings.

8. Know your personal definition of success. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the purpose? What should the end result be? Then share your success with other people.

9. Stop talking about what you want to do, and DO IT. Elton mentioned that he got to meet one of his role models, Alan Webber of Fast Company Magazine. Webber told him about the first time he talked to Steve Jobs – Jobs said “Verbs beat Nouns”

“Leadership becomes the bi-product of action. Commit to something you’re really passionate about for a year, give it your all, and see what happens. Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive, find that and then GO DO THAT, because what the world needs is for more people to come alive.”

STOP TALKING, and START DOING. Cheers to the crazy ones.

Thank you Elton for your talk, I truly enjoyed it. For everyone else, what are your thoughts on leadership? Any advice?

Until next time,



A Love Story Gone Bad.

I fell in love with a bank teller once, or maybe that’s not the title, because he worked in an office of his own.

It felt like I walked into our first date. We shook hands, made direct eye contact the whole session, but where were the flowers? What’s your name again?

He asked too many questions about hobbies and dreams I had. Is this the norm of bankers? Was he really into my Audrey Hepburn graphic tee tucked into my patterned blue hi low skirt? Maybe it was the way my hair fell, that he had to know more about me.

Were we flirting or were  you give me your sales pitch?

Google defines flirting: “behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.”

Did it bother you that I didn’t have a credit card and knew nothing about credit? How many questions did I ask? I wasn’t trying to be cute, those were all very genuine and thoughtful questions regarding credit.

After picking out my Georgia Bull Dawg Debit Card, he asked me, “What else do you like?” I’m assuming he meant besides the Dawgs.

This question should always be easy, but any time someone asks, I forget what I like. After the longest 5 seconds of silence in my life, I answer, “I also like the Jaguars…. and writing… I have a blog… Word Vomit”

When is there a time to brag about yourself? Maybe during TED applications, that’s when, but not here, not to this bank teller. How old are you?

What once was love, now felt like hate and mockery.

Well I got news for you, bow man.

It’s weird you lived in Athens, and you’re a Florida Gator fan.

Your bow tie was strange, but you were cute.

So maybe it wasn’t love, maybe it was just too weird of a instance not to notice.

Looking back, I mean, if he asked me out, I would say yes.


Mind Over Stress

Over the weekend, I downloaded the “TED” app, and started scrolling through new talks I wanted to spend my Sunday afternoon watching. They are so addicting. I scrolled through and saw… “How to make stress your friend,” and immediately pressed play! If you are a follower of my blog, you’ll realize a constant theme in my life is stress.

This talk has totally changed my approach to handling stress, thanks to Kelly McGonigal. She goes over many statistics and studies that prove that stress doesn’t kill you, your idea of stress does. Simply thinking “I am stressed out, and stress cuts my life in half” does exactly that. Make up your mind about stress, like I’m going to make up mine.

Save your life, and a friend’s, and WATCH THIS TED TALK.

In Need of Light Anger Management.

It’s time to come clean.

And I’m not referring to all the car tagging I did in high school…whoops. I’ve been struggling to write for a while now. I log onto word press ( and stare at all my posts and wonder if I will ever be able to write again (dramatic? I don’t care).

What’s so strange about life is that it constantly vomits all over us and never leaves us with a breath of fresh non-vomit air. Was that a disgusting visual? I don’t care. Recently I’ve had a death in the family, and I couldn’t help but feel angry, not at anyone in particular. Just angry. Similar to the anger I feel when I “can’t” write.

It’s not that I can’t write… It’s that (maybe) I am terrified my “self diagnosed” ADD (which I think is actually a real issue for me) is going to kick in, and I won’t be able to finish a complete thought for the life of me… or maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe it’s all a “cop out” to quote my dad on accident, again.

Planning free writing to me sounds strange. I don’t like it. This isn’t a graded essay.

The most upsetting part about not adding to this blog recently, is the fact that I now have a AWESOME PROFESSIONAL logo created by the one and only Amanda Mason (what a beautiful visionary you are). I begged for her help, she made it as quick as possible, and then my mind went completely blank… I even made a facebook page to show off this brand new logo…


New logo. Zero new posts. What da heck?

Also I decided, some time in the middle of a very annoying typical conversation, that I was going to start referring to myself as a “fraduate.”

Fake + “Graduate” = Fraduate

I walked August 2nd (before I walked across the stage, I was seated next to a sorority sister, and she looked over at me and said, “What’s so embarrassing is some people walk, and then actually have to take more classes, can you believe that? Like how bad would that actually suck?” I responded… “Hi, me.”… awkward silence”, and I now have 3 electives to finish. ELECTIVES. WHY OH WHY? Can’t I just be like Einstein and drop out? School has always been a challenge for me. I’ve never been able to wrap my head around paying for/ attending a class I don’t want to learn about because I NEED it to graduate… I literally have taken almost every class my University has to offer… Why do I  need to have a piece of paper that says I have a bachelor’s degree. I know why, but just for the sake of the argument in my head…


Biggie Smallz & I the day of the “Great Big Lie”

This too makes me angry. A similar anger to the feeling I feel when I can’t make someone understand.

Understand “what I mean when I said that.” Understand my humor, which sometimes makes the situation funnier… because I end up laughing at myself. (One year I received “Delta Gamma’s Best Sense of Humor” Award, and the next year I received “Delta Gamma’s Most Likely to Laugh at her Own Jokes” Award. The real question is… When did I become the only person to laugh at my own jokes? I wouldn’t even consider my self a jokester.)  Understand my meshed together words that I believe to be a sentence, but come out of my mouth to sound like… chubakkah’s wife. (I was once told I speak in riddles- great).

The art of understanding. Is it similar to the art of listening? Don’t you wish people would just stop cutting you off mid- sentence, and LISTEN! Why do some people have to have the answer for everything.

There isn’t an answer for everything. Everything is an “absolute” word,  and it’s just as hard as using: “never” or “always.”

I’m really not an angry person, I stress myself out more than I relax myself. All my anger derives from things I can’t change, and I believe I have that in common with a few humans on this planet. Death… status quo of education, understanding why… is all conversations that could maybe go on forever.

So maybe I need to get a grip, keep writing, and get over my fear of the unknown. It’s simple anger, simple enough to ignore for the time being.

Was anyone else spanked as a child?

Meet KYN.

20130822-093048.jpgWelcome KYN to the heart of Downtown Jacksonville!

KYN is an accelerator program for start ups, following One Spark, that will last 16 weeks.

Stache Investments Corp. announced today (August 21, 2013) that, in addition to investing in One Spark companies, it will launch a business accelerator to help them succeed.

Also- KYN is including UNF (SWOOP) students to help with technical support throughout the mentor program. WOOHOO!

Downtown Jacksonville, One Spark and UNF? I AM ALL IN. You can read the entire article here.

Be Fearless. Be You.

As a twenty something, there is so much pressure to know exactly what you want to do AND DO IT as soon as possible. The question I wish I got paid for answering is, now and probably will forever be (maybe it will stop when I’m 30?), “So.. what are you doing (after college, with your life)?

“The single most important ingredient to success is perseverance” – Allison Arden

Publisher of Ad Age, Allison Arden, speaks briefly on being FEARLESS in the work place and to not loose sight of what you want. Know who you are, what you want to do and go with it.

It all starts with that first hand shake, first email, and first interview. GO FOR THE GOAL. Don’t give up!

In what ways have you been/ are you fearless?


Happy Word Vomit Wednesday!

If you’re wondering what DA HECK I’m talking about… check out my first official “word vomit.”

1. I have way over ten different blog drafts saved that I’ve started and haven’t finished… mainly because I go back and forth in my mind a million times wondering if it’s appropriate to post on the internet… or how could I make it appropriate? Some people’s whole career is based on being inappropriate. Chelsea Handler… for example. And then there’s Paula Dean, who obviously wasn’t in a position to speak her mind. Sorry Paula.


The untitled draft is about my duck killing ventures…*LEAK*

2. THIS. Down Town Vision Inc just posted this article about a stair case to no where found in underground Downtown Jacksonville. Thoughts?

3. Pub Subs. I have so much love for Pub Subs, and Publix in general. Now they’re an official sponsor of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Do I need to say anything else? NO. Shopping truly is a pleasure at Publix, but now shopping at Publix is a mind blowing experience thanks to their new TOASTER. That’s right, if you didn’t know, now you’ve heard it from me. Publix is now able to toast your sub. Think about the Boar’s Head Turkey heated under the freshly sliced Gouda Cheese melted to perfected on a just baked loaf of bread. I’m salivating, bye.

4. Dirty Martini’s are my favorite drink right now. My previous “favorite drinks” were, but were never limited to: Bloody Mary, White Russian… okay fine that’s all I got.

5. Can watching movies be a hobby?

6. I ordered my first audio book yesterday (not including my Disney cassette tapes read along books that I stuck in my fisher price cassette player with a micro phone). It was something about surviving in your twenties after graduation. I need all the help I can get.

**End Vom Sesh**