Sep 202011

Today’s tip is an old one but a good one.  Add to your cell phone contacts an entry called “ICE” which stands for “In Case of Emergency.”  Add in the number you want someone to call if (heaven forbid) someone discovers your unconscious body and wants to notify your loved ones.   It’s like having a really short emergency contact list . . . on speed-dial.

In my own phone, I have two ICE entries.



I figure my rescuer would like some context as to who they are speaking with.

The legend is that ICE-ing cell phones was a technique recommended by a 9/11 rescuer who kept finding cell phones on victims but had no idea who to call to notify about the situation.

There is only one downside I have found when you ICE your cell phone.  If you have your ICE contact in the phone twice, once as the ICE contact and again by first and last name, then the phone can get a little confused.  When my husband calls me on my cell phone, for example, it generally says, “[Name] or 1 other calling” but it can also say “ICE or 1 other calling.”  Still, at least I know who is calling!

Since a cell phone is an item most people routinely carry around all the time, it is a great spot to institute a little emergency preparedness and it takes just a second to do.

 Posted by on September 20, 2011 General Tagged with: , ,
Sep 152011

"Washington, D.C. The arrival in Washington of Hugh Massman, his wife and their infant son. Hugh Massman is a second class petty officer in the navy, a student at the Naval Air Station, in the last month of training before sea duty.Lynn Massman giving instructions to the volunteer worker at the nursery in the United Nations service center who will take care of her eight-weeks-old baby for the day." (1943) Photo by Esther Bubley. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

***Military families often live a vagabond existence– moving frequently from place to place and having to form new connections and friendships constantly.  Fortunately, the military (and the military spouses themselves) have organized numerous support networks to help families with all of these transitions.  This month, Ruly Ruth shares some of the emergency planning lessons she has learned as a military spouse.***


Mom down! Dad Down! Probably the worst possible cry ever! We are the ones on the front lines of the family life.  We know where and when our kids go to school, soccer, music, where their doctor is, what kind of pet food to buy, how often to feed, and if there are daily meds for the kids.  I can’t imagine being unconscious God forbid! And I’m sure that goes for many of you!

An amazing Commanding Officer’s wife Susan Berry, wife of Navy Capt Don Berry, created the Family Emergency Form below. EVERYONE–please print it out and fill it out!  It points out we should all get a medical power of attorney!! Give a copy to your local best friend, keep a copy in a sealed envelope with you–and tell someone where it is in an emergency. This information could save a ton of time in a worst-case scenario, so at least the kids and pets can have a normalized life even during a crisis! Update it quarterly since for most of us that’s when lessons change for our kids.

Thank you, and Semper Prepared! (I’m off to fill mine out right now!)

-Ruly Ruth

Sep 052011

As I wrote about last year, if you are on Facebook or Twitter, it is a really good idea to “Like” or “Follow” FEMA and your local emergency management association. You will be among the first to know about any pending emergency situations pertinent to your area and get helpful tips.

For example, FEMA has been encouraging people to get prepared for hurricanes since at least June and after Hurricane Irene, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has been posting tips on everything from where to find emergency shelters to how to safely operate generators and chainsaws.

If you do only one emergency preparedness task this month, take one minute and do this one!

*If you don’t use Facebook or Twitter, there is an alternate low-tech solution you can use to get the same information.  All Twitter accounts and public-oriented Facebook pages can be viewed in a standard Internet browser.  So, you can just bookmark the Twitter feed or Facebook page you might need to keep up with and check in with it from time to time or during an emergency.  Of course, you won’t be alerted when the page/feed is updated and you won’t be able to comment or tweet back to the writer of the message without creating a Facebook or Twitter account, but you can at least view any information that has been posted.  You can try this out by visiting the links I provided above.

 Posted by on September 5, 2011 General Tagged with: ,
Oct 012010

In the month of September, we focused on improving and organizing our communications.

Chik-fil-A's local sign.

Local car communications.

I started off the month sharing my own communication strategy and some of the common reasons I hear as to why people don’t want to participate in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

For yet another anti-Facebook perspective, I encourage you to read the article below from Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post. In addition to being a screamingly funny humorist, Mr. Weingarten is an incredible writer and is a master of vocabulary and phrasing.

“Critics contend I am unfair to Facebook merely because I have described it as an ocean of banalities shared among persons with lives so empty they echo. I defend my thesis but admit my evidence has been unscientific — entirely anecdotal — based on my occasional dips into this tepid, lifeless lagoon of dishwater-dull discourse. . . . But that has changed. I find that it is now possible to mathematically quantify the tedium, thanks to a new Web site. . . . I have done so and am here to make my report.”

–Gene Weingarten, “I hate Facebook sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much. . .The Washington Post, September 26, 2010.

We discussed how to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-the-minute emergency preparedness information from agencies like FEMA and state emergency management agencies. If you have not signed up for your local updates, I strongly encourage you to do so. So far, the information I have received about hurricane and flood updates has been enormously helpful here in Virginia.

We looked at the new 2011 IKEA Catalog and discussed the creativity in IKEA’s communication strategy.

I reviewed The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein and put the tips to good use. My Twitter following increased slightly once I started following Sarah Milstein and I have now connected with more incredible small business owners.

One thing I did not discuss from The Twitter Book (and other sources) is that it is recommended that you roughly post 3 times as many retweets and references to other people’s content for every one you post about yourself. Since so far I have only been posting my own content, starting next week, I aim to retweet interesting posts by my Twitter connections each week. I am not sure if I will get to the 3:1 ratio immediately but this will be a good start.

One humorous Tweet on my account this month came from an anonymous source under the age of 5. “I” tweeted:

Unfortunately, since this tweet propagated through my various accounts, a LinkedIn contact wrote back to alert me of this cryptic missive wanting to know if my Blackberry was in my pocket.

I checked my Twitter account to find not only had “I” tweeted, “I” had also managed to create a list with a similarly cryptic name and added myself to that list. It took me over 10 minutes of Twitter help research to figure out how to delete that listing. Our children are definitely born wired for this new communication style but I can’t believe that it already starts so young!

I gave tips for organizing personal and business email accounts and we looked at the latest features in Gmail and Microsoft Exchange.

I posted fall gardening tips and discussed the challenges of communicating with gardeners (and other professions) who may have limited access to computers and the Internet for a variety of reasons.

Lou quipped:

“I kept waiting for the part to learn how to ‘communicate’ with the gardener. We just wanted the bushes trimmed, but left with their natural look—but whatever it was we thought we ‘communicated’ with the gardener, they all ended up looking like just-groomed french poodles!”

We looked to Dale Carnegie, master of making friends, and adapted his classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, for the age of Facebook.

Many thanks to Dale Carnegie Training of South Florida and The Dale Carnegie Way for posting links to this article on their blogs.

My dad also sent me a good comment saying that under the smile category I should add:

“He would smile for the camera.”

True enough. Dale Carnegie would probably post a smiling picture of himself on Facebook rather than an oddly artistic pose, a mysterious/unidentifiable shot or an angry/sad/scared shot. It is the easiest way to show everyone your smile!

Ruly Ruth shared her communication style and gave advice on 5 challenging Facebook social situations.

We discussed using a vision board as a motivational tool to inspire better communications (or other goals).

Constance Theodore commented on Facebook:

“My life has been directed by “lists” which is a literary vision board. A check on the item number when completed signals an attack on the next number.”

This was a great comment because it highlighted thinking differences. Some people respond better to words and others to pictures. A vision board is a little different from a list in that a list is a set of defined instructions. The vision board is not really an instruction to do anything. It’s more like a subliminal message that you need to realize over time. You still will need your to do list but the vision board might give you the inspiration to actually do the items on your list.

We discussed how to recover from a communication mistake, taking lessons from my 401(k) plan and comedian Mo Rocca.

Samuel Pushpak provided a great Ruly Mix, “Hello Love,” inspired by a romantic portrait from photographer Michael Costa. I e-mailed Michael to make sure he knew about the song and he e-mailed back:

“Hi Anne, wow that is really special. Thanks so much for emailing me about that, I had no idea. If you speak to Samuel, let him know that I was honored.”

Michael does wonderful wedding and engagement photography in addition to other types of photography. If you scroll through the photographs on his website, you get a real sense of the romantic energy Samuel integrated into his song.

Guest blogger Kristin Jolley shared her own communication strategy as well as tips for more effective communication.

We also discussed Stever Robbins’ latest communication, his new book Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More

In the News

Twitter and Facebook signs at our local library.

As I was walking around town this week looking for examples of local Fredericksburg communication style, I came across a great example in our local library.  Our library has both Facebook and Twitter accounts but is most famous now for its viral video “I Will Survive,” demonstrating their commitment to providing excellent library services even in the face of budget shortfalls.  You can watch the video below.  I can personally attest to the dedication of our local librarians.  The book displays, programs and general energy of the library are top notch and it is a wonderful resource for the whole community.

Thinking back to my articles on Washington Style in August, I came across this great video in The Wall Street Journal discussing the politics of wearing jeans in Washington. It perfectly captures how fashion is thought about in Washington. It’s a much more cerebral than artistic exercise. It’s not only about how something looks on you but about how other people view that fashion and what precedent the fashion creates for society in general in a particular setting. I wonder if any other city politicizes their clothing as much as Washingtonians do.

Thank you for joining me for another Ruly month! Back on Monday to introduce a new theme. Have a great weekend!

 Posted by on October 1, 2010 Monthly Recap Tagged with: ,
Sep 272010

Brief introduction: My name is Kristin Jolley and I have been an online marketer for over a decade, with specific expertise in direct response marketing. I am currently the Director of Media for a direct response lead generation company in Salt Lake City, Utah that specializes in online education. I am also Anne’s sister-in-law. ☺

Doing what I do, about 80% of my communicating is via the Internet: email, instant messenger (IM), social media outlets, etc. I do use the telephone – conference calls are a daily event – but the majority of information transferred between my employees, my boss, my vendors, and my clients is through email and IM.

Never in the history of the world have we been able to communicate with so many people – uniquely and individually – virtually at the same time. And I do mean “virtually.” The information-sharing wonders of the Internet have opened a door in increasing the common knowledge base, while the social media phenomenons of the last few years have given the general public the ability to share their thoughts and ideas with ease. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and WordPress are just a few of the social media giants that happily share our “likes,” “digs,” posts, and “tweets.”

If you are over thirty, you may still be struggling with the “right” way to incorporate these new mediums into your daily communications. In my opinion, there is no “right” way… no “have to”… no “can’t miss.” What works for you is the best solution.

I would, however, recommend the following guidelines for all electronic communication:

Be Predictable

If you are going to be on Facebook, check your Facebook account daily. If you are going to be on Twitter, tweet once in a while. If you are going to blog, set the right expectation with your readers of how frequently you will be blogging and then stick to it. (As I write this, I realize that I have broken all of these rules at some point in my life… it’s not easy, but it’s the right way to do it.)

Consistency is key, especially if we are talking about professional communication. Say what you are going to do and then do it. Don’t have an email account that you never check. Get rid of it, or forward it to one that you do check regularly. Don’t ask for Twitter followers if you aren’t going to give them anything to follow.

“Don’t Make Me Think”

I love this advice from my favorite web site usability expert, Steve Krug. In his book, Don’t Make Me Think!, he states that great web design comes by using (or providing) solutions that are common sense. Don’t make your audience struggle! While online retailers need to put their shopping carts where people will look for them, we need to put our name, phone, email, address, etc. where people will find them.

Here are a few ideas to help people communicate with you:

  • Make sure you have an email signature (that thing that automatically attaches to the bottom of all your emails).
  • If you are away and will not be replying to email soon, set an auto-responder that states that. Include when you will be replying to email and if there is somewhere else or someone else they can contact in the interim. Don’t leave them hanging!
  • Check your email regularly – whatever “regularly” means for you. If you don’t check it every day, tell people that when you give them your email address and give them another option for contacting you (phone, text, etc.).

In general, don’t make it a difficult – or even annoying – task for people to get in touch with you. In both personal and professional contexts, an inconvenience of connection could be a major deterrent.

Be Professional

  • Keep the emoticons to a minimum. Enough said.
  • Do not use all-caps. It is perceived as shouting.
  • Use correct grammar and capitalization for email and IM.
  • Refrain from vulgarity.

Keep it Confidential
I highly recommend being as private on the Internet as possible. Not only is identity theft a serious concern, but you want to make sure your family and home are protected as well. Don’t allow yourself to be easy prey. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t post your birth date (especially the year!) on your blog, Facebook, etc.
  • Don’t give too much information about where you live, your family, your children, etc.
  • If you have a blog and would like to share details about your family, photos of your children, mention that you are going out of town (and leaving your house unattended!), make your blog “private” and invite only certain people to view it.
  • Do some “ego-surfing” (Google your name and variations of it) to see if there is any sensitive information open to the public. If so, contact the appropriate party to have it removed.
  • Set appropriate privacy settings on Facebook,, LinkedIn, to only reveal certain information to the public and certain other information to friends.

Selfish Plea

Since I’ve got your ear, I would also suggest not participating in any of the annoying Facebook games (Farmville, etc.) or passing along email strings (ugh). No one likes them, really. If you do want to forward an email, be sure to delete the email addresses of anyone else that it has been forwarded to, and then put all of your recipients in the “bcc” line. It is the proper thing to do.

If you have questions or would like more details about any of the above topics, I would love to know. Thanks for letting me guest blog!

 Posted by on September 27, 2010 General, Guest Bloggers Tagged with: , ,