Archive | May, 2012

Sailing the High Seas (literally) in the Pro-Am Volvo Ocean Race

23 May

What’s that one dream, goal, wish, or aspiration in your life?  Think hard… What’s tops your bucket list?

How about traveling the world?

That’s exactly what six teams are trying to accomplish in one of the most riveting, physically demanding, thrilling, and dangerous races in the world – the Volvo Ocean Race – and I was fortunate enough to get a first-hand experience at what they’re living and breathing for nine months!

This one-of-a-kind competition stops at only 10 ports worldwide, and Miami was lucky enough to host the only North American stopover for a two-week duration. What’s even luckier is the fact that I won a Facebook contest held by the Greater Miami Conventions and Visitors Bureau which landed me a spot to sail with French team Groupama in the Pro-Am race on May 18, 2012.

This incredible experience is hard to describe in words so I’d like to use a couple analogies… This is like swimming laps with Michael Phelps, or shooting hoops with Lebron James, or singing karaoke with Rihanna.  These guys (yes, male-only teams) are facing extreme weather conditions, crossing the equator four times, and living on a boat for nearly 40,000 miles in the deep ocean waters. Only the great survive. And only the best are crowned champions.

I had the pleasure of competing on French team Groupama with about ten other male guests (I was the only female) in Pro-Am Race 3 against Abu Dhabi, Puma, Camper/Emirates NZ, Telefonica, and Sanya. The race course was set up just off the coast of South Beach, and the race lasted for about 30 minutes. Weaving around each other, and jibing back and forth, these gentle giants powered through the pristine Caribbean waters in hopes of  earning points for their team. Remember that scene in Titanic where Jack and Rose stand on the ledge of the bow with their arms in the air as if they’re flying – that’s what sailing with Groupama felt like.  But the actual sailing wasn’t the only “wow” factor. It was also getting to meet these superstar sailors and learning the ins and outs of operating a sail boat (remember – this is the equivalent of getting free throw pointers from Lebron James)! I was also fortunate enough to get a personal tour underneath the deck from media crew member Yann Riou. He showed me where they “sleep,” eat, produce videos, and even the mechanical parts of the boat. Mind blown (and lost). Only about six guys can sleep at one time in their tiny little cots. The loud rumblings are sure to put a permanent ringing in their ears. And they have zero privacy. If you’re looking for heroes or idols to look up to – these are your guys!

I won’t bore you with any additional attempts to try to get you to understand and feel what it was like racing with these superstars. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves… You can also view all my photos on Facebook. There’s also a short, candid interview with Yann at the bottom of this post – be sure to check it out! Questions? Comments? Leave ’em at the bottom 🙂

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The Ever-Changing World of Social Media and Business: Are You Prepared?

4 May

Social Media and the “Big Picture”

We’re almost half-way through 2012 (believe it), and it seems like many businesses are finally understanding that they need to incorporate social media into their company’s “big picture” in order to survive and thrive in today’s current and future economy. In past years, businesses always thought social media was a personal and private online activity, a fad, a place to find funny videos and pictures of family and friends. So, how in the world does the future of social media and technology contribute to a company’s success? Let’s count the ways…

“Glocal” Online Internet Usage

Did you know Americans spend an average of 30 days a year on the Internet? This isn’t just an American phenomenon either. While nearly 70% of Americans engage in social networking, Brazil dominates that number at about 90%, according to Nielsen and the Pew Research Center.  Whether it’s at home, during work, or on the go – children, adults, and the elderly alike are all consuming online media. In fact, it’s predicted that in less than two years, mobile Internet usage will surpass online desktop usage. We are no longer living in a global world; we are living in a “glocal” world where information travels across the globe in a matter of seconds, thanks in large part to the fab five – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google Plus as well as tablets, smartphones, and apps. Everyone is now given a voice, and companies big and small should be paying attention. Make an impact not just ten miles away, but thousands of miles away with the click of a button.

It’s All About Visuals and Sharing

It’s true – a picture is worth a thousand words, and there’s an app for everything. There’s no wonder why LinkedIn is buying SlideShare or why there’s an app that merges Pinterest and Instagram together. Capturing the essence of your brand visually using images and videos and sharing it across social media platforms will have a much greater effect than what most companies are doing. Remember – quality over quantity.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

We live in the digital age where everything is changing at a constant yet rapid speed. It takes time, skill, and passion to stay up-to-date. However, if your business stays on top of these trends and ahead of the curve, it could be a significant game-changer and differentiator. Maybe there’s an effective way to incorporate gamification or augmented reality into your marketing strategy? Perhaps the highlight app will incorporate LinkedIn contacts making the app your right-hand business tool? Maybe not, but you’ll never know if you don’t try, and the possibilities are truly endless.

The future of business depends on the ever-changing world of social media and technology. Who knows what will really happen in one, two, or five years from now, but we do know tools are being created each day to bring people closer and closer together. Embracing this change is key to understanding and interacting with your audience which will ultimately prove your success.

Want to learn more about the future of social media and tech? Read my 5 great tips from SXSW.