Women’s History Month gives me a chance to celebrate the women in my family that have inspired me. I call them my womanline. They include my mother, Theresa Gartin Leeke; grandmothers, Dorothy Mae Johnson Gartin and Frederica Stanley Roberts Leeke; and great grandmothers, Iona Bolden Johnson King and Florida Jones Leeke. Who are the women in your family that inspire you?
In the first chapter of my tech memoir, Digital Sisterhood, I write about what my womanline’s digital footprint would look like if they had access to the Internet and social media. Listen to an excerpt (from 2013). Read the full chapter here. My book is available on Amazon (e-book, paperback, and hardback).
Listen to Digital Sisterhood excerpts read by yours truly (from 2013)!
Happy #CreativityThursday! Guess what my vision board book has? An image and affirmation about being a designer of a product line. They manifested in real time on Saturday afternoon when I accepted an email invitation to become a designer with VIDA, a San Francisco-based socially-responsible e-commerce platform that collaborates with artists around the world to create original and inspiring apparel and accessories. Artists participate in the platform at no cost, then receive a 10% revenue share on products sold.
VIDA CEO Umaimah Mendhro, a native of Pakistan, launched the e-commerce platform in November 2014. As a child, Mendhro wanted to become an artist, but knew it would be difficult to pursue her career dream. While she was attending Harvard Business School, she tapped into her childhood dream and knowledge that textiles are a major contributor to Pakistan’s GNP to build VIDA’s business model that pays its producers a liveable wage and offers a literacy program to factory workers. As a result, factory workers are able to build a better life for themselves and their families. Isn’t that a great business model? It’s one of the reasons I became a VIDA designer!
This week, I searched my collages, graphic designs, and paintings to find several pieces that invite people to welcome art into their lives as a gateway for self-discovery and healing. After I selected the images that decorate the covers of my three books, I worked with VIDA to transform them into my VIDA Voices collection . Drum roll please. Today, I’m proud to introduce my VIDA VOICES collection of scarves that bring ART TO LIFE! My scarf collection helps people do three things:
Create an affordable Signature Style ($40 for each scarf).
Express Social Responsibility (portion of proceeds funds literacy program for factory workers who make scarves in Pakistan).
Tell Storiesthat celebrate the power of creativity, self-discovery, self-love, and women in social media and technology (the designs were created from artwork that decorates the covers of my books which discuss these themes).
It features four designs you can choose from. Each scarf measures 80 inches by 26 inches and is made of 100% MicroModal, a soft, luxurious fabric that will add a bold, modern statement to any wardrobe. See a description of each scarf below. FYI: VIDA will produce and ship my scarf designs within 60 days if there are 3 or more pre-orders. Here’s how you can help me succeed at being a VIDA designer in the next 14 days.
Pre-order a scarf ($40) for yourself and someone special in your life, and use the 20% discount code VIDAVOICES.
Share this blog post with folks in your network via social media and email, and encourage them to buy a scarf and share the news with their network.
Take a photo of yourself wearing the scarf and post it on your blog or social media with the hashtags #ShopVIDA and #ShopVIDAwithAL. Send it in an email to your network. Be sure to send the email to me too: email@example.com. I will post your photos on my blog and social media.
The Digital Sisterhood scarf ($40) celebrates the power of women in social media and technology. It is the perfect multipurpose accessory for women who are attending blogging, social media, and technology conferences because it celebrates their inner geek with style and keeps their warm and cozy during sessions held in chilly rooms. Its bold colors also make it a lovely summer scarf. The design theme of sisterhood gives women permission to rock it all year long! Click here to purchase it. Here’s one more thing you should know.The design is based on a logo featured on my book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (available on Amazon).
The Kreative Grooviness scarf ($40) celebrates the positive energy that awakens individuals when they embrace and express their creativity. Spring is a great time to wear this scarf to spark new creative beginnings. It can also be worn all year as a stylish reminder to honor your creative spirit. Click here to purchase it. Oh yeah, I’ve got one last thing to share about this design. It is based on my Kreative Grooviness painting that decorates the cover of my book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetical Memoir of Self-Discovery(available on Amazon).
The Karma scarf ($40) celebrates a woman’s self-discovery process which I believe is a lifelong path and commitment to Fierce Living. It can be worn as a sacred style touchstone that helps one begin to explore, deepen, understand, and honor the beauty that lies within. The striking colors make it a great autumn accessory. This scarf also represents Karma, a woman on a journey of self-discovery and the main character in my novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. Click here to purchase it. Guess what? The design is based on my painting, Karma: One of Love’s Troubadours that is featured on the cover of Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon)
The Karma: Aham Prema scarf ($40) celebrates a woman’s self-love journey which I believe is a daily Fierce Living practice and process. That means it can be worn 24/7 every single day of the week, month, year, and decade. Let’s just call it what it is. A lifetime signature style piece! How cool is that? What’s more, its colors evoke a sense of royalty that is perfect to flaunt during the winter months and holiday celebrations. Here’s what also makes it even more special. It represents Karma, a woman on a journey of healing and the main character in my novel, Love’s Troubadaours. Click here to purchase it. The design is based on my painting, Karma: Aham Prema (I am love) that is featured on the cover of Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon).
Happy #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday Digital Sisters!
NETWORK is #DigitalSisterhoodat50 Lesson 5. For me, NETWORK means to meet and share information with individuals for the purpose of cultivating positive and productive relationships for business, career, and volunteer opportunities. The month of March offered several opportunities to network with women authors, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and creative, digital, media, and tech professionals at events sponsored by DC Media Mavens, DC Web Women, and WordPress/Automattic. After each event, I connected with the women I met via email and on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I subscribed to a few blogs written by the women. For two of the events, I wrote blog recaps and thanked the organizers. I also sent thank you emails and mailed or hand delivered handwritten notes to the organizers.
How do you define NETWORK?
How do you follow up with people after you meet them?
What motivates you to cultivate relationships in your NETWORK?
I’ll be serving as a veteran blogger/mentor to newbie bloggers and an event producer for the second annual Multi Culti Party on July 25 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Hilton San Jose, Suite 926. Be sure to check out the #MultiCulti Pinterest board which features 2013 and 2014 blogs, photos, and videos.
Join me and my co-event producers, Pauline Campos and Dwana De La Cerna for an evening of celebration. We are gathering to celebrate the beauty, boldness, and brilliance of BlogHer’s diversity.
Why am I geeked about celebrating 10 years with BlogHer?
It’s hard to believe BlogHer is celebrating its 10th year. So am I as a blogger. That’s right 10 years of blogging that started on February 1, 2005, on the Blogger.com platform. When I started blogging, I had one objective: to meet the daily writing requirement of my book editor, Wayne P. Henry, for my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours: Karma – Book One. I discovered BlogHer in 2006. Since then, the conference and community have made a major impact on my life and career as an author, digital communications innovator, public speaker, and yoga teacher. Check out the excerpt from the BlogHer chapter in my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online, below. If you come to the Multi Culti Party, you may win an autographed copy of the book and/or a Digital Sisterhood mug (one book and two mugs).
Chapter Twelve: BlogHer Conferences Rocked My Digital World
“The story of BlogHer is about a lot of things: it’s a narrative about women, blogs, and influence, a story about the rise of social media, and even a commentary on how social technologies are shifting the balance of power in the media industry. But above all, BlogHer portended the wave of women that would flock to social media and technology shortly thereafter.” Jessica Faye Carter, author of The Coming Wave: Exploring Women, Innovation, and Social Technology and Double Outsiders
The first time I heard about BlogHer was on Myspace in 2006. One of my Myspace friends posted a link about it. My Internet geek curiosity drew me in and forced me to click on the link. What I discovered was women who flocked to social media and technology to connect and build community for the same reasons I spent time hanging out online with women I met through iVillages in the 1990s and NiaOnline.com and Netnoir.com’s Women’s Channel in the early 2000s. To be honest, I made that one visit and did not return until two years later.
Here’s what happened that brought me back to BlogHer in 2008. While I was attending the first Blogging While Brown conference, I met BlogHer co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. We had several conversations about the BlogHer community and conferences. Page encouraged me to revisit the site and set up a profile page with a short bio and photo. I took her advice and spent my first year in the BlogHer community following the 2008 Presidential election campaign. I enjoyed reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s blog posts and other politically inspired posts written by BlogHer members.
My second year was very different. That’s when my full blown blog-affair with BlogHer began. It was born during the Fem 2.0 conference. I attended a session that featured Page as a panelist. We chatted briefly after the session about the value and benefits of attending the BlogHer conference. Our chat was the reason I registered for the conference a week later.
The BlogHer 2009 conference that was held in Chicago exposed me to a new world of women bloggers. I interviewed many of them with my flip video camera. I visited the Geek Labs and learned new technical skills to support my video blogging, podcasting, and community building strategies for my Talkshoe.com podcast and lifestyle social networking sites on Ning.com. I gained many tips during the sessions that discussed how to own your expertise and transform your blog into a book. I expanded my network through conversations with Deb Rox, author of Five Ways to Blank Your Blog, That Black Girl site founder Corynne Corbett, and SheWrites.com founder Kamy Wicoff. These women became peer mentors. Rox’s comments made during a session on transforming your blog into a book lit a fire underneath my creative feet and provided many tips I later used when turning my author blog posts into a creative memoir. After Corbett participated in the Voices of the Year by reading her blog post about First Lady Michelle Obama, she spent time sharing with me how she was using her blog, online community, Internet radio show, social media platforms, and speaking opportunities to build her brand. She also gave me tips on how to develop and improve my brand. While I was sitting next to Wicoff in a session, she pulled out her laptop and gave me a tutorial on how to use SheWrites.com. She also shared blogging and publishing resources, convinced me to become an active member, and encouraged me to host local She Writes meet ups in D.C as a way to build community and network with other women writers. The beautiful thing about these women and the connections we made is that they still exist today!
When it came time to register for the BlogHer 2010 conference, I wasted no time. I headed to New York City for another great experience. I attended the White House Project, a one-day pre-conference seminar, and learned how women could use their online presence to affect political change. Throughout the conference, I used my smartphone and Cinchcast to interview a diverse group of women bloggers I met during sessions. Many agreed to participate in my Talkshoe.com interview series. Right before the conference ended, I met BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone in the Expo Hall. We talked about the importance of self-care in the blogger community. Stone encouraged me to submit a blogger wellness session proposal for the next conference.
By the time 2010 ended, I submitted my blogger wellness session proposal for the 2011 conference. Having it accepted was one of the things that made BlogHer 2011 mega special. It was also a trip of several firsts. My first trip to San Diego. My first time as a speaker for two sessions, Blogger Wellness and Peer Mentoring. My first time using the BlogHer conference board to find my hotel roommate, Lilian Chang, founder of the Chinese Grandma blog. My first time participating in an unplugging workshop facilitated by Gwen Bell, yoga teacher and author of Digital Warriorship.
The BlogHer 2011 conference inspired me to step up my game and submit another series of session proposals for the 2012 conference. Once again, BlogHer selected me to speak. There was a slight twist to the invitation. I was asked to moderate a Podcasting 101 Panel with two digital media rock stars, Jasmin Singer and Deborah Shane. I never would have proposed that topic, however, the BlogHer team saw something I could not see: my thought leadership as a podcaster and Internet radio host.
Incroyable (incredible in French) is the best word to describe BlogHer 2012. First, I was able to see President Obama’s live address. Second, I roomed with Arnebya Herndon, founder of What Now and Why blog, who rocked the Voices of the Year when she read her blog post about Trayvon Martin. Third, I gained tremendous insights and inspiration during the luncheon keynotes featuring Katie Couric and Martha Stewart, and the sessions on the brand-blogger connection, how to price and value your services, and travel philanthropy. Fourth, I attended the first-ever BlogHer fashion show that featured women bloggers. Fifth, I had an amazing time celebrating with mis hermanas at the Social Fiesta party sponsored by Latinos in Social Media. Sixth, I spoke about the impact the BlogHer and Blogalicious conferences have had on my digital life during the Brunchalicious event.
A few days after I returned home from the conference, I woke up with a deep sense of gratitude for the things the BlogHer team and community have done and continue to do for women. I reflected on how I am a direct beneficiary of their efforts. I smiled at how much I have been able to dream and do as a result of the lessons learned, skills developed, connections I have made, and speaking opportunities I have had. So I wrote an email to the BlogHer co-founders and team members that stated how much I valued what they do to build and nurture its ever-growing and evolving community. I acknowledged how hard it is for them to build a movement, community, business, and economy. I reminded them because they invest in me I invest in them, and we are ONE!
I also wrote a blog post to thank everyone connected to the conference. It included an acronym that offered my understanding of the BlogHer community, conference, and economy.
B – Building community through meaningful and mindful connections, conversations, collaborative partnerships and projects, and commerce that generates revenue and valued added exchanges for myself and others.
L – Learning and sharing information that helps me and others grow to our fullest potential.
O – Opening my heart to be inspired and energized by the stories I hear from fellow bloggers, keynote speakers, and representatives from brands, companies, organizations, and marketing/PR firms.
G – Giving back to others by sharing what I know and affirming and supporting others’ efforts.
H – Having fun and celebrating digital sisterhood and digital brotherhood bonds with new and old blogging friends.
E – Embracing and valuing the power, presence, and passion of my own voice, creativity, expertise, thought leadership, entrepreneurial efforts, social good causes and campaigns, and definition of success.
R – Remembering that my return on investment (ROI) from my BlogHer community and conference participation is rooted in my attitude, intentions, choices, personal responsibility, and actions.
I ended the post with these words: “Together, we are a movement of passionate and powerful people. May we each recognize, affirm, value, and express our contributions in ways that support our highest and greatest good as individuals, communities, businesses, brands, companies, and organizations!” That says it all until the next BlogHer conference. Hope to see you there!
Listen to today’s podcast that features my reflections on my evolving definition of Fierce Living. I shared it during my conversation with Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, founder of Digital Moving Image Salon at Spelman College yesterday. We had an opportunity to explore it and other topics including Digital Sisterhood and social media with an audience of college students from Spelman, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta College (see photo collage above). Click on the link to hear the podcast. http://soundcloud.com/ananda-leeke/happy-fierceliving-friday
I am headed to Atlanta this week to participate in a conversation about fierce living online on April 10 with my digital sister, Dr. Ayoka Chenzira, founder of Spelman College’s Digital Moving Image Salon. We’ll be talking about digital sisterhood and social media too. Copies of my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online will be available for sale. If you are in Atlanta, plan to attend the event which will be held at 4:00 p.m. in the NASA Auditorium in Spelman’s Science Center, 350 Spelman Lane, SW, Atlanta, Georgia.
PS: For Digital Sisters in Atlanta: Drop by the Digital Sisterhood Meet Up: Cocktails & Conversation on Creativity and meet me on April 9, 2014 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Proof and Provision at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, 659 Peachtree Street, NE. Click here to register on Eventbrite.
Today, my Digital Sister Janet Johnson sent me a Facebook email about the U.S. Department of State’s application for social media leaders to attend the International Women of Courage #StateMeetup on March 4 in Washington, DC. I met Janet while attending the White House State of the Union Social in January (see photo above where Janet is wearing a red sweater). Through several conversations, we discovered we share a passion for digital citizenship. I am deeply grateful to her for sharing the #StateMeetup information. Her act of sharing represents #DigitalSisterhood and the power of promoting Digital Citizenship (#digcitizen)!!!!
#StateMeetups were created to expand the Department of State’s engagement efforts by inviting social media leaders to attend in-person meetings and engage with the Department through Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and other social media channels.
About the International Women of Courage (IWOC) #StateMeetup
The IWOC Awards was created in 2007 to honor women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights and women’s equality. While in the United States, awardees participate in the International Visitors Leadership exchange program where they get to meet with their U.S. counterparts and leaders.
Social media leaders will attend the IWOC Award Ceremony, hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama, at the Department of State on March. They will also participate in a policy briefing with a Department official about international women’s issues. I encourage you to apply to participate in the #StateMeetup. Visit www.state.gov/social for more information. The deadline is February 26 (today) at 5:00 p.m. EST.
Excerpt from Chapter Four: A Game Changer: Beijing Women’s Conference
One of the benefits of following my heart and living my life passionately in Beijing was meeting women from all over the world. During the NGO Forum’s opening ceremony, I sat with a group of women from Brazil, India, Kenya, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. As the ceremony ended, we stood together and sang Pat Humphies song, “Keep on Moving Forward.” Five lines from that song became my mantra and helped me fully embrace my conference experience as a series of life-changing adventures.
“Gonna keep on walking forward Keep on walking forward Keep on walking forward Never turning back Never turning back”
One of those life-changing adventures happened when I heard former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton give her famous “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” speech which included the following remarks:
“Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not.
We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That’s why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.”
Clinton’s words echoed what was in my heart, gave me a clearer understanding of why I was in Beijing, and helped shape my digital path. They came to life when I visited a conference art exhibit organized by the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA), a national member organization of multidisciplinary and multicultural artists, art historians, students, educators, and museum professionals. While I was there, I struck up a conversation with several WCA artists who were overseeing the exhibit. We talked about WCA’s role as a NGO and founding member of the Feminist Art Project, the conference, their careers, and my life as a budding artist. Before we parted, they gave me their business cards and encouraged me to visit the WCA web site and join the D.C. Chapter.
Walking with Sharon into the NGO Forum’s Internet Café was another life changing adventure. It marked the first time I saw a diverse group of women sitting at computers. My face lit up with a smile as I realized how powerful women could be with Internet access. They were free to speak their minds, discuss their concerns, share information, build community, create web sites and coalitions to address their concerns, and launch advocacy campaigns that defied geographical boundaries. They were demonstrating what Clinton said in her speech: “Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.”
This week, I am headed to Atlanta to speak at the second annual Women Interactive Creative Technology Conference that will be held at Spelman College on November 9. I am giving a tech talk on “Digital Sisters + Digital Citizens = Social Media Leaders.” My talk is rooted in one word: SERVE. It is an acronym that I call my secret ingredient for being an authentic Digital Sister, Digital Citizen, and Social Media Leader. Check it out below.
•S – SEE yourself as a social media leader. If you have at least one person who follows and/or interacts with you through your blog, web site, and/or social media sites, you have a platform of influence. Your influence impacts people in your online network. That makes you a leader. The moment that you see yourself as a social media leader, you begin to own your identity. Once you own your identity as a social media leader, you are faced with some important choices in how you interact online and offline in your relationships.
•E – EMBRACE digital civility practices in your online and offline interactions and relationships. Digital civility includes being respectful of others, especially in the midst of any disagreements. Treat people the way you would like to be treated.
•R – REMEMBER to UNPLUG from your digital life and practice SELF CARE by creating and following a digital wellness plan. Take breaks from your digital life. It will give you an opportunity to recharge and rest.
•V – VISIT and participate in a diverse group of online and offline communities to broaden your knowledge base and network.
•E – EXPRESS generosity in all you think, say, and do. Give back to others. Your generosity creates social capital in your online and offline relationships. Social capital is that warm, fuzzy feeling or positive impression you create about yourself in people’s hearts and minds. It paves the wave for unexpected blessings that manifest as collaborations, invitations to events, learning opportunities, partnerships, relationships with key people in your local/national/international networks, revenue generating streams, speaking engagements, and other forms of blessings.
Women Interactive is a two-day interactive technology festival for women who produce and share digital content with a special emphasis on women of color. It’s one of my favorite learning opportunities. I attended the festival last year and learned so much. If you are in Atlanta, join me at the event. Click here to register.
Digital Sisterhood Book Graphic Design Process: This week, my amazing graphic designer, Dariela Cruz published a blog post about the work she did to make my book’s cover art come to life. Click here to read all about it.
Author Chat Video Series: On October 14, I hosted my first author chat for my Kickstarter donors. The chat was divided into two videos. See the links below. Let me know what you think about the videos in the comment section.
2) October 23 @ 9-10:00pm EST – Author Twitter Chat – Follow @digitalsisterhd on Twitter. Use the hashtag #digitalsisterhood and Tweetgrid.com, Tweetchat.com, or Hootsuite to participate in the conversation.