Archives for April 2013

Networking basics

[slideshow_deploy id=’149′]Armed with an invite to the stylish Spring Social at Hotel Zaza I started off my night ready to mingle.  What can compare after a long day at work or school to the time you have to catch up with friends, enjoying good drinks, great music and a tantilizing environment.  Only one catch, events like this are similarly opportunities to meet people in the know and get your name and or business out there.  For most people networking is at the least a hassle and at the worst a horrible addition to a to do list.  Why venture out when you have come with a friend and can instead enjoy the casual conversation with someone you really enjoy??  Well meeting people is a part of promotion and critical to you building your personal brand.  There is no guarantee you will love who you meet but you will never know if you never try.  With limited time, however, I want to both totally enjoy myself and put in some ground work on expanding my network.

This begs the question, what is the difference between networking and socializing?  Socializing is what we do when out and about and share with those we meet on a personal level while networking is driven towards making professional connections.  I find it difficult to mix the two because I naturally want to spend more time with those I like personally.  In doing so I could potentially quickly miss or pass by those who are a good fit on a personal level.  To do accomplish both networking and socializing I set a plan for networking and let social hour fall as it may.

My networking game plan usually comes with a goal.  My grandfather provided me with the blueprint as he would come into an event with his light shining, briefly talk to a majority of the room and slip out before anyone noticed.  Even with a short time frame of his stay, the impression he left was that he was personally vested and interested in their lives and an enforced a connection many who knew him reminisce on to this day.  For me networking can be a little tedious and to cut down on that feeling I try to take the essence of my grandfather technique.  I set a goal of how I want to work the room and how many people I should meet before work time is over.  This gives me a little motivation to get the job done so I can proceed to carry on as I like.  Also I don’t limit myself to talking only to those people I typically feel comfortable with.  Stepping out of one’s comfort zone can often lead to big benefits and lead to real life connections.    Last but not least I don’t beat myself up if everything does not go according to plan.  Quality is almost always better than quantity so if I make a genuine connection with someone instead of walking away I just try to open the conversation up to others.

Although this is my style it’s really about new techniques out do find out what style can work for you.  This is not to say just stick with the status quo if you are good or bad at it. Work to perfect a style that gets you the results you want and don’t keep pushing yourself.

Planning a weekend getaway

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A weekend getaway presents a great opportunity to slip away from your everyday demands and get it in!  But what do you want to get in??? Should you focus on having the time of your life (PLAY HARD!!!) or plan a relaxing weekend to give some peace to your mind, body and soul (R & R).  It is always a challenge as most of the time I need a little, or a lot, of both in my life.  A fun weekend in Vegas, for example, sets the perfect stage for a fun weekend whose details you cannot repeat.  On the other hand do you have time to be wiped out for two days once you are back to real life trying to recuperate from the fun?  With both Play and R & R being high on the must do list I propose, as with most things, balance is best.

When planning for a rare and highly anticipated weekend away I LOOSELY follow this guide:

  • Do some ground work before you get there – Often there are some things you really want to do or enjoy when you are on your getaway.   With only a short amount of time available, it is impossible to do it all.  Waiting too late to make some decisions can leave you shut out in the cold for something’s that are on your must do list.  Make one or two firm commitments for what you want to do and pay attention to any opportunity you have to save money on the tickets or prices.  If a restaurant or show on your list there is a possibility it may be booked or sold out.  Anything more than a couple of scheduled items can make your trip feel like an agenda and you are officially ON VACATION.  As an added bonus, saving on your must do list gives some leeway on your want to do list.
  • When you touch down, ask around – No matter how hard you try it is impossible to know all the new and hot events and places before you touch down.  Asking around to the locals gives you an idea on what is special during your stay.  Not to mention you still have to live in the moment.  Before you left for your vacation your mind may have been on “Pour it up, Pour it Up” but after a looonnnggg night it may turn to “Lay It Down, Lay It Down”.  Besides the one or two things you have pre-planned be open to go with the flow.
  • Feel free to leave the real you behind – You don’t have to take it all with you.  If you are a workaholic 363 days a year then for the two days of your weekend getaway you are free to be exactly the opposite and be a complete bum. It is your time to leave the emails, to do list, deadlines and (dare I even say) Facebook behind.  In all likelihood no one knows you and even if they do, why is your vacation so high on their list of things to pay attention to.  At the end of the day those may be your last two days on the planet, why not make the best of it.  Adopt your own “Sasha Fierce” alter ego and get out there ready to make new friends and explore new experiences.

I will let you know how these tenants work for me this weekend in Vegas!  Let me know what excursion tips work for you.

Mamba Mentality

Mamba Mentality

After Kobe Bryant’s recent injury, I read a quote from him that really hit home.  Kobe stated – “Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.”  Kobe’s fierceness as a competitor has always been a highlight to who he is as a player.  Despite previous successes or failures he is always hungry for the next win on his personal quest to be the greatest.  What is most inspirational to me is his timing, however.  Its easy to have a mamba mentality when you are on top but a lot harder to remember when you feel closer to be the bottom.

As I am on the final leg of my law school career that Mamba mentality is just what I need for my final push for the finish.  The idea of mamba mentality actually reminds me of the old tale of the tortoise and the hare.  Despite the odds and where you stand in the race, how to have and keep a laser focus on the goal.  Now that means sometimes you may be in last place.  Maybe even in last place so long you forget what the forerunner’s faces look like as familiar you are with their backs.  Nonetheless once quitting is no longer an option.  It is not a question of if the goal will be reached but only how to reach it.  How do you put your feet to the floor and attain your goals?  Well running faster, jumping higher, having more awards can indicate you win a battle.  But endurance is the only option for winning a war.  Honestly I am sick of law school.  When I started in 2009 I did not understand in the least the toll four years of none stop school takes on you.  Not to mention the demands of work and being a mom.  But even though I am sick and tired of school I am leaning on my own Mamba mentality.  I will win the race by finishing the race.  Maybe I won’t be first but for me finishing is the conquering and so come May the war will be done with law school but still on for life.  How do you show your own Mamba mentality to reach your goals?

Flying on Credit Card Miles

Always thought exotic destinations were too pricy? One of the best ways to fly international for cheap is through airline credit card awards. Bonuses like 50,000 miles are available just for signing up and you can get a new card every 90 days. For brevity’s sake, I will just advise you to Google “credit card churning” and take heed of the great advice offered by those more learned than I. The point is that your dream trip is just a card away. The only thing you need to have is a credit score above 700. You can check your score for free, no credit card required, at


In 2006, I flew Delta from Tallahassee, FL to Barcelona, Spain for $40. That’s right, a flight worth at least $500 cost me less than ten percent of that and I didn’t even have to fly cargo. Flying Delta and Northwest (RIP) between college and home earned me so many miles over the years, I had more than enough to cash in 40,000 for my spring break trip. Lest you think miles require you to fly on the wing, I sat in the first row behind First Class on my longest leg between Paris and Atlanta and was treated just like a paying customer. I also earned enough miles that year to qualify as a Delta Medallion member and get automatic free upgrades to available First Class seats. Ahh, the days of yore. Well, the financial meltdown caused a lot of that to change, but what has improved are airline credit card offers.


How would you like to earn a free roundtrip international ticket to Europe in just one month? Let me explain how it works:

  1. Sign up for every frequent flier program out there, even if you think you’ll never fly them. If you don’t want to get lots of spam, you can even set up an email account expressly for your travel information. Also keep in mind most airlines have partnerships with other airlines around the globe so you can also use miles on foreign carriers.
  2. Wait for your credit card offers to roll in. The airlines will send you a “targeted” offer just for you, which tends to be better than what they advertise to the regular public.
  3. A quick Google search will let you know the history of good offers. Don’t take a 30,000 offer when you can get a 50,000 one. The cards will only let you get bonus miles once every few years even if you close your account. Choose your offer wisely. Generally, the cards will offer a waived membership fee the first year, and give you bonus miles after exceeding a set spending amount within a specific time period. For example, Delta Gold American Express will give you 50,000 miles, first year the $95 fee is waived if you spend $1000 in three months.
  4. Choose your offer and apply. Make sure your credit score is high enough to qualify so you don’t get “dinged” for not getting approved. If for some reason your score is good and you are not approved, contact that card’s reconsideration line where with some smooth talk, you can get that final approval.
  5. Finally, take that dream trip! The best way to spend those miles are to fly otherwise expensive trips. Don’t waste them with domestic travel from hub to hub, use them to fly to far off islands and paradises. That’s the best way to get more bang for your buck.



Taking a break to get a breath of fresh air!

[slideshow_deploy id=’83’]With a week left before I turn in a mandatory paper for my final semester of law school I have to really focus to “Get ‘er done”!  As usually I am running behind and with finals quickly approaching in the next couple of weeks I have fallen in my regular routine of finals cramming.  An email caught my eye today, however, that has put all of that one the sidelines for me.  It’s once again time for the International Festival in Houston.  This guarantees a great mix of food, people watching, and entertainment!   I am quickly reminded that I don’t have time for play, its work time.  So how do you get in a little bit of fun when it is really time to get down to work?

With the International Festival celebrating Brazil this year it is a must attend for me.  I went to Carnival in Brazil for my birthday two years ago and fell in love with the beauty, sprit, music and dancing that fills the country and its people.  My mind desperately begins to figure out a way to make my attendance possible and with reality not budging on the submission of my paper deadline here is how I plan to make this happen:

1)      Goal setting: Writing down my plan for work required to getting the paper done.  Finishing my paper is no small feat and I have to realistically set goals that I can stick to in plotting the progress and completion of my paper.  This means planning by the hour what steps should happen and holding myself accountable for the times I write down.

2)      Cut out the BS: Let’s face it, especially with us procrastinating folks, it is hard to really focus until it’s almost too late.  The time allotted has to be pursued like the deadline is yesterday.  That way you get the pace you need to meet the deadlines.  It, of course, also requires not letting the common distractions step in and still the fun you dream of away.  Put the phone away, close down Angry Birds, put your phone on silent and by all means stay clear of Facebook.  These distractions eat up little bits of time that quickly add up when you are in a time crunch.

3)      Reward yourself: As always schedule work first (at least a good portion of it).  If you are hitting your progress points taking some time to smell the roses is an appropriate award.  That being said a battle was one but the war wages on.  If you normally would spend a day at the festival the new realistic timeframe may be two hours of enjoyable time out at play.  I plan to make the most of that time (funnel cakes and roasted corn here I come).  But when duty calls I will have to say “Ciao” and get back to it.

Who is to say you can’t have your cake and eat it to (even if you get to only take a bite)?

Cure for your morning blues?

I really do hate waking up early in the morning. I am naturally a night person so my bedtime is usually around 1 am. When 6:30 rolls around my dread sets in. My alarm begins its cycle of songs to start my wake up process. Yes it is definitely a process. Starting slow with me electing a couple of snooze options and then a sluggish move from tossing around in my bed to sitting up to plan my day (truthfully just a stall tactic), and finally to planting my feet on the ground the get the day moving. But the pace is still pokey to say the least. So what is the cure?? For a lot of people coffee is the mandatory source of the pep in their step. I am not a coffee drinker so I miss that jump start but I understand I need something to cure the morning time blues.

At this point I am open to anything that helps me hit the ground running. A couple of times a week I switch up my routine and use exercise as my morning wake me up. Now this is not a full work up because I usually have some time restraints (again I hate waking up early). For now I use the Just Dance 4 work out option. Why is this a winner for me?
• First, once you get moving you can really get moving. At the beginning I am definitely forcing myself through it. But forcing my body to commit to the work out helps my brain change its pace from the tortoise like to closer to the hare.
• Second it’s short. I usually choose the 10 minute option. That gives me just enough time to get moving and a small sweat but not enough that after a 10 hour day I regret it. I do think exercise is a great energy boost and I would argue it has a better effect as a morning cup of coffee.
• Finally, it’s fun!!! They have a lot of options that provide different themes and music choices. It’s a game after all so it is entertaining. Honestly having to learn a dance routine on the spot is a bit of a mental challenge when you are still sleepy so yet another reason your brain gets moving. If nothing else your body is moving to music you enjoy and moves that challenge you.

All in all it has been pretty effective. Maybe not to help me actually wake up but definitely to speed me up once I am out of the bed. So what do you use as your morning pick me up?

Work Hard, Play Harder Balance

cropped-Briefcase-and-drink-pic-smaller.jpgFinding balance in life is hard.  I come from a family that believes in hard work.  Being an eyewitness to this instilled a similar appreciation in me for working hard to provide for my family.  That being said all work and no play makes Cori a sad girl.  The question becomes can you fit the fun in that you deserve after all the hard work you put in???

My keys to making all this happen came in a simple recipe:

Work Hard, Play Harder, R & R and repeat. 

Step 1: Work Hard.
Hard work is a foundation for a lot of the things I want to accomplish in life.  I was born and breed to be a workaholic so in some ways I have accepted it.  In other ways I know that I have to give myself guidelines when enough is enough.  Once I have put in the time and worked to accomplish the goals which can realistically be done in a day I have to turn in it off.  Once work is done…Let the play time begin.

Step 2: Play Harder.
Whether it is traveling, parties or just letting my hair loose with friends when play time comes I always want to play hard.  Part of the balance in playing hard that comes from just living in the moment when you are in play mode.  When play time is too muddled with work then it really comes closer to being bad work time and/or bad play time.  It is okay to detach from your email and to do list and just appreciate the time you have to do the things you enjoy.

Step 3: R & R.
The final (and probably most critical component) is the R & R.  Getting in the rest and relaxation your body needs is the stitching that keeps the whole work/play quilt together.  Both work and play can honestly be equally tiring.  To do both work and play and do it well you have to put some effort  in just being still and quiet, resting, and daring I say it…even doing nothing.  Giving your battery time to recharge makes sure that you both work and play hard.

Dinner for One

So it happens to everyone, your off and ready for some R & R but not one of your friends is available.  So what now????  Do you just go home and work on your couch potato skills? Heck no!  It’s been a long day and you deserve some delicious food and relaxing libations.  The concern normally is the stigma that comes along with eating along.  Changing the perception of the lonely table for one can happen quickly once you take advantge of some of the benefits of eating alone.  When done right, eating alone can be awesome.  First off it provides the ability to people watch.  When you remove the distraction of conversation you really get a chance to enjoy the environment and the interactions of your co-diners.  It is like turning on an old school silent movie.  You can fill in the blanks to the conversation or just read the body language to see what is in between the lines in a conversation.  Being close enough to hear is even better for me.  I am admittedly super nosy and relish tuning into to someone else’s channel.  Conversations about politics, religion, love, hate, career, and more provide me with the theatrical version of Reality TV.

For those who are a little less nosy sitting at the bar always provides some interesting conversation if you are blessed with a good bartender.  Bartenders (at least the good ones) are experienced conservationist.  Typically they are easy to talk to and a simple conversation with your bartender flows easily to talking to others sitting at the bar.  Talking with a group of strangers provides the potential to have fun, honest, agenda free conversation.  As an added bonus you never know where things can lead, it may present an opportunity to make a new friend or something more.  With a smile planted on your face and by being alone I find people are eager or at the very least receptive to starting a conversation.  Even if it does not change your life it definitely counts as company.  You never know where things lead and the right conversation can start you on a path to a new friend, job, or even love.

For me, tonight the lobster tacos at Eddie V’s would have been company enough.  But when added with the drinks and people watching it made for a great night.

Hustle Hard

Talk about one of the most overused words in today’s culture and I would definitely submit my vote for the word hustle.  You can hear about tales of hustling on the internet or songs or just from the everyday Joe Blow.  But what does it really mean anymore?  Is hustling just reduced to tales of selling xyz on the corner or someone pushing their music at the gas station?  I’ve seen one too many of those jobs fall flat to believe that.  Hustling for me is having a goal and preparing yourself to do whatever it takes to get that goal accomplished.  What I believe gets lost in translation is the fact that that is usually not a glamorous or easy job to do.  It is a commitment to do things you enjoy and things you don’t, to take on roles that leave you overworked and underpaid, and to be able to humble yourself to push hard on the things you do well equally as the things you do horrible at.  Finally the hussling catalyst is having a thirst for knowledge as if it was water in the Sahara.

As a real estate agent I can remember listing a small retail center.  I received a lot of calls given the location and when I thought I had a caller with potential I would ask for a business plan.  That question stopped most in their tracks.  If you want to start a business, isn’t doing the background work to prepare yourself for that business equally if not more important than just showing up and doing the job?  For me it is.  Hustling for something me means jumping feet first and being prepared to swim.   It’s a comprehensive approach to being ready to work hard to reach goals and respond to the bumps in the world to prevent a detour sign from becoming a stop sign.  One can easily have a dream or work their butt off and never get to the point of their hustle.  Good hustlers should combine both dreams and action.  Being short on either of those ingredients can make your hustle come closer to just being a hassle.