The Truth About Burnout, Steps to Rejuvenation, and A Cup of Candor

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 11.07.11 AMI know this post is coming sooner than you or I expected it to come, so let me explain.

Earlier this week, I experienced something unfamiliar. It came out of nowhere and yet came from everywhere. I imagined myself in the image of an old wind-up toy that had hit a wall; I was marching along, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was swimming in “noise,” as we communication folks like to call it. It was filling up my head and causing me not to think clearly.

Some people might call it burnout.

Burn•out (noun) /ˈbərnˌout/  def. physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. “high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout”

It was an emotional reaction that, quite frankly, had my friend Elizabeth puzzled when we talked on Tuesday.

“What happened?” she asked. “What happened after our lovely visit to Oxford?”

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 1.19.54 PMShe had sweetly volunteered to come with me and my daughter to the Plein Air event in Oxford where I was signing my latest book, Inn Significant, at the bookstore, Mystery Loves Company. I had been excited to go for weeks as my novel happens to be set in that sweet, picturesque and welcoming town.

“Nothing happened because of Oxford,” I told her. “It just happened after Oxford. I woke up in the morning the next day and didn’t know if I could write one more post about the book. I was becoming exhausted by the idea of book promotion.”

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When I told her more about it, she completely understood. So let me try to articulate it here. Forgive me if I don’t do it perfectly, but here are my thoughts on last Monday’s meltdown.

If you are not an independent author or an author with a small press, you may not understand fully the trials and tribulations of book promotion, but I know that these folks will get it — completely — so here’s the way it goes. Every morning you wake up with the thought, “How can I sell some books today?” For the last six years, that has been my relentless task, in addition to being a full-time professor, wife, mother, writer, blogger, and member of society who also likes to spend time with family and friends. That one, singular thought became an obsession for me, and here’s why: we care about our work, the stories we are producing as authors, but what good are they if no one reads them? The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to chip away at book promotion little by little, day after day. We write press releases. We enter book contests. We attend book talks, festivals, and signings. We are omnipresent on social media. We take photographs and come up with tidbits about our books to share on social media sites. We check our blog stats and our Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages to see how many books we have sold daily. We follow other people who are doing the same and see if we can learn from them. We see where we need to improve. We examine peak points on social media and try to post at those times that yield the biggest results. Then, we wake up each day and start over. And over. And over.

We drink a helluva lot of coffee.

And then we hit a wall.

Just like that.

Boom.

And the worst part is, I LOVE creativity. I love it so much, you guys. I love to talk about it, research it, read books about it, and just be creative through my writing and blogging and teaching, and yet, guess what was being zapped?

My friggin’ creativity.

Sucked away like Potter’s Dementors.

And so I had a knee-jerk reaction.

Stop writing. Stop blogging. Stop book promotion.

The problem came two days later when I realized that I didn’t want to stop blogging or writing, I just needed a sabbatical from book promotion.

I also realized that I needed to change my blog. It has been on my mind for a couple of years to rebrand it a bit, while still keeping the Steph’s Scribe flavor. As anyone in business knows, things can’t always stay the same, and change is good.  I’m one of the top Entertainment bloggers on Paperblog, and I have over 10,000 blog followers, so the last thing I wanted to do was start over.

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So you can see I’ve compromised. It’s got a new title, with Steph’s Scribe as a subtitle so I don’t lose my followers; it has topics that I would like to cover regularly; and my goal is for it to have a little more spirit and candor.

Not everything in life is roses and caviar, and I believe I didn’t always allow myself to be as candid as I would like. So, we’ve got a new approach and a new focus.

And now to you, my dear readers: I would love to hear from you about what you would like to see in the new revamping of the blog. I need some input. Creativity takes brainstorming and often can’t be done alone, so if you have some ideas for me, I am open and in need of them.

To those of you who wrote to me, people like Danielle, Jack F. and Jack G., Deborah, Elizabeth, Whitney, Heather, Linda, Leeanne, Chip, Laurie, and so many others, your words made me examine this much more quickly than I thought was possible. So thank you. Thank you so very much.

And while the “noise” may not be completely cleared and sent to Mars, it’s getting better. And while I cannot fully stop book promotion if I want my books to be read, I can still take a breather from it and perhaps manage the chaos in a different way. And while I may not be ready to write another novel, at some point, I will probably do it again.

And if I love blogging, well then, damn it, I’m just going to keep on blogging.

Was this candid enough for you? If so, I look forward to a cup of candor each week with you as we progress.

Love to you all.  Have a wonderful weekend…

Stephanie

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

Steph’s Scribe’s Sabbatical

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Yesterday, I posted that I might need to quit writing. After examining that statement more closely, getting a good night’s sleep, and reading aloud what I had written, I realized how incredibly sad that sounded to me. Additionally, during the day, I received texts and messages and comments on the blog from friends and supporters who might have been a little worried about my rather depressing state of mind. In a moment of exhaustion and confusion, I wrote something that may not have been entirely true, so let me clarify.

I will probably never quit writing. How could I?

I’ve been doing it since I was 13, and it’s always been a passion of mine.

But sometimes that passion can get the better of you, especially when you work really hard and the results aren’t exactly what you were hoping for.

That said, and not one to let a little disappointment guide my fate, what I do need to do is take a little time away from it all…from the books, from the promotion (especially), and from life as an independent author and the everyday obsession that it has become.

I need to reevaluate. Just like they do in business or politics or any meaningful endeavor. I need to see what’s working and what’s not.

To be completely honest, it’s not really about the blog so much; I actually thoroughly enjoy blogging. But I was getting tired of blogging about book promotion, as it is rarely rewarding. The life of an independent author takes some real grit—and I’ve had that grit for the last 6 years—but now I have to reexamine my author status and figure out my next move…the next step…the next journey in my writing career.

So, at the encouragement of some very dear and well-meaning people, I am going to take a sabbatical to figure this thing out. Today is July 18; my birthday is August 16. Therefore, I’ve decided that my birthday gift to myself is to take some time away, decompress a bit, spend some time with my kids and family, and take some long walks where clarity usually comes into play.

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When it’s your life’s dream to tell stories, write fiction, and be an author, it’s not something that you can let go of easily. So maybe I don’t have to; maybe I just need to stay patient and trust the journey. Refocus. Embrace creativity in a different way.

Thanks to those of you who have read my books, read my blog, attended book talks and book signings, and offered advice and support for these last six years. Your support means a great deal to me, and I probably don’t express that enough.

So thank you.

I don’t want to let you down any more than I want to let myself down.

Everyone needs a break now and then. I just need mine now.

You will hear from me again.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

Road Trip & Book Signing in Oxford, MD

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As P.T. Barnum used to say, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

This Sunday, July 16, I’ll be doing that thing I love to do–driving over the Bay Bridge to reach the “other side.” The Eastern Shore of Maryland is beckoning me to come for a visit, and I cannot wait.

I’ll be joining in the fun and festivities of Plein Air Paint Day in Oxford, Maryland, and will be signing my books at Mystery Loves Company on S. Morris Street from 1-3 p.m. Owner Kathy Harig has invited me to be a part of the event, and I enthusiastically accepted. Being able to spend the day in Oxford where my latest novel is set is just what the doctor ordered. And, as an added bonus, it will afford me time to do additional research for the sequel to Inn Significant. I love chatting with those who live in the town. There’s always a need to investigate a place and hear stories from the best sources. As a writer, the more stories you hear, the more material you gain.

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The charm of the Eastern Shore has hypnotized me. As someone who commutes 40-minutes to work and sits on the Baltimore Beltway in more traffic than I wish to recall, taking a trip across the bridge means total decompression. As my character Milly states from my novel when she crosses the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, “As the Bay Bridge meets the land on the Eastern Shore, it’s as if you landed in a different world. Immediately, I felt the slower pace of life.” Milly and I think alike.

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That feeling is real. Ask anyone who has the privilege of spending time on the Eastern Shore. It’s the best place to unwind and relax.

If you’re in the area and are looking for a day away and to feel the slower pace of life, I encourage you to come visit Oxford on Sunday. Have lunch at a local establishment. Picnic in the park. Take a Ferry ride to St. Michaels. Bring your bikes and ride the open road. Get an ice cream cone at The Scottish Highland Creamery. Pick crabs on the water. See the Sandaway Inn, the place that inspired the entire setting of Inn Significant.

I think you’ll see why I decided to set my novel in this sweet, friendly, and vibrant little town. And I hope you fall in love with it, too, as I have.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Wednesday Wardrobe – Date Night

What to wear on date night?

Well, it depends where you’re going. There are so many different things to do on your night out, and your outfit should reflect what you might do and what makes you feel pretty and comfortable. Today’s Wednesday Wardrobe features different scenarios for different date nights.

An Early Evening Strolling the Town

I love early evening, but since the sun stays out for a while in the summers, a hat and sunglasses may be needed. This little lightweight dress is from Xhilaration. Shoes by Indigo. It’s light and breezy and keeps me cool in the summer heat. It also doesn’t wrinkle. Bonus!

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Summer Concert

On a cooler summer evening, you might want to throw on some jeans and a cute top for a night listening to music. Jeans and top from White House Black Market. Cranberry booties from Sonoma.

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Dinner Under the Stars

Get ready for that great night having dinner under the stars. For a romantic night out, you may want to opt for a pretty black dress–this one’s by Robbie Bee from Nordstrom–and some black heels–these from Adrienne Vittadini.

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Double Date

Meeting friends for a double date for cocktails? This Society Amuse dress is fluttery and feminine. Got it in a boutique in Charleston on vacation.

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Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Why I Will Never Break Up With Coffee

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Let’s face it: Starbucks just might be one of the smartest businesses on the planet. It totally understood what was happening in the working world when it blossomed into something spectacular and omnipresent. People were working longer, harder, and were busier than ever before, especially in corporate America, and it knew exactly what we needed, how to seduce us, sustain us, and how to give us extraordinary pleasure.

And I’m not talking about sex.

You may agree with me or disagree with me, but the truth is, coffee rarely disappoints and provides endless satisfaction.

When I go to bed at night, I often coax myself into grappling with the next day’s affairs by reminding myself that my day will begin with coffee; it will always be there. Savory and extraordinary, every cup. I’m also in love with my Keurig, as it provides me with my best cups of coffee. I am delighted every day to drink my cup of coffee, and even more satisfied because of my new Yeti that keeps my coffee hot the entire 35-minute drive to work.

It’s the little things, people.

According to Caffeine Informer, there are 19 solid reasons why coffee is good for you, and when I reviewed the list, I picked my top favorites as to why coffee doesn’t have to worry about our relationship. It wards off depression, fights Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. For those of you who drink too much (and I’m not talking about coffee here), it also can help protect against cirrhosis of the liver. If you’re not convinced yet of its benefits, a typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, and oranges. Want to read more about it? Visit Caffeine Informer by clicking here.

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While relationships can let you down, coffee rarely does. It does its job on most days. When I’m feeling a little sluggish in the morning and have to teach a class, my cup of coffee comes with me and helps perk me up. I am not alone in the endeavor during morning classes, as many of my students walk through the door with cups in their hands, either from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or our student cafeteria.

None of us is breaking up with our coffee.

So there you have it. While there are plenty of bad habits we can get addicted to in our lives, I won’t buy the fact that coffee is bad for us, as some may suggest, like a bad boyfriend.

And while, honestly, Starbucks isn’t typically my cup of tea (ah, yes, tea! Can we chat about that sometime soon, too?), I prefer the taste of Dunkin’s coffee or Panera’s coffee. I like to think we’re a team, coffee and I: it is created, I buy it, and it makes me happy.

Consumer heaven.

As I said in yesterday’s post, life moves pretty quickly, and we should indulge in certain things that bring us joy.

Coffee and I will be intimate for life.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Melancholy

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I’m typically not one to dwell in malaise and melancholy, but this morning, I’m feeling a little bit of it.

It’s July 10, and vacation is over for our family. We had a great time, enjoyed spectacular weather, got to visit Charleston then spend time on the beach in Hilton Head. We ate at fantastic restaurants, the boys played golf, the girls rode bikes and relaxed on the beach, we hit a jazz club, played putt putt, and ate way too much ice cream.

I really shouldn’t be complaining.

But my son turned 17 yesterday, and now I feel like all I’m doing is counting down the days until he leaves for college and holding on to the days we have left.

Stupid, really.

I should be happy that we’re all good and happy and enjoying some time off this summer, but there’s that melancholy feeling that creeps in now and again which leaves me feeling just a little bit uneasy. Like life is passing me by. Like life moves really, really fast, and if I don’t stop and take it all in, I have the capacity to miss it.

I mean, really miss it.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve missed things. I work a lot. I spent two years getting an MFA degree while working full time and missed some quality time with my kids when they were little. I spend time on side projects, like writing books and getting involved in the community. I try to see my friends every now and again amid the crazy, hectic schedules we all seem to keep.

So what happens? You wake up and realize another week has passed you by.

I don’t mean to be depressing, especially on a Monday morning, but really, the time is now. Breathe in. Enjoy life.

Take those vacations and go out with your friends. Spend quality time with your families. Before you know it, you’re middle-aged and thinking about retirement, not the beginning of your career.

Honestly, one of the reasons I love teaching at the college level is because the students keep me young. I’m forced to hear about their interests and their activities. I may be older, but I can still related to most of their predicaments and successes.

We all like to feel young.

I’m sorry for this jagged little post. It’s not as coherent as I would like, but it represents my chaotic thoughts this morning.

They’re messy.

And maybe that’s just how life is meant to be.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enjoy every second of it.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

Wednesday Wardrobe – Accessorize with Guest Blogger Heather Connors

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Heather Tilles Connors and me at Oriole Park at Camden Yards where our friendship blossomed and flourished…and continues to do so.

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I’m on vacation, and as such, I decided to make a call to the bullpen to one of my favorite people, Heather Tilles Connors, to fill in while I’m away for Wednesday Wardrobe. I used the baseball pun because Heather and I met working for the Baltimore Orioles and have remained friends for more than 20 years. Plus, Heather has great style, and she knows how to accessorize well as a Senior Stylist for Stella & Dot. I hope you enjoy this week’s guest blogger — she’s got some good ideas about layering jewelry, too. And visit her site if you’re interested in ordering something.

Enjoy!

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When it comes to shopping, I am always on the lookout for accessories that give me that ‘WOW’ factor; maybe it’s a piece that draws me in for conversation or simply gives me a little more bounce in my step. Whatever the reason for accessorizing any outfit, Stella & Dot has all the right essentials in one place! Our boutique style couture shopping experience includes irresistible jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, cross-body bags, handbags, totes and clutches…and we can’t forget our premier Covet line of high end diamonds in 14K gold/white gold and genuine supple grain leather accessories.

Where fashion meets versatility on-the-go, Stella & Dot takes you from day to night, workplace to play, and can be combined or worn different ways for unlimited style options—something for every taste. And if my own personal style fix was not enough, Stella & Dot is well adored and featured by many news outlets, top fashion magazines and spotted on many celebrities.

With over half of the line under $50, isn’t it time to treat yourself for the summer www.stelladot.com/heatherconnors. For more style inspiration follow me @heathersdstyle or HeatherSDStyle.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 11.06.25 PMHeather Connors is a Senior Stylist with Stella & Dot and a Director of Marketing with a Master’s Degree in Graphic Design. She has known Stephanie for over 20 years; first as cruisers and then as colleagues with the Baltimore Orioles in the Publications and Public Relations Departments.

 

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Golden Girl meets Stella #chevronwrap #dalilahpendant #illusivehoopearrings
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Layering my favorites and style #blackarcpendant #doublehornpendant

 

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the 4th of July with Ben Franklin’s Wit & Wisdom

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Ben Franklin.

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Polymath. Author. Printer. Political theorist. Politician. Freemason, Postmaster. Inventor. Civic leader. Believer in education.

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For all those occupations and skills, I think he might be one of my favorite characters from all of history. And he seemed to be a real character–replete with great quotes, a sense of humor, infinite wisdom, inventiveness, a literary sense, and a ton of common sense that we can all still learn from today.

Franklin was a printer, and our family can relate. My father’s father owned The Paterson Press, and printed newspapers for the town of Paterson in New Jersey. My grandfather was, therefore, a writer and a printer, and understood matters of news and storytelling, much like Franklin himself.

As we celebrate the Independence of our nation this 4th of July, I thought I’d share my absolute favorite quotes from Ben Franklin, as he is a reminder to live life to the fullest and achieve much while we are here on this planet. His list of accomplishments is surely impressive. His quotes, equally impressive.

Below are some of my favorites.

Have a great 4th of July, all!

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.

He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.

If you would be loved, love, and be lovable.

The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.

Where there’s marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

 

The Case for the American Road Trip

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Andrew McCarthy’s book, “The Longest Way Home,” is one of my favorites by a travel writer.

A few years ago, I read Andrew McCarthy’s piece entitled U.S. Road Trips: Into the Heart of America, and I couldn’t agree with him more about getting into your car and going. He begins the piece with this sentence:

There’s nothing wrong that a hundred bucks and a full tank of gas can’t fix.

I heartily agree, Mr. McCarthy.

One of the most special things about taking road trips, in my humble opinion, is not just getting there and seeing what you want to see, but also the ability to get lost and see what you didn’t expect to see. That’s it in a nutshell. Sometimes the best surprises, or those things that have the most impact or create the best memories, are the things you didn’t expect to stumble upon.

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Gotta love a hidden treasure with great prices and delicious food.

Take, for example, Mariachi’s restaurant, in Manning, South Carolina. My family and I set out for Savannah, Georgia, last year before we vacationed in Hilton Head. As we were driving, we all became hungry, and we stumbled upon this hidden gem of a restaurant off of I-95. You can get a dinner special for $3.99 all the way up until 4 p.m. I mean, that is a crazy deal! We don’t have many places that have prices like that in Maryland. Anyway, this place gave us lots of laughs and we were all shocked at the amount of food for the price, not to mention it was some good Mexican food. So what did we do this year when we headed south? We stopped at Mariachi’s. You see? We made some memories there.

Road trips also allow you to take a wrong turn and run into a beautiful street, waterfront property, wooded area, or a little pleasant picnic area or park. Road trips offer you choices: you can stop, get your butt out of the car and see what you’ve encountered, or you can drive right through it. The best part about this decision making is that you’re at the wheel and the choices are yours.

Life is all about choices, after all, isn’t it?

I love finding hidden gems, and sometimes, as we’ve done for last few vacations, we’ve tied into the trip a visit to a small town I’ve read about over the years in travel magazines. What good is reading about a place if you don’t get off your duff and go see it?

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Bumped into this gem in Beaufort, SC.

Road trips allow you imaginative freedom that we all need sometimes from work, from responsibilities, and from life in general. Roll down the windows, put your favorite music on, and allow the road to guide you.

You just may be delighted by what you discover.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

Wednesday Wardrobe – Wearing White

0ac3ff1fae94272cb2b16b8af62548adMy new color this year is white. I know it’s not that radical or anything, but white is a great color for most skin types, and paired the right way, it can give you that classic look, no matter what the occasion. A versatile white dress in summertime looks clean and cool; a white coat in winter beats the doldrums of winter and reminds us of snow.

Think about adding a little more white to your wardrobe if you assess your closet and notice you have a lack of white mixed in among your other colors.

Here are some of my favorite white pieces I own.

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This Boho dress from Nordstrom is one of my favorites. Shoes are from Jessica Simpson at DSW. This photo was taken to promo my upcoming visit to Oxford for a book signing. Can’t wait. Also can’t wait for my hair to grow a little. It’s a bit too short!

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These white pants from White House Black Market are my favorite summer pants. Love them. Top is from Anthropologie. If you get some time this summer, I hope you enjoy a good book. The one I’m reading here is called The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman.


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This off-white bare-shoulder blouse is from Charming Charlie. I wear it all the time with jeans.

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This winter white coat was my best score last year. I love it, and the combination of black and white always looks classic. Briefcase from Lulu’s.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

5 Guiding Principles of Creative Leadership

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Last week, Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus, Chip Rouse, and I gave a three-hour presentation to an organization entitled, “Event Planning: A Seminar in Communication.” Centered around ideas from our textbook, Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, we talked about communication theory, ideas, tips and case studies, and offered strategies for leaders in event planning.

Additionally, one of the aspects we talked about was creativity, and our textbook includes a chapter dedicated to leadership. I like to talk about the combination of the two: creativity & leadership.

One of my favorite articles I’ve read to date on this topic is from the Harvard Business Review and it’s entitled Creativity and the Role of Leader. It’s a terrific piece that examines leadership in creative roles, such as those at Google, IDEO, and XM and Sirius. If we can take away one thing from this article, it’s that creative leadership requires you to be a visionary.

After researching and reading about this topic for years, as well as presenting on the topic at conferences, I’d like to offer my take on creative leadership, for I believe it is the cornerstone of any successful organization or endeavor. I also come to the table a bit biased and in favor of creativity, as I have the privilege of working in two fields I believe offer tremendous opportunity to unleash your creativity—that of teaching and fictional writing.

That said, I believe creative leadership requires those in power to possess these types of characteristics.

1.  Creative leaders have open minds.

They are open to ideas and suggestions. They understand that the people they have hired or are working on their organization’s behalf are good at what they do and believe in the organization’s mission. Rarely is one person the innovator; it take a couple or more visionaries to make things go—just look at the early days of Apple. Creative leaders are able to examine a variety of ideas and appreciate the dedication that has been put forth by individuals and teams, and they always stay open to newer and better suggestions.

2. Creative leaders are not afraid to change and break habits.

In order for any organization or business to thrive, creative leaders must welcome change and not get bogged down by habits. In an event planning business, can you imagine if the leaders did not commit to this type of excellence? Events would be the same, and events of distinction would never be created. However, change for the sake of change is rarely a good idea unless it is grounded, researched, substantiated, warranted and undeniably necessary. Remember when they had to bring former CEO Howard Schultz back to his original role at Starbucks because things got out of hand?

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3. Creative leaders value their teams.

Rarely will you come across satisfied and passionate employees whereby there is no creative leadership. The stifling of creativity can prove deadly when individuals are stripped of creative measures. Workers and creative teams must be allowed to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and removing aspects of creativity could lead to decreased motivation. Teams need to feel that their contributions to the organization’s success are vital to the organization’s continued growth, and that their input is valued.

4. Creative leaders are motivators—and it’s a team effort.

I recently watched a “60-Minutes” piece on my former O’s colleague and friend, Theo Epstein, the current GM of the Chicago Cubs and former GM of the Boston Red Sox, who broke the curse of the Bambino. In that piece, Theo talked about how he builds his team and how important the cumulative sense of the team’s character is to the team’s success. That sense of choosing the right people leads to motivation that is unsurpassed, as was witnessed by the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. Theo’s energy spills over into all those involved in the team, and as he states, no one person is solely responsible for the success. Perhaps that is why Fortune magazine chose Theo Epstein as its #1 World Leader in the March 2017 issue. I’m proud to know him. There is no denying that team spirit has the power to win it all, as has been proven time and time again in athletics. That same energy works in organizations, as well.

With Theo at an O’s Reunion gathering.

5. Creative leaders are constantly looking to the future for the next story.

Creative leaders can’t stay in the moment for too long—they are always looking to the future for the next project, idea, or task that will prove meaningful. There’s always another story to tell, if you will, and they are ready to move on to creating something even more meaningful than the last project. If they sit still for too long, they get itchy. Creative leadership means forging ahead with the next plan, because they know what it means to build on success.

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.

5 Summertime Suggestions For A Better You

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Right now, I’m sitting on my screened in back porch loving that it’s a June summer day. It’s a little humid, and it rained earlier, but now the sky is blue and the sun is out. The breeze is rippling the trees. It’s invigorating.

I look at summer as a time to unwind a little and a time to try to enjoy the simple things in life: a barbecue with friends and family; days spent at the beach; squeezing in a little travel; cocktails at the pool; watching my son play golf; and seeing my daughter perform in her dance intensive in July.

I love this time and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Today, I’d like you to consider making this your best summer ever, and I’ve pulled five inspirational quotes to help you frame some personal goals.

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Consider writing about your summer, or better yet, parts of your life that you want to capture. Start to write down stories of your life. In my magazine writing class, the students write a memoir, and I ask them to think of it this way: write a chapter of your life that would go into a bigger memoir. At Monday night’s book talk at the Broadneck Library, one of the things I suggested to folks in the room was to write down their stories. A collection of stories of your life can be passed down from one generation to another, and it’s a way to never forget things that have happened in a family’s history. Even if you are not a writer, you may want to record memories that should last a lifetime. What a great way to spend a summer’s day.
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Live for now. Do the things you want to do now; don’t wait for later. There is no time like the present. There are so many things going on during the summer months—festivals, day trips to take, new restaurants to try, summer concerts, and outdoor activities. Make the most of your days and don’t delay.

 

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Always be yourself. You are who you are. People will love you or they won’t. They accept you or they don’t. Don’t waste time on those who don’t like you just the way you are. Life is too short for fake anything, including fake friends. Spend time with those who care about you and make you a priority.
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Last summer, I disconnected from Facebook for two months. I wrote a novel, spent time with my family, vacationed, and read some books. I even strolled a town all by myself for a day. I will always remember it and appreciate it. Spending time by yourself is rejuvenating. Making your own memories are important.
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I don’t care for negativity. In fact, it’s one characteristic I dislike tremendously. While it may not always be practical, I try to take the approach of seeing the sunny side of everything because it beats the alternative. Why not always attempt to find the positive in people, places, and things? Why not try this approach? What do you have to lose?

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.