Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category
The time I watched the bats in Austin with the co-creator of Lollapalooza

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

South by Southwest. The international music festival and conference that has become a global phenomenon, which now includes Interactive, Gaming, Film and more in its programming.

1991. My first trek to SXSW. I was 18. It was held in only one hotel in Austin, Texas. The Hyatt. All the panels, speakers and exhibitors were housed in this one spot. The music showcases did take place in clubs, mainly on or right off 6th Street, but, for the most part, it was a small affair.

And it changed my life. I met Marc Geiger, co-founder of Lollapalooza, which, that very summer, started its own phenomenon. I had just heard him on the A&R panel, and he had that spark in his eyes, and that edge in his voice. The one I recognized in myself and the one I soooo admired in others. He spoke of passion, and he spoke of vision and innovation. I wanted to know what he knew. I wanted to learn from him.

So…. I called his room up and told him I wanted to hear about his work and his journey. Yeah, I was a ballsy (or perhaps naive) young kid with big dreams of being in the music biz. I just asked the front desk to connect me to his room, and bam, I was able to leave a message on his room phone.

I got a surprise knock on my door an hour later. It was Marc. He invited me and my buddy Paula to go watch the bats. Now, if you have yet to visit Austin and haven’t gone to see the largest urban colony of bats in the world come streaming out from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, it’s a MUST SEE experience. At sunset, the bats take flight in search of food. It is a gorgeous sight. You can stand or sit on the banks of the Colorado River, or stand on the bridge itself, and watch.


For the next hour, Marc talked with me about how he and Perry Farrell created Lollapalooza, what their vision was, how they brought it to fruition, what was next for him, and so much more.

From then on, I always, no matter how scared I was, made that call, sent that email or found a way to meet, interview or incite storytelling out of my idols.

I am heading back to Austin in March. This time I will be meeting with friend and mentor Hugh Forest, the executive director of SXSW Interactive, which welcomed 40,000 attendees last year.

For a woman who is about to host the five-year anniversary of her lil book and writers convention that will bring in over 1,000 attendees, and which continues to grow, you can see why reaching out to Hugh a few short years ago when UTOPiAcon was still in its infancy was such a big and important step for me.

I wrote that email. He answered. We have since spoken on the phone, and exchanged book recommendations, advice (mostly from him to me), and laughs over the “be careful what you wish for” variety. I value his experience more than I can say. I value his vision, his approach to his team (they go out for beers and share in the successes and failures together). But mostly, I am so very grateful that he is the type of leader who found the time to answer an email, and who generously gave of his time and his expertise to a stranger with a dream.

What I’m trying to say to you is this —

If there is someone out there you think is out of reach, but they seem like a kindred spirit, take a chance, make the ask. It has worked for me more than twice. My life, my business, and my vision have grown and been dramatically, positively impacted by taking the chance.

But, please, remember there is a difference in reaching out and badgering to death. There is an etiquette to follow. It’s mainly called common sense and common courtesy. Treat someone as you would like to be treated. Do not always be the taker in the equation. You have gifts, as well. Be mindful of time, of how often you “impose,” and of how you speak to these people, who are busy and also have lives and families and demands on them that have nothing to do with you. They don’t owe you anything, so when they do give of themselves to you, be thankful. And don’t get so used to it that you start to feel entitled to their time or energy. Do the work. Only reach out when you are truly stuck or want to share a success.

I will be in Austin the first week in March of 2016. If you want to meet with me, email me at



Post Script: Marc Geiger got his start back in the 80s booking bands in college. He loved the Australian band The Church. He called information in Australia and got their manager’s number. He called and said he wanted to get the band a deal in the U.S. The rest is history. MAKE. THE. CALL.

Posted in Advice, entrepreneur, SXSW | No Comments »

How to Get Sponsors for Your Event

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

sponsor_moneyI have had several people come to me asking how I birthed utopYA, the conference and awards that celebrate women writers of young adult and new adult fiction, because they want to create their own conference or event and would like to replicate its success. For them, I held a special podcast a year ago, where I shared how we did it. I’ll probably be sharing that podcast recording again soon in some way.

I can even count a handful of these events that were created by women who attended utopYA, and wanted to bring that same opportunity and spirit to their own towns. Let’s stop right here, and take a minute to celebrate that. Let’s celebrate that more opportunities for writers to connect with fans and each other are popping up all over creation [insert happy dance here].

To honor one of my mission aims — thoughtful collaboration with like-minded entrepreneurs — I thought I’d pull back the curtain on sponsorship for those looking to attract them to your own events.

Here are my top tips on the steps needed for successful event sponsorship:

Set your goal(s)

How much money do you need? What is it you need or want to accomplish with the help of sponsors that you can’t do on your own or in a different way? Be specific.

Create your hit list

Who do you want to sponsor? Do your homework. Find companies sympathetic to your audience and to you. Find companies active in sponsorship, but who aren’t over extended. Find companies who can help promote.

Determine Audience — both yours and theirs

Find sponsors who want the audience that is attracted to you.

Know what you have to offer

What can you offer them in exchange for sponsorship? What can you do for them or create for them or offer them that will make saying yes to you a no-brainer?

Cultivate Relationships

Sometimes this means starting local — know any business owners, friends or family members who can help?

Use Twitter, Facebook and other social sites to not only do homework, but to talk with your potential sponsors. Get to know them way before you ask them for anything.

Create Proposal

Put together a nice-looking and well thought out document outlining your event mission, purpose, facts about your audience, facts about your industry, any press you have received, and your sponsor opportunities.

Work with rock stars

I recommend working with someone who has this as their ONLY task for your event. Getting sponsors is not a job that is easy to juggle along with the 50,000 other things on the event “To Do” list. I say this from personal experience. Then bring your team in to help execute.

Be tenacious

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. At the very least, you want to be in their minds when you come a-callin’ next year.


Creating successful events is extremely rewarding, but definitely full-time work if you want it done right and well. I see a lot of entrepreneurs trying to juggle events with other hobbies and passions. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do both, but, undoubtedly, there will be times when one or the other will suffer because you aren’t 100% focused on one. Be kind to yourself when this happens. It’s in our nature to beat ourselves up when our desire to be superwomen who do it all gets challenged. Know in your heart what you’re meant to do, and go for it with every cell of your being.

Hope these tips helped. Here’s to success for all of us!

Tags: event marketing, event sponsorship, how to get sponsors, how to write a sponsor deck, sponsor proposal
Posted in Advice, Conferences, events, marketing | No Comments »

Quit passing judgment like you pass gas

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

In the past two days I have had my eyes opened by two unexpected people…who I don’t even know.

I preach and push tolerance, acceptance and positive collaboration. I deliberately weed out people who I think pollute my airspace with their judgmental crap.

Thing is, by pushing people out, I was judging them. I had made the decision that they weren’t good enough and couldn’t teach me anything.

I thought Katy Perry was a vapid, spineless, untalented puppet. I couldn’t believe she landed Russell Brand, whom I considered to be triple digits above her I.Q. (at the time).

I thought Julien Smith, best-selling co-author of Trust Agents (the Bible for social marketers when it came out) was an arrogant ass (affiliate link). I was so regularly offended and disappointed in his ridiculous judgmental crap that I quit following him on Twitter and unsubscribed to his blog.


So, what in the hell made me finally read Julien’s free ebook, The Flinch, yesterday? And why, today, did I decide I had to go see Katy Perry’s concert documentary Part of Me?

Maybe it was because Mercury was in retrograde (is it?). Maybe it was because I pretty much read anything published by Seth Godin’s Domino Project, which The Flinch is. Maybe I didn’t care if my cool kid card got revoked for watching Katy Perry’s bubble-gum pop romp around the globe.

Or maybe, just maybe, I knew deep down that I grabbed that book and went to see that movie for a reason — because Julien Smith and Katy Perry got to where they are because they might actually know some shit that I don’t. (I bet Julien can’t believe he’s been complementarily compared to Katy in a blog post…but there’s a first for everything.)

I’ll be expanding on my love-hate relationship with Julien Smith in a future post, but I wanted to bring to light that there’s room for improvement in all of us. There’s room at the top for all of us. That anyone can teach us something if we let them.

Quit passing judgment like you pass gas…because they both stink.


Tags: julien smith, katy perry, part of me movie, passing judgment, trust agents
Posted in Advice | No Comments »