As those close to me know, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in December 2019 which meant a HUGE lifestyle change. No more bagels or pop tarts for breakfast, fast food on the run for lunch, and pasta for dinner. No more sitting around every evening watching TV (I've given up television besides some Food Network on the weekends - and binging Schitt's Creek!). I stopped watching the news about 2 months in to the pandemic. I've limited my social media use to mostly business and I've 'unfriended' or 'unfollowed' people who cause me grief. I started journaling every evening and I set realistic goals for myself:
I reset my mindset, and reevaluated my work time AND my downtime. It wasn't easy to take a hard look into why my health had declined and I was not only overweight, but I was now "a diabetic"; something that was incredibly scary to me after watching my dad suffer for over 20 years, spend many years on kidney dialysis, have multiple heart surgeries, and a kidney transplant - all before he died in 2005 at just 58 years young.
To make matters worse, I was unhappy with my job. Even after moving trying to fix it by transferring to an office much closer to home, I still didn't like what I was doing. (P.S. - A shorter commute to work does make you happy - but only if you like what you're doing once you reach your destination!) So I jumped on another job offer, which wasn't the right fit for me, and I was once again - unhappy.
It's true - emotional eating is a thing. Stress and unhappiness makes you and your body do crazy things. But when you're working a 10 hour day and eating lunch on the go or going to restaurants with clients - and your dinner consists of 18 appetizers and wine at a networking event... well, you see where my problems were! After I was diagnosed, I attempted to change everything at once. My diet, my lifestyle, my job. It was A LOT to take in, a lot to accept. I knew I didn't want to be unhealthy. I didn't want to feel terrible any longer. I didn't want to be tired, irritable, and uncomfortable in my skin.
Left: May 2019 Right: October 2020
So what do you do when there's a global pandemic, you've just changed jobs, then get laid off? You start your own business, right?
Even with how terrible 2020 was overall, it's been good to me - as guilty as I feel saying it, it's true. I've worked hard - on myself and on starting my business. I have had the support of my amazing family and friends. I'm walking about 20 miles a week, eating much better, and using portion control. I'm incorporating a protein into nearly every meal and substituting veggies for pasta and rice. But... I still eat pasta! And, I still drink wine! It's a learning process and it's self control, which I never had before. I don't deprive myself of anything - I just have learned to eat less of the "bad stuff" and eat it less often. I drink water all day, every day.
I was able to stop insulin injections in April (about 4 months after diagnosis) and my oral meds were cut in half in July. My A1C was 11.4 when I got my diagnosis and it was 5.8 at last check, also in July (Six months in!) My blood sugar measured 320 when I was diagnosed - and now I'm around 90-130.
And, I'm happy with what I'm doing professionally. You can't spend 40+ hours of your life doing something that doesn't satisfy you. I'm helping business owners and nonprofits "Make Their Message Matter." I've been able to bring a few friends on as contractors, which in turn has helped them!
Why have I told you all this? Why am I talking about something so personal on a business blog? First of all, I'm NOT a professional when it comes to diabetes and weight loss. Nothing I'm saying is "medical advice"... but what I *am* saying is YOU DESERVE HAPPINESS. If you're in a job, a relationship, a friendship, any situation that makes you unhappy, I'm hoping you can find the strength to get out of it. Start slow and don't do everything at once. Make a few changes and let those marinate, get used to them, then move on to the next change.
I know what you're thinking. I never would've taken this leap if it wasn't for COVID and all the major changes that came with it. It's true, I didn't have the guts to quit working and just start my own business. And I'm surely not telling you to either.
If I wasn't diagnosed with diabetes, I'd still be overweight and eating 12,394 grams of carbs a day. (Kidding. Sort of.) I'd still be sitting around watching mindless television instead of walking and spending time outdoors. But now that I am doing it, I feel so much better!
But... *IF* you have an opportunity, take it. If you have a sliver of hope to make changes that will impact you personally and professionally, do it.
I did and I wouldn't change a bit of it!
I've been thinking a lot about volunteerism lately. I've been considering all it takes to really dedicate time to an organization and truly make a difference. There are so many avenues to volunteer, and they change as we get older. I started volunteering when my kids were very young and attended a Catholic school. I did weekly lunch duty - walking around the cafeteria and helping to open pudding containers and peeling oranges, wiping down tables between sessions, and so on. I was also on the yearly festival committee and helped plan the school's biggest fundraiser and solicited donations from local businesses to display at the heavily attended, much-talked-about Live Auction. From there I moved to Scouts (both Boy and Girl) and soccer boosters (I could write a book on the years I was involved in high school soccer. The. Drama.)
Eventually, I began doing volunteer activities for local and national nonprofits: Eruption Athletics, Persad Center, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Toys for Tots, Community Liver Alliance, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few one-offs. I helped to build a dog park in my community, and by far had the most fun while spending time with the crew from Cindy's Memorial Bark Park.
I bring up volunteering for a few reasons. Did you know you can (and should!) list volunteer activities on your resume and in your LinkedIn profile? Volunteerism shows leadership, dedication, and empathy. Here are some tips on adding your philanthropic endeavors to your resume. Secondly, and most importantly, nonprofits are suffering - bad. All their events have been cancelled or moved to a virtual platform. Donors are not donating. Volunteers are not volunteering. People are not interested in virtually connecting - it's getting old; it's not the same... I get it. But it doesn't change the needs of any nonprofit; it is most likely making their overall needs greater.
What do you do when you're tasked with a fundraising goal that doesn't change because of a global pandemic? How about organizations that need MORE money during the pandemic? What about those groups who are running out of resources because of COVID?
Saturday December 5 is International Volunteer Day. The United Nations designated this day back in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism.
Thinking ahead as to how you might want to be involved on IVD starts now. You can begin by contacting your borough or township and asking about a small neighborhood project. You can survey your friends and family as to what causes are important to them and create a team effort for one specific organization. You can just randomly contact a nonprofit and describe your interests and talents - I'd bet they'd find SOMETHING for you to do and a way for you to be involved!
Here's a short list of some of my favorite nonprofit organizations, in no particular order. I've shared a link direct to their contact information. I urge you to reach out and ask, "How can I help?", or make a donation... every dollar counts, especially now.
Community Liver Alliance
National Kidney Foundation
American Diabetes Association
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
Cindy's Memorial Bark Park
Toys for Tots
The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania
March of Dimes
Light Of Life Rescue Mission
The Little Fox - Toby's Foundation
South Hills Pet Rescue - My grand dog Maggie found her way from SHPR to our family!
No matter how you choose do it, just get involved. The possibilities are endless - the rewards are invaluable.
"Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless." - Sherry Anderson
Use the comment section and share your favorite nonprofit organizations - or any volunteer opportunities you need help with!
XO - Kel
It's everyone's favorite time of year. The decorations are up. Christmas music is playing. Santa is watching. The air feels festive. Family gatherings. Parties galore.
Hold up. It's 2020 and the recipe is a little different.
Take a stressful year. Add the stress of work, an intense election, bad news left and right. And sprinkle a little holiday anxiety on top. Yep, that's more like it. This year has been a year of survival in every aspect and the end of the year is no different. What is different is the majority of us are working from home. Not only are we working from home. We are teaching at home. We are cooking at home. We are doing literally everything at home. Kinda makes it hard to get in the festive mood when we've been stuck at home for nearly 10 months. However, it is possible to make it to the new year without completely falling apart (and maybe even enjoy yourself!). Here are some tips to survive the holiday season while working at home (along with a few socially distanced holiday events still happening in the Pittsburgh area).
Let your family know when you need time to focus on work, but also let your work know when you need family time. Share your schedule, goals and intentions with your clients, supervisors, as well as friends and family.
2. Take breaks
Like I said before, this year has been tough. And holidays can be tough. Realize that yes, there is a lot to get done, but none of it will be finished if you're not fully present. If you feel yourself getting burned out, take a break. Go for a walk. Do some yoga.
3. Claim your space
If the kids are home from school - you might be lacking the space you had while they were away. It's important to have an area where you can focus on work. Claim a room with good internet connection and privacy.
4. Change your notifications
The dings, chimes and bells are enough to drive you crazy. Do Not Disturb exists for a reason. If you are stepping out of the office or away from wherever your workstation is, shut off your notifications. Working from home doesn’t mean a 24-hour workday.
The stress of the holidays can be overwhelming, but you will get through it. And when you need a little escape, Pittsburgh has a lot to offer.
Whatever the end of this crazy year brings, remember to breathe. Count your blessings. And wear your mask please.
~ Melissa Pravlik, Social & Web Strategist
You CAN continue to social distance and still have fun. We've proven it over the last seven-plus months. If you have handled board meetings, team meetings, networking mixers, happy hours, and team lunches from a distance... why not holiday parties? With office doors locked and travel restrictions possible - these suggestions work for both business and personal events. Let's discover how to make virtual holiday parties exciting... and possible!
Start planning now.
If you're considering a gift exchange, you're going to want to get started now so your guests have time to purchase and ship. Elfster is a free gift exchange website that allows you to set up an exchange, virtually! There's even a blog post on the best useful and creative White Elephant gift ideas!
Get (and keep) everyone excited.
Send something ahead of time, and not just an invitation via email. A mailed invite, a bottle of wine, a logoed chatski - get creative and get your guests excited about the event! Make sure you send out a few text or email reminders about the party, too. You can create great digital invitations at Canva - and they offer printing.
It's always about the food.
Whether the host(ess) cooks, does it potluck style, or hires a caterer - there's always food. A virtual party should be no different! Every group has a great entertainer and someone who loves to cook. Ask the best chef from your crew to do a live cooking demo. Send out the recipe ahead of time and let party goers cook along if they'd like!
Another idea: Charcuterie boards They're so popular and so easy to put together. You can vote for the most beautiful board.
Get out of your PJs!
Encourage everyone to dress up! You can ask people to put on their best holiday garments or choose a theme and see how creative things get. How about a prize for best attire?
Keep everyone's interest.
MyQuiz.org is a live multiplayer trivia quiz site that can host up to 25 people for free and it works from any device. They're offering holiday specials, too! There are a lot of online board game options as well: Monopoly, Words With Friends, and lots of card games, to name a few.
Give more prizes!
You can come up with a ton of ideas and reasons to reward all of your attendees, in addition to the ones already mentioned. How about: Best backdrop, prettiest table scape, best decorations, first to get on the call, last to leave the call. Use your imagination!
If you put in the effort, the possibilities are never ending. And, if you would like some help, just ask! The team at K2C is ready and waiting with the creativity and connections you need to make your virtual party a success... just don't forget to invite us!
I think we can all agree 2020 has been a little…shall we say different? This is the year we were told to stay home. We were told to avoid loved ones, coworkers, and friends. We learned to rely on devices for meetings, get togethers with friends, and even dates. Movie nights moved to the couch. The dining room table hasn’t seen this much action in a long time. We even embraced the outdoors. Video games, crafts and baking became popular. And on top of all that, we got a whole lot of housework done.
When the world as we knew it was taken from us, connecting with people became even more important. This isn’t something that applies to only your friends and family. It is also important for your business. If you are working from home for the unforeseeable future, you need to remember to keep the social in your social media plan.
Sure, I am all for digital engagement measuring. Set me in front of some analytics and I can get lost. However, that’s not what it’s all about. If we rewind a little, we can remember a time when social media was fun. It wasn’t a bunch of political statements. It wasn’t a bunch of people arguing about who knows what. Basically, it wasn’t filled with so much anger and hate. Think back to why you joined Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… hell, even MySpace. You wanted to engage. You wanted to know what happened behind the scenes.
In the beginning “behind the scenes” probably focused more on friends, family and, I’ll admit it, checking in on what some people from your past might be up to. But now, especially now, we are curious about businesses. We want to know who they are. We want to know what they stand for. We love to see pictures, videos, and posts from the companies we love.
Your business is important. Your customers are concerned. Will you be there? Are you doing the right things? Are you okay? Sharing intimate details can be good for your business because it makes you real, and it shows a little bit of the face behind the operations.
Looking for ways to add some personal touches to your company’s social media?
Here are a few ideas.
Pick a Platform
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are just some of the platforms available to businesses, but you need to choose what is right for you. Where are your followers? That is where you want to focus your energy.
Decide What to Share
Every business is different, and every following is different. What do your followers react to? Photos? Videos? Information? Keep a close eye on those likes and comments and continue in that direction.
Focus on Customer Service
Have you ever reached out to a company and got no response? Annoying right? Don’t be that company. Answer questions. Reply to comments. If you don’t put in the time, why should your customers?
Be the Teacher
You are the expert in your field. Supply your followers with the information they need. Write in a language they will understand. Be clear and concise when explaining what your company does and how it can help them.
Like I said before, remember to take a step back. In a world gone mad, have fun. Humor goes a long way with the public. Entertain while educating.
This year might not be how we pictured it to be, but sometimes embracing different can be the change your business needs.
Want to talk about your company's social media challenges? Are you looking for guidance on how to add some personal touches to your posts? Connect with me on LinkedIn or email me!
~ Melissa Pravlik is K2 Creative's Social & Web Strategist.
It's like beautiful music - collaborating with old teammates and great friends. I've added not one, but two, past coworkers to the K2C team! I brought in Colleen Mycoff when I wanted to win a job for a new logo and marketing materials for a company out of Houston, Texas. I knew if anyone could help me - it was Colleen...and she did!
Then, a short time later a small local nonprofit organization contacted me about redesigning their outdated website and adding content. It was in WordPress, which I am not skilled, so I knew exactly who to call - Melissa Pravlik!
Although we had all stayed in touch for many years, it was so sweet how we just picked back up and didn't miss a beat. We held different positions in different departments at the Pittsburgh Business Times... just a few years ago. I say it that way because it seems like a lifetime ago, and yet it seems like yesterday. Oh, the stories we could tell! Maybe that'll be a future blog post? ;)
Bringing them into the mix, K2C gained two new clients - and we have been able to expand our services. We understand the value of having the trifecta of skills when serving clients - Content, Marketing, Branding.
It all works together!
The content on your website and social pages is your story.
Your marketing plan needs to have a clear, consistent message.
Your logo and brand tell the visual story about your organization.
The three parts - Content, Marketing, and Branding need to work in harmony. We have that harmony. Folks have asked "Do you have a specific industry concentration?" The answer is a simple "No." We know the TYPES of companies and clients we want to work with. We want the small business owner with great ideas and lots of experience and knowledge, but little time. We want the new business owner who needs guidance and a plan. We love our nonprofit clients because we love to "do good" and support groups that care about the same issues we care about. Maybe someday we will focus on an industry, but it's doubtful. Right now, we are focusing on working with good people - and so far, we've achieved that!
I've been told to be careful, don't try to be everything to everyone. We know what we're each good at - and we know to "stay in our lanes." I've been told not to grow too quickly. We are taking our time. We are getting back in the swing of working together and creating that old harmony. We have had laughs and we've made mistakes. We will learn and grow with every new client and every new project. We will have fun! But, most importantly, we will help our clients reach their goals with sensible, reasonable solutions.
Reach out to any of us and let's talk about how K2C can help you "Make Your Message Matter."
Rockin' with the band... again,
Here's a copy of the first monthly K2 Creative newsletter shared on September 1, 2020.
I hope this message finds you well… if it finds you at all! So many changes!
I have spent the last few days sifting through two binders of business cards, dating back to the early 2000’s. Looking through the binders, I was reminded of the many years I spent at the Pittsburgh Business Times – where I learned about networking and making strong, meaningful connections. I was reflecting on mixers and events where I met many of you (during my time with 4C and FCB as well) and I realized how much I was REALLY missing in-person connecting, going out for dinner and drinks, hugging people, and enjoying a mask-free life.
I am sure I am not the only one who has had major career changes since we last connected – and I am certain many of you have experienced additional changes over the last few months. As we all know, change isn’t always bad, and that’s why I’m writing to you today!
Soooooo.... I started my own business, K2 Creative. Recognizing that many business owners and nonprofit leaders have a ton of knowledge about their company and industry – but they don’t have the time or the talent to get that knowledge out of their heads and “on paper” led me to find a way to help!
I’m combining the power of creative writing, marketing, and branding to provide content that engages clients and builds brand recognition. Whether your organization is a third-generation company, a start-up, or a nonprofit, K2 Creative can tell your story and create - and sustain - brand awareness. Every organization needs clear, consistent messaging. There has never been a more crucial time to "Make Your Message Matter."
See what our clients are saying!
Besides building the business and taking care of our clients, I'm still very active in (virtual) networking and making connections. I've found a few online groups that are worth sitting in on and I'd like to share them with you. And, I'd love to hear HOW you're doing and WHAT you're doing! Schedule a Zoom using my Calendly link and let's reconnect!
Wishing you all the best,
Kelli A. Komondor
President & CEO
K2 Creative, LLC
"Make Your Message Matter"
I recently read an article about “Imposter Syndrome” on LinkedIn. And WOW, it really resonated with me. It struck a chord… then, it didn’t.
Read on, I’ll explain.
But first, what is Imposter Syndrome, you ask?
Imposter Syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.
So back to my weird statement above. I read the article, listened to the podcast, and really felt something. I have been suffering from this for YEARS. I think – wait, I know – it is because I don’t have a college degree. I spent twelve years of elementary and high school in the gifted program, showed a ton of promise, but truly never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. (Sometimes, I still don’t!)
I went to community college for two years, took some business courses, dropped out of accounting because I was certain I was going to have a medical episode over it, LOVED the English / creative writing classes, and took biology and pharmaceutical math, which strangely I also loved. So, yeah, I was unsure to say the least. Then, I “took a semester off”, got married, started a family, and the rest is history. I regret none of it. I know the skills and experience I have gained over the last two decades outweighs any piece of paper I would have earned in 1994. Look at how much the world has changed since then: technology, the internet, social media – everything my generation has learned has been through experience or had been self-taught. If a company wouldn’t interview me without a degree, I moved on. Yeah, it stung a little but I always landed on my feet and I feel everything happens for a reason. Every position I have had, the people I have met, and the career experience I have gained were all placed in front of me for a reason.
So, back to the Imposter Syndrome. I thought about it all day. It was in the back of my mind until it hit me – I don’t have it any longer! I am cured! At approximately 12:40 pm on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 I made statements that, I now realize hours later, have proven I no longer suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
I sat in as a guest at a (virtual) BNI meeting. I was asked to stay on the Zoom call once the meeting ended to speak with the leadership team. When I started talking about my business and what I do for my clients, I realized I was truly speaking from my heart – with no reservations about my skills and what I bring to the table. I went on (and on) about the program I am managing for the Community Liver Alliance and how I feel so good about helping liver patients through managing this initiative. I talked about my love of writing and marketing and how I want to help organizations tell their story, reach their ideal clients, and grow their business. I talked about how I added a graphic designer to my team and how I want to continue expand so I can add additional contract employees. It felt so good to be so open and to talk about my work. MY WORK. Not a corporation. Not someone else’s company – MY COMPANY. Not someone else’s dream – MY DREAM. I didn’t shy away from telling these gracious people why my company is growing and succeeding: because I'm making it happen.
I am my own boss, I have a 30 second commute from bedroom to office, I work when I want and how I want (mostly in sweats), where I want (home office or in the back yard) and I can choose which jobs I take and which I decline.
I am NOT an imposter; I am the real deal. I love what I do, I am good at it, and I should not be afraid to say it. I am NOT afraid to say it.
And you should not be afraid to say it either.
I’d love to discuss that dirty word I used a lot at the beginning of this blog. If you’re suffering from it, let’s chat. Leave a comment or send me an email: Kelli@K2CreativeLLC.com.
I’d love to help cure you too!
XO ~ Kel
I have hosted many parties in my time. From picnics and having the entire family for every holiday, to corporate shindigs, to showers and graduation parties: I've basically done it all. And I love it. I love to feed people - it's that simple! But when you really break down the specifics of hosting any sort of party it comes down to marketing and branding.
Branding is defined as: "The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products."
Let's break it down.
What are your intentions?
Let's take my niece's graduation party, for example. The intention is to have great food, a beautiful setting, for everyone to have an amazing time and talk about how wonderful it was to others. You want your party to stand out! No different than your marketing and branding plan, right? You want great content (food), your logo, marketing materials and website - your beautiful, eye-catching "brand kit" (the venue and decorations), and you want people to enjoy working with you so much that they become regular or return clients and they refer you to others (the overall "wow" factor of a successful event).
Who is on your guest list?
Just like you wouldn't invite people who will ruin your party, you won't try to sell your products or services to companies who just aren't a fit, right? Don't waste time promoting your company to organizations who just won't work well with what you offer. We all want to land the BIG JOB but know when to "stay in your lane." Figure out where you fit best: small business, women-owned, nonprofit, industry specific, and so on.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Another example of staying in your lane: Don't try to be everything to everyone. Know when to bring another person(s) in to do tasks you just aren't good at! If you can't cook, you hire a caterer. Not good at thinking of a theme and decor? In comes a party planner. I am not a graphics gal, I don't have the experience or software programs... and frankly, I don't want to do it. Enter Colleen! She handles requests for logo creations, refreshes and other creatives that I'm just not skilled to do. We stay in our lanes, work well together, and now my company can offer a service that is a great fit with the core of my business. It's the trifecta: Content, Marketing, Branding!
Do the homework!
It may take a lot of research and trial and error, but doing your homework is worth it. Compare it to shopping for a location and food options. If you're hosting a party for 50 it may be easier and less expensive to rent a small hall and make the food yourself. Compare that to an advertising budget. Can you afford to spend thousands on an ad that may only bring a few hundred dollars in revenue? Take advantage of free and relatively inexpensive advertising like Facebook, Facebook ads, Chamber memberships, online groups, and the all- important word-of-mouth and referral exchange. (See "What are your intentions?")
After any great get-together you'll ask your guests a lot of questions because you want reinforcement about the event. Your family and friends will tell you if your new dip was a hit or miss and they'll be certain to have an opinion on your decorations. You'll need to uncover thoughts and feelings with your clients as well. Keep an open line of communication with them before, during, and after a project. Try to have as many face-to-face (Zoom, Skype for now) meetings as you can. Too many things are lost in translation during an email exchange and everyone is looking for human interaction, even while sitting in front of a computer screen.
And, of course, HAVE FUN!
While as a host, you truly never relax or have the same experience as a guest - it's important to have fun! When you're working on an important proposal or project make sure to take time to get outside for fresh air, take a walk, stretch, do anything that takes your mind off the task at hand. You'll return refreshed and more focused.
At the end of the party (project) you'll show more wear and tear than anyone else, but when you get messages telling you how great the party was (the check and additional client work) it'll all be worth it!
And P.S. - The party was amazing and everyone had an incredible time!