When life gives you lemons, do you:
A) Make lemonade;
B) Learn to juggle; or
C) Add a little vodka and soda?
Story time! Ever wonder how I got interested in social media and turning Unleashing the Next Chapter into a Social Media Marketing & Management company? It’s honestly a lemons to lemonade story.
I have always loved writing and teaching. When other little girls were playing with dolls, I was making up my own stories. When other little girls were playing dress up and house, I was making my little brother and his friends play school with me as the teacher. But when it came time to go to college, I was more interested in a career that would let me travel and earn a good living. I majored in business with an emphasis on marketing and finance. I loved the marketing classes that focused on consumer psychology and advertising. I discovered Zig Ziglar and absolutely agreed with his idea that “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Lemonade.
I spent almost a decade in sales, market research, advertising, and designing marketing strategy for small businesses. Then, lemons… my youngest was very sickly as a baby, and my husband and I decided it was time for me to become a stay-at-home-mom. Which turned out to be a good thing, because I spent the next year in and out of the hospital myself. When I got healthy and our family got settled, I started selling Dorling Kindersley Books. Lemonade. I loved the books, and working with librarians, book stores, and families. Before long, I was even training others in sales and productivity. DK Books sold to another publisher and changed their marketing strategy, and I fell into the pool for the next decade.
Literally, I was teaching swimming lessons at the neighborhood pool, and then became a water fitness instructor, and then added competitive swim coach to my resume, and as long as I was at it became a lifeguard, and was soon an aquatics director. I loved the water, and I loved teaching and coaching teens and adults, training my staff, and marketing the programs. There’s that M-word again. I had no idea how much of my aquatic career was actually marketing, but it helped me hone my craft. And in order to level up as a swim coach, I needed to go back to school and get my teaching degree because (lemons) UIL rules stated coaches must be faculty members, and I had to coach high school before I could coach college… So, I went back to school for a degree in English because … books…
And I fell in love with teaching. Lemonade. Before long, I dried out, and started smelling more of the library than chlorine. I worked on a Masters in Teaching and a Masters in English. I was finished with my coursework and almost done with my research for my Thesis in 2006 when another lemon dropped… I survived the first of many strokes. I was a professor one day, and had to learn to read and write, walk and talk again the next. As I was regaining hand-eye coordination, and learning to read and write, Facebook was being opened up to the public. It was a low stress way for me to figure out how to type again, to communicate with family and friends around the country, and to document my rehab. Then I discovered Twitter. Then came Snapchat. Then LinkedIn, Then Instagram, and then I was hooked.
In July 2012, I decided if I couldn’t go back to work and I wasn’t going to spend the next forty years watching daytime TV, I would become a novelist. After all, Victorian crime fiction had been the core of my research in grad school, and I could spin my lifelong reading and formal education into writing historical mysteries. To that end, I started writing, and created a blog named Unleashing the Next Chapter, an homage to my new service dog, my writing goals, and the next chapter of my life and hopefully a new career. Lemonade.
Once a blog post is written, it needs to be promoted. Now I had another reason for social media—free advertising. Before long I joined the DFW writing community. I thought I could get back into teaching by teaching writing to writers. What I discovered was plenty of amazing published authors in North Texas who could teach craft of writing better than I could. Lemons. But I also found that there was almost no one talking to authors about how to market those books, and indie authors were becoming a thing. Mmmm… marketing…lemonade.
By 2015 I found myself on the board of directors for the Writers Guild of Texas as secretary and social media manager. Two years later, I would be a founding member and an officer in WORD: Writers Organizations ‘Round Dallas, and coordinator of all their social media and marketing. Somewhere around 2018, it hit me that social media is marketing, and that by using it strategically indie authors, nonprofits, and small businesses could compete with larger publishers, organizations, and corporations. I had found a new career. One that allows me to work around my residual deficits and limitations from the strokes, and blends my work experience—marketing, coaching, and teaching with my passion for reading, writing, and nonprofits. Definitely lemonade. A year later, I became the Social Media Manager for Bouchercon 2019, the 50th anniversary event of the oldest and largest international convention of mystery readers and writers.
In July 2019, Unleashing the Next Chapter became the assumed name/DBA for my sole-proprietorship. I was officially in business as a social media consultant, specializing in content marketing and management for authors, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Lemonade with a splash! Then came 2020 and the pandemic. Everything came to a screeching halt. All my clients and speaking gigs vanished in a week. Darn those lemons!
But then people needed to be trained on Zoom, in-person events needed to be converted into virtual events, and social media became a lifeline to many. I found myself in even more demand. Now, a short year later, I have paying clients mixed in with my volunteer positions, and a lot more experience. And thanks to some recent medical discoveries and newly released medications, I am able to work almost full-time again. Juggling lemons while drinking lemonade with a splash!
Back to my original question… what to do with life’s lemons? I choose A, B, and C, but whatever you decide to do with your sour situations, I hope you make the most of it! So, really, what do you fancy: A, B, or C? Let me know in the comments.