Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Forgive Me.

Dear Readers,

Please forgive me.

I'm not sure if I have wronged you but the Jewish New Year is coming and I'm cleaning out my guilty conscience and one way to do that is to ask for forgiveness.

So please forgive me.

Perhaps I wasted your time with a blog post that did not inspire you.

Perhaps I wrote a blog post that did inspire you and you feel slightly guilty for not moving on that inspiration.

Perhaps I have done nothing wrong... but if I did, please forgive me.

There is something about forgiveness that enables us to let go of feeling badly. It's even better to be forgiving.

Years ago, I used to walk around with anger. Colleagues frustrated me. Friends hurt me. Strangers were rude. Whatever the case, I focused too long on the issue, and not long enough on the letting go and forgiving part. Even when they didn't know they did anything wrong - I would hold onto it. Sadly.

Hanging on to anger and hurt is not healthy. And frankly, it only attracts more anger and hurt, in my opinion. I see too many people hung up on life's unfairness and been-done-wrongness that they let it rule their lives. "Someone hurt me, so I did not succeed because they made me feel badly about myself. It's their fault!" "Someone wronged me and so I am focusing my energy on wronging them back."

Whatever the case, now is the time to forgive. Let it go. Move on. Move up. Find your dream. Live your dream. Don't let anything, anyone, guilt or anger stand in your way.

There's a Jewish tradition to ask for forgiveness before the New Year so that we can start the year with a clean slate.

So I am asking you for forgiveness.

I am also asking you to ask your friends, family and colleagues for forgiveness.

And most importantly, I am humbly asking you to forgive yourself for anything you might have done to hurt yourself.

And if I'm wrong and I have done nothing wrong, or you have done nothing wrong, then please forgive me. I am sorry.

Forgiveness. It's a project.

Auntie Melanie

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Savvy Auntie's First Presentation!

Dear Readers,

I was asked by NextWeb to present SavvyAuntie.com at their Meet Up at Webster Hall in New York City this past Monday, September 15th. It was fun to do, although looks like we didn't test the sound effects on the mic well enough before. Still, people seemed to like it.

Here's a copy of the presentation.
Auntie Melanie

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy New Year! (of sorts)

Dear Readers,

The thing about the Jewish New Year is that it follows the Jewish calendar, which means it doesn't occur on the same day every year, like let's say Christmas (December 25), Valentine's Day (February 14th) and July 4th. But it does generally take place in September. This year, the Jewish New Year, also known in Hebrew as Rosh Hashanah (the head of the year) will begin at sundown on September 29th.

Last year the Jewish New Year began on September 12, 2007. That's one year ago, today.

Earlier that day, we popped at cork over at the Syrup office as we kicked off the start of creating Savvy Auntie. Syrup is the creative agency behind the design of SavvyAuntie.com, the logo and much of the branding.

It was perfect timing. We were celebrating the start of a new year, with the start of the New Year.

And here were are, one year later. Wow.

It's just two months since the launch, and we have paying advertisers, a strong-size membership (over 1300!), traffic galor, major press, more press coming, and wonderful feedback from the Internet and Social Media communities, and of course the Auntie community.

Here's what I am busy doing:

Speaking with agents who are interested in helping me get my children's book published (It's called Auntie and Me and it's delicious!).

Meeting with Venture Capitalists and the meetings are going really well!

Working with brands to represent them on TV and other media!

Getting my Holiday Gifts Guides for Aunties locked up (I say that like I am anywhere near close to finalizing that)

Signing "insertion orders" (Those are contracts from advertisers on the site)

Confirming multiple speaking engagements.

Meeting fanstastic (FANTASTIC) people  who want to help.

Giving back as often as I can.

Oh ya, and managing the Website

I can honestly say that I am still overwhelmed. I don't know when this feeling of never doing enough soon enough is going to subside. Of course, I am so undeniably grateful for all my good fortune. I knew a year ago, when that meeting at Syrup took place, that I wanted unbelievable results.

I got them.

The site is listed on a number of sites that look at top design:


And to think, last year, on this day, I said to Syrup that I wanted to win a number of "best of" awards for design, user-interface, web strategy.

Looks like we're winning already.

It's been quite a year. Happy New Year to me. And to you. Even if you're not Jewish.

Because new beginnings are possible every day, for everyone.

And today is the start of a whole new year...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

5 Tips for Entreprenurial Students

Dear Readers,

On Friday, I addressed a wonderful group of students at the Integrated Digital Media Institute at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, NY.  I was to show them my Website and talk a little about how I started the company and my strategy for the site.

And I did. I hope.

But what I also found myself doing, rather spontaneously, was giving these students a number of tips I think will help them as they begin to identify their first career paths and move forward toward fulfilling their dreams.

I was told by the Beth Rosenberg, who had invited me to speak to her class, that the students found my time with them inspirational. Well of course, it was they who inspired me, with their smart questions, their coming from various foreign countries (with foreign languages) to study in the US, and by their steadfastness to learn.

Still, if even one student was inspired by anything I said last week, I thought I would repeat some of those tips here. 

5 Tips for Entreprenurial Students:

1) Save for your dream. It's coming
I started my company on the small inheritance my late mother had left me when she passed away 20 years ago. This was the savings I would nuture and grow and one day, when the time was right, finally put towards my dream - whatever that was going to be. Even though there were tough times when I just moved to New York and could barely afford the makeshift room I slept in, or when I lost my job three times in two years during the early 2000's, or when there was lots of pressure to buy luxury clothing and shoes when I worked in the beauty industry, I never took a cent from that savings account. Not a penny. This savings account would fund my dreams.

So please, do not spend money on things you really do not need. Save it for your legacy. It's coming. Wait for it.

2) Be nice. To everyone.
When I first started my company last summer, I went to everyone who would lend their ear and advice. Some of those people I had not seen in years. One, my old colleague, Bernie Milan, from my days at New York Times Digital, gave me stellar advice and contacts to help move my idea forward. (In the first few days of starting a company, any and all reinforcement and support is incredibly inspiring). I thanked Bernie with all my heart, to which he replied: "Melanie, you were always nice to me."

You never know how the dots in your life will connect. People come into your life when they do for a reason. Don't be arrongant to think that people with whom you do not connect right away, are not the final connection in the future to securing what you need. Truth is - Bernie and I connected on day one when we met. But still, I am so happy he remembered me that way.

3) Be ready to help anyone at any time.
I have talked about karma a lot in this blog. As an entrepreneur, I cannot tell you how much karma has helped with the success of SavvyAuntie.com. People often ask me for help. Sometimes it's business related, sometimes, it's not. Either way, I thank them for the opportunity to help. Selfishly, I know it's coming right back to me, by just the right person, at just the right time, just when I need it. And that never fails.

4) You're not entitled to feel entitled
You've got to earn your respect. Listen before your talk. Really. Listen. Listen good and hard. There is a lot to learn out there. The minute you think you know better, or know everything, is the minute you begin to fail. Learning is the key to success. Learning is the fuel that drives inspiration. When you listen, you learn. 

5) Read
Read something that will teach you about how best to succeed in your field of choice, every day. Find blogs that guide you. Buy books that teach you. Read the news. Read. Read. Read. And bookmark the pages you want to read again. Read one business book every two weeks. Read one business blog post every day. Read one business magazine once a month. Just read. If you are blogging more than you are reading, you're not listening. You're talking. So read.

I follow these tips and have since I was a student some years ago. I can't say I've been perfect. But I've been trying. So just try it. That's probably the best tip of them all.

Now I have to run to see my little niece. She's so funny silly delicious! But more tips, including some of the business blogs I love to read, coming soon.

Auntie Melanie

Thursday, September 4, 2008

US Census Points to Increase of PANKs (Professional Aunts No Kids);

Dear Readers,

I hope you don't mind, but I have interrupted my normal blog posts to post this important press release we issued last night from SavvyAuntie.com.

Auntie Melanie

US Census Points to Increase of PANKs (Professional Aunts No Kids); SavvyAuntie.com Launches Perfectly into Growing Niche

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 4, 2008 -- An ever higher number of American women are childless, according to statistics* released by the U.S. Census Bureau on August 18, 2008. The data, which reports a significant rise over the last two years, shows that the percentage of non-moms is nearing the **50 percent mark, making the ratio of moms to non-moms in America almost 1:1.

The trend, while of strong interest to fertility experts and sociologists, also signals the opening of a new demographic segment and opportunity for marketers hoping to reach women with discretionary income and time.

With or without kids of their own, many women love children, and love indulging them," said Melanie Notkin, founder and CEO of SavvyAuntie.com, the first online resource and community for PANKs - Professional Aunts No Kids -- a term she coined. "What makes this growing segment appealing to marketers is that PANKs are in the workforce, affluent and control or influence 85% of their household purchasing decisions."

While spending some of their discretionary income to indulge their nieces, nephews, godchildren and friends' kids with gifts and activities, PANKs also have more time and money than moms for leisure, travel, beauty, fashion, as well as new homes, home improvement, cars and consumer electronics. And PANKs are listening. In just eight weeks since launch, SavvyAuntie.com has received 50,000 visits, with membership growing daily.

SavvyAuntie.com provides resources, activities, gift ideas and community for the tens of millions of women who indulge their nieces and nephews and other children in their lives, as well as themselves. "I'm an aunt to eight awesome nieces and nephews," states SavvyAuntie.com member 'Aunt Pam' in a Savvy Auntie Forum post. "Plus, I'm an honorary aunt to some of my friends' kids. I love being an aunt, it's been incredibly rewarding, fun and gets better every year....This site is a great idea. We aunties need recognition!!"

About SavvyAuntie.com
SavvyAuntie.com is the first resource and online community for Aunts -- Aunts by Relation and Aunts by Choice. With advice and expertise developed just for Aunts, along with activities and gift ideas for their nieces and nephews, Aunts can get what they need to live the Savvy Auntie lifestyle. Moreover, the Savvy Auntie Community enables Aunts to connect and share the best and most challenging parts of Aunt-hood with their Savvy Auntie friends. Dubbed "the first parenting site for non-parents," SavvyAuntie.com empowers and engages aunts with whatever they need celebrate Aunt-hood. The site can currently be found at http://beta.savvyauntie.com

*US Census Bureau Fertility of American Women: 2006
** Data reports that 45.1% of America women up to age 44, do not have children - up 0.5% from 2004.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take 5

Dear Readers,

I was on TV last week. Like real, full-blown TV. The 10! Show - a morning show on the Philadelphia NBC affiliate - invited me in to talk about great gift ideas for nieces and nephews.

And I did. On August 26th. For 5 minutes.

Five very short minutes.

On TV.

I'm not a shy person. So I wasn't nervous about being on TV. I was more nervous about getting all the gift details right - the names, the pricing, how they work, the benefits, and finally why Savvy Aunties love them. All in 5 minutes.

But I did it. Sort of. I had to rush a bit at the end.

Still, they invited me back to talk about Holiday Gifts for nieces and nephews on November 11th.

For five minutes.

All I need is one more gig and I've got my 15 minutes of fame.


Watch it. It only takes five minutes.

Auntie Melanie