As you know, I launched SavvyAuntie.com three weeks ago. When I did, I thought that I had met some of the most special people I had ever known - people who have gone out of their way to help me and support me.
And then I launched. And I have met dozens more.
And every time I meet someone new, they give me a gift. Maybe it's a great tip on SEO. A PR lead. An advertiser interested in sponsoring the site. A new technology tool. A connection to someone who has an incredible impact in my life just over lunch.
Advertisers have become friends. Affiliates have become friends. Publishers have become friends. And thankfully, my friends are still my friends.
Some very special people have come into my life in the last three weeks. You know who you are. (But just to 'name' a few: PS, JM, AB, PH, JH, SK, CC and many, many more...) And you know that you will always have a friend in me.
Thank you for finding me. And thanks for the gifts.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I'm feeling humbled. I launched SavvyAuntie.com exactly two weeks ago, and I have already been asked by reporters, bloggers and women entrepreneurs, for advice on how I did it.
Advice on how to start a company. From me. It's truly amazing that I have come this far.
People seem to love my 20 Tips for the New Entrepreneur post from a few weeks back, and believe that I inspire other entrepreneurs and small business owners. But they always want more. And so I dug a little deeper within myself and my life to find what may be an answer.
First of all, here's a little secret of how I have managed to turn my life around in just one year. I deeply, profoundly knew that something big was going to happen in my life. Former colleagues told me it would. Friends told me it would. Family always made me feel like I could do anything. Specifically, it was my mom who always made me feel incredibly special. So all of that support propelled me to believe in myself.
My mom passed away close to 20 years ago. We were very close - bosom buddies of sorts. While I did not know her as an adult (I was just 19 when she passed), I can look back on our life together and clearly see how much she believed in me.
I launched SavvyAuntie.com on July 9, 2008, 1:00PM EST. And while I had been looking forward to this date and time for a year, when it was finally arriving, I was petrified. I wasn't scared about the success of the site as much as I was the new turn my life would take. And perhaps scared is the wrong word. I felt alone at a threshold, not knowing what was on the other side.
I think about my mom often. Not every day. It's been two decades and as much as I loved - and love - my mother, I can't possibly think about her every day. But the morning I launched.... boy, did I miss her. I would imagine it's the way you miss your mother on your wedding day. Or on the day you give birth. When your life changes, you not only want your mom there to experience it with you, you want your mom there to hold on to you. Give you advice. Cheer you on. Tell you that you can do it!
At about 12:30PM on that day, I put up a Facebook status that read: "Someone please hold my hand." But there was no one there to hold my hand. Not that you all weren't "there." I know you were. SavvyAuntie was the most Tweeted word that day. Emails were pouring in. Flowers were arriving. There were IMs, txts and phone calls. You were there, dear Readers. You were there.
But my mom wasn't.
I thought of my mom in that same profound way the day my nephew was born. The first time I saw him, his dad was holding him against his chest. My mother's grandson was born. Her legacy continued. Parts of her DNA and her good soul were now present in this little boy.
I don't know if my brother knows this... but I made a vow to love this little boy for my mother as well as myself. I made a vow to give him the love of two women, Auntie and Bibi (as she would have been called). It wasn't fair that he would be cheated out of having her. And it certainly wasn't fair that she would never experience holding him.
On July 9, 2008, 1:00PM EST, I gave birth to my first "baby." I don't mean to compare this website to a real, human, miracle of a baby. But still. For me. I deeply, profoundly, knew that my 'something big' had just happened.
My mom wasn't there. But it was her belief in me and love for me that gave me the courage to start this company in the first place.
No wonder I felt a little tug at my hand.
Monday, July 21, 2008
It's exactly 13 days since we launched SavvyAuntie.com and we already have over 500 members! I can't tell you exactly how many members, because the counter on the site seems to have stopped counting at 500. (No worries, Dave is working on fixing that.)
500+ Savvy Aunties. Wow. That was fast. I am so appreciative to everyone who took the time to join. As well as the tens of thousands who have stopped by to get the open content in the Expertise, Activities and Gifts sections.
I am amazed. I am going to send out an email to all the members soon, asking them to help build the Savvy Auntie Community with Forum Posts, new Groups and their own Blogs. SavvyAuntie.com is a wonderful destination for celebrating all the great joys of Aunt-hood.... and a safe place to talk about the stuff that isn't so happy.
I hope the Savvy Auntie Community will share their experiences with the other Savvy Auntie members. Like - what happens when the parents are divorcing and Auntie doesn't get to see the children on a regular basis anymore? How do Aunties cope when, God forbid, a niece or nephew is very ill? What do you do when your sister or sister-in-law takes you for granted. And what about those Aunties who want to be mommies one day. We have a whole "Motherhood and Fertility" Forum just for you.
So here I am, just home one day from the Blogher conference in San Francisco, having met so many diverse women from various backgrounds who share their lives with others through their blogs. It truly humbled me to think that perhaps SavvyAuntie.com will give voice to the tens-of-millions of Aunts and Godmothers out there who have so much to share.
If you are a member of SavvyAuntie.com, please begin sharing your experiences - all the highs and all the sighs. And for those of you who are ready to join, we welcome you! No worries, you can wait to share if you are not ready. But please join and begin to listen to the voices in the Savvy Auntie Community. One or two may sound familiar.
Here's to the 500th Savvy Auntie.... and the
hundreds thousands millions more who will join her.
Here's to you, Savvy Aunties! Here's to you!
Posted by Savvy Auntie Melanie Notkin at 2:32 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I am just going to say it. I met Guy Kawasaki. At his house. At a party sponsored by the Kirtsy girls. And I love the Kirtsy girls. But...
I met Guy Kawasaki.
Not by chance. Not at a book signing. Not in an elevator.
On purpose. At his house. Invited by him. And the Kirtsy Girls.
For all of you wondering, Dear Readers, who Guy Kawasaki is, read this. For all of those who know who Guy Kawasaki is and know that he's a guru of mine, say "Yay."
Because I met Guy Kawasaki.
So the thing is, it's not so much the meeting of Guy Kawasaki. Guy either had very little idea who Savvy Auntie is (although we have exchanged Tweets, even Direct Messages on a number of occasions), or he had very little interest (well he isn't an Aunt so that's fair) but he did smile for the camera. And I do have the record....
...of meeting Guy Kawasaki.
Guy and the Kirtsy Girls sponsored this party in honor of some the amazing blogging women who came to Blogher 08 in San Francisco this past weekend. Actually, it's still going on. But I left early to manage SavvyAuntie.com. There's a lot of work to be done. Having the chance to meet Guy was just one of the perks of launching a company people care about it. So thanks, Kirtsy Girls, for inviting me.
Actually, if you look closely at Guy's smile, he does seem to be happy to be in the picture with me, right? Maybe this is just the beginning of my kinship with Guy.
I should keep a check list of little dreams come true.
Anyone got a pen?
Posted by Savvy Auntie Melanie Notkin at 12:58 PM
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
SavvyAuntie.com has not even been live for a week, and we've already made amazing progress on the Beta, and cleaned up a number of bad links and errors. We've still got a lot of work to do, and many new components to add to the site, but the users and Beta Testers have been diligent in helping let us know what's not working. They've also been kind enough to let us know what IS working. I am so grateful for the time and effort they take to help us improve the Brand Experience for Savvy Auntie.
The passed week has been a whirlwind. I do not think I fully understood the term "overwhelmed" until I launched my dream-come-true. The media has been reviewing Savvy Auntie very favorably. And the social media world has been abuzz about Savvy Auntie, stating that it is one of the most talked about launches they've seen (considering there was no budget around marketing the launch). "SavvyAuntie" was the most Tweeted phrase on Twitter the day of launch, as per Twitscoop.com. Some Blogs compared me to the top women in social media. I have a stack of interview questions to answer for social media bloggers who are interested to know my 'secret sauce.' And the mainstream press is streaming in too. I cannot believe the media outlets that are knocking on our door. Whoa. You want to talk to me??
And advertisers, ones you know and love, have approached me with such enthusiasm, it's a thrill. Within a couple of hours after the site launched, two major brands approached me. A third called to congratulate me after refreshing their monitors until the second the site launched, waiting in anticipation. Three more advertisers are waiting in the wings. Amazingly, they all seem to be rooting for me. These are the kinds of brands that Savvy Aunties adore. And they adore me? Again, it's overwhelming.
And the emails have been pouring in from Aunts all over the world (yes world!) thanking me for finally offering them a Community where they don't feel 'less-than' for not having kids. They understand that Savvy Auntie is a warm, welcoming Community for women who just love the children in their lives and would do just about anything for them. Here's one from Amman, Jordan:
Reading HuffPo's Eric Kuhn's blog on savvyauntie.com and love it! I turned 40 earlier this year and whenever asked in this marriage-pressured-Arab-society I just say I want to be the best aunt ever. I'm thrilled that my friends' kids add me to their Facebook, come to me with their creative school projects, girlfriend/boyfriend wows, what to do about college and invite me to join their networks ;) Love the site!
Nadine - uber cool PANK in Amman.
Nadine - uber cool PANK in Amman.
This is not even half of the story. There is so much more to tell. And if you are willing to listen, I'm willing to share.
They say if you envision your dreams, they come true. But no one tells you what happens when the dream is right there, right in front of your eyes, where you can reach out and touch it. No one tells you about the enormity of it all. With the deepest humility, I accept and appreciate all the good things that are happening in my life right now. And things are just getting Better and Better.
I can't wait to see what happens next!
Posted by Savvy Auntie Melanie Notkin at 9:18 AM
Friday, July 11, 2008
Have you heard the news? SavvyAuntie.com has launched in Beta, which means while they site is basically looking good, there are some outstanding issue we are resolving in this phase.
The last couple of days since the launch on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 1PM EST, have been overwhelming. In fact, I don't think I ever really understood what "overwhelmed" meant until that first afternoon and the day that followed.
Within an hour after launch, two of the largest and most prestigious technology and social media blogs posted very positive reviews of the site. Thanks evermore to TechCrunch and Mashable for their unbelievable support of our Beta launch.
Then yesterday, not one, but two articles were published in the Huffington Post about the site. I love the interview that Eric Kuhn of HuffPo did with me. It really enabled me to share my message about Savvy Auntie and what it's all about to his loyal fans.
And the bloggers I have met on Twitter and other social media platforms came through for me too, proudly sharing the launch as they celebrated it with incredibly supportive posts.
The news of the launch was also covered in various other online news sources (too many to mention here) and I have not seen one negative review yet. (phew!)
Plus, great news is coming in from traditional media as well. Hopefully Savvy Aunties around the nation will hear about the site from their most trusted media sources. (Let's hope!)
And then there are the Aunties themselves, who have written in thanking us for recognizing their value in the family (and dare I say clout). It is incredibly empowering to hear from them.
The Beta Testers are hard at work completing the surveys that help us improve the site for our users. And the technology team is hard at work at the fixes. Thank God for Dave Finkelstein! Dave worked tirelessly day and night and night and day and holiday weekend and everything in between to get the site up and running on time. Every last minute "emergency" that seemed impossible to fix in the time that remained, Dave found a solution for! And on launch day, at 12:54PM, as we were gearing up to launch at 1:00PM sharp, we found an issue on the homepage of all places! At first, it looked like one that could only be resolved with a complete site update, which we did not have time to do (and was much too risky to do at that point anyway). At 12:56 Dave had the solution. At 12:59 he stopped the fix to launch the site at 1:00PM sharp. At 1:01PM the issue was resolved. That's dedication. That's Dave Finkelstein. Dear Reader, please clap for Dave. He's my hero.
And now, believe it or not, advertisers are emailing in asking how they can support the site. They recognize the power of the Savvy Auntie as a consumer, and want my help to engage them.
Finally, the second day after launch culminated in a party I had with friends and colleagues in Manhattan (that's a pic of me and my hero Dave from last night). It was overwhelming to see how many people came out in support of me and the launch of Savvy Auntie. Wow. Thank you all!
I must get back to work. There's so much more to do. But I'll be back soon to share more with you as soon as I answer a few hundred more emails....
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
If you have been following my journey... of how a former beauty and interactive marketing executive set out on her magic carpet ride... and started her own company to create community around Aunt-hood, then this will come as no surprise to you...
On the eve of the launch of the beta version of SavvyAuntie.com, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone and anyone who has been there over the last year to advise me, guide me, support me, encourage me and praise me. You all have brought me to where I am today: an Auntrepreneur about to see her dream come true.
On the eve of the launch of http://www.savvyauntie.com, I humbly take a step back and say: "Thank you."
I hope you know how much you mean to me, Dear Readers. This is our moment. And it's all just about to begin......
Monday, July 7, 2008
I have to take a break from talking about the past to bring you up to date with Savvy Auntie. There's big news to share! Beta.SavvyAuntie.com launches on Wednesday, July 9th!
So after a year of dreaming, imagining, deciding, designing, writing, building, connecting.... the site launch is imminent. Which is why I haven't been posting much lately. I've been all consumed with the Beta launch.
I'll post about the launch on Wednesday... but already I have significant online media interested in publishing posts and stories about it. And top-shelf print and broadcast media is showing tremendous interest as well. This bodes well for the launch and building traffic, which is a huge challenge when launching a site. If a tree falls.... will the Aunties hear it?
I have to tell you that I am practically floating on air... sure there's a bug here, a brand new issue there, and a whole lot of last minute details to work on. But all-in-all, thanks to the tireless efforts of Dave Finkelstein, CEO of Quarksoft, my technology team, my 'little dream come true' will be born at some point on Wednesday.
I feel like a Proud Auntie already :-)
Looking forward to 'seeing' you on Wednesday!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Have you ever heard of "Brand Experience?"
The brand experience is like being embraced in an experience completely, so that anything outside of that experience feels like an interruption and removes you from enjoying the experience. Another way to visualize it is like when you are in a theater, watching a movie, and you are so engrossed in the experience that when the guy behind you kicks your chair, the experience has been diminished. It's an awful feeling because it takes you away from the moment. And the more he kicks your chair, the more frustrated you become.
On the web, brand experiences are integral to the success of your site. If the user's experience is interrupted because the flow of the site causes interruptions, then the brand experience is compromised. If your users get lost, can't get back to where they were, or are shifted to an outside link without understanding why, your brand experience has lost value.
So working on the flow of a Website, and creating what are called wire-frames to visually demonstrate flow, helps those designing the website optimize the brand experience for your users.
In the next few days, Savvy Auntie will launch in Beta format. This means that while we have done everything we can to assure a positive brand experience for our users, it's really only through the experience of many people having never seen the site before, and testing it out, that truly enables us to gauge success and design solutions and improvements. That's what Beta testing is.
Over the course of the last few months, Savvy Auntie has invited Aunties to nominate themselves to be Beta testers for this very reason. These Aunties will receive a special invitation to experience SavvyAuntie.com and provide feedback to us so we can fix any issues they experience as quickly as possible.
I'll be honest. I really am not happy about the fact that there is any possibility that there may be a negative brand experience with the Beta testers or anyone else who visits the site. It bothers me because, like inviting guests over for a dinner party, I want everyone to have a great time and enjoy everything I have prepared for them.
Nevertheless, there may be technical issues, broken links, flow issues or even, God forbid, a typo. But the great thing about the Savvy Auntie Community as I have experienced it so far, is that if anything does hurt the experience, they will let me know. Gently.
So when the site launches in Beta, please be patient with any bad experiences that may occur. I hope that there aren't any, of course. But we won't know until we test it out.
The thing about brand experiences is that they are much larger than the product, service or website the brand supports. Hopefully the brand experience you have received before we launch, Dear Reader, is enough to embrace you when we launch.
We are launching in Beta soon, and I cannot thank you enough for your continued support. We're working day and night to launch the best possible brand experience we can.
If you are an Auntie and would like to be included in the Beta Test - please nominate yourself at www.savvyauntie.com and tell me that you read this blog.
Thanks again, and we'll see you at the live Beta site soon!
PS - That's Dana and I over at Syrup, the creative agency, working on website flow back on October 11, 2007.