Do you ever feel like you're living day to day and not really making a difference? Like you're just settling and kind of going with the flow? Between both my personal and professional life, that's how I was feeling and I knew I needed to do something about it.
I worked in IT Sales as an Account Executive for five years. I was doing something that was a 'good' living, but it just wasn't something I was passionate about. It wasn't something I got up every morning excited about. And it wasn't something that was helping me make a difference in this world. I felt like I was settling. I wanted more. While I was trying to figure out what to do professionally, I was also dealing with a lot personally.... a divorce.
My marriage was short-lived. Before we were even married, we got into the same old routine. If we went out somewhere, it would be to one of two places every time. We would sit there and watch sports or sit on our phones. No real engagement or desire of spending actual quality time together. If we were home, it was the same way. Sometimes he would even be down in his 'Man Cave' watching sports, while I was upstairs watching The Bachelor. I started talking to my friends about this and they acted like it was normal. Like it's normal just to have no desire to continue learning more about one another, to challenge each other, and to experience new things together. We went so far down this path that it was too late and it ultimately was the reason our marriage ended.
No one plans for a divorce, and it was something I swore I would never go through. But it happened, and I was left trying to figure out what to do with my life. I ended up fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving across the country, I got into a new relationship, and I had a new perspective on life... and love. I was in a long distance relationship for the first time in my life. I thought I would absolutely hate it, but to my surprise, it was just what I needed.
A lot of people take their time together for granted, but in a long distance relationship, time is everything. It gave us a chance to make the most of every single moment we were together. We never got too comfortable. We always wanted to learn more, and we were always willing to make the extra effort to try new things.
I started talking to my boyfriend about starting a business. I always dreamed of doing my own thing; I just needed the right idea. I watched Shark Tank religiously and made a list of possible business ideas. They included things like a food truck (even though I'm not a cook) and a cleaning service (even though I'm not the best cleaner). A list of things that weren't very realistic. It was the day that I read Mark Cuban's book, 'How to Win at the Sport of Business' that a light bulb went off. I needed to find something that I was passionate about. As I thought back on my life, between the struggles and lessons from my past, my new relationship, and the desire of doing something that could help others, Bonding Bees was born
Still, it was just an idea. And actually going through with it was a lot scarier than it sounded. I was working for a start-up company in California where I simply couldn't afford to quit and start my own thing. I talked to family and friends about it, and I prayed a lot. Is this just a silly idea that I should forget about? It probably won't work. Maybe I should wait longer. I was full of excuses and reasons not to start it.
And then just a couple weeks after thinking up the idea, my company was struggling and out of nowhere, they had to let us go. I was suddenly jobless and freaking out, but in the midst of that, it's like my prayers were answered. No more excuses. I had to go for it. My parents thought I was crazy. People told me to get another job and do this as a hobby. But I didn't dream of having a hobby. I dreamt of being an entrepreneur. A CEO of a business. So that's what I did. And now it's actually happening - five months later, it's a real business that's growing fast and I am doing it.
Everyone says their life is crazy busy. We all wish we had more time in the day. How many times would you plan to go do something new and fun for date night, and then by the time evening rolled around, it was, “Ok, what do you wanna do?" “I don't care, what do you wanna do?" And then just settle for your usual spot or maybe even stay in and watch more Netflix. Not that anything is wrong with Netflix. I love it! But with Bonding Bees, we give couples something new and unique to look forward to together every month.
My goal is to help couples keep their relationships a priority. Give them an opportunity to put away their phones and reconnect right from their living room. We also give parents an opportunity to have fun together without the need to find and pay for a babysitter.
Our mission is Gather, Give, Grow: Gather for one night a month, leaving your phones, tv, and stress to the side. Now is the time to focus on each other and spend real quality time bonding. Give to each other by investing your time in date nights and keeping your relationship a priority. PLUS, every date you enjoy helps us sponsor children in need and give a portion of our proceeds to different charities. Part of Bonding Bees goal was to give back and help those in need, and we will continue to do more as we scale. Grow through our customized date nights. They're designed to help you learn more, and even challenge each other while rekindling the spark and growing your love.
Each month the date box will have a unique theme with activities to go along with it. The activities could include crafts, games, recipes, relationship building exercises, desserts, and more. Occasionally, boxes will even include a personalized gift and/or item for the home! The goal is to make every box a lot of fun, a chance to reconnect, and the opportunity to do something new together. Previous date boxes include a Paris theme where couples learned their love languages, painted on canvasses together, and had fondue; a Camping Indoors theme that included building forts, making s'more cones, and some fun country dance lessons; and most recently a Fall In Love theme that includes a game to see how well they know one another, a fun twist on Minute to Win It games, and everything needed to make their own ice cream!
Having couples reach out and tell me how a date box has helped them rekindle the spark, or that it's the most fun they've had in a long time - that makes my day and is exactly why I started this company. After being inspired by so many stories, moving forward we are going to start featuring couples of the month - their story, their relationship tips, their favorite date nights, and their charity of choice that we will donate to. We hope to make this more of a community where we can all inspire each other to love more, to give more, and to live life to the fullest.
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.