What the [BLEEP] Did I Do This Year? 2011 Edition

December 31, 2011 at 5:29 PM (Musings) (, , , )

No, there are no editions for 2008-10 (holy crap, this thing spans four years?). I’m trying something new.

It’s that time of year when the majority of the world is either looking back and/or forward, and the rest are drinking themselves so stupid that they can’t remember which is which. I’m impressionable, so of course I eventually started to wonder what the heck I did this year.

Blog more. Yes, I think it’s safe to say I managed to do that in 2011, compared to the, what, five?, posts I wrote in 2010. Still not up to a post a week, but I’m working on it. Speaking of blogging, I began contributing to RaceTalk, my agency’s blog about media, communications and PR. It’s off to a slow start, but hey, it’s a work-in-progress. I’m still most proud of my Twitter-sourced interview with @BostonTweet (thanks again, Tom!), and would like to do at least one more similarly formatted interview in 2012 with another Tweeter (maybe two?). Other blogs that saw inaugural postings from yours, truly, include Health Care 3.0 (health care trends with a social media twist) and Girls Pint Out (women with a love for craft beer – my people, if you will).

I changed the name of my blog. The weblog formerly known as And Here, We Have My Musings is now what we all fondly refer to as bmfalc: Beyond 140. The goal of the name-change was to move away from some random college student’s blog and to tie it to my stronger online presence in the Twittersphere. Beyond 140 serves to cover the stuff I tweet about in, well, a few more than 140 characters. Like my tweets? Then there’s a chance you may find my blog amusing, or at least interesting.

Brittany Falconer, assistant account executive. Yup, celebrated my one-year anniversary at Racepoint Group and got promoted. It would appear that I’m doing something right over there. Weird, right?

Smartphone-equipped, at last. No longer dependent on a phone with special needs, I have joined the ranks of those who will never get lost again, have the potential to work 24/7 (I’m fighting it though), and lose hours of their lives to Angry Birds (I didn’t fight that so much). I did not, however, jump on the Apple bandwagon and purchase an iSomethingorother (Sorry, Siri). Instead I’m rocking the Samsung Infuse, which has a screen the size of my face. Its size is the perfect setup for a plethora of “That’s what she said” comments.

Joined the gym, quit the gym. There really isn’t more to that story.

Started running, wanted to quit running, ran 5K instead. After the failure at the gym, I knew I would eventually grow to the size of a small U-Haul if I didn’t do something to pace my beer and bacon calories. On a whim, I ran my first mile – slowly – late in the summer. Once the feeling of seemingly imminent death eventually passed, I very gradually worked my way up to running a mile and a half, two miles, two and a half miles, and, as of yesterday, just enough more than three miles to discover that I could survive a 5K. Given my distaste for running, this is a huge accomplishment for me, and I’m actually looking forward to registering for my first race in 2012 – mostly just to prove to myself that I can do it, but whatever.

Won the lottery, received an honorary degree from Harvard, cured cancer. Okay, maybe not, but there’s always next year, right?

Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year!

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The Easiest Job Interview

September 18, 2010 at 10:51 PM (Happenings, Musings) (, , , )

Okay, that may be a poor choice of words: no interview (for a job you really want, at least) is easy, I think.  But there may be a way to make it significantly less painful, and it’s advice I’ve actually been hearing since Kindergarten: be yourself.

I know, cheesiest, most cliché piece of advice, ever, right?  But – wait!  No!  Don’t you dare navigate away to Facebook before finishing my post!  It’s relevant!  I promise!  Anyhoo, advice like that wouldn’t be cliché if it didn’t work, right?  For my evidence, I would like to present to you a brief case study: me.Brittany M Falconer PR social media Boston

A little over a week ago, I went in for an interview with Racepoint Group, a “global public relations agency defining the new model of communications through our unrivalled understanding of the evolution of traditional and social media” (shamelessly ripped from their About Us page).  To be accurate, though, the story doesn’t really begin there.  Let’s rewind a few months.  Six, to be more specific.

While I was away on my European vacation, I received a Twitter DM on my phone.  It was from someone with RPG (I won’t out you on my blog unless you want me to, but you know who you are, and I am so very thankful and insist that you let me buy you an adult beverage.):

Hi Brittany — hope all is well! I checked out your blog & thought it was great. R u still looking for something in PR?

If you think the job market is bad now, I’m pretty sure it was even worse, then.  Outrageous overseas internet fees be damned!  I sprinted to the ship’s library to respond immediately.  It was something to the tune of “Name your god and I will bow to him/ her if you can get me in to Racepoint,” only a little less desperate and crazed.  One vacation, many E-mails and a networking event later (read: three months), I finally had an interview scheduled with HR.  While they didn’t have any Account Coordinator (AC) positions open at the time, it was probably for the best.

As it turned out, my RPG appointment was less than a week after my Porter Novelli internship interview took place.  You may or may not recall that I got that internship, and looking back, I am so glad that I did.  Granted, I was glad then, but not as glad as I thought I would have been about a full-time job.  However, I’ve realised now that my experiences with PN could only have helped me get to where I am now.  Speaking of which . . .

After two wonderful months with PN, I learned that while everybody was happy with Brittany, there was no opportunity for Brittany to join the team full-time.  As devastated as I was, I knew I had to bust my derrieré if I didn’t want to go back to Starbucks at the end of September.  It was time to put the job search into overdrive.  I DMed, Facebook messaged, called and smoke signaled everyone I could imagine who might be able to put me in touch with someone of a hiring authority.  Eventually, through a series of grapevines, I found out that Racepoint was looking for an AC.  And now we’re back to last week.

Racepoint Group logo pr social mediaThis was my second interview at RPG (and my 8,000th interview overall), but something was very, very different this time: I wasn’t stressed.  That’s not to say I wasn’t nervous – I was probably about five seconds from passing out throughout the entire process – but my brain space wasn’t preoccupied with trying to remember every piece of agency trivia that my interviewers might hurl at me.  Instead, I remembered something my mentor had advised me to do before every interview, but I had never seriously considered: “Just be yourself.  Let your personality show.”  Each time he said it, I thought, “Thanks, not like I could have found that at Hallmark or anything,” but the guy had a solid point.

I’ve had enough experience with agencies to know what’s expected of me as an AC and that I can deliver on those expectations.  HR wouldn’t have invited me in more than once if I was a total ignoramus during my last visit.  What was more important was probably if I gelled with the rest of the office (or at least the other two people interviewing me).  Commence Operation Yes I’m Awesome And I’m Not Afraid To Show It.

What followed was one of only a few interviews that I’ve actually enjoyed (yep, I’m going to link to yet another old blog post).  I met with a director and VP, both of whom I focused on getting to know, versus asking the “right” questions and discussing “relevant” news.  I figured if I had to try so hard to get those other things right, maybe I wasn’t in the right agency in the first place.  That said, whenever posed with a question, I like to think I did an okay job of responding coherently and perhaps even intelligently, but my mentor had it right: anyone can have the skill-set for a job, but if somebody meets with an account team and nothing clicks, then perhaps that person, in spite of all qualifying experience, isn’t the right fit.  Skills can be taught.  Personality is an entity unto itself, and is much more difficult to tweak.

Eight days ago, HR called to share RPG’s verdict: yes, please join us.  My response?  A series of “Omigod!”s and generic, ecstatic blather, being the composed professional I am.  I think she got the idea, though.  My start date is fast approaching, and I’m still on cloud nine. To think that all I had to do was listen to my Kindergarten teacher!  And more recently, my mentor (okay, and maybe have a pretty substantial résumé).

Today’s Tunes
“Let Her Cry,” Hootie & The Blowfish
“One Week,” Barenaked Ladies
“Foreplay / Long Time,” Boston
“Hold My Hand,” Hootie & The Blowfish

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Blogs from the Oasis: Day 3 – At Sea

March 8, 2010 at 8:45 AM (Happenings, Musings) (, , , , , , , )

Lesson #2: “In Soviet Russia, waves ride you.”  Oh.  My.  God.  I cannot begin to explain the aches and pains I am experiencing after last night’s FlowRider lesson, but once I get the multimedia evidence, I can try to show you.  The FlowRider is one of the many experiences of Oasis.  It is a continuous wave that allows participants to surf or boogie board.  If they know what they’re doing, I guess.

Along with my general discomfort, I have bruises up and down my legs, covering my elbow, and scattered across my toes.  Folks, my toes are too small for bruises.  I did have a lot of fun, though.  Dad and bro gave it a shot and held their own pretty well while Mom caught everything on camera (in HD, I later learned).  Your trusty blogger took the most abuse though because she was determined to learn every boogie board trick the Oasis sports staffers had to offer.  I shall look upon my injuries as medals of achievement.

Central Park Oasis of the seas Royal CaribbeanThis morning I’m enjoying a Starbucks iced latte and a couple raspberry danishes (and licking my wounds) in Central Park.  Yep, remember those neighborhoods I was telling you about?  The only difference between this Central Park and the Big Apple counterpart is that there’s no loose rubbish.  Or drug-dealers.  Or crazies (but that may change once the bars open).

I won’t hesitate to remind you that Oasis is a gargantuan monster.  I think it can carry over 5,000 guests.  Not being a huge fan of crowds, the ship’s size is  a double-edged sword for me.  While there is a ton of stuff to do, most options include lots and lots of other people trying to do the same thing.  Sitting here a little after 9.00 A.M. seems to do the trick, though.  I’ve probably seen fewer than 200 people since leaving my cabin this morning.  It’s almost as if I’ve found a way to take a small vacation from this vacation.

Tomorrow we dock at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Today is another lazy day at sea.  I may attend a wine tasting, a Michael Jackson dance class or a diamond and gemstone seminar.  I may check out a fountain show.  I may show my face at the gym again, or even better, at the FlowRider for additional smack-down.  Nothing is set in stone for me.   All I know is that whatever I do, it’s going to be a heluva time.

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“Can I Graduate?”

May 14, 2009 at 7:29 PM (Happenings) (, , , )

Why yes, yes, I can.  In fact, you’re all invited to witness the event.  Below are the details.

What: Boston University’s College of Communication Convocation
Date: Sunday, May 17th, 2009
Time: 9.00 A.M.
Location: Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

Cheer for me if you go, or catch me after the ceremony, otherwise I’ll have no idea you were there!

You may be wondering what my post-graduation plans are.  To be honest, I’m running away to Europe for a little while.  When I return, I’ll spend most of the rest of my life working.  Exciting, right?

Today’s Tunes
“Graduate,” Third Eye Blind
“How’s It Going to Be,” Third Eye Blind

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Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

April 6, 2009 at 1:42 PM (Friends, Goals, Happenings) (, )

Okay, I’ve already blogged about swimming. It’s not interesting for you anymore. I get it. Guess what?  Tough noogies.

I’m glad that my friend Christen is so eager to swim in the mornings, because if not, I don’t think I’d be able to drag myself out of bed before 7.00 to physically exert myself.  I’m too good of a person to stand someone else up though, particularly at that hour, so we’ve been pretty successful at making good on our morning plans thus far.

Today was a new accomplishment: I managed to complete a 100-IM (Individual Medley: 1 lap butterfly, 1 lap backstroke, 1 lap breaststroke, 1 lap freestyle).  Granted, the lifeguard and anyone else watching probably had a good laugh, and I am thankful that I wasn’t swimming for time, but, gee-whiz, I still did it!  What made it even more impressive for me was that 1.) it was at the end of our morning swim session, and 2.) I was not an IMer when I swam competitively.  My breaststroke and backstroke are terribly weak, and I only began to swim butterfly in the 200-medley relay in my last year of competitive swimming.  The fact that my out-of-swim-shape carcass managed to flail through a 100-IM was enough to put me in a good mood for the day.

Another success for me today was getting through a solid 25-yard butterfly before my mini-IM.  For the first time in months, that one lap of what I consider to be one of the trickier strokes actually felt good.  And I only had to breathe twice.

Swim Goals
1. Get through 50-fly.  Short-term
2. Swim more, break less.  Short-term
3. Make mini(100)-IM effortless.  Mid-term
4. Increase 50-fly to 100-fly. Mid-term
5. Survive 200-IM.  Long-term
6. Reintroduce 500-free to repertoire.  Long-term

I still have a long way to go before I ever come close to the shape I’d achieved back in the day (and since I have no interest in swimming competitively ever again, I may never get there), but I’m making progress.  Slowly.  But still making progress.  I just have to remind myself of the words of a swimmer who I consider to be quite wise:

“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming – what do we do?  We swim, swim . . . ”

Today’s Tune
“Delicate,” Damien Rice
“The Blower’s Daughter,” Damien Rice
“Cannonball,” Damien Rice
“Older Chests,” Damien Rice
“Amie,” Damien Rice
“Cheers Darlin’,” Damien Rice

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Eastern Aftermath

February 24, 2009 at 9:40 PM (Dance, Goals, Happenings) (, , , , )

As you may recall, I had a competition this weekend.  For me, a competition typically entails a week of tanning, three (or more) weeks of stress, and months of practise.  This time I just opted for the week of tanning.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a premeditated decision.

Johnny and I decided to dance on Tuesday.  Our events were on Friday.  Frankly, I didn’t have time to stress, and you can imagine that we didn’t squeeze months of practise into three days.  Given the circumstances, though, I can’t complain too much about our results.  I won’t get into specifics, but I will say that I managed to bring a few blue ribbons home, and that my video from the event didn’t totally nauseate me.  The weekend was successful and fun, but that’s not to say that I’m satisfied with my dancing.  Nope, not by a long shot.  I’ll be competing with Johnny later this year (either Tri-State in March or Yankee in June), and percentages of blue ribbons I acquire aside, I have a lot to do before then.

Overall, Balera had a great weekend.  In Pro-Am, Russell’s students took first in Bronze Standard and Silver Rhythm, Vivian’s students took first in Silver Rhythm, and of course Johnny and I had sported some blue ribbons in the Silver Standard category.  In the amateur ranks, Balera occupied three fifths of the Open Rhythm final, earning second, third and fourth positions.

Today’s Tunes
“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” Seal
“Shadows,” Blue Man Group
“Brown Derby Jump,” Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
“Cream,” Prince
“Politik,” Coldplay
“Can I Tico Tico You,” Lou Bega

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Three Cheers for Healthier Lifestyles!

August 6, 2008 at 1:42 AM (Goals, Musings) (, )

For the record, I don’t intend for this to turn into a physical wellness blog.  However, I do intend for this blog to be about whatever happens to be on my mind, and my physical wellness has been on my mind recently.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve slowly but surely been improving my eating habits.  At first, I only made a point of eating at least three times a day.  I’m prone to light-headedness, and given my active lifestyle, I need to eat more than once a day if I don’t want to pass out.  The biggest step for me was being sure to eat something immediately after waking up.  For some reason, I’ve always been able to convince myself that I can do without breakfast (despite hearing for eons that it’s the most important meal of the day, and so on and so forth).  Since the end of July, I think I’ve managed to eat something for breakfast at least six days a week.  Granted, it’s no banquet – usually it’s a bagel or a muffin, but it’s something.

The second, almost as difficult step, was cutting down on the junk.  I could snack on chocolates, Cheez-Its, corn ships and so on until there is nothing left.  What’s worse is that I usually crave it late at night, after I’ve been practising for a couple hours, right before I go to bed.  Last week I made a difficult resolution: no more sweets unless it’s a special occasion.  Granted, I’ve been somewhat flexible with my definition of the term “special occasion,” but at least I finally put my foot down, albeit softly.  I haven’t had an unhealthy late-night snack in at least a week and a half, if not longer.

A more long-term project has been improving the overall quality of what I’ve been eating.  Due to my current financial situation, and busy schedule, I’ve been eating cheaply, on-the-go and unhealthily.  I know enough baristas in this town to have a free toffee almond bar wherever I go.  With Dunkin Donuts’ current “Bases Loaded” promotion, their flatbread sandwiches and personal pizzas are beyond conveniently cheap.  Unfortunately, I don’t eat nearly as many vegetables as I should, and I’m consuming waaaaaaaaay too many saturated fats.  I’ve been trying to phase those out in favour of Starbucks’s Vivanno, which is essentially a cup of pulverised fruit and some protein.  Tasty, and surprisingly filling.  And if I charm the barista just right, sometimes it’s free.

An even longer-term project within that project has been cutting down on all the espresso.  As complementary as it is to my exhausting schedule, I know that it isn’t something I should be pumping myself with as frequently as I do.  Slowly, ever so slowly, I have been opting for green tea instead of the lattes.  I’m no expert in nutritional values, but I’ve heard “green tea” coupled with “antioxidants” often enough to figure out that it can’t be TOO unhealthy for me.  And it’s actually a better thirst-quencher than espresso, if I do say so myself.

I have NOT set a weight-loss goal for myself.  I don’t even have a scale right now, and I have no clue as to how much I weigh.  A few months ago I had an “ideal” weight that I used to be a few years ago.  Today I recalled that when I was that light, I wasn’t eating well, and I was incredibly stressed.  I was also probably exhausted more often than not.  Yes, my waist is not as tiny as it used to be, and my upper arms have a bit more meat on them, but for the most part, it’s all healthy weight.

That said, I am gradually diversifying my exercise regime.  Not only am I dancing more styles, but I’m beginning to swim again.  The swimming’s coming along slowly – motivating myself to go can be tough, especially when I’m going alone – but surely.  Eventually I’d like to start swimming at least twice a week for 45 minutes at a time.  Hopefully it will improve my stamina, which is definitely lacking right now.  I haven’t started yet, but I’d like to start doing crunches again, too.  I used to be able to do over a thousand at a time.  Now I’m panting after 20.  It’s embarrassing.

So why even bring this up?  I managed to catch up with one of my roomates-to-be tonight for dinner, and as I walked home, I realised that I felt REALLY good.  My muscles were pleasantly achy from the swimming and dancing the previous two days, and I’d been eating almost healthily for a few days, as well (if you ignore the kahlua ice cream I had after my delicious sushi dinner).  I wasn’t tired, and I felt happy knowing that I was taking better care of myself.  Admittedly, my steps have been small, but it’s a work-in-progress, and the rewards can only get better from here.

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“I’ll Show You!” -Me, to Myself

August 1, 2008 at 3:52 AM (Goals, Musings) (, )

Once upon a time, I was a competitive swimmer.

One of the really nifty things about my high school was that every student was required to participate in three team sports during the school year.  As you may have guessed, my winter sport was swimming.  For as long as I could remember, I’d always loved being in the water at summer camp, and despite being a runt, the lifeguards were always impressed with how well I could swim.  When one guard finally wrote “Should look into joining a swim team” on my evaluation right before I started high school, my winter activity looked like a no-brainer.

A competitive swim team was a lot tougher than I’d imagined, like most activities I attempt.  I was used to flailing about as quickly as I could in order to get from one end of the pool to the other, laughing at the kid I’d just whomped in the race, and floating about, care-free for the remainder of the hour.  It didn’t occur to me that I’d have to swim drills, learn how to pace myself, and sweat for two hours a day, four days a week.

Long, mostly boring, story short, I adapted and improved tremendously throughout high school, taking about 17 seconds off my time in the 50-Freestyle since my freshman year and graduating as MVP.  Although I learned to appreciate that practise improved technique which improved time, I was almost completely oblivious to how great a work-out it was.  To put it eloquently, when I graduated from high school, I was jacked.  It did not occur to me that I would have to maintain an incredibly active and healthy lifestyle in order to stay in shape, especially since my metabolism wouldn’t stay in high gear forever.

Now I dance for about 10 hours every week, but practise isn’t nearly as rigorous as swimming was.  In addition to that, I’m probably about as voracious as I was when I was swimming competitively.  Granted, I’m still in very presentable shape, but relative to where I was in high school, I have gotten “out of” shape.  As my Latin dresses get smaller and smaller,  I have less and less with which to hide.

About two weeks ago, I decided I would take advantage of my fitness & recreation centre membership and start swimming in the mornings before work.  On Monday morning I woke up at 6.30, looked at my phone, muttered an obscenity and went back to sleep.  On Tuesday morning I woke up at 6.30, got out of bed, checked my E-mail, walked to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of milk, then went back to bed.  On Wednesday morning I woke up at 6.30, and thought about packing my bag.  I then remembered that I needed a swim cap in order to use the pool.  I muttered an obscenity again, knowing that I had several swim caps back at my parents’ house three hours away.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  When I woke up two hours later, I felt defeated.  Once again, I had decided to make a healthy lifestyle change, and had failed misreably.  Even when I swam on a team, I skipped the 7.00AM practises.  The cynic in me mocked my feeble attempts to regain my chiseled abs.  I recalled that my roomate had a swim cap sitting on her dresser.  Half-heartedly, I told myself that I’d ask her if I could borrow it in the mornings to swim.

Later that day, I casually asked my roomate if she’d mind lending me the cap, because I wanted to start swimming in the mornings.  Her face lit up as she asked, “Seriously?”

“Sure.  If I want to get serious about my dancing I’d better be in appropriate shape for it -”

“Oh my God: I wanted to start swimming in the mornings, too, and I have two swim caps!  Wanna go together?”

And just like that, I had a date for Friday morning with my roomate, the pool, and her bright pink silicone swim cap.

At 6.00 on Friday morning, my alarm started chirping at me.  I repressed the urge to mutter another obscenity, and reset the alarm for 6.30, swearing to myself that I’d drag my good-for-nothing posterior out of bed then.  After all, I couldn’t leave my dates hanging.  At 6.25, my roomate knocked on my door and peeked inside at the sorry excuse for a human being curled up in the fetal position on my bed.

“Still wanna do this?”

“Do you?”

“We should . . .”

She was right.  I’d spent a week failing at trying.  I got out of bed and started packing my bag.  By 6.50 we were on our way to the pool, and by 7.00 I was in fight-or-flight mode as I looked through the glass at the Olympic-sized swimming pool.  At 7.15, I dipped my big toe into the pool, like that would help me at all when I dove in, head-first to swim my first 100-free in years.  By 7.30, I was in ecstacy.  My lung capacity had gone to Hell in a handbasket, as had my stamina, and my eyes burned like they’d never burned before because I didn’t have goggles, but I was swimming again.  I was doing every stroke I knew, even the ones I’d hated in high school, and loving it.  I loved the feeling of cutting through the water, feeling my muscles burn in all the right places.  What was even sweeter was that I had actually made good on my plan.  It took me a week, but I did it.  And I would do it again.  Once I got my mom to mail me my goggles.

I received a package this week from home.  I’ll give you one guess as to what was inside.  I’ll also give you one guess as to what I’ll be up to tomorrow morning.

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