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Posted by & filed under Life & More.

Hello Friday! It’s been an incredibly long week for me. But the weekend it’s a holiday weekend. Well, if you consider Valentine’s Day a holiday. Seriously though, it is also President’s Day weekend so yeah, two holidays ;).

Anyway, I thought that I would do a Friday Favorites with all of my favorite Valentine’s Day things. Take a look at what made the cut:

Music
I found out about this album called Hours Spent Loving You courtesy of Spotify. It’s easy listening electric type of R&B vibe. The project is a collaboration between SPZRKT and Sango and I love it. Great soundtrack to a Valentine’s Day get together.

I also made this Spotify themed Valentine’s playlist here.

Valentine’s Day Decor
I bought the cutest Valentine’s Day pillow and mug at Target! I want to get one or two items to decorate for each holiday. I can also use this love pillow with my Christmas pillows I found last holiday at Pottery Barn. And I love all mugs with or without a theme :).

 

IMG_8857

 

ValentinesMug.thegreatdanaj
Most Favorite Love Pin
Here’s my favorite Love quote from my Pinterest board.

Date Night Dress
I got this Maison Jules one here that is adorable and right on time for Valentine’s Day.
This Calvin Klein one is my most popular pin!

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

 

By now you’ve heard all about Formation. Don’t worry, this is not another think piece about the song. I’ve read my share of those. And trust me, I’m just as over them as the rest of the world.
I’m not going to analyze the dance moves, hairstyles or messages. I don’t want to talk about how Red Lobster dropped the ball on its response that took hours on a Saturday to the “shout out” within the lyrics. Personally and professionally speaking, I don’t think they should have responded at all. Perhaps the reluctance to do so was intentional. In fact, Red Lobster sales jumped 33% on the Sunday after the mention over the same Sunday last year.
What I do want to call attention to is the ending of the song where Beyonce (essentially) says who knew one woman would start all of this conversation. That’s a powerful line. See Beyonce hasn’t done an interview in forever. That’s not her strength. This song was her way of using her craft to respond to critics and frustrations with the world we live in as she sees it. I watched the video and felt something. While that something is not unique to only me, it isn’t the same something that every person got from watching. I understand and respect that. So now it’s started a fire. A fire in terms of conversation. If it takes a song with a video that has meaning behind it, some impactful lyrics mixed in with some nonsensical parts as well to do that then so be it. It’s got people offended, empowered, fearful and moved. It has people feeling something and talking about it.
Everyone is talking about Beyonce.
Beyonce. Super Bowl 50
{source: Instagram}
Everyone is talking about what Formation is and what’s she trying to say.
And that’s what she wanted. That’s what she said would happen.
Isn’t that the best type of response to marketing?

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

What a slow moving game last night? I was expecting it to be an exciting ‘edge of your seat’ type of game. It wasn’t at all. I enjoyed halftime and the commercials more than the football. I was able to identify a few of my favorite ads from the big game to share. Take a look:
NFL
Kudos to the NFL for dropping the Roman Numerals for the big game this year! Makes life easier.
I also noticed that most of the commercials had a hashtag this year. That’s been a gradual change over the last few years of Super Bowl games.
I liked watching Janelle Monae dance through the decades in this commercial.
Pantene – #DadDo
This commercial was so darn cute. I appreciate how they are encouraging dads to spend more time with their daughters. It was also pretty funny watching the dads learn the ropes of hair styling.
T-Mobile – Drop the Balls and #YouGotCarried (outtakes from the Hotline Bling ad)
I thought T-Mobile won with the Steve Harvey commercials and also the Hotline Bling tie-  in. Doesn’t Hotline Bling just sound like it should be used in a commercial? There’s something about bearded Drake in a turtleneck and Timbs that I like. I’m normally not on the beard gang but bearded Drake is bae.
Verizon had a clever well executed commercial encouraging T-Mobile users to #getabetternetwork.
Buick Cascada – The Big Toss
This was Buick’s first Super Bowl commercial! The commercial stars New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. I like how they said “She Odelled it” after model and actress Emily Ratajkowski emulates one of his famous catches. This is the first convertible in 25 years for Buick and that element is also incorporated into the commercial.
Mini Clubman – #DefyLabels
I like the combination of race car drivers, celebrities like Serna Williams and race car drivers. Plus, I don’t know much about the Mini and it was cool to see different ones on display. It was simple but showed off the product well.

NFL spot with Super Bowl Babies Choir – #SuperBowlBabies
Based on data that suggests 9 months after a super bowl victory winning cities see a rise in births with customized song lyrics to Seal Kiss from a Rose. With an actual appearance from Seal. Cheesy and cute at the same time. Is there a word for that? Cutesy?
First off, I loved how they used Confident as the song in this commercial. That’s one of my favorite songs right now. I think it was great to put the word out on PayPal. It’s the way to go for small business owners, contractors, freelancers and bloggers. It’s how we do business! I also liked their game day engagement on Twitter with #NewMoneySweepstakes and gifs.
Amazon Echo – #BaldwinBowl
Every time I see an Amazon Echo commercial it makes me wish I that I had one of my own. I like how Missy Elliot was in this commercial since she performed at halftime last year and I thought it was great that she released a new song at the end.
PSA/Commercials
Budweiser – #GiveADamn
Trying to encourage people to not drunk drive featuring Helen Mirren.

Colgate – #EveryDropCounts
The very first Colgate Super Bowl ad that encourages people to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth to save water
And that’s it! What were your favorite ads from this year?
See what I thought about ads from previous Super Bowls here 2015, 2013, 2012 and 2011,

Posted by & filed under Books.

As a kid, my mom helped me develop a passion for reading a good book. I’m grateful that they passion has continued well into adulthood. I’ll never forget how my mom used to bring home the Scholastic book flyers for me to select new books each month. Recently, I saw this news story featuring Marley Dias and her mission to collect books with black female protagonists. Through #1000BlackGirlBooks, the collected books will go towards a library  It got me incredibly excited. I read so many great books but so few had a lead character that was described like me. I’m sending two of my all-time favorites to Marley’s campaign, but I compiled a list of classics below for anyone out there interested in a new book for the awesome kids in their life. All the details around Marley’s campaign live here.

#1000BlackGirlBooks by TheGreatDanaJ

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

You know how people always say the magic happens outside of your comfort zone? The more and more I think about it, the more and more it rings true. The thing about life is, the uncomfortable situations make us grow. Those situations are the ones that show people what we are made of. Heck, sometimes when I’m in a tough spot I even surprise myself with how hard I can hustle to move mountains.
comfort.quote
So here’s a power playlist I put together to help keep me motivated. Mountain moving is hard, so I need a soundtrack to keep me grooving!
I hope it motivates you a little bit too!

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

I can’t believe that Wikipedia has been around for 15 years. I’m sharing 15 things about the online encyclopedia on the web today.

Happy 15th

1. This is my very first article. I remember how excited I was to complete this. I worked with an intern to find relevant articles and I really wanted to impress my boss with it.

2. According to Wikipedia, these are the most edited articles.

3. My favorite Wikipedia articles are ones that tell the history of making an album. One of my favorite articles about an album is this one.

4. I also love looking up the writer of songs on Wikipedia.

5. In college, our professors told us to never source Wikipedia because of inaccuracies. Actually, Wikipedia is pretty spot on when it comes to accuracy. How can you tell? Check to make sure that the page doesn’t have any flags or notes at the top identifying it as inaccurate or not  having appropriate references.

6. Reality stars often have flagged articles because gossip blogs are not considered credible sources.

7. Reality stars often have pages that are horrible altogether. For the publicists, I recommend that you find a good editor to help you navigate publishing an article.

8. If you want a Wikipedia article for yourself or a client, this is the best place to look for information to determine if you need one or not.

9. Wikipedia recently implemented a policy where Wikipedia editors must disclose if they are paid to write an article or not. Make sure you check it out.

10. One of my favorite Wikipedia moments: when Mitt Romney announced his running mate on his campaign app, on a Saturday. The speculation around who was only heightened by the increase of Wikipedia activity on the page of potential candidates prior to the announcement.

11. I think if you are at a multi million dollar company that invests in marketing and PR for your company, it’s worth making sure your Wikipedia looks better.

12. Remember that time Bebeliebers attacked Esperanza Spalding’s Wikipedia because he didn’t win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist? So petty.

13. I wish more women created Wikipedia articles too.

14. I appreciate how Wikipedia locks down articles where a current event is happening. Like a death or shooting. It helps keep the speculations from being posted before the facts come out.

15. I remember the Kate Middleton controversy surrounding her wedding dress getting a Wikipedia article. That dress definitely deserves a page. I believe that more fashion articles should be on Wikipedia.
What’s your favorite thing to do on Wikipedia?

Have a great weekend!

Posted by & filed under Life & More.

As a digital marketer, I have to stay on top of all of the random holidays. Like May the fourth be with you, random acts of kindness, national pancake day. Of all of the many social media observed days, I totally missed National Vision Board Day. The thing is, I have been making vision boards since forever. I’ve kept stacks on stacks of magazines under my bed since I was a kid with that specific intent in mind. It’s just something I do. There’s a big difference between vision and reality though. I never used my vision board as a guideline for goals until 2015. That’s when my vision became more than just a pretty piece of poster board.

For my 2016 vision board, I sat down with a friend on the floor in my place and for an hour or two, we talked about our goals for the year ahead.

thegreatdanaj.visionboard
The board building process
Here are a few of the things I want to do for this year:
Physical – gain flexibility, improve my core strength.
Spiritual – commit to a daily devotional. I’m using this one and I really like it.
Educational – take a new class. I’m still narrowing in on what I’d like to go for.
Relational – make a greater effort to remain connected with family, friends and my network. More coffee dates, weekend lunches and FaceTime.
Financial – stick to a monthly budget. Period. I need to find a system that really works.
I’m using Trello and Evernote to track my goal progress. I look forward to sharing more about my goals here throughout the year. What are some of your resolutions?

Posted by & filed under Books, Reviews.

I stumbled on my list of goals for this year and discovered that getting back into books was high on the list. I was able to make reading more of a priority this year! As the year comes to a close, I’d like to share five of my favorites for anyone in search of a good read.
Favorite Books 2015
Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari
I’ve seen Aziz Ansari on a few television shows here and there. The title and description of this book intrigued me. Basically, Aziz applies his humor to a study of the impact of technology on dating. You know, dating in the digital age. What I learned from reading this book was that how we do love is so different from decades ago. Not just the technology, but the expectations that we have of others when we are searching for Mr. Right or Mrs. Right have dramatically changed. Spoiler alert: our expectations are much greater these days. That’s not a big shock, right? I liked how the book mixed research with humor and personal experience because Aziz is dating in the digital age along with many others out there. This is great for anyone who likes data, humor and learning about the impact of social networking and the age of the internet on personal relationships. I read it during my vacation to Punta Cana over the summer.
Manhood – Terry Crews
I purchased this book solely based on the fact that I like Terry Crews and saw this great Huffington Post Live interview of him. I didn’t bother to read the book description at all. I just assumed I would enjoy it because I like him. I thought it was going to be a totally different book than it was. It’s a memoir and less of a humorous guide I thought it would. It completely exceeded my expectations. It’s a story of addiction, faith and self-evaluation that I’m excited I picked up. I didn’t put it down for several rainy January days this year. I have passed the book along to my mom and now it’s in the hands of my brother. I would share this with anyone out there who is looking for a raw and vulnerable life story.  I enjoyed reading about Terry’s journey through marriage and the insight and unwavering support of his wife even through their darkest times.
I found out about this book from my virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt. I have followed his blog for years sharing it with others and listening to his podcast. He comes highly recommended from me. So when I saw him talking about this book, I purchased it. Basically, Donald is in search of more meaningful relationships and goes on this quest to explore how to drop the act and really connect with people. This one is hard hitting, at least it was for me. For anyone out there ready to take a deeper look into their personal relationships, this is your book. I recommended this one to a coworker who also loved it.
Deep Thoughts from a Hollywood Blonde – Jennie Garth
I picked this book up for multiple reasons. I really enjoyed reading Tori Spelling’s autobiography sTori Telling a while back. I thought it gave a humorous spin on a semi-charmed life. I’m also a big fan of playing Beverly Hills, 90210 and 90210 on marathon (Netflix and Hulu) while I do housework or writing. With that said, I enjoyed reading the story of Jennie’s life and journey to becoming a television star. The title is tongue in cheek of course, the book isn’t incredibly deep or filled with sad stories. However, I liked that. It is filled with lessons about life, love and career that are quick to read through, easy to swallow and appreciate.
I read this book because of Beyonce. Well, kind of. I heard about Marco Borges and this plan because of press around Beyonce. I purchased the book after getting targeted with many ads across social media and seeing many emails around the diet and challenge. (Behold the power of marketing) It doesn’t hurt that I have a good friend who is vegan and constantly tells me about the amazing benefits. So, I followed the plan and tested it out. I was more of a vegetarian over the 22 days, I’m sure some of the bread I had was not vegan. Anyway, I would definitely do it again entering into the plan more prepared. I also incorporated many of the recipes into my regular meal plan. Regardless of your dietary selections, I think that incorporating more plants into it can have a positive impact. For me personally, plant based diets make me feel good! The recipes are tasty and the diet gave me lots of energy.
I’m growing a collection of books for 2016. I used to be a fiction lover and I want to make sure to read at least one good fiction book in the new year. When it comes to goals, I want to have more of a consistent reading plan. I joined the Barnes and Noble Members Club to help save money purchasing new books too. I also want to do a better job of sharing my favorites. I like to read a combination of digital versions as well as print ones. Maybe two books per month? This year, I did read more, but I didn’t read consistently.
How do you stick to a consistent reading schedule?
Do you have any reading goals for 2016?
What were your favorite books of 2015?

Posted by & filed under Marketing & Social Media.

Between holiday errands and work, it’s hard to find time to create a decent meal. I spent a good bit of this month on the run and that screwed with my meal planning. Thankfully, I had the time to put together this quick, delicious and easy meal for dinner. It’s a perfect holiday dish that’s easy to put together for those of us who are on the go. It’s a twist on the traditional meatloaf and I really enjoyed it.
Sage Turkey Meatloaf

Sage & Cranberry Turkey Meatloaf
16 oz lean ground turkey (I used 98% lean and 2% fat)
1/2 cup sweet onions
1/2 cup green peppers
1/3 cup dried cranberries (I used the Trader Joes brand orange flavored ones)
1/4 cup chopped sage
1 small tomato
black pepper and salt to taste

Meatloaf sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
SageMeatloaf.Ingredients
Stir together and mold into a loaf for cooking. I used a meatloaf pan but if you don’t have one, then you can use a regular glass or metal pan. I love mine it’s this one here.
Sage.Meatloaf
I recommend a deep one that you can set the meatloaf in wrapped in foil for less of a mess during cleanup. Cook the meatloaf for 45 minutes or until brown. I usually take mine out right before it’s done and top with the meatloaf
sauce.

I paired my meatloaf with some slow cooker green beans with onions, garlic and apple cider vinegar that I made the day before and one serving of Alexia sweet potato waffle fries. I also paired it with a glass of Black Box wine Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sage Turkey Meatloaf

The wine and the meatloaf paired so well together. It really brought out the sage taste. The cool thing about Black Box wine is that one box is equivalent to 4 bottles! Perfect for girl’s night or a holiday dinner. If you follow me on Snapchat, then you saw my unboxing of the wine. Find out more about Black Box wines here. It had a subtle sweetness. I enjoyed the meatloaf over 4 days for lunch and dinner. It’s fast and easy to throw together between shopping and holiday errands plus it’s healthy too.

Happy Holidays & enjoy!

*Black Box wine sent me a box of their wine to try paired with a holiday meal, however all opinions are my own!

Posted by & filed under Food.

Thanksgiving is here! I can’t wait to enjoy my favorite dishes and family time this Thursday.

One thing that we don’t have during our Thanksgiving dinner is a nice strong sangria. I recently put together a fun fall sangria for a party. After everyone loved it, I decided it would be a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. If you are looking for a fun (strong) sangria this holiday, try the recipe below:

Boozy Thanksgiving Sangria
Boozy Thanksgiving Sangria

4 sliced Small red apples
1 cup Cranberries
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Spodee White wine {See my Spodee Red review here}
1.5 L bottle of Woodbridge Pinot Grigio
1 cup Red Grapes
Rosemary garnish
1 cup water
1/4 cup of Seagrams white gin

Add water and sugar to a saucepan on the stove. After a few minutes, pour in the cranberries. Continue to stir and reduce heat as soon as the cranberries begin to pop. This takes about ten minutes.

Next, allow the simple sugar mixture to cool.

I added half a cup of Spodee White wine and the Seagrams white gin over the sliced red apples and grapes. I set this aside as I prepared everything else. If you have time, feel free to put this together a day ahead or a few hours prior to your party. Add the cooled sugar and cranberry mixture to a pitcher. Next pour half the bottle of Woodbridge Pinot Grigio in. Stir this mixture while slowly adding in the Spodee and fruit blend. Add the remaining half bottle of the Woodbridge Pinot Grigio. Continue to stir the mixture. Finally, add in the rosemary sprigs at the top of the sangria. Refrigerate before serving or pour the sangria over ice and enjoy! Just a warning: this makes a strong sangria don’t use the gin or top the sangria off with club soda if you’d like something less strong!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!