Nope. These are not the red marks of someone who just received a relaxing massage. These are the red marks of someone who had just undergone her annual bilateral breast MRI with contrast. What does that entail, you ask? Allow me to explain…
While many of you were out running last-minute errands, cleaning your house, baking up a storm, and putting the final touches on your Thanksgiving preparations, I was in an MRI machine. After the technician’s couldn’t get the usual rockstar vein in my left arm to cooperate, they had to try again on my right arm. Granted, I have not let anyone take my blood pressure, prick my finger, or draw blood from my right arm ever since my lymph node extraction surgery two years ago. There’s no real medical reason for me to baby that side of my body other than the fact that there’s always a threat of edema (fluid buildup), but I didn’t suffer from edema after my surgery. I do still have numbness down the back side of my right arm, and I think in some way that’s why I don’t like to mess with it. I’m also right handed and I really need that hand to continue to work, so I try to avoid all things “right” when possible. Oh, well.
Once the technicians got the IV/catheter in on the right side, we were ready to go. For the next twenty or so minutes I had to lie face down, breasts hanging out of holes in a metal table, breathe shallowly, and remain perfectly still. Even though I was given earplugs, the sound of the magnet circling my body as it took images of my chest cavity were literally deafening. I truly don’t understand - with all the technology in the world, why hasn’t anyone invented a quiet MRI machine? A few sets of ridiculously loud banging later and the technician comes on the intercom to announce that the contrast will start coursing through my IV. This allows them to compare images with and without contrast (metallic liquid that glows on imaging). This time I didn’t feel anything, but in the past it’s felt ice cold and was quite a shock to the system.
Luckily I’m not claustrophobic, but the real fun starts when trying to monitor my breathing while in this tube and lying perfectly still so that I don’t mess up the scans, and have to repeat them, and therefore extend my time in the tube. I told you it was fun! This is where I have to talk myself off the ledge multiple times in a 20 minute period. Until sweet victory when the technician comes on the overhead speaker and tells me that I’m all done and she’s coming to help me up.
Once out of the machine I always feel a little wobbly from being prone for so long, plus I now have Wolverine juice coursing through my veins. I was able to head back to the changing room and snap the pictures of what my face then looked like after pressing my head into the so-called cushioned head rest.
Why would I book my annual MRI the day before Thanksgiving, you ask? I didn’t. The other point I’d like to make in telling you this story is that advocating for yourself as a patient never ends. This MRI should’ve taken place at some point in the last two weeks. The reason it didn’t is because my oncologist forgot to put the order in after my last six month check up with her. Life got busy and I paid no attention to the fact that I had not received a call from the scheduler. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have my annual MRI results to compare to the previous two years and I panicked and reached out to my doctor’s office. They admitted their mistake and had the scheduler call me that day. The earliest appointment they had available was December 29th. I had no choice but to take that appointment. I did request to be added to a cancellation list because I was not happy with the date that was being offered. My MRI is supposed to take place annually in November.
I let a week go by to see if anyone would call me back with good news. No one ever called. I called the scheduler at the hospital where the MRI was to be performed and left a long voicemail advocating for the fact that if my MRI doesn’t take place in November, and I stick with this December 29th date, it was going to negatively impact my post cancer screening schedule. If you’ve ever dealt with an insurance company regarding an annual procedure, you know that next year my MRI would have to take place no earlier than December 30th which only gives me two days in the calendar year to schedule this annual screening. The following year my only option would be on New Year’s Eve, which might not even be available due to hospital staffing shortages on a holiday. Then we’d roll into the next calendar year the following year, which is a whole other issue. I knew I had to get an earlier appointment and I made my plea very clear. Wouldn’t you know that the scheduler received my voicemail, called me at the end of her shift, and found a magical appointment on November 23rd due to a cancellation. I found that very hard to believe, but I was grateful for the new appointment.
Fast forward a few weeks after we got the new date worked out, and I received an approval letter in the mail from my insurance company. Normally this would be a joyous occasion, as MRIs are not always deemed medically necessary, so oftentimes phone calls have to be made to get it pushed through. After reading the fine print and all the details on the approval letter I noticed that the wrong type of MRI was noted. I then entered a circle of hell that included calling my insurance company who explained that I needed to call my doctor’s office and have them revise the order they sent, but to make sure they called the third-party scheduling firm that they use to clarify the description of my MRI in the hospital system so that I didn’t have any issues upon arrival. I finally reached a nurse who understood what I was asking for and she promised she would call me back at the end of the day, yesterday, to confirm that everything had been taken care of. I did not receive that phone call. Just before I decided to follow up first thing this morning, I finally received a call from the nurse at my doctor’s office who handles these issues, and got clarification as to how the insurance approval letters are written, and that everything was going to be in order by the time I got to the outpatient surgery center. Everything was in order, except for a few pages of medical history I had to complete even though I had completed my pre-registration online, and I’m a frequent flyer in this health system and can be found in multiple databases. Why all the repetitious paperwork??? Ugh!
Check on your friends with cancer and/or chronic diseases. We’re not always okay. I’m two years post diagnosis, surgery, and treatment and yet every 3, 6, or 12 months I am in a doctors office getting poked, prodded, screened, or probed to ensure that the cancer has not returned or metastasized into some other organ. Decisions are always having to be made about preventative surgeries to remove organs that could be a cancer risk in the future and what that might do to my day-to-day quality of life. There’s always something to worry about.
I do my very best to not dwell on the fact that I had cancer, and I don’t bring it up as often as I used to, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to think about it, and see it in the scars on my body, and deal with the side effects by way of the medicine that I’m on, every single day. It’s A LOT and it’s always going to be A LOT. Add to that the survivor’s guilt of knowing that someone next to me went through a harsher treatment regimen, or had a more invasive surgery than I did, and I’m faced with the negative self-talk of “just move on with your life” mantra. Not tonight. Tonight I’m going to sit in my feelings, acknowledge that this happened to me, and hope and pray that the results of this annual MRI are clear.
I’m Thankful to be here. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that my house will be full of people, conversations, love, and food tomorrow and I don’t have to think about cancer…until my next appointment.
I hope you find these shared insights, brand spotlights, and event opportunities to be helpful. I invite you to join me in person so I can introduce you to great people who can boost your happiness and propel your business forward. I welcome and appreciate your feedback as I publish this second edition of my newsletter. The photos used in the headers (if viewed on LinkedIn) were taken steps from my front door and I incorporated them here to remind you that even though the darkness creeps in a bit earlier this time of year, we can always find beauty in the world if we afford ourselves the time and space to notice it.
BONUS: Don’t miss the holiday gift list I’ve curated for you in the BRAND section. You’ll find something for everyone on your list this holiday season!
How and when do you feel “strong?” For me, it happens when I’ve gotten in a great workout, sure, but I realize more satisfaction and strength when I accomplish something important. This month my strength came from planning and attending RebelleCon (it took place last week) - a boutique conference for women who are designing the work and lives they want to pursue without the stress and burnout. I helped to promote the conference on the communications team, and it was so rewarding to peek behind the curtain with my all-access pass. When they say, “Do something you love and you will never work a day in your life,” they are spot on. Creating content for an audience I am included in made the words flow with more ease because I was essentially writing to myself. Our messaging promised connection, insights, exposure to mentors, and career opportunities. I learned so much from the amazing speakers, filled pages with notes, and made connections that will help my business grow. RebelleCon provides a safe space for women to open up about what they’re facing at work and in life, and the survey results confirmed that our guests had a wonderful experience, and we cannot wait to do it again next year. Yes, please! Until then, I'm going to be leveling up my business acumen and know-how by joining the next SWELL cohort. SWELL by Rebelle is a 12-month peer mentorship program that allows the conversations from RebelleCon to continue on a monthly basis, so the momentum and insights aren't lost but nurtured for growth and opportunity. The door is open, let's go through it together!
I’ve talked about this a lot over the past few years, but something else that makes me feel strong is the fact that I was able to move the needle on my career growth after observing other women who were living life on their own terms. What did their lives look like, you ask? They were working remotely from well-appointed home offices, they were able to get their kids on and off the bus and volunteer at their school(s) when needed, and they were home on time for dinner each night. When I was first exposed to the women of the Rebelle Community, their lifestyles seemed so far out of reach for me, but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, so I continued to register for their events. After attending multiple panel discussions and mixers, and having meaningful conversations with women I'd just met, something became clear to me. I needed to surround myself with people who were living the kind of life I wanted to live. I needed to learn from them, ask questions, get to know their stories, and you know what? It worked. Once I started expressing to these amazing new connections that I was looking for a change, it led me to my next job opportunity.
It didn’t happen overnight, but I needed to be a gardener (Thanks, @iamkiranbhagat_). I needed to pull the weeds (barriers) in my life, plant the seeds (say what I wanted out loud), and water and nourish the soil (continue to show up and network with different groups outside of my industry). I expanded my bubble, and it made all the difference. I know it’s a popular habit to listen to mantras shared by famous motivational speakers or to hang your hopes on inspirational quotes from a meditation app, but in most cases, to truly make a meaningful change in your life, it comes down to action. You need to make a bold move by taking a brave step in a new direction, and that’s when things start to change.
I was not initially happy about having to leave my industry to build a better life for my family, but what I discovered was that the exposure to thousands of organizations and events over my 15+ years in hospitality created a deep knowledge base and understanding of the needs and challenges businesses and nonprofits face. Now, in brand strategy discussions with clients, I can pull from that knowledge and offer solutions. When recording a script, I can tell a brand story in a way that puts me in the shoes of the listener while also conveying the important information the client is trying to get across to their audience. All those years in hospitality led to a broader purpose.
These days, there are very few industries where there’s a defined corporate ladder to be climbed, and we’re better for it. Career paths are now likened to jungle gyms with zigs and zags, and twists and turns that build resilience in us that we carry forward as we grow as people, employees, and entrepreneurs. I feel strong every time I land a new client or project due to the seeds I’ve planted through my networking efforts, my referral relationships, or because someone believes in my voice talent. My corporate background grounded me but leaning into my creativity makes me strong.
BRAND (Holiday Edition)
As promised, this month I’ve curated a list of companies that will help you find something special for everyone on your “nice” list. I love these brands because they were founded by, or are accessible through, my amazingly talented friends & family.
Please click through to visit each site and give them a follow. Here’s a little background on each one:
KEVA Style – Local to Midlothian, VA, this woman-owned jewelry and accessories brand offers gorgeous leather jewelry, vegan leather options, Apple watch bands, and silk accessories. Eva Harris & Ginny Ball launched their Created by sister brand last year to help elevate up-and-coming artists and designers, and I’m proud to call them my friends. Shop all styles and products on their website – there’s something for everyone! If you’re local to the Richmond region, you’re in luck! KEVA Style is hosting an open studio sale this Sunday. Get the details here and I’ll see you there!
Never Enough – Also local to Midlothian, VA, was founded by a brother & sister team of middle schoolers. This dynamic duo has launched a candle, soap, and bath bomb company to start building business acumen and management skills for their future college applications. Talk about ambition! Sam & Mia Harris are proving that age is just a number. They are learning as they grow and achieving their dreams with hard work and a little know-how. Give them a follow @shopneverenough22 on IG. (If you attend the KEVA Style open studio sale noted above, you’ll be able to shop this new brand, as well). Mia and Sam are the children of Eva Harris, founder of KEVA Style, and Mia is one of my Girl Scouts, so I’m extra proud of her!
Amory's Seafood RVA (@amoryseafoodrva) – Calling all seafood lovers! I have a soft spot for small businesses not only in RVA, but also in the 757 because that’s where I’m from. You can show this family-run seafood business some love by placing an order in time for Thanksgiving. For RVA residents, orders can be picked up in the fan from my friend, Martina James. View their post on IG for the menu, deadlines, and all the ways to get your shrimp on!
Yenta + Posha – Local to Richmond, VA, and as seen on Good Morning America’s Deals & Steals, and now available on Amazon, this meeting planner turned inventor decided to fix foot pain for women who spend hours on their feet. My brilliant friend, Brianna Schwartz, worked with podiatrists, orthopedic specialists, and countless women to grow the only US insole brand with the seal of acceptance by a leading podiatry association! The best part is you don’t have to buy new shoes! These insoles can be slipped in and out of boots, sneakers, flats, and loafers. You never have to sacrifice comfort for style. Bonus! She's now added a comfy no-show lounge sock to her collection, and they feel like buttah! Go ahead and add a three-pack to your cart and thank me later!
Vintner’s Cellar Winery of Yorktown – Local to Yorktown, VA, and serving the 757 and beyond – this hospitality sales executive and his wife, a teacher, decided to buy a winery in the middle of the pandemic! Learning the trade and perfecting their fruit-infused blends, join my friends, Brandon Johnson, CTA and Janet Johnson, for a tasting to hear their story. Stop in and secure bottles for your own collection or request custom labels for gifts that celebrate your friends, family, and clients. Upcoming tastings are linked below and make great gifts!
SEINT – A sustainable beauty brand that’s taking makeup back to its creamy roots. It’s applied lightly with a dab here and a dab there, but offers full coverage with contouring, highlighting, and all the blush and glam in between. Send Jennifer Norwood a message to get her started on building your custom palette. I did! Shipping is lightning fast, too! Give her a follow @jennifermaysnorwood on IG and watch her tutorials to see how it works. She’s my gorgeous cousin, a mama of three, and lives in North Carolina.
Wooed – Local to Richmond, VA – This woman-owned business has been a long time in the making. For years, my friend, Janna Woo, has been crafting the most amazingly creative themed birthday and holiday parties for her two princesses, as well as for friends and family. She’s now taking her themed party supplies and sensory kits to the masses while also offering customized products and accessories. She’s got great teacher and grandma gifts, too! Join her private Facebook group, “Wooed,” to learn more and place a custom order!
What kind of gift list would this be without books? I am so fortunate to have talented friends who are not only makers but also insightful authors. Check out these life-changing books and buy a few extra copies to give as gifts.
Slay Like a Mother by Katherine Wintsch
Behind Frenemy Lines by Dr. Amber Tichenor, PhD
I Quit Pushing the Boulder by Roger Wyatt
Rebelle Magazine – Fall Edition - As you've already read, I had a wonderful time at RebelleCon last week, and I’m still riding the high from all the connections made and lessons learned. The conference may be over, but Rebelle Magazine is live and available online and in print. I am doubling down on my marketing efforts in the coming year, so please enjoy the full-page ad for Linné Diiorio Communications on page 25 in the digital issue. Don’t forget, magazines make great gifts! Trust me, it's gorgeous in print!
Got a great gift idea? Drop a link in the comments so everyone can benefit!
I can proudly say that I landed a corporate narration gig with a major healthcare brand last week. It was exhilarating to receive an invitation to schedule studio time and record with another voice actor to complete the project. Fun fact: I walked into the session and immediately recognized the other voice actor! That’s right…I met Cathy Motley-Fitch at two Rebelle pop-up events this past year. While networking with Cathy at those events, she was intrigued by my pursuit of voice acting and noted that she was a speech coach and performer herself. We hit it off and connected on LinkedIn. Fast forward to last week, when I got to spend more time with her, experience her voice talent, and revel in the compliments she bestowed on me upon hearing my voice through her headphones, it was a completely different recording experience. We were tasked with acting out a very serious phone call and based on the personal experiences we each had to pull from, we nailed it. I’m so grateful that she was in the room. I truly believe that people are placed in your path for a reason, and this instance was one of those blessings.
During a break, we got to catch up and I learned more about her family’s story. Wow! No wonder she was able to act out the script so well. Please check out her website, Lola's Song, and become knowledgeable about the dangers of miscommunication and negligence in our healthcare system. I’m going to encourage her to push her book proposal until a publisher signs on. Also, I’ll say it again, Richmond is the biggest small town!
In other “voice” news, I continue to record on-hold messages for companies across the nation. It’s peak holiday greeting season, so if you’re in need of a refresh of your on-hold telephone greeting to convey your revised holiday hours, special services, or promotions, I’d be happy to work with you to write and record a friendly update. Thank you in advance for every lead and referral you send my way.
A big thank you to Shannon Siriano Greenwood for inviting me to make announcements during RebelleCon again this year, all while working closely in tune with my new friend, and DJ/Stage Manager/Show Runner extraordinaire, Todd Waldo.
To get a hug and hear my voice in real life, you'll need to attend an event or two…
Vintner’s Cellar Winery of Yorktown is hosting tastings this Saturday through mid-December. Gather some friends and book your favorite day and time here. When do you want to meet up? EVENTS | Vintner's Cellar Winery of Yorktown
Girl Scout Troop 752 + Puritan Cleaners Coats for Kids Collection – My daughter's Girl Scout troop is collecting coats for the Puritan Cleaners Coats for Kids program. We're accepting kids' sizes in new and gently used condition from now until Friday, November 18th. If you'd like to donate coats this week, please message me to coordinate pick-up in the RVA area. We truly appreciate your support. We'll be taking our collected coats to Puritan's culminating event this Saturday at The Diamond, and our troop has been offered guaranteed airtime on CBS6 for their efforts! They are so excited, so please help us maximize our donation and keep kids warm this winter.
Creative Mornings Richmond is hosting a session this Friday, 11/18/22 at 8:30 AM
Guest speaker, Dr. Sesha Joi Moon, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with the U.S. House of Representatives, will give an insightful presentation after a networking reception for our vibrant creative community. Tickets are free, but you must register to attend.
KEVA Style Open Studio Sale Event – Sunday, 11/20/22 from 11 AM – 5 PM
Join us in Midlothian for special deals, a sneak peek of the 2023 designs, and enjoy a little bubbly. See event listing for location and a promo code!
Meeting Professionals International – VA Chapter – Thursday, 12/1/22, 3 PM – 10 PM
Join fellow meeting and event professionals as we network and celebrate the season together. Kings Dominion is opening its doors early for us to host our silent auction and holiday reception, then we’ll stay and enjoy Winterfest! The event kicks off at 3 pm. Winterfest opens to the public at 5 pm. Register here.
Liza Pruitt Art’s Emerging Artist Show – Now through December 1, 2022
Calling all art lovers! Scoop up great deals on pieces large and small from a curated group of talented up-and-coming artists. Art makes the perfect gift! This is an online shopping event.
The CarMax Tacky Light Run is one of my favorite events of the season. It will take place on Saturday, December 10th in Walton Park, a neighborhood in Midlothian known for its epic tacky light displays and enthusiastic neighbor participation in welcoming thousands of spectators to their streets. This non-competitive 6K course is accessible by wheelchair, wagon, and stroller. Bundle up the family, gather your friends, and wrap yourself in battery-powered lights to join in on the tacky festivities. Sports Backers creates a fun and safe festival atmosphere with cookie stops and photo ops along the way. It’s a great way to get those steps in, too. #nevertootacky Register Now: Ticket prices go up this Friday! CarMax Tacky Light Run - Sports Backers
Shew, that’s a packed calendar, but I’m excited about all the friendly faces I get to see this holiday season. Tune in next month as I explore how to set your sights on a productive and fulfilling 2023. Now, go register for everything I've noted above, and I'll save you a seat!
Linné Diiorio Communications
Originally published on LinkedIn:
So, I decided to launch a newsletter! I've been feeling this nudge lately and I don't want to ignore it any longer. I have so much I want to share with you, and I hope you find my curated insights, brand spotlights, and event opportunities to be helpful. It won't be an exhaustive list of everything going on in the Richmond region, but I will showcase the events that I am personally attending, along with why I think you should, too. This newsletter will serve as my monthly nudge to you, and my nod to the event industry that it's time to get back to meeting in person. Many of us have already ventured back to crowded ballrooms and tradeshow floors, but there are plenty of you still waiting in the wings. My goal is to share the events that I plan to personally attend so that you #1 know where to go to get a real hug in real life, and #2 so I can introduce you to great people who could become your next new friend, client, or business coach. I'll throw in some voiceover shenanigans to keep you in the loop on how I'm growing that segment of my business, too. Consider this inaugural issue as a teaser for what's to come. I welcome and appreciate your feedback as I kick everything off.
The "STRONG" section of my newsletter is reserved for those stories and insights that have been weighing on me or have piqued my interest lately. This month has been all about connection. I get my energy from being around great people and I've had some wonderful opportunities to satisfy my "joiner" tendencies by attending rooftop planning sessions, client meetings, networking mixers, and hosting a Girl Scout camp out in my own backyard. Something hit me last night, though, after attending a lovely networking event for professional women put on by The WOW Collaborative...I finally felt like I had arrived. Let me explain...
My career was so tied to the hospitality industry and the venue that I marketed, that it cemented my public identity for a decade and a half. Now, when I walk into a room, people know me, but they recognize that I'm no longer that pigeon-holed sales director, but a creative professional who decided to make a go of it by starting her own business. I knew more than half of the women in the room last night and I had no preconceived notion of what to expect from that event. It was kismet from the moment I walked in the door. From seeing dear old friends to connections made during the pandemic, to current and potential clients. I left that event feeling so filled and energized. A friend and colleague told me early on in my career that Richmond is a "tough nut to crack," and that it would take some time for me to build relationships and make a name for myself. She was 1000% right (Thanks, Linda)! Bopping around the room and catching up with so many wonderful people gave me a deep sense of pride that I hope to carry with me for quite some time. For the first time in a long time, I felt resilient, important, and strong.
The "BRAND" section of my newsletter will shine a spotlight on brands that I have a personal connection with or those that I love to follow. I'll also share some marketing insights and trends that I feel will be helpful given the season and/or quarter we're in. Early next month, I will be sharing a holiday gift list filled with the brands of my talented friends. Stay tuned!
This month, I'd like to shine a spotlight on Liza Pruitt Art. Liza is a local art broker who has curated a brilliant collection of emerging artists for an extended fall show, and I'd love for you to check it out. Please share the link with all of your art-loving friends, family, and colleagues. These pieces are great for residential and corporate settings. Once you're on the show's page, you'll be able to sort and search by category. This is an online shopping experience. Have fun filling your walls!
Liza Pruitt Art's Emerging Artist Show
The "VOICE" section of my newsletter will recap where my voice has been heard over the past month and where you can catch it next. I would love to be able to report that I am the voice of Kellogg's or M&M's, but I have not achieved national TV or radio airtime status just yet. I am the voice of a local med spa, a sports travel hotline, an HVAC company, and a truck rental outfit in the Midwest. I was also the "Voice of God" for a statewide association's hospitality awards banquet earlier this month. Know a company that's seeking a voice talent for their next project? I appreciate every lead and referral I receive. To hear my voice in real life, you'll need to attend an event or two.
Won't you join me for these fabulous occasions?
Liza Pruitt Art’s Emerging Artist Show - October 19 - December 1, 2022
Calling all art lovers! Scoop up great deals on pieces large and small from an extremely talented group of up-and-coming artists. Art makes the perfect gift! This is an online event so you can shop in your pjs!
Meeting Professionals International - Virginia Chapter - November 3, 2022
Topic: Convening with a Cause: Infusing Sustainability and Social Impact into Meetings and Events with Meredith Flanagan, CMP, CMM, CPCE. We could all use a refresher on how to make our events more sustainable and socially responsible, so join me and let's share some best practices while enjoying the ambiance of the Richmond Marriott Downtown!
Girl Scout Troop 752 - Coats for Kids Collection - November 6, 2022
My daughter's Girl Scout troop will be collecting coats for the Puritan Cleaners Coats for Kids program. We'll be accepting kids' sizes in new and gently used condition from 1:30-5:30 pm during our regular troop meeting. If you'd like to donate coats, please message me to discuss the location and details. We truly appreciate your support. We'll be taking our collected coats to Puritan's culminating event on November 19th at The Diamond, and our troop has been offered guaranteed airtime on CBS6 for their efforts! This confirms that my daughter and her friends will be TV-famous before I will!
RebelleCon - November 9-10, 2022
An annual boutique conference produced by a dynamic professional coach and connector who believes strongly in creating safe spaces for professional women to connect and collaborate. This year's theme is "Be Well," and we'll be exploring that topic on a variety of levels. There are singular keynotes, panel discussions, mentor breakout sessions, a retail market, a kick-off cocktail party, and lots of time for networking and relationship building. To say this community of women inspired me to start my business is an understatement. If you can see it, you can be it, and RebelleCon is THE networking event of the season! The fall edition of Rebelle Magazine will be released to all attendees at the conference, and yours truly has a full-page ad in this issue. Who dis???
That's a wrap, folks! I look forward to sharing more insights, holiday gift ideas, and events next month. Go ahead and register for everything I've noted above, and I'll save you a seat!
S. Diiorio (Photo credit: S. Helena Photography)
Now that the first few weeks of school are behind us, I’m flooded with emotions as I reflect on how quickly we’ve adjusted to new (much earlier) wake up times, staggered bus schedules, and shifts in our focused working hours. It’s been exhausting and exciting all at the same time as my children have been exposed to new experiences - like having a locker, switching classes, reconnecting with friends, and being fully in person without masks. The most exciting opportunities for my daughter have been taking chorus and auditioning for the school play.
Being on stage under the bright lights has been a dream of hers since she started watching all the Disney, Nickelodeon, and Netflix series and musicals geared towards tweens. The "high drama” value of her favorite shows has helped her to practice reading and writing scripts, scene reactions, playing off another character, etc. She even performed in the talent show last year, which gave her a taste of stardom. The middle school play will be different, though. Amongst all the “newness” of the school year, she was faced with filling out an application, along with a crew interest form, as a back-up plan. If she isn’t cast as a main character, she revels in the idea of being the stage manager. I am proud that she chose to give herself options, always finding an avenue to lead in her own way. She didn’t get a “call back,” but the drama teacher insisted that those who did were simply brought back because the directors didn’t get to see enough of their original performance. So, we wait. Just like in the movies, the cast list will be posted on the drama room door today. Eek!
Being a voice actor, or any kind of performance artist, where your talent is subjected to the opinions of others, is not for the faint-of-heart. I’ve been given more audition opportunities in the past month than I’ve had in quite a while, but I haven’t landed the gigs. In the meantime, my daughter, a freshly minted sixth grader, is embarking on a similar journey in trying out for her school play. It’s not lost on me that I need to temper my reaction to rejection with a calm sense of confidence in knowing that what may be a “no” today could easily turn into a “yes” tomorrow. I’ve been auditioning to voice commercials and narrate videos for large corporate entities as being the voice of a recognizable brand is a top goal of mine. I appreciate the opportunity to be included in the mix, but not landing a call back or recording session still stings each time the phone doesn’t ring. No feedback is provided, either. This isn’t sitting well with me this month, but my main goal is to give my daughter a soft place to land in case she experiences similar rejection today. I cannot dwell on my own disappointment; I must put on a brave face for her.
We do this as parents, leaders, and coaches. Drawing from our personal stories to make hard things easier to stomach for the children, employees, and athletes in our care. I have many experiences to pull from, so hopefully I can share in her joy with a happy dance or squeeze her tight and bake cookies if the news isn’t what she had hoped for. I simply need her to know that she is loved and should never stop trying new things. Her time to shine will come, and hopefully the sparks I've been experiencing in my career will burn brighter, as well.
I do not mind my own business.
Nope, not at all.
Let me explain…
I like to know what my neighbors are up to. If I see a contractor’s truck in their driveway you can bet I’m going to ask about it the next time I see them. Why? Because I love real estate, home improvements, and everything HGTV produces. I like to hear about the projects other households have taken on. In the end, what I’m really looking for is a referral, because if they’ve had a great experience, I’d like to be able to add that contractor to my roster of future vendors. A responsive contractor who does quality work is rare these days. There’s no harm in asking, and some good can come from the conversation. My neighbor gets to gush about their project, and how excited they are, and it could lead to more work for that local contractor who’s been struggling with supply chain delays and workforce shortages.
Also, while talking to a neighbor at the pool, who I know works in HR for a large restaurant group in the area, I gave them detailed accounts of my last few experiences at their dining establishments, remembering servers’ names, etc. Their face lit up because they personally trained those individuals. Based on my testimonial of having had a great experience in their care, they excitedly told me that they were going to reward those team members with gift cards or bonus pay. My remarks were going to impact someone else in a positive way because I didn’t keep those details to myself. Not only did it make my neighbor’s day, but they get to make their employees feel appreciated, as well.
While at Busch Gardens with family recently, my extroverted personality was on full display as I started noticing all the special groups who were also visiting the park. As young adults flooded past us wearing JMU t-shirts, I continued to shout, “Go Dukes!” very exuberantly, much to my daughter’s chagrin. There were a few funny looks, but most (who knew the drill), shouted back my way with a greeting of shared school spirit. These exchanges caused my daughter to cower behind my cousins who had no idea what was going on. Other instances included watching Girl Scout troops pass by with custom shirts that I really admired. I would then make eye contact with the troop leader and say, “Yay, Girl Scouts…love those shirts!” Why do I do this, you ask? Why do I bother these passersby with my unsolicited greetings? I use it as practice for being in front of larger audiences. The rejection or side-eye I may receive from these interactions helps to build up my resiliency. I don’t know these people; therefore, their rejection isn’t as harmful as it would feel coming from a small group of executives, or an auditorium filled with industry colleagues. I gain confidence every time I speak to strangers. I can change up my approach, modify my opening line, and adjust my pitch as the day goes along. It’s similar to A/B testing a subject line for an e-blast, but in live in-person interactions.
Recently, a call for nominations was announced seeking the names of influential members of an organization that I’m a part of. Nominations could come from any active member, but in the leadership role that I held at the time, I took it upon myself to make sure our organization nominated members who deserved to be recognized. I put together a list of nominees and shared it with our executive board, added their suggested names to the list, and wrote up descriptions of important contributions for each person. I submitted those nominations and crossed my fingers, simply hoping that something would resonate with the selection committee. Something definitely drew their attention because five of our nominees were selected and have now been recognized on all three of the global Top 50 lists that were published. It has not only brightened their days, but also elevated our chapter’s profile within a global audience, generated positive feedback amongst members and colleagues, and given the winners something that they can add to their profiles and resumés as social proof that they are indeed professionals with recognized work and dedication to their industry. Had I minded my own business and deleted that initial email, the ripple effect of positivity that was generated may not have ever come to be. It saddens me to think of how many other opportunities like that have slipped by because we were too busy to take the time to recognize our members and volunteers for their hard work.
Additional examples of me not minding my business come in the form of seeing something that’s a bit off and taking corrective action:
If I see an overworked drive-thru employee let out a long sigh as they hand over my debit card, I’m going to tell them that they’re doing a great job.
If I see litter on a playground, along the river, or in a parking lot, and I can safely remove it, I will.
If I see a young woman walking alone in a parking lot at night, I’m going to keep an eye on her until she’s in her car and safely on her way.
If I see a car swerving on the interstate, I’m going to call it in.
If I see a tired mom in the grocery store line who seriously needs a nap and a shower, I'm going to nod and smile at her.
If I see someone with a little swagger in their step, in a nice dress, wearing cute shoes, or in a pretty hat, I'm going to tell them that they look great.
When I drop my kids’ friends off after a playdate, I'm going to lay eyes on at least one parent before I drive away.
If I walk into a restaurant, venue, or retail store and there’s a table, chair, or clothing rack that’s too close to the only exit I’m most likely going to move that obstruction out of the way. I’m also going to respectfully speak with the manager about why that was important to do with grace and sincerity in my tone.
If I see a kid running around a pool, I’m going to ask them to walk.
If I see teenagers diving into the ocean near a sandbar, I’m going to talk with the lifeguard or directly with the kids about why that’s a deadly idea.
If I see something, I'm going to say something because I actually give a damn!
I care about public safety, I care about how I make people feel, I care about putting joy into the world, I care about recognizing great service, I care about giving referrals and connecting businesses to services that they need, and I care about a lot of things that other people don't seem to care about, or maybe they simply don't see the world as I do.
My hope is that one day I will be in the right place at the right time when my neighbor’s kid falls off their bike and needs a reassuring hand on their back and a bandage from my first aid kit. My hope is that I know their name, and their parent’s names, and that they will feel comforted and patched up and back to riding in no time. Can we get back to doing more of this?
My extraverted energy may be too much for some, I know it is for my daughter who thinks I’m very cringy, but I’m okay with not being everyone’s cup of tea. My people are out there...in the drive-thru line at Chick-fil-A, admiring my JMU license plates and yelling to their teammate to tell me, "Go Dukes!"
I’m comfortable in my own skin – being my authentic self, serving those who I deem worthy of my time, and hanging out with people who don’t mind me getting all up in their business.
A friend shared the article below, and it really resonated with me. I wrote a blog about this very thing a while back, and reading these words conjured up a lot of hurtful feelings from the past and present. Unfortunately, I still experience this today, and as my daughter ages, I see it happening in her "friend" groups, too. Even in the groups where I used to feel safe and welcomed, I am finding that I'm often kept at arms' length, never quite making it into the inner circle, despite what may be professed by these same people. A life coach that I follow recently reminded me to think about my relationships. Are you giving more than you're receiving? Are you always the resource, but never the recipient of a favor or act of kindness? Ouch. That hit home pretty hard when I truly reflected on it.
I swooped into 2022 with many intentions for my personal and professional life, and I chose one word to guide me through it all..."manifest." It's a wonderful word that has served me well, but maybe that was last year's word, and I didn't even realize it. Now that we're a few weeks into the new year, I'm feeling more compelled to shout the word "RELATIONSHIPS" from the rooftops. I'm grateful for the wonderful relationships that have gotten me through so much these past few years. Relationships from my past working life have come to the fore this past week to propel me forward and rekindle my love of certain aspects of marketing. On the other hand, many of my relationships are waning, and some are simply not worth chasing.
One of the best networking tips I learned as a sales professional was to keep your conversation circle open, not closed. Remain in a semicircle, or horseshoe shape, so that anyone can walk up and immediately fill the gap. It's more welcoming and inviting. I can remember being in packed ballrooms, navigating receptions where cocktail tables were at a premium, but we would squish in and make room for those walking by with their hands full and that wayward look. It's just what you do, but not everyone is taught this. If you're in a position of leadership, mentorship, or in any capacity where you have an influence over children, teenagers, or young professionals, please do the world a favor and impart this wisdom to them. Teach them to be welcoming and kind. It only takes one person to change the course of your day. One kind word. One knowing look of solidarity. Be that person. You might find that one day you are truly in need of feeling seen, and until you see others, you may remain invisible to everyone around you. You get what you give. So, give fully and you just might manifest some new friends.
Check out my older blog posts on this topic below.
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery, and I continue to run into former colleagues and acquaintances who didn’t know that I was diagnosed, and some brush it off because I look “great,” and they want the conversation to move along. For those who have stuck around and asked the deeper questions to see how I’m truly feeling, I appreciate you. Your friendship and check-ins have meant the world to me. I am not always “fine,” and that’s to be expected. Onlookers want their friends with cancer to hurry up and get better so everyone can get on with their lives. Oh, and there’s also a global pandemic threatening our every move, so we have a lot to contend with on the health front these days. I get it. If breast cancer and the pandemic have taught me anything it’s that I needed to stop sweating the small stuff. I also had to slow down to a crawl to build myself back up again.
It’s time for me to share some news with the world. If you’ve peeked at my LinkedIn profile lately, it may seem like I’m out here doing “all the things,” but, I’m multi-passionate, which means that I am not satisfied with doing just one thing or focusing on one linear career path. I zig, and I zag, and that’s perfectly okay. I have picked up valuable skills along my meandering career path. I’ve learned a lot about myself from experiencing the various business models, leadership styles, and team structures I’ve been exposed to. Having to put my career on pause to focus on healing and self-care, really gave me the space I needed to find clarity of purpose. For the first time in my life, I get to be creative every day on my own terms, and that’s a powerful thing!
Whatever I was going to build for myself needed to sustain my existence outside of a corporate environment, so that’s why I’m shouting it from the rooftops on social media! Today, as we celebrate National Entrepreneurship Month, the start of World Communication Week, and Job Action Day (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, folks), I am officially launching my consultancy, Linné Diiorio Communications, LLC. LDC exists to help businesses find their brand voice. Whether that be through voice over services, marketing consulting, or speaking/facilitation, I bring it all to the table and customize services for each unique client. You can read more about these service offerings on my website at www.LinneDiiorio.com. For a better understanding of what a voice over artist does, check out my commercial demo on the homepage. You’ll recognize some clips that were borrowed from current media, but I wrote all the other scripts. I now have a sound booth in my home, and it’s been fun to lean on my degree in multimedia to build something that fosters my creativity and benefits my clients.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Hang in there with me…there’s more. To truly bolster my ability to keep open communication at the heart of everything I do, I am now a certified Prepare/Enrich marriage mentor & facilitator. You read that correctly, I’m a marriage mentor. I’m passionate about bringing my relationship and life experience to the conversation when working with couples of all ages and stages. For those who are dating or engaged, we can discuss common friction points, remedies for wedding planning stress, and practice communication skills based on each partner’s personality type. There are just some topics every couple should discuss before they walk down the aisle! Established couples benefit from our enrichment program where they can tackle bigger issues in a non-judgmental environment. Every couple will participate in an assessment that helps to draw out points of discussion. I don’t take sides. The goal is to strengthen relationships, ease tension, increase empathy, and rekindle the spark that brought the couple together in the first place. Love = Love. All couples are welcome. Referrals are greatly appreciated!
So, that’s what I’ve been planning and building for the better part of 2021. I haven’t done it alone, as my trusty “Captain” has been by my side for this entire journey. He’s supported my decision to step back from my career to rest and heal, picked up ALL the slack when it came to parenting or running the household, bought me cool audio gear, and given me the space I needed to process everything I’ve been through. He’s my rock, my favorite co-worker, and I can’t imagine doing life without him. Getting my kids on and off the bus was a lofty daydream in the not-so-distant past. It’s such a blessing to be around for my kids now, as I missed so much by working all those long hours in my pre-pandemic career.
I get my energy from being around people and staying involved. I love having a microphone in my hand, so as we ease back into in-person events, I cannot wait to support my favorite women’s conference, RebelleCon. This week I’ll be stage managing, attending to the guest speakers, and providing “voice of God” announcements on the main event day. You know, “Ladies and gentlemen…please welcome to the stage…” I couldn’t be more excited about it. The founder and members of Rebelle have been a pivotal force behind me starting up something on my own. They say, “You can’t be it, if you don’t see it,” and they couldn’t be more on point. I had to immerse myself in new circles, expand my bubble, and elevate my networking environment to engage with, and learn from, women who were out there doing it, and doing it well.
Sure, I’ve faced some challenges. Freedom and flexibility come with many sacrifices, but in the end, it’s worth fighting for. This new venture is a work in progress, as all small businesses are. No amount of naysaying can get me down from the high I experience when I’ve had a productive meeting with a potential client, or someone compliments my demo and wants to use my voice to promote their brand, or I’ve sparked a solution to a problem a client has been facing. In my new role as a marriage mentor & facilitator, I could be saving families. I cannot wait to dive deeper and show the world what this “multi-passionate” woman can do!
Follow me for more extremely long blog posts! Now, please get out there and celebrate Extra Mile Day by doing your best work and making someone smile. Peace and love, Linné
Early in my sales career I was fascinated to learn that there is literally an association for every collection of people you can think of. From hobbyists to industry specific groups to labor unions and sports authorities. These groups and their meeting activities were the life blood of the hospitality industry (pre-COVID times) and I truly enjoyed getting to know the people who belong to and run these organizations.
As I progressed in my career I had the privilege to join a few of these groups and have made lifelong friends along the way. I could provide a page full of logos to represent each one, but those that stand out the most are the ones where I have been the most active. I have served as President, and in many other leadership roles, for Meeting Professionals International’s Virginia Chapter; chaired committees for the Virginia Society of Association Executives; lead my daughter’s troop for the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth; and am an ambassador for Rebelle. Most who know me in Richmond, or have worked with me, met me through these affiliations. I joined these organizations because I wanted to be a part of something positive, career-shaping and leadership driven.
What is most unexpected are the private clubs you discover along life’s path. These are the clubs that you don’t join on your own, you earn membership through shared pain, trauma or diagnosis. Sometimes you may find that you’ve gained access to more than one of these groups, having never joined of your own free will.
Today I involuntarily count myself a member of three private clubs. Mothers who have spontaneously miscarried a child (twice), the melanoma club, and I’m a soon-to-be breast cancer survivor. That’s right. Breast cancer. Thanks, 2020. If you’ve asked yourself, “What else could possibly go wrong this year?” Don’t. The universe will answer that question in ways that you may not be ready for.
Fortunately, having been a marketer in a healthcare setting long enough to celebrate October as the ultimate awareness month, I know the value of breast self-exams and caught my mass early. It’s not small, but it’s stage 1 and we’re going in after it in a few weeks. Then attacking the area with radiation, then endocrine therapy, and then I can hopefully step down from this active membership of having cancer in my body to survivor status. We've made the decision to not tell our kids, as they are going through enough with virtual/hybrid learning and not seeing their friends, and the list goes on...so, please do not tell your children if our children are friends. (Update: We did tell the kids and they took the news well.)
I’m borrowing a page from my friend Jeff’s book and will be “blogging it out” to give updates on my journey. I’ll write at integral stages in an effort to answer questions and hopefully provide comfort to anyone else who might be going through something similar. As was the case in joining the miscarriage and melanoma clubs, I look forward to hearing from all of the warriors who have already walked this path. You see, when you lay bare your pain, or trauma, you quickly find that there are private club members all around you. Once you’re a member, you can then choose to be an advocate for the cause.
A few weeks after my first miscarriage, I was called by a sweet friend who was suffering through the same situation while her husband was out of town. I didn’t sign up to be the poster child for grieving mothers, but I was who she needed in that moment. Someone who understood the depths of her pain and loss. Someone who agreed that it wasn’t fair, it made no sense, and that there should be more answers. Co-workers and acquaintances secretly confided in me, and I realized that I wasn’t alone. It lifted the weight I was carrying just enough so I could breathe, and then I put one foot in front of the other.
I will walk that same walk in a few weeks. Please reach out if you’re a member of a club you never intended to join.
It’s National Mammography Day, so if you’re 40+, or are younger with a family history or other risk factors, you owe it to yourself, and your loved ones, to get checked. Stay tuned for more info to be shared in a few weeks, and I welcome your prayers. Thank you!
That moment when you realize you’ve been quietly curated out of someone’s life. They stop liking your pictures, engaging and adding feedback to your posts. They don’t seem to notice or respond when you comment on their content. Even when you mail them actual cards for special occasions…crickets. You also noticed that you didn’t receive a holiday card from them this past year. Ouch!
You’ve thought about trimming down your list of social “friends,” too, because maybe that acquaintance of a friend you had drinks with at that one mixer doesn’t need to see your kids or daily feed. It makes sense to tidy up your contacts at least annually. What hurts is when you’re on the receiving end of the tidying...from people you once referred to as “best friend.” It happens, I suppose. Life gets busy. People grow apart. But realizing that you’ve been completely written out of someone’s narrative is a hard pill to swallow.
People make new friends, join new circles, take up new hobbies. But it’s those OG friends who truly see us, know who we are, where we came from and what we’ve been through...because they were there. They saw it and experienced it, too. You know their truth and they know yours. How could that be tossed aside? How could they have so much space for everyone else? It feels like a break up. It cuts deep and doesn’t seem fair.
Maybe your success is hard for them to see while they’re struggling. Maybe it’s easier to unplug from your static so that they can focus on their own growth. Maybe they found a safe circle of supportive people who live around the corner and can show up for them when things get hard. Maybe you’re different people now. Maybe being your friend is too much work. Maybe you’re high maintenance. Maybe they can’t see your struggle through the fog of their own. Maybe it was time.
Where did all of the social invitations go? This is a reality that has plagued me for the past eight years. What happened eight years ago, you ask? I became a mom. That was the line in the sand for those who used to invite my husband and me over for dinner, out for drinks, along for a VIP concert experience, etc. All of the fun outings we still enjoyed became forced date night activities simply because of the biases people harbor against friends with kids. Now don't get me wrong, some of these people fawned over my daughter and visited here and there in the beginning, and then...crickets.
I would see the fun happening on Facebook in real time and wonder why we were no longer included in the circles that used to welcome us, laugh with us, vent with us and party with us. We desperately needed that and it had simply dried up. The problem was, and still is, that folks assume that it's too much trouble for us to get a babysitter. We work long hours and could never make it anyway. We're always traveling, or running the kids here and there...and on and on it goes. The truth is, we could always make arrangements for child care, but no one was willing to plan anything with more than a day's notice. Working parents need more time to put the puzzle pieces together, to rally their village, but it can be done. Please consider this the next time you put an outing together. You have no idea how important socializing with other adults is for parents. We need to maintain our friendships, mental health and self-worth. We want to "adult," so please invite us to your party.
While discussing this blog topic idea with a friend, she lamented that the same thing has happened to her, but in reverse. Her friends with children had stopped including her in child-friendly birthday parties, religious ceremonies, and the like. The bias here was that since she's childless, being around kids would only make her sad. Or being around kids would drive her nuts because she's not used to the chaos. Or she wouldn't want to talk about daycare programs, summer camps and children's consignment deals. What they didn't know is that remaining childless was a conscious choice for her and her husband. She loves children, but was content to not pursue that path at this stage in her life. She longed to be the "cool aunt" and spoil her friend's kids with the latest toy, doll or slime kit. They will never know what kind of love she brings to the table if she's never invited. The painful irony here is that this same person was good enough to attend your bridal showers, expensive destination bachelorette party, AND your baby shower...so why can't she enjoy seeing your child grow up, too? Stop assuming and start including!
A third revelation came to light with a new co-worker who chose to live within walking distance of our office to avoid the expense and bother of owning a car. He noted that once people find out that he doesn't have his own transportation, it somehow creates an immediate divide. People aren't use to that lifestyle here and it's almost burdensome to folks who think he's going to need a ride everywhere. He has felt the decline in invitations, as well, and attributes it to bias again. People assume he isn't going to want to "go that far," or be "stranded" if alcohol is involved. He's an urbanite who is perfectly capable of making the adult decision to accept your invite for a party out in Goochland, when he lives in the city. It's completely his choice to order a Lyft and carry on with his evening. He lives adjacent to a new bus rapid transit system and has multiple transportation options at his fingertips at any given hour of the day. Get on the bus, people!
My final example of social invite bias really hits home. It has evolved over time, and been dependent on who was on my team and their dynamic, but once I became a manager of people, it was no longer "cool" to include me in outings. This goes for group lunches, after work happy hours, concerts, baseball games and the list goes on. One former employee in particular brought this bias with them from a previous job and soured the team with their philosophy. It was their belief that the boss should be permitted to show up early in the meet-up, buy a round of drinks for everyone, then gracefully see themselves out so the employees could vent about work issues and bond over the latest gossip. We used to have a much more social team in place. We hosted ladies night events and participated in gift and wine exchanges at the holidays. Those days are gone because attitudes have changed and it's easier to send a group text and invite only the people in your inner circle, or clique, to the holiday happy hour. What's unfair and unhealthy for the work environment is when word gets out that an event happened and feelings get hurt. This happens to me quite often and it really erodes trust and my passion for the job. If everyone were more inclusive and open about their work frustrations, we could possibly work through them, make recommendations and find solutions. Unless I'm given the chance to let my hair down and mingle, there will always be this imaginary wall separating the fun and function in our workplace.
The morale of the story here is to remove those unconscious biases and try to be more inclusive when organizing your next gathering. Thank you!