Startup Weekend Des Moines Debrief (March 2012)

Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to participate in Startup Weekend Des Moines. I’ve been told by several people that I should check it out – the stars aligned this year and I was able to go.

“Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. The weekend brings together people with different skill sets – primarily software developers, graphics designers and business people – to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.”

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Book Review: Steve Jobs

A few weeks ago at at the Business Book Club, we discussed Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

This book isn’t for those intimidated by an almost 600-page, hardcover behemoth. I’m honestly one of “those” people, so if it wasn’t on the reading list for the Business Book Club, I wouldn’t have even picked it up.

But I’m glad I did.

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Managing your Email Inbox

I work with several clients who are trapped by their email. By trapped, I mean that they spend more time staring at their Inbox than getting actual stuff done. Emails often get lost in their Inbox because it’s so full. Below are a few tips to help:


Check your email twice per day

This is a great tip I took away from Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week. Your productivity will improve immensely if you take this approach. Set up an auto-response letting the sender know when you’ll be checking email and if it’s an emergency, let them know they can call you.

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How to Unplug for Two Weeks

by "Get it Done Girl" on August 12, 2014 · 0 comments

in Free Agency,How To:

And by unplug, I mean absolutely no phone or email. Believe me, it can be done.

For example, this post is scheduled for my first day of vacation, August 12th. Most of the work I do for my business and for my Clients can be scheduled, i.e. blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, e-newsletters, etc., which makes the continuity of content feasible. Here’s how I’m making this two week hiatus work:

Notify Clients ASAP

The biggest piece of advice I can give is notify Clients as soon as you know you’ll be unavailable. The day my airline ticket was procured, I emailed each Client to let them know I would be unavailable. I also included how their account would be handled while I was gone. Whether I would get the work done ahead of time, whether I would schedule their content to post while I was gone, options for rescheduling coaching sessions, etc…

Change your Email Signature

After I notified my Clients via email, I made sure that my general Contacts knew that I would be unavailable for two weeks. I changed my email signature to include the dates I would be gone and that I really, truly would be unavailable. Be sure to create your email signature in such a way that it stands out from the body of the email, i.e. different color, font style, background color.


One thing that caught me off guard was preparing for the three months after my return. I realized that there were three events that I produce that needed to be planned and marketed, i.e. DSM Sushi Roll, LinkedIn 301 Workshop at the Urbandale Chamber and Stammtisch Des Moines German Club‘s Oktoberfest at my house. Not to mention the three months ahead for each Client! To successfully unplug for two weeks, take a look at what you’ve got on your calendar and your Client’s calendars for the three months after your return and then get as much done as possible.

Notify Your Clients AGAIN

One week before I left, I emailed each Client individually AGAIN to remind them that I’ll be unavailable via phone and email during this two week period. I also shared with them the work I’ve completed on their account to give them piece of mind.

Set up Out of Office

Most Email Clients (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) allow users to create an automated reply that is sent to individuals that email you while you’re away (you can choose the start and end dates). Even though your existing Contacts and Clients have been seeing your email signature with the notification, you may receive emails from other individuals. Instead of their email going unanswered – for two weeks – this automated reply could include the dates of unavailability, the date of return, who the individual could get in contact with if their question can’t wait, etc. Don’t let emails go unanswered while you’re unplugged.

Change Your Voicemail

Yes, individuals still use their phones to make actual phone calls! I changed my voicemail to include the dates I’ll be unavailable as well as inviting the caller to send me an email if my voicemail inbox is full. The best thing you can do is give individuals options.

Prepare for a Smooth Return

I’ll be returning at 11pm on August 25th, and leaving for a family vacation over Labor Day weekend on Thursday, August 28th. Many individuals avoid long vacations because they dread the return to work. To ease this pain, I’ve addressed my Client’s needs as well as my business’ through this week (for the most part) as well.

This is the approach I’ve taken to unplugging for two weeks. I have every confidence that my Clients will continue to have the same amazing experience while I’m away because if our mutual preparation. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you have any tips you’d like to share?


This year, Contemporary Business Solutions is offering a social media workshop series at the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce. Attendees can bring their laptops so we can work together through the material. Class size is limited to 15. These workshops are geared towards attendees who have moderate computer skills.

The next workshop, “Linkedin 301: How to use your LinkedIn profile” on September 4th, 2014, will focus on how to use your  LinkedIn profile once it’s been completed. We’ll learn how to add/manage Connections, ask for Recommendations, Endorse a Connection for a skill, participate in Group discussions, how to create a Corporate page, etc. Bring your laptops and we’ll work through the steps together.

Please add the following dates to your calendars!

  • November 6th, 2014 – Topic TBD
  • December 4th, 2014 – Topic TBD

The workshops will be from 11:45am – 1pm, so bring your lunch. The first 15 minutes will be registration and troubleshooting the wireless network. The workshop itself will last one hour.

Buy your tickets to the September workshop here…and be sure to get the other workshop dates on your calendar!


SMCDSM – The Hashie Awards

by "Get it Done Girl" on August 4, 2014 · 0 comments

in Social Media

Join the Social Media Club in recognizing Iowa businesses, organizations and agencies who have demonstrated outstanding social media marketing brilliance at the inaugural Hashie Awards on August 21, at 6:30 p.m. at Jasper Winery. Award program will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Early bird registration is open through August 7 with individual tickets priced at $39, and tables priced at $300.

One drink ticket per attendee is included in the ticket pricing. Heavy hors d’oeuvres from Gateway Market & Cafe will be served.

Time: August 21, 2014 from 6pm to 9pm
Location: Jasper Winery
Street: 2400 George Flagg Pkwy
City/Town: Des Moines, IA 50321

Purchase tickets here.

2014 Nomination Categories





Getting the Most Out of a Free 30 Minute Consultation

Offering a free 30 minute consultation gives a potential client the chance to get to know the professional they are interested in working with…”kick the wheels”…It also gives the professional a chance to see if the potential client will be someone they would like to work with. Below are a few tips for the potential client to get the most out of this interaction:


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Book Review: The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner

Last month, 54 Iowa communities submitted applications to the Wellmark sponsored Blue Zones Project to be considered among the first demonstration sites. “Blue Zones are areas in the world where people live longer, healthier lives. Demonstration sites are communities in Iowa where Blue Zone principles will be applied with the assistance of national experts and will serve as models to other communities in Iowa.”

Dan Buettner is a National Geographic Explorer who has traveled the globe trying to discover the secret to living longer while still maintaining an active lifestyle later in life. Lifestyle is one of the best chances we all have to live at least a decade longer.

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MailChimp integration with WordPress

If your organization does not produce an e-newsletter, start one and send it out on a consistent basis, whether it’s twice per month or once per month. Not only does it give your constituents more information about your business and its culture, but it’s a great form of drip marketing.

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