My hands may be SMALL, but my ideas are BIG


Black Friday-Hot or Not?

Traditionally each day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, has generated billions of dollars for retail stores and brings throngs of crowds to shopping malls and stores across America. Unfortunately, I've participated in the madness (however, I've never been one of those shoving, pushing, waiting in line at 3:00 AM Black Friday extremists).

Photo Credit: NY Times shoppers in line at Macy's

Yesterday, Friday November 28th I was on the East Coast visiting my Italian family in Clarksburg, West Virginia and decided to brave the storm and head to the mall. Part of me was curious with the current economic downfall, I wanted to see from a statistics point-of-view, if as many people would still show and how much money was being generated. From my perspective, the mall was pretty packed and it was more than I expected to see. People were running around with their arms filled with bags and I even heard of a fight in the line at Target over who got checked out first. It seemed people were still feeling pretty hot about Black Friday.

Then I did a little research. An article from The Guardian notes that the US shopping season got a lukewarm start. Britt Beemer of America's Research Group said on Friday that he saw shoppers carrying 25 to 40 percent fewer bags this year. "If the item was there, they bought it. If it wasn't there, they left," said Beemer, calling this year's customer a "hit-and-run shopper." I definitely would call myself a hit-and-run shopper, my patience is low and if I wasn't brand loyal, then I was out if the item wasn't there. On the other side, Forbes said shoppers came out, and although timid, the traffic was better than expected.

Nonetheless, U.S. holiday sales had been projected to climb only 2.2%, according to the National Retail Federation, which is the weakest gain in six years.

Did you participate in Black Friday? What about the horrible tragedies at Wal-Mart and Toys R' Us, that give us as Americans bad names for our greedy consumerism habits? Share your thoughts...was it hot or not?


How To Ease Your Holiday Traveling Woes

Since the last five years I haven't been within driving range of my home, I've always flown for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. Coming from the East Coast I almost always connected in O'Hare which means I almost always had a horrible experience, whether it be lost bags, snowy weather or canceled flights. I keep track of the New York Times' Practical Traveler for tips on new advances in eliminating the holiday traveling woes. Their recent article, "Be Ready, and Avoid Holiday Delays," has some great new sites for help and insight. Here are just a few of them:
Photo courtesy ABC News

-On November 20th, the Transportation Security Administration implemented "family lanes" at security checkpoints across 48 airports. I like the idea of this because it helps families and travelers with special needs to get through security on their own time (I hate seeing families with screaming babies already stressed out, having to be rushed through the line). This also means other travelers (i.e. me) will experience a speedier and more streamlined security line.

-Another service I use are the flight status alerts. A great one is, which let travelers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message. Also, the iPhone has a Flight Status app for $4.99 from Apple’s iTunes App Store for the status of thousands of flights, as well as the arrival gates and baggage carousels.

-Another personal favorite is This helps to avoid long lines at the airport because it lists average waiting times for security checkpoints at all airports. says that Nationwide, 4.54 million travelers are expected to fly this weekend, compared with 4.89 million last year, a 7.2 percent decrease. So although travel on the busiest travel weekend of the year is expected to be lighter, delays and crowded airports will still be prevalent. I hope these tools and sites make your traveling a little easier and if you have other ideas or tips, please share.

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!


Why Geeks, Nerds (and Dorks) are worth it...

Listen up ladies. I'm not writing a Sex and the City column or anything, but I've had my share of dating mishaps (yes, one guy actually brought me to meet his entire family on the first date!?). With that being said, I came across a humorous article on the Best of Craigslist from the SF Bay area titled, "Why Geeks and Nerds are Worth It..."
It caught my attention because I work in the tech world and happen to praise intelligence, a little geekism, and MacGyver types over any "dude-guy," (speaking from personal experience). The post is well-written and funny, so make sure to read the whole thing but here are a few of my favorites that got a chuckle out of me:

3.) They’re more romantic than they’re given credit for. Ok true, their idea of romance might be to make up a spiffy web-page with all the reasons why they love you, with links to pics of you and sonnets and such... but hey. It lasts longer than flowers, plus you can show your friends.

6.) Most are quite good at remembering dates. Like birthdates and such, especially if they know it’ll make you happy. Due again to their neglected status, they’re more attentive than guys who “have more options”. Plus, with all that down time without a steady girlfriend, they’ll likely have mental lists of all the things they’d love to do once they GOT a girlfriend.

11.) His friends aren’t jerks. I can’t stress this enough. You’ll more likely get “Omg! A GIRL!! Can I see?!” than “Hey hot stuff back that ass up here and let me get some grub on...” They’re awkward geeks too and will, 9 times out of 10, treat you with the utmost respect and, more than likely, a note of awe. A cute girl picked one of their clan to date? It could happen to them! Hope! Drag some of your single girlfriends over, open up a pack of Mt. Dew, crack open the DnD set and get working. Nothing impresses geek guys more than a girl who can hack-n-slash (well ok maybe if she can code... a geek can dream).

13.) They’re usually very well educated. Physics majors and the like. You won’t have to listen to him blathering on about his car (ok maybe a little), he’ll have loads of other interesting things to talk about. Politics, world events, how much the chicken burgers down at the local place rock, so long as you douse them in hot sauce...

14.) You’ll almost never have to hear, “Yaw dawg whazzap!!” plop out of their mouths. Unless it’s in jest. They spell properly, use correct punctuation, and are able to tell the difference between the toilet and the floor. They almost never get “wasted”, so you won’t have to worry about coming home to find him and his friends passed out on the floor amidst a pile of beer bottles. Mt. Dew cans, perhaps...


The Music of Inspiration

A new friend, fellow Iowa blogger and social media "conversationalist," Mike Sansone at ConverStations recently posted this video by grammy-award filmaker, Mark Johnson. The musical project Johnson has created, connects people from around the world, bringing together different global musical styles to create one beautiful vision. The film, Playing for Change took ten years to document. When talking about the driving force for the film, Johnson says it was, "to find a way to inspire the planet to come together as a human race. We wanted to focus on our connections rather than all of our differences. We believe music can break down the walls and barriers between cultures and raise the level of human understanding and connection."

This follows one of my deepest passion that we are all connected on a global scale. So watch this inspiring video and share it if you feel so inclined.

Eventually, everything connects-people, ideas, objects. The quality of these connections is the key to a well lived life. -Charles Eames


Launching and Learning

Last night I helped host a Ladies Who Launch event focused around public relations, marketing and branding for local Boulder ladies looking to launch their new or existing business. It was held at Common Threads on Spruce Street and about 35 women attended. Each of the four speakers were well versed in their topic and I thought each brought informative and appealing knowledge. I mean really, who doesn't love entrepreneurial women all meeting in an adorable, clothing boutique shop, sharing their ideas, buzzing with humor, enjoying hummus and veggies and pellegrino?
Listening ladies at Common Threads

To recap, Victoria Keziah, Founder and Principal at Egg Strategy, spoke about the power of branding. Through her current studies at Naropa University she relayed the philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel thoughts about thesis and antithesis, representing one end of the spectrum for branding to the other end. Branding shouldn't be forced, it should bring together two co-existing powers to a synthesis in the middle by filling a greater need (i.e. Whole Foods, Core Power Yoga).

Tara Anderson, (@tarable) Marketing Manager and a fave co-worker of mine at Lijit touched on the online tools that help to leverage business. She focused on blogging, while intermittently offering her humorous stand-up skills. If you didn't catch Tara's drift ladies, start blogging!
Tara (speaking on the right): "Start blogging!"

Elaine Ellis, (@Elainiac) an Account Executive from Metzger Associates gave insightful views about media and public relations practices, mixed with social media strategies. I liked her hand out of relevant sites to use, because many women hadn't even heard of Bad Pitch Blog or Filtrbox for staying on top of the coverage your business is getting.
Melani Ward, (@melaniward) copyrighter, marketing strategist and coach gave five succinct points on how to convey your topic with ease. 1) Understand target market. 2) Know audiences hot buttons. 3) Leave your ego out of it, what's in it for me? 4) Call to action 5) Tell your story.
Young and old learning together. Mother in for a visit, soaking it in.

Although I'm not an entrepreneur (yet) I still liked the knowledge swirling around in that room and I definitely felt fulfilled with some takeaways for my own life. Stay tuned for the next Ladies Who Launch event in December...


Building A Cob House

How eclectic, yet authentic does it sound to build your affordable dream home...with your hands and feet?
My close friend, Mani Mullenneaux's parents Hap and Lin have been doing just that. They've had "cobbing" parties, mixing earth from their own land in our hometown of Fairfield, Iowa (South East corner of the state) to create their sustainable and natural dream home. Their end result: 400 square feet including a loft bedroom. An article from The Iowa Source features Lin and Hap's journey through not only building their cob home, but the community they've built around it. I was home for a little this summer before moving to Colorado, and I almost went with Mani to help cob, so the story touched me on a personal level. Here are the highlights from the article, with my opinions and thoughts inserted throughout...

What IS a cob house?

"Cob building has been used for centuries in Europe but is relatively unknown in the U.S. In the summer of 2007, Hap and Lin journeyed to Oregon to learn cob building at the Cob Cottage Company, the home of Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley."

Lin in the early stages of foundation of the cob walls (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)

In knowing Hap and Lin, I can see how they seek to inspire others to build homes with natural materials through their own personal joy of building their own. "Part of the appeal for this kind of building is that it involves community,” says Lin, “when your friends and family help build your home.” My friend, Mani is the youngest of five in the Mullenneux clan, so with Hap and Lin's children, grandchildren and parents their family and 'cobbing' support has had great breadth.

Affordable living for today's economy

As of October the house has grown and is close to finish. There is a white lime-plaster finish, a green metal roof to catch rainwater and a periwinkle blue door.

“Hap wanted the door to be the color of morning glories,” says Lin. The morning glories have climbed to the top of the arches over the garden and Hap’s mother Dorothy and her husband Bill Beal have planted a beautiful garden of their own, next to the camper where they have lived this summer."

Hap's mother Dorothy and her husband, Bill enjoying the 'cob dance' (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)

I think the author, Linda Egenes does a beautiful job of describing the mystical cob, cottage of which I can't wait to see when I make a trip back home:

"But the cottage, the cottage. It’s a cozy, magical place, with a winding staircase to the wooden loft where the bed already rests, and two small baskets for socks and sleepwear are the only other furniture. Pine saplings, cut as dead wood by Hap from a nearby forest, form rustic beams downstairs. The partially plastered interior walls feel smooth and cool as stone. A wood stove sits in the northwest corner, cob benches create a window seat under the south windows."

The best part is that their unique home cost them only an estimated $7000 and half of that was in the windows and roof. Not only have they efficiently spent less on their new home but they are reaping the benefits of the sustainable lifestyle it will provide them.

“The experience of building this house was completely different than the home we built ten years ago,” says Hap. “I don’t remember feeling so vibrant at the end of the process like I do now. These materials are alive. With materials coming out of the ground, with labor coming from so many wonderful friends and family, it’s a tremendous blessing that we’ve received. It feels like a miracle."

Lin and Hap in their cob home (photo by Gabe Walker)

Here is the full article in the Iowa Source, "Building a $7,000 Cob House"
In addition, Hap and Lin are incredible photographers. Check out their site here as they created, "A Cob House Journal"


Al Gore Feeling Web 2.0

With the rise of social media and the internet playing a big part in the election, it's no surprise everyone (if you haven't been living under a rock) wants to catch on the bandwagon of leveraging web 2.0 for their "cause." One such believer in web 2.0 is the former Vice-President, Al Gore. Claire Cain Miller covered Al Gore's recent speech at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, November 5-7th in The New York Times.
(Photo Credit: Eric Risberg/AP)

With Al Gore his vision and purpose was clear. Use web 2.0 to fight global warming. He asserted, “The purpose, I would urge all of you — as many of you as are willing to take it up — is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our planet and the imminent danger and opportunity we face because of the radical transformation in the relationship between human beings and the Earth."

All right, fight global warming through the many online tools out there and raise consciousness...but how? He didn't exactly say how, which to me is interesting. Devoid of a takeaway or proactive solution. I also felt the same way about An Inconvenient Truth. It clearly shook many people to the core. I thought it was well-done and presented many shattering facts, but I didn't see a strong sense of action coming from it. Gore seemed to recognize this at the Web 2.0 Summit he believed his advocacy work hasn't been enough. “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly,” he said. “Because even though there’s a greater sense of awareness, there is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency. This is an existential threat.”
So we're back to social media and its viral nature. Without much specificity the Internet, the "cloud," where information is stored Gore urged, "we have to have the truth--the inconvenient truth, forgive me--stored in the cloud so that people don't have to rely on that process, and so we can respond to it collectively."

So I say start with the basics, use your voice online. Research, speak, tweet, blog. We're so far behind in these efforts that nothing it too little or too much.

For more information visit these sights about how to spread the word and raise consciousness: ( ( and (


Sweet, Good Lovins

All right, all right. This momentous, long election is over and even I am a bit tired of all the ranting, raving, talk and soliciting. I think the Obama's probably called me about 10 times in the last two days before the election. Nonetheless, I am still ecstatic that he won.

This isn't about analyzing his speech or the upcoming long and hard years we have to face in reformation and climbing out the economic hole we're in. I just wanted to share this photo and sideshow posted by The Huffington Post called "The Obama's Greatest PDA Moments." I'm into authenticity and anywhere there is love, I'm drawn to it. Here is one of my favorite moments between the Obama's. For the rest of the slide show find it here.


Ladies Who Launch

Since this September I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Boulder/Denver, Ladies Who Launch (LWL) branch. Our team Director is Ricki Booker, an entrepreneur and vivacious trained leader. LWL offers tools, resources and a system of support for women launching or maintaining a business.

With that being said I have taken on the role Event and Marketing Coordinator. A few of the support and resources LWL offers, we host local events and speakers to help build a community around the challenging hurdle of entrepreneurship for women. I wanted to write about a few upcoming events we're hosting.

1-Chit Chat: This is based off the LWL incubators. It’s free to everyone (even non-members). It is tomorrow, Wednesday November 5th at 6:30-8:00 PM, at Common Threads on Spruce Street in Boulder. No strings attached, if you’re interested RSVP here and bring a friend! If you’re looking to grow your current business, launch one or would just like to meet a supportive group of women the chit chat would be a great way to start.

2- Branding, Marketing and Public Relations event: This is November 11th at Common Threads 6:30-8:00 PM. Also free, this event features speakers in the area that will speak on their designated topic to leverage your business or idea, then we will open it up to discussion. We have Tara Anderson, Community Catalyst and co-worker of mine at Lijit, Victoria Keziah, Founder and Principal at Egg Strategy, Melani Ward, copyrighter, marketing strategist and coach and Elaine Ellis, Account Executive from Metzger Associates. Please RSVP here for this event.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at gracekboyle @ gmail dot com or Ricki at rbooker @ ladieswholaunch dot com. We would love to see new faces and grow this branch, because it really is about you. I look forward to seeing you there.


Ignite Boulder

This past Wednesday I attended Boulder's first Ignite series. Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis and it has now turned into a worldwide movement. Boulder's own Andrew Hyde hosted our first and there will definitely be more to come.

Here's the Ignite lowdown:

-A night of presentations on any topic-humorous, serious, educational, etc.
-Each presenter has 5 minutes
-There are 20 slides in the presentation
-They move forward automatically after 15 seconds

The format was unique in that it kept not only the presenters but the audience on their feet. It moved fast, but let you convey your topic, idea or theory. Each of the 14 presenters had a wide array of topics with most of them boasting a high level of quality.

Topics ranged from lucid dreaming by Jordan Quaglia, practical party crashing by Jeremy Tanner, and my co-workers Tara Anderson humorously talked about "From the mic to the meetup" donning her stand-up comedy skills and Micah Baldwin "My Quest to be #1" around personal branding. It was inspiring and felt good to be in a room full of intelligent people swirling with ideas. Everyone has something to say and with Ignite there is no right or wrong.
Tara rocking the floor
Micah presenting - Flickr Photos Micahb37

For more pictures and videos of each presenter check out Ignite Boulder's site.