link roundup for the week!

I pretty much relate to every word in this post by Gen Y Girl, entitled “You Don’t Have to Have It All Figured Out.” Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I graduated! P.S. I think Kayla and I could be good friends if we lived in the same city 🙂

I love the Oprah quote at the end of Elle’s post on being thankful.

Here’s a pretty crazy True Story from Yes and Yes: My Mom Made Me Smuggle Drugs.

I need to study these 6 Pro Tips for Tasting Wine before my next field trip to The Wine Feed!

Going on a summer vacation soon? Read these tips for hitting the ground running when you get back home.

And another LifeHacker helpful hint: use Mason jar lids as egg rings!

And in very important life debates: apparently wooden cutting boards are better than plastic ones. Which means I need to learn how clean my wooden one!

Apparently coworking originated at Regus Office Suites..but not in the way they think.

My roommate just told me about an awesome browser app called Invisible Hand. If you’re online shopping, it will show a discreet pop-up bar if it finds a better price on the same product on another site. Amazing for consumers {though probably not for many e-commerce retailers}.

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the week in review + deep epiphanies

  • A Night in Raleighwood party. Step-and-repeat, twinkly lights, red carpet, beautiful dresses, oh my!
  • First trip to David’s Dumplings. David greeted us at the hostess stand; he was so welcoming! We got free samplers of carrot ginger soup (amaaazing), half-fried dumplings, ginger salad. For our entrees, Sara got the ginger eggplant (yum!) and I got pho (it came out with chicken the first time, so they sent it back and had David remake it). I also ordered a pot of the green tea, which I love on winter evenings. We will definitely be going back there because of the warm service, reasonable prices, and delicious food.
  • Cruise planning session with the girls at Raleigh Times. We planned our theme nights and back stories for prank night 🙂
  • A few cool people dropping into the office- one is brand new to Raleigh, so I shared a few of my Raleigh blog posts with him 🙂
  • Change the Triangle volunteer event with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. I didn’t get to meet any of the recipients of the food because I was the official delegator for our shift. Interestingly, Sara loves the hands-on aspect of volunteering, but I’ve always loved directing (like back when I was the Student Coordinator for a freshmen volunteer program at GW called CBC). Month after month, I’m blown away by the sheer positivity and warmness of the CTT volunteers; such an amazing vibe. P.S. At the social event, I went head-to-head with one of the guys on a hot sauce eating contest. I’ll give you one guess for who mopped up that competition 😉

I had two epiphanies this week that I wanted to share:

1) While I enjoy our social events at The Raleigh Forum, what I really love is the day-to-day moments  of coworking {which we talk about here}. It’s seeing the first person walk into the office on Monday morning and recapping our weekends. It’s going with Heather to grab Starbucks and catch up on Raleigh happenings. It’s sitting across from my sister while doing work. It’s seeing Cortney’s tweets, knowing that she learned how to use Twitter at our brown bag lunch. Like we say in the video above, it’s these little moments that make it a coworking space, not just a shared office space.

2) As you see through reading my blog, I experience tons of highs but also stressful periods, like trouble with Maddie, pressure at work, fights with my sister {I know, shocker, we fight every once in awhile haha}, or bigger issues. Sometimes I envy people who don’t seem to experience extremely stressful situations, but I realize this often goes hand-in-hand with not experiencing amazingly positive experiences as well. Personally, I would rather feel stress and euphoria then live life on a flat line.

Deep, right? 🙂

a night in raleighwood raffle items

{Cross-posted from The Raleigh Forum blog}

Every ticket to A Night in Raleighwood includes one raffle ticket. Attendees will be able to choose which raffle to enter. Additional tickets can be purchased at the event for $2.

Thank you so much to all the local businesses who graciously donated raffle prizes for our party!

We will also have a raffle for a one month full-time membership to The Raleigh Forum. Tickets for this raffle are $10.

the week in review

This week raced by! It’s been great but I’m excited for this weekend- skiing at Wintergreen!
Recap:
  • Ski weekend in VA- we had such a fun time hanging out with our stepdad. We didn’t actually ski but we played Wii, drank hot chocolate, snow tubed…and joked around the whole time, of course!
  • Bachelor Night with the girls- it’s fun watching with a group because everyone has snarky commentary to add 🙂
  • Downtown Raleigh in Review event {the proceeds went to Change the Triangle}, followed by trivia with a random but super fun mix of friends. We dominated one of the rounds but came in fourth overall 😦
  • Tons of new faces at The Forum
  • Devoured chicken tacos from Raleigh Times and the pork loin {rice} noodle salad from Spize
  • Won the Mayorship on Foursquare of The  Raleigh Forum 2.0 {our temporary space}. Winning!
  • Brown Bag Lunch with Erica on Twitter 101. We had about 12 people in attendance, maybe of whom didn’t have a Twitter account yet. The session was very informative for them- one woman said it was enlightening and changed her perspective on this form of new media 🙂
  • Sent out an email to arrange a get together for North Carolina-based LivingSocial employees. It’s important to have a local network of coworkers when you work remotely!
  • Chatted with Sara about our next blog group event {and welcomed a new member!}
  • Two early morning weight lifting sessions + one uber-relaxing yoga class {we have a group chat for a bunch of girls who are members of the YMCA. If you’re a member and want gym buddies, contact me!}
And, most exciting of all this week: planning for A Night in Raleighwood!
  • Yelp is now a sponsor
  • We’re having a glam booth {Melissa from The Head 2 Toe Boutique is running it}
  • Still searching for a photographer for the event; if you know of someone, please let me know 🙂
  • Received our step-and-repeat in the mail!
  • Sold tons of tickets
  • Received lots of entries and great feedback on my giveaway {enter here!}

P.S. Just logged into my work account and saw that today is my one year anniversary at LivingSocial! I’m practically a veteran 🙂

Dear Starbucks…

I have to write a blog post about this because my sister is sick of hearing me talk about it (seriously, just ask her).

Dear Starbucks Corporate (Panera Corporate- please take note):

I love you. You know I do. But I have to bring this up because it’s really bothering me.

I co-own a business. It is legally set up as an LLC but I wholeheartedly believe that it contributes social value to the Raleigh community. There is no doubt it that provides economic value as well: through taxes, as well as the fact that it provides a place for small business owners to grow their businesses so that they, in turn, can provide value to the community.

You may wonder where I’m going with this seemingly obvious clarification.

Could we have been set up as a 501c3? Absolutely. Some coworking spaces are. We chose not to be. Not because we are profit-mongering bloodsuckers, but because it was the right decision for us. If we were a non-profit, would we have been paid a salary? Yes. Would our fundamental model have changed? Almost certainly not. We would still have charged the exact same fees-for-service in order to pay said salary in order to continue building our coworking space in order to continue adding social value to the community. 501c3 or not, they would have been the same fees because our expenses are the same.

So why can’t I hang a flyer on your community board?

If you stand by your decision to only support non-profits, help me clarify another issue I have. Upon seeking clarification of your flyer-hanging policy, I was told by one of your employees that I could only hang a flyer for something where there was no charge.

Wait a minute. Do I have to be a non-profit or do I have to be offering free products and services? These are not the same.

Yes, non-profits often offer things for free. But non-profits also often charge for their products and services. They have earned income streams. They charge fees-for-services. They sell tickets to galas, block parties, and fashion shows. VisionSpring sells eyeglasses. The SPCA sells items emblazoned with the SPCA logo.

And yes, businesses generally charge for things. But they also often offer free things. They offer happy hours, seminars, and workshops. The Raleigh Forum occasionally hosts free events, like our upcoming Design Mixer with AIGA.

I appreciate your willingness to support social causes (no sarcasm there). I really do. But as the lines between business and non-profit blur, I urge you to reconsider your policy. But most of all, I urge you to encourage your employees to understand the intricacies of tax designations before making flawed arguments.

Sincerely,

Cristina (The Girl Who Single-Handledly Keeps You In Business By Buying Soy Mistos)

</soapbox>

Do you have a different opinion or think MY argument is flawed? Let me know! I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on this issue (I’m looking at you, Matt, Sarah, Peter, and Elizabeth!).

Edited: my friend sent me this article, which details Starbucks’ commitment provide loans to small business owners. I thought it was very relevant to the discussion!

Edited: I submitted an edited version of this letter on the Starbucks website and got what may or may not be a form email promising to pass it on to corporate. I then posted it on My Starbucks Idea, which seems to be a pretty democratic way of suggesting changes to Starbucks. Feel free to thumbs up my post 🙂

Clearly I feel very inflamed about this issue, mostly because I see it as symbolic of the continuous divide between business and non-profit.

recap: financial planning 101

Yesterday, Heather Reaves, a Financial Advocate at Navigon Financial Group, came to The Raleigh Forum to do a brown bag lunch session on financial planning for our coworkers. It was an informative and- dare I say?- fun way to tackle personal and professional financial question and issues.

I came away with a list of takeaways (both new and reinforced) and an action plan that I wanted to share!

  • Remember to think “What is the value of money to you?” Other than basic needs, what are your intentions and goals in making and spending money? For me, a big reason I want to make money is to reinvest it in other business ventures.
  • Heather compared a budget to a pair of jeans- you would never buy concrete jeans, so don’t try for a concrete budget. You need elasticity and flexibility! Income and spending ebbs and flows, so plan (or unplan, as the case may be) accordingly.
  • Be realistic- you may put a cap on how much you can spend on coffee each month, but if you reach your cap on the 20th of the month, will you not drink coffee for the rest of the month? For me, the answer is no, so I know I have to adjust other parts of my budget.
  • Always have fixed and discretionary categories on your budget. Fixed = rent, student loan payment, car insurance. Discretionary = eating out, entertainment, even gas (for me at least, since I live so close to most things and could walk/bike/take public transportation)
  • Making a budget is only the first step. Following through is obviously very important! Use tools like Mint.com to make it easy, efficient, and manageable.
  • Think of finances as a game (within reason!). Add a little bit of “play money” into your budget for when you’ve stuck to your budget. Reward yourself for proactive financial decisions.
  • Use silly money-saving techniques like putting $1 into a jar every time you bike or walk instead of taking your car.
  • Don’t worry too much about student loans. They are generally low-interest and they should be seen as assets, not debts.
  • The goal of credit is to show that you’re trustworthy. Credit bureaus look at income, debt, collection action, number and types of loans and accounts, and your credit card history.
  • With a credit card, always pay the minimum each month. Passing the 50% mark of your credit limit is not a good idea.
  • Just because you can have a higher credit limit doesn’t mean you should. Base your limit on your comfort level. Don’t trust yourself to carry $1000 limit? Start out with $500!
  • A good test: if you wouldn’t put it on a debit card, don’t put it on a credit card.
My action plan:
  • Update my Mint.com account and keep it up to date
  • Check my credit score and note areas of improvement

the value of social value

Before college, I had a very primitive view of social good: non-profits promoted social good; corporations did not. As a Human Services, I became intrigued by the idea of social enterprise, which I saw as a potential “solution” (I use that term loosely) to the apparent disconnect between “good” (promoting social change) and “evil” (making money).

But I am also an advocate for a strict definition of social enterprise, so where does that leave businesses like The Raleigh Forum, our new coworking space? I wouldn’t characterize us as a social enterprise, but I certainly think we contribute social value to the community.

We provide a hub for collaboration and community. We provide a much-needed alternative to working from home or coffee shops. We stimulate the local economy by bringing 20+ individuals downtown. We will recycle, use reusable water bottles, and conserve electricity when possible. We will make an in-kind contribution (desk space + meeting space) to Change the Triangle.

We’re not ending poverty or curing any diseases. And yes, we’re an LLC. But we are actively empowering individuals and groups so that they can make their own mark on the community.

Which makes me wonder how valuable labels like “social value” are if they have the potential to lead to confusion, disagreement, and disillusionment.

a long overdue life update

I’m sitting with my sister on the couch and she is begging me to write a life update on my blog- which is funny, because she knows everything that goes on in my life!

I was about to type “The past few weeks have been a whirlwind” but I realized 1) I overuse the expression “whirlwind” and 2) when is my life not a whirlwind?! Good thing I like it hectic.

  • Smashingly successful open house for our coworking space (officially The Raleigh Forum); tons of people came out to explore the space, mingle, and enjoy our refreshments
  • Endless promotions for the space
  • Hired an Office Assistant (that’s right, we have an employee! So cool)
  • Spoke with my sister about The Raleigh Forum at a Ladies NC networking event
  • Assigned to several new projects at my recruiting job
  • Put the almost-final touches on my apartment- pictures coming soon! Let’s just say I’m very happy
  • Did a Warrior Dash-esque run through Umstead Park
  • Made potato leek soup, Moroccan chicken stew, and Mexican bean salad
To come:
  • Wine & Design session with a new friend
  • Checking out Benelux Cafe
  • Meeting with new babysitting client
  • A hike in Hillsborough
  • Cupcakes at Gigi’s with another new friend
  • Biking with another new friend (that’s 3+ new friends!)
  • Weekly tennis match
  • Recuperating from my little cold
  • Planning a 2012 cruise with the girls. I spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E 🙂
[photo credit: here]