World’s Okayest Mom

By Lisa Cloud

I wear so many hats in my life – I’m a daughter, sister, caregiver, friend, employee, legginWorld's Okayest Momgs lover – but the one I take the greatest pride in, well most days, is being a mom. Wanna know a little secret about me? Here’s some real talk for you – motherhood has knocked me down a few times. Okay, fine. A lot of times.  It’s bruised my ego, heart, confidence, will, drive, spunk and so much more. I’m so Type A. Like really, really Type A. Did I mention that I’m Type A? I could sit here and list all of the Type A traits I possess, but will spare you the gritty details.

What isn’t a secret is that motherhood has changed me. I know you’re thinking well DUH – of course it’s changed you, lady – that’s part of motherhood. It’s less about you and more about the kids. Uh, yeah. I get it. I get it every single day. Especially when they insist on eating dinner every single night and doing their homework. Why are they so needy!?!? (That’s a joke by the way. My kids eat usually a homemade dinner every night AND do their homework. I said usually though sometimes it’s frozen pizza or delivery Chinese food. Time is of the essence, people).

While being a mother is hard at times, it’s easily one of most rewarding roles I’ve ever had. That’s so confusing, right? It’s actually made me learn a lot about myself and forced me to learn some very tough, yet valuable lessons that are applicable in every part of my life – especially in my career.

Allow me to present ‘5 Reasons Motherhood Has Helped Me Let It Go’. I’m sorry, not sorry if you have the Frozen song stuck in your head right now.

1. Ditch the idea of perfection. Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, right? One of my heaviest struggles with motherhood is that I’m a perfectionist. I have an idea of what most every situation should look like and if/when it doesn’t fit into that pretty little box then I can go into meltdown mode. Life isn’t perfect – you do your best and honestly, sometimes the best memories, laughs,work, projects and/or solutions come from imperfections. Be open to that. In the words of Vanilla Ice – ‘stop, collaborate and listen.’ Your best successes could come from those.

2. Ask for and accept help. Everyone wants to be supermom. It’s exhausting. Come talk to me around Valentine’s Day when it’s time for the class parties and I’m stalking Pinterest to find THE best homemade card. It happens, don’t judge me. I’m learning that it’s okay to send pre-made, store bought cards or letting Grandma help out because other things are more important and I can’t do not have enough hours in the day. There’s no harm in trusting your team/village/posse/people to lend a hand in whatever capacity possible. They wouldn’t be in your life if you couldn’t trust them or they didn’t add some type of value, right? As hard as it is, delegating is key these days. Asking someone on the team to use their solid skill set only makes life better. I promise.

3. Appreciate and grow from the struggles. We all struggle in some form or fashion. It’s just human nature. I’m learning to not beat myself up about what I can/can’t do and to celebrate what I can. I’m learning to use my struggles to change perspective and see a different side of the situation. This allows me to be more flexible and agile, thus not wasting the struggle but growing from it. That struggle might be a game-changer, hail-Mary or a key puzzle piece at some point down the road.

4. Pick your battles. This is a practiced art every single day in my house and life. Sometimes I want to go out guns blazing but honestly, as a mother and person – I AM WRONG. My way isn’t the only way. Being able to admit that is difficult too but I have to be strategic with my words and choices. I can’t argue with my almost 7 year-old when he can’t find his shoe but I know it’s right where he left it. I know this because as soon as I walk over to the hall closet, he’ll magically proclaim that he found. I’ll try not to be super annoyed that those three seconds could have been spent elsewhere but, I digress. If a client tells you they want XYZ on their project and won’t budge, then be creative giving them XYZ. It’s not always about what we want. There are other people to consider

5. Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up. I have to remind my kids to put their shoes on every morning. It’s true. One would think that they’d automatically put them on before walking out the door so they wouldn’t have to hear me ask the same questions over and over again. Nope. Motherhood has taught me not to assume something is getting done because 9 times out 10 —it’s not. It’s not a blatant sign of them not wanting to do it, it’s because something else is more appealing and shinier, grabbing their attention span from the task at hand. We’re human. It happens. Taking a few seconds out the day to follow-up can save one’s sanity. Trust me.

Motherhood is different for every woman and there’s no one-size-fits-all model. There’s no manual. It’s about the individual, what’s important and works for them. For me, it’s about small details, realness, transparency, openness and humor while learning to let go of things I can’t control. It’s trial and error. Lots of tears, laughter and side-eyes – from both mom and kids. I mean, if I can’t laugh at myself then who can I laugh at? It’s not like anyone is keeping score but just in case – Motherhood 948, Lisa 10.


Fuel Your Creativity

By Marc Diebold

Having a passion for something outside of your day-to-day job responsibilities can fuel your creative side and inform and enhance the important career-related work that you do. Over the years, I’ve found that the things our staff at dgs are passionate about outside of work can be quite varied and interesting, and contribute in positive ways to our corporate culture. For some, it’s family or community related, like coaching their kid’s sports team or doing volunteer work at their church, or physical fitness related, like working out every day or participating in sporting events. For others, it’s simply a serious hobby that brings them joy and self-satisfaction. For me, it’s performing acoustic rock music at clubs and other venues, and recording songs or backing tracks in my home studio.

don_felder-jpgRecently I had the chance to attend a three-day Master Class on audio recording at a nationally-known recording studio along with 20 other recording enthusiasts, most of whom were studio owners or audio engineers. The guest artist we were recording was the legendary musician and songwriter Don Felder, best known as the former lead guitar player for The Eagles, where he wrote the music for several hit songs including Hotel California.

During the class, we re-recorded Don playing all the guitar parts (both his and Joe Walsh’s) for that famous song using guitars, amps and microphones nearly identical to the ones he used when he did the original recording. Our challenge was to make a recording that sounded as close as possible to the original release.

We were also treated to a few fascinating ‘behind the scenes’ stories about the making of that iconic album and Don’s life with The Eagles. Besides the one-on-one conversations I had with Don throughout the day, a big highlight for me was getting to hear Don’s original demo for the song, which he recorded in his then one-year old daughter’s bedroom on a four-track tape machine – some two years before The Eagles recorded it as a band. It was amazing to hear how close that demo sounded to the finished song so many of us have committed to memory almost note-for-note.

That class was a great learning experience for me, and certainly motivated me to get back in my own studio and do some more recording. I’d encourage all of you reading this to find something interesting to be engaged with outside of your job, and let the creativity and pleasure you derive from it carry over into your career.


It’s Time to Be Thankful

By Mimi Brodt

Thankful ForIn November of 1621, the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful corn harvest with a group of Native American allies. Today, many Americans continue that tradition of gratitude by spending the fourth Thursday of November with family and friends – feasting on traditional foods, watching football, playing board games, and now even getting a jump start on their holiday shopping.

In my family before we eat, each person shares something for which they are thankful. The subjects vary widely and sometimes laughter ensues… other times tears. Whatever the outcome, it always reminds us of how lucky we are. And while the many things we have to be thankful for in our personal lives jump quickly to mind, we often forget to acknowledge the what we’re thankful for in our workplaces. In the spirit of being grateful, here are three things I am personally thankful for at dgs:

1. Passionate People
It’s fun to work with passionate people. Passion drives people to do great work and to go the extra mile when helping colleagues or responding to client needs. dgs is a group of passionate people. Each of our disciplines – account service, social media, content and public relations – is made up of fun, thoughtful, talented people. They are good listeners. They care about the world around them. They accomplish great things on a daily basis. The people who work here bring together a wide variety of experiences that blend well together. I especially love working with some of our younger team members because I really appreciate how they bring a completely different perspective to each challenge. They frequently ask why and are not afraid to try new ways of doing something. I am thankful for and energized by their creativity.

2. Great Clients
At dgs, we don’t just have clients, we have great clients. We’ve worked with most of our clients for many years, and these long-standing relationships have enabled us to really understand their companies, the products and services they sell, and the challenges they face. The result? We are their collaborative partner, which is much more satisfying that simply being one of their vendors. I am very thankful that dgs has clients who respect our talents and have given us a seat at their tables.

3. New Opportunities
About this time, we go through a planning process with each of our clients to prepare for the upcoming year. Each client shares their objectives for the new year, and based on the problems they need to solve, we then put together recommendations on what marketing communications strategies will best meet those objectives. This process is exhilarating – especially for a group of passionate people. The chance to take a fresh look at a challenge and bring forth new ideas that will help our clients chart a successful course for the new year is what makes marketing so interesting. Plus, with each new challenge come new opportunities to learn and grow. And for that, I am thankful.

So what are you thankful for?


6 Ways to Maximize Trade Show ROI

shutterstock_403970920While trade show attendance represents a significant investment on the part of a business, it offers unique value that cannot be gained through other marketing mediums. Trade shows offer exhibitors the opportunity to have face-to-face meetings with many different audiences at the same time. You can meet with prospects, customers, suppliers and press all in the same space.

For example, every two years most of our clients participate in IMTS, which is one of the largest trade shows in North America. This showcase of advanced manufacturing companies features over 2,000 exhibitors, over 114,000 visitors, and over a million square feet of exhibits inside Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Getting a great return on your investment in a trade show depends on careful planning and execution of a strategy that is grounded in your business objectives.

1. Choose a show with the right audience. Invest in attending a show that will have the best mix of people that you want to interact with — whether that’s a big show to maximize your exposure or a smaller, more targeted show that focuses on a specific, targeted market.

2. Ask planning questions to determine what direction to take. Ask yourself: Who are my audiences that I will interact with? What type of experience do I want them to have? How am I going to make that happen? Clearly define goals and choose tactics that support them. Think about ways you can use ever-evolving communication technology to reach them in new and engaging ways.

3. Plan the experience you want attendees to have. Cohesively design everything they will come in contact with from the in-booth experience to special events—like VIP social events and press conferences—to hospitality rooms. Reinforce your overall brand image and messaging with a show theme that is reflected throughout all individual marketing elements such as booth design, signage, presentations and handouts

4. Influence attendees before the show. With a large trade show like IMTS, participant focus is being pulled in thousands of directions at once. Use targeted, show-specific advertising to reach out to key customers or prospects ahead of time and arrange appointments. Schedule time with any industry editors or reporters that will be attending. Prepare marketing and press materials for any new product or technology launch.

5. Take advantage of social media and other community-based channels. Use social media to generate buzz for the event, talk about activities in real time and offer relevant content for your followers that aren’t in attendance. After the event, you can repurpose social content to extend the show’s impact long after it’s over. Without social media, the utility of an event is limited outside of those in attendance and it diminishes further the longer it’s been since the event took place; however, with social media the event is relevant longer and to a wider audience.

6. Assess how well you met your goals. Once the dust has settled, measure and analyze your return on investment. Use that information to improve your strategy for the next show. Without measurement, you miss the opportunity to benefit from mistakes and successes.

Trade shows are an important opportunity for face-to-face contact with your key audiences. To maximize the event, you need to plan well in advance. The trade show environment can be chaotic; without a good game plan in place, it is difficult to extract all the potential benefits.