Our social media team has been having a great time discovering some social media tech tools that are sure to make your life easier. If you can’t afford to have a professional social media team creating content campaigns and monitoring your social media accounts 24/7, these are some tech tools that the pros use behind the scenes that could make your life easier. 

MONITORING & POSTING: Sprout Social is the love of my monitoring and posting life. It’s affordable, offers more in depth monitoring and sexier report options than Hoot Suite, and it is idiot proof. If you can use Facebook, you can maneuver your way around the Social Sprout system. Not sure you have mastered it? They give you a 30 day free trial and handy introductory webinar to walk you through it step by step. Need more? The customer service is around the clock. Our rep emailed me at 11PM and 7AM. I was impressed. Throw in that she was funny and I am one happy social media strategist.  They don’t have reporting for LinkedIn or Instagram yet, but they are working on it and you’re going to love how this simplifies your ability to know what is happening with your audience in real time. 

INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT: Instagram is a tough platform because it can be so time consuming. You need to be liking, following, and commenting constantly to maximize engagement. Instagress is a handy automation tool that will set you back less than $10 each month. It will automatically like, follow, unfollow, or comment on what you set it to do. It won’t eliminate your need to be posting quality content with appropriate hash tags, but it will save you some serious time. WARNING: Watch your key words and your comments. I was setting up a restaurant and used the key word “hungry” with our pre set comment that “You should come in to try our feast!” Wasn’t even thinking that charities promoting feeding hungry children in third world countries or anorexics would be using that hash tag for totally different reasons. Also, keep it set to slow. For hash tags you can’t beat Tags for Likes, which will help you to begin learning what hash tags will help you promote what photograph. Have a ton of photos and want to time their release? Check out Latergram for scheduling. It is crazy handy and ensures your audience doesn’t get drowned with content. 

HASH TAG TRACKING: Hash tags are a handy way to track what is happening across all social media platforms. However, checking each platform can be time consuming. Enter Tagboard. Tagboard is a fantastic free tool that tells you what is going on with a specific hash tag in real time. At the #NABShow and want to know what’s happening? Just drop it into the search and there you go. 

TWITTER ENGAGEMENT: The biggest trend in social media right now is live streaming. Imagine if you are a florist and can live stream your tips for brides shopping for a wedding florist. CEO of a huge company? Take down the corporate veil and answer questions about your products directly from your consumers. Incorporating Periscope or Meerkat as a weekly engagement initiative can help you to connect and engage authentically with your audience. Don’t do it without a plan and have something to say, but be open to taking questions as they come in. 

PERFECT POST SIZE AND TIMING: On Facebook you want to use less than 40 characters, Twitter less than 100 characters (to make it easily re-tweetable), Instagram at least 8-10 applicable hashtags, LinkedIn less than 25 words, Google+ 50 characters or less, YouTube videos should aim to be 2 1/2 minutes at most, and blogs thrive around 1500 words. The best time to post changes often with analytical data, but if you check in with Klout on the content posting side, it will give you the top three times for that day when you are likely to get the most engagement. We have found that between 1-3PM is best for Facebook posts, 1-3PM for Twitter engagement, Pinterest is any time after 7PM, Google+ 9-11AM, Linked in 7-9AM, and Instagram 12PM-2PM. All of these times are in PST since we are based in Las Vegas, so if you are in a different time zone make sure you account for that. Never post just for the sake of posting. The ultimate guideline is that you should post great content when you have it to post. Some of my highest engagement has come on a Sunday afternoon, which is totally contradictory to all the reports we have. 

Do you have a social media question? Reach out to me directly on Twitter or tweet up to my team. Better yet, feel free to attend our free webinar next Tuesday and we will answer all of your social media questions. We are here to help you connect, engage, and activate more people to become your raving fans. 

Update: Thank you to everyone who joined us on the webinar today! Here is the recording of the webinar for all of you. 



Friendships forged as cast mates on reality television shows are funny things. I imagine it’s much like being prisoners of war. You’re not really sure that you like that person, but, by God, when the enemy is against you, you stick together fiercely and to the death. The first day I met Huber Pineda was on the set of Animal Planet’s Groomer Has It Season 2. By the time we got to the set I was tired from filming the show’s intro over and over and over again. Tired and nervous. It was my first time being on a television show and, more than anything, I just wanted everyone to like me. So, I did what I do when I am nervous: I talk. Like blather on and on like a raving idiot who won’t stop for air. It’s awful. I can see myself doing it like an out of body experience, but it just gets worse and worse. For everyone else in the room their first impression of me was a raving lunatic and, if you’ve ever watched the first four episodes of Groomer Has It Season 2 there are three facts I can confirm for you: 1. Newly pregnant is never the right time to film your first reality TV show  2. Yes, I can talk that much 3. During filming we really hated each other just that much  However, the reality of what happens after reality television is that the same people who talked smack about me and who I talked smack about for the world to see rallied around me once it was released. Two of the top contestants, Bill and Huber, actually came up to Canada to visit when I gave birth to my second daughter, and we have all forged friendships that have grown far beyond that crazy reality television show we first appeared on. 

For Huber Pineda, the winner of Groomer Has It Season 2, he has continued as a pet groomer to the stars based in the heart of Beverly Hills. A celebrity in his own right, he is forever making appearances at grooming shows or stepping up to help other pet groomers. His heart of gold and high standards have him endeared by all of the leaders in the pet grooming community. He isn’t perfect- none of us are- but he is quick to hug, always wears a smile, and speaks from a place of passion and love. Recently, Huber became a victim of some rather vicious cyber bullying by people he had never met. They posted horrible things about him, his character, and compared his integrity to a maggot. 
Now, I spent five long years in the pet grooming industry. It was good to me. I was on the cover of Canadian Groomer Magazine, won a ton of fast growth awards, and made some friendships that will last me my entire life. My chain of grooming shops was my first entrepreneurial venture and it sure wasn’t perfect, but I learned a lot about managing people, my own leadership strengths and weaknesses, and walked away having done more good for pets, pet owners, and homeless pets than I ever imagined possible. However, whether it was the cover of the magazine where one groomer said my smile “looked like she wants to eat the dog” or the endless comments from groomers who relished how “fat” I was on TV (while being pregnant no less), there is a pervasive culture within the pet grooming industry that is one of encouraging pet groomers to be crabs in a bucket, climbing over one another rather than helping each other up. The idea of a rising tide floating all boats is lost on the vast majority and somehow, sitting around in your pet grooming shop in Ontario bad mouthing a kind hearted leader in the industry out in Beverly Hills fires up the mediocre followers who feed off of negativity and their perception that their ability or inability to operate scissors is directly related to their own self worth. Listen, I get it. It’s not uncommon for some industries to have an “eat your young” mentality to toughen up the next generation who will carry the torch for your trade. It’s sad because the leaders in the industry- the Lisa Leady’s, the Huber Pineda’s, the Tip Campbell Nichols’ of the world (and this list is long because there are some truly impressive, crazy talented leaders in the pet grooming world)- are absolutely of the rising tide floats all boats mentality. Great people raise up other people to greatness. True leadership is not in leading, but in training fellow leaders. There isn’t a real leader I know who would waste their time commenting on their opinion of other people’s integrity because they are too focused on their own. 

Now, Huber didn’t handle this whole drama very well. If he would have come to me, I would have advised him to shut his mouth and hold his head high. Instead, he did what is so tempting for all of us when we feel attacked. He engaged. He fed the trolls. It escalated. He said mean things back, which he eventually apologized for, and this same group of trolls posted his apology and made fun of his humility. The head mean girl in this whole thing did what mean girls will do and played a perfectly innocent victim, even claiming she was physically concerned for her well being (despite a 3,000 mile geographical distance away in a different country). Here’s the funniest part of this entire story: I didn’t even know the name of the head mean girl in this entire thing until after I heard the story. Lo and behold, it was one of the same cyber bullies who hammered away at how fat I was on television all those years ago. Sometimes a leopard just doesn’t change its’ spots, does it? 

*Comments that include profanity or name calling will not be approved. This is a platform for open discussion and debate, but threats of violence will not be tolerated and will be reported to the authorities. 

**As I mentioned in the comments, on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 after I posted this blog, I received a total of 20 voice messages from an individual never mentioned in this blog who was unknown to me. Ranging from threats of arriving on my doorstep with 14 people in June to do harm to my young daughters and I to requesting travel information for her trip to laughing about the demise of my first venture, the unstable, manic nature of these messages forced me to turn them over to the authorities. In the comments you will see that a reader suggested I delete the blog for the safety of my children. It is unfortunate that any discussion would devolve into telephone harassment, let alone physical threats. If you know this individual, no matter what side of this debate you are on, I would ask you to kindly stand up for the fact that behavior of this nature is inappropriate. 



Defy Ventures is a program for formerly incarcerated individuals to transform into entrepreneurs.

“Close your eyes and imagine the worst thing you have ever done,” Catherine Hoke says in her calm voice, “Now, imagine that everyone here knows.” Hoke, presenting at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s regional conference in Seattle, Washington, was standing in front of 500 of some of the most powerful CEO’s and change makers from across the West Coast. In the audience, with one eye open, the anticipation of the journey Hoke was about to take us on was nearly unbearable.

Eventually, we opened our eyes to hear her story. Hoke had created an entrepreneurship program, in Texas, for individuals who had been incarcerated, which later failed after her marriage imploded, and her inappropriate relationships with four individuals in the program were revealed. She detailed the pain that accompanied the public scandal and the exaggerated claims as a result of her confession to each indiscretion. She explained her utter desire to hide from the shame of it all. Hoke made a point to explain that we are all “ex something,” a point that resonated deep within the audience.

From those ashes of defeat, Hoke rose again to create Defy Ventures, an established New York City charity determined to make Hoke’s vision a reality.

The Defy Ventures program is not easy and it is not a hand out. Their intense, life-altering program provides Entrepreneurs- in-Training (EIT) with a balance of personal and professional education including executive coaching, mentorship, parenting education, character development, and career opportunities. They are an equal opportunity program, with some of their most successful entrepreneurs being women. This unparalleled program culminates with a series of Shark Tank-style business plan competitions, judged by renowned thought leaders who award up to $100,000 in seed capital to winning ventures over the course of a full program cycle. The last few winners of the competition have been women who have gone on to run fully profitable businesses.

Today, Defy Ventures has a strong foundation in New York City, and is setting their sights on causing change on the West Coast, thanks in large part to a $1 million grant they received from Google. Currently, they are working on recruiting formerly incarcerated men and women in the Bay Area to join the program.  The San Francisco Bay Area has its’ own unique challenges, with one of the highest concentrations of non-profit organizations in the nation, the atmosphere is very competitive. Defy Ventures is unique in that it requires their Entrepreneurs-in-Training to pay tuition to participate, an action that ensures their commitment to the program.  Tuition accounts for their low dropout rate, however, it can also be a stumbling block for people looking into the program. Their blended learning model, delivered through an online curriculum, allows Defy Ventures to serve entrepreneurs all over the country.

In the world of non-profit organizations, results are key and the Defy Ventures team is proving their model time and again. One of their Bay Area Entrepreneurs-in-Training, Jessica Nowlan, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Create Shoppe that is almost 50% to her goal with 18 days left. Another program participant from the New York area, Coss Marte, is having a lot of success with his company, Coss Athletics. The range of businesses is wide- from Bay Area catering company Armenter’s Catering Company created by participant Jaylene Leslie to meal replacement bar company, cheekily called Prison Bars, created by participant Seth Sundberg. Having used her worst moment to create a platform for future entrepreneurs to experience some of their best moments, Catherine Hoke is an inspiring example of a woman on fire to change the world.



As a NETGER ambassador and tech junkie with a blog, I get stuff. Some of it makes me prettier (thanks Benefit Cosmetics for the fabulous Roller Lash mascara), some of it makes my life as an entrepreneur easier (thanks to you Canon for the super cool Maxify printer/scanner/copier), but rarely do I receive a product to test out that can make my entire family safer. When the Arlo wireless home security camera system arrived it took me two months to unbox it because I was so intimidated by what it would take to put together a wireless home security system. Well, shame on me! Installation was less than 15minutes flat and 10 of those minutes were probably spent trying to find the right spot to put the base. You unbox the system, plug the base in, sync it right to your wifi, and the base is complete. Easier than putting a dress and tights on my kindergartener. After the base you download the free Arlo app from the app store and set the settings to snap video and send you notifications when you would like. I set mine to take video whenever there is activity and to send notifications any time it begins recording. At first I wasn’t sure what having this huge amount of information would do for me, but it has been amazing. The girls’ dad works in Canada, so he is able to check in on their daily lives through the application, which has helped him to feel connected to their daily routine. The best part of the entire system? When they say wireless they aren’t kidding. It gets even better: the cameras are lightweight and magnetic. How bad ass is that? I have one camera magnetically placed overlooking my kitchen. No glue, no annoying stickers, and absolutely no screws. They sent me two cameras, but I’ve already bought four more because I LOVE it. My cleaning lady loves it, my babysitters love it, and my kids love it. Plus, as a mom, I love the ability to check on my chihuahuas and girls from anywhere in the world. At $349.99 for a two camera starter set and $159.99 for each additional camera it isn’t cheap, but it is a well made product that is easy to use, quick to set up, and easy to manage. My only complaint? The cameras do burn through battery if you are using them at a high volume. I had to change the batteries six weeks in, which seemed a touch quick for my taste. Overall, I am LOVING the Arlo system and highly recommend it.  

Disclaimer: I am a NETGEAR Ambassador and I received this product in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion and review.



Annually, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 173,940 women in the United States. This past weekend it took my grandma Ayako. She was amazing. The kind of woman that my elementary school best friend, Summer, still kept in contact with long after we grew apart because my grandma had the unique ability to make you feel welcome and love you unconditionally. At 4’9″, she was the tiniest woman with a feisty, never scared of anything side. For good or bad she encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. As a teenager my parents hated that about her. They’d say no to something I wanted, I’d call her crying, and she’d get on the phone and somehow- from hundreds of miles away- make it happen. The cycle repeated itself so many times that it came to be my normal operating procedure and it baffled me why my mother didn’t embrace her mother-in-law’s clearly dysfunctional system of meddling. It makes me laugh now because I see so clearly that she taught me to never accept a “no.” She loved to shop and we spent my childhood opening and closing entire shopping malls in San Diego. When I told her a particular name brand mattered, it mattered to her just as much. The fact that any retiree would follow the trends of BUM or Guess is a credit to her ability to change with the times. Having immigrated to the United States in the late 1950’s, she never lost her thick accent and struggled with the trendy lingo my friends and I used. Her ability to use modern slang out of context became an ongoing joke and she was the first to laugh at herself. 

When I got fat and wasn’t taking care of myself she told it like it was, “Krista you’re fat. Stop eating fast food.” When I had both of my daughters the unconditional love she had for me only got more intense, as she flew up to freezing Canada to care for both of them. She could spend her entire day just feeding, diapering, and sleeping with the babies, blissfully fulfilled being their caregiver. Bella and Mia loved her with the same enthusiasm and dedication that I had. At meals they wanted to sit on her side of the table, at bath time they ran to her to comb out their hair, and they begged to visit grandma in San Diego as often as possible. About six years ago her health began to decline. She had quit smoking before I was born, but her decades of being a chic Marlboro woman had taken their toll and she struggled with COPD. Spending more time on oxygen and in respiratory therapy, we noticed that she couldn’t spend hours at the mall shopping anymore and eating became a struggle. Her tiny frame got even tinier, her “do anything” attitude slowed to a “let’s have a nap” speed, and by this past Christmas it was clear that she wouldn’t be with us forever. That’s the thing about smoking. It’s all fun and games for years. You get this smoky, gravely voice that makes you sound sexy. You give off an unconventional, I don’t follow the rules kind of confidence that says you write your own rules. 

My maternal Grandma Pat died of lung cancer after years of being a smoker, too. Both small statured women who immigrated to the United States and didn’t have more than a junior high school education, these strong women married American servicemen who brought them to America and grew families here. Yet, both got the global message back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s that the sophisticated, classy women of the day were smoking cigarettes, so their decades long addiction began. The loss of the matriarchs of my world- women who showed me that I could do anything through their fearless actions- to cigarette smoking is a damn shame. I beg you. If you or someone you know is smoking, please get help to stop. Maybe if my Grandma Ayako had stopped sooner she would have made it to Bella’s first day of second grade, shopping for a new backpack and school clothes. Maybe just a few months sooner and we’d have one more Christmas together. Maybe a couple of years sooner and we would have spent spring break on a sunny San Diego beach with her instead of sitting here with a pile of kleenex and memories. Here’s the reality: we’ll never know. And if you’re smoking, you’ll never know what you’re going to miss. 



Brooke DaSilva had no idea that she wanted to be an entrepreneur until college. Hating her life as a student of computer engineering, she changed her major to business and was intrigued by stories of entrepreneurial leaders like Tony Hsieh and Richard Branson. “Stories about how business giants came to be are my favorite kinds of books,” she says, “because you get to read about their humble beginnings.” Business was something that came naturally and the risk became something that got her blood flowing.  

Today, Brooke is the founder and CEO of fashion label 9 Pockets based at the Stitch Factory located in the heart of Las Vegas’ Downtown Project. Early on her biggest challenge was the very pockets that make her shirts stand out from the crowd. “It’s easy, right? Just put 9 pockets on a shirt and there ya go,” she shares, “Wrong!” Initially the pockets shrunk more than the shirts because the fabric blends were not the same. It wasn’t terribly noticeable, but it bothered this detail oriented business woman. “I like my symmetry,” Brooke says. The spring 2015 line will be 100% cotton and the pockets will be attached with an automatic pocket attacher machine to achieve the ultimate symmetry.

Like many startup entrepreneurs Brooke was stuck with how to get the product out to the consumer. “The 9 pocket shirt is definitely one of those things that needs early adopters to get enthusiastic about before it can gain the traction to go mainstream,” Brooke explains, “I have plans for a Kickstarter campaign this spring and I hope that will grasp some people since Kickstarter is early adopter central.”

But the biggest question remains: why 9 pockets? Brooke laughs. “Simple answer: symmetry. Complicated answer: 1 pocket is weird. 2 pockets is weird. 3 pockets is weird. 4 pockets is still weird. 5 pockets is weird. 6 pockets is weird. 7 pockets is weird. 8 pockets is weird. 9 pockets was perfect.”  What better location to headquarter this battle against weird pockets than Downtown Las Vegas’ own Stitch factory? “Last year I visited Nashville and I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere there,” she says, “Coffee shops, popsicle shops, a diverse music scene, community benches, there was just so much to fall in love with.” When she returned from her adventures in Nashville she heard about Downtown Las Vegas and came to check it out. “I quickly fell in love all over again and wanted to go to all the events every month to meet all of the amazing creative minds based here,” she says.

Brooke is passionate about bringing people together through conversation starters. “A difficult part of meeting people is getting past that initial hump of how to strike up a conversation,” she shares, “With all my ideas I bring into the world, I hope to bridge that gap and get people talking to create memorable experiences with each other.”  With a vision that includes growing 9 pockets into a lifestyle brand offering subtly eccentric products that create conversation, Brooke DaSilva is well on her way to saving the world from weird pockets.